Gentle Advice for Liturgy Broadcasters

The pontifical Mass in pre-Vatican II form from the National Shrine, EWTN broadcast, is nearing its end. What can I say?? Really beautiful but, at this late date, pretty wierd too. (How’s that for trying to find some middle ground? And now…everyone start shooting at me from all sides.)

The webcast prompts me to make just one point. It applies to all forms of the liturgy, new or old, any liturgical tradition – Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, whatever. It’s for commentators. When the choir is singing, when the celebrant is chanting, when most anything audible is happening in the liturgy, here is the mode of active participation proper to you:  SHUT UP.

The Austrians have broadcasting liturgies down to an art form. There is careful collaboration between the national TV network (ORF) and the Church, including liturgists and musicians. Consideration is given to what (little) needs to be said and what is best put on the screen as a text. Translations on the screen are accurate, idiomatic, and beautiful (hint, hint, CNN and Fox). The commentating leads you into the liturgy and does not compete with it. When I saw the funeral Mass online from Stefansdom for Cardinal Franz König, I assumed it was a documentary carefully spliced and edited and sound-mastered. It wasn’t – it was the archive of the live broadcast. I wish U.S. broadcasters could learn how the Austrians do it.



  1. Just another piece of proof that the retrograde movement and much of the unreformed liturgy is stage drama to be watched. When its all just performance and spectacle that “I” am not inolved in – chat away!

    1. Oh, on this point I think perpetrators can be found across the liturgical spectrum, including enthusiastic V2 supporters.

  2. The Vancouver opening ceremony included lots of symbolic ritual action. It invited the watcher to enter into the ritual by watching and listening to the musical background. It was constantly interrupted by commentators who often overlaid the ritual with commentary about topics unrelated to what we were seeing. The television world is simply uncomfortable with too much silence – something they call “dead time.” This is true of the many presiders who are uncomfortable with using the silent periods provided in our liturgical rites.

  3. And all the people said, “Amen, alleluia!”

    One reason why C-SPAN is such a valuable TV network here in the USA is that it gives us a front-row seat to the events it covers (whether fascinating or tedious) and lets us just be there via audio and video. Pointers to websites and other resources are given on the screen when needed, but no presenter speaks during an event except to introduce and conclude the coverage.

    I think that model would work very well in liturgical broadcasting, and even better than C-SPAN because most liturgical broadcasting happens on the web and could have clickable URLs that could be opened in new tabs to provide explanatory material when needed.

    Don’t explain an event that I cannot witness because you’re constantly explaining it!

  4. Since I was there I didn’t get to hear the commentators. Maybe I should’ve kept a radio headphone in my ear, like at the ballgame.

    Not quite sure what this means: “Really beautiful but, at this late date, pretty weird too.”

      1. They also put out video of the LA Religious Ed Conference, which is a little weird because it is 35 years since 1975. 🙂

      2. This type of critique of the extraordinary form really grates me. From the moment of its codification, every liturgical form becomes more and more culturally dated. And the idea of a liturgical form being completely free of the cultural accretions of the particular peoples who shaped it is a fools dream. Yes, the celebrations of the extraordinary form has the aire of the medieval and baroque that obviously feels out of place in the 21st century.

        But, the ordinary form has similar problems. As Ioannes Andreades implies, many of the actual celebrations of the ordinary form are throw-backs to a period–albeit more recent–that is no longer relevant. And just looking at the text of the ordinary form, one can more clearly see the reductio ad absurdum of this line of critique. Eucharist Prayer II ?!?!? 2010 is 1700 years after the Canons of Hippolytus.

  5. We had a lovely moment during the JPII’s 1982 visit to the UK. The commentator (speaking with the hushed tones usually reserved for snooker tournaments) announced, “And now the Pope is putting incense into the thurifer”.

  6. Did Vatican II abrogate this form of the Roman Rite?

    If so, the sheer tonnage of beauty that was thrown out defies rational explanation. It’s wasteful, what we’ve thrown away, like the destruction of the finest possible art.

    1. Kathy, you are so right! Our sacred rites and beautiful churchs have been vandalized. The wreckovators put Attila the Hun to shame.

  7. I’m not sure what is meant by “45 years after Vatican II, in 2010”. 45 years in a history of nearly 2,000 is nothing. Americans have no sense of history – it’s always ‘me’ and ‘now’. The Church has seen and done it all before. For millenia. There is nothing new under the Son. But clearly we differ in our view of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and I think that was not the focus of this post.

    I do agree that narration during live broadcasts is annoying – no doubt those doing it fell they need to show how they “add value’ for job security.

  8. The “Mass in pre-Vatican II form” is also the “Mass in during-Vatican II form” (at least until 1964, I believe), and, thanks to Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI — each to varying degrees — even the “Mass after Vatican II”. I’d just refer to it as the Extraordinary Form.

  9. Perhaps if they used polyester vestments it might appear a bit more “with it” and “groovy’ for those of us who hope the liturgy should be frozen in 1975?

  10. “Really beautiful but, at this late date, pretty weird too.”

    Well, the Eastern Rites are weird too, often involving more elaborate clothing and more chanting and more incense and what-not.

