EF, OF, and Cognitive Engagement

This past week I attended the Dominican Rite Missa Cantata that was celebrated at the House of Studies of the St. Joseph Province of the Order of Preachers in Washington, DC. As most PrayTell readers undoubtedly know, the Dominican Rite is actually a usage of the Roman Rite that the Dominicans were allowed to keep in the reforms after the Council of Trent. Except for liturgy geeks, the average person in the pew would not notice many differences from the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The differences are largely in prayers that the celebrant says silently (e.g. the prayers at the foot of the altar and the offertory prayers, which are notably briefer than those found in the EF), though if you’re watching carefully you might notice the priest preparing the chalice during the gradual rather than at the offertory.

The Mass itself was quite beautifully done: a Missa cantata with the student brothers chanting all the Propers of the Mass. It also showed some of the fruits of the Liturgical Movement, with the congregation joining in as best they could on the Ordinary, most present going forward to receive communion, and, to my surprise, a server chanting the Epistle while facing the congregation (I checked afterwards; the Dominicans were granted permission to do this for the Missa Cantata in 1961). The congregation — a self-selected group of mostly-young enthusiasts for older forms of liturgy and all things Dominican — was very engaged. But the nature of their engagement  was quite different from what one finds at the reformed liturgy.

What was most striking to me (aside from the extraordinary form of discomfort brought about by kneeling for extended periods on the wooden floor — perhaps for future Masses the friars could provide better kneeling facilities) was the difference in the kind of cognitive engagement that this form of liturgy requires (and the standard EF is not really different from the Dominican Rite in this regard). The relatively seamless transitions from Introit (or Officium, as it is called by the Dominicans) to Kyrie to Gloria to Collect to Epistle to Gradual to Gospel sort of wash over you and even if you join in singing the Ordinary and following the translated texts the effect is quite different from the Ordinary Form. The reformed liturgy, typically in the vernacular and with continuous interaction between celebrant and assembly, virtually demands a high level of cognitive engagement. It is as if you are persistently being told, “pay attention! stay focused!” It’s a little bit like being in school, where in order to get the most out of it you need to make sure your mind never wanders and you take notes. When my mind does wander, as it inevitably does, I always feel a bit guilty, worried that I’ve missed something important or let down the team.

The older form of liturgy is more like sitting on a beach watching the tide come in. Your mind can wander and return to check in every once in a while on the liturgy’s progress. You are welcome to wade in, but there is less of a sense that what is going on depends upon you. Even when you’re singing and know what the words you are singing mean, their impact is filtered, and even blunted, by the alienness of the language. As I said, it all sort of washes over you. It is, at least for me, more restful and I am less anxious about paying attention. The mind is engaged, but perhaps more in the limbic system than the prefrontal cortex.

Which sort of cognitive engagement should we prefer? I suppose an ideal liturgy would do both. Is that possible? Can we craft liturgy that is clearly both something we do and something that sweeps us up in a movement quite independent of our efforts? Can our liturgy be intelligible without being mentally taxing? Can it be mysterious without being mystifying? Or is the quest for such a liturgy just tilting at windmills. I, for one, certainly hope not.

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57 comments

  1. I suspect the EF developed in this way particularly because of the demands of the Divine Office (in a sense, it was, relatively, a break from the more active form of praying required those other seven Hours over the course of a day), and is thus suited most to chapters and conventual communities that still live that discipline.

    One of the lessons of Trent was the development of a lay focus that was less dependent on the discipline of monastics et al. Not just devotions and mission preaching. One thing that is easy to forget is that Pius X’s reforms (especially regarding frequent communion) may be seen as both the tail end of the Tridentine reform and foretaste of Vatican II reform in this regard.

    1. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #1:

      Karl: I suspect the EF developed in this way particularly because of the demands of the Divine Office […]

      Recently I saw a bumper sticker which reads, “it is what it is”. Your post captures this sentiment well. There’s no reason to compare, contrast, or obsess over the differences between the levels of participation in the EF and the OF. Any liturgy evolves to meet the affective and intellectual needs of an assembly/community. The EF is; the OF is.

      When I attended the EF exclusively I greatly preferred “silent” low Mass for a reason Deacon Fritz has observed. Low Mass reminds me of a pop song which one has listened to so many times that he or she has memorized both the melody and lyrics. The EF is often criticized for not engaging the assembly. This criticism is often especially reserved for low Mass. And yet, the “washing over” which Fritz observes is the very reason which has attracted me to low Mass. The gestures and motions of low Mass fit the mind and soul like a pair of familiar shoes. This familiarity allows the mind space to meditate with the assurance that at any moment the eyes will glance at the altar and know exactly where the priest is in the order of Mass. Like a worn out pop song, the low Mass is comforting precisely because it transcends intellectual effort (“limbic”, per Fritz).

