Opinion: On liturgical wars and rumors of wars

It is to be hoped that the anxieties and fears that have been aroused about a restriction of the older rites can be calmed and that no authority issues peremptory precepts which may simply undermine their own authority.

The monks of Monastère Saint-Benoît at Vespers with Robert Cardinal Sarah in September 2019. (Image: www.msb-lgf.org)

Disquiet abounds at present in the milieu which celebrates the usus antiquior – the more ancient use – of the Roman rite of the Sacred Liturgy. Seemingly the Holy See is considering issuing new norms limiting its celebration, at least in parishes. Some bishops appear to be acting in this vein already, taking measures against good clergy and healthy apostolates which do not present any reason for concern – except that (1) they exist; (2) they are growing; and (3) they are fruitful in leading to good Catholic marriages and new families as well as significant numbers of vocations to the priesthood, monastic and religious life – all indications that this phenomenon is not going away any time soon.

We are in a peculiar age when these are seen as concerns. But for some, who are ideologically committed to “the changes,” the rites and ecclesiastical reforms put in place following the most recent ecumenical Council of the Church as means to bring about a new Springtime in the life of the Church have become ends in themselves. For such persons, these means must be adhered to even if it has long since become clear that their ends – the profound renewal they were meant to usher in some decades ago – have simply not been achieved. They can become idols, occluding anything but their own worship.

Charity, prayer and patience are the weapons with which to confront such myopia. Please, God, people thus afflicted can become open to the signs of the times in which we actually live, which include the richness, beauty and fruitfulness of the usus antiquior in the life of the Church. And indeed to the fact that their celebration today often evinces far more of that full, conscious, actual (active) and fruitful participation in the liturgical rites for which the Second Vatican Council called than one can readily find elsewhere (to be sure, there are notable exceptions in both directions). Many bishops who have celebrated the older rites for communities in their dioceses have come to appreciate this reality. Acrimony in the face of its incomprehension will simply reinforce prejudices.

So, too, we usus antiquior communities need to examine our consciences. To sustain a sectarian attitude or create a ghetto, whilst perhaps understandable in the heady years following the Council, is untenable today. The liturgical and pastoral riches our communities treasure are for the good of all the Church, not the privilege of few gnostic ‘elect’. The Christian lives of those who draw from them must be all the more credible, particularly in respect of the social teaching of the Church. The light of our communities must – each according to its proper charism – “so shine before men, that they may see [our] good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt. 5:16)

Clericalism has no place anywhere, and the seminaries of institutes which celebrate the usus antiquior must ensure that they form men whose apostolic zeal is concomitant with the love they have for the Sacred Liturgy. They must be men who live and work for the conversion of the world to Christ in the twenty-first century, not ones content to live in a gilt cage decorated according to the tastes of their preferred century in history. Ecclesiastical authorities are right to be concerned when they detect a self-serving narcissism in clergy – a reality that is by no means exclusively found in devotees of the older liturgical rites, or solely in junior clergy.

One of the first tests of a young man seeking to enter the monastic life is to see whether he is capable of hard manual work without complaint. Most aspirants have little difficulty in attending the liturgical Hours (with the possible exception of matins) but almost all of us need to learn that whilst faithfully observing the norms of the liturgical books is integral to giving due glory to Almighty God, so too bathrooms and chicken sheds need cleaning. The candidate who is able to do both, or who at least becomes conscious that he must grow in his ability so to do, each at their appropriate time, will become a good monk.

Our usus antiquior communities and houses of formation need this same balance and moderation. Young people need space and time and patience, and they need love and understanding, in which to grow and mature. Older people, above all those in authority or with responsibility for formation, need to give them all of this and more, even if they themselves bear the scars of having been denied the same. So too, usus antiquior communities need to form candidates to be men of the Church rather than indulgent self-defined ‘rad-trads’ or à la carte laptop-liturgists who, in their fear, isolation or pride, inhabit a virtual world – or Church – of their own construction.

It is to be hoped that the anxieties and fears that have been aroused about a restriction of the older rites can be calmed and that no authority issues peremptory precepts which will, in all likelihood, simply undermine their own authority – blind obedience is no longer the daily bread of Catholic clergy or laity and cannot be relied upon as it was a half-century ago. The positive proscription of something true, good and beautiful is likely to intensify, not heal, enmity, clericalism and alienation within the Church.

In addition, to ban the usus antiquior because of its increasing popularity some fifty years after it was supposedly replaced by a liturgical reform that, according to St Paul VI, involved the necessary sacrifice of the venerable liturgy for the pastoral good of the Church would, ironically, risk being nothing less than an ‘own goal’; an historic, eloquent and ultimately embarrassing admission of the colossal failure of that reform by those committed to its ideological perpetuation no matter what the cost.

“You will hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet,” Our Lord warns us in St. Matthew’s Gospel. “All this is but the beginning of the birth-pangs,” He continues. (Mt. 24:6,7) The Apocalyptic realities of which Our Lord was speaking end in the definitive triumph of good over evil, of God over the Devil. Our times may be difficult and may become more so. Misunderstanding and suffering, even persecution, may become our lot once again. But the same ultimate triumph awaits us if we are patient, charitable and faithful throughout whatever may arrive. Oremus!


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About Dom Alcuin Reid 7 Articles
Dom Alcuin Reid is the founding Prior of the Monastère Saint-Benoît in the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France, and a liturgical scholar of international renown. His principle work, The Organic Development of the Liturgy (Ignatius Press, 2005) carries a preface by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.

