The Novus Ordo at 50: Loss or Gain?

A Reply to Prof. Mary Healy


The recent half-century of Pope Paul VI’s reformed (“Ordinary Form,” or OF) Mass, which came shortly after the twelfth anniversary of the liberalization of the previous (“Extraordinary Form,” or EF) form of Mass, should stimulate us to engage in a constructive debate about the strengths and weaknesses of the two forms. It would be a terrible waste of our hard-earned historical experience if we learnt nothing from it. Equally, now that there are well-entrenched communities of Latin Rite Catholics attached to each form, we need to avoid the kind of polemic which creates bitterness and mutual distrust. Regrettably or not, we must all live with this situation in which the old and the new (now not so new) exist side by side. They will clearly continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

As a contribution to this process, “The Gift of the Liturgical Reform” by the Scripture scholar Prof. Mary Healy in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review makes a very promising start. She acknowledges many of the criticisms of the reform, and the reasons why some Catholics appreciate the EF. The weakness of her paper is in its characterization of the older Mass. This is perhaps inevitable. Few supporters of the ancient Mass are not thoroughly familiar with the Novus Ordo, but the inverse does not hold.

She writes, for example, in her discussion of the Lectionary:

The virtual absence of the Hebrew Scriptures easily lends itself to a view of Jesus and the Church detached from their Jewish roots.

It is true that the EF Lectionary does not contain a great deal of Old Testament material, but Prof. Healy’s generalization about the EF as a whole does not follow. In contrast to the OF, the EF is soaked in the language and symbolism of the Old Testament. Most obviously, the Psalms are not simply decorative elements: they are used. I mean that the psalm Judica, recited in the priest’s ascent to the altar, is a psalm to be said in a priest’s ascent to the altar. The psalm Lavabo, recited at the washing of the priest’s washing of hands, is about washing one’s hands before making a ritual offering. The same is true of the psalms of penance, grief, joy, petition, thanksgiving, and contrition, sung in the propers of the Mass, and used in the other sacraments and the blessings of the Rituale. The Psalter, the Church teaches us, is the prayer-book of the Church: this is really so in the older liturgy.

Similarly, the tradition of Gregorian chant goes back to the Temple in Jerusalem, where we are told professional singers were employed (2 Chron 5:15); the use of Latin recalls the use of Hebrew as a sacred language, when the language of the Jewish people had become Aramaic; the traditional liturgy’s emphasis on priest, altar, and sacrifice is redolent of the atmosphere of ancient Jewish worship, something sometimes noted by Jewish converts.

Interestingly enough, Prof. Healy makes this point herself. In a later section of her paper she notes the EF’s affinity with the form of worship we find in the Old Testament and the Jewish tradition:

All of Israel’s priestly rites were designed to instill a sense of God’s holiness, which means that he is utterly set apart from everything earthly.

Oddly enough, in this later section she is arguing that this affinity with the Old Testament is a problem, as the Old Testament type of worship was done away with by Christ. She seems to have forgotten that she had earlier told us that “a view of Jesus and the Church detached from their Jewish roots” is a bad thing, and continuity a good thing. We can note, at any rate, that by her own account we cannot criticize the EF for failing to respect and make present to the Catholics of today the Old Testament roots of the Faith.

Prof. Healy goes on to say that the EF Lectionary presents Scripture in ‘“disconnected excerpts,” as opposed to the “continuous reading” of the OF. It is worth noting the perspective of the ordinary Mass-goer here. Few people are able to attend Mass every day. In the EF, when they do go they are presented with readily comprehensible readings, typically an exhortation to holiness from St. Paul and a familiar parable or miracle from the Gospel, appropriate to the feast and season. In the OF, they can find themselves listening to deeply obscure passages of Scripture with no discernible connection with the liturgical day. It may even feel more like a serving of “disconnected excerpts” than in the EF.