      I am glad that the reformed Mass exists, for it fulfills an intellectual and spiritual need for those who thrive on activity and change. Yet, there is comfort in a false timelessness. This last quality the EF affords, and I suspect this is one reason why this liturgy has endured even after the reforms.

  2. To the last part of Fritz comments and questions: again I say – rejoice – and look at the Eastern churches, in particular at the ways the byzantine rite is being used in many of the various Orthodox jurisdictions in the US right now.

    Engement and attention, on many levels if possible. But not,probably exact engagement like a lecture for the whole hour.

  3. “Which sort of cognitive engagement should we prefer? I suppose an ideal liturgy would do both. Is that possible? …”

    Is it reasonable to expect that liturgy will or should do both? My sense is that human relationships take effort and attention, and in many real ways, the liturgy invites a sort of an incarnation of the relationship of the Body. We assemble, and we pray, sing, move, and do a lot of things that depend on a community of people working together.

    When I want to sit on that spiritual beach, I’d prefer to use lectio divina or other forms of personal prayer. When the time is mine and God’s it seems right and just to take my time with prayer. When the time and place belong to a community, it seems good that it places demands on all.

    To me, you’ve convinced a little more deeply that the 1570/1962 Missal needs to be retired.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #3:
      You comment is not unlike one my wife made to me when I gave her my impressions of the Mass (she was not there — in fact, probably wouldn’t be caught dead there). So I’ll say to you what I said to her: the experience was not at all “individualist” as opposed to “communal.” I suppose it was a different sort of communal experience. While it is true that “human relationships take effort and attention,” don’t they also take other things as well? Isn’t a big part of any relationship just showing up and hanging out? If the EF has a deficit of effort and attention, does the OF have a deficit of showing up and hanging out?

    2. @Todd Flowerday – comment #3:
      When the time is mine and God’s it seems right and just to take my time with prayer. When the time and place belong to a community, it seems good that it places demands on all.

      Why can’t one of the demands placed on the community be “to take [their] time with prayer”?

      1. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #25:

        Why not?

        Taking time with prayer, and taking time to be silent, in community are possible. There is a tendency, I think, to conflate “contemplative/mystical” with EF and “noisy/didactic” with OF. The OF can facilitate communal silence, it does not demand speed, it can reach into our hearts and teach without a deluge of words.

        At the 5 pm Mass yesterday, when the lector sat down after the first reading, you could have heard a pin drop in the place (even the babies were quiet). I was struck, too, by the pacing — there was no rush, plenty of stillness, without an undue burden on the community. There was time to let things wash over and come back without feeling lost.

        I have no romantic illusions about the old Latin liturgy, I’m old enough to remember when the EF was the OF and went to my share of Eucharistic liturgies that felt pro forma. Rushed, not reverent, hardly silent enough to encourage meditation except by the truly disciplined (or those blessed by God with a moment of contemplative grace.)

      2. @Michelle Francl-Donnay – comment #31:
        The silence of the EF Mass is different than the silences that should be observed in the OF such as before the penitential act, after the readings, the homily and Holy Communion. For many years after I was first ordained, I had older people, most of whom went kicking and screaming into Vatican II and the revised Mass (most of whom are dead now) tell me that they missed the silence of the Tridentine Mass. I would always say, but we have silence in the revised Mass and at the places I indicate above. But they would say that it was different back then, but I couldn’t remember what was different until I started celebrating the EF Mass five years ago and indeed they were right, the silences of the EF Mass are quite different, for the silences come from the quiet prayers of the priest and the contemplation this creates in a properly formed and catechized congregation, especially during the Roman Canon but also at other times, it is the contemplation of official prayers of the Church being prayed in a silent way that captures the spiritual imagination and faith of the participants in a way that the current silences just for the sake of silence do not. And there are priestly movements with this grand silence.
        I would add that both the EF and the OF Mass can be celebrated “pro forma, rushed and not reverent…” I don’t think, though, that the majority of the laity at the pre-Vatican II Mass were aware of these things especially if they loved the sung Mass, whereas I think there is more dissatisfaction with the poor celebrations of the OF Mass today and people really not knowing what a good celebration actually is for we are all over the board in our opinions of what makes a good celebration in the OF in terms of music, style and inculturation, not to mention silence.

      3. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #25:
        No reason at all. Communties can and should engage in a shared variety of experiences. But usually the more comtemplative experiences are curtailed in common. You and most other commentators here might enjoy or at least tolerate my style of spending several minutes with a Scripture reading. But extending the Sunday Mass to suit my prayer needs would be selfish.

        On the other hand, I have no problem inviting moderate reflection–a half-minute–after each reading and psalm. I get pushback from clergy, minaly, on even that.

        Lastly, I think too many people expect the Sunday Mass to be the one-stop prayer experience for the laity. This is a grave impoverishment, and the obligation mentality of the pre-conciliar Church is partly to blame for it. Every believer should be praying in common at Mass, and on their own, practicing any number of disciplines: examen, rosary, adoration, meal and bed prayers, an Hour or two.

