Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Is your parish liturgy Vatican II-compliant? Let’s find out!

For each question, rate your parish from zero to three: 
3 = excels; 2 = good; 1 = fair; 0 = poor (or don’t know).

1.      Does your parish liturgy make prominent the priesthood of Jesus Christ?1
2.      Does the celebration of Mass in the parish clearly reflect the hierarchal structure of the Church?2
3.      Is it clear that Mass seeks the sanctification of God’s People?3
4.      Is it manifest that Mass perpetuates the sacrifice of the Cross?4
5.      Is the priority of Mass in your parish “worship of the Divine Majesty” with all else subordinate?5
6.      Is the ministry of preaching “fulfilled with exactitude and fidelity”?6
7.      Is communion under both kinds provided at least on special occasions?7
8.      Is Lent a time that focuses both on recalling/preparing for baptism, as well as on penance?8 E.g., is use of holy water fostered, or suppressed?
9.      Are the faithful, during Lent, encouraged to detest sin, with an emphasis on penitential practices and prayer for sinners?9

Authentic Participation

10.  Is “active participation” understood as both internal and external, with interiority, expressed as “deep wonder,” the foundation?10
11.  Do the faithful participating in Holy Mass have a real sense that they are “offering the Immaculate Victim, not only through the hands of the priest, but also with him” – and in so doing, are they learning “to offer themselves”?11
12.  Does the faithful’s experience of Holy Mass reflect use of “signs perceptible to the senses” – such as bells and incense?12
13.  Does your parish make explicit connection between frequent reception of confession, as well as penance in general, and a worthy and fruitful participation in the Holy Mass?13
14.  Do both clergy and laity recognize the legitimate roles that pertain to each – with neither intruding on the roles of the other?14
15.  Do servers, lectors and choir members discharge their office with sincere piety and decorum? Do they recognize their ministry is “exalted”? Have they been trained to perform their functions in an “orderly manner”?15


16.  Is everything in the sacred liturgy carried out in accordance with norms set by the Holy See and the bishop – as opposed to what may arise from a particular priest’s preferences, or those of parishioners, either individually or by group?16
17.  Do all – including the priest – refrain from ever adding, removing, or changing anything in the liturgy on his or her own authority?17
18.  If there have been liturgical “adaptations” in your parish, have they been approved by either the Holy See, the bishop or conference of bishops?18
19.  Does the parish celebration of the liturgy reflect visible unity with the bishop?19
20.  Is the homily always given by an ordained minister and never a layperson?20
21.  Is Holy Mass never celebrated outside the church or chapel without the bishop’s permission?21
22.       Is the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion truly out of necessity, rather than convenience; is it “provisional” rather than ordinary?22

Latin and Tradition

23.  Has the use of Latin in parish liturgies been preserved?23
24.  Are the faithful “able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them”?24 E.g., the Gloria, Credo, Pater Noster, Angus Dei?
25.  Is the “beauty and noble simplicity” of the liturgy guided by the General Instruction “and by the traditional practice of the Roman Rite and to what serves the common spiritual good of the People of God, rather than private inclination or arbitrary choice”?25

Posture, Gestures, Silence

26.  Are the faithful encouraged to observe common postures and gestures?26
27.  Are all aware that the Missal presupposes ad orientem posture by the priest: i.e., the priest & people face the Lord together, rather than the priest offering Mass facing the people?27
28.  Is “sacred silence” given its proper place in the sacred liturgy, particularly “in the Penitential Act and again after the invitation to pray,” after readings, homily, and communion? Is silence observed beforehand “in the church…vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred celebration in a devout and fitting manner”?28
29.  Is the sign of peace given “in a sober manner…only to those who are nearest”?29
30.  Are announcements after communion “brief” and truly “necessary”?30
31.  Do people genuflect to the tabernacle when passing in front of it?31
32.  Do all bow their heads when the Holy Trinity “are named together and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Saint in whose honor Mass is being celebrated”?32

Sacred Music

33.  Does the sacred music draw on the whole “treasure” of Christian tradition – or only on a small segment thereof? Is sacred music treated as the preeminent art of the Church?33
34.  Is the emphasis of the music on “the glory of God and the sanctification of the soul”? 34
35.  Do all realize that the Holy Mass achieves a “more noble form” when celebrated in song?35
36.  Is emphasis placed on the priest and deacon singing their parts?36
37.  Is Latin included in the sacred music?37
38.  Is Gregorian chant given “pride of place”?38
39.  Is polyphony included?39
40.  Is the “pipe organ held in high esteem” as “the traditional musical instrument” for liturgy?40
41.  Are Scripture-based chants – as opposed to hymns – given priority for the entrance, offertory and communion processions?41

Art & Architecture

42.  Does your parish liturgical practice and environment reflect “sound tradition” – as opposed to setting aside all that is traditional in the liturgy, for example in selection of art, furnishings, vestments and vessels?42
43.  Are relics and images of the saints “held in veneration”?43
44.  Has the parish sought to preserve sacred art already in its possession – and not “disposed of and dispersed [them], removing only those that are “repugnant to faith, morals, and Christian piety, and which offend true religious sense either by depraved forms or by lack of artistic worth, mediocrity and pretense”?44

How did your parish score?
Score “Y” as 1, “P” as ½ and “N” as zero:
(Sorry about that confusing part; relic of earlier version!)

