The Last (’62) Missal: Where Will It Go?

The buzz has been that something’s afoot for the preconciliar 1570/1962 Missal. The internet conservatives say a motu proprio from Pope Benedict is coming soon. Of course, liturgical conservatives have been saying that for months, and they’re always disappointed when it doesn’t happen.

This blogger has an inside scoop that “private” Masses by the previous Missal will be soon be permitted. “Private” might mean up to a hundred or so worshippers. One embittered commenter there suggested that would be of little help; the whole thing seems to be centered on the priests, not the pastoral needs of the people.

Well …

… what did you expect?

Today we hear a meeting is set for tomorrow in Rome for the main players. But …

- If this is from the pope, and the motu proprio is already written and ready to be published, why are they bothering with a committee meeting?

- If this is about the Eucharist, why didn’t the 1962 Rite get more than a passing mention at the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist?

- If this is about reconciliation with the schismatics, why would the SSPX be impressed with the overwhelming majority of Catholics still preferring the post-conciliar Missal in the vernacular? Are they going to be swayed by splintered Latin Mass communities worshipping in chapels and basements?

- If this is about a wider use of the 1962 Missal inspiring mainstream parish worship to incorporate certain elements, why bother? We can use Latin whenever we want. We have the wealth of the choral tradition to use whenever we want. Assuming our parish’s priorities are good, we can have great architecture, music, leadership, pipe organs, art, iconography, statues, and anything else we need for outstanding liturgy. Music and architecture have already improved by leaps and bounds since the early post-conciliar days. What was the inspiration? Sacrosanctum Concilium and the post-conciliar documents. The natural, organic rediscovery of good music, art, and architecture, including many Eastern traditions, especially iconography. The artistic sensibility of the larger culture moving away from functionalism, minimalism, pragmatism, and the various experiments that have not borne fruit in the secular sphere (like cookie cutter stadiums).

- If this were about Latin, why weren’t or aren’t more conservative clergy willing to provide the 1970 Mass in Latin?

- If this were about a guarantee of liturgical or doctrinal certainty, why does 1570 get the magic recognition? Unlike the sacraments, the Latin Tridentine Missal did not originate with the Lord.

Mainstream Roman Catholics have the best of all worlds: a reformed liturgy and all the artistic treasures we would want without the baggage of accretions and a clerical fussiness.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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26 Responses to The Last (’62) Missal: Where Will It Go?

  1. Anne says:

    Do people really believe that allowing the Tridentine in any way will satisfy the SSPX? I don’t believe their problem with Rome is only about the liturgy.
    Also, and more important, IMO, the use of two different Roman rites contradicts all we believe about the Eucharist.

  2. John Heavrin says:

    I shouldn’t bother, but here goes:

    “…they’re always disappointed when it doesn’t happen…”

    Dream on, Todd. We’ve been patiently praying, working, and hoping for full liberation for decades, and we’ll continue to do so, if necessary, for decades more. The devastation has been thorough, but miraculous progress in restoring tradition has already been made and continues to be made. It’s a long, laborious process, and there’s no place in it for disappointment or for neurotic attention to bureaucratic minutiae; only for tireless devotion and unceasing supplication to Our Lord.

    “If this is about a wider use of the 1962 Missal inspiring mainstream parish worship to incorporate certain elements, why bother? We can use Latin whenever we want. We have the wealth of the choral tradition to use whenever we want. Assuming our parish’s priorities are good, we can have great architecture, music, leadership, pipe organs, art, iconography, statues, and anything else we need for outstanding liturgy. Music and architecture have already improved by leaps and bounds since the early post-conciliar days. What was the inspiration? Sacrosanctum Concilium and the post-conciliar documents. The natural, organic rediscovery of good music, art, and architecture, including many Eastern traditions, especially iconography. The artistic sensibility of the larger culture moving away from functionalism, minimalism, pragmatism, and the various experiments that have not borne fruit in the secular sphere (like cookie cutter stadiums).”

