Saturday, February 09, 2013

Is Liturgical Renewal Possible?



Fr Gary Dickson asks some poignamt questions in a post, which asks the poignant of all: Liturgical Renewal – is it possible?
I am beginning to think every priest is a law unto himself. Before any real Liturgical Renewal is to take place, we need to agree on what the purpose of the Liturgy is. Some might suggest the various doctrinal statements of the Church down the centuries, that Sacrosanctum Concillium of VII and subsequent documents spent a great deal of printers ink making this clear but the truth is in a city of a couple of dozen parishes there are a couple of dozen different ways in which is Mass is celebrated, with the implication that there are a couple of dozen different theologies behind it.
The Traditional Mass didn't guarantee theological orthodoxy, otherwise there wouldn't have been the rise of either Protestantism or Modernism but it did suggest a certain essential unity in Catholicism, the various options of the Novus Ordo, where "choice" is central, actually serve to destroy unity. One of the key problems is that those rubrics which do exist are really considered to be pious suggestions rather than have the force of Law.
I hope he does not mind but reproduce Fr Dickson's post here:
We are told a new handbook on how to celebrate Holy Mass will be published this summer. While Redemptionis Sacramentum was dead on arrival, I suspect the proposed handbook will be still-born. The only thing that can resuscitate our liturgy is clear positive legislation backed up by action.

We have spent fifty years ‘advising and encouraging’ clergy at all levels -from Cardinals down to associate pastors and deacons- to follow liturgical norms, but we have had very little success with such exhortations. Why? I think because if we were to follow even the norms that are in place now for the Missanormativa of Paul VI, we would have a very different kind of liturgy than we currently have in most parishes. Some questions we can ask ourselves about the liturgy in our own parish to see if we are following norms or not are the following. All of these questions should be responded to with a ‘Yes’ if we are following norms; a negative response means we are not following the norms (according to the General Instruction and Redemptionis Sacramentum).


  • Do we ever use Latin for the Ordinary of the Mass? (cf. RS #112; GIRM #41)
  • Do we retain use of the Communion Plate? (cf. RS #93)
  • Do we use Extraordinary Ministers only in exceptional circumstances? (cf. RS #151)
  • Does the celebrant stay within the sanctuary at the Sign of Peace? (cf. RS #72)
  • Do we omit the chalice if the greater proportion of the congregation does not receive from it? (cf. RS #102)
  • Do we allow/encourage Communion kneeling and on the tongue? (cf. RS #92)
  • Do we keep the Church and adjoining rooms quiet before and after Mass? (cf. GIRM #45)
  • Do we omit hymn singing to have an organ voluntary at the end of Mass? (cf. Celebrating the Mass, Bishops Conference of England & Wales, #225) 
These may seem paltry things to some, but if they are so paltry, why refuse to follow them? It takes so little to put them into place, other than a sense of humility and obedience.
My personal reasons for taking liturgical norms seriously are two-fold. My first reason, in all honesty, is that I am not able to successfully subordinate my self-will to the will of God in all situations (i.e., I still sin), making liturgy the one area of my life where by the following norms I can subordinate myself with a measurable amount of success. Second (and this is a requirement of justice) because the people have a right to the liturgy with which the Church seeks to provide them. Justice is, after all, more widely applicable than just to issues of social poverty and/or oppression.
I return to a long-stated opinion here: if the Novus Ordo were celebrated exactly in accord with the Missal as provided by Pope Paul VI in 1970 in accord with liturgical continuity and the actual decrees of Vatican II, ie., altar-facing (rubric 133) with Latin (Sacrosactum concilium of Vatican II #54,116) and Communion on the tongue while kneeling (1970 GIRM 247) we would see significantly less hostility to the Church’s ancient form of Mass.

16 comments:

David O'Neill said...

