Archbishop Coleridge on the Forthcoming Missal

By Anthony Barich, Catholic News Service

PERTH, Australia (CNS) — The newly translated Roman Missal to be issued in Australian parishes in 2011 will help address the serious theological problems of the 1973 missal currently in use, said one of Australia’s most senior liturgists.

In the process, it will more faithfully implement the liturgical vision of the Second Vatican Council and also fulfill the reforms of the much-maligned 1570 Council of Trent, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Canberra-Goulburn told approximately 200 liturgists gathered in Perth in early February.

Archbishop Coleridge is chairman of the Roman Missal Editorial Committee of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy; he is also chair of the Australian bishops’ Liturgy Commission.

While Archbishop Coleridge acknowledged that the missal used since 1973 has made gains in accessibility, participation, Scripture, adaptation and inculturation, he said it also has “serious problems theologically” and “consistently bleaches out metaphor, which does scant justice to the highly metaphoric discourse” of Scripture and early Christian writers.

This is the result of a misunderstanding of Vatican II’s reforms, he said.

Occasional claims of the Roman Missal revisions being a “merely political right-wing plot of the church” to turn the clock back miss the point of reform and of the purpose of the Mass, which is “a gift from God, not something to be manipulated,” he said.

“Nothing will happen unless we move beyond ideology and reducing the church to politics and the slogans that go with them, which are unhelpful,” he said. “Drinking from the wells of tradition passed on supremely in the liturgy is what this new moment of renewal is all about.”

Archbishop Coleridge’s speech to the liturgists came just two weeks after Benedictine Father Anscar Chupungco, a former consulter to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, said Jan. 22 that the reforms were part of an attempt to turn the clock back 50 years.

Archbishop Coleridge said that one of the ironies of criticism of the new missal is that “we can fail to attend to history even though perhaps the most fundamental achievement of Vatican II was the restoration of historical consciousness to the life of the Catholic Church.”

“A claim that troubles me is that this initiative is somehow a retreat from all that Vatican II tried to promote and enact and a betrayal, therefore, of the (Second Vatican) Council and, by implication, the Holy Spirit,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

He said if that were true, he and thousands of others involved in the missal process “would not have shed the blood, sweat and tears of the last seven years.”

“We would’ve saved ourselves a lot of time and money if we’d just stuck with the Latin, but that’s not what the Spirit is saying to the church,” he said.

However, Vatican II’s reforms were not properly implemented and were taken too far, he said, after the Latin texts were translated in 1973 with “breathtaking speed.”

Since then, the liturgy has largely lost the sense of the liturgy as primarily Christ’s action, as something received “not just what we do; a mystery into which we are drawn.”

“We can’t just tamper with it,” he said. “Celebrants sometimes act as if it’s their own personal property to do with what they like. You can’t.”

An overly cerebral approach to liturgy, loss of ritual, oversimplification of rites, loss of a sense of silence, beauty and an unwitting clericalism have all led to the Mass lacking its full potential to catechize the faithful and renew the church, he said.

The Second Vatican Council’s “catechetical thrust” that encouraged priests to catechize in the process of celebration has led to the Mass “drowning under the weight of supposed catechetical verbosity,” he said.

The new translations will attempt to control “clerical verbosity and, dare I say, clerical idiosyncrasy,” he said.

“Let the texts stand as is and let catechesis draw out from the texts in a way that communicates to the community, rather than trying to build into the texts a catechesis that runs the risk of corrupting the texts or diluting their power,” he said.

The proposed English translation of the second Latin edition of the Roman Missal was never approved by Vatican, and a translation of the third Latin edition promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 2002 is near completion, the Vatican said in late January.


  1. “we can fail to attend to history even though perhaps the most fundamental achievement of Vatican II was the restoration of historical consciousness to the life of the Catholic Church.”

    Dare I say “Amen”? Now, if we could only turn our attention to some of the other areas where an “historical consciousness” is so badly needed.