        One of my problems with the 1570/1962 Mass is that it makes too few demands on the believer.

  4. There are different spiritualities of involvement, engagement and actual participation involved in the two valid forms of the one Roman Rite. For most of us the OF’s variety is now in our blood and for about 45 years, for some of us the EF’s variety is getting in our blood or finding its way back again. There are many spiritualities in the Church that are classified as Catholic Spirituality and that should not necessarily been seen as a detriment but as a strength of our one Roman Rite. Having both to judge may mean that both have something to offer the other and a blend may well be in any future reforms. Like it or not, we are in a time of reform but a bit different than what we’ve had in terms of reform begun 50 years ago.

  5. The emphasis that the contemporary liturgy places on being didactic and intellectual is *precisely* its downfall. (See Robinson’s Mass and Modernity or Cekada’s Work of Human Hands for two perspectives from opposite extremes of the “anti-modernity” spectrum. N.B.: I personally find Robinson’s suggested medicine too mild but Cekada unhelpfully declares the patient completely dead.)

    The difference between the OF and EF basically boils down to how you answer the question: what do we do at Church? If you think Sunday at church is supposed to be didactic and moralizing, it needs to be readily understandable to the intellect. (This is modern purpose of religion: getting people to be good and nice citizens.) If you think it is worship given to the transcendent God that *can’t* be fully understood, then you will probably want something the tries to be beautiful and mystical and appeals to the heart.

    The fraud that the reformers (Bugnini, et. al) perpetuated was that they claimed that what they were doing was somehow a return to early Church practice. Instead, it was a complete reboot to swallow without question modernity in an attempt to be relevant to modern man. That why there has to be so much communal singing (the majority of which has *NO* history in the Roman Rite. For example: replacing the the gradual with a responsorial psalm.) That’s why a memorial acclamation had to be invented out of thin air. That’s why the whole beginning of Mass had to be re-written. Church is now a classroom or town hall meeting instead of the intersection of Heaven with Earth… A “Gigantic Voice” talks at us instead of voices (mostly whispered) ascending like incense to the Throne of God.

    Robinson accurately decries modernity as completely incompatible with Christianity. So long as liturgists gleefully accept modernity (rather than reject it completely as they must), they are fighting for the wrong side.

    How about that as a discussion question here?

      1. Mr. Nasser, sometimes the truth hurts! Abp Bugnini and his gang did inestimable harm to the Church with their “reform” of the liturgy.

      2. @John Drake – comment #9:
        Evidence would not go astray here and please, as an intelligent web community here, spare us the “post hoc ergo propter hoc” arguments

    1. @Fr.John Naugle – comment #6:
      I wish this was Facebook so I could “like” your comment and “unlike” it and “like” it again because it is just so thoroughly awesome that one “like” just would not do!

      1. @Rushad Thomas – comment #15:
        Plus one for Fr. Naugle’s take. As a VII convert, four decades plus church musician, his “take” on the different natures of “cognitive engagement” between the OF and EF is a clear “been there, done that, and would prefer to do that in saecula saeculorum.” It took about three prior EF’s, but after that I experienced being a “child of God” most powerfully, not emotion or intellect-based. It was worship, pure and simple. (And it still would have been simple if it had been pontifical and sung by Cdl. Burke in his cappa magna.)

    2. @Fr.John Naugle – comment #6:
      The difference between the OF and EF basically boils down to how you answer the question: what do we do at Church?

      But is how the EF answers that question similar to how the other traditional liturgical Rites (past and present) have answered that question? While there may be certain things outside the Roman tradition to be found in the modern Roman Rite, how many of those things are outside the Catholic-Orthodox liturgical tradition?

      For all that Eastern Christianity gets credit for being more mystically-inclined than her Western counterpart, I still feel more out-of-step (out-of-place?) at an EF than at any of the Eastern Divine Liturgies I’ve attended over the past six years — and I think I’ve attended about the same number of EF Masses as Divine Liturgies.

    3. @Fr.John Naugle – comment #6:
      “The emphasis that the contemporary liturgy places on being didactic and intellectual is *precisely* its downfall.”

      Less a downfall and more an intruding editorial philosophy. Didacticism in all the wrong places has long been a Catholic indulgence. I visited our neighboring parish this evening. With one exception, the pastor refrained from making any (any!) extra additions to the liturgy. Our parish’s associate, an acknowledged conservative, averages several mini-homilies per Mass. The penitential rite, the Gloria, the Creed, and the occasional other rite are always introduced with a sentence or two. I’ve even heard them during the MR3 Eucharistic Prayer.

      I’ll place the blame for over-intellectualism on the preconciliar Church, and the modern derivative mindset that insists that every major point of doctrine (and a few subsidiary ones besides) must be covered in any significant statement. It’s almost as if the Catholic Right has to burnish its bona fides–like they’re being recorded on YouTube for the CDF or something.

