Cardinal Koch on liturgical renewal

Cardinal Kurt Koch is president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, but he has a habit of speaking out on liturgical questions. He did so again this weekend in Breisgau, as reported by the Religion department of Austrian public broadcasting. The occasion was a conference on the theology of Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI).

In Koch’s view, the readmission of the celebration of Mass in the preconciliar form is “only the first step,” but “the time is not yet ripe” for further steps. Rome can take further actions only when there is readiness among Catholics to consider new forms of liturgy “in service of the Church.”

According to Koch, “the pope suffers from accusations” that he wishes to go back on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). On the contrary, the pope wishes to take up statements of the Council on liturgy which have not yet been implemented.

Koch maintains that not everything in today’s liturgical praxis can be justified by the texts of the Council. He named as an example the priest facing the people during the celebration of the Eucharist, about which the Council said  nothing.

In Koch’s opinion, further development of liturgical forms is necessary for an inner renewal of the church. “If the crisis of church life today is above all a crisis of liturgy, then the renewal of the church must begin with a renewal of the liturgy,” he said.

The cardinal’s remarks provoke several reflections.

It is not the case that the Second Vatican Council exhaustively defined the parameters of liturgical reform. Much of this was left to the Consilium to carry out after the Council closed. The Council never mandated versus populum (priest facing the people), nor has any Church document since the Council, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that the practice an illegitimate development. Scholars such as Fr. John O’Malley have demonstrated that there is a “spirit of Vatican II” opening up new vistas for the Church. It is to be expected that responsible and creative implementation of the Council would lead to possibilities not yet foreseen at the Council itself. Whether versus populum is one of these can remain an open question. Which is to say, the fact that it isn’t mentioned by the Council doesn’t really answer the question.

I suppose it’s inevitable that any interpretation of Vatican II will emphasize some passages more than others. Ratzinger and Koch and others can point to a few statements of the liturgy constitution (Gregorian chant is to have pride of place, Latin is to be retained) to buttress the claim that they wish to implement the Council’s statement that have been ignored up until now. Fair enough – but specific directives of the Council have to be ever reevaluated in within the broader context of ongoing liturgical development. Within this context, it is difficult indeed to see how the Council fathers ever intended that an unreformed rite of Mass would remain in use alongside a reformed rite. And there is no denying that Liturgiam authenticam, the 2001 Roman document on translation, introduced centralism and thereby undoes the explicit directive of the liturgy constitution that translations are to be prepared and approved by bishops (not Rome).

Finally, I would be very interested in the cardinal’s thoughts on liturgy and ecumenism, not least because he is the head of the Holy See’s ecumenism department. How does he understand his liturgical proposals to contribute to the work for church unity? Some theologians believe that Roman decisions in recent years have been a setback for the cause. What would Cardinal Koch say?



150 responses to “Cardinal Koch on liturgical renewal”

  1. Mary Wood Avatar
    Mary Wood

    Fr Anthony, I hope Cardinal Koch will reply to the points you raise.

    . “If the crisis of church life today is above all a crisis of liturgy,” Surely it’s open to question whether this is the real problem? Are we, the PiPs, the riff-raff, the Christifideles Laici primarily concerned for church life or Christian life? These terms are not synonymous. In my view the crisis in ”church life” is first of all Faith, Belief and Trust. The liturgy needs to be an outward expression of this inner core – to be the handmaid of Christian living. When liturgy takes on a distinct existence it becomes a alternative, fantasy universe with its own rules, standards, language, priorities and leaders. It does not necessarily express the Jesus of the Gospels.

    In my own area a parish priest has removed the free-standing altars (without the requisite permission!) and now says Mass as far way from the congregation as he can get and with his back to them. He is inaudible in this orientation, so may in fact be saying the OF Mass in his preferred Tridentine Latin. As a result some parishioners no longer attend; others who are distressed and disquieted at the latest lurch back to Trent have contacted the Dean, the Vicar General and the Bishop. What can they do but order the restoration of the altars as formerly? The priest has chosen not to comply. What now?

    Simple. The priest has an answer for everything. When a respected parishioner asked him why he had made this change, she was told to say her Rosary during Mass. This is the “new” liturgical movement, and we have it in our parish. It may soon be in a parish near you.

    1. Bill Kish Avatar
      Bill Kish

      I wonder if this really is the future. We have little or no input. We seem to get mixed messages from the Vatican. Back to the 1950s?

    2. Samuel J. Howard Avatar

      Can you tell us the name of the priest and the name of the parish? His actions are public. There’s no reason not to alternately call him to account or let him defend himself.

      1. Mary Wood Avatar
        Mary Wood

        Of course I can name the priest, and give full details. I will not do so at this time as I know that the matter is in the hands of the Bishop.

        The Bishop has assured me that he is “in conversation with Fr [ X ]” The Vicar General has told another parishioner that even though it appears nothing is being done, to be patient, the matter will be dealt with. A Diocesan Trustee, (relative of a parishioner) has opined that the Bishop will do something, but not necessarily in a hurry.

        We are aware that the Bishop has health issues at this time, that he has other major public problems in the diocese and that he has no spare priests to help out in any critical situation.

        In the light of this, we must give the Bishop a chance to handle a difficult matter without worldwide publicity.

      2. Samuel J. Howard Avatar

        I don’t think it’s fair to attack “the ‘new’ liturgical movement” based on an incident you’re not willing to refer to publicly to allow other people to make their own judgments about the events.

      3. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur


        I believe it’s no less fair than much of the finger pointing that goes in within new liturgical movement blogs. Way no less fair. Way.

      4. Samuel J. Howard Avatar

        Karl, if I see it there and I get a chance to, I call it out there. But if you agree that groups shouldn’t be criticized based on anonymous examples, tuquoque isn’t a defense.

      5. Rita Ferrone Avatar
        Rita Ferrone

        Sam, a point of etiquette here. It is bad practice for commenters to identify the source of bad examples, generally, when holding blog discussions.

        Praise by name, if you wish to identify best practices, but when bringing critique, it’s rude to name. It’s the issue that’s being discussed, and this is an example, not a person being brought to the bar of justice.

    3. John Drake Avatar
      John Drake

      Mary, what would constitute the “requisite permission” to eliminate the free-standing altar? Did you not note that Fr. Ruff affirmed that neither the docs of Vatican II nor subsequent docs have ever mandated the priest face the people?

      1. Rita Ferrone Avatar
        Rita Ferrone

        Hang on here —

        Inter Oecumenici, the First Instruction for the Right Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (1964) — issued even before the Council was over — instructed that new altars should be freestanding, so that the priest could walk around it and face the people. This Instruction was approved by Pope Paul VI.

        Celebration facing the people has been widely practiced — wonder of wonders! — without being required! So what is Koch’s point? We didn’t require it / everybody did it without being forced to! / lots of people really liked it / some didn’t / therefore stop?

        If he wants to stop everything that has happened since the Council because the Council didn’t mention it explicitly, let’s start with repealing Liturgiam Authenticam and work backwards.

      2. Mary Wood Avatar
        Mary Wood

        John, I do not know the regulation involved. When a couple of the “concerned” approached the Dean 8 weeks ago, he immediately said that the approval and permission of some liturgy and worship body was required licitly to move an altar, and that it must be returned to its place before the weekend. And that the couple (one on the PPC and his wife a former Deanery Pastoral Council rep) were to inform him (dean) if the free-standing altars in the two churches were not back in position by the next Sunday. This initially seems to have been the focus of concern for the clergy.

        The “concerned” of the parish are indeed aware that a F-SA is not mandated but our F-SA is a fine wooden table with good linen cloths and a series of traditional brocade antependia which conceal the priest’s alb. I did wonder whether he would replace the F-SA, but continue to celebrate with his back to the parishioners, but so far that has not happened.

      3. Samuel J. Howard Avatar

        Wait… the freestanding altars are portable altars? And the priest is celebrating at a pre-existing consecrated altar in the churches?

        It’s going to be very difficult to make a case that the priest is required to use a portable altar in a sanctuary with a permanent consecrated altar. What he’s done may be bad pastoral practice, but it’s not out of conformity with Inter Oecumenici, the GIRM, etc. And moving a portable altar isn’t altering the fabric of a church in the way moving a permanent altar is.

      4. Rita Ferrone Avatar
        Rita Ferrone

        Sam, freestanding altars in churches, even portable ones, are consecrated. Whatever makes you think this one isn’t?

        The sort of rule mentioned here (move with permission but must be moved back) is most often made, and invoked, when it is the custom of a church to hold concerts in the nave, and either the space is too small for the musicians and so the altar is temporarily relocated, or it is felt to be inappropriate to have an orchestra or choir positioned in front of the altar and so the altar is temporarily moved. I don’t think it’s a great idea to move altars around, but you have to recognize that this is done for specific reasons and exceptional circumstances do exist. The circumstance of the parish priest simply deciding on his own to remove the freestanding altar permanently is just not expected to arise, which is why, it appears, the diocesan authorities are flummoxed and grasping at rules that were probably made for quite different circumstances.

      5. Samuel J. Howard Avatar

        Rita, I didn’t say anything about the portable altar not being consecrated, just that it’s not fixed.

        Freestanding fixed altars are consecrated, but movable altars are not. (Normatively, it’s certainly likely that people have in various places not followed the rules correctly.)

        It seems to me that any unfixed (portable) freestanding altar (consecrated or not) that’s in a sanctuary that already has a fixed consecrated altar in it is simply not the altar of the Church, it’s a portable altar that happens to be in the sanctuary of the Church. As such, it’s not alteration to the building to remove it.

        To the extent that the Bishop can regulate pastoral practice at a highly granular level, he could require that a portable altar be placed there and used to celebrate the sacraments, but it’s not clear to me that removing it would require the typical permissions needed for renovating churches.

