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Gerard O’ConnellAugust 24, 2017
Pope Francis celebrates Mass on the feast of Corpus Christi June 18 outside Rome's Basilica of St. John Lateran. (CNS/Tony Gentile, Reuters) 

Seeking to put an end to various attempts to roll back the reform of the liturgy introduced by the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis this morning stated unequivocally that “the reform of the liturgy is irreversible.”

He declared this in a major address for National Liturgical Week in Italy, marking the 70th anniversary of Center for Liturgical Action. A source close to the pontiff told America the remarks were intended not only for the Italian liturgists present but the church worldwide.

Pope Francis this morning stated unequivocally that “the reform of the liturgy is irreversible.”

In his talk on Aug. 24, Francis reminded his audience that over the past 70 years “substantial and not superficial events” have happened in the life of the church and in the history of the liturgy. Vatican II and the reform of the liturgy are “two events directly linked,” and “they did not flower in an unexpected way but were prepared over a long time.”

He recalled that this preparation came through the liturgical movement that began many decades before the council and in the responses of the different popes in the first half of the 20th century.

St. Pius X took a first major step, the pope said, when he issued a decree in 1903 about the reordering of sacred music and the revival of the celebration of Sunday Mass. He also set up a commission for the general reform of the liturgy that he envisaged would take “many years.”

The reform project was next taken up by Pius XII in 1947 when he published the encyclical “Mediator Dei” and established a commission to study reforms in the liturgy. He introduced reforms around the Eucharistic fast, the use of “the living language” in the liturgy and, most important, the Easter Vigil and Holy Week. 

The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) brought all these efforts to maturity when it approved the “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy,” whose general lines of reform “responded to real needs and to the concrete hope of renewal: it wanted a living liturgy for a church made alive by the mysteries it celebrated,” Pope Francis said. Vatican II, he continued, sought to ensure “that the faithful would not assist as outsiders and mute spectators at the mystery of faith but, understanding it well through the rites and prayers, would participate in the sacred action knowingly, piously and actively.”

Vatican II sought to ensure “that the faithful would not assist as outsiders and mute spectators at the mystery of faith.”

He recalled that in January 1965, Blessed Paul VI, explaining the first steps of the reform that were then underway, made clear that “it is the church’s authority that wished [this reform]” and wanted “to promote and set alight this new way of praying” and that everyone should come on board as disciples of the Lord.

Francis said the direction traced by the council “took form...in the liturgical books promulgated by Blessed Paul VI, that were welcomed by the very bishops that were present at the council and that have now been in universal use in the Roman Rite for almost 50 years.”

The pope underlined the fact that “the practical application” of this reform, “guided by the bishops’ conferences in the respective countries, is still under way. Because it is not sufficient to reform the liturgical books to reform the mentality.” He said “the books reformed, according to the decrees of Vatican II, have started a process that requires time, faithful reception, practical obedience, wise active celebration, first on the part of the ordained ministers but also of the other ministers, of the singers and of all who participate in the liturgy.”

“In truth,” he said, “the liturgical education of pastors and faithful is a challenge always to be faced anew.” He recalled that Paul VI, one year before he died, told the cardinals at a consistory, “The time has come, now, to definitely leave aside the disruptive ferments, equally pernicious in one sense or the other, and to implement fully, according to its right inspiring criteria, the reform approved by us in application of the decisions [votes] of the council.” It is clear that Francis shares this position.

“The liturgical education of pastors and faithful is a challenge always to be faced anew.”

“Today, too,” Francis added, “there’s much [work] to be done in this direction, by recovering the reasons for the decisions taken through the liturgical reform, overcoming unfounded and superficial readings, partial receptions and practices that disfigure it.”

He emphasized that “it is not a matter of rethinking the reform by revisiting the choices [made] but of knowing better the underlying reasons, also through historical documentation, so as to interiorize the principles that inspired them and to observe the discipline that regulates [the reform].” Indeed, Pope Francis declared, “after this magisterial and long journey we can affirm that the liturgical reform is irreversible.”

After this general reflection, Francis went on to address some specific aspects of the Italian conference that focused on the theme “A live liturgy for a live church.”

“The liturgy is ‘alive’ because of the living presence of Christ,” he said. “Just as without a heartbeat there is no human life, so too without the pulsating heart of Christ there is no liturgical action.”

Pope Francis: “The liturgy is ‘alive’ because of the living presence of Christ.”