    The Ordinary Form is weird too, to our modern sensibilities… perhaps that’s why we keep trying to “enculturate” and update it. Why such weird old vestments? Why such weird foreign music? Why such weird out-dated readings? (Just as St. Mary’s-in-exile in Brisbane about that one…) Why such weird particular elements like bread, wine, and olive oil?

  11. *Sigh* if you want weird – I just got back from Mass at Roppongi Franciscan Center in Tokyo (which seems to be dedicated to St. Heterodox). Not one cleric reverenced the Tabernacle behind the Altar. One made it highly apparent (repeated unstifled yawns while looking at one’s watch usually helps) that he was bored throughout the whole Mass. Given the absence of EF Mass in Tokyo, we fulfilled our obligation by attending this OF. I left feeling depressed. The only highlight was the long and complete silence when a layman interrupted the prayers after Holy Communion to ask any visitors to put their hands up and introduce themselves.

  12. It may be of interest that the commentators yesterday were Fr. Goodwin of the FSSP and Fr. Zuhlsdorf of WDTPRS fame.

  13. I was unhappy with the constant interruptions. I wish that there were two feeds: one with no commentary whatsoever and one with commentary. The “no commentary” feed could be internet only. I don’t know if they can afford it, but it’d be nice if EWTN considered this option in the future.

    This isn’t the the “pre-vatican II” version. This is the holy Solemn Pontifical Mass that has praised God and the union of heaven and earth for at least a millenium. If it’s weird, it’s because it’s a glimpse of Heaven and a world beyond our feeble rationalization. Hence the Achilles’ Heel of the reformed liturgy: it’s a rationalization of liturgy that lowers heaven to our comprehension and not the converse. Thankfully the Pontifical Mass avoids any congruence with today’s society and its expectations.

  14. What can I say?? Really beautiful but, at this late date, pretty wierd too.

    Father, the traditional Latin Mass is never late. It is never early. It is always timely. It is timeless: in force for over 1500 years, it transcends the historic moment. It is universal in form and practice, it directly and unambiguously re-presents the sacrifice at Calvary, and it emphasizes the essential unity of the Church.

    What is “pretty wierd” [sic] is tying the liturgy to some Hegelian dialectic of change. Making the Mass faddish, unstable, and open to innovation is confusing and contrary to the bold proclamation of Catholic truth through sacred tradition. Would the Forma Ordinaria be able to satisfy Vincent of Lérins that it has been held “everywhere, always, and by all”?

    1. Timothy, you’re making strong claims indeed about the “traditional Latin Mass.” I can only say that I stand with the last ecumenical council which took a different view. Sacrosanctum concilium offers a pretty comprehensive critique of the inherited Mass form and pretty clear rationale for why it needs reforming. Sacrosanctum concilium directly contradicts some of your claims.

  15. This is in part a question of liturgical praxis. The Forma Ordinaria is a very noble rite, and can rightly achieve the edification and catechesis of the faithful. But it cannot do this when is in the hands of those who act not as servants of the liturgy but rather seek to be its master. What we have received in the deposit of faith must be passed on, whole and entire, without unnecessary amendment or disruption.

    Keep in mind that the Forma Ordinaria and the Forma Extraordinaria have been described the Holy Father as two expressions of one Roman Rite. Neither needs to be seen as “weird” – to do so is to force an interpretation that obscures worship and distracts from the latria we give to God.

    The sooner we stop being political and embrace the Roman Rite in its completeness is the day when any doubt of our Catholic unity is expelled from the Church. Jesus Christ gave us the the Eucharist as the source and summit of Christian life and action – let us turn to it and adore.

  16. Fr. Ruff, I’m afraid all boats would be swamped if we let SC be the final arbiter of liturgical praxis. Not a bad place to start–but we’d all have to make changes.

    1. Ahem, were did I say that SC is the final arbiter of liturgical praxis? I did, rather, defend its foundational principles. Not a bad place to start, indeed. Maybe even a good place to start??

  17. As I take it, its foundational principles are two: the unique saving power of the liturgy, and the need for an increase in active participation.

    A fine place to start. The next steps may prove more interesting.

  18. I think it’s possible to get a feel for the divisions that exist right now through this very simple post.

    Those who who see this Mass as “weird”, and those who see the normative celebration of the OF as “weird”. Simple, but an effective sorting method that encompasses a wide spectrum of liturgical issues.

  19. What about those of us who see neither this Mass nor the dignified celebration of the Ordinary Form as weird?

    And why, again, do people always speak so divisively?

    1. Kathy, I don’t mean to be divisive, sorry if it came across that way. I don’t think the *form* is wierd. I think the *use* of it now, in this cultural situation, is wierd. I know that others have strong differing opinions and feelings about it, and that some feel slighted or insulted when critiqued, so I want to be respectful. My personal feeling is that the modern or post-modern world (or whatever we’re in) is very complicated and confusing, and retreating to 1962 is not the best response and could harm the Church’s mission. Maybe I’m wrong.

