Re-Reading Sacrosanctum Concilium: Article 24

The next set of “general norms” for the reform of the liturgy highlight the importance of the written Word of God in any revision of the liturgical books as well as in the liturgical spirituality to be promoted among the faithful.

Vatican website translation:

24. Sacred scripture is of the greatest importance in the celebration of the liturgy. For it is from scripture that lessons are read and explained in the homily, and psalms are sung; the prayers, collects, and liturgical songs are scriptural in their inspiration and their force, and it is from the scriptures that actions and signs derive their meaning. Thus to achieve the restoration, progress, and adaptation of the sacred liturgy, it is essential to promote that warm and living love for scripture to which the venerable tradition of both eastern and western rites gives testimony.

Latin text:

24. Maximum est sacrae Scripturae momentum in Liturgia celebranda. Ex ea enim lectiones leguntur et in homilia explicantur, psalmi canuntur, atque ex eius afflatu instinctuque preces, orationes et carmina liturgica effusa sunt, et ex ea significationem suam actiones et signa accipiunt. Unde, ad procurandam sacrae Liturgiae instaurationem, progressum et aptationem, oportet ut promoveatur ille suavis et vivus sacrae Scripturae affectus, quem testatur venerabilis rituum cum orientalium tum occidentalium traditio.

Slavishly literal translation:

24. In celebrating the Liturgy the greatest influence is [that] of Sacred Scripture. For from it the lessons are read and are explained in the homily, the psalms are sung, and from its inspiration and impetus major and minor liturgical prayers and songs are poured forth, and from it [liturgical] actions and signs receive their signification. Thus for the procuring of the reform/restoration/renewal, progress, and adaptation of the sacred Liturgy, it is necessary that that sweet and living affection for sacred Scripture be fostered, which the venerable tradition of both the eastern and western rites offer witness.

Note that the influence of sacred Scripture is not limited to its formal proclamation and preaching in the Liturgy of the Word. Art. 24 declares that scripture forms the textual substratum of the major liturgical prayers (preces, such as the Eucharistic Prayer, the Prayer of Ordination, or the Blessing of the Baptismal Water), the minor liturgical prayers (orationes, such as the Collect, the Prayer over the Offerings, or the Post-Communion prayer) and the liturgical songs (carmina, such as the Glory to God or the Lamb of God). It further declares that the liturgical rites as symbolic gestures are drawn from those described in the scriptures. Thus unless Biblical literacy and love for the scriptures is developed among Catholic worshipers, they will be hindered in their full and active participation in the liturgy, the goal to be considered before all else in reforming and promoting the Liturgy, according to art. 14.

Readers of Pray Tell may wish to address how and how well a “warm and living love for sacred Scripture” has marked Catholic life over the last fifty years. They may also wish to revisit earlier discussions challenging how scripture has been distributed for Roman Rite liturgical celebration (e.g., the wisdom of moving from a one-year lectionary cycle in the EF to a two-year/three-year lectionary cycle in the OF for Eucharist; the development of lectionaries for OF celebration of Baptism of Infants, the various Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Matrimony and Ordination vs. the appointed readings for the equivalent sacramental celebrations in the EF). They could also engage a discussion of how orationes and carmina still operating on a one-year cycle in the Missale Romanum might be enriched to reflect the two-year and three-year lectionary cycles in the OF.

49 comments

  1. I apologize Fr. Joncas in going off-topic with the first post, but article 24 of SC highlights a way in which the liturgical reforms of the Council have not taken root.

    One of the aspects of the Tridentine revival is an emphasis on sung lections through the frequent celebration of sung or solemn liturgy. However, I very rarely hear lections sung in the Ordinary Form on an every-Sunday basis. Often sung proclamations and lections at Ordinary Form parishes are saved for the highest points of the liturgical year (such as the Exsultet). I often wonder why even churches with large and enthusiastic musical ministries almost always have spoken lections.

    I don’t see why OF celebrations can’t incorporate more frequent sung lections. Perhaps a Sunday lectionary (perhaps in multiple volumes) could be prepared with chant notation for the readings. A renewal of sung lections in the reformed liturgy would certainly reflect a very long standing liturgical tradition of the East and West, a tradition which perhaps some of the Council bishops desired to promote.

    1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #1:
      I would have to agree and also say that with the more frequent celebration of the EF Mass and the mandate to sing the Official Introit as well as the Offertory and Communion antiphons makes clear that the Scriptures like the Responsorial Psalm in the OF are to be sung. It is sad that these Scriptures have the most unfortunate option to be eliminated in favor of hymns that may or may not be directly from the Sacred Scriptures.
      But with that said, certainly the revised lectionary for Sundays in three cycles and the two year cycle of readings for daily Mass have exposed us all to the richness of Scriptures and in a lavish way. And the recovery of the EF Mass has once again exposed us to the genius of the one year cycle and in effect has give us “Year D.” It’s a win, win situation.

    2. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #1:
      I agree. We’ve had 40 years of lay lectors, permanent deacons, and celebrants who ,with very few exceptions, couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket and were never trained to carry a tune. Add to that a strong bias against any liturgical practices suggesting a carry over from “the old Mass”.

      This is unfortunate.

    3. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #1:

      Jordan,

      While sung readings (I think only our Anglican/Episcopal friends refer to them as lections) may heighten the experience of the scriptural text as something special, we need to ask ourselves if chanting readings actually serves as a barrier to communication. In other words, does it make them more artificial and less able to be absorbed because it is more difficult to decipher the sense of the words because normal vocal tonality is radically modified in cantillation.

      Readings are meant to be read, rather than sung, I submit. Otherwise you veer towards the Orthodox style of liturgy where everything is sung and there are no high and low points because everything is concealed behind singing and thus levelled out.

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #22:

        I respect the school of liturgical scholarship which values didacticism or intellectual comprehension of the readings over their aesthetic value. I recognize that some liturgists consider missalettes as a hindrance to active participation, as in their view active participation requires attention to the proclamation of the Word.

