Monday, November 20, 2006

How do you say, 'manage change gently' in Latin?

One encounters chest-thumping folks from time to time who seem to think the proof of being orthodox is how rapidly you shove things down the throats of your parishioners. "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" is how one person -- admittedly (but not wholly) facetious -- put it on another blog recently.

Change is coming: we will have a new translation of the Missal in the near future (I've given up saying just when, but it is coming); the Holy Father has decreed that pro multis in the Eucharistic Prayer be translated as "for many" rather than "for all," and there are persistent rumors of a freeing of the Rite of the Mass as Pius V promulgated it.

In addition, many expect Pope Benedict, together with Cardinal Arinze, to tighten up on some things, in the interest of assuring that the Mass really is celebrated as the Second Vatican Council intended, in an organic relationship to what preceded.

There is a rising trend in sacred music to recover much that needlessly and inappropriately disappeared in the wake of the Council: chant, particularly Gregorian chant, and polyphony, and the pope has clearly signaled his interest in advancing this. Lastly, there are substantial questions about whether the current rite of the Mass properly carries out the intention of the Council. An example would be whether having the priest face the people, as opposed to the priest and people face God together, is really best.

So: there's a lot of ferment in matters of liturgy -- and yet, a great number of God's people are tired of it all. They've seen a lot of tinkering and monkeying around with liturgy, a lot of changes mandated from the bishops or Rome, and they would like to pray.

Well, there are a number of keyboard combatants out there who say that if a priest doesn't immediately start offering Mass, all in Latin, ad orientem, without extraordinary ministers, with only male servers, etc., etc., he "lacks courage" and seeks a "lowest common denominator" liturgy.

I will leave it to your imagination as to why they have so much time to lecture pastors via the Internet, as well as why their own pastors don't listen to them.

In the meantime, regular readers of this blog (I think you're crazy, but thanks for visiting!), or anyone who pays close attention to parish life, or simply asks the pastor, would note the wide variety of needs he attends to.

And, of course, in all this a shepherd is supposed to keep the flock together. The two parishes here recently went from eight Masses a weekend to six, out of necessity. In the wake of that adjustment, total Sunday-Mass attendance dropped almost 10% for both parishes! Some of that is from deaths and families moving away for better jobs; but some is simply due to a change in Mass times.

So . . . that's the context in which this particular pastor wrestles with how best to carry out the mandate of the Church regarding the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. With all that, here's my column this week in both bulletins:

Food for the Flock
Occasionally we use a Latin prayer
or hymn at Mass, and some parishioners
have asked about that. Some want more,
some wonder why use any at all. I suspect
most parishioners don’t get excited
either way.

The short answer is, we are, after all,
Roman Catholics—this is part of our faith
and tradition. Some think Vatican II
“got rid of” Latin. Rather, Vatican II added
the option of using English; but still
called for continuing to use Latin.

Here’s what Vatican II actually said:
“Particular law remaining in force,
the use of the Latin language is to be
preserved in the Latin rites”
(Sacrosanctum Concilium 36).
The Council said that where the
“mother tongue” (i.e., English for us)
is used, “nevertheless steps should be
taken so that the faithful may also
be able to say or to sing together in Latin
those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass
which pertain to them” (Ibid., 54).

So using Latin at Mass is being faithful
to Vatican II—omitting it completely
is actually contrary to what the
Council said. For this reason, Pope Paul VI,
Pope John Paul II, and our current
holy father have all urged maintaining
our Latin heritage.

My intention was to continue using
some Latin hymns and prayer texts
from time to time—nothing drastic.
When we introduce something new,
we will try to explain it and show
where to find it in the hymnal (it’s there!).
Maybe we didn’t do that as well
as we could, I’m sorry.

I hope we can all be broad-minded
and open to our own tradition. As it is,
the only comments I’ve gotten (not many)
are questions, or positive.

Several parishioners have asked,
can we have a whole Mass in Latin?
The answer is yes, I could do that;
no permission necessary. (Of course,
I mean the current rite of the Mass,
not the old rite.) Even then, the readings
and homily would still be in English.

