Thursday, August 02, 2007

I've been trying to say Mass

I have spent a pleasant hour with the with the Johanine Missal, and I have for the first time "said Mass" up until the beginning of the Canon, and it is quite confusing. At this rate I think that I will take an hour and half to celebrate low Mass. I have been using a 1959 Missal and an up to date copy of Fortescue and O'Connell revised by Alcuin Reid. All this checking to make sure that my digits, on the longer fingers are on the altar, well my study desk, and making sure that I don't make the sign of the cross over the host - the lid of a vase, with the chalice - the vase, starting the Creed and the Gloria was a bit tricky, ensuring that my hands are not spread beyond my shoulders, nor raised above them, the altar cards I downloaded, anyone got a spare set of real ones? unfortunately don't tell you when to make the sign of the cross, so I had to repeat that. I didn't know that you had to bow, anyone know how far down? at the Adoramus te, in the Gloria and just possibly I might have said adoremus, by mistake. Karen is having problems with the rubrics of the Pauline Missal, she'll have a field day here. Anyhow ..., as Mrs Baldock, in primary school used to say, "Do it again and again and again until you get right", I think she scarred me for life, do think I could sue? - there is a very nice black Roman High Mass set, 19th century, Belgium I think, that would be quite useful in the future.

like this but black!

... and to think that for the Ordinary rite my seminary didn't think we needed any rehearsal and left us to work out the rubrics of all the other rites for ourselves, which could explain why some liturgy is a bit of a mess.


Anonymous said...

With the best will in the world, you cannot adequately master the celebration of the Tridentine Rite on a DIY basis. In the past it took the best part of a year to learn to say it under supervision. It was learnt gradually so that each part could be completely mastered. At the end you had to pass an exam and all faults were noticed because of the mortal sins that you could (and, presumably,still can) incur from making mistakes. By the time a seminarian was ordained he would be perfectly at home in what he was doing. Surely you could seek advice from the FSSP? The problems attending the celebration of the rite are legion and I hope you are now beginning to realize why many priests are reluctant to take up the option. It's best left to a younger generation which will be properly trained rather than cause disedification all round. Nothing is more guaranteed to discourage the acceptance of the extraordinary rite than clumsy, inadequate celebrations and a poor command of Latin. In the past a private Mass could be said in ten minutes which demonstrates that complete familiarity is necessary.

Anonymous said...

Father -
Farnborough Abbey print the 3 altar cards in a clear format, easy to read. Check their website. They have a section on the 'Old Rite'. I even found a set in St Paul's Multi-faith centre next to Westminister Cathedral!
Good luck!

AED said...

Your practice is admirable and necessary. I am not a priest, and while I have need on occasion to consult the rubrical guides for particular questions when I am asked, I have never had to memorize and put into practice all of them. I commend you.

Anonymous said...

Father, God bless you for trying, and be persistant. The bows in the Gloria are only head bows.

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Father Ray,

Many thanks for recounting your experience so far with rehearsing for a celebration according to the 1962 Missal.

I did enjoy your desription of the various bowings, crossings, genuflections, extending and joining of the hands, etc.

There are three or four bowings in the Gloria, I think, with a crossing at the end. The bow appears to be an inclination rather than a profound bow.

It sounds very complex and rather daunting at first. But I have seen several priests get the hang of it, and it seems to become second nature quite quickly.

I do hope you continue the good work. It's easy to get discouraged.

I thought Fr. Boyle in Ashford had it right with the advice : "Go for it !"

Of course, the priest then has the fun of chasing the Proper all over the Missal. For instance, The Feast of St. Jerome has its own Collect, Secret and Postcommunion, but otherwise follows the Mass "In medio Ecclesiae", the common of Doctors of the Church (not forgetting the change between Gradual, Alleluia, Tract and Pachal Alleluia, depending on the liturgical season), whence he can navigate back to the Ordinary, always supposing he's found the right Preface.

Thank the Lord (and the Latin Mass Society) for the Ordo Missae celebrandi.

There is, of course, the satisfaction of knowing that the cognoscenti in the pews are involved in a similar paper chase in their hand Missals.

As to the very precise regulations for liturgical celebration, Karen of San Diego would probably go ballistic is she ever read the minutiae in Fortescue & O'Connell.
I hope she doesn't get hold of a copy.

Errors and omissions are bound to occur, but they will hardly invalidate the celebration, or upset the Lord who will be the only one to notice.

Before Karen says a word, I mean accidental errors and omissions. I don't mean : "Well, I'm not doing this bit" and "I don't see the point of that bit" etc.

"Not even a priest may add, remove or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority." (Sacrosanctum Concilium Art.22)
And many other stern words from Rome, up to and including certain admonitions from Pope Benedict and Francis Cardinal Arinze.

