Summorum Pontificum produces fruits in the other direction!

Most readers of this blog are the type of Catholics who rejoiced (and are rejoicing) in the Holy Father’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. We have rejoiced to see (in some places at least) the way in which openness to the ancient form of the rite impacts upon a reverent and faithful celebration of the new form of the rite and vice versa. In his letter accompanying the MP, Pope Benedict wrote:

For that matter, the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching… The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage. The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal.

In an earlier post on this blog, we saw how the way in which the Extraordinary Form is celebrated now is (compared to the days before the Council) is being subtly affected by the more common Ordinary Form – principally in the degree to which the congregants expect to be able to participate in the liturgy by means of adopting the postures of the OF and by joining in praying some of the prayers (most notably the Lord’s Prayer, which, in the EF, is actually prayed by the celebrant rather than by the people).

But the effect goes the other way as well, as is seen by this news item on the blog of the St Aloysius Parish, The Reform of the Reform in Melbourne.

The promulgation of the new translation of the Roman Missal of 1970, invites us to reflect further on the “hermeneutic of continuity” articulated by Pope Benedict XVI, and the importance of this being demonstrated consistently in the celebration of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

Beginning Saturday 12th May (at 6 pm), in response to the requests of the Faithful, a weekly Vigil Mass in the Ordinary Form will be offered at St Aloysius’ Church [ 233 Balaclava Rd, Caulfield North, 3161] which will aim to exemplify “sacredness in continuity”.

The Mass will be celebrated in English, “ad orientem” at the High Altar, with both the Propers of the day and the Ordinary being sung. Communicants are invited to kneel at the Altar rails to receive Our Lord on the tongue ‘under both kinds’ by intinction. Books will be provided containing all the readings, Mass Ordinary and Propers, and music including hymns.

The inaugural Mass, at 6 pm on Saturday 12th May, will be offered for the intentions of Pope Benedict XVI.

This is a very welcome development. Caulfield is a bit of a hop, skip and a jump from my part of the world, so I probably won’t get there very often, but I hope that this style of celebrating the OF finds its way into more and more parishes, as Parish Priests find the courage to “turn their backs on the people” and “turn toward Christ” WITH the people!

About Schütz

I am a PhD candidate & sessional academic at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia. After almost 10 years in ministry as a Lutheran pastor, I was received into the Catholic Church in 2003. I worked for the Archdiocese of Melbourne for 18 years in Ecumenism and Interfaith Relations. I have been editor of Gesher for the Council of Christians & Jews and am guest editor of the historical journal “Footprints”. I have a passion for pilgrimage and pioneered the MacKillop Woods Way.
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26 Responses to Summorum Pontificum produces fruits in the other direction!

  1. Martin Snigg says:

    Hear hear. The priest should be with us facing God offering sacrifice on our behalf. It’s beautiful to experience that oneness.

    I was born in 1973 and never experienced Mass with priest ad orientum until recently. How could it have ever changed? what were people thinking? We’re not a clique we’re supposed to be worshipping God.

    For those who have known the suffocating embrace of liberalism for much longer than me, I imagine it might have felt like Frodo and Sam on the Morgul plain, but then there is that star :).

    I think a minimum – ad orientum, altar rails, Latin chant.

  2. Joshua says:

    How excellent!

    Is this, may I ask, anything to do with the Glorificamus Society, that has been arranging “Reform of the Reform” style Masses in Melbourne for a while now? (Of course, they prefer theirs in Latin, but no matter.)

    So far as I know, there was a weekly Latin Ordinary Form Mass at the Cathedral in Melbourne from after Vatican II right through till some time in the nineties…

  3. An Liaig says:

    The effect goes well beyond this. At Mentone this Easter, the ceremonies were celebrated with the sung parts in Latin (by the choir) and ad orientum – and this is a normal parish church!

  4. John Candido says:

    I can see the church going ever so headlong into the past that the Second Vatican Council may never have occurred at all. Why are we going backwards?

    • Martin Snigg says:

      Minimally, the Pope was closer and knows more about what VII concluded and what it didn’t John. Have a read and find out where backwards and forwards really is.