But what to do? I believe a legitimate
request should be accommodated, if possible.
I can’t see refusing these requests
entirely. My thought was periodically
a weekday Mass—maybe once a month—
in Latin. Let me know what you think.
—Father Martin


Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, bring back the Latin - it is indeed our heritage and a sacred language to us. Translations are available but most people readily grasp the Latin,if not with the intellect, then with the soul.
Father, you cannot please every parishioner. Perhaps the loss in attendance has less to do with liturgical adjustments than it does with the natural human opposition to change, in this case the change of merging two parishes.
(They may not be officially merged, but they are merged in the sense of being pastored by one priest.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for an informative post. It seems sometimes, that even priests balk at the changes. Yet you take into condsideration the needs of your ppl and how best to cathechize and include them in the process. I pray that your parishioners know how blessed they are to have you as their shepherd.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a Saturday mass for those folks who work or go to school. That sounds like a wonderful addition to the regular worship schedule.
I am shocked by the idea that a simple reduction in the numbe rof mass times (6 is still quite a few) would cause such a reduction in attendance.

Father Martin Fox said...

Anonymous #2:

We have two Saturday Masses -- in the evening, for the vigil, one at each parish. I'm sorry to say that Saturday morning Mass was one of the daily Masses we eliminated because of a reduction in the number of priests. But keep in mind we often have weddings and funerals on Saturday, too.

Anonymous #1: I do not expect to please everyone. Some, however, when they say "you can't please everyone," take that as a license to antagonize people needlessly. I try to bring along as many as I can, and be considerate. Do you think there's something wrong with that?

Ray from MN said...

I'm not THAT regular here, but I probably am crazy, Father.

Good post!

Do they still teach Latin in the Seminaries? How proficient must a priest be before he could say a Mass in Latin? Or would reading and pronouncing the words correctly be sufficient?

I am fearful that if an indult comes down for the Tridentine Mass, we may start to see as much improvisation there as we have been seeing with the Novus Ordo Mass.

Americans rebel against rules naturally.

Anonymous said...

Father, I did mean anyone should use "you can't please everyone" as a license to antagonise. If you read my posting you will see that I merely said you cannot please every parishioner. And you can't. There are way too many schools of thought within any Catholic parish these days.
I don't see where I implied or suggested in any way whatever that there was anything wrong with being considerate. . .am not sure how you came to that conclusion?
Let us not look for antagonism where none existed.

Anonymous said...

God bless you Father, you are a good priest! May God console you and take good care of you, giving many proofs of His love to sustain you in your ministry.

Anonymous said...

I think the way you are handling the reintroduction of Latin is fantastic. In the long run, I think we would be better off with a greater use of Latin in the Novus Ordo than a widespread use of the Pre-VII rite.

Good luck with it all.

David L Alexander said...

A very thoughtful overview of the big picture, as seen "from the trenches."

It goes without saying that a pastor cannot please everyone. That being said, there are some things to which the faithful are entitled, some things with which Vatican II did not do away. Those entitlements, therefore, are a matter of record, as opposed to conjecture. Their impertinence, while frustrating, can be understood.

While it may be impractical for the average parish priest to "reform the reform" overnight, a change in that direction -- whatever it is -- transcends issues of personal taste.

Father Martin Fox said...


No worries, no antagonism; perhaps I misunderstood you, or expressed myself badly.


Some Latin is taught in some seminaries, but not much.

I don't know how much proficiency with Latin is "enough"; the Church doesn't seem to say. I guess I'd say that "enough" is when you can pray the prayers in a prayerful way. In time, you'll learn.

Anonymous said...

Father Fox, you expressed one possible change in a wonderful way. You spoke of the priest and the congregation facing God together, instead of the priest facing the people as per the Novus Ordo.
At the time a change was made to the priest facing the people, back in the 60's, much was made of the "undesirability" of the priest "having his back to the people". No one seemed to question the fact that rows of pews meant the people in each row had their backs to one another as well. Let's "face" it - if a bunch of people face the same direction, unless there is one long line of people, most will have their backs to one another. So why is it a crime for the priest to also face the same way (toward God) with his back to those who have their own backs to everyone behind them? It was made to sound like something heinous, but you express it so well when you describe the former position of the celebrant as all "facing God together".