79 Comments

  1. Matthew 5:16 has nothing whatever to do with the social teaching of the Church. That teaching is highly flawed and in need of review. — or else it will continue to move the church further and further away from the authentic gospel. We need to decide whether we want our religious life to be essentially Christian or essentially Humanist. And we need to decide this in a hurry, before our church goes completely belly-up. It’s getting late.

    • Do you know the authentic Gospel or that which is mistaught in today’s “Catholic” schools because the Church’s social doctrine of subsidiarity is clearly connected to Matthew 5:16. Decentralizing and personalizing the Corporal acts of Mercy are precisely what Our Lord challenged us to live and by living these acts of Mercy be an example to change the world. Christianity is personal, not political.

    • Why one or the other? It should be both. A Christ based humanism is what the world needs. As the verse before it says: “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”

  2. Let’s correct and get rid of the erroneous impression of the growth and popularity of the Tridentine Mass. The Tridentine Mass is celebrated, often side by side with the Vatican II Mass, in around 1,700 parishes worldwide, mostly in Europe and North America. Of these, around 700 are in the U.S. Worldwide there are around 225,000 parishes which of course celebrate the Vatican II Mass only – with the exception of the 1,700 which have both the Tridentine and the Vatican II Masses.

      • The FSSP parish in NW Idaho/Spokane grew from 600 families to 2000 in just one year (2020). Their brand new church is already obsolete.

    • Which is apparently far too much for the Pope and his episcopal allies, who resemble the proverbial elephant terrified by the proverbial mouse. And don’t forget that the present extent to which the EF is celebrated has had to overcome some very vehement, bitter opposition and obstructionism by hostile clergy. No wonder they are so afraid.

    • The “erroneous impression of growth” of the Tridentine Mass? Clearly you have never attended a Traditional Latin Mass. The growth is no illusion. It is easy to see, as the number and availability of Masses has grown exponentially in the past decade, and the numbers of people attending this Mass – above all young people – have grown likewise. Same story for vocations. Yes, the majority of Mass-going Catholics continue to attend the Novus Ordo. But a far larger group of Catholics has stopped attending Mass altogether. The decline in the new liturgy is world-wide and irreversible. The only Novus Ordo “growth” is in the increase of parish closings and retiring clergy.

    • Those numbers do not tell the whole story, not by a longshot. Notwithstanding those numbers: The traditional Latin Mass dominates among the small number of Catholics for whom the Church is the center of their lives; the traditional Latin Mass dominates discussion of the future of the liturgy; the traditional Latin Mass is growing while the new Mass is shrinking; and the traditional Latin Mass generates enthusiasm and energy in way that the new Mass does not. Those who attend the traditional Latin Mass remind very much of those who are active in the pro-life movement: They have a tenaciousness that derives from profound conviction (the conviction and the people overlap between the two). As a result of this tenaciousness borne of profound conviction the pro-life movement has perdured for half a century even though all the major secular institutions of our society — the media, the universities, the major philanthropic organizations — are aligned against it. So too, and for the same reason, the traditional Latin Mass will perdure no matter what Pope Francis does.

    • In 2007, there were less than 200 (non-SSPX) regular TLM’s in the United States.

      So, having 700 TLM communities just fourteen years later certainly shows some *growth*.

  3. “They can become idols, occluding anything but their own worship.”

    This statement is apt. It applies to both groups. The Roman culture – language and rituals – are foreign to those in Africa and Asia where the Church of today is growing. Self-righteous people do not have the right to disparage their ways of worship.

    • It was foreign to Ireland, too, when St. Patrick arrived. And to all kinds of other mission territories through history.

      As to Africa – somehow, say, Robert Cardinal Sarah and his family did not find it so foreign and alien as to drive them from the Church.

    • Yet see the interview here with retired Cardinal Zen on the EF and how powerfully it communicated with him and other Asian Catholics. Apparently the fact that it originated elsewhere was no obstacle for him or for them, although it may be in the minds of progressive Western liturgists.

    • Goodness. Folks in Africa & Asia are just as capable of memorizing Latin prayers as anyone else. My illiterate Irish ancestors had no trouble at all. They additionally memorized the Catechism. They may have had more of a struggle learning English. That wasn’t their first language either.
      No one is forcing the Tridentine Mass on anyone. It’s simply an option. A beautiful, traditional, & reverent option I think but still, an option.

        • No; memorized and they know what the prayers mean. Or are you saying that Africans and Asians, uniquely among all the peoples of the world through the centuries, are too stupid to do that?

        • Memorization of Latin and understanding of Latin is NOT necessary to worship at the TLM. The laity need only a good Roman missal with facing pages of Latin and English (or whatever one’s vernacular) to follow, to be involved and to fully participate in the reverent and solemn TLM liturgical action.

          At the TLM, the priest prays about 90-95% of the Mass in silent or softly spoken Latin while the parishioners follow the priest’s, gestures, movements and/or prayers in the bilingual Roman missal. The Sunday Epistle and Gospel is read twice–once aloud from the altar in Latin and then again aloud from the pulpit in English.

          If one wishes to memorize Latin prayers, one surely is free to do that, but worship at a TLM requires NO KNOWLEDGE AND CERTAINLY NO MEMORIZATION OF LATIN.

    • I never lived in ancient Rome either. Nonetheless it is rather insulting to say of anyone that they are incapable of sufficient personal reverence and dicipline to follow a translation. It’s beautiful to follow a language that can’t be corrupted by the constant caprices of the prideful.