Moving on the question of the use of Latin, Prof. Healy writes:

Nothing can take the place of a person’s mother tongue in enabling him or her to pray to God intimately, from the heart. That is why in the earliest days of the Church the liturgy was translated from the Apostles’ native Aramaic into Greek, then later into Latin, Coptic, Gothic, Slavonic, and other languages that were in use at the time.

It would be very surprising if the Apostles agreed with Prof. Healy’s claim, since, as Jews, they were brought up to pray and sing the Psalms in Hebrew, as well as in their mother tongue. No word of criticism of sacred languages is to be found in Scripture, and the earliest liturgies were by no means composed in the language of the street. In Greek-speaking areas, the Church was able to employ the sacred register created by the Septuagint translation of the Bible: a distinct form of Greek already two centuries old and filled with Hebraisms. Latin liturgy did not emerge until Latin translations of the Bible had created something equivalent, and, when it did, we find a liturgy in a sacred Latin with a specialized vocabulary, replete with archaisms, loan-words, and other peculiarities;1 similarly, liturgical Coptic is an archaic language larded with Greek terms and written in Greek letters.2 As for Church Slavonic and the language of the Glagolithic Missal, their origins and history are not reducible to the simple idea of the “language in use at the time,” and, in any case, they quickly become liturgical languages for people not able to understand them. They remain culturally connected to the peoples they serve, but not readily comprehensible by them.

One is obliged to conclude from this history that the Church’s preference for sacred languages is so powerful that it expressed itself in one cultural context after another.

Up until the mid-twentieth century, then, the Church simply did not take the view that prayer “from the heart” was impeded by the use of a sacred language. St. Patrick evangelized the Irish, St. Boniface the Germans, the Templars the Baltic nations, and the Jesuits the Americas, with extraordinary success, with a Latin liturgy. Perhaps this was because, even to cultures with little or no debt to ancient Rome, this liturgy made apparent the grandeur and beauty of the Faith in such a way, as Prof. Healy puts it, not to keep the people at a distance, but to draw them in. Certainly, it proved able to form saints in those cultures, just as it had in medieval Europe, saints deeply immersed in the Latin liturgy.

The use of a sacred language also avoids the problems created by minority languages and multi-lingual congregations. Tens of millions of our fellow Catholics today experience a liturgy in a language not their own, but the language of a sometimes-oppressive ruling group or former colonial power, whether this be comprehensible or not. For example, of the sixty-nine languages used by the people of Kenya, only English and Swahili are employed for Mass. Of the many languages and dialects of the vast country of China, only modernized Mandarin is used.

Having insisted on the need for linguistic diversity in the liturgy, it is surprising to read Prof. Healy’s claim that “the reformed liturgy highlights that which is equally necessary but had been neglected: the horizontal dimension of our communion with one another in Christ.” Even the reform’s most ardent defenders have had to concede that Latin is a powerful sign of unity.3 Indeed, this point may even sometimes be exaggerated, since this unity pertains only to the Latin Church. But it should be added that, as well as a unity across space, the ancient liturgy (to a much greater extent than the reformed liturgy celebrated in Latin) is a sign of unity over time. To worship using the self-same words as our predecessors in the Faith is an eloquent reminder of the “horizontal” unity of the Church, a great mass of people of all ages and places. With the OF, multi-lingual parishes cannot achieve such a unity even within the “parish community,” which can find itself broken up into different language groups who seldom interact.

Prof. Healy develops her point about unity with our fellow worshipers in the context of the sign of peace:

When we approach the altar to receive the body of Christ, we are giving our solemn “Amen” not only to Christ the Head, but also to all the members of his body. . . . The rite of peace is placed immediately before Communion precisely so we can grasp the connection between communion with Christ and communion with the members of his body.

