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James Martin, S.J.May 16, 2011

Surprising news, or at least surprisingly blunt news, from CNS:

Pope's 'reform of the reform' in liturgy to continue, cardinal says
Catholic News Service  

By John Thavis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI's easing of restrictions on use of the 1962 Roman Missal, known as the Tridentine rite, is just the first step in a "reform of the reform" in liturgy, the Vatican's top ecumenist said.

The pope's long-term aim is not simply to allow the old and new rites to coexist, but to move toward a "common rite" that is shaped by the mutual enrichment of the two Mass forms, Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said May 14.

In effect, the pope is launching a new liturgical reform movement, the cardinal said. Those who resist it, including "rigid" progressives, mistakenly view the Second Vatican Council as a rupture with the church's liturgical tradition, he said.

Cardinal Koch made the remarks at a Rome conference on "Summorum Pontificum," Pope Benedict's 2007 apostolic letter that offered wider latitude for use of the Tridentine rite. The cardinal's text was published the same day by L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.

Cardinal Koch said Pope Benedict thinks the post-Vatican II liturgical changes have brought "many positive fruits" but also problems, including a focus on purely practical matters and a neglect of the paschal mystery in the Eucharistic celebration. The cardinal said it was legitimate to ask whether liturgical innovators had intentionally gone beyond the council's stated intentions.

He said this explains why Pope Benedict has introduced a new reform movement, beginning with "Summorum Pontificum." The aim, he said, is to revisit Vatican II's teachings in liturgy and strengthen certain elements, including the Christological and sacrificial dimensions of the Mass.

Cardinal Koch said "Summorum Pontificum" is "only the beginning of this new liturgical movement."

"In fact, Pope Benedict knows well that, in the long term, we cannot stop at a coexistence between the ordinary form and the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, but that in the future the church naturally will once again need a common rite," he said.

"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 can and should enrich each other," he said.

Cardinal Koch said those who oppose this new reform movement and see it as a step back from Vatican II lack a proper understanding of the post-Vatican II liturgical changes. As the pope has emphasized, Vatican II was not a break or rupture with tradition but part of an organic process of growth, he said.

On the final day of the conference, participants attended a Mass celebrated according to the Tridentine rite at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter's Basilica. Cardinal Walter Brandmuller presided over the liturgy. It was the first time in several decades that the old rite was celebrated at the altar.

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Anne Chapman
11 years 3 months ago
I also want to speak up to defend contemporary singing in mass. I may be simply less cultured than some here, in spite having been an award-winning Latin student when young.  But the near-snobbish put-downs of much of the simple (and understandable and easy to sing) music by some indicates that their understanding of what we are doing at mass is different from mine.  I think mass is to gather as community to pray together.  Those who focus on having mass in  Latin seem to think that mass is a form of entertainment - rather than go to mass to participate and pray with others in the community in words and song, they seek a form of performance art, and music to entertain them.  I grew up with the TM, I understood the mumbled Latin (when the priest spoke loudly enough to be heard - tough with his back to the congregation), I  had a missal as did everyone, but most people just retreated to their private mind worlds - dozing, saying rosaries, daydreaming.  I love Gregorian chant and the psalms, but chant has never touched my heart, even though it is beautiful to listen to and entirely suitable for contemplative services (Benediction, for example). But mass is not for private devotions or contemplation.  When hymns or chants are sung in Latin, it is not prayer for me - I don't feel the meaning of the words even though aesthetically beautiful. A couple  of the simple, contemporary hymns have led to tears rolling down my face during mass, however.  I was never moved by singing any of the old Latin hymns - even those chants that are psalms (with the words in Latin, how do they touch our souls and hearts?).  However, at times in my life, dealing with some kind of fear or problem, the simple words adapted from a psalm in a contemporary hymn have moved me strongly.  I can remember singing Be Not Afraid during a difficult time - and having to fumble for a tissue as the tears came.  When wrestling with a difficult decision, I have been moved to reflection and prayer by singing the simple words of Here I am Lord, something that never happens when listening to or singing a Latin hymn, with a translation in a book.  And I have felt joy when singing City of God (particularly hated by the music snobs).  These and similar contemporary hymns are scorned by the music snobs in the church.  I love classical music - and treasure my CDs of classical music, including missas and Gregorian chants. There is a place for this great music in church also. But, I don't go to mass to be entertained, as I might go to our city's concert hall.  I go to pray - with the entire community. Praying as community is what happens in the post-Vatican II liturgies - it was not evident in the TM that was my experience before Vatican II - we were an audience, not participants.

