Response to Peter Kwasniewski

On the solemnity of Corpus Christi this year (June 19), the U.S. bishops launched the “Eucharistic Revival,” a three-year endeavor aimed at rekindling Eucharistic faith and devotion among Catholics. Almost simultaneously, on June 29, Pope Francis promulgated his apostolic letter Desiderio Desideravi, a follow-up to last year’s Traditionis Custodes which restricted the celebration of the “extraordinary form” or traditional Latin Mass. Desiderio calls for “a serious and dynamic liturgical formation” that will enable the faithful to “live completely the liturgical action” and “be amazed at what happens in the celebration under our very eyes.”

The Eucharistic Revival is a providential opportunity to commence just such a liturgical formation. The most important way to overcome the distrust that many Catholics have developed toward the ordinary form of the Mass, and the liturgical tensions that have consequently arisen, is by opening up to the faithful the depths of the Eucharistic mystery. Such a liturgical formation will necessarily include an explanation of the rich teachings of Vatican Council II in its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, and of the renewed liturgy that followed, as well as responding to its critics. Here I pursue that aim by responding to Dr. Peter Kwasniewski’s attempt to refute my essay on “The Gift of the Liturgical Reform.”

Kwasniewski claims that my essay shows ignorance because it does not engage with a host of traditionalist arguments against the ordinary form. In point of fact, responding to those arguments was not my purpose. To do so adequately would require a lengthy book; moreover, I have followed many of these arguments and find them unconvincing. My purpose, rather, was to expound as thoroughly and succinctly as possible, within the limits of an online article, what I believe are the great blessings of the Ordinary Form of the Mass given to us by the Church.

As my essay noted, the revised liturgy “is in some respects closer to the liturgy as celebrated in the first millennium than is the Tridentine Mass.” Kwasniewski counters that claim by pointing out several ways that today’s liturgy differs from that of the ancient Church. But of course this does not negate my claim. I did not say “in all respects” but “in some respects.” These include, for instance, the presence of congregational singing, the prayers of the faithful, the offertory procession, and the possibility of receiving Holy Communion in the hand.

Kwasniewski charges that my article “amounts to a rejection of the Holy Spirit’s work in leading the Church ‘into the fullness of truth.’” He seems to assume that accepting the Holy Spirit’s guidance of the Church entails holding that every disciplinary and liturgical development in the Church’s two-millennial history — that is, until Vatican Council II — is necessarily a work of the Spirit. But that argument cuts the other way. Did the Holy Spirit suddenly stop guiding the Church during Vatican II, or afterward? Is not Kwasniewski rejecting the work of the Spirit in the Church in the last half century? In fact, the Council engaged in a Spirit-led work of discernment, recognizing that, as Joseph Ratzinger wrote,

not everything that exists in the Church must for that reason be also a legitimate tradition; in other words, not every tradition that arises in the Church is a true celebration and keeping present of the mystery of Christ. There is a distorting, as well as a legitimate, tradition . . . Consequently, tradition must not be considered only affirmatively, but also critically; we have Scripture as a criterion for this indispensable criticism of tradition, and tradition must therefore always be related back to it and measured by it.1

The Council undertook just such a ressourcement, returning to the authoritative sources of the Christian faith, especially Scripture, in order to ensure the authentic development of tradition, including liturgical tradition, and enable the Church to meet the critical challenges of the present time.

Regarding the post-Vatican II enrichment of the lectionary, Kwasniewski states that “the sacrifice of the Mass was never understood to be the primary place for extended Scripture lessons or catechesis.” But this is to pose a false alternative. The liturgy is not the place for extended catechesis, but it is the place for listening to the Word of God. As the Catechism teaches, “the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord’s Body. She never ceases to present to the faithful the bread of life, taken from the one table of God’s Word and Christ’s Body” (par. 103). The biblical word unveils the divine mystery that is communicated in the sacrament — the incarnation, saving passion and glorious resurrection of Christ — and prepares people to receive it with hearts full of faith. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Christ’s disciples today need first to encounter Christ in his word through the revealing of “what refers to him in all the Scriptures”; only then are they adequately prepared for his self-manifestation in the breaking of bread. The extremely limited selection of biblical readings in the extraordinary form of the Mass (only 4% of the Bible) lends itself to ignorance of the Lord whom we receive in Holy Communion, for “ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” (CCC 133). This is not to say that the revised lectionary is perfect; as I mentioned in my article, a few important texts have unfortunately been omitted.

