Thursday, August 07, 2008

Oxford #7: A response to criticism

I received this comment from somone who styled themselves "Fr Martin". I hope I am not pillorying the good Father but I think that his concerns might well be shared by many priests and lay people, certainly older ones.

Looking at the pictures of the LMS Confernce I feel very concerned. .............. It does indeed look like the Anglican Walsingham Pilgrimages, (I have never attended such an event; I presume the concern comes here from seeing clergy in choir dress. I must admit this rare nowadays at any clergy event, but I think it is really because there has been a very rigid enforcement of concelebration at any clerical gathering. In theory concelebration or assisting in choro is supposed to be an idividual priest's choice, I have never been to a clergy gathering where provision fo private Masses is made. In practice the choice is between Concelebrationor sitting in the congregation). but what seriously concerns me is the direction that the Church seems to be going, backwards rather than forwards. (The Church is of its age, I think people today are looking for roots, I wonder if searching for roots and indeed memory can be seen as going backwards) This seems to be further enforced by the language in the draft proposal of the new Missal. It is very legalistic, uncomfortable to speak and very Anglican. (Anglican? I don't know about current Anglican liturgy. I think there is a very serious concern with the translations currently used that they have a rather sloppy Anglican theology (I know a bit about that). Their imprecision is not reflected in any other European language - except Portugese. The trend in mainstream theology since the publication of the Catechism, at least, seems to be precise. I agree that the translations sounds strange but even conservatives will eventually get used to them.) I am also seriously worried by the number of young clergy present. (Most clergy there seemed to want to respond to a pastoral need of their people, or a spiritual need of their own, or a theological need to be in union with the Church's history. As for their youth, well being cruel, the young priest and laity have moved on from the 1960s and 1970s.) Come on, lets be realistic. When the Tridentine Mass was celebrated as the norm, Low Mass was rushed through in 15 minutes on a week day, (I have tested that myself, in a dry Mass, it is an old chestnut 22 minutes is the fastest I could manage, even just reading the text takes most people a good 20 minutes) and very few parishes ever celebrated high Mass, and at a Missa Cantata the best that most parishes could come up with wsa a very poor rendition of Mass VIII and Credo III. (You need 3 sacred ministers for High Mass, so Missa Cantata was usual, there are many parishes today that never sing the Mass, just hymns at Mass) Do you really want to go back to those days. (No! The standards of younger priests and lay people is much higher than 10 or 20 years ago and most prbably 50 years ago.) I for one do not and lets be honest those that do probably never experienced the liturgy of the 1940's, 50's 60's and 70's. (If you did Father, I can understand your lack of comprehension of the young and the Church of today! I really do not think anyone at Merton wants that, they want something other than the ephemeral, and something richer than a hasty construct of a narrow committee in the 1960s. That is reflected in the new Mass translations too.)
My predecessor (who was present at the Conference) did untold danage to my parish by forcing Latin on the parish when they didn't want it. (The same damage is done by forcing anything on people, think of the post Vatican II period, and the degree of lapsation and confusion that followed. A priest must lead but also be sensitive.) I am not totally opposed to the use of Latin, (It is the official language of the Church and its liturgy) as long as it is used sensitively, and not forced on people at the whim of individual celebrants. (Here we agree, the Pope's intention is extending choice, in this matter not removing it).

I think there is big problem for many priests, especially of my generation and older who are unable either to understand their younger confreres or the Church as it is today. They have a model that is rigid and a concept of liturgy and of liturgical praxis that sprang out of something more related to popular entertainment than Catholic Tradition. Their cry at anything that rejects the trend they supported unquestioningly is "Reactionary"! For them "Tradition" which is of the essence of Catholiscism, is actually a dirty word.
Most of the priests at Merton last week were unlikely to celebrate the the TLM more than once a week and for those who chose to come to it. Most like me wanted to understand more deeply the richness of our liturgical heritage and the pull of the old on the new.
I had a conversation and enjoyed the company of one young priest who celebrates both according to the Missal of John XXIII and in sign language for the deaf with equal ease and keeness, for the most part he celebrates according to the Missal of Paul VI.


