Reconciling the Two Forms of the Latin Rite – is it Possible?

Recently the UK’s Catholic Herald reported on Cardinal Sarah’s article in the French publication La Nef wherein he describes his desire for a “reform of the reform” with an emphasis on reconciliation between the two liturgical forms of the Latin rite. It came on the heels of the tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s moto proprio Summorum Pontificum which liberated the traditional Latin Mass across the globe. The fact Cardinal Sarah is discussing this is great, it’s wonderful to have cardinals discussing the merits of the Extraordinary Form (EF) in positive ways. However, I don’t believe what he proposes would work. Let’s look at what His Eminence said from the article above and then some of the reasons, as laid out by Joseph Shaw also of the Catholic Herald, why it isn’t likely to work.

Quoting from the Herald with my own abridgment and emphasis:

Cardinal Sarah wrote in favour of the “mutual enrichment” of the two forms of the Roman Rite, a phrase of Benedict XVI’s arguing that both forms have riches that would enhance the other if incorporated [in his moto proprio].

…this has been interpreted in EF circles in a mostly unilateral way: the OF ought to adapt the practices of the EF. Cardinal Sarah is certainly in favour of this – he has argued in the past for ad orientem celebration of the OF, greater use of Latin, and more periods of silence, including some of the priestly prayers. In La Nef, he goes further, recommending that Holy Communion be received kneeling and on the tongue; that the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar be restored at the beginning of Mass; and that the priests keep united after the consecration those fingers which have touched the sacred species.

In order to faithfully apply Benedict’s direction of “mutual enrichment” between the two forms, the cardinal suggests the possibility of the following:

Sarah proposes that efforts be made to have a shared calendar and a shared lectionary, so that both the EF and OF would celebrate more feasts together and have the same Scripture readings at Mass.

…EF devotees often speak about the simplified OF calendar as being too banal – “Ordinary Time” instead of Sundays after Pentecost – and consider it a mistake to have abandoned Passiontide and the octave of Pentecost

For the 10 years since Summorum Pontificum, those who prefer the EF have expected such an attitude from the OF. Cardinal Sarah now suggests that it is required of both clans, united in one Church, around one altar.

When I was considering making the switch from a very good OF parish (which included chant, Latin ordinaries, communion at the altar rail, and even ad orientem) to the EF parish just down the road, one of the biggest hurdles to me, at the time, was the fact the calendar and lectionary were different. I didn’t like that if I went to the EF parish one Sunday and then had to go to the OF parish much closer to my home (not the aforementioned one) the following Sunday, there would be a feeling of discontinuity. I thought the gap in feasts, calendar, and readings erected a wall between Catholics who should be united. I started thinking the two forms should be reconciled somehow without having an opinion on how or being terribly familiar with the EF lectionary or calendar.

After becoming quite familiar, now, with how the EF works, I still do think reconciliation would be in the best interest of the Church. However, I am convinced this can best be done, contrary to what Cardinal Sarah posits, in one direction back to the EF. It has become clear that the cycles and lectionary of the EF are simply superior for a number of reasons. Most of these reasons coincidentally are laid out in the next Catholic Herald article from which I will quote from below (abridged and with my emphasis):

Why Cardinal Sarah’s liturgical ‘reconciliation’ plan won’t work

The new lectionary is sometimes held up as obviously superior to the old, but not everyone committed to the reformed Mass agrees. The Toronto Oratorian Fr Jonathan Robinson wrote (The Mass and Modernity, 2005, p332):

I think the diversity, rather than enriching people, tends to confuse them… This may be because the selections, as has been noted by others, were drawn up more to satisfy the sensibilities of liturgical scholars than on traditional liturgical principles.

…can the lectionaries of the two Forms simply by swapped over?

The short answer is ‘no’. To take the most obvious problem, the 1969 Lectionary has no readings for the season of Septuagesima, because that season does not exist in the 1969 calendar.

Variations on this problem arise throughout the Church’s year. Many of the EF’s proper texts of feast days, and a good many Sundays, refer to the readings. The choice of readings in the Ordinary Form is so different from those in the Extraordinary Form that the discordance would be particularly jarring.

Thus, on Corpus Christi, the ancient Mass gives us a reading from on the danger of the unworthy reception of Holy Communion (1 Corinthians 11:27-9). St Paul’s message was excluded completely from the new Lectionary: it is not found even on a weekday…

…Something else they might like to consider is the very different role of feastdays in the Extraordinary Form. Moving some to the same date as the OF might sound innocuous enough, but a wholesale revision would endanger the distinctive character of this Form, whose weekday celebrations are not distinguished by a daily Scripture-reading cycle, but by large numbers of often very ancient feast days. Many of the saints commemorated are invoked in the liturgy itself, in the Canon or in the Litany of the Saints. Removing them from the calendar, but not from the liturgical texts, would not strengthen the Extraordinary Form, but simply make its message—about the communion of saints, intercession, and continuity—harder to discern.