O Father! You are (sadly)looking for the impossible. I sadly cannot foresee many OF Masses which will fit into your (rightful) scheme of things.
I have said to our PP - where OF Mass precedes our EF Mass - that St James's Park (home to Newcastle Utd) would pay good money to have the OF congregation there at a home game.
No-one seems to acknowledge the fact that "Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity" are present in the tiniest morsel of the host or the faintest smudge of the chalice, therefore what extra can be received by communicating under both forms.
Not only do most priests leave the sanctuary at the 'Pax' but most of the congregation seem determined to perambulate around the church exchanging the 'Pax' with everyone else in the congregation.
I cannot believe that, could the Fathers of Vat II have foreseen the ridiculous antics seen in our churches, they would not all have returned home on Day 1

Supertradmum said...

Sigh, I have lived a long time waiting for the TLM is areas where I camp out. The problem is a lack of trying it out--why? Once a priest starts saying the TLM, he changes. He becomes more spiritual and has great discernment.

Bless you. Rant away...the laity become weary of abuses and the lack of respect. We want liturgical leaders, really, we do.

Dom said...

I am amazed that when people use Vatican ii as as an excuse for liturgical abuse, it is as though they have access to some "secret" documents that no one else can see. The actual documents seem to be something they can't or rather choose not to see.

Angelo Cardinal Fratelli said...

At the end of our Mass, before the priest says the final blessings, they ask people to stand up if it;s their birthday then sing "happy birthday" to them!! And the priest can get away with this because most of the parishioners think that Mass is over once they take communion!! Poor catachesis all around! I am speechless and obviously searching for a new parish. However until the Vatican MANDATES an end to liturgical tomfoolery, it will be like this.

Long-Skirts said...

Angelo Cardinal Fratelli said:

"However until the Vatican MANDATES an end to liturgical tomfoolery, it will be like this."

Copy & paste the latest Rorate Caeli post in your browser and you will "be of good cheer".

http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2013/02/la-trahison-des-clercs-barsotti.html

JARay said...

Well, I'm not long in from 11-00 Mass in my parish. Normally I avoid Sunday Mass in my parish because Liturgical abuse is rife. The trouble is that Fr. X is such a really nice chap and very popular indeed. I'm sure that he never has read a book on the Liturgy in his life. Hence he thinks that anything goes if he feels like it.
Today we had about a dozen and a half new candidates for the RCIA. So they had to be pulled out and sign a sheet of paper according as to whether they had actually been baptised before or not. Then there had to a round of applause. Now the Chinese New Year of the Snake is upon us and the colour this year is red. So Fr. X began by asking us all to greet each other with a Happy New Year!
Then he chose to wear red vestments because of the Chinese New Year.
Because of the time taken up in welcoming our new RCIA candidates he cut out the Creed. This is something he has done several times before if the time taken up by other diversions is going to extend Mass too far.
This was the third Mass he had said this morning as well as the Vigil Mass last night. Binating! He doesn't know what the word means. And he will also say the 5-45 pm Mass this afternoon! Well, our other priest went back to Nigeria just after Christmas and even Fr. X does not know when he will decide to return. It MAY be this week because he has a scripture class on Fridays throughout Lent. It was thought that he would be back at the end of January but that didn't happen. Not that he is peculiar in taking holidays. Our Fr. X who is the PP will buzz off for a month or more to Vietnam when he wants to take a party of school children there. He will also take the odd weekend off to hop over to Sydney where he will help out in his father's bakery!
But they both are SUCH NICE GUYS!
Perhaps you can see why I avoid my parish at the weekends.

Physiocrat said...

We need a decent and affordable service book for Latin, with no translations so that it can be used anywhere. The need for this has been highlighted yet again by the issuing of a new hymn book for the Catholic church in Sweden. It contains everything that is needed for Latin, but in a weird notation for the music (flying eggs) that is difficult to read and unrecognisable to anyone who has sung chant before. All the nuances of the music are obliterated. So it will not encourage anyone to use the music.