Regarding Mass in the vernacular, Kwasniewski strangely quotes a criticism posted by Janet Smith on Facebook:

Dr. Healy says: “The fact that this practice [of using the vernacular] was quickly adopted by bishops’ conferences around the world, with approval from Rome, is not a sign of infidelity to tradition but rather of an instinct of faith.” Janet Smith commented on Facebook: “I think that is to misstate things. The TLM was suppressed. Bishops ‘accepted’ the N.O. because it was imposed. The reason most Catholics now have had no experience of the TLM is because it was forbidden for decades.”

Kwasniewski, who has been studying the liturgy for a long time, ought to know that my statement was perfectly accurate. After the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, was promulgated in 1963, bishops’ conferences around the world voted to expand the use of the vernacular, and requested and received permission to do so from Rome. See, for instance, the stages noted on this timeline.

Regarding the Eucharist as sacrifice and as meal, Kwasniewski, like many people on both sides of the liturgical debates, plays these off against each other — as if the emphasizing of one necessarily means the downplaying of the other. In fact, as my article points out, these two dimensions are intrinsically related and inseparable. The understanding of the Eucharist as a banquet is an indisputable fact of Christian tradition, from the Last Supper accounts and the earliest Christian term for the Eucharist, “the breaking of bread,” to the antiphon penned by St. Thomas Aquinas, “O sacred banquet, in which Christ is received, the memory of his passion renewed . . .” to the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The Mass is at the same time, and inseparably, the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord’s body and blood. . . . The altar, around which the Church is gathered in the celebration of the Eucharist, represents the two aspects of the same mystery: the altar of the sacrifice and the table of the Lord” (1382–1383).

Kwasniewski warns against making the “horizontal” or communal dimension of the liturgy primary, or equal to, the “vertical” dimension of communion with God. But my article explicitly stated that the vertical dimension is paramount. Nevertheless, the vertical and horizontal dimensions are also inseparable, as St. Paul makes clear in 1 Corinthians 10:16–17: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” It is crucial for the liturgy to highlight both dimensions, because it is Jesus’ self-gift to us in the Eucharist that empowers us to love one another with self-emptying love. To quote the Catechism again: “The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being” (1325).

Regarding my observation that in ad orientem celebration “the fulcrum of the Mass, the consecration, is invisible (and often inaudible) to the congregation,” Kwasniewski assumes I am unaware of the elementary truth that “the supreme miracle of transubstantiation . . . is necessarily invisible.” But it should be obvious that I was referring to the sacramental sign — which is essential to every sacrament — not to the invisible mystery it signifies. As I pointed out, “God has given us sacramental signs because we are bodily persons, for whom a full human experience involves the senses and emotions as well as the mind.” When the central sacramental sign of the Eucharistic liturgy is invisible and inaudible, something of the sign value of the sacrament is lost.

Regarding the likely table arrangement at the Last Supper, Kwasniewski claims that “In antiquity . . . diners sat or reclined on one side of the table and were served from the other.” But he neglects to mention that tables were typically U-shaped, with the diners sitting around the convex side and food served from the inside. None of those seated around it would have had their backs to the others; all could all easily see and converse with one another. Kwasniewski admonishes, “More to the point, the Mass was seen never as a re-enactment of the Last Supper, but as a memorial of the saving death of Christ.” He apparently missed this statement in my article: “Jesus instituted the Eucharist, moreover, as the making-present of the event that stands at the center of human history: the act of love in which he died for us on the cross. Again on the cross, the Lord was facing his disciples . . . He was also facing sinners.”

Regarding the active participation of the laity (a major goal of Sacrosanctum Concilium), Kwasniewski complains that I fail to “engage the question of what participatio actuosa actually means.” In fact, my article states, “Because we are corporeal beings, we praise God not just interiorly but with acclamations, antiphons, hymns and songs as well as bodily gestures.” This is a fortiori the case with participation in the liturgy. Certainly it is true that silent contemplative prayer is a worthy form of “active participation,” but in itself it is not sufficient for creatures whom God created as bodily persons. Moreover, such silent participation all too easily degenerates into the passivity of uninvolved bystanders, with little real engagement in the liturgy at all.