      1. “retreating to 1962 is not the best response and could harm the Church’s mission”

        I don’t understand how using the Missal from 1962 (slightly revised since then, of course…) is “retreating to 1962” any more than most US parishes today using a 1973 translation of the Roman Missal are “retreating to 1973”, nor using Eucharistic Prayer II is “retreating to the early 3rd century.”

      2. Fr. Ruff, OSB,

        About the EF and harm to the mission of the Church:

        What percentage of total Roman Rite eucharistic celebrations do you suppose would need to be in the EF in order to harm the mission of the Church? 1%? 5%? 10%? Some other percentage? Not a percentage thing? Does it depend upon how the EF-share is distributed geographically? Does it harm mission in some dioceses more than in others?

        I doubt we’re at 1% yet, but it could happen.

  20. I don’t think you’re wrong.

    We have a liturgical form that was the needed target of worldwide reform. A virtual unaminity of the world’s bishops agreed. The indult granted a very weird abrogation from the principles of Vatican II. There is indeed much, much more to SC than the salvific nature of the liturgy and the participation of the people. I for one would like to see how reform2 folks would apply SC 124 to the use of vestments.

    That said, if the reform is truly deemed in need of reform, I would love to see how the advocates for the TLM would seriously apply SC to the 1962 Missal, and retain an artistic, beautiful, and profound expression of the Church’s participation in Christ’s worship of the Father. While remaining faithful to the Church’s mission as articulated in the Council.

    Failing that, I have to conclude that some Catholics don’t take Vatican II seriously, or sadly, can’t be bothered by it, and/or have elevated the pre-conciliar High Mass to its own pedestal as a golden calf. Artistic, no doubt. But perhaps not aligned with the Church’s mission to spread the Gospel to all corners of the Earth.

    1. That said, if the reform is truly deemed in need of reform, I would love to see how the advocates for the TLM would seriously apply SC to the 1962 Missal, and retain an artistic, beautiful, and profound expression of the Church’s participation in Christ’s worship of the Father. While remaining faithful to the Church’s mission as articulated in the Council.

      Perhaps something like the Anglican Use would have been more what they had in mind? iThey could have just as easily taken the 1962 Missal, “cleaned it up” so to speak, perhaps changed the Liturgy of the Word more to the OF now, still used the vernacular while perhaps retaining the Latin for parts, etc. If you watch the Anglican Use at Atonement in Texas, I think you may find a solid middle ground between the EF and OF.

  21. Any number of writers, including Aidan Nichols, Klaus Gamber, and László Dobszay, have addressed the issue of how to “seriously apply SC to the 1962 Missal.”

    The real question is that suggested by Kathy Pluth – the principles of Vatican II are one thing, their application by the Consilium something else again. I think that one can argue that the way the calendar was revised, for example, was less than ideal, and went beyond what the Council fathers envisioned. Was it necessary to eliminate the season of Epiphany, for example? And did they really intend the virtual elimination of Latin?

    At any rate, the assumption seems to be that the way mass is celebrated in most American parishes in 2010 is de facto what Vatican II wanted, even though something very different can be done – Latin, chant, etc. – without violating any of the rubrics – on the contrary!

  22. People speak of a middle ground, and perhaps one finds something close to that in communities that take liturgy seriously: a solid embrace of liturgical reform in the context of ars celebrandi.

    I don’t think that “most American parishes in 2010” have the best possible celebration of Mass. I know that fifty years ago is was likely less true.

    One poor fruit of reform was the ghettoization of Mass into folk, teen, polka, quiet, high, low, or whatever. The last two popes have done us no favors by endorsing one of the weaker experiments to arise from the post-conciliar period.

    We should have one form, a reformed Rite, but one sturdy and worthy enough to bear any number of styles so as to reach the most believers possible.

  23. I’m not sure I can add much to a conversation that we’ve all had so many times now, but I’m foolish enough to try. People clearly have very different perceptions of modern culture and are in very different emotional places. For me, using 1962 in 2010 feels more escapist by far than any other option I can imagine . But I respect that others don’t feel/think that way. Such differences among us! I think this is a significant mark of our current cultural situation. In fact, I think all this is about three things: culture, culture, and culture. It’s not about chant, cappae magnae, eastward orientation, or prayers at the foot of the altar.

    1. I think one also needs to underscore the general initial attraction of communities that are gathered by a level of intentionality above the typical parish. Now, as many here have experienced, that attraction is often balanced over time (my own sense is that this typically takes at least 3 years) by the higher risk factor in intentionally gathered communities for various fractures, hurts and resentments – unlike Benedictine communities, there are no vows of stability, and people can and do enter into serial relationships with successive intentional communities as the blooms come each successive rose.

      We often undervalue the relentlessly dull wisdom of the traditional Catholic practice of organizing worship communities territorially rather than by overt detailed intentionality.

  24. I think it’s about theology, I don’t think we’ve had this conversation before, and I don’t think “escapist” is any more a respectful expression than “weird.”

    1. It’s about theology for sure, as long as we don’t misuse theology to escape all the important cultural questions, including how the culture impels us to respond in such different ways.

  25. I think some Catholics are “escapist.” It may or may not be respectful, but it may be true … of some.

    Fr Ruff is right: this is about culture, the wider definition of it, how people interact and throw in all the arts.