  2. Kudos to the Archbishop. An archbishop after mine own heart! Wow. I think he says some of the things that others say I can’t prove and are “illogical.” Someone recently wrote concerning some of my “rants” that, “the issue is logic. Two things happened – what you call the loss of the sacred, and a decline in Mass attendance. Any causality in any direction is not proven by simultaneity.” Evidently the good archbishop begs to differ. I like him! 🙂

      1. Or, to put it in logical terms, the fallacy of argumentum ad verecundiam doesn’t justify the fallacy of post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

    1. “… the good archbishop begs to differ.”

      Evidently the good archbishop fails to understand fundamental logic. Repeat after me: Correlation is not causality. Repeat until it penetrates.

  3. It’s fine to approve of, and even be excited about the new translation that soon will be making its way into English-speaking parishes. (After all, this is how Roman Catholic liturgy in English will be employed once the new Missal is put into practice; I for one don’t want any rocks crying out in praise to God in my stead!) Nevertheless, I think that the report of Archbishop Coleridge’s enthusiasm about the new translation does not do justice to the second translation that ICEL had been toiling over for almost two decades when it was discarded in favor of a yet another translation in line with the translation guidelines set down by Liturgiam Authenticam.

    The fact that there had been another translation in the works shows that the members of ICEL, at least, thought that the 1973 translations could use improvement and revision. The reorganization of ICEL and the discarding of the second translation, seemingly without warning, (and in fact, as some may argue, as a reversal of the assurances that ICEL’s work would remain intact), further does not contribute to the appearance that such decisions were made apart from politics and ideology.

    These historical facts seem as important as those defending the soon-to-be-released new translation by comparing the 1973 translation to Vatican II’s intentions. There are many angles to what one may describe as “historical consciousness.”

    1. Yes, indeed ICEL before LA was re-translating the Mass as far back as the late 1980’s. My bishop would send me proposed drafts of some of the collects for Mass as far back as 1989 or 1990. If you think the second option for the opening collect is bad in the 1970 Missal, you didn’t know what bad was until you read these. Of course, the obedient soul that I was, would accept these inane, soupy, saccharine, drippy prayers once promulgated. Fortunately they were ditched! My prayer was answered! Yes, equivalency, wordiness and downright silliness was being concocted for us. Never mind that the Latin Rite Mass is meant to be sober, nuanced and with actions speaking louder than words.
      On top of that these people at ICEL supported by NCCB committee on the Liturgy were hoping to have a very unique American Roman Missal with even some changes in the order of the Mass for the American Church. I can’t remember them all, but the sign of peace would be moved to the time after the Creed, which is not a bad idea, and the Gloria would be omitted during the Easter season to sing the Lutheran hymn “This is the Feast” which is an innovation in the Lutheran liturgy which many Lutherans find nonsensical.
      It is no wonder Rome was alerted to what was at foot and intervened with LA and none too soon. We were at the brink of disaster and the Holy Spirit came through.

  4. I can’t remember them all, but the sign of peace would be moved to the time after the Creed, which is not a bad idea, and the Gloria would be omitted during the Easter season to sing the Lutheran hymn “This is the Feast” which is an innovation in the Lutheran liturgy which many Lutherans find nonsensical.

    Moving the Sign of Peace to before the presentation of the gifts has been proposed by none other than Benedict XVI in footnote 150 of Sacramentum Caritatis. It’s not a new idea, of course. Liturgists have been suggesting this for many years.

    The proposed omission of the Gloria during the Easter Season in favour of another hymn is an apocryphal story, I fear. No mention of it is to be found in the ICEL 1998 Sacramentary. Unfortunately many such stories abound, and once uttered achieve the status of fact.

    I don’t know where the soupy saccharine collects are to be found, but they are not in the ICEL 1998 Sacramentary, which continued the tradition of rich and nourishing alternative prayers that tied in with the three-year Lectionary cycle (unlike the collects of the new Missal, which in Ordinary Time continue the tradition of being mostly irrelevant to the Liturgy of the Word of the day, no matter which cycle you are in).