    Disingenuousness test: If the good folk of St. Thomas More requested an ad orientem novus ordo, offered in Latin, how would Todd rule?

    The Holy Father has yet to speak. When he does, then we’ll have something to exult/lament. Or, maybe we won’t.

    The forces of restoration are not going anywhere, and we’re not going to give up, or throw tantrums, or stamp our feet, or anything of the sort, for there is simply no reason to do so. I can’t speak for the forces of innovation, novelty, and revision without end, but I suspect they’ll be sticking around too; here’s hoping they’ll face developments with equanimity.

    I do mark that you’ve made progress. I recall not too long ago (don’t have the time or inclination to trawl through your archives, but I remember it distinctly), perhaps a year or two back, you writing the categorical gem, “Latin has no place in the liturgy.” Now you (at least in theory and probably disingenuously) seem to be all for Latin, etc., as long as it’s in the context of the novus ordo. Progress indeed.

    Attend a tridentine Mass, Todd. Fear not.

    One last note: Castrillon has said publicly and categorically that the SSPX is not in schism, but merely in an irregular canonical standing. The issues involved are of tremendous gravity, and liturgical matters are only part of the problem, and a correction of liturgical crimes will unfortunately not completely solve the SSPX problems. But it is a huge first step.

    My humble and worthless opinion: the Holy Father wants the SSPX back in the fold, and is willing to concede all liturgical demands they have, so that they can engage in their theological and ecclesiastical polemics from within the Church rather than without, so as to serve the Church in a way that they cannot at this time. I further opine that tomorrow’s Ecclesia Dei meeting just might be for the purpose of informing the members of a new and expanded portfolio.

    Finally, Todd, take it from one who knows from bitter experience: schadenfreude ill becomes the Christian. At all costs, try to avoid it.

  3. Liam says:

    “…the use of two different Roman rites contradicts all we believe about the Eucharist.”

    Since when? We’ve had a variety of western uses for centuries. Were that the principle, then there should be zero variation in liturgy from parish to parish….

    Mind you, I don’t carry water for the pre-conciliar liturgy. But it doesn’t present a problem under the rubric of Eucharistic unity.

  4. “If the good folk of St. Thomas More requested an ad orientem novus ordo, offered in Latin, how would Todd rule?”

    It’s not a question of my “ruling” anything. All other things being equal, I could easily work in a parish offering a Latin Mass. Ad orientam has issues: I think the problem with the argument is that it focuses too much on the priest. As I’ve said before, I prefer antiphonal or in-the-round set-ups where the orientation of the priest is irrelevant.

    Parish liturgy is about a lot more than making rulings or acceding to requests. Good parishes make sure they explore the important liturgical issues.

  5. Gavin says:

    My thoughts on the topic are out there already. The title does bring up a good question though. What was the desired purpose for the Novus Ordo? Was it to exist along side the Tridentine, was it to replace it? Furthermore, will the Tridentine itself be reformed ever, or is the 1962 Missal the only way it can ever be done? And finally, if the Tridentine is closed to change, how do the liturgical reforms Vatican II called for happen?

  6. Cantor says:

    Gavin,

    The NOM was the implementation of the Vatican II Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum concilium (SC). It was not billed as a “replacement” of anything, but as a development of the Roman Rite. From this perspective, there are serious issues I see with liberalizing the 1962 Missal, as it begs the question of what prevents people from requesting an indult to use the 1969 Missal instead of the 2002 Missal, 1975 GIRM instead of the 2002 GIRM, etc.

    Most serious commentary on the 1962 Missal acknowledges that some reform of it is feasible; people are generally aware that the Missal was revised here and there pretty continually from Trent to V2 – for example, Stabat mater was added as a sequence in 1727. However, the tension regarding the new vs. old Missals would seem to proscribe such “re-reform” (somewhat distinct from “Reform of the reform”, since the former talks of redoing the reform, starting with 1962, while the latter starts with the current Missal) for quite some time.