Regarding reverence and intimacy, Kwasniewski rails against “a supposed ‘intimacy’ that allows us to walk right up into the sanctuary and handle the Blessed Sacrament.” But Scripture itself exhorts us, “since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus . . . and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:19–22). Never in the New Testament is there the slightest hint that the ordained have a privileged access to God that is unavailable to the faithful. Never are God’s people of the New Covenant cautioned to “keep their distance” from God, as the people of the Old Covenant were (Exodus 19:12; Numbers 1:51–53). Such intimacy is, of course, the furthest thing from a cavalier attitude. True intimacy with God is not opposed to reverence, but rather fosters the kind of reverence that makes us continually in awe of the divine condescension by which God became one of us. No one is more intimate with God, or more reverent, than the saints.

The admonition of many traditionalists that we ought not to touch the sacred Host with our hands is ironic, considering the Christian doctrine that in Christ we become a holy tabernacle of the Lord (see John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Colossians 1:27). Is our tongue for some reason holier than our hands? If anything, Scripture would imply quite the opposite (James 3:6–8). By the grace of Christ, we are able to do much more than touch the Lord (see 1 John 1:1–3). We are able to live in the most intimate continual communion with him, not because we are worthy in ourselves, but because he has “offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins” (Hebrew 10:12) by which we have been cleansed of sin and been made a new creation (Colossians 2:12–14; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Kwasniewski speaks of my “willingness to make radical breaks with tradition” and to “write off centuries of Catholic understanding.” As I think my article helped to show, the Vatican II renewal of the liturgy was not a break with tradition but a restoration of certain neglected elements of tradition, which has “more fully brought to light the treasures of the Eucharistic mystery in all its dimensions.” In fact, as his many online articles make clear, Kwasniewski’s problem is not ultimately with me, but with the Church, as demonstrated by his disparagement of the ordinary form of the Mass and his rejection of Vatican Council II. To reject that which the Church’s magisterium has given us is to cut off the branch on which one sits. It is to make oneself, rather than the successors of the apostles, the arbiter of what counts as authentic Tradition.

While expounding what I believe are the tremendous blessings of the reform of the liturgy, I also recognize the wounds caused by the many abuses, banalities, and cavalier attitudes to the liturgy that have marred the post-conciliar life of the Church. There are many who find the Traditional Latin Mass beautiful and conducive to their spiritual life. My two greatest concerns regarding the current liturgical debates are, first, the disparaging tone and divisive attitudes of many proponents of the extraordinary form, with the frequent implication that those who disagree with them are less reverent or less faithful; and second, the tendency to call into question the teachings of an ecumenical Council of the Church. My prayer is that the bishops’ Eucharistic Revival and a well-conceived effort toward the “liturgical formation” urged by Pope Francis will help heal those wounds and reunite the Catholic faithful around the one Eucharistic table of the Lord.

  1. “Commentary on the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum,” in Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, vol. 3 (New York: Herder and Herder, 1969), 197.
Mary Healy About Mary Healy

Dr. Mary Healy is a professor of Scripture at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan, USA, and a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. She is a general editor of the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture and author of two of its volumes, The Gospel of Mark and Hebrews. Her other books include The Spiritual Gifts Handbook and Healing: Bringing the Gift of God’s Mercy to the World. Dr. Healy is chair of the Doctrinal Commission of Catholic Charismatic Renewal International Service (CHARIS) in Rome.


  1. “two greatest concerns regarding the current liturgical debates are, first, the disparaging tone and divisive attitudes of many proponents of the extraordinary form, with the frequent implication that those who disagree with them are less reverent or less faithful; and second, the tendency to call into question the teachings of an ecumenical Council of the Church.”….
    Why does the good Dr only have a concern for one side?
    What about the disparaging remarks of those who (even the pope) diminishes those who love the traditions of the Church and desire greater reverence rather than the circus & balloon atmosphere at the novus ordo Masses where it appears that it is a cult of personality, rather than the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!

  2. I do not hold any theological qualifications. I do have a love for our Catholic Tradition and faith, and the sensus fidelium as guide. A child of the 1980s, recent lockdowns allowed me to seek to know Him, our Lord and my God, perhaps for the first time in my life. It was no accident that I stumbled across the ICKSP where the dept and richness of our faith overwhelmed my senses and spoke straight to my heart. The Latin mass, connects me to my faith, to God, to the sacrifice of the mass in ways that over 40yrs of attending my local parish never could. It is deeply painful to see those in the hierarchy squabble and treat the liturgy and worship of God as a pawn in their theological vanities. The fruits of the liturgical reform are painfully evident for all to see.

  3. Avatar P Thomas McGuire says:

    Thank your for your response. I read Peter’s book, Holy Bread of Eternal Life, a while ago. Your response captured the thoughts I had as I was reading it.

