Five Ways to Ruin the Mass

We are getting ever closer to an improved liturgy in the English-speaking world. The new Missal gives us a more dignified language that more closely reflects the Latin standard. The hippy-dippy rupturism of the past is finally giving way to a more settled and solemn appreciation of the intrinsic majesty of the Roman rite.

A new generation of celebrants is moving past the politicized agendas of the past toward embracing the true spirit of the liturgy. Maybe it hasn’t happened in your parish but the trend is clear: better music, better vestments, better postures and rubrics.

And yet, we all know that things are not what they should be. It is an interesting experiment to travel and attend Sunday Mass at a random parish. You might find wonderful things. Or you might find something else entirely. Having experienced many of the latter, and talking with many other people about their experiences, I here list the top five ways in which the presentation of the liturgy can ruin the liturgical experience.

1. Improvisation of the Liturgical Texts
The problem of celebrants who make up their own words on the spot, in hopes of making the liturgy more chatty and familiar, continues to be a serious annoyance. It is obviously illicit to do so. Celebrants are permitted to break to explain parts of the Mass or provide other special instructions. But they are not permitted to replace liturgical texts with something that they dreamed up on the spot.

This abuse is extremely disorienting and draws undue attention to the personality and personal views of the priest rather than to the theology and ritual prescribed by the Church. It is also ridiculously presumptuous for any one person to imagine that he has a better idea than the liturgical text formed from 2,000 years of tradition.

I have my own theory on why it is so common for celebrants to just make things up on the spot. The older Missal translation dating from 1970 and onward was so casual, chatty, and plain that it encouraged the priest to enter into this world of casual communication. The formality just wasn’t there to encourage a more sober, careful, and accurate presentation. Also, many improvisers just had a sense that the text needed fixing of some sort.

This has changed with the new Missal, and this is all to the good. The new translation is very dignified and requires careful focus. But the habit of riffing around on the prayers remains among many priests.

This is truly tragic for everyone sitting in the pews. If the texts can just be ignored, why shouldn’t the faithful themselves feel free to take what they want and otherwise discard core teachings of the faith? This whole practices encourages a general disrespect for the ritual and even the faith itself.

2. Politicized and Newsy Prayer of the Faithful
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says of the prayer of the faithful: “The intentions announced should be sober, be composed with a wise liberty and in few words, and they should be expressive of the prayer of the entire community.”

“Wise liberty” seems to be in short supply however. Sometimes these prayers seem like last month’s newspaper, calling to mind events that left the 48-hour news cycle long ago. Or they can seem subtly manipulative, trying to get us to think and believe things about the controversies of the day that are actually more in dispute than the prayer would indicate. A particular annoyance to me are the prayers that are crafted to straddle some kind of triangulating political position that has nothing to do with the liturgy or doctrine or morals.

Most parishes today use pre-printed prayers from private publishers. Some are better than others. The best ones are brief and stick to the formula: prayers for the Church, for public authorities and the salvation of the whole world, for those burdened, and for the local community. The worst ones lead the whole liturgy astray in very distracting ways.

3. Extended and Chatty Sign of the Peace
The rite of peace has a long tradition in the Roman Rite dating to the earliest centuries. It was mostly restricted to the clergy. There are arguments and disputes about whether extending it to the congregation is a revival of a lost tradition or an innovation. Regardless, this much we do know: it is not supposed to be a micro-social hour that encourages people to mill around as if at a cocktail party.

The Missal plainly says that the extension to the congregation is optional. The requirement of the rite is fulfilled in the sanctuary alone. Therefore, if there is an invitation to have the people offer a sign of peace, it should be short. The General Instruction says: “it is appropriate that each person, in a sober manner, offer the sign of peace only to those who are nearest.”

But even this is vague. What is nearest? What if you are the only person in your section of the pew? Do you walk, wave, or just ignore people? And note that no rubric specifies the handshake as the appropriate gesture. We do that just because this is our cultural custom. But is the handshake really liturgical?

In general, this whole part of the Mass invites confusion and awkwardness, and no matter how much we try to solemnize it, it still has more of the feeling of a civic or social activity than a truly liturgical one. At best it is a distraction. At worst, it can result in hurt feelings and all around confusion.

4. Replacing Sung Propers with Something Else
Since the earliest centuries, the liturgy assigned particular scriptural texts to particular liturgical days. This happens at the entrance, the music between readings, the offertory, and the communion. The instructions are very clear: the assigned chant is to be sung. If something else was sung, the words were still said by the priest. And so it was in most countries from the 7th century until quite recently.

Today, the Mass propers are mostly replaced by something else, usually a hymn with words made up by some lyricist. Quite often the results have nothing to do with the liturgy at all. It’s actually remarkable when you think about it. Choirs busy themselves with replacing crucial parts of the liturgy. They just drop them completely. Mostly they do this with no awareness of what they are doing.

How many choirs know that their processional hymn is displacing the assigned entrance? How many know that there is a real antiphon assigned at the offertory and that it is not just a time for the choir to sing its favorite number? How many have read the repeated urgings in the General Instruction to sing the assigned chant or at least use the text in the official choir books rather than just choose a random song loosely based on the theme of the season?

To be sure, this is technically permissible to do, but, truly, this approach “cheats the faithful,” as the Vatican wrote in an instruction in 1969. The propers of the Mass are crucial. They are from scripture. Their Gregorian originals are stunningly evocative of the liturgical spirit and even define it. Even if sung in English or in choral style, the propers are part of the Mass. It should always be seen as regrettable when something else replaces them.

The General Instruction says “Nor is it lawful to replace the readings and Responsorial Psalm, which contain the Word of God, with other, non‐biblical texts.” That’s pretty definitive. But the same rationale should apply to the entrance, offertory, and communion chants as well.

Composed hymns with non-scriptural texts don’t need to be thrown out completely. They can be sung and always will be. But the real liturgical work of the choir is found in the Mass propers. That’s their primary responsibility. There are resources newly available that make it possible for any choir to do the right thing.

5. Percussion
In the first millennium, instruments were not part of the sung Mass, but as time went on, the organ was gradually admitted. By the 17th and 18th centuries, whole orchestras were used in certain locations. Even today you can find places where orchestral Masses are used that include tympani and other percussion instruments.

Most likely, that is not the context in which percussion instruments are used in your parish.

Today we hear conga drums, trap sets, bongos, and other drums played not in the style of Monteverdi processions, or Masses by Haydn or Mozart. Instead we hear them just as we would hear them in a bar or dance hall.

They are used just as they are in the secular world: to keep a beat, to make the music groovy, to inspired us to kind of do a bit of a dance. That’s the association of percussion we have in our culture. It is not a sacred association. The association is entirely profane. There’s a role for that. But Church is not the place and Mass is not the time.

And keep in mind: the piano is a percussion instrument. It has been traditionally banned in Church because it has non-liturgical associations. In today’s anything-goes environment, it is tolerated even by the liturgical regulations. But it is always a regrettable choice. The whole point of liturgical music is to lift our eyes and hearts to heaven, not drag us down to the dance floor.

One final point on this matter: you will notice that many of the songs in the conventional songbooks for Mass today seem to long for a drum-set backup. That’s because their style is borrowed from commercial jingles, TV show theme songs, power ballads from the 1970s, and so on. I don’t entirely blame choirs who choose drums to help out to make this style make more sense. What really needs to change is the whole approach here. Liturgical music has several critical marks: it uses the liturgical text, it grows out of the chant tradition, and sends a cultural signal that this is a sacred action in a sacred place.

A liturgy in which all five errors are committed is going to look and feel very different from one in which all five errors are completely avoided. The former will be random and unhistorical. The latter will be…more like Catholic Mass. It really is up to the pastors, musicians, and leaders in a parish to permit the voice of the liturgy to speak and sing without being impeded by these interventions, which really serve to distract from the beautiful miracle before our eyes.

Jeffrey Tucker


Jeffrey Tucker is managing editor of Sacred Music and publications editor of the Church Music Association of America. He writes a bi-weekly column on sacred music and liturgy for Crisis Magazine and also runs the Chant Cafe Blog.

  • AcceptingReality

    Great topic for an article. Thank you. There are lots of manifestations of these errors that are definitely annoying. Like, prior to the opening of Mass, “Everyone please rise and greet your neighbor.” This casualness actually replaces prayer in preparation for Mass. So few kneel before Mass to pray at my parish it is alarming. But all, except me, stand and greet their neighbor. Nothing against my neighbor, I love my neighbor, but I am there at that moment for penitence not “pregame chit-chat”. I rise when the entrance hymn starts. I think it bothers people but again, I am not there at that moment to chat. Another major annoyance is the priest who opens and closes Mass with a joke. The same also tells a joke to start his homily and usually the joke has nothing to do with what he is going to say in his homily. He’s just trying to get a laugh. And finally, another annoyance is the priest who changes or ignores parts of the Gospel when he doesn’t like what they say or who changes words in the Eucharistic prayer because he doesn’t like them, they’re too complex or just don’t reflect what he believes. One such priest routinely changes the word “face” to “glory” in Eucharist prayer II. Not sure he believes in the Resurrection.

    • Gerard Plourde

      “I rise when the entrance hymn starts. I think it bothers people but again, I am not there at that moment to chat.”

      I’ve attended Mass in a number of places and in some pretty liberal communities. Not rising for the Entrance Hymn is a new one one me! Why on Earth don’t they? Do they also sit through the Entrance Rite?

    • Jane

      Maybe video record him doing all this and email it to your bishop? He is breaking church law.

  • Rock St. Elvis

    You forgot tamborines.

    • Jeffrey Tucker


      • marguerite

        My protestant husband asked why a piano was being played at our Mass. I had no response. Even he didn’t like it!

        • WSquared

          I’m a lapsed pianist; being away from it has made me a better listener, and more appreciative of the instrument. I should like to go back to it. I love the piano.

          …but not at Mass.

          • Atilla The Possum

            Imagine having a karaoke hymn machine at Mass.
            There was no competent organist for one of the Masses so this piece of (expensive) kit was introduced.
            It was like a modern-day switchboard. Press a button and an artificial organ plays the music for the appropriate hymn.
            Seriously. It’s true. You couldn’t make it up!

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        The oldest liturgical instrument in the Christian Church is the systrum. It has been used in the Coptic and Ethiopian rites time out of mind. The Louvre has a late 4th or early 5th century example of a Christian sustrum

        • So? We’re Roman Rite, not Coptic. It has no place in the Roman Liturgy.

        • Rock St. Elvis

          Being old doesn’t necessarily make something good. Even if one can be used tastefully by someone somewhere, at my parish, fuhgedaboudit.

  • Thank you Mr. Tucker. If I may add a 6th: Allowing Little or No Time for Silence and Personal Prayer. The GIRM has:
    45. Sacred silence also, as part of the celebration, is to be observed at the designated times.[54] Its purpose, however, depends on the time it occurs in each part of the celebration. Thus within the Act of Penitence and again after the invitation to pray, all recollect themselves; but at the conclusion of a reading or the homily, all meditate briefly on what they have heard; then after Communion, they praise and pray to God in their hearts.
    Even before the celebration itself, it is commendable that silence to be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner.


    All the “practical” considerations that convince celebrants to keep to a 50-minute Mass effectively force a rationing of allotted time to its parts, that is contrary to the sacred event itself. We need to enter holy and prayerful communion with the Lord in this precious time, and this is not helped by filling every moment of the celebration with activity and with sounds (even when those sounds are sacred music presented beautifully!).

    Many Catholics are now so unused to silence, and prayer, that our time before Mass begins (for those who are there “on time”) is not well-used. Chatting and socializing now very common, and last-minute choir instruction and rehearsals in the sanctuary, make prayerful preparation difficult for those who want and value it.

    These factors war against the sense of the sacred that ought to permeate the members as we enter the sanctuary! Due reverence for the Presence in the Tabernacle, and for the Mass about to begin, ought to move us into the right disposition that the Sacrament deserves – but many Catholics today have lost this, I am sad to say. We need to re-learn it.

    • jacobhalo

      The church shortened the mass and the sermons to placate the people. Now, after Vatican II, people almost step on the heels of the priests when mass is over. Some even leave right after communion. We, at the Latin Mass, stay a few mins. giving thanks to the Lord for the greatest prayer.
      Before and after mass, you can hear a pin drop, even with all the young people, and babies at the mass.
      You will never hear the priests at the Nous Ordo address the above, because they have become gutless since Vatican II. How many of you have heard a sermon denouncing gay marriage, abortion, etc. I bet half the people at the Novus Ordo are pro-choice, and have voted for Obama. What a disgrace!! Come to the Latin mass and hear real preaching, not mush-mouth talk.

      • St_Donatus

        I returned to the Church about a year ago and have to admit that when I first started attending Mass, I was stunned to see the changes in 30 years. When I left, my head was already spinning with priests who didn’t believe in prayer, rock and roll masses, removal of sacred things such as statues, suppression of the rosary and other prayers, but when I attended mass to find people milling around telling jokes, laughing, kids running around in the sanctuary, girls irreverently ‘serving’ mass, extraordinary ministers handling communion, I was shocked. I asked myself if I was in a protestant church. Then communion came and I realized that I wasn’t in a protestant church, I was in the school cafeteria. (Thankfully there wasn’t a food fight.)

        I didn’t go back for a few Sundays as I was trying to discern whether the Catholic Church really was the true religion. What I had been studying about the Church fathers was drawing me to Catholicism, but the Mass was didn’t seem like what the Church fathers were practicing.

        Thankfully, I saw a video on youtube showing a Latin mass prior in the 1950s. I fell in love with it and tried to find a Latin mass parish near by. I found one about 50 miles away and started attending. It was even better than what I saw on youtube. I could visualize heaven coming down to meet us humans through the priest at the altar. I fell in love with the Catholic Church all over again.

        The congregation has been wonderful. Each member taking a personal interest in me and encouraging me. I pray that the Church will implement changes to the Novus Ordo that will bring back that sense of the Holy and reverence in our hearts.

        • Billiamo

          I attend early-morning Sunday Mass to avoid these very annoyances, Donatus. The service is quiet and the congregants respectful. And it’s Novus Ordo!

          • St_Donatus

            Yes I go to the daily mass locally and serve mass. It is a Novus Ordo and it is more reverent than most. In all honesty, I still get more from the Latin mass. For whatever reason, those attending act more reverent during the Latin mass and this effects my own sense of reverence. Also, the sermons at the Latin mass parish are a lot more specific and hard hitting. When I finish listening to these sermons, I generally know what I need to change in my life. I don’t know why but it always seems as if the sermons in the Novus Ordo parishes I have attended always seem to be very non-committal. You know, God is love, love your neighbor, etc. We need specifics. What can I do to show love to others better? What can I do to please God more?

            • georgee

              I know right? They’ve given up on calling people in grave sin to confession. And they don’t teach popular sins are sins. Like heresy, schism, contraception, and pre-martial coitus.

            • Jess

              I found a courageous priest who spoke about improper attire and I was so impressed. When he was moved to another parish, I followed him. He did not disappoint. He delivered a passionate homily about abortion one Sunday, same-sex marriage the next. We need more priests like him, and I told him so.

          • Jakeap

            We call mass mass. We call non-Catholic protestant worship gatherings services.

            • Jess

              Jakeap, I hope you won’t mind a little correction. When we are referring to the Holy Liturgy, we must spell it with a capital m – Mass – to differentiate it to other uses of the word such as weapons of mass destruction, mass appeal, a mass of spectators, etc. No offense, I hope.

        • SSPX4Ever

          “I asked myself if I was in a protestant church.”

          St_Donatus, the short answer is: Yes

        • Athanasius


          It is wonderful to hear of your return to the Church and that you found a Traditional Latin Mass.

          I too pray for the day when the Novus Ordo is reformed in such a way that it becomes thoroughly Catholic. Sadly, it is not so today. Although abuses are clearly a problem, the heart of the problem is the rite itself.

          The Consilium (which included 6 protestant ministers) that was responsible for producing the NO had as one of its main objectives a false ecumenism. It sought to remove the elements of the Mass that Protestants found objectionable. This is fairly well established as fact.

          My hope is that the spread of the Traditional Latin Mass will have a purifying effect on the NO. One may hope that with God’s grace, a holy and courageous Pope will make the necessary reforms to the NO to bring it in line with Catholic Tradition.

          • St_Donatus

            Yes, we should all pray daily that this will occur, I do now. But we also need to pray for more priests. In the diocese I live in, I asked about a Latin mass and they told me that there just wasn’t a priest with enough time to learn the Latin mass and if they knew it, time to say it. We have many priests that are experiencing burn out due to all their responsibilities.

            At first I thought these were excuses, then I asked a priest about it and he said, as it was, he was thinking of converting a Saturday evening English Mass to Spanish since there was only about 150 in attendance and his Sunday Spanish Mass has about 500 in attendance. Many of the Spanish can’t make it on Sunday since they work at restaurants and other businesses on Sunday. (I know, the fact is, a Latin Mass would work for both and we shouldn’t miss Mass because of language issues, but most Catholics today are under the impression that if you can’t understand the language, you are not participating in the mass, thus it has no value. Personally, I don’t understand Latin, but I still am able to fully participate, but I digress.)

            The thing is that if we had a Latin mass, we might get an attendance of 100. If they are cancelling Masses of under 150, why would they start a Mass with an attendance of 100. The Latin Mass parish I belong to in the city just north of us has a population ten times that of my city and yet the Mass attendance is still only 300 and people come from as far as 100 miles all around.

            Yes, at this point the best we can pray for is reform of the Novus Ordo mass.

      • Fr. Thomas Kocik

        “You will never hear the priests at the Novus Ordo address the above, because they have become gutless since Vatican II.”

        While much preaching and catechesis since the council has been doctrinally anemic (owing to a false ecumenism, theological modernism, and just plain pusillanimity), that is not the case in every parish, especially not where the clergy of the “JP II / Benedict XVI” generations (of which I am one) are shepherding. None of my parishioners, past or present, could accuse me of being a mush-mouthed homilist. They know what the Church teaches about these issues and others — and why that is so. Take care not to overgeneralize.

        • jacobhalo

          Sorry, Father. I was generalizing, but most of the posts on the site are generalizations. I love the Catholic church so much that I cringe when I see changes that were not necessary, in fact, destructive. Vatican II was a destructive force in the church. Pope Pius X wrote extensively about not allowing modernism in the church. He knew what the results would be. And he was right.

          • Rose-Marie

            I am so sorry you say Vatican II was a destructive force in the church … for quite a while, I used the big prayer books -4 of them- issued after Vatican II, with the readings, the liturgy -beautiful- the sermons of the fathers. It was just great.
            Vatican II has caused hundred of thousand people to know Christ personally, to read the Scriptures for themselves -it was forbidden up to 1970-about- to introduce God in their everyday lives, to make numerous retreats in godly company in monasteries … Vatican II has introduced the living work of the Holy Spirit in the church … it has been very much God inspired. It pains me when people criticize it.

            • jacobhalo

              Vatican II saw hundreds of thousands leave the church or no longer attend mass. It saw many, many priests and nuns leave the seminaries, convents. It saw hundreds of Catholic schools close. It no longer sees long lines at confession. It sees over half of Catholics that are pro-choice. It sees 70% of Catholic who no longer believe in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
              I don’t know where you got the idea that before 1970 reading scripture was forbidden. What the church didn’t want was personal interpretation.

              As far as the Holy Spirit being introduced into the church, The Holy Spirit was introduced into the church 2000 years ago at Pentecost. Secondly, Pope Paul VI said the the smoke of Satan may have entered the church.

              • Arthur

                Sir i agree with you and personally wish Vatican 11had been lets say more moderate .But as Catholics now is not the time to fight against each other -now is the time to grow closer to each other-but the doctrine and our believe must not be watered down.Also i couldnt agree more with you about our Clergy not talking out about such abominations as Homosexual Marriage etc otherwise over here in the UK we may as well be protestants-who change their beliefs from week to week.We had a vote in our House of Lords for or against Homosexual Marriage .There were 26 Anglican Bishops who had a vote and could have used it against Homosexuality only 7 of them bothered to turn up-.Do we as Catholics want our Clergy to be like them-as John the Baptist-a voice crying in the wilderness. Wake up Priests and Bishops and denounce sinfull acts and laws when you see them-God Bless you Jacob.

              • croixmom

                As far as I can tell, the “fruits” of Vatican II has been the worst attack on the priesthood.
                Gee. I wonder who would want to destroy the priesthood?

            • Amy Mitchell

              Benedict XV wrote in his encyclical Spiritus Paraclitus of 1920: “A
              partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who, with the veneration
              due the divine Word, make a spiritual reading from the Sacred Scriptures.
              A plenary indulgence is granted if this reading is continued for
              at least one half an hour.”
              The Church did warn the faithful against reading some protestant versions of the bible as they were inaccurate, misleading and excluded entire books . They provided bibles in the churches for people too poor to own books. The monasterys were available as hospitals, schools and libraries for everyone.

              I am grateful for Vatican II documents but I don’t need to change history.
              The destructive force was man, sinful and stubborn, who used the council for their own political desires.

            • Joy Niklas O F-s

              Sorry, reading the scriptures was not ‘forbidden’ prior to 1970. Pope Leo XIII granted an indulgence for 15 minutes of Gospel reading back in 1898.

            • croixmom

              Rose-Marie, you said, “Vatican II has caused hundred of thousand people to know Christ personally, to read the Scriptures for themselves -it was forbidden up to 1970-about- to introduce God in their everyday lives, to make numerous retreats in godly company in monasteries …”

              Can you provide documentation that “it was forbidden [to read the scriptures?] up to 1970?
              Have you read the papal encyclicals that specifically tell Catholics TO READ THE BIBLE?

              I am sorry, but that single incorrect statement totally invalidates your post.

        • Gordis85

          I agree with you Fr. Kocik. I only have ever attended the NO Mass and am pro-life, pro-family, love the Church and all she teaches. Papa Francis has much to say about those who would over-generalize to the point of lacking charity and smacking of being self-righteous towards their fellow brothers and sister in the faith.

        • Augustine Hourigan C. P.

          You say”..much of the preaching and catechesis since the council has been doctrinally anemic…” How do you know this?

        • Annie Rickerton

          With all due respect to your cloth, Father, here in England, there are priests that STILL treat the Mass like a pop music request show on radio – especially at the Bidding Prayers – and read out the parish notices before the final prayer! Also, the part which comes before we say the Our Father is totally missed off!
          During one Novus Ordo Mass, I thought I had joined Doctor Who in the TARDIS when he prayed for an end to the Arms Race!
          Heck, I thought to myself! Ebola, The Synod, ISIS killing Christians et. al. is happening right here and right now … I began to worry about the priest’s state of mind because the last time I heard or read about the Arms Race was 30 years ago! What next, I thought, prayers for Pope Paul VI and Brezhnev?
          These ‘personality priests’ exist all right – though they are going extinct … very slowly!
          Thankfully, the new crop of priests from the JPII/BXVI generation here do ‘stick more to the script’ and rarely deviate.

      • Gerard Plourde

        “The church shortened the mass and the sermons to placate the people.”

        During my childhood a standard Low Mass ran about 35 minutes. The OF equivalent runs about an hour.

        • jacobhalo

          I’m talking about the Sunday mass, which today, runs 1 1/2 hours including Benediction. Secondly, we don’t run out of mass, even before mass is over. I heard a novus ordo goer complaining that the sermon was over the 8 min. limit. Our pastor at the Latin mass is just warming up at 8 mins. You can have the Novus Ordo mass, which is very much like a protestant service. The Catholic church lost its identity.

