Liturgical Prescription

Over at the The Deacon’s Bench, Deacon Greg has linked a video of a Holy Thursday celebration led by an intermittently famous Catholic priest from Chicago. It is, um, interesting.

Now I know that some think that the only cure for such things is a swift whack in the head with the IGMR or CIC. But let’s pretend for a moment that we want to actually persuade this priest that this is not the best way to celebrate the Eucharist on Holy Thursday — or ever. What would you say? What arguments would you make for why this is wrong, other than pointing out the 1024 rubrics it violates? What important thing about the nature of Holy Thursday or the Eucharist or liturgy in general does this approach miss?

Of course, some might think that this approach is just fine, and wish that more Masses were like this. You should feel free to make your arguments as well.


  1. Misguided at best, scandalous at worst. Yet, I wonder if there isn’t some place in the life of the Church for creative, dramatic expression of the faith. Not in the context of celebrating the Eucharist, because this makes the Mass into something it is not. But at a time outside of Mass? Perhaps outside of the church building in an auditorium? I could see much good coming from this type of performance, used in a proper way for catechetical purposes.

  2. I’m not totally speechless (or writeless) as I experienced things like this in the 70’s. But how to convince someone like this who seems rather self-consumed and that his style of celebrating whatever it is he is doing is reason 4,043,854 for “say the black and do the red” and that ad orientem even for this would have been a vast improvement along with a silent canon would I suspect be a difficult sell, but that is what I suggest, a silent canon and ad orientem keep all else the same.

  3. You don’t fix this. Some guys will never be convinced that this sort of thing isn’t helpful. And as long as the masses like theatrics and grandstanding like this, it will always find an audience. We are called “sheep” for a reason…

  4. The traditional pange lingua gloriosi Holy Thursday procession this liturgy is not. Still, there are two interesting elements to note.

    The altar arrangement is, from my perspective, clearly inspired by the Neocatechumenal Way. This is rubrically permissible only for the aforementioned group. Fr. Pfleger’s use of this arrangement is gray zone in my opinion. More disturbing is Father’s complete disregard for the text and rubrics of the ordinary form. It’d be even more interesting if Fr. Pfleger decided to set up the altar in the form of a συμπόσιον (sumposion) or triclinium (i.e. an antique Mediterranean dinner party). Jesus and the twelve would have reclined on couches at the Last Supper. Somehow I suppose that many would find the latter option even more scandalous even if it were to be more historically accurate!

    I take issue with Fr. Pfleger’s decision to wear a tallit, or richly symbolic shawl worn during prayer in Jewish liturgy. Certainly, the best way to respect Judaism is to not wear tallitot or any Jewish liturgical vestment during any Christian liturgy. It’s also important to note that the Jewish traditions of today have antecedents in, but are likely not identical to, the practices of various Jewish groups in Jesus’ day. Christian liturgical vestments are more congruent with the semiotic meaning of the Holy Thursday Eucharist.

  5. Let’s reframe this….from Kendra’s post and comments from the writer, Patrick Doyle:

    “The most interesting and entertaining class I attended, though, was the one that covered acculturation, which is how the Church interacts with and adapts to a local culture. As the professor, Monsignor James Moroney, told his students, “The Roman Catholic Church adapts herself so that the United States might be leavened with the Gospel. The Gospel remains the same—the truth endures. But the form is adapted to achieve its end: leavening of the United States of America.”

    Monsignor appears to dismiss *acculturation* while making a cynical statement. Unfortunately, we don’t know what else was said, any added explanations, etc.?? What we do know is that we jump to the *abuses*. Is it really that black and white – two extremes that don’t do justice to what eucharist and liturgy are.

    And of course – we have the usual response:

    “I’m not totally speechless (or writeless) as I experienced things like this in the 70′s. But how to convince someone like this who seems rather self-consumed and that his style of celebrating whatever it is he is doing is reason 4,043,854 for “say the black and do the red” and that ad orientem….”

    Ah yes, those terrible 1970s when the liturgy cratered? Really?
    And love the “rather self-consumed” – compare to these photos at – out of 17 photos the pastor is in at least 13. But, whose to say about *rather self-consumed* or ad orientem would solve this?

    OTOH – not absolving Michael but agree with the above suggestion to have done this outside of the eucharist. BUT – Michael faces a unique situation in Chicago and really wonder what the local folks would say vs. the liturgy police? Your points are correct, Jordan, but would suggest that there is a lot more going on here.

    To be honest – don’t find Michael’s effort to be any more offensive than the link I cited for All Soul’s Day. (yes, technically it is permitted but is that really the point of liturgy?… to borrow from a just published review by Eugene McCarraher:

    “It sometimes appears that the ancien régime of the American Church is fighting its impending senescence. Having lost much of their moral authority in the sexual-abuse scandal, the bishops have staked what remains on fighting perceived threats to religious liberty. Caught in a great historical transition in which church authority has eroded on every front, many conservative prelates and lay Catholics exhibit an array of morbid symptoms: lurid fantasies of sexual pandemonium; paranoid delusions of cultural conspiracy and government persecution; and ugly outbursts of rage at a world they no longer understand, control, or can persuade. Ashamed of the ecclesial present, the bishops seem transfixed by venerable memories of power and eminence.” and if I may add, morbid symptoms such as EF, TLM, etc.

    1. @Bill deHaas – comment #5:
      In trying to show a Mass that is celebrated, it is hard not to have the priest in the pictures Bill and yes, the EF Mass is officially one of two forms of the one Latin Rite like it or not, I didn’t make it up and followed the rubrics somewhat scrupulously. The video above is play-acting to the nth degree and all about the cult of the personality, not the cult of Catholic worship, with cult meaning exactly what it means. Again, thanks for promoting my blog; I can’t pay for advertisement. 😉

    2. @Bill deHaas – comment #5:
      I’m pretty sure the EF and TLM are the same thing (and are hardly “morbid symptoms” of anything you allude to).

      Know what you are talking about, please, and don’t just say what you wish were true because you dislike a form of mass you don’t even have to attend.

  6. The first three minutes sound like a pretty good homily, but they don’t sound very much like a prayer, inasmuch as he’s not speaking to God, but to the people. I think I’m safe to say this style of “anaphora” is completely unknown in the Church’s tradition, so he doesn’t have that going for him.

    When he does address God, he asks God to send His Spirit, to effect change in the people (sort of an epiclesis of communion). But it’s still not a Eucharistic prayer, nor an anaphora, in the literal senses of those terms. He mentions thanksgiving in a general way (“may this be a meal of thanksgiving” and in his version of the concluding doxology) but he doesn’t really express that thanksgiving in a specific way (e.g. “We thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you”).