  7. Cantor says:

    Clarification: “serious commentary” being understood here as blog entries and web pages that reflect an openness to the idea that the NOM is not inherently bad, that there is good in it even if one thinks the TLM is better overall.

    Just thought I needed to post that, lest people think I’ve read lots of scholarly commentary on the new vs. the old. I haven’t.

  8. Cantor says:

    Todd writes:

    If this is from the pope, and the motu proprio is already written and ready to be published, why are they bothering with a committee meeting?

    Perhaps because a general indult for the 1962 Missal will entail a need for worldwide governance of how the rite is executed. There will need to be lots and lots and lots of interfacing. Even if the actual use of the TLM is small compared to that of the NOM, the infrastructure has to be there.

    If this is about the Eucharist, why didn’t the 1962 Rite get more than a passing mention at the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist? If this were about Latin, why weren’t or aren’t more conservative clergy willing to provide the 1970 Mass in Latin?

    These both touch on a sad but unavoidable truth: in an organization as large as the RCC, the grand majority of members, frankly, are sheep who will follow wherever they are told, who will gravitate to what is familiar, etc. – in short, they practice their faith without a lot of critical thinking. Even clergy – I know a Dominican priest who was unaware until recently that he can celebrate the Mass ad orientem.

    Newspaper stories bear out the truth: to most people, and probably even to many priests, Latin is “the old Mass” and a mother tongue is the new. Grey area is unsettling and inconvenient. Like it or not, the words “the Latin Mass” refer to the pre-V2 Roman Mass for probably well over 90% of Catholics in the world. Most of these people probably think the Mass itself didn’t change much!

    If this is about reconciliation with the schismatics, why would the SSPX be impressed with the overwhelming majority of Catholics still preferring the post-conciliar Missal in the vernacular? Are they going to be swayed by splintered Latin Mass communities worshipping in chapels and basements?

    Bear in mind that such communities are full of people who have made a conscious effort to reject what is mainstream and, in so doing, have probably become a bit more educated about some things than average Sunday Catholics. (A bit – I do imagine that many in the TLM camp are reacting more to the implementation of the NOM rather than the rite itself.)

    We can use Latin whenever we want. We have the wealth of the choral tradition to use whenever we want. Assuming our parish’s priorities are good, we can have great architecture, music, leadership, pipe organs, art, iconography, statues, and anything else we need for outstanding liturgy.

    I was speaking with the liturgy director of a prominent European cathedral some time back. The problem, at least there, is that Latin and Gregorian chant are so identified with the SSPX and similar movements that it creates far too much trouble for people to want to deal with it. In my own parish, I don’t dare try to introduce Latin – the staff would not go along with it, and there would be enough discomfort in an already-shrinking parish that I would likely be demonized, if not let go outright or simply told unequivocally not to do it.

    One of my recent observations – the necessity of something like Vatican II is reflected in the very fact that the laity and clergy, by and large, accepted all that was foisted on them without questioning it.

  9. Anne says:

    A universal indult opens up questions such as to wether or not priests will be allowed to celebrate other Catholic rites (baptisms,funerals, weddings etc.) in the old form. Will semanaries feel compelled to teach the pre Vatican II ways and theology(not to mention that a majority of already ordained priests don’t know Latin) ? What about altars? Will each parish have to redesign their altars to move back and forth?
    The pre Vatican II Eucharistic theology puts Father first and gave the laity a very small role. Isn’t that why we had the reform in the first place? I understand the importance of reconcilliation with the SSPX but by giving into their demands and ignoring important theology that came from the Council is just plain wrong.
    Regarding the Eastern churches…I’m no expert but “heritage” or “culture” is as important as the liturgy to these churches. It would be wrong to force changes of discipline on a people that would illiminate their heritage. That’s not true in the west. The same Roman rite was familiar to many countries and reform is not removing a culture and cultural traditions per se. Latin in the liturgy and the Tridentine was not about local customs. At the same time I do believe that some of the Eastern churches take seriously, in their own way, certain Vatican II teachings such as the goal of “full, conscious and active participation” in the liturgy. Didn’t John Paul issue a letter regarding the Eastern Churches explaining all this? I’ll have to go searching.