      The one concession I’ll give the unreformed rite is that the culture tolerated very little of Father Know-It-All. At least on display in the liturgy. I place the fault with the intrusion of the Enlightenment on the Church’s fussbudget approach to catechesis-on-all-fronts/at-all-costs. It is possible to just pray the Roman Rite very well with no commentary? To let God’s grace take over for an hour on a Sunday? I think so.

      +1 on Mrs Bauerschmidt.

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #19:
        The editorializing during the OF Mass goes back at least to the early 1970’s and the ad libbing that the reformed missal actually encouraged with instructions such as “in these or similar words.” Frequently I use to give a bit of a synopsis of the Scriptures in my introductory remarks way back when, but not today. And of course there is room for a commentator to explain the various parts of the Mass or to say a brief statement before each reading as summary. This silliness is intrinsic to the modern missal and continues as the norm in many places.
        There is always a temptation in the modern Mass to make the introduction to the Penitential Act into a grand welcome and offer personal remarks. I’ve seen bishops ask people to be seated after the greeting precisely for this.
        This weekend is my first Sunday back since my mother’s funeral and I was tempted to thank people at the beginning of Mass for their kindnesses and words and messages of condolences sent to my family and me and to do so at the introduction of the penitential act. But better sense prevailed and as is my custom now with the revised English Mass, I simply use what is in the missal to introduce the Penitential act, nothing more, nothing less, and used the announcement time after the Prayer of Holy Communion to thank everyone and normally I don’t ask people to sit for the announcements but keep them standing as our announcements are usually very brief.

        This kind of editorializing and banter is simply impossible during the EF Mass but certainly could be done at the sermon time.

        Finally I see no reason for EF-a-phobia and the denigration of it comes from the immediate aftermath of the implementation of the reforms of the Mass and other things after Vatican II where the reason given was that “new and improved” was better than “old and stale” and that everything pre-Vatican II was suspect and no good. That’s a horrible way to begin a so-called renewal, this denigrating methodology of promoting contempt for what preceded the council in order to promote what is new–that horrid theology of discontinuity that I would hope we are now getting over and looking at pre-Vatican II practices and culture through a positive lens rather than the negative one that has corrupted the implementation of Vatican II.

      2. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #22:
        “This silliness is intrinsic to the modern missal”

        Intrinsic isn’t the word I would use. The “silliness” I describe could be inserted into any rite. And isn’t covered in improvised introductions which go far beyond “other words.”

        I’m sure any of us could find a half a dozen moments or more in the unreformed rite to insert remarks. The 1570/1962 Missal is hardly “stale,” though it is “old.” I have no fear or it. I just term it “unreformed.”

      3. @Todd Flowerday – comment #24:
        Todd: “I’m sure any of us could find a half a dozen moments or more in the unreformed rite to insert remarks.”

        I doubt that that was ever done prior to Vatican II and doubt it even more that anyone today is doing it. The only time I ever saw an announcement out of place in the Tridentine Mass (which the 1962 version is reformed, btw) was at a low Mass after the Leonine prayers where the priest turned to the congregation and still kneeling made some silly announcement that he had forgotten to make that everyone laughed at. I still remember that, not so much for the announcement or his turning on knee to speak to us but because people actually laughed so rare would that have been any other place other than the homily in the EF.

        It is not practical to ad lib or turn to the people to make editorials during the EF Mass nor is it a part of its intrinsic culture or spirituality. But not so for the OF, it is expected and quite possible and obviously done frequently as you indicate.

    4. @Fr.John Naugle – comment #6:

      The fraud that the reformers (Bugnini, et. al) perpetuated was that they claimed that what they were doing was somehow a return to early Church practice. Instead, it was a complete reboot to swallow without question modernity in an attempt to be relevant to modern man. That why there has to be so much communal singing (the majority of which has *NO* history in the Roman Rite. For example: replacing the the gradual with a responsorial psalm.) That’s why a memorial acclamation had to be invented out of thin air.

      “No history” is a very dangerous comment to make. The Responsorial Psalm as we have it today flourished for a period of about 100 years around the 6th century, and it was preceded by six centuries of congregational singing in different forms. The reason why the Responsorial Psalm and other forms of congregational singing died out after that time is because the musicians progressively made the chant so complicated that the people eventually could no longer join in at all. In other words, it was the Gradual (as we call it) which replaced the Responsorial Psalm. The conscious decision of the post-conciliar reformers to reintroduce the Responsorial Psalm was in order not only to return to an earlier practice of the Church but also to restore to the people their voice in the singing at this point in the Mass.

