Thursday, October 4, 2007


"From the Church will come the reminders that mercy is being neglected or memory cast away, and not from the men who happen to make the next batch of rulers on this restless and distracted earth."

G. K. Chesterton

31 comments:

tibotmorfenoo said...
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the owl of the remove said...

Yes, my strangely named friend, but in those days (pre-Vatican II Church) the Altar was usually fixed to the wall of the Church - so it was impossible for the Celebrant to say Mass 'facing the people.' However, the fact that for most of its 2000 year history, Mass was celebrated 'ad orientem', (a fact now only disputed by the most reactionary left-overs from 1970's weed-smoking class), the fact that priest and people are facing the SAME WAY when praying ad orientem, the fact that the priest is the leader in prayer - counts for something?

tibotmorfenoo said...
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the owl of the remove said...

My strangely named friend: "did Jesus celebrate the Last Supper ad orientem?" With greatest respect - that's just silly - the Church - yes, the Magisterium, is the ONLY authority on what is, or is not acceptable for the liturgy because, as Pope Benedict said the other day, the liturgy is "God's work, not ours." Second, to quote you "Hmm...." "is authoritative, up to date ...1969....!!" This is not about denigrating our parents, on anyone else who attempted to be faithful to the Church over the last 30 years - but what about being faithful to what the Church is asking us to do today - are we the servants of the liturgy or its master? I have to ask you the question: what are you so fearful about - if God is in charge of His Church - if the Holy Father is the Successor of St. Peter - as Pope Benedict has said (who was AT the Council and helped write some of the documents) after all Councils there is "chaos" - the fact that the authentic vision of the Council is now emerging - once again - what is there to fear .....except where the journey may lead you....Hmmm....?!"

the owl of the remove said...

Also - p.s. - read Uwe Michael Lange's book 'Turning Towards the Lord' (forward by Cardinal Ratzinger...Hmmm!) and.....I'm sorry to tell the truth, but I DON'T think everyone did a great job over the last 30 years - I deal with the damage every day - the lowest Mass attendance since records began (funny how that happened AFTER the Mass got all modern and relevant...hmmmm) - people who have the faith knowledge of five year olds - even though they are 50 ..... where are the vocations? Could it be that some of the 47 million plus aborted children might have become priests and nuns....hmmm. God bless the faithful who kept praying and supporting their Church through all this..... but many of the 'mentors' are now out of the priesthood/convent...and who is picking up the pieces? Nevertheless - it's a GREAT time to be a Catholic - and a priest ... and a father?

tibotmorfenoo said...
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Liz said...

I think it's interesting that one of the first things I read that was critical of the abandonment of ad orientem was written by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. What is ironic is that I read it from a book I found in a bookcase at a convent which was as liberal as they come. I was in the convent because it was also an assisted care living place and I was waiting for an appointment with the director to talk about placing my Protestant mom there. I was a new Catholic at the time, but what the cardinal said made so much sense. I think that Vatican II's call for active participation on the part of the people (and I know that the translation may not be tremendously accurate) was not meant to produce the results it did. To encourage the people to actively follow and interiorly add the intent of their own hearts to the actions performed by the celebrant seems to be what was intended. That we should spend our time enthusiastically singing songs of dubious theological accuracy and poor musical quality, does not seem to be what the council fathers in the main were advocating.

Tibotmorfenoo, I know that there are people who actually did grow up feeling that the changes in the 70's were an improvement. However, truly doctrinally faithful Catholics in this camp appear (from my very limited exposure) to be the exception rather than the rule. Most of the Catholics I know who enthusiastically embraced the changes also had other changes in mind. A lot of the time they embraced these changes, even though the Church did not. They were things like voluntary sterilization, divorce and remarriage, contraception,a hostility to papal encyclicals they disagreed with, and a campaign for women priests. I am not in any way saying that everyone who likes Michael Joncas music or delights in the liturgy as celebrated at Weston Priory is not a faithful Catholic. I'm merely saying that, in my limited experience, fidelity has not been the mark of those who preferred the novelty.

Some of my friends sent their children to CCD and Catholic schools in the 1980's and 1990s. They are appalled at what their children learned (and didn't learn there). One family of 9 has watched their oldest 6 one by one abandon the faith. Is it any wonder that they chose to homeschool the youngest 3 and have finally seen the value of providing the bulk of even religious instruction themselves? I personally watched as one of those oldest 6 started to change from someone devoted to the faith (but with no theological underpinning) to someone who had embraced the world's values (because someone gave her what seemed like a valid philosophical argument). One of the dangers of having the theological maturity of a 5 year old when you are 50 is that you've generally grown mentally in every other area. If you believe that the Church as no more complete answers than a 5 year old can grasp than it becomes easier and easier to dismiss what she has to say.