  10. Liam says:

    “A universal indult opens up questions such as to wether or not priests will be allowed to celebrate other Catholic rites (baptisms,funerals, weddings etc.) in the old form.”

    If it happens, I don’t see why not. Not that it’s anything I am interested in myself.

    “Will semanaries feel compelled to teach the pre Vatican II ways and theology(not to mention that a majority of already ordained priests don’t know Latin) ?”

    Seminaries feel compelled about very little, as long-time evidence suggests. They never felt very compelled by Vatican II, as the poor liturgical formation in many seminaries betrays, so I cannot image that *if* this development occurs, it would compel them in any serious way. Seminaries are supposed to familiarize seminarians with Latin. But they are supposed to do a lot of things….

    “What about altars? Will each parish have to redesign their altars to move back and forth?”

    I don’t see why they’d *have* to. As a formal matter, the old rite actually still took a freestanding altar as the norm, and shelf altars as the exception (as shown, for example, the rite for incensing the altar). Just as there is absolutely nothing that prevents a priest from celebrating ad oriens with a freestanding altar in the current rite (as any priest could choose to do right now if he wants to do so, as there is no rule against it whatsoever), so it would be in the old rite.

    “The pre Vatican II Eucharistic theology puts Father first and gave the laity a very small role. Isn’t that why we had the reform in the first place? ”

    No. That would be a very distorted view of the reform.

    ***

    As for the Eastern Churches, Rome has spent a century (since Leo XIII) trying to reverse the course of Romanization of their liturgies (especially prominent in the US, where problems remain), and JP2 made significant, if incomplete, strides on that score. But FCAP as such is a concept for the Liturgical Movement of the Roman rite, not the Eastern Churches.

    ***

    Again, my own view is that there is not a lot of demand for the Pian rite. I would suggest that having the Pian rituals available in one church in every vicariate/deanery of a diocese would probably more than suffice to address current and future need. I would not view that with any alarm and I would strongly recommend that my fellow progressives not treat it with any alarm whatsoever. We are, after all, supposedly about championing “pastoral” approaches in liturgy. We should continue to champion it even when such approaches collide with other desiderata of ours, else we lose any credibility we might otherwise gain.

  11. Liam says:

    I should note that I am a fairly strong opponent of the so-called “hermeneutic of discontinuity” approach to understanding the relationship of pre-conciliar to post-conciliar rituals. People at both ends of the liturgical wars spectrum tend to rely in whole or in part on that hermenuetic.

    As I stress continuity, the preconcliar ritual does not bother me terribly much, though I don’t prefer it and don’t see lots of demand for it. So, where there is sufficient demand, I would try to accommodate it.

    Interestingly, were I a proponent of the “hermeneutic of discontinuity”, there would be even more reason as a pastoral matter to accommodate it.

    What I don’t see are very strong reasons not to accommodate it, other than in very specific contexts (perhaps, for example, where, as in *parts* of France, the preconciliar rite is very strongly associated with a certain kind of revanchism in a way that could overshadow the rite, a situation that does really obtain in depth in the US — our politics are too shallow-rooted for that sort of thing).

  12. Liam says:

    that last phrase is missing a NOT: does NOT obtain in the US

  13. Anne says:

    “If” this comes about, I would hope that requests were not granted easily. I would hope that a parish would carefully catechize and prepare to determine if there is a true understanding and desire for this rite. I say this because the people I talk to (granted there are not many) wish for a return to the Tridentine mass only because of the music. Speaking as one who grew up with the old liturgy, not many people truly understood what was going on. The modern rite may not be perfect at this time but I’m pretty sure most folks who attend, know what’s going on. Also, almost everyone receives the Eucharist (a big plus) which was definately not the case when I grew up. Hopefully there would never be a return to such a poor practice.

