Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What is the difficulty with the EF

I did a post last week entitled "What is the difficulty with the OF" this is a response.

It is ages since I have celebrated a Mass in OF entirely in Latin. Last Saturday on the Memoria of St Theresa we celebrated Mass for the excellent Association for Latin Liturgy. When most people were abandoning Latin and the great musical culture that is part of it, the ALL was valliantly trying to encourage and save it.

The Mass was celebrated by Mgrt Andrew Burnham with deacon James Bradley of the Ordinariate and Br. Anselm of Farnbrough Abbey. We tried to read the rubrics as strictly as possible, everything was in Latin, the readings, gradual, introit etc. Mas was celebrated ad Apsidem. My intention was that we try and re-create as far as possible the first presentation of the Missa Normativa in the Sistine Chapel. It was a beautiful well prepared celebration, the celebrant, the servers, the music were good.

The comparison with the EF Maiden Lane was interesting, first of all the congregation; it was a Mass for the ALL so first of all most people who attended had some "expertise" in the liturgy, some of those who might be expected to attend the EF didn't come, maybe because it was a Saturday morning, even so most people joined in the singing, certainly the Ordinary, Mass XIX. The congregation was more rigid in its obedience to the rubrics there was less personal interpretation than at the EF.

The other thing, that wasn't the celebrants fault but, I think, an absence in the Rite, was the unremitting words, there was little silence, apart from the pauses. Even ad Orientem it seemed "in your face", a sense that every word had to be considered, it wasn't just that the readings, which were sung, were proclaimed facing the people it was the wordiness of the Rite itself.

Compared to the EF, the absence of genuflections (though we did implement the instruction that unless passing the tabernacle in procession a genuflection should be made) and kissing of the altar, seemed to downplay the notion of reverence.

The other thing that struck me was that the liturgy was being done for the congregation, rather than with it, maybe it was the absence of silence of stillness. I don't think I am being overly subjective but I was left craving some moment of stillness, some moment to focus on God: some rest in the Rite. There was a sense that one thing happened, then another, then another; again not the celebrants fault but there was no melting of one action into another that there seems to be in EF.

I can understand why celebrating in the vernacular, even wanting to make some way for easier participatio actuoso, is so tempting. Some of my congregation asked: if everything is in Latin why not use the EF.


Et Expecto said...

I completely agree with you that the most basic difference between the two forms is the continuity. The novus ordo, even when done well, always strikes me as a succession of discreet actions, whereas the usus antiquior is a continuum, where all the parts meld into one another.

Sussex Catholic said...

Father. Not having been present myself (but noting what I can from the photos) can you comment on how you decided on the positioning behind the celebrant at the altar of the two Deacons of the Mass (What the OF rubricians have started calling Deacon of the Word and Deacon of the Eucharist although I can't be sure where they came up with these job titles?)? I have personally witnessed a number of different positions for these roles at an ad Apsidem Mass either in plano (Papal Mass in the Sistine Chapel), stood on the step below the celebrant but either side of him (The London Oratory), or even in plano facing each other across the Sanctuary (again Papal Mass). There does not seem to be any uniformity in this question, partly I suppose because the rubrics rather baldly state merely that the Deacon(s) stands behind the Celebrant. Can you or anyone else comment on whether there are any specific rules for 2 Deacons assisting at a Mass celebrated at an altar raised up on three steps? One suspects not but rather it is a matter of personal taste and preference as so much in the OF seems to be. Did you also have the experience, to add to all the other observations you make, that the Penitential Rite of the OF "Fratres agnoscamus peccata nostra" etc. kind of gives the game away that the OF is really designed for the vernacular since it has the rather awkward feel of the celebrant addressing a group of native Latin speakers rather than a sacred language being used to convey sacred texts (e.g the Psalms)?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Sussex Catholic,
Nothing forbids the older position of the deaon.
The 2nd deacon, or an accolyte, if there isn't one, is supposed to incense the Blessed Sacrament and that seems to be about all he does during the Canon, so it seems appropriate to kneel on the lowest step.
I followed pictures I remember seeing of the first Missa Normativa in which the Deacon/Subdeacon took the traditional positions.

Here we followed the practice of Oratories and other religious houses and for want of a 2nd deacon used a religious accolyte.

