Wednesday, July 18

NPR: Newspeak on Latin Mass

I recently contacted NPR about a report aired on the July 8 episode of Sunday Edition, "Pope Benedict Eases Restrictions on Mass".

Sylvia Poggioli says, at 1:47 into the four minute report, "In what was considered one of it's most important reforms, Vatican II allowed the priest to face and celebrate with the faithful..."

Unfortunately, this is one of the most common fallacies circulating regarding the recommended liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The realignment of the priest from an ad orientem to versus populum posture is neither called for by Sacrosanctum Concilium nor any of the other documents issued and endorsed by the Council.

That being the case, I submitted the following feedback to NPR via their website's "Contact Us" form:

"I have long listened to and enjoyed the commentary of Sylvia Poggioli on NPR, but have to call her out on an error of fact in the story, "Pope Benedict Eases Restrictions on Mass", aired July 8 during Weekend Edition Sunday. The Second Vatican Councils document on liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium -- whose text is available on the Vatican website in multiple languages -- never mentioned, let alone authorized a reversal of the ad orientem position -- that is, the priest facing the altar -- during Mass. This innovation was implemented by those who took the legitimate liturgical reforms intended by the Council well past the boundaries outlined in its documents."

I admit, having written many letters to the editor in my lifetime, I didn't necessarily expect a reply to my was more of a "get it off my chest" moment, which has merit in its own right, at times.

Then, as an old comedian once said, "A funny thing happened to me on my way to the extraordinary form of the Roman rite..." — a reply from a live human being at NPR! Now that's service, or so I thought...

Even sadder than the misinformation provided in the original story however, was the evasion of the facts in the reply they sent, the text of which is included below:

Thank you for contacting NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday. In the story about Pope Benedict, Sylvia Poggioli never actually stated that the Vatican II allowed for the priest to face the people; she simply says that the "Vatican II allowed the priest to faith and celebrate with the faithful who became much more active in the mass." Poggioli does comment on how 16th century Tridentine masses were held, stating that, "the priest faces the altar, spoke in Latin, often in a whisper, and had no contact with the faithful." We are always delighted to hear from listeners. As the primary news source for millions of Americans, it is our hope that the information provided will be both enlightening and suitable to your request. Should you have additional questions regarding your inquiry, please contact NPR Services at (202) 513-3232.

I'm assuming a veteran reporter of Sylvia's quality (sic) would not say "Vatican II allowed the priest to faith and celebrate with the faithful..." — that doesn't even make sense. Now, maybe if it were Sylvester the Cat replying...

That being the case, I've decided to continue my dialogue with NPR. That's what a good Vatican II Catholic is supposed to do, isn't it?

I submitted following reply...we'll see if they bite. If so, I'll be sure to provide an update. Until then, check out the audio clip and let me know if I am right or if I need to get fitted for an Ampli Ear.

Dear NPR Services, That isn't accurate...Sylvia does in fact state this. Go back and listen to the audio clip online. At 1:47 into the clip, Sylvia says, and I quote, "In what was considered one of it's most important reforms, Vatican II allowed the priest to face and celebrate with the faithful..." "In what was of it's most important reforms, Vatican II..." -- that is direct attribution of this orientation (to face...the faithful) when in fact the Council never stated or permitted this in any of its documents. I challenge anyone to present an official text of the Second Vatican Council to support this assertion! Is this NPR or Fox News?

Monday, July 16

¿Que Paso? — Bishop Higi Responds

Finally, a statement from the Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana regarding Summorum Pontificum!

And it does not fact, it is just as bad as could be expected. Read on...Crucis' comments in bold.


Pope Benedict XVI's relaxation of restrictions on the use of the Latin Mass leaves unanswered questions regarding the actual practice, says Bishop William L. Higi.

The pope's directive was issued July 7 to bishops worldwide.

When interviewed by The Catholic Moment, Bishop Higi said he understands the Holy Father's desire to retain the Tridentine Mass as an extraordinary part of Catholic liturgy, and is fully supportive, but he questions whether it will be possible to provide it in the Local Church.

["And in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church"...taken from the Nicene Creed, the basic statement of Christian belief used in the Catholic comes from "catholicos" = Greek for "universal", not sure where the "local" part comes in]

By letter, Bishop Higi asked priests across the diocese to wait to see how procedural details are addressed by the Secretariat for the Liturgy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

["For such celebrations, with either one Missal or the other, the priest has no need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary." — and certainly not the USCCB — but if the author of this article was semi-sentient, the would know a document from the USCCB does exist and came out the same day as the motu proprio]

The pope noted that use of the 1962 Missal "presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often."

Bishop Higi, who was ordained in 1959, agreed.