Personally, I thought that most of the hymns sung at the royal wedding were boring - good Anglican traditional hymns.  I am currently discerning whether or not to join the Episcopal church, talking regularly with priests at a local parish, studying, and frequently attending services there. The parish has a truly outstanding choir - the best I have ever heard outside a professional venue or Cathedral.  Last year, this little choir was even invited to England to sing in some of their famous cathedrals.  They often sing Latin hymns, and they do it far better than any Roman Catholic parish choir I have heard all my life. They also use the traditional Episcopal hymnal, and many of the hymns simply drone, just as those sung at the royal wedding did.  Just personal opinion - I am not a novelist, and I certainly won't be including any of my personal experiences in journal like Dorothy Day's that may someday be read by others.  I am just an ordinary woman, but I feel called to speak up in favor of the simple songs such as those in the Gather hymnal - they are real prayer to me - prayer that has  touched me in ways that never happened when singing anything in Latin at mass or at school when young (I was in the school choir and two other smaller singing groups that concentrated on traditional forms such as madrigals, and sang many Latin hymns in concerts).  This is just my experience - others have different experiences, I am sure. I just get tired of the same old put-downs of the post-Vatican II liturgy and music.

Too wordy, as always.
Todd Flowerday
11 years 3 months ago
Rome would do well to dig into a deeper tradition than the 1950's. There are many Christian cultures around the world, as there were in the days when East and West had a healthy diversity of rites. The liturgy would benefit less from a dipping in an unreformed and flawed rite, and more from harvesting the genius of texts, rituals, and music not only from the Third World, but from the best of what non-Roman Europe and North America and Australia/Oceania can offer.

The pope's blind spot is allowing himself to be manipulated by the hermeneutic of obstruction, a characteristic of every major council. The council bishops addressed liturgical reform early among many issues. That reform needs discernment and completion, and not its own reform. The focus is on the liturgy, on what mortal means we have to preach the gospel, celebrate the sacraments, and evangelize. Please spare us more trash about how Bugnini was a Mason, a satanist smoking something, or that organic development is some major conciliar principle.

The 1962 Rite has nothing more to offer Catholics. The 1970 Rite can be celebrated in Latin and with as much pomp and music and magna cappery as possible. And the Low Mass is better put to an honored rest.

If reform2 energies could be put to use, I'd say let's improve preaching, music, art, and architecture. Sure, that's all subjective stuff in some people's eyes. But diddling on the fringes of extra bows, genuflections, and medieval accretions to the liturgy-we do not need this. It's time for a new era to contribute in ways that worship God, not the idol of a rose-colored past.

The liturgical reform does not need Cardinal Koch putting words into our mouths. If he's not willing to discuss and discern with real live liturgists, he'd be better off hushing up and playing with his reform2 friends.
ed gleason
11 years 3 months ago
It's not that they did so well with the new missal translations ,Now they are taking another shot at their foot.. And the few priests they can get to sign on these days,  they have to learn Latin too???, Are the ole guys who know and can teach Latin physically fit to go to the African, Asian climes  where some recruits are? Talk about sweating!!! one question shouts out for an answer.. Who is running this store? 
I predict in twenty years there will a Roman Catholic rite run by a few ole guys in the Alps/Bavaria and the rest of the world will have to do with the  Catholic Church unified by the Eucharist.and a memory .
ed gleason
11 years 3 months ago
Is that a pic of Cardinal Koch? He looks like Bill Gates lost twin brother with the same folded hands...
Todd Flowerday
11 years 3 months ago

Tha Alps? Isn't that where the bishop of St Gall is about to have a Bill Morris moment? And Bavaria? Didn't those pesky Germans tell the CDWDS to shove the funeral translation? More likely someone's trying to get the US to even up with godless unchristian Europe.