Anonymous said...

One priest responsible for two parishes, still with time to run a weblog.
Is something, perhaps, not in balance? Are certain priorities, maybe, not in order? Hmmmm.

Anonymous said...

Anon, are you off your rocker?

I don't think you'd find many visitors to this blog agree with you that Father seems so preoccupied with playtime on the web that he hasn't time to minister to his parishes.

Just out of curiosity, what do you think would suddenly fall into balance if all the "faithful-to-the-Magisterium yet not-willing-to-toss-out-everything-that-happened-since-Vat II" priests who blog suddenly stopped ministering to their "online parishioners?"

But maybe I'm misreading you, and your trite little "Hmmmm" was humorously meant as a Church Lady parody. In either case, humor or criticism, it's not very nice to post such a thing without signing your name. Bad form.

Anonymous said...

Oh horrors, some "anons" give the rest of us a bad name. Shame on whomever does not understand the importance of this weblog and the ministerial role it addresses.

Chris said...

Which way to face?
If I'm on a bus I don't want the driver faced back toward me. He needs to keep his eyes forward to get us to our destination safely.
Father, you're the driver, get us to our destination.

Dave Oatney said...

Do you think the "Paul VI" Mass (vernacular and Latin combined) will become more widespread in the coming years as part of the Pope's desire to return to a more clear interpretation of liturgical tradition?

CPT Tom said...

Father, in our parish we are considering taking the Saturday Mass at 5pm to either "more Latin" or all Latin NO mass. This is what some parishes on Long Island in NY are doing to address multiple ethnic groups needs without fragmenting the parish with multiple ethnic vernacular masses.

Kasia said...

I sometimes wonder if Mass could be celebrated according to the Tridentine Rite but in English. Is that actually possible, even theoretically? (I know with the scarcity of Tridentine Masses right now they're all in Latin, but...)

David L Alexander said...

"I don't know how much proficiency with Latin is 'enough'; the Church doesn't seem to say."

Actually, she does.

"The short answer to why seminarians need to learn Latin is pure and simple: Canon 249. According to the Code of Canon Law, seminarians are not merely to have a cursory introduction to Latin, 'sed etiam linguam latinam bene calleant' ('but they should also know Latin well')..."

Father Martin Fox said...


Ah, well, there you have it; I had forgotten about that canon.

What I meant was that there doesn't seem to be a Latin proficiency test required before a priest decides to offer Mass in Latin. Yes, yes, they should have it already; but if they don't?

Ray's question was, "how proficient must a priest be" before offering Mass in Latin; if he must "know Latin well," before he attempts it (as opposed to knowing the prayers in Latin well enough), then Latin won't return anytime soon, including here -- I wouldn't claim to "know Latin well."

Father Martin Fox said...

Someone asked about the Pius V Rite in English; the answer is, there is, to my knowledge, no permission for that.

Dave Oatney said...

Perhaps the Bishops or the Holy See should consider allowing the Pius V rite in English...the prayers are beautiful and well worth allowing the masses (the people at-large who know no Later or are not familiar with the "old" rite) to hear them.

Jim said...

Father, you are, of course, correct about bringing things along slowly. If I want my family to eat better I don't introduce tofu as our staple food the first day.

I think, however, some of us are enduring so many abuses we look to the Tridentine Mass as a panacea. Furthermore, some see a priest's reluctance to embrace the "old" Mass (or any of our Church's past practices) as embracing the abuses.

For my part I think it sounds like you have found a happy middle ground.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Fox,

Would that the liturgical changes forty years ago were made as slowly as you're hoping for today.
The ole saying, "what goes around comes around" seems to be playing itself out. Many of those priest in the sixties and seventies who were very much in the management of church/parish affairs, and who made many of the uncalled for changes in liturgical life, are now the ones who do not want change for themselves. It matters little that forty to fifty years ago the laity (People of God) were not consulted about the sweeping changes that profoundly effected their spiritual lives; it appears they're certainly not asking us again, though, fortunately, the Vicar of Christ is personally helping with the "reform of the reform."