Prof. Healy ignores the Kiss of Peace (or Pax) found in the EF. In its most developed form it takes place in Masses celebrated with deacon and subdeacon. It maintains the principle found in the Pax from a very early date, that the peace at issue is the Peace of Christ, emanating from the Consecrated Species present, at the moment of this ceremony (“just before Communion”), on the altar. This is symbolized by the priest kissing the altar next to the Host, and then giving the Kiss to the deacon, who gives it to the subdeacon, the Peace being passed on in this way to others in the sanctuary and choir, and occasionally (in Spain, for example) to the congregation. The simultaneous handshake of the OF has largely lost this connection with the Blessed Sacrament, and it is partly for this reason that it can come across as something of a secular moment of distraction before Communion, even leading to serious calls for it to be moved from its historic place in Mass.4

On celebration facing the people or the ambo, Prof. Healy writes:

Although in the earliest liturgies the celebrant faced the congregation, within a few centuries the practice changed so that, during the prayers, both the celebrant and congregation faced east, which meant the celebrant had his back to the people.

Her footnote reference in this passages reveals she is basing her claim on scholarship dating from the 1940s (Josef Jungmann) and 1970s (Johannes H. Emminghaus). Scholarly fashion has moved on.5 While not universal in the earliest centuries, worship ad orientem was widespread. Nor is this surprising, given the tradition of praying towards Jerusalem found in the Old Testament (Dan 6:10); the Synagogues of Our Lord’s time were sometimes oriented to Jerusalem. Again, the idea of a “shared meal,” to which Prof. Healy appeals, does not suggest people facing each other over a table: in antiquity, dinner guests sat (or reclined) on one side of a table, to be served from the other side, just as they are depicted as doing in ancient representations of the Last Supper.

Prof. Healy makes an interesting connection, remarking that “on the Cross, the Lord was facing his disciples.” This is reflected in a beautiful way in the EF by the Crucifix, and sometimes a painting of the Crucifixion over the altar, facing priest and people. In celebrations “facing the people,” this place of the altar Crucifix has become problematic. How can priest and people both look at Our Lord, in the Crucifix? As well as representing Christ, the celebrant must also be able to look at Him.

It is true that some of the ceremonies are harder to see when the priest is facing the apse. Prof. Healy takes this point further, suggesting that, in the EF, “the fulcrum of the Mass, the consecration, is invisible (and often inaudible) to the congregation, thereby losing much of its value as a sacramental sign.” This is a puzzling claim: it is generally acknowledged that the EF Consecration, with its double genuflections and ringing of bells in the middle of a period of intent silent prayer, is more dramatic and “visible,” as a “sign”: indeed the emphasis placed in this moment by the whole structure of the Mass is sometimes criticized.

This vein of criticism is echoed in the earlier section of Prof. Healy’s paper, on the Liturgy of the Word, in which she suggests that the balance between the proclamation of Scripture and the Sacrifice of the Mass fails to do justice to the Scripture. Such a criticism is out of place if, as Prof. Healy observes, the Consecration is not just one side of the scales, but the “fulcrum.”

A final point of Prof. Healy’s which I would like to address is the argument of “empty formalism.” She is correct that this is a danger to be guarded against wherever a person’s interior disposition and exterior actions can come apart. The extreme case of this is habitual hypocrisy or Phariseeism. At the same time, it is true that outward words, actions, and postures can assist us in modifying our interior disposition in a positive direction: to get into the spirit of things, as we might say.

What does not make sense, at least not without further argument, is the position Prof. Healy appears to fall into: that the use of external actions in the EF should be criticized on the grounds of “empty formalism,” whereas the external actions of the OF should be praised as assisting the people in their liturgical participation. Surely sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

To put this in a slightly different way, one cannot criticize the EF Mass for “empty formalism,” and simultaneously criticize it for attending only to the worshiper’s interior state (“a purely passive, interior role for the people is contrary to the very nature of the Eucharist”).

The reality is that all liturgy — by its very nature, indeed — includes external ceremonies, postures, responses, and so on, and interior dispositions. The latter is what really counts, and the former must be assessed in relation to the latter: do they help or hinder the worshiper? The problem of the OF Sign of Peace, already noted, being experienced as a distraction, has been raised a the very highest levels of the Church, and we too must take seriously our fellow Catholics’ experience. Equally, when Catholics attached to the ancient Mass tell us that they experience the Latin, the silence, and the ceremonies of the older Mass, and its celebration ad orientem, as helpful in coming to a “profound sense of the Eucharistic Mystery” (to use Pope John Paul II’s words about Latin),6 we must take that equally seriously.