    4. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
      Jordan Zarembo

      re: Mary Wood on January 30, 2012 – 9:55 am

      My parish almost always celebrates Mass ad orientem in either the EF or OF. The upper church has a “wheelie” freestanding consecrated altar for certain occasions. What if your priest put the freestanding altar on wheels or casters and said at least one OF Sunday Mass facing the people, with amplification? Would that help estranged parishioners return to the parish?

      If I were a priest, I would greatly prefer to celebrate ad orientem. However, I would have a movable consecrated freestanding altar. I would say the OF facing the people at least once on Sunday out of pastoral care for those who for whatever reason prefer Mass said this way. Your statement that the “Jesus of the Gospels” is not present in an ad orientem celebration confuses and saddens me, but I must respect your beliefs. Christ is also the true oriens, and the symbolic East is amplified by the ad orientem posture.

      I do hope that your parish priest does the same. He may strongly dislike saying Mass facing the people. I do pray that he would be a good father to his flock, regardless of the personal sacrifice.

      1. Mary Wood Avatar
        Mary Wood

        I am pleased to say that our priest’s concern for the dying and bereaved is exemplary and generous. We are all grateful for that.

        Unfortunately, the causes for distress and concern are much wider than liturgical preferences. After all, where an altar is positioned is not a major matter for most people. To detail the problem would go far beyond the scope of a liturgical blog.

  2. Lynn Thomas Avatar
    Lynn Thomas

    Priest sounds like a snot who seems unworthy of his calling to serve the People of God. I’d hear him do or say such things exactly once before I departed that parish permanently.

  3. Father Allan J. McDonald Avatar

    Just as there were many unforeseen developments in the Liturgy viewed by some as the “spirit of the Vatican II” but not explicitly to be found there, so too one could say that the recovery of the so called “unreformed Mass” as well as the reassertion of Roman authority in vernacular translations is a part of actually implementing Vatican II using the “spirit of continuity” rather than “rupture” with the Pre-Vatican II expression of Church and Liturgy which also includes faith and morals. Thus a new spirit is being applied that allows for new things or the recovery of old things too hastily discarded by that so-called “spirit of Vatican II” renewal.
    In terms of ecumenism, the Holy Father gave a very good talk to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith last week on January 27th which in part he said: “We can see today not a few good fruits born of the ecumenical dialogues, but we must also recognize that the risk of a false irenicism and of an indifferentism, completely separated from the mind of the Second Vatican Council, demands our vigilance. This indifferentism is caused by the ever more common opinion that truth would not be accessible to man; it would thus be necessary to limit oneself to search for rules for a praxis which would improve the world. And, therefore, faith would be replaced by a moralism with no profound meaning. The center of true ecumenism is, instead, the faith in which man finds truth, that reveals itself in the Word of God. Without faith, the entire ecumenical movement would be reduced to a kind of “social contract” to be joined for a common interest, a “praxeology” for creating a better world. The logic of the Second Vatican Council is completely different: the sincere search for full unity of all Christians is a movement animated by the Word of God, by divine Truth that is spoken to us in this Word.”

    In terms of ecumenism, our “unreformed liturgy” has more in common with Eastern Orthodoxy’s liturgy than the current reformed version. At the same time though, it is evidently true that the Anglican Use Liturgy incorporating so much of the Book of Common Prayer might even be extended to some Lutherans and their Worship Book. All this while still having a more traditional Catholic liturgy with a variety of vernaculars.

    1. Bill Kish Avatar
      Bill Kish

      So what is to come?

      1. Father Allan J. McDonald Avatar

        I think, as Cardinal Koch says, a more traditional “reformed Mass” is being contemplated and I think that can be accomplished by having perhaps the option of an EF Order of the 2010 Missal and changing nothing else. Or one might keep things as they are except for the Liturgy of the Eucharist to face ad orientem (keep everything else presided from the chair the same) and implement kneeling for Holy Communion and reception on the tongue (or as the Episcopalians receive in the hand which has some historical antecedents.)
        But we’ll still have Anglican Use Liturgies and that will open the door to Lutherans and maybe some Calvinists and a new way to ecumenism under a new “spirit of the Council” might evolve and is in fact now evolving. And keep in mind that a goodly number of Anglicans and Lutherans, as well as Presbyterians receive Holy Communion kneeling. Our recovery of that would be very ecumenical and a nod to them for maintaining this worthy custom. But I’m not clairvoyant!

      2. Bill Kish Avatar
        Bill Kish

        It sounds like some care more about changing the liturgy back to what it was than how it will affect Catholics.

  4. Stephen Manning Avatar
    Stephen Manning

    A “discouraging word” about ecumenism. Fifty years ago, when VatII unleashed this hopeful project on Catholics, many of the “separated brethren” actually had something like doctrinal identity and an organization to support it. A half century on, who but the Orthodox are really in much shape to have the kind of conversations with the Roman communion that could lead to one church (or ecclesial community) making any content-based decisions about forms of unity which are more than interpersonal good will, token ritual gestures or social work?

    To my mind, much Western Protestantism is dissolving along with its mother culture in a host of post-Marxist enthusiasms and offers no conversation-partners for Rome beyond academic paper presenting. And the last half century of feel-good religious attitudes has seriously eroded Catholic identity. If “ecumenism” is to be one of the factors kept in mind when thinking about or doing the liturgy, then it’s really only the Orthodox who should be seriously considered. (And even there, if theological barriers could be breached, millennial grievances have become part of Orthodox identity for many. What patriarch would risk splitting his own church to make peace with the Latins?) As I said, my “discouraging word.”

  5. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    If the crisis of church life today is above all a crisis of liturgy, then the renewal of the church must begin with a renewal of the liturgy

    This is part of the profoundly mistaken notion that reduces Catholicism to the one hour of Sunday Eucharist.

    Unfortunately it leads church reformers, liberal or traditional, to think they can reform the Church and the world by changing what happens during that hour. It leads to unproductive liturgy wars, and invites people to try to cram everything they think important into one hour.

    It promotes ignorance of and lack of value for Christian daily prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours.

    It values the parish over the family as the primary community of Christian life.

    It values parish ministry over professional and civic life as the primary arena of Christian life.

    While I have experienced many beautiful Eucharistic Liturgies, most have been mediocre, and some have been dreadful. I am not sure I would still be Catholic if I did not find God more in the Divine Office than at Mass, in my family than in the parish, and in my professional life than in parish ministry.

    In some of the monasteries of Palestine, the monks left the monastery and went out in the desert to lead a solitary life alone with God, either after the octave day of Epiphany, or the first Sunday of Lent and returned to the community (and the celebration of the Liturgy) on Palm Sunday.

    Sometimes I think Catholics who get over concerned about the Eucharist and what happens in the parish might benefit from spending a substantial time away from the Eucharist and parish life praying the Divine Office and finding God in their families, work and community.

    1. Henry Edwards Avatar
      Henry Edwards

      If the crisis of church life today is above all a crisis of liturgy, then the renewal of the church must begin with a renewal of the liturgy

      An affirmation that “the liturgy is the source and summit of our faith”? Not that it’s the totality of our faith, but perhaps with the consequence that our faith will not be healthy until our liturgy is.

  6. Alan Hommerding Avatar

    “If the crisis of church life today is above all a crisis of liturgy . . . ”

    This statement took me back to my Basic Logic class, and the statement “If George Washington is a banana” – the prof’s way of illustrating that any If/Then proposition isn’t going to work when the first premise is false.

    1. Rita Ferrone Avatar
      Rita Ferrone

      LOL! Thank you Alan, you’ve made my day!

  7. Paul Inwood Avatar
    Paul Inwood

    Rita mentioned Inter Oecumenici. GIRM 299 still [2011] says:

    The altar should be built separate from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible [my emphasis — and an NB for John Drake: there’s your mandate, John].

    Moreover, the altar should occupy a place where it is truly the center toward which the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful naturally turns. The altar should usually be fixed and dedicated.

    How does Koch cope with that, I wonder. And has he heard the comment, already repeated in other threads in this blog, that, because the altar is the primary symbol of Christ in the midst of the assembly, when priest and congregation are all facing it they are therefore all facing in the same direction.

    1. Samuel J. Howard Avatar

      He replies that A) “which is desirable wherever possible” in the GIRM refers to “built separate from the wall” and not to “celebrated at it facing the people” B) the question is a disciplinary one so that even if there was a norm that said Mass was preferably celebrated facing the people, it would be open to modification.

      While the CDW wrote in 2000 affirming that “the position toward the assembly seems more convenient inasmuch as it makes communication easier,” it did so, “without excluding, however, the other possibility.

      1. Paul Inwood Avatar
        Paul Inwood

        Medina’s letter includes this:

        If the priest celebrates versus populum, which is a legitimate and often advisable [sic], his spiritual attitude ought always to be versus Deum per Jesus Christum [toward God through Jesus Christ], as representative of the entire Church. The Church as well, which takes concrete form in the assembly which participates, is entirely turned versus Deum [towards God] as its first spiritual movement.

        See my comment above.

    2. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      There is a debate of the Latin vs English renderings, IIRC. What seems clear in English is not necessarily the same in the controlling Latin. (Mind you, I don’t have a dog in the pro-wall argument, I am just saying that I believe it’s hard to proof text conclusively against it.)

    3. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
      Jordan Zarembo

      re: Paul Inwood on January 30, 2012 – 3:13 pm

      From Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani tertia editio typica (EWTN copy)

      299. Altare maius exstruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit, quod expedit ubicumque possibile sit. […]

      Let’s break this sentence down.

      Altare maius exstruatur a pariete seiunctum is a finite indicative sentence,

      *** “The main altar is constructed separate from a wall” (note that the participle seiunctum “separated” is dependent on the neuter altare).

      ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit is a conditional subjunctive ut clause.

