The Point Remains: It’s “The Mass of Pius V”

francis elevation[Editorial Comment: I have prayed over what to do about this post.  I remain convinced that the overall point I want to make remains valid.  My mistake, for which I have apologized, was to specify a particular blogger (Father Zuhlsdorf) as being among those who make the mistake in question.  I stand by that apology.  I also stand by the fundamental thrust of my original posting; namely, that there are people who do associate the name of St. John XXIII inappropriately with the Mass of Pius V.  There is an appropriate and correct way to do that, since St. John DID promulgate an editio typica of the Mass of Pius V in 1962.  There are also inappropriate and incorrect ways of describing that reality as well, and THAT was the point I was trying to make.  So, I have edited the original posting to remove references to “Fr. Z” and still make the point I wished to make.]

I write this post with respect, although with an obvious and unapologetic sense of intellectual frustration.  Clearly the topic I want to explore is not a “Kingdom issue” or something that need be at the forefront of every person’s daily concerns!  However, for a lifelong Catholic like myself, a student of the Church and her liturgies, and someone for whom the Church as People of God, Mystical Body of Christ and Temple of the Holy Spirit carries great significance, this is something that I think must be addressed. So, what is it?

It is the tendency of some commentators to refer to the 1962 editio typica of the Missale Romanum as “The Mass of St. John XXIII”.  I’m not sure why such an error is being made, and I don’t want to ascribe any motivation to something which may be nothing more than a simple error of fact.  It does seem, however, that this description of the Mass seems to be made most often by critics of the Mass of Paul VI, so perhaps it is their way of suggesting a contrasting hermeneutic of church and liturgical worship.  I don’t know.  Assuming that this is nothing more than a simple error, then, this post is offered as fraternal correction.

Here’s the deal.  As we all know, a wide variety of ancient liturgical texts developed.  These took a variety of forms and often varied widely from place to place.  There were also attempts over the years to consolidate or to unify liturgical practice in the Latin Church, often following the patterns used by the Church in Rome.  There are many good studies of all of this so there is no need to recount those details.  However, the custom of “naming” the Roman Missal is what concerns me here.

1896 Missale Romanum Title PageIn 1570, following the decisions of the great Council of Trent, Pope Pius V promulgated a new editio typica of the Roman Missal.  This became known, then, as the “Mass of Pius V.”  In fact, I have open on my desk at the moment an 1896 printing of the Roman Missal, and the title page states: “Missale Romanum, ex decreto sacrosancti concilii tridentini restitutum, S. Pii V Pontificis Maximi”.  Ah, “but Deacon, but Deacon,” you’re probably saying, “St. John XXIII came up with his own typical edition in 1962!”  Let’s continue, and all will be made clear.

Following that first typical edition of the so-called “Tridentine Mass”, many subsequent popes made changes to the Mass of Pius V, and some of these popes issued their own typical editions: Clement VIII in 1604, Urban VIII in 1634, Leo XIII in 1884, and Benedict XV (reflecting much of the work of his immediate predecessor, St. Pius X) in 1920.  In 1951, Pope Pius XII issued a number of significant changes to the Missal, especially involving Holy Week, but none of these changes were placed into a new typical edition.  Finally, in 1962, St. John XXIII published the last of these typical editions.  Now, here’s the point: at no point in all of this history did we as a Church change the attribution of the name of the Mass.  When Clement VIII issued his typical edition, we didn’t start calling it the “Mass of Clement VIII”; when Urban VIII issued his in 1634, we didn’t call it the “Mass of Urban VIII”; when Leo XIII issued his, we didn’t. . . , well, you get my point.  It was ALWAYS, even in 1962, referred to as the “Mass of Pius V.”

Want more proof?  Pope Paul VI issued the first typical edition of a post-conciliar Roman Missal in 1969 (although earlier changes had been made), and it became known as the “Mass of Paul VI.”  Then, he issued another typical edition in 1975, and it was still the “Mass of Paul VI.”  In 2002, St. John Paul II issued the third typical edition of — you guessed it, the “Mass of Paul VI.”  We didn’t start calling it the “Mass of St. John Paul II”, did we?  Of course not: it is still, to this day, the “Mass of Paul VI.”