"Even though I celebrated the Tridentine Mass for several years I would no longer be able to do so using the Roman Missal of 1962 (the required text) without significant study of the rubrics and a refresher course in Latin," he said. "I suspect that is true of most if not all priests of the diocese.

[A reasonable assesment of the situation on the ground in the diocese]

"In this Local Church, pastoral sensitivity suggests an indepth study of Spanish rather than Latin," he said.

[But won't that require a "significant study" of...Spanish? Crucis suspects this is true of "most if not all priests" of the diocese.]

The pope's directive states that a priest must be qualified to celebrate Latin masses before he can celebrate one. But it sheds no light on who decides those qualifications.

The 1962 Missal also requires the use of altar boys – not girls – and they must be capable of responding to the celebrant in Latin. Choirs also probably would have to be trained in Gregorian chant, Bishop Higi said. The 1962 calendar would be followed, because no mixture of the 1962 missal and the current missal will be allowed. Only one form of Communion would be available.

[I assume the Diocesan Liturgical Committee could manage that.]

Pope Benedict XVI said that any priest, without further permission, could celebrate the Latin Mass without the people at almost any time, and that laypeople could be admitted if they spontaneously requested to do so. It remains unclear whether such a Mass could be scheduled.

[No, the document said, "
on any day with the exception of the Easter Triduum". So if we do the math, 365 - 3 = 362 days of the year or 99.17% of the time. OK, so I'm nitpicking, but 99.17% of the time seems a little more than "almost any time", doesn't it?]

The pope's directive states that where any group of parishioners attached to the Latin Mass "exists stably" it may request a pastor to offer one. Apparently, when only one Sunday Mass is offered, Latin may not be used.

[Maybe when they are done with Spanish class, the author of this document could take an English grammar course. The motu proprio reads, "I
n parishes, where there is a 'stable group of faithful' who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962, and ensure that the welfare of these faithful harmonises with the ordinary pastoral care of the parish, under the guidance of the bishop in accordance with canon 392, avoiding discord and favouring the unity of the whole Church." — so I'm not sure where the quotes around "exists stably" come from?]

No definition of "group" or "exists stably" was offered.

[Try Merriam-Webster's suggests a group is, among other less human-oriented definitions, "a number of individuals assembled together or having some unifying relationship". As far as their concocted "exists stably" is concerned, I don't know what the hell that means either!]

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Friday, July 13

As bright as a spec of coal dust

Time to call the Bud Light marketing team...we have another candidate for their "Real Men of Genius" ad campaign.

This gem comes from The Record in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

In an online article titled, "Latin? No requests so far", Father Charles Hamel at St. Anthony's in Lennoxville walks right into a newsprint uppercut...and I quote:

"Father Charles Hamel at St. Anthony's in Lennoxville said that he didn't anticipate parishioners approaching him to say the mass in Latin, nor would he necessarily be obligated to if asked.

Hamel believes the decision to stop celebrating the mass in Latin in the 1960s was made for good reasons, and liturgical delivery has improved ever since.

Since the 1960s, the Catholic mass has been rewritten into modern languages and substantially reworked, most notably by turning the priest around at the altar to face the people, rather than toward the cross representing God.

"In my opinion, (a Latin mass) is not really a good idea, theoretically," Hamel said. "The most important thing is to be in communion with the Lord.""

Get I get a great big double DOH on this one, please?

So, either through Pulitzer Prize-class cunning on behalf of the article's author, or by a happy twist of fate, we learn in back to back paragraphs that:
  1. "Since the 1960s, the Catholic mass has been rewritten into modern languages and substantially reworked, most notably by turning the priest around at the altar to face the people, rather than toward the cross representing God."
  2. In Father Hamel's opinion, "The most important thing is to be in communion with the Lord."
Where to begin?

How in the $#^! does turning "to face the people" and thus, necessarily AWAY from God, bring one closer to, "...communion with the Lord", as the good Father advises?

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Sunday, July 8

Broadening the use of the extraordinary form of the Latin Rite (or how I learned to love the Roman Missal)

For the longest time, the goal of most traditionally-minded Catholics, at least liturgically, was to get approval for a "Latin Mass" in their diocese. Doing so, considering the poorly defined instructions of the Ecclesia Dei document of John Paul II, was usually a major achievement that involved a good deal of heart ache and compromise.

Personally speaking, my bishop, is gracious enough to allow one instance of what is now, thanks to Summorum Pontificum, the extraordinary form of the Roman rite — on a Monday night, approximately 50 miles from my home. I can hear him at the pearly gates, doing his best President Clinton imitation, under cross examination from St. Peter..."It depends on what your definition of generous is..." Oy. This being the case, I make a run for the border into the diocese just south of mine, which is thankfully only a 35 mile drive, for Sunday Mass.