    Fr j, Mary can only do so much in a short response to Peter’s article. Yes there are nasty things being said on both sides of the politics of liturgy. What a sad commentary on our fraternal communion in Christ.

    I grew up with the Latin Mass. So much I missed because I did not understand Latin. Thank God the Gospel was read in English. It was in hearing the words of Jesus that I came to a commitment to follow the WAY of Jesus as a Catholic. Today, I visit a lot of Catholic Churches. One characteristic of many: Sound systems do not work. If we are serious about the Word of God, why is there not more effort to make sure we HEAR the Word of God in liturgy?

  4. Avatar Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC says:

    I honestly don’t know enough about liturgical history to offer any real contributions to the debates going on here, but I’d like to offer an observation from a priest in the trenches. Around 3 years ago a survey was taken that showed that 69% of Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’m guessing that survey was taken from among those who attend the Novus Ordo as celebrated in your average parish today. Had that survey been taken from among those who attend the TLM, would it have been 0%? My guess is that it would have been 0%. As a priest, what am I to make of this? Rejecting VCII is not an option, so I ask myself: “Is your average parish really celebrating the NO Mass according to what Vatican II wanted?” If it is, the fact that 69% of Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence does not make the liturgical renewal look good. But from what I’ve read, your average parish is not actually celebrating the NO Mass according to what VCII wanted but, rather, something else. And that something else has gone off the rails and we are reaping the fruits of it, that is, 69% of Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence. I wonder what would happen if we celebrated Mass according to what the actual documents of VCII stated? By doing this, we could have the best of both worlds (a blend of the ancient and the new). Wouldn’t that help people believe in the Real Presence again and also be a way out of viewing VCII as some diabolical Council? Just my thoughts. Don’t hate me. Just trying to save souls here. God bless you all!

    • Avatar Deacon John says:

      I couldn’t agree more Fr. Calloway. I have a couple of old 1965 missals, and the way that Mass was celebrated according to Vatican II right after the council was a beautiful blend of retaining a large part of the ancient rite with the introduction of more scripture and some vernacular. The sense of reverence was retained in the 1965 missal/rite, and the balance of sacrifice and sacred meal appeared to have been present in this rite.

      • Yes! Let’s work together towards that, wherever we are.
        So good to hear a suggestion vs. endless complaining.
        Thx Deacon

    • God bless you Fr. Calloway!
      Praying for Christ’s church.

    • Avatar Bernadette Shonka says:

      Great Comment, Fr. Calloway. Having lived thru the changes (happening when I was in Collège) and studying the documents so much was NOT followed. P John XXIII wrote to ALL seminaries to continue teaching Latin. Who does? Original Mass of PP VI was offered Ad orientem. and I say Offered not celebrated, because it is first the SACRIFICE of Christ Himself to God the Father. We Offer sacrifice, not celebrate it. Yes, it too is the divine meal. Gregorian Chant is to take FIRST place. VII says every Catholic should be able to SING and/or Say in Latin the parts of the Mass that pertain to them (Lord Have Mercy; Gloria; Creed; Holy, Holy, Holy, and (Our Father) and Lamb of God). Notwithstanding that the Lord Have Mercy is the only part I’ve NEVER heard in Latin – Greek or Vernacular. Communion on the tongue remained for many years. We only got the indult after years of disobedience starting in the Netherlands and then when the (I think) 7 criteria were set to be met before indult could be granted – shall I say there was “fudging” of data going back to Rome to get the indult for the USA? If rules had been followed in obedience, most places, especially the USA would never have received the indult. I don’t believe we will ever see the Mass celebrated that came from VII. But observing the state of the faith and the reverence of the Extraordinary Rite vs the Ordinary Rite, I believe that offering the TLM universally throughout the world would do much to restore the faith – the essence of WHY we are Catholic – receiving Christ – body, blood, soul and divinity. I do not mean to offend anyone – but only to give my observation as a 75 yr old hopefully faithfully practicing Catholic – I “practice” daily; we’ll be in heaven when we “get it right!” :-)

    • Avatar Mícheál Thompson says:

      Thank you for this. It is not Vatican II but its misguided implementation that has led to this current sad situation. Given the nature of the current hierarchy, I do not see any possibility for Vatican II being implemented, so the TLM is my best option. I can only attend every few years as I live in a country where it is banned by the hierarchy. The rest of the time it is NO – sadly.