          • Gerard Plourde

            I’m also talking about Sunday Mass in what is now called the Extraordinary From as I experienced it in my home parish growing up. With Benediction (which always occurred at the 11:00 Mass) Mass ran fifty minutes in order to accommodate the need to be ready for the 12:15 Mass.

          • SSPX4Ever

            “You can have the Novus Ordo mass, which is very much like a protestant service.”
            The Novus Ordo “mass” IS a Protestant service.

            • sdfsd
            • Bono95

              So I’m a Protestant who believes in Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, veneration of Mary and the saints, purgatory, Confession, free will, the value and validity of infant baptism, Sacred Tradition complementing Scripture, the inherent evils of divorce, contraception, abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage, and the authority of the Pope and the Magesterium then?

            • ANNE_JMJ

              Both Forms of the Mass are holy – Body and Blood of Our Lord.

            • Athanasius


              The SSPX does NOT hold the position that the Novus Ordo is a Protestant service. Do you differ with the SSPX in this regard?

          • Barbaracvm

            I don’t even remember the last time I was at Benediction

            • Gerard Plourde

              My present parish (N.O.) has Adoration followed by Benediction every Wednesday during the school year.

          • musicacre

            Very sad, it starts to imitate life outside of the Church when they try to please people for convenience. Now that I attend the Latin Mass (whenever I can ) I get a feeling that the Novus Ordo is like a drive-through. And people are visibly impatient. At one point we had a (prominent ) older man in the parish looking at his watch and holding it up to the new priest, trying to rush his homily. Just like we have faster cards now than 50 years ago, but people are even more impatient on the highways. So perhaps the Church should not have paid attention to anyone saying it (the Mass) was too long.

        • yaya

          Abuses and “reform” of the Mass was happening decades before VII. VII just gave some the idea they had justification for the gutting of tradition and the Mass.

          • Gerard Plourde

            If, as you contend, abuse of the Liturgy was occurring before Vatican II, then Vatican II can’t be the cause of the difficulty. What is the source?

            • St_Donatus

              I have done some reading about these abuses of the Mass. There is an interesting video on YouTube about the history of the abuses. Personally, I think the author makes some assumptions about Vatican II but the history seems to be correct. I guess there were some theologians and priests in Europe who were experimenting with the Mass starting around 1920. These abuses were never put down and seem to have influenced many priests and Bishops after Vatican II.

              Just so nobody comes after me on this, I will not jump to the conclusion that Vatican II was influenced by these abusers of the Mass, but the tsunami occurred after Vatican II. Much of vague language gave them the opportunity to make their changes in the Mass. For a while, the most popular books and resource for priests were coming from this sector, thus you had a pretty wide spread of these same abuses.

          • jacobhalo

            The main reason for the gutting of Tradition was ecumenism. The modernist wanted to hold hands with protestants (there were 6 protestant ministers at Vatican II as “observers). That is why the mass seems like a protestant service.

            • Bono95

              You keep saying there were 6 Protestant ministers at Vatican II. How many Catholic clergy were there?

              • jacobhalo

                What kind of a question is that? There shouldn’t be any protestant ministers on the council

              • Athanasius


                You miss the point. It is a fact that 6 protestant ministers were included in the Consilium and were asked their opinion regarding changes to the Mass. First hand accounts of those present affirm that the opinion of the Protestant Ministers was given real weight.

                And you imply that this is of little or no importance?

      • Jakeap

        It’s uncommon but it does happen in Novus Ordo (English mass) parishes. My pastor talks about it sometimes.

      • ANNE_JMJ

        Some people used to leave the Mass early prior to 1962 as well.

        Part of the problem about Catholics not knowing their Faith is due to those Diocese Bishops and Priests who do not actively and publically encourage literate Catholics to read the “CATECHISM of the CATHOLIC CHURCH, Second Edition”.

        “….the Catechism has raised throughout the world, even among
        non-Christians, and confirms its purpose of being presented as a full, complete exposition of Catholic doctrine,
        enabling everyone to know what the Church professes, celebrates, lives,
        and prays in her daily life.” – Pope John Paul II ( CCC pg xiv)

        “In this Year of Faith let us ask ourselves if we have actually taken a few steps to get to know Christ and the truths of faith more, by reading and meditating on the Scriptures, studying the Catechism , steadily approaching the Sacraments.” – Pope Francis, May 15, 2013.

        • Bono95

          “Some people used to leave the Mass early prior to 1962 as well.”

          You are quite right (unfortunately). In fact, the first early-leaver was Judas at the Last Supper. I believe Scott Hahn points that out in a humorous but also serious warning to people who leave Mass early to remember that the first person to do so was the man who betrayed Our Lord and handed Him over to be crucified.

    • Jack

      On another blog a trad said that the “TLM allows for personal prayer and reverie.” The Fathers of the Church teach that reverie is NOT prayer, and during the services of the Church we should attend to the public prayers and not our own devotions.

      As for the use of pianos, I’d rather hear a well-tuned well-played piano than a toy spinet organ operated by a left-footed organist wearing mittens (thank you, Thomas Day!) that so many parishes use.

      • Andy, Bad Person

        As for the use of pianos, I’d rather hear a well-tuned well-played piano
        than a toy spinet organ operated by a left-footed organist wearing
        mittens (thank you, Thomas Day!) that so many parishes use.

        This is a problem in most matters musical in the Church. We start the conversation with a stacked deck. It’s always “well played piano” vs. “poorly played organ.” How about we simply improve the organ playing? When the organ is played well, how does that compare to a well-played piano?

        • Sally


      • Jakeap

        I think church law (the code of canon law) requires permission from the bishop or somebody before using an instrument besides the organ at mass.

        • Barbaracvm

          I believe a violin has the same standard as an organ.
          Drums guitars and the other stuff, the folk mass brought that about.

          • Bono95

            Electric guitars are totally no-go, but I believe reverently played acoustic guitar is OK. Remember, there were no organs (or, to my knowledge, any instruments) at the last supper, and at first organs were looked upon dubiously because organ-like instruments were played at the Coliseum to accompany the brutal slaughter of animals and people, including many Christians.

            • Gerard Plourde

              We should also remember that “Silent Night” was composed and first performed on guitars because the Church organ had broken.

            • Athanasius


              Have you read the encyclical Mediator Dei by Pope Pius XII? You might find it interesting. I don’t mean this in a mean or condescending way. I just think you might find Magisterial teaching in it of which you were previously unaware.

      • Bono95

        Yeah, I say definitely no drums or amplified instruments in Church, but I don’t see what’s wrong with a reverently and gently played piano. Obviously, loud passages and excessive staccato notes are to be avoided, but a soft touch aided by one or more of the pedals can be quite reverent and quite beautiful.

      • Sally

        The entire aura of the Mass is changed even with “gently” or “well played” piano. It simply is not a liturgical instrument at all…and I’m a pianist by profession. The sacred character of the music is lowered about 500 notches at the mere sound. Certainly it is fine for religious music that is non-liturgical in nature, but it really effects the tenor of the Mass, and hence the perceptions of the people about the sacredness of the action.
        Contrary to what many say, one does NOT need to be a concert-level organist in order to play simple and song-sustaining music on that instrument. Granted, it sounds ridiculous when organ is used for ridiculous church music (it often sounds like a merry-go-round when coupled with the more or less trite musical settings by some oft-heard liturgical composers). One feels like breaking into “It’s a jolly holiday with you, Bert…” .
        Because of the shortage of organ players, leave the expert organists to the Cathedrals. All that is necessary in the local parishes is that the singing be sustained by an instrument that has more sacred connotations than secular. The piano has primarily secular connotations.

        • Gerard Plourde

          ” The piano has primarily secular connotations”

          The organ has also been widely used in secular settings.
          In the 1920’s organs were installed in movie theaters to accompany the then-silent movies. Organs were also present in roller and ice skating rinks prior to the introduction of sound systems. (I spent many weekend evenings on ice to the tune of “The Skaters’ Waltz”.)

          The`organ also enjoyed wide use in radio dramas in the 1920’s through the ’50’s and electric organs appeared in the ensemble of some rock songs of the ’50’s and ’60’s.

    • Kara

      It takes 15-20 minutes for the Eucharist in bread form to be digested. I don’t know about the wine form. But I think that we should possibly be staying 20 minutes after mass for quiet prayer without being afraid of annoying Father because he can’t lock all the exits till I leave.

      • Gerard Plourde

        “It takes 15-20 minutes for the Eucharist in bread form to be digested.”

        I’m curious where you get your information. It’s more accurate to say that some of what we eat becomes part of us. A related question: Is it more the Lord’s will that we wait until we think the Word Incarnate is out of our systems before we leave Church or instead to mindfully carry Him into the world so that we may be His instruments to the ends of the Earth?

        • The Eucharist brings HIs Presence in a wholly unique way – substantially. This substantial Presence, which lasts as long as the accidents, or outward appearances of bread and wine, last – perhaps 15 minutes, by one estimation. And this unique Presence is due a unique reverence and worship. Afterward, when His spiritual Presence continues to be offered us, we must as you say, “mindfully carry Him into the world so that we may be His instruments to the ends of the Earth.”

          • Gerard Plourde

            “The Eucharist brings HIs Presence in a wholly unique way – substantially. This substantial Presence lasts as long as the accidents, or outward appearances of bread and wine, last – perhaps 15 minutes, by one estimation.”

            Neither you nor Kara before you give a citation to the source for your “15 minute duration” position. Is there a statement from a Church Authority, a Pope, a Council, a theologian that you can cite for this?

            As you’ll note from my earlier comments, I fully accept the unique Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. However, I think that the gift is much more profound, awe-inspiring and humbling. The Bread of Life Discourse in John 6 contains this passage. “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” This is not an offer. It is a promise of abiding Presence. I think by stating it ends and is replaced by an offer of spiritual presence we begin to play the game of the flesh/spirit dichotomy that allows us to denigrate God’s creation of the physical universe and which can lead to Gnosticism. If we think about the food we eat and how digestion works we recognize that what we consume is incorporated into us to build and sustain us. It doesn’t go away in 15 minutes.

            • Hello Gerard,

              Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1377 – The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ.

              The question of how long does the consumed Eucharistic species subsist, is estimated by those who know about human digestion – thus given as an estimate, 15-20 minutes.

              Does this information change your thoughts, and your post? I’m interested and would like to hear.

              • Gerard Plourde

                I don’t know that it does change my thoughts. Let’s review.

                First what does the Council of Trent say about the effects of receiving the Sacrament? It encourages in very strong terms for Christians to agree on the belief in the Real Presence so that the may “be able frequently to receive that supersubstantial bread, and that it may be to them truly the life of the soul, and the perpetual health of their mind; that being invigorated by the strength thereof, they may, after the journeying of this miserable pilgrimage, be able to arrive at their heavenly country, there to eat, without any veil, that same bread of angels which they now eat under the sacred veils.” (Session 13 Chapter VIII). Conversely, I could not find any statement about Christ’s presence leaving us once the species are digested.

                Regarding Catechism of the Catholic Church’s discussion of the duration of the Real Presence it might be helpful to think of the answer in terms of two questions – How does one purify the vessels after Mass and what to do about a Host that for some reason cannot be consumed.

                For the first question – after Mass the vessels are washed in the sacristy’s sacrarium (a special sink with a drain going directly into the ground, not the sewer) so that nothing of the Sacred Species is profaned.

                The second case occurs where a priest or eucharistic minister served the Sacred Host to an elderly in a Senior’s Home and the senior spit it out, being unable to swallow it, the Sacred Host should be collected in a piece of linen and returned to the parish for the priest to dispose of it. To dispose of a Sacred Host, the priest or eucharistic minister must dissolve it in water to the point where the Host no longer has the appearance of bread. This may require that the Host be broken up in pieces prior to placing it in water. The next step is to pour the liquid down the sacristy’ s sacrarium. When such is not available, the liquid should be poured on the ground in a location that would not be walked over, such as behind a flower bed that is along a wall, at the foot of a statue or similar places.

                Notice that part of the process involves dissolving the Host in water so that it no longer has the appearance of bread. The character of the bread not longer subsists. However, even then the disposal must be either in the sacrarium or on ground that will not be walked over.

                What is the penalty for not taking this care? Canon Law # 1367 states: “One who throws away the consecrated species or, for a sacrilegious purpose, takes them away or keeps them, incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; a cleric, moreover, may be punished with some other penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state.”

                Turning to the Offertory prayers, specifically the prayer at the commingling of the water and wine we read from the Mass of Paul VI “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share the divinity of Christ who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.” The language in the Tridentine Mass is even more emphatic – “O God, Who established the nature of man in wondrous dignity and still more admirably restored it, grant that through the mystery of this water and wine we may be made partakers of His Divinity, Who has condescended to become partaker of our humanity, Jesus Christ, Your Son, Our Lord.” (Translation from the St. Joseph Daily Missal, 1961)

                So given the fact that even once the Host has been dissolved into an unrecognizable state the Church still requires special handling on pain of excommunication, that the Council of Trent talks about the effect of Eucharist “giving life to the soul” and that both the Tridentine Mass and the Mass of Paul VI ask that the Eucharist bring about a unity of us with Jesus in His Divinity, I stand by my position that the “15 minute rule” would get the same response from Jesus that he had on the question of Moses allowing divorce. And I say this as one who can also forget all too often Who I’m carrying.

                • Hello again Gerard,

                  Maybe the following is the simplest way to show that the substantial Presence of Christ – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in HIs risen glory – is NOT present except in a spiritual sense after the accidents of bread and wine are no longer intact.

                  The consecrated (transubstantiated) species is worthy of Latria – that worship due and appropriate to God and to God alone:

                  (Trent Session 13, Ch V – “There is, therefore, no room for doubt that all the faithful of Christ may, in accordance with a custom always received in the Catholic Church, give to this most holy sacrament in veneration the worship of latria, which is due to the true God.)

                  If your theology on this matter were true, then you yourself would become another Tabernacle containing Christ Himself, perpetually. You yourself would be due genuflection, and you yourself would appropriately be held as worthy of persons kneeling in adoration before you, because of the Real Presence perpetually within you.

                  indeed these Canons of the Council would apply to you personally:
                  Canon 6 If anyone says that in the holy sacrament of the
                  Eucharist, Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is not to be adored with the worship of latria, also outwardly manifested, and is consequently neither to be venerated with a special festive solemnity, nor to be solemnly borne about in procession according to the laudable and universal rite and custom of holy Church, or is not to be set publicly before the people to be adored and that the
                  adorers thereof are idolaters, let him be anathema.


                  Thus you ought to be help aloft and venerated, and the object of sacred processions through the land – perpetually carrying within your body, the divine essence and substance of Christ. But no, you are NOT a living monstrance! Further,
                  Canon 7 If anyone says that it is not lawful that the Holy
                  Eucharist be reserved in a sacred place, but immediately after
                  consecration must necessarily be distributed among those present, or that it is not lawful that it be carried with honor to the sick, let him be anathema.


                  Thus you ought be reserved in a sacred place – etc. But no, the Church does not claim that of you, or of any and all the faithful.

                  Every Catholic, having once received Eucharist, does NOT become a perpetual Tabernacle holding the Christ worthy of genuflection and adoration due to God. Why? Because the divine Person of Christ does not substantially remain in the believer, but He does in a spiritual sense.

                  Such a doctrine as you suppose – and propose – has not been defined or promulgated because (I assert) it is not the Faith of the Church. I think the burden of proof is on you to show that it is – and your arguments so far have not done that.

                  • Gerard Plourde

                    I am certainly not proposing a doctrine that would require that each recipient of the Eucharist is worthy in any way of latria as a living tabernacle. What I am saying is that seeking to determine a time when we no longer hold the Real Presence rather misses the point. The Eucharist is meant to have a lasting effect on us by our consumption of It. This is clear from the passages I cited from the Council of Trent. All Sacraments, as Trent teaches, have a lasting effect.

                    The passages you cite concern the situation created by reservation of the Eucharist. As we know, reservation is necessary so that Viaticum is available and we therefore need to address the issues reservation raises. But the purpose of the Sacrament is to be consumed, not reserved indefinitely. (By this I mean that it would be wrong to Consecrate a host purely for the purpose of reservation never intended to be consumed and eventually requiring to be disposed of.) It is good and necessary that we accord worship to the reserved Eucharist, but we are not to substitute this worship of the reserved Species for worthy reception.

                    The conundrum you posit for me creates an equal problem for the 15 minute rule. Are we all living tabernacles for those fifteen minutes after receiving, to be accorded latria?

                    • We agree that Holy Communion should leave a lasting Presence of Jesus in us – a lasting effect – a lasting transformation of us. But this “remaining” – us in Him and He in us – is a spiritual communion, not a substantial one (except as long as the “accidents” of the bread and wine remain in us, which is of the order of 15-20 minutes). In that precious time of 15-20 minutes, our communion with Him is of a different and unique order, because of His complete substantial Presence – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, Jesus Himself as He is in resurrection glory, IN US!

                      In that precious time we ARE living Tabernacles – and thus the unique importance of personal worship in that time.

                      But – we agree – we are to be living members of HIs Body at all times, at all times a living sacrifice to Him, in Him and with Him.

                    • Gerard Plourde

                      We absolutely agree on the essence that the Presence is special immediately after receiving and that, as you say, we are to be living members of His Body at all times. Let’s not worry about the language and the details (which are poor reflections of the Truth) and rejoice together in the great Gift we are given. May the Lord be with you today.

                    • And also with you!

    • Jess

      I totally agree that sacred silence should be observed, especially after communion. However, the music directors do not seem to be aware of this. They find this time of the Mass to play ear-splitting music.

    • Jennifer

      Amen Thomas. At our parish the choir sings multiple hymns during communion and except for their brief trip to receive the Sacrament, there is music non-stop and I find this a distraction from praying after receiving Him.

  • Dick Prudlo

    Mr. Tucker’s conclusion say’s all that needs be said. By eliminating the five principle errors we can come close to a “Catholic Mass.” That “come close” part shows the emperor that he has no clothes.

    Reforming this disaster is like turning a pencil into a baseball bat and saying all we have to do is put Louisville Slugger on it. Why is it not possible today to say what really needs to be said: The NO is the problem here, and no amount of tinkering is going to make this sows ear into silk. Expecting that ill formed priest’s will somehow be able to respond in a
    “Catholic” sense to a five or six point procedural adjustment is more wishful than real.

    • Jeffrey Tucker

      Nonsense. What you say is just not the case. That you say this shows you have never been to a really great OF Mass. Yes, the OF has structural problems — too many options — but they are being fixed and there are still more improvements to be made. But by putting down the liturgy experience out of the Mass attended by 99.9% of all the world’s Catholics for the last 45 years, you are blinding yourself to the blessing of the sacrament that are being daily poured out on the world’s faithful. Further, I find the common cliche that the Mass is a “sows ear” to be offensive.

      • jacobhalo

        It is a shame that there is only about a 30%attendance rate at the Novus Ordo missae, while at the Latin masses there is over a 95%attendance rate, with many more young people than the Novus Ordo. I will continue to trash Vatican II until I die. It was a complete disaster!! Pope Paul II could be compared to Soupy Sales. Dumb and dumber!!

        • Jeffrey Tucker

          “I will continue to trash Vatican II until I die.”

          You might consider that 1) you might not be infallible and just might have something to learn from v2, and 2) there are better and more spiritually healthy pledges to make in life than to dedicate yourself to unrelenting hatred of a Church Council.

          • jacobhalo

            I learned much from Vat. II. I saw full churches, seminaries, convents, schools go almost empty. I saw long confessional lines become non-existent. I see a large majority of Catholics who don’t believe in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and a large majority who are pro-choice. I saw 50% of Catholics voted for the most pro-abortion president in history. These things never occurred pre Vatican II.
            I hear mush-priest never address seeing the whole congregation going to communion and about 2 people at confession the day before. I was a high school senior when Vatican II met. I remember the “old days” well. Priests let the congregation know what they were doing wrong and what they were doing right. The church has people confused today, because of their mombo-jumbo teachings. e.g. The Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic church. Are there two churches? Now, anyone can obtain salvation. The doctrine no salvation outside the Catholic church doesn’t seem to apply today, Even though, Pope John Paul II says it does. He goes on to explain it in terms that you would have to be a theologian to understand it. The clerics have become double talkers.
            I’ve read the documents of Vatican II. I have problems with some of them. My problem is with the results of Vatican II. It has been a disaster for the church.

            • TheodoreSeeber

              Magaret Sanger was a pre-Vatican II Catholic. Just meditate upon that wisdom for a time.

              I don’t know why you have to be a theologian to understand that the Church Triumphant is in the Church, and that there are people in the Church Triumphant who were never a part of the Church Militant but most certainly spent several subjective millennia in the Church Suffering.

              • jacobhalo

                Hitler was brought up a Catholic too. Did he practice it? No. Sanger was a lesbian and very pro-abortion. She can’t be considered a Catholic the same way that Kennedy, Pelosi, Biden, etc. can’t be considered Catholic, even though they think they are. Did Sanger practice the Catholic faith? No. Because you are baptized Catholic doesn’t mean that you are. You have to live by the teachings of the Church. You can’t pick and choose. Otherwise, you are a heretic.

                • Gerard Plourde

                  Where do you get your information concerning Margaret Sanger’s lesbianism? All of her relationships appear to have been with men (including two marriages). As to your second point, the Church has always held that if you are a baptized Catholic you remain one for life (unless you are formally excommunicated). If you don’t practice your faith it just means you’re a bad Catholic, not that you’re not a Catholic.

                  • jacobhalo

                    I said if you don’t agree with a teaching of the church, you are a heretic. You can’t be a Catholic. Take a look in the Catechism under heretic. Because someone is married doesn’t mean that cannot be a switch hitter.

                    • Gerard Plourde

                      “I said if you don’t agree with a teaching of the church, you are a heretic.”

                      If you don’t agree with a dogma of the Church, you are a heretic. If you agree dogmatically but don’t submit to obedience (also a teaching of the Church), you are a schismatic.

                      We are instructed by the Church that Vatican II is a true Council, therefore as Catholics we are bound to be obedient to that teaching (admittedly, as a supporter of Vatican II, I do not find this difficult).

                      Regarding Sanger – I asked for evidence not speculation.

                    • jacobhalo

                      The Catechism says if you don’t agree with a truth which must be believed. I take it that a truth includes the teachings and the dogmas. Unless you think that some of the teachings are not truths.

                    • Gerard Plourde

                      “The Catechism says if you don’t agree with a truth which must be believed.”

                      That is the classic definition of dogma. Another way to put it is an Article of Faith. Not all teachings of the Church are truths, some are disciplines. Some are instruction concerning a Catholic’s response to life in the world (social teaching like the labor and economic encyclicals which drive economic conservatives to distraction).

                    • Ben Dunlap

                      There is a crucial theological distinction between truths which must be *believed* (“veritates credendae”) and truths which must be *held* (“veritates tenendae”).

                      My understanding is that the former are considered to be divinely revealed and the latter are considered to follow reasonably from the former. I’m not sure whether this is just another way of expressing the distinction between dogma and doctrine-in-general, or whether that’s a different distinction.