    He also does not offer anything up to God (except the prayer of petition for the Spirit). The sacrificial aspect of the meal being shared appears to me only to be directed to the people, and not to God: the bread and the wine (body and blood) are given for/to the people, but never explicitly to God.

    So… “What would you say? … What important thing about the nature of Holy Thursday or the Eucharist or liturgy in general does this approach miss?”

    I would ask where this prayer fits in the anaphoral tradition of the Church, for starters. I would ask what he sees the prayer as accomplishing, or what its purpose is, and then compare that to the purposes (ends) of the anaphora. For starters.

    And I’d ask why the other priest (who asks him “how are we to pray?”) didn’t get a microphone too. 😉

    1. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #7:

      Jeffrey, I thought your summary pretty much nailed what was fundamentally ‘wrong’ , apart from any opinions on furnishings or setting. It seems to me that this is just one more of the many things held up as liturgical aberrations, or faults cited with the post-conciliar liturgy that many modern liturgists, who have no affinity whatsoever for any sort of lace or elaborate ceremonial and ardently support the reformed liturgy, would disagree strongly with. Too often all the views are dumped in one huge box marked ‘progressive’ together with puppets and clowns, when in fact this is not the case. I cannot see most liturgists supporting this kind of mimesis of the Last Supper or this speech/address that is not addressed to God and can thus barely be called a Eucharistic Prayer.

      It might be a form of radical inculturation, using a story-format (that I would then assume is more common to that spiritual heritage) instead of the prayer-format – but I think that, if so, it does call into questions to what extent adaption should take place.

  7. I also found the institution narrative a bit unsettling, since it wasn’t a narrative at all but a dramatization — i.e. he was playing Jesus. Maybe he simply has a very high in persona Christi understanding of the priesthood (but somehow I doubt it).

  8. Fr. Pfleger, I am quite sure, has good intentions. He is characteristic of a subset of priests ordained in the 70’s who are stuck in a time warp. They may have simply failed to seek further intellectual and emotional growth and development and instead locked onto a kind of spirituality which imposes little discipline and few boundaries. I have known and loved some of these men. One of my closest friends is one of them. I think we should refrain from judging them harshly or worse speak of them dismissively. Priests have always come in all sizes, forms, and shapes. Think of the many priests in the middle ages who could do little more than make a stab at pronouncing the prayers of the Mass in a way that satisfied the requirements of validity. How about those kindly old pre-vatican II priests whose grasp of theology was tenuous at best, whose preaching was often incoherent but blessedly short, whose understanding of the Mass was minimal to say the least. But God still reigned and grace abounded to make up for these considerable shortcomings. Now we have among us those who insist that if we just learn how to celebrate the Mass “beautifully” and “reverently”–towards the wall of course–the will of God will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In a neighboring parish, the young and younger priest (both trained in Rome) told the folks that there are to be no more blessings offered to children or to anyone in the communion procession because the rubrics don’t direct that practice. They are convinced, no doubt, that doing away with this practice will usher in a new age of piety and devotion. Or, perhaps, they are just willing to pay whatever price it takes to reinstate the status of priests as the church officials who tell the people what to think and what to do. Good luck with that.

  9. All these comments are admirably charitable. He appears to be a narcissist who is badly in need of of what is euphemistically called “help”.

  10. Really, if ever there was a case which needed swift, forceful, yet humane ecclesiastical intervention, this has to be one. His bishop should tell him to cease and desist with this sort of stuff,

    “…for the praise and glory of His Name,
    for our good
    and the good of all His Holy Church.”

  11. This EP was more boring than the average “unsung” EP in the OF.

    The first reason was that it was “preached” rather than prayed which is a common fault among priests. Of course as Jeffrey says above the first part of the text was more like a homily than a prayer, but I only caught that on my second watching of the video.

    The second reason is that since it was not near to any text that I know, I really did not understand very much of it all, except to know when the words of institution were said. Again this was on the first watching.

    Because it was preached at me and the words were his words but not mine (because I had a difficult time following them) this was a very clerical prayer, just as clerical as an EP said silently with the priest’s back to the people.

    Like Jordan I noted the Neocatechumenal altar-table. If Rome is going to tolerate it for the Neocatechumate, there is no way that they are going to be able to prevent it from spreading around to parishes.

    Noticed that he changed the pages of whatever text he had in front of him during the words of institution. Rather tacky.

    Wonder if this is an EP he wrote for this occasion, or one he always uses (and maybe the people were able to follow).

    The Jewish prayer shawl in its strict form (e.g. tassels done correctly) is a liturgical garment for Jews only (unlike the skull cap which can be, and sometimes should be, worn by non-Jews); we should avoid using Jewish prayer shawls. On the other hand, a Christian form of the prayer shawl is a good idea. Some parishes are beginning to knit them as a ministry, gifting them to people, especially the elderly and the sick. The ones that I have seen don’t resemble Jewish ones at all. There are books available on the internet which give various designs.

    The square “plate” was also tacky. Maybe it was just the quality of the video. I have noticed square plates in stores. This one reminded me of a Styrofoam fast food container.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #14:
      Jack – surprised by your response. How about applying sociology, cultural sensitivities, the call of SC and VII to be aware of enculturation, adaptation, etc.

      Need to separate reactions of this celebration from the man/priest, Pflueger.

      Some other considerations:
      – some of this reminds me of the 19th century Matteo Ricci and Chinese Rite Controversy. If you only see through the lense of say the black and do the red, then you take the part of the Dominicans in that controversy versus Ricci and the Jesuits. Unfortunately, we now know how that turned out and how we have lost the church in China for almost two centuries.

      – Here is a link to a partial biography of Pflueger –

      Here is a commentary on Catholic African-American liturgy from a Univ. of Notre Dame Study:

      Sorry, find it difficult to make credible objections to this video without first understanding the culture, the situation, the community, and the active faithful who are participating before making quick judgments.

      From the commentary:

      “..this shared “sacred culture” finds a vibrant expression in the Mass in the form of Gospel music, joyful exuberance, call and response, lively interaction with the preaching though affirmations like “Amen!….Yes!….Go on preacher!…..Yes Lord!…..Hallelujah…….applause, a stomp, raised hands and so forth.”
      “….too many Catholic priests and deacons are trained in a methodology of “informative” and “discursive” preaching as a goal, more than “transformative” and “kerygmatic” (from the Greek κηρύσσω (kērússō), to cry or proclaim as a herald) preaching.”
      ” The celebration “style” of priests is also an important matter. African American congregations generally value a celebrant who is praiseful -Wooden and monotone proclamation at the liturgy are not appreciated, etc.