Paulinus said...

I feel really sorry for 'Fr Martin'. There is a real fear in what he says (in amongst the old chestnuts you mention which have been largely dismissed as inaccurate or downright malicious). If he's truly liberal then why not allow true diversity (ie the NO and the UA). If these changes come from God they will thrive, if not he has nothing to fear.

I'll pray for the poor man.

Anonymous said...

Whilst not agreeing with Fr Martin, it has to be acknowledged that some of the younger clergy did go over the top with clerical attire; notably the two so called 'worker priests'!I grew up with the old Mass and can never recall such outlandish clerical dress. Did they also have bucked shoes?

Adulio said...

This sounds awfully like the same "Fr. Martin" who posted some rude comments on Fr. John Boyle's blog a while ago and had the temerity to accuse him of disobedience for allowing a monthly sung mass in the old rite, in place of the usual new rite one on Sundays.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I have never seen such shoes on a clergyman, aren't they forbidden? I did see sandals which are forbidden to those not canonically discalced.
As for the two young priests that was their habit, surely no more outlandish than any other habit?

There is real fear of liberalism amongst those who style themselves liberal, and as you intimate the root is a mistrust of God's Providence.
The fear and pain is real, so prayers are important.

Ttony said...

Well fisked, Father.

I came across one of these priests this week, when he complained about a priest we know who had been at Merton: "these young priests think they know everything".

Not being as holy as you and Paulinus obviously are, I answered "You mean like the young idiots who were ordained in the 60s and 70s?" You can guess the vintage of this particular priest.

Do you think that offering up TLMs I attend celebrated by said Merton graduate for this priest and those like him would be an adequate penenace?

Anonymous said...

Since when have Frs Bede Rowe and Alex Redman been members of a religious order? They are secular priests of the Clifton diocese.

PJA said...

There is so much of this negative thought around. As we're borrowing Anglican terms, it's not so much about being either high or low church, as being loyal or disloyal to the Vicar of Christ.

An example of this may be found at Fr Z's blog, in the post: "Summorum Pontificum and the D. of Chicoutimi, Canada: update"

Here, the rantings of a cathedral dean in Canada ,against the EF, are described thus: "...those who signed the request [for EF provision] do not respect authority, because they continue to desire the Tridentine Mass (sic)... it is the bishop who is responsible for pastoral activity and for the liturgy in his diocese... The Pope is not the universal bishop; he is the bishop of Rome! And Bishop Rivest is not the vicar of the Pope; he is the bishop of Chicoutimi!"

Says it all, really.

Sadie Vacantist said...

"I for one do not and lets be honest those that do probably never experienced the liturgy of the 1940's, 50's 60's and 70's."

I am baffled by this comment. Did Father Martin experience all of these decades? Plus the 80's, 90's and 21st century liturgy? What has the liturgy of the 40's got to do with that of the 1970's? He seems to have established a relationship between the two.

I am not a "yoof" by any stretch but I am delighted that young people are drawn to this form of worship. The alternative is a failed project and I have failed enough in life, at a personal level, to recognise a said failed project when I see one.

Dilly said...

Many of the criticisms remind me of the attitude of Anglicans towards Catholicism between the 17th and 19th century. In effect, he seems to be accusing you of being "popish". Criticism of the latin liturgy, bells, smells and frills is nothing new - and I thought we were supposed to be ecumenical with the truths professed by our separated brethren?

And I hate to break it to Fr Martin, but after some novus ordo Sunday masses with half-hour rambling third rate sermons about the wonderfulness of papist-hating John Bunyan, and the saintliness of the pagan Ghandi - the thought of a 15 minute mass is very attractive to this old sinner.

As for the comments on the age profile - Be afraid, Fr Martin - be very very afraid.

Fr Ray Blake said...


If they are from Clifton they must be incredibly courageous young men.

But are you absolutely certain? Their French was perfect.

Simon Platt said...

Fr Martin should be generous to the young.

Anonymous said...