                      In any case, Catholics must assent to both credendae and the tenendae. Rejecting a truth from either group is a big deal, but only the former are the matter of the ecclesiastical crime of heresy. Ed Peters applies the distinction to a concrete case here:

                    • jacobhalo

                      I was wrong about Margaret Sanger being a lesbian. I must have been thinking of another left-winged nitwit.

            • george

              Great news the text of Vatican II actually says something different than many liberal priests believe in it’s document Lumen gentium (1964) Number 14: “This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.”

        • A.P. Hill

          Why are you demeaning a pope who reigned from 1464-1471?

          • jacobhalo

            That is known as a typo

      • Dick Prudlo

        Mr. Tucker, I have never seen a great NO Mass. Can it be done in a fashion that will not scandalize the Faithful? Sure. But, is the Mass held high because it is not a scandal? It is supposed to be a great deal more, and it is not. Sorry if my response to you is offensive. It is not meant to be so.

        PS: That 99.9% for the last 45 years is a joke no? Try the Mass attended by 100% of Catholics for 1500 years.

        • TheodoreSeeber

          You should have been at the Opening Mass for the Oregon State Knights of Columbus. Mass celebrated in the Ordinary Form, but informed by a parish recently renovated for doing both the OF and the EF. The Archbishop Emeritus Vlazny even requested that we take advantage of the architecture and take the Eucharist at the rail. And all the music, was Gregorian Chant, thanks to the investment the local parish had made in the St. Michael Hymnals.

        • Ben Dunlap

          I share your preference for the EF but I’ve seen great OF masses at Clear Creek Abbey, Christendom College, Thomas Aquinas College, St. Sebastian’s in Santa Paula, Calif., Our Lady of Peace and St. Leo the Great in San Jose, Calif., Holy Rosary in Portland… those are just the ones I can think of right off the top of my head.

          The point about “99.9% for the last 45 years” is not to pit the forms against each other but to clarify that, however one feels about it, the OF is the only form of the mass that most living Catholics know, by far. And this will continue to be the case for at least a few more generations.

          In that context it’s extremely useful to consider the ways in which the OF can be celebrated better.

          • Eoin Suibhne

            I am familiar with — indeed have attended OF Mass — at several of the places you list. When I first attended a Latin Novus Ordo, I was blown away. Yet, several years later, I began attending the EF and realized that there simply is no comparison. None at all. The most beautiful OF Mass pales in comparison to even a quiet Low Mass in the EF.

            I certainly am partial to the arguments for well-offered OF Masses. Think on this, however: Cardinal Ottaviani’s devastating criticism of the Novus Ordo was penned long before it was promulgated. His “intervention” was aimed at the Novus Ordo as it existed on paper, years before the typical abuses we’re so used to seeing began to appear. The Novus Ordo Missae is fundamentally flawed, no matter how well it is offered.

            • Ben Dunlap

              Certainly, but on a practical level the Ordinary Form is the only things most Catholics know right now, so any effort to improve its celebration is good. Meanwhile we also need to work for the re-integration of the Extraordinary Form into normal parish life.

              • Eoin Suibhne


        • patricia m.

          Father George Rutler, who writes for this magazine, has a beautiful mass at the Church of Our Saviour in NYC. When you’re in the City, try it.

      • Gerard Plourde

        I hope that you’re not including the Lectionary as one of the “too many options.” I find that the increased exposure to the Scriptures (as well as the requirement that the homily “break them open”) to be a vast improvement over the EF (Just to be clear: I have no objection to the EF.)

        • Romulus

          The Mass isn’t Bible Study.

          That said, the EF has a LOT of Scripture, especially during Lent, organized and integrated with the (old) Liturgy of the Hours, a beautiful and complex fabric that took centuries to weave.

          • Gerard Plourde

            “The Mass isn’t Bible Study.”

            I agree but it is the weekly celebration, commemoration and participation in the Pascal Sacrifice and as such should contain reference to the history of God’s saving action.

            As to the integration with the Divine Office that the EF has, does it concern you that lay Catholics were by and large didn’t have regular access to this beautiful and complex fabric?

            • athelstane

              I agree but it is the weekly celebration, commemoration and participation in the Pascal Sacrifice and as such should contain reference to the history of God’s saving action.

              Yes, but how much of it?

              The one year lectionary was used by the Roman Rite for nearly two millennia. Was it really insufficient all that time?

              I think it has become apparent that the three year lectionary was a mistake, albeit a well-intended one. In this respect, depth is better than breadth. The association of particular readings with given days is lost with the multiplication of schedules; the vastly increased sets of readings tend to be lost in the shuffle. The Office really is the place to put Scripture front and center in a broader way for Catholics, not the Mass.

              • Gerard Plourde

                I personally like the three-year cycle. Is it certain that the lectionary of the EF actually stood as it appeared just prior to Vatican II for nearly two millenia?

                I’m not sure what you mean that the “association of particular readings with given days is lost with the multiplication of schedules; the vastly increased sets of readings tend to be lost in the shuffle.” The Readings are clearly associated with specific weeks in either a Season or in Ordinary Time. There has always been some variation that is associated with the variable date of Easter.

                • Eoin Suibhne

                  I wish I could remember where, but I recently read that then-Cardinal Ratzinger allegedly said that the greatest disturbance to Catholic life was not the Novus Ordo Mass, but the changes to the calendar. Reading Dom Gueranger’s “The Liturgical Year” bears that out. What the Catholic Church has lost is incalculable; we have no idea what has been taken away from us.

                  • Gerard Plourde

                    Was he referring to the changes to the General Calendar when many traditional saints (e.g. St. Christopher) were demoted?

                    • Ben Dunlap

                      I couldn’t be sure but suspect he was less concerned about the sanctoral cycle than about things like the suppression of Septuagesima, the loss of the basic two-fold division of the calendar into the “winter” cycle of Advent through Pentecost and the “summer” cycle of Time After Pentecost, and the de-facto suppression of the Ember Days.

                      The older liturgy definitely seems to be more aligned with familiar human rhythms — one-year reading cycle at mass, one-week psalm cycle in the Office, the Ember Days at the change of seasons, etc.

                    • Gerard Plourde

                      The odd thing is that the present cycle really doesn’t change that much. Although nominally two cycles, after Epiphany, the Church enter TIme after Epiphany (Liturgical color Green), and after Corpus Christi, it entered Time after Pentecost (Liturgical color Green). Also, like the present cycle and depending on the date of Easter, some of the readings could be heard in the post Epiphany cycle or in the post Pentecost cycle (3rd Sunday after Epiphany is Additional Mass #1, 4th Sunday after Epiphany is Additional Mass #2, Etc.)
                      Another thing to consider is the fact that although we associate the Christmas cycle with winter, half of the world celebrates it in the Summer and that for them Easter is an Autumn feast. It was in recognition that the Southern Hemisphere experiences the seasons differently that also caused the church to delegate the authority of setting Ember Days to the national Bishops’ Conferences.

                    • Ben Dunlap

                      Well you may be right that the distinction between Ordinary Time and Time After Epiphany / Time After Pentecost is not hugely significant. On the other hand that raises the question of why the Consilium saw a need to change it.

                      That’s interesting about the Ember Days but also odd. No matter where you are in the world, the seasons change four times a year, at times roughly corresponding to the traditional dates of the Ember Days.

                      Do you know if there’s any bishops conference that preserved the observance of Ember Days? Given that there is no liturgical provision for them (that I know of) in the reformed missal, unlike the very out-of-the-ordinary mass texts provided in the older Roman Missal, I’d be surprised if so and would be interested to know what concrete shape they’ve taken.

                    • Gerard Plourde

                      The Bishops’ Conference of Australia celebrates Ember Days. I’m checking others. The USCCB actively decided not to celebrate them.

                      From the Australian Bishops’ Conference web site-

                      “As days of Prayer and Penance, Ember days may take a public character rather than merely private.
                      •Violet vestments – this will hardly be noticed when the Autumn Ember Day is in Lent, but in the Spring Ember Days it will be particularly striking.
                      •Mass texts – especially pertinent might be the second of the Masses for the Blessing of Man’s Labour; the Mass for Forgiveness of Sins.
                      •The Rite of Penance provides several sample “Penitential Services”, quite distinct from communal celebrations of the Sacrament of Penance, which may be suitable for use on the Ember Days. Those suggested for use in Lent should be considered for use on the Autumn Embers Days when they occur during that season.”

                    • Eoin Suibhne

                      Perhaps. I do not know. The many feasts, octaves, Ember Days, Rogation Days, etc. They are all gone.

      • Doge of Venice

        Mr. Tucker,
        Your laboring to restore reverence in the Mass is commendable. My recent reading* suggests to me that the New Mass is harmful to the faith–theologically, not structurally. Protestant, assembly theology is it’s foundation. Suggesting that the people celebrate the Mass, sticking the priest in a president’s chair, etc., have devastated the faith in general and the priesthood in particular. I do not think it cynical to say the conservative trend is not a restoration of the Catholic Mass, but an attempt by the reformers (which is what they were) to obtain the stamp of Tradition. The “old Mass” was supposed to go away, but it just won’t die, so the reformers are dealing with the problem as best they can.

        *Work of Human Hands by Rev. Anthony Cekada in particular.

        • Gerard Plourde

          Anthony Cekada was ordained by Abp. Lefebvre. It is unclear what his standing with the Catholic Church is at this time.

          • Doge of Venice

            His book contains extensive footnotes. I know who Fr. Cekada is, but even Mgr. Wadsworth, head of ICEL, favorably reviewed the book. I catch your drift, but that’s not a refutation of the history of the Liturgical Movement documented in the book.

            • Gerard Plourde

              “My recent reading* suggests to me that the New Mass is harmful to the faith–theologically, not structurally.”

              It is precisely this suggestion that concerns me. To come to that conclusion one would have to believe that the Popes and Bishops since 1962 have not been led by the Holy Spirit, that Jesus has abandoned the Church. Since he’s teaching at an unauthorized seminary whose priests are ordained by irregular bishops I’m sure that the author has come to that conclusion, which places him outside the Church and for all his scholarship may make the conclusions he draws from the history suspect.

              • Doge of Venice

                The suggestion that the New Mass is harmful is of utmost concern to me, too. My prior leanings were “reform of the reform,” & I can assure you I wouldn’t have touched Fr. Cekada’s book a year ago. But his insights–communicated–are mine now, & “consider the source” only goes so far to quiet the mind and heart.

                Amen. Christ cannot abandon his Church–that’s dogma. But the men in the buildings do not automatically constitute the Church (as St. Athanasius knew during the Arian heresy). Fr. Cekada’s conclusion is this: the New Mass is harmful to souls; Vatican II contains errors & contradicts previous, infallibly-defined dogmas of the Faith (ecclesiology, etc.). But the Church cannot err; She cannot solemnly proclaim doctrines that harm the Faith. Therefore, these things cannot have come from the authority of the Church.

                • Gerard Plourde

                  “But the men in the buildings do not automatically constitute the Church (as St. Athanasius knew during the Arian heresy).”

                  To use your point about Athanasius -although he suffered exile by four different Emperors, he was never declared a heretic by the See of Rome (historically the sole Patriarchal See never to fall into heresy).

                  • Doge of Venice

                    St. Athanasius knew the men in the churches were not Catholics. If it were today, all the buildings he was looking at would say “Catholic” on the sign, yet the men preaching and teaching there were heretics. Agree?

                    • Gerard Plourde

                      “St. Athanasius knew the men in the churches were not Catholics”

                      The problem with this statement is that Athanasius didn’t think that all of the men in all of the churches were not Catholics. He knew that the men who professed Arianism were heretics. I would submit that he would be equally discerning today and that he would recognize the universal authority of the See of Rome.

                    • Doge of Venice

                      Let me try the English example. Most Catholic faithful during the reign of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and following continued to attend “Mass” at their parish. It was the place their families had gone to Mass for centuries. The liturgies were changed, the ordination rites were changed (the laymen didn’t know this), but the lay faithful kept going. The priests and bishops told them they were still Catholic, but we know from Leo XIII that their orders were “absolutely null and utterly void,” and so all those people were adoring only bread (because of the rite–and, after a generation, because the bishops and priests weren’t bishops or priests).

                      The remaining Catholics in England were hiding true priests in priest holes. Is it inconceivable that the same thing is happening today as evidenced by validly-ordained priests offering the Sacraments at “irregular” chapels and seminaries?

                    • Gerard Plourde

                      The place where your analogy breaks down is at its beginning. Before Cramner changed the liturgy under Edward VI HenryVIII had rejected the authority of the Pope. To accept your scenario would require accepting the Protestant view that the See of Rome has lost its authority.

                    • Doge of Venice

                      I am going to respond, but want to make one comment on the aside before I forget.

                      I am a convert, born after Vatican II. I believe Mr. Tucker is a convert, though I could be mistaken. Listening to interviews with Fr. Cekada (and other priests in his situation) humbles me & gives me insights into the futility of the conservative position (i.e. restoring reverence to the New Mass). Cekada had this very idea in mind in the early ’70s & joined the Cistercians in Switzerland. They did the Novus Ordo completely in Latin with Gregorian chant, everything. The Cistercians were trying to be an island for tradition, but obedience to the presumed authorities meant reconciling New Theology, new Sacraments, new catechisms, and the like. When Fr. Cekada brought this sort of problem up to the Abbot, he was told, “We have to be obedient. If one’s superior told you not to believe in God, you would have to obey and find the purpose in his command.” This is false obedience.

                      In any case, my short point was meant to be that many traditional priests already lived through an early reform of the reform, and we might learn something from them. Sure, the GIRM says use Latin, then it says use vernacular. Okay, the Mass is a sacrifice, or it’s the Lord’s Supper. There were High Church Anglicans, too, but it was purely aesthetic in the final analysis: the clergy and Masses were invalid, and one is deprived of the graces of valid Sacraments.

                    • Gerard Plourde

                      I’m not sure that I totally believe the story that Fr. Cekada tells about his Trappist Abbot, at least the way it is reported.I will note that he spent a total of two years with the Trappists, which means he would have left before completing his term as a novice, itself a two-year period that follows a six-month postulancy. He was ordained as a priest of the Society of St. Pius X, but became part of a group that believed that Abp. Lefebvre was accommodating with Rome and broke away to form the Society of St. Pius V, an openly sedevacantist group. He has a vested interest in finding the Catholic Church as an organization deficient – if it is, as it claims to be, the one, true Church, then his claim to legitimacy loses any validity. Acceptance of the Authority of the Pope and his appointed bishops is not negotiable for a Catholic. To quote St. Augustine, “Rome has spoken, the case is closed.”

                    • Doge of Venice

                      Mr. Plourde,

                      You have arrived at the crux of the matter. Your final sentences reflect dogma that cannot be denied by any true Catholic. Amen.

                      Now I ask you, earnestly: did the men inside the Vatican who signed Lumen Gentium (bishops) and later promulgated the constitution (Paul VI)–and their successors who live by said constitution today–affirm that the Roman Catholic Church is identical with the Mystical Body of Christ; the one, true Church, outside of which there is no salvation?

                      Read section 8, paragraph 2. This constitution establishes a new church, called the “Catholic Church,” which is larger than the one, true Church of Christ. The true Church merely “subsists in” the “Catholic Church.”

                      Even if we say these were “good, well-intentioned” men (in colloquial, earthly terms), they violated infallible, Catholic dogma on the nature of the Church by means of a named heresy: Modernism. They would have then lost their authority IN FACT (by Divine Law, and in the case of a Roman Pontiff, without ecclesiastical judgement–none being possible). Having lost authority, claimants to the papacy lack the protection of infallibility and are able to promulgate the Mass of Luther, change and invalidate ordination rites, and all that follows.

                      The entire point is whether the men who claim to be authorities in the “Catholic Church” after Vatican Council II are indeed true authorities of the Roman Catholic Church; the one, true Church, identical to the Mystical Body of Christ, outside of which there is no hope of salvation.

                    • Gerard Plourde

                      “Read section 8, paragraph 2.”
                      Please be more specific. My copy of Lumen Gentium (Documents of Vatican II, Guild Press, 1966) is divided into Chapters and numbered paragraphs.

                      Found your section. If the stumbling block is “subsist”, my dictionary defines it as “1. to exist; continue in existence, 2. to remain alive; live, 3. to have existence in, or by reason of something.” I think that this accords with the traditional understanding.

                      If your concern is more of the Feeneyite “outside the Church there is no Salvation” controversy, the Church has always recognized Baptism of Blood and for almost its entire existence recognized Baptism of Desire. This would admit that people can be united to the Catholic Church who are not formally affiliated with it but it is they who are part of the visible Church not, as Protestants hold, that the Church is invisible. The Council absolutely held that salvation comes from Jesus through the Church but that the Church as an instrument of Jesus’ redemptive act effects salvation beyond itself.

                    • Doge of Venice

                      You’re right, I was not specific enough. Based on English version from

                      Chapter 1, number 8, second paragraph. Begins “This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed…”

                    • Gerard Plourde

                      See my edited reply.

                    • Doge of Venice

                      It does not say subsists AS, but subsists IN. So the Catholic Church’ (prime) is larger than the true Church. Paul VI referred to it in writing as the Conciliar Church, for instance. That church was not guaranteed by Our Lord. The leader of that church could teach error in matters of faith and morals.

                    • Gerard Plourde

                      If you see my reference to the dictionary definition and substitute “exist” for “subsist” the sentence would read “This Church . . . exists in the Catholic Church.” Or alternatively, “This Church . . . has its existence in the Catholic Church”. Or finally, “This Church . . . . lives in the Catholic Church.” I don’t see the problem. The Visible Church on Earth is the Church Militant but the Church also consists of the Church Triumphant in Heaven and the Church Suffering in Purgatory.Therefore, the Church we experience and which is engaged in the salvation of the world is only a part of the entire Church but, as I stated above, there is not an Invisible Church of believers that cuts across denominational lines as the Protestants understand it. Rather, salvation comes through the Church but its saving grace extends beyond it. Here’s a quick diagram (I hope it clarifies rather than confuses)

                      Catholic View of Salvation Protestant View
                      Jesus Jesus
                      / /
                      Church Believer

                    • Doge of Venice

                      It’s the very document in question that can be used to promote the Protestant view. The paragraph I referenced contains the statement “many
                      elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible
                      structure.” Of course there’s an orthodox way of reading that, but then there’s the way that has Cardinal DiNardo allowing the Co-Cathedral to host a female Methodist “bishop” ordaining a female “minister” earlier this month; or the way that allows Cardinal Dolan (today) to tell Muslims not to lose their faith.

                    • Gerard Plourde

                      “Of course there’s an orthodox way of reading that,”

                      Which is why we have the Church – to ensure that the orthodox way to read it is the way it is officially read. Much like the Church gives us the orthodox way to read the Bible.

              • Doge of Venice

                Quick note: Cekada’s book is about the Mass of Paul VI, compared and contrasted with the traditional Roman Mass. When I talk about his conclusions, I’m stepping outside the book I mentioned in particular.

              • Jakeap

                Matthew 16 in the bible “On this Rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will never overcome it.”

                If we are not led by the holy spirit but by the world then Jesus was wrong and his church has been overcome by the gates of hell.

                • Gerard Plourde

                  Two serious theological problems with your analysis:

                  The Catholic Church has always taught that the Rock of Mt. 16 is Peter and the successors who hold his Office as Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ.

                  Jesus, as the Incarnate Word cannot be wrong in his statement that the Church his Vicar on Earth will prevail against the gates of Hell.

              • jacobhalo

                Maybe is wasn’t the Holy Spirit. Pope Paul VI said the smoke of satan has entered the church.

                • Gerard Plourde

                  The difficulty with your premise is that it contradicts the clear promise that Jesus made concerning the Church in Mt. 16 as the Church has traditionally interpreted it. To hold that this promise has somehow lapsed or doesn’t refer to the See of Rome is precisely the Protestant position.

              • Eoin Suibhne

                What should we say about the heresy of Arianism. It is historical fact that almost the entire Church was full of Arians — i.e., almost all Catholics were heretics. The saying “Athanasius against the world” meant that St. Athanasius was in essence almost alone in fighting this heresy. Indeed, he was right and almost the entire Church was wrong. Did Christ abandon His Church?

                Much more recently Our Lady of La Salette said, “Rome will lose the Faith and become the seat of the Antichrist.” Has this occurred already? I do not know, but can we say for sure it has not. Is Our Lady a liar?

                • Eoin Suibhne

                  Whoops. I see I am late to the party.

                • Gerard Plourde

                  During the Arian Heresy the See of Rome was never occupied by an Arian. Christ did not allow the See of Rome to succumb.

                  My question regarding La Salette would be – Could Our Lady make a statement that would contradict the promise of her Son? Is something else being said? Note that she doesn’t say “The`successor of Peter will lose the faith.”

        • Haujke

          I’ve heard that a few protestants were part of the making of the english mass so that wouldn’t surprise me.

          • jacobhalo

            There were 6 protestants ministers as “observers” at Vatican II. They “observed” the Liturgical Committee. Do you wonder why the Novus Ordo Missae seems like a protestant service?

    • athelstane

      There’s no question – certainly in my mind – that the Missal of Paul VI is theologically impoverished compared to the traditional Roman Rite, even in the original Latin.

      Yet it’s excessive and arguably blasphemous to call the Novus Ordo a “sow’s ear.” Yes, it has very considerable problems and deficiencies. But it still confects the Eucharist. Graces still flow through it. And for the vast majority of Catholics, there is no alternative on offer. Until there is, there is nothing wrong with trying to make the N.O. as noble and reverent as possible – which is to say, to make it more and more like the TLM.

  • fr. Bill

    I think you miss the most important -for the celebrant to simply recite the prayers and not truly pray them.

    • Romulus

      The difference between recitation and prayer is mostly internal and invisible. I have no way of knowing a celebrant’s interior disposition. But I can have a pretty good idea when a celebrant is performing. Part of the noble simplicity proper to the Roman rite is an abhorrence of theatricality and a preference for restraint, understatedness, and economy. This is not an argument for the impoverishment of liturgy, but a warning against the intrusion of gratuitous elements.

    • St_Donatus

      Usually what actually happens when a priest tries to ‘liven it up’ with his own verbiage, is that same creative verbiage soon is likewise ‘not truly prayed’ since it too becomes memorized. Words are always just words, but the prayer must always come from the heart. I say my nightly prayers ‘off the cuff’ and it surprising to me how quickly I fall into a pattern that can easily become just words. Instead I try to meditate on the prayer whether my own or a model prayer such as the Our Father.

  • Charles Lewis

    Very good article. This is the kind of piece that should be distributed to all parishes. I’ll add one that I’ve seen on many occasions. Puppets on the altar who give a child-friendly homily.

    • patricia m.

      Oh yes, and they call it the “family mass”, There’s one priest in my neighborhood who even questions the children during the homily, so they can answer back his stupid questions. Geez man, I usually sleep during his homily because I know I’m missing nothing.

      • Allamanda

        I hope others around you follow your good example.

    • Allamanda

      Is there anything wrong about giving a child-friendly homily?

      A few minutes in the homily to explain the Word to the children in the congregation doesn’t seem like a bad thing at all.

    • Atilla The Possum

      Here’s one for the grown-ups…
      Twenty-odd years ago, there was the priest on one side of the altar and his friend on the other with pints of beer attempting to ‘act’ out something to illustrate a point.
      The point was missed … all I could remember was the sight of two blokes pretending the altar was a bar in a pub.