  5. I am not convinced by Dr. Healy’s response. Had she limited her response to Dr. Kwasniewski to the last paragraph of her rebuttal it would have been sufficient. Maybe it would have been better if she had just written him a letter since it seems that the concern of the faithful Catholic is not what is being even considered over the personal banter of both Dr. Healy and Dr. Kwasniewski. I am still in a quandary as to why the TLM was simply maintained as rite of the Universal Church as others in communion with Rome. As a daily communicant for over almost 80 years I have seen the best and the worst from both forms. One would say Vatican II, though not at fault, caused some Bishops and Dioceses to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I have seen abuses and indignities hurled on the Most Blessed Sacrament that have left me with nightmares. I attend a NO Mass daily and it is reverent, dignified and even peppered with significant Latin phrases that recall a youth of inspiration. However that is not the case in all Catholic Churches. I left a parish up north that was more like a mega evangelic church and heavily influenced by Protestant customs. Unleavened bread in a flimsy basket from a “Catholic” altar, served practically like a Denny’s Diner!!! Whole Chalices of consecrated wine spilled on me, and communicants just walking through the spilled Blood of Christ! Again all not the fault of Vatican II but it was the handle of the floodgate that allows such indignities. The Eucharistic Revival Dr Healy speaks of has most certainly not reached our Churches! Yes, Vatican II is a brilliant documented but unfortunately not followed very closely. Add the decades of sexual abuse scandals involving top dignitaries of our Church, the financial scandals of the Vatican and finally Covid 19, which some prelates used as an excuse to shut down the Sacramental system that was not deemed important enough to protect. The perfect storm for major damage! We need a St Damian, St Catherine of Siena and St Michael. Still, it is still the Church founded by Jesus Christ and in the end it will be triumphant!

  6. How dismaying that anyone, never mind a seminary professor, is STILL repeating the canards that the post-Conciliar liturgy “is in some respects closer to the liturgy as celebrated in the first millennium than is the Tridentine Mass.” That is simply false. As is the case with every single change imported into the liturgy by the post-Conciliar reform, none of these things was brought into it as it was actually done in the first millennium. Nor did the inventors of the post-Conciliar rite have any concern for the liturgical patrimony of the Roman Church in the first millennium, since they chucked out any number of things that legitimately did survive from the first millennium until 1969.

    – There is no evidence that the congregational singing of the first millennium consisted, as it does in most churches today, and licitly so, of a small repertoire of trashy and doctrinally iffy hymns. Nor is there any good reason why the congregation cannot be taught to sing a fair part of the music in the Tridentine Mass.
    – There is no evidence that the bidding prayers were ever something that every congregation could make up out of whole cloth for every Mass, as they can in the Novus Ordo; they were always in a fixed form, nor were they ever universal.
    – Offertory processions existed because the faithful actually brought material offering for the support of the clergy and the poor to church, including bread and wine which were used for the Eucharistic offering. There is no evidence that they did as is generally done in the post-Conciliar rite, and moved hosts from the back of the church to the front so meaningful!), pretending to offer them to the priest who actually purchased them with the parish funds.
    – There is no reason to believe that Communion in the hands was the universal practice in the first millennium, but even if it were, it would still be an abominable idea. It was instituted in modern times not out of love of the liturgical patrimony of the Church of the first millennium, but as a deliberate act of defiance of the Church’s law. Paul VI has been proved correct in identifying as one of the main causes of lack of reverence for the Eucharist, which is one of the reasons why this New Pentecost™ finds itself in need of a Eucharistic revival in the first place.

    • Avatar Alex Erickson says:

      Methinks you’re putting words in Dr. Healy’s mouth. She never said “Vatican II restored these things exactly as they were done in the first millenium.” Rather it’s a more basic claim *that* these things existed in some form in the first millennium, and the claim *that* Vatican II wished to restore them in some form. Now we can certainly discuss whether the manner of restoration was prudent or done well. But you seem to concede the central “canard” as you call it, that Vatican II wanted to restore elements from the first millennium liturgy, at least in some form.

      • What she gave as example of things that are closer to the practice of the fist millennium are “the presence of congregational singing, the prayers of the faithful, the offertory procession, and the possibility of receiving Holy Communion in the hand.” She did not qualify any of those by saying, “except that all of them are now done in ways that are radically different from the way these things were done in the first millennium.” And it goes without saying that the ways they are done, totally decontextualized from the liturgical patrimony of the Church, has nothing whatsoever to do with what Vatican II asked, so I concede nothing on that point. Not a word of Sacrosanctum Concilium could be in any way construed as to support the appalling practice of Communion in the hand.