  1. See Christine Morhmann, Liturgical Latin (Burns Oats, 1959).
  2. Archdale King, The Rites of Eastern Christendom (Catholic Book Agency, 1947), 388.
  3. On Latin as a “bond of unity,” see Annibale Bugnini, The Reform of the Liturgy (1948–1975) (Liturgical Press, 1990), 283.
  4. Notably at the 2007 Synod of Bishops in Rome.
  5. See Michael Lang, Turning Towards the Lord (Ignatius Press, 2004).
  6. Pope John Paul II, Dominicae Cenae (1980), no. 10.
Dr. Joseph Shaw About Dr. Joseph Shaw

Dr. Joseph Shaw is Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy at St Benet's Hall, Oxford University. He is the Chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, Secretary of the Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce, and author of The Case of Liturgical Restoration: Una Voce Studies on the Traditional Latin Mass (Angelico Press, 2019).

Comments

  1. While Dr Shaw speaks truly. Much of what he says is argumentative. Dr Healy wrote an article, not an encyclical, not even a theological treatise. She wrote for a popular publication. I am uneducated, one of the simple faithful. Here’s my sensus fidei.
    The Mass, whatever form is Jesus Kenotic gift to the Father. Ritual is part of the sacramentality. Makes the Reality more accessible to those of us who are not in persona The Priest. It occurs to me that the Spirit sees a need for the people of this time to have more than one form for the salvation of more souls. When I allow Jesus to take me to the Father, it’s not my job to tell Him how to carry me. Peace!

    • Dr. Healy’s article was presenting one (outmoded) argument after another. Dr. Shaw, with perfect civility, is replying and refuting her arguments. This is how Catholics make progress in serious discussions aboud important matters.

    • Avatar Deacon David Oatney says:

      Dr. Healy wrote an article in a well-respected theological and pastoral publication that is 120 years old (this one). When you do that, your article is open to educated pastoral and scholarly criticism. Dr. Shaw has effectively done that here, and done it with respectful charity and clarity.

  2. Dr Shaw, I have to agree with you on all points! Excellent balanced discussion of the EF and OF.

  3. Healy’s criticisms are typically Modernist; discounting all that came before modern innovations. I’m sure she would object to being labeled a Modernist, but that is in fact what she, and most OF/Novus Ordo-going Catholics are, without knowing. And of course, I think it was Pope St. Pius X who called Modernism “the synthesis of all heresies.”

  4. This post gives erudite expression to my distressed, confused reaction to Prof. Healy’s article. I write with gratitude to Dr. Shaw. He has given his readers the words I lacked. I am encouraged.

  5. Avatar Tom McGuire says:

    Dr Shaw,

    As one who grew up with the Latin Mass. The only part of the Mass that was intelligible to me was the Gospel, read in English. We cannot and I speculate we will never go back to that way of celebrating Eucharist. Thank God.

    I know that the Latin did nothing for the evangelization of China. My reading of history suggests that the rigid liturgical rules led to some of the problems of the Church and evangelization in China today.

    You make some good points about language of those who dominated in Africa. The misuse of the kiss of peace. But any suggestion to go back, will only further drive people to find encounter in Christ in denominational Christianity.

    • Avatar Arturo Mondello says:

      With all due respect, sir, I have to chuckle at your insistence that ‘we cannot and…will never go back to that way of celebrating the Eucharist’. Just to give one example: I’m 26 years old and I go to a parish that celebrates both the EF and the OF every Sunday and Holy Day. Both are fairly well-attended, but the EF is consistently the best-attended, often the point where, if you don’t get there with at least 15 minutes to spare, you won’t find a seat. And I’d wager at least 60% of the attendees are in the 18-35 demographic, many of them with young children (if the chorus of crying babies I hear every Sunday is any indication). It may be that the Latin Church as a whole will never go back to celebrating Mass in the Old Rite, but a significant number of individual Catholics (myself included) have gone back and – whether you think it’s good for the Church or not – many more, especially in the younger demographics, are in the process of going back.