  14. Liam says:

    What would careful catechesis entail? What should it avoid?

  15. Gavin says:

    Isn’t everyone receiving the Eucharist a BAD thing when confessions are down? I think that’s one of the biggest problems with Catholic Mass these days is that receiving the sacrament is treated as “everyone’s doing it.”

    I do agree though that the big advantage to the Novus is that active participation (knowing what’s going on) in it is EASIER than in the Tridentine. Now, growing up Mass was celebrated in such a fashion that I never really knew what was going on. And I have been to Tridentine Masses where I could follow every word up until the Secret.

    And about the complaint that the old Mass was “all about the priest”, that I simply must take issue with. The new Mass, as it usually is celebrated, is all about the priest. His personality, his changes to the text, his friendliness, his wacky vestments. Not to mention the chair usually being right at the visual focal point of the church. Growing up I have always hated how the Catholic Mass was all about the priest. At the Tridentine Mass, while he is often the only active participant, it still has that feel about it that it’s not about him, but about Jesus. I didn’t grow up with outstandingly bad priests (although I have had a few), I just grew up with average post-V2 priests who thought that by making the liturgy about themselves they were “fostering community” or something. The Tridentine is often more about the actions than the man, which is as it should be. Of course, these ARE generalizations, and my boss for example celebrates the Mass in the best way possible. As he’s told me “I just get out of the way and let the grace work.”

  16. Jimmy Mac says:

    “If this is from the pope, and the motu proprio is already written and ready to be published, why are they bothering with a committee meeting?”

    Repeat after me: Stamp. Rubber. Oops …. rubber stamp. It gives the illusion of acceptance and universality.

    Isn’t illusion one of the marks of the church?

  17. Anne says:

    I just feel if this happens, and people think they have a choice of Roman rites (which is wrong IMO) this decision should not be taken lightly.
    The Tridentine is not only about the music. It is incorrect to say it is more sacred than the modern rite. It may be an opinion of some but it is incorrect to believe this. It is incorrect to think that their can be full, conscious active participation. That does not happen at a Tridentine mass. Lay people cannot serve as lectors, Eucharistic ministers. Other than the altar server thare are no lay ministers. Lay people cannot receive from the cup (that alone makes the claims that fcap is impossible). Hopefully, people will undersrtand this and the fact that the reason for the Eucharistic celebration is to receive the Eucharist, not just sit, watch, pray and listen to fulfill an obligation.

  18. Cantor says:

    Anne wrote:

    the people I talk to (granted there are not many) wish for a return to the Tridentine mass only because of the music.

    If they’re your friends, buy them a 1974 Graduale for Christmas. :)

    The modern rite may not be perfect at this time but I’m pretty sure most folks who attend, know what’s going on.

    Maybe your parish is better than mine. In my own, I’ll bet the priest could put “God bless Satan” in the opening collect, and only a handful would hear it.

    I, and many who grew up prior to V2 that I know, would posit that the absence of clear-cut, concise answers in the style of the Baltimore Catechism has resulted in a generation of Catholics who are less aware of their faith than the preceding generation that grew up in the 1950s. Ask an average Catholic kid who was just confirmed what the highpoint of the Mass is, and I’d bet they would tell you it’s Communion.

    Not that it’s a bad thing necessarily to re-examine all those clear-cut answers. The Baltimore Catechism, I am told, had its flaws. But, the idea that there is some core knowledge that should be expected, even lists and rote memorization, is not a bad thing.

    Also, almost everyone receives the Eucharist (a big plus) which was definately [sic] not the case when I grew up. Hopefully there would never be a return to such a poor practice.

    “Such a poor practice” is what the Roman Church has done for most of her history! Would you say that to all the saints whose spiritualities bloomed so fully with things this way?