  7. Avatar Johnny B. says:

    On many of these points, I kind of agree with Peter K.
    However… the tone he used in his rebuttal was completely off-putting. He snootily says about Dr. Healy (or her arguments):
    “oddly unaware”
    “failure to acknowledge”
    “cavalierly dismisses”
    “shows little to no awareness”
    “masks a profound misunderstanding”
    These terms are the lexical equivalent of waving a hand to dismiss a challenger as unqualified. I wish he would avoid that tone, and then people might be able to weigh the arguments without a bad taste in the mouth.

  8. Avatar Dcn. Andy says:

    Thanks for your response to false claims, quite simply put. The traditionalist arguments are either, I dare say, deliberate falsehoods or a serious misunderstanding of how the Church works and how the liturgy develops. Your response sheds the light of truth on these claims and set it aright.

  9. Avatar Peter Maciejewski says:

    Over decades and centuries the fruits of the liturgical reform will be judged by actual results. The sacred traditions of the church including the traditional liturgy will also continue through groups like the SSPX and Fraternity of Saint Peter. Over time we will see which movement bears fruit. Thus far, several decades after the liturgical reforms, it appears that they have not born fruit. Meanwhile, the traditional Latin mass has survived significant suppression within the church and is growing. There are more than 1,000 traditional priests in the world today in traditional orders like the SSPX and another wave of suppression is happening through the actions of Pope Francis. Over time we will see which tree bears fruit. God’s will shall be accomplished regardless of the actions on man. If God wills the traditional Latin mass to flourish then it shall, no matter what decree comes from the church hierarchy. Ideas are great, but the ultimate measure is how many souls are saved and how many people are brought to Christ!

  10. How ironic that on HPR’s front page today, directly underneath this article, is one titled “The Importance of Recognizing Satan’s Existence”. The reality of the devil’s existence, of diabolic influence, of our need to pray for God’s protection against it etc., is one of the many themes which the committee that invented the post-Conciliar Rite deemed to be unpresentable to the delicate ears of Modern Man™, and excised almost completely from the prayers of the Missal, the Divine Office, etc. There should be no need to repeat the fact that in Sacrosanctum Concilium, there is absolutely no warrant whatsoever for doing such a thing. And yet here we are…

  11. I believe that a lot has gone wrong with the inauguration of the second Vatican council. The very translation of the Latin mass into English has reduced the reverence voiced in the root meaning of prayful wording and poetic expression taken from the Latin Mass.

    The moving of the tabernacle from the center of the Church to side altar was another huge mistake of downplaying the importance of The sacred presence of God at center of our lives and focus. The focus became more on getting the laity involved so much so the laity eventually tried to take over the role of the priest causing so much problems in interfering with the holy order within the mystical body of Christ.

    There was so much focus on the laity that Mass became a social gathering where much talking and distraction occurred before Mass instead of using that time before Mass to prepare to enter into fitting communion with the Lord.

    The dress code was another problem. People came to Church in shorts slippers in cut out dresses. The receiving Communion in the hand another problem. People began to disrespect the hosts when they started to receive communion in their hands.

    Although, the focus of second Vatican council was concerned about how it could best transmit the deposit of faith to the faithful in a manner that they were able to incorporate it into their daily life, this did not happen. Instead, the faithful were not substantiated in their faith. The faith of the Church became watered down and the Truth of the faith of the Church was compromised.

    Hence , the apostasy the Church faces today through its members within the Church and from those outside the Church.

  12. Avatar Katherine Weber says:

    “They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the spirit of Christ, accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visibly bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the Bishops” (LG 14).
    If you are Catholic and you love the Divine Liturgy, this is a reminder that the enemy is the false spirit, allowed to flourish following Vatican II, whether allowed by our sin, omission, or ignorance. The enemy is not the Church, nor the teachings that the Holy Spirit, soul of our Church, imparted at the sacred Second Vatican Council. Anyone who has read the documents from Vatican II knows well that in most parishes, the Holy Spirit’s teachings are not being followed, which has led to increased ignorance, irreverence, and indifference towards God, His Church, and the Divine Liturgy in particular. Do we know the documents, own them? Do our priests? Studying and discussing the documents is crucial. Ignorance breeds division.