While some have spoken of celebrating the liturgy looking “to the East,” Francis today emphasized that “the altar is one of the visible signs of the invisible mystery, the sign of Christ the living stone.” For this reason, the altar is “the center to which the attention converges in all our churches.”

Moreover, seeking to counter a clerical mentality in celebrating the liturgy, Francis emphasized that “the liturgy is life for the entire people of the church,” and “by its nature the liturgy is in fact ‘popular’ and not clerical” because “it is an action for the people but also of the people.”

He recalled that the council’s constitution on the liturgy has stated clearly that “liturgical actions are not private actions but celebrations of the church.”

There has been a tendency to use the liturgy to exclude people, but Francis has had little time for this approach. Today again he said, “The church in prayer gathers all those whose have a heart that listens to the Gospel, without excluding anyone: The small and the great are called, as are the rich and the poor, children and old people, the healthy and the sick, the just and sinners.

He said “the liturgical assembly overcomes, in Christ, all confines of age, race, language and nationality”; it is “inclusive and not exclusive” and fosters “the communion of all.” He emphasized that “the Eucharist is not a sacrament ‘for me,’ it is the sacrament of many that form one body, the holy, faithful people of God.”

Some have sought to downgrade popular piety, something that Francis greatly values. And, in his talk, he said it should not be forgotten that “the liturgy above all else expresses the piety of the whole people of God, that is prolonged then by pious exercises and devotions that we know by the name of popular religion, which should be valued and encouraged in harmony with the liturgy.”

Pope Francis concluded his talk by emphasizing yet again that “the liturgy is life, not an idea to be understood.” Liturgical worship “is not above all a doctrine to be understood or a rite to be accomplished,” the pope said. “It is a wellspring of life and of light for our journey of faith.”

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just rams
6 years 7 months ago

OK, but is there any chance we could get rid of some of the more recent changes, which made up words or used them in an inappropriate verb tense ("was incarnate of the Virgin Mary") ? Or just strange words most non-theologians have no clue about ( "consubstantial with the Father"). Or just juxtaposed anachronisms ("he took the chalice"). As a man of science, I still cringe at "like the dew falls," since this is a literary metaphor, with no basis in reality - dew does not fall. If the science contradicts the words of our faith, it puts many of us in an awkward quandary.

Annie Jean
6 years 7 months ago

It's alovely metaphor and imagery is a vital part of our faith.

just rams
6 years 7 months ago

I understand your point Annie Jean, and my friend, a priest, holds the same view as you - so it's not unreasonable. But if the Holy Spirit descends like the dew falls, and dew does not fall at all, I'm always left wondering if my faith is also just an inappropriate imagery with no foundation in reality. That may sound hyperbolic, but that phrase from the Eucharistic prayer has become the battle flag for my own faith, which is not always as strong as I'd hope.

John Walton
6 years 7 months ago

Brush up on your Latin. Don't let "filioque" get in the way.
It's very interesting that Beethoven, in his Missa Solemnis put very, very substantial emphasis on "non factum, consubstantionem..."
BTW, "Dew" it's not "doo", but "deeee-youuu" if sung in the Restoration kind of way.

Jay Zamberlin
6 years 7 months ago

The Latin term Filioque describes the double procession of the Holy Spirit and is translated into the English clause "and [from] the Son"[1][discuss] in that creed: Filioque is a different issue (though related) than the idea of transubstantial.

Patrick Murtha
6 years 7 months ago

As a man of science, you ought to have no problem is "like the dew falls." First, as a man aware of common practices, you are aware of common speech. You understand that when we talk of the positive side of the battery, we actually mean the negative per the nature of electron flow. But why do we not change the terms--common usage. Nevertheless, from your comment, I must suppose that you never talk of sunrises or sunsets for the sun does not "scientifically" or "literally" rise or set. In that case, do you say, "The scattering of electromagnetic waves at the time of the evening earth-spin has caused the horizon looking beautiful!"? Let us be reasonable and not nit-picking.

Also, at a closer look at the dew, there is a certain "falling." The dew, as you well know, is based on the cooling of water vapors in the air, and that a certain correlation between humidity and temperature and air-pressure creates the dew. As cooling particles tend to descend according to the principles of convection and as these descending particles turn to water droplets upon striking an object whose temperature is sufficient to turn the vapor into a liquid, called dew, it is reasonable to say that "dew falls." Otherwise, it must be said, "As water vapors descend from the heavens within a certain level of humidity and air-pressure, strike an object of such and such a temperature, becoming dew!"