    I don’t necessarily defend the idea that we should all receive Communion once a year at most, or once a month, but it doesn’t make sense to pan such a longstanding tradition, which, even if it did not cause the growth of the Church since antiquity, certainly did not forestall it. We can do much, much worse than people only receiving the Eucharist once yearly – the status quo of expecting everyone to go to Communion (which makes non-Catholics feel “excluded”) is probably worse, as Gavin has pointed out.

  19. Liam says:

    “I just feel if this happens, and people think they have a choice of Roman rites (which is wrong IMO) this decision should not be taken lightly.”

    Is it wrong for them to feel they have a choice? I didn’t quite understand what you think is wrong.

    “The Tridentine is not only about the music. It is incorrect to say it is more sacred than the modern rite. It may be an opinion of some but it is incorrect to believe this.”

    Agreed.

    “It is incorrect to think that their can be full, conscious active participation. That does not happen at a Tridentine mass. Lay people cannot serve as lectors, Eucharistic ministers. Other than the altar server thare are no lay ministers. Lay people cannot receive from the cup (that alone makes the claims that fcap is impossible).”

    Laypeople often served the role of subdeacon under the old rite, in addition to acolyte. Eucharistic ministers are not the norm under the current rite. While I commend receiving the Precious Blood, and offering it generously to the faithful, the Church has not tied that to FCAP so much as offering a more amplified sign. Tying it to FCAP is confusing categories, as it were, let alone categorically defining it as a litmus test for FCAP. The Church NEVER requires any faithful to receive the Precious Blood; that alone means it can never be a litmus test of FCAP.

    “Hopefully, people will undersrtand this and the fact that the reason for the Eucharistic celebration is to receive the Eucharist, not just sit, watch, pray and listen to fulfill an obligation.”

    Well, they should receive the Blessed Sacrament if properly disposed, but since not everyone may be so disposed, obviously the purpose of the Mass is more than merely that. That makes it sound very transactional in the preconciliar sense, oddly.

  20. Eric says:

    I had to laugh when one of the posters said folks want the 1962 missal because of the music. Hah! It’s revisionist history to say music was good back then. My family are Lefebvreites, and I occasioanlly have to go to their chapel. It’s horrible squaking of those 12 or so songs Catholics had back then, “Bring Flowers of the Rarest,” “Holy God We Praise Thy Name,” you know which ones. Maybe 1 percent of U.S. parishes used Gregorian Chant before the Council, but the restorationists make it sound like every 15-minute quickie Mass was an aesthetic wonder.

    I was once at a parish where an affluent member wanted a big ol’ requiem for a friend who had some fancy title of nobility he had purchased from an impoverished Eastern European nation. He paid all the expenses for a performance of the Fauré Requiem during a Novus Ordo mass in Latin. Not my taste, but perfectly legal. So I made the arrangements.

    Then the pastor dusted off the old 1962 missal and told me to put it on the altar for the “Canon.” I pointed out the Latin Eucharistic Prayer was already in the Sacramentary. “Just do it,” I was told. Then out came some hideous black vestments someone had squirreled away years ago. At the conclusion of this fiasco, the wealthy parisioner was transfixed with joy: “It was so beautiful. Not one person said a word during the whole thing!” Everybody else just complimented the music, which was actually pretty good.

    The Council made the reform of the liturgy their first order of priority for a good reason: because it was in need of reform. Liturgical abuses were rampant. Now those who are panting for the rumored motu proprio are envisioning an unreformed liturgy where they can do whatever they did in 1956. If the 1962 missal is made more widely available without addressing the liturgical abuses that existed prior to the Council, it will be a disaster.

    Now I’m all for giving the peole what they want, within reason and good liturgical norms. If people at my parish were to ask for a 1962 Mass, here’s what I would hope the pastor would say:

    “Yes, as long as there are sufficient numbers — say 500 to 700 people — as at any of the other regularly scheduled Masses, we will do that. It will be a dialogue Mass. Everyone will be required to say all the responses and sing all the sung parts, not just the choir. There will be no rosaries or private devotions during Mass. We will use the current lectionary. And there had better be an increase in the offertory at that mass to support the additional efforts and training that the music department will require to prepare additional music for this Mass in addition to what they already have to do for the five other Masses.”