        I don’t doubt that in many cases chanted readings are not appropriate. I do not agree, however, that proclamation of the Word should center on listening. When worshiping at a sung or solemn EF Mass, I often read the corresponding Latin text while ministers chant the readings. I am able to “read ahead” of the minister, and then admire the beauty of the chant as it flows over the text I have just read.

        I do not consider that a reading and listening approach hinders active participation. Quite the opposite — reading and listening allows for the consideration and appreciation of two valences of scripture.

      2. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #27:

        I respect the school of liturgical scholarship which values didacticism or intellectual comprehension of the readings over their aesthetic value. I recognize that some liturgists consider missalettes as a hindrance to active participation, as in their view active participation requires attention to the proclamation of the Word.

        [snip]

        I do not consider that a reading and listening approach hinders active participation. Quite the opposite — reading and listening allows for the consideration and appreciation of two valences of scripture.

        This opens up another area for discussion. I don’t think liturgists necessarily value didacticism, but I think they do recognize that liturgy is about communication. For intellectual comprehension, see below.

        The question of two valences of scripture is one that is often raised. People will point to different learning intelligences — visual, auditory, kinetic, etc — and say that they can understand or absorb the word proclaimed much better if they are reading it at the same time. While this may be true in the case of a substandard reader or PA system, it carries a danger with it.

        The danger is that the one who reads simultaneously is able to control the meaning that s/he wants to derive from the scripture in a way that the one who listens cannot. That is, in part, what I was talking about when I said that readings are meant to be listened to.

        If you are not reading along, you can be listening to a reading that you may have heard a hundred times before when, all of a sudden, something strikes you in a completely new way. A word jumps out and hits you between the eyes. That is God’s word for you today. I submit that this is almost impossible when reading along with a missalette. There, the focus is on intellectual comprehension: the read-along person controls the meaning received. What I am after is not that, but a revelation of the message of the reading for the listener.

        I would even go so far as to say that it doesn’t matter if you then don’t pay quite so much attention to the remainder of the reading or readings because your mind is still chewing over the revelation. What has happened is that God has spoken, deep in your heart. That is the important thing, and for me it makes the difference between a Liturgy of the Word and a liturgy of words.

      3. @Paul Inwood – comment #33:

        Paul: There, the focus is on intellectual comprehension: the read-along person controls the meaning received. What I am after is not that, but a revelation of the message of the reading for the listener.

        Aural comprehension is certainly not unimportant. Certainly, both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament are meant to be heard and only then read. I agree that the primary way to apprehend the message of the Word is through spoken word, since the performance of recitation was for centuries the predominant means to retell scripture.

        However many societies today have high literacy rates. Some persons are more comfortable with reading than listening. I fall into this category; doubtlessly other Catholics approach words through writing and print first and then through speech. I understand that the various waves of the liturgical movement have tried to discourage reading during Mass, especially when many “followed the Mass” with hand-missals or read devotional literature. With the rise of vernacular liturgy these practices have decreased. Still, some who read first and hear later might need to see the words in order to reduce distraction or help to meditate on certain aspects of the readings. For those in this latter category, reading text during the proclamation of the word might not be a conscious attempt to control or filter out the reader, but rather to pay closer attention to the proclamation.

        I commend your idea that the aural should supersede the visual. Even so, this idea is not practical for some. Perhaps I have advocated for the return of chanted readings because my mind has inverted the normal priority of “listen, then see” to “see, then listen”.

      4. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #37:

        the aural should supersede the visual. Even so, this idea is not practical for some.

        Jordan, I agree with you that it does not suit everyone. In my ideal world, people would be given the text of the readings for the following week and then, having read them at home, come to church on Sunday ready to celebrate the word that they already have in them by listening to the proclamation and then hearing it unpacked by the homilist. I know some churches that do precisely this, but they are in a tiny minority.

      5. @Paul Inwood – comment #22:
        On behalf of an old pal of mine who is Russian Orthodox, I want to argue from experience (his and my lesser experience) that your view of the Orthodox Liturgy as levelled out by chanting everything is not accurate.

        There is no mistaking the rhythms of the Liturgy in orthodox practice, nor the high points, it is articulated clearly. Ministry, movement, tonality all play their part in this. It is a much more sophisticated operation than the vernacular liturgy of the Roman Rite seems to be.

        As for chanting the readings in the Roman Rite, the one thing needed is clear diction, there is no communication problem with music as such. You might as well make the same point about the many poor readers we have. They do not communicate well, either.

        My sense about chant for the readings, and the prayers too for that matter, is that it stops the reader/deacon/priest ‘hi-jacking’ the text with his/her personality. Another old Anglican/Nonconformist word was ‘unction’ – that dreadful quality of reading which allowed the reader to dominate the text. Surely it should be the other way round.

      6. @Alan Griffiths – comment #35:

        With regard to cantillating the readings, I was careful to say “it is more difficult to decipher the sense of the words”. This is rather different from saying “it is more difficult to decipher the meaning of the words”. I hope my subsquent post (#33) helped to show the difference I see between “meaning” and “sense”. I am fairly confident that the phenomenon I described there (the sudden illumination or revelation) is next to impossible when a a reading is chanted.

      7. @Paul Inwood – comment #36:
        I chanted John 1:1-14 at a joint carol service at a local C of E church on Friday last. Several people – including some of our own – commented favourably. One parishioner said that she had heard it as she’d never heard it before. If that was not a backhander (I don’t think it was), then I was happy.

        John Ainslie’s point is a good one. However, it has nothing to do with chanting the readings as such. It is about how you prepare people for sacred Orders, or any ministry, and the kind of liturgical spirituality you are forming them in.

        RC priests speak about ‘saying Mass’ or ‘The celebrant’ and we seem to have caught the Anglican habit of referring to the priest as ‘President.’ My Orthodox pal always speaks of the priest as ‘serving the Liturgy.’ That’s got it right.

