Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Reform of the Mass in our future?

This is interesting, provocative and important.

The New Liturgical Movement website links to an article that appeared in an Italian paper, il Giornale, which it, in turn, hastily translates. It also links a smoother translation appearing on the website Rorate Caeli.

What the article reports may be wrong, may be exaggerated, may come to far less than it may seem; it will surely cause a stir if it's even somewhat true. It has to do with possible changes in the ordinary form of the Mass--that is, the newer form of the Mass, as revised following Vatican II.

Here is an excerpt, as it appears at Rorate Coeli:

ROME The document was delivered to the hands of Benedict XVI in the morning of last April 4 by Spanish Cardinal Antonio CaƱizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. It is the result of a reserved vote, which took place on March 12, in the course of a "plenary" session of the dicastery responsible for the liturgy, and it represents the first concrete step towards that "reform of the reform" often desired by Pope Ratzinger.*

The Cardinals and Bishops members of the Congregation voted almost unanimously in favor of a greater sacrality of the rite, of the recovery of the sense of eucharistic worship, of the recovery of the Latin language in the celebration, and of the remaking of the introductory parts of the Missal in order to put a stop to abuses, wild experimentations, and inappropriate creativity.

They have also declared themselves favorable to reaffirm that the usual way of receiving Communion according to the norms is not on the hand, but in the mouth. There is, it is true, and indult which, on request of the [local] episcopates, allows for the distribution of the host [sic] also on the palm of the hand, but this must remain an extraordinary fact.

The "Liturgy Minister" of Pope Ratzinger, CaƱizares, is also having studies made on the possibility to recover the orientation towards the Orient of the celebrant, at least at the moment of the eucharistic consecration, as it happened in practice before the reform, when both the faithful and the priest faced towards the Cross and the priest therefore turned his back to the assembly.

A few things to say:

> Note that this refers to something that happened in April--four months ago. These things move slowly. Currently, the U.S. bishops, along with bishops of all other English-speaking countries, are working with Rome on finalizing an approved, new, English translation of the Mass. This process has moved at the pace of a glacier, and is still not finished. God willing, a couple more years and maybe it'll finally be finished; and that I would not bet on!

Yet the Church, moving slowly, still moves.

I have no idea if anything will come of this. No doubt there will be those who will react very badly to this. They have reacted badly to the steps I've taken in some of these matters, although even my worst critics will have to admit, I haven't gone as far as some of these suggestions.

Still, it should be noted that the pope has definitely made moves in this direction in the liturgy. There can be no doubt at all that this is where he believes the Church must go; the question is, how does he intend to proceed? What is he prepared to mandate, what is prepared to suggest, what is he prepared to wait for patiently?

> I think it's very important that all Catholics, including all the members of our Piqua parishes, be aware of this.

I'll be totally upfront: I am making this known because I am well aware of folks who aren't happy by my approach to the liturgy. And I genuinely agonize over this, because I have no desire at all to cause them any pain, and yet how can I ignore the pope and bishops? How can I ignore what is so plain from the documents of Vatican II? I lack the skill, thus far anyway, to proceed on this without some folks being pained and disturbed; my hope is that it might help at least for people to see for themselves I am not making this up, this is not my wild idea.

> We must be patient.

There are those who want the pope, the bishops, and priests, to bull ahead, without any consideration of the feelings or reactions of those who do not see such changes as these as helpful. They find my small steps insignificant, even as those who object see them as huge changes. Once again, I really am trying to imitate Pope Benedict and follow his lead, making some changes, proposing others and using example rather than mandate, and proceeding patiently and methodically.

> What will I do as pastor? I'm going to continue talking about this, trying to apply the Church's norms in our liturgy, try to be no less nor no more flexible than a good pastor should be, try to address areas needing improvement in a way that is neither too abrupt, nor too pusillanimous.
Please pray that we will all work together in the right spirit: dying to self and following the lead of the Holy Spirit, as He guides us in His Church, through Peter in particular.

* Although this sounds odd, apparently this is a common way of referring to the pope in the Italian press and not meant disrespectfully.

Update (8/25/09):

Someone asked the pope's spokesman about this, and got what I'd call a qualified denial, which may mean (a) there's nothing to this; (b) the story may be accurate but incomplete; (c) the pope is looking at it but hasn't made known any decisions; (d) the Vatican wants to tamp down speculation about this for various reasons, one of which may be that whatever happens may be awhile.