So, the 64,000 question for you dear Padre Fox is simple: do you now or will you soon begin offering Holy Mass in the "Ad Orientem" position? Is this something you look forward to doing? If so, then why?
Incidentally, Amy Welborn has some excellent post on this issue today. She certainly has way of synthesizing what many of us are thinking about regarding our Lord's earthly Presence.

Peace to all.


Father Martin Fox said...


As far as ad orientem, that isn't something that would happen very soon.

For one, that would be an extraordinarily dramatic change, not something simply to spring on folks; so it would involve lots and lots of catechesis and preparation.

In addition, I am not used to offering Mass that way, so it isn't as though I can just do it; I, too, would have to prepare.

Third, while I am convinced it is a legitimate option in the current Missal, I am not sure the Archbishop would agree; and it would be very ill-advised for me to start something, only to have him tell me to stop. That would make it far more difficult for me to provide leadership in the parish on any number of other matters. I would have no grounds to defy the ordinary to whom I promised obedience, as he is the head liturgist in the archdiocese.

Also, there is so much else that needs to be done. Some folks who say, "Father, you should do this" seem to think that, but for them, the priest would sit around with nothing useful to do! (I'm not saying that's you.) I have lots and lots of projects in mind, many in the works, only some are liturgical, but all are worthwhile.

Finally, while I think there are good arguments for ad orientem, it is important that such things not be merely about my preferences. If I make changes in the celebration of the parish's liturgy, I think they need a far stronger justification.

At this point, the issue is still an open one, and I think it would be helpful, for parish priests and faithful, to have more direction from higher-ups on this point. (Meanwhile, we have much more clear direction on things like sacred music, use of Latin, singing the liturgy, etc.)

Anonymous said...

Fr. Fox,
Happy Thanksgiving!
Thank you for your reply.
You say,

"For one, that would be an extraordinarily dramatic change, not something simply to spring on folks; so it would involve lots and lots of catechesis and preparation."

What is so dramatic about having the people face the Most Holy Triune God when we pray? Isn't that our Beloved Jesus always directed us to do? You say this can't be sprung on people, yet, 45 years ago the priest facing the people was sprung on the laity absent any so called "catechesis."
I do not think it would lots and lots of catechesis. And if it did, I sincerely believe we lay people would welcome this type of instruction. Actually, what is really at issue are the liturgical principles that will govern the way we pray and worship in the Lord's Holy Eucharist.

You are so right about the "higher ups" giving direction, and in this we have to pray that these men are open to receiving the Light of the Lord.

Anonymous said...

I still get confused as to the worry about so called drastic change. Vat II was sure a drastic change from what, 400 years of liturgy? So while we made it through that with Bishops and priests going easy on people, that easy is what has allowed some things not so liturgically correct to creep in and then be called local tradition. People are so self indulged to actually think that the last 40 or so years after VatII are actually real traditions. Traditions in the scope of a 2,000 year old God given Church. Look, I was born after Vat II, I know no other liturgy, however, on further study I can see where some of the "stuff" we do today is, umm, secularish. I mean, each Dioceses and then each parish in that diocese all do some strange little things differently and those that promote or explain away why they may do what they do find it difficult to make the so called "change" to the norms. Hence we become a secularized church from within.
Often times I'm amazed by people who say they love the Lord, and I know they do, yet they don't love His Church enough to simply do what she asks. If we were to pray, "Lord if only you were here right now to tell us to do A, B, C, we would do it immediately" but when His Church asks us to do A, B, C, we say, "Oh well, WE know better." Is that true worship, is that loving Christ? I don't know, doesn't feel like it to me. And go figure, that from a Vat II baby.
Eric Seaman

Anonymous said...

As far as the direction the priest faces during the Liturgy of the Eucharist my problem with the priest facing away from the faithful is not that they only see his back, it is that they cannot see the body or blood until it is raised by the priest. I want to be able to see the bread as the priest offers it to God and as it is transformed into body. I want to see the chalice as wine become blood. I cannot do this if the priest is blocking my view.
The priest does not face the people, he faces the Real Presence. The people do not face the priest They also face the Real Presence. I would prefer to be able to actually see the body and blood, rather than the back of the priest's robes.