      *** “so that it is easily walked around and celebration facing the people might be able to be accomplished on the altar” (neuter in eo relates to altare)

      quod expedit ubicumque possibile sit, a dependent indicative clause

      *** “which is advantageous whenever it is possible”. Note that quod with an indicative verb relates to the initial finite sentence and not the ut conditional sentence.

      Perhaps this might be a better translation:

      “The main altar is constructed separate from a wall, which is advantageous whenever it is possible, so that it is easily walked around and celebration facing the people might be able to be accomplished on the altar.”

      The English translation is overly dependent on the Latin word order. The quod clause joins the first and third parts of the sentence. The quod does not grammatically connect to the ut-conditional clause.

      The Jesuit Fathers Christopher Cullen and Joseph Koterski have also made this same observation. The Latin is quite clear. The English translation obscures the Latin grammar and logic.

      1. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar

        Could not the “quod” also mean “because”, rather than “which”?

      2. Paul R. Schwankl Avatar
        Paul R. Schwankl

        “Exstruatur” is subjunctive.

      3. Jeff Rexhausen Avatar
        Jeff Rexhausen

        “The English translation is overly dependent on the Latin word order.”

        Jordan, thanks for the reader-friendly way in which you presented this. Too bad the people who took this approach to an extreme with RM3 couldn’t perceive the problems it creates.

      4. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
        Jordan Zarembo

        re: Paul R. Schwankl on January 30, 2012 – 9:47 pm

        Thank you. You are right. I always make one error ;-( After all these years, frustrating and sad, both.

        The main sentence is finite subjunctive as you note. The “is’ would be rendered “should be” then. I don’t see how that changes the overall meaning of the sentence as outlined, though. The crucial information for the optional nature of the versus populum clause is in the ut clause.

      5. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
        Jordan Zarembo

        re: Jeffrey Pinyan on January 30, 2012 – 7:10 pm

        Jeff, sure quod could be “because”. In English, “because” requires a noun or pronoun. For example, “I put on my boots because it is snowing”. The pronoun implied in the Latin refers to the main sentence. I tried to avoid this implication in my attempt to be very literal. That’s why I used “which” for quod. However, I don’t think it would be a bad translation move to read into the clause and put a pronoun in there because English requires one.

      6. Mary Burke Avatar
        Mary Burke

        There is no “should” in “extruatur.” It is Present Subjuncitve so the sense is ‘Let it be [constructed.] or
        ‘It may be constucted.’

      7. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
        Jordan Zarembo

        I agree Mary that in a literal sense the present subjunctive is ‘may be’. I think “should be” is fine from a more modern English standpoint, and specifically an American English standpoint. “May the main altar be constructed separate from the wall” is a subjunctive construction no longer used frequently in everyday American English (I don’t know about other varieties of English). Technically the neuter perfect passive participle seiunctum should have a past aspect, i.e. “having been constructed”, but again that would sound stilted at least in American English. In this case the Latin participle acts more like an pseudo-appositive to altare given the grammatical agreement.

        All said, the rubric conveys the sense that a freestanding altar is strongly preferred but not absolutely required. If is rubric were absolute, Latin would probably require a periphrastic construction with the gerundive.

        cf. the Sacred Congregation of Rites (today, the “Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments”) English translation of Inter Oecumenici (EWTN), rubric 91. The translatiors chose “should […] be”, and I think that is a wiser choice.

      8. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
        Jordan Zarembo

        re: Jordan Zarembo on January 31, 2012 – 10:28 am

        “Technically the neuter perfect passive participle seiunctum should have a past aspect, i.e. “having been constructed”, but again that would sound stilted at least in American English.”

        The bolded text above from the immedately previous post should read “having been separated”. This is the correct translation for seiunctum. I apologize that I am quite prone to typo and error. I shouldn’t think faster than I type.

      9. Mary Burke Avatar
        Mary Burke

        “May the main altar be constructed separate from the wall”

        I doubt very much that “exstruatur” would ever have been translated thus. The traditional way of translating the Present Subjunctive in this instance would be “Let the altar be constructed separate from the wall.”

      10. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
        Jordan Zarembo

        re: Mary Burke on January 31, 2012 – 6:26 pm

        I apologize to all for belaboring these points, but it is quite interesting. I have proofread, for a change.

        From Allen and Greenough’s New Latin Grammar (Boston: Athenaeum, 1903), the standard American Latin grammar (PDF,

        §157b, p73: “The Subjunctive Mood has many idiomatic uses, as in commands, conditions and various dependent clauses. It is often translated by the English Indicative; frequently by means of the auxiliaries may, might, would, should; [2]” [my bold]

        What you might be thinking of instead Mary is the future imperative, which often acts as a subjunctive-like command such as “let it be” in English. cf. Greenough’s §449.2, p284.

        From Jesus’ teaching to love your enemies (Mt. 5:43 — 48):

        Estote ergo vos perfecti, sicut et Pater vester cælestis perfectus est. (Mt. 5:48 Vulgate, Perseus)

        “Therefore may you be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

        estote is second person plural future imperative active. In the context of the Bible, the future imperative is quite often a form of esse.

        In English, “you” (plural) cannot be separated from the future imperative. However vos is grammatically emphatic and redundant in Latin. Jerome faithfully translated the Greek here: estote ergo vos is a very literal translation of ἔσεσθε οὖν ὑμεῖς (Nestle-Aland 27,, save that the Latin future imperative is active by necessity and the Greek future imperative is middle by nature. ὑμεῖς is likewise emphatic and grammatically redundant.

      11. Paul R. Schwankl Avatar
        Paul R. Schwankl

        I’m having trouble with “possit.” I think it may have two subjects (despite being singular), “altare” and “celebratio,” so that it details two purposes for placing a main altar away from the rear sanctuary wall: “ut facile circumiri possit” and “ut in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit.” If so, it seems to me that the antecedent of “quod” in “quod expedit ubicumque possibile sit” is “possit” (or the possibilities opened up by placing the altar away from the wall). If, on the other hand, “quod” refers to everything in the sentence that precedes it, the sentence strikes me as clumsy in a way uncharacteristic of CDW and calls out for being revised to “Expedit, ubicumque possibile sit, altare maius exstruere a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit.” Latin experts, what say you?
        However, even if the antecedent of “quod” is “altare exstruatur seiunctum” and not “celebratio versus populum,” the versus-populum position is not rendered dispensable. What difference does it make whether CDW says that (1) versus-populum celebration is desirable or that (2) freestanding altars are desirable because they permit versus-populum celebration? In either case, CDW is indicating that versus-populum celebration has some value—like, maybe, allowing the congregation to fix their gaze on the substantially present Body and Blood of their Savior rather than the back of the presiding priest’s chasuble.

  8. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
    Dale Rodriguez

    I think we are dealing w/ Koch’s opinion and not some actual document B16 is secretly working on. As a matter of fact B16 had done NOTHING to roll things back. We’re still standing for communion, in the hand and under both species. Mass is still in the vernacular and the priest is still ad populum.

    Remember, Koch stated that nothing changes until the faithful are ready to accept it.

    After the debacle in Phoenix concerning the withdrawal of the chalice from the faithful (w/ exceptions to that rule) and consequently the uproar from the faithful, I would say NOTHING will change. B16 is a uber conservative but he is still pragmatic. I’m not worried about it at all.

    B16 will be long gone before that.

    1. John Drake Avatar
      John Drake

      Perhaps to be succeeded by Raymond Cardinal Burke? One can only hope!

      1. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
        Dale Rodriguez

        Always be careful for what you hope for 🙂

        Hey Chris Grady, what do you think of that?

  9. Mark MIller Avatar
    Mark MIller

    Fr McDonald- #15
    I absolutly disagree with you that the 1962, or unreformed Mass has more in common with the Eastern Orthodox liturgies than the current reformed version (I assume you mean the Paul VI Mass). You have it exactly reversed!

    What is wrong- yes I mean wrong- with the Missal 1962 is precisely that it is NOT enough like the Eastern Liturgies.

    You need to read Alexander Schmemann carefuly before comparing the old post-tridentine mass with the Eastern Church Divine Litrugy. Start with “Introduction to Liturgical Theology.” Or just read Robert Taft, for that matter.

    I think you may really misunderstand the Eastern liturgy and its ethos. What the new Mass sought recover was what the Eastern liturgy never competely lost: whole participation by the chruch assembley, always a full celebrations with music and many minsiters, a broader sense of the Eucharistic action than only, (only, only) Calvary and its merit. All this makes the Eastern churches’ pratimony much finer than the western one, and the key to renewal in the west is to learn from what never was deformed in the East.

    You have it exactly reversed!

    1. Jack Wayne Avatar
      Jack Wayne

      Mark Miller wrote: “What the new Mass sought recover was what the Eastern liturgy never competely lost: whole participation by the chruch assembley, always a full celebrations with music and many minsiters, a broader sense of the Eucharistic action than only, (only, only) Calvary and its merit.”

      The things you list can be (and frequently are) done in celebrations of the 1962 missal. All of those things may be (but frequently are not) accomplished by the 1970 missal.

      Something I find interesting is that Western Rite Orthodox use the Tridentine Mass in the vernacular and not the Novus Ordo. Perhaps I misunderstand too, but all the Divine Liturgies I’ve attended are far more like the Tridentine Mass than any OF I’ve ever been to. It’s very hard for me to see how the Eastern Rites are more similar to the Novus Ordo beyond being allowed in English.

    2. Jack Rakosky Avatar
      Jack Rakosky

      What the new Mass sought to recover was what the Eastern liturgy never completely lost: whole participation by the church assembly, always a full celebration with music and many ministers, a broader sense of the Eucharistic action than only, (only, only) Calvary and its merit. All this makes the Eastern churches’ patrimony much finer than the western one, and the key to renewal in the West is to learn from what never was deformed in the East.

      Yes, where Vatican II really succeeded is where it brought us closer to the East, e.g. role of bishops, importance of the Paschal Mystery, the writings of Patristic era in addition to the list above, and in some cases still has the potential to succeed, e.g. the importance of the Holy Spirit, and the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours.