I think Fr. Martin has 'grasped the nettle' of this issue. He has the courage to say what many of us hard working apostolic priests are thinking of all this stuff.
Well done for the triumph of common sense and faithfulness to the journey of the pilgrim church. A journey which did not end in 1570 with Pius V or 1962 with the reforms of JohnXXIII

Anonymous said...

I think all the priests look wonderful. Priests should look like Priests and they certainly look that. This is the height of priestly attire and we should marvel at it.

Anonymous said...

As a priest in my 83rd year I have to make a confession. I implemented the Pauline reforms without understanding or sensitivity. I did it relying on the advice and coercion of my bishop and diocesan authorities. As I did it I witnessed the hurt and pain of many of the devout, so many of the ardent became lukewarm, many lapsed. I thought I acted rightly but in my 59 years of priesthood I recognise that that which we hoped for has not come to pass.
I do welcome a careful reappraisal and assessment of what has been done since my ordination, especially by the younger clergy. In order to do that they must learn something of the spirituality that brought men of my generation in vast numbers to the seminary.
In short I welcome this Merton initiative.
Incidently, in the solitude of my retirement, since last September, I have relearnt the Mass of my youth, it brings me great consolation. It is the Mass I have not celebrated out of obedience since 1970.
Fr P O'Rourke

Anonymous said...

Father O'Rourke

Thankyou for posting this. God bless you in your retirement.


Anonymous said...

To be fair examining the photographs it is clear that some clergy were 'dressing up' and certainly not wearing what they are supposed to according to the current rules. For example, Ut sive sollicite (reforming choir dress) only allows the violet mantelletum to be worn by the seven Protonotaries Apostolic de Numero. Was one present at Merton?

As to wearing black mozzettas and violet sashes one does wonder where that cames from.

Abbots do not wear the precious mitre either; as a golden one was available for Pontifical Vespers why did the Abbot not wear that.

I fear Fr. Martin does have a point about (one of the worst) aspects of Anglo-Catholicism. Some of the clergy at Merton could easily come from the pages of 'Merrily on High'

Fr Ray Blake said...

I do not know the rules in such detail about prelatial dress. If you are right, do contact the Latin Mass Society, if you are right, I am disedified. I would be highly interested in the reply.

The Liturgy is a given and we obey the rubrics, it should never be used as a vehicle for personal vanity, dressing up for the sake of it, or personal ostentation of that sort. That is totally contrary to the spirit of the liturgy.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Ray,

I entirely agree with your views about the liturgy.

Unfortunately, there are a number of clergy who do see liturgy as platform for other purposes.

With regard to the points I mentioned (and others) I have written to PCED.

Best regards,


Anonymous said...

Parish Priest.

I think you are thinking - what relevance has this to daily life, to the people who come daily and weekly to my church?

I would counter that this is vital because of the 80% or more of baptised catholics and children of Baptised catholics who never come to your church or any of the other catholic churches in your area.

We lost half to two thirds of the faithful after the reform of the liturgy, particularly the male working classes, and we must to get them back.

We must get back the millions who wanted to silently worship God each week, just as their ancestors had done for centuries. These people did not want to loudly worship each other, and they most certainly did not want to be falsely nice to strangers, shake hands with them for no apparent reason, then minutes later use those same hands to manhandle the God who made them. And they did not want to sing pretty songs (just as they don't sing at football matches, they *chant* terse lines repeatedly). We have lost them and we must get them back.

Anonymous said...

The black mozettas belong to the choir dress of the chaplains to the Knights of Malta (who were also there in choir dress). very proper.

As for the precious mitre, I'm sure the abbot just wore what was put on his head!!

Sometimes people worry about the strangest things.....

Anonymous said...

Basil R:

I understand that the bishop who was to offer the Pontifical High Mass on last day of the conference, dropped out due to the passing of his sister. The Abott of La Grasse was the only one who could replace him and the necessary permissions from the aforesaid bishops were sought and readily granted.