Well, now that the cat is out of the bag about the old Mass never really being abrogated — and with the memory of an illicit denial of our birthright for the past 40-odd years still burned upon our psyches — what do we do?

The first thing to do is listen. Listen to what is being said in your local parish, even if you are not a member. Be attentive to what is being written in your diocesan newspaper and website.

Of course, for most of us, we will be lucky to hear the bongo tapping dreck that infests most chanceries whispering "My bad!" over the din of their Dixie Land liturgies. But note, that will be a step forward for most of them.

After listening, then what? Speak. And do so charitably.

Contact the pastor of the parish closest to your home and ask, "In light of the Holy Father's document regarding the liturgy (which is may be handy to have on hand, should he not have seen it yet) will you be adding the extraordinary form of the Mass to the weekly (or daily) Mass schedule?"

If he says yes or he'd like to or isn't sure, do anything you can to help him. Finance a trip to a "Latin Mass boot camp" put on by the Fraternity of St. Peter or get him training materials from another source, like the "Mass kit" from the Society of St. Pius X. Be charitable and encouraging under all circumstances.

If he reacts charitable and encouraging. Show him that this Mass isn't a bogey waiting to eat him alive. Move on to the next closest parish...rinse, repeat.

As Bruce Lee said:

"Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend."

So grasshopper, in conclusion...during the pre-motu proprio days, the goal was one Latin Mass per diocese.

Summorum Pontificum has leveled the playing in the short term, the goal should be one Latin Mass per deanery. If your bishop doesn't agree, appeal to his progressive side. Think of the reduction in green house gases if we only have drive 5 miles to Mass instead of 35?

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Saturday, July 7

Cardinal Ricard — aka Mr. Obvious

An excerpt from a New York Times piece regarding Summorum Pontificum:

Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, chairman of the bishops’ conference in France, where the opposition to the wider use of the Mass was strongest, told reporters that he did not expect many more requests for the Latin Mass. “I don’t see a tsunami coming,” he said, according to Agence France-Presse.

Ya think not? Well then, a big gold star for you, your Eminence!

Requests won't be coming in any longer, since they aren't necessary! As a member of the Ecclesia Dei commission, I'd hope you picked up on Article 2, "...the priest has no need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary."

In the words of the Guinness guys, "Brilliant!"

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Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum of Benedict XVI — Letter to the Bishops

Twenty-one years after my first exposure to the Archbishop...I never throught I'd live to see this day.

Below are some highlights from its introductory letter. Note the text of the motu proprio itself is available in an English translation at Rorate Coeli. Of course, you can always get the Latin version, too.
  • "The present Norms are also meant to free Bishops from constantly having to evaluate anew how they are to respond to various situations."

  • "Should some problem arise which the parish priest cannot resolve, the local Ordinary will always be able to intervene, in full harmony, however, with all that has been laid down by the new norms of the Motu Proprio."

  • "As for the use of the 1962 Missal as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted."

  • "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place."

  • "Let us always be mindful of the words of the Apostle Paul addressed to the presbyters of Ephesus: "Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the Church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son" (Acts 20:28)."
What's equally as interesting, and will hopefully be read by those same brother bishops this letter is aimed at, are the lines immediately following that selection from Acts:

"I know that, after my departure, ravening wolves will enter in among you, not sparing the flock. And of your own selves shall arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31 Therefore watch, keeping in memory, that for three years I ceased not, with tears to admonish every one of you night and day. And now I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, who is able to build up, and to give an inheritance among all the sanctified."Acts 20:29 - 32

I guess some things really are better left unsaid.

And lastly, I'm reminded of another message, this one, given to the church at Ephesus:

"1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write: These things saith he, who holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks: 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them that are evil, and thou hast tried them, who say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And thou hast patience, and hast endured for my name, and hast not fainted. 4 But I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first charity. 5 Be mindful therefore from whence thou art fallen: and do penance, and do the first works. Or else I come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou do penance."

Coincidence? If it is, it is most certainly a happy one.

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Friday, July 6

Saints Cyril and Methodius

How lovely that the Holy Father has chosen the traditional feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius to release the long-awaited motu proprio regarding the traditional liturgy, Summorum Pontificum!

Just as these great saints went forth into the pagan lands of eastern Europe to spread the words of Christ using a common language, so will the Mass in its traditional form go into a world, unbelieving and hostile, to bring men closer to Him.

By Providence, may the traditional Mass and sacraments -- and the spirituality and theology that was abandoned along with them over the past 40 years -- give Catholic culture a unifying principle as the glagolitic alphabet helped bring the Slavic peoples to Christ so many centuries ago.

Slava Isusu Christu! Slava Vo Viki!