    “Therefore, the sacred Council teaches that Bishops by divine institution have succeeded to the place of the apostles, as shepherds of the Church, and he who hears them, hears Christ, and he who rejects them, rejects Christ and him who sent Christ (cf. Lk 10:16).” (LG 20).
    As Fr. Calloway stated above, “Rejecting VCII is not an option.” Enough of the hateful language, personal ivory towers and pharisaical judgement. My Godmother was a daily communicant who lived in servile fear of what would happen if she touched Jesus in the Eucharist with her hands. She left the church. My parents were encouraged by a likely well-meaning priest to contracept. As they followed his direction (“never question a priest’) and the Divine Liturgy grew increasingly facile externally, my father left the Church. The True Spirit of Vatican II gifts us with Truth, a holy balance. If we are not with her, even if for a good reason such as desiring more reverence in the liturgy, we are against her.

    “He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity…He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a “bodily” manner and not “in his heart”…if they fail, moreover, to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved, but they will be the more severely judged.” (LG 14)
    We are the Body of Christ, a family. It is time to act like it. It is easy to put people in boxes and sides, dismissing them because we think we know better than the sacred council. It is Christian, however, to dive into the messiness of a family that has work to do. Dr. Healy leads with charity, Sacred Scripture, scholarly content, and a desire to share the truth. She is our sister in Christ. Are you listening to her? Do you want to understand her perspective and maybe learn something? I might disagree with some of Dr. Healy’s thoughts regarding celebrating the Mass Ad Orientum. Good. Her article has made me think. Is this a matter of opinion, or authoritative teaching? What does the council say? My disagreement could be misinformed, I may have made assumptions, or it might not be a sticking point for her. Point is, charitable disagreement, in solidarity, working towards the common good (in this case towards a reverent liturgy), is a crucial constant in our history. Saints Peter and Paul’s passionate and charitable disagreement in the first Council of Jerusalem comes to mind.

    “For besides intimately linking them (laity) to his life and his mission, he also gives them a sharing in his priestly function of offering spiritual worship for the glory of God and the salvation of men…Together with the offering of the Lord’s body, they are most fittingly offered in the celebration of the Eucharist…the laity consecrate the world itself to God.” (LG 34)
    Are we going to grant temporary, impoverished liturgical externals the power to erode our faith in the liturgy’s eternal, invisible realities? His Word is living and effective, heaven descends to earth, and Jesus is present; body blood soul and divinity in the holy Eucharist. Our love and reverence for the Holy Trinity, our participation/immersion into His Divine Liturgy, is a personal act within public worship. I am the first to be jarred out of focus with Him for all kinds of reasons- inane music, incoherent speech, cult of personality, to name just a few. It shouldn’t be like this. I get it. But it is, for now. Meanwhile, see above.

    “For the distinction which the Lord made between sacred ministers and the rest of the People of God bears within a certain union, since pastors and the other faithful are bound to each other by a mutual need.” (LG 32)
    We need to support priests, parishes and bishops who are trying to follow the documents; some have formed parish committees to consider altar rails, are facing east for as many masses as their bishop allows, researching reverential hymnals, using tabernacle veils, and revising nondescript architecture. We need to support priests who have allowed abuses. It has been a time of confusion, of stress as their personality becomes more important than is healthy, of staff issues, and so much more. Sometimes it is simple: they are human and want to be liked. Whatever the case, nobody is in this alone.

    Take heart, as together we reclaim the great truths of the Second Vatican Council:
    “For all of us, who are sons of God and constitute one family in Christ (cf. Heb 3:6) as long as we remain in communion with one another in mutual charity and in one praise of the most holy Trinity, are corresponding with the intimate vocation of the Church and partaking in foretaste the liturgy of consummate glory.” (LG 51)

    LG= Dogmatic Constitution on the Church
    Lumen Gentium
    Solemnly Promulgated by His Holiness Pope Paul VI
    on November 21, 1964

    • Avatar P Thomas McGuire says:

      Thank you for this response. I find in your words wisdom that leads to a need for me to empty myself and live now not I but Christ in me.

  13. Avatar Mary Jo Papaleo says:

    Fr. Calloway, You are correct about the lack of reverence for the Real Presence, and if I may add a few other items? Why haven’t all the parishioners returned after the lockdown? Why are Catholic high schools and colleges turning our children into agnostics or atheists?

