What has the Novus Ordo ever done for the Traditional Rite?

I was musing this morning, on the way into work, on the implications of Universae Ecclesiae, and especially over these comments from “our man in Rome” (as we ecumenists call Cardinal Kurt Koch):

“However, because a new liturgical reform cannot be decided theoretically, but requires a process of growth and purification, the Pope for the moment is underlining above all that the two forms of the Roman rite [the Ordinary and the Extraordinary] can and should enrich each other,” he said.

It is fairly obvious, thought I, how an increased familiarity with the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (aka the Traditional Latin Rite, or the rite according to the Missal of 1962) might positively affect the celebration of the Ordinary Form (aka the Novus Ordo, or the Mass of Paul VI). Not quite so obvious how it might happen the other way around.

Nevertheless, I thought I could identify a couple of points, and that it would be a good topic for a blog post (Nb. apologies for there not being a lot of commentary on this blog the last week or so – a bit busy round the house).

However, Fr Z. got to it before me, and you can read his musings here.

Fr Z’s correspondent writes about how he celebrates the Extraordinarly Form liturgy differently because of his familiarity with the Ordinary Form. Less rigidity and more awareness that this is a “priest and people” activity. Not surprisingly, my point of view is from the other side of the altar rail (yes, there ARE altar rails in the Extraordinary Form).

I wasn’t around in 1962, and wasn’t even Catholic until 2001, so I don’t have any personal memory of this. But I have heard plenty of stories about what the liturgy was like before the Council. It is important to keep in mind that the horror story stories liturgists tell their children around campfires didn’t begin with the reforms. I recently heard about a guitar-toting singing group that would sing “Soul of my Saviour” to the tune of “Puff the Magic Dragon” – during the Sunday Low Mass.

I suspect that – from the lay participant’s point of view – the Extraordinary form as it is now conducted by devotees all over the world has been affected by the Novus Ordo in the following ways:

1) The familiarity that most of us have with the Novus Ordo helps us lay people to gain familiarity with the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Because the Novus Ordo is fairly simple and “streamlined”, we have developed a fairly good sense of the “shape” of the mass. When we come to the Mass in the Extraordinary Form, therefore, we are not lost in the baroque liturgical forest (as sometimes happens when newcomers attend, for eg., an Eastern Rite liturgy). The clear shape of the Roman Rite in the Ordinary Form acts as a kind of “map” to orientate oneself to the rather more interesting and feature-packed landscape of the Extraordinary Form.

2) Because of this, we lay people come to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass with the expectation that we will be involved. This might mean actively, eg. by joining in the songs that the Choir sings at Mass, such as the Gloria, the Sanctus etc. But I have in mind the prayerful involvement that comes when we are engaged in what is going on. Lay worshippers at the Extraordinary Form these day will be paying attention to the Latin prayers and following attentively the actions of the priest. As in the past, lay participants in the Extraordinary Form will certainly be praying during the liturgical action, but they will either be following the Latin along in their booklets and praying the English in their hearts, or engaging in personal prayer that is appropriately connected with the action and prayer of the priest at the altar.

It isn’t that the characteristics – far less the rubrics and practices – of the Novus Ordo have been imported upon the Extraordinary Form. It is simply that today, as lay people, we come to the Extraordinary Form with expectations arising from our experience of the Ordinary Form. We come, as the Second Vatican Council wanted us to, not just to “attend” Mass, but to participate fully, consciously and actively in the Liturgy.

About Schütz

I am Catholic, married to Cathy, father of Maddy & Mia. Since 2002, I have been the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical & Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I was once a Lutheran pastor, but a "year of grace" and soul-searching led me into the Catholic Church. It was a bumpy ride, but with the support of my (still Lutheran) wife, I was finally confirmed on June 16, 2003.
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18 Responses to What has the Novus Ordo ever done for the Traditional Rite?

  1. PM says:

    As someone who remembers what we now call the Extraordinary Form from childhood and occasionally attends it now, I think you have got it right. EF congregations now are more likely to be following the Mass than reciting the Rosary (wonderful as it is) or pursuing other devotions.

    As one of those increasingly rare birds who has enough Latin at least to pick up the drift of the propers and recognise the Scripture readings without a translation in my hands, I must admit I do wonder what it would seem like to the Latinless.