      The Memorial Acclamation, likewise, was not invented out of thin air. It, too, is a return to an earlier practice of the Church, when in fact there were many more acclamations during the Eucharistic Prayer than there are at present in the Latin Church (except for some of the EPs for Masses with Children). This tradition lives on in the Coptic Catholic Church, and vestiges of acclamations can be found in the Roman Canon itself (all those “Through Christ our Lord. Amen”s).

      There is a great temptation to think that the Order of Mass as codified by Pius V is how it has always been from the beginning. It was not. Prior to 1570, the history of the sacred synaxis is one of continual elaboration and development over many centuries.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #27:
        There are no better examples of the “didactic” and the “intellectual” to be
        f ound than in the Coptic, Abyssinian , and Jacobite liturgical traditions. With multiple scripture readings and anaphorae which become sermons in themselves. All which can be found celebrated in the vernacular today.

      2. @Paul Inwood – comment #27:
        Thank you, Paul!! A knowledge of the history and development of the liturgy of the Roman rite is crucial for the understanding and appreciation of the OF!

      3. @Paul Inwood – comment #27:
        “Appeals to Christian antiquity in order to justify an innovation like the Responsorial Psalm, however, yield evidence which is inconclusive at best: while some scholars like Jungmann believed that congregational participation at this point was the primitive Church’s practice, others like Archdale King indicate that the original method of chanting the psalm after the Scripture reading was to have a cantor sing straight through without any response at all from the people. Whatever the case may have been – and these liturgists didn’t know for sure – the chants between the readings became very ornate early on in the Church’s history and their performance was entrusted to trained soloist. If congregational participation had been the primitive practice, it died out very soon” (Cekada 252-3).

        Furthermore, copying something that monophysites happen to do (Memorial Acclamation) and using that to interrupt the Roman Canon *IS* pretty much out of thin air as this should appear reasonable to absolutely no one.

      4. @Paul Inwood – comment #27:

        Paul, I agree with the overall point that but it seems to me to that a statement like “it, too, is a return to an earlier practice of the Church” assumes too much. There is no evidence of a monolithic form of Eucharistic praying in the early centuries, and far less that any sort of memorial acclamation was the case at Rome, or even that the “Amen”s were necessarily said by the people. The structure of Canon itself could arguably be used as a point against the existence of memorial acclamation as could the stylistic features of the acclamations as they exist (in addressing the Son).

    5. @Fr.John Naugle – comment #6:
      “The difference between the EF and OF boils down to What do we do at Church?” I think the difference boils down to who we are as Church and more what we do outside the Church than what we do at Church. Ressourcement is not fraud. You need to study the history of the liturgy. I find the reformed liturgy to be quite beautiful. I also find the mystery you speak of much more accessable, at least to me.

  6. Rev Bauerschmidt,

    Thank you for this post.

    I would respectfully suggest following the example of your good wife with respect to these arcane liturgical practices.

    Meanwhile, the church continues to haemorrhage.

    Roll on the reform of the reform.

  7. Hey, folks, let’s try to keep things civil.

    Fr. Naugle, I’ll admit that I was not terribly impressed by Robinson’s book. A bit too much post hoc ergo propter hoc, which ranks up there with the fallacy of the undistributed middle on my logical fallacy hit parade. Also, good luck completely rejecting modernity. I don’t know how you manage to get your quill and vellum compositions onto the Internet, but I spend too much time tapping away on a keyboard to think I can reject modernity completely.

    On the other hand, Mr. Nasser, I don’t find anything particularly “arcane” about the older form of Mass. You can look on the internet any time you want and find out what the words mean.

  8. I think there’s another issue here cutting across the EF/OF contrast. It is Pius X, of all people, who encourages frequent communion–we’ve become a church where the central religious act at least involves those present (at least normally) being fed. That shift, I suspect, helped generate the move towards a more participative liturgy in other ways too. It is paralleled in the retrieval of the Eucharist in other Christian traditions; and I suspect reflects at some deep level a change in the way religion functions in industrial modernity, and in societies of mass literacy and education.

    1. @Philip Endean Sj – comment #14:
      Yes. That is precisely so. The sacramental revolution of Pius X would almost inevitably cause a shift in liturgical praxis over time. I don’t think he himself saw it, but the providential designs of a given papacy are not always self-evident to the pope in question. (And what perhaps is even more interesting is that it was Trent that set the very long fuse to this that was finally lit by Pius X.)

  9. Silliness – http://www.richardsipe.com/Burke_Gallery/index.htm

    To connect to Fr. Joncas series on SC & echo Fr. Endean’s insights above – from just published article by O’Malley, SJ on 50th anniversary of VII opening:

    SC enumerated four basic principles:
    – return to ancient sources to make appropriate reforms
    – adapt to local circumstances and different cultures
    – empower local authorities to make certain liturgical decisions
    – full & active participation of all present at the liturgy

    In addition, he shows how the ecumenical goals of VII impacted SC and thus, its liturgy. (per Fr. Endean’s other point above)

    Eventually, all of the VII documents echoed these basic principles.