Penitential Rite didn't strike me as too odd, we used the Confiteor.

Amfortas said...

I'm sure many readers will have experienced the 11 o'clock Solemn Latin Mass at the Brompton Oratory. This is the OF with EF trimmings (asperges, deacon and sub-deacon, eastward facing, etc). It is beautiful but often lacks a sense of prayerfulness and yes, I think Fr Blake is right. What is missing is silence.

Fr Ray Blake said...


I refer you to the penultimate paragraph of the third comment.

This seems to be regular practice in many religious houses and, I think in all of, the English Oratories. I have certainly seen it happening whilst various bishops have celebrated Mass.

For want of a subdeacon in the EF the practice is specifically endorsed by the CDW.
Obviously the diaconal stole is not worn.

MartinT said...

The problem with the OF 'High Mass' is that the movements and gestures appear contrived. There are no clear rubrics as to what should be done, the liturgy is just your personal interpretation of how you think Mass should be celebrated. In the EF, every action is prescribed to the last detail, so that priest, servers and people are liberated from inventing their own movements.

Physiocrat said...

The difficulty with the EF is that it is strictly in accordance with tradition. The trouble with tradition is that after a while, people forget the reasons why things are done the way they are.

When the traditions are given up, people then find out what those reasons were, but it can take a while. In the case of the EF, it is not too late but it was a close call.

Juventutem London said...

The people you expected may have been at Aylesford :P

This was a great post. One sentence jumped out at me:

'My intention was that we try and re-create as far as possible the first presentation of the Missa Normativa in the Sistine Chapel'

That was a very popular occasion wasn't it...! I suspect, however, that given the rest of the post that that may have been your point...... :P

Amfortas said...

Martin T, I think there are many holy priests who say the OF who would be rather dismayed by your remarks. The OF can be celebrated in a prayerful and careful way. Try consulting Mgr Elliott.

Evagrius said...

It's funny - I was thinking of posting something tangentially related on my blog: I went to an evening Mass last Sunday at my bishop's Cathedral (hardly a jewel of the Church, either of them), using the new translation, which in this diocese has just come in. It was curious, because during the Eucharistic Prayer (II, as it happens) there was a profound stillness that I have never quite sensed before at the OF, similar to what you say is missing, Fr.

I felt I at last understood what adherents to the EF always speak of as being the special property of the EF.

The Mass, needless to say, was hardly a triumph of traditionalism, though it was quiet and relatively reverent. We even got a deacon, which was a surprise.

On "compartmentalisation", the EF, as I recall, generally emphasises the Sacrifice of the Mass almost to the exclusion of all other elements in the liturgy, and also tends to employ a great deal of prosphora. On this level, that the OF seems more broken up would be inevitable, I feel.

Also, priests saying the EF often (from my OF-based perspective) perform the prescribed actions and say the prayers briskly, almost to the point of impatience it sometimes seems.

As to a lack of rubrics, clearly any omitted but necessary (e.g., the placing of deacon and [straw] subdeacon) should be supplied by the tradition of the Church. This is, I believe the meaning of the hermeneutic of continuity. The 1970 Missale Romanum does not exist in a vacuum, after all. And nor, as the Pope has made clear, should it be interpreted in such a way as to make a 'rupture' with the past.

Evagrius said...

Addendum: That is to say - what is normative in the OF is the usage of those options in keeping with what was normative in the pre-1970 Missal. This is not simply a matter of opinion, but Tradition living. We can thus measure the health of Tradition against the general celebration of the OF. And, indeed, the celebration of the OF after it was completed.

Does anyone know what the Papal liturgy in 1968/69 looked like?

Matthaeus said...

Sussex Catholic and Fr. Ray,

I was prompted to look up what Msgr. Elliot has to say regarding the positions of the Deacons in 'Ceremonises of the Modern Roman Rite', which is probably the most detaied and useful guide to the celebration of OF Liturgy.

He places the 'Deacon of the Eucharist' on the Celebrant's right, and the 'Deacon of the Word' on the Celebrant's left. When celebration ad apsidem, he suggests that the most appropriate place for the Deacons is on the step below the footpace (which would equate with both having the equal rank of Deacon, and occupying the Deacon's traditional position).