      This is not to deny that there were many positive developments in the West (the variety of religious orders, economic and educational changes) that did not occur in the East so it is not simply a question of deformity from some ideal.

    3. Father Allan J. McDonald Avatar

      Post Vatican II “active participation” which is today being applied to the EF Mass makes it more participative and there is no reason why cantors, choirs, congregational participation in all the parts of the Mass which already occurs in the OF can’t be applied to the EF and I would also endorse lectors. I’m also in favor of more vernacular in the EF and even the OF’s Missal with an EF Order–so I think that would nullify your premise. A chanted EF Mass with congregational participation would be very Eastern especially the rubrical requirements. I think my former parochial vicar, now deceased and pastor of an Greek Catholic Church in Augusta (he was bi-ritual, married, former Episcopal priest) would agree with me on this one. That’s not to say though that the OF Mass celebrated ad orientem with chant and all the propers couldn’t also do this too.

      1. Jack Wayne Avatar
        Jack Wayne

        When visiting a Byzantine Catholic parish and talking to people there at the coffee hour afterward, I was surprised to discover how many of them were former Latin Rite (OF) Catholics. They either attended it because they wanted something traditional like the EF, but didn’t want Latin, or they attended it because the EF is unavailable in their area.

    4. Thomas Dalby Avatar
      Thomas Dalby

      I suspect that you are over-idealising Orthodox liturgy. My experience of parochial liturgical praxis in England, Cyprus and Greece has been that, aside from the singing of the psaltis (there is usually only one in each parish), and the extreme length of the liturgy, the experience of attending the Divine Litugy has a far closer relationship to the experience of attending an EF low Mass. I am struggling to think of anything further removed from an OF celebration of Mass!

      I also vividly recall being told, on a number of occasions, by Orthodox clergy that the liturgical changes had introduced a further obstacle to unity, instead of removing one (a view that I’ve also seen expressed by Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev).

  10. Bill deHaas Avatar

    Thanks, Mr. Miller.

  11. Andrew Czarnick Avatar
    Andrew Czarnick

    Oh please, the Easterners (especially the EO) think the NO looks like a Protestant service. When I visited the Ukrainian Cathedral in Chicago, they had pamphlets in the back explaining (without coming out and saying it this explicitly), “Honestly, that crazy thing the Latins do in their churches really is Mass…No, really, we aren’t joking!” The only connection that the NO has with the Eastern DLs over the TLM are largely academic and superficially so (i.e multiple ‘anaphoras’) .

    Plus, no one in their right mind is going to be reminded of the glorious and heavenly Eastern Divine LIturgy (of St. John Chrysostom, or St. Basil, pretty much any of them) when they see the usually awful NO with its polyester vestments, banners, women all over the sanctuary, altar facing the people, sing-song “liturgical” music etc. The only Eastern Divine Liturgies that would remind someone of the NO are the ones that have been NO-ized after Vatican II and have the same awful things mucking them up.

    The original liturgical movement originally wished to capture this proper ethos from a “low Mass culture” that had developed in much of the west. However, you do not do a fuller reconnect with your liturgical tradition by ditching your venerable and ancient liturgy for one fabricated by rationalistic litniks. This true reform was in the works and was dashed to bits with the introduction of the NO. Now what we have is not closer in ethos to the DL, rather it is an ugly, talkie Low Mass with schmaltzy music. Its not even a Low Mass covered over with all the worst devotionalism that could be had in the pre-VII days because just the text itself doesn’t even do a good job in presenting the Catholic faith in all its splendor and clarity.

    1. Claire Mathieu Avatar
      Claire Mathieu

      women all over the sanctuary
      Awful indeed.

      1. Emily Kloster Avatar
        Emily Kloster

        I know, right?

      2. Claire Mathieu Avatar
        Claire Mathieu

        Right. Naked misogyny.

      3. Lynn Thomas Avatar
        Lynn Thomas


    2. John Drake Avatar
      John Drake

      Bravo, Andrew!

      1. Elias Nasser Avatar
        Elias Nasser

        John Drake & Andrew Czarnick, you both engender a feeling of intense illness within my abdomen

        God help the C. Church

    3. Brigid Rauch Avatar
      Brigid Rauch

      As a side issue, exactly what is a woman? Is it a human being with two X chromosomes and female genitalia? What about someone with Swyer syndrome, XY chromosomes and female genitalia? Is someone with Xx chromosomes and male genitalia a man or woman? Is it the extra X chromosome or lack of a penis that God doesn’t want on the altar? If it is the ovaries and uterus that’s the problem, what about a post-menopausal woman who has had a hysterectomy?

      1. Stephen Manning Avatar
        Stephen Manning

        PrayTell advertises “Worship, Wit and Wisdom.” This is the first amusing thing I have read on here in a while.

      2. Lynn Thomas Avatar
        Lynn Thomas

        But, Brigid, you’ve omitted several important questions – What if it’s the woman’s breasts that aren’t supposed to be there? After all, THOSE are right up front where all the world sees that they’re there, unlike those other parts and chromosomes.

    4. Stephen Manning Avatar
      Stephen Manning

      The egalitarian fever that has swept the West since the 1960’s –coinciding with and deeply influencing VatII’s effects on the Church and the churches– often makes it hard for people to see how truly extraordinary and revolutionary are some of the ideas and attitudes now taken absolutely for granted by many, especially the educated classes. To my mind, feminism has a claim, along with multiculturalism, for the lead position. To many, these two projects are absolute goods. Absolute goods. And many Christians have absorbed these stances into their theologies; indeed, only by absorbing them could they continue to maintain their beliefs, even in a greatly transformed state. So questioning either of them, bluntly or politely, often produces a fight or flight response. In this case, the feminist assumption that increased power and visibility for women in the churches, particularly in the liturgy and ministry, can only be a good thing.

      1. Brigid Rauch Avatar
        Brigid Rauch

        So, exactly why would “increased power and visibility for women in the churches” be a bad thing? Please give an honest answer, and do not resort to the “12 Apostles were all men argument”.

      2. Stephen Manning Avatar
        Stephen Manning

        The churches where feminism has had the most impact and where positions of status and power, especially ordained ministry, have become significantly feminized are churches which are declining both in absolute numbers and in the participation of men. Liberal Judaism experiences a similar phenomenon (

        I am not saying that increased female visibility and power by themselves are the cause of this. I suspect that prior trends toward cultural accomodation are what allow this to happen in the first place, that it is part of a larger pattern. But it seems that feminizing a church certainly does not lead to its growth.

        As to the 12 male apostles, I suggest only this: that Jesus chose bread and wine for the eucharist, water for baptism and men for the apostolate for reasons of natural sacramentality.

        You may hold that smaller churches with more women in them and fewer men are worth the price, but others don’t.

  12. Andrew Czarnick Avatar
    Andrew Czarnick

    As to Cardinal Koch’s commentary, thank God he’s the Vatican’s man in charge of Promotion of Christian Unity instead of someone like Cardinal Kasper, the Friendly Ecumenist. I think he understands, at least to some degree, that no serious observer respects any organization that puts so much on emphasis on its ancient pedigree and tradition and then jettisons it to try to suck up to the world.

    “Within this context, it is difficult indeed to see how the Council fathers ever intended that an unreformed rite of Mass would remain in use alongside a reformed rite.”

    Other than the European Alliance, I don’t think the Fathers intended the “reformed” Rite to be such a drastic departure from the traditional Rite that there would be any need to have them co-exist side by side.

    “Finally, I would be very interested in the cardinal’s thoughts on liturgy and ecumenism…}

    I would bet a renewal of the traditional Rites of the Church would make us more respectable in the eyes of the Eastern Orthodox, the main group we have any serious chance of reuniting with. While Rome might be Mater and Magister of all Churches, she definitely seems to have fallen asleep at the wheel in the past 50 years. I can’t see how the Orthodox would see the liturgical “reform” as anything but bad because it is creating liturgy out of thin air-something they would never countenance.

    With the Protestants the only serious ecumenical prospects are the traditional Anglicans for whom we set up Ordinariates. They are not big fans of NO, and that is a stumbling block for them to leave their beautiful liturgies in swimming the TIber for banality.

    For the rest of them, they are too far gone. They need to be converted, not lulled into thinking Rome has changed. Besides, how well has that worked anyway? I don’t see many liberal Protestants seriously considering Rome. Obviously they stray far from the Faith in areas other than the liturgy anyway so they need clarity rather than…

  13. Dr. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
    Dr. Dale Rodriguez

    I pray to God you are NOT the same Andrew Czarnick at Kenrick-Glennon seminary. If so, do your superiors know what you’ve written??

    1. Bruce Ludwick, Jr. Avatar
      Bruce Ludwick, Jr.


  14. Barbara Lowenthal Avatar
    Barbara Lowenthal

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is what I have been warning for many years. Rome wants to take us back to the dark days of my youth: pray, pay and obey! I will not go there and I am blessed to be in a diocese and parish that agrees with me. As a community of the baptized, we are ALL called to the priesthood. WE celebrate! WE believe!

  15. Paul Inwood Avatar
    Paul Inwood

    How amusing it is to find that Liturgiam Authenticam-style translations are throwing up things which those who usually embrace them find uncomfortable!

    Jordan and others’ analysis of the construction of the Latin in GIRM para 199 I find facile and unsubtle. If it really meant what they want it to mean, the quod clause could (and therefore would) occur earlier in the sentence, before the ut clause. As it stands, it is clear that it refers either to the material contained in the preceding ut clause, or indeed to the entire preceding contents of the sentence, not just the initial clause.

    1. Samuel J. Howard Avatar

      Paul, it’s not just Jordan’s interpretation, it’s the interpretation of the Congregation for Divine Worship as I pointed out in my initial comment replying to you.