As for your other objections, it may be better to try to better understand the terms. For example, what is inappropriate with the verb tense of "was" in the statement "was incarnate of the Virgin Mary"? "Was" is in the past tense, and as Christ was given flesh by the Virgin Mary at a particular past moment, not present nor future, one must use the past tense. If, as I am actually assuming, you mean "incarnate," you must understand that "incarnate" in this sense is an adjective, and therefore without tense. The term "consubstantial" may be changed to a lot of small words, but is it not better for the "non-theologian" to try to understand the term? As a Catholic, there ought to be a desire in the non-theologian to understand the terms that best describe God. Does not a lover try best to understand what best describes his love? As a scientist, would you change "gravity" or "thermal energy" for long wandering phrases or clauses, such as "an at-a-distance interaction that is the result of mass, but which I mean matter, but not even just matter, but rather the measure of a resistance to acceleration...or something like that..." or "that amount of energy--nope replace energy with stuff that causes things to move or able to move--derived from hot stuff"?

So I propose these things for your consideration.

just rams
6 years 7 months ago

"(as to)... the dew, there is a certain "falling." The dew, as you well know, is based on the cooling of water vapors in the air, and...As cooling particles tend to descend according to... convection and as these descending particles turn to water ...called dew, it is reasonable to say that "dew falls" ...Otherwise, it must be said, "As water vapors descend from the heavens ... becoming dew!""

Thanks, Patrick, for the effort. For real. But the cooling water particles are constantly in the atmosphere; they are not dew until they actually condense, as you said yourself: "becoming dew." I'm honestly not trying to be obtuse - but dew does not fall. That said, as someone else here pointed out, there is a word call "dewfall," which (I confess) WOULD then make sense if that is the usage in the liturgical prayer, as dewfall does not necessarily imply dew falls. But I need to look at the text this weekend (unless you know) ;-)

Patrick Murtha
6 years 7 months ago

Scripture does speak of dew falling in several places: Numbers 11:9 "And when the dew fell in the night..."; 2 Kings 17:12 "as the dew falleth upon the ground..."; Wisdom 11:23 "as a drop of the morning dew, that falleth down upon the earth"; Isaias 45:8 "Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above..."

Again, here is where I remind you, as I mentioned above, that Scripture is not meant to explain scientifically the phenomenons of the natural world. Rather, the Holy Ghost, knowing His audience well, speaks the language of common man. And common man speaks of dew descending. Even our own modern common speech we speech of dew as falling. The parent or the child will say, "Look how wet the grass is. A lot of dew fell last night." That is why, in my previous response, I mentioned the sunrise and sunset. Scientifically we know that the sun does not rise nor does it set. But the common tongues--even our contemporary common tongues--say, "The sun rises." For that reason the Holy Ghost, communicating to man, speaks our common language saying, "And the sun returned ten lines by the degress by which it was gone down" (Isaias 38:8), or "So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down the space of one day" (Josue 10:13), or "they come to the sepulchre, the sun being now risen" (Mark 16:2).

The answer is not to make Scripture more scientific, but to try to understand what imagery God has chosen, why He has chosen those images, and not too read more into it than is reasonable. Now our natural understanding of dew can assist in this understanding. For example, the importance of dew comes in natural calm. Normally, there is no or little dew during windy and stormy weather, and it is often a natural prediction of calm in the upcoming weather. There is a certain soothing quality to dew in that it softly and gently gives life and moisture to the ground. And using the visual of dew descending from heaven, the Holy Ghost shows that this life-giving liquid comes from heaven and forecasts calmness to the soul.

William Watson
6 years 7 months ago

I'm with you on the use of English in general. But the dew fall doesn't refer to literal dew; it's a (scriptural) reference to the holy oil used for anointing, through which the Spirit is given. Visualize the oil running down the forehead of the anointed, and try to see with liturgical eyes that this is the holy Spirit descending like a dove.

Patrick Murtha
6 years 7 months ago

The term "dew" in Scripture may indeed be a metaphor for the oil you speak of. I cannot debate that, and it makes good sense. However, as St. Augustine and the other Church Fathers profess, the words of Scripture may have multiple layers of meaning, but the first is literal. The "dew" first is literally dew, as in that moisture from condensed water vapors. While I do not profess knowledge of Aramaic or Greek, yet the Latin is clear. St. Jerome employed the term "ros"--in different cases, of course--in the Vulgate, which means firstly dew or droplets of moisture. Some Latin writers have even employed the word to signify drops of blood. Furthermore, much of the texts in which "dew" appears would make no sense at all if the dew was not first literally "dew," for the texts speak of this moisture on the ground or the grass or a sheep's fleece as the night turns to day.