        My job means that I take part in Mass often as a concelebrant or congregant. I hear what other priests make of their role. From this, I am convinced that priestly formation needs to have a strong liturgical spirituality of ‘serving the Liturgy.’

      8. @Alan Griffiths – comment #42:

        I chanted John 1:1-14 at a joint carol service at a local C of E church on Friday last. Several people – including some of our own – commented favourably. One parishioner said that she had heard it as she’d never heard it before. If that was not a backhander (I don’t think it was), then I was happy.

        That I can certainly believe, having heard you sing. But you are the exception, not the rule!

        My job means that I take part in Mass often as a concelebrant or congregant. I hear what other priests make of their role. From this, I am convinced that priestly formation needs to have a strong liturgical spirituality of ‘serving the Liturgy.’

        Agree with this absolutely. A pity that many seminarians are never given this in their formation (except in the seminary where you teach, presumably!).

  2. SC was written and adopted before Dei Verbum. Eventually I think the renewal of the liturgy based upon the renewal of Biblical studies will be far more profound and deeper than the renewal of the liturgy based upon liturgical studies and patristic studies. However the Biblical renewal will take time. It requires not only scholarship but also greater familiarity of Catholics with Scripture.

    While this particular paragraph in a way commits us to that long term scriptural based liturgical renewal, the practical implementation of that, e.g. the three year lectionary cycle has made the Mass too much the center of that renewal. The Divine Office as a more flexible, personal, family and small group way of encountering Scripture was neglected (except for priests). That decision greatly underestimated how Catholics (at least in the USA) would take to focusing upon the Sunday readings. In fact I would say we have become too focused upon the Sunday readings in their Mass settings and have neglected the overall structure of books. I rarely hear priests give any semblance of an overview of say the Gospel of Luke (except maybe mentioning a few of its characteristics in passing).

    Whlle I would prefer to have a laity focused Divine Office to futher the liturgical renewal by means of scripture I have found an alternative in the Little Rock Bible Study program.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #3:

      When I recently served a four year term on pastoral council, I was asked to lead an endeavor to find out the needs for adult faith formation. The results focused in upon bible study, and the discernment process decided upon the Little Rock Bible Study which uses the Collegeville Bible Commentaries. Neither Bible Study nor Little Rock was my idea nor the staffs. It just what surfaced when I applied my facilitation skills to the adult faith formation issue. I was familiar with the Commentaries but not Little Rocks Four Elements: 1) twenty minutes of daily personal study, 2) a weekly small group discussion, 3) a weekly large group video (or local lecture), and 4) prayer interweaved through all these. I did phone interviews of the participants and was very impressed with the program.

      There were two aspects to Little Rock however that I would modify. First I would substitute a Bible Service of Readings and Songs for the video or lecture as a weekly large group event and would integrate it with the use of scripture and music for the liturgy year.

      Second, while the small group leaders don’t have to be scripture experts, the leader of the parish program needs to be an “expert”, which unfortunately most priests and staff are not. It was very clear that the people, however happy they are to make their own applications. really wanted to talk with a live expert. There are many courses in scripture offered both locally during the academic year and nationally during summers. I think well educated Catholics could become parish “scripture experts” with some of these courses but without the time and expense of degrees.

      The Little Rock Program appealed to a wide group of people in the parish: RCIA leaders, religious education people, choir members, charitable and social justices ministries. All of these thought their ministries would be strengthen by bible study. Then we also had considerable numbers of people who were not involved in any ministries and even some people who re-engaged with the Church after having looked elsewhere specifically for bible study and been disappointed. The Dei Verbum rationale for Little Rock is just very different from what people would experience in Protestant Bible study (as those who had done so told us).

      1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #4:
        Thanks, Jack and Fr. Michael. Guess my initial response (to steer away from the sidetrack on chanting and mass obligations or even the obligatory Allan EF vs. OF (don’t think SC article 24 had that division in mind) is to take a step back and consider:
        – 50 years of listening to a three year cycle – yes, it has had a positive impact in multiple ways
        – compare the usual *religion class* approach pre-VII (focus on catechism) to changes post-VII (actual scripture classes from elementary forward – yes, we have differeing experiences between CCD and Catholic schools).
        – these scripture classes effected a change from an older stance – bible as literal – to a newer approach that explained the scripture writers, purposes, differences in gospels, types of scripture, etc. In many cases, it introduced catholics to Paul, to the Pauline churches, and, unquestionably, it opened up the OT and its connection to the NT
        – in conjunction with Dei Verbum, it introduced the historical-ciritical method and made the personalities of scripture come alive. Think of the significant scripture professors and book writers in the 1960-70s – folks actually know and have read Raymond Brown, Mark Link, etc.
        – with Dei Verbum, the impact on RCIA, on ecumenism and shared scriptue/liturgical prayers with christian churches which also supported marriages between catholic/christian.
        – the impact of newly composed hymns in our tradition post-VII – folks got used to hymns by folks such as Fr. Joncas, STL Jesuits, etc.
        – add to that parish scripture groups; Little Rock Scripture Study; diocesan programs to promote scripture study via certification for teachers of CCD, catholic schools, etc.

        Side note – Jack, Faggioli in his new book talks about the very clear inner-connectedness of Dei Verbum, SC, and LG. He remarks about how the internal principles of Dei Verbum were articulated in SC and vice versa. Examples – how they dealt with the Jewish question in scripture and liturgy.

        Yes, would agree that we have lost some of the passion, early impetus, and direction after VII – do we take it for granted? do we assume that folks are more educated or less interested? Guess I have seen both extremes but have also seen folks who understand the place of scripture in family weddings, funerals, etc.
        To echo Todd – we are always needing to do more but would say a balanced score would be more positive than negative.

  3. Readers of Pray Tell may wish to address how and how well a “warm and living love for sacred Scripture” has marked Catholic life over the last fifty years…

    I would say: Much talked about, but little in evidence.