  2. The Mass is not something “that Father does.” The Mass is something that the entire Church does, the lay faithful no less than the clergy. Of course, we each have our own distinct place in the assembly, but changing the laity from spectators of into participants in the Most Holy Eucharist was one of the primary goals stated in Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution of the Second Vatican Council on Divine Worship.

    Sadly, this effort led in many places to liturgical aberrations not desired by the Council, and if the efforts of Benedict XVI succeed in diminishing those aberrations in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, then God be praised. A liturgy that is reverent, transcendent, and beautiful can be celebrated in both Forms of the Roman Rite, just as a liturgy that is sloppy, perfunctory, and appalling can be celebrated in both Forms of the Roman Rite. The essential ingredient is not the Missale Romanum of either From; it is the faith and formation of those who celebrate the sacred mysteries, starting with the priest.

  3. Jim Ryland says:

    David,

    I think that PM’s comment hits the nail rather directly. He and I are probably of about the same age and opinion.

    I was fully engaged in the music of the church and the liturgy as a part if the diocesan music commission when the Novus Ordo was introduced. I was asked to leave the commission when I pointed out several items that changed the “theology” of the mass and tried to stem the flow of rancid elevator music and “folk” masses. I was that voice in the wilderness.

    My opinion is that the Novus Ordo should never have happened. It was a clear move toward the approaches of other denominations and served as “common ground” that could be celebrated by Romans, Lutherans, and Anglicans in the Pollyanna days of the peace and love culture. That is not to say that it is all bad and you have clearly pointed out some of the virtues for congregations being exposed to the Tridentine for the first time. They are seeing it through another set of eyes.

    What might have happened, perhaps should have happened, was a further evolution of the Latin rite to include some of the broader practices of the NO. The EF was not (and should not be) a static museum piece. It was the product of evolution, compromise, and Counter-Reformation thinking. The last thing that I would attribute to the EF is stasis, even though we seem to be bound in that direction.

    There is much that is wrong with the NO but there is also much that is right. We will probably work past the admonition to obey the pre-concilliar rubrics to the letter and my fondest hope is that we will see a developing rite that glorifies the mystery and awe without removing the clear participation of the congregation in the celebration.

    I was fortunate to have grown up in a parish where the congregation did participate in the celebration of the EF. The Latin Responses from the pew were loud and strong and most sang the Ordinary right along with the choir. This, and excellent organ and choral motets, are what drew me to church music as a vocational choice. Unfortunately, most parishes were not like mine. That said, one of the joys of my career was being able to introduce congregations to everything from plainchant to Anglican anthems and Spirituals. I started out to be a performer in service to the Lord and ended up an Evangelist in the truest sense.

  4. John Nolan says:

    Although “Puff the magic dragon” predates the Novus Ordo (just), it could not have been used to accompany the 1962 Missal. Along with guitars and folk Masses it is a product of the second half of the 1960s. I was born in 1951 and from the age of three or four was taken to the 11 o’clock Missa Cantata. I remember the congregation joining in the Ordinary (it was usually Mass VIII and invariably Credo III). There was no choir, but a small group of men simplexed the Propers.

    At our first Communion we were given a missal and taught how to follow the Mass. When I started serving at the age of eight I knew the responses by heart, although I didn’t start learning Latin at school until I was 11. A weekday Low Mass lasted 20-25 minutes; I have heard stories about 12-minute Masses but don’t believe them, although you could just about do it with the Novus Ordo. Priests would say the epistle and gospel quite briskly, since on Sundays they were repeated in English, and weekday mass-goers were usually in possession of a daily missal. Go to an EF Mass now and you will hear them read more deliberately. This is no bad thing, but it is not the influence of the OF; it is simply that priests are less familiar with the Vulgate.

    • Schütz says:

      The story about the “Puff” version of “Soul of my Saviour” comes from Fr William Fitzgerald, a New South Welsh Norbertine Priest currently working at Christendom College in the US. I looked up Wikipedia which says that the song was recorded in 1963. The 1962 Missal was only a year or so old then, and wasn’t officially and finally replaced until the 1970 promulgation of the Mass of Paul VI. So, I think the story rides…

      It seems you were lucky to have experienced the Missa Cantata on Sundays, John. I have heard of other parishes that were doing good things with the Mass at that stage too, but it also seems that the prevailing custom in many parishes (including the many rural parishes) was for Low Mass on Sunday just like during the week, but with a couple of hymns thrown in for the congregation. That’s where “Soul of my Saviour” comes into it. I have heard that the “four hymn sandwich” came into common practice well before the Novus Ordo.