    Professor Gamber and others may have theologized about reforming the 1962 Missal, but I seriously doubt it’s taken seriously in the TLM movement. For the skeptics, I think this is about escapism.

  26. Had the “reform” been “organic” and not a wholesale re-writing of the 1500 year old Roman Rite, perhaps we would not be having this discussion. The wounds have not healed for many, who find greater spiritual nourishment in the venerable “extraordinary form” Mass.

  27. I couldn’t agree more that it’s all about culture. But culture isn’t simply the expression of a particular time and place, at its best it embodies timeless values. I feel no more “1962” by worshiping at a EF mass than I do “Vienna” by listening to Mozart’s Jupiter symphony, or “AD 400” while reading St. Augustine. For some, the Beatles are all about reliving the 1960s; me – I wasn’t alive in the ’60s and just like the music.

    The “1962” mass embodies cultural values that go way back, values that while not completely absent from the reformed rite are (in my opinion) less robustly evident there and more difficult to maintain. (Aidan Nichols in particular has written about this.) I think TLMers instinctively feel this which is why many are so wary of changing it.

  28. It seems to me that the problem is that *some* of the reformers did not share the traditional Catholic belief in the Real Presence. The English translation, the removal of tabernacles, the “rediscovery” of reception standing and in the hand, the allergy to genuflection all *may* be consistent with belief but they are at best ambiguous in places. The problem with the reform of the reform is that it reduces the ambiguity, making it harder for those who no longer truly believe to stay in good conscience. Hence the amount of emotion. People argue it’s the poor grammar, the stilted words because for at least some of them they want to but they can’t say “hey, it’s only the ambiguous words that enable me to stay”. Hence, the artificial arguments hiding the true source of division: many in our Church have accepted the rejection of the Real Presence of the reformers.

    1. This is a very serious accusation, and as stated, it would affect not only those directly involved in the linguistic casting of the post-Conciliar liturgy, but also the bishops’ conferences that were involved in approving its translation and promulgating the various documents about art and architecture… a very serious accusation indeed!

      And what do you mean about the traditional Catholic belief in Real Presence? If by it you mean substantial presence following upon a radical transformation of the substance of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, such that neither anything of the bread and wine remains except that which is accidental to its nature nor that Christ is physically present but only substantially after a sacramental manner, then yes, you’re probably right because very few people cast their belief in the terms of Scholastic philosophy: and however apt such an articulation may be, it is not the only possible articulation, nor the only orthodox articulation of belief in the Real Presence. Yes, there is ambiguity — and has been since (at least) the Council of Trent… and Lateran IV… and the trial of Berengar of Tours… and Augustine… and Paul and John.

  29. It seems as if the factions are beginning to talk past one another here. Those offended by “weird” are offering the usual easy (and insulting) suggestions that reformers must be deficient in some theological understanding.

    The purpose of liturgy is twofold: aside from the participation of the worship of God, it is also about sanctification. On this Earth, liturgy has a purpose and a focus other than God. Otherwise, why would Jesus have instituted a Eucharist in which the early believers so readily encountered him in the breaking open of the Word and in the breaking of the Bread.

    The reform2 effort overlooks much, and the attachment to the TLM moves against the council bishops’ understanding of the primacy of evangelization, and the importance of the daily encounter with Christ. Liturgy, or the aspect we influence, is about the Great Commission. It’s not about the Sabbath for the Sabbath’s sake.

    1. Are you saying that, generally, those who seek the reform of the Ordinary Form, or who prefer the Extraordinary Form, do not recognize evangelization as the Church’s mission? That they much prefer to quibble about liturgy rather than the salvation of souls?

      If so, I would guess it’s the “extremists” (sorry to have to use that word) who fit that description. I’m concerned that people don’t get hear in the Mass (EF or OF) a call to carry out the Church’s mission. I’m concerned that “Ite, missa est” means “Go home, this is finally over” instead of “Go carry out the mission of the Church”. (See Sacramentum Caritatis 51) I’m concerned that Catholics no longer see a need for evangelization of the Gospel (or of the fullness of the Catholic faith) to non-Christians (or non-Catholics).

      That’s why I seek to educate people about the liturgy. For me, the liturgy IS about evangelization. And that’s why I think that the E.F. needs reform… and that the liturgical reform after Vatican II missed the mark in some aspects.

      1. Not exactly.

        But Christ is not more difficult to find when the liturgy is inculturated. The 1962 Missal has nothing extraordinary about it, other than the Real Presence of Christ.

        I think there is a problem with a basic attitude of “You come to us; you do it this way as the best (or only) way.” I’ve seen it time and time again in the Church, and not just among liturgists, and certainly not only among traditional-leaning Catholics. There is a certain sense of entitlement among American Catholics (and maybe elsewhere). Otherwise, why are we so content with so many absentees on Sunday?

        I think we agree the liturgical reform of the past century is imperfect. But it’s also incomplete. Some of us would say the reform was bobbled in some ways, in some places. I’d agree. But I’d also say that much of liturgical reform was timid.