    • You are most certainly welcomed to your opinions, but facts are not subject to one’s preferences. When you speculate that we will never go back to that way of celebrating [the] Eucharist, after which you thank God–I might add that we have already gone back to that way of celebrating the Eucharist, and I equally “Thank God”, whom I suspect inspired Benedict XVI to pen Summorum Pontificum–which, in essence, didn’t originally “bring it back” because it was already still available at dioceses where bishops permitted it. Mine was one, It did, however grant a much greater availability of the Latin Mass than before. Thank God. What is most surprising is the number of young people who are beginning to discover how much they love the Latin Mass.

      Dr. Shaw is correct in as much as “we must all live with this situation in which the old and the new (now not so new) exist side by side. They will clearly continue to do so for the foreseeable future.” I completely agree, and Thank God.

    • I am sorry that instead of educating yourself about the Latin Mass you latched onto the watered-down Novus Ordo. Even worse, due to personal preferences you would deny future generations their patrimony: the Mass that formed the saints.

      The Novus Ordo, if it was created with good intentions, is a failed experiment. Its horizontality, sentimentality and anthropocentism has contributed to the widespread disbelief in the Eucharist.

    • Mr. McGuire, I find it strange that the only part of the TLM that you found intelligible was the Gospel reading in English. Didn’t you have a missal to follow along with? I’ve been attending the EF regularly for about 6 months now and already comprehend enough Latin to at least understand much of the Ordinary parts of the mass. And I’m no linguistic genius. I admit that watching YouTube videos has greatly assisted me with learning Ecclesiastical Latin, which is something that was not available in your youth. My point is that today a TLM attendee has more resources available to learn the Latin mass. A little time and effort is all it takes.

  6. Avatar Simon Reilly says:

    While I agree with the general argument that Dr. Shaw makes for the Classical Roman Rite, I have to take issue on two points. Firstly he states that the EF lectionary doesn’t contain a great many Old Testament readings: in point of fact it contains a great many readings from the Old Testament, except that they are reserved for penitential days: (the Church having viewed them as more appropriate for those times, because they anticipate the Redemption). Thus you find that all the weekday Masses in Lent have readings from the Old Testament, the Ember Days have multiple readings, and the Easter Vigil had up to twelve.
    Secondly, he stated that Mass “ad orientem” was “widespread” in the early Church: in point of fact it would have been universal. If the Mass is the fulfillment of the OT sacrifices in the Person of Christ the High Priest, it follows that the liturgy of the Mass follows the pattern of the Temple worship that proceeded it, where the priest offers the Sacrifice in the Sanctuary and the rest stand without. This is why all the recognised rites within the Catholic Church are celebrated ad orientem (except the Novus Ordo).

    • Simon, the example of St Peter’s in Rome and the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem are enough to disprove the claim that celebration ad orientem was universal in the early centuries (unless you mean, before their construction). These churches had special reason for this-it is impossible to stand in front of the altar because of the Confessio in St Peters and there is a similar problem in the Holy Sepulchre, but nevertheless there they are, and they were copied even where they was not this special reason. Read all about it is Fr Lang’s book that I refereced in the article.

      On the Old Testament yes there are readings from it in the older lectionary, but in terms of quantity there is no competing with the revised lectionary with its multiple year cycles. You can only win the ‘more is better’ game by not playing it.

      • Avatar Simon Reilly says:

        Klaus Gamber has already dealt with the canard of the position of the High Altar at St. Peter’s Basilica in his book The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, disproving the notion that the position indicates that the High Altar was built with Mass versus populum in mind.

  7. I agree with Dr. Joseph Shaw, and I (a member of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter) would add a few points:

    1) It was S Boniface, not S Bonaventure, who evangelized the Germans (sorry to be nitpicky).

    2) The hieratic English of the Ordinariates would, I think, qualify as a sacred language fit for the Liturgy.