    IMO, the point about *didactic* misses the point per Deacon’s logical fallacies. It is not unlike arguments from Davies, et alii (Gamber) whose starting point is the Tridentine Liturgy as the foundation. Thus, the first principle is ignored & the next principles are very restricted.

    All of these four basic principles, if understood, makes the unreformed liturgy a thing of the past. Whether liturgically, theologically, or historical/sociological, SC moved us past the unreformed mass. Trying to resuscitate the OF feels like smashing a round peg into a square hole. For example, if a presider ad libs too often, is the solution to reinstitute the Tridentine Rite? Nothing like hitting a nail with a sledge hammer.

    In that same publication, Fr. Joncas has a wonderful article that highlights how music furthered VII’s trajectory e.g. reclaiming the voice of the assembly; singing vernacular texts; singing biblically inspired texts; employing music from various cultures and heritages. Is that also didactic? (again, how would this happen in the unreformed?)

  10. While i appreciate Fr Naugle’s vision of the liturgy as summit of our activity, I cannot see how it can also be the “font from which all her power flows.” Memory is the basis for living out the Eucharist, and memory is cognitive engagement. Art and music are cognitive engagements, “powerful emotion recollected in tranquility.” (After his presentation on the dangers of cognitive engagement, I hope that Fr Naugle will not repeat the other conservative meme, that catechesis today is not rigorous enough and is aimed too much at affective, social purposes.)

    In truth, the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex are bound together very closely. Our humanity is best expressed when they work together, not in isolation from one another. Cognitive engagement is a step toward deep mystical experience, not a step away. The problem before VII was the shallowness of mystical experience that did not reach into the intellect, and that problem continues today, esp. In the EF.

  11. Ronald Heifetz, the psychiatrist and writer on leadership, talks about “using oneself as data”. It’s a perfectly good method, but it has its limits. The Tridentine and normative Masses have huge variations in how they unfold. And, different people will interpret these experiences in different ways.

    First example: a Tridentine Mass. A veiled woman scowls as I enter the pew; later, when i inadvertently say et cum spiritu tuo, she turns and hisses, “Shhhhh.”. That doesn’t stop her from clacking her beads and muttering under her breath throughout. It would be easy enough to use this unpleasant experience as data and conclude that the Tridentine Mass is “anti-communal” or that this sort of hostility is in some way intrinsic to it. It could as easily be wrong.

    Second example: our Sunday Mass is sung in Latin, Novus Ordo, with the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei all sung by a professional choir. The congregation joins in the Credo and other responses.

    For me, this “is more like sitting on a beach watching the tide come in. Your mind can wander and return to check in every once in a while on the liturgy’s progress. You are welcome to wade in, but there is less of a sense that what is going on depends upon you …. it all sort of washes over you. It is, at least for me, more restful and I am less anxious about paying attention.” This is true even when I am serving at the altar. Familiarity helps, of course, and we avoid the wretched new translation. But, “using myself as data”, the experience is similar to what Fritz reports of the older Mass.

    Hence when I read a sentence like Fr Allan’s,

    But they would say that it was different back then, but I couldn’t remember what was different until I started celebrating the EF Mass five years ago and indeed they were right, the silences of the EF Mass are quite different, for the silences come from the quiet prayers of the priest and the contemplation this creates in a properly formed and catechized congregation, especially during the Roman Canon but also at other times, it is the contemplation of official prayers of the Church being prayed in a silent way that captures the spiritual imagination and faith of the participants in a way that the current silences just for the sake of silence do not.

    This experience might reflect the intrinsic nature of the Tridentine Mass, but equally it might not. “Using ourselves as data” may provide clues, but they are no more than clues.

    1. @Jonathan Day – comment #36:
      All fair points. Though I would not have used the phrase, I was aware of “using myself as data” in my post. And I tried to indicate that the particular Mass I was commenting on was perhaps atypical in a number of ways (not least the active participation of thirty or so young friars who were well-schooled in the chant).

      At the same time, I still think it is a valid question as to how and if we can strike the right balance, whatever form of liturgy we use, between “limbic” engagement and “prefrontal cortex” engagement.

      1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #37:
        I agree, Fritz. Now “using myself as data” once again: I find repetition hugely helpful in “limbic engagement”. Our sung Latin Mass doesn’t change that much from week to week, even when a bishop or cardinal turns up to concelebrate.

        We had an exciting moment a few years ago when an over-enthusiastic thurifer landed burning coals on the carpet, but that all happened behind the altar, and most of the congregation didn’t notice the kerfuffle. That is about it for liturgical novelty.

        Our daily Masses (in English, new translation) are all pretty much the same, and they are generally quiet and blessedly un-innovative. No sudden shifts in either the “cappa magna” or “clown mass” direction.