Anonymous said...

with so few words you have spoken volumes. Thank you!


Cantor said...


Facing away from the people is described in a clarification from the CDW:

The CDW says either orientation is fine. This is an honest question: can the archbishop prohibit something explicitly allowed by the Vatican?

Thank you for keeping us all level-headed. :)

Father Martin Fox said...


I wasn't certain whether CDW had "ruled" on that or not, so I was speaking as though there were not explicit permission/direction on this subject.

So, to answer your question -- and to be fair to my Archbishop -- I believe he would not attempt to forbid that which is permitted.

(I have never actually discussed this with the Archbishop, nor am I aware of anything he's said on the subject.)

So, I have no idea what he might think of such an enterprise, and it is conceivable he might consider it imprudent.

Further, my Archbishop is always very conversant on these matters, so while I don't dispute what you say or cite, it is just possible my Archbishop might have a different interpretation on the matter.

And, of course, I would be fain to dispute his interpretation of liturgical law unless true necessity demanded I do so; and whatever my preferences might be, I can't see any necessity demanding a priest challenging his archbishop on this, particular, point.


I have my own thoughts about the merits and demerits of ad orientem -- which I have not revealed here -- and the matter is "fluid" in my mind. So I believe it's hardly "ripe" for me even to introduce the subject into discussion in either parish.

michigancatholic said...

And an "interpretation from the archbishop" outweighs what the Pope and the CDW have to say on the matter?

An earlier poster remarked on the speed with which the changes after Vatican II were introduced. I concur. Noone gave a darn whether people were upset then or since. We've put up with having people offend us and call us names for 40 years. We've listened to the Brady Bunch hymn and had to put up with huggy huggy huggy as a surrogate for truth for darned near as long.

That's why people who wish a return to some degree of reverence and decency in the liturgy are impatient. Trust me, our pushiest impulses look like rock-a-bye-baby next to the changes after Vatican II.

I have been verbally abused, cussed out, dissed and otherwise treated like dirt by progressives for years. I'm not being nasty--I'm only telling the truth. Ask around, there are millions of us.

I've always maintained that if the changes occurred, that the more traditional of us would *naturally* be kinder than the calmist progressives==>that is if one doesn't consider thought to be rudeness. Some people do.

Father Martin Fox said...


I don't know you, so I can only make assessments on the basis of how you choose to present yourself via comments on blogs. And I have to say I find you repeatedly and insistently truculent. You might want to rethink your approach.

For example, in no way did I suggest the Archbishop's interpretation outweighs what the CDW and the holy father says, and the suggestion that I did is mighty irritating, frankly.

Since you seem to be in doubt about my meaning (I don't know why), allow me to spell it out with detail.

At no point did I pose the Archbishop's judgment (which is unknown to me) versus that of the CDW and the pope; rather, the question was the Archbishop's judgment, versus my own.

And, yes, I do defer to my Archbishop to provide a more authoritative interpretation of liturgical law, over my own judgment in such matters.

Were there a question of necessity, that creates urgency. E.g., if you are aware of anything from the pope, or the CDW, that mandates me to offer Mass ad orientem, I would appreciate you pointing me to it immediately, as I want to comply with that at the earliest possibility.

But my understanding, rather, is that it is allowed. That means it is an option. That means there is no demand of conscience or duty for me to begin offering Mass in that fashion.

Which is one reason why I think it is appropriate for me to hold off, for a variety of reasons, I thought I had amply explained previously, but for whatever reason you neither read, nor comprehended, such as:

1. I am not accustomed to offering Mass ad orientem and I think I ought to do it well, not sloppily.

2. I have limited "learn new things" time.

3. I have many, many matters to attend to, all important, with my "learn new things" time, such as, offering Mass, publicly, in Latin.

4. I have no idea what the consequences and effects would be on my parish of this sort of change, and I think it prudent to think about that.