  • hombre111

    As the old Latin phrase said, there is no arguing with taste. Mr. Tucker has the taste of a liturgical aristocrat in a blue collar world. My favorite young priest, breathing fire and fury, was made temporary administrator of a fairly large parish. Two weeks prior to his departure, he stood up and read the GIRM, phrase by phrase, calling down thunder on those who “disobeyed.” I have a great idea. In this time of priesthood shortage, we could just put up a screen behind the altar with a video of a priest doing everything in the proper and dignified manner. We could have a recording of a well trained choir following all of the rules. No real priest needed. No real choir needed. The people could make all the proper replies. Not chance for a priest to screw things up with his humanity. No need for musical amateurs trying to do their best.

    • athelstane

      Once upon a time, blue collar congregants wanted reverence and beauty in the liturgy as much as – if not more than – anyone else. It ends up being a kind of classist condescension to think that the hoi polloi must have everything dumbed down, and made as casual as possible, to make it worthy to them.

      • hombre111

        Querido athelstane, I live in the West. My second to last parish was in a mountain community consisting mostly of loggers. Tough, silent men in one of the most dangerous professions in America. When we would have a funeral, the pallbearers would wear their best tee-shirt, blue jeans, and Nikes. It wasn’t a matter of dumbing down as much as a matter of trying to reach people where they were.
        People who do some traveling assure me there is quite a difference between the Church in the West and the Church in the East. In the West, Catholics are often in the minority. Less rigid triumphalism and more informality. I do not know what impact the generation of young mostly foreign priests will have on my diocese. They must wear their Roman collars to bed, lest they forget during the night their lofty calling. But the people are patient, even when they understand only every other word they say. For the time being, at least, the churches are still full.

        • athelstane

          Hello Hombre,

          It’s true – one hears the concerns about the increasing reliance on foreign priests. More, I think, due to their facility with English and difficulty in relating to the local culture than their innate conservatism.

          And yet: If these parishes were producing sufficient vocations off their own, there would be no need to rely on “imported” priests.

          If your parish has shut down or “clustered” due to a priest shortage, and it has produced not a single First Mass in the last few decades, you really have no one to blame but yourselves and your previous and current pastors – barring, of course, any genuine vocations aborted by left-wing gatekeepers at the diocesan seminary.

          • hombre111

            Como le va, athelstane? I think you are right about parishes not producing a native son as a priest for generations, yet taking it for granted that it has a right to the presence of a priest. But the lack of success is complicated. Among the several strategies followed in our diocese, priests do approach possible candidates, and parishioners are asked to nominate young men in whom they discern a possible vocation. I did this as a campus minister. We sent four men off to the seminary. Two began to study for other dioceses, and two for our diocese. One continues his studies. After this, other programs, and endless prayers, we have a grand total of eleven seminarians.

            In part, it is because we have made the talent pool so small. In an era of small families, we are trying to convince mostly young men to consider a priestly vocation. Very quickly, the vast majority get married and drop out of the pool.

            I have begun to realize how much disrespect this shows for men who are generously living the sacrament of marriage. Somehow, life with a woman and kids makes them unworthy. The priesthood is so complicated and demanding, we say. But we have many small parishes and missions that could easily be staffed by a married man who lives in the community. The Eastern churches, with their married clergy, do not leave small parishes unstaffed. We say the problem is money, but they manage to cope.

    • slainte

      You seem satisfied with mediocrity and call it humanism.

      Your “favorite young priest” recognizes that his parishioners are each made in Imago Dei and publicly calls them to Excellence.

      • hombre111

        Hola, slainte! Mediocrity isn’t humanism. It’s human. We are all mediocre at something or other. My favorite young priest is mediocre at being a man with a patient, forgiving heart, burdened instead with an obsessive-compulsive need to make sure everything is according to the rules. The stories about his stunt with the GIRM quickly spread to the priests of the Diocese, including to the middle-age man who is my pastor. He has been ordained for 33 years. In the day of his youth, I guess, he was a stickler black and white sort of guy, but life has taught him well. This young man is gong to be his parroquial vicar. The pastor said he and this prim and proper youth are going to have a conversation about how to do what Jesus would do.

        • slainte

          Hola Father,

          I hope that your young, impassioned priest who is quite possibly very much in love with Jesus will resist mediocrity and find the fortitude to communicate God’s Truth in love to the faithful.
          Sometimes the young can inspire those who are open to learning new ways. Jesus was very young when He undertook His ministry to do the will of His Father. He too met with opposition from the elders.

          • hombre111

            This is my hope, too. Was I like him, way back in the day? Can’t remember.

            • slainte

              During your years in seminary when you were very young, did you enjoy the Latin mass?
              Did you like the church pre-Vatican II?
              What inspired you to become a priest?
              Please excuse me if these questions are too personal.
              Peace be with you.

              • hombre111

                Slainte, muchos saludos! I was thinking of this during one of my prayer periods. It is interesting: there were religion classes in my Catholic grade school, but I don’t remember what was said. One of the things that formed me with the strongest possible sense of my religion was serving Mass. I would get up in the winter, walk half a mile through half darkness and snow for the privilege of serving, and then walk more than a mile to school, taking a short cut through the dangerous railroad yards. But did I like the Latin Mass? It was the only Mass I knew. Its silent mystery had an impact, and in my own spirituality today, silence is important. I “said” the Latin Mass for several years. Nobody talked about celebrating Mass. And It was “my” Mass, with the people mere onlookers saying their Rosaries and waiting for Communion. I have an instinct for sharing with people, and could not go back to the time when I said Mass in a low voice people could scarcely hear, with a child answering prayers in a language he did not understand.

                Again, the only Church I knew was the pre-Vatican Church. But gradually, its rigidity began to weigh me down. I was ordained before the Council ended. I do not think I could have remained a priest without the Council, because it had a sense of optimism about an open, not closed, future. It also taught me that I am first and foremost a servant as Christ was a servant. It has always been hard for me to be part of a aloof, authoritarian clerical caste.

                I came from a chaotic family. In so many ways, the Church really was my mother. The priests I knew were strong prayerful men I could admire. A sense of the Real Presence and daily (if possible) Communion was very important. By the time I was about nine years old, I had made up my mind to become a priest. My mother, with her prayerful ways, played an important role, because she made the life of faith real for me.

    • Romulus

      It seems to me Mr. Tucker’s recommendations are mostly about taking the Mass out of the realm of taste, to render it less vulnerable to the personal inclinations of this priest or that.

      This is not a question of inevitable mistakes and shortcomings arising from our fallen state. It is a question of the right of the faithful to a celebration of the liturgy in union with the whole Church.

      • hombre111

        A good, thoughtful comment, Romulus. I try to do my best to be faithful to the new translation, which is often stilted and sometimes doesn’t even make grammatical sense. But my old brain still tends to go down the old track, and I find myself using the old form if I don’t pay strict attention.

        That is one of the reasons I love being in the pews. Priests are supposed to be prayerful as they lead the Liturgy, but they don’t really get to pray. To lapse into prayer is to lose track of where they are supposed to be. And, of course, every congregation has a few people with their missals, following each prayer carefully, ready to be upset at any changes, intentional or unintentional. Neither the priest nor this kind of parishioner is really praying.

        So, when I am sitting there with the folks, I can let my mind go into that place of altered state of consciousness where I can listen to my heart and sense the living presence of God. Now that is prayer. I don’t try to keep track of the priest’s words, just let myself be carried along by his prayerful manner. The hymns, even if done badly, are a background supporting a prayerful experience. In the meanwhile, the Mr. Tuckers in the audience are having a fit about how correct it all is. They are not praying, either.

        • Romulus

          Father (you are a priest, right?), you do well to point out what most of the faithful don’t understand — namely that a celebrating priest is working and for that reason has no business giving way to the temptation to private piety, notwithstanding the pewsitters’ sentimental desire to be edified and impressed by father’s mass. This is leitourgia, after all. In my training of (adult male) altar servers, I put it this way: “Don’t ever let me catch you praying at Mass.” They get it. They have a job to do too.

          Coming from the traditional corner, I can assure you most of the faithful are not watching your every word, preparing to pounce upon and denounce inadvertent errors. Errors happen all the time, and are forgivable. What’s harder to forgive are abuse and disobedience. Trads are very, VERY willing to cut some slack for the priest trying to do it right.

          I don’t deny the existence of embittered liturgy cops. They exist for the sad reason that the faithful are tired of being jerked around and are tired of the games. Trust has broken down in many places, as is only natural after decades of abuse and mendacity and fanciful performances by faithless shepherds. I don’t think it unreasonable or petty of Mr. Tucker to expect what he’s entitled to as one of the faithful. Call it fully active and conscious participation, if you like.

          • Gerard Plourde

            “They have a job to do too.”

            I hope that they understand that that job is to stand in the Real Presence of the Lord made present in the Sacrament of the Altar. Private prayer may not be appropriate but knowledge, reverence and awe certainly are.

            • Romulus

              They understand very well where they are. They understand also that their presence is not merely functional — that they are participants in an act of worship. And the way they worship is by being alert and serving well, just as the schola worships by singing well.

              • Gerard Plourde

                That’s excellent. I commend the job you’re doing especially the point that they are instructed that they participants in an act of worship and that their diligent service is a form of worship. I am confident that this attitude conveys itself to the congregation which by your example helps them to be participants as well.

                • Romulus

                  That’s very kind of you. It doesn’t just happen, as you can imagine, but requires a generous level of commitment on everyone’s part. Now I have to leave because our tonight’s our practice night. We pray Vespers first, then tend to practical business. It is not simply performing a task for us, but a path to holiness for us and (because we’re adult men) our families.

          • Gerard Plourde

            “They have a job to do too.”

            I hope that they understand that that job is to stand in the Real Presence of the Lord made present in the Sacrament of the Altar. Private prayer may not be appropriate but knowledge, reverence and awe certainly are.

          • hombre111

            Well said and thoughtful, thank you. But the priest DOES have the obligation to be as prayerful as he can. Our diocese just had a liturgy workshop which tried to teach the brethren how to pray with meaning and heart. Nothing is sadder than a priest who gallops through Mass in a singsong way. I could forgive the older priests for doing this, because a Mass in Latin had made them very careless with the words they were speaking. But younger priests, today? After the workshop, even the bishop worked on his act.

            • Romulus

              Oh yes, I agree. The priest should certainly be personally engaged in his sacred work. It’s theatricality that must be avoided. Some priests try too hard to get all the people emotionally engaged, or to make sure everyone notices their own engagement. They would do better just to get on with it, like a craftsman who knows his trade and is comfortable in his own skin. Turning the priests around to face the people has been very unhelpful in this respect — it has done a lot to re-image the Mass as a didactic spectacle. The OF places tremendous burdens on the priest, which most are not equipped to assume. Many come to see themselves as producers of “liturgitainment”, with a duty to capture the hearts and minds of all present. Then all kinds of silliness pours out.

              • hombre111

                Hmm. I have done it both ways, because I am an old, old guy. But I prefer facing the people. When my back was turned, it became “my” Mass and the people more or less disappeared, with little boys saying the responses in a language they did not understand. The earliest Masses were communal in nature. I was grateful to Vatican II for returning to the truly ancient roots.

                • Romulus

                  Father, if you are that old, you’re old enough to remember Pius XII’s condemnation of faddish liturgical archaeologism in Mediator Dei.

                  I know quite a few seminarians and young priests who are excited about the prospect of celebrating with the same orientation as the people, on the same side of the altar. They’re quite alert to the truth that to speak of a priest “with his back to the people” presupposes erroneously that the people are the point of reference. Once the Mass is seen as anthropocentric, the real trouble begins.

                  With all due respect to your personal experience and testimony, it’s my observation that the X-Form is the real youth Mass.

                  • hombre111

                    Romulus, salud y paz. I have to go waay back to Mediator Dei. It was actually before my time in the seminary, but we studied it in our very conservative seminary run by the Sulpician Fathers. Our prof , Fr. Therkel, was a serious man, but he did make a joke. He said that Pope Pius had seemed to take some steps forward, and then abruptly stepped back in the highly defensive Mediator Dei. He called this the Vatican Three Step: One step forward, one step backward, and then (maybe after a long time) three steps forward. Vatican II, with its document on liturgy enstated many of the things criticized by previous popes, represented that long step forward. We are now in the step backward phase.

                    Your comments about the priest with his back to the people caused me to return to my faithful “Mass of the Roman Rite,” by Joseph Jungmann, which was considered the gold standard in liturgical studies for many years. He describes the switch that took place in the 700’s, with a sudden dramatic distinction between ordinary people and the priestly caste, and the understanding of the meaning of Eucharist. It was then that the priest turned his back to the people.

                    The young priests I know glory in their sense of separation from ordinary people. Clericalism has always seemed an evil to me, and so I do not welcome this return to a form that appeared in the 700’s, based on the loss of a sense of the community. I am not sure the Church Fathers would have accept the idea.

                    • Romulus

                      Thanks for your greeting, Father. Here is a question for you: if there was a “switch” in the 700s that represented a departure from earlier liturgical orientation, may we not look at that as the step forward? Why is the turnaround of our own day (never mandated or even mentioned by Vatican II) not the backward step decried by Fr. Therkel? Why are priests such lousy dancers?

                    • hombre111

                      Hail, Romulus. Been in the mountains camped beside a miles wide green meadow with a great view of craggy snow-covered peaks…and day after day of rain. Why the switch? In part it was a change in the understanding of the Church, from a communion of the redeemed bound together with the glorified Christ in one Mystical Body to a hierarchical structure of clergy and laity, in which the clergy adopted an Old Testament priesthood view of themselves, cherishing the idea of the high priest offering sacrifice for his people. Before, the only High Priest was Christ. It was around this time that the word “priest” began to take the place of “presbyter.” As I said, along with being a lousy dancer, I make a lousy hierarch. I am a servant of the folks.

                    • Ben Dunlap

                      The 8th century seems awfully late for that development. According to this article from the old Catholic Encyclopedia, the notion of the mass as sacrifice is clearly present in Augustine (4th century) as well as Irenaeus and Cyprian (3rd century), and is arguably present in Justin (early 2nd century) and the Didache (late 1st century):

                    • hombre111

                      Thanks, Ben. What is at issue is not whether or not the Mass is seen as a sacrifice, but the growing tendency to view the priest as an Old Testament priest. In the History of the Mass, by Robert Cabie, you read, “About the ninth century a different image of the presider appeared in the West, although it seems to have been more ancient in the East: the image of the Jewish high priest who alone enters the Holy of Holies. This image progressively changed the way ministers were seen. The powers received by the bishop or priest accorded him such a privileged status, compared to other Christians, that the essential liturgical action seemed to belong to him alone. Therefore, the priests began at this time to say silently the texts that they had formerly proclaimed aloud….

                    • Ben Dunlap

                      See U.M. Lang for more recent scholarship on this — my understanding is that he shows, or at least argues, that Jungmann was simply mistaken on this point, and that a common direction for priest and people was the norm from very early on. This might also help make sense of why it remains the normal practice in the Eastern rites.

                      Interestingly, even despite his historical mistake (if such it was), Jungmann himself cautioned in the 1960s against going overboard with versus-populum celebration. He evidently thought it should be an option, not mandatory, and certainly not “a fashion, to which one succumbs without thinking” (‘Der neue Altar’, 380, translated and quoted by Lang in “Turning Towards the Lord”).

                      In any case here is an interesting experience I had that indirectly illustrates some of the difficulties of priest and people facing each other at mass. A Eucharistic procession concluded with Benediction, after which a singer took the stage (the event was held in an auditorium) and led the crowd in the final Eucharistic hymn in the presence of the exposed Blessed Sacrament.

                      He stood between the crowd and the monstrance and faced the people, with his back to the monstrance, as he sung a hymn to the Eucharistic Lord. Objectively speaking this was a little strange but it didn’t strike me as such until a few minutes later, when the entire event concluded with a Marian hymn. At this point, the song leader, rather than continuing to face the crowd, actually turned to face a statue of Mary that was off to the side of the stage. Then the whole thing struck me as odd.

                      Granted this was not a priest and he wasn’t celebrating mass. But the episode seemed to me to illustrate a pervasive confusion in Catholic life about how we ought to comport ourselves when we are at public prayer — else why would this singer turn so naturally to face a *statue* of Mary, during the Marian hymn, while neglecting to turn toward the Lord really present in the Eucharist, during the Eucharistic hymn?

                      When I pray with my children at home, we all face the same direction, usually toward a crucifix or icon. This produces no sense of disconnect between us and in fact anything else would feel odd and artificial. Why do we not likewise think it normal and natural for priest and people to face the same direction in the Church’s public liturgy?

                    • hombre111

                      Good post. Turning to Mary when one is in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament sort of reminds me of people who genuflect toward the tabernacle immediately after receiving Communion, thus confessing their lack of faith in the reality that they, with the Eucharist inside them, have become living tabernacles.
                      Anyway, to turn to Cabie, quoted above, “The Christian turns to God by facing the direction from which the sun rises, no matter where one is. Witnesses to this practice abound in the east from the earliest centuries and we do not include those churches whose apse is in the east and where the altar is close to apse or even attached to the rear wall; here the priest says the Eucharistic prayer with his back to the assembly…. Because in Rome most basilicas faced west, the presider faced the people and prayed facing the direction in which the sun rises…. No reason other than the orientation of religious buildings led the Eucharistic presider to stand in front of rather than behind the altar. This change, however, so agreed with the direction popular understanding was taking that it encountered almost no resistance. (See what I told you, above). The assembly simply had no difficulty accepting their isolation from the sacred minister as he entered before them into the holy mysteries.

        • Ben Dunlap

          “I can let my mind go … and sense the living presence of God”.

          Father, I am struggling to put some of your comments here together. The contemplative manner of participation that you describe above had never even occurred to me until I became familiar with the older form of the mass, and even then it took years for me to begin to be comfortable with the idea.

          I am 32 and for the first half of my life knew nothing but an amplified, all-vernacular, entirely-spoken-aloud liturgy. I suspect that many of us who were raised this way implicitly absorbed the assumption, as I certainly did, that we are more or less obliged to keep track of the words — i.e., that “attending mass” means maintaining a very specific sort of aural/verbal attention from the Sign of the Cross to the Dismissal.

          I’ve spent the last 10 years gradually getting over a fear of the older liturgy (I used to imagine that preferring it was disobedient, and I thank God that Pope Benedict definitively clarified that). It’s only in the last 2-3 years that this notion of contemplative participation in mass, which is so natural for you, has even begun to seem like a legitimate possibility for me. There is a great liberty in that, which I did not even know existed for most of my life.

          And yet I would think that anyone who was raised with the mass in Latin, or at least partially silent, or even just unamplified — as you were raised and as most Western Catholics have been raised for most of the Church’s history — would also find this sort of participation to be perfectly normal and natural. One often hears scoffing about the old ladies with their rosaries at the Latin Mass, but is this fundamentally any different from what you’ve described?

          In any case it seems to me from your comments that you very much prefer mass in the more modern style. Am I misunderstanding you, or if not can you say more about that?

    • St_Donatus

      That is odd. Blue Collar world. Yes, and Jesus said we are to be NO PART OF THE WORLD. The Latin Mass parish I attend is very proper and we have no Doctors or Lawyers, or politicians, etc. In fact almost everyone would be considered ‘Blue Collar’. Yet most drive an average of 40 minutes to attend mass. Again, with close to 100% attendance. (Does God deserve a ‘Blue Collar’ mass or a mass for the King?)

      The mass is not for it’s entertainment value, it is to show reverence and love of God. What way shows that best? A community love (self and each other) fest or the real love shown through deep reverence for God and each other.

      • hombre111

        Saludos, St. Given. My blue collar brother-in-law found himself at a Latin Mass. Swore he would never go back. While I grew up with the Latin Mass and developed my priestly vocation within that world of silent mystery, I realize that groups attending such a Mass are a self-chosen group today. Most people have no patience for Latin, except maybe in the Sanctus and a little Greek at the Kyrie.
        As a retired guy, I often attend Mass with my sister and her husband in our new parish church. It is hard to talk about “proper” when little children are crying in the background. There is a wonderful restless feeling when I am with the folks. Real people there, trying to find room for God in a distracted world. Because we are the West, Mass attendance is still strong, not fading away as it seems to be doing in the East. The last time I attended a Latin Mass, a brittle-faced lady turned around and put the “shush” on a couple with three antsy little kids. A lose/lose deal for sure.

        • patricia m.

          Some parents have no clue at all. My parish in London had an adjacent room where they put a big screen and moms with annoying kids could watch the Mass there. I wish every church had that. Now, your kid is making a mess, running down the aisles, screaming like a little devil, the LEAST you can do as a mother is to go outside with him. But no, they look the other side and stay there, ruining everyone’s mass.

          • hombre111

            Querida patricia, I see your point. Some parents do seem to be clueless. But as an old, old pastor, I keep my mouth shut. For me to speak out is a lose/lose situation. The young parents will be permanently offended and will warn other young parents that the parish is not a child-friendly place. Of course, I spent several years in a parish in the slums of Cali, Colombia. Firecrackers tossed through the door. Little kids everywhere. Dogs wandering up and down the aisle. Now that was a level of distraction that makes other distractions seem small.
            I took a pastor’s place a few months ago. The evening Mass was silent and emotionally unresponsive, the kind of thing priests describe as a “Mass of the dead.” At the morning Mass, there were lots of young families, accompanied by kids. Some parents used the cry room, others did not. But this distracted Mass seemed so alive and joyful, and I went away spiritually fed.

          • jacobhalo

            Yes, we have the same thing here in New Jersey at out Latin Mass-a room with a monitor for the mass.

  • Mary K

    It would be nice to see choirs return to the choir loft instead of standing on risers up front or on the altar (ugh). There was a reason lofts were built. I attended a church where the choir was placed in the back and it was much less distracting and beautiful. We do not need to see the choir, just be inspired by their music.
    Why is it that the Psalm is not chanted, but a song with “similar words” is substituted? Usually it’s a poorly written melody and the Cantor butchers it. And, yes, we would love some silence, especially at the end of communion please. Just simple requests.

    • athelstane

      “It would be nice to see choirs return to the choir loft instead of standing on risers up front or on the altar (ugh).”

      Exactly. A choir should be heard and not seen – unless it’s a monastic or religious church that requires choir stalls for the friars or monks. Which is generally not the case with most parishes, to put it mildly.

    • Gerard Plourde

      There are non-chant settings of the Psalm that work quite well.Also, as a proponent of congregational participation in singing, I’m reluctant to rush musicians back to the choir loft if it reestablishes the “music as performance” mindset.

      • Ben Dunlap

        In my experience the alternative to the choir loft has always been the choir standing at the front and facing the rest of the people — talk about suggesting a performance. A good alternative might be for the choir to occupy some reserved set of pews and face the altar along with everyone else.

        • Gerard Plourde

          In my current parish, the worship space is configured to be short and broad. The choir is in a space far to the right of the altar (although still in the front of the church). They are for the most part out of the sightline of the congregation when viewing the altar.

    • MarkRutledge

      When we built our new church a few years back we were told that choir lofts were verboten. So we built a “mezzanine” where a choir loft would be . . . . and put the choir there. See, there are ways around the unreasonable.!

    • Sally

      Agree! The parishioners are more apt to sing when the sound is welling up from behind…it forms a sort of “impetus”, or a “flow” that they join in with. On the other hand, when it is coming from the front, it is more like a concert that is watched.

  • athelstane

    As always, thoughtful commentary on the liturgy from Jeffrey Tucker.