Secondly, I'd be less worried about the clerics who attended the conference "dressing up" - there are far far more priests who don't wear the required vestments when even celebrating the Novus Ordo or who have dispensed with the purple stole in the sacrament of confession!

"theparishpriest": we also thank God that the so-called "journey" of the pilgrim church did not end with Vatican II either.

PeterHWright said...

Ottaviani sounds a useful warning note.

If "frmartin" is the same "frmartin" who commented so savagely in the combox of Fr. John Boyle (Friday 20 June 2008), he now seems to have toned down his intemperate language. But he's still wrong. Dead wrong.

Wake up and smell the incense "frmartin".

Fr Ray Blake said...

That could well be libelous. I will publish your comment if you are willing to identify yourself!

Anonymous said...

The wearing of prelatial dress and choir dress specific to certain orders is governed by certain rules.

In the 'good old days' for instance Canons of a Cathedral could not wear their choir dress outside of their respective diocese. Likewise what 'inferior prelates' could wear when they pontificated was laid down in Inter multiplices of Pius X. These rules were modified under Pope Paul VI in the general simplification of the ceremonies of the Papal Court.

I fear the dressing-up phenomenon is very much in evidence from the photographs.

If, as a poster says, the clergy wearing the black mozzetta do so as chaplains to a Military Order one wonders firstly, are they entitled to do so outside of functions of the Sovereign Order and, secondly, why several of them are wearing different dress. There does seem to be a case of wearing birettas formerly reserved to Protonotaries Apostolic and Domestic Prelates.

Anonymous said...

Why the fuss about dressing up.

Surely the bigger problem is dressing down, all those plain clothes priests we have had since the '70s.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Thanks for you comment, I have now posted my email address in the sidebar.

Fr Ray Blake said...

These comments are getting tediously personal; the arguement, syntax and style seem to suggest they come from one person, they will be rejected.

Anonymous said...

It appears that I have opened a can of worms. However, without wishing to be personal, I find some of your comments very patronising. (I am sure that no offense was meant) For 90% of priests the liturgy that they celebrate is done so with great reverence and has nothing to do with popular entertainment as you state, but is based firmly in a prayerful celebration of the Mass. Tradition is not a dirty word, as it is the living voice of the dead, but traditionalism, which so many appear to be hankering after, is in fact the dead voice of the living.

The concerns which I express are also expressed by many of the clergy throughout the country. There was a proposal made in Liverpool to establish a parish dedicated to the celebration of the Liturgy in the Extra-Ordinary form, and this was rejected, so I am told, by a great majority at a meeting of the Council of Clergy.

I have nothing against clerical dress and nice vestments, (I always wear clerical dress in the parish and would never dream of celebrating Mass unless I was wearing the correct liturgical vestments). I have no wish to doubt your intentions in attending the Merton Conference, but am not so sure about all who were present.

May God bless you and your parish.

Oremus pro invicem.

Fr Martin.

Anonymous said...

Fr Martin,

The main point you and others commenting in the same vane seem not to appreciate is that the Extraordinary Form is no longer the exclusive preserve of "Traditionalists" (if it ever was)

There seems to be a view that people who want the old rite want to turn back the clock and live as in the 1930s with forelock tugging parishoners asking fathers permission to move house, that people who want the old rite are Catholic amish who will make us all live by oil light with horses and carts if they get the chance.

This is with all due respects 100% wrong, and is the equivalent of thinking that everyone who visits or undertakes voluntary work at the Bluebell Railway or other preserved steam railways is a militant campaigner for scrapping our modern electric and diesel rail network and returning to a slow steam powered network with wooden gas lit carriages. There will no doubt be a handful of nutters who do want this but no one is suggesting closing down the Bluebell Railway to stop such dangerous ideas taking hold.

The people who attend the Buebell railway do however appreciate that those pre 60s locomotives and carriages, and even the staff uniforms
were designed to be graceful and pleasing to the eye as well as functional drawing on the knowledge learnt since the dawn of railways, unlike what has replaced this since the 1960s, built with bean counting and strict functionalism mind and designed by a committee. After all in the 1960s the untilitarian, free of all unnecssesary embellishments new Euston Station was built and St Pancras was nearly demolished as gothlic over extravagant folly.