William Watson
6 years 7 months ago

The liturgical sense is the point of the text, so it's OK if the literal sense turns out to be scientifically inaccurate.

Henry George
6 years 7 months ago

I was in Rome while Vatican II was in Session(s).
Of course there was no way for the 2,000 plus Bishop and others
to fully understand what the advocates of radical Liturgical Reform
were up to nor how they would implement them after the Bishop's
went home after Vatican II ended.

Most Bishops were not experts on the Liturgy and did not know the
History of the Liturgy, not to mention most of the Bishops were not
present throughout every session of Vatican II.

While the Bishops meant well, they were not polled about the changes implemented after Vatican II ended. While some were helpful, others
were un-neccessarily harmful. The "radical reformers foisted on Paul VI
he, himself, no expert on Liturgy, and thus the Church a turn
turn from a Hebraic form of the Mass, to a Protestant form of worship.

I took a friend to Church recently. He was raised an atheist and except
for watching a Preacher or two on television, he knew next to nothing
about Liturgical Worship. We went to a suburban parish that had a
"Folk Group" up in the Sanctuary.

After the service he said to me:

"If you had not told me otherwise - I would have thought this was
a performance by the folk group with a man in robes doing odd
things here and for some reason, then the attendees of the folk concert
went up an were fed bread and wine." [ The Folk Group did perform
11 songs, only three which the congregation fully participated in, and
their singing took up 43 minutes out of the 55 minutes in Mass. ]

Whether the Bishops meant to reform the Liturgy or Renew it
or both they failed and they failed miserably.

If it was an attempt to lead people to attend Mass and find the
Lord at Mass and recognise their fellow attendees as Children
of God, the numbers seem to indicate that did not work. Churches that
were packed full in my childhood four times every Sunday now have
one Mass and it is only 1/3rd full. People talk before the liturgy and
talk after the liturgy ignoring the desire of anyone to pray before or
after Mass and many leave after communion to get home for the televising of their NFL home team's latest game. [ And please don't even ask me about Pastors who mention rooting for the home team in the Homily or wear a hat of the team during the homily or before or after
Mass. ]

If it were the case that the hymns, not folk songs were about God
and now about how wonderful we think we are, and if it were the case that the congregation sang the hymns instead of listening to the folk group
perform most of the songs, and mediocre songs at that, you could
torture me and I could not whistle or hum most of the new songs in
our up-to-date Music Issue that sits ignored in the pews, then what
Francis spoke about my be a reality, but it is not for most Catholic

It is very sad that just as Vatican II finished telling us we were the
"People of God" and that Bishops should have a greater voice in
the governing of the Church, the directives from the Vatican came out
- allowing no dissent from the mandated changes from either the
People of God or the Bishops - even though there were petitions and
questions asked by God's people and Bishops - and these directives
were so poorly implemented and strictly so by those who said they
were just following the "Spirit of Vatican II": So now get out of the way
as we destroy the marble altar rail your grandparent paid and built, and move the folk group into the Sanctuary - instead of the Choir Loft
where they most assuredly belong - if at all - and help me move the
Tabernacle to some little room so its presence does not "distract
from the Liturgy" and those statues - well only two per church now,
sorry, don't care if you have a devotion to a particular saint...

Pope Francis - have a heart and soul and allow the Traditional Mass
for those who find grace and solace in it, allow the New Mass in a
quieter form for those who feel it meets their needs and the New Mass in all its over singing for those who find God there.

After all God, who tolerates our sinfulness with merciful patience,
will not be offended, but may well be pleased by your tolerance.