    1. Prayers that are irrelevant? I beg your pardon? Just to Whom are these prayers directed? And to whom are the readings directed–a little confusion there, no?
      And yes, the Lutheran Hymn was being suggested in the late 80’s or early 90’s to replace the Gloria at Easter, I saw it in writing, nothing apocryphal about that–it was a reality, but someone must have had good sense by 1998 to scratch that silly idea. I suspect by 1998 someone at ICEL was alerted that someone who uses the royal “we” and someone who heads the Congregation for the doctrine of the faith, “are not happy.” Thus a course direction on their “own.”

  5. “Just to Whom are these prayers directed?”

    Reading comprehension, Fr McDonald. Irrelevant to what the Scriptures of the day might be. Sort of like that criticism of some songs of one contemporary composer: you could mix up all the lines of the verses, and the song would still function.

    This was a topic addressed at the Synod on the Word: a better harmonization between the Word and Eucharist at Mass.

    As for the alternates to the Gloria, I never saw or heard of Easter alternatives. I do believe that in ordinary time an alternate shorter text might be helpful, and that might be a better option than the choice to omit. Don’t know that that suggestion went anywhere.

  6. I think the Archbishop’s remarks on the Liturgy have to do with the texts of the liturgy, not devotional songs that are allowed at the Procession, offertory, Communion and recession. These are added not by the Liturgy itself but by pastors and muscians and some say not a good addition, although I would beg to differ, so yes, match these devotional songs with the texts of Scripture if possible. But as far as the Mass texts themselves, I think the 1998 ICEL translation and some who comment on this blog fell victim to the very critique the archbishop makes, which is a point well taken by all of us who celebrate the Mass as priests as well as the mandate given to ICEL to translate these texts as faithful as possible to the Latin Edition (normal, typical, ordinary, regular) 2002 Roman Missal. Has anyone who reads this blog ever been to a Mass since 2002 where the normal Mass of the Latin Rite for today was actually celebrated? But I digress, Archbishop’s remarks above:

    “The Second Vatican Council’s “catechetical thrust” that encouraged priests to catechize in the process of celebration has led to the Mass “drowning under the weight of supposed catechetical verbosity,” he said.

    The new translations will attempt to control “clerical verbosity and, dare I say, clerical idiosyncrasy,” he said.

    “Let the texts stand as is and let catechesis draw out from the texts in a way that communicates to the community, rather than trying to build into the texts a catechesis that runs the risk of corrupting the texts or diluting their power,” he said.” And to that I say Amen, Alleluia, Praise the Lord and thank God for L.A.!

  7. Fr. Allan McDonald :

    “The Second Vatican Council’s “catechetical thrust” that encouraged priests to catechize in the process of celebration has led to the Mass “drowning under the weight of supposed catechetical verbosity,” he said.
    The new translations will attempt to control “clerical verbosity and, dare I say, clerical idiosyncrasy,” he said.

    How do the new *translations* do that?

    In fact, for a period of time, the fact of new translations is likely to encourage explanatory MC-like behavior as we witnessed when changes were rolled out for the 1970 Missal. I don’t have a problem with that, but I am mystified at the Abp’s assertion.

    1. I would catechize in the bulletin, in catechetical sessions, at the homily but no where else as we implement the “reform of the reform.” Sometimes it is best to catechize after someone has experienced what needs to be discussed.

      1. But the *translation* itself doesn’t restrict the ability to catechize. The Abp’s assertions in that regard appear nonsensical.

    2. I have to agree with Karl Liam Saur. I’m not sure how the translations will assist with this. If the rubrics had been changed, that would be a different story.

  8. I agree with your comment, Fr McDonald, on the mystagogical principle.

    And yet, LA and MR3 take us no closer to an ideal of ars celebrandi. The reason is because too many priests lack the art of liturgical leadership, and many others devote little enough time to it.

    I have little hope that new words will encourage more than a minority of priests to take the time with the texts. For a long time, practice will be essential, probably more essential than catechizing the poor dumb laity.