    One could think of other notable ways to ruin the Mass, but this is a fine list to start with. But we could also add: 6) If you are the celebrant, avoid overly dramatic gestures and intonations – you’re speaking to God with every prayer, not performing for an audience; 7) Use only as many extraordinary ministers of the Holy Eucharist (EMHC’s) as you truly need for reasonably efficient distribution of Communion – the GIRM calls them “extraordinary” for a reason.

  • tamsin

    Especially agree with point 3…

    Our parish Mass has a fairly restrained passing of the peace just to those nearest.

    It works.

    My son’s high school Mass, on the other hand, has an unrestrained passing of the peace. It is a raucous event, somewhat athletic, in which you run across the gym and throw yourself into the arms of a good friend whom you aren’t sitting next to at Mass but whom you saw fifteen minutes ago and whom you will see again in fifteen minutes.

    It is without peace. It excludes those sitting next to you from your peace, which you reserve for prior friendships. It brings into sharp relief those kids who do not have a destination friend as the object for their “public display of affection.”

    Perhaps here we can say “Cafeteria Catholic” means acting like kids in a cafeteria, who sort and arrange themselves by social rank. The more people you pass the peace with, the more points you score.

    Parents have complained, but nobody really wants to tell the kids “no.”

    • Jennifer

      I feel your pain tamsin. At our Catholic school’s children’s liturgy, the sign of peace resembles more the 7th inning stretch at a baseball game. Moms dash up 20 plus pews to grab their child for a sign of peace. Very disturbing.

  • There is a problem with using the propers, however, when it comes to Masses with limited music or no music. The distinction between Sung Mass and Low Mass is no longer applicable, and one must sing certain parts to sing others. It is logistically difficult to have a cantor at each Mass (some parishes have 2 or 3 daily Masses, and priests have to travel to far-flung areas). Then, the Introits in the Missal don’t match those sung by the choir, which means I’m not sure which is the more ‘proper’ text, since either is allowed, and that is a problem, since I think they should match up, with the priest reading it if there is no cantor/choir. Next, it does not seem that the Gradual can simply be read, like the Responsorial Psalm is. True, knowing which Gradual to use can be sticky since the Consilium didn’t want them at all, but the CDWDS decided to re-issue the Graduale Romanum. On the other hand, one can use a seasonal Psalm means that this issue is a rather small one in my opinion. Also, the splicing of the Alleluia verse from the Gradual, then largely replaced by the Responsorial Psalm, means the Alleluia should be omitted when not sung (as an aside, can a seasonal Alleluia be used? Away from my parish, I’m rarely sure that the verse is proper to the day when sung). Additionally, can the Offertory and Communion chants be read by a lector? I have seen that done, and it is silly: they should be read by the priest as they are prayers of the Mass and when available, sung as well (I believe Trent got it right, and that singing and reading the prayer is not needless repetition.). The rite of Communion is already hurried, as the priest says the Agnus Dei during the fraction, instead of after it, and to my ears, it’s even more hurried when a lector reads the Communion verse. Perhaps it should be moved to after the ablutions, and before the Post-Communion collect, as it is in the TLM.

  • Marc Gamil

    Thank you for this wonderful article, Mr. Tucker. I have some concerns about the matter and I really hope that you will be able to see my comment. I’m a classical musician and I serve always in the Church as a liturgical musician. I’ve been reading a lot of materials about the do’s and don’ts of liturgical music. I’m somehow divided between the two stances about liturgical music because I can’t agree with too much traditionalism (too much don’ts) and too much liberalism (too much do’s). I want to keep the Church’s musical tradition during worship while making the music still relevant to the modern times wherein the faithfuls can really participate fully, actively and consciously during mass. In our place, (a city in the Philippines), the sisters/nuns are always playing the instruments like the tambourine, triangle, maracas, etc. I also have a very special friend (he’s autistic) who plays the drums (not too loud like the one in the bar but he can keep the rhythm right). I’m playing the organ and we don’t really experience being disturbed during the mass because of some performance-driven acts. We’re aware about our role as music ministers. I’m simply talking about our dispositions during mass. Also, at times, we don’t have organist that’s why we use the guitar and we Filipinos love to sing during mass so we easily think of a guitar than an organ. In our place the people always sing and it seems having these instruments are no longer the problem. They’re not disturbed instead they were helped to pray more and engage more during the singing. In our chapels from the remote areas wherein expensive organ instrument could not be possibly bought resort to using guitar to accompany the singing. We don’t want to deprive these people from their desire in serving the Lord through their musical talents. Here in the Philippines we have a very different culture and maybe we have some other ways of expressing our thanksgiving to the Lord. Are these really offenses against the liturgy of the Church? Would not God be more happy seeing people serving the Church through music even if it’s expressed in other ways? Are these essentials or non-essentials? We’re aware of what is too much (I’m even against with the excessive contemporary musicals style in the mass) but in this regard, are we doing the right way? Thank you Mr. Tucker and May God bless you.

    • Ben Dunlap

      “I want to keep the Church’s musical tradition during worship while making the music still relevant to the modern times wherein the faithfuls can really participate fully, actively and consciously during mass.”

      Can you say more about what you mean by this, concretely?

      To my mind, music that has been used at mass for a thousand years or more (i.e., much of the basic repertoire of Gregorian chant) has proven itself to be relevant to all times.

      We should certainly not exclude music from the liturgy just because it was composed recently, but countless popes have taught that all the music used in the Roman Rite, regardless of when it was composed, should draw its inspiration from Gregorian chant, because the chant is the native music of the Rite.

      If you are not excluding chant and if your new compositions have the “movement, inspiration and savor” of chant (in the words of St. Pius X) then I don’t think it really matters what instruments you use.

      • Gerard Plourde

        I think the key concept in your post is that music should be inspired by chant, not that it should exclusively be chant. One of the beauties and hallmarks of chant is its stark simplicity.

        • Ben Dunlap

          Definitely all liturgical music should be inspired by chant, but also all Eucharistic liturgies with music should include at least some chant.

          • Gerard Plourde

            Ideally. I especially appreciate times when the Preface and parts of the Eucharistic Prayer are chanted (but only if the celebrant can sing which is not always the case).

        • Ben Dunlap

          Well, that’s another problem — celebrants who can’t sing. There’s no good reason for this — basic singing and Latin skills can be learned, and all priests are required to go to school for years before ordination — but it is just a fact.

          In any case I doubt there are very many celebrants (I’ve known *one*) who are actually incapable of singing the brief dialogues before the Gospel and the Preface, or of singing the Collect to the ancient solemn tone, which literally has exactly two pitches, that are one whole step apart from each other. But persuading them of this fact is another matter entirely.

          • Marc Gamil

            Not only the priest Ben but also the people. Imagine a native person who’s going to sing a chant that is not so close to the indigenous chanting that they’re doing. They’re not even singing the same mode/scale just like in the Western tradition. I found an article that’s related to your post Ben. 🙂


          • Gerard Plourde

            I’ve known one as well. In all other respects he was the perfect pastor – supportive, discerning, wise, an extraordinary administrator – he just couldn’t (to borrow a phrase) carry a tune if it had handles. He would try for Eastertide and Christmas, but it would probably been better for all concerned if he hadn’t. But in most cases you’re right – chant provides a form that most people can sing.

      • Marc Gamil

        I’m a lover of Gregorian Chant and I always let my choir members sing it. I use chanting even if we speak in Filipino. We have a very different way of pronouncing words and, in my opinion, the tendency of syncopating words would be normal. However, we tried to adapt chanting that’s why we keep the rhythm simple and flowing just like a true Gregorian Chant. In other words, we don’t exclude chanting but I’m worried with parishes that are not capable of doing this. We draw inspiration from Gregorian chant, but sometimes it is not really the entire picture in our country. The Jesuits here in the Philippines produce also music that is upbeat and modern. As far as I remember, they do this to get the attention of the younger generation and to make the music not archaic. They produce hymns also that are inspired in the Gregorian Chant with some “local idioms” being adapted to it.

        As to what you have quoted, I mean, we change songs that were already too old just like the songs of our grandfathers and up to now being sung in the mass. Or, being too strictly obsessed of only one musical style for the mass that is not really that practically applicable with other cultures. We want to explore new sounds that would savor more our liturgical experience without deviating from the tradition. I don’t really approve contemporary musical styles that are very contemporary wherein there are excessive clashing of tones.

        Also, Gregorian chanting here in the Philippines is not really that widely practiced (just like the Western style) since not everyone is trained to do it. Just like what I mentioned if the liturgy is celebrated in the remotest area, most probably they’re not aware of Gregorian chanting and probably that would open opportunities in committing liturgical abuse (due to some circumstances) to the traditionalist standard. We can easily relate to the mass if we do it in the vernacular way and in a way that describes how we really sing. I think inculturation has to say something about this. I mean, can we really blame the natives for this?

        • Gerard Plourde

          You raise a good point concerning the limitation of Gregorian Chant. It presupposes Latin or a Latin-based language (English qualifies because of its Norman French overlay). Is there an indigenous form of chant in Tagalog?

          • Marc Gamil

            Thank you Gerard. We can actually do the chanting even if Tagalog, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, etc. are used as the main text. You know here in the Philippines we have plenty of language having different ways of pronouncing the words. We tried our best to get inspiration from Gregorian Chant so that we can somehow sing nearer to the official music of the Church.

        • Ben Dunlap

          I don’t think Gregorian chant is widely practiced outside of the Philippines either!

          Perhaps the main point is that musicians who are operating in the Roman Rite ought to be thoroughly familiar with the native music of that Rite so that it forms their liturgical and musical sensibilities. When they have this formation then they will be able to act with true freedom in adapting things to the local culture.

          And the online resources available these days make it very easy to soak oneself in Gregorian chant.

          I’m not sure what you mean by “being too strictly obsessed of only one musical style for the mass”, can you say more? As far as I know, nearly every pope of the last 110 years has heavily emphasized Gregorian chant. This is really important, we have to pay attention this and make sense of it in some way even in the context of non-Western cultures.

          • Marc Gamil

            Ben, my point is, some people are just too strict. They just see that the only way to celebrate mass is this way. They despise other musical expressions that don’t even abuse the liturgy. I’m not only really referring to Gregorian chanting. I mean a person’s point of view to implement only this kind of music (and maybe Gregorian chanting is one of it) is just too hard for the faithfuls. I don’t oppose to the singing of Gregorian Chant. I love it. We should derive inspiration from it but to strongly impose it to other cultures, then there will surely a problem that will arise since not everyone is knowledgeable about it. But, please don’t get me wrong that we didn’t try in the first place. Yes, there’s internet but not everyone has access of it. Ben, imagine a very poor community even without electricity. How could they be really educated with the Western high-art traditions in such a case? Can we not meet God in our own cultural expression? I think that’s the purpose of Vatican II’s inculturation. Also here in the Philippines we have a lot of Yamaha Clavinova ( not only the organ most especially the pipe organ) being used during mass. I think this is for practical purposes since not all Churches can afford to build a pipe organ or to buy an organ. We truly tried our best to conform with what is expected in the Divine Worship of the Church. I would just like to inform everybody that it’s hard to really assess and impose things to faithful Catholics unless one has really experienced what we’re experiencing in our place. Thank you by the way for all your replies.

        • Ben Dunlap

          Also I am curious to know how long this has been a difficulty in the Philippines? I don’t know much about the history of the Philippines but I was under the impression that the Catholic faith and the Roman liturgy have been present there, at least in some places, for hundreds of years.

          Prior to about 1965 the mass would have always been entirely in Latin, and Gregorian chant of some sort would have been required in sung masses. Do you know if this has always led to tension with local cultural sensibilities?

          • Marc Gamil

            I’m talking with the natives Ben who have not been reached yet with modern civilization. As a whole, we’re proud that we have a very energetic, alive and strong Catholic faith in Asia. The Roman Rite is so much established here already. In fact, we have Latin masses here too. We can do Gregorian Chanting but based from my observation, not all choirs were trained formally in Gregorian Chanting. Or, maybe they’re really that exposed to Gregorian Chanting since we can actually do our own way of singing that’s also based from the Gregorian Chant nonetheless. On the other hand, we have actually plenty of albums in liturgical music. The Jesuits were very instrumental to the wide acquisition of liturgical music to all Filipinos. And through this too, we we’re influenced with their styles and I can say they have a lot of upbeat songs for the mass – songs that are very “poppish” in style. Of course, there are also songs that would reflect the sound really of a Church Music inspired from Gregorian Chanting. It’s just that we cannot only dwell with one style. We also adapt to our own idiom that would also describe of our own cultural expressions while at the same time embrace Gregorian Chanting.

            • Josemaria Martin Von-verster

              Marc,go ask The Pinoy Catholic(Google him). He will help you with your questions.

              • Marc Gamil

                I think I’ve known the people in that site since we belong to the same group in Facebook. That’s a blog, right?

                • Josemaria Martin Von-verster

                  He might answer your objections on Chant right?

                  • Marc Gamil

                    I will try. I’ll ask my friends from “The Splendor of the Church” group as to who is the owner of that blog. I believe he’s a member of our group too. Thank you.

  • TJS

    Boy, if I could eliminate 1 -4 I’d be a happy camper.

  • Barbaracvm

    Add another to the list: dancing in the aisles. YES grown women barefoot, wearing white billowing dresses with colored sashes. Depending on the time of year waving, carrying palms, fire pots, etc. coming down at the start of mass and then at some point during mass.

    We had a priest who turned mass into a shouting contest until enough people complained to the bishop. That took years and then he boo hooed during a sermon about being told to stop.

    We have a church that looks like a ware house. That parish has not grown in numbers despite being in the middle of one of the largest growing residential areas. People are driving an extra 10 miles to go to a more ‘traditional’ mass.

    • patricia m.

      If we all did that (drive the extra 10 miles to a good mass) those bad priests would be driven out of commerce.

      • Atilla The Possum

        My friend and I have taken two buses to attend a Latin Mass on the other side of Manchester UK … and soon we’ll be adding a tram to that!
        Just so we could have a Mass with just the bells – minus the whistles, gossip about the X Factor, crappy songs disguised as hymns and … UGH! Don’t get me started!

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  • Gerard Plourde

    I agree with your list although I’m not sure I’d make #5 a hard rule. I wouldn’t go so far as to ban percussion. Classical composers found them to be worthy tools. I fully agree that the “Christian Rock” genre with its roots in Evangelicals trying to reach young people is completely inappropriate, however some music that has its roots in the African-American experience is most appropriate and almost calls for the use of a piano.

    • Steve Culy

      I offered to buy the drum set right out of my parish with the guarantee that it would not be replaced… one has taken me up on it yet….

      • Gerard Plourde

        Drum sets don’t do anything for me either. Their use is very limited at best. Too much temptation to employ “Christian Rock”. Other types of drums might be appropriate with an appropriate style of music.

    • Romulus

      Classical composers use percussion, especially drums, to add weight and power to music. Within limits, drums can therefore have a legitimate part in liturgical music. The difficulty is that contemporary sensibilities view drums mostly as the source of a dance beat, something entirely out of place in the Roman rite.

      • Gerard Plourde

        Agree totally. In thinking of drums I had Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in mind which I believe begins with them. Part of the job may be to expand the musical knowledge of the congregation.

  • Vincent Tuason

    Hi Jeffrey, Peace! I have been wanting to ask this for the longest time. If the use of cymbals, the piano and other musical instruments lead to the detriment of the worship of God thru the Holy Eucharist then is it wise to say that Psalm 150 is incorrect? When I was in Africa they process in church with singing and dancing and to my mind, these actuation fosters an environment conducive to worship (but I think that comes with the territory) Please enlighten me so I am properly guided. Thank you.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Psalm 148 asks for small creatures and flying birds to praise the Lord, but I wouldn’t bring them into the liturgy.

      • Vincent Tuason

        hi andy, peace! you are right. not everything will be accepted. this adherence to the liturgy is a beautiful reality and at the same time overwhelms me. my fear is that we have become too strict on things, that anything apart from it is not of God. but then who possess the mind of God? who can say what God prefers for worship? I do not wish to slight anyone here but I can’t help but think? am I wrong? thanks.

        • Ben Dunlap

          “my fear is that we have become too strict on things”. What specifically leads you to this fear? I think you’re certainly right insofar as it *is* possible to be too strict about the liturgy, but I don’t see that problem in today’s Church.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          No one, not even the holiest saint, thinks with the mind of God. We can, however, think with the mind of the Church, which receives her authority from God. And the Church’s mind is pretty clear on these matters.

    • Jeffrey Tucker

      It really is about the culture of the rite and the associations we have with certain instruments. The Roman Rite in its normal form has no drums and cymbals. When it is introduced to a cultural context in which such things are associated with religious worship, matters become different. Liturgy in Africa can be authentic and moving even with dancing and percussion. Using the same in a different context is artificial and inorganic. Particularly in the U.S. drums mean jazz and rock.

      • And jazz and rock developed from negro spirituals. My preference is to have no instruments in Liturgy. But a people’s culture doesn’t have to be antithetical to their cult practices. I don’t see the logic in banning handshakes and drums because they are a part of secular culture. The same logic would have us ban Basilicas, because of their roots in pagan temples. What is so bad about inculturation? When did we decide that the Roman Rite was done baptizing different cultures?

        • athelstane

          What is so bad about inculturation?

          Because what is being inculturated is a sex-drenched secular culture working from premises hostile to faith – any faith.

          When inculturation happened with classical Greek and Roman cultures, it was adaptation of only the noblest aspects of cultures that had not been debased or commercialized – or secularized – in the same way as Western popular culture is today.

  • TJ

    I must just find myself very lucky. I go to a small campus church in CO from back when I was at college. The mass is done to the letter, even if it is the Novus Ordo. Sure we have guitars at our Saturday night Mass, but with the Organ right behind them they are only light accompaniment. The people are reverent and even on the people on our porch (pray we get our new church and more seats) stay until the priest leaves, with many giving prayers of thanks after the Mass. Its generally quiet in the sanctuary. Now, we have occasional time for quiet prayer after Communion, but I have to say I enjoy the Communion songs, B/c they are generally along the lines of “Godhead Here in Hiding”. They will play a seasonal vers while Father receives, then a Hymn and then an appropriate motet or something of the like. I had thought that the new Mass was hopeless when I was recovering from praise and worship/youth masses, but as I look at the people my age starting their families with this need for authenticity, I have begun to see a lot of hope in where the Church is going.

  • Jonathan Hehn

    This article is way off base. I find many of his comments historically ignorant, and in many cases, theologically unsound. To cite just one instance, Tucker’s discussion of the introduction of percussion in the 20th century fails to recognize similar motivations which led to the introduction of polyphony in the middle ages. It also fails to recognize that many fine Catholic theologians working in the realm of liturgical inculturation recognize that not all English speakers need to utilize a West-European musical or ceremonial aesthetic. What about historically black or hispanic parishes whose use of percussion stems from different cultural influences than those described by Tucker? So many problems with what he says in this article…

    • Ben Dunlap

      The point about percussion is more nuanced than that: “we hear them just as we would hear them in a bar or dance hall” … “They are used just as they are in the secular world” … “their style is borrowed from commercial jingles, TV show theme songs, power ballads from the 1970s, and so on”.

      Obviously in contexts where this is not what percussion is doing (such as Classical orchestral masses, or authentic folk music used by a congregation that actually has a folk culture), there is no objection to percussion.

    • Nadster

      You are correct. Also, what about rites outside the Latin? I attended an ancient Syro-Malabar rite from India that the Trads would have hated. It was reverent and beautiful.

      • Ben Dunlap

        Tucker’s essays about the Roman Rite are always directed toward the Roman Rite. What basis do you have for saying that “Trads would have hated” a non-Roman liturgy celebrated according to its own authentic and ancient traditions? The “trads” I know actively seek out non-Roman rites, sometimes even switching to them, when they cannot find a reverently celebrated Roman mass in their area.

      • jacobhalo

        I am a Trad who attended a Syro-Malabar rite and I loved it. Anything is better than the Novus Ordo Missae. It is nothing but a protestant service.

    • athelstane

      What about historically black or hispanic parishes whose use of percussion stems from different cultural influences than those described by Tucker?

      Those cultures have a history of centuries with the Traditional Roman Rite, however – especially Hispanics, for obvious reasons. It’s not alien to their cultures (indeed, it helped form them!)

      At any rate, none of that can explain or justify the importation of modern forms of secular music into mainly white, suburban parishes over the last fifty years.

      • WSquared

        The Catholic Church has always been able to assimilate what is good, true, and beautiful from other cultures, but she is always and everywhere to be truly herself. In fact, she can’t really do that without being truly herself. She is the Body of Christ, and Christ is the Logos. If I recall correctly, the Vatican II documents suggest that inculturation is cultural respect that has to go both ways: those trained regarding the liturgy are also supposed to be trained in the musical tradition of the Church so as to better identify what’s adaptable in service of the liturgy.

        And for what it’s worth, I’m an ethnic minority, coming from a culture that is not traditionally associated with Catholicism (in other words, I don’t fit into “Everybody Knows that the Poles are Catholic, the Irish are Catholic, Hispanics are Catholic, Italians are Catholic, etc. etc.”). I embrace my ethnic background as a historical reality. But I’m a Roman Catholic: the Catholic faith gives me the broadest and deepest sense of who I am as a human being, which is broader and deeper than my ethnicity. Because Jesus Christ is just bigger: He is alpha and omega, past, present, and future; truly human, truly divine; consubstantial with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, whereby God is Being Itself. In the liturgy, therefore, Christ must come first. I see this focus more clearly in the EF. It’s only thanks to the EF that I learned to refocus and appreciate the OF all over again. Furthermore, we should be aware, as per Ross Douthat’s book, that just because we all say we believe in Jesus, it’s not necessarily true that we all mean the same thing by it.

  • Nadster

    You really hate the Council, don’t you? Tell us what you really think for a change. I for one am glad for a church where I can worship like the Apostles did (never seen a depiction of the Last Supper with gold vestments, bowing altar servers and Jesus with his back to his friends). And, oh yeah, the organ and chant were contemporary when they were invented.

    • Bono95

      Good points. There is nothing wrong with preferring Latin to Vernacular Mass, but it is aggravating that some TLM-ers won’t acknowledge the validity of NO, or treat it like it’s the root of all evil.

      • athelstane

        In fairness, I think that’s mostly a problem with a certain cohort of the SSPX. I hardly ever encounter that kind of belief among those at licit TLM’s. Alas, such people tend to be present online in disproportionate numbers.

        I rarely go to NO Masses, but it’s not because I think it’s invalid (at least so long as it is properly celebrated). I just find it to be theologically impoverished in its prayers, and usually rather irreverent in practice. But Christ is still made present through it, and graces can flow through it.

        • Bono95

          Thank you for your reply, Mr. Athelstane. I’ve only been to a few Tridentine Masses myself (I’ll soon be attending at least a few hundred at the college I’ll be heading to in September). I think it is indeed a very beautiful service, and indeed the people who attend it are very holy and devoted to their faith. My Latin is just really weak so I sometimes can’t say all the responses (this will hopefully change this fall). Most of my life I’ve attended NO Masses, and I can thankfully say that out of all of them, I can count on 1 hand the services I’ve attended that were truly irreverent.

          I hope I did not offend you or any other charitable TLM-ers here with my prior post. I am rather temperamental and not infrequently get upset when people challenge or criticize something I’m fond of or used to. Thanks again and God Bless!