  4. Dom Alcuin’s tone warns us of the time and his message of love is correct. Although the accusation of clericalism, a complexity has substance, regards the Left as well as the Right. Modernists in high places are frequently abusive of their authority. And “Clericalism has no place anywhere, and the seminaries of institutes which celebrate the usus antiquior must ensure that they form men whose apostolic zeal is concomitant”, with charity. If we’re headed for worse than what we suffer now we must reevaluate our priorities. Endless war not rumors of war over the Novus Ordo and Usus Antiquior are counterproductive. The greater battle is interior, a struggle to the death with our own demons [inspired by the real kind] of self importance, exterior image, sensuality and the rest. Alcuin Reed does identify charity as the sine qua non by which the battle will be won or lost.

  5. Both forms of the Roman rite mass should be allowed, I believe, though Don Reid’s remarks on liturgical wars have made me a bit more cautious. He uses the Latin term -uses aniquior , though the current Latin rite was revised in the 1960s. It revised the rite begun in the 16th century, not apistolic times…

    He speaks of charity, and patience for those who are “myopic” i. e. the Novus Ordo people. But, adherence to any form of the liturgy can become an idol. Don Reid presiumes those who differ with him are the “afflicted”. But, both sides can avoid and ignore the richness, beauty, and fruitfilness of each liturgy.

    Presuming the negative of those who disagree with you is not fair, but is very obvious.

    • Totally agree with you, Joan. All meaningful and respectful forms of worship are good. One is not superior to the other. Our Lord sees beyond the mannerisms into our very souls – as he did with the Pharisee and the tax collector.

      • Definitions are always helpful. Case in point: meaningful. Meaningful to whom? Based on what criteria? Respectful – another word requiring a definition that may not be evident to all. Is a clown Mass respectful? In today’s confused environment, it could be to some, but perhaps not others.

    • Joan your comment is correct. Dom Alcuin Reed is divisive, his remarks contribute to the divide within the Church. A reverent priest is what matters for either liturgy. Also, the debacle over the liturgy during Vat II stemmed from clergy from the Tridentine tradition.

      • In deference to Dom Alcuin, afterthought reminds me of my observing and borrowing transferable features of the extraordinary form and applying them to my offering of the NO Mass. For example, comportment around the altar, a more dignified and pronounced movement rather than haphazard flow. Hand movements, folding of hands synchronized with liturgical sections. Also focusing on the Eucharist rather than eye contact with the congregation [except during sermons] drawing [their] attention to what’s occurring on the altar rather than me. Later Benedict XVI spoke precisely of this beneficial transference to the Novus Ordo.

        • When I see that you’ve posted, I am usually delighted because I value your opinion and appreciate your thinking. In this particular case, however, I do not perceive where or now the author’s comments divide or further the divide within the Church.

          The Vatican’s floating the idea to limit or disallow what Pope Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum allowed is the true divider, the instigator of angst and concern among the very fervent and committed holders and practitioners of the TLM liturgy of the Catholic faith. The ancient rite is the inheritance of the Church to all its members. To those who want it, how is it not ours by right and for the asking? How is our wanting to hold our inherited gifts furthering ‘division’ within the Church? Could this be considered an example of too inordinate an attachment to things of the world?? I am confused. What does Dom say that furthers the divide? Is the NO in danger of extinction??? Is that the basic source of fear and angst among Vatican purveyors of everything modern and post VCII? Tradition and ancient rites?

          • Meiron, I was dismissive of Dom Alcuin’s article basing my views on previous writings in which he was critical of the Novus Ordo. I too had criticism nonetheless this was all that I had as a diocesan priest, even as a missionary Africa where it was strictly the NO. I learned to love the Eucharist with that liturgy, despite it’s imperfections more aware of Christ’s real presence. That’s what mattered. Dom Alcuin was kind enough to explain his perspective bettering my appreciation. I consider him a friend.

          • And certainly the Extraordinary Latin rite should be preserved and augmented where it flourishes. Pope Francis’ disfavor is a tragic mistake. We can and must live with the two liturgies. Vatican attempts at eradicating the Extraordinary form is consistent with a policy of distancing from Apostolic tradition, itself an error.

    • “the rite begun in the 16th century, not apistolic times”

      This is a nonsensical statement that betrays the writer’s ignorance of the subject. Had she written “6th century” she would have been a bit more plausuble, but only a bit.

      • Under correction, people wanting to know more about this could do worse than consult – or read right through – Pius Parsch’s The Liturgy of the Mass in F.C Eckhoff’s translation in the 1940 impression scanned at the Internet Archive from the Wellesley College copy – not least the annotated Canon on pages 345-51. And, for those who undertake the “Books to Borrow” feature, many other of his books in aid of active participation are scanned there (in English Translation).

        Perhaps you could recommend other books available online?

        • Because Latin is still the official language of the Church, perhaps? And given that he defines the term right after he uses it first time it’s not as if he’s using some arcane phrase.

    • Joan Sullivan,

      “…any form of the liturgy can become an idol.” This is an important observation. Wherever the Mass is celebrated in any particular rite or language we are there to worship our Almighty God—The Infinite Love. As St. John Chrysostom instructs, “The angels surround the priest. The whole sanctuary and the space before the altar is filled with the heavenly Powers come to honor Him who is present upon the altar.”

      As you write the “richness, beauty, and fruitfulness of each liturgy” is realized in our full participation at Mass with our entire being, our mind, our heart, our soul, our body. We Catholics participate at the Heavenly Banquet in unity with the priest to worship our divine Lord, therefore, the rite or the language is not the focus, but we are there together with the “heavenly Powers” in an act of sublime adoration.