    3) In fact, I would argue that the return to Latin is the *least* important out of all the reasons to return to the Vetus Ordo. The actual texts of the Mass, the calendar, the lectionary, the rubrics, the ars celebrandi, etc. are more important, in my opinion. Not that bringing back Latin to the Latin Liturgy is *un*important. But I would argue that bringing Latin back to the theological milieu and discussions of the Latin Church is even more important than bringing it back to the Liturgy.

    4) Those who want a continuous reading of Scripture in the Liturgy would do well to consider the Ordinariates’ offices, which cover (I believe) the entirety of Scripture in one year. You can find a draft version of the US Office at prayer.covert.org.

    5) I pray for the day when the Ordinariates’ Divine Worship Mass is re-based on the TLM, so that our lectionary and calendar is the same (with the Ordinariates’ particular additions).

  8. I have a great respect and appreciation for the Old Mass having dabbled in it as a priest and having celebrated many NO Masses which were less than edifying. However, a couple caveats…Pope Benedict in Summorum Pontificum asked for both forms to enrich and learn from one another…In this article, and many like it from the TLM community..there is only a one sided criticism of the NO .. I don’t seem to ever hear of EF folks learning something about the TLM from the NO as Benedict wrote…Is there no room for imorovement in the EF…From my understanding the EF Masses celebrated today are a far cry from what was the common hurried Latin Mass experience that older folks seem to remember..Why was that. .if the EF and Latin is so good?? Finally from a priestly perspective the EF is frozen in time (1962) which can be infuriating when there are many saints and feastdays that one cannot celebrate…

  9. The Novus Ordo and I were born in the same year. I just discovered the Latin Mass and have been attending for the past nine months. I find it exceedingly difficult to return to the OF for the following reasons (in no particular order): 1) Regarding the language of worship, I want the most sophisticated and beautiful language for my Lord. My needs are not before His. I can keep up in the missal with the directly translated, side-by-side, English translation (not the additional dilution of language that appears in the OF). 2) Attendees are well dressed, reverent, silent and attentive.
    3) The Eucharist is received kneeling and on the tongue. 4) Ad orientem has to be a relief for the priest. How does one pray without distraction facing all the people? When he prays to God, he faces God. When he speaks to the people, he faces the people. 5) The altar is for males and, in the EF, there are no lay ministers of Word or Eucharist. Those responsibilities are squarely on the priest where they should be. The vast majority of lay ‘help’ in the OF is female which dilutes the masculinity of the altar. 6) Chant is ethereal and most conducive to contemplative worship. 7) The homilies of the FSSP parish (where I have been attending) address mature topics in depth. There hasn’t been a superficial one yet. I learn something every single time. Among my friends of faith, anemic preaching throughout the OF is a major and prolonged grief, particularly in turbulent and threatening times.

    I think a lot of pre-conciliar wisdom, especially regarding worship, priestly formation and catechesis, got kicked to the curb under the giddiness of post-conciliar ‘newness’. Sadly, a lot of the baby went out with the bath water.

  10. The TLM saved me. I have only been attending for two years but what Prof. Healy accuses in the TLM is what catechized me. 4 years of Catholic school and N.O and I didn’t know the Mass was a sacrifice. 2 years in the EF and I’ve found a true connection with the God of Israel. I have most of the parts memorized. I love it. There are only a handful of practicing Christians left in my graduating high school class. But I’m glad the EF has been my source of Faith.