          • athelstane

            Not at all offended, Bono. It seemed clear to me that you had some specific folks in mind, and I have encountered that sort before.

            I do think that the Extraordinary Form is a considerably superior liturgy, capturing better the teaching of the Church in its fullest form. But attending it does not necessarily make us better Catholics – or more to the point, saved – than those who attend the OF. We must be wary of assuming unwittingly a posture of superiority.

            • WSquared

              “But attending it does not necessarily make us better Catholics – or more to the point, saved – than those who attend the OF.”

              No. It can just make us better Catholics than we used to be. If we let it.

          • WSquared

            The secret to the Latin Mass is that you will eventually catch on. It takes about three weeks to have the people’s responses down pat, and they’re pretty easy. They will sink in more and more as time goes on, and you’ll find your mind working on the Latin words. I’ve found that, say, knowing how to say basic prayers in Latin can help me focus more on when I pray them in English.

            I actually use my EF-honed sensibilities to help me pray the OF better. I can’t go to the EF only, since I’m the only EF-lover in my family. But perhaps that situation has taught me a thing or two about patience and humility, too.

            • Bono95

              Good to know. Since I’ll hopefully be at college for more than 3 weeks, I’ll hopefully start to pick up the Latin soon.

      • WSquared

        “but it is aggravating that some TLM-ers won’t acknowledge the validity of NO, or treat it like it’s the root of all evil.”

        Agreed. Seeing as how it’s not their call to say that it’s invalid. I have no problem with the Novus Ordo. What I have a problem with is how it’s treated in many parishes, and what therefore gets slotted into it.

        • Bono95

          Me too.

    • athelstane

      But how do you know, precisely, how the Apostles worshiped?

    • Ben Dunlap

      If you read Exodus chapter 28, you can get a very precise sense of how the Apostles would have expected a priest to dress for worship: Very elaborately, with quite a lot of gold, precious stones, and fine textiles involved.

      I think that’s a better comparison than the Last Supper, where the Apostles would not have realized until later that they were at the first Eucharistic liturgy.

    • WSquared

      “You really hate the Council, don’t you?”

      Ever noticed that Mr. Tucker quoted from Sacrosanctum Concilium in almost all of his discussions on the liturgy and what music is appropriate? That’s a Vatican II document. Accusing him and others who love the tradition of the Church– none of which was ever abrogated by Vatican II– of hating Vatican II is outrageous.

      “And, oh yeah, the organ and chant were contemporary when they were invented.”

      But the contemporary world that gave us chant was also more formed by the liturgy than our contemporary culture is now. Chant was also developed specifically for the liturgy, whereas secular pop music, even the Christian kind, is not. The Christian pop mostly marketed for Evangelicals is for a worship that is not formed by the liturgy of the Catholic Church.

      There is indeed contemporary music appropriate for the liturgy. Look at Maurice Durufle’s “4 Motets on Gregorian Themes,” written in 1960, or anything written by Kevin Allen over the last couple of years. They conform themselves to and build upon a form of music that is itself conformed to the liturgy.

  • Daniel

    Concerning the Sign of Peace: By all means, Mr. Tucker, leave parishioners thinking that they don’t need to recognize their neighbors sitting in the pew next to them, or in front or behind them. That this is just something priests should do. I’m sure that will go along way in getting the laity to consider that they’re also tasked not just to love the ones they know (fellow Christians) they are also charged with doing the same with stranger wallowing in filth and degradation, homeless and hungry on the street (the ones they do not know). I’ve read some silly things among Traditionalist(TM) Catholics, but attacking the Sign of Peace has to be among the top five.

    How about this for ruining the Mass: Clergy & Parish Councils believing that they have to finish every Mass in an hour or less because there’s a schedule and the people will have fits if Mass doesn’t fit into THEIR schedule on Sunday (or Saturday evening). As Fr. Larry Richards might say, “Oh, Mass – FOR YOU – has to finish by 10 AM because you have to get to a picnic or that football party you scheduled? Well, you love picnics and football more than you love God.”

    If you want to correct that one go visit a liturgy by the “second lung” of Christendom, as Blessed John Paul II referred to the Eastern Orthodox. They have ONE liturgy. It’s on Sunday, and it’s often a couple of hours long. And the Kiss of Peace – actually practiced by the first Christians, by the way – is just that a KISS on each cheek of your fellow Christian.

    Try telling “American” Catholics there will no longer be a smorgasbord of Mass celebrations and they will also have to get over their germ-ophobic attitudes of touching another person’s hands, as well as get used to hugging and, in the spirit of brotherly and spiritual love, placing a peck on the cheek of both men and women.

    • athelstane

      “By all means, Mr. Tucker, leave parishioners thinking that they don’t need to recognize their neighbors sitting in the pew next to them, or in front or behind them.”

      With respect, the Mass is really not about our fellow parishioners. It’s not even about the priest. It’s about Christ made present in the Eucharist, body, blood, soul and divinity, the propitiatory sacrifice of the Mass.

      There is plenty of time after Mass to socialize, if one wishes.

      “And the Kiss of Peace – actually practiced by the first Christians, by the way – is just that a KISS on each cheek of your fellow Christian.”

      Which was the patristc practice. And which is quite different from a handshake, isn’t? At any rate, the Eastern pax takes place during the Offertory, not the Canon, and it has a different theological meaning.

      The real problem is that the current practice of the Sign of Peace in many parishes is not at all like the Eastern practice, nor the ancient practice. It’s often 5-10 minutes of socializing, with people moving all around the church, an abrupt interruption of the Canon of the Mass – and very jarring to those attempting to prayerfully unite themselves to the consecration on the altar.

      • Gerard Plourde

        “It’s often 5-10 minutes of socializing, with people moving all around the church”

        I’m realizing how fortunate I am to live in my Archdiocese (Philadelphia). Even the most liberal parish (one of which I attended for decades) would never allow the Sign of Peace to last five minutes. They knew its purpose was to symbolically unify and center the congregation for the reception of the Incarnate Lord, whose sacrifice (with which we were united) on Calvary redeemed us.

        • jacobhalo

          To what parish do you belong in Philly. I was born and raised in Philly in the Port Richmond section. I used to belong to the Nativity parish. I’m now in NJ at Mater Ecclesiae EF mass.

          • Gerard Plourde

            First, I have to disclose that the N.O. is my preferred form. I don’t have anything against the EF of itself but was exposed to a lot of mechanical, go-through-the-motions examples as a child that taints my perspective. For about three decades I was a member of St. Vincent de Paul in Germantown (N.O., high participation by parishioners, liberal, lots of attention to the liturgy, mix of music, no clowns or puppets in the homilies). I currently am a member of St. Genevieve’s in Flourtown (also N.O. – done extremely well with reverence and precision, excellent homilies, mix of music, [mostly organ, some piano, often violins, sometimes brass], more conservative membership.

  • Stephanie

    I was born in 1968. I only remember attending the Novus Ordo Mass, which was celebrated with circumstance (high/low masses, celebrant’s chair to the left of the high altar, Tabernacle centered on high altar, intoned propers, gorgeous vestments, beautiful chalices and pattons, several male servers in black cassocks with angelic lace overlays, incense, bells, organ, silence) by our then Monsignor until he was transferred in the late 70s. Since then I have attended to five Tridentine and two Byzantine liturgies. The rubrics of these allow for nothing other than sublime focus on the Divine Liturgy and the priest is reduced to serving the Mass, not celebrating it like a master of ceremonies or worse, ringmaster. I look forward to the day when the tradtional Mass becomes ordinary, not extraordinary.

  • Paul McGuire

    Interestingly I have never encountered 1-3, or 5 but number 4 is not a new development but has been my only experience of the mass until a few years ago when one local church brought in a young organist who insisted on using the proper chants. It was jarring for everyone involved and many left that specific church to move to one that has a more familiar group of hymns.

    A church I have been attending for over seven years with a huge population of seniors has had hymns for as long as I have been attending mass there and they have not taken up the shift to chants at all. I think the majority of the congregation would be quite shocked if all of a sudden their hymns were replaced by chants.

    If it was so problematic to replace the chants with hymns then why wait so long to do something about it?

  • Dan

    How I miss the Latin Mass! Leaving it alone would have prevented all of the problems!

    • Gerard Plourde

      The inconvenient truth is that the sexual abuse crisis for one had its roots in the pre-Vatican II church as did the Magdalene Laundry system scandal of Ireland. Those problems were brewing in the traditional church.

      • St_Donatus

        Yes, decay doesn’t just show up all of a sudden. It comes over time. We look at the Bible examples of ancient Israel and how many times did God punish them for their involvement in paganism and other sins. But they were still Gods people. I have come to believe that God is punishing us now for our sins. The greed, self gratification, and selfishness of the Western world is extreme. Look at most Catholics today and you will see no visible sign that they are worshipers of Christ. They are no different than anyone else. You don’t see crosses, rosaries, or statues in the cars in the Parish parking lot anymore.

        Our leaders too need to realize that we are in a crisis and they need to teach their congregations to be faithful Catholics once again.

        • Gerard Plourde

          I agree that society has lost its way but I think that what we call God punishing us is actually the natural consequence of turning from God and that our stiff-necked attitude causes Him sorrow.

          I also believe that as Catholics we are required to support Vatican II and the direction it mapped out.

          • St_Donatus

            I guess that can just as easily be the case with the Israelites when God would ‘punish’ them. Usually it was due to ‘ the natural consequence of turning from God and that our stiff-necked attitude’.

      • Bono95

        The Reformation was pre-Vatican II too.

    • Uuncle Max

      Google ‘Latin Mass’ and find the one nearest to you. If you have to go 100 miles – go. Just go once, and if you have to drive 100 miles to get there do it – you can make periodic stops to pat yourself on the back. (Just kidding)

      I have to get up before 5 a.m. and drive 60 miles because I like to get there early and I love the silence. I got there about an hour and a quarter before Mass one day and as I entered the church the organist was practicing.

      Just imagine that

      If you live in Maine there is a Latin Mass at 8 a.m. Sunday in St. Peter & Paul Basilica in Lewiston with a Rosary at 7:30. There is another one at 12 at the Cathedral in Portland.

      We’ll get through this.

  • mv

    You make a good point on all 5 things for sure. “Reverence” is the key and teaching people how to be in full active particapation is very important. I beg to differ about your opinion on somethings. We have a huge success with our 6pm Mass on Sundays. Many falling away Catholics as well as people who have left the church for one reason or another are coming back and with great hearts to worship God in our mass celebrations. By offering a different way of singing or song selection has opened the flood gate and is alowing His Spirit to truly change the lives of many who attend . It has also allowed us to have our other masses of the weekend to be traditional in Sacred Song selections and the mighty Pipe Organ. So for us…we are touching many lives with different styles. Praise God for His creative Spirit!

  • Mark Gomm

    The way we do it is an entrance hymn is sung as the Priest processes to the altar. The Introit is then chanted. Communion is chanted as soon as the choir have returned from recieving Holy communion. We then sing Salve Regina or its equivalent as the priest says the last Gospel. Another hymn is sung (always Marian) as the altar party leaves. The Church then stays in complete silence. Many families even with small children remain in prayer for several minutes. Tridentine Mass St Josephs Burslem UK

  • kneeling catholic

    Hello Mr. Tucker!

    A great article….but …..:-)

    you left out hand Communion! [[ ]]
    I certainly hope Pope Francis reads your article and starts appreciating the inspiration of Benedict’s reforms, which certainly sprung from the same concerns you mention!

  • tonyo

    A few more corrections to return the Mass to its sacred role as a sacrificial remembrance of the Lord’s Passion:

    Get rid of the gaggle of “eucharistic ministers” who flock around the altar to distribute the Host; that’s what priests and deacons are for. If you have to wait a few minutes to receive the Body of Christ, wait.

    Get rid of “altar girls” and reserve the servers’ role to properly trained and surpliced young men (a source of future priests).

    Get rid of “cantors” (known in the prot. churches as song leaders). The Psalm should be sung by the choir, from the loft.

    Get the choir in the loft (or at the very least in the rear of the church until you can construct a church that looks like a church).

    Get rid of soloists and microphones; this is not a concert.

    Get rid of the post-musical pabulum that vapidly celebrates the wonderful self and return to chant, polyphony or, at the very least, the great traditional hymns of the Church. Throw away “Glory and Praise.”

    Sing ALL the verses of EVERY hymn, or don’t sing it at all.

    Train the choir and the music director in the proper relation music to the sacred liturgy.

    Point out, very clearly, the abject rudeness exhibited by those who choose to leave the Mass before the recession.

    • Gerard Plourde

      “Point out, very clearly, the abject rudeness exhibited by those who choose to leave the Mass before the recession.”

      In my former parish, a police officer assigned to the local district would attend Mass when he was working day shift on Sundays. He could never stay until the recessional. Would you call him rude?

      • jacobhalo

        You can really make excuses for the behavior of the novus ordo people. What about the others who are not on duty who leave before the recession? Did you check out their occupations

        • Gerard Plourde

          I’m not trying to excuse the people who don’t want to miss their chance to be the first out of the parking lot. This parish (which was very liberal) did not have a large early exit problem. They had a “please leave the Church and go over to coffee break so that the people coming to the next Mass can get into the building” problem.

      • Ioannes P

        There is no recessional in the Roman Rite. Those who choose to leave after the priest’s communion have fulfilled their obligation, so why criticize them? In most parish Masses they will have succeeded in avoiding at least two ghastly “hymns”, the reading of notices which are already printed in the parish bulletin, and the parting witticisms (sic) of the celebrant (sorry, presider). All good reasons, IMO.

        • Charles

          I would like to clarify both the rubrical understanding of the dismissal of MR3 and distinguish some finer points which Ionanes rasises. The faithful are obliged to remain in the pews until the “Deo gratias,” not after the priest receives, nor after the last communicant receives, but until the dismissal oration is responded to. Many folks believe that still obligates the congregation to remain fixed in the pews until after the plane of the procession and celebrant has passed their pew. That is not really a truism.
          As soon as “Thanks be to God” is uttered, all may choose to depart regardless of the celebrant’s recessional. That is licit.
          It’s also bad manners. But the distinction should be made clear. I appreciate celebrants who remain reverent before the altar during one or two verses of a recessional hymn, but they’re not obliged to do so. I appreciate all folk who take up the singing of even one verse of a recessional, but I don’t resent the others who choose to leave. I do not enjoy the loud conversations that are initiated all over the church once the celebrant has left the building, but I don’t remonstrate against them. It’s not my place as Music Director to rail or complain that this constitutes worse manners than leaving. Yes, I wish we could return to a culture of reverence within the Houses of the Lord, but unless those endowed with that responsibility cultivate its recovery, then I’m content to “sing to the Lord” at the dismissal regardless of commotion around us.

      • athelstane

        I certainly would not.

        But I doubt most people are leaving Mass after Communion because they’re rushing back to work on shift on Sundays.

      • Atilla The Possum

        The police officer is the exception and not the rule, as are doctors and nurses on call, carers for the sick and housebound, gas maintenance persons (who need to be called out to an emergency gas problem) and firefighters who are on duty waiting for 999 calls.
        Nowadays, mobile phones can be put on silent vibrate if any of the above persons get an emergency call.
        As for the rest of us, there is no reason whatsoever to leave once Holy Communion is received.
        As soon as the faithful say their final ‘Thanks be to God’, a relative of mine genuflects and makes for the door to catch the bus home … before the final ”hymn” strikes up and the noisy Usual Suspects mill around the priest like wasps round a bowl of sugar.

  • MarkRutledge

    Articles such as this touch a bundle of nerves, and the 102 and growing list of comments is not unexpected. It seems to me that there must be a Palestrina out there in the composition world, who deserves a commission from the Church to write beautiful music worthy of the beautiful Mass. But who would do the commissioning? I suppose the USCCB would send the task to a committee, likely comprised of self-styled progressives, and we’d end up with Marty’s variations on the Brady Bunch theme. Oh, we already have that . . .

  • Timothy2000

    Thank you for this topic. I am lucky to have found a church in my city that has a beautiful liturgy but I have to drive by 2 parishes to avoid attending the typical circus mass. I think the sign of peace should return to the just a verbal response and not the 5 minute hugs around the congregation.

  • Timothy2000

    Thank you for this topic. I am lucky to have found a church in my city that has a beautiful liturgy but I have to drive by 2 parishes to avoid attending the typical circus mass. I think the sign of peace should return to the just a verbal response and not the 5 minute hugs around the congregation.

  • Norman Bates

    Thanks for your article, I liked it a lot. As far as I can see though, what you wrote (quoted below) might feel awkward to some, but they’re all permissible. I’ve seen all of these at my parish, people do what they feel comfortable with and we remain Catholic (universal).

    What is nearest? What if you are the only person in your section of the pew? Do you walk, wave, or just ignore people?

    I do have a question for you though as I’m somewhat of a laymen theologian and would just like to know from someone like yourself (well educated it seems to me)– What’s the difference between a chant and a hymn?

    Also, there’s a title on youtube called “Vendi Sancte Spiritus” … It’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, please tell me it’s a “good” piece of music (and “good” as in, theologically sound- literally, the sound as well as the lyrics although I’d hope the lyrics are very safe)….

    Thank you!

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  • poetcomic1

    The church’s little known Lineacre Study in England clearly showed that the sexual abuse scandal and the collapse of the discipline of the priesthood had its roots in the late forties and early 1950’s. The church ‘let in’ the psychologists and other non-religious to be ‘final authorities’ on Catholic religious as though they were doctors of medicine. At the same time the entire hidden culture of asceticism and self-discipline necessary to sustain priestly celibacy vanished….overnight. Completely. Hundreds of years of carefully crafted wisdom by celibate religious for other celibate religious and passed on informally to help priests persevere was gone. All else followed.

  • Jess

    Lately, I have been going to the earliest Sunday Mass available in whatever church, solely because choir singing has become a distraction to me. I have encountered choirs that sing hymns that only they can sing, leaving the congregation out. I have seen choirs that sing show-stopping Broadway-style songs (can’t call them hymns) and are therefore appropriately applauded. I find Mass without the singing more solemn and more conducive to feeling the Real Presence.

  • Matt

    I think if you could just do away with all things that could potentially cause smiling or toe-tapping or any other sorts of things that lead to the conflation of humanity with the sacred, it would greatly improve the mass because then people would stop coming and you could just have the church to yourself. You know, that’s what it’s really supposed to be about.

    • St_Donatus

      Odd how the opposite is happening. The Latin mass parishes are booming while the Novus Ordo masses are turning into a sea of gray with mostly empty pews. If I want toe-tapping and entertainment, I will watch a movie or go to a concert. As far as smiling goes, I find plenty of smiling in my heart and lips when at the Latin mass. The grace of God moves me in ways entertainment never could.

      At the same time, I am not against the Novus Ordo mass itself, but the way it is abused by many music directors and priests.

      • Matt

        I’m sorry, that comment seems kind of flippant now that I’m reading it again. Let me try to clarify without the snark. The impression I get from all of this is that you’re selecting an arbitrary point in history and pining for its traditions. What if you went even further back? I can’t help but wonder if there were well-intentioned folks in the 8th century (or whenever the organ became common) who decried the modern, non-traditional nature of an organ. I bet there were, and I bet their arguments seemed just as trivial to most people.

        Also, if Latin masses “are booming,” it’s because there’s a passionate group of people that prefers them combined with the fact that there aren’t a ton of places that offer Latin mass. And I think that’s really cool. But to draw the conclusion that all masses should be in Latin (along with other traditions you prefer) seems to me to be a mistake. It’s analogous to petitioning ESPN to only cover cricket, croquet, and grass court tennis. I hope that you, and other people who feel that Latin mass is the best way to express your love and reverence of God, are able to continue worshipping together. However, I don’t understand the attempt to apply your personal preference onto the methods of others. It’s seems holier-than-thou and slightly elitist.

        • St_Donatus

          Personally, I and several of my other parishioners would just like to not have to travel between 100 and 150 miles to get the Latin mass. I would say that more than half the folks I know that get the kind of spiritual food from the Latin mass that I do, are unable to attend one because it is too far for them to be able to afford to go. In my city Catholics can choose from about 70 English masses and 10 spanish masses, but there are no Latin masses. I know at least 50 people personally that would go to a Latin mass if they had the opportunity and these are the ones willing to drive over 100 miles to get it each Sunday. What about all those that are not willing to make the long drive or can’t afford the long drive?

          It isn’t about forcing others to have a Latin mass, it is about convince the priests and bishops that it is needed. The vast majority of Catholics in this country do not have access to a Extraordinary Form mass within 100 miles of their home and this is just including those living in cities of over 100,000 people. Yet, Pope Benedict made it law that if there is a group of Catholics in a diocese that desires a regular Latin Mass, the Bishop must establish one.

        • Ben Dunlap

          I don’t think that the substance of the original essay or many of the sympathetic comments is so much about picking an arbitrary point in history as it is about restoring the liturgical ethos that, by and large, seems to have prevailed in the Roman Rite for as long as its history is known up until the mid-1960s. This ethos has its roots in pre-Christian Jewish liturgy — and can be found described in various parts of the Old Testament, including some of the later chapters of Exodus.

          One especially poignant text is Isaiah 6:1-5, which is the source of the “Holy, Holy” we sing at mass before the Eucharistic Prayer begins. One who meditates on that text occasionally might reasonably wonder whether his experience at Sunday mass is ever particularly reminiscent of what Isaiah describes.

          Tucker’s point, in turn, was to identify specific abuses (or at least imprudences) that are widely practiced in the prevalent form of the Roman Rite and that are antithetical to the liturgical ethos which is presented in Scripture and has been the norm for the vast majority of Christian history.

          Certainly this tension has always been present in the Church, as you point out. Some of the Eastern rites still forbid any musical instrument other than the human voice in the Divine Liturgy, and obviously the Roman Rite has long since moved in a different direction, probably amid much strife.

          What can make this sort of conversation interesting and fruitful, then, is to avoid getting too caught up in specifics — “Jeffrey Tucker said drums are BAD, I love drums, what a jerk!”. Instead we might examine the principles he appeals to — things like “liturgical music should not evoke secular entertainment” — and consider how they might be further clarified and applied in concrete situations.

  • Jennifer

    Oh my gosh so glad I found this community! Amen to all – our parish is particularly tolerant of non-liturgically relevant music, the choir gets more attention than the Eucharist, the chit chat after Mass in the church, the teens showing up in skinny jeans, altar “servers” in pink sequened headbands and flip flops. It’s a heartbreak.

    • patricia m.

      Dear Daniel, I suggest you boycott the parish and find a decent one. People sometimes travel 10, 20 miles to go to a decent Mass.

      • Uuncle Max

        Try a Latin Mass. Google ‘Latin Mass’ and see what you can find. Get there about an hour early and sit there and be still.

        Best of luck

      • St_Donatus

        I travel 60 miles to go to a Latin mass and it is worth every dollar I spend in gasoline. It gives me time to meditate on the Latin mass, say a rosary, listen to Catholic radio, whatever preparation I need.

  • grzybowskib

    Here’s one: having a pastor who has rapped during the homily, pretending he is a hip-hop artist. And then having your dad defend him. I was equally pissed off at both of these occurrences, and it’s happened twice. 😛

    • Obama_Dogeater

      Are you serious? That must have been more awkward than anything on The Office!