    The Council Fathers were right to see scriptural literacy among Catholics as too deficient. But what it is today? With rare exceptions, I’m not sure how it could be much worse than it is now.

    Hello Jack,

    While this particular paragraph in a way commits us to that long term scriptural based liturgical renewal, the practical implementation of that, e.g. the three year lectionary cycle has made the Mass too much the center of that renewal. The Divine Office as a more flexible, personal, family and small group way of encountering Scripture was neglected (except for priests).

    Well said, sir.

    Not everyone here may share my skepticism about the three year lectionary. But I think there is fodder for a broad discussion by all here about the role of the Office.

  4. I remember from my youth that one could fulfill one’s Sunday Mass obligation (in the Roman Rite) by being present for the Offertory, the Consecration, and the priest’s Communion. In effect this gave the impression that the Foremass/Mass of the Catechumens/Liturgy of the Word with its concentration on the proclamation of Scripture and the possibility of preaching at Mass was of secondary importance, indeed “missable” with no deleterious effect on one’s Mass attendance.

    I’m interested to learn: 1) whether or not after 50 years there are members of the faithful who attend Sunday Mass only from the Preparation of the Gifts on in the OF (I think this is a separate question from whether or not they “come late” [e.g., during the Introductory Rites] or “leave early” [e.g., after their own reception of communion]; 2) whether this practice continues in present-day celebrations of the EF.

    1. @Fr. Jan Michael Joncas – comment #7:
      I remember much the same rule, with the side effect that you weren’t present when the collection basket passed you had to stay for the next Mass (every hour on the hour from 6 until noon) and its collection!

    2. @Fr. Jan Michael Joncas – comment #7:

      You’re conflating two things. There’s the question of what satisfies the grave moral obligation to be present for the celebration of Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation. That is arguably still only from the offertory to Communion. (Are we now all rigorists in moral theology who must embrace the strictest opinion? More on this below.)

      OId books, like this 1902 Catechism also made it clear that there was “deleterious effect on one’s Mass attendance” in being late for Mass (or presumably in leaving early) as this was a venial sin.

      Today, some people argue that one must be presence for the chief parts of both the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist (i.e. the reading of the Gospel), but it seems to me that SC 56 actually argues agains such a bivalent view. If the two parts make up “but one single act of worship” then only that which is absolutely required for that “single act of worship” can be required for the (minimalist legal requirement) of the Sunday obligation. (Again, this isn’t to say that the moral requirement of the divine commandment isn’t broader.)

      1. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #9:
        “Today, some people argue that one must be presence for the chief parts of both the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist (i.e. the reading of the Gospel), but it seems to me that SC 56 actually argues agains such a bivalent view.”

        I think a break from this continuity is called for. I think we need an entirely new hermeneutic for celebrating Mass.

        First, that the verb applies to all believers.

        Second, we could jettison the talk of satisfying obligations. A believer could realize there is always more to go in the practice of the faith. A person who goes to Mass every Sunday and holy day has weekday opportunities to explore. Or the Liturgy of the Hours.

        Simply put, we should never be satisfied with where we are, and believers all should be more attendant to the urgings of the Holy Spirit in going deeper.

        The advantage with such a mindset is that it eliminates the us/them chatter about casual believers, or C&E Catholics. It implies we all have a way to go. It implies that it’s less about getting “explained the moral and liturgical theology,” and more about the *practice* of faith.

        This is the main reason why I think the TLM, and Fr McDonald’s approach to liturgy, needs to be jettisoned. As long as we focus over much on the performance and less on the faithful celebrants, we run the risk of spiritual impoverishment.

        And lastly, while I wouldn’t say that singing the readings is necessarily a bad thing, I will say that without good Scriptural preaching, it strikes me as good deck chair material. Preaching and singing the psalms and canticles has to be a higher priority.

      2. @Todd Flowerday – comment #15:
        Todd, you seem to hate everything you’ve never experienced and are a bit narrow on these things. I suggest less hate, more experience and more tolerance for that which you think goes against your opinion of things. You’ll be happier in the long run, especially in heaven.

      3. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #17:
        Allan – so, now you are *lecturing* Todd on tolerance and less hate? Really and after you exhibited such tolerance and less hate on your blog e.g. Obama’s remarks on Newtown shootings, how funerals would be better without the *banal* music of folks such as Fr. Joncas.

        Here is your latest:

        “I think the Second Vatican Council was hijacked by well-intentioned reformers who wanted to take the ball and run with it. I don’t think the documents of Vatican II read in a strict, literal sense called for the type of rupture in Catholic identity, either liturgically, ecclesially or otherwise that the “spirit of Vatican II” theologians and bishops thought that it did.

        I am very much in agreement that Ecumencial Councils are some of the most authoritative forms of Catholic teaching and promoting pastoral practice, the most authoritative way that the Pope and bishops in union with him excerise their commission to “teach, rule and sanctify.”

        Thus I very much think we should have followed Sacrosanctum Concilium to the letter in revising the 1962 missal and I think the 1962 missal should have been allowed from the beginning to maintain a place of pride in the liturgical life of the Church and if it had it would have certainly balanced the unbridled experimentation with the Ordinary Form we saw after the Council.

        So, I would say that I am a disciple of Pope Benedict and his vision for reform in continuity and accepting all of Vatican II through the lens of continuity. That vision when implemented will bring about the authentic renewal that Vatican II desired and perhaps a reformed liturgy that is actually more in continuity with the 1962 missal. But I still contend that the revised missal as it is today can be in continuity with the 1962 missal if celebrated ad orientem, with some Latin, and kneeling for Holy Communion, not anything that is radical or opposed to Vatican II at all and in fact allowed since the Council, but who really knows and understands that when most Catholics were told all these things were wrong!