    • Joshua says:

      “The old is better” (St Luke 5:39).

      Jokes aside, aspects of modern-day Catholicism that are working well should of course be maintained; but aspects that worked better in the past should equally well be restored. It would be foolish to think that “past=bad” or “present=good” in every single respect. After all, while Catholicism before Vatican II certainly wasn’t perfect, there was among believers a higher rate of sacramental participation, and a higher level of catechetical instruction and therefore of understanding of their faith – it would hardly be “against Vatican II” to strive to restore such good things.

      The argument in terms of liturgy is that the way worship is conducted today in many places is in fact lacking in sufficient reverence and “vertical orientation” towards God: are we sufficiently cognizant of it being “Divine service”, “Divine worship”? If so – and candidly it may be admitted to be true – then aspects that need improvement (music, preaching, ceremonial) ought be thus improved, especially with reference to the better standard in *some* of these areas back when.

      However, the obvious starting point is in fact to look to what the current liturgical books lay down as the standard: I know for a fact that what we do in my own dear parish is not exactly as it should be in every respect, but my parish priest has greatly improved matters there over the last few years since he arrived, and I (as a reader, and a singer, and an adult server) am playing my humble part in assisting such a restoration.

      A cursory examination of Papal practice, and the normative rules for Mass as laid down in the Missal (as opposed to what is granted for use here and there), presuppose such nowadays-and-hereabouts-rare but historically-and-globally-normal practices as communion on the tongue, received kneeling, and the celebration of Mass with the celebrant facing the same direction as the congregation. None of these things ought scandalize: if they add to devotion and are more in continuity with the history of worship – as they are – then with care and gentleness ought they be brought back into wider use.

      If these things are of God, they will persist; if not, they will fade away.

      • Joshua says:

        P.S. The Missal specifies that certain prayers, such as “Pray brethren”, and “The peace of the Lord be with you always”, and “Behold the Lamb of God”, and “Let us pray” before the Prayer after Communion, and the blessing and dismissal, all be said “facing the people”, “turned towards the people” – the obvious interpretation still being that the Missal presupposes the priest to stand on the people’s side of the altar, facing in the same direction that they do, and turning to them at those moments when he speaks to them, while facing the altar while praying to God.

        It even specifies that some prayers be said “facing the altar”, which makes no sense unless that means not “facing the people”. Basically, from the start of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, it would be more in accordance with the actual rubrics in the Missal for the priest to stand at the altar on the same side of it as the people, and to celebrate Mass facing the altar, facing the same direction as the whole congregation, only turning to them when so directed, or when doing something else such as washing his hands, giving the sign of peace to the deacon or ministers, distributing Communion (which is impossible to do “facing the altar”!).

        Showing the Host and Chalice to the people at the Elevations thus requires him to lift them high enough to be seen (in the traditional manner), there being no rubric making him turn around; and, again as is traditional, the priest does not face the people for the dialogue that begins the Preface and Eucharistic Prayer.

        On the very rare occasion that I, as a Catholic who knows of these things, have attended a modern Mass said “facing the altar”, I have found it a very very prayerful and rich experience. Incidentally, it takes away from the priest’s personality dominating the whole service: he is more evidently the servant of the liturgy, able to focus on his duties on our behalf. The way that the priest faces us to talk to us, and faces in the same direction as we do when on our behalf he prays to God, seems to me to be a very good distinction.

        For what it’s worth, Lutherans and Anglicans have historically done the same (the Higher sort of both still do), and of course the Orthodox always do. So to do so, far from being some strange betrayal of the Council (which never once discussed the issue, be it known), is in fact in total harmony even with ecumenical dialogue.

        • PM says:

          I might just add that the Council’s decree on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, speaks of Gregorian chant having pride of place as liturgical music, and of the desirability of congregations knowing how to sing the chant dialogues and at least some of the chant ordinaries – a far cry from what happened in practice.

          This is an important point which is often overlooked: the chant ordinaries (De Angelis, Orbis Factor, Deus Genitor Alme etc) are not (repeat not) meant to be choir pieces, but are for the whole assembly.

