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Thursday, February 19, 2009

For Latin Mass Priests, Especially Fr. Sean

This photo was taken this past Monday, on George Washington's Birthday. I went to Mass at St. Anne's in San Diego, which was given over to the Fraternity of St. Peter as personal parish. I thought Fr. Sean would like to see how they re-ordered it, since the half-way-there re-order he saw last July when he was out here. They still have a ways to go with the altar rail, you see a sort of intact rail, but the other side consisted hap hazard "stuff." [Cuz I can't spell prie-dieu right now for diddly.]

Is there some sort of Latin Mass Priest pact that the rest of us chumps are unaware of? When Fr. Sean was out here, I couldn't hear the canon. The most glorious canon written and I couldn't hear him for squat. Bah-humbug!!! I had my missal, but Father DUDES, if you're going to do this PLEASE SAY IT SO WE CAN HEAR IT. This priest -SAME THING. Otherwise you may as well say it in Sanskrit, or slaughter a pig. Can't tell the difference. I was discussing TLM with a friend of mine, and unprovoked she had similar thoughts. [She's in her early 60s. She said "it's too hard to try and figure out where Father is, even when you have a missal. I have to try and see his gestures, and try to find the right place in the missal, too hard without aural cues."]
I did bag one of the two seats acceptable for viewing purposes, so that was okay. And I have to say I enjoyed how well the servers executed their tasks. So easy to do it WELL with a bit of effort. Thoroughly unlike the two boys to served the NO rite Mass I attended Sat. Like chalk and cheese. I have seen many well excuted NO Masses - St. John's the Evangelist's servers, San Diego, are uniformly excellent from what I've seen - they PERFECTLY have the "symmetry thing" down - so I don't want to hear "well, the EF servers are better, blah, blah." But it irritates when servers aren't held to a high standard.

Also, you know it would REALLY help if in the bulletin for an EF parish, they'd be print out in advance WHAT readings are done. If you insist on not doing them in English, there is NO WAY you can convince me the Mass goer staring into space at that time has a freakin' clue. One thing to know the unchangeable parts of the Mass - quite another to be able to get the Latin on the fly with no advance warning. [Also this particular priest did largely SILENT offertory prayers too. GRRRRR!!!!]

They have Mass with benediction Fri nights, so maybe I'll go down there - but the "silent" thing is a real barrier for me. Darn good thing the FIRST canon done wasn't a silent one, otherwise none of us would have ever had a clue.


Fr. Erik Richtsteig said...

Sorry Karen, you will have to take this up with the Pope. The rubrics for the EF require that the Canon be said silently and the ability to alter the rubrics on this is above our pay grades. (Myself, I wouldn't mind this alteration.)

gemoftheocean said...

BUT!!!! They DID this canon louder in the late 50s early 60s when they introduced the Dialogue Mass, which is the first latin Mass I remember. If I could hear the canon and all those glorious saints THEN, WTH can't I hear it NOW? Otherwise, what is the POINT?! Where does it say you have to take the mic off the altar, or shout? I just want to HEAR the thing, because "zoning out" and looking at a virtual "dumb show" no matter "how pretty" is simply not viable for me!

gemoftheocean said...

Neither priest daid the Mass - "sotto vocce" the problem was they didn't use ANY "vocce."

And frankly, it wouldn't hurt if one of you dudes gave some of the girls "the secret handshake" otherwise 50% of us will NEVER hear the thing. EVER. I don't want to hear the BS that "well, only the boys did it then." So what? Back then you had other canon law things too - do you want to go back to the 1917 code for everything to be consistent? No playing cards for you guys then.

Is it going to be available for everybody to participate as much as possible? Or just the lace burqua crowd? [ I'm keeping a baseball cap in my back pocket in case I go back and someone even *tries* it on to suggest I should show up in a mantilla. Karen will make sure whomever even dares suggest it will wish he/she had never been born!!!"]

I like variety all right, but why does it have to be variety with a 50s *cultural* mentality "you people are stupid, can't follow, and you women should look like you're in a most dowdy contest with mom Duggar.]

gemoftheocean said...

BTW, SOTTO voce. There. I can't spell in English, French, OR Italian today. A trifecta.

Pastor in Monte said...

Hi Karen: thanks for the post. I had seen some pics of St Anne's elsewhere, and I must say they are doing it up very nicely.
As for the silent canon: I wasn't at liberty at St Anne's to do it other than as provided there. But here in my own church I follow the practice of the Papal Masses in the 40s and 50s of obeying the rubrics precisely, but having a microphone switched on throughout. That means that the people who want to hear can just about do so, and those who don't can tune it out quite easily.
Fr Seán

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

When I went to a Low Mass, the silence was hard to bear..(Probably because I went in expecting it to be like the NO)...