      • grzybowskib

        Unfortunately yes. 🙁 And plus the pastor who did it is from Vietnam, and he still has a thick accent. So see if you can imagine that whole scenario now. It embarrassed the living daylights out of me both times.

        • Obama_Dogeater

          LOL! Truly cringeworthy!

  • jasonbmiller

    There is a lot of snobbery from the Trads going on in these comments – it is out of line and an offense to all the Holy Fathers from the last 50 years who have approved other liturgies. So I am going to have a little fun with you guys and through in a metaphorical bomb – the REAL”traditional” Mass is the Divine Liturgy. It is more ancient, far more “traditional,” is not disrupted by distracting musical instruments, etc. You Latin modernists have taken a lot away from the beauty of the Divine Liturgy. OK – let the words fly 🙂

    • jpaYMCA

      It would seem that you’ve been to a select FEW churches if you think the Divine Liturgy (of St. John Chrysostom of Constantinople, I assume) is that uniform. Not that “the Trads” are always right, but – speaking from experience in diverse nations and places in North America – the TLM certainly has less “diversity”. You can find just about anything at some Liturgies in Ukraine or Slovakia, so what?

      Anyway, you seemed to have skimmed the article: it’s ABOUT the Roman Rite, ergo the comments centre on its problems, hopes, etc.

    • athelstane

      As a traditionalist myself, I can still agree: in many ways, the Divine Liturgy is even more awe-inspiring than the traditional Roman Rite (especially if one prefers less sobriety in the liturgy).

      But historically it belongs to the same age as the Roman Rite – the high days of the patristc era, coalescing in the 4th and 5th centuries. The Roman Rite essentially reached its full form in the days of Pope Gregory the Great (ca. 600 AD), but much of its form had come together at the same time that the Divine Liturgy was reaching maturity.

      And neither rite was cobbled together in the way that the Missal of Paul Vi was in 1965-1969, or on the same principles – as even Joseph Ratzinger once observed. That doesn’t make it an invalid or illegitimate rite, or diminish the faith of those who have had no other recourse for their worship; but we ought to be able to face the reality of its flaws and relative theological impoverishment in certain respects, with a ready willingness to fix what was so hastily put together.

  • Into a Man’s Heart

    Here is the blog-response of a young faithful Catholic man, who is involved in music ministry, and considers himself much further on the “traditional” side than the “progressive” side.

    Ultimately, the purpose of our Church is about an encounter with our Lord. Thankfully, from that encounter comes the desire to follow the teachings and practices of His Church.

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  • Sean Johnson

    This is a very important ways to remember. But i totally agree that we should keep silence when the mass is on going and we also should keep that in mind, to be silence after a communion. It is simply because this is the time for everyone to pray to our god. Nice article!

  • Nicholas Escalona

    “I here list the top five ways in which the presentation of the liturgy can ruin the liturgical experience.”

    And, which is infinitely more important, the ways in which it can offend the Lord.

  • JIF

    In my opinion, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion for all the N.O. Masses at a parish on any given weekend should not out-number all of the Extraordinary Form Masses offered at the same parish the same weekend. If ‘extraordinary’ means ‘extraordinary’, that is…

  • Uuncle Max

    Or you could just find out where the nearest Latin Mass is.

  • Uuncle Max

    Try this:

    Herbert Von Karajan with the Weiner Philharmoniker performing The Coronation Mass composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. High Mass Celebrated by Pope John Paul II St. Peter’s Basilica June 29, 1985.

    Sony Classical DVD Video SVD46382

  • Howard

    You associate pianos with the dance floor? Then you must be wondering what will be the next dance those Strauss boys come up with — and whether the Kaiser will ever elevate Johann Jr. to the ranks of the nobility.

    It would be much, much more accurate to say that the piano is associated with small Protestant churches. As a convert from such a church myself, I know that the piano can be put to good, effective, and holy use. That said, the atmosphere it produces by virtue of its connotations is not as good as that of the organ. The piano does not remind anyone in this century, present company excepted, of the dance floor, but its association with Protestant churches brings to mind only local associations within living memory; the organs deeper notes provide a sense of something larger and more enduring, and its very sound reminds us of churches across the seas and from centuries long past.

    If you really want to rant about a choice of instrument, go against anything electronic. By all means have a piano in preference to a synthesizer played in “organ” mode.

  • Ben

    We should emulate our Byzantine siblings who do not use any forms of popular hymns, traditional or contemporary, during divine liturgy; let’s return to plain chant, sung Propers, and polyphony.

  • Erin Pascal

    There is nothing that could ever compare the traditional Catholic Mass. It is holy, mysterious, awe-inspiring, and glorious and I would like it to be like that all the time. The Holy Mass is the central act of Catholic worship and things should not be changed just because of some simple reasons. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Marc

    The Protestan church has already become a Babylon. God asks his people to come out of her:

    “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Rev. 18:4)

    I hope the Catholic church will be able to resist the devil until Christ returns…

  • kevin-harrison

    There is one question I have and that relates to the Psalms between the readings on Sunday and that is ‘Why in some churches do the congregation read the psalm together instead of leaving this to the reader and responding to this at the appropriate time?’
    I always thought that the two readings were linked together by the psalms and therefore should be read to form this link by the same reader. Instead all that happens is a mixture of noises as different people read the psalm at different paces and all it comprises is a gaggle and the whole meaning is lost.
    I find this quite sad but am I my the only one?

  • Carl Albert

    thank you for this thought-provoking piece – and for the perfect opportunity to ask a question to this diverse and knowledgeable group of commenters: does anyone (else) attend a parish which engages in the holding of hands during recitation of the Our Father?

    this has troubled me for some time in our current parish. I see it largely as a Protestant invention (I live in the southern U.S.). I rather prefer the prayerful solemnity of offering the Lord’s Prayer with head bowed and hands folded – as when I was brought-up. what gives me most pause is our congregation’s collective raising of hands at the prayer’s conclusion. am I nitpicking?

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  • Ramon Antonio

    Lets remember that Jesus Himself NEVER said Mass as it is enacted today. And also remember that the name Mass derives from “Missio” which was the sending by Jesus to the apostles, the disciples and anyone who believed in Him to preach the kerygma to the confines of the world. Thus, when the deacon says Mass is finished, he is wrong, in fact, Mass is to begin. What just finished is the Eucharist celebration.

    We are then talking about a ritual and a liturgy that was invented by the Church derived from an understanding of what Jesus wanted to be done. The lectures are a remembrance of his teaching to Emmaus, the offering is a remembrance of His prayer and the miracle of Himself becoming the bread and blood of forgiveness and the Communion our participation in Himself, thus we become Him. The form we as Church determine is ours. There is no “correct” or “better” or “sacrer “or “purer” way. All of that is Bull… and ornamentation that has been adopted by endless repetition which may have lost its true significance, if any can still be dissected.

    Vatican II restablished the sense of the ritual and the Liturgy as a Church worshiping unity in Jesus. That unity does not need to be in Latin in order for Jesus to understand it or the chants in Gregorian for added solemnity. The ritual and liturgy should be the way that the Church, the real Church, the actual Church, the Living Church WHICH IS US AS WE ARE… understand and agree to celebrate. And that is all…

    • Ben Dunlap

      Pope Benedict evidently pointed out that it is impossible to make sense of Christian liturgy without looking first to Jewish liturgy, which would have formed the Apostles and, in a human sense at least, the Lord himself. In particular it is helpful to look at what the Old Testament says about priests and sacrifice, since these are among the principal elements that distinguish the Eucharistic liturgy from other sorts of liturgies. Luckily there’s a lot of material to look at right in the Bible, especially toward the end of Exodus.

      This is where you see what an Apostle would have associated with concepts like “worship”, “priest”, and “sacrifice”: elaborate ritual, costly and ornate and complex vestments, precise rubrics, etc. — basically a lot of the same things that have been emblematic of Catholic (and Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox) liturgy for most of the history of Christianity, but for whatever reason have been either set aside or denigrated in many places for the last few decades.

      You said “liturgy … was invented by the Church” and “The form we as Church determine is ours”. How do you square these claims with Scripture and Tradition? In Exodus, for example, God himself dictates pages and pages of liturgical rubrics to Moses. Even setting aside the question of whether the account in Exodus is literally true, it certainly represents the Jewish understanding of the sources of liturgical forms, which is what the Apostles knew, and which is historically how the Churches of East and West have handled the liturgy (i.e., very carefully, as a sacred inheritance to be received reverently from our ancestors and passed on substantially intact to our descendants).

      • Ramon Antonio

        Thanks for your thoughts and questions. Remember this is only a personal opinion.
        My use of the word invention was to define that liturgy was not dictated by any other authority than the Church itself. And whatever we call the Church is something that expressed itself as an institution formally sometime after John, the Church Fathers writings and the third Century when an official Church was recognized fro the Roman empire. Before those obscure beginings what we have is the testimony of the Deeds of the Apostles, the Letters and Tradition and the beginnings of the Magisterium. Not a Church as we now see.
        The look of Benedict XVI to the Jewish customs is nothing more than a historical contextual reference which, by the way, even most actual Jewish scholars and clerics readily admit that was more fluid than they would like to admit but history has corrected that claimed rigidity which was nonexistent. There were even adversarial ways, liturgies and customs in the time of Jesus and some are clear in the Gospels themselves.
        The so called Jewish pureness of ritual and long line of historicity is nothing more than a pure figment of the imagination of the descendants of the Pharisaic arm of Jewishness which consolidated its hold after Jesus and against Jesus principally to hold together Jewishness against Christianity.
        To look further towards Genesis is to look towards a traditions that was written after the babylonian exile based on antique oral traditions preserved and there were various recensions of traditions as John Crossan has illustrated. And those babylonian traditions were fractured among Second Temple followers, samaritans and who knows which additional faction that persisted.
        To speak of Ortodox rituals and the split between East and West is to look to the future derived from a complex combination of traditions which derived from the Third Century on within the Catholic Church.
        Benedict XVI rich and substantive legacy is his profound examination of the concepts and issues. But he merely opened the door for us Christians to look to Jewish roots. But his election as Pope prevented him to digg deeper in what would have been an invaluable insight. I sincerely hope that his immense intellect is blessed by God with the required time he needs to foster his quest. If not, someone else will have to try and climb those titanic shoulders to try to see the promised land of history that he saw but was prevented to enter as of today. I pray he can at least walk a little more.
        But to claim authority on his remarks is unjust to him, to evidence and to history.

        • Ben Dunlap

          I wonder if we are more in agreement than it would appear, at least on some basics.

          If your main point is that liturgies develop in the context of a living tradition, amid the usual pressures of human society and history, then I would agree.

          My main point is that (regardless of when or by whom Exodus was authored) there is observable continuity between at least some strains of pre-Christian Jewish liturgy, and all traditional Christian liturgies — which means that our liturgy comes to us in the context of a heritage (however difficult to trace) that is well over 2000 years old, and therefore:

          (a) Neither the Last Supper nor even the entire New Testament are by themselves sufficient interpretive keys to Christian liturgy, which means that appealing to particular events in the New Testament as an objection to modern rubrics can’t get one very far.

          (b) We need to handle what we’ve received from our ancestors with significant care and deference. This is the “correct/better” way in general, and how that plays out specifically will vary from time to time and place to place, but will always include humble obedience to legitimate authority (even when that authority is wielded clumsily, that’s one of the main points about Christian obedience)

          • Ramon Antonio

            I think we are half and half, which is to say, half full or half empty depending on what’s inside. If its Zakapa or Barrilito Rum I prefer half full for my martinis.
            I don’t tend to see that clear heritage you envision. I think we can talk of customs or ways and means.
            On the contrary, I think that our full and only reason to have Liturgy is Jesus centered. He Himself said it, the whole Scripture is about Him. Jesus is the Lord, the original confession of Christianity means exactly Jesus is Yahweh, the Lord God of Israel. This is not a figure of speech or an equivalency but a living being, a man who is God himself and has been the same along Scripture. HE speaks of the Father and of the Spirit as different from Him but also One in Him. And he says that we become Him as vines of the same tree by taking his body and his blood in the Sacrament HE created. That is the Eucharist which the Church celebrates within the liturgy of the Mass. As long as those elements exist there is the Sacrament and there is the Liturgy, not in its form but in its meaning and content.
            Thanks for your deep insight. Duly noted.

            • Ben Dunlap

              Absolutely agree about “Jesus centered”. To understand the Book of Hebrews at all I think we would have to say that the pre-Christian Jewish sacrifices are a prefiguring of the Eternal Sacrifice of the Lord; i.e., as you say, it is all about Jesus, from Genesis 1:1 to the last verse of Revelation.

              But if that’s right then not only do we need to know Jesus to make full sense of each verse of Scripture, but each verse can also tell us more about Jesus than is revealed elsewhere — even, somehow, the difficult-to-read liturgical rubrics found in Exodus. So again we come back to this notion of liturgical continuity. And it seems to me that this continuity has to be physical, sensible, concrete *in some way*, and not just something accessible to the intellect.

              The Lord Jesus already has angels to worship Him and commune with Him, but they are not us — we have bodies too and He makes provision for this in the economy of salvation. That’s what sacraments are all about — physical signs of spiritual realities. We *could* know and believe ourselves to be baptized without having water poured on us but the Lord Jesus willed that it be otherwise for most people.

              But it seems that this physicality/sacramentality/rootedness-in-concrete-history extends beyond the core actions of the seven sacraments into the rituals that surround them, which in the case of the Mass are lengthy and complex and somehow or other have some elements in common with pre-Christian Jewish sacrifice rituals.

              And so while perhaps in principle one could have an extremely simple Eucharistic liturgy that consists basically of the sacrament itself and nothing else, and perhaps that would still be legitimate and valid, it would also be an impoverishment and would not be consonant with the way God has provided for His people throughout salvation history. It certainly has not existed for the great majority of Christian history and probably has never existed.

              • Ramon Antonio

                Marvelous expressions! I admire this one as exemplary exegesis.

    • Ben Dunlap

      Also while it may be true that the Last Supper did not look much like what we think of as a Eucharistic liturgy, it is also certainly true that Jesus attended Temple sacrifice rituals.

      And the Book of Hebrews teaches clearly that His sacrifice on the Cross has replaced the old Temple sacrifices, and the Churches of East and West have always held that the Eucharistic liturgy is mystically linked to the Lord’s Sacrifice; in fact, some Syriac Eucharistic liturgies are still called “Qurbana” which literally means “Sacrifice” and is cognate with the ancient Hebrew word for the sacrifices offered in the old Temple.

      Which is why it’s not at all a surprise that if you go and read the end of Exodus, where the proper rituals of Temple sacrifice are given in great detail by God himself, you will notice many elements that are still present in traditional Christian Eucharistic liturgies.

    • athelstane

      Setting aside the difficulty that we really know little of exactly how the Last Supper unfolded, the event itself cannot be rightly seen as the first “proto-Mass” – though it certainly prefigures it in important ways.

      In any event, to attempt to throw out most of the history of a rite in a quest to recapture some primitive or early form of its liturgy is to risk making a grave error of the sort repeatedly condemned by the Church. As Pius XII put it in Mediator Dei:

      “63. Clearly no sincere Catholic can refuse to accept the formulation of Christian doctrine more recently elaborated and proclaimed as dogmas by the Church, under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit with abundant fruit for souls, because it pleases him to hark back to the old formulas. No more can any Catholic in his right senses repudiate existing legislation of the Church to revert to prescriptions based on the earliest sources of canon law. Just as obviously unwise and mistaken is the zeal of one who in matters liturgical would go back to the rites and usage of antiquity, discarding the new patterns introduced by disposition of divine Providence to meet the changes of circumstances and situation.

      “64. This way of acting bids fair to revive the exaggerated and senseless antiquarianism to which the illegal Council of Pistoia gave rise. It likewise attempts to reinstate a series of errors which were responsible for the calling of that meeting as well as for those resulting from it, with grievous harm to souls, and which the Church, the ever watchful guardian of the “deposit of faith” committed to her charge by her divine Founder, had every right and reason to condemn.[53] For perverse designs and ventures of this sort tend to paralyze and weaken that process of sanctification by which the sacred liturgy directs the sons of adoption to their Heavenly Father of their souls’ salvation.”

      • Ramon Antonio

        Wao! Excellent class for me.

  • J.

    It was Pope John XXII, I believe, back in the 12th century, who condemned all that newfangled heterophany and organum that was creeping into the Church…I can’t help reflecting that if he’d been successful in putting it down, we would never have had Palestrina.

    Gentlemen, this debate is at least 800 years old; the battle between old and new has not once ceased in all that time. And history bears witness to the inevitable result: the new always wins, at least to some extent, and the old never completely loses.

    I find it dismaying that Mr. Tucker thinks these little details can “ruin” the Mass. Doesn’t say much for the power of Christ and the Eucharist, if such little things can “ruin” the work of Christ among us.

    • Ben Dunlap

      “I can’t help reflecting that if he’d been successful in putting it down, we would never have had Palestrina.”

      Perhaps, but would we still have had Palestrina if Pope John hadn’t objected at all?

      Every genuine artist embraces limitations of one sort or another as a way of ordering his work toward something definite. There are limitations in the medium, the audience, the tradition, etc. I wonder if conservative pushback, as long as it’s not utterly overbearing, is precisely one of the limitations that helps give birth to great art, both in the liturgy and other contexts.

      Or, to re-cast your thought experiment: If Bach had been as musically liberated as John Cage where would we be now? Without a lot of wonderful music, in any case.

      But I read the original article as being less about “new vs. old” (Tucker’s CMAA promotes plenty of contemporary composers) than about “sacred vs. profane/mundane”.

      The principle deployed against percussion here is that (as it’s typically used in American parishes) it reminds us powerfully of the mundane in the course of the most sacred action there is. Does that really strike you as a “little detail”?

      I agree that “ruin” was a poor choice of words for the headline (great for attracting clicks, though) and that there is a divine action that takes place every time at mass, regardless of the music, that is infinitely more important than the music considered in itself. But that’s not particularly evident to most of us human beings in the church, who are quite limited by our senses and emotions — which is one of the reasons that the Church regulates things like liturgical music in the first place.

      • J.

        Not so much a thought experiment as to demonstrate how our impression of what is “appropriate” shifts and changes over time. Two and three part polyphony was, at one time, seen as sacreligious, “popular,” and completely inappropriate for liturgical use by some, while others took the view that the music of the populace could be imported into the church effectively and beautifully. Follow music through history and you see this pattern again and again–dozens of “Missa L’Homme Arme” settings of a secular tune scandalized traditionalists. Palestrina’s elegance was praised by Rome over Josquin’s effusive emotionalism, and yet Josquin was hailed as the genius of his time. The development of basso continuo and adoption of operatic conventions in church was criticized for years, but look at Schutz and Gabrieli and what they did with those very forms. It goes on and on.

        I’m not saying that everything we’re seeing in our churches now is on a par with Schutz and Josquin. (No. Really, It isn’t. :-)) But–there have always been those in Mother Church who seem determined to protect her from any incursions of popular culture, usually with the kind of strong/condescending/dismissive/just plain mean language in this article. But it changes. And the heritage grows. What’s good adds richness to our liturgical tradition, and what’s not usually fades away over time.

  • Proteios

    #5….accordion. Yes, I enjoy accordion music, but I’m beginning to suspect this should be as acceptable as the choir wearing togas. Yes, my so and I has our jaws on the floor when the young girls in the choir at a (Catholic) church when we were traveling had togas that would be more appropriate at a frat party.

  • roxwyfe

    Thank you for such a refreshing look at the NO. I have “chafed at the bit” over these items for quite a while. My personal pet peeve is the “sign of peace” in the parish. Just after the priest has consecrated the Host, which is now the Body of Christ, the entire congregation turns their back on Jesus to glad-hand everyone around them like it’s a cocktail party. Personally, I think this is sacrilegious and refuse to participate. I kneel when the consecration begins and remain kneeling until it is time to go up to receive communion (which I take on the tongue!).

    I’m currently (gently) urging my husband to join me at one of the churches nearby which serves a traditional Latin mass. He is resistant because he doesn’t “get” what the priest is doing/saying. I just tell him to sit there, observe and pray. He is slowly coming around 😀

  • chuckles

    as regards the “bidding prayers”: great examples in the rear of the new missal, also in the rear of the liturgy of the hours for use at vespers…but why not at mass (short & to the point, use only 4 each sunday & you will not repeat them all year!)…as regards the Pax: i find it useful and the people seem to like it, to say “let us offer to each other a sign or wave of peace”…at daily mass & at masses with oldsters at a nursing home (where distance and inability to move are imposed) this allows a friendly greeting to those near or far…carry on.

  • Guy Est

    My 6th would be: celebrating ad orientem. I used to think that was a really fringe opinion, but once you experience the liturgy celebrated that way, nothing else makes sense.

    By the body language of the priest, you know when he is addressing God on your behalf, and when he turns around, e.g., at the Sursum Corda, you know by his posture that he is addressing the people.

    And because the priest is facing liturgical East for most of the liturgy, there is little opportunity and less incentive for him to put on a face or to be an actor or play the star in his own little drama. Instead, the liturgy is about the priest doing his work and leading the people in doing their work (i.e., leitourgia).

    • Gerard Plourde

      I don’t think ad orientum is appropriate in the N.O. Further, if we are focused on the elevated Elements it doesn’t matter whether the celebrant is trying to share the limelight (an experience I can’t say I’ve ever witnessed). Finally, I think we should acknowledge that bad acting can occur in both forms. After all, God calls all priests from the human race and all priests share with the rest of us the effects of Adam’s sin.

      • Guy Est

        The first time I participated in a Novus Ordo liturgy ad orientem was in 1992 in an 11th-century chapel on the side of mountain in Central Europe. There was no detached altar, so it was ad orientem or nothing.

        So I think it is entirely appropriate–unless you subscribe to the hermeneutic of rupture with tradition.

        • Gerard Plourde

          The GIRM makes provision for ad orientum in situations where no free-standing altar can be erected. That said, the Instruction is clear that in new construction altars should not be placed against the wall, so that the presider can circle it while incensing it.

          • Guy Est

            Even a free-standing altar does not dictate versus populum. I’m Greek Catholic, all of our churches have free-standing altars, and all of our liturgies are celebrated ad orientem.

            (Your argument might have a bit more weight if you demonstrated some knowledge of Latin: it’s “ad orientem” not “ad orientum.”)

            • Gerard Plourde

              While you are right that a free-standing altar of itself does not dictate versus populum the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (which governs the celebration of the Latin Rite and which is the primary subject of this discussion) states “The altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible.”

              Sorry about the spelling of ad orientem. The last Latin class I endured was 45 years ago.

              • Guy Est

                The GIRM also indicates the only places where the priest must face the people: at the greeting, the Orate Fratres, the sign of peace, the Ecce Agnus Dei, and the postcommunion.

                We can’t simply ignore the practice of Our Blessed Lord at the Last Supper (at which He and His Blessed Apostles all reclined on the same side of the table facing the same direction–as was the dining practice in antiquity), the entire liturgical theology of the Church, which always preferred that priest and people face East together, and the continuous practice of the Eastern churches for the novelty of priest-focused worship, which is the height of neoclericalism.

                • Gerard Plourde

                  The instruction to which you refer is an instruction if the Mass is celebrated ad orientem.

                  As to ancient eating practice, the arrangement was that of a triclinium, not the arrangement shown in da Vinci’s “Last Supper”. Jesus and the Apostles would have been arranged on couches in a “U” formation.

