Monday, August 24, 2009

Master or Moderator

picture from here
Andrea Tornielli's article on the reform of the reform has got me thinking. The Liturgy is the most tightly controlled and most legislated area of Church life, rightly so because it is the public face of the Church, yet for many it appears to be an area inhabited by outlaws and bandits. The Congregation for Divine Worship seems to be the carefully chosen of all Vatican dicasteries, under it Prefect "Little Ratzinger" with men like Bux and Lang, we should expect real efforts to heal the hermeneutic of rupture which is most visible in the liturgy.
Above all there needs to be clarification of the Bishops role in the liturgy, is he the Lord and Master able to issue decrees that go beyond the norms of the Church, or is he the "moderator of the liturgy," as presented in the letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum, where interestingly the Pope states:

"... these new norms do not in any way lessen your own authority and responsibility, either for the liturgy or for the pastoral care of your faithful. Each Bishop, in fact, is the moderator of the liturgy in his own Diocese."

A great deal would change liturgically if only Rome would clarify what are norms, what are options and what is "praise worthy" etc.
With Rome's failure, here is my list, I apologise for not citing text references, but they can be easily found on the net:

Liturgical Language
Latin is the norm in the liturgies of the Latin Church, the vernacular may be used for readings or even other parts of the liturgy. Latin should be used for international gatherings. The faithful should be able to sing, at least, the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin.

According to the Roman Missal, it appears the norm is Mass is offered ad apsidum, as there are references to the priest turning to the people, for example at the Orate Fratres.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says that "the altar should (not must) be free standing, so Mass may be offered facing the people, which is always desirable". When questioned what this meant the CDW said it was "free standing" not "facing the people" which was always desirable.

The Norms
"Nothing should be added to or subtracted from the text or rubrics of the Mass".
The Normal celebration of the Mass is sung with all the ceremonies and ministers; deacons instituted acolytes and lectors, each doing only those things which are proper to their ministries.

Chant and Polyphony are always to be preferred, hymns may be substituted for the Propers if necessary, the organ is the preferred instrument.

Holy Communion
In the Latin Church the norm is for Holy Communion to be given on the tongue whilst the communicant is kneeling, intinction is a possibility. Rome has given an indult to some parts of the Church for communion to be given standing, and or, in the hand.
The priest has the duty if there is risk of profanation to restrict or forbid the reception of Holy Communion in the hand.
Holy Communion may be given under both kinds, if there are sufficient ministers - in most dioceses in the English speaking world "ministers" seems to mean "extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion" rather ordinary ministers: bishops, priests and deacons. Perhaps one day Rome will clarify this.

Vessels should always be of precious metal, ceramic or glass chalices are forbidden, the use of the chalice veil is "praise worthy". The "use of the communion plate is to be retained".

Altar Servers
Male altar servers should be encouraged. A priest has the right to insist on male servers only.

Despite a lot of confusion in the past, Rome now has decided the place for reservation is in the "apse". If for some reason this will be disadvantageous to prayer and devotion the Blessed Sarament may be reserved in a fitting and prominent chapel.

I might add to this depending on comments


berenike said...

That priest has a Very Scary haircut ... :-)

JamesP said...

"hymns may be substituted for the propers if necessary"

I'm not sure if I have this right because I'm not sure of the technical definition of "propers" but in the case of things like the Psalm, the Gloria and the Agnus Dei would I be right in thinking that actually, no, Hymns cannot be substituted? (though they frequently are)

Just wondering...

I've been thinking about this recently

Fr Ray Blake said...

James, the "Propers" are those things "proper" to the feast, the Introit, Offertory and Communion verses, you are right about Psalm.
The Gloria, along with Kyrie, Creed, Sanctus and Agnus Dei, is the "Ordinary" and may not be substited, though the Agnus Dei may be extended by repetition.

universal doctor said...

Gues that means that over 50 female thurifers are out... ;)

Sussex Catholic said...

The unprecendented chaos that the liturgical reform of the past 40 years has created surely requires the abandonment in the Ordinary Form of this mixture of norms, options and "praise-worthy" practices and a return to simply "requirements". "Say the Black do the Red" is ok provided the red isn't giving you endless options enabling you to interpret the black how you please to suit your ecclesiology. Otherwise the prevailing theology of the celebrant will always be allowed to drive a coach and horses through these directives to allow the celebration of any particular Mass to reflect the particular views of the celebrant. One of the great advantages of the Extraordinary Form was that even Fr.Tyrrell's Masses could not have scandalised the faithful regardless of what he might have been thinking while he offered them.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Suss Cat,
I agree, but so much which was presented in the Tornelli article is already clearly stated.

pelerin said...

berenike - have a look at the 4th picture down on the link given! It really is an extraordinary haircut - perhaps the priest belongs to an order or is this the latest fashion in the US?