    2. Henry Edwards Avatar
      Henry Edwards

      That is, the interpretation of the dicastery within whose sole competence the intended interpretation lies. On 25 September 2000 the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments issued a clarification (Prot. No. 2036/00/L) regarding #299 in the then new Latin GIRM. That clarification says:
      The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has been asked whether the expression in n. 299 of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani constitutes a norm according to which the position of the priest versus absidem [facing the apse] is to be excluded. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, after mature reflection and in light of liturgical precedents, responds:

      Negatively, and in accordance with the following explanation.

      The explanation includes different elements which must be taken into account. First, the word expedit does not constitute a strict obligation but a suggestion that refers to the construction of the altar a pariete sejunctum (detached from the wall). It does not require, for example, that existing altars be pulled away from the wall. The phrase ubi possibile sit (where it is possible) refers to, for example, the topography of the place, the availability of space, the artistic value of the existing altar, the sensibility of the people participating in the celebrations in a particular church, etc.
      I myself find it a bit amusing that the CDW thought it necessary to include in their response a little Latin tutorial for the apparently unitiated. Even so, the CDW was specifying officially what the norm means–and that it does NOT mean that either free-standing altars or versus populum celebration are requred–not what it says (either in Latin or in the vernacular).

      1. Fr. Allan J. McDonald Avatar

        Henry, while I do accept that it is quite lawful to celebrate the current missal ad orientem, my concern is whose decision is it to do so when the norm around the world is to face the people with the revised missal.
        As commented above, there can be great consternation when a priest arbitrarily imposes this on a congregation especially when it is not requested as a sort of grassroots movement from the congregation.
        Since the bishop technically is the “primary liturgist” of the diocese and his priests are meant to carry out his vision of the Liturgy (within the norms of the Church , of course), it seems to be good pastoral practice that if ad orientem is chosen that the bishop approves of it first and then requires a catechesis about it and a means to ascertain that this would be helpful, especially since the norm for facing the people came into vogue even for the transitional 1965 missal.
        Now if a general norm is that we return to ad orientem, having the weight of the law to prepare parishes for this would be very helpful. Right now, though, returning to ad orientem seems to be the idiosyncrasy of some priests motivated by personal preferences rather than general Church expectations.
        I would say the same for the EF Mass. A priest could technically celebrate this Mass facing the people. How would those who attend the EF Mass feel about a priest who arbitrarily did so at the EF Mass? Or multiple priests deciding on there own which way Mass will be celebrated so much so that the congregation doesn’t know what to expect, let alone the altar servers.

      2. Mary Burke Avatar
        Mary Burke

        I’m sure you haven’t said what you meant if you’re suggesting that the interpretation of this issue is the sole competence of the Congregation for Divine Mercy and the Discipline of the Sacraments. In hindsight, maybe you are right after all.

      3. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar

        Forgive my simplicity, but what’s the story behind the term “Congregation for Divine Mercy and …” instead of “Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments”? I’ve seen Chris Grady, Gerald Flynn, and now you use it. I mean, I know of the feast of Divine Mercy (and that there’s some controversy around it), but I don’t know what the particular link between it and the CDWDS is.

        “Congregation for Divine Mercy and the Discipline of the Sacraments”
        “Congregation for Divine Mercy and Use of the Discipline”
        “Congregation for Divine Mercy and the Sacraments”

  16. Chris Grady Avatar
    Chris Grady

    Dale Rodriguez :
    Always be careful for what you hope for
    Hey Chris Grady, what do you think of that?

    I don’t get to vote, yet.

    1. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
      Dale Rodriguez

      Sorry Chris, I should have elaborated.
      If Burke becomes pope will you need to change your pic, possibly Pope Burke wearing a heavy gold papal tiara riding on a horse down the center aisle of St. Peters ?

  17. Jonathan Day Avatar
    Jonathan Day

    Jordan, it is not self-evident that, as you say,

    The quod clause joins the first and third parts of the sentence. The quod does not grammatically connect to the ut-conditional clause. … The Latin is quite clear.

    The Latin is ambiguous, not clear at all. Infinitives such as circumiri and peragi can be direct objects; this construction appears in the canon of the Mass, e.g.

    Vere dignum et iustum est … tibi semper et ubique gratias agere


    quia nos dignos habuisti astare coram te et tibi ministrare

    So it is not impossible that quod refers to celebration facing the people. Fr Zuhlsdorf has written a lot about this, but his replies are foggy: he says that Fr Foster, the papal Latinist, says that the quod is a relative pronoun (not the conjunction “because”) and that it “refers to what goes before”, and then he (Fr Z, not Fr Foster) simply asserts that its antecedent is Altare maius exstruatur a pariete seiunctum, so that ‘what is useful whenever possible’ is the separation of the altar from the wall.

    All I am claiming is that the other interpretation is not unreasonable. Further evidence:

    1. Competent Latinists have so read the text

    2. An official translation of the GIRM rendered it in the same way.

    3. The Congregation for Divine Worship addressed the translation in responding to a dubium; Fr Z claimed that ‘they actually explained the Latin grammar’, but they did not. Rather, they stated that the official interpretation was as Jordan and Fr Z suggest; this was not a matter of grammar but of explaining the intent

    4. Those Jesuits whom you cite address the question by looking at the wider context, not the grammar of the paragraph itself.

    Like so many texts, this one is not self-translating or self-explaining. The grammar is not unambiguous. You could be right, but, as the old song goes, it ain’t necessarily so.

    1. Samuel J. Howard Avatar

      So the options are:

      1) Fr. Koterski, Fr. Zuhlsdorf, Jordan et al. are right that the text is not ambigious and it should not be intepreted as requiring celebration facing the people whenever possible.

      2) They are wrong and the text is ambigious, but it should not be intepreted as requiring celebration facing the people whenever possible.

      Either way, the authentic interpretation is clear and celebration facing the people is not the thing that is preferred wherever possible.

      1. Henry Edwards Avatar
        Henry Edwards

        Except that the intended meaning of the norm is not for Father Z or anyone here to debate and determine, but for the CDW to specify, as it has. Incidentally, free-standing altars have been standard over the historical long haul, and (as I recall) even the Tridentine missal contains instructions for circumambulating a free-standing altar while incensing it. It’s just that an existing fixed altar need not be jerked out to provide a free-standing altar that’s unseemly in its architectural context.

      2. Jonathan Day Avatar
        Jonathan Day

        Frs Cullen and Koterski did in fact state that the text is syntactically ambiguous; that’s why they had to resort to broader context to provide an interpretation. Fr Z simply asserted his own reading. If Jordan meant that that there was only one possible way to understand quod, purely on the basis of the Latin, then I have to disagree with him.

        I’m happy to accept the CDWDS interpretation of the text, since it is their office to provide this. But it was an interpretation based on broader perspectives, not, as some have claimed, a lesson in Latin grammar.

        Personally, I prefer Mass with the priest facing the people, though I have been to many celebrations with the priest facing the apse. The style I dislike the most is the one with six tall candlesticks and a tall crucifix in the centre of the altar, with the priest behind them. Yes, I know that this is what Pope Benedict uses and writes about in his book. But to me it looks as though the celebrant is in jail.

    2. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
      Jordan Zarembo

      re: Jonathan Day on January 31, 2012 – 9:03 am

      I have no difficulty with a diversity of opinion on the Latin text Jonathan. One could easily say that the Latin is ambiguous in syntax and semantics. I agree with Fr. Foster’s interpretation as another significant reading of the text. I am personally convinced that the intent of the Concilium was as Foster interprets quod. Furthermore, I think that the newer interpretation is probably less harmonious with the intent of inter oecumenici. The newer interpretation is more harmonious with Pope Benedict’s liturgical hermeneutic. Perhaps this is part of the reason why the CDW permitted the newer interpretation as valid.

      Regardless of the Latin, the placement of ad orientem and versus populum (to use two ideologically charged terms) on equal footing has created an uneasy but necessary peace in the Church. A minority of clerical and lay Catholics, including myself, never have agreed with Mass facing the people. Some even have claimed that Mass facing the people is an innovation without precedent save for the high altars of the Roman basilicas. Even then, some will contend that the altar orientation in the Roman basilicas was not purposefully configured to address the congregation directly. This dubitumand its response forces some breathing room between two contentious camps by allowing the minority camp to follow its conscience.

      1. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
        Jordan Zarembo

        re: Jordan Zarembo on February 1, 2012 – 9:03 am

        To clarify the “somes” above: László Dobszay’s exposition (daresay polemic) in his The restoration and organic development of the Roman Rite (intro. and ed. Laurence Paul Hemming; New York, London: T&T Clark, 2010) [91-93] summarizes well the dislike of Mass facing the people among many liturgically traditional Catholics. Other writers on the subject include Hemming, Michael Uwe Lang, and Klaus Gamber.

        The “majority” opinion, if such exists, is perhaps inter oecumenici itself. I would say that the CDW interpretation is novel in many respects. I do welcome this novelty.

      2. Samuel J. Howard Avatar

        The newer interpretation is more harmonious with Pope Benedict’s liturgical hermeneutic. Perhaps this is part of the reason why the CDW permitted the newer interpretation as valid.

        The “newer intepretation” is from 2000, almost 5 years before Ratzinger became pope.

      3. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
        Jordan Zarembo

        re: Samuel J. Howard on February 1, 2012 – 9:58 am

        Thank you Sam for pointing out my error. This fact further complicates the debate over interpretation. We do not know, and may never know, the ideological motivations behind the CDW response to the dubitum. This would even be the case if Pope Benedict were reigning at the time. Reading others’ minds is a dangerous game indeed.

  18. Andrew Czarnick Avatar
    Andrew Czarnick

    Dr. Dale,

    Was, but no longer. I have a lot of respect for the men who are and will be in the diocesan trenches, but it wasn’t for me. Also, fyi, I was not two faced about what I believed and thought.