Readers of the original version of this post have pointed out, of course, the very legitimate use of the term “Missal” to describe the various editions of the Mass; so, for example, one might refer to the “Missal of Urban VIII,” or the the “Missal of St. John XXIII.”  This is not my point, although I must say that I have yet to hear anyone refer to the current edition of the Roman Missal as “The Missal of St. John Paul II, either.  If one wishes to speak of the “Missal of St. John XXIII” wouldn’t we also speak of the “Missal of St. John Paul II”?

Pope Pius VAs I said at the outset, this is not an issue upon which the Reign of God depends.  I guess my real plea is to remind all of us that the Mass is that of Jesus Christ.  I would hope that, whichever Missal is being used for the full, conscious and active participation of the entire church, we seek clarity and unity with charity.  For those times when I have not practiced charity, I apologize to those who have been hurt.

God bless all who visit here.

Preaching Like the Pope in Nine Easy Lessons

Francis preaching 3Within the context of a universal call to proclaim the Gospel by all the baptized, the Pope now turns his attention to the liturgical homily.  He refers to the homily as “the touchstone” for judging a minister’s (he specifies “pastor” but given what he is about to say, it would apply as well to all bishops, deacons and presbyters) “closeness and ability to communicate to his people.”  And so he begins his short course on homiletics.

Lesson #1:  The Homily as Experience, Encounter, and Source of Renewal

Youth-PossibilityPope Francis reminds all homilists of the potential of the homily.  Rather than something to be dreaded by all concerned, the homily should be “an intense and happy experience of the Spirit, a consoling encounter with God’s word, a constant source of renewal and growth.”  The initiative is all on God’s part: God wishes to communicate with God’s People, using the preacher as His instrument.  The homily is, therefore first and foremost, God’s loving outreach to His People.  Once the preacher thinks he is preaching his own message, the homily is doomed.  This is a great comfort to preachers!  A homily is not just another speech we might devise; it is an attempt to find God’s will and God’s words.  Our focus is on God and on the People: we’re just a go-between trying to help the connection between the two.

Lesson #2:  The Liturgical Context

Francis preaching 2The homily occurs during a liturgical celebration, and this further assists the homilist.  Pope Francis quotes Pope John Paul II: “the liturgical proclamation of the word of God, especially in the Eucharistic assembly, is not so much a time for meditation and catechesis as a dialogue between God and his people, a dialogue in which the great deeds of salvation are proclaimed and the demands of the covenant are continually restated.”  But Pope Francis goes further: “The homily has special importance due to its Eucharistic context: it surpasses all forms of catechesis as the supreme moment in the dialogue between God and his people which leads up to sacramental communion.”  We are told in the liturgical books that when the scriptures are read in Church, it is Christ who proclaims: in the homily during the Eucharist, Christ continues that conversation.  Furthermore, the homily for us is not the only action of Christ during the liturgy!  The pope reminds us that, even though the human skill of the preacher might permit him to drone on and on (well, OK, so the Pope doesn’t say “drone”; but he does say that the homily “should be brief” because if it goes on too long it will affect “the balance and the rhythm” of the liturgy.  Since the homily is itself liturgical, it should “guide the assembly, and the preacher, to a life-changing communion with Christ in the Eucharist.”

Lesson #3: Talk With Your Mother

mother and childIn a lovely passage (##139-141) the Pope reminds us that the Church is a mother, and so “she preaches in the same way that a mother speaks to her child, knowing that the child trusts that what she is teaching is for his or her benefit, for children know that they are loved.”  But he also points out that the good mother listens to the concerns of her children and learns from them.  The preacher is “to hear the faith of God’s people. . . . The language is a kind of music which inspires encouragement, strength and enthusiasm.”  All of this should be found through “the closeness of the preacher, the warmth of his tone of voice, the unpretentiousness of his manner of speaking, the joy of his gestures.”  Pope Francis speaks of the great dialogue Christ had with the people of his day, a dialogue he wishes to continue.  The secret to Christ’s approach, he says, “lies in the way Jesus looked at people, seeing beyond their weaknesses and failings.”  He is full of the joy of his relationship with his Father.