5. I think the people have a right to be consulted about something like this, and it behooves me, in the long run, to do so.

6. Currently, I am consulting the people of the two parishes on many things.

7. The people of my two parishes have had to endure a fair amount of change, and more is coming; it's considerate not to overload the circuits. At least, I think so.

8. I fail to see how turning the sympathy of those who tend to be "in the middle" would be a smart move, if I wanted to go ad orientem -- i.e., shoving things down folks' throats would be dumb. So it behooves me to introduce change "gently," so that while there will be bitter-enders who can't be flexible, the majority who are open are more likely to say, "relax," rather than, "you're right, he's on the warpath." In short, why not make allies instead of enemies of ones parishioners?

9. Finally, I want to do more thinking about the merits of ad orientem, both for my own edification, but also because if and/or when the issue arises for my parishes, I have to be ready with an answer to the question, "why does this matter?" Referring them to truculent bloggers will, I predict, be wholly unsatisfactory.

I suppose I might produce a further list, but this is sufficient for me to wait before I exercise an option.

You are most welcome here, but as you are at my blog, I would appreciate a little more courteous behavior, such as giving the benefit of the doubt.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Fox,

It's easy to get impatient with the sheep that won't hear your voice, but there's not much doubt about whom Michigag Catholic is listening to.

It does appear he has hit a nerve. Please consider that our Beloved Jesus recieved on the part of creatures only pain and sorrow. You feel you may have suffered some of the same from Michigan Catholic. I do not believe that was his intent. His pain is felt by many and it is a representative of legitimate discontent across this country for countless and devout souls. Rome has spoken unequivocably and definitively about liturgical matters and it seems to fall on deaf hears here in America. I think this is the essence of Michigan Catholic's post. Eric also hit the nail on the head in his observation that lots of the faithful fail to realize that when Holy Mother Church (the Holy Magisterium) teaches, it is really Christ Our Lord speaking. In this sense there is a real disconnect here in America on some important liturgical issues relative to Eric's insight.

Something else that cannot be overlooked is the basis for resistance that your Archbishop and many others may have for the Rome's CDW's directives. It's having to somehow concede that for the last forty years the Renewal may have gotten it wrong. It's very hard for men of this stature (and priestly souls like yourself) to perhaps consider that maybe we misread/applied the documents of Vatican II.

Father, please do not underestimate your flock. If the catechisis of Ad Orientem is presented to them in the context of something that will draw them deeper into the life of our Lord's Holy Communion, then they will readily embrace it. I can't imagine you doing otherwise. Conversely, holy and devout priest like yourself must be humble to assent to that which Holy Mother Church call us (back) to. In this regard it is encumbent upon the Archbishops of the world to look to the Bark of Peter who listens to the Lord. After all, this is what separates us from our Protestant brothers.

And today our hearts and voices are united as we proclaim together JESUS CHRIST OUR SOVERIGN KING!!


Father Martin Fox said...


I want to correct one thing: if you took any comments of mine to suggest my Archbishop is "resisting" Rome's directives, then allow me to correct that. I said nothing of the sort.

I am well aware of criticisms offered of bishops, including my own; but I have too much regard for him, and my own responsibilities, to post comments faulting him on a blog.

I repeat: I have no idea what he thinks about ad orientem.

My point was that I do defer to his prudential judgment on such a matter, for reasons I've explained at length.

May I say -- and I mean this in good humor -- that it is somewhat amusing to have folks, via the Internet, urge me to hit the gas pedal, assuring me that my parishioners (do they know them?) are all for it, really.

Meanwhile, as it happens, my actual experience -- for what that's worth! -- is that even rather modest changes can cause all manner of complications, and distress, among parishioners.

My parishioners (in two parishes) have certainly endured what is, for them, quite a bit of change, and they tell me many ways it is disconcerting and confusing.

Anonymous said...