    A much wiser course of action at this time would have been to develop better preaching and presidency skills in the presbyterate, starting in seminaries, but not ending there. That takes a different kind of leadership than changing words to 19th century English and crossing one’s fingers in the hope something will trickle down from new liturgical books.

    1. I don’t know what you mean by “liturgical leadership” and “presidency skills”. If you mean the ability to chant the prayers, Gospel, preface, eucharistic prayer in English or Latin, I’m down with that. I wish my pastor could.

      What I worry a great deal about is that the commentary during the mass by the priest is done too much in a way that magnifies his own personality, thereby distracting the congregation from recognizing the celebrant’s role as alter Christi. The priest should take a page out of John the Baptist’s playbook, “I must decrease and He must increase.”

      Sac. Conc. seemed to envision lay commentators, though this role was never subsequently defined. I would prefer a lay commentator, reading a carefully worded explanation at various points of the mass, to the celebrant’s doing so.

  9. The problem of the collects (and antiphons, come to that) for Ordinary Time frequently having no connection with the scriptures of the day is inescapable. It was caused by the fact that two different sets of working groups were responsible for the revision of the Missal and the revision of Lectionary. These working groups did not communicate effectively, and indeed perhaps that was not possible at the time, so their work was done to a certain extent in isolation.

    (For another example, take a look at the sequence of the O Antiphons in (a) the Divine Office, (b) the Weekday Lectionary for Advent. Then compare those texts with the themes of the Advent Sunday Lectionary, not to mention the hymn text “O come, O come, Emmanuel”. They are all out of sync with each other.)

    This is in fact precisely the kind of thing that a true reform of the reform would set out to rectify, along with many other things. Once again, an example: rationalization is needed in the prayers used between the presentation of the gifts and the beginning of the Preface. These prayers still show a large amount of duplication despite what Sacrosanctum Concilium 34 had to say about that.

    What is currently happening is not a reform of the reform, but a retrogression towards the state of affairs before the reform took place. It is founded on a different ecclesiology from the ecclesiology which the Council espoused, and one might point to that as a major reason for the disagreements between those posting opinions on this blog. The different positions represent very clearly that those speaking to each other are coming from very different places.

    If this blog is to be fruitful, we need to find a true dialogue with each other. This in turn means respectful listening and abstaining from citing anecdotes as factual evidence.

    We all have horror stories to tell, but the root of many of them comes down to abuses of the ars celebrandi, whether in the Ordinary Form or (just as often) in the Extraordinary Form. The trouble is, there’s a temptation to to use texts as a scapegoat when the real cause is often to be found in other factors altogether.

    1. The Ecclesiological question as it concerns Vatican II is certainly one that should be evaluated. What did the document actually say, what did the “spirit of Vatican II” actually promote and what really was the difference between Vatican II and what preceded it. I suspect there is continuity not rupture. Well before Vatican II principles concerning the nature of the Body of Christ were well enunciated in terms of the Church being composed of two very important aspects, Head (Christ) and members, (laity and clergy.)

      Laity and Clergy each have roles in the Body of Christ, usually the laity in the area of the secular world, like politics, family life, avocations, play, etc. They also have roles in the institutional Church and in the Liturgy, but as far as working for the Church or specific liturgical ministries, by far, the vast majority of laity will not have “churchy” institutional ministries, but will be called to live their vocation in the world as followers of Christ, to know, love and serve Him as the Baltimore Catechism teaches.

      Now, in reality, we have focused on the churchy, institutional aspects of what the laity can do and have neglected what they should be doing at home, work and play as the primary means to advance the cause of Christ and the evangelization of the world. There has been in the spirit of Vatican II, a clericalization of the laity and a laicization of the clergy, a rather peculiar phenomenon not really envisioned by the actual documents of Vatican II.

      When Catholics who enter the work force, get elected to office or are public in any way and profess to be pro-choice and opposed to many of the moral teachings of the Church, then I would say, they have not truly understood what Vatican II called them to do, they have missed the boat. The question remains, who caused them to miss the boat? I have my own opinions.