    As to the altar issue, it would seem that ultimately this would be in the context of the ideal (even before the Council) of having a free standing altar that you can walk around to incense. Even the the “norm” had been altars with large reredos stuck up against the wall even in churches where this did not have to be the case, the ideal was still free standing where that was possible. The issue of “facing the people” as a widespread practice was a total nonissue until shortly before the Council and in its aftermath. I’ve seen videos (of a Pontifical Mass even) and pictures of the TLM being celebrated facing the people around this time. I can even see the value of having people familiar with the actions and to at least have videos or pictures available so they can familiarize themselves with the actions at the altar. However, this need not be every Sunday, every day. The old rubrics even allude to it in cases (i.e. some of the Roman basilicas) in which one ends up facing the people. At, for instance, the Orate Fratres, the priest wouldn’t turn around because he’s already facing the people if he was at one of the main altars of one of those basilicas.

    In the current situation, and I wish I could find it again, they (a curial Cardinal) made a comment on this GIRM passage to the effect that it was not the intention of the GIRM to have new altars built in front of the old (thus having two altars in the sanctuary, which is a liturgists no-no anway…) or to have the old torn away merely to face the people. The whole facing the people should not be treated as any sort of absolute.

    1. Dr. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
      Dr. Dale Rodriguez

      Andrew, sorry you’re no longer in seminary.
      Look, your zeal is commendable BUT good Lord Andrew your message and delivery need to be much softer and you need to be more respectful of other opinions. We’re not the enemy.
      I don’t know where you got the two faced comment as I never implied that.
      Good luck in all your endeavors! Love one another.

      1. Stephen Manning Avatar
        Stephen Manning

        Softer and more respectful remarks from the Dr.:

        What the Hell is the matter with all of you?…
        If a priest told me that I couldn’t give a eulogy I would tell him to stick it where the light didn’t shine and then find another church that actually cared parishoners.

        Since when are you concerned about the “pastoral care of the parishoner”. I don’t see it anywhere in anything you’ve posted.

        If you don’t like it then go to an EF and leave the rest of us alone.
        Typical. You are upset that catholics “disparage” the mother tongue but you have no problem “disparaging” fellow catholics. Then you talk about “lack of charity”. Christ will use the same yardstick you use on others to judge you.
        ps go back to the NTM, you guys deserve each other.

      2. Andrew Czarnick Avatar
        Andrew Czarnick

        Hey, no love lost Doc. I’m not sorry I’m not in the seminary any more, that’s not what the good Lord wanted but it was a wonderful experience. I didn’t think you implied that I was two faced, I just wanted to say they knew how I thought. God bless you too!

        For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.-Eph. 6:12

      3. Dr. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
        Dr. Dale Rodriguez

        Stephen Manning,
        I never claimed to be perfect. Yes I get angry because I have seen first hand the trauma that some individuals inflict on others, not on blogs, but in real life. I also know about the harm inflexible “religious regulation more important than the person” causes, and it doesn’t square w/ the Gospel message in my opinion.

        All of my comments you so kindly dragged out to put on display concerned the “Requiem Mass” discussion. And maybe I have had more experience and seen more harm caused than you have and it touched a nerve.
        As far as Andrew, that young man has a great zeal and knowledge about the subject matter, more than you and I combined (sorry to disappoint you Stephen) and can add a lot to the discussion without a full frontal assault against the NO. I absolutely wish him the best.

        So that’s my mea culpa.

        Where’s yours Stephen?

  19. Brigid Rauch Avatar
    Brigid Rauch

    Reply to #56:

    So the most important reason to keep women off the altar is a matter of marketing and meeting consumer demand.

    And here I thought the Church wasn’t a democracy!

    1. Stephen Manning Avatar
      Stephen Manning

      Even though you kindly instructed me in how to answer you, I did not suspect that you would take my reply seriously. Having read many of your comments, and the ideological allegiances they reveal, I do not see how you could. So you did not disappoint me. You dismiss the survival issue of feminist/liberal churches’ declining membership and, in particular, exodus of their men as merely marketing and consumerism. I’d interpret that as a form of saying, “I don’t care.” Nor would I expect you to. As I said, feminism is probably, for you, an absolute good.

      And as to your mention of “democracy”, I have no idea what you are talking about. Were I an uncharitable fellow, I might surmise that it was a moment of animus-possessed rhetorical detour.

      I did not, btw, describe demographic suicide as “the most important reason” for my viewpoint. Though that’s hardly trivial. I hinted at it in my (disallowed by you) mention of the all-male apostles and the consequent bimillenial male priesthood in all of Christendom: Orthodox, Catholic and (until just now) Protestant. The priesthood is made from men for the same reasons that the Eucharist is made from bread and wine, Baptism is conferred with water, and matrimony is made from a male and female couple. It is not just because Christ or the Church said so, as if it were an arbitrary whim. It is because of their natural sacramentality, their inherent symbolic capacity to express and enact what the sacrament is about.

      I expect that will make even less of an impression with you than my other comments, but it’s very clear that we operate from quite different assumptions, so I will bid you good day.

  20. Peter Haydon Avatar
    Peter Haydon

    I think the point being made by Cardinal Koch is that reform of the liturgy is possible. Indeed this seems to be implied by the idea that the EF and OF forms should be mutually enriching. It might be possible to benefit also from the Eastern rite and Orthodox liturgies as well as the various non-Roman rites such as the new Ordinariate forms. How this might happen is less clear.
    Reference to Vatican II may not always be helpful. It seems safe to say that what happened was not exactly as envisaged by the council, the use of Gregorian chant being one example. It may also be fair to say that the direction given was not clear as illustrated by the discussion above on the orientation of the priest. The point about the positioning of the altar suggests the possibility of the priest facing the congregation but does not explicitly require it. Protagonists can read into the text their preferred meaning.
    I would also add that Vatican II is now history: a new council might decide differently. In doing so it would have the benefit of experience since the council.
    I will offer the view that the congregation participate in the Mass more fully by following the text spoken by the priest than by saying private prayers. That text is not directed at them but at the Lord. It may not always be possible to render the full meaning in simple text. How much it should be simplified to render it comprehensible is a matter of judgement.
    It seems to me that the council envisaged that the faithful would study the faith and the meaning of the liturgy as much as unnecessary parts of the Mass would be deleted so as to simplify the task. Many of those who considered that the parts deleted were desirable prefer to retain the old form.
    The challenge now is to retain the support of traditionalists and modernists in adapting both the EF and OF forms to improve each form and to preserve the unity of the church.

  21. Brigid Rauch Avatar
    Brigid Rauch

    It occurs to me that there is a solution to many problems here:

    it seems that feminizing a church certainly does not lead to its growth.

    , does that imply that masculizing a church would lead to growth? If so, then we must change the rubrics to have a marble altar off to the side of the sanctuary. At the beginning of Mass, the priest ( with the assistance of a deacon at Solemn Mass) , will demonstrate his masculinity by lifting and placing the altar in the center or against the back wall as he prefers.

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur


    2. Stephen Manning Avatar
      Stephen Manning

      An uncharitable thought or two crossed my mind on seeing this witticism of yours, as well as imagining what a gift it would be to the Church’s ordained ministry, but I will simply refer you to my reply at #71.

    3. Chris Grady Avatar
      Chris Grady

      Most of the Nancy-boys have trouble lifting a Roman Missal let alone a marble altar . . . . in fact anything heavier than a maniple or a G&T

      1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur

        They are obviously going to the wrong gyms and personal trainers.

      2. Brigid Rauch Avatar
        Brigid Rauch

        In truth, I used such imagery advisedly, just as one would use the “N” word in a discussion of racial equity. The only acceptable reason to use such imagery is to shock people into the recognition of the absurdity of certain preconceptions and prejudices. Even so, I apologize and hope those who were hurt by those images will forgive me.

        In truth, we need to get past determining who would make a good priest by focusing on genitalia and the sexuality of the person. As my late mother would say, it doesn’t matter who a priest loves as long as the priest is first head over heels in love with God!

      3. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
        Dale Rodriguez

        you have to admit they have muscular legs to drag those long magna cappas down the aisle…

  22. Paul Boman Avatar
    Paul Boman

    Brigid, do you think you touched a nerve with Stephen? Be careful not to go “feminizing” anything. After all, no one who posts here other than you ever offers even a whiff of ideological intent in their comments.:)

    1. Mary Burke Avatar
      Mary Burke

      Touché, Paul. 🙂

    2. Brigid Rauch Avatar
      Brigid Rauch

      Paul – I have the good fortune to have a daughter who is very concerned with the rights of the transgender community. I have learned that humans come in many more flavors than the simple male or female some presume. I am quite serious in asking what is a male/what is a female and what is it that renders one proper on the altar and the other improper.

      Now, if I wanted to really hit some nerves, I would ask about how yards and yards of lace, embroidered brocade and red watered silk are considered masculine, but I think I will leave that for another day!

      1. Mary Burke Avatar
        Mary Burke

        Brigid, Happy Feast Day!

        I know that Dr Michael O’Sullivan S.J. who teaches at All Hallows College, Dublin has written on the serious point you are raising, as part of his doctoral thesis.

      2. Bruce Ludwick, Jr. Avatar
        Bruce Ludwick, Jr.

        Brigid, I offer this comment only half-jokingly at your second paragraph red herring! Having “converted” from another tradition, I’m not a huge fan of the lace and red silk…but how do you feel about elaborate vestments in a more “neutral” (i.e., less “Roman”) style?

        I’m honestly intrigued at why everyone throws the lace stuff out there. Gets me yawning…

  23. Paul Boman Avatar
    Paul Boman

    Brigid- I do think red watered silk might make a very elegant necktie! Seriously, the “Victoria’s Secret meets the Holy Rood Guild” aspects of retro liturgical attire might open quite a can of worms. But maybe Chris would volunteer to be the poster child.