  14. Avatar TLM Advocate says:

    It would be helpful if Prof Healy told us what books she has read about the history of the NO and of the TLM and which books she has read defending the TLM. It would also be helpful if she told us how many TLMs she has ever attended and if she has spoken at length with those who attend the TLM, especially the young (that would be most of the attendees). It generally takes about 3 months of attending the TLM to get even the slightest real sense of it. Most TLM attendees have attended the NO in many places for decades and have very good sense of it; Prof Healy needs to hear their reasons for choosing the TLM, perhaps especially from those who previously attended a charismatic NO. Prof seems to have nearly exclusive experience of the NO, and perhaps mostly experience of a charismatic NO. Although the understanding of the Mass as sacrifice is present in the NO I find the “felt” experience of it is very rare and nearly non-existent in the charismatic version of the NO which generally has a “celebratory” feel to it.

  15. Why is it easier to find a Tridentine Mass, than a Novus Ordo celebrated according to its own rubrics, missal, and lectionary? NO parishes outnumber Tridentine parishes by at least 10 to 1, if not 20 to 1, but hardly any of the NO parishes use the Introit, Offertory, and Communion specified in the Lectionary – they omit it altogether. I spent 25 years of my life exclusively NO, and the years after that occasionally attending, and I’ve been to precisely one NO parish that used them at Sunday Mass – and that parish also celebrated the Tridentine Mass (and was located a few hundred miles away). Which begs the question: Why are the people supposedly bad-mouthing the Novus Ordo also the only people who accept all of its parts?

    And, building on that question, how is it reasonable to accuse traditionalists of disparaging a Church-approved Mass, which they probably have never seen celebrated according to the Church-approved missal, rubrics, and lectionary? They are disparaging (critiquing?) a Mass that a bunch of humans have decided to remove parts from, and alter other parts, contrary to the rubrics, to follow their own wills. Time spent figuring out how to fix that, and doing so, would be well spent.

  16. By their fruits… . I agree with those herein this forum who have identified the obvious aberrant and abhorrent versions of the Novus Ordo Missae one routinely encounters in many parishes. For years, I was a member of our college community that offered a reverent NOM daily and on Sundays. The chaplain left and the liturgy is no longer reverent. Except for a now restricted Latin Mass (1962 Missal), the diocese in which I live rarely offers anything resembling a reverent Mass. So, a few years ago I started attended Divine Worship of the Ordinariate community, which was quite small at the time. Divine Worship has the best of both worlds, NOM and TLM. I’d dare say that the percentage of congregants who believe in the Real Presence must be close to or entirely 100%. The Ordinariate community has grown considerably and continues to grow. Thanks be to God.

    • Avatar Mícheál Thompson says:

      I am happy for you and for all those Catholics who have found reverence in the Ordinariate. Long may it continue

  17. Avatar Virgil Evans says:

    I’ve been wondering, unsuccessfully now, for some time, the following: if the current Mass is so compelling, why is there significant controversy about it? After all, there has been over half a century for it to convince, but it hasn’t quite achieved that goal. Should it not be something that attracts people in ways that would, in some measure, keep Catholics attending Mass rather than the ongoing decline of Catholics in the pews? I know there are responses to these questions, but I have never found any of them very convincing.

  18. Just watched a video of the new Mass where a Priest is battling someone dressed as a clown with nerf swords during Mass……….I also live near Chicago, we have horrific abuses at Mass almost every Sunday. Last Fathers day two gay men gave the holily at Mass celebrating mortal sin……the list is endless.

    I like the new Mass but the abuses are legion and those running the Church will do nothing to stop them. Many actually like the abuses and some even encourage and allow pride in sodomy masses.

    A few years ago a cow was placed on a Crucifix inside St John the Baptist Church in the Belgian town of Borgloon. The Pope, the Bishop, and the Priest said noting about this satanic display. Yey the Pope is upset about the holiness of the Traditional Mass………pure insanity.

  19. Dr. Healy, Thank you for a well written and charitable article. I generally disagree with some of your assertions, but I am thankful that you are on point, documented, and above all, pleasant.

    But I want to note one point where I think you are mistaken. Reception of the Eucharist in the hand verses the tongue is not a matter of one part of the body over another. Rather it is that when receiving on the tongue, it is the priest who gives you the Eucharist, whereas in receiving in the hand, he is giving it to you, so you can give it to yourself. A significant difference. That the priest has anointed fingers and, at least in the NO parishes I have been, ritually washes them while cleaning the chalice, highlights to some an irreverence associated with reception in the hand. Of course, this is to say nothing of the opportunity for abuses and irregularities possible in reception in the hand that are impossible with reception on the tongue. But then again, that might be the entirety of the TLM-NO disagreement; the opportunity for abuse and irregularity that seems to be the hallmark of the NO. Just my thought. Thanks again for a well written piece.


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