      As I said, I have all this by hearsay. I would love to read a sort of “people’s history” of the Mass before the Council – actual accounts and descriptions of how the mass was celebrated at parish level and what level of understanding and participation there was among the people. Does anyone know of any good historical studies that have been done on this? It seems there is a lot of hearsay, but very little in terms of actual record. Unfortunately this was way before the invention of the video camera, and only special occasions were ever filmed or recorded for posterity, so we don’t get an accurate picture of the state of affairs just from the visual documentary evidence that survives from the period.

      • Stephen K says:

        Well, I was born in the 1950s and could give you a personal experience account of the Latin Mass (now called the EF) and the changes through the 1960s. It would be a personal account though. I remember distinctly my suburban parish version. Yes, it was Low mass on Sunday, no Missa Cantatas. As altar boys we wore eton collars, red collar ribbons, cottas, red soutanes, and red slippers and gloves. Hymns (4 hymn sandwich) like Soul of my Saviour, yes. Learning the Latin responses – also occasionally dialogue Mass was performed.

        Priests wore Roman, not Gothic, chasubles. Our Good Sam nuns wore full wimple and guimpes and rosary beads.

        I also remember the changes right through, in all its phases. In 1966 and 1967 I went to 6.00 am every morning before school. Part was in English but I still used my St Andrew missal and the clipped “Per Ipsum et cum ipso et in ipso est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti in unitate Spiritus Sancti, omnis honor et gloria, per omnia saecula saeculorum Amen” by Father O’Grady, is as clear in my mind to this day.

        I remember the first E Dwyer English Mass book – a thin red covered booklet with still most parts in Latin and the first edition of the St Joseph Missal with the new translation of Psalm 42 “to God who has gladdened me from childhood days” etc.

        In my suburban parish, the glory of Catholic Liturgy was expressed in Benediction – cope and incense – and Tantum Ergo. I didn’t see a sung Latin Mass Proper until in my teens I joined the fledging Latin Mass Society. (Yes, I was a traditionalist before a lot of your readers were born!)

        Enough autobiography and memory! If you want me to relate more, you’ll have to ask.

  5. matthias says:

    Schutz I hope not to be in that “baroque liturgical forest ” when i attend Eastern Rite liturgy but even if i am ,it will only be for a little while and beats being at “Church is a caberet o” which is like being in a scene from Bedlam;thus give me baroque over bedlam

    • Schütz says:

      I wasn’t really being disparaging when I spoke of the “baroque liturgical forest”. I was just searching for a metaphor. I quite like forests. Better than deserts.

  6. Jim Ryland says:

    “Puff” had competition. In the 1960’s I was considering taking a well-paid music director’s position in an American Episcopal Church that was termed “progressive”. Thankfully, I decided to attend a Communion Service before applying. The stately Thomas Ken Doxology, rather than sung to the Old 100th, was rendered to “Hernando’s Hideaway” from the musical “Pajama Game”. The crowning glory was the swooping “thombone” Amen at the end. Needless to say… I did not apply for the position but that experience has provided me with years of chuckles.

  7. Joshua says:

    I heard a similar story told of the future Pope St Pius X – he was in the U.S. on Vatican business, and was horrified to hear a choir at High Mass sing a Latin motet to the tune of “The old grey mare she ain’t what she used to be”!

    Bad taste has always been around, alas.

    Have you read that excellent, and very amusing book, “Why Catholics Can’t Sing”?

    Oh, and I think I once mentioned this, but to repeat the tale: a priest I know, who was a young boy at the time of the liturgical changes, explained that the sum total of the preparations made for the changeover in his parish in the 1960’s was that, at the end of Sunday Low Mass, to the amazement of the congregation, Father didn’t walk straight back into the sacristy after Mass, but paused at the altar rails, turned to the people, and said, “Next week, Mass will be in English. Booklets are available for one shilling at the Central Catholic Bookshop.”