In smaller parishes, you can hear better what the priest is saying, in larger parishes not so much. I'm able to hear what the priest is saying, since I sit near the front and the altar at my parish isn't quite so far back where you can't hear anything.

That being said, I do agree, having the readings in advance would help, (though at my parish, the priest reads the readings in English before the Sermon, I don't know how they do it at St. Anne's)

I agree with you, the servers should be held to a high standard EF or OF Masses doesn't matter, they shouldn't merely be there for show.

I have appreciation for both the silent and vocal canon's. I do prefer the silent canon (but that's probably due to the fact that I tend to be introverted, and the less speaking I have to do, the better. (and yes, I'm speaking of those lame EP's for children which was at a Mass i went to recently (i walked out after I heard that)

gemoftheocean said...

seriously Joe, the 1st time I unawares went to one of those children's canon EPs I SERIOUSLY wondered if the Mass was valid - I didn't go to Communion that night.

I later found out it was, but was taking no chances.

I don't need the EP shouted, just at least mumbled distinctly.

I did go down there again tonight. Bagged the same seat - front pew, extreme right, I can see the priest's hands as they do the blessings over the chalice, etc.

That keeps me happy enough for visual cues - but I'd really be jiggered if I sat smack more mid aisle and futher back.

Anonymous said...

Hello Karen,

I just found your blog, and find it very interesting and entertaining. It is fun reading. I truly understand why so many people have a hard time understanding why the most important part of the Mass is silent.

I fell in love all over again with the traditional Rite of Mass soon after my return to the Faith in the 70s. I am quite thankful to the Holy Father for the "releasing" of this venerable rite from the chains which previously bound it.

I have studied the Mass and am reasonably familiar with it. I have noticed over time that I usually discover a good reason for Mass rubrics I don't understand.

In regard to the silent Canon, I believe there are many good reasons why the Church developed the Liturgy this way. I by no means intend to exhaust the possible reasons, but include just a few of my reflections.

If you recall from Scriptures, the Lord is to be found - not in the fire or earthquake, but in the whispers of the wind and the silence of one's soul. When Our Lord came the first time at Bethlehem, He came in silence, which was subsequently pierced by the angels announcing His coming. Nonetheless, to the great of the world, His birth was a "non-event" - not a blip on the screen. But he chose to reveal Himself to those who could recognize Him in the humble state of poverty, sans the fanfare of the great of this world.

In Holy Mass, at the moment of consecration time meets with eternity and God's love is made manifest in the most astounding way. The language of lovers is often spoken in whispers. There is something so sacred about love that familiar lovers express their love quietly, knowing each understands the language of love which is best heard with a contemplative heart. The giving of oneself to another occurs in the intimate silence of love, and not in the fanfare of the public marketplace.

God is reached most easily in the silence of our hearts. It seems most appropriate to me that the most important part of the Mass, indeed the most significant moment in our lives, when Christ's sacrifice on Calvary is before us piercing the veil of time that we turn ourselves to the silence. The silence is spoken to underline the sacredness of the act of the priest in persona Christi.

We prepare ourselves with silence, our silent hearts poised to listen: speak Lord, thy servant heareth.

Bob B.

gemoftheocean said...

Hi Bob, thanks for the lengthy comment. HOWEVER, it's a darn good thing the first canon was never silent - because we'd have zippty do-dah worth of knowledge that He was even changing bread and wine into His own flesh and blood for us - otherwise if it was silent, then He'd have looked liked any other Jew saying the Passover prayers!

Jungmann's Mass of the Roman Rite is instructive. "The people" used to have much better defined responses, etc. Then as they gradually didn't know Latin, more and more was taken over by clergy.

Here's you've got the best canon every written, and unless you are an 8 year old little boy you will never get to hear it - which automatically leaves out 50 percent of the congregation who are not and never will be boys or men. Feh.

Anonymous said...


I stumbled across your blog looking for my parish web site. Sorry that the Mass at St. Anne's in the Extraordinary Form was not to your liking, but yours is a common complaint about the Traditional Mass.

One of the reasons that the canon is quiet is to let the faithful be free to _pray_ during the Mass. A common error is to think everyone MUST follow the exact same prayer at the exact same time. In the EF this is not the case. The faithful should be aware of the great event upon the altar - the re-presentation of Christ's sacrifice at Calvary - but their prayer is just that; their own personal prayer offered to Christ as they kneel at Calvary.