      1. Are they altogther different from the times when myriad members of the church (not only laity, but clerics and prelates, including high prelates) owned chattel slaves for generations on end, and made legal and political compromises regarding the slave trade and related evils, despite Church teachings against it?

        Every age has its self-blindness. I don’t think ours is particularly unique.

    2. “It is founded on a different ecclesiology from the ecclesiology which the Council espoused,”

      The difference is (EMPHATICALLY!) not between those who accept the Council and those who do not and espouse different ecclesiologies; the difference is between those who understand the Council in different ways both in letter and intent. How many traditionalists on this blog have ever dimissed Vatican II or its contributions to ecclesiology? I can’t recall any. Moreover, how many traditionalists have accused progressivists of consciously dismissing and disregarding Vatican II and its teachings? Again, the progressivists tend to enjoy the benefit of the doubt. It seems that a sympathetic exchange and “respectful listening” is aso lacking in your comment, Mr. Inwood. Nether group has a monopoly on the correct interpretation of the Vatican II documents, but I hope that a constructive exchange will advance ever more correct interpretations.

      1. As I think about the Ecclessiology question, many people are now asserting that those who wish to celebrate the EF Mass along side the OF Mass do not accept the Ecclessiology of the Second Vatican Council, because implicit and explicit with the celebration of the EF Mass is a “tacit” clericalism that does not show forth the entire Church and the high calling that the laity have within the Church, the Body of Christ, the Mystical Body of Christ.

        I believe this to be untrue of the EF Mass prior to the Council and afterward now. Yes, there are aberrant forms of the celebration of the Mass, either EF or OF. But prior to the Council there were explicit calls for the laity to participate in the spoken and sung responses of the Mass that pertain to them, even as far back at the early 20th century and yes, popes were calling for this.

        The laity have never been banned from attending Mass in local parishes, maybe in monasteries and convents, but not local parishes. In pre-Vatican II times we had many, many strong and active parishes.

        Today, some complain that the laity do not have the same opportunities for liturgical ministries in the EF as in the OF. To a certain extent that is true. However, the laity always could act as choir member and or cantors, ushers and participate actively in the Mass according to the norms established by the Church. Today in the OF Mass laity, men and women, can lector and are seen as the ordinary lectors of the Mass. They may distribute Holy Communion, but only in the Extraordinary sense. Girls may serve the altar at the discretion of the priest.

        I am looking forward to the Vatican clarifying for us the EF Mass in terms of lectors,men and women, Extraordinary Ministers in the case of serious need as well as altar girls at the discretion of the priest. None of these are issues of doctrine, just discipline, and none of these should be an issue if approved by the appropriate ecclessiastical authorities. Currently I allow a vested altar server who is an adult to read the Epistle at the Epistle side of the sanctuary, facing the congregation, in English and we don’t read it in Latin at the altar in our celebrations of the EF Mass. I believe Pope Benedict is open to this possibility as an option and also open to the reformed lectionary for the EF Mass, although it is hard to match calendars in this regard. We do indeed need more clarification.

        But apart from that and even the possibility of the EF Mass being allowed in the vernacular to facilitate active participation by the congregation, there is very little different about it in its ecclessiology from the OF. Keep in mind even with the OF, in terms of lectors and altar servers, not to mention Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, only a small, elite group in terms of the overall make up of the parish actually do these ministries. The vast majority sit in the pew and participate from their legitimate and most important ministry as lay people who are along with the clergy members of the Body of Christ with Christ the Lord as our Head. And yes, clergy are people too, once laity, who simply have answered God’s call and the Church’s call through the Bishop, to assist the laity in worshiping God and experiencing Him in sacramental ways. We clergy are not from Mars!

  10. The ‘New Missal’ is a waste of time.

    It only appeals to the people who will not be using it (Latin Mass types, American right-wing ‘Catholics’ etc.)