The future of this hierarchy? I'm thinking time machine. 11th century.
david power
11 years 3 months ago

Lol great eye you have.I was wondering what it reminded me of and then I read your comment.
I don't think that this based on a 1950's nostalgia on the part of Pope Benedict.For many years we had two stone deaf Popes(Paul and John Paul 2) and neither of which really undertood what Liturgy was. Pope Benedict is a man convinced that beauty counts and that is his gamble. The Pope is thinking long term and his book the "Spirit of the Liturgy" is filled with profound ideas and concepts and drenched in the Biblical understanding of worship.It is also a very boring book and I wouldn't give it to a life-serving prisoner.
I suppose what most people fear is that it is just another example of the clergy wishing to "play house" and getting the chance to feel their prestige that little bit more.
Either way Ed is right that it looks like the Titanic band is playing on.
I have seen this Pope celebrate the Corpus Christi and he was far more effective at getting people to focus on the Lord than his predeccesor. He stayed for a lot longer and projected a far more humble demeanour.If that is what he has in mind for the entire Church then he deserved our support.   
Todd Flowerday
11 years 3 months ago
Honestly, it's more annoyance than anything else. MR3 is such a darned distraction-it would be one thing if we were getting good English out of it.

We need a better crafted liturgy.

If you're thinking in approval of kitsch catalogue art, tyros playing at guitars and organs, saccharrine composing, and faddish architecture (either modern or traditional) that doesn't suit the liturgy, then yes, we part company.

Otherwise, I suspect we're more in agreement than you think.
Helen Smith
11 years 3 months ago
"Pope Benedict knows well that, in the long term, we cannot stop at a coexistence between the ordinary form and the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, but that in the future the church naturally will once again need a common rite.. ." (Cardinal Koch)

Exactly what I've been thinking all along and I do not like it one bit.  I do not like being snookered.
david power
11 years 3 months ago

Helen Marie you make me laugh so much.
"Snookered",is a british term and most Americans probably
will not understand it's meaning.
I think that you are snookered and the best thing to do is to touch the 
side of the table in tribute to the one who has snookered you.
I am no fan of either rite but love to see how the Pope presses the right buttons.
This guy will make liturgists of us all by the time he is finished.
Jim McCrea
11 years 3 months ago
Silk purse; sow's ear.


"serica pera sus sermonibus auris"
Jonathan Jones
11 years 3 months ago
I grew up during the time when Vatican II was still in session.  The Mass my family and I attended was the Tridentine Liturgy,and I mean attended, not participated in.  We observed the liturgy being clelbrated  When I became an altar boy, I memorized the liturgical Latin, but the words had no meaning for me. 

The Eucharistic liturgy that came out of the Vatican II renewal was meant for all the people of God.  We, the laity, can actively participate in the celebration, worshiping in a language we can understand, being able to witness, to see the miracle that is the consecration; the Body and Blood of Our Jesus Christ, present on the altar.

The liturgy is not perfect, that is because of the human element.  But this liturgy has become a very important part of my faith life.  Instead of trying to turn the clock back, we need to listen to the faithful, what are they looking for in the eucharistic liturgy, and how can we improve it.
11 years 3 months ago
"Instead of trying to turn the clock back, we need to listen to the faithful, what are they looking for in the eucharistic liturgy, and how can we improve it."

Seems to me denigrating those who find meaning in the traditional form of the liturgy doesn't comport with the goal of listening to the faithful.  The liturgy used to be the stuff poets and novelists would wax on (I think of Dorothy Day's amazement at the hush at the moment of consecration); I can't think of the last time a novelist has been written so movingly of the Catholic liturgy.