Lesson #4: Choose Words of the Heart

holding the lightOnce again the pope uses the language of dialogue, which “is so much more than the communication of a truth.  It arises from the enjoyment of speaking and it enriches those who express their love for one another through the medium of words.”  This enjoyment is not simply in “objects” but in the persons participating in the dialogue.  The pope cautions that we are not dealing with “abstract truths or cold syllogisms” but through the beauty of images and wonder, a source of hope from the joyful and practical exercise of the love they have received.  “The challenge of an inculturated preaching consists in proclaiming a synthesis, not ideas or detached values.  Where your synthesis is, there lies your heart” (#143).   Words mediate meaning, but the right words also join two hearts: God and the People.  It falls to the preacher, who should know both God and the People so well, to find the right words to build up this loving covenant of Heart to hearts.

Lesson #5: Reverence for Truth

preachingorgheader1Turning his attention to the actual preparation of the homily, the pope encourages a “prolonged time of study, prayer, reflection and pastoral creativity.”  Almost apologetically, the pope says, “I wish to stop for a moment and offer a method of preparing homilies.”  He knows that most preachers are so busy with pastoral responsibilities that it is often hard to find the time to devote to this proper preparation.

Nonetheless, I presume to ask that each week a sufficient portion of personal and community time be dedicated to this task, even if less time has to be given to other important activities. . . .  A preacher who does not prepare is not ‘spiritual’; his is dishonest and irresponsible with the gifts he has received.

After prayer, our entire attention is to be given to the biblical text, “which needs to be the basis of our preaching.”  In great humility, we are to pause often and seek a greater understanding of the text.  This is what the Pope calls “reverence for the Truth.”  “To interpret a biblical text, we need to be patient, to put aside all other concerns, and to give it our time, interest and undivided attention.”  The pope is clear: if you’re looking for quick results, you are going about it all wrong.  “Preparation for preaching requires love.  We only devote periods of quiet time to the things or the people whom we love; and here we are speaking of the God whom we love, a God who wishes to speak to us. . . . ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening'” (1 Sam 3:9).

Next, we must understand the meaning of the words we read.  However, the pope says, while we do want to use all of our critical tools in analyzing the text, the single most important thing is to find its principal message, “the message which gives structure and unity to the text.”  The preacher should also use the text as it was intended:

If a text was written to console, it should not be used to correct errors; if it was written as an exhortation, it should not be employed to teach doctrine; if it was written to teach something about God, it should not be used to expound various theological opinions; it it was written as a summons to praise or missionary outreach, let us not use it to talk about the latest news.

Lesson #6: Personalize the Word

kneeling_in_prayer1The preacher needs a “great personal familiarity with the word of God.”  We must approach the word “with a docile and prayerful heart so that it may deeply penetrate his thoughts and feelings and about a new outlook. . . .”

It is good for us to renew our fervor each day and every Sunday as we prepare the homily, examining ourselves to see if we have grown in love for the word which we preach. . . .  If we have a lively desire to be the first to hear the word which we must preach, this will surely be communicated to God’s faithful people. . . .”

This wonderful examination of conscience helps us to avoid the anger of Jesus who “was angered by those supposed teachers who demanded much of others, teaching God’s word but without being enlightened by it. . . . The apostle James exhorted: ‘Not many of you should become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness” (Jas 3:1).  The word of God must become incarnate in the daily life of the preacher.

The preacher’s attitude is one of total humility and dependence upon the Holy Spirit: “the Holy Spirit places on his lips the words which he could not find by himself.”

Lesson #7: Spiritual Reading: Lectio Divina

Fully integrated into the search for the scripture passage’s principal message is the prayerful reading of scripture and finding its application in the preacher’s own life.   The pope offers a wonderful series of questions for reflection:

  1. What does this text say to me?
  2. What is it about my life that you want to change by this text?
  3. What troubles me about this text?
  4. Why am I not interested in this?
  5. What do I find pleasant in this text?
  6. What is it about this word that moves me?
  7. What attracts me?
  8. Why does it attract me?