      Might want to read the opening chapter from *Radical Disciple* by Robert McClory but some of you will not appreciate or approve of the description of a typical Sunday morning liturgy or how St. Sabina’s is decorated.

      Not trying to justify what Michael has done but better place it in a context – we do have Roman Rites that do not use the institution narrative.

  12. Regarding the neocatechumenal table-altar, I’m pretty sure there were only priests at that table… at least, I assume they’re priests, since this is Holy Thursday (and the priests would be around the altar at this point in the liturgy) and they appear to be wearing priestly vestments (and then some). So that doesn’t make the altar any more “inviting”, despite its different appearance.

    The priest avoided holding the bread itself, and only held the plate it was on. I wonder why. (Parallel with holding the cup, rather than the wine? 😉 )

    The words of institution were divorced from an actual institution narrative, another curious break from tradition.

    I couldn’t hear — does the congregation say anything at all during this EP? No “memorial acclamation”, and I didn’t notice an “Amen” from them at the end.

      1. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #18:
        And reinstated.
        Almost immediately.
        That’s been the Archdiocese’s game with this guy for years.
        The answer to my question, then, would be, “How could anyone tell the difference?”
        But isn’t that true in many places.

      2. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #20:
        My solution? I’m not the Archbishop of Chicago.
        Cardinal George has been for how long?
        You saw Pfleger’s antics broadcast on international TV during the FIRST Obama campaign?
        It’s obviously a very difficult problem if it’s taken this long after this many escapades.
        And how is asking a question “attacking”? Calm down.

  13. This video is so yesterday’s news the thread is already yellow.
    The only other discussion around the media breakfast table more annoying than this irrelevance is the equally tired and expected bloviating about who will surface as POTUS candidates for the 2016 election.
    Perhaps it is truly time for Catholic Christians to start behaving and worshipping as Catholic Christians beyond whatever cliches (Red/Black….Save the Liturgy, save the world…) and clinical, scholastic and narcissistic navel gazing we seem to prefer to actual engagement and evangelization.
    Pfleger does what he does where he does it because he can. End of story, it’s his narrative as long as he lives and breathes. Were Cdl. G to move him, does anyone think that will change Pfleger? Besides, aren’t we the ones who whine and gripe when prelates move both good and bad acting priests to new geography and then wash their hands and throw a party afterwards?
    Whatever side of the political/ecclesiastical axis one happens to be positioned, it’s perhaps time for us to act up and eliminate our own bipartisanship by reconciling with each other through prayer, humility, true charity, acts of love and yielding our egos within the paschal sacrifice of the Lamb of God, King of Kings. Enough postulating.

  14. Xavier Rindfleisch : My solution? I’m not the Archbishop of Chicago.Cardinal George has been for how long?You saw Pfleger’s antics broadcast on international TV during the FIRST Obama campaign?It’s obviously a very difficult problem if it’s taken this long after this many escapades.And how is asking a question “attacking”? Calm down.

    It’s not just a question. You know full well that there is an Archbishop of Chicago. It’s criticism of Archbishop George and, as I said, it’s cheap and unhelpful criticism, which you continue now in your latest comment. If you don’t have any suggestion for how better to handle it, why do you criticize him?

  15. Enjoy:

    Troublesome priests – we need them

    by Daniel O’Rourke

    Observer, Dunkirk, NY, 05/22/08

    “Who will rid me of that troublesome priest?” An angry and probably drunk King Henry II shouted. He was referring to his old friend Thomas Becket now the Archbishop of Canterbury. Becket from his powerful position in the church was politically opposing the King. Four knights overhearing the King’s intemperate outburst mistakenly thought King Henry wished to have Beckett killed. They set out to murder the Archbishop and hacked him to death with their swords at the altar of his Canterbury cathedral. Almost immediately devotion to the martyred Archbishop spread throughout Europe and pilgrims flocked to his tomb.

    Last month in the democratic presidential primary, some editorials with creative license placed King Henry’s infamous wish in the mouth of Senator Obama. Barack Obama, of course never said of his former pastor, “Who will rid me of that troublesome priest?” But considering the political difficulties the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was giving him, he may well have thought it. At that time sound-bites of Wright’s most outrageous rantings were flooding the media and derailing the Obama campaign.

    I have just listened on the Internet to Rev. Wright’s entire forty-minute sermon. He entitled it “Confusing God and Government.” It surprised me. Although the raw emotion and the shouting-out of chapter and verse made me uncomfortable, for the most part the contents of his sermon were coherent and reasoned.

    As Wright certainly intended, his sermon was also disturbing. He dramatically listed our nation’s failings: our mistreatment of Native Americans, our initial acceptance of slavery, the discrimination of African Americans after their emancipation, the incarceration of Japanese American citizens during World War II, our colonialism and CIA violence in Latin America. If he had soberly concluded his dark litany with “God condemns America for its racism and imperialism”, I would have nodded agreement. Instead he shouted, “God damn America” and lost me and almost every one who has heard him — giving the media the most infamous sermon sound-bite in recorded history.

    Like most Americans and Obama himself, I reject the Rev. Wright’s widely reported outburst. I understand that Black liberation theology explains Wright’s sermon and may explain his explosive conclusion, but it does not excuse it. Wright’s anger may have been righteous but his rantings pushed him over the line. Yet we need “troublesome priests” like Jeremiah Wright — and history has always provided them. The most famous was Martin Luther who gave Pope Leo indigestion if not apoplexy, but whose troublesome preaching ultimately reformed (for a time) all of Christianity.

    I fear that some clergy will take the media’s denunciation of Rev. Wright’s most extreme words as a justification for not addressing the real issues of the day. If clergy do not preach social justice from their pulpits, however, it would be a tragedy for society itself. We need troublesome clergy to confront our apathy. The theologian Karl Barth, also a “troublesome priest” in Nazi Germany, once suggested that pastors preach with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. Some do. Many don’t.

    Those clergy who say that politics and spirituality should be strictly separated are mistaken. There is nothing spiritual which is merely spiritual; there is nothing political which is only political. Spirituality takes on flesh in the political and social. Effective preachers know this. The Hebrew prophets knew it. The environment, immigration, and the minimum wage have spiritual implications. If our spiritual values are mute in the pulpit before terrorism, famine and war, what good are they? Despite the complexities of the issues, we need troublesome preachers to address them. And despite their faults – and they all had them, we need clergy like Wright, Barth and Becket.