    • Avatar Deacon P.S. says:

      Anne,
      I agree completely with your observation that “what Prof. Healy accuses in the TLM is what catechized me.” I am a baby boomer who grew up with the Extraordinary Form. When I was young it was the only form. The following is part of a letter I wrote to a parishioner who wanted me to take over the baptism class for parents of children to be baptized:

      “My solution for avoiding abuses at Mass has been to go to the traditional Latin Mass as often as I can. When I go, I have tears of joy in my eyes as I kneel down after Communion. It’s as if I’m lifted off the earth momentarily, being given a foretaste of heaven by Our Lord. I feel closer to the people sitting around me than at a Novus Ordo mass. We don’t talk to each other. This is too important an event to spoil by offering each other a sign of peace as we approach the time of receiving Christ in Holy Communion. We don’t need to wish each other peace because we all know we’re experiencing that peace which surpasses all understanding. We have all the time to talk to each other about it after Mass, over coffee, which is our time. During Mass it’s God’s time. If I ‘let go and let God’ by keeping silent in prayer at Mass, then I’m doing far more ‘active participation’ than by mouthing responses. At a traditional Latin Mass, it’s not just ‘Jesus and me’ and forgetting about my neighbor in the pew next to me. Rather it’s showing my neighbor the deepest respect possible by leaving him or her free from my intrusion, so that Our Lord can perform His work both in me and in my neighbor (Phil 1:6). And because the priest is not imposing his personality at Mass by improvising commentary and prayers, Jesus is free to work in us through established prayers that have withstood the test of time: prayers that acknowledge the unworthiness not only of the congregation, but also of the priest, who several times asks God to accept our sacrifice despite our unworthiness [This occurred in the EF Offertory prayers]. These prayers even acknowledge that we’re not celebrating each other gathered at a meal with Jesus present, but that we’re re-presenting what Jesus did for us on the cross: redeem us from sin and opening the gates of heaven for us. Of course the Novus Ordo Mass does that, but it sure isn’t self-evident any more.”

      If we have to have the Sign of Peace (read the rubrics, it’s optional) , let’s make it a part of the Penitential Rite. Then we can offer our neighbor peace and afterward ask God’s forgiveness for any offense against our neighbor.

      Dr. Healy writes: “The older form of the rite. . . fosters a notion of reverence that seems to equate it with remoteness. In the Old Testament, there was a validity to this equation.”

      Reverence and remoteness? Yes, most assuredly. I would equate remoteness with the sacred. God is God and we’re not. Have the sanctuary set apart from the nave by the Communion rail? Yes, because the sanctuary represents heaven and we’re not there yet. In the Old Testament God told Moses to take off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground. The altar is on holy ground because of Christ’s sacrifice. The experience of remoteness will fade away when Jesus comes into us physically in Holy Communion. Moses glowed after descending Mt. Sinai. With Jesus inside of us we should glow even more.

  11. One should also remember that Healy is a biblical scholar – that is where her scholarship lies. She is not a liturgist and that therefore does not shape things up for the most robust assessment that a critic of the Old Mass might have.

  12. Avatar Francis Etheredge says:

    While between these two articles, this one and Mary Healy’s, there are many good and notable points there is the further necessity of “unity-in-diversity”.

    On the one hand there is the permission of Emeritus Pope Benedict, welcoming the liturgical rite of those Anglicans who entered the Catholic Church with a different liturgy and, therefore, there opens the whole realm of the possibility of the wonder of a living liturgical unity-in-diversity with the Orthodox. On the other hand, there is the recognition that en-culturation is not a superficial phenomenon but a profoundly deep and enduring expression of how the mystery of the Blessed Trinity is expressed, as it were, in the multiple liturgical traditions of the world.

    Finally, as with all these developments, there is a constant need for renewal, notably of the refreshing reality of the word of God and how it deepens our relationship to God and to each other. Thus, there is not only a necessity for all that exists as legitimately approved by the Church but also all those ways of renewing our faith which are raised up by the Holy Spirit: The Neocatechumenal Way, Opus Dei, Communio et Liberatione, Youth 2000. In other words, it is in the very nature of the diversity of religious orders, diverse rites, diverse movements, that God Himself expresses ever anew the mystery of His own Being; but, at the same time, this manifold expression of the mystery of God is also an everlastingly fresh appeal to each person, in each culture, in each time in which we live, to draw close to living God who loves us!

  13. Avatar Edward Peterson says:

    St. Boniface evangelized the Germans, not St. Bonaventure.