      Here I wish to add the most important actions of the priest and that is, that he, being in the person of Christ conducts himself in the most reverent, respectful manner and the congregation together with him in unity– in the presence of the Heavenly Court to worship our dear Lord. —and I might add the King, himself is the giver of the gifts, in fact he gives Himself to us.

    • “It revised the rite begun in the 16th century, not apostolic times…”

      The traditional Roman Rite wasn’t invented at Trent, though. It was merely codified.

      Most of what we recognize as the traditional Roman missal was in place by the time of Pop St Grgory the Great ca. 600 AD, and documented in the surviving 7th century sacramentaries.

  6. Attempts to suppress the Good, the True and the Beautiful will always be bound to fail because the Good, the True and the Beautiful all express the perfection of God. This is a cautionary note to our bishops.

  7. The real Council of St. Pope John XXlll was voted out. Those who were responsible then went on to create their own Council, which failed miserably. Why do we ignore God’s hand in all of this? God rejected the Modernist Council in favor of the Pope’s Council. When it comes to the Mass, St. Pope John XXlll in his Council had already reformed the Liturgy, which we call the 1962 Missal. There was no need for any kind of talk about reforming the Mass. In so doing they caused unutterable destruction. The Novus Order is what needs to be suppressed and abrogated. It will take a long time to repair the priesthood in order for priests to once again say the Mass of St. Pius V, a Mass that is in need of no reform.

  8. The real problem or question is just what is the Mass about, beauty, worship, or the sacrifice of Jesus at the last super, or. Is it all of those. Should we understand what we and the Priest are saying. Latin is a beautiful language, but it is not alone in that beauty, if we do not speak the language what good will it be for us to speak words we do not understand, the mass becomes just a good show vary full of emotions, but not anything more. That was the vary reason it was changed in the first place, so all of us could understand just what was going on in mass and not just mouth words we have no understanding of . The true beauty of the mass is not the language we are speaking ,but in the prayerful uniting with the priest in the mass

    • “if we do not speak the language what good will it be for us to speak words we do not understand, the mass becomes just a good show vary full of emotions, but not anything more. ”

      Throughout the Age of Faith very many people of great faith attended the Mass in Latin though they didn’t understand Latin. It’s not a “good show very full of emotions.” I note your contempt for all of those good, faithful people whom you accuse of “just mouthing words.” You might take a look at, say, The Stripping of the Altars, by Eamon Duffy, about how much laypeople understood. Among other things, look how many more of them knew that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist, unlike these “prayerfully united” folks who “understand just what is going on” and only 30% believe what the Church teaches.

      Attending a Mass in Latin when a person doesn’t understand Latin might in fact be a salutory reminder to the arrogant “*I* am special, me, me, me, how dare anybody say that a priest can do anything I can’t?” type of people that in fact there are things that a priest can do that a layman can’t.

      One doesn’t have to speak to participate in the Mass.

      • I grew up during the time of the Latin mass and I was never so overjoyed as when I could finally understand what the priest was saying and what it all meant so please don’t call me arrogant all I wanted to know is what in the world what’s going on and what the priest was saying, only then could I fully understand. And yes people do just mouth the words without knowing what in the world they are talking about , I grew up in those ages. What I am saying is beauty is not everything…understanding is! I have no contempt for those people; I am sad for them for what they deeply want to understand but cannot when it is presented in a foreign language. Not everyone is capable of multiple languages, but I have contempt for willful ignorance that would sing along without understanding.. Chanting along is not enough, there is so much more.

        • My goodness, what a terribly impoverished family must yours have been, not to have been able to afford one of the many inexpensive Missals with both Latin and English on facing pages! I hope you are doing much better now.

          You might not have understood. They knew what was going on even if they didn’t understand every word of the words that the priest was addressing to God, not to them.

          • Yes, Leslie, we were impoverished and ill educated. How astute, and arrogant, of you to suggest that. I, with my difficulties of severe dyslexia, struggling to make a living in a world that preferred to leave me in the dust, have managed to educate myself. I can’t comprehend how anyone can read a translation and speak another language at the same time. All my growing up years I spoke the Latin mass but could not understand it. I have a deep appreciation and concern for others like me who do not learn so quickly and easily. I suspect we vastly outnumber the intellectual elites. I would prefer mass be in my own language, but do appreciate the beauty and precision of Latin.

          • You were under no obligation to “speak the Latin Mass.” One can participate quite well without doing so, either in the traditional Latin or the Novus Ordo English.

            Even now there are many, many people around the world who cannot read even their own language, and in centuries past there were many more who couldn’t have read along even if there had been Missals widely available, which until the invention of the printing press with moveable type would have been impossible. They prayed silently.

            For some time I went to a Mass in Polish. I couldn’t understand a word; but I knew what was happening and I was participating just as much as I would have been had the Mass been in English.

    • I don’t think one needs to be conversational in Latin – most Catholics never were, are or will be – in order to derive immense sustenance from the Latin liturgy. Remember, it’s a liturgy, not a discussion. Rather the question should: did/does the Latin ritual somehow communicate with us? Wouldn’t you agree that one need not be able to read a note of music, yet still appreciate Mozart? Jesus Himself didn’t worship in the vernacular, for that matter: His spoken language was Aramaic, while the language of the Temple was Biblical Hebrew, like Latin an archaic highly formal ritual language well removed from street corner idiom. And like any ritual, the power of our traditional Latin ritual derives from two things: invariability and repetition over a long period of time. The VII reforms, whatever their intentions, severely disrupted that tradition at considerable psychological cost to many Catholics, and repeated many of the same mistakes made by the Protestant reformers in the 16th century. Latin is not simply a “foreign language.” Like the Hebrew of Jesus’s own time it is a “sacred language” which is use specifically and only in reference to God. Therein lies its power: to COMMUNICATE, for which understanding every word is quite unnecessary.