Apparently the Diocesan Musical Director claims, I don't know on what evidence, that the old Gregorian chant notation is hard to understand and that discourages people from singing the music. It looks like a case of misguided good intentions, but the view is often repeated by professional musicians. Where has it come from? Has there been research on the subject from people who have tried to teach it? Having sung it since 1975 and taught quite a few people too, I have never come across anyone who had difficulty with the notation. Perhaps someone can shed some light on this?

Physiocrat said...

And priests will get hauled over the coals for saying the Canon of the Mass in silence? It sounds like a case of double standards.

Lee L-J said...

Maybe, the real problem lays with the whole Mass of Paul VI. Clerics and the Venerable son of Rome, Cardinal Ottaviani and Cardinal Bacci basically foredoomed The Mass as nothing more than heresy waiting to happen. Also the Trent Raed (Council), prophetically speaking, foredoomed many of the ords that make up The Mass of Paul VI. Though it is valid, the Novus Ordo is like a car that has barely scraped and passed his MOT !

francis said...

I'm somewhat mystified by the last item on Fr Dickson's checklist. All the other points are substantiated by reference to GIRM or Redemptionis Sacramentum or both; the last refers only to the CBCEW's publication "Celebrating the Mass", which does not in itself establish a liturgical norm (it describes itself as "a pastoral guide", not an act of the Magisterium), nor in any case does it state that there should not be a final hymn (though it does express the opinion that an organ voluntary is "more appropriate".)

Whatever the Bishops' preferences may be – and whatever the rationale against such a practice – the use of a final hymn seems to be fully in compliance with RS and GIRM. It's a shame that Fr Dickson's otherwise excellent checklist is undermined by the inclusion of a point which is not a case of "following the norms".

f.M. said...

Let's see how our parish stands according to your criteria:

Do we ever use Latin for the Ordinary of the Mass? (cf. RS #112; GIRM #41)
Yes, basically every Sunday evening I celebrate the Mass in Latin (OF) with readings and sermon in English, the one Sunday I do not do this is the first Sunday of the month, when I celebrate the EF Mass. Besides this there is always an OF High Mass in Swedish on Sundays at 11, first Sunday of the month with Latin ordinary chants.
Do we retain use of the Communion Plate? (cf. RS #93)
Yes.
Do we use Extraordinary Ministers only in exceptional circumstances? (cf. RS #151)
Don't have any.
Does the celebrant stay within the sanctuary at the Sign of Peace? (cf. RS #72)
At all time.
Do we omit the chalice if the greater proportion of the congregation does not receive from it? (cf. RS #102)
No Chalice communion at all.
Do we allow/encourage Communion kneeling and on the tongue? (cf. RS #92)
I'm happy to see more an more young people receiving the Sacrament kneeling.
Do we keep the Church and adjoining rooms quiet before and after Mass? (cf. GIRM #45)
I really try, although I myself become tired of reminding of that almost every Sunday.
Do we omit hymn singing to have an organ voluntary at the end of Mass? (cf. Celebrating the Mass, Bishops Conference of England & Wales, #225)
As an Our Lady parish, we sing an Antiphone or Marian hymn at the and (Ave Regina caelorum today) and organ postludium for recession.

About the new Cecilia hymnal in Sweden, I feel the same about the lack of the classical Gregorian setting. This hybrid setting is impossible even for me to sing. SO last week, having De Angelis chants and Credo III, I had to rely on my memory instead of the hymnal.

fM, Sweden

Physiocrat said...

fm - tell the Diocesan Director of Music, Ulf Samuelsson, what you think about the new Cecilia. His email is ulf.samuelsson@oreline.net

His response to me was that the traditional notation discourages people from singing Gregorian chant. I don't know what evidence there is for this. It would be interesting to know if, for instance, anyone has done any research on the subject.

Samuelsson obviously wants people to be singing the chant, which has got to be good. The system was developed in Germany. It does not distinguish between the square notes and the diamonds, which are meant to be sung light, so the effect is to make the whole sound heavy, unless the books are marked up, which defeats the object.