My prayers, as the celebrant, cover all of creation: the Church Militant, the Poor Souls in Purgatory, the particular intention for the Mass, the angelic union between this altar and heaven, the prefigurement of the Mass in the Old Testament, etc. Some of the faithful can make these prayers their personal prayers, but for many they kneel and speak to Christ present on the altar in their own way in their hearts. Usually someone has to come to the EF for a few months before one begins to understand that the participation at Mass in the Old Mass is not like the participation in the New Mass.

I hope this helps, but, unfortunately, a brief comment on a blog probably cannot do justice to this huge question.

Fr. Gismondi FSSP

gemoftheocean said...

Hi Fr. G.! I was wondering how long it would take you to find the blog. Nice chatting with you this morning.

Yes, I've heard/read/discussed all those points you make. My reading of Mediator Dei is a little different. I don't have the paragraph(s) at hand at the moment, but it seems to me that Pius XII certainly expected that that those who were able to follow the Mass properly SHOULD do so in preference to saying their own prayers.

Fr. Shipley (pushing 81 years old, a retired priest of this diocese) told me that "back in the day" it used to drive him crazy when then Bishop Buddy used to sometimes lead the people in praying the rosary during the consecration.

BTW, you personally, are pretty easy to follow,IF I am sitting in that front pew to the far right!

Here were the paras from Mediator Dei which leads me to believe that if you are educated enough you should be following the missal as best one can:

"104. Let the faithful, therefore, consider to what a high dignity they are raised by the sacrament of baptism. They should not think it enough to participate in the eucharistic sacrifice with that general intention which befits members of Christ and children of the Church, but let them further, in keeping with the spirit of the sacred liturgy, be most closely united with the High Priest and His earthly minister, at the time the consecration of the divine Victim is enacted, and at that time especially when those solemn words are pronounced, "By Him and with Him and in Him is to Thee, God the Father almighty, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, all honor and glory for ever and ever";[101] to these words in fact the people answer, "Amen." Nor should Christians forget to offer themselves, their cares, their sorrows, their distress and their necessities in union with their divine Savior upon the cross.

105. Therefore, they are to be praised who, with the idea of getting the Christian people to take part more easily and more fruitfully in the Mass, strive to make them familiar with the "Roman Missal," so that the faithful, united with the priest, may pray together in the very words and sentiments of the Church. They also are to be commended who strive to make the liturgy even in an external way a sacred act in which all who are present may share. This can be done in more than one way, when, for instance, the whole congregation, in accordance with the rules of the liturgy, either answer the priest in an orderly and fitting manner, or sing hymns suitable to the different parts of the Mass, or do both, or finally in high Masses when they answer the prayers of the minister of Jesus Christ and also sing the liturgical chant.

100. These methods of participation in the Mass are to be approved and recommended when they are in complete agreement with the precepts of the Church and the rubrics of the liturgy. Their chief aim is to foster and promote the people's piety and intimate union with Christ and His visible minister and to arouse those internal sentiments and dispositions which should make our hearts become like to that of the High Priest of the New Testament. However, though they show also in an outward manner that the very nature of the sacrifice, as offered by the Mediator between God and men,[102] must be regarded as the act of the whole Mystical Body of Christ, still they are by no means necessary to constitute it a public act or to give it a social character. And besides, a "dialogue" Mass of this kind cannot replace the high Mass, which, as a matter of fact, though it should be offered with only the sacred ministers present, possesses its own special dignity due to the impressive character of its ritual and the magnificence of its ceremonies. The splendor and grandeur of a high Mass, however, are very much increased if, as the Church desires, the people are present in great numbers and with devotion.

107. It is to be observed, also, that they have strayed from the path of truth and right reason who, led away by false opinions, make so much of these accidentals as to presume to assert that without them the Mass cannot fulfill its appointed end.

108. Many of the faithful are unable to use the Roman missal even though it is written in the vernacular; nor are all capable of understanding correctly the liturgical rites and formulas. So varied and diverse are men's talents and characters that it is impossible for all to be moved and attracted to the same extent by community prayers, hymns and liturgical services. Moreover, the needs and inclinations of all are not the same, nor are they always constant in the same individual. Who, then, would say, on account of such a prejudice, that all these Christians cannot participate in the Mass nor share its fruits? On the contrary, they can adopt some other method which proves easier for certain people; for instance, they can lovingly meditate on the mysteries of Jesus Christ or perform other exercises of piety or recite prayers which, though they differ from the sacred rites, are still essentially in harmony with them."

The full document is here.

I don't think it's so much a problem for the St. Anne folks, because they're a self-selecting bunch, and most of them do seem to use missals.

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