These are all important points which most people who become familiar with the EF by and large recognize. Typically, anyone who considers the OF lectionary superior only does so because of the sheer amount of scripture contained within the cycle. There are two readings plus a Gospel reading. Of course more scripture is never bad, but the Mass isn’t supposed to be the only place a Catholic encounters sacred scripture. The EF uses scripture as a beautiful frame to the day’s respective liturgy instead of the other way around. The other purpose of scripture is is to instruct the faithful, so what better than the epistles which are essentially teaching documents. That is why in the EF there is an epistle reading and a Gospel reading. The epistle reading is typically concise, impactful, and offers a great springboard for a sermon. Furthermore, the new lectionary comes after the unfortunate removal of many important readings which were deemed to be inconvenient, demanding, or politically incorrect as pointed out by removing any reference to the damnation of receiving Holy Communion in an unworthy state.

The new calendar is problematic too, it’s severely lacking. Not only is Septuagesima replaced with a snippet of “ordinary time”, but the entire concept of ordinary time is odd and lackluster. Much more rich are the traditional seasons of the Nativity, Easter, and Pentecost. Better does the traditional calendar reflect times of penance and feasts too. The feast days are more than just times on the old calendar to celebrate, the entire daily Mass revolves around the nature of the respective saint’s character.

Nonetheless, it it is important to heed the call of Benedict suggesting for a “mutual enrichment”. Perhaps there are some things which the EF could better incorporate which might help a culture so far removed from these rituals to come to appreciate it more. For instance, and these are just off the top of my head, there is no ban on singing with the choir at an EF Mass…something our pastor reminds us of often…whether that be the Asperges Me or Salve Regina. Or perhaps this means holding hands during the Pater Noster. Okay JUST KIDDING ON THAT ONE, just seeing if you’re still reading. It could be enriching to somehow incorporate newer saints into the traditional calendar such as St. Gianna Molla, St. John Paul II, St. Maximilian Kolbe, or St. Mother Teresa.

It would be lovely if something could be done to merge the two forms and I thank God for Cardinal Sarah and his public thoughts on this matter. It’s just that in order to do this, the OF has much more to be “enriched” than the EF before reconciliation happens. ☩


UPDATE: Here is Fr. Z’s take on the two articles referenced above. which reminds me of a point I forgot to make in my original post. Even if the suggestions of tweaking the EF calendar and lectionary have merit, given all the chaos going on in Rome right now, with all the unfaithful, heinous bishops and cardinals who wish to mold the Church into the likeness of prevailing culture, perhaps we should hold off on even considering opening up the EF right now to be tampered with. Cardinal Sarah may caution the faithful not to treat the EF liturgy as a “museum object” but I think it is far more likely the faithful consider it a treasure. ☩☩

I Have Cried Out to You, O Lord!

Update: I wrote the choir/music director telling him how beautiful the choir always is but was especially for this (it’s important to compliment the good aspects of your parish often so people know they are doing a great job…don’t be shy!).  He responded with heartfelt appreciation and said how he thinks it’s funny many people ask for the De Profundis at their wedding which then he and the pastor need to explain why it wouldn’t be appropriate because it would be like saying “Lord, save me from the abyss of suffering that I’m going to enter after marrying this person.” HAH!


That which is beautiful is often written about on this blog, including music. As a true fan of all music genres (from the Philadelphia Philharmonic to Phish) I appreciate music which is perfect for the given situation. This, of course, means no pop music at Mass just as acappela would be poorly suited for exercise. Catholicism has perhaps the richest claim to music heritage in the world and formed some of the greatest composers man has ever heard.

Being Catholic, it’s a shame more parishes don’t dig deeper (or at all) into the treasure trove of sacred music available to them for music within the Mass. Too often parishes opt for (wannabe) pop music or banal 1970’s hymns. Luckily more parishes are reclaiming their lineage of transcendent sacred music…music which opens the soul and fixates one’s gaze up towards heaven.  Luckily I go to a parish which cares about such things.

800px-folio_70r_-_de_profundis

During the collect at Mass, the very talented choir, in the newly painted choir loft and nave, launched into a rendition of Antonio Salieri’s (1750-1825) De Profundis (Psalm 130). Me, being relatively new revert, was not familiar with it. It was one of the most moving pieces of music I have ever heard in a church. It highlighted the importance of sacred music at Mass; the effect was an immediate openness to prayer. It’s known that the three marks of divinity, God, is that which is beautiful, good, or truthful and it was as if angels carried down this beautiful mark of God themselves like a silk rope connecting heaven and earth. Forgive me for the hyperbole but the amount this penitential psalm moved me is hard to convey. I was reflective the entire day because of it, it helped transform the entire Sunday into something beautiful.