    There is an insightful story by Dostoevsky in “Brothers Karamazov.” Dostoevsky retells the third temptation on the mount. The devil took Jesus to a high mountain, and showed him the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4: 8-9)

    Dostoevsky argues that unlike Jesus, the Christian church has succumbed to that temptation. The power and glory of this world have seduced it. The political and cultural biases of society have co-opted it. Despite the good the churches do and they do much, they have lost their wider influential voice.

    Rev. Martin Marty, Rev. Wright’s former teacher and professor emeritus at the University of Chicago Divinity School, had a telling test. He told his students to compare the church bulletin with the newspaper. Today the papers speak of the genocide in Dafur, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, health care for the poor, and the hundreds of thousands dying of famine. Yet church bulletins typically list the ladies tea, the need for volunteers to paint Sunday school classrooms, and the spaghetti dinner fundraiser. No wonder so many dismiss the main-line churches as “out of it” and irrelevant.

    The churches even more than the state need “troublesome priests,” and God has provided them too. In Nazi Germany and right-wing El Salvador, for example, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Oscar Romero were troublesome clerics. The Lutheran and Roman churches in those nations were either timid before the evils of their day or busy currying favor with the influential and powerful. Many in those churches were seduced by the prestige and power of the state. They put flag and nation before justice and right. Bonhoeffer and Romero identified with the oppressed and powerless and opposed the establishment. That opposition cost them their lives. The Nazis stripped Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran minister, and hanged him naked on the gallows. Romero, a bishop was shot dead by a government assassin as he celebrated mass.

    Should we be surprised? Jesus too was troublesome and executed by the state. No wonder so few Christians — and so few preachers — follow his example.

    1. @Bill deHaas – comment #26:
      Having read that article, I’m not sure how I would apply its principles (that the church — and perhaps the state — is in need of “troublesome priests”) to Fr. Pfleger’s situation. What is his style of eucharistic praying bringing to the table that we’re sorely in need of, or what issues does his style of eucharistic praying address?

      Or is it that he is a needed “troublesome priest” (that is, that he preaches on social justice issues and other pressing matters) and that we should overlook his liturgical proclivities, and not cast him out because of them and therefore lose his voice on these other matters?

      Those are my thoughts, Bill, but I’m curious what you see as the connection between the article on “troublesome priests” and Fr. Pfleger’s Holy Thursday tableau.

      1. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #29:
        JP – appears that this was the Deacon’s intent: “…..hoping that it would spark discussion of what a Eucharistic Prayer is and isn’t.”

        Given that, apologize for possibly diverting this string from its purpose, Deacon.

        Allow me to respond to your comment:
        – actually, what disturbed me more (and I do say that the writer’s description is very partial; no additional explanation, etc. based upon a short history of his experience in classes at St. John’s) was the manner in which Moroney introduced this and his casual dismissal of enculturation
        – will *stipulate* that this is a poor example of an EP for lots of reasons (if that is the focus on this thread)
        – but, to address your questions, as I re-read and meditate on the first 12 articles of SC, in an ars celebrandi or liturgy class, IMO, would not approach the issue or question in this way. Love the use of a video but it appears to only suggest a right way and a wrong way and score points via cynical humor while disparaging and judging someone.
        – rather, IMO, you start with the principles of good ritual/liturgy. In order to do that, you have to be a part of the community of faith (local); you have to start where they are; and then you have to bring liturgical leadership so that you achieve the SC goals of active, full, and complete participation. This would raise much deeper and serious questions about liturgy, community, development, education, etc. rather than highlighting someone’s approach as if they are insincere, ignorant, anti-church and anti-authority. (Mr. Vas probably makes the best points on this)

        So, this is far from Deacon’s post, but remember serving in two black parishes in Lake Charles, LA & Port Arthur, TX as summer replacement work. Felt very uncomfortable because I brought my experience of liturgy (anglo, graduate school, quiet and moderate approach) to a community that prayed differently; a community that culturally needed something different in terms of style, ars celebrandi, respect for their community culture and faith expressions. So, Pflueger may have strayed but understand that he begins with the principle of living, being with (that is a theological and scriptural term), and growing the liturgy/sacramental community by using their culture (a version of grace builds on nature). It does not insist upon fitting their culture into a box; a rigid liturgical form; etc. (again, there are ways to do this without throwing out the church’s EP, Holy Thursday ritual, etc.)
        – finally, on a personal note, did my graduate school community work near that Chicago neighborhood; sympathize signficantly with the reality of St. Sabina Parish and neighborhood – the threats to its existence; the daily danger from gunfire, drugs, crime, economic depression, racism, etc. Did my deacon preaching nearby in an Hispanic neighborhood. Understand and sympathize with what Pflueger is trying to do – yes, he may have gone too far in adaptation and enculturation – but, at least, he has the faith, hope, and love to try. He realizes that sacraments are actions and not a rigourous application of say the black and do the red; he understands that ritual is about community (not the other way around). In fact, he respects their rituals.
        Sorry, before you can judge someone, you need to walk a mile in their shoes. Pflueger adapted three boys and raised them – one died in gang shooting; one died after a serious illness; one lost his job because of 9/11. That is only a small part of this complex man.

        Terri’s comment above comes closer to what I am feeling about this. Terri – one difference; it is not his prayer – that is the ritual style of African-American worship and agree that it is *pretty successful* – whether you want to label it preaching and not EP, or whatever. At least you recognize the value.

        Again, apologize for mis-directing Deacon’s thread but felt you deserved a response, JP.

  16. As a liturgical prayer, this fails, mostly because it has become his prayer, not our prayer. This happens all the time, to a lesser extent, as presiding priests change the language of the prayers to suit themselves, and I am suddenly jarred out of my prayerful participation into a different part of my brain — into a place where I have to think about what is being said so I can follow it. That’s different than following, spiritually, a prayer that I know.

    On the other hand, I think this is pretty successful as a homily. We need more preaching that moves us in ways this man can.

    We who are interested in liturgy care about these distinctions. I’m not sure most people in church on Sunday do. Although, I am occasionally surprised at the desire of naive (e.g. people in RCIA, or confirmation preparation) for repeatable, ritual experiences.

