Liturgy

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Is the Benedict Option the Answer to Neo-Barbarianism?

At a recent talk, I compared our days to the times of the barbarian invasions and the fall of the Roman Empire. It is a fairly common comparison that applies to decadent societies like our own. In the end, I highlighted the need to continue to fight the Culture War and thus oppose the neo-barbarians [...]

Re-turning to the Lord: A Call for Ad Orientem Worship

Lent is a season of conversion. During this time, it’s common to encounter readings, orations, and teachings from the saints in the Mass and the Breviary that direct us to “turn away” from sin and error and “turn to” God. An example is Joel 2:12-14, which happens to be the First Reading of the Mass [...]

Green Light on the Confessional

Fr. Kenneth Doyle writes one of those syndicated columns in the Catholic press that answers questions about the Church that Catholics pose. Recently, a Minnesota correspondent wrote asking about confessions during Mass. The writer recalled being told in catechism that fulfilling the precept of attending Mass required attendance at the Gospel, offertory, and Communion, but his [...]

A Trinity of Bad Hygiene

“Let us continue to abuse one another / With the kiss of Peace.” ∼  Geoffrey Hill, “The Triumph of Love,” part XLIV Few moments are as completely uncomfortable, for me at least, as the “Kiss of Peace” or the “Sign of Peace” at the Novus Ordo Mass. It’s actually painfully awkward. And during this high-point [...]

The Splendor of the World Redeemed

The aroma was transporting: the familiar smell brought me back to childhood, to being in the kitchen with my mom, as her banana cake baked in the oven, promising sweet and banana-ish goodness. To this day, the aroma of a well-made banana cake (and, you’ll allow me to aver, my mother’s was the best) brings [...]

On Man’s Proper Disposition Toward God During Mass

Anyone coming upon Dietrich von Hildebrand’s Liturgy and Personality (Hildebrand Press), who thinks it will be a manual on how to imbue the liturgy with one’s personality, or how not to do so, is in for a surprise, unsettling and salutary. The work is in the first instance metaphysical: we cannot discuss the relationship between [...]

Hopkins, Autumn, and Christ

A young child, Margaret, grieves for the time-swept autumn leaves. She is the object of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem “Spring and Fall,” and her bright Goldengrove is now “unleaving.” Goldengrove, with all its connotations of idyllic youth and sunny play. Goldengrove, where we imagine little Margaret exulting, with Chestertonian wonder, in the gratuitous magic of [...]

When An Opera Is Like a Vatican II Liturgy

Years (and years) ago I went to an opera in Graz, Austria—I guess the American equivalent to this is going to see the Boston Red Sox play at Fenway Park (if you are a huge baseball fan) or Ricky Skaggs play the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, if you are a big country-western aficionado. Anyway, [...]

Teach the Faith, Please

While I generally find the profusion and milling-around of lay ministers of the Eucharist distracting and unnecessary, I found myself offering prayers of thanksgiving for one this past Sunday. We’ve recently moved and were attending a new and unfamiliar parish with a bewildering process for going forward to receive, including multiple lines of Eucharistic ministers [...]

The Case for Ad Orientem Worship

“Father, why don’t you smile more at Mass?” It is a question that I am asked at least once every few months. The question is usually posed by a well-meaning older person while I am greeting the faithful after Mass, making every effort to prove that I am not one of the “little monsters” that [...]

Cardinal Sarah’s Ambitious Liturgical Reform

“Education,” according to Plato’s Socrates, “is not what the professions of certain men assert it to be”—it is not the putting of knowledge into the soul “as though [one] were putting sight into blind eyes.” Rather, education is the art of turning souls around so that our natural human powers, directed toward “what really is,” [...]

Cardinal Sarah’s Liturgical Reform Meets Resistance

It has been said that Rome thinks in centuries. In the present age, however, it seems that Rome reacts in days. So Cardinal Sarah learned following a July 5 address on the liturgy, as the Vatican issued a clarification meant to quash speculation about the possibility of new enactments from Rome that would affect liturgical norms [...]

On Facing East During Mass

It is very important that we return as soon as possible to a common orientation, of priests and the faithful turned together in the same direction—eastward or at least towards the apse—to the Lord who comes.  ∼ Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect, Congregation for the Divine Worship, London, July 5, 2016. Symbols mean something. A nephew of [...]

No Pentecost Liturgy Should Exclude the Veni Sancte Spiritus

Something beautiful is supposed to happen on Pentecost, though you might miss it. The culmination of the Easter season offers us a gem of sacred art: Veni Sancte Spiritus, the Pentecost sequence, which has long been regarded as one of the most magnificent works of literature in the Church’s treasury. When set to appropriate music, [...]

On the Restoration and Promotion of the Traditional Mass

The third anniversary of the election of Pope Francis seems an apt time to take stock of the state of the Traditionalist movement within the Church. While the term may encompass various goals for the Church, I focus here on its essential aim, namely the restoration and promotion of the Tridentine liturgy. The reign of [...]

Three Liturgical Changes We Need Now

The very goal of the Christian’s life—true worship of God—is a subject too often brushed aside as irrelevant to the question of transmitting the Faith, despite the growing urgency among the faithful to find new ways to catechize. What’s rightly perceived as a catechetical crisis ought to show us the relationship of worship to truth. [...]

Girls Should Not Be “Altar Servers”

In 1994, the Congregation for Divine Worship issued a letter officially specifying that it is licit for females to serve the altar in the role that has traditionally been known as “altar boy.” Bishops were not bound to permit the practice, and a 2001 follow-up specified that pastors may also choose to reserve altar service [...]

The Problem with Pews

The queen consort of George V was consistent in her sense of duty and unswerving in how she expressed it. Crowned with dignity and corseted with confidence, at five feet six inches, Mary of Teck was the same height as the king, but they were called George the Fifth and Mary the Four-fifths. Of her [...]

The Proper Role of Eucharistic Ministers

Every three years as the Church is reading the Gospel of Mark, during the dog days of summer it stops for five weeks and turns instead to the Gospel of John for instruction on the Eucharist. We began this process July 26 with the account of the sign of the multiplication of the loaves, and [...]

Kneeling Ban: Good Liturgy or Loss of Religious Freedom?

Some religious leaders in the Latin Rite are pressuring Catholics not to kneel at the Consecration, or to genuflect at their reception of the Eucharist. This trend has gained a great deal of traction in recent years, and is causing alarm among those who see it as a restriction of religious freedom. As Catholics, we [...]

Further Problems With American Eucharistic Practice

Christian Browne’s excellent critique of how receiving Communion-in-the-hand while standing are practices that might be reconsidered to strengthen American Catholics’ understanding of the Eucharist properly notes that these ideologically driven changes were required in no way by Vatican II or even the Holy See. Let me add three additional Eucharist-related phenomena bedeviling the “American Church” [...]

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