    • Gareth says:

      Oh come on John,

      Whether the EF (or its rubrics) is one’s cup of tea or not – you would have to be blind freddy not to see that what has passed as the ‘reforms of Vatican II’ simply is not working in places such as Australia and fails to inspire anyone aged under 65.

      If something is not working, surely one should look into fixing it?

      What David has posted here (although some smaller Dioceses are yet to see such moves) is at the very least somewhere to start.

    • John Nolan says:

      Why the “whe” John? I understand from your other blog posts that you have left the Church because She refuses to countenance sodomy and female ordination.

      • John Candido says:

        Hello John Nolan! It is really nice to see you blogging here at Sentire Cum Ecclesia. The blog that John Nolan is referring to is ‘Secondsight’ and can be accessed at It is a Christian blog that is supervised by Mr. Quentin de la Bedoyere, who is the Science Editor of the UK’s ‘Catholic Herald’. John Nolan and I have been sparring partners on Secondsight for a couple of years. He is conservative and I am a liberal. I have learnt a lot from him.

        Even though I have left the practice of the faith, I still consider myself a Catholic by baptism. Although I advocate a change in the doctrinal position of the church regarding homosexuality, as well as female ordination, I am a heterosexual not a homosexual. Just to clarify matters.

  5. Oliver Dunbarr says:

    This is a very welcome move!. It has nothing to do with the Glorificamus Society, but an initiative from the Rector of St. Aloysius’ Church, and in consultation with members of the Faithful. Not only will it be “ad orientem” but the full Propers of the Mass will be sung too – finally the full texts for each Mass will be heard!

  6. Matthias says:

    I shall try and get along to this Vigil Mass on the first night-seeing as I consider myself a member of the Newman Community and attend week day masses there and Sundays at the Cathedral although lately locally.

  7. Stephen M says:

    This is very encouraging news. Although I prefer the traditional Mass (‘extraordinary form’), I have always thought that the restoration of communion under both kinds to be important. As things stand, this won’t happen in the traditional Mass in the short term (since many of the faithful unfortunately though understandably associate the practice exclusively with protestantism), but it is important that the practice be encouraged (even made normative) in the ‘reform of the reform’, precisely because it is a fuller sign and because it connects us in an important way to the Eastern churches (and to the Roman tradition of the first millenium). Ideally, the precious blood should be distributed by the priest or deacon (not laymen) after the distribution of the Host, in the classical Angl0-Catholic manner, with communicants kneeling and receiving without handling either the host or chalice. At the Oxford Oratory communion is distributed under both kinds by the priests (not by laymen or women), though not by intinction (which might make the process easier, though it takes away the symbolism of ‘drinking’ the precious blood).

  8. John Candido says:

    I do agree that something is not working correctly in the Roman Catholic Church, but I doubt if I will agree with you that it is due to the implementation of the Second Vatican Council. I think that our problem is far deeper than liturgy, and whether or not the liturgy consists of ad orientem (priest with his back to the congregation) or versus populum (priest facing the congregation). As important as liturgy is to the faith, I don’t think that it can be blamed for the unfortunate falling away from the practice and adherence to the Catholic Church around the world.

    This phenomenon is without doubt very complex and multifaceted. Does anybody have any ideas as to why this has occurred, evidenced partly by the greying of the priesthood due to a chronic lack of vocations to the priesthood?

    • PM says:

      Actually, the liturgy is a big part of the problem. After what our youth have been subjected to in what passes for Catholic education, they would have little sense that it is anything more than 1960s pop psychotherapy or a 1968 political rally, dresed up with sacharine banailty like ‘Come as you are’. Why would anyone bother getting out of bed on Sunday for that? Lex orandi lex credendi!

      • John Nolan says:

        “Why would anyone get out of bed on a Sunday for that?” Why indeed. The same question was asked recently by the former Belgian primate Cardinal Daneels which prompts the question “Why then didn’t you do something about it when you had the chance?”.

  9. Peregrinus says:

    Minor query: The phrase “communion by intinction” leaps out at me. Is communion under both species common at EF masses? And, if it is, is intinction the preferred method?

    (Or, in other words, is this particular feature something that shouuld be seen as the influence of the EF?)