Lesson #8:  An Ear to the People

Pope Francis, as we have seen so many times in the past, always speaks in terms resonating with the ideas of the Second Vatican Council.  Consider the following citations from the beginning of Vatican II’s Gaudium et spes:

1. The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. . . .

4. The Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. Thus, in language intelligible to each generation, she can respond to the perennial questions which men ask about this present life and the life to come, and about the relationship of the one to the other. We must therefore recognize and understand the world in which we live, its explanations, its longings, and its often dramatic characteristics. . . .

Now hear Pope Francis (citing Pope Paul VI’s landmark Evangelii Nuntiandi) as he exhorts preachers to have “an ear to the people.”  “A preacher has to contemplate the word, but he also has to contemplate his people.  In this way he learns ‘of the aspirations, of riches and limitations, of ways of praying, of loving, of looking at life and world, which distinguish this or that human gathering,’ while paying attention ‘to actual people, to using their language, their signs and symbols, to answering the questions they ask.’

The pope notes that we need to truly understand what really affects people’s lives: their experience is what matters, and the pope remarks that “we should never respond to questions that nobody asks”!  The homily is more than a simple challenge of current affairs: we are to respond to human experience “in light of the Gospel”: challenging what needs to be challenged, affirming what is to be affirmed.

Lesson #9: Homiletic Resources

Here the pope challenges preachers to attend to the technical aspects of homily preparation and delivery.  While the primary focus is always spiritual, even these technical components have a spiritual foundation.  He first lists “imagery”: how well do we find and use appropriate images in our homilies?  Not merely examples, which appeal to the mind, but images, which appeal to the whole person.  Again citing Paul VI, preaching should be “simple, clear, direct, well-adapted.”  He cautions that many preachers fall into the trap of using the technical and theological words learned through years of formation and education; we must adapt our language accordingly to be understood.  It must be well-organized as well: there should be “thematic unity, clear order and correlation between sentences.”  Finally, the homily must be positive.  We should focus less on what should not be done, but with what we can do better.  “Positive preaching always offers hope, points to the future, does not leave us trapped in negativity.”  Let me recap the resources the pope highlights:

  1. Use of imagery more than examples
  2. Simple language
  3. Clearly presented
  4. Well-Adapted
  5. Thematic Unity
  6. Clear Order and Correlation in Structure
  7. Positive

That’s it!  Preaching Like the Pope in Nine Easy Lessons!

“How good it is when priests, deacons and the laity gather periodically to discover resources which can make preaching more attractive.”

bible.17

When Catholic Blogs aren’t, well, Catholic: UPDATE

Francis ad orientem

Pope Francis “ad orientem”

File this in the “something to think about” category.

When Pope Francis recently announced his picks for the red hat, he did so during a Mass in the Sistine Chapel in which he faced the East: ad orientem.  The headline of a popular putatively Catholic blog read, “For the record: Francis Turns Toward God — 2”.  The reason for the number “2” is that it was the second time the Pope had celebrated ad orientem, and the blog had similarly reported that first celebration as “Francis turns toward God.”  On another blog, a priest-commenter reported that ad orientem actually meant “toward Christ”!  In both cases, the whole context was that this was a significant theological development on the part of the Pope, a pope who apparently was signalling his doctrinal or liturgical orthodoxy by choosing to celebrate ad orientem. Who could possibly object to such reverence?  Obviously, to be a good Catholic, we must celebrate this way, right?  Who wouldn’t want to “turn toward God” or to “face Christ”?  Real Catholics are the ones who face the East (ad orientem) because that’s where God is, right?

Unfortunately for folks who might be taken in by that line of reasoning, this is NOT what the Catholic Church actually teaches.

467_Ad_Orientem_preview

Ad Orientem

versus populum 2

Versus Populum

Catholic teaching and practice, from the very beginning, reflected great diversity and practice on all of this.  In some ancient churches, there was an East-West orientation, and the priest and people would together face the East, where the sun would rise, analogous to God spreading light upon a darkened world.  However, there is also significant architectural evidence that this was not a universal practice, with the architecture of other churches facilitating a versus populum (toward the people) orientation.  Eventually, the ad orientem orientation became prevalent, but the option to celebrate versus populum remained a permissible option.  The point here is that traditional Catholic theology never made the claim that God was only accessible via one orientation or another.  Traditional understanding was that priest and people were together in praying to God during the Eucharist.  This was true whether facing East or facing the people.  The concerns of some Catholic conservatives today seem to rest on the idea that facing the people somehow makes the Mass a kind of “performance” by the priest, and that versus populum  is one small step from a Broadway production focused on people and not on God.