Which one will still be there in 100 years - it will not be Euston with its square open featureless concourse and gloomy platforms encased in concrete, thats for sure. It dosent mean though that people want to evict the 200mph TGVs with their air conditioned carriages and substitute a steam train.

People increasingly want the old rite as part of Catholic life. They don't all by all means want it exclusively but they want it. There are also many people, as I said in an earlier post, particularly men, who appreciate the prayerful silence and lack of having to interact with strangers.

A teenage youth, not wanting to lose street cred will be far more receptive to a Mass where he can attend anonymously in silence in rows of seats all facing forward than have to sing talk and shake hands with people in a circular church where half the congregation can see him.

I fail to understand why this should cause such outrage among sections of the clergy to the extent that it seems the Liverpool council of priests would rather see a church closed, demolished and turned into a supermarket or block of flats (which will be the fate of any Catholic church with a mass attendance of under 50 within a few years unless alternative roles are sought) than used for the old rite.

What are you all so frightened of?

Anonymous said...

I prefer the Old Mass because I am 26 and have hearing problems.
My friends come because they say it is more prayerful.

Anonymous said...

Fr. O'Rourke,

Thank you very much for what you have said which I have heard other priests from your generation also say. It was very humble and encouraging.

J. Carroll.

Anonymous said...

Using the same analogy as 'Paul, South Midlands' the point is surely that those working on the Bluebell Railway are still governed by matters such as Health and Safety law as it stands today for the diesel locomotives.

In order for the Bluebell Railway to connect and interchange with Network Rail it would be necessary for issues like e.g. track standards conform to those set by Network Rail and not the other way round.

As to the ugly Euston Station do not forget it is from the same decade as the edition of the missal currently authorised for the EF.

Anonymous said...

Paul from Midlands - dressing up and dressing down are two sides of the same coin. The correct liturgical vestments to waer are prescribed by the rubics and no piest has the authority to deviate from these of his own accord.

Secondly, the sign of peace is probably the most well accepted and liked development in liturgical custom and tradition by the faithful. Perhaps too much so, as the faithful's enthusiasm and excesses for the sign of peace has needed to be dampened down in recent years. There will be some further re-orientation yet.

Thirdly, regarding your comment about singing at football matches... you have obviously never been to a football game as signing from before to end is very very common. Granted many of the 'ditties' and choruses sung are rather vulgar but the 'working classes' are accoustumed to singing at celebrations. In my own family, any gathering of extended family prompts a sing-song at the drop of a pin, usually of irish songs old and new. On the contrary, it is the middle classes who are usually considered to be more restrained and emotionally inexpressive.

Anonymous said...

Hi Basil,

At risk of sending the correspondence off at a tangent.

Health and Safety legislation would be perhaps better compared canon law - which is the same for everyone in the church and dosen't govern the liturgy.

Regarding interfacing with network rail, perhaps we should call this railway ecumenism and using this example ecumenism should involve encouraging all smaller faiths conforming to the catholic faith in all respects?

[in reality the only thing that would actually have to conform is the signalling standards for the connection as the bluebell will have their own station south of the existing one and the bluebells signalling standards are as good as Network Rails so its a bit hypothetical really]

Re the 1962 missal being in the same decade as Euston Station. The 1962 edition was not a new missal but was in fact a minimal set of changes to an existing one, more like painting the station roof a slightly different shade of red.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Like that...
"dressing up and dressing down are two sides of the same coin. etc..."

Anonymous said...

basil R said, "As to the ugly Euston Station do not forget it is from the same decade as the edition of the missal currently authorised for the EF."

You are misusing the analogy. Euston Station had minor madifications made to it in every decade of it's existence - the 1960s included. In the same way the Mass of St Gregory the Great was constantly and organically (to use the phrase preferred by J Cardinal Ratzinger in his liturgical writings) including the stabilisation and widespread promulgation under Pope St Pius V. These minor alterations took place notably in the 1950s with Pope Pius XII's reform of the Holy Week Liturgies and the minor amendments of Pope Blessed John XXIII in 1962.