For each question, rate your parish from zero to three: 

3 = excels; 2 = good; 1 = fair; 0 = poor (or don’t know).

119-132   =      A
105-118   =      B
  93-104   =      C
  80-92     =     D
   0-79      =      F

Created by:

Father Martin Fox
Saint Remy Parish
Russia, Ohio

3 SC 7
4 Ibid. 47.
5 Ibid. 33.
6 Ibid. 35.2.
7 Ibid.
8 Ibid. 109.
9 Ibid.
10 Ibid. 19, Redemptionis Sacramentum 40, 41.
11 SC 48.
12 Ibid. 7.
13 Ibid. 9.
14 Ibid. 28.
15 Ibid. 29, 30.
16 Ibid. 22.
17 Ibid.
18 Ibid. 40.
19 Ibid. 42.
20 RS 64.
21 RS 108.
22 RS 152, 158.
23 SC 36.1.
24 Ibid. 54.
25 GIRM 42.
26 Ibid. 42, 44.
27 Roman Missal 1, 29, 127, 132, 139, 141, 144.
28 GIRM 45.
29 Ibid. 82.
30 Ibid. 90.
31 Ibid. 274.
32 Ibid. 275.
33 SC 112.
34 Ibid.
35 Ibid. 113.
36 GIRM 40.
37 SC 114.
38 Ibid. 116.
39 Ibid. 117.
40 Ibid. 120.
41 GIRM 48, 74, 87.
42 Ibid. 23.
43 Ibid. 111.
44 Ibid. 123, 124, 126.


Shelly said...

I had the Faith Formation group I facilitate study "Sacrosanctum Concilium" at the beginning of the year, and they were all surprised at what the document actually said.
Thank you for compiling this; it is well-done. I unfortunately scored my parish at only 21!

Hoser said...

Now THAT is a tough questionare. My parish gets an F. Primarily for the banjo at our services.

Fr Martin Fox said...


As you can see, it's based 100% on what Vatican II and subsequent documents call for. Many of the questions take their language directly from the documents.

John Stegeman said...

I liked this a great deal, and learned much from it.

Father, do you believe it is possible to create something like this that is less subjective to the one filling it out?

Fr Martin Fox said...


I'm not sure. Can you offer any suggested verbiage?

Deacon David Oatney said...

I'm terribly sorry to say that my parish totally bombed the music section...

John Stegeman said...

Father, I'm not sure I can.

Just taking No. 1 for example. I had to go re-read the relevant section of Sacrosanctum Concilium, spend some time thinking about it and all in all, I still wasn't sure how to rate my parish.

A guide like this would be ideal for those moving to the area seeking a parish to join, but I worry that it might be over the heads of many.

Again though, I enjoyed this. Thank you.

Fr Martin Fox said...


I appreciate your suggestion, but here's the difficulty.

Once I start specifying "objective" criteria (i.e., that aren't already contained in the source materials I worked from) that determine whether any of these stated goals is being met, I'm now going beyond what the relevant church documents say.

For example, question one, which you cite, comes directly from Sacrosanctum Concilium; but that document never says, "here are the objective measures by which you know if this is true." So who am I -- a mere parish priest -- to supply them? Another parish priest, among others, might credibly challenge my suggestions.

So it's really the province of the bishops to do that.

Instead, all I can do is pose the question exactly as the Council did. And in answering it, you and I and everyone else simply has to look, listen, and ask ourselves: does this lift up Jesus Christ as priest?

As I see it, there's an easy response: "I don't know." In which case, the parish would seem to be failing on one count to implement Vatican II.

Does this help? Or did I miss the point?

rcg said...

Hoser, where is your parish? I want to go! Seriously, I think one could make this reasonably objective by applying bands of scores in each category, I.e scales do five. So you could be compliant or REALLY compliant. Or you could be less than compliant or BANJO. I love the banjo, but love my TLM parish more. I am so torn!

TK said...

"F" of course. No surprise. This is a mega parish out West. And why I read your blog :)

John Stegeman said...

Yes Father, that makes sense. Thank you.

Sara said...

F (21). I really need to change my parish to St. Remy!

johnnyc said...

122 for my parish. I had to give a 0 for #7. My parish celebrates both forms of the Mass but only offers the Host in communion. We have altar rails so maybe that is why?

I did not understand #26 so I selected 0. We are not encouraged to hold hands or pray in the orans posture if that is what you mean.

#32 got a 2. Not all bow their heads but it's getting there. :) Of course some would say how can you tell if you have your head bowed but I have observed from the adoration chapel so there!

I'm not familiar with #39 so it got a 0 and I'm not a music specialist but I know my pastor takes great importance in Sacred Music it certainly is beautiful to me so the rest of the section gets 3s.

Fr Martin Fox said...


Thanks for the comment.

Q. 26: "Are the faithful encouraged to observe common postures and gestures?"

I went back and re-read the relevant GIRM passages. It refers to standing, sitting and kneeling at the designated times. The sections linked also refer to the priest, deacon and servers engaging in processions and other gestures "with decorum."

Your comment is helpful, because I realize that question could be recast to be clearer. Thanks!

johnnyc said...

Oh okay Father. Thanks for the clarification. In that case #26 would be 3. Here is a relevant article from Cardinal Burke.....


NiceLady said...

Very good review for a parish. Unfortunately, according to my answers, my parish is a D. So much to do!