I am reading about it, but don't have time to write about it. If you follow the links above, you can tap into what those sites are doing with it...


Unknown said...

Are you sure we don't share parishioners? I am doing the exact same things here in WV and am getting the EXACT same reaction. To the point where yesterday I contrasted Jesus taking his own very flesh seriously to the dissatisfaction of his followers to the Church's taking His very flesh seriously to the dissatisfaction of our followers. I then defined the GIRM, Sing to the Lord, etc etc.

Owell. Enough ranting for one day!

In Christ,

Fr. John Mulcahy

Anonymous said...


In trying to give some words of encouragement, I would not fret over how some in the parish will react. Mother Church knows best. Although, I recognize that this is easy for me to say.

I don't know what kind of flack (sp?) you have gotten from other parishioners, but I think your changes have been good so far. I applaud you for your bringing more reverence to the mass, I just wish more parishioners would follow suit.

Jesse and Anna

Anonymous said...

Nothing could ever be as objectionable as some of the "creative" horrors displayed at Mass over the past twenty years.
I recall hearing of a "clown Mass" and I personally experienced in our own parish a children's Mass where the entire sanctuary was filled with xeroxed
yellow happyfaces taped here and there and merry little kids dancing round the altar. Anna

Anonymous said...

The shepherd must lead the flock and not let the flock lead him. Being a leader should not be a popularity contest but the willingness and steadfastness to do what is right according to God's will not the will of the naysayers.

Reverence in church has been gone for much more than 20 years. The flower children of the sixties have left their imprint on everything. "Free love. If it feels good do it. Live for today." Blah, blah, blah, has gotten us where we are today.

Bring back St. Michael at the end of the Mass...Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

Lead the flock and remind us how to pray.

Gabriella said...

I don't know. I'm not very happy with a reform of the reform.
I'd rather have the Mass of All Times.

mrsdarwin said...

Looking over the new translations, I'm excited to think that in a few years, we'll be hearing them at Mass.

I think it's a great idea to release some of the ordinary of the Mass for teaching purposes, because often the way a person first learns a formula is the way it will stick in his head. I want to sit down and learn the new translation of the Apostles' Creed so I can teach it to my children.

Anonymous said...

What goes around, comes around. I find I am now reacting as those who 40 some years ago reacted negatively to the then changes of the Mass. I found the changes of the past uplifting, freeing and a means to better worship Our Father, Son and Spirit in heaven.

Now, I find myself wanting to keep things as they have been since those changes. I am acting as the naysayers of the past have. I do not want to go back to Latin, to the priest facing away from us, or receiving communion on the tongue.

The most disheartening part of all this for me, is not that the changes are occurring, but that they are happening with a blame on the past changes as being done erroneously.

I believe the Holy Spirit was working in the church then as she is now. I feel for the priests who are stuck in the middle of doing what they are told, even if the parishoners don't agree.

I liked the idea that I was more a part of my church and it's worship, than a mere observer and found that my reverence at and for the Mass was intensified when those long ago changes were made. I am balking at the changes now, because that is something I don't want to lose.

Somewhere, there is a midpoint and that is where I have to believe the Spirit is leading us. Feelings are not wrong, they just are and can't or shouldn't be denied or explored. It is ok to feel the changes are not good for oneself or the church and to speak that opinion. Granted the church is not a democracy where we get a vote in how things should be, but it is not a dictatorship either - or at least I feel it shouldn't be.

God wants us to come to Him, but to come to Him with love, happiness and peace, not with a scorecard of following every directive that comes out of the parish office, the diocesan office, or even the Vatican without thinking. He gave us free will for a reason. He wants the love that we return to Him to come from that free will, not written directives and prohibitions.

The church is important in the formation of the free will, but it is not the only influence that we need to consider. The church has never been and will never be perfect. It is striving to be so, as am I. But, I do not feel I am less in my striving by disagreeing with whether or not I say the word Yahweh or not.

I know I have touched on a lot of sore subjects in our current day church, and I can see a lot of hairs rising on the backs of some necks, but I felt I needed to say them.

I realize that this is your blog, Father, but by putting it out there, you are asking for feedback, and this is all this is. Yes I am a member of your parish and one who proudly graduated the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program of our diocese, and I truly feel for how you have to put up with people like me. But, all I am asking is that you not throw those of us who are having a hard time with the changes under the bus. I do not feel that is your intent, and just ask for your patience as we cope with thigs that are being taken from us without our consent.