As reagards the incensations, he lists several possibilities, viz:- (a) the Deacon (of the Eucharist) incenses while kneeling 'in the centre of the Sanctuary' (no mention of steps, so this would seem to imply in plano), (b) the Deacon of the Word does it(presumably from the same position) while the Deacon of the Eucharist remains at the Altar, or (c) the thurifer does it (which Msgr. Elliot suggests is less preferable at an OF 'High' Mass)

Option (a) would present the issue of the Celebrant having to either replace the pall on the chalice himself, or wait while the Deacon hands the thurible back to the thurifer and returns to the altar in order to cover the chalice. This would imply that option (b) is the best choice (as Fr. Ray suggests).

Juventutem London said...

Evagrius - were you at Brentwood?

Arturo said...

I'm glad the "sub-deacon/ acolyte" isn't wearing a dalmatic but a tunicle. I know it sounds pedantic but there is an important distinction.
I say this as a deacon.

Kim Andrew D'Souza said...

What instruction says to genuflect when passing the tabernacle, unless in procession? I would dearly like to implement this rubric, so please let me know. Many thanks!

Evagrius said...

Juventutem: I'm not entirely sure what you refer to, but I'm at the other end of the country, so I think I can safely say I wasn't.

Richard Duncan said...

The Birmingham Oratory is changing its Sunday High Mass to the Extraordinary Form with effect from Advent Sunday this year. We are also having EF High Masses on All Souls and Christmas Day.

It will be interesting to "market test" the EF among those who have not already taken a position and to gauge reactions. Most people I have spoken to have said "What's the fuss" and are looking forward to it.

Br Richard

Physiocrat said...

If you were going to try the EF for the main Sunday High Mass, it would be necessary to give out explanatory information beforehand. It should also be for a limited trial period - eg Advent and Christmas. A single Sunday would not allow time for people to get used to it but people should not feel that it was being imposed.

After the trial perod, revert to the present OF at least until the start of Lent to give people an opportunity to reflect on the matter.

Ignatius said...

When people say things like the EF has more silence than the OF and is to be preferred for that reason - or for some other reason - it seems that it is not the rite itself that they are really talking about, but the way in which it is celebrated. The 'General Instruction of the Roman Missal' (OF) no. 23 recommends silence in the liturgy and suitable places for it are indicated in the rite. The reason why this rubric is not much observed is probably that hardly anyone knows what to do with silence in the liturgy. Even in the EF a silent canon or people praying to themselves the rosary or other prayers during it is not genuine internal stillness and silence, because the "silence" is really being filled with something. Advocates of both EF and OF make, I believe, the same mistake in believing that getting the "right" external forms in place is what will produce true actuosa participatio. They may indeed help, but what will help most is teaching people (it does need to be taught) a practice of silent contemplation which can then inform their participation in the liturgy. Your readers may like to look up this link for an article by Fr. Laurence Freeman OSB, who teaches the way of Christian meditation. He mentions a church in New South Wales where the people keep 15 minutes of corporate silence after communion -does any EF church do that?


Sussex Catholic said...


Thank-you for going to the trouble to research the point about Deacons assisting at raised altars. I suppose my underlying point is that Msgr (now Bishop) Elliot's guide is the most useful and learned source available to us concerning the OF but it has no rubrical weight (not deriving its assertions in this regard from the GIRM) nor it seems from any previous liturgical guides (which of course there are none because the OF is invented ex nihil). I suppose my point is Msgr Elliot's book is a guide but no more than that. For if that were not the case why do we see Papal Deacons of the Mass in plano in the Sistine Chapel or facing each other in plano across the Sanctuary as at Santa Sabina on Ash Wednesday last? If the Reform of the Reform is going to go anywhere then Rome really needs to start issuing more specific instructions which have authoritative weight otherwise conservative Catholics might be accused of tampering with the liturgy in a way inconsistent with the GIRM. Does the GIRM really envisage a tunicled acolyte or does it rather see the acolyte as an altar server and not a Sacred Minister? I do not know the answer to this but outside of the Oratories (and now at St.Mary Magdalen in Brighton) I have never seen this innovation attempted. I am not sure that an appeal to the practice of the "Straw Subdeacon" in the EF can be used to justify it given that the Sub-deacon function simply does not exist in the OF.