        I think too, that all the progressive, liberal neo-reformers today want to refashion the Catholic Church according to some corrupted ecumenical model embraced by the more liberal Anglican Communion and its expression in the USA, the Protestant Episcopal Church as well as the more progressive branches of Lutheranism and Presbyterianism. This model of Church will be governed by democratic principles, popular election of bishops and priests and the end to what they call the monarchy of hierarchy or the old 1960’s worn out cliche “patriarchy.”

        What they desire is an “ecumenical liturgy” that allows for women priests, a church that allows for gay marriage, birth control and pro-choice morality when it comes to both contraception and abortion. They want a church that is more like the Unitarians but with a broader appeal to make what the Unitarians had desired into a reality.

        They wish to do away with Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law as it concerns sexual morality and marriage. They are truly anarchists and perhaps anti-Christ.”

        So much for tolerance and less hate. Guess Todd and I fall into the *truly anarchists and perhaps anti-Christ* group. Your opinions above are merely that – and most reject accepted historical facts, events, interpretations. At least you didn’t trot out your usual VII was not a *dogmatic ecumenical council but merely pastoral* – guess that means it is just *less* and wasn’t *authentic*.

        Quoting Rahner and Congar:

        “So my starting point is with the idea that we are witnessing the renewal of what is called integrism in some sectors of the American Church, both lay and clerical, and on some days, even in the Vatican. This term integrism has been used in a number of ways, but integrists are essentially driven by a belief that they have the truth in its entirety, and nothing, therefore, needs to change.

        “Integrists,” Congar says, “are old fashioned hierarchical authoritarians afraid of change, and often paranoid about those who think differently. They are pessimists with a closed, clubby view of the Church, who see faith as a matter of intellectual assent to doctrines. Their theology continues to be Neo-Scholastic in orientation. They have an excessively centralized view of the Church. They see it in terms of visible structures that provide a context for personal spiritual reform, but the structures themselves are not open to change.

        Rahner describes integrism as “a heresy.” “It is the effort to impose the teachings of the Church as a kind of blueprint or ethical template upon the secular world. Integrists have this vision in their head of the truth of Catholicism; and its already fixed; and they have all the answers; and their objective is to bring the secular world into conformity with this. Integrists think that all earthly action in the history of the world is nothing but the putting into practice the principles taught, expounded, and applied by the Church.”

      4. @Bill deHaas – comment #20:
        What does this have to do with the topic at hand? You should comment on my blog. I’d be happy to scissors and paste it to my blog as a comment of yours. How would you like that? I don’t see anywhere in this post where Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law are relegated to a back seat over secular concerns and sociological trends.
        Back to this post–if we’re going to have more Scripture through the Liturgy which is a wonderful development, shouldn’t we then take it seriously as well as Tradition and Natural Law or is it all show and no go?

      5. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #17:
        Generally suspicious/skeptical of people who attempt to diagnose things like “hate” from a distance. And without credentials. My suggestion is to discuss and argue the points, not the people.

        Getting back to the discussion on Scripture, there might be a few locations to find hard statistical evidence for an improved Scripture awareness among the Catholic laity. It might be interesting to track trends in publishing, comparing 1960 and 2010 in things like Bible studies.

        My sense is that sound Scripture study is out there for people who want it. It would be great if more Catholics wanted it. But then again, it would be great if every Catholic went to Mass every Sunday, too.

        Another point of greater Scriptural awareness would be the singing of contemporary music. Is it more important, for example, for a person to know “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned” is from Psalm 51, or to sing it and mean it? (And obviously, it would be optimal if people knew Scripture, sang it, and lived it.)

  5. I don’t think Jordan Zarembo’s comment at #1 takes us away from the topic. The fact is that the OF MR2011 provides tones for chanting the lessons/readings. Whether or not they are employed in actual celebration raises fascinating questions in semiotics for me in both OF and EF practice.

    Some would argue that using distinct chant patterns for Old Testament, New Testament non-Gospel, and Gospel readings helps to differentiate them from one another in the course of the Liturgy of the Word. Others point to the more complex rules for the chanting of the Gospel as a way of both highlighting the grammar of the text and its ritual weight in comparison to the other scriptural readings. Others hold that this chanting arose originally as a method to allow the text to be heard in an era before microphones; intelligibility was the purpose of the chanting and intelligibility is better served now by translating these texts into the vernacular (as they had been in the vernacular originally) and using sound amplification systems to make them heard. Others hold that intelligibility of the text is less important than its ceremonial proclamation, i.e., that these texts are “different” from ordinary texts and their sacrality is maintained by their sacred language (although this might be better served if they were proclaimed in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek as the case might be) and their cantillation. In that respect it is interesting to see in what part of the sanctuary the Epistle and Gospel might be chanted in the EF and in what direction the subdeacon or deacon might face vis-a-vis the assembled congregation, i.e., to whom are these texts being proclaimed (especially if the priest is also proclaiming them sotto voce from the Missal from the “Epistle” side or the “Gospel” side of the altar).

    Analyzing the multiple “messages” carried by chanting vs. speaking the scriptural texts, who does the chanting/speaking, where they do the chanting/speaking, etc., may help us think through how to fulfill art. 24’s…

    1. @Fr. Jan Michael Joncas – comment #10:

      I posed the question at the beginning of the thread out of a consideration of comparative religion. In Judaism and Islam, there is no separation between the proclamation of scripture and cantillation. This relationship also holds true in Eastern Christian rites. I’m not sure when western Christianity began to fall away from the regular public chanting of scripture. I suspect that the medieval innovation of the “private Mass” helped to sever the link between scripture and song. I would be interested to know if there are studies on the history of the decline of chanted lections in western Christianity.

      Fr. Joncas: Others point to the more complex rules for the chanting of the Gospel as a way of both highlighting the grammar of the text and its ritual weight in comparison to the other scriptural readings.