Deo gratias for the liturgical revival that is happening across the country and all that comes with it, including our ever-so rich history of beautiful music!

Listen to a similar rendition, although this video doesn’t do any justice to experiencing it live while the Mass is happening in front of you:

Latin
De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine;
Domine, exaudi vocem meam. Fiant aures tuæ intendentes
in vocem deprecationis meæ.
Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine, Domine, quis sustinebit?
Quia apud te propitiatio est; et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Domine.
Sustinuit anima mea in verbo ejus:
Speravit anima mea in Domino.
A custodia matutina usque ad noctem, speret Israël in Domino.
Quia apud Dominum misericordia, et copiosa apud eum redemptio.
Et ipse redimet Israël ex omnibus iniquitatibus ejus.

English
From the depths, I have cried out to you, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplication.
If you, Lord, were to mark iniquities, who, O Lord, shall stand?
For with you is forgiveness; and because of your law, I stood by you, Lord.
My soul has stood by his word.
My soul has hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch, even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord.
For with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Prime Minister of Poland’s Son is a New Priest

The son of Poland’s prime minister has just been ordained a priest! At 25 years old, Father Tymoteusz Szydlo has celebrated his first Mass last Sunday with his mother, Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, in attendance. What’s also cool is that Fr. Szydlo is dedicated to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and sacraments:

The priest is a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, which celebrates a Latin-language Mass in the Extraordinary Form.
CNA News

Pray for Fr. Szydlo and all the other newly ordained priests! ☩

Signs of Hope: Catholic Hippies Getting Defensive and “Fussy” with New, Beautiful Parish Renovations

If you’re looking for a laugh, check out an article in the National “Catholic” Reporter (not to be confused with faithful Register) remarking on the opinion of Michael DeSanctis, a church building “consultant” and theology teacher. The entire article basically reads like that of a cornered, rabid raccoon. There is a stench of defensiveness because these holdovers haunting the turrets of the failed (and erroneously implemented) “reforms” of the Second Vatican Council are watching their utopia of a beige, frozen-in-the-1960s, kumbaya Catholicism slowly dissolve only 50 years later.

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Isn’t this where everyone pictures getting married?

Michael states that a major problem in the Catholic Church today is parishes “re-renovating” churches into making them actually look like Catholic churches again. Many of these dinosaurs–who came of age during the enlightened sexual revolution–cringe at the joyful, passionate, and polite undoing of their “renovations” of the 60’s and 70’s which really was just destruction: the removal of intricate altar rails, the painting over of sacred art, the removal of stained glass depicting saints, the carpeting over of marble or parquet floors, the removal of baptismal fonts, and much more. Read an abbreviated version below with my emphases and comments:

New clericalism is imposing old ways on modern church architecture

Church architecture has become a frontline of the liturgy wars as Catholic churches undergo re-renovations.

Restoration-minded pastors, most who came of age well after Vatican II, are ordering the changes. Gone are what they sometimes disparage as “Pizza Hut” churches. The goal is to restore tradition. They impose altar rails, the placement of the Blessed Sacrament near the altar, and use expensive marble on the floor to seal off the sanctuary area as a polished and exclusive arena for clerical liturgical action. Sometimes the choir gets relegated to a back loft, providing disembodied sound. In other parishes, circular seating arrangements are abandoned in favor of long rows of pews.

Those misguided pastors, if only they came of age during V2, then they would know the damage they are causing! I like how they are “imposing” the placement tabernacles near the altar. Isn’t Rome require the tabernacle be close to the altar (if not centered under the crucifix where it should be)? Why is this so controversial? I also laugh at him saying the choir gets “relegated” to the back loft. It’s actually called the “choir loft”, you know, where the choir is supposed to be. And the “disembodied” sound should sound disembodied quite literally, it should remind us of angels singing.

“Architecture is how we express our liturgy,” DeSanctis recently told NCR in a phone interview, noting that the generation of post-Vatican II priests routinely came out of the sanctuary to interact with their parishioners during liturgy. They built churches with a focus on circular design, to bring the congregation closer together, as well lowered the altar to bring the priest closer to the congregation.

worth-abbey-2
Everyone is a priest and Father is just one of us!

First off, again, I am pretty certain that, according to GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal), priests are not supposed to “interact” with the congregation outside of distributing the Eucharist. What does he want these priests to do exactly? What exactly does he assume the purpose of Mass is?

But that has changed with the emergence of many younger clergy, schooled in seminary with the thought of Pope Benedict, who re-emphasized clerical distinctions. Across the country, DeSanctis has noticed how many pastors are redesigning the suburban churches built in the 1960s and ’70s with a focus on priestly action.