                  Finally, it seems that the N.O. is no more priest-focused than the E.F. In both the priest presides and confects the Sacrament. Also as you know, unlike the Eastern Churches, altars of churches in the Latin Rite are not separated by any sort of partition or screen, so the Consecration is fully visible. Even churches with an altar rail allow full visibility.

                  • Guy Est

                    No, there is no separate set of instructions for ad orientem celebration. The directions I refer to are all from the regular instructions for the Missa sine diacono, no. 124, 138, 146, 154, and 157.

                    In fact, the only place the GIRM discusses the question is in no. 299, of which you quoted a defective translation. Fr. Z has addressed the question nicely here:


                    There is no preference for versus populum in the GIRM.

                    Yes, the triclinium is the model here and of course Leonardo presented a straightened-out version of it in his famous painting. But if you look at a representation of a classical triclinium all of the diners are on one side of table, even if the tables or couches form a U-shape. The diners are not facing each other directly from both sides of a single table.

                    If you think Latin sanctuaries are not separated from the nave, then you have forgotten the traditional rood screen.

                    • Gerard Plourde

                      Re: Paragraph 299 of GIRM: The translation I quoted is from the Vatican’s web site. I would hate to think that their official translation is defective and has been so since 2006. More likely, Fr. Z’s “slavishly accurate” translation (his description) is betrayed by his viewpoint.

                      Re: Triclinium. True that they were not facing each other directly as in modern dining etiquette, but neither were they all facing in a single direction.

                      Re: Rood Screens. These only entered church architecture in the West in the 6th Century and were removed in the Counter-Reformation and are foreign as foreign to the Tridentine Liturgy as they are to the Mass of Paul VI.

                    • Ben Dunlap

                      “These only entered church architecture in the West in the 6th Century and were removed in the Counter-Reformation and are as foreign to the Tridentine Liturgy as they are to the Mass of Paul VI”

                      Wondering about a possible implication of your sentence (and previous posts) but not sure if you intended it — is it your sense that the Roman Missal of 1570 was significantly different, in most of the places where it was adopted, from the liturgies that people were accustomed to up through 1569?

                      To my mind if something entered Western liturgical practice as early as the 6th century then it (or some modern development of it) may be even *more* essential to the liturgy than much of what we would recognize as “Roman Rite” today, in either form.

                    • Gerard Plourde

                      The issue is not one of significant differences in the Mass prior to 1570. The Council of Trent met primarily to combat the Protestant heresies. To do this, the Council sought to bring standardization to the Mass to ensure that Catholic Doctrine was presented uniformly.

                      Concerning Rood Screens – In the Eastern Rite, a practice developed to conceal part of the Consecration from the congregation using a curtain. The practice was never fully accepted in the West but the rood screen developed to obscure the priest’s actions. One of the reforms of the Council of Trent was to require that the actions of the celebrant be more visible. They specifically rejected the mystification that the East adopted. The fact that it was almost a thousand years old did not convince them that the practice had merit.

                    • Ben Dunlap

                      Can you point out where in the sessions of Trent the mystification of the East is rejected? I can see some surprising things in Session 22 — e.g., that the priest ought to take time to explain the mass *during* the course of celebrating it. It also seems that the Council refrained from laying down a universal rule about Communion under both species.

                      Meanwhile the Council vigorously reaffirmed the legitimacy (although not the necessity) of Latin, the quiet canon, and masses in which the priest alone communicates. But I haven’t been able to find anything in particular about the visibility of the priest’s actions, or about mysticism in general.

                      It sounds like your position is that the OF definitively favors versus populum celebration, in its very rubrics and not simply by the custom of a few decades — and that this is simply the most recent expression of a long tendency away from mysticism in the Roman Rite. Is that a fair summary?

                    • Gerard Plourde

                      My use of “specifically” was not intended to indicate that there was specific mention of the rejection. My point was that the clear message of the Council was to make sure that the faithful understood what truths were being expressed and was going on in the Mass (as the passage you note exemplifies).

                      The term I used was mystification, not mysticism. The Church revers mystics like St.Teresa of Avila who are blessed with a direct experience of God. What it does not want to encourage is making the profound mysteries into magic tricks. As Catholics we believe that at the Consecration the bread and wine offered become the Real Presence, the Body and Blood of Jesus. The change is not visible or detectable by our senses or indeed by our most sophisticated scientific instruments. There is no flash of light or sound of thunder when it occurs, but we believe it does occur because of the words of Jesus, who is God Incarnate.

                      While it is commendable that the Eastern Churches sought to revere the profound mystery of the Mass, I believe that danger lurks when a decision is made that something is too holy to be seen by just anyone. The danger is the one that always accompanies secrecy – the growth of misinformation.

                    • Ben Dunlap

                      “I believe that danger lurks when a decision is made that something is too holy to be seen by just anyone.” — I can sympathize with that sentiment, but how does one judge such decisions, particularly when they are lost in the mists of liturgical history and may not in fact have been distinct decisions at all as much as gradual developments that arose in response to the real pastoral needs of the People of God?

                      In any case the question of mystification is at best a very secondary consideration in the context of a discussion of ad-orientem worship, where the principal questions are: (a) What is the long-standing tradition of the Rite, and (b) What is the theological significance of priest and people facing the same direction during the parts of the mass when the prayers are manifestly addressed to the Father through the Son?

                    • Gerard Plourde

                      The longest standing tradition of the rite was for the priest to face geographic East. Because the doors of a number of churches in Rome faced East (including St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Paul Outside the Walls), Mass in these churches has always been celebrated versus populum. There was a tradition that at some point in the Mass that both the celebrant and the people faced the East (so that in these churches the people would have faced away from the celebrant at that point).

                      The question of theology is a thorny one. What orientation of the celebrant and the people acknowledges both the transcendence and the imminence of God?

                    • Ben Dunlap

                      BTW, Fr. Z.’s translation of GIRM 299 is simply an attempt to reconcile the Latin text with a note from the CDWDS clarifying that GIRM 299 in no way indicates against ad orientem celebration — both of which in turn concur with then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s 2006 gloss of GIRM 299.

                      The point here is not to take versus populum celebration away from those who are attached to it but to make it very clear that ad orientem is not opposed to the rubrics of the Ordinary Form (much less the tradition of the Roman Rite!)

                      I assume your comment about the Vatican website was tongue-in-cheek? I noticed recently that it is still hosting the superseded first English edition of the 1994 Catechism… we *are* talking about English-language texts on an international website run by Italian clergymen, after all…

                    • Gerard Plourde

                      It seems to me that the gloss of GIRM 299 is tortured since it appears that both walking around the altar and saying Mass facing the people are the objects of the direction.

                      My comment about the Vatican web site was not tongue in cheek. It is the official site of the Vatican. I would rely on it unless expressly told not to in an instruction from the authorities in my diocese or from the Bishops’ Conference.

                    • Ben Dunlap

                      Well… some parts of the (first) English edition of the Catechism, which is on the Vatican website, directly contradict the (second) edition in parts, which is available on the USCCB website. I’m not aware of a formal instruction to the effect that one should be favored over the other, but common sense solves that problem without a formal instruction.

                      In a similar way, when the CDWDS and the prefect of the CDF concur on the interpretation of a rubric, and then that prefect goes on to become the Supreme Pontiff and puts his interpretation of that rubric into very noticeable effect in at least some papal celebrations of mass (e.g., in the Sistine Chapel), I think it’s safe to rely on that interpretation, especially if a contrary interpretation of the rubric would repudiate many centuries of Christian liturgical history in both East and West.

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  • Fr. Sal

    Absolutely excellent article. Logical and clear, and faithful to how the Church wants her liturgies celebrated, with dignity, solemnity and beauty. This will inspire the faithful to holiness.


    There are only two legitimate forms of the Mass.
    Bishops and Priests do NOT have the authority to change the rubrics of the Mass.
    (Being ‘creative’ is not permitted. This is an abuse.)

    The ORDINARY Form of the Mass must adhere to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM).
    The EXTRAORDINARY Form of the Mass (Latin) must adhere to the 1962 Missal.

    GIRM is posted on the Vatican and USCCB web sites.
    The book itself is available on Amazon. (Be sure to get the latest version, since older versions are also on Amazon.)
    You can get a copy for yourself, and for your Priest.

    If you want a Holy Mass, REPORT ALL ABUSES to your Diocese Bishop.
    The Soul you save may be your own or that of a family member.

    • ANNE_JMJ

      Everyone, as Catholics we each have an obligation / responsibility that you may not know –
      Code of Canon Law – ” THE OBLIGATIONS AND RIGHTS OF ALL THE CHRISTIAN FAITHFUL – 212 §3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church
      and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful,
      without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.”

      To “know” what the Church teaches read your:
      Catholic Bible;
      Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition;
      Code of Canon Law;
      General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM).
      (The CCC, Code of Canon Law, and GIRM can all be found on the Vatican web site.)

  • fides249

    Nice article. It should be read by both the clergy and the laity.

    I accept and like to go to both the OF and the EF. In my opinion, the grace we receive from the Mass depends upon our disposition (i.e. attentiveness, active participation, praying from the heart, etc.) and not from the Mass form.

    I totally agree with people pointing out the liturgical abuses in the OF. There are/were also liturgical abuses with the EF but most people do not notice them because texts are in Latin, not familiar with all the rubrics.

    I noticed that the pastor who celebrated the ‘Missa Cantat’ EF in my area, when it was still an ‘indult’ back in the 1990s thru 2003, was sometimes using improper Prefaces. I think he only knows one Preface to chant i.e. the most common ‘Preface of the Holy Trinity’ even if the particular Mass has its proper Preface, e.g. Christmas Day, etc. I noticed it because I prayed the Mass silently with the priest and follow it accordingly. But the choir was good and I learned Gregorian Chant from them. I would not hesitate to go to sung Mass with dialogue which I prefer than the ‘silent Mass’ which I stay away from. I also learned a lot about the Mass by comparing EF with the OF which I attend at least 3 Sundays a month because the EF was offered once a month only.

    In my opinion, there a lot of OF liturgical abuses and we notice them easily because the language used now is usually the vernacular (English in North America). Also, there are too many options in the OF unlike the EF. My local paster used the EP for Various Needs on a Sunday of Easter time and he usually used the EPVN on Sunday in Ordinary Time. I thought that the EPVN is restricted to ‘Various Needs’ and not on a Sunday unless the local bishop authorized him which I doubt. So I wrote him a couple of letters about this but never respond to any letter from me. He remarked, at one baptism of my nephews in church when I came late, Here Charlie and he knows more than me but I just bit my tongue in humility.

    I notice that a lot of OF Masses are celebrated illicitly, where the most common one is the changing of the prayer texts (even by some bishops, one of which I asked why he was using a different unauthorized, at that time, EP III text, “from the rising of the sun”, instead of the official pre-3rd Edition of the Roman Missal’s “from east to west”.).

    I admit that I am an OF ‘liturgical police’ where I usually talk or write to a priest when I think they deviate from the Church prescriptions/rubrics of the Mass. Some ignore me and some, those who are humble enough, correct themselves (e.g. omitting the ‘Gloria’ on a ‘Feast’ liturgical day with his reasoning that the 6:30 AM Daily Mass attendees might be late in going to work if he did not omit the Gloria. So I told him, why don’t you just drop the optional part of the Daily Mass, e.g. the homily, which is quite longer than the ‘Gloria’). Most priest I think, the homily is their favorite. So he now prays/recites the Gloria on a Feast day.

    Two years ago, there was one in the Philippines where the pastor changed the last sentence of the words of Consecration of the wine. I asked him if that is allowed and he said it is a ‘dynamic equivalence’. I reminded him that the Mass is a sacrament and if it fails any of the three requirements of a sacrament (minister, matter and words) then it becomes invalid. He left me without saying a word. When I returned home to California I wrote a letter to the then Archbishop of Manila, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales who responded by letter to me that he will take the appropriate action. Then I learned from my sources that the pastor was removed and transferred to a local seminary.

    I also twice sent letters about a retired bishop who uses his own prayer book instead of the Roman Missal and making his Extraordinary ministers to ‘self-communicate’ with the Eucharist which is against GIRM 160 (the non-ordained are NOT allowed to self-communicate). The local (Cubao) bishop, I believe, ignored me and never responded.

    The liturgical abuses will continue until we, the laity, act against them by confronting with charity the ‘abuser’ and/or reporting it to the local bishop. But do not expect the local bishop to act or even agree with you. At least you did your part by confronting and/or reporting the abuse but I suggest that you do your homework by researching (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, GIRM, is available free to read in the USCCB website) the abuse (to be sure that it is an abuse).

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  • rfdwilmett

    Brilliant insights. Further “refinement” to adhere to the Roman rituals you long for will empty the churches and leave plenty room for silence, a clergy only sign of peace, churches filled to the rafters with the sounds of official organ music, and none of those unsightly people that get in the way of good liturgy. Who needs to make disciples of all nations.Let’s just make sure Father does it right. Thank God we’ve finally begun to do away with all those silly mistakes of Vatican II.After all, WE surely know the Holy Spirit took a pass on that one. Besides, with all of this Father won’t have to worry about a good homily and the handful of people in the pews will march silently to his shallow, but oh so correct liturgical gestures.

    So sad.

  • Uuncle Max

    I go to Latin Mass at least twice a month – whenever I am not reading at the NO Mass at my regular parish. When I go to Latin Mass I arise at 5 and leave at 5:30 to get there – it’s a 60 mile drive.

    Pause to pat me on the back.

    After much contemplation, etc. I realize that one of the MANY reasons I prefer the Latin Mass is – silence.

    Latin Mass – I get there an hour early and take a seat up front. Except for the 7:30 Rosary and the occasional member of the children’s choir warming up,

    The Basilica is – SILENT.

    When the Mass starts we all stand and sing the entrance hymn acapella with the (really good) choir. During the Mass there are periods during which the Priest stands with his back to the congregation and we the congregation are SILENT.

    I had some real zingers ready to say about the NO Mass at my parish, but let me just ask this – when is the last time at an NO service – prior to or during the service – that you can remember a period of silence lasting more than a few seconds?

    “Be still and know that I am God.”

  • Fr. David

    Percussion. Although outside the long tradition of Catholic worship, it seems to be a stretch to say that it is profane. Percussion was a part of worship of the Lord and processions as we see in the Old Testament. Are we saying the ancient worship was bad liturgy? Seems a bit arrogant.
    GK Chesterton criticized those who were critical of the Catholic custom of “baptizing” pagan customs. He argues that anything authentically human is Catholic. Is percussion a legitimate God-given human activity?

    Theologically speaking Christ tells us, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.” The temple was the place of worship, the place of holy, and all else was profane. Christ now is the place of worship. In Christ, Christians are no longer allowed to separate the holy from the profane is as much as we are temples of the Holy Spirit through grace. Of course we gather for worship, but our lives cannot be at odds with that worship. The argument that there ought not be any percussion in Mass, in one sense requires that Christians not ever listen to music with percussion. Otherwise, we are saying we are allowed to compartmentalize our Christian life. Granted this is pushing things a bit, yet it is important. One of the biggest threats to faith these days is the compartmentalization of our faith; I worship God on Sunday and do whatever I want the other days.

    Even with the beloved organ the church has said at times that it ought not be played in certain ways. Drums, pianos, guitars and other percussion instruments are instruments. How we play them at Mass is more important than if they are there at all.

    Just some food for thought.

    • Ben Dunlap

      “Christ now is the place of worship.” This is very interesting food for thought and meditation but can you say more about how you understand it to translate into concrete practice?

      From a historical perspective the “place of worship” for almost all Christians — using ‘worship’ in the relevant sense of “offering the Eucharistic sacrifice” — has always been a church, which has almost universally differed markedly from profane buildings.

      Of course we *can* worship God, even by way of the Eucharistic sacrifice, on a battlefield or in a jail cell or in catacombs. And we should, at least some of the time. But it just hasn’t been the normal experience of most Christians to celebrate mass/Divine Liturgy/Holy Qurbana in a place that is just like other places.

  • Rose-Marie

    Please … where do all those laws come from ? The Word of God ?
    While I fully understand the need to have this special time of rememberance sacred -and the building set apart is not a dancing floor .. we should be careful to let the Holy Spirit take the lead while order is respected. Those are the instructions of the Scriptures -first Letter to the Corinthians-. Yes, there must be order in the Church of God -it is even written that the angels are onlookers !- but which type of order ? Human regulations ?

    • Ben Dunlap

      From your comments it sounds like perhaps you are not Catholic and by and large reject what Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, etc., would describe as liturgical prayer — is that a fair statement?

      If so then this article would of course seem hopelessly fussy and legalistic to you. But I would invite you to meditate on Exodus chapter 28, for starters, to test whether your view of liturgical prayer is indeed Scriptural.

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  • Martial_Artist

    Mr. Tucker,

    I could not agree with you more strongly than I do. In the almost 40 years leading up to my reception into the Catholic Church, I had on several occasions looked at her with longing. But each time, attendance at Mass proved psychologically and liturgically dissonant. It was not until I was told, by three separate individuals, none of them personally known to me, to attend a particular parish in my area that I found all of the elements needful to my worship, one of which was truly sacred music, specifically including chanted propers. If the Mass is to be a foretaste of heaven as we who have not yet died join with the departed, then music truly appropriate to the Mass is a necessary ingredient.
    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  • Harvey B.

    While I agree with all the points above, I don’t think it’s best to call the piano a percussion instrument. I know, I know … in technical terms it is percussion (think of the posters of various instruments in your old school’s music room), but a percussion instrument has as its main job to keep the beat.
    So while a piano does use “striking” as its method, it is not meant to be an instrument that “keeps the beat.” Rather, it provides the melody and harmony aspects of music that make it QUITE different from percussion. For that reason, it is often classified as a string instrument.
    That being said, I am not a fan of using piano at Holy Mass, simply because (as Mr. Tucker noted) it is too much associated with secular music.

  • Mary Frances

    Its quite surprising to me to hear some of these comments cos I can’t really believe that people are advocating for more ‘solemnity’ than what currently exists.

    I believe that the Church needs to be in touch with its people and the times also. I live in Nigeria and the Mass here is representative of the vibrancy of the people. The ‘traditional’ mass being proposed would almost never work here. People here love to sing and dance and clap when worshiping. They also love to adore in silence, and Latin is an integral part of worship here on Sundays. As such, the Mass encompasses all and there are moments of silence and dancing and singing. The songs and some of the prayers used at Mass are composed in the Language of the people and therefore hold more meaning to them. In my parish alone, we have over 5,000 parishioners, not to talk of the out-stations and neighboring parishes. Its the same everywhere.
    I have traveled to the UK, US and Canada and have noticed in general, the absence of music in the church. People just sit in silence while one cantor leads all the songs. They usually don’t join even when they have the hymnals. I think this partly accounts for the empty churches in these parts of the world and also the age imbalance (mostly old people) in church.
    We need to be more open and help the cause of evangelizing, whilst holding fast to the tenets of our faith, especially in this Year of Faith. God bless.

  • Marcus

    “pastors, musicians, and leaders in a parish”; a key phrase, as the priest should set the tone for all such functions of the Mass, the the others will follow in their proper place, but then, this requires a well educated priest and not a counter-cultural type; also, I find the title ‘priest’ (or father) being replaced of late by ‘pastor, minister, presider’, titles previously only found in local protestant churches when I grew up.

  • Arthur

    Sir thank you very much for what is needed to be said .In my Church as in every other one the Mass itself is wonderfull my only gripe is with the music .During and after Holy Communion our Organist wants to seem to play some classical music from one composer or other .I know these men and women give of their time and their effort to bring sacred music at other times during the Mass and i am gratefull for that -as it is more than i do-But after recieving Holy Communion i and lots of other parishiners i speak to want to Meditate and pray -if not in silence then to sacred music -as it is a sacred Sacrement we have recieved. Maybe Musicians who give of their time and talent will read some of these posts and relagate Classical Music to the home after the Mass is ended.

  • Diana

    under the direction of a new priest in our parish, the organist has been told he cannot play quiet music while people are entering the church, nor can he play loud, jubilant (celebratory) music after the recessional hymn and people are leaving the church. The reason for this is that a small – VERY small – group of people have complained that they find it impossible to pray after Mass with loud music blasting away. This music only lasts about 4 mins. and they are free to pray after that. I would like to know if the priest is correct – I cannot seem to find the answer in any GIRM document.

    To me, organ music is the most beautiful music and an organ is meant to be played loudly at times – for me, I just have to kneel down and listen to the music – it does my praying for me.

  • Michael Gerardi

    Well stated. The problems you describe, and particularly with respect to music, are some of the reasons I have begun attending Masses in the Byzantine Rite, which suffers from none of those problems, whenever I can. The Latin Rite has gone far astray ever since Vatican II and needs to return to its roots.

  • Emmanuel

    This dude needs a hug,

  • WSantana

    I wonder what you feel about the use of percussion instruments in bilingual Masses and in parishes that are either predominantly Hispanic or evenly split. I first learned the Mass in Spanish and the music was very different than what many non-Hispanics are used to. At the very least, it had an acoustic guitar, but often included a flute, and a bass.

    Since moving to the mainland (I was born in Puerto Rico), I’ve been fortunate to belong to several very diverse parishes (in the sense of the parishioners and also as to in between the parishes). In these parishes there’s always been a sort of “bleed over,” for the lack of a better word, when it came to musical styles. I do not find that introducing more varied instruments detracted from the focus of Mass. In fact, for me and my family, it has enriched our connection to the church as it reflects our family’s (and the parish community’s) multi-ethnic background.

  • Ruth Rocker

    I personally find the “sign of peace” to be very disrespectful. It occurs after the priest has consecrated the hosts. If we truly believe in the doctrine of transubstantiation, then at that point “Jesus is in the house.” And what does the congregation do? Nearly to a man, they turn their backs on the altar and glad hand everyone around them. I tend to remain kneeling during the entire procedure with my head lowered praying and worshiping the Lord present on the altar. I have been given some “looks” for this, but I could care less.

    This is one practice that really should be removed!! and the sooner the better.

  • Daniel Crowley

    Jeffrey Tucker is a Catholic?

  • John

    I think most readers of this magazine (it is called Crisis after all) know of many of these issues, but the real question is what can we as laity do about it? I, for one, would appreciate some articles that offer serious (and maybe proven) advice on how we can positively effect change in our local parishes away from these sorts of abuses.

  • Patrick (Ireland)

    Mostly poppycock!

    1. The revised texts are so cumbersome and outdated that they often need to be improvised – especially for young adults and children.

    2. prayer should be real – that means dealing with the affairs of the day. There’s no use praying in gerpneralities or abstract ways. Make it concrete (isn’t it a pity the Missal people didn’t take note of ‘being composed in few words’.

    3. Actually, I agree with this one on most occasions, and a less frequent application of a sign of peace would be helpful!

    4. The choice of music is secondary to the quality of it. I would rather have plenty of Sacred Silence than to have a badly sung piece – proper or not! There is plenty of scope in the ‘non-proper’ music selections available to make appropriate choices.

    5. An American Phenomenon – mostly

    Just ticking liturgical boxes will not lead to improvements. The Mass will improve when it is celebrated with heart and soul, when those celebrating, and those participating do so in a spirit of prayer and reference, and taking the time to be present and engaged with all parts of the Mass, irrespective of the style of the above.
    For my buck, the best two improvements to be made would be; more silence; and less frequent celebration