    Prediction: the people making the request will not be pleased. But considering the fact of Sacrosanctum Concilium and the realities of parish life, how could it be otherwise?

  21. Cantor says:

    FCAP can happen perfectly well at a TLM, insofar as FCAP is not defined as requiring external action. Even external action – singing, responses, etc. – is possible with the TLM.

    It is unreasonable, really, to propose that the 1962 Missal stands in no need of reform at all. (Lefebvre would agree to that, too!) But whether a re-reform of the TLM would be an improvement over what we’ve got is a matter for discussion. Both Missals, I would contend, have their faults.

    Also, you can’t use the current Lectionary with the TLM, at least as it currently is. The TLM as it stands today insists on the precise Latin text of the Missal.

    Liturgical abuses may have been rampant prior to the 1960s; the problem, and also the silver lining, is that no one knew the difference – so they weren’t scandalized like people are today by liturgical abuses.

  22. Anne says:

    Eric you bring up a good point. Growing up in the 50’s, we had an excellent men’s schola in my parish. They sang at only the high mass. There was no music at the low masses, sometimes a children’s choir. People who think that allowing more Tridentine masses will improve the music problem are in for a big surprise unless parishes are willing and able to spend more money. Also, the conditions for granting the old rite which you mention are valid. That is what I meant by “catechesis”, probably not the word I should have used.

  23. Anne says:

    “…they weren’t scandalized like people are today by liturgical abuses”

    Exactly! Which proves that there is a better understanding of the modern rite than there ever was for the old.

  24. Cantor says:

    Anne: No, this doesn’t prove anything to that effect.

    What I meant by scandalized was that the experience of the Mass is different for the people. If the Gloria is omitted on Sundays of OT in summer, they actually experience that as a change in the Mass, since the Gloria is now defined as a publicly observable phenomenon. (In the old Mass, the priest’s recitation of the Gloria, even silently, “counted”.) Low Masses didn’t sing a Gloria, and even a High Mass may simply have omitted the singing of it, but the faithful could assume that it still happened.

    Another example: my parish frequently has laypeople give homilies. The faithful are scandalized, therefore, if they discover that this is unilaterally prohibited. Now, very few people would know it’s prohibited, especially in a parish where it frequently occurs; people assume the priest is doing things the right way, generally.

    The scandalizing comes when people read how they are supposed, rubrically, to be experiencing the Mass. The old Mass makes no such prescription insofar as the people’s physical experience of the Mass. Granted, it is not necessarily a good thing for the Missal to have such little regard for the people’s experience of the Mass, but there is at least a silver lining on it.

    In a sense, the emphasis on translational Missals (which often had illustrations of what the priest was doing at that point) in the 1950s may have fostered more “internal” engagement with the liturgy than “stand/kneel and listen to Father say the Canon”, since the translational Missals provided commentary (e.g. illustrations) that is not able to be provided with an all-vernacular Mass.

  25. RP Burke says:

    Laypeople often served the role of subdeacon under the old rite, in addition to acolyte.

    Not so. Indeed in the old rite there was an order of subdeacon that served, as the diaconate and the four minor orders did, as a stepping stone to the priesthood. On the ground, in parishes that had enough priests, the only solemn Masses that were celebrated used priests in all three spots, since they’d been ordained to them. In my old parish, a solemn Mass was described as a Mass with three priests. The distinction among vestments and roles was lost on the nonexperts.

    Paul VI abolished the order of subdeacon, and solemn Tridentine Masses today often use a layperson play-acting as subdeacon.

  26. Liam says:

    RP Burke

    I have read repeatedly that laymen were frequently pressed into service as subdeacons when there were not enough clerics present. Granted, this is at best second-hand, but it’s been strikingly consistent commentary. Perhaps there were places that were lax in this respect, but it appears that this was something like the extraordinary minister of communion issue nowadays….

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