It’s pretty obvious the disdain for young, faithful Catholics, isn’t it? Sorry that nearly all the Millennials who engaged in the Church right now care about beauty, liturgy, and “distinctions” between clergy and laity. One of the biggest problems of the past 50 years has been the erosion of these distinctions. Many priests came to understand their holy vocation as just another day job (contributing to many behaving very badly) which devastated the number of men interested in the priesthood. It’s not about “priestly action”, it’s about offering the Mass for the congregation, something they can’t do.

In his article, DeSanctis offers a defense for the much-maligned modernist suburban church, with its focus on nurturing community. He begins with St. Jude the Apostle Church in Erie, a product of postwar Catholicism. It is a modernist structure with a distinctive summit cross, built to be “a place of worship completely at home in the modern world.” St. Jude’s, he notes, fit into the modern suburban American landscape, and that was its strength…

However, that model has changed. St. Jude’s has undergone a re-renovation in recent years.

Elaborate candles now serve as boundaries to mark off the sanctuary from the pews. The altar area has now been transformed by marble, visually setting itself off. The new architecture, intended to recapture traditional elements, has a “look at me” clerical mindset, writes DeSanctis.

The sanctuary and pews (nave) are indeed very distinct places and it should be obvious. The altar should be noticeable since that is where the sacrifice of the Mass takes place. And “traditional elements” do not exist for their own glory. The goal of soaring ceilings of artwork and masonry is to direct our gaze towards heaven and the glory of God. It is also to help us see beauty in the world, beyond the mundane and temporal imagery of carpeting, abstract stained glass, and solid-green polyester vestments.

He notes that such changes are examples of “fussy territoriality” expressed through physical changes made by “a wave of priests intent on undoing the achievements of their immediate predecessors, a generation or two of men animated by the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.”

Church architecture needs to bring clergy and laity together, notes DeSanctis

Hmmm, who exactly is acting fussy here? And, again, mentioning those awful young priests. Can’t all priests just be old? Can we stop ordaining new priests all together? Their passion for Catholicism is really just messing everything up! The whole problem with this mindset is they are so concerned by their human achievement rather than serving Mother Church. This is why we have visible musicians performing at Mass, priests packing sermons with laugh lines and clapping after Mass. The whole problem is that our worship has been of ourselves; the priest too often looks at the congregation and praises them while the congregation looks back at the priest and laughs or claps. It’s circular entertainment rather than vertical worship.


Quite a funny article because you can smell the defensiveness which means things are going in the right direction. In 500 years, I expect the years between 1960-2030 to be just an odd historical blip on our 2,000+ year timeline. ☩

Pope Francis: “Renewal” of Sacred Music needed after decades of “Mediocrity”

Choir for the papal general audience Nov. 14, 2012, in Paul VI Hall.
Don’t they want more bongo drums in St. Peter’s Basilica?

Ahhhhh, some comments out of the Vatican that don’t require peeking between fingers clenching your face as you read. Speaking to a conference on the 50th anniversary of the document concerning liturgical music following the Second Vatican Council, Musicam Sacramthe Holy Father “recognized that sacred music had often suffered since the Council. Isn’t he right!

Quoting from the Register further:

The instruction set out four types of sacred music: “Gregorian chant, sacred polyphony in its various forms, both ancient and modern, sacred music for the organ and other approved instruments, and sacred popular music, be it liturgical or simply religious.”

In his remarks, Pope Francis highlighted that sacred music has suffered in modernity: “At times, a certain mediocrity, superficiality and banality have prevailed, to the detriment of the beauty and intensity of liturgical celebrations.”

Musicians, composers, conductors and singers in scholae cantorum, he said, “can make a precious contribution to the renewal” of sacred music, he said, while also highlighting the need for “appropriate musical formation” of the faithful, including seminarians, to accompany their contributions.

::golf clap::

Yes, many parishes with…modern…leaning music directors wrongly assume that for their “ministry” to be “relevant” in today’s culture they must imitate either popular music (to horrible and cringeworthy results) or regurgitate protestant hymns frozen in the 70s. Holy Mass is known for inspiring the music of Mozart, Beethovan, and so much more. So why do parishes so rarely use the treasures of our history and Tradition: classical chant, polyphony and instrumentals? It’s like The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC only displaying Calvin & Hobbes comic strips…actually, no, it would be like displaying comic strips that no one outside of the museum would ever want to read in on their own time. Show me guitars, maracas, and On Eagles Wings and I will show you a dwindling and unenthusiastic congregation. Show me authentically sacred music, and you will likely find a vibrant congregation full of people of all ages.

Thank you Pope Francis from making even a tiny comment about this issue. ☩