      From the standpoint of the EF sung Gospel, I agree that the greater complexity of the Gospel chant often serves to highlight certain words and phrases. Also, some of the unchanging features of Gospel chants serve important functions also. The incipit for a reading from John, in illo tempore, has a distinctive and invariable tune which unmistakably alerts the assembly to the source of the reading. I also find that cues such as tone and the incipit provide greater information about the reading being proclaimed rather than the position of the ministers in the sanctuary. In this way I see your point about a relationship between chant complexity and the type of reading.

      One of the reasons why the chanting of the readings might be unpopular in English-language liturgy is the syntactical nature of English itself. Latin, which relies on word endings to convey meaning, can be understood even if some words are elongated or even obscured in chant. One can misunderstand an obscure word such as azymus (“unleavened”) but understand the gist of the sentence because of the meaning inherent in the verb. English, which relies heavily on word order, requires not just semantic understanding but also a high level of word sequence comprehension. A poor cantor could potentially distort a chanted English reading to the point where many would have difficulty following the proclaimed word.

  6. With all due respect to Mr. Howard at #9, the issue from my perspective remains that Catholics were taught that the minimum requirement necessary to fulfill the Sunday and Holy Day Mass attendance obligation omitted the Foremass/Mass of the Catechumens/Liturgy of the Word. This suggests that being present for the proclamation of and preaching on scripture did not hold the same value as the Offertory, Consecration and priest’s Communion. It then seems to me that article 24 is attempting to counter such a minimalist understanding of the role of scripture at Mass (and frankly in the celebration of the other sacraments).

    I still remain interested in what effect this practice from 50 years ago has on Mass attendance in both the OF and EF today.

    1. @Fr. Jan Michael Joncas – comment #11:
      I would say that those who attend our monthly EF Mass are rather pious and don’t come in after the Gospel, ever! I think in the OF Mass, some people are generally late and some generally leave early, but I don’t think they do either for the reason of a minimalistic approach to Sunday obligation. I’ve never preached it and when anyone has asked me, the number of whom I can count on one hand from 1980 till now, I’ve told them that they shouldn’t miss any part of the Mass and should be there 15 minutes early. But of course I’m a rigorist.

    2. @Fr. Jan Michael Joncas – comment #11:
      But it seems that they were taught that because it’s true. The proclaming of the scripture and the homily don’t have the same value as the Sacrifice of the Mass as a whole. That doesn’t mean that it’s good to practice to come late or only for the essential part, but when someone asks, they should emphasize the good practice, but also not “tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders” by being overly rigorous about the obligation. Yes, we should encourage people to be on time and participate in the whole Mass, but not at the cost of making them worry that they’ve committed a mortal sin when they haven’t by missing part of it. Adults get explained the moral and liturgical theology and get to make their own decisions. Did some people before the Council have a minimalist view? Surely. As do some people after the Council (perhaps fewer?). Was the Council right to emphasize the importance of the Liturgy of the Word? Undoubtedly. But just because it’s important does mean it’s essential or valuable to the same degree.

      1. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #13:
        Mr. Howard – beg to differ with your statement. The point of SC in conjunction with other VII documents was to look upon the theology of sacraments and eucharist such that the sacrament of the eucharist is both the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the meal. It conveys the theological understanding that we break open the word of God just as we break open the body/blood of Jeus Christ. We are nourished by both – one is not lesser than the other. (mortal sin aspect is another question and reflects a juridical approach that VII did not stress).

      2. @Bill deHaas – comment #14:
        Mr. Howard – beg to differ with your statement. The point of SC in conjunction with other VII documents was to look upon the theology of sacraments and eucharist such that the sacrament of the eucharist is both the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the meal.

        Yes, the entire Mass is the celebration of the sacrament in some sense. But that doesn’t mean that the entire Mass is essential to the celebration of the sacrament. Certain parts of the Mass are, afterall omitted on certain days. The homily is part of the Mass, as stressed by SC, but even SC acknowledges that it’s not an essential part, since it doesn’t require it on all days.

        It conveys the theological understanding that we break open the word of God just as we break open the body/blood of Jeus Christ. We are nourished by both – one is not lesser than the other.

        But in fact, one is less essential than the other. If a Mass is being held and it breaks off after the Gospel (say if the Church catches fire), then the sacrament is not celebrated. If a priest forgets to preach a homily (I’ve seen it almost happen) the Mass is valid. If a priest forgets the consecration it’s not.

      3. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #16:

        The homily is part of the Mass, as stressed by SC, but even SC acknowledges that it’s not an essential part, since it doesn’t require it on all days.

        This is a selective reading.

        GIRM 66 makes it clear that the homily may not be omitted, except for a grave reason, on Sundays and holydays of obligation. On other days, it is recommended. The strong implication from this is that it is a good thing.

        The glass-half-full version is “it is highly recommended”. The glass-half-empty version is “it is not required on all days”. Different mindsets operative here.

  7. Next a word about incipits and conclusions.

    If we are alert, we will recognize that there are certain “switch-off” phrases in our liturgies. One of those is certainly “A reading from….” and even worse, “The first [second] reading is a reading from….”

    Another is In illo tempore or Fratres, All of these have an anthropological effect. They subliminally tell the listener “Here is a conventional opening formula. You have heard it many times before; so you don’t actually need to listen to the following text very hard. It’s just another reading.”

    It seems to me that this is precisely what we do not want to happen.

    The same thing at the end, when many readers thoughtlessly tack on “The Word of the Lord” or “The Gospel of the Lord” to the end of the reading without leaving a distinct pause first (as much as 10 seconds, I would suggest). That concluding formula, once again subliminally says to the listener, “OK, you can stop thinking about that; we’re moving on to something else.” Another switch-off phrase.

    But adding that pause gives the Word a chance to begin to percolate down into the spirit of the listener — and the one who proclaims the reading, come to that. The resonances of the scripture are still ringing in the listener’s ear for a short while before we cut them off and continue with the rite.

    And so I think we need to be very careful how we make use of these switch-off phrases in our ritual.