Fr Ray Blake said...

OF silence tends to to be a pause between things that will happen, EF silence is integral to the Rite.

I think it is a bit arrogant to suggest the quality of people's silence is somehow defective. The EF tends to allow people to deal with it as they think fitting, in the OF it seems to be saying "now we will think about this".

Physiocrat said...

On the more general issue of silence, we could note the growth in popularity of Buddhist meditation since the 1970s.

But there is nothing specifically Buddhist about such meditations as awareness of breathing, which could be practised with advantage in the context of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament or within the EF Mass.

Perhaps we Catholics could rediscover this tradition by inviting Buddhists to teach it to us. It would be a considerable aid to clarity if nothing else.

Richard Duncan said...


Yes we will certainly keep the matter "under review" as they say, but I would have thought that a rather longer trial period is necessary in order for people to get used to the EF, quite apart from the fact that it is not pastorally appropriate to change back and forth too frequently. The musicians, too, need to get used to a different way of doing things.

We are also planning a series of Advent Talks on the EF. You a quite right, people do need to be "led" to the EF if they are to appreciate it, a fact which some traddies are apt to forget or deny.

In addition, I should perhaps mention that we have merged the Sunday Morning EF Low Mass with the Sunday Morning OF High Mass - to produce a Sunday EF High Mass -because of a reduction in the numbers of active clergy in the community. That situation is going to continue for some while yet. Which means that the EF High Mass is here to stay for the forseeable future.

Of course, if Mass attendance drops significantly, and if it can be proved that this is a direct result of the change, that would be a different matter. But the soundings we have taken so far among our regular mass attenders suggest not only that this is very unlikely to be the case, but that overally mass attendance will actually increase. My own view is that it will also result in an increase in vocations. Again, there are indications that this will turn out to be the position

Ignatius said...

Fr. Blake, you say 'OF silence tends to to be a pause between things that will happen, EF silence is integral to the Rite.' I don't think this is a real difference. It is a pity that you seem always to denigrate the OF and overpraise the EF, and not recognise the differences are in how the rite is celebrated more than in the rites themselves.
A silence after communion, to rest in the receiving of Christ's body and blood, is just as integral as silence while the Canon is being prayed. It is not a meaningless pause waiting for something to happen.
I am not wanting to criticise anyone's silence as "defective," simply acknowledge that one can be doing all sorts of things in silence and suggest that we could do with more of the interior rest and stillness of silent contemplation and conduct our worship in that spirit. The EF is no more congenial in itself for this than the OF.

John Nolan said...

What the Birmingham Oratorians are doing is to implement SP as the Holy Father intended, as was made clear by Cardinal Castrillon when he visited England in 2008. The discrepancy in the calendars will become really noticeable come Septuagesima Sunday, and it will be interesting to see what happens during the Triduum of Holy Week. Also, will the change affect Sunday Vespers?

I wonder how long it will be before London follows suit.

Amfortas said...

Br Richard I assume you've considered the impact of using the EF on the calendar (not a huge issue) and on the lectionary (a bigger issue). Many traditional Catholics long to be fed by the word. I, for one, will seek out good homilists because I want to nourish my mind as well as my soul.

Anonymous said...

Have you looked at the voting figures of the bishops who witnessesd the first OF Mass in the Sistine Chapel? 71 bishops voted placet (approved), 43 voted non placet (not approved) and 62 voted placet iuxta modum (approved with reservations).

Et Expecto said...

A further point about silence. It is a part of Catholic tradition that when Mass is over, silence is observed in the church so that people can make their thanksgiving. This seems to be rarely observed with the novus ordo.

Amfortas said...

Br Richard, when is the Birmingham Oratory going sort out its website? It's difficult to navigate around and has lots of out of date material.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Ignatius, You say of me, "It is a pity that you seem always to denigrate the OF and overpraise the EF".
I criticise the Ordinary Form because that is what I celebrate most of the time - it is after all, Ordinary, for most of us.
I think it is important to be critical, I think that is what I do, rather than denigrate, most importantly because we are still learning to celebrate it, e.g. learning to sing the texts of the Mass rather than importing elements into it such as hymns or music contrary to the Church's norms.
Also because I think the EF sums up so much of the thinking of the early 20th cent, that I think we should all be critical of, and are.
I simply follow Joseph Ratzinger in his liturgical criticism, though I am not sure I would agree with him that it "is liturgy made by a committee, ex nihil".