  30. Cody – I am but a ‘bum in the pew’, not a cleric. It seems to me that the changes are capable of an orthodox interpretation. The problem is they are also capable of an unorthodox one – some of the words and actions are, where they were not before, ambiguous. By removing the ambiguity, the Church becomes, to borrow an Anglican term, less of a broad Church, as it leaves less room for those who do not accept traditional Roman Catholic thinking. I am actually in favor of a more honest debate here. Those who use phrases on here such as ‘magic moment’ to refer dismissively to the Consecration are perhaps being more honest if less respectful. My point is that, as far as I know, nothing in the documents of Vatican II promoted any change whatsoever in Church teaching on the Real Presence. And yet it seems to me this is what is at the heart of the emotion behind the debate. Love it or hate it, the Extraordinary Form leaves no room for doubt on this point.

    1. I think I see the point you’re getting at, but I would find it helpful if you would cite particular examples of “words and actions” in the post-conciliar liturgy that you find ambiguous, or supportive of an ambiguous teaching.

      Also, I think that the teaching on the Real Presence has been ambiguous from the beginning and continues to be so — quite apart from the liturgy; and the Roman Catholic Church has tolerated this, and even built it into its teaching documents — and long before Vatican II. This isn’t, and never has been, “anything goes,” but a range of acceptable ways for articulating the same truths (even when those ways seem to be at odds with one another apart from their respective constructs.)

    2. Actually, over history, the EF did leave doubts, just other kinds, which were just as serious. The kind that drew Pius X to his twin revolutions in liturgical participation and sacramental praxis, the effects of which now are often taken for granted but ought not be. And one sees among some traditionalists a revival of the kind of thing Pius X was striving against, for example, in the approbation by some of pious fasting from Holy Communion when one is not impeded by grave sin.

  31. I can only apologise for my poor self-expression: I am writing as a layman so can only give my impressions without perhaps clear use of technical terms. I think Cody & Karl are getting to the heart of the matter better than I can. It seems to me that some very intelligent people are making not the strongest arguments against the reform of the reform on grounds of grammar etc. And their reaction is so strong as to make me doubt it’s because they’re obsessive about syntax and morphology. But I don’t hear them making theological arguments against either the EF or the proposed reform of the OF translation. And yet I sense that there are issues there not being discussed. Perhaps a priest can studiously avoid Eucharistic Prayer I in the OF but, if asked to celebrate an EF, he would have to pronounce words he cannot in good conscience accept. That strikes me a a good reason to have a strong emotional reaction – but I don’t see the debate revolving around it. Am I missing something?

    1. Perhaps a priest can studiously avoid Eucharistic Prayer I in the OF but, if asked to celebrate an EF, he would have to pronounce words he cannot in good conscience accept. That strikes me a a good reason to have a strong emotional reaction – but I don’t see the debate revolving around it.

      What objectionable material is there in the Roman Canon? I suspect that most OF celebrants avoid EP 1 because it is long.

      The opposite situation is also interesting. There are priests who will only say the Canon when celebrating the OF, often in Latin. I have heard that the Vatican has definitively ruled the obvious — that no priest may say the Roman Canon is superior to the other Eucharistic prayers. Yet I often sense that EF and “reform of the reform” groups consider the original Roman Canon the eucharistic prayer, and consider the other EP’s and translations newcomers and pretenders. I often tend to think similarly, though I shouldn’t.

  32. I am interested to learn more here. If it helps: I am 45, and grew up with the OF. Over time, the priests told us: no more altar rails, no more sanctus bells, no more genuflection, no more tabernacle, let’s not call it the Sacrifice of the Mass, etc. A guy’s got to sense that an ever deepening devotion to the Real Presence isn’t exactly what’s driving this and yet I was always told ‘no, no, nothing’s changed’. It did always strike me as the priest saying “who are you going to believe, me or your own two eyes”. So, when the EF re-emerged a few years ago, and I attended, I felt “yes – this is what the Mass felt like before the priests kept telling us to change things. This feels like how it really is”. And yet, although I admire and envy those who find their faith nurtured in the OF, and am glad it’s there for them, I am shocked by how many aren’t glad the EF is there for me. They seem to fear and hate it and resent its very existence. So, I wonder, why such depth of feeling.

    1. I see where the lack of external comportment can leave the impression that belief in the Real Presence has been abandoned; and undoubtedly it has, in the minds of some.

      Liturgy and doctrine inform one another; nether is wholly determined by the other, and this is the point of real concern. Some have suggested that the texts of the present OF, or its present translation, downplay the teaching on Real Presence. I don’t think that’s the case. But I do know that there has been some sloppy celebration of the liturgy that certainly has suggested that the presence of Christ has taken a back place to, say, the memorial value of the Eucharist, or its role as a communal meal. I don’t like opposing meal to sacrifice, or memorial to presence: they are all equally important to shaping a full understanding of the Eucharist, which is theologically more that we can ever say about it. (This is not to deny that a minimum must be said.) But yes, some of these aspects have been emphasized at the cost of undervaluing others — and that has caused real scandal among some of the people of God.