I'm sure you'll very soon be able to celebrate the low Mass in under 30 minutes, from "In nomine Patris" to the end of the last Gospel "plenum gratiae et veritatis" (Deo gratias).

Meanwhile, it's very generous of you to share your experience so far. A most entertaining read.

"May the Lord who has begun this good work bring it to perfection"
(or words to that effect).

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

A very honest,humble account..may God continue to bless son & Brother Lewis just served a beautifully reverent low Mass at the Birmingham Oratory..but the old form is nice too...

Fr Ray Blake said...

Thankyou all for your encouragement. I am going to put on a further post about this later.

Anonymous said...

I would also like to commend you for trying to learn how to celebrate the "extraordinary" form of the Roman-rite. Don't get discouraged!!

gemoftheocean said...

Relax, Dr. Wright, and others. The fussbudgets amongst you are unaware that while I have "issues" with ninny-nannies insisting on "right thumb over left" - I am not indifferent to what makes a "pretty stage picture." As a matter of fact, whilst hippy-dippy types were clearing their bookshelves of ritual books etc. - I snapped up any and all I came across. The historian in me said "Are these people morons for getting rid of this stuff?" [Remember, at aged almost 51, I too belong to the "jacked around by the church" generation.]

I have in my possession, a most wonderous book called "The Book of Ceremonies" by Rev Laurence O'Connell A former Master of Ceremonies in Chicago -- book was published in 1944 -- it goes into a lot of loving detail about each and every bitsy thing.

Fr. Blake, being such a nice guy, and a good sport, will, if he drops me a line privately, at

Please put in the subject line something re: Rubrics for the Latin Mass -- so I'll know you are not pitching viagra or somesuch. If any of you other pikers out there would like a copy, email me. I may as well send to the many the same time I send to the one. I don't have adobe PDF except for the reader, but I'll see what I can do.

I will try to scan in all the text of the low mass rubrics, plus the general principles for same. I have dial-up, so low speed might work better, but I'm not adverse to scanning in pics of the open pages and sending them - but it might take longer - though I think the pics might be better, given that on the left hand column what is said is given, and the right hand column goes into each and every little fussy detail.

Our priest said they were drilled over and over in the seminary on this stuff so it would be second nature. He still does things rather precisely - N.O. - he personally found all that hand kissing at the high mass a little too European for him.

And Fr. Blake, if you make a "Mistake" chances are your back will be towards the people anyway, so only you, God, and the long dead souls who wrote down this stuff will know any different.

See if you can set aside a 1/2 hour every day for practice. Get one part of the Mass down cold before going on to the next one. My priest (who said the Latin Mass for 10 years) says that in the seminary they would constantly practice dry runs of the Mass in their free time the year or so before ordination to the priesthood.

Feh on the FSSP and their mortal sins for inadvertent mistakes. Now the Latin, you should have down, so you say the right things and not leave stuff out, but a pox on them if they say you didn't bow low enough and it's a sin. and Frankly, a 10 minute mass should be a scandal unless you are under bombardment. [Fr. Frommholtzer had a 17 minute regular Sunday Mass once, and my mom forever after called him Fr. Speedy Gonzalez (a well known cartoon character of the day.) Not quite scandalous, but there must have been a good football game on that day ]

Karen H. -- San Diego, Ca.

Ttony said...

Bravo, Father. Keep at it. dare I remind you that Rome wasn't built in a day?

gemoftheocean said...

Regards the "Adoremus Te" here is what "The Book of Ceremonies" [which I mentioned earlier] says:

"If the Gloria is to be said, separate your hands and elevate them, without raising your eyes to the cross. Join your hands at Deo with the fingers at about the height of your face, and lower your hands, thus joined to the height of your breast. (ref. page 70) Say, meanwhile, the words of Gloria in excelsis Deo and bow at the word Deo.

With hands joined, continue the Gloria in a loud tone. Make a PROFOUND head bow at Adoremus Te, Gratias agimus tibi, Jesu Christi (twice), and suscipe deprecationem nostram. At the words Cum Sancto Spiritu, place your left hand on your breast, and sign yourself, touching your forehead at Cum Sancto, your breast at Spritu, your left shoulder at in Gloria, and your right shoulder at Dei Patris. Amen [there is a footnote here that 'the rubrics of the Missal do not proscribe any definite distribution of words in making the sign of the cross. The manner given above is suggested by many rubricists.]

Without joining your hands, place them on the altar outside of the corporal and kiss the altar (page 71) Stand erect, rejoin your hands, and turn right, towards the epistle side, to face the people. Separate your hands, and without elevating them, say as you join them Dominus vobiscum in the loud tone. Turn left to the altar, and return to the Missal."