    I’m sorry to say that it has never occurred to me before, but the gender identity question is an interesting one. We’ve always assumed, it seems, that an individual’s psychology and anatomy would necessarily be on the same page in every instance. I’m really not sure what an awareness of transgendered persons would mean for ministry. Perhaps well off the topic of this thread, but interesting.

  24. Joe O'Leary Avatar
    Joe O’Leary

    We may well see dramatic “developments” in the liturgy. If they can impose the horrid new translations, they can do anything. And these developments will be “inculturation” only in the spooky sense Ratzinger gives to that word: inculturating the liturgy in the folk piety that cherishes old traditions. He aims at a fusion of the EF and the OF (as explained in a letter to Hans-Lother Barth). I have just read David Berger’s devastating book, “Der heilige Schein: Als schwuler Theologe in der katholischen Kirche”, which explains that though the extreme right in the Church is a minority, it increasingly has its hand on the tiller. And he also shows what a nasty group this is (speaking as one of its ex-poster-boys) — antisemitic to the core, anti-democratic, and hypocritically homophobic.

    1. Brigid Rauch Avatar
      Brigid Rauch


      1. Dr. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
        Dr. Dale Rodriguez

        Only when not in the kitchen.

    2. Dr. Dale Rodriguez Avatar
      Dr. Dale Rodriguez

      I have read some of what he has written and it is indeed very scary!

  25. J. Thomas Avatar
    J. Thomas

    It seems safe to say that what happened was not exactly as envisaged by the council

    Where does this “know-nothings” attitude come from?

    It is quite obvious that mass versus populum and the use of the vernacular was a desire of many bishops and faithful even before the council, as far back as the early 1900’s. We are to believe then, that bishops, when assembled in council, suddenly didn’t foresee this in the reform? More importantly, it is possible to read every intervention of a council bishop on the subject of the liturgy (in latin, so the vast majority don’t actually read them and impute imagined “intentions” on these bishops). By and large, the vast majority of interventions contain positive references to simplification and clarification of rites, the use of the vernacular, and the like. Most importantly, following the council, extensive global consultation was made with the bishops and other competent groups precisely regarding the “implementation” of SC. Particular reforms of every rite were commented upon in writing, experimentation with feedback was executed, specific opinion of Paul VI was sought on numerous occasions – all of which shaped the reformed rites. This is aside from the numerous requests of bishops’ conferences themselves for liturgical permissions – such as wholesale use of the vernacular.

    At no time during this process of reform did the global body of bishops protest to Rome and indicate that what was occurring was out of step with their “intention” invested in SC. The evidence is in fact to the contrary.

    So let’s be honest about all this fifty-year-late Tuesday morning quarterbacking going on! There are a handful of bishops and laity who dislike the reform, demonizing Bugnini, but let’s stop the historical distortion. To try to ground this dislike in some Gnostic “real yet unseen” intention of the bishop-voters of SC is historically dishonest, retrograde, petulant, and destructive.

  26. Peter Haydon Avatar
    Peter Haydon

    Thank you J. Thomas
    It may be that that the documents of the council did not reflect the intentions of the participants. Otherwise I would point you to the introduction to this thread where it is stated that one
    “can point to a few statements of the liturgy constitution (Gregorian chant is to have pride of place, Latin is to be retained) to buttress the claim that they wish to implement the Council’s statement that have been ignored up until now. Fair enough”.

    It seems to me that your approach reinforces my point that “protagonists can read into the text their preferred meaning.”

    I suggest that continual harping back to the council documents to find support for a proposition is not helpful. Indeed I think this reflects Fr Ruff’s view that “specific directives of the Council have to be ever reevaluated in within the broader context of ongoing liturgical development.”

    Put in other words, the council dealt with the liturgy in the form experienced in the early 1960s. Now we should look at how it is practiced in the early twenty first century: our starting point has changed.


    1. J. Thomas Avatar
      J. Thomas

      Yes, I see your point. I would only caution that certain principles enshrined in SC are grounded in the essence of liturgy itself – and hence the well-rehearsed circuitous arguments begin again. I wouldn’t want to historically hyper-contextualize every statement of SC and thereby look at every proposition anew, as if the Council, and the liturgical movement writ large, wasn’t onto something greater than the moment of the 60’s.

      1. Peter Haydon Avatar
        Peter Haydon

        I think that Mediator Dei anticipated SC. What will come next is another matter.

  27. Brigid Rauch Avatar
    Brigid Rauch

    Reply to Mary Burke, #96

    Is there any chance of getting a peak at this thesis? I have two daughters who would be very interested.

  28. Andrew Czarnick Avatar
    Andrew Czarnick

    Its more complex than you make it sound. The vernacular and versus populum was not the totality of “what happened” after Vatican II, they are comparatively minor actually to the other things, ie. the wholesale change of the Mass itself.

    Innovations like we got after Vatican II were proposed by the Protestants way back during the “Reformation”, by the Jansenists and Gallicans of 18th Cent. France, the Italian Jansenists of the Pseudo-Synod of Pistoia and amogst the Aufklarung crowd in Germany during the late 18th and early 19th Cent. No, the “reforming” mindset has a much more “ancient” pedigree than a mere 60 years or so before Vatican II.

    As to what the bishops intended, there are ways of seeing just what that was…

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      “Innovations like we got after Vatican II were proposed by the Protestants way back during the “Reformation”, by the Jansenists and Gallicans of 18th Cent. France, the Italian Jansenists of the Pseudo-Synod of Pistoia and amogst the Aufklarung crowd in Germany during the late 18th and early 19th Cent.”

      I realize this litany of tainted associations is intended to discredit the postconciliar reforms, but that trick has lost its power. Kinda like what happened to interdict after the debacle with Venice in 1606-07.

      1. Andrew Czarnick Avatar
        Andrew Czarnick

        So, these “reforms” were not really problematic, the authorities of the time just didn’t “get it”. But now, by gratuitous use of legal positivism, all that was once forbidden, offensive to pious ears, favoring the claims of heretics etc. is now just peachy.

        The Venice interdict case is a red herring.

      2. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur


        Anger management issues, heh? The red herring suits.

        I don’t think any reasonable person would confuse today’s normal Catholic Mass for those things you litanize again. I don’t see many Lutherans, Calvinists, Jansenists, Gallicans, Pistoians et al. flocking to our Mass in rapture.

    2. Peter Haydon Avatar
      Peter Haydon

      Andrew, Thank you for the link.
      You are right that there are many changes to consider.
      I suspect that J Thomas above would freeze liturgy as it now is or resist any change to restore traditional practice. That would seem to be a mistake: with any reform there will be some parts more successful than others and a few changes to revoke.
      It seems to me that the way those changes happened did much to foster a reaction to any subsequent change to the 1962 form. Interestingly, in permitting readings in the vernacular in the EF, I think that the principle of reform of the EF is established.
      Similarly any reform of the OF will risk a hostile reaction from many who comment on this blog. Hence we get some of the less fruitful exchanges here.

  29. Deb Pryce Avatar
    Deb Pryce

    Reply to Brigid (all posts) . . .


  30. Brigid Rauch Avatar
    Brigid Rauch

    2nd Reply to Mary Burke, #96 –

    I know that in some circles it is popular to speculate that the woman we call St. Brigid never existed. It is true that her life is shrouded with centuries of folk tale. It is my speculation, with no academic support whatsoever, that the folk tales are describing a woman who functioned as priest and bishop in the days before Rome institutionalized the sacrament of Holy Orders. Given the topic at hand, Happy Feast of St. Brigid, indeed!

  31. Andrew Czarnick Avatar
    Andrew Czarnick

    No, no reasonable person would on accidentals because all of them were probably more “Catholic” in appearance than your average NO.

    However, the same basic “anti-liturgical heresy” (and I use the term loosely) goes through all of them. To introduce new beliefs and new practices on the Church, you have to get rid of that which stands in the way of the new thinking.

  32. Peter Haydon Avatar
    Peter Haydon

    Was your comment directed at me or on the stream on St Brigid? My calendar tells that “she quickly brewed beer from her bathwater when clergymen dropped in unexpectedly.” Presumably to the house rather than the bath.
    Certainly the belief that you mention that changes to liturgy diluted the faith will be one reason to motivate those who oppose any change to the EF. Perhaps that is why the Pope hopes to enrich the OF. I suspect that many in the congregation will not notice and that the fault lies with a failure in education about the faith and the liturgy.
    Perhaps I have misunderstood your point.

    1. Brigid Rauch Avatar
      Brigid Rauch

      The vision of St. Brigid was a heavenly community in which all created beings were joined together in joy. This is a poem attributed to St. Brigid giving voice to this hope:

      I should like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.
      I should like the angels of Heaven to be drinking it through time eternal.
      I should like excellent meats of belief and pure piety.
      I should like the men of Heaven at my house.
      I should like barrels of peace at their disposal.
      I should like for them cellars of mercy.
      I should like cheerfulness to be their drinking.
      I should like Jesus to be there among them.
      I should like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us.
      I should like the people of Heaven, the poor, to be gathered around from all parts.

      1. Peter Haydon Avatar
        Peter Haydon

        Thanks Brigid
        Usually a glass or two of beers helps a discussion. So not a bad Saint to be named after.
        If bored you might read The History of the English Pub. It is wirttten by a splendid chap, not me, called Peter Haydon.

  33. Brigid Rauch Avatar
    Brigid Rauch

    Brigid, I offer this comment only half-jokingly at your second paragraph red herring! Having “converted” from another tradition, I’m not a huge fan of the lace and red silk…but how do you feel about elaborate vestments in a more “neutral” (i.e., less “Roman”) style?

    I’ve been exposed to a number of different styles over the years. I have attended numerous UCC services over the years and even those ministers wore a robe to indicate a special time of prayer. Would it make a difference if our priests wore a suit and tie to offer Mass? What if they work the polo shirt and khakis that many men now wear to Mass? I’m not sure how I feel about that. The relatively restrained garments now used generally fade into the background, which may be their appropriate place! I find myself becoming more and more irritated by elaborate garb, especially when a bishop is fussing around at Mass taking his hat(s) on and off! The special use of vestments on Holy Thursday seems proper because it calls attention to the occasion, not the celebrant.