    1. I disagree with that assumed correlation. One thing I’ve learned is never to assume a correlation between political and liturgical preferences; I’ve encountered far too many political conservatives who are very Low Church kind of Catholics, and far too many political liberals who are very High Church (but not EF-preferring) kind of Catholics.

      One thing should be highlighted here is that liturgical progressives don’t even have a uniform perspective regarding the new Missal translation, and anyone who assumes we do is going to be bitterly disappointed. Someone who assumes, for example, that all progressives want to engage in some form of resistance vis-a-vis the new translation might be shocked to find him or herself getting criticized from progressive angles.

    2. I’m quite looking forward to it. Although I am quite traditional, there are several reasons why I do not attend a TLM on a regular basis but only four or five times a year, and often in addition to, not in place of, a 1969 liturgy.

  11. Fr McDonald:
    “Currently I allow a vested altar server who is an adult to read the Epistle at the Epistle side of the sanctuary, facing the congregation, in English and we don’t read it in Latin at the altar in our celebrations of the EF Mass.”

    As much as this may have practical merit, it is against the rubrics. The Epistle must be read (or sung) in Latin by the priest or other sacred minister; one must look at this Latin reading as a prayer offered by the sacred minister to the Father.

    Indeed, Ecclesia Dei just ruled on this (courtesy of NLM):

    “5. While the liturgical readings (Epistle and Gospel) themselves have to be read by the priest (or deacon/subdeacon) as foreseen by the rubrics, a translation to the vernacular may afterwards be read also by a layman.”

    As for the using the reformed lectionary in the EF, from the same blog:

    “4. The calendar, readings or prefaces of the 1970 Missale Romanum may not be substituted for those of the 1962 Missale Romanum in Masses in the Extraordinary Form. “

  12. As a professor of ecclesiology, sacramental theology, and liturgy, as one who has made the Profession of Faith and taken the Oath of Fidelity, and as a Roman Catholic for nearly 63 years, I must weigh in on this conversation at some length.

    To prepare my contribution I have just analyzed again the Missale Romanum of 1962 (the EF missal) and the Missale Romanum of 2000 (the OF missal).

    Differing respectfully with Ioannes Andreades and claiming to understand the intent and the letter of the liturgical and ecclesiological reform 1903 through 1975, I say that the “reform of the reform” is not only “founded on a different ecclesiology from the ecclesiology which the [Second Vatican] Council espoused” (Paul Inwood) but also founded on a different theology of the Word of God.

    The latter is not as well known and often averted to as it ought to be. The first ten paragraphs in the second edition of the Lectionary for Mass Introduction (1981) apply the magnificent teaching of the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) to all liturgical uses of the word of God, not just the Mass. Allow me to cite sentences from just Articles Three, Four, and Five of this Introduction [my emphases are in bold face]:

    “3. The many riches contained in the one word of God are admirably brought out in the different kinds of liturgical celebration and in the different gatherings of the faithful who take part in those celebrations. . . . the liturgical celebration, founded primarily on the word of God and sustained by it, becomes a new event and enriches the word itself with new meaning and power. Thus in the Liturgy the Church faithfully adheres to the way Christ himself read and explained the Sacred Scriptures, beginning with the “today” of his coming forward in the synagogue and urging all to search the Scriptures.
    4. In the celebration of the Liturgy the word of God is not announced in only one way nor does it always stir the hearts of the hearers with the same efficacy. Always, however, Christ is present in his word, as he carries out the mystery of salvation, he sanctifies humanity and offers the Father perfect worship.
    Moreover, the word of God unceasingly calls to mind and extends the economy of salvation, which achieves its fullest expression in the Liturgy. The liturgical celebration becomes therefore the continuing, complete, and effective presentation of God’s word.
    The word of God constantly proclaimed in the Liturgy is always, then, a living and effective word through the power of the Holy Spirit. It expresses the Father’s love that never fails in its effectiveness toward us.

    5. . . . The more profound our understanding of the celebration of the liturgy, the higher our appreciation of the importance of God’s word. Whatever we say of the one, we can in turn say of the other, because each recalls the mystery of Christ and each in its own way causes the mystery to be carried forward.