Other stupidities are that the lines are much closer together than they would be in the four-line system, which makes it harder to see where the notes are. If you look at the Creed, the top two lines of the stave are not used at all, but there are notes with ledger lines. That shows how unsuitable the notation is for the music.

The pity of it is that the actual choice of hymns in Cecilia is exactly what one would want.

GOR said...

When I read that a new ‘Manual’ on celebrating Mass was being produced I had the same reaction as Fr. Dickson – what good will another document do? Priests who have been playing fast and loose with the rubrics, blatantly disregarding the parameters laid down, are unlikely to suddenly embrace yet another iteration of the rules.

What is needed is not more words on paper but enforcement of the existing rubrics. When even laypeople can see how priests abuse the liturgy, how is it that their bishops can’t see it? And if they do see it, why do they allow it to continue?

Recently we had a case here in the US where a bishop removed a priest from public ministry because of his ad-libbing at Mass. That sounded good at first blush. But on closer inspection it was revealed that the priest was retired and ‘supplying’ at the parish. He had been ad-libbing for decades as an active pastor and it is only now that he has been taken to task…?

The key to Liturgical Renewal lies with the bishops - and with Major Superiors of Religious Order priests. It is time for them to step up to their responsibilities – with example and with actions, not mere words.

Angelo Cardinal Fratelli said...

//Long-Skirts said...

Copy & paste the latest Rorate Caeli post in your browser and you will "be of good cheer".
http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2013/02/la-trahison-des-clercs-barsotti.html//

Though I agree with some of the points expressed here I will never be disobedient to the pope or break away from the church. Two wrongs never make a right. God bless and thanks for the link.

wretchedwithhope said...

in the local parish of dead branches:

Do we ever use Latin for the Ordinary of the Mass? No

Do we retain use of the Communion Plate? No.

Do we use Extraordinary Ministers only in exceptional circumstances? No - extraordinary ministers are a must to roam around the table and back and forth from the box, oops, 'tabernacle' every week.

Does the celebrant stay within the sanctuary at the Sign of Peace? Never - highfives along the front pews for all punters

Do we omit the chalice if the greater proportion of the congregation does not receive from it? don't know.

Do we allow/encourage Communion kneeling and on the tongue? no no no

Do we keep the Church and adjoining rooms quiet before and after Mass? No - sports results and sundry worldly musings ring loud and clear.

Do we omit hymn singing to have an organ voluntary at the end of Mass? No - throughout, the tyranny of belting out protestant blurbs is perhaps the most important thing happening at the mass.

and my local priest has the title of 'liturgical director' for the diocese, although i was told that a parish priest having such a title is highly irregular.


what to do when priests are simply lefty-looney-toones for whom the most important thing seems to be pleasing the ghost or marx or the group-mind lived and loved by the likes of the baron munchoyster. when the priests most blinding identity is lefty-love-in, when every homily attempts to downgrade Christ and the gospels as some sort of lefty-old time manifesto as exampled by contemporary tales of neo-communisms secular 'saints', when all of the above abuses and more are exampled at every Sunday Mass, what's the point? Who needs such abuse, to be a part of it or to be a victim. And every Sunday - a screen rolls down in front of the statue of the Sacred Heart so the hymns can be read - there are no hymnals, no missals.

am i wrong or the Church the gates of hell won't prevail against isn't every so-called catholic parish. if a parish is anti-catholic in more ways than not - surely they have ceded to the world or at least protestantism and thus no longer belong to the Church?

Tony said...

am i wrong or the Church the gates of hell won't prevail against isn't every so-called catholic parish. if a parish is anti-catholic in more ways than not - surely they have ceded to the world or at least protestantism and thus no longer belong to the Church?

You are in my prayers. I had thought about retiring to the local Franciscan Friary for Sunday Mass because of the problems we were enduring, but after praying on it, I came to believe that I am to be salt for the mix. If everyone who is orthodox and orthopraxic leaves a church, who are left? The subscription list for the National Catholic Reporter?

What are you doing to nudge your parish toward a more orthopraxic celebration of the Mass?