        The sense of relaxed attentive “flow” that I get from your opening post comes for me, in part, because the Mass is repetitive. I don’t think it has anything to do with the structure of the Tridentine Mass or the Missa Normativa.

    2. @Jonathan Day – comment #36:
      Personal eye-witness experiences can be very helpful to historians but also to those who are too young to have these experiences. For example, I was just watching a segment on a morning show about some new audio tapes that President Kennedy’s daughter was sharing. The interviewer made the comment that so many people today, (i.e. young) are oblivious to the role that President Kennedy played in the civil rights movement and desegregation in the USA. The president’s daughter offered not only the tapes, but her own personal reflections on her father’s passion for civil rights and from a small child’s perspective that not only offer clues as her own personal data, but offered even more than clues, some data.

      1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #45:
        I think “data” is not the word to describe. I do think that personal recollections are important. They are even more valuable when shared in a common experience of those who were present.

        If I were to judge Vatican II’s liturgical reform by my experiences, I would say it was smooth, devoid of organ v guitar tussling, welcomed by the clergy, and carefully implemented. My experience was limited to two parishes with good leadership that did it well.

        An example of data would be sociological studies that showed for American Catholics, Humanae Vitae chased more people from the church, and that liturgical reforms limited that exodus somewhat. But many conservatives dislike that “data,” so they discount it.

      2. @Todd Flowerday – comment #46:
        It is one thing to be chased away by the Truth and the truth Truth communicates through the Church, in the sense of free-will and choice never being negated by God, but of course the consequences for our completely free-will choices must be considered always. It is quite another thing to remain in the Church for all the wrong reasons including solely “good liturgy” and whatever that means to any given person. I have no doubt that Catholics abandoned the Church because of some of the hard truths that are taught, especially in the area of sexuality which is the most personal truth and touches us in the most intimate way. I have no reason to doubt that many people remain in the Church for folksy liturgy, community or even very high liturgy including the EF. The folksy experience could be described as worshiping the god of community and the need to feel connected to others and the “high” experience could be described as worshiping the god of gilt with none of the guilt.

      3. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #47:
        On the other hand, people also left the Church because of “teaching” through liturgical reform. The schismatic groups associated with the TLM, for example.

        And then you have people who were booted from the Church by clergy misinformed about the requirements of membership. It is one thing for a person to leave the Church because they cannot in good conscience continue to be with us, either an assessment of their own sin, or that of others. It’s another thing for church persons, even bishops, to suggest the Church is better off without “sinners” of any kind.

        Your suggestions, and that of the SCGS* crowd skirt the danger of pelagianism-in-reverse, the suggestion that our virtues define our membership in the Body, especially the intellectual virtues. We all should combat this fallacy wherever we see it and whoever promotes it.

        * Small Church getting smaller

  12. None of my experiences with the EF Mass in my youth were in anyway similar to this experience.

    In grade school, my experiences of Sunday Low Masses were of great boredom. Our sanctuary had a checkerboard flooring design. I would spend my time tracing out patterns. Not just in my mind but in the air with my hands and movements of my head to the annoyance of adults.

    Becoming an altar boy changed all that. I think about half the rest of the Latin EF Masses of my life were spent as a server. Not much time in the EF for lying on the beach listening to the waves if you are a server.

    The times when I was not a server, as well as most of those when I was a server, were spent with a Latin-English Missal. Pretty cognitive experience, especially since I was learning Latin. When I got to the Jesuit Novitiate we were on the eve of Vatican II and therefore already involved in active participation, e.g. saying the Introit, etc. Some of the priests when we served private Masses had us read the Epistle in Latin. Yes, there was a Liturgical Movement before Vatican II.

    The only thing that bears a resemblance to waves upon the beach was Latin Vespers at Saint John’s during the Vatican Council years. The psalms and psalm tones become very familiar so you only have to wake up cognitively and actually stand up while bowing for the Gloria Patri for the unfamiliar antiphons and hymns.

    The EF was done in many different ways: the private Mass with a server, the Sunday Low Masses with hymns, the Weekday High Masses sung by a woman organist, the Sunday High Masses sung by a men’s choir, the occasion Solemn High Mass, and the “classical music Masses.”

    The whole notion that this great variety of ways of doing the EF which interacted in complex ways with individuals (such as in my case above) produces reliable differences in neural activity from the equally great number of ways of doing the OF with people who come with a great number of dispositions is very unlikely.

    I would file this post under “Humor.” I think FB was being unconsciously humorous.