One cannot help but see a certain "rupture" between the EF and, say, the LA Religious Ed conference liturgies.  Something, to me, has certainly been lost, particularly in the way of music.  The music at the Sunday evening Mass I attend is literally un-singable.  A cantor friend of mine was commenting on how the entire congregation seemed to be singing at the Royal Wedding; she became incensed when I modestly wondered if the selection of the hymns might have something to do with it.  I'm not for "turning back the clock", but I am supportive of efforts to re-weave the connection between the contemporary times and manner of celebrating the Mass for centuries; seems to me a fruitful cross-fertilization.  And maybe we'll get some better novelists out of it to boot!
11 years 3 months ago
I didn't make a "snobbish" indictment of the entirety of contemporary liturgical music (Shepherd Me O God never ceases to move me); I just fail to see the need for some of the sweeping dismissals of the concerns of more traditionally inclinded Catholics (even you indicate that they are only seeking "entertainment" as opposed to true prayer and "community gathering").  My point: why the either/or?  Funny you relate your experiences in the Episcopal Church, which to my mind is much better at intergrating traditional liturgy with contemporary experiences.  It doesn't have to be, and it shuoldn't be, an "either/or".  My wife is Methodist, and I can't help but notice (again, anecdotal only) that when we attend their service, the hymns are (as you delicately put it) "boring, good hymns", yet people KNOW these hymns and they SING these hymns.  I contrast that with my experience at my SUnday Evening Mass where the music is designed to make it sound like a piece off the radio.  I don't see the many young people (or really anyone) at the mass singing them.
11 years 3 months ago
I'm familiar with crying at some of the hymns at mass; there are about 5 good ones: "I am the Bread of Life," "On Eagles Wings," "Be Not Afraid," etc....  Great for funerals!

The vast majority of people are not muscially inclined; the first thing they should do is ditch all the music except for the entrance, collection and recessional.  Then people can start participating in the mass again and paying attention to what's going on instead of trying to figure out the next note, which, incidentally, is virtually impossible in the various renditions of the Gloria.

I do like how the Baptists do their music:  Keep the lyrics simple, repeat them so people can pick up on them, praise God, lift people up, not make them cry and make victims of them.  Here's one of my gospel favorites:


I've come so that you might have life more abundantly
I've come so that you might have life through eternity
I did not come to condemn the world or shame you for your wrongs
I have come to heal the broken heart and to give your life a song!
I've come to bring you life, I've come to give you joy
More abundantly.

I'd never want this for mass, mind you; gospel radio is great and there's nothing like a live gospel choir concert.

Anne Chapman
11 years 3 months ago
Fair enough, Jeff.  I have no idea what kind of music there is at the masses you describe, I am more familiar with what have now become ''traditional'' - St. Louis Jesuits and others of the era. Most of that is pretty singable even by non-music readers and those with a range of less than an octave, and people seem to easily learn it and remember, because most do sing them.

 As far as judging those who want the TM as wanting entertainment, I stand chastised - I'm sure not ALL of them want that, or only that, and a blanket comment is not fair. Mea culpa. But in discussions on this subject, most of those who want the TM seem to want it because of the music, because of the ''theater'' - the ''costumes'' (elaborate vestments), the ''art'' in the churches - as much gilt as possible it seems and so much statuary that the church begins to resemble Mme Taussaud's - the incense, the bells, etc. The importance of mass as being when Catholics pray together as community is never mentioned - it's all about the various aspects of the ''performance''  with the focus on the priest - the star of the liturgical show.  Some also seem want it as some kind of a membership ID in the club - the so-called ''Catholic identity''.  These Catholics sometimes seem far more concerned about being obviously Catholic (make that smudge of ashes extra big, Father, so nobody can miss them on my forehead) than about their identity as Christians - there are many Christians out there, Catholic and Protestant, who simply quietly go about being trying to be Christ in the world.  They are those who might best be described by that familiar Protestant hymn - ''They will know we are Christians by our love'' - isn't that how we should all be known?
Vince Killoran
11 years 3 months ago
Most of the songs at Mass are dreck: childish music, bad lyrics (especially the ones that put the congregation in the role of Jesus, e.g. "I am the bread of life. . ."), and it's difficult to sing many of them.