  8. John Nolan says:

    There is a Youtube clip of a recent Pontifical High Mass at St-Nicholas-du-Chardonnet (Paris), the SSPX church, and the bishop processes in to a French hymn sung to the tune of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’.

    My mother once told me that during the war the organist chose to mark the success of the Red Army by setting the Kyrie to the tune of ‘Cossack Patrol’.

    Seriously though, most English parishes in the 50s and early 60s managed a Missa Cantata (usually if erroneously called High Mass) even with limited resources. Catholic primary schools taught Mass settings and Benediction hymns using the best-selling ‘Plainsong for Schools’. And the liturgy was usually impeccable thanks to a long-serving MC who wasn’t averse to clipping the ear of an altar boy who got out of line!

  9. Gareth says:

    When I think of the basic situation of parish life in Australia or so many of my friends that may ceased their involvement with the Church (the majority once they reach 18-21 year old bracket), the constant theme I hear from feedback is ‘Mass is so boring’.

    Whilst I don’t pretend to know the answer to solve this dilemna and acknowledge that Mass is not meant to be ‘enterntaing’ and also there so many modern day applications that add so much ‘excitement’ to everday western life, the dilemna and irony for us as the Church is that thousands upon thousands of Catholics give the ‘boring’ response yet point 2 that you made (e.g. the Novus Ordo has the intention to be ‘engaging’ for the lay audience) is still held as one of the main benefits of the New Mass.

    Again, I don’t pretend to have all the answers for this dilemna, but it is something that the Church at both local and wider level should at least acknowledge that we are constantly sold the line that things are meant to be so much more engaging these days yet people’s majority response when asked what do they find wrong with the Church is they find the Mass anything but…

  10. John Nolan says:

    How to make the Mass boring, in fact mind-numbingly tedious:

    1. Celebrate in the vernacular and ham up the text to make it sound ‘meaningful’. Exaggerate every gesture and make it clear that it is the people you are addressing, not God.
    2. Start with Marty Haugen’s egregious paean to smug self-centredness, ‘Gather Us In’. Make sure you sing all the verses. Then approach the altar.
    3. Expand the Greeting along the following lines: V. Good morning, everybody. R. Good morning, Father. V. Thank you for coming here this morning. See the Arsenal got stuffed last night …
    4. Invent a ‘theme’ for the Mass. It will of course have no connection to the liturgy of the day.
    5. Choose a version of the Gloria that breaks up the text with manifold repetitions of ‘Glory to God’ and throw in some vigorous hand-clapping for good measure.
    6. Choose readers for their unintelligibility. People can always follow in their missalettes.
    7. Ensure your folk group has a flautist who can double the vocal line at the interval of a major third, for that special cloying effect. And remember, the essence of ‘folk’ music is repetition ad nauseam (sorry, a bit of Latin crept in there. Mea culpa. Oops – done it again).
    8. Don’t prepare your homily and deliver it walking back and forth with a hand mike.
    9. Make sure the bidding prayers cover all the major items on last night’s TV news.
    1o. Personalize the way you elevate the Host and Chalice. Consider using one of the super-size altar breads that looks like a poppadom.
    11. Get everyone holding hands during the Our Father.
    12. At the Sign of Peace leave the sanctuary and glad-hand as many of the congregation as possible.
    13. Communion must be in both kinds. Most of the ladies of the parish are EMHC and you’ve got to involve them.
    14. Read out all the notices and then tell the congregation that they are printed in the parish bulletin.

    I have a recurring nightmare in which I am in Brompton Oratory and the Mass is as I have described it above. I awake in a cold sweat.

    • Peter says:

      Wonderful stuff John!You did however forget one thing-a rendition of Kumbaya.

    • Gareth says:

      you forgot make up bizarre prayer requests for the prayers of the faithful linking tocurrent political events e.g pray for poor David Hicks or Osama Bin Laden’s family (I kid you not, I heard that two weeks ago).

    • Schütz says:

      Actually, John, I don’t really experience these things very often. We have our own odd way of doing things badly here, I guess.