  13. The first chapter of Guardini’s The Spiirit of the Liturgy has some remarks on this subject, though he is only describing the Tridentine rite:

    The first and most important lesson which the liturgy has to teach is that the prayer of a corporate body must be sustained by thought. The prayers of the liturgy are entirely governed by and interwoven with dogma. Those who are unfamiliar with liturgical prayer often regard them as theological formula, artistic and didactic, until on closer acquaintance they suddenly perceive and admit that the clear-cut, lucidly constructed phrases are full of interior enlightenment. To give an outstanding example, the wonderful Collects of the Masses of Sunday may be quoted. Wherever the stream of prayer wells abundantly upwards, it is always guided into safe channels by means of plain and lucid thought. Interspersed among the pages of the Missal and the Breviary are readings from Holy Scripture and from the works of the Fathers, which continually stimulate thought. Often these readings are introduced and concluded by short prayers of a characteristically contemplative and reflective nature–the antiphons–during which that which has been heard or read has time to cease echoing and to sink into the mind. The liturgy, the “lex orandi,” is, according to the old proverb, the law of faith–the “lex credendi”–as well. It is the treasure-house of the thought of Revelation.

  14. Fr.John Naugle : @Paul Inwood – comment #27: “Appeals to Christian antiquity in order to justify an innovation like the Responsorial Psalm, however, yield evidence which is inconclusive at best: while some scholars like Jungmann believed that congregational participation at this point was the primitive Church’s practice, others like Archdale King indicate that the original method of chanting the psalm after the Scripture reading was to have a cantor sing straight through without any response at all from the people. Whatever the case may have been – and these liturgists didn’t know for sure – the chants between the readings became very ornate early on in the Church’s history and their performance was entrusted to trained soloist. If congregational participation had been the primitive practice, it died out very soon” (Cekada 252-3).

    This is, of course, just Cekada’s opinion, and there are many who do not respect his position at all. To say that scholars do not know for sure is stating as a fact something which is not proven. Other scholars are more certain about what happened in the 5th-7th centuries, where the evidence is rather more compelling than earlier on. Scholarship has moved on since Archdale King. As stated in my previous post, congregational participation died out by the 7th century, but not earlier.

    Furthermore, copying something that monophysites happen to do (Memorial Acclamation) and using that to interrupt the Roman Canon *IS* pretty much out of thin air as this should appear reasonable to absolutely no one.

    I don’t think anyone will be convinced by those who throw around heretical imputations. The key to understanding those acclamation vestiges in the Roman Canon is, in fact, dialogue with the assembly, not interruptions by them.

  15. Joshua Vas : @Paul Inwood – comment #27: Paul, I agree with the overall point that but it seems to me to that a statement like “it, too, is a return to an earlier practice of the Church” assumes too much. There is no evidence of a monolithic form of Eucharistic praying in the early centuries, and far less that any sort of memorial acclamation was the case at Rome, or even that the “Amen”s were necessarily said by the people. The structure of Canon itself could arguably be used as a point against the existence of memorial acclamation as could the stylistic features of the acclamations as they exist (in addressing the Son).

    Joshua, I think you agree with me in principle, so this is just to clarify one or two points. I never said that there was any monolithic form of Eucharistic praying, I merely pointed to the existence of dialogue forms in the traditions that we know about.

    As far as the Roman Canon is concerned, one can certainly say that, based on its structure, a Memorial Acclamation as we know it today was unlikely. What one can also say, however, is that, based on its structure, a whole suite of acclamations in the course of the entire Prayer was actually extremely probable.

    1. @Paul Inwood – comment #50:
      I wonder if — in my favorite move of liturgical jujitsu — one might argue for a memorial acclamation in the Roman Rite, not on the basis of ancient precedent but on the basis of organic development. I am specifically thinking of the pre-Conciliar practice of splitting the Sanctus, so that the Benedictus was sung after the consecration. Could one argue that over the centuries there developed a sense that something should be sung at that point, and that the reforms simply changednwhat was sung?

      OK, it’s a stretch. But it might convince some folks that it is not quite as much of a “rupture” as they imagine.

  16. I wonder about the opposition between solemn 1962 Missal Mass and our experiences of the 1970/1975/2002 Missal Mass. In the case of the latter, we take huge liberties unforeseen in the rubrics themselves but argued into existence for all sorts of reasons. If the ordinary form of Mass was chanted in the vernacular using the traditional melodies or something very close to them and if the rubrics were followed the two celebrations would be very close indeed.

    The comments about Mass becoming didactic and classroom-like struck me forcibly. It seems to me, in fact, that having the Mass spoken aloud by the priest and people gives rise to that classroom experience – that “style” or “ars celebrandi” using the conversational/didactic tone does not seem to me to be intended by the Church. Interestingly, the Eastern Churches have “never” adopted it: i.e. mere speaking.

  17. I know I’m coming to this pretty late, but I don’t think I’ve ever read a better description of how the EF High Mass “washes” over you. It is the flow and “naturalness” of the EF that most appealed to me when I first attended it.

    While I don’t think it was intended, I think the comparison of the OF to a classroom and the EF to a beach makes the EF sound much more appealing. I think if you asked most people if they would rather experience God by being swept-up in nature or in a classroom, most would pick nature.

    Perhaps a vernacular EF High Mass would strike the proper balance.

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