  17. Assume, for the sake of argument, that well trained priests should be capable of writing a new Eucharistic prayer, even if they never actually use any prayer other than those officially authorised. A priest might be summoned to participate in a Vatican commission to draft the 2050 editio typica of the Roman Missal. Who knows? In any event, an understanding of the structure of a Eucharistic prayer cannot but help a priest in saying it reverently and preaching and teaching about the Mass.

    What would go into that structure, into the “deep grammar” of a Roman Catholic Eucharistic prayer — or, to be even more focused, the anaphora? I have been told that all Eucharistic prayers, in every church arising from what Pelikan calls the Catholic Tradition, have been addressed to the Father. Are there exceptions?

    Do Eucharistic prayers always include an epiclesis? Some claim that the Roman Canon lacks an epiclesis. An institution narrative?

    Setting aside Fr Pfleger’s style, clothing, gestures: what aspects of his words are “ungrammatical”? Jeffrey and others here have pointed out some things: much of it (not all) is declarative rather than an address to the Father. Paradoxically, the institution narrative is not a narrative but a dramatisation, as Fritz says above. Is there a grammar of an anaphora?

    “Understand what you pray and why” may be a more useful maxim than “say the black and do the red”. Given a growing group of laity interested in and knowledgeable about the liturgy, the best way to promote lay resistance to weird liturgical innovations from ministers may be to teach a deeper understanding of the structure of liturgy and liturgical prayer.

    1. @Jonathan Day – comment #33:
      I suspect for most Catholics faith is more caught than taught and the law of prayer is the law of belief. If the prayer is corrupt as in this video then the law of faith is also corrupted. So in his parish, who knows that this is corrupt? We don’t know how many left the parish over this because they knew of the corruption or how many are drawn to this kind of corruption. The bottom line of “say the black and do the red” at least gives hope for catching the faith through a proper law of prayer leading to the law of belief, right belief.

    2. @Jonathan Day – comment #33:
      “What would go into that structure, into the ‘deep grammar’ of [an] anaphora?”

      Great question. I’m currently writing a book on the EPs in the modern Roman Rite, and it begins with an overview and history of the anaphora in general.

      Regarding the issues you raised:

      * addressed to the Father

      There are some anaphoras with sections directed to the Son, rather than to the Father. The Testamentum Domini addresses the Son in its Preface (“O power of the Father … Son of the living God”) and its anamnesis (“mindful of YOUR death and resurrection, we offer YOU”). The anamnesis of Alexandrian Basil, 3rd Maronite Peter, and Sharar address the Son too. In Serapion, the Word (rather than the Spirit) is invoked in the epiclesis; the Mozarabic Rite also addresses Jesus: “Come Jesus … and sanctify this offering.”

      The Roman tradition addresses the Father always… with the exception of the “mystery of faith” acclamation.

      * an epiclesis

      It’s argued both ways for the Canon: either it does (Quam oblationem is an implicit epiclesis; and the Supplices Te is an upside down epiclesis, asking for the gifts to be raised), or it doesn’t (“lost”, or omitted to prove a theological point and emphasize the words of consecration). Fortescue says the earliest traces of epicleses did not always explicitly mention the Holy Spirit.

      The pre-narrative epiclesis is from the Alexandrian (Egyptian) tradition, whereas the Syro-Byzantine tradition placed the epiclesis after the narrative.

      * an institution narrative

      The Didache does not contain one, but it might not be complete owing to the “discipline of the secret”. Addai and Mari doesn’t have one in its oldest form, of course (although I think there is a clear cue for one in the text); there do exist versions of A&M which include one.

      1. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #35 says

        Great question. I’m currently writing a book on the EPs in the modern Roman Rite, and it begins with an overview and history of the anaphora in general.

        Given that this anaphora was done in the context of an African-American community, I think we should also take into account the African traditions of the Ethiopian Orthodox Community which are available in this pdf.

        I decided to look this up on the internet since I recalled one of their anaphora’s is “addressed” to Mary. Yes its included in this booklet.

        A comment on another website says:

        In Ethiopian tradition, the Rites of the Church, and the 14 Anaphoras (Qurbon in Ge’ez/Amharic) and the Liturgy (Kidase in Ge’ez/Amharic) are seen as revision of foreign and indigenous sources, which are taken from their originals, but distinctively Ethiopianized in the process quite familiar to Ethiopian scribes and translators. Ethiopians rarely if ever translate things literally but rather include the flair or indigenous language and cultural aspects into manuscripts and texts. This especially compounds the problems of identifying which aspects of manuscripts are indigenously Ethiopian and which are from foreign sources, and to which degree are they transmutations of both. This is also made difficult by the complexity of the Ethiopian written language, and also the particular flavor of Ethiopians to prefer cryptic and poetic writings/translations, as epitomized in the dual meanings of the Wax and Gold tradition of Qine poetry (where dual meanings are encrypted in the written versus pronounced forms of poems/writings that can only truly be observed by well trained linguistics who are quite well-read).

        I am busy now, but took a quick look at the pdf. While a lot of the structure that we are familiar with is there. There are a lot of unusual things. But there are some usual things in the Byzantine Liturgy too.

        So in terms of an African community, maybe this EP isn’t that unusual. But I encourage you to look at the pdf. and make a judgment.

    3. @Jonathan Day – comment #33:
      So to generalize about the grammar… there does seem to be a “general instruction” of the anaphora. There are historical examples that deviate from it — because the grammar was not as well-defined at the time, or the author was not aware of the grammar or felt inclined to bend the rules — but those deviations prove the rule.

      Today’s Roman anaphoras follow the format:

      Preface Dialogue
      Post-sanctus (usually “Vere sanctus”)
      Consecratory epiclesis
      Institution narrative
      Communion epiclesis
      Intercessions (sometimes scattered)

  18. Thank you very much, Jeffrey. Interesting and helpful.

    I don’t recognise the term “communion epiclesis”. Is it this part from EP2?

    Humbly we pray that, partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, we may be gathered into one by the Holy Spirit.


    Look, we pray, upon the oblation of your Church
    and, recognizing the sacrificial Victim by whose death
    you willed to reconcile us to yourself,
    grant that we, who are nourished
    by the Body and Blood of your Son
    and filled with his Holy Spirit,
    may become one body, one spirit in Christ.


    Look, O Lord, upon the Sacrifice
    which you yourself have provided for your Church,
    and grant in your loving kindness
    to all who partake of this one Bread and one Chalice
    that, gathered into one body by the Holy Spirit,
    they may truly become a living sacrifice in Christ
    to the praise of your glory.