The destruction of Euston Station and its replacement by something that represented a real rupture with the past (to continue to use the language favoured by Cardinal Ratzinger), something which just about did the same thing - send trains in and out of London towards the West Coast Main Line - but did it with infinitely less dignity and beauty. The Missal of Paul VI was created in the same decade.

Fr Martin - I am sorry that I feel constrained to say this but I really found you remarks thoroughly narrow and ecumenically offensive. It always amuses me when Catholics who claim the shade of the Council, behave in such a manner. I wonder whether your anglican friends know that you speak of them in such a manner.

Oh, and if you think the Novus Ordo is well celebrated with reverence in the majority of place, you simply don't get out enough.

Thanks be to God for the wisdom of Pope Benedict XVI in allowing this liturgical freedom. I wonder if you are as high-handed when the folk group choose to sing a theologically inappropriate ditty.

Anonymous said...

One can take the Euston Analogy still further. The old station had limitations which could have caused complications with the increased electric service. Technology had chaned, reform was needed to meet the needs of the time, and no one sensible would have objected to a sympathetic rebuilding to meet modern operational requirements.

Instead year zero was implemented and, to general outrage, the historic stone Euston Arch which dated from the dawn of railways unceremoniously smashed to pieces and dumped in the Thames. This was totally unneccesary but was done deliberately to emphasise rupture with a past that was seen as worthless and useless.

I think in the secular world of the 1960s, people were so dazzled by the techincal advancements of the time that they considered themselves superior to those that lived before them and looked on them and their achievements with contempt.

Unfortunately the Church was not unaffected by this. As I see it the most obvious manifestation of this was, what seems to me to be the deliberate mistranslation of the new Mass which resulted in gems such as the latin "In a similar way, when supper was ended, he took this precious chalice in his holy and venerable hands.." being grossly distorted into "When supper was ended he took the cup.."

I suspect that had the new rite been translated faithfully, had preists said the black and done the red faithfully, had latin and plainchant not been abandoned in the new rite against the commands of the council, had extraordinary ministers not been disobediently used ordinarily, and had illicit and disobedient practices that were not called for in the council, such as communion in the hand, not been granted an indult after pressure from the disobedient, then the old rite revival would never have happened.

Anonymous said...

In response to Stephen Morgan's comments: One of the first things I did in my parish was to abolish a folk group set up by a previous incumbent. It might surprise you to know that I do not like the trendy hymns of the last decades of the previous century but prefer "real" Catholic hymns: O Bread of Heaven, Sould of my Saviour etc. Also our parish has no ecumenical links.

Anonymous said...

Ah, here we go the usual false information being presented.

The 1960-62 stage of the liturgical reform was part of a continuous and contiguous process. Pius XII had appointed members to a Commission for General Liturgical Reform in 1948. The new Holy Week rites, to which you refer, were a classic example of liturgy by committee and were agreed without a consistent methodology, some reforms for historical reasons other for supposed 'pastoral' ones.

With regard to the 1962 missal there are some excellent articles from the time of its introduction, which I doubt if many people have bothered to read, e.g. 'Clergy Review', XLVII, pp. 147-152, ibid. XLIX, pp. 182-184; 'Worship' 36, pp. 403-404, etc.

Of course for many years 'traditionalists' have tried to deceive Catholics with the erroneous idea that there was 'no reform before Paul VI' mantra. Rather than wasting time arguing just look at simple facts. In the Tridentine Rite tomorrow would be the feast of St. Lawrence Deacon & Martyr with Mass celebrated in red vestments with commemoration, preface and last Gospel of the Sunday (and in the Office nine lessons at mattins, the ninth of which would have been of the Sunday; and commemoration of the Sunday at both first and second vespers and lauds.

In the 'minor amendments' of the 1960-62 reform the Sunday takes precedence in green vestments, only three mattins lessons etc.