      • And, the language of God is as unspeakable for man as is
        God’s name. But any language with which God should choose to communicate with man would be holy at the moment of His use of it. Fortunately for man, God is not limited to Hebrew, Latin, or Aramaic; those are languages of man and not inherently of God or “holy”. Or else, as many do, Old English Thee, Thou, and “royal diadems” would be holy in and of themselves. Perhaps you might say that the scriptures originally written in Greek, before St. Jerome offered Latin translations, is more holy and we should read and speak that!

        • Bob, I think you’re missing my point. Remember, I was stressing how ritual communicates with worshipers, which is often unconscious and noncognitive, and should not be confused with a conversation. And note as well that a “sacred” tradition involves more than simply the language of worship. Art and architecture, for example, are traditionally distinct from their secular surroundings, as holy places designed specifically for God. There’s a good reason why the local church doesn’t resemble city hall or a department store – it’s “sacred space” and is designed to reflect that fact. And even in the vernacular liturgy of the Mass, I can’t believe that you, like the rest of us, have moments of silence or contemplation, although I personally find it more difficult to do in the present rite of Mass.

          May I ask a sincere question, no sarcasm intended? How do you account for the catastrophic meltdown in Mass attendance which began almost immediately following the drastic reforms of VII, indeed as the Council was still meeting? And why, if everyone is now able to understand every word that’s being said in the liturgy, do the majority of Catholics regularly attending Mass no longer believe in the Real Presence or the Sacrifice of the Mass? Thanks, I’ll be interested to get your take on those pressing questions.

          • “There’s a good reason why the local church doesn’t resemble city hall or a department store”

            Sadly, in some cases that isn’t true anymore. There’s a book called “Ugly as Sin” that discusses the matter.

          • Vernacular translations that were offered were of very poor quality, in that they did not covey the same truth as in Latin.. I still have difficulty with some phraseology that is used. But the real problem of why people left the church was confusion in the Church itself. What was the phrase that was used… they opened up the doors and windows of the church? People took some of what was said and done by Bishops and Cardinals this way: the Church Is a stuffy, archaic bunch of dour drudges doing an inexplicable dance. Our practices were erroneously minimized or thrown out as the confused priesthood was in disarray and nuns eschewed their habits and/or left. And the teaching was presented as nothing more than opinions of common men rather than weighty and true having been developed by the men appointed by Christ to do so. My uncle, a deacon for many years, left the Roman rite and followed his bishop into the American Catholic Church, essentially doing what Luther did. All the heresies of old were presented by false teachers or modernists, and sadly drew many away. People left their first love Who was Christ and His Church to have their ears tickled elsewhere..

            Have you read Bella Dodd’s work? The Church has within it many subversives teaching that all roads lead to Christ, Who may or may not be Devine.

            The Catholic Church has still not completely reconciled with our eastern brothers! Confusion reigns and the chair of Peter is not allowed it’s God-given authority, even as it fails to exercise it, and so the confusion continues with priests who don’t believe the very doctrines and gospel message held and authoritatively preserved by that Church.

            I have studied the Vatican II documents which did not actually teach the “have it your way” hamburger mentality used by too many clerics.

            The Pope needs to pick up his mantle of authority and rule decisively. The Chair of Peter was appointed by Christ to bind and to loose; the confusion will grow as authority continues to be abdicated concerning things like marriage, sexual identity, abortion, other matters of morality, the Eucharist. When the world is rightly taught God’s way all the other things will take care of themselves…and understanding will be given as it is sought. The magisterium of the Church, by God, possesses so much more knowledge of God than even the “Cliff Note” portion of it written in the Bible.

            The sheep and lambs can’t safely follow a shepherd who doesn’t lead as meanwhile the wolf in sheep’s clothing has entered the Church and scattered them.

            This is my opinion based on information available to me at this time.

        • Thanks for your reply to my question, Bob. I’m posting here because for some reason there’s no “reply” function with your response. I am indeed familiar with the work of Bella Dodd, although I think that the post VII chaos was due to many factors, even without the infiltration she suggests. For me, the liturgical reform has always been of a piece with that period of chaos, destruction and apostacy.

        • Thou, thee, and thine are not Old English. They persisted well into the 17th century, which makes it Modern English.

          Old English would look like this:

          Fæder ure, ðu ðe eart on heofonum,
          Si ðin nama gehalgod.
          Tobecume ðin rice,
          Gewurde ðin willa on eorþan,
          swa swa on heofonum.
          Urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us todæg.
          And forgyf us ure gyltas,
          swa swa we forgyfaþ urum gyltendum.
          And ne gelæd ðu us on costnunge,
          ac alys us of yfele.
          Soþlice.

          (It’s the Our Father in Anglo-Saxon).

        • Leslie, Our new church (25 years old) is exactly square and resembles a basketball court and sadly we are fed with lots of laughter, applause, and waving. 700 families and room for 5 people to visit the Blessed Sacrament. Church is locked after 9:00am Mass, so visits are not possible.