One of my only advantages to having grown up Protestant is that I missed so much of this. As someone who "read themselves into the faith" (including a lot of Chesterton), I knew that the Church provided very extensive answers, that the treasures awaiting me were going to take more time to explore than I had lifetime left in which to do the exploring. I've spent a lot of the last ten years trying to bring my enthusiasm for that exploration to cradle Catholics who didn't have it. According to some of them, I've actually accomplished that for a few people.

I'm not a hidebound traditionalist who thinks that no good thing came out of Vatican II. A reverently celebrated Novus Ordo Mass can be a beautiful thing, even if of a very different flavor than the extraordinary form. I'll even admit that some of the ecumenism practiced by priests actually allowed me as a Protestant to become more comfortable with the priesthood. However, I think I may have been unusual, because most of the people I was whom I was involved with ecumenical events are still Protestant (sadly, so now are a significant number of the Catholics who were involved).

There are and have been many, many good things happening, but that does not alter the fact that some bad things are continuing to go on as well. There are still theologians attempting to undermine traditional teaching, there are still priests who, in the name of relevance deform the liturgy. There are places where priests are outright disobedient to the rubrics (like the parish my daughter and I attended on Palm Sunday in the diocese of Rochester a few years back where the homilist was not the priest but a woman). There are also bishops, like our own who are encouraging priests to move the tabernacle back to the middle of the sanctuary, who are encouraging fidelity to the rubrics and a more Catholic focus in Catholic education. The question always is whether we focus on the positive things or agonize over the negative ones, perhaps it needs to be both.

Recently I read a section in C.S. Lewis's A Preface to Paradise Lost where he was explaining the importance of solempne (he uses the Latin term instead of the English solemnity simply because the Latin term captures more). I'm recommending that passage to people who don't understand the draw of the traditional Mass because it seems like he captures something there of the beauty of ritual and ceremony. I read it to some teenagers who attended the Mass celebrated by our bishop on the Feast of the Assumption and they thoroughly "got" what Lewis was attempting to say. One of the points Lewis is trying to make is that this isn't ordinary language or ordinary gestures. One of the problems with things since the 70's seemed to be an attempt to bring the liturgy into the language and format of the modern era. However, the modern era isn't all that interested in a transcendent God. They are interested in self-centeredness not God centeredness. So in an era where man needs perhaps more than at some other times to be reminded that in worship we all face in one direction to join our hearts in worship of the Triune God, we got instead the image of coziness. Father facing the people, walking among them during his homily,people holding hands during the Our Father. It was all very heartfelt, I'm sure, but it lost the character of solempne, to our detriment. The idea of the reform of the reform seems to be about regaining that.

the owl of the remove said...

Dear 'onefromtobit'!
Yes - it includes the US Bishops - who are only Catholic IF they are in communion with the Bishop of Rome - as you may, or may not know, the US Bishops will be voting on a new document at their meeting next month on music in the liturgy - last year they already agreed to the theological criteria for the selection of music - all flowing along with what Rome is asking - seems like everyone is getting in step. Yes - I won't give up on you - or stop praying for you - which I do regularly! The debate is good - but prayer is best!!

the owl of the remove said...

Two other quick things, young Father of two - perhaps my use of the word "fear" was wrong - apologies - but one of the profound problem areas in the Church today is ecclesiology - the nature of the Church - in fact a seminary professor said it was the reason for ALL the confusion in the Church - particularly, the confusion over the hierarchical nature of the Church - which is of Her essence (check your catechism) - the people of the late 20th, early 21st Century don't have much sense of a Divinely ordained hierachy - could that be a real issue? I certainly understand that a society that views democracy as the only form of government will struggle with hierarchy - but ...hierarchy begins in the family ...there's no democracy over bedtime for the children...or is there!!?? I have always found with converts when they come to an understanding of the nature of the Church, most of their other 'issues' - Our Lady, Priesthood, Sexual ethics..just disappear - worth a thought? Keep on the journey, hierarchical father!

the Mom said...

My dear Owl,
Thank you for stopping by my humble blog, and for your kind words. If you don't mind, I would love to read your homily for right to life Sunday. I agree with you that one of the strongest pro-life positions is "women deserve better than this". We all deserve better, the mothers, the fathers, and those precious little ones who have been lost along the way.

Love,
Mom

tibotmorfenoo said...
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the owl of the remove said...