      I would suggest that Real Presence is always presence-for: Christ is not present in the Eucharist in order to be our object of devotion, but to be the food and drink of our new and unending life in him; the viaticum (bread for the journey) by which we make our way to God; and the medicine of immortality along that way. But since Christ is present in the Eucharist as this sort of presence-for, the Eucharist is worthy of our adoration. In periods where few people have been regular communicants, or communion has been distributed outside of mass — from a tabernacle, at a side altar — emphasis has come to be placed on Presence (in itself, not necessarily as given for-us) and adoration. To correct that imbalance, another was introduced, and the meal and fellowship aspects received overemphasis… and isn’t that the way of it? We correct imbalances with other imbalances in a seemingly endless and at times vicious cycle. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way out of this, but getting our real concerns on the table is a good start. And I think some of that is being accomplished here.

      1. “I would suggest that Real Presence is always presence-for: Christ is not present in the Eucharist in order to be our object of devotion, but to be the food and drink of our new and unending life in him; the viaticum (bread for the journey) by which we make our way to God; and the medicine of immortality along that way.”

        And so that the Eucharist can truly be the re-presentation of the sacrifice of the Son to the Father, which is why before the Eucharist is “food and drink”, “viaticum”, or “medicine of immortality”, it is offered to God in the second half of the Eucharistic Prayers. See, I think this is why some Catholics are concerned that the notion of the Mass a “truly propitiatory” sacrifice, because the emphasis on the Eucharist as “for us” has virtually eclipsed mention of the Eucharist as “for the Father”.

  33. Liturgy seems very much about culture. I grew in SW Pa in the late 1950s with Eastern Christians all around. At Mt Macrina each August various Eastern languages celebrated their liturgies before the new English Hierarchical Liturgy concelebrated by Bp. Sheen. When I began using St.Vincent’s library at age 16, I discovered Gueranger and all the Western Rites. How sad it was that Trent had eliminated so many beautiful ways of praising God!!! I fail to see the value of uniformity in liturgy, or some ideal liturgy from some ideal period, or that there is only one way to celebrate the liturgy in our culture. Personally I like Latin and Gregorian chant, and would like to celebrate the OF in Latin, and even the EF Divine Office in Latin, but I don’t like the EF Mass, fiddlebacks, etc. It’s a cultural thing! There are some Eastern Churches that I am more likely to go to than others! Let there be many ways to praise God, more choices, and let us not impose on one another.

  34. Jack – I couldn’t agree more. It’s one reason I am so excited about the ordinariate for former Anglicans. The Catholic Church really is much bigger from the inside than from the outside.

    1. Yes if we have two, and soon three or more Western Forms (a better word than Rites which imply separate Churches, canon law, etc?) can we have more? Personally I would have preferred the Pope to have allowed the use of all previous Western liturgical forms used by communities of unquestioned orthodoxy. That might have avoided pitting the EF and OF against each other.
      My preference is also for developing various forms of the Divine Office first. Again, why can’t we develop more and varied ways to praise God? I would have preferred the American Bishops to had allowed Evening Prayer and Morning Prayer to fulfill the Sunday obligation as I think it does in some Eastern Churches. (Perhaps they were afraid of the popularity of a thirty minute service; but the Orthodox have developed an hour long Vespers/Matins Saturday vigil service). The Anglicans have certainly had some fine ideas for the Office.

  35. Those who criticize the post-conciliar liturgy can do so for three different reasons:

    1. Some think the Council’s reform project itself was illegitimate. Those who explicitly take this view have mostly left the Church. But some critics of the reform support this view, but do not say so explicitly.

    2. Some accept what the Council wanted but think all or some of the changes embodied in the mass of Paul VI are illegitimate. The 3 main arguments seem to be: the reform goes beyond what the Council wanted, the changes are not “organic”, and the new texts are theologically suspect.

    3. Some accept both the Council and the mass of Paul VI, but decry the “abuses” they see in the way the post-conciliar mass is actually celebrated.

    Our debates would be improved if we clearly indicated at which of these three levels we were arguing.

  36. Following on my previous post, I submit the following question for discussion.

    The Council taught that there were aspects of the “traditional” mass that needed to be reformed. This is not just the expression of an opinion; it is a teaching of the highest authority in the Church, namely the bishops in Council with the pope.

    The Council taught:
    – The rites of the mass needed to be simplified
    – There needed to be a more representative portion of Scripture read at mass.
    – The General Intercessions had to be restored.

    It also taught that a greater use should be made of (a) the vernacular, (b) concelebration, (c) communion under both kinds, but left it up to bishops’ conferences to determine the extent of this use.

    Question: How then can those who insist on celebrating or attending the unreformed pre-conciliar mass claim to be faithful to the Council’s teaching?

    This question is located at level 1 (see my previous post). It has nothing to do with levels 2 or 3. It is irrelevant to claim that the mass of Paul VI is illegitimate or that its celebration is attended with many abuses. The question concerns the legitimacy of making use of the unreformed pre-conciliar mass when the Council taught authoritatively that it could not continue to be used in its unreformed state.

    And it leads to the following question: Are those who insist on making use of the unreformed liturgy not implicitly rejecting the authority of the Council?