    One would search in vain for such a rich theology of the Word of God in the EF liturgy.

    As for the ecclesiology of EF missal, this missal mentions the assembly/congregation/people some thirty times (only thrice in the Order of Mass) but only to orient the gestures and postures of the celebrant, to mention that a homily may be preached to them, that a special Lenten prayer be prayed over them, or that they should receive ashes, palms, candles, and be allowed to venerate the cross on Good Friday.

    Just the general introduction to the OF missal mentions the assembly/congregation/people over 500 times! The Order of Mass mentions them almost eighty times! And these are differences not just in degree but in kind.

    Pace Fr. Allan McDonald, the clericalism of the EF Mass is not tacit but explicit. Yes, Pope Saint Pius X began to reemphasize the need to dispose the faithful to participate both interiorly and exteriorly in the Mass; but even as good a pope as Pius XII could not bring himself to say something that the Pope John Paul II and the GIRM 2002 now say clearly.

    Here is Pius XII in Mediator Dei:
    “82. The fact, however, that the faithful participate in the eucharistic sacrifice does not mean that they also are endowed with priestly power. It is very necessary that you make this quite clear to your flocks.
    83. For there are today, Venerable Brethren, those who, approximating to errors long since condemned teach that in the New Testament by the word “priesthood” is meant only that priesthood which applies to all who have been baptized; and hold that the command by which Christ gave power to His apostles at the Last Supper to do what He Himself had done, applies directly to the entire Christian Church, and that thence, and thence only, arises the hierarchical priesthood. Hence they assert that the people are possessed of a true priestly power, while the priest only acts in virtue of an office committed to him by the community. Wherefore, they look on the eucharistic sacrifice as a “concelebration,” in the literal meaning of that term, and consider it more fitting that priests should “concelebrate” with the people present than that they should offer the sacrifice privately when the people are absent.
    84. It is superfluous to explain how captious errors of this sort completely contradict the truths which we have just stated above, when treating of the place of the priest in the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. But we deem it necessary to recall that the priest acts for the people only because he represents Jesus Christ, who is Head of all His members and offers Himself in their stead. Hence, he goes to the altar as the minister of Christ, inferior to Christ but superior to the people. The people, on the other hand, since they in no sense represent the divine Redeemer and are not mediator between themselves and God, can in no way possess the sacerdotal power.
    85. All this has the certitude of faith. However, it must also be said that the faithful do offer the divine Victim, though in a different sense.”

    So different is John Paul II:

    Holy Thursday Letter to Priests 1990, §3: ” ‘The priesthood is not an institution that exists “alongside” the laity or “above” it. The priesthood of bishops and priests, as well as the ministry of deacons, is “for” the laity and precisely for this reason it possesses a “ministerial” character, that is to say, one “of service.” Moreover, it highlights the “baptismal priesthood,” the priesthood common to all the faithful. It highlights this priesthood and at the same time helps it to be realized in the sacramental life.’ ”

    Pastores Dabo Vobis (On the Formation of Priests in the Circumstances of the Present Day), apostolic exhortation of April 7, 1992, §13: “According to St. Peter, the whole people of the new covenant is established as ‘a spiritual house,’ ‘a holy priesthood,’ . . . The new priestly people which is the church not only has its authentic image in Christ, but also receives from him a real ontological share in his one eternal priesthood, to which she must conform every aspect of her life.”

    And here is GIRM:
    “79. The chief elements making up the Eucharistic Prayer may be distinguished in this way:
    . . .
    “f. Offering: By which, in this very memorial, the Church—and in particular the Church here and now gathered—offers in the Holy Spirit the spotless Victim to the Father. The Church’s intention, however, is that the faithful not only offer this spotless Victim but also learn to offer themselves, and so day by day to be consummated, through Christ the Mediator, into unity with God and with each other, so that at last God may be all in all.”