Re: St. Ambrose - there have, it is true been different methods for the selction of Bishops over the centuries - but all had to have their office confirmed by the Pope - remember him? Also - in the time of St. Ambrose - it certainly wasn't the slaves who were voting for the new Bishop - because of course, there was NO democracy - so who was voting for the new Bishop? I have a busy weekend now - so no more blogging for me for a few days - get some rest, young father of two!

tibotmorfenoo said...
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Ave Maria! said...

tibotmorfenoo,
It sounds like you heard Fr. Ben's sermon today, which i bet was powerful! Wish i could have heard it. Well, i'll hear him preach again soon. But, now you have me curious as to who your are, my fellow Vermonter...and from the sounds of it... neighbor?

tibotmorfenoo said...
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gemoftheocean said...

With all due respect to you and the pope, the Holy Spirit wasn't sitting on anyone's shoulder deciding how many times the cruet should be kissed. Liturgy developed organically. Yes, Jesus told us the words of institution, but all the rest is development and gravy. You might want to see what the hippies of 1910 had to say about liturgy.

See the article on liturgy in the Catholic Encyclopedia here.

And, sorry, but the question re: "Did Jesus celebrate ad orientam" isn't a silly question at all. I would pose the same question and also point out that pre-Vatican II the pope has always faced the people in the nave of the church. Granted, the tabernacle was in front of him, but he's still facing the people.

I refuse to believe that the priest having his back to the people is intrinsically better. I'm not saying it's intrinsically worse either. Maybe some people like sitting in the obstructed seats in a theatre. Personally, that's not me.

Where people get the idea that celebrating the Mass facing the people automatically means that Fr. becomes "Fr. showmanship" is a mystery to me. He's not "Fr. Showmanship" if he follows the rubrics and says the Mass as written. If the charismatics would keep their hands to themselves and the priest would just follow the rubrics, I'm a happy camper. But even having said that, it's clear from the article and other books that ritual developed over time.

For instance, surely it wasn't in the ritual to "ring the bell" at the consecration from the very first Mass. This was only added after too many people were in the sanctuary "doing their own thing" and some genius thought: "It might be nice if the schleps standing around in the nave knew that the act of the transubstantiation has taken place."

I abhor as many some of the outright crap the so-called liturgists came up with in the 60s and 70s, but the changes weren't all bad. If people like Latin in Mass, and take the time to understand it: Great, more power to them - more people should for the sake of greater universality and a sense of their own heritage. And I think Catholics of the Roman Rite SHOULD learn some Latin, if they have the intellectual capacity.

But if one "needed" Latin (especially if they themselves didn't understand Latin) to make the Eucharist more "mysterious" then they had serious problems to begin with. Transubstantiation is a big enough mystery all by itself. And if people "need" the Latin to MAKE transubstantiation a mystical experience, then there's something wrong with THEIR understanding. That's ALSO a "five year old" attitude.

jefflax said...

Gem,
So many points !
First, the old canard about the Pope & who he faced is a straw man. He doesn't face the people, primarly, he faces east (ad orientum) and the coming Lord. Due to particular geography of St. Peter's the pope celebrates ad orientum and versus populum at the same time. The matter has much more to do with catechisis through body position (we await the coming of the Lord) than a point on the compass. It has absolutely nothing to do with having his back to anyone and everything to do with who he/we is/are facing. It also, to a certain degree is viewed as the priest leading his flock, from the front, in prayer and worship.

Certainly celebrating versus populum does not intrinsically guarantee "Fr. Showmanship" but experiential data clearly shows the overwhelming portion of "showmanship" abuses, if not all, come from the NO mass. I refer to any google search of The Barney Mass, The Clown Mass, et. al. The internet is loaded with heart wrenching abuses of the sacred litugy. See cathcon.blogspot.com/ for many examples. Although it is not fair to say that the NO encourages liturgical abuse I think it is fair to say it creates an atmosphere within which some individuals feel free to transform the mass into their own expression rather than the expresson of the Church.

Re: The bell;
"This was only added after too many people were in the sanctuary "doing their own thing"...
In point of fact, when the ringing of the bells were added I can just about guarantee that no one except the priest was in the sanctuary. I say this with much certainty since the 1907 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia is quoted as stating that the bells have an 800 year history in the liturgy.

Lastly, Latin. I'm just a blue collar guy. I don't have any latin in my background, formally and I definitely don't need it to make the mass more "mysterious". What I need is for it to make the mass more vertically oriented. I am sick of the me/we/us thrust of the last 40 years. Fr. Klaus Gamber stated in his book the Reform of the Roman Liturgy "human beings have a tendency to go to extremes". His comment being made within the context of the aftermath of Vatican II. His point being that we went from one extreme to another. In Vermont, we don't get many chances to experience either a Latin NO or EF but when I can, oh my ! The difference, the connectedness to God, the utter certainty of knowing you are engaged in worship of the Creator of the Universe, has literally caused tears in my eyes.