Dilly said...

Re the Birmingham Oratory and the EF, I remember attending my first EF since early childhood, celebrated by a priest from the Birmingham Oratory. I sang regularly then at their Of Latin Mass on Sunday (and at Vespers). There was great excitement among the choir as in those days it required special permission (from Bp Couve de Murville RIP), so I went along expecting something similar. It was not to take place at the Oratory, but in a great concrete barn of a 60s church on the ring road. I think I had an old missal (ex Notre Dame Convent, Everton) which had arrived as a job lot. From my point of view it was a terrible disappointment - completely mystifying, especially as the others all seemed to know what to do. Stand sit kneel - lose place in Missal - then hearing "Ite Missa Est" - I thought it was all over - so the Last Gospel was a shock. Oh dear! It was a low Mass as well, I seem to remember. I much preferred the OF with its Byrd and Victoria Mass settings. When I began going again in 2007, I had the patience which comes with age, and fortunately I was able to go on a Friday evenings till I got used to it and could begin to appreciate the great qualities of silence and continuity. I only say this to give some insight into the feelings of casual attenders (not those who are motivated to attend familiarisation sessions of course). They might appreciate a well written simple sheet at the door (as well as the LMS Mass booklet and Readings in English)aimed at students/teenagers explaining some of the finer points, and reassuring them that no-one minds if they lose their place or make a mistake..then I think they will see it as a challenge. I hope I don't sound like I am teaching Granny to suck eggs....it just brought the memories(very fond ones) rushing back. I met some wonderful Catholics at the Oratory, and I very much felt I belonged.

nickbris said...

I'm a bit confused about all of it.Would it be the same way round in the Southern Hemisphere?

Ignatius said...

Fr. Blake, I don’t know why this is, but it seems almost impossible to establish the point that there is a difference between rites in themselves and how they are celebrated. What you criticise in the OF seems to be the ways in which some people celebrate it, importing extraneous hymns etc. (People praying the Rosary during the Canon was also the importation of something extraneous).

You say, ‘Also because I think the OF (you say EF, but I think you must mean OF) sums up so much of the thinking of the early 20th cent, that I think we should all be critical of, and are.’ I don’t know what you are referring to here, but what I do feel convinced of is that devotees of the EF, for polemical purposes, greatly exaggerate the alleged discontinuity between the rites. The essence of the Mass - the reading of Scripture, the celebration of the Eucharist, the theological understanding - are the same and always have been, as recorded for example in Hippolytus. The idea that the OF was created ex nihilo is utter nonsense. I even recently saw an extraordinary claim by a supposed scholar that those who drafted texts of the OF were intending to create something new and different (does he know that Eucharistic Prayer II is based on Hippolytus and IV on the liturgy of St. Basil, both older than the Roman Canon?) – this is polemics gone mad.

Vatican II’s SC recognises that some elements of liturgical celebration were not expressing well the nature of the Mass as a corporate liturgy and called for reform and renewal of these ways in order to express its nature more truly and enable the people who are the Church to play their proper part in it. This realisation was not a sudden alien intrusion, but the outcome of decades of development in the Liturgical Movement, seen also in Pius XII’s great encyclical Mediator Dei of 1947. If this is the early 20th century thinking you are referring to that we should be and are critical of, I could not disagree more. I wholeheartedly applaud it.

What we could probably agree on is that not all the styles of worship that have come along since the 60s have been good (my own tastes are fairly conservative here), but if this is the case restoring the old Latin Mass or imposing Latinate pseudo-English on people is in my view not going to be much use.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I think there are problems in the Rite itself, which is certainly the line taken by J Ratzinger, especially with the Eucharistic Prayer, he speaks of a "serious crisis".
Personally I think it is not so much with texts but with rubrics, similarly I think with the issue of how silence is used, which is quite different in the two forms.