I look forward to reading other peoples comments on the Liturgy in reply to Father Ray's.

Regarding language I am delighted to say that at the international gatherings in Lourdes Latin has made a comeback. This year the Eucharistic prayer at the International Mass for the Feast of the Assumption was in Latin as were the Sanctus, Agnus Dei etc and the universality of the church became clearer as I was able to sing the Credo with a young man from Angola on one side and an Italian on the other both of whom sang with great gusto. If I remember rightly I think on the last few occasions the Creed was said in French there for this feastday but each year I have noticed a few more changes towards using the universal language of the Church.

The nightly torchlight procession starts with the singing of the Credo. One night I was near a large group of pilgrims from an English diocese and was saddened to see that not one of them was able to join in the singing. Those of us who do are still in the minority so it seems. The words are actually printed onto the paper candle covers so really there is no excuse for everyone not to join in.

The difficulty is that people of my generation are refinding the familiar whereas for many of the younger generations it is completely alien to them. When confronted with the Latin prayers they must feel as we did when the vernacular was introduced so we must have sympathy for them. Whether this can ever be solved I don't know. Forty years is a long time 'in the wilderness' but we must believe that the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church and remain optimistic.

Mulier Fortis said...

Did you mean that the norms of the Roman Missal suggest worship is ad orientem because the priest is instructed to turn at the Orate fratres...?

(I thought ad apsidum meant facing the people...)

Fr Ray Blake said...

The priest in the picture is a US Marine chaplain. They all have strange haircuts. He is celebrating Mass on board a ship.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Ad apsidum = to the apse
Ad orientem = to the orient/east
same thing, except where the Church doesn't actually face east.

The implication is he is not turned towards the people before the Orate Fratres, therefore needs to turn to them.

Peter Porter said...

Fr Anthony Symondson SJ wittily asked if this priest was wearing a 'novus ordo' haircut when this photograph appeared on the NLM website. It created an interesting thread but this was removed after the priest concerned threw a hissy fit. Apparerntly it is a regulation American marine hair cut but it seems odd that a chaplain should have to wear one. The funniest picture of all on the NLM post was of him leaving the room where Mass was said wearing a biretta. Camp.

GOR said...

I think the liturgical problems of the past forty years can be summed up in the dictum that “If you give an inch…they will take a yard”. Prior to Vat II the rubrics were strict, with little room for maneuver – or little inclination on the part of most priests. As everything was in Latin there were few opportunities – or even the linguistic ability - for ‘improvisation’.

Once the rules were seen to be – if not always in fact – relaxed, it became open season for ‘customization’. If I can choose the Eucharistic Prayer, the Preface etc. well then surely I can add, subtract and change other things. Once national episcopal conferences - and even individual bishops - could change things pro re nata, then surely I as the pastor - in loco episcopi - could institute a few changes myself.

‘Indult’ became synonymous with ‘right’ (altar girls, EMHCs, etc.). What was not strictly forbidden became ‘allowed’. What was strictly forbidden could be ‘interpreted’ (“That doesn’t apply to me or in this case...”).

Above all, I believe Mass versus populum was the biggest factor in the laissez faire attitude of priests and hierarchy. The focus had changed. Now the celebrant was the central figure – the lead actor and presenter and many relished the opportunity to put their ‘stamp’ on the Mass. Mass as Sacrifice was out and Mass as Meal was in. And to complement a good meal, you need entertainment - so we got all the aberrations of dress-up Masses, guitars, liturgical dance, etc. etc.

It’s hard to see how we can put the genie back in the bottle. But, with our Holy Father, a start has been made. We didn’t get here overnight – though sometimes it seems like it – and we won’t return to rubrical orthodoxy overnight. It may take a generation or two and there will always be the mavericks who believe the rules don’t apply to them.

Time may heal all wounds, but some wounds take longer. Omnia mutantur at nos mutamur in illis...

old believer said...

I don't think the question of master or moderator is really of major significance to the actions of bishops but rather to the actions of popes.

In the post-Trent system bishops have very little say in matters liturgical with the issue of editiones typicae coming from Rome with the sanction of the pope.

It was Pius X who caused a radical revision of the Breviary, not some bishops in 1911-13. It was Pius XII who authorised a revision of Holy Week in the mid-1950s that was a trial run for some of the more unpleasant aspects of the 'Novus Ordo' rite, not the bishops. It was Pius XII, not bishops, who 'simplified' the Calendar, Missal and Breviary - in reality stripping out of them some ancient and worth features.