To be fair, so has the NO, but those were instances of liturgical abuse through which I had to suffer. I guess, speaking only for myself here, that what I am hoping for is a return to the surety that I am engaged in worship as dictated by the Magesterium of the Church which I have chosen to belong to.

Lastly, I for one believe that this time in which we live is also producing an "organic development" of the liturgy. Sometimes in the process of development you decide what you last tried may not be quite right and return to a product which worked.

MomWithManyJobs said...

I love just taking the time to learn from all of you. So many blessed and talented people who care, and I think that is what the man upstairs would care about most.

Ave Maria said...

Jefflax,
Glad to know of another fellow Vermonter who loves liturgy done right and the traditions of the church. Pray for me, since i am studying the musical heritage of the church.
Kimberly

tibotmorfenoo said...
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the owl of the remove said...

I haven't introduced any of those rules that some blogs have (mainly because I still haven't worked out how to block horrible comments!) - but the good news is that the lively debate so far is being conducted in a charitable and civilized way - very Catholic! Thank you to everyone - particularly the Vermont crew! It's probably time for me to post again - some good things in the parish - more than 50 people at the RCIA/Journey of Faith - which says that either I'm a good salesman, or there is a hunger for learning about the Faith - I think the latter is the obvious answer - that's good news! Strangely named father of two - I would REALLY encourage you to read Lange's book - "facing the people as at one time they always did" - I don't know what time he's talking about, but it is now generally accepted that 'ad orientem' was the common form of prayer for most of the history of the liturgical life of the Church, as ALL the Orthodox Churches do today.
No-one talks about the priest "turning is back on the people" - they talk about praying in the same direction - the rest of the Klauser quote is pretty good though. Thank God we have lots of people who love our Church - and are seeking common ground!

tibotmorfenoo said...
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jefflax said...

Ave: Glad to, Matter of fact, I am leading the rosary in our parish this Sat. and you will be one of my intentions.

Owl: If the first sentence of post # 28 was an elbow nudge to my ribs, let canon1753 know so he can cuff me up 'side the head :)

tibotmorfeeno: can I call you ti ?
In addition to owl's reccomendation of Fr. Lange's book I would suggest The Spirit of the Liturgy, written by Pope Bendict, pages 74 and on. To quote extensively here would be tedious. Suffice to say face east, ad orientum, is the order of the day. He also answers your question to me regarding whats a poor priest to do in a church oriented such as yours. Again paraphrasing but the thrust is; the cross over the altar becomes the symbolic east and all face the cross.
Therein lies the crux of the matter for me. This discussion of ad orientum vs. versus populum could be repphrased facing the lord vs. facing the people. If those are the two choices I know who I want to face.
In the end it comes down to catechesis doesn't it? Not; What direction are we facing? but; Why are we faciing this way?
So if it's a choice between a professor in a book from 1969 or the Pope from 2000, I'll take the extra 30 years of scholarship and my pope thank you very much.
This venue is, after all, not particularly conducive to friendly and instructive debates of the depth required for this topic. Blogs are great for run and gun but the Hermeneutics of Continuity vs. The Hermeneutics of Rupture, not so much. Therefore I will beg off further posting on this subject but if sometime this winter owl, canon1753 and you would like to gather for lemonciello, or makers mark, and courteous conversation, count me in.

gemoftheocean said...

Jefflax: Thanks for catching that "sanctuary" thing. I did mean the people in the NAVe of the church, doing their own thing.

I merely used the bells as an example of things that change organically over time.

There were abuses of the Liturgy when it was done in Latin too ... just not as apparent. Priests racing through the Mass. My mother did not call Fr. Fromholtzer "Speedy Gonzales" for nothing. Let's put it this way, if you hit Sunday Mass more than 2 minutes late, you had to stay for the next Mass, because he'd hit the Offertory already. Mumbled responses from not-quite-competent 8 year olds servers weren't always the best thing either.

[As I recall mom clocked Fr. F. as having a record "17 minutes flat" - on a SUNDAY Mass.]

My own priest, nearly 79 now, who said the Latin Mass for 10 years recalls being irritated by people praying the rosary DURING the Mass - when they should have been focused on the Mass instead of their own private devotions. And I can well remember seeing that particular abuse by the laity myself.

And Fr. Owl: Of course we're all going to "make nice." We wouldn't come into your living room and dump an ash tray all over the floor and leave. That's just not American hospitality!

FWIW: my own thoughts about where things went so off-track were because of Humanae Vitae. Far too many, a great many priests included, had been hoping that use of artificial birth control would be permitted. Then the reasoning behind the encyclical was not explained and too many priests tacitly stopped teaching the fullness of the truth. And when you do that, you undercut your message. I think THAT'S where things really went off the mark.