I think a lot has to do with not "piloting" or experimenting with the liturgy before it was imposed on the whole Church. "Piloting" was only done amongst a scholars and small groups of liturgical specialists. The transition between OF and EF was almost immediate, the preparation minimal, any criticism was ignored, little or no feedback was welcome and absolutely no adjustment of the Rite at all.
It was the supreme act of Ultramontanism or Papal supremacy.

Forty years on, we can begin to be "critical friends" of the Novus Ordo. We can either do that by reference to the older form, which at least embodies our tradition or by reference to something outside the tradition.
The former seems to be what the Pope is calling for the latter seems to be where theological and doctrinal problems arise.

Sixupman said...

The Holy Name Machester has achieved an acceptable balance between the two/

John Nolan said...

Anyone used to the Solemn Latin OF as celebrated by the Oratorians would have no trouble following a similar EF celebration. It would certainly make more sense musically, and the absence of the Bidding Prayers (which always sound bathetic after the 'et vitam venturi saeculi' of the sung Credo) would be a blessing. I bet half the congregation joins in the Pater Noster out of habit, and I doubt if one person in a hundred knows that you stand not only for the orations (as in the OF) but also after the elevation of the Chalice.

As someone who served Low Mass at the age of eight in 1959 (having learned the responses by heart)I can confirm it is not at all difficult to follow in a bi-lingual missal. One ribbon goes in the Ordinary, usually in the middle of the book, and another in the relevant Propers, and you simply flick back and forth.

Ignatius said...

Fr. Blake, you say of the introduction of the English mass in 1970, " ... any criticism was ignored, little or no feedback was welcome and absolutely no adjustment of the Rite at all. It was the supreme act of Ultramontanism or Papal supremacy."

This sounds like a good description also of the way the new English version is being imposed on us by the Vatican - but I imagine this time you approve of the process?

Fr Ray Blake said...

I'd much prefer an authentic translation of the post Concilliar Mass to the previous garbled translation, which dumbed down the theology of the Council.
It didn't serve us well.

I am not sure I would compare a process of over fifteen years, with an ongoing and wide consultation, admittedly with experts, over at least the last ten years with what happened immediately after the Council.

Physiocrat said...

Ignatius, it is worth looking at this from a perspective extending outside the English speaking world.

English has particular difficulties because of the highly politicised nature of the language. As soon as anyone utters more than a couple of words in English, they are immediately pigeonholed as to their social class, intelligence, level of education and place of origin. This renders English singularly unsuitable as a language for the public liturgy, which should be above such things.

This relates not only to the way the priest speaks but also to the translation. Whilst the old translation was banal, some, yourself included, consider the new translation contrived. Every translation will annoy one group of people or another.

However, elsewhere there are other problems with the vernacular, even when the translations are fundamentally sounder than the 1970 English version. The Swedish Catholic church, for instance, has enjoyed the benefits of a good translation and good adaptations of the Gregorian chant, to which the rhythms of the language lend themselves more readily than does English. But because such a high proportion of Catholics in Sweden are immigrants, we have regular masses in Polish, Croatian, Spanish, Hungarian, Aramaic (Chaldean rite), and English. The result is that parishes get split up into different ethnic groups who almost never talk to each other or socialise. This is a situation that we will be stuck with until there is a widespread move back to Latin.

Were that to happen, the EF mass would be more accessible than the OF in Latin, because those parts of the liturgy that belong to the priest would be silent, and people would be able to follow translations in their own languages in their missals.

As I suggested earlier, last Saturday's Mass was as good as the OF gets, but where is the gain?

Ignatius said...

Physiocrat, I would question what you say about the English language. It is no more politicised than any other. The markers of class etc. you point out are surely present just as much in other languages. Every human language must be capable of expressing divine realities (otherwise why incarnation?).
I don't believe restoring Latin is a real option for the Catholic Church, since the vernacular has been in use for 40 years and most people prefer worshipping God in their own language than in the now alien Latin. For better or worse we need translations. The previous version was not all that wonderful, though to call it "banal" is rather extreme. I don't find the new form an improvement, nor do many, I think. We can only go on hoping for something better.

TC said...

"The transition between OF and EF was almost immediate, the preparation minimal, any criticism was ignored, little or no feedback was welcome and absolutely no adjustment of the Rite at all"

Fr. Blake,

This is simply not true. What is now termed the 'EF' changed in England and Wales on Advent Sunday 1964 with a revised rite and vernacular then introduced into regular celebrations rather than the rarity of Holy Week, Rogations etc. Most countries had to wait until Lent 1965.