    Where is it in the Roman Canon? Another missing epiclesis?

    1. @Jonathan Day – comment #38:

      Wouldn’t supplices te rogamus also fulfill a role similar to these prayers?

      Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus […] ut quotquot ex hac altaris participatione sacrosanctum Filii tui Corpus et Sanguinem sumpserimus, omni benedictione caelesti et gratia repleamur.” […] (my ellipses, emphasis)

      2010: “In humble prayer we ask you, almighty God” […] “so that all of us, who through this participation at the altar receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son, may be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing.” […] (my ellipses, emphasis)

      The section of the supplices te rogamus I have bolded is similar to the “communion epicleses” save for that the prayer does not reference the Holy Spirit explicitly. This is not surprising since the entire Roman Canon tends to be weakly pneumatic all around (i.e. no clear epiclesis). While the newer eucharistic prayers (re)-introduced the Holy Spirit, the Roman Canon’s implicit invocations of the Holy Spirit are not to be overlooked.

    2. @Jonathan Day – comment #38:
      Yes, the “epiclesis of communion” is the part of the EP that speaks of the role of the Holy Spirit in bringing the Church together through her participation in Holy Communion. Here is the epiclesis of communion from the other EPs (Samuel supplied EP I’s).

      EPR I: grant that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, as they partake of this one Bread and one Chalice, they may be gathered into one Body in Christ, who heals every division.

      EPR II: we humbly beseech you … in this saving banquet graciously to endow us with his very Spirit, who takes away everything that estranges us from one another.

      EPVN: grant that, by the power of the Spirit of your love, we may be counted now and until the day of eternity among the members of your Son, in whose Body and Blood we have communion.

      So the key elements of this second epiclesis are: 1) the Holy Spirit, 2) our participation in the Body of Christ (Eucharist), and 3) our belonging to the Body of Christ (Church).

      Some quotes on this second epiclesis:

      “The epiclesis is also a prayer for the full effect of the assembly’s communion with the mystery of Christ.” (CCC 1109)

      “In the present Roman liturgy, the first epiclesis asks for the sanctification of the bread and wine, while the second asks for the sanctification of those who receive communion.” (Mazza, EPs of the Roman Rite, 92)

      “And the priest prays that the grace of the Holy Spirit may come also on all those present, in order that as they have been perfected into one body in the likeness of the second birth, so also they may be knit here as if into one body by the communion of the flesh of our Lord, and in order also that they may embrace and follow one purpose with concord, peace, and diligence in good works.” (Theodore of Mopsuestia)

  19. Paul Inwood or Fr. Ruff would know this but remember in recently re-reading Congar’s notes, that one of the issues in the preliminary liturgy committees was the issue of the *epiclesis* and making the place of the Holy Spirit more pronounced in liturgy, EPs, and in other documents and areas?

    1. @Bill deHaas – comment #40:
      Bill, yes, that’s what I recall from my own reading (not of Yves).

      Cipriano Vagaggini was very emphatic on this point, that the Canon’s lack of a pneumatological dimension was a clear defect. Jungmann said that C.V. was looking to impose a theological structure on the Canon, which prayer may have predated the structure. C.V. had a hand in the development of EPs III and IV, which demonstrate a strong pneumatological dimension. (cf. Cassian Folsom, OSB: “From One Eucharistic Prayer to Many”)

      Criticisms (or observations) of the Canon in this regard:

      “One notices there that a number of prayers have the characteristics of an epiclesis: not only the Quam oblationem and the second part of the Supplices, but also the Te igitur and the first part of the Supplices.” (CMLR 98)

      “In spite of the numerous fragments in the RC that follow the pattern of an epiclesis, there is absolutely no theology of the part proper to the Holy Spirit in the Eucharist.” (CMLR 100)

      “The epicletic elements were much too vague to even unspoken: certainly they did not emerge in the Canon as strongly as they did in the Veni sanctificator.” (EEFC 181)

      “The only reference in the Canon to the third person of the Trinity [is in the doxology]” (TGP 148)

      “It has been noted that the lack of an explicit epiclesis (i.e., invocation of the Holy Spirit) may well be a sign of the Roman Canon’s great antiquity. It could be that explicit mention of the Holy Spirit only became part of eucharistic praying in the mid-fourth century when theological debates about the Trinity were in full swing.” (COM 250)

  20. Following quote is from Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Church. I don’t know whether Met Kallistos would still assert that Roman Catholics are guilty of “artolatry”. But the quote seems interesting and relevant to the general topic of “grammar of the anaphora”.


    It will be evident that the ‘moment of consecration’ is understood somewhat differently by the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches. According to Latin theology, the consecration is effected by the Words of Institution: “This is my Body…” “This is my Blood…” According to Orthodox theology, the act of consecration is not complete until the end of the Epiclesis, and worship of the Holy Gifts before this point is condemned by the Orthodox Church as ‘artolatry’ (bread worship).

    Orthodox, however, do not teach that consecration is effected solely by the Epiclesis, nor do they regard the Words of Institution as incidental and unimportant. On the contrary, they look upon the entire Eucharistic Prayer as forming a single and indivisible whole, so that the three main sections of the prayer — Thanksgiving, Anamnesis, Epiclesis — all form an integral part of the one act of consecration (Some Orthodox writers go even further than this, and maintain that the consecration is brought about by the whole process of the Liturgy, starting with the Prothesis and including the Synaxis! Such a view, however, presents many difficulties, and has little or no support in Patristic tradition). But this of course means that if we are to single out a ‘moment of consecration,’ such a moment cannot come until the Amen of the Epiclesis (Before Vatican 2 the Roman Canon to all appearances had no Epiclesis; but many Orthodox liturgists, most notably Nicholas Cabasilas, regard the paragraph Supplices te as constituting in effect an Epiclesis, although Roman Catholics today, with a few notable exceptions, do not understand it as such).

    1. @Jonathan Day – comment #44:
      I might be wrong on this, but I believe that Eastern Rites, in particular the Greek Catholic Rite (Byzantine) also holds, for the most part, what the Orthodox would believe about the Eucharistic Prayer. Their theology or spirituality about adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament is somewhat in line also with the Orthodox Church. This indicates that in the Catholic Church and her various rites there are differing spiritualities and theologies and that it is important for each in our own rite to practice what our rite is.

    2. @Jonathan Day – comment #44:

      but many Orthodox liturgists, most notably Nicholas Cabasilas, regard the paragraph Supplices te as constituting in effect an Epiclesis, although Roman Catholics today, with a few notable exceptions, do not understand it as such).