          • Rosemarie,
            Oh, gosh! How dreadful.

            I went to Mass on Easter some years ago where they had elected to decorate with balloons. And the church was a semicircle. It looked like a circus.

  9. Non trovo giusto infamare i sacerdoti che stanno facendo apostolato a livello mondiale permettendo la conoscenza della liturgia delle ore e della Messa cattolica a chiunque voglia vederla dicendo che si tratti di un “orgoglio virtuale”, quanto una virtuosa dimostrazione di umiltà, abbassandosi essi a tutti ed aspettando di essere chiamati a reggere Cattedrali e parrochie nel mondo reale, se finalmente si decidessero ad offrirle ai dotti e virili che non si abbandonano alle chiacchiere e ai discorsi da cortile

  10. The problem is not Latin vs. English. The problem is Catholics do not understand what it means to be Catholic on the most basic level.

    • Yes. One can hear and feel the emotions that accompany the beauty of the liturgies, but without understanding, it is only of temporary benefit, not the eternal benefit of life everlasting with God who is truth, beauty, mercy,love, justice and everything good. Jesus at Pentecost entrusted the apostles with the ability to speak many languages and then gave them the task of taking the good news to the whole world. Why would we want to undo what Jesus directed them to do? The Mass is prayer and prayer IS conversation…not people sitting there saying to themselves, “Wow that’s pretty…whatever it was that was said…yeah, what he said…I guess.” Why would NOT understanding be OK? Why would we want to return to pre-Pentecost days as at Babble when the languages were confounded? Being stuck with only the form and not the content (truth) leaves people hollow. That is part of why the Church seems to be shrinking…in places it has simply withered due to lack of understanding! Paul instructs that if one is speaking in tongues and some others happen to come in who hear it but don’t understand, the tongue-speakers should be quiet until there is someone to translate, lest the onlooker think the group is crazy or confused. Is the Mass a nice show or are we ALL to fully participate? Why make it so difficult, and contentious? Some brothers are being caused to stumble. Have a little mercy toward the not-so-erudite, and remember that you have been given many gifts.

      • Hm. And yet when the Mass was in “incomprehensible” Latin for centuries upon centuries people *did* know what was happening and *did* believe in the real presence and *did* participate in the Mass, largely in prayerful silence; many of them were “not-so-erudite.” And Mass attendance was high, and belief in the Real Presence was high, so you can hardly claim that having the Mass in a non-vernacular language causes the Church to “wither” and “shrink.”

        The Mass is a public prayer offered to God, and I’m quite sure that He understands Latin.

        One need not be talking to participate fully in the Mass.

        • Amen.

          Talking does not permit simultaneous listening. We can participate more fully in the transcendental mystery of the Mass when we engage in listening. We are more truly in and with the sacrifice of Jesus. Did Mary or John speak at the Cross? Did Magdalene? Jesus spoke. Do any of us speak much while at another’s deathbed? The Mass primarily celebrates the Sacrifice of Jesus for our salvation. Without His death there would have been no Last Supper.

          The beauty of a bilingual 1962 Roman Missal is that we see and read the Mass in both Latin and vernacular.

          The fact that Latin is a ‘dead’ language means it never needs revising. Vernacular words change meaning over time. Because Latin is used language only for sacred liturgy, it signals the sacred–selective, particular, specific, special, and worthy of respect and honor. The words of chant and song are also printed in the bilingual Missal.

          Ad orientem signals the difference between the Holy God above who sacrifices himself for love of his created earthbound men. The sacrifice of the man-God to the Father for the sake of man is the light of the Mass for us who want to see.

          Lastly, the single year cycle Lectionary concentrates and intensifies the message. The focus is more profound than that given in the three year cycle where the message is spread thinly over a longer time frame. Spiritual meat, not gruel or milk toast, is served at the Latin Mass. Fine linen and precious vessels accompany the meal. It is far from common yet it is for everyone.

          That being said, the Sacrificial miracle of the Real Presence happens at the NO. But I will never go back to NO if I have the choice. Never.

      • In this regard, it’s instructive to consider the observations of JP II, “On Active Participation in the Liturgy,” made to American bishops on the occasion of their ad limina visit in November, 1998:

        “Active participation certainly means that, in gesture, word, song and service, all the members of the community take part in an act of worship, which is anything but inert or passive. Yet active participation does not preclude the active passivity of silence, stillness and listening: indeed, it demands it. Worshippers are not passive, for instance, when listening to the readings or the homily, or following the prayers of the celebrant, and the chants and music of the liturgy. These are experiences of silence and stillness, but they are in their own way profoundly active. In a culture which neither favors nor fosters meditative quiet, the art of interior listening is learned only with difficulty. Here we see how the liturgy, though it must always be properly inculturated, must also be counter-cultural.

        “Conscious participation calls for the entire community to be properly instructed in the mysteries of the liturgy, lest the experience of worship degenerate into a form of ritualism. But it does not mean a constant attempt within the liturgy itself to make the implicit explicit, since this often leads to a verbosity and informality which are alien to the Roman Rite and end by trivializing the act of worship. Nor does it mean the suppression of all subconscious experience, which is vital in a liturgy which thrives on symbols that speak to the subconscious just as they speak to the conscious.”

        This certainly does not preclude the type of “participation” you are describing in your post. It does, however, suggest that a narrowly reductionist view of participation, which confines it to external physical activity, is missing some very significant aspects through which one “participates” just as validly and vitally. The latter, unfortunately, has all but disappeared in many mainstream parishes.