    • Conchúr says:

      Communion under both kinds is not ordinarily allowed in the EF. Historically only a few very rare exceptions existed (and/or still exist). The practice of intinction, up until post-VII, had been suppressed in the since the 13th Century and I presume still is where the EF is concerned.

    • Schütz says:

      I think another reason why the method of intinction is mentioned, is because it means that both the host and the chalice are administered by the priest rather than by a server. I imagine that the kind of “intinction” which will be used will be that the distributing priest will “intinct” the host in the chalice (being held by a server walking beside him) and then place the intincted host on the tongue of the communicant. This is how intinction is canonically to be done. The Church has never approved the practice, common in many places, where the communicant himself takes the host in his fingers and intincts it in the chalice.

      • Peregrinus says:

        OK. So what we’ve got here, perhaps, is a synthesis of an (EF-influenced) emphasis on the sacerdotal nature of the ministry of Holy Communion win an (OF-influenced) preference for communion under both species. The end result is a decision to administer by intinction – which is slightly surprising, given that this is rare in the OF and even rarer in the EF.

        My impression – and it’s no more than that – is that, while intinction (by the eucharistic minister) is perfectly licit and is not subject to any restrictions or conditions, in practice it’s not seen as quite as “fitting” as separate administration of the host and the chalice, if only because the latter echoes the gospel account more clearly. Intinction was used for practical reasons – shortage of ministers, or shortage of chalices, or shortage of wine (relative to the number of communicants). But St. Aloysius seem to have found positive reasons for preferring intinction.

  10. Stephen M says:

    No, lay communion under both kinds is not currently permitted in the Extraodinary form.

  11. Fr. John Cox says:

    From the outside I view this as a positive development. As an Orthodox priest I hope for the eventual reunion of Orthodox and Catholic. One obstacle to that reunion is the contemporary divergence in liturgical discipline and spiritual practice. The earlier comment “lex orandi, lex credendi” is spot on. A return to venerable liturgical traditions and spiritual practices such as serious fasting will, hopefully, close the gap between Orthopraxis and Cathopraxis opened up by the application of VII and create a more sonorous vision of Christian life.

  12. glorificamus says:

    Joshua / Oliver

    No, The Glorificamus Society has not been involved in sponsoring this initiative.

    However, we heartily support this initiative: anything which helps to promote the sense of the sacred, the transcendent and offering of Holy Mass in continuity with tradition should be warmly supported and welcomed by all. The Holy Father is clear in what he wants and why it’s good for the Church.

    The good Fathers at St Aloysius are doing magnificent work for those who wish to worship in the Extraordinary Form.

    This new initiative seems to us to offer something important to the Archdiocese in exemplifying the offering Holy Mass in the vernacular using options that are in continuity with tradition, especially:

    – the use of Ad Orientem is the key intiative; would that more parishes actually adopt it for at least some Masses and at the High Altar (where there is still one or if there isn’t one, install one)
    – the singing of the Propers: the key musical step is the recovery of Gregorian Chant propers, the real way to sing the Catholic Mass
    – we presume the singing of the Ordinary is also Gregorian and hopefully allow for the recover the People’s Chant, something denied to most congregations around Australia
    – kneeling to receive Holy Communion on the tongue: a key expression of our faith in our Eucharistic Lord.

    All good. Let’s get behind it and show our support. Clearly, the Fathers are responding to the requests of the faithful in a generous fashion. May God bless them.

    As far as the Masses which Glorificamus has organised, all the above elements have been employed. A notable difference was that the Masses were sung by the Celebrant, people and the lectors in Latin (with the exception of the Prayers of the Faithful).

    One can hardly do other than encourage St Aloysius in offering Mass in the way they have chosen: in the context of a parish that offers every Mass in Latin this sounds like a very good way to offer someting attractive to those seeking a reverent Mass in English. We hope it prospers and other parishes learn how to do it too.

    The Holy Father was clear that we all have much to learn from the older form of the Mass when it comes to celebrating the newer form well. Perhaps priests from other parishes might attend to see how it’s done and parishioners from other parishes attend and go back to your parishes and ask Father to follow St Aloysius’ example.

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