As to the Ordo Missae one could point out in the 1962 missal, inter alia, the suppression of bows to the Cross at mention of the Holy Name, the derestriction of the rules governing manual gestures, the loss of the 'mid voice' at Nobis quoque peccatoribus, the supression of the Confiteor before Communion etc.

Come on Mr. Morgan I am afraid you do not deceive me.

Physiocrat said...

The liturgy makes the faith and the faith makes the liturgy. There has been a "rationalism" around since the Englightenment and people with Enlightenment attitudes were given the licence to reshape the liturgy.

Now the odd thing about all this is that the Enlightenment was not about rationalism, it was about the spreading of ideas that can be traced back to Neoplatonism. The most likely mechanism for propagating those ideas was through Freemasonry. Not as a conspiracy, but it has been popular since the late seventeenth century, although most men do not proceed beyond the Third Degree. This has affected and affects the entire climate of thought. Both the US constitution and the French Revolution were products of this attitude.

Freemasonry describes itself as "a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." It seems likely that the ceremonial evolved during the seventeenth century to incorporate Neoplatonist (Rosicrucian) ideas. Of course the liturgy can also be regarded as, amongst other things, a system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. If the liturgy is watered down, the end result will be to water down the faith that it transmits. Which is why the EF is important.

Lover of Futility said...

'O men, how long will your hearts be hardened, will you love what is futile and seek what is false?'

(Psalm 4)

Anonymous said...

Basil says:

Of course for many years 'traditionalists' have tried to deceive Catholics with the erroneous idea that there was 'no reform before Paul VI' mantra.

A straw man and a dishonest argument. Some less well informed souls may have seen and spoken of the old Mass as one that had never changed in any way, sure. But this has never been a "mantra" zealously promoted by informed supporters of what we now call - inter alia - the Extraordinary Form. I could just as easily observe that the endless tweaking and fiddling with the Vatican II Mass in the post-conciliar period demonstrates that it was never meant to be perpetually static; ergo: opponents of Summorum Pontificum are the new Ottavianis who refuse to read the signa temporum, triumphantly clinging to the way things used to be (in the 1970s). I say to these immobilists: throw open the windows and don't be prophets of gloom!

Yes, the old Mass was improved and changed in relatively minor ways over the centuries but, in essence, it maintained its ritualistic integrity. Far more so than a Novus Ordo Mass which, in reality, transmogrified from something potentially beautiful to something which became - in most parishes - mediocre and frequently embarrassing in praxis. Someone once observed that 'belief in ritual tends to diminish as it is realised to what extent persons manipulate it.' Anyone interested in preparing a thesis on that contention could no better than study how a putatively 'pastoral' ecumenical council initiated a liturgical reform that saw churches throughout the world deserted within a few decades.

I am another post-conciliar Catholic who finds himself drawn to and excited by the Reform of the Reform, to some extent without really knowing why. I am not a Levebrist and I am not a boilerplate 'conservative.' I just think the so-called Tridentine Mass (and, for example, baptism according to the old rite and rubrics) are more beautiful and more inspiring.

I do agree with a few commenters above, however, in finding the fetishisation of clothes and accoutements to be offputting - I would also say possibly unmanly. Let we who support the new liturgical movement be careful not to bring it into disrepute or ridicule by going overboard.

Anonymous said...

well done c.l. you were able to articulate what I was trying to say, but without facing the prospect of libel. The whole fetishisation of clerical clothing is unmanly and considered by many good souls as effeminate. I note that the many good priests who turned up at the recent faith movement conference did not feel the need for ferriolas, zucchetti, simars, cappelli romani etc to demonstrate that they were love of vocation. The whole obsession with such things is best left to high Anglicans.

Anonymous said...

As one explicitly criticised in many of the posts here (having that audacity to wear a hat with tassles on!)... let me very briefly reply. After this I have no intention of mentioning it again.

"Dressing up" implies either that this is something that was worn simply for the Merton conference, or is done for a particular purpose. This is what I wear every day in my parish (I admit not the hat with tassles on, because that is my best hat - I wear asimple souplate hat or trilby). It is not dressing up, it is my habitual dress and has been for a number of years. I wear it because I am a priest, and am readily identifiable as a priest from the front, back and sides. And I find that extremely useful.