  14. At OF mass just now, I heard Jesus rebuking those who criticized other God-lovers because of man made rules. (In the Bible, no less!) Let’s try love?

    • Avatar Arturo Mondello says:

      Love isn’t love if it’s not based in truth. Pushing “love” at people to stop them hashing out important questions like how best to worship God is a grave disservice to the truth and, therefore, not love at all.

  15. Avatar John Zupez, SJ says:

    I suggest that the issue of whether the EF should be widespread will be resolved once it is determined whether we are propitiating (appeasing) God or assisting ourselves and one another to make gratitude (“eucharist”) the foundation of our lives. Another fundamental question is whether Jesus calls us to do anything for God apart from its benefit to our neighbor. Are the first three commandments simply alike or are they the same as the final seven. ordered toward our fellow humans. We are not to give scandal to our neighbor and, as with the purpose of the consecration of the bread, all is aimed at our own transformation into other Christs: the sabbath was made for us. I would add that the original stipulation that those attending Mass in Latin should understand well the language should still be respected, if our participation is to be full, conscious, and active. Jesus did not come to make things more mysterious but to explain, as best he could, all he knew about the Father.

    • Why all the ‘either/or’s? I vote for ‘and/and’.

      • Avatar John Zupez, SJ says:

        I agree that we are speaking here of means, not of ends in themselves. So the conclusions are expressed with the understanding that the more authentically Christian our eucharistic celebration, the better we will understand and be motivated to pursue the goodness to which Jesus calls us. And the more good we do the more we grow in charity (“sanctifying grace” or “divine life”) which lasts forever.

  16. Daniel A. Nicholls Daniel A. Nicholls says:

    We’ve updated the article to give St. Boniface his due. Thanks to Edward and Leo for pointing out the oversight.

  17. Avatar Tom McGuire says:

    These comments are helpful as I try to learn from all. However, short comments without immediate give and take of personal conversation can be misleading. There is room for diversity. There are legitimate choices available. When I say thank God we will not go back, I mean to a time when there were no choices.

    I am inspired by Pope Francis’ Feb 2, 2020 Apostolic Exhortation, Querida Amazonia. In it he refers to the Euharist as a sacrament of unity. How can those of us who differ on how to pray the Eucharist realize our unity in Christ?

  18. Avatar Valparaiso says:

    Having read through the comments above I can only conclude that neither side has the advantage in crankiness.

    The fond hope I have held for many years will surely gain me enemies on both sides.

    I grew up before the new-fangled Missal of 1962 had yet appeared. As far as I knew, St. Pius V and I were both at the same Mass. We the people in the pews had Latin-English missals and the repetition of the same prayers every day made the Latin gradually easier to understand.

    My hope is that the Church will one day be reunited with a single Mass with a single Canon. The unchanging parts of the Mass will be read aloud in Latin, providing both historical and geographical unity throughout the Church. The rotating scripture readings will be read in an elevated, dignified vernacular. The music will be the Propers: Introit, Gradual, Alleluia or Tract, Offertory, and Communion in Chant, with music and words provided to the people for their participation. The Commons: Kyrie, Gloria, Creed, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei, will be chanted by all or sung in polyphony by the choir or schola. Additional polyphonic motets may be added as time allows, e.g. during Communion. The final procession may be accompanied by a rousing traditional vernacular hymn.

    The participation of the people/schola will obviate the need for the priest to repeat those parts of the Mass. The parts read by the priest in Latin, including the Canon, will be read aloud, so that the people can follow along in their Latin/vernacular missals. During the parts sung or said by the people, the priest may read or sing along or may sit in dignity. The parts will be said/sung sequentially, not simultaneously, thus lending greater solemnity and order to the Mass. The Pater Noster will be led by the celebrant and chanted by all together.

    I hope that such a form will reconcile the sense of the sacred in the EF with the understanding and participation of the OF.

  19. Hilarious: Healy criticizes the liturgy for an absence of Hebrew, and Shaw exclaims, “but we have Latin!” (“the use of Latin recalls the use of Hebrew as a sacred language”).

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