Michigan Catholic understands just how quickly the 'alter girls' issue and others like it was thrust upon us. And that was on the most vague of mention by the Vatican.
It's politics folks. Anything correcting the abuses and nonsense of Vatican II will be acted upon at a snails pace...because most bishops don't like it and it goes against their politics.
The bishops in the early '70s showed just how fast things can get changed, and in 2001-2002 they showed just how slowly they react to issues with which go against their best interests.
Pray hard for our Holy Father, he is going in the right direction.
Pray harder he gives us better bishops than his predecessor did.

Cantor said...


I very much agree and empathize with the need to introduce change slowly. I am about a year and a half on the job as a FT parish music director, and I was indeed guilty of too much change in the beginning - partly from having done music ministry before mainly in college, where people are much more amenable to change than in parishes. (The wisdom we gain...)

I am finding it odd, though not unsettling, how parishes change the people who minister there. It’s hard for me to put into words, but I know I face ministry differently than I did a year ago - not just in terms of recognizing the necessity for slow change, but in that intangible sense.

As some of us have noted, it would be beneficial for many in the “blogosphere” to serve on parish committees and to develop a sense of how to meet people where they are in order to lead them where they (ostensibly) need to go.

Cantor said...

Just as a follow-up, let’s assume all kinds of dominoes are in place for a liturgical “re-centering”, wherein ad orientem is able to be mandated, etc. Were those in authority now to introduce these changes at the blistering rate at which things changed in the 1960s, they would be guilty of just as much indulgence in the Zeitgeist, the “spirit of the time” as their predecessors.

All good things in time, I say. What is important is dialogue - open and public.

Anonymous said...

Father Fox,

You asked people to let you know what we think, so, we're doing just that. No doubt your many years in politics prepared you for managing your own blog. However, it seems at times you are slightly thin skinned. I say this with a little humor, but also a little seriousness. Speaking of humor, I would like to think that when your Archbishop visits your blog, he is amused by the bantering that goes on between yourself and those of us who visit your site. And no, we do not presume for you to speak for his Excellency without his prior knowledge or consultation. No doubt your many years in politics taught you to avoid mistakes of that magnitude.

This is good dialogue all around. It keeps everyone on their toes, moreover, when what is posted is written from a charitable heart, then it isn't necessary for you to think that you're being personally taken to task for this or that idea. You do have a sense of humor and when you let is shine is it very much appreciated.

You say your parishoners are sensitive to change. Rightly so. I, too, am a parishoner in a small parish which shares a priest with two other parishes. However, when our parish priest has explained "changes" to us in the proper light of what the Church (Magisterium) correctly teaches, then I and my fellow parishoners assent to this and move on. The important point being the catechesis is framed correctly within Magisterial teaching. Father, therein lies the rub for a lot of bishops and priest, because a lot of us folks in the pews know that some of what the bishops and priest are wanting to change, especially regarding liturgical matters, is not what the Magisterium correctly teaches.
Yes, your're right about the folks in your parish (and mine way over here in western south dakota) getting stressed out about more change. Illicit change that is. At least I'd like to think this of my fellow catholics in the parishes you serve. Also, what many bishops and clergy are only now beginning to realize is that the laity have become instructed about what the Vatican II documents, and so many subsequent official encyclicals, actually say about liturgical matters. And thanks to the internet, and sites such as yours, we lay people are able to challenge each other, as well as clergy like yourself, to share our love for the Catholic Faith and, to a bold degree, hold the clergy accountable to illicit liturgical practices. Unfortunately, not all clericalism is behind us, as evidenced by the priestly sex abuse scandal and so many liturgical aberrations throughout the country. In this regard, it is within our baptismal duties to challenge our bishops and priest to greater holiness, albeit, in a spirit of fraternal love.

Having said the above, I still confess that I am a lifelong and bonafide member of the PPO club--Pay, Pray and Obey!! In this light, I pray that on this special day of our Lord's Kingship, He will bless the feet of His servant Fr. Fox, which takes our Lord's Mercy and Holy Body & Blood to so many souls in need of His Life. Fortunately for you Fr. Fox, the King of Kings makes this possible for you to do.


Anonymous said...


I liked your referral to the "gas pedal." That's was funny and very descriptive. On the flip side of the coin is our desire for priest to "put their feet on the brakes" for illicit change. It cuts both ways.