For some "General rules" regarding bows:
1. profound: the head is bowed low, with a slight bending of the shoulders, this bow is made to the cross (or the Blessed Sacrament) -- even outside of Mass -- at Oremus, Gloria Patri, and the name of Jesus (but not "Christ," unless it occurs with "Jesus"). It is also made during the Gloria, and Creed, and many other occasions. It expresses Cultus latriae.
2. Medium. The shoulders are not bent, and the head is bent to a lesser degree than in the profound bow. This bow is made at the name of Mary, and expresses hyperduliae.
3. Slight. The shoulders are not bent, and the head is bent very little. This bow is made at the name of the Saint whose Mass is said, or of whom a commemoration is made. It expresses cultus duliae.
N.B. [now here's where a few too many rubrcists were sitting around with the vino one day]
1. Bows are made to the Missal at the name of Mary and at the names of the Saints, unless there is a representation or image of the Blessed Virgin or Saint in the principal place over the altar, in which case, in which case the bow is made toward the representation of image.
2. The slight bow is also made to the Missal at the name of the Pope or Bishop, [here's where they added the tequilla chaser and ate the worm] BUT ONLY on the anniversary of the Bishop's election and consecration."

There's another footnote to this last NB - but at this point, forgive me if I have to dust myself off after rolling on the floor. Probably NB #2 got some prelate somewhere a slightly bigger closet to hang is biretta in at the Vatican.

If you're REALLY nice, and remember me in your next Mass, I'll give you the low down on where all the body bows go.

Karen H. -- San Diego

Fr Ray Blake said...

You are in danger of becoming a rabid old rubricist.
Thanks for the offer of O'Connell, I have the up to date version.

gemoftheocean said...

Alrighty, but remember, sometimes the older editions of things can be fussier. So if you get know who has a copy of that stuff.

Like I say, I can appreciate the "staging" aspects of things, and it certainly helps to have a traffic pattern guide ... just as long as you guys aren't jerks about it! ;-D
Is the Mass intention thing still good? Please remember my mom on August 4th. IT would have been her 77th bday ... She died on the 12th 12 years ago.

gemoftheocean said...

oh, her name was Catherine Horn --

Father said...


As a fellow traveler, I recommend the following: There is a small book which is circulating (as a very low-budget reproduction) Learning the Mass by a Father Schmitz - a guide for priests and seminarians. I find that to be very helpful for hands-on practice. Another resource - for reference before or after practice is the updated [to the 1962 Missal] Celebration of the Mass by Fr. J.B. O'Connell (Fortescue had no part in that edition) This too has been reprinted and is available through the FSSP seminary at Lincoln (Denton), NE (USA) for a reasonable sum [$30 US]

I went through the weeklong intensive with the FSSP - if you can take a course like that, it would be of great help to you, not only in practical terms, but also in understanding the why behind the very precise rubrics. Even so, I still plan to work with a priest who is already proficient with the extraordinary rite before I move out of the "dry Mass" stage.

voltaire said...

One can understand how the celebration of the Classical Rite must have been hell on earth for the scrupulous priest. The danger of committing a mortal sin for the wrong tone of voice or improper number of genuflections hung over the celebrant's head like the sword of Damocles. This is not for the faint of heart; the nervous breakdowns of many pre-Vatican II priests is proof enough.

Anonymous said...

Father, as a layman who has reached the stage where I can actually spot the occasional mistake each occasion just leaves me more thankful for the efforts of our priests.

David said...

At the end you had to pass an exam and all faults were noticed because of the mortal sins that you could (and, presumably,still can) incur from making mistakes.

I've heard this before from a priest who expressed a disinclination towards the traditional rite of Mass: that he didn't wish to incur any mortal sins.

Surely this completely overlooks the three components that are necessary for a sin to be mortal: 1) grave matter 2) full consent of the will and 3) full awareness of the gravity of the act. So how could a sincere priest fluffing some of the rubrics possibly commit a mortal sin? I think that, on the contrary, there is more likelihood of that in the modern rite in some of the behaviour on the part of entertainer-priests that has scandalised the Catholic faithful.

Let's not set up any straw men here...

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Good heavens.
Karen is a closet rubricist.
I should have guessed ...

Fr. Reginald Wilson, Australia said...

Father, I sympathise with your problems. Firstly, as a priest ordained in the Novus Ordo, we had no training in the celebration of the Mass,except that we were told to put "something personal" into the style of celebration so as to "show that we (each of us) owned the Mass. Secondly, I have learned the extraordinary usage by practising it, over and over again, in stages. The Offertory and the Communion Rite required most practice. Eventually, I put it together and it took over an hour. Now I have it down to 45mins.
Persevere, it is well worth it!