  8. Actually Mr. Howard’s insights at #16 would resonate rather well with historical studies that would find the present structure of the Mass as the yoking of a proclamation and exposition of scripture characteristic of synagogue worship (although there is much debate about how much we know about such worship around the time of Jesus and in the primitive Christian communities) with the table prayers associated with household domestic worship (although again there is much debate about how much we know about such worship at the time of Jesus and in the primitive Christian communities). If Didache 9-10 describes Christian eucharist, there is only a set of prayers for a table liturgy with no explicit Liturgy of the Word. The witness of Justin Martyr suggests that there may have been celebrations in at least one community in Rome ca. 155 in which the baptismal liturgy preceded the eucharistic table liturgy with no explicit Liturgy of the Word as opposed to regular Sunday worship in which an explicit Liturgy of the Word was conjoined to the eucharistic table liturgy. In the vast majority of the descriptions of the structure of the Eucharist, however, the Liturgy of the Word is intimately related to the Liturgy of the Eucharist (so much so that, e.g., texts from the proclaimed scriptures will reappear in the Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer [although this appears much more clearly in the Verona collection of libelli missarum and the Old Gelasian Sacramentary and the present MR2008 than in the Gregorian Sacramentary and the MR1570/1962]).

    Could we at least agree that the Council Fathers hoped to promote a deeper engagement with the scriptures as part of the liturgical renewal? What I’m still trying to get us to focus on is HOW that deeper engagement has occurred in the OF and the EF over the past fifty years and what we might do to promote it in the future. We’ve had some interesting suggestions and it might be instructive to discuss their merits.

  9. Mike,

    Yes, yes, and yes. We are much more of a biblical people than we were 50 years ago, so to that extent SC has succeeded in its endeavors. I am not sure, though, if every massgoer sees the Liturgy of the Word as equally essential to the experience. The message that without the scriptural context it is that much more difficult to give thanks and praise in the Eucharistic Prayer has still some way to go before general acceptance.

    That is why I think the “techniques” for proclamation of the Word are desperately important. If we don’t show that we are taking the Table of the Word every bit as seriously as the Table of the Eucharist we are going to continue to have a sense of imbalance, a lack of appreciation of liturgy as a two-way action, and a continued perception of a “magic moment” in the middle of the Eucharistic Prayer.

    My parish experience tells me that typically there are three “rush hours” after Mass has begun, when people are coming into the church. The first is about 30 seconds after everything has started, the second is during the Gloria, and the third is in the middle of the 1st Reading. That in itself is helping to prevent us from hearing the scripture proclaimed for our nourishment.

    1. @Paul Inwood – comment #26:
      Would totally agree with Paul’s points. And, as 1998 tried to introduce, very much agree with prayers that match a three year cycle and for efforts that better link the table of the word to the table of the eucharist – as Paul says, better use of *transitions* that connect and link using silence, phrases, etc.

      Jordan – have reservations about chanted/sung readings/Gospel. Would rather focus on *proclamation* done well….have found very few cantors/readers who can chant or sing well enough for the community to understand the gospel or readings. Thus, it basically defeats the purpose – why, just to say we can chant it? Would rather focus chant efforts in other areas.

      1. @Bill deHaas – comment #28:

        Is it possible for the readings to be aesthetic rather than didactic? Perhaps if lay readers and clerical ministers focused on cantorial training, then a renaissance in chanted readings might arise. All that is necessary is a commitment to develop the skills necessary to give poetic and musical voice to God’s message. I have long shied away from any lay ministry, but if I were given the opportunity to learn to chant the readings in Latin and English, I would certainly jump at this chance.

        For centuries, indeed for millennia, Christians sang their scripture. The reformed liturgy ruptured this very ancient tradition in the name of a very cerebral and academic notion of participation with God’s word. A certain way to counter the accusations of those who claim that the OF represents a “liturgical rupture” or “fabricated liturgy” is to reintroduce the fully sung Mass in which no audible part is not chanted. This would open a blocked artery between the reformed Mass and the folkways of western liturgy. The sociological-anthropological school of assembly and liturgical participation must admit at some point the complementarity of the not immediately rational and comprehensible.

        One of the reasons why I am still fundamentally oriented towards EF worship is the absence of the word amplified by the beauty of the human voice in many celebrations of the OF. Often what cannot be understood intellectually is understood by an appreciation for complex, ancient, and beautiful traditions. I am greatly saddened that for the most part OF celebrations have not embraced a fully sung, and aesthetically elevated Mass offered not only as a sacrifice for salvation, but also as a sacrifice of a beautiful artistic offering of scripture.

      2. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #29:
        Thanks, Jordan. What you have written sounds beautiful and something I would also like to participate in.
        But (yes, always a but); given current issues – it would not be high on my priority list if I was making pastoral decisions. Do believe that there are specific parishes where we need to strive to implement what you have laid out – can think of places such as the cathedral in Chicago; isn’t this already done in Salt Lake City?, St. John’s Abbey, St. Meinrad’s, Notre Dame University, NYC, etc.
        Would support but wouldn’t push the EF-OF facbricated liturgy line.

  10. In my experience, Catholics don’t really listen to the Scripture readings nor to the sermon unless its banal and concludes with a joke. This is the reality of popular religion. People come for the ritual and the consistency of comforting words. Something Praytell can never recognize, its concern for what it considers the ‘laity’ is just the game book of a different elite. It can never recognize the language behind language, and so is doomed to its own bizarre liberal version of literalism. These are the people abhorred that one might think the consecration more worthy of a bow and a pious utterance than the ‘proclaimed word’.

    You’re all evangelicals.

  11. The mandate of liturgical theologians in the 1970’s was that if a hymn of the Mass was not sung, it was to be omitted. For example, the Introit and communion antiphon would be omitted if not sung, the Gospel acclamation would not be spoken if not sung and so on. Technically I suspect that should also be applied to the other sung parts of the Mass (of course it wasn’t thank God) such as the Gloria, Kyrie, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei. In fact the whole Mass is a hymn and technically the speaking of these is an “aberration” that crept in for “pastoral reasons” over the course of time.
    So, even the readings are hymns to be chanted in the template of the authentic or truest expression of the Latin Rite Mass. I suspect that if these were chanted in a glorious way in English each Sunday, that people would listen attentively and the chanted embellishment of the readings would make them not only didactic but inspirational or as Jordan says, “aesthetic.” But it shouldn’t be either/or but both/and.
    Shouldn’t we be working toward a truly sung post Vatican II revised Mass at the principal Mass of most parishes? Shouldn’t gradual solemnity only be applied to the other Masses in parishes with multiple Masses? Except for the Solemn Sung EF Mass, I have never heard all the readings in an OF Mass chanted, although I can count on one or two hands the number of times I’ve heard the Gospel chanted. That is the norm I’m afraid and not a good, new norm in the least.

  12. I acknowledge that the history of liturgy includes the practice of chanting lessons. But ordinary parish liturgies did not know that practice or anything like it. In fact for more than a thousand years, the idea that some kind of cognitive understanding was involved in the Mass was foreign even to the clergy. Why would we want to revive such a precious practice….because its ” beautiful”? Because the Orthodox do it? Because its permitted? Because some cantors might do it well?

  13. Alan Griffiths :: My sense about chant for the readings, and the prayers too for that matter, is that it stops the reader/deacon/priest ‘hi-jacking’ the text with his/her personality. Another old Anglican/Nonconformist word was ‘unction’ – that dreadful quality of reading which allowed the reader to dominate the text. Surely it should be the other way round.

    I have to say that my experience is the opposite. Too many cantors – and priests singing the collects – either glory in the sound of their voices or allow the maintenance of the music to take precedence over the communication of the text.

    In any case, there is a need for chant formulae that are appropriate to the particular stress- and vowel-patterns of English. Latin chant for Latin texts, fine, if that’s what you want. But using the formulae for a different and dead language is impoverishing the proclamation and communication of the liturgical texts in our own language.

  14. Fr. Alan – have stated repeatedly that current US seminaries (with a few exceptions) do very little in terms of both liturgy and ars celebrandi.
    Wonder if Paul Ford could weigh in here from Camarillo (one of the larger US seminaries)?
    Even when a specific seminary does provide these trainings – what is absolutely required for ordination or a MDiv? You will find that in some cases – two courses get the candidate through.
    Would guess that you could poll any diocese’s priests and ask how many had any training in chant – would predict that it is less than 10% or the last time was when in the seminary – 25-30 years ago.

  15. Let me offer a summary of our discussion so far. Art. 24 calls for inculcating a “warm and living love for Scripture” in the faithful by means of liturgical reform/restoration/renewal. We have engaged a lengthy discussion of the advisability of chanting the readings/lections/lessons of the Foremass/Mass of the Catechumens/Liturgy of the Word, distinguishing between those for whom the chant serves primarily to communicate the text and those for whom it serves as a ceremonial marker of the ritual status of the text. We have heard some discussion of the relative merits of the EF and OF lectionary cycles in inculcating a “warm and living love of Scripture” in the faithful. We have heard an opinion that the Sunday Mass lectionary is not designed to inculcate a “warm and living love for Scripture,” but that that task properly belongs to the celebration of the Divine Office. We have not discussed the change in the amount of scripture proclaimed in other sacramental liturgical by the new lectionaries associated with the revised ritual books. We have attempted to give some markers about how we could judge whether or not a “warm and living love for Scripture” has occurred in the last fifty years among Roman Rite worshipers.

    I confess, however, to be confused by the point Mr. DeJonge makes at #32. (E.g., I don’t know what these sentences mean: “It can never recognize the language behind language, and so is doomed to its own bizarre liberal version of literalism. These are the people abhorred that one might think the consecration more worthy of a bow and a pious utterance than the ‘proclaimed word’.” I also don’t know if being called an “evangelical” is a bad or a good thing in Mr. DeJonge’s worldview.) As far as I can tell, no one has responded to him, nor has he clarified what he was trying to communicate. Perhaps his insights might offer another track for our discussion.

  16. Fr Joncas

    Another thing is whether it makes the use of Scripture in the mother tongue makes aa salient difference.

    To me, the former emphasis on using Latin for the readings was not so much related to retaing the poetic language beyond language but legalism – making sure the Formula Is Done Right.

  17. I welcome the expanded lectionary when it awakens a curiosity for more of scripture. I fear, though, that for most Catholics, the pericopes of the lectionary stand as isolated pieces. Many are surprised when they look to the context, or see how one week’s pericope is related (or not) to another’s, because they don’t get out the Bible and read it. Even various parish activities — Breaking Open the Word — which get people to reflect on the readings suffer from a lack of context when they don’t go beyond a re-reading of last week’s or next week’s lectionary. I fear we have not awakened an enthusiasm for scripture among the people.

    In my experience, “Bible Study” is a parish activity that is much requested, but not-so-much participated in. I struggle with how to teach/encourage prayer with scripture and a desire to enter into the text with both faith and learning.

    1. @Terri Miyamoto – comment #47:

      One part of this is the ‘transparency’ of scripture. People read scripture to see the life of Jesus or how God has acted among the Israelites. They rarely read it as a chance to encounter the authors, human or divine. Because their interest is in what scripture portrays, they tend not to notice the book itself.

  18. Jordan —

    About the beauty of language: To make a long story short, many years ago I met a man who was actually insane who insisted on talking to me about the Rubbiyat of Omar Khayyam. He said something I’ve never forgotten: “It’s so beautiful it must be true”.

    Crazy or not, I think he made a major point. We are more likely to believe a beautiful poem than a non-beautiful one, and when a liturgy is beautiful the beauty itself somehow lends serious corroboration to what is being communicated. Unfortunately, not all liturgical language/song is beautiful, but it’s very important that it should be.

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