It was Pius XII who appointed commissions of experts to do this, not the bishops. The 1961 rubrics were produced by this same commission. It was Paul VI, not the bishops, who ordered the promulgation of Inter Oecumenici, Tres abhinc annos and Missale Romanum.

It was the pope who had become master (and re-writer) of Tradition not the bishops. I would suggest the pope should return to being a moderator of the liturgy and bishops masters of their dioceses.

Fr Ray Blake said...


I am sure our American cousins would disagree with you and cite names like Roger Mahoney and Todd Brown.

gemoftheocean said...

U: Also 50 MALE thurifers are "out."

gemoftheocean said...

Fr. Blake, amen re: your comments on Roger Dodger, and Todd "who, me? Catholic?"

GOR interesting thoughts. But I really don't think the language i.,e. Latin vs. Vernacular has much play in this at all.

Consider the eastern rites which have always done the vernacular. They don't have problems with the priest being "Fr. Personality."

They don't add/subtract. They say as the Mass is written, probably because it is stressed in the seminaries.

I'd agree that I HATE all the "options" Some parishes never do the confiteor, have no clue what the Kyrie is (and they've bastardized it as it is) etc. In most parishes of the US you'd have to hold a gun to the priest's head to get him to say EP I.

The Sainted Fr. shipley, (who used to be our Sunday Supply priest) NEVER "added things." The pastor has recently taken over the Mass and frankly has wrecked it with his assinine additions.

old believer said...

"I am sure our American cousins would disagree with you and cite names like Roger Mahoney and Todd Brown."

But neither of them has the right to impose a new liturgical rite on their dioceses - only the pope can do that.

Certainly bishops can resist what popes command as was the case in Campos with the late Bishop Castro-Mayer.

gemoftheocean said...

OB. Todd Brown has FORBIDDEN the use of bells at Mass. That's one thing I know of. Who is he to do that? In some places "they" are mandating that people stand for the consecration.

Liberal freaks on a power trip, and unfortunately, the Episcopal office.

JARay said...

I see mentioned the term "Instituted Acolyte". To the best of my knowledge the UK has no Instituted Acolytes. I know that some dioceses in the US have them as have some dioceses in Australia.
I am such a person.
We differ little from your Extraordinary Ministers but there are just a few differences. The differences are the following:-
An Instituted Acolyte can only be male.
An Instituted Acolyte is instituted for life.
An Instituted Acolyte has the privilege of purifying the Sacred Vessels after Communion as part of his ministry.
Since there are now no Subdeacons, an Instituted Acolyte can take this role if the need arises. I saw a letter from the Vatican, on I think, NLM, which specifically gave this permission.
The Instituted Acolyte does not suddenly pop out of the congregation at Communion but is present on the Altar throughout Mass and wears an alb.

old believer said...


Dearest Lady across the Ocean, of which you are such a scintillating and precious stone, and an Honorary European (IMHO at least), bells have no mention in the Tridentine Missal of Pius V, they make an entry thirty or so years later.

The 'big' bell of the Church was almost certainly rung at the Consecration but tinkling little bells that is another scenario...


Fr Ray Blake said...

Not mentioned, but certainly blessed and illustrated, and some still extant, often with texts from the Mass in relief on them, which might give a clue as to their use.
I don't think everything was mentioned in the then "new" missal, obviously their use varied from region to region.

Louis Cunningham said...

Love this article, but would like to see some citations, so as to have some leverage in a discussion with people on the Liturgy. Thanks!

gemoftheocean said...

That may be the case, OB, but the practise and custom is long standing, and I think it's wrong to force everyone to do it HIS way. It would be like him dictating priests do the "children's liturgy" or saying that a priest had to use a biga$$ bathtowel in place of a nice linen finger towel.

[Can you tell that biga$$ bathtowels used at the lavabo are a pet peeve of mine? May as well put a slice of lemon in the water dish if you're going to do that!!!]

As for Honorary European...h'mmm. I think you meant that as a compliment, but which one? I don't think Winston Churchill would have wanted to be considered a "european!"

Patrick Sheridan said...

I actually think that the choir ought to be left to sing themselves. There is nothing more irritating than a keen Server or someone in the congregation joining in simply because he thinks it is his God-given right to do so, and finding that he cannot sing to save his life. To me, feeling so irritated detracts somewhat from the atmosphere of worship...

pelerin said...

How can the position of the Tabernacle in the apse be disadvantageous to prayer?

Fr Ray Blake said...

In Churches that attract more tourists than prayers, a chapel might be advantageous.

Richard Collins said...

The priest is not a Dominican or a Francisan. He is a Mohican!

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