    1. Bruce Ludwick, Jr. Avatar
      Bruce Ludwick, Jr.

      Brigid, right: thanks for the response. I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t mischaracterizing you.

      Here’s what I think, and why I don’t understand vestment gripes (or at least when they are “fancy”, or “lacy”, or whatever. And again, I go on the record as not being any great lover of lacy surplices!) It seems that those who are obsessed with the cappa magna or whatever other liturgical or extra-liturgical vesture of a cleric assume that the vestments are meant to point out or elevate the persona or ego of the wearer. I think this is manifestly false. To me, the liturgy (being somewhat similar in appearance to a stage play) depends on a “suspension of disbelief”…perhaps especially during preaching. All kidding aside, though, the participants should be “anonymous”, in that they are fulfilling a role, NOT projecting their person onto the liturgy. I strive to do this as a musician in the liturgy. When I see a beautiful vestment, I don’t think, “Wow, did they really need to spend $2k on a chasuble” or whatever. I think, “Wonderful! In addition to their charitable works, this cleric wants to give God (who is the only audience of the liturgy, or at least its chief aim) something beautiful.”

      I am not a huge fan of one traditionalist group’s incessant kissing of liturgical objects during the EF. But, in their house, their rules. Knowing the people involved, I know that (for them) it is not an empty act, but another way of praising God.

      I suppose my point is that I have always thought the Oxford Movement reformers a good model: give God the best in the liturgy in preaching, music, and appearance, and once outside of the church walls, give God’s Holy People that same respect in works of mercy. There’s no contradiction there, in my mind.

      1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur

        The problem is that cappa magma is in reality a court vestment, not a liturgical vestment properly speaking. There are those who don’t have problems with the use of old liturgical vestments of fine artistry (brocade, lace, et cet.) or significant history – indeed, there is a credible (if not always dispositive) argument good stewardship would indicate such pieces should be kept in reasonable use. Latter-day court vesture (especially newly made and purchased) is, however, properly given a sterner going over, as court vesture is not timeless, and does not point to heaven, but to mimicking worldliness (just of a bygone era); court vesture is the attempt to speak in terms the world of power would understand – except that the problem is that such sign value is temporally limited, and now bygone….

      2. Bruce Ludwick, Jr. Avatar
        Bruce Ludwick, Jr.

        Karl, cappa was a bad example, since (as you mention and as I implied by “extra-liturgical” above) it is not a liturgical garment. As I mentioned, the c.m. et al is not a deal-breaker for me, although for superficial reasons I’d be happy if the prelate was already “dressed” whilst processing in, and didn’t have to get out of the c.m. and into the liturgical vesture. For the record, though (accepting that the impression given by the c.m. is perhaps a bit “colonial” in nature), I’ve never heard a trad explain that they favor that sort of vestment BECAUSE of the connotation.

        Anyhow, my point is: let’s always be mindful of “quality” and not the other issues. Some more traditionally-minded friends of mine like to make disparaging comments about a set of newish Slabbinck vestments used here at the parish. Are they to my liking? No. (I will say it isn’t an absurd pattern or anything, just rather pedestrian for me for use in the Liturgy.) Are they made of noble materials? YES! So, they are a “win” in my book, at least versus other possibilities.

        I’ll try to avoid the canard of the cappa magna. How about this set ( from my metropolitan cathedral? They are not to my taste, actually, as far as being too busy for my simple mind, but I appreciate that they are wonderful quality.

      3. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur


        Those are lovely vestments. I have no problem with them. I might prefer to see them reserved for feasts and solemnities, and to use simpler ones for memorials and votives, for example. Progressive solemnity and all that. (I remember a priest who was apparently gifted with a chasuble set of cloth of silver (I don’t know how much actual silver was in it, but that was the effect) – it would iridesce in the light, beautifully, and I think he tended to reserve it for Xmas, Epiphany, Easter and Ascension – appropriate, since cloth of silver (real or virtual) can only be worn when white can be worn, while cloth of gold (real or virtual) can be worn on a greater number of occasions).

        But I very much wanted to make a strong distinction about court vesture because I think that is where the issue is more properly delineated.

      4. Gerard Flynn Avatar
        Gerard Flynn

        +1, Karl.

      5. Bruce Ludwick, Jr. Avatar
        Bruce Ludwick, Jr.

        Karl, that’s fine with me, although as I mention, I think trads should certainly be able to do as they like in this regard. The problem is when criticism tends toward what surplice so and so is wearing with his cassock: it is a legitimate option for the office, Benediction, etc. I think the GIRM’s solution (put everyone in an alb) often leads to an appearance of SNL’s skit of Pat…everyone looks the same, and you can’t tell who anyone is…unless you have an eye for stoles!

      6. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur


        Yes, but that also belies the oft-repeated argument that splendor in vesture supposedly drains individualism from the liturgy….

  34. Andrew Czarnick Avatar
    Andrew Czarnick

    The cappa magna came from choir dress, then became a court dress of sorts in the Middle Ages. Much of later European royal dress came from the Church, which in turn got much of its dress from the Imperial Roman usage. Same with the Eastern Rites, but in a Byzantine context.

    Much of our symbolism was temporally conditioned but can take on even grander meanings when that immediate meaning is gone. The cappa magna is still on the books but its optional, so why not?

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      Because back on the planet Earth, we are not in the new HBO series, “ROME 1860” for the Society for Creative Ecclesiastical Court Anachronism set…. Court vesture is temporally limited in its sign value (precisely because it arises trying to speak the language of the age in which is arises); whereas it once said “Gravitas”, “Authority” and “Aware of What This Communicates” it now screams, to the average person, “Fussy”, “Effete” and “Clueless”.

      1. Gerard Flynn Avatar
        Gerard Flynn

        +1 again, Karl.

    2. Jonathan Day Avatar
      Jonathan Day

      Why not? Because, as Karl says, the liturgy is not play acting but communication, a language of vesture and words and music and gesture and other signs. And what it communicates should accord with what the Church believes.

      A new pope is no longer given the triple tiara with the words “Accipe thiaram, tribus coronis ornatam, et scias te esse Patrem Principum et Regum, Rectorem Orbis” because it makes no sense to say “Accept this triple crown and know that you are the father of princes and kings, the leader [rector] of the world”. The Church no longer teaches that this is the pope’s role.

      The case against the cappa magna is similar.

  35. Andrew Czarnick Avatar
    Andrew Czarnick

    According to whom? You, the Augur of the Common Man? The “average person” (I don’t think there really is such a thing, but…) thinks the polyester bedsheets used in most parishes are “effete”. All of what we do now or have done in the past can be the butt of jokes to the ignorant.

    Besides, me thinks thou do protest too much. What should be so offensive for something that is brought out of the mothballs once in a great awhile among us Traddies? I don’t think you will have to worry about seeing one in person any time soon.

    1. Jack Feehily Avatar
      Jack Feehily

      Where the blazes are you seeing polyester vestments? For decades in the US and across much of the world Dutch and Belgian vestments of the finest material were all but normative. Vesture, like the entire liturgy, should be characterized by noble simplicity. In recent years, these expensive and beautiful vestments have been discarded by many younger priest because they don’t resemble closely enough the ones they see depicted on holy cards published by Tan. As for lacy albs and pleated surplices, they may appear pretty but call undue attention to the delicate pose of many who wear them. Im thinking of writing a book called “real men don’t wear lace and watered silk”. I feel better now.

      1. Thomas Dalby Avatar
        Thomas Dalby

        You’re sounding like Father Z grousing about the way that fine traditional vestments were ditched in the sixties and seventies.

      2. Brigid Rauch Avatar
        Brigid Rauch

        “real men don’t wear lace and watered silk”.

        If your concern is with those who say one thing and do another, you need to make that clearer. If your concern is an example of homophobia, then please examine your prejudices.
        Sorry to be critical, but as the mother of a gay daughter, I feel the need to speak up.

      3. Bruce Ludwick,Jr. Avatar
        Bruce Ludwick,Jr.

        Jack, the polyester vestments are indeed more common everywhere I attend Mass than any other material. I’m afraid this is not a generalization, though I wish it were! I think there is an appreciation among younger priests for some 20th century styles derived from Art Deco, etc. (as one example), but that when a style is more ambiguous, they like them rather less.

  36. Brigid Rauch Avatar
    Brigid Rauch

    Bruce Ludwick, Jr. :

    Bruce – totally off-topic here, but can you give me any idea of the significance of the pattern on this chasuble:

    It looks like a series of urns to me, and I don’t understand that as a Christian symbol.

  37. Bruce Ludwick,Jr. Avatar
    Bruce Ludwick,Jr.

    Brigid, sorry: don’t have the significance. Water into wine at Cana? I believe this may be one of the “cathedral” patterns, though, that a lot of NLM people don’t like!

    The ones I speak of are more along these lines: The pattern is a little monotonous because there is nothing to break it up. Good materials, but the pattern is lacking.

    1. Brigid Rauch Avatar
      Brigid Rauch

      Thanks for the response – I think the pattern looks like someone got hold of a batch of high end drapery fabric at a good price! Even though the pattern doesn’t seem to correspond to any Christian symbol, the richness of the brocade gives it a high church feel, which explains the popularity!

      1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur

        It’s the Fräulein Maria pattern?

  38. Brigid Rauch Avatar
    Brigid Rauch

    Fraulein Maria?

    1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
      Karl Liam Saur

      (Sound of Music – clothing from drapes…)

  39. Brigid Rauch Avatar
    Brigid Rauch

    Oh, …… my.

    I hate to say it, but I think you’ve answered my question!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: