When Liturgy Goes Off the Deep End – Troubling Trends in German Speaking Lands. Two Videos Depict the Problems

Under the current liturgical norms there is greater flexibility than some would wish regarding both diversity and inculturation. Most of you who read this blog regularly know that I am probably more appreciative of legitimate (please note that word) diversity. I celebrate both the Traditional Latin Mass (usually in the solemn high form) and also pastor a parish with strong African American roots where we use gospel music, spirituals and exhibit charismatic enthusiasm.

However, I must add, that in the African American community, such things ARE traditional and considered sacred and reverent by most of my parishioners. In fact the traditional hands folded, with a rather solemn look and minimal responsiveness, feels oddly out of place to many in my parish. Some will say to me when I note their joy and enthusiasm, “Father I’ve just got to praise Him. He’s been so good to me!” The fact is there ARE cultural differences in how people understand and express reverence and the liturgy is right to embrace legitimate differences.

But there is also a deep end of the liturgical pool, where we are no longer in touch with the foundation. There is a precipice, we must avoid where we are no longer in the realm of tradition or legitimate diversity. It is place where we have simply cast aside proper liturgical boundaries and the fundamental focus of the liturgy is lost.

And that fundamental focus is, of course, God. At some point it becomes clear that liturgy has devolved into a self centered circus which celebrates human exotica, not the truth of God of the beauty and proper order that is proper to God and the things of God.

And the bottom of this post are two very disturbing videos from Europe that exhibit a total loss of focus on God, and an obsession with exotic and strange human behaviors. Childlike simplicity before God is a virtue, but childishness is no virtue at all. It is simply obnoxious, and should be rebuked, as silly children often are with the admonition: “Grow up!”

The first video features a bizarre clown liturgy of sorts. I think these absurdities are largely gone form the American scene. The German priest and other ministers process down the aisle of the church in various stages of clown dress. The priest (Fr. Bozo?) wears a clown nose and comes down the aisle in a superman cape. Later he dons a jester’s cap as he “proclaims” (makes a joke of ?) the gospel. The opening song has a polka rhythm and is done in the style of  carousel music. The homily seems more of a standup routine, than a sermon on the Word of God.

Some one may respond, “But Father, But Father, isn’t Mass supposed to be joyful and relevant?” Yes, but there is plenty of that possible within the norms of the Mass. Come to my parish and I will show you joy and exuberance within the tradition of the sacred. It is not necessary to don secular clown attire and turn the liturgy into a carnival. There is nothing sacred in any tradition about bozo noses and jester hats. There is no sacred tradition associated with carousel music and priests wearing superman capes. Carnivals (literally: “farewell to meat”) did and do occur in some cultures on Fat Tuesday, but outside the church, in the town square. There are no liturgical norms that envision Bozo noses, for example, by indicating that the color of the Bozo nose should match the color of the vestment of day 🙂 .

Many questions arise at seeing this video. Where is the local Bishop? Has he disciplined the clergy and sought to instruct the people on the true nature of liturgy? How have the clergy gone so wrong? Probably in stages. But who instructed them? How widespread is this problem in Europe?

The second video, in Austria, I think, is of a so-called “Western Mass.” That’s “western” in the sense of the “old wild west,” and Country and Western music. The people dress in old wild west garb and Mass is celebrated in the midst of a picnic. During the Mass the people are eating and drinking. Many are also smoking, even during the canon and distribution of communion, we see some puffing away. During the homily, the priest congratulates himself and the people on making the Mass so available. And he opines that this is more of what we have to do to make the Church credible to people. He also claims the local Cardinal’s approval for the whole thing. Meanwhile, people puff on cigarettes and open soda pop cans. Communion was opened to non-Catholics as well.

Sigh… But this is what often happened as the Western World has turned in on itself (curvatus in se). In the anthropocentric shift that occurred as early as the 16th Century “man” has become increasingly fascinated with himself. God has been moved to the periphery, (kicked to the curb if you will), and Man has moved to the center.

And this anthropocentric notion has surely plagued modern liturgy. There’s a kind of  an “aren’t we great” mentality. So that anything “we do” should be brought into the sacred liturgy. People ride carousels, aren’t we great! So let’s celebrate what we do in the liturgy. People goof off and sing silly songs and smoke and drink, too. And since we’re great, why not celebrate this greatness in the liturgy too?

And what should be God-centered: about God and what he has done, becomes all about us and what we do, even the silliest, least sacred, and sinful things about us. So “we” gather and celebrate “us.” God? Oh sure, he’s invited too, he is invited to praise us and delight in us almost as much as we do, if he wants. This is, after all about us and for us isn’t it?

But that’s just the point. It isn’t about us. It is about God, and what he has done for us in saving and setting us free. It is about the great paschal mystery, it is about adoring, worshiping and praising the God who has rescued us from this present evil age (Gal 2:1).

And God has not left us to figure out how best to praise him. He has given us the Scriptures and Sacred Tradition, wherein he carefully spells out the form of the heavenly liturgy in order that we may properly enter into it. He carefully set it forth in Exodus 25-39 and told Moses to follow the pattern exactly. Christian Tradition, having received this teaching from antiquity, saw it fulfilled and transposed by Christ, (et antiquum documentum, novo cedat ritui – and the ancient document gives way to the newer rite), but all the essentials are still there. And they are developed and set forth in the Book of Hebrews and the Book of Revelation, as the heavenly liturgy is disclosed and set forth. Christian antiquity did not just “make things up.” Our Liturgy is based on the revelation of the heavenly Liturgy. As St. Paul says, For I handed on to you what I myself received (1 Cor 11:23).This paradosis (or handing on) is an essential quality of liturgy and the faith.

The modern age has shown a forth a tremendous rupture in this receiving and handing on of the Tradition, a Tradition which comes from God himself.

Here too, the heart of the problem seems to be the self-centered, and self enclosed quality of our times. If those who came before me handed on something precious from God which does not seem immediately understandable and relevant to me, it is too easy to cast it aside, rather than to try and understand it, and conform to it. If it doesn’t speak to me, it is worthless. If it DOES speak to me it is worth everything! This is insisted upon, even if it is silly and not appropriate for the occasion. Because it speaks to me I am permitted to put it on display. It is like children running about and being silly at a time and place where this is not appropriate. Correction is needed from some adults in the room.

As stated at the beginning, there is legitimate diversity and inculturation permitted in the liturgy. Some who are more traditional in the Church are too quick to condemn what is permitted and what is, in fact, experienced as sacred by others. But it doesn’t take and anthropologist to know that bozo noses, jester hats, superman capes, smoking and drinking during mass and so forth, are not sacred and never have been. They are secular to the core and have no place in the sacred liturgy, a liturgy revealed to us by God, not made up by us, and not a kindergarten playroom either.

73 Replies to “When Liturgy Goes Off the Deep End – Troubling Trends in German Speaking Lands. Two Videos Depict the Problems”

  1. I’m sorry to be the first one to point out the painfully obvious elephant in the room that seems to appear every single time one of these nauseating videos pop up but here it is…it is never the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. It is always the Novus Ordo where you find this craziness and absurdity. I know I’m setting myself up to be utterly savaged by so many “tolerant” catholics but it needs to be said. The “diversity” and “inculteration” which you exalt, no matter how “legitamate” have all but brought the Latin Church to the point of utter ruin. Why is it that nobody is even willing to consider that the root of the problem may be the new Mass itself? Why is every excuse under the sun made on it’s behalf for why it has brought ruin everywhere it was forced on the Church, but no one questions the new rite itself? It’s like the old marxist excuse as to why communism has never succeeded. It’s never that it is intrinsically evil, or that it completely denies every Catholic dogma, but that it was never applied the right way.

    Now to all those who may write “how dare you compare the Paul VI Mass to communism!” I’m not saying the Novus Ordo is equal to communism. All I’m saying is people make the same excuses for it that we all scoff at communists for making about communism. We both refuse to look to the root and until that is done this problem will continue. P.S. The new translation won’t fix a darned thing until you turn the altars bask around and stop making Mass a form of Sunday morning entertainment (a pretty lame one at that as Mass attendence proves).

      1. Monsignor, I would have to point out that compromise with the adversary is what has allowed for tolerance of the apostates in the video that you published here. There is no middle ground in the Holy Faith, you either put God first or you do not. I wonder about the formation of a priest who advocates tolerance and negotiation of doctrine (I think it may be called accepting and advocating the heresies of relativism and modernism) Many Catholics who follow the many other rites in Holy Church in an orthodox manner do not seem damaged, the only damage being sustained is the from the emasculated clergy who have secularized their ministry to gain acceptance of the world. I am certainly glad the martyrs of the early Church did not share the this desire for middle ground with the pagans of their day.

  2. Without getting you mad, let me just say the following: the rubrical flexibility of the Novus Ordo is the inch that gives into this mile.

    There’s a reason this stuff never happened before the 1970 M.R.

    1. Yes, but of course it is not 1970 and there IS an approved form that DOES permit flexibility. And thus, this article is not written for the 1-5% of Catholics who access the extraordinary form but for the rest who live in the wider church. It is possible to live in a world where there are legitimate diversities and observe proper boundaries without having to to go into the all or nothing scenario you consistently propose. I don’t think you really have any idea at what kind of pastoral harm would be caused by simply reimposing the old mass on everyone. There is a middle ground to be found Ryan and that’s what I am proposing here.

      As for there being no abuses before 1970, dream on. All the old guys I trained under for the Latin Mass (back in the mid 1980s) told me that it was dreadful how the mass was celebrated in the old days: mumbled Latin, skipped prayers, half genuflections, not even waiting for the servers to finish before moving on to the next prayer, masses that should have taken a good 40 minutes to celebrate reverently were routinely done in 18 minutes. Communion was routinely distributed in larger parishes by priests, beginning immediately after the gospel while the priest celebrant went on with the current Mass, sung liturgies were abhorred by most clergy and when they did sing them they were usually done in a horrible and tortured tone with indistinct pronunciation since they were not use to ennuciating the Latin, but mumbling it. So when they sang most just mumbled loud. I have heard recording from the time and can personally affirm that. Homilies were often skipped, even on Sundays. Most of the old guys said the Corpus Domini nostri prayer while they gave communion to as many as five people, mumbling it as a norm. The Liber Usualis had long been abandoned by most parishes and they used recto tono (usually 8th tone) chanting in its place, often done by a warbly lady organist whose pronunciation of the Latin left a lot to be desired: gloreeah paahtree et feeeleeeo, et spireetooee sahnctio…. People came late and left early and had legalistic notions that if they made it by the gospel they were safe. Leaving after communion was epidemic. Have you ever seen the Funeral Mass of John F. Kennedy? It is a wretched example of how poorly some clergy celebrated mass http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZCWHzJswRQ&feature=player_detailpage (go to the middle of the video and hear Latin uttered like gibberish and the Mass celebrated almost without devotion.

      Now the priests who told me these things were men who supported the Old Mass, celebrated it and trained me. But they were very clear that there was a lot of bad stuff going on in those days too and that the careless and hurried masses of those days were what made reform seem plausible and desirable. And perhaps there were no clown masses but my mother told me of a few crazy priests growing up who gave very strange sermons and exhibited strange mannerisms during mass. One of them really liked to pound his chest hard at the Domine non sum… and exhibited other exaggerated mannerisms and flourishes while turning. Another introduced the pledge of allegiance during the Leonine prayers. So there was stuff already simmering in those days.

      1. Thank you for sharing what priests who celebrated Mass before the Council knew was common practice. This is knowledge rapidly passing from memory while also being suppressed in many of our discussions, especially around the blogosphere because the myth of a golden age must be maintained. Turns out pre-Vatican II Catholics were remarkably like human beings – remarkably like us. So they too could be habitually slovenly, individualistic, eccentric, and grotesquely perfunctory, even while celebrating the “Mass of the Ages”. It turns out that in practice, the rubrics were often treated as “guidelines” in the spirit of Captain Jack Sparrow.

        And the video of JFK’s funeral is fascinating. I couldn’t be sure that the Cardinal was speaking Latin! It is startling since this was obviously intended to be the liturgy at its best and most solemn – the nationally televised funeral of the first Catholic President to a nation and a world utterly caught up in a never-to-be-forgotten tragedy. This was the Pre-Vatican II golden era Mass as celebrated in one of the major US sees – at its best, not its worst. But organized in a hurry so the existing standard of practice was very visible.

        Like you, I enjoy appropriate cultural diversity in the Liturgy. Especially since 65% of Catholics now live outside the west and for many of them, especially in Africa, the traditional understanding of beauty and reverence is much more emotionally expressive and exuberant.

        We find it almost impossible to grasp that the debate over traditional liturgy and the trauma that fueled is almost entirely a western phenomena. Cause many millions of Catholic peoples in 2011 weren’t yet Catholic in 1960. They did not experience the post-conciliar changes as the uprooting of centuries of practice like western Catholics did. And it is that trauma that has fueled the traditionalist movement.

        Most Africans and Asians who have become Catholic in the last two generations have almost no cultural root or attachment to the Latin Mass as celebrated in the West in 1960. When we asked Catholic leaders in Indonesia what their experience of Vatican II was, they just looked blank. None of them or their families had been Catholic in 1962. Some were from traditional Indonesian Muslim backgrounds. It just wasn’t a meaningful question for them.

        Someday I have to visit your parish. I would love to meet Catholics who say “Father I’ve just got to praise Him. He’s been so good to me!”

      2. I don’t think I’m suggesting imposing the E.F. on everyone. As I’ve said before, I normally go to an O.F. Mass, with a healthy helping of E.F.s throughout the year. I’m with Fr. Z on this–let the E.F. shame those who celebrate the O.F. irreverently.

        What I’m suggesting is that it was a mistake to loosen the rubrics in the O.F. An O.F. celebrated traditionally and with tight rubrics would have been fine. It also would have not allowed the liturgical abuses we’ve seen.

        If you have too many ad lib opportunities in the Mass, priests think it’s their show and clown masses can result.

      3. I hate to disagree with you, Monsignor, but aren’t these abuses you’re talking about PERVERSIONS of the EF? In other words, aren’t those mumbled prayers mockeries of the Mass because they’re imperfect versions of what is right, which, if you backed the priest into a corner, he could ultimately admit were wrong through lack of sincerity or effort or something else?

        And aren’t the abuses we’re seeing today, e.g. in the cowboy Mass, done with clear eyes and sincere hearts—but just wrong? Aren’t these abuses categorically different, because they are mockeries of the Mass which the perpetrator is ultimately willing to stand up for, whereas the perpetrator of the mumbled prayer or the early departure does it surreptitiously, not wanting to be noticed (or because he thinks no one notices or cares)?

        It’s because of this that I sympathize with the basic point that commenters like Ryan and Chris are trying to make: in one abuse, the worshipper fails to realize the end in sight, in the other case, the worshipper carries things through to what he believes is their proper end.

        Or more simply, which offender of the Mass do you think is more likely to mention his liturgical offense in the confessional: the parishioner with the cowboy hat, or the one who skips out after communion?

        Maybe neither one is very likely to do so in practice, but which one manifestly feels guilt for the action when he does it? Which one manifestly thinks that he’s acting appropriately? We may not be able to read hearts, but we have it on pretty good authority that they are where actions come from.

      4. If you read the lives of St. Francis de Sales and St. Vincent de Paul, you know there were abuses then too. St. Vincent’s penitent, Madame de Gondi, had the proper Latin formula of absolution printed on a card, because she discovered most rural priests didn’t know it & just mumbled something or other at random! They couldn’t pronounce the Latin correctly, but at least they usually could read. Well, read a little! The effects of the Protestant Reformation on the priesthood …

        You’ll recall too that Pres. Kennedy’s funeral was in St. Matthew’s, because it was the only church Mrs. Kennedy could ever recall him attending. Like every other lawyer in Washington, Catholic, Jew, atheist, he faithfully went ONCE A YEAR to the “Red Mass” for lawyers at St. Mathhew’s! Despite their vast wealth, the Kennedys were and are the epitome of the uneducated immigrant who might never have received religious instruction or attended Mass in his/her life! Much of impoverished, persecuted, rural Europe was also priest-less.

        Every era has abuses. There is no Golden Age. However, the Bozo Mass and the Beer-swilling Mass go beyond ALL other eras. This isn’t just stupidity, eccentricity, nepotism, or slovenly disrespect. These are educated people, in positions of responsibility, who quite deliberately choose to stage tacky, phony, Disneyfied spectacles for non-Catholics. They know perfectly well that these are not anything like a Native American Mass held for a tribe, with indigenous designs on vestments, and hymns and readings in the indigenous language! (Mind you, in one now 99% African-American church, I got really tired as we clasped hands HIGH and danced up to 2 collections, up to Communion, and finally out the door. But it was their practice, and quite respectful.) The non-believing audience is amused by the blasphemy, and the opportunity to smoke, drink, and gorge in an approving atmosphere.

        1. Yes, thanks, its also odd to me and shows some of the liturgical sentiments of the time (leaning toward perfunctory) that a low mass would be said upon the death of a president. How strange. But among most Irish Catholics (according to Thomas Day) sung masses we widely hated (for historical reasons). But according to my older priest mentors, Low Mass was the norm in Most DC parishes on a typical Sunday other than Christmas or Easter. Weekly High Masses were conducted only in larger parishes and only one on a Sunday at that. There were some cultural differences (e.g. the Germans like a little more singing). But honestly, on the death of a President, it seems a solemn high in coram episcopo should have been done and Mrs. Kennedy could surely have been made to understand the appropriateness of that? But it just wasn’t the thinking in those days from what I’m told.

          1. There was a Solemn Pontifical Requiem Mass to the memory of President Kennedy celebrated on January 19, 1964 at Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston, using Mozart’s (unfinished) setting of the Requiem, a rare example of it actually being used liturgically. It was performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and conducted by Erich Leinsdorf. RCA Victor recorded the Mass and it was broadcast on NBC. The Kennedy family attended and Cardinal Cushing celebrated. He later expressed his amazement being in the same company as “all those real singers.”

          2. Those with more expertise about the Kennedy years than I could speak to this, but I wonder whether the lack of a high Mass for Kennedy’s funeral was less about “liturgical sentiment” and more about not riling those still suspicious of having a Catholic (devout or otherwise) in the Oval Office, or about not appearing too alien to non-Catholics.

  3. This is why we need holy Bishops to guard the Sacrament and holy laity, religious, deacons and priests to pray for and with the Bishop to Jesus.

  4. I agree with you Msgr Pope, however it is these responses to your article that send up a red flag for me with people of different cultures. These responses only alienate those of different cultures ad stiffle the growth of Evangeliation among other cultures. This is not good.

    1. I agree about the strident nature of some of them, blaming the OF is not helpful, considering that 98% of Roman Catholics attend it. My article was really more an attempt to question the cultural presuppositions of this rather extreme behavior in the videos. As you may have noticed, most of my posts, focus on culture.

  5. @ Chris:

    This is an argument that it’s getting old. The Extraordinary Form of the Mass centers on the actions of the celebrant-priest and the servers. The people participate by listening and following, Participation beyond that is left to the subjective conscience of the individual attentand.

    The ordinary form remains an effort to bring the active, conscious participation of the people. The extraordinary rite lends itself for errors and abuses by the celebrant and the attendants; the ordinary rite lends itself to abuses by the people, but these wouldn’t happen without the priest allowing the abuses.

    So, in both cases, the person with the most blame is the celebrant priest.

    Curious, ain’t it?

    Blogmaster, http://www.vivificat.org

    1. TDJ,

      I think we see that argument a lot because it looks true. (And as an aside, as someone who teach seminarians, I can observe that the argument is not getting older; it’s getting younger.) When people worship according to the EF today, one never sees such a mockery of the Mass as the caricatures to which Msgr. Pope draws our attention in this article.

      Now, just because the two things occur together does not mean that the first causes the second (post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy). You’re right to sniff that out, I think.

      On the other hand, in American Catholic culture TODAY, when and how the EF is celebrated, it is a manifestation of a pious reverence. It would be an insensitive insult for someone to imply (as you seem to here) that these people are not “participating” as fully as the people with clown noses and cowboy hats, or even your average, reasonably pious, regular NO Mass attendee for that matter.

      {Of course, the people with clown noses and cowboy hats are manifestly participating more fully in SOMETHING, but is it the Mass?}

      My simple point, though, is that you’re criticizing the Extraordinary Form itself, which is a big problem for a Catholic (though you call it the “extraordinary rite”, which is either a simple lapsus linguae or an indicator of a deep misunderstanding of what the EF is;).

      —- —- —-

      •This is an article about liturgical abuse.
      •The liturgical abuse is taking place in a NO Mass.
      •Some commenters are pointing out that we don’t see news flashes about liturgical abuse in EF Masses.

      If one of these statements is untrue, please enlighten us by posting a YouTube video of liturgical abuse in an EF Mass, or even relating a specific anecdote (like Msgr. Pope’s examples, on which I’d like to comment presently). The people making these statements are not being unfair by making these claims without specific examples right in front of us. They’re commenting on what’s already been established.

      If everything that Msgr. Pope has pointed out about the way things were is a saddening reminder of how bad things were, EVEN WITH THE EF MASS, then let us rejoice and be glad for the things that have gotten better.

      But don’t let’s follow the illogical line that liturgical abuse before justly led to liturgical reform, but liturgical abuse now oughtn’t to.

      1. Sure, but my post was really about the culture and in raising this EF vs OF right out of the gate you say something more than “Just the facts.” You can’t read Ryan’s post as merely neutral, it is polemical and frankly off topic. It was my attempt to ponder the anthropocentric cultural notions that underlie this behavior.

        1. So, Monsignor, do you disagree then that there are two different kinds of liturgical abuse being talked about here?

          I am not raising “EF vs. OF”; I am raising EF abuses vs. OF abuses, and I’m not even “raising” them—I’m talking about the abuses you yourself adverted to.

          Regarding liturgy, I would never (and have never in this forum) advocated any kind of restriction of the OF. On the other hand, I have and always will advocate reading, with a charitable obedience, instructions on the liturgy promulgated by the Pope, such as Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae, neither of which say the things that I’m being accused of saying here and elsewhere on this page.

          I have no interest in going further than the documents SP and UE, whatever I may seem through my own ignorance or inelegance to say, and for which I take responsibility and apologize.

          But I will not be prevented by bullying from speaking up for those documents.

          And I’m not afraid to observe that while my “tone” and “divisiveness” are being attacked here, my attackers do not deign to mention which specific words carry this “tone” and “divisiveness”.

          The only people being “imposed” upon, Monsignor, are the quietist and obedient faithful who hope for the freedoms and spiritual gifts that seem to be offered to the universal church, but which are being kept under lock and key, and for which, if one of us so much as asks about them, we suffer verbal abuse from our brothers.

          Why is it that the argument is always ready to hand that we have to be open-minded to the cultural contexts which give rise to a diversity of liturgical forms and the forms themselves—but we are forcefully told to hold our tongues when we ask why, in that case, as you yourself have said somewhere on this page, a culturally-conditioned liturgy is made available to only 2% of Catholics in the region of the world which cultivated it?

  6. P.S.

    The clown service seems to be taking place in a Protestant church, BTW, and it is labeled as such. The second one is, tragically, a Catholic Mass.


  7. Msgr. Pope,

    Next time I’m in DC I would love to attend the predominantly African American parish you pastor and also attend an EF Mass. I am a firm believer of the “reform of the reform” and use Pope Benedict XVI’s “Spirit of the Liturgy” as a good starting point for what should be done. Having said that, I also believe in the importance of a proper inculturation of the Liturgy. We sometimes forget, or simply don’t know, that before the Counci there was already some inculturation in the missions. Anyone heard of the Missa Luba? It was celebrated in the old Zaire (today’s utterly undemocratic Democratic Republic of Congo) and used local elements, including dancing. The Jesuits had also inculturated some aspects of Chinese culture in the Masses celebrated there. This caused some problems in Rome unfortunately.

    We need to remember that the Mass itself is partly an expression of the culture of Rome, just as the other rites of the Universal Church are expressions of Antioch, Alexandria, Syria and other important cities of ancient Christendom. I love the Mass as celebrated by the Anglican-use parishes in Texas. I think there is a very good video in youtube of one of those Masses at the school they run. I believe the Anglo-Catholics did a good job of making Mass more accessible to people while still retaining the sense of the sacred. Even to this day many Episcopal and Anglican parishes do a better job at liturgy than we do. Even the liberal ones.

    I fear that the obession of some with reimposing the EF is alienating to many people, probably to most. I have noticed that the vast majority of people who clamor for the EF tend to be white Euro-centric folk. How can the EF be used in evangelization? As a Hispanic I am a lover of tradition, and would love more Latin used in the Mass but understand that to many people this would be very hard. The first thing we need to do is catechize and teach the faithful why the Mass is sacred and not like any other worship service elsewhere. When people understand what the Mass is then they will naturally treat it with deference and greater devotion and respect.

    1. Dear Alejandro, I don’t know about this “reimposing” business.

      The EF Mass is a unicorn, which only the rarest adventurer catches sight of. Until it is even ACCESSIBLE to the general public (a thing which, by the way, the Pope has on many occasions called for), is it fair for us to start talking about IMPOSING it on people?

      At present there is only one form of the Latin Rite which is actually “imposed” on the general public (against the express wishes of the Pope in Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae).

      Cheers, brother.

    2. Regarding Antioch, Alexandria, [Jerusalem, Constantinople, and Rome]:

      You’re talking about five cities which were always considered to have a special significance in all the world from the beginning of Christianity. Now, you could simply say that this is because these were secularly important cities in the moment when Christianity began, but that is beside the point (additionally, one might ask why God chose that moment to begin Christianity).

      The point is that these cities developed their own liturgical traditions as churches founded by Apostles. In other words, there was no bishop of another see founding their church. Every other church in the world has been founded by an already established church. So the comparison bears a little sharpening up, I think.

  8. I keep hearing about these 18 minute pre-Vatican II Masses as often as I hear about those old “back-alley” abortions. Produce the statistics, Monsignor. That old chestnut doesn’t fool anyone, anymore.

    As for my daily Novus Ordo Mass, in which every rubric is studiously ignored, it lasts 23 minutes, and that’s with a sermon.

    God forbid that I ever start attending an “illicit” tradional Mass.

    1. Well of course you know that statistic like this aren’t possible. But I have heard that said by many, not just priests, but also parishioners. I remember my first assignment 23 years ago, all the old folk used to say how Msgr. Pete could really knock it out fast and he and Fr. Bloom would often compete to see who got things done faster. All the old altar boys, men by that time would laugh at how they’d barely finish the suscipiat and the “old man” (priest) would be half way through the preface, not even waiting for the responses they were supposed to make to the sursum corda etc. As for the new Mass, it is actually much shorter, no prayers at the foot, the offertory prayers and lavabo are abbreviated and the Eucharistic prayer II is quite short in comparison. I still agree 23 minutes sounds too short but it’s not as egregious and trying to get through the old Mass in 18 minutes, which simply cannot be done reverently.

  9. The Devil is real and has greatest success when we fail to identify him and call him by name and banish him from our lives.

    As Father Benedict said:

    •Sunt mala quae libas•
    •ipse venena bibas•
    •vade retro satana•
    •numquam suade mihi vana•

  10. I came into the Church in 1997 and had no religious affiliation prior to. All I’ve experienced is the N.O. Mass. I believe that reverence starts from within, within the celebrant and within the parishoner. Any legitimate celebration of the Paschal Mystery can be reverent.

    Do I advocate Bar-B-Que and Clown themes? Absolutely not, but I tire of hearing one form of Mass being pitted against another, usually with rancor.

    1. PROBLEM: “I tire of hearing one form of Mass being pitted against another, usually with rancor.”

      SOLUTION: Pray first. Then, pray. Third, pray. Fourth, and very much fourth, begin typing comment.


  11. VCII arose from the bishops you see celebrating John Kennedy’s funeral mass. Much of the Kennedy family tragedy also arose from these bishops.

  12. I grew up when the Tridentine Mass (EF) was the norm and was a practicing church musician when the Novus Ordo became the usual liturgy. It was not a wonderful period in my life and it seemed as though the house-cleaners were bent on throwing out the treasures rather than a simple remodeling job. That said… yes, there were celebrants who seemed to ignore the EF rubrics and masses that were far from edifying, but those were largely the exception. Priests dedicated to orthopraxis generally followed the older rubrics and the service was centered on worship and the sacrifice.

    The Novus Ordo has some real problems but is far from a profane celebration unless you take into account those “celebrations” like the ridiculous events cited by Msgr. Pope. I tend to agree with Benedict XVI that the two forms should enrich one another. There are worthy aspects of the OF that might have just as easily been handled by rubrical changes to the EF, but that was not to be. Somewhere in all of this should be a reverent “via media” which embraces the best of both worlds.

    I agree with Msgr. Pope; celebrations of the fundamental structure of the Mass, but colored by regional and cultural renderings, are wonderful. Those unique cultural celebrations are as old as the church herself and have contributed to the richness of our current liturgies. The treasure-chest of the church is a rich one. The earlier liturgies, music, art, and sacred writings all serve to connect us to Our Lord and the Fathers, Saints, and Martyrs in a manner that transcends the accidents of time and space.

  13. “Have you ever seen the Funeral Mass of John F. Kennedy? It is a wretched example of how poorly some clergy celebrated mass…go to the middle of the video and hear Latin uttered like gibberish and the Mass celebrated almost without devotion.”

    What an appalling thing to write: Perhaps Cardinal Cushing’s recitation of Latin is not to your liking and might seem gibberish to you, Monseigneur, but do you actually think the Cardinal would celebrate the Requiem Mass (a Low Mass, at Mrs. Kennedy’s request) for a slain president of the United States, who also was a close friend, “almost without devotion?”

    1. After reading this comment I watched some of the video and I was able to understand what the Cardinal was saying in Latin. It’s just a language, like any other. And like the other Romance languages, it lends itself very much to rapidity. I admit that there was much more rapidity to his “in remissionem peccatorum” than I usually hear in “so that sins may be forgiven”, but all in all, the only thing strange to me was that he was speaking in Latin instead of English.

      And his accent kinda sounded like JFK’s. 🙂

      I’m open to the possibility that the “abuses” Msgr. Pope spoke of took place, but I don’t see them in the minute or so of the video that I watched.

    2. Well “almost” is an important word. I was not aware who the Celebrant was until reminded. But my point isn’t the inner disposition of the particular celebrant here, (e.g. Card. Cushing) but rather, that this style of the mass typical at the time: brusque, rapid, mechanistic. The older guys tell me this is how it was done in that era. Further, devotion and the personality of the priest were all but replaced by a kind of robotic rubricism wherein graceful moves were more often rigidly executed. Today there is too much personality of the priest on display, I agree, but the other extreme of hyper rapid Latin and robotic mannerisms is not good either. I think the way the Latin Mass is said today is generally better wherein priest carefully pronounce the Latin in more normal tone and pace, and where gestures are carefully followed, but in a more graceful and human looking pace is good. Most of the younger priests who celebrate the TLM that I know, do in more naturally.

  14. I’m sure there were minor abuses pre-vatican II, but as someone has noted it was an exception not the rule, there have always been liberals and heretics in the church, so this would be expected, post VCII gave some priests the green light to take these abuses to a higher level, I think that’s pretty obvious, I think we can all agree that something bad went wrong after VCII, I was born right around VCII so never remembered attending a Latin Mass, it was a few years ago that I saw one on the internet that really moved me, and was part of my coming back to the Church, something I don’t really feel attending a NO mass, one last thing…why is it that young people today are attracted to the Latin Mass? could it be a more reverence to God, a more focus on God, the sacrifice of Christ…I’ve always wondered why didn’t the church just take the Latin Mass structure and let priests do it in the various languages.


  15. My Opinion…
    The problem is not the Novus Ordo. The problem is the lacuna in the Novus Ordo which encourages innovation. However, the Holy Father is addressing that head on with the Summorum Pontificum; essentially telling priests to look at the EF to fill in the lacuna with proper praxis.

    I personally attent the EF, but there are things in the OF which are superior to the EF. Such as a more clearly defined epiclesis. The most important prayer of the mass which was distorted through gallicanism over the centuries in the EF.

  16. Hi,
    The “clown mass” is a mockery of what is holy. This kind of action must be strongly rebuked by those in authority.

  17. You rad-trads do your cause no favors when you take every occasion as an invitation to trash the Mass. If the Extraordinary Form is attended by those with the attitudes expressed by some here, it is hardly reverent or pious or respectful of either the Lord or His Church. It is no wonder then that, with such a lack of charity and not even the attempt at understanding by its proponents, some of the bishops took a jaundiced view toward celebration of the EF before Summorum Pontificum — it all too often becomes an occasion for division and rancor.

    With Summorum Pontificum, the Holy Father intended to invite you rad-trads to abandon your divisiveness and embrace an attitude of charity and full communion with the rest of the Church. If only you would accept that invitation.

    1. I’m trying to find out whom you’re addressing when you keep saying “you rad-trads”, or if this is just a straw man.

      Who is “trash[ing] the Mass” here? (hint: Msgr. Pope posted two videos where the answer MIGHT be found)

      Whose attitudes are manifestly “hardly reverent or pious” and exhibiting a “lack of charity”? (hint: see above)

      Who is fomenting “division and rancor”? (hint: try to find the alienating diction)

      Is any other than the above post using alienating phrases like “you (people)”? (hint: no)

      What is Msgr. Pope’s article about, Bender?

      Can we perhaps have a discussion about that, and leave aside the bogeymen?

      A lawyer might realize that it is possible to love the EF Mass and not be a schismatic. Or a person exercising reason. Why do we have to be so intolerant of this part of the Church’s heritage?

      Which do you think is the most “divisive” post on this page, Bender?

      1. J — if you have ever been to an EF Mass, or been in discussions concerning the EF Mass, then you know perfectly well the meaning of the oft-used term “rad-trad” and to whom the term refers.

    2. Thanks Bender. I have to agree that the devotees sometimes do more to destroy the TLM than help it. I cringe at some of the comments I sometimes get from that sector. I love the TLM and the OF. I am blessed to like both. And, sadly this comes up almost every time I seek to discuss liturgy. It shifts to this polar discussion. It makes me want to stop posting on liturgy at all, which remains an important area for discussion. The point I had HOPED to raise in this post is what the extreme liturgical things we see in the video say about our culture in the West. I pondered the anthropocentric trends growing since the 16th century but reaching full “flower” in the last number of decades. To me it the cultural trends that are more of interest rather than speculations of where we’d be if the Council hadn’t happened or we were still saying mass as in the 1950s.

    3. Bender,
      While I agree with you in sentiment, it seems to me that in this post you are guilty of the same mistake as the people you are accusing. Your tone is belligerent, and your use of the term “rad-trads” is divisive. Again, I understand your feelings, but you are doing nothing to help YOUR POV, imho.

  18. You have to admit, contrary to the example of the videos, it does a heart good to see committed Catholics so engaged regarding the Liturgy of the Mass. There was a time I would have been offended or thought divisive this or that opinion, but no more. As for me, let the battle rage, I find something unitive and edifying in this debate.

    1. By the way, Thanks Dismas for the card you recently sent me!

      Glad you like the battle, I’m feeling a bit scarred and disappointed that the point of the post fell flat. But you are right, the discussions are always interesting and it IS good to note some passion about something very important

      1. Don’t lose hope on account of us. I’ve heard it said, “Patience and perseverance obtain all things,” we’re bound to come around! Perhaps a better title would have been ‘Oktoberfest, It’s Not Just for Beer Gardens Anymore’ or maybe ‘The St. Pauli Girl Culture and Liturgy.’?


      2. Msgr.,
        You occasionally ccompose posts that need no comment. The “Battle” was one of these and I couldn’t agree more. Silence is not always a sign of disinterest… it simply notes that you said it well and you said it all.

  19. The clown mass is definitely a Lutheran service. The beginning of the video is labeled as “Karneval Ottensen 2010.” Here is a link to the church’s homepage with pictures of the church, the Christianskirche in Ottensen.

      1. It goes to show that Gloria TV’s journalistic standards aren’t the highest in the world if they missed the fact that it was a Lutheran parish that the clown mass took place in. The perpetually outraged self-appointed “defenders of the magisterium” do sometimes get things very wrong.

        There was at least one clown/circus mass in the Archdiocese in the 1970s, which took place at Holy Trinity, Georgetown – – there anewspaper photo of the event that was on the internets at one time. A few years back, there was a clown mass at Holy Trinity Wall Street, which is an Episcopal parish. And there was an Episcopalian consecration of a bishop at Duke Chapel about 15 years ago where all the bishops put on clown noses. NB: clown masses/noses are not part of the Anglican patrimony – Bl. John Henry Newman’s giant schnozz notwithstanding.

  20. The use of supposed evidence of abuses of the EF mass do not condone the bizarre decadence of the NO mass. In the past the ‘abuses’ were minor and chocked up to sloppiness. Rarely if ever, were they sacriligeous or damaging to the faith.
    This is daily seen in the NO mass. I usually never attend the NO, but last Sunday I had no choice. There I saw communion under both species with the communicant dipping thier host themselves into the chalice. Also the new faithful were invited to introduce themselves using a roving microphone during the time after communion, there were no kneelers and no kneeling during the mass at all. People were chatting and having a great time socializing throughout the whole experience.
    Does this really indicate that something sacred and special is going on? Do they really believe that they are witnessing the crucifiction and sacrifice of Our Lord.
    I highly doubt it and no matter what sloppiness I see in the TLM, there is never a doubt what is happening there is sacred and holy.
    The NO will go down in history as the most terrible religious persecution inflicted on a religious people.

  21. Fr. Pope,

    Thank you for your service to the Church. I think some of the commentators here fail to understand the situation which those attached to the traditional Mass find themselves in. Neither in the Diocese of Arlington or the Archdiocese of Washington is there a parish where someone can attend the traditional Mass on a daily basis. A person would have to drive down to Chesapeake, VA to find such a parish. So, while every other conceivable whim of liturgy is catered to (whether it be ethnically based or otherwise), the people who are attached to the many centuries of Church tradition are marginalized. We don’t want to impose the traditional Mass on those of you who are enamored with the Novus Ordo. Rather, we are tired of having the Novus Ordo imposed upon us.

    Also, for those who think that the traditional liturgy is only appealing to Westerners, history begs to differ. And, when offered today in places like Africa, it has been very well received. Here, take a look and maybe offer a hand:

    1. Hey, the people in the picture you link to aren’t supposed to like the TLM. Who has brainwashed them with “western” values? 🙂

      Regarding daily Traditional Latin Mass, it might help if those who go regularly on Sundays might agree on a couple of locations. At St. Mary’s the diocese tried to test the waters by adding a weekly Friday morning 8 AM mass. But, generally it is poorly attended. In asking about it, some complained of the time, others the location. The hope was, that if it was well attended more days would be added. I would add a daily TLM at my parish if I thought anyone would come.

      I have added a first Friday TLM at 5:30 pm in the afternoon. Again, little interest is shown and the time and location reasons were given. When I questioned as to a good time and place I got too many variables to really please anyone and overcome the objection: morning? Too early or not early enough. Noon? Well, your parish isn’t close enough to downtown, Evening? Well I like mass in the morning, or remember traffic Father.

      I wonder if a couple of sites, in Arlington and DC could be identified and a reasonably convenient time chosen. Remember too, we have to have qualified servers available. It’s more than “Father” doing it.

      As far as catering to every “whim” the Church does not provide everything in every parish and some groups must find regional solutions. For example, we also have the Ge’ez rite at my parish. But there is only place (here) and Ethiopian and Eritrean communities come from all over to the one place. At some point when the numbers interested are small, regional solutions are necessary. I would be most willing to offer daily TLM if I thought there were interest, but as far as I can tell there is not, at least not an interest that will overcome objections about the perfect time and place.

      1. Msgr.,

        I agree that interest in daily traditional Mass is probably fairly low at any given parish and it will be difficult for a diocesan priest to justify it. I also think that having a centrally located parish in DC and Arlington dedicated to the traditional liturgy is the optimal solution – with other parishes offering the traditional liturgy based upon demand. Having a regional solution is fine – or would be, I should say, if it was ever offered.