      Most celebrations of the “Liturgy of St. Gregory” (the Tridentine liturgy in faux-Elizabethan) in the Antiochene Orthodox dioceses include the epiclesis from the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom as well as supplices te rogamus. This is despite the long Orthodox liturgical theological tradition that supplices te rogamus is a vague but sufficient epiclesis. Despite this tradition, the “western rite” Orthodox inserted the Byzantine epiclesis anyway.

      Honestly, from a liturgical and theological standpoint I never understood why the drafters of the new eucharistic prayers found the lack of an explicit epiclesis and the weakly pneumatic nature of the Roman Canon to be a “problem”. The Canon is from a time where westerners did not yet develop a strongly triune eucharistic theology. The Canon’s over emphasis on the Father and the Son is what it is — a marker of a developmental stage in western Christianity. A part of me wonders if the newer eucharistic prayers, in “correcting” the weak epiclesis and weak pneumatology of the Canon, in some way removed a distinct, and special, focus on God the Father and God the Son in western eucharistic prayer.

  21. My personal observations on the epiclesis are this:

    1. If we are to “do” what Jesus did, Jesus is not recorded as voicing a prayer one could interpret as a “pre-institution” epiclesis. Then again, he’s God, so perhaps he didn’t need to. 😉

    2. We can find a sort of “epiclesis of communion” in John 14-17, which takes place after Jesus has consecrated the bread and wine. Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to his disciples, and then prays that “they may be one”.

  22. Jeffrey Pinyan:

    Regarding the Institution Narrative, you will find Robert Taft’s essay entitled “Mass without the Consecration?” useful. He lists many more anaphoras lacking this feature than the two you mentioned. See
    for an online version.

    Jonathan Day:

    Although there is an emphasis on the words of consecration, the Church has never specifically taught that this is all that is required. One of the great liturgico-theological post-Vatican II realizations has been precisely that the entire prayer is consecratory, not just the “magic moment” in the middle.

    Terri Miyamoto and Allan McDonald:

    Regarding “his” prayer or “our” prayer, and keeping to a prescribed text — in the early Church, as Gelineau was fond of pointing out, anyone who kept to the text was thought to be a lousy presider. Everyone knew the basic structure of a Eucharistic Prayer (for example the Roman outline given above by JP, #33), and the presider was expected to improvise on that structure. The better he improvised, the better a presider he was considered to be. Our current preoccupation with keeping to every jot and tittle of a text out of fear of unorthodoxy if not heresy is a 180-degree turn from the former stance.

    The problem with Fritz’s videoclip is precisely that the presider does not keep to the underlying structure. If he had done so, we would perhaps not be having this discussion.

    1. @Paul Inwood – comment #47:
      I know that many in the post-Vatican II Church like antiquarianism when it pertains only to the early Church in her infancy and immaturity. Yet when maturation takes place by the 5th and 6th centuries, the Council of Trent, Vatican I and well into the early 1960’s this development of maturity is questioned and ridiculed. Let’s face it, what you suggest and what the video shows is regression and in the worst way possible.

    2. @Paul Inwood – comment #47:
      Thanks for the link to Fr. Taft’s essay. It’s been added to my reading list. 🙂

      On a somewhat related note, my birthday was yesterday, and my wife gave me my own copy (so I can return the copy I’ve been borrowing from the Rutgers University library under her name) of Jungmann’s “The Mass of the Roman Rite”, from the new printing from Ave Maria Press. I look forward to being able to mark it up now!

    3. @Paul Inwood – comment #47:

      Thanks for the Taft link

      I consider this the most remarkable Catholic magisterial document since Vatican II.

      The purpose of this mutual agreement is pastoral: to ensure that the faithful of two Sister Churches that spring from the same ancient apostolic tradition not be deprived of the Bread of Life through the unavailability of a minister of their own Church.

      The argumentation, fully au courant theologically and liturgically, can be summed up as follows:

      The Catholic Magisterium teaches that the traditional practices of our Eastern Sister Churches are worthy of all veneration and respect.

      Scholars are unanimous that Addai and Mari is one of the most ancient extant anaphoras still in use.

      The consensus of the latest scholarship is that Addai and Mari in its original form never had the Institution Narrative.

      Though Addai and Mari may lack the Institution ad litteram, it contains it virtually, in explicit, if oblique, references to the eucharistic Institution,

      This document has important implications for liturgy, theology and ecumenism. As Taft says this document respects the anaphora of Addai and Mari as part of Tradition with a capital T.

      That says to me that we must look beyond our own liturgical tradition for an understanding of liturgy. Yes different liturgical traditions have developed different spiritualities, but we need to understand how those spiritualities relate to a larger and deeper theological understanding of the liturgy.

      That implies to me that we are not restricted to Roman Rite liturgical traditions when we adapt it to other cultures; we should be able to draw upon lessons from the entire repertoire of liturgical traditions.

      It affirms the importance of liturgy as well as scripture as a basis for theology.

      In regard to Ecumenism, it might lead to a better distinction between “Churches” and “ecclesial communities.” This document implies that the ancient apostolic Churches have Tradition as well as Scripture in a way that we cannot ignore even if they have had practical and theological developments that differ from ours.

  23. JP – great book….first read it as a novice in 1969 at the suggestion of my novice director. Opened a whole world to me that I had never known.

    Paul – thanks for the very concise and clear analysis and historical points. Just love the usual Allan – “Yet when maturation takes place by the 5th and 6th centuries, the Council of Trent, Vatican I and well into the early 1960′s this development of maturity is questioned and ridiculed”

    Not sure that Vatican I is a *good* example of *maturation* – anyone who knows the history behind that specific pope and the machinations of that council would not asscribe the word – maturation.

    Also, love the dismissal of *ressourcement* with the describer – *antiquarianism*. Before Vatican II, we knew little of proper and well-researched tools to analyze, know, and incorporate our traditions and history so we were not *slaves*to the most recent church expressions.

    Ressourcement = Regression

    If only we could live in such a black and white universe.

  24. I would like to hear from some of our liturgical scholars as to why developments in the roman rite during the 6th & 7th centuries should be considered more important or “mature” than what occurred in the first three centuries. My recollection from church history studies is that the important role of the baptized was giving way to the prerogatives of the ordained during that early medieval period. The most striking aspects of the reformed rites is that they restore the importance of the worshipping assembly. They also, in stressing the many ways in which Christ is really present, placed a vital corrective to the perceived “magical moment” understanding of the institution narrative. Priests and bishops may not claim any superiority to worshippers because they stand “in persona Christi”. That is a service that does not authorize dominance. If Jesus didn’t regard being equal to God something to be boasted about, those ordained to roles of service also need to empty rather than being full of themselves. Am I mistaken?