    1. What you say makes sense, Michael. But it presupposes that we non-bishops can understand the teachings of the Church. And we can’t.

      Only bishops can understand. Bishops alone possess the “charism of truth.” By means of this special property, they can offer an authoritative construal of the Church’s own tradition, including the documents of Vatican II. They can, we can’t.

      These same bishops, by the “charism of truth,” consent to act through a structure of rule by means of which it’s been decided that no matter what the Council documents say, what they mean, on an authoritative construal, is compatible with making the EF available.

      I might not understand it all, but I’m just a layperson. I might protest, but that’s no match for the “charism of truth.” An understanding of the Church’s teachings that’s less than an authoritative construal (ours) will always lose to an understanding that’s an authoritative construal (theirs). There’s no hope.

      1. Your ecclesiology (“Only bishops have the charism of truth”) is questionable, but I’ll grant it for the sake of argument. But the charism has to be exercised as a college, otherwise bishops with contrary opinions would both be right.

        The bishops collegially have never ruled that the meaning of the Council documents “is compatible with making the EF available”. Indeed, some have shown that they believe the opposite is true, by their actions in not making it available in their diocese. (That was the reason for Summorum pontificum, wasn’t it?) So it’s not the case that “it’s been decided” by the college of bishops that making the EF available is compatible with the Council documents.

        On the other hand, no bishop has ever questioned that the mass of Paul VI was a legitimate implementation of the Council’s intentions. In fact, THIS is the only unanimous decision of the college of bishops on the matter.

    2. Question: How then can those who insist on celebrating or attending the unreformed pre-conciliar mass claim to be faithful to the Council’s teaching?

      I don’t have the “charism of truth” but fwiw:

      Answer: Those who insist on celebrating or attending the unreformed pre-conciliar mass can claim to be faithful to the Council’s teaching simply by not refusing to attend one day a mass that will deliver on what the Council is taken to require. The Council does not say, “and, in addition to everything else We’ve said, the faithful are hereby obliged to attend *any* mass that can be interpreted as a response to Our teachings.” So the 1962 folks can say, “yeah, I want what SC calls for, but not in the way the legitimate 1970 mass gives it; I’m waiting, and in the meantime I will go to this other Mass that my diocesan bishop supports.”

      This answer makes no claim that the mass of Paul VI is illegitimate or that its celebration is attended with many abuses.

      1. You seem to be saying:
        – Vatican II says the pre-conciliar liturgy has to be reformed
        – I agree with this
        – But I am entitled to wait until I am presented with a reformed liturgy I find satisfactory
        – Until this happens I am entitled to continue using the unreformed liturgy and in so doing I am being faithful to the Council.

        This sounds pretty subjective. Or am I missing something?

    3. How then can those who insist on celebrating or attending the unreformed pre-conciliar mass claim to be faithful to the Council’s teaching?

      Various answers with varying levels of credibility, I’ll admit:

      1. Pope Benedict said that “[w]hat earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”

      2. It was not a matter of disobedience to attend the “pre-conciliar Mass” AFTER the promulgation of Sac. Conc. and BEFORE any changes had been made to it.

      3. The salvation of souls is the highest law.

      4. Some (such as myself, but I don’t attend the E.F. Mass very often at all) agree that the E.F. needs reform, but don’t see it (or celebrating/attending it) in its unreformed as an act of disobedience or bad faith.

      And then the question could be asked about how hundreds of bishops and priests can “claim to be faithful…” when they celebrate the O.F. the way they do…

      1. I hope these questions/comments are helpful.

        To 1: The Council said the mass had to be reformed. Pope Benedict seems to be saying that the pre-conciliar mass is legitimate even if unreformed. Can they both be right? And if not, how does one determine the relative weight of the word of the Pope alone and the word of the bishops-in-council-with-the Pope?

        To 2: Agreed, but how is this relevant to our situation 40 years later?

        To 3: How is this relevant? Was the Council engaged in a program that was harmful to the salvation of souls (and was unaware that it was doing this)?

        To 4: Why is it not an act of bad faith? Those who believe the mass of Paul VI to be a flawed reform, and yet are faithful to the Council, will argue for, and work for, a “better” reform. But when have you ever heard the supporters of the pre-conciliar mass do that? Instead, they defend every jot and tittle of the unreformed liturgy. That’s what makes them unfaithful to the Council.

    4. Regarding communion under both kinds, the Council instructed that it “may be granted when the bishops think fit, not only to clerics and religious, but also to the laity, in cases to be determined by the Apostolic See.” (SC 54)

      If any are unaware, the bishops of some countries (e.g. USA) went well beyond the cases determined by the Apostolic See. The original rule was: “Ordinaries are not to grant blanket permission but, within the limits set by the conference of bishops, are to specify the instances and celebrations for this form of communion. To be excluded are occasions when the number of communicants is great. The permission should be for specific, structured, and homogeneous assemblies.”

      John Paul II virtually pleaded for adherence to this rule in 1980’s Inaestimabile Donum. It fell on deaf ears.

      I did a little investigative research on this a couples of years ago.