  22. It only takes one saint in a parish to turn all the abuse around. It may take a while; there may be considerable suffering involved. And, there may be strife as things come to a head – parishes may close due to a variety of reasons. For one: pride-fuelled rebellion against the hermeneutic of continuity and the coming realignment with the authentic interpretation of the Second Vatican Council. Misguided (or unguided) people with leave under the pretence that a few rad-Trads are trying to turn back the clock and destroy the “Spirit of Vatican II Church”. Anyone with an ounce of brains can see through the “Spirit of V2” lie and can see what motivates people to protest against the Church and the Magisterium.

    To be sure, tighter rubrics for the Ordinary Form of the Mass would help. The problem is the bishops are listening to the people who whine incessantly about relevancy. It’s been said before: We are not called to be successful; we are called to be faithful. Who cares about relevancy? People will learn what is relevant if they have a good formation and a true model to emulate. Relevancy or authentic meaning is discovered by those who open themselves up to the Holy Spirit and encounter Jesus Christ Who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. We are called to respond to Jesus’ invitation to salvation, not fabricate some feel-good experience with clowns and BBQs. We’re called to be holy and truly free in Christ, with Christ and through Christ. The alternative, if we so choose (as the liturgical abusers, dissenters and heretics are so doing), is hell, eternal death. Conforming ourselves to a liturgy that points us to a god made in our own image (How apt, then, is a clown presiding at such a liturgy!) is a sign that those so-called christians are sick with their own self-importance. Instead of turning toward the living God they prefer the closed circle of their own sugary egos. Sin of Lucifer?

    Why the open rebellion we are seeing? It’s pride driving a desire to wrench power from those to whom God has entrusted His authority. As long as people are unwilling to humbly submit to the authority of the Church, which is the authority given to the Pope by Christ, we can expect more rebellion and more liturgical abuses.

    1. Thanks for these reflections which touch in the actual point of the post, which is how our prideful culture is turned in on itself and closed, as you say to what Chesterton called the “democracy of the dead” (Tradition)

  23. In line with the anthropocentrism theme, I am curious what the reason behind changing the orientation of the priest was. It seems like he was oriented toward God (in the tabernacle), and then turned to be oriented toward the people. Likewise when the priest faced God, the people seemed to be facing God. With the priest facing the people, the people seem to be facing the priest.

  24. It is not true that the Irish ‘hated’ High Mass, and before the Council Gregorian Chant was actually taught regularly in Irish schools — often with competitions organized to make it fun. Please do not cite the “head of the music department at Salve Regina College in Rhode Island” as some sort of authority on Irish ecclesiastical history — at least if you want to be taken seriously.

    1. Well, I am speaking generally. Most of my “data” here comes from Thomas Day’s Book Why Catholics Can’t Sing” wherein he develops quite substantially the Irish aversion to music at Mass and the historical reasons for that.

  25. This is legitimately frightening. It scares me that we’ve come to a point where it is not only the laity who find this unobjectionable, but the clergy as well! I cannot imagine what on earth led any of these people to believe this was okay. I know that in many parts of the country there are clergy and laity who find minor abuses and infractions acceptable, but this is very nearly Barnum and Bailey’s Three Ring Circus! I don’t blame any particular form of the liturgy for this idiotic display, but rather inadequate catechesis among the laity (and some clergy) about the beauty and purpose of the Mass, and perhaps a few bishops not keeping a close enough eye on their priests.

    The more I see these kinds of stunts pulled, from flagrant abuses to plain old refusal to preach on “the hard stuff”, the more I thank God for sending me to Washington for my reversion to the faith. And thank you, Msgr. Pope, for acknowledging the difference between legitimate diversity, and…….. this.

  26. Dear Msgr.
    This is the longest time I have spent on the computer reading all the responses, and it’s 1 AM.
    So true what responders are saying. Hard to find a Latin Mass, mainly because of lack of interest around here.
    I have to travel a distance, but that’s OK once in a while. However, I do have high hopes for the new translations coming up in Advent. Maybe it will bring back reverence, I sure hope so. The present translations
    are so poor, especially viewing them from much better translations in other countries. That’s why they don’t have to make any changes.
    I do not feel sorry for the priests who have more to cope with than the people in the pews. I have heard so many using sentences that are not in the rubrics.
    You are doing a great job with your postings.This time you really had passionate replies.

  27. Powerful King of glory…I praise You and thank You for Your great love and mercy! I ask that You bind the evil one that oppresses the innocent in Baghdad. Lord, cause his evil plans to fail. May Your loving hand be upon the innocent leaders and people, troops and police in all of Iraq. These people need You as we all do! How well You know this. I thank You for the gift of prayer! I thank You that we are allowed to be Your children. Awesome, loving Lord, please guide Your believers to the people You want them to witness to. May Your great miracles be shared with as many Iraqi’s as possible. Thank You for loving them and wanting them to have the gift of Your salvation. May they adore You! In Jesus’ holy name, I pray. Amen.

  28. Was ist das Kölner Dreigestirn?

    Das Kölner Dreigestirn bestehend aus Prinz,
    Bauer und Jungfrau sind die obersten Repräsentanten des Kölner Karnevals.
    Das Kölner Dreigestirn wird auch als Trifolium bezeichnet.
    Als Einheit aus Prinz, Bauer und Jungfrau besteht das Kölner Dreigestirn seit 1872,
    allerdings wird es erst ab 1938 offiziell auch als Dreigestirn bezeichnet.
    Nach dem Krieg 1870/71 wurde aus dem Helden Carneval offiziell der Prinz Karneval.
    Immer Anfang Januar wird das neue Kölner Dreigestirn vom Kölner Oberbürgermeister proklamiert.

    Alaf und Helau !

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