        • Glenn, you make many valid points but I like most people simply don’t appreciate music I can’t hear or artwork I can’t see or words I don’t understand. I have been attending Mass over 45 years and came into the Church just before my 26th birthday. I studied Latin for a couple of years but lost much of it as Latin was not used back then. I still get lost when the cadence of whatever language is being used by the Celebrant is different from my native tongue, and also when someone not particularly fluent in my language attempts the Mass anyway. Just saying…

          • “ when someone not particularly fluent in my language attempts the Mass anyway.”

            He is not “attempting the Mass.” He is celebrating a Mass that is as valid as That celebrated by a priest whose accent doesn’t differ from yours.

          • Judy, think of the Mass – like the Resurrection or the Virgin Birth – as a mystery and a miracle. How exactly does one “understand” a miracle? Or do we simply try to acknowledge its presence and indicate our belief in it? Talking about it with words upon words won’t likely be very useful – symbols and unspoken gestures are probably more effective in approaching a transcendent reality that eludes our reason. The aspect of worship in the Latin tradition that I’ve always found especially appealing is its ability to create an instant community among people who otherwise are strangers and have nothing obvious in common. Again its the ritual, not the rationale that communicates very powerfully among those who believe in the mystery of the Mass, and find the ceremony appropriate and dignified. It’s thus not unusual to find congregations where the EF is celebrated consisting of cops, plumbers, college students, bag ladies, Oxford professors, bar tenders and lots of participants from Asia and Africa, including the priest celebrants. The thing I would suggest bearing in mind is that “participation” is first and foremost a state of mind, a disposition, an act of faith. For that reason, and especially for that reason, mere words will never suffice. I say this not to criticize you, simply to elaborate my own sense of it.

  11. The theologian Karl Rahner in assessing the Second Vatican Council noted how the era in church history that it started became the Third Church. The First Church was during the time of the Apostles until the conversion of Emperor Constantine in 313. The Second Church stretched from that conversion until the Vatican II in 1962-64. This second era he called the European Church, and Latin, a European language, was the language of the church especially in the liturgy. The 21st council in the church’s history launched the Third Church which signaled that it is truly an Global Church and the liturgy is now celebrated in the variety of native languages around the world. With this Rahnerian scheme, I would say the move to preserve the Tridentine Mass is a bit of resistance on the part of the remnants of the European Church. These resisters against change give reasons like nostalgia, solemnity, aesthetics, historicity for their preference. Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum was intended to appease these resisters – mainly the schismatic Lefebvrists with the hope they would come back to the embrace the Holy Mother Church – but has now turned to include more and other than the schismatics who have not returned – into the unintended result of leading these resisters to be outright rejectionists of the Council. Mostly they have not received – and rejected – the Council’s teaching about having “full, conscious, and active” participation” in the liturgy and above all in the Council’s emphasis in ecclesiology or theology of the Church being the whole people of God rather than just being made up of the hierarchy and clergy. Ecclesiology is basically applied in the Liturgy. Studies of how councils’ teachings were received (understood and applied) by church members indicate that this usually stretched to an average of a hundred years from the conclusion of the council. So give it until 2065 for these resisters and rejectionists to finally see the light and fully receive the Council especially its theology of the Church and its liturgy in the Vatican II Mass. As a comment in this thread pointed out today the Tridentine Mass is celebrated worldwide in only 1,700 out of the global total of 225,000 parishes.

  12. The theologian Karl Rahner in assessing the Second Vatican Council noted how the era in church history that it started became the Third Church. The First Church was during the time of the Apostles until the conversion of Emperor Constantine in 313. The Second Church stretched from that conversion until the Vatican II in 1962-65. This second era he called the European Church, and Latin, a European language, was the language of the church especially in the liturgy. The 21st council in the church’s history launched the Third Church which signaled that it is truly an Global Church and the liturgy is now celebrated in the variety of native languages around the world. With this Rahnerian scheme, I would say the move to preserve the Tridentine Mass is a bit of resistance on the part of the remnants of the European Church. These resisters against change give reasons like nostalgia, solemnity, aesthetics, historicity for their preference. Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum was intended to appease these resisters – mainly the schismatic Lefebvrists with the hope they would come back to the embrace the Holy Mother Church – but has now turned to include more and other than the schismatics who have not returned – into the unintended result of leading these resisters to be outright rejectionists of the Council. Mostly they have not received – and rejected – the Council’s teaching about having “full, conscious, and active” participation” in the liturgy and above all in the Council’s emphasis in ecclesiology or theology of the Church being the whole people of God rather than just being made up of the hierarchy and clergy. Ecclesiology is basically applied in the Liturgy. Studies of how councils’ teachings were received (understood and applied) by church members indicate that this usually stretched to an average of a hundred years from the conclusion of the council. So give it until 2065 for these resisters and rejectionists to finally see the light and fully receive the Council especially its theology of the Church and its liturgy in the Vatican II Mass. As a comment in this thread pointed out today the Tridentine Mass is celebrated worldwide in only 1,700 out of the global total of 225,000 parishes. In the U.S., the numbers are: in 700 out of the total of 17,000 parishes.

    • a)Karl Rahner’s opinion matters not an iota to me; no more than Alfred Loisy’s does.

      b)Sacrosanctum Concilium: “36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.” That sneaky and slimy people manipulated things to push the vernacular into the entire Mass (in a singularly lousy translation in the case of English) and add all sorts of other innovations doesn’t change what the actual documents say.

      c)Your sneering contempt for the many devout Catholics before the Second Vatican Council by claiming that their participation wasn’t full, conscious, and active is duly noted, as is your misrepresentation of the Church before the Second Vatican Council by pretending that the Council changed the “ecclesiology or theology of the Church” to “being the whole people of God rather than just being made up of the hierarchy and clergy.” If you think that Catholics before the Council did not think that the Church was made up of all Catholics including laity, you can’t have read very much history.