Changes came frequently and in stages until the 'OF' appeared. With the 1967 changes the Mass rite became further simplified and the whole service could be celebrated in English. Catholic newspapers and more specialist periodicals were full of what was coming so there was plenty of preparation, some people just chose to ignore it.

John Nolan said...


Fr Blake's point is valid. In less than three years (1964-1967)the Mass was transmogrified, in terms of language, orientation, ritual gesture, music, even theology. Nothing remotely like this had happened in the entire history of the Church. We were told it was what Vatican II had ordered (a lie)and it was a restoration of the mode of celebration of the early centuries (again, not true; although many medieval elements were unceremoniously dumped, there were significant innovations in 1967, and yet more two years later.)

Even non-Catholics were appalled at this apparent rejection of the cultural patrimony of the Roman Church. Some Catholics were enthusiastic about the changes; after all the Zeitgeist of the 'sixties was revolutionary, but the majority just did as they were told. As a teenager the new 'pop' Masses left me cold, and the frequent complaint of my parents' generation was "they've thrown the baby out with the bathwater".

Richard Duncan said...

John Nolan

We aren't planning any immediate changes to Vespers, although it would, in a sense, be logical to use the texts in the Liber rather than the three year cycle that we use at present, since the justification for this was to harmonise with the Gospel of the Day. I think its important not to hit people with too much change at once.


Yes the website does need updating. I have seen a draft of the new version, but I don't know when its going to go live.

I imagine that we'll use the Novus Ordo for the Triduum, although the High Mass on Easter Sunday may well be EF. That's what we're doing at Christmas (Midnight OF; Christmas Day EF). The problem with having EF Holy Week is that it throws into sharp relief the deficiencies of the 1955 reform. In many ways, Novus Ordo Latin is better.

Richard Duncan said...


Yes, the calendar and lectionary are issues that we have to think about. I imagine that we will follow the 62 calendar, even though it does give rise to some thorny issues, ie. what do we do about the transferred holy days, and when a solemnity falls on Monday or Saturday?

We haven't quite decided what to do about the readings. Personally, my instinct is to have them in Latin and provide a sheet, but it might be better to start off with readings in the vernacular. Whatever we do, homilies are important. I can rarely hear the homily from the sedilla, but most people are kind enough to say that they appreciate what the Fathers say.

Physiocrat said...

Ignatius, I am assured by people native in other languages that nowhere in north-west Europe are the markers of class as sharp, embedded and fixed as in English. That is only to be expected because nowhere north of the Alps and west of the old Iron Curtain are the class divisions as sharp as in England.

The priest whose vowels and intonations are the same as those to be heard on the local football terraces will be immediately pigeonholed as regards his social origin and level of education. This will then be a handicap to be overcome if he is to be credible amongst those from other backgrounds. This is the unconscious English language snobbery at work. It is bad enough when he is just giving his announcements. In the context of the liturgy it is damaging and dangerous.

Elsewhere in Europe, everyone tends to speak the local dialect, plus some kind of national speech. There are indeed what are known as "overclass" accents in places like Stockholm but they do not have the same ring and connotation.

John Nolan said...

Physiocrat, I don't think a regional accent is necessarily a guide to social class. Throughout his life Lord Curzon used the short 'a' of his native Derbyshire. The Welsh, Irish and Scots usually do not feel the need to adopt Received Pronunciation (which itself has changed quite a bit since the war). Dialect, which involves non-standard grammar and region-specific vocabulary, is a different matter, and educated people tend not to use it. It is not ideal to have a disjunct between the spoken and the written language, although I know Germans who don't think it's odd to switch from Swabian dialect to Hochdeutsch and back again.

Of English regional accents Cockney and Brummie are not highly esteemed, and Lancastrian always sounds comical to southern ears - memories of George Formby and Gracie Fields? Yet no-one associated the Hampshire burr of John Arlott or Lord Denning with lack of education or breeding. When I was growing up a large number of the priests for whom I served Mass had Irish accents, but they still used the Italianate pronunciation of Latin.

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...