"I have to prove my priesthood" and that as such I make comment on another's priesthood. This I find simply bizarre. I am a priest. This is what I wear. I do not say that a priest is making a statement by wearing a pullover, or an open necked shirt, or anything at all. Why should I be pilloried for wearing a certain type of clothing? My first PP said to me, "Bede, no one should comment on what I wear, so I will not comment on what you wear." A true liberal, who taught me much about seeing and speaking...

Do I bend the rules at Holy Mass and change for one moment what the Church requires that I wear? No, of course not.

Is this a going back to the 30s, 40s 50s? I happen to like living in 2008... and I was not aware that if your wore a first world war trench coat that you wanted to be slaughtered in a mindless way at any point in the future, or that if you wore a track suit that you were immediately going out for a training session. As another commentator said "clothes maketh not the man".

I must say that never in my experience as a parish priest have I come across such negative comments about a priest simply because of what he wears. Thank God the Catholic lay faithful do not "look and judge".

I deeply love the older form of Mass, and it has so much to offer, but do you have any idea of my committment to the new homeless project in my parish? Or the fact that I am a chaplain to the deaf community? Or that I lived for three years in a L'Arche community with people with learning disabilities, learning never to judge by appearances? Or that "fetichism" of religious clothing is almost impossible after three years in a Benedictine House?

Do you have have any idea about any of these things, or did you just see a photograph and jump to conclusions?

Again, thank God the people of God at least inquire of a person before they vilify them. In my own life I try, every day, never to look at the surface and jump to conclusions. Invariably they are wrong.

With my greatest love
Fr Bede Rowe - a wicked priest who wears a hat, AND a cassock, AND a ferriola.
Go judge.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Thank you Fr Bede,
I too wear a cassock in my parish for precisely the same reason.

It also help me to act more priesty, it is a bit too easy to whip out the bit of plastic or close up the jacket collar if you want to disguise yourself.
The cassock perrmits no escape!

Anonymous said...

I grew up with the "Latin" Mass and I loved it. I can still say the "last gospel" by heart and do privately at the end of Mass still. Even as a child of seven and eight, walking a mile to Mass with my parents and brothers,, and fasting from midnight, I still loved the "Latin" Mass. (yes, in the winter snow in Alberta, but not uphill there and back in our pyjamas.) It was Mass and we didn't get an entrance song for the recessional like we did here last Sunday. Somewhere along the years, "Fr Martin" has lost something. I hope he gets it back.

mb, Kamloops, BC, Canada

Sadie Vacantist said...

'Fr Martin' has posted all manner of calumnies against a brother priest on Damian Thompson's blog.

Anonymous said...

C.L. said: “A straw man and a dishonest argument.”

I think neither a straw man nor a dishonest argument. If one cares to read about what was actually being discussed prior to the Council then the changes which were made prior to it and after are easier to appreciate.

The journal ‘Worship’ Vol 28 pp.157-167 contains a summary of formulations submitted to Rome after the first three International Liturgical Congresses at Maria-Laach (1951), St. Odile (1952) and Lugano (1953).

These formulations included abolishing the preparatory prayers and last Gospel; calling the first part of the Mass ‘the Liturgy of the Word’; the desire for a three or four year lectionary; the restoration of the ‘Prayer of the Faithful’; an increase in the number of prefaces, particularly for Sundays; the omission of the Confiteor etc before Communion; singing the Doxology at the end of the Canon and suppressing many of the signs of the Cross in it; relocating the prayers after the Fraction etc. etc.

All this a decade before the Council. It does not require much to see the implementation of these idea with the phases of reform from 1955, through the Council and after it. By the late 1950s discussion was also taking place about ‘Antiochean style’ anaphorae so the 1970 rite was hardly unexpected by those in liturgical circles. The fact that the vast majority of bishops at the Council and most of the laity in English speaking countries were not expecting what they got is another issue.

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...