Let’s review.

1) Traditional Catholic theology emphasizes that God is everywhere.

2) The Church prefers, in accordance with the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, that the Mass be celebrated versus populum whenever possible, but ad orientem is certainly permitted, especially if the architecture of the sanctuary makes that preferable.  Vatican II also teaches that “the full, conscious and active participation” of all the faithful at Mass is to be the number one priority when considering liturgical reform (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Council’s Constitution on the Liturgy).

deacon proclaiming Gospel

Christ present in many ways during Mass: the Proclamation of the Word, for example.

3) This same document, which as a Constitution of a general council of the Church is among the highest magisterial teaching documents of the Church, also addresses how Christ is present in the Mass:

To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical
celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, “the
same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross”,
but especially under the eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that
when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes. He is present in His word, since it
is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly,
when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: “Where two or three are gathered together in
my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20) .

Back to these blog headlines and comments.  First, the language of the headline permits the inference by those who wish to make it, that the Pope — until now — has been oriented AWAY from God, but has now seen the error of his ways; I’m sure the writer would vehemently deny such a claim, but the language permits such an inference, whatever the original intent of the writer.  Second, the language suggests that God exists in a certain direction and not in another (specifically, versus populum).  The state of the Pope’s personal spirituality is beyond the scope of this blog, certainly!  However, the second suggestion flies directly in the face of actual Catholic teaching.  It is a shame that people might be misled — whether deliberately or not — to think that this represents Catholic teaching.

To recap: the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church permits, and always has, Masses celebrated both ad orientem and versus populum, although contemporary liturgical law favors versus populum.  The entire Catholic Church believes, as expressed by the world’s bishops and confirmed and promulgated by Pope Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council, that Christ is present at Mass in the people assembled, in the proclamation of the Word of God, in the person of the ordained ministers, especially the priest, and in a special way under the forms of bread and wine.

We owe it to each other to try to be as accurate about these things as we can.  Our Catholic Tradition is simply too rich and pastoral practice too diverse to try to box it into categories that reduce the very Catholicity we seek!

UPDATE:  A reader e-mailed me with a question about the tabernacle, suggesting that this might be why the priest would face ad orientem: because that was the direction of the tabernacle containing the reserved Sacred Species consecrated during previous Masses.  However, this is not the reason for ad orientem.  Examining the ancient churches of Christianity, one finds that tabernacles were located in a rather wide array of places: sometimes on the altar itself, sometimes in separate locations altogether: the priest never adjusted his orientation because of the location of the tabernacle.  They didn’t then; they shouldn’t now.  That’s never been part of the liturgical theology of the Church.

versus populum

Kevin McCallister: “I’m living alone! I’m living alone!” Jesus the Christ: “I’m NOT!”

This was the homKevinily I gave last night; with a few minor changes, I gave it in similar form at the Masses today as well.

Bottom line: Young Kevin McCallister, in Home Alone, decides that when he gets big, he’s going to live alone — family life is just too tough for him to imagine!  Our God, coming to us, is exactly the opposite: Christ chooses to come to us precisely through the relationships of family and community, with all the challenges that presents!

The Deacon at Mass: Second Edition is Available

I’m happy to report that the Second Edition of my book, The Deacon at Mass: A Theological and Pastoral Guide, has now been been released by Paulist Press.  I just thought some of you might be interested!Image

What’s different in the Second Edition, you may ask?

The first edition was already based on latest General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM), but it was released before the final English translation of the Order of Mass was promulgated.  The second edition expands the text accordingly, now taking the translation into account.

I was able to address several questions raised by readers and reviewers on the first edition.

I expanded the introduction to address specific issues related to the preparation and translation of liturgical books in general, and each subsequent chapter now includes references and guidance related to the approved English translation.

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NOTE TO READERS:  Thus ends the shameless hawking of the book.