In WHY CATHOLICS CAN'T SING (1992) Thomas Day argues that the roots of this go back to the Irish Catholic dominance of the 19th & 20th century American Church. 
11 years 3 months ago
Kevin -

Great hymns give praise and glory to God.  They have a majestic feel to them:

"Holy God We Praise Thy Name"
"Now Thank We All Our God"
"Crown Him WIth Many Crowns"

Lousy hymns are often about what God does for us and what victims we are:

"On Eagles Wings"
"Here I am Lord"
"I am the Bread of Life"

"Gather us in" also falls into the latter category, but someone commented that it sounds like "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," which is a pretty good tune.

Jim McCrea
11 years 3 months ago
"The vast majority of people are not muscially inclined; the first thing they should do is ditch all the music except for the entrance, collection and recessional. Then people can start participating in the mass again and paying attention to what's going on instead of trying to figure out the next note, which, incidentally, is virtually impossible in the various renditions of the Gloria."

Michael, you are obviously worshipping in the wrong parish!  Find one where music is taken seriously and appropriately funded and you might be surprised what you hear and learn:


We are searching for a new Music Director and have had 70 applicants from literally all over the world.  They know a parish that fosters good participative music and is filling to spend the money to have it - and they (and our parisihioners and other visitors) what to be part of it.

It's about leadership, committment and setting a level of expectation that, after a lot of efforts, delivers happy results.
Jim McCrea
11 years 3 months ago
Oh, yes; we are a parish of 400 people (not families - people) and our music budget for this year is $160,000, including the salary and benefits of a full-time music director.
Katherine Nielsen
11 years 3 months ago
@Kevin Clarke #16: Some contemporary hymns I really like are "Now My Heart" which has a nice Irish lilt; "In Every Age" is poignant and at the same time comforting; and "Come to the Water", which is maybe not considered contemporary anymore, but I have always found it beautiful. Some I'm not so fond of are "On Eagle's Wings" (some people call it the "yoo-hoo" song; it's a bit over-used); "The Song of the Body of Christ", it's so bo-ring. Especially the alto line (2 notes?).  And my vote for bottom of the barrel, "Gather the People". Especially the second verse,
"Around this table we tell great tales,
the wondrous stories of grace;
We hold the memory of Christ our Lord, 
So we become what we eat."
I just find that teeth-jarring on many levels. But I'll even sing that one (though I won't enjoy it) if I can have a few of my favorites (which tend to be the more traditional ones). Musical tastes are highly individual; one person's "dreck" is another's childhood favorite. Can a dozen people even agree on the same radio station? I think we need to put up with one another's differences, and not be liturgo-nazis about pushing one's own agenda to get rid of all that trashy music (you know, the kind those other unsophisticated rubes like!)
On another note, I wonder with the new Anglican Ordinariate, if some of their music will cross over to the mainstream. I just love "Jerusalem", though I suppose we would have to find different words for it here.
Vince Killoran
11 years 3 months ago
Day's argument is that cheesy Victorian-era Irish-American parlor tunes crept into church hymnals; that and the fact that, under the oppressive English rule, Irish Cathoiicism did not develop a strong choral tradition.

I like his book mostly because he gets the dismal contemporary Churhc music scene right.
Vince Killoran
11 years 3 months ago
p.s. I know what "good" irish music is but I'll still sing some of those Irish American tunes if the conditions are right.
david power
11 years 3 months ago

and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
11 years 3 months ago
Jim McC -

I didn't know they allowed show tunes in the Catholic church;)

I'm pretty sure that the attitude in my parish, at least for the few men that still attend, is that the liturgy music drags the mass out longer than it needs to be (e.g.,do we really need to sing "amen" 3 times, the 3rd time in 5 syllables before the Our Father?).  I don't imagine that all the money in the world could change that attitude.  They're still rating priests on how fast they can get us in and out.    
Andy Buechel
11 years 3 months ago
To Michael Brooks @ 21:

You're aware that your division has just jettisoned not a few Psalms from the "good" category, right?
11 years 2 months ago
Hey AndyB -

I think the psalms belong where they are in the mass; before the Gospel.  I could  probably write a pretty catchy, melancholy tune about how hard it was to be Job, but I wouldn't want to hear it during the entry procession. Christ is here, alleluia.

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