      “So give it until 2065 for these resisters and rejectionists to finally see the light and fully receive the Council especially its theology of the Church and its liturgy in the Vatican II Mass.”

      Or we can pray that long before 2065 the historical snobs (“Everything new is much much better than anything old”) will finally see the light have the decency and humility to recognize and reject the things that were done in “the spirit of Vatican II” which had nothing to do with the actual Council.

      • Readers should know that Thaddeus Noel Laput is a theology professor at Leuven (Louvain). They might wish to investigate the reputation of that university before judging the validity of Prof. Laput’s comments.

        • He certainly knows how to repeat himself. The same message appears here three distinct times.

          One lumpy paragraph packages the message. The packaging was the message. Just as we typically attend our pillows at sleep’s start and end, I didn’t read ANY of his lumped-up message beyond the first few and last sentences.

          I’m saved. Perhaps KR’s mention at the opening of the gate made me run fast.

        • I looked him up. “Studies Liberation Theology, Ecofeminist Theology…”

          One hopes that he studies them in the same way physicians and researchers study cancer, influenza, Pernicious anemia, and other diseases that need to be cured or eliminated.

        • How dumbfounding that Professor Laput ignores the not-merely-European aspects of the character of the Church throughout her history, including non-Latin as well as Latin liturgies during so much of the 313-1964 period, as well as the intended Latinity of the Novus Ordo (as noted by Leslie, above). And, what an unpersuasively reductive reading of Summorum Pontificum, which seems so very much in keeping with the rich diversity of Rites and Uses, Latin and ‘non-Latin’, of the Church, in its commendation of the Roman usus antiquior.

  13. The theologian Karl Rahner in assessing the Second Vatican Council noted how the era in church history that it started became the Third Church. The First Church was during the time of the Apostles until the conversion of Emperor Constantine in 313. The Second Church stretched from that conversion until the Vatican II in 1962-65. This second era he called the European Church, and Latin, a European language, was the language of the church especially in the liturgy. The 21st council in the church’s history launched the Third Church which signaled that it is truly an Global Church and the liturgy is now celebrated in the variety of native languages around the world. With this Rahnerian scheme, I would say the move to preserve the Tridentine Mass is a bit of resistance on the part of the remnants of the European Church. These resisters against change give reasons like nostalgia, solemnity, aesthetics, historicity for their preference. Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum was intended to appease these resisters – mainly the schismatic Lefebvrists with the hope they would come back to the embrace of the Holy Mother Church – but has now turned to include more and other than the schismatics who have not returned – into the unintended result of leading these resisters to be outright rejectionists of the Council. Mostly they have not received – and rejected – the Council’s teaching about having “full, conscious, and active” participation” in the liturgy and above all in the Council’s emphasis in ecclesiology or theology of the Church being the whole people of God rather than just being made up of the hierarchy and clergy. Ecclesiology is basically applied in the Liturgy. Studies of how councils’ teachings were received (understood and applied) by church members indicate that this usually stretched to an average of a hundred years from the conclusion of the council. So give it until 2065 for these resisters and rejectionists to finally see the light and fully receive the Council especially its theology of the Church and its liturgy in the Vatican II Mass. As a comment in this thread pointed out today the Tridentine Mass is celebrated worldwide in only 1,700 out of the global total of 225,000 parishes. In the U.S., the numbers are: in 700 out of the total of 17,000 parishes.

  14. I often miss the awareness that many of us love the Novus Ordo. I have prayed the three year cycle of readings for decades and would not want to lose that. I appreciate the sanctoral cycle including saints from every century and every continent, instead of the (entirely rational at the time) focus on apostolic and medieval saints and mostly Europeans. I know Latin well and love it but I am very happy to pray in English. There is a glorious immediacy to “my own tongue” that I am sure happens across the globe. I have attended Masses in Vietnamese, Tagalog, and Korean, none of which I know even a word of, but because the structure of the Mass is the same, I always knew where we were. I certainly agree that the usus antiquior should be available but I do grow tired of the trope that we Novus Ordo lovers just don’t get liturgical beauty. The Novus Ordo is beautiful and prayerful too.

  15. I leave it to readers to decide if Paul’s reference to ‘tongues’ appropriately applies more to vernacular or to Latin. Traditionally, ‘speaking in tongues’ was speaking a language one did not understand but some hearers did understand.

    I give thanks to God that I speak in tongues.., but in the church I would rather speak five words with my mind, so as to instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue. (1 Corinthians 14:16-19)

    As words and deeds originate in our heart and mind, it would seem that our philosopher apostle Paul preferred to produce fewer and more edifying words than a multitude which held no or little meaning to him (by implication to others too).

    Don’t most of us prefer to think rather than to listen to or produce babble? How many of us dislike extraneous or meaningless noise? Does anyone find the decibal pollution in Asian cities to be productive of the good, true, and the beautiful?

    The rubrics of the TLM require very few verbal responses from the congregation, and those are usually brief, easily pronounced, and readily understood. I imagine even English speakers born post 1980 could guess the meaning and say this with minimal knowledge of Latin: “Et Cum Spiritu [Tuo].”

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