      2. Start with Marty Haugen’s egregious paean to smug self-centredness, ‘Gather Us In’. Make sure you sing all the verses. Then approach the altar.
      Believe me, there is music a lot worse than that of the Haugen-Hass. If Gather Us In is all you have to put up with, think yourself lucky. We were talking in class recently about the way the Gloria and Kyrie went from being just songs that people sang before Mass to actually a part of the rite. “Can you imagine,” I suggested, “what it would be like if ‘Come as you are’ became a fixed part of the liturgy?”.

      3. Expand the Greeting along the following lines: V. Good morning, everybody. R. Good morning, Father. V. Thank you for coming here this morning. See the Arsenal got stuffed last night …
      Ah, yes, well. We have that here. But with Australian Rules Football references instead. No, actually, to be fair, few priests would actually do that. What we do get is “First Homily” at this point, to be followed later by “Hobbit Second Homily” and then “Homily Elevenses” just before the blessing and dismissal.

      4. Invent a ‘theme’ for the Mass. It will of course have no connection to the liturgy of the day.
      More a protestant affliction here than a Catholic one.

      5. Choose a version of the Gloria that breaks up the text with manifold repetitions of ‘Glory to God’ and throw in some vigorous hand-clapping for good measure.
      I would be thankful if only the Gloria were sung, whatever setting was used. Unfortunately, it appears that few Australian clergy are aware that the Gloria IS A HYMN!@!!

      6. Choose readers for their unintelligibility. People can always follow in their missalettes.
      I am actually pretty impressed with the general quality of lectors in the Australian Catholic churches. Much better than what I remember from my experience in the Lutheran Church.

      7. Ensure your folk group has a flautist who can double the vocal line at the interval of a major third, for that special cloying effect. And remember, the essence of ‘folk’ music is repetition ad nauseam (sorry, a bit of Latin crept in there. Mea culpa. Oops – done it again).
      You know the old saying that the only thing worse than having to pay taxes is not having to pay taxes (on account of no income)? It is a bit like that with music groups. Better to have a folk group providing music than no music at all.

      8. Don’t prepare your homily and deliver it walking back and forth with a hand mike.
      Well, hand mikes went out with the dodo. But unfortunately so did pulpits. Do you think we could revive them?

      9. Make sure the bidding prayers cover all the major items on last night’s TV news.
      I generally find that things are fairly sober on this front here in Oz. But Gareth’s point probably holds.

      1o. Personalize the way you elevate the Host and Chalice. Consider using one of the super-size altar breads that looks like a poppadom.
      I don’t know about this one either. Sure, we have the big hosts, but I don’t know what you mean by “personalising” the way the priest does the elevation.

      11. Get everyone holding hands during the Our Father.
      Not a widespread custom here. Perhaps because the custom of adopting the “orans” position is more common.

      12. At the Sign of Peace leave the sanctuary and glad-hand as many of the congregation as possible.
      As a cantor, the trick is, I find, to introduce the Lamb of God pronto and watch Father dash back to the altar…

      13. Communion must be in both kinds. Most of the ladies of the parish are EMHC and you’ve got to involve them.
      I am a fan of communion in both kinds – as was the Second Vatican Council. I completely defend the use of communion in one kind though when both kinds are not practicable. But communion in my parish on Sundays takes all of three minutes. Why do we even need any extraordinary ministers in such a situation?

      14. Read out all the notices and then tell the congregation that they are printed in the parish bulletin.
      Guaranteed disaster. Most priests I know have put an end to this because they don’t want people leaving the car park before the dismissal.

      These are niggles. There are worse things that can happen. As I said to my students tonight, just grit your teeth and bear with the little things. Offer them up. Pray. Pick your battles. Work out what you can do positively to contribute to a better situation. And be patient. Brick by brick, as Fr Z says…

  11. John Nolan says:

    David, hand-holding during the Our Father isn’t usual in English parishes either, although I understand it is widespread in the USA. I was giving a worst-case scenario, the sort of experience that puts you off Sunday lunch. I would disagree on one point – bad and inappropriate music (sic) is one of the worst forms of liturgical abuse and is guaranteed to send me scurrying towards the exit. Better no music at all.

    Personalizing the elevation: elevating the Host one-handed; doing a three-quarter turn in the manner of JPII; elevating the paten along with the Host; tilting the Chalice towards the people while saying the words of consecration; not genuflecting; I’ve seen all of these. Admittedly the GIRM is largely to blame for not making the rubric specific enough.

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