      1. First my bias: I hold strongly that Holy Communion should be offered to all under both forms at every Mass without exception. Anything else is theologically highly questionable. I’m disappointed that any Pope would ever say otherwise. (No pope would have, BTW, for most of church history in the West.) I’m edified that bishops (they form a college, you know, as part of the magisterium) resisted PJ2.
        I’ve seen both forms administered to some 2,000 people in our abbey church with no problems and great reverence.
        The Graduale Simplex is intended for use in smaller churches. It had its debut near the end of Vatican II in St. Peter’s Basilica. I conclude that both forms, which supposedly is not appropriate for great numbers of communicants, is appropriate only in churches smaller than St. Peter’s Basilica.

      2. Our bishop mandated that the chalice not be given to the laity because of H1N1 concerns. I’ve always had the chalice for the laity in every Church I’ve been in including large numbers of people for every Mass, daily and Sunday. However, I have become more “germophobic” over the years and the H1N1 situation compounded it. I do not like drinking the dregs of the chalice and the ablutions from a chalice that 40 or more people have used, nor asking someone else to do it without telling them of the possibility of contracting a variety of viruses. In addition, we’ve had to contend over the years with people drinking the entire chalice, spitting in it, dropping the host from their mouth into the chalice, spilling it on their clothes, shoes and floor. I wanted to go to intinction but my bishop would not approve it, once he allowed the chalice to return. So I do think hygiene and the prevention of unintentional desecration are valid concerns.

  37. With Father Ruff, I also got a little annoyed at the commentators, particularly at their speaking through Palestrina’s Tu Es Petrus — one of my all time faves. One would think Father Z would know better… With regard to EF versus OF, can’t we just do the Catholic “both/and” thing here? I really appreciate both forms and would hope that they are preserved and kept widely available, although I would prefer OF with a little more reverence and verticality, more respect for the Catholic liturgical tradition and with more decent music than is the norm. As for speaking to the modern world, why does that mean that the Roman rite has to toss out the treasures of art, music and ceremony of centuries in order to try to be “relevant”? No one in the eastern rites ever would think of doing such a thing. And I’m not sure that the treacly 1970’s “contemporary” dreck that passes for liturgical music in most parishes in the US really is modern or appeals to modern man in the 21st Century.

  38. (Cont’d from previous post) Just maybe modern man is looking for transcendance and communion with the divine, and not just self affirmation of the current culture — I would not consider that escapism.

  39. Fr Ruff,

    I am not terribly surprised that any Pope in the past millennium might have said so, so I am not so sure about “most of Church history” part.

    After all, this decree of Trent followed a not inconsiderable length of time where only one species was offered to the laity (except on odd occasions to royalty of certain sorts at certain times, IIRC), and even then not with the frequency of the past century, sadly:

    Now, I am not a fan of mega-liturgies in arenas, vast fields, St Peter Square (or even in St Peter’s or buildings of a similar size that are filled with people), because I don’t think one for effective purposes has a liturgical congregation on that scale.

    I strongly support offering the Precious Blood to the faithful at large, in case there is any doubt. I just feel that the witness of history is more ambivalent on this point than some proponents sometimes seem to admit. On the other hand, I am skeptical of assumptions on the traditionalist side that historical developments are presumed to be providentially dictated (as opposed to providentially permitted).

    When do you believe the laity stopped receiving communion under both species with frequency in the West?

    1. Karl – Oh, I was being horribly idealistic just there. Of course you’re right, the history is complex and ambiguous. I think that frequent communion of any kind by the laity was already declining in the 4th century, which is a tragic fact of our history. I’m told that both forms gradually declined in the 13th century and after, at different rates in different places.

      1. Fr Ruff

        I appreciate the candid reply. I’ve read lots of speculation and assumptions about the decline in Eucharistic participation, but very little hard evidence that tracks trends well. I was wondering if you had. For example, my reading of Lateran IV in the early 13th century is that the Easter duty was an attempt to set a floor (in other words, *increase* participation) after a few centuries of de minimis participation in at least many parts of the Western church.

      2. Karl,

        Your reading of Lateran IV is consistent with what you would hear in any graduate level Eucharistic history course. Generally, whenever something regarding the performance of liturgy enters into preceptual law (liturgical, canonical, conciliar, synodical, diocesan, etc., etc.) you can take it as evidence that whatever it prescribes is the opposite of what was going on at that time and in that place.

  40. @-Michael at # 69: From within what I take to be the “charism of truth” (CT) view, I tried to go to the root of any non-bishop’s act of referring to the sense of any Catholic Church teaching. CT’s not my view, but it’s influential. Imagine the CDF’s Donum Veritatis without it.

    I want to see whether taking CT seriously undermines teaching itself. Can *what* is learned by bishops alone or as college-with-pope-as-head by means of CT actually be taught to someone who does not have CT? Without CT, can I appropriate or receive or understand that which can only be known by CT? No. Isn’t it hilarious that what justifies the existence of a teaching authority happens to be what makes it impossible for that teaching authority ever to teach? It doesn’t teach if I don’t learn, and I can’t see how it is possible for me to learn CT-based truths without possessing CT myself. And if I did have CT, then I wouldn’t need a teaching authority. I’d be a teaching authority. False?

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