    1. Thank you Fr. Paul for your excellent catechesis. My concern as one who celebrates the Extraordinary Form of the Mass only once a month on Sunday and once a week on Tuesday is that it be “influenced” by the legitimate renewal that the Second Vatican Council sought, not only in Liturgy but also in the life of the Church, in particular, as it concerns the Word of God and ecclessiology. My primary concern though is with the good celebrations of the OF Mass which is the Mass of my parish.

      When Pope Benedict issued his now famous decree allowing for more liberal celebrations of the EF Mass, his expressed desire was that having both could influence both. We tend to speak only on how the EF will influence the OF, but the OF should be influencing the EF also. I’m not clairvoyant, but perhaps this could in 50 years lead to yet another Roman Missal which develops “organically.” I won’t be here for it, hopefully I’ll be in the Liturgy of heaven where all debates on this subject will be concluded!

      In October of 1998, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger speaking to “traditionalists” in France, I believe. said the following:

      The Second Vatican Council Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy “itself does not say a word about celebrating Mass facing the altar or facing the people. And on the subject of language, it says Latin ought to be preserved while giving greater space to the vernacular…As for the participation of lay people, the Council insists first in general that the Liturgy concerns the entire Body of Christ, head and members, and that for this reason, it belongs to the entire Body of the Church and consequently the liturgy is to be celebrated in community with the active participation of the faithful.” And the text specifies: “In the liturgical celebrations, each person, whether as a minister or as one of the faithful, should perform his role by doing solely and totally what the nature of things and liturgical norms require of him. By way of promoting active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamation, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures and bodily attitudes. And at the proper time all should observe a reverent silence.”

      In other words, what the Second Vatican Council teaches applies to those who wish the Pre-Vatican II Mass as well as those who maintain the revised Liturgy. The Cardinal has some scathing remarks for those who corrupt the revised Liturgy. But Cardinal Ratzinger also criticizes those who desire an aberrant form of the Pre-Vatican II Mass which slipped too much into the domain of the individual and the private, and that the communion between priests and faithful was insufficient. Cardinal Ratizinger insists that if the Old Latin Mass is celebrated, it should be with the full, conscious and active participation of the people, a development that was occurring already in the late 1950’s prior to the council. This came to be known at the “Dialog Mass.” Even then, the “Dialog Mass” foresaw the use of lay lectors and commentators as an application of the principle of the laity performing “what the nature of things and liturgical norms require of him.”

      In terms of the Word of God and the reformed Liturgy of the Word, it would not take too much “tinkering” of the EF to allow this wonderful result of Vatican II to happen in EF celebrations and in much the same way as it is in the OF–cross influence I would say and a very positive one. But even with the one year lectionary of the EF, the way the Liturgy of the Word is celebrated could be very similar to what the OF offers for daily Mass.

      In terms of some of the excesses we saw after the Mass began to be revised, I know from first hand experience that the laity in many places were encouraged to take along with the ministerial priest, the parts of the Mass exclusive to him, i.e. presidential prayers recited in unison with him or after him, i.e. collect, prayer over the gifts and prayer after Holy Communion. I’ve experienced that rather recently. Also, in the 70’s and maybe in some isolated places today, people were encouraged to say the Eucharistic prayer out loud with the priest. So what Pope Pius was deriding in one sence came to be in “aberrant” understandings of Vatican II or what some would call the “spirit of Vatican II.”

      That we have come to appreciate the priesthood of all the baptized, which by the way includes the ministerial priest, as he is always configured to the laity but in a “superior way” to Christ (perhaps a better English translation of the word “superior” would have been more politically correct, maybe “sacramental way”) is a wonderful emphasis of the Council and of Pope John Paul II. I firmly believe that “ad orientem” celebrations of the OF Mass capture the unique role of the priest (in a visual way) as configured to the laity by his posture, (facing the same way as they) and representing Christ at the altar in a “superior” or “sacramental” way that the laity do not.

      I don’t see the EF Mass any longer as a museum piece but now configured to the richness of Vatican II. I think I get this vision from Pope Benedict himself.

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