    1. @Jack Feehily – comment #54:

      I agree Jack that the reformed liturgy desires to renew the idea of assembly. I also don’t think that the early medieval period is the summit of western Christian prayer. However, it’s important to recognize that the Roman Canon is a product of a certain intersection of liturgy and theology at a particular time. The same can be said of the eucharistic prayers composed in the 1960s. What I don’t understand is the notion that the Roman Canon, with its focus on the relationship of the sacrifice of the Son to the Father through the alter Christus, is inherently deficient and therefore not relevant today given the development of eucharistic theology and doctrine in the intervening centuries. The Roman Canon, though not as directly encompassing of the assembly as the newer eucharistic prayers, nevertheless displays another facet of the eucharistic sacrifice which must be balanced with the concept of assembly. For this reason the Roman Canon is appropriate for certain celebrations.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #55:
        The renewal of the role of the faithful in the pre-Vatican II liturgy was already taking place in the early 20th century and certainly took a leap frog in that direction in the 1950’s. I was taught by the second grade (1960-61) school year how to use my St. Joseph Sunday Missal and told to use it during Mass. And yes even though we did not respond with our vocal cords during this period, we were actually participating in the Mass and concentrating on the Mass and understanding what was taking place and when. Of course on Sundays the Scriptures were repeated in English by the priest at the ambo prior to beginning his sermon.
        I recently attended at the Macon Opera House a performance by the Macon Symphony of “Hansel and Gretel” with an opera company from New York singing it entirely in German. The translation of the German was above the stage’s curtain. Everyone in the audience knew exactly what was being sung and it was thoroughly enjoyable and actively received. The standing ovation at the end as well as shouts of “bravo” proved it.
        The following of the German script with a written English translation was not unlike what the majority of Catholics were doing during the Mass prior to the Council in the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s.
        But in addition to that, faithful Catholics who attended Mass every Sunday and a goodly number who went daily, knew the Latin by heart since so much of the EF Mass is fixed, including the Canon. Most Catholics would have known the basic structure of the Canon and some might have had it memorized in English, as well as the other fixed parts of the Mass. Technically the only thing you needed translated for you on Sunday were the Introit, Collect, Offertory Antiphon, Secret, Preface, Communion Antiphon and Post Communion Prayer. So one didn’t have to have his/her eyes buried in their personal missals and we must keep in mind Latin was taught to more people back then, especially Catholics, than today.
        It would have been very easy to get Catholics to sing the simpler forms of Gregorian Chant for all the parts of the Mass that we currently encourage Catholics to chant or say. It would have been well-engrained in us today if we had taken that route and actually followed SC in terms of maintaining our Latin heritage but allowing for some English–I would have recommended that only the changing parts of the Mass be in the vernacular–which would have only been the priestly parts–but no one asked me unfortunately. 🙁

      2. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #56:
        Fr Allan

        However, the alacrity with which so many of the faithful embraced the vernacular in the 1960s should remind us all was not what it may have seemed in terms of the faithful’s familiarity with Latin. Even my parents (father was an altar boy for many years, and mother was in a girl’s choir; both were highly engaged Catholics as children and adults and remain so today) never looked back. And I recall, in this, they were by far the norm.

      3. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #57:
        I was amongst those who absolutely loved the first foray into English around 1964 or 65 in my parish–although not all adults in my parish were happy, but yes, my father and his generation were grateful–was it novelty? Who knows? I’m not one to insist on Latin although I do think it should have been preserved in some way for the entire Church and my suggestion about how it could have been done, some 48 years later, I think would have served us well. But the real disaster for the liturgy isn’t the the vernacular but the banal vernacular music that followed and the dumping of the Introit, Offertory and Communion antiphons and the trivialization of the other parts of the Mass with fads in singing and trendy kitsch as well as living room casualness and barefoot piety.
        It is quite possible too that the vernacular has lessened actual participation because it is so familiar, whereas the Latin forced people who wanted to actually participate to concentrate and follow the Mass in a pro-active, conscious way, much like the German Opera of Hansel and Gretel forced the audience to do in Macon a couple of weeks ago. You had to pay attention and follow the vernacular and not daydream.

      4. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #58:
        Fr Allan

        Banal vernacular hymnody at Low Mass long predated the Council. Mother Rat, anyone?

        Again, selective Golden Age memory temptations. I love singing Latin (the felicity of those vowels for holding pitch…), and Latin in suitable places at Mass (on rotation for the classic Ordinary, for example; propers in rotation with other permitted choices, et cet.) but I’ve come to the sad realization over the past decade that too many of the Reform of the Reform commentariat have something of a magical view of Latin that really is no help to Latin in liturgy or the liturgy or the People of God.

      5. @Karl Liam Saur – comment #60:
        The banality of English hymns that were allowed in the Sunday Low Mass (which I’m told was considered an aberration even then as was the “low” Mass by the intelligentsia of the day) is quite different than the banality of what we have experienced the last 45 years in English music. Keep in mind that where the High Mass was sung, it was the Mass that was sung, not hymns. If my little home parish in Augusta had a high Mass each Sunday at 10:00 AM in the 1950’s and early 60’s and even mission parishes in my diocese, I suspect that the Missa Cantata was more widespread than you suggest. In my parish now which has the High EF Mass only once a month on Sunday, our small men’s schola is able to pull it off and quite easily.

  25. I doubt that the change from Latin to the vernacular is as important as the evolution in eucharistic theology signified by the reformed liturgy and the ‘new’ eucharistic prayers. I doubt that preachers have spent enough time illustrating the differences between the four major eucharistic prayers. Perhaps this discussion is best left to a lecture series outside of Mass. The language in which we pray is important. Even more important is the way in which the constant evolution of prayer reflects new theological understandings. Vernacularization alone carries little more meaning than the Latin without education about what is said in the celebration.

    As an aside, I have often thought that the Roman Canon would be best celebrated on Sundays in Ordinary Time after Pentecost when no special preface is assigned. The old familiar Holy Trinity Preface (i.e. qui cum unigenito Filio tuo et Spiritu Sancto unus es Deus, unus es Dominus …) which is very often heard in the EF, completes the triune nature of the Roman Canon.

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