Christopher Schaefer
6 years 7 months ago

“According to Francis, these changes came to fruition with 1963’s ‘Sacrosanctum Concilium’, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council”
—a document which then essentially was ignored by the Consilium: the committee that was given the task of implementing ‘Sacrosanctum Concilium’ and headed by “’the criminal and unctuous’ Annibale Bugnini, secretary and factotum of that same body, a man ‘as devoid of learning as he was of honesty’” http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2014/09/fr-louis-bouyer-on-liturgical-reform.html#.WZ8Xcj597ct
Pope Francis said “the liturgy must work as a school of life, ‘transforming one’s way of thinking and living, not just filling up a bag of ideas about God.’…”.
Correct! This sums up the ancient maxim ”Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi’. And this is where the committee-fabricated Order of Mass—which was REJECTED by the very first Synod of Bishops in 1967, but promulgated in 1969 anyway!—has been a complete failure.
“[Pope] Francis told those gathered that it must be remembered that the wealth of the Catholic Church’s prayer life goes beyond the Roman Rite.”
It ALSO goes beyond the committee-fabricated, rejected-by-first-Synod, 1969 Order of Mass.
Perhaps the greatest problem of the last century has been the distorted, incorrect understanding of papal authority and Church ‘magisterium’. The Magisterium does NOT include every utterance of a pope. And papal authority does NOT include the power to suppress and replace the entire liturgical heritage of the Roman Rite. Even Pius IX, who presided over Vatican I which defined the dogma of papal infallibility, would have been shocked at the suggestion that a pope has the authority to obliterate a liturgical heritage which has evolved “organically” over two millennia.

Henry George
6 years 7 months ago


Thank you.

Kenneth Wolfe
6 years 7 months ago

So, divorce and sodomy are up for discussion, but the novus ordo is some sort of dogma? Thankfully entire papacies are reversible.

Luis Gutierrez
6 years 7 months ago

The liturgical reform is incomplete as long as only males can preside. It is time to recognize the irrelevance of religious patriarchy after the resurrection:

Religious Patriarchy in the Christian Church

Except for the will of the Church, masculinity is not a requirement for apostolic succession. We must allow Christ to call women to the sacramental priesthood.

Henry George
6 years 7 months ago


I admire your indefatigableness about using every opportunity to have female deacons/priests/bishop and Popes.

Why is it so important to you ?

Patrick Murtha
6 years 7 months ago


God is the Patriarch of patriarchs, the Father of fathers. When Christ taught His apostles to pray to God, He said, "...say 'Our Father, who art in heaven..."

Ken Rothacker
6 years 7 months ago

Try it. Men will stop attending.

Jim Lein
6 years 7 months ago

I'm for getting rid of "some of the more recent changes" except for "dewfall."
Years ago I played many early morning rounds of golf in Wisconsin where it was easy to find your ball: just follow the trail through the wet grass. Dew may not fall literally but there is a word dewfall, and the poetic license rule aptly applies here.

just rams
6 years 7 months ago

Point well taken, Jim. Ive convinced myself, that, perhaps, the descent of the Holy Spirit is indeed like the dewfall (one word)- in that it doesn't descend at all, but emanates from within us, already present to us, even though it cannot always be seen within us - as so with dewfall. It's the best rationale I got...

Jay Zamberlin
6 years 7 months ago

Concerns about phrases and terms in the Vll Liturgy, especially those which seem to irk more aesthetic/poetic sensibilities than anything else, and while not unimportant, are (to us that feel the whole Paul VI Novus Ordo liturgy need be scrapped) like arranging and rearranging deck chairs on the Hindenburg.

Patrick Murtha
6 years 7 months ago

What does it mean to speak with "magisterial authority"? Does it mean that the pope's statement is binding on the Church as a matter of faith and morals? That, if a person refuses to accept Vatican II, he puts himself outside the Catholic Church? This is a very serious question, and ought to raise the question of what does this "magisterial authority" require of the faithful? But the author does not answer that. Furthermore, he does not quote the pope's speaking with what might be called "magisterial authority," that is, the authority of a teacher, and not merely any teacher but the Teacher, who is Christ.

But like most serious questions, the answer, I fear, will be assumed and left unknown and unclarified.

Henry George
6 years 7 months ago

Mr. O'Connell,

I must say I found the article you wrote a tad confusing as it was not
always as clear as I would like as to what the Pope had said and what
you interpreted as what the Pope meant.

We know that no Liturgical Changes are ir-reversable.
A new Pope could change the Liturgy as he saw fit.
What the Bishops do with these new directives from Rome
is an open question.

When you quote the Pope:

Pope Francis said. Vatican II, he continued, sought to ensure “that the faithful would not assist as outsiders and mute spectators at the mystery of faith but, understanding it well through the rites and prayers, would participate in the sacred action knowingly, piously and actively.”

I wonder, then, why it is that when I go to my parish it is the Folk Group
that most of the singing, with a lead singer who over-dominates any
one else's singing and frankly seems to be putting on a performance
rather than assisting at the Eucharist. I don't think most of the faithful have any idea what is truly going during the Mystery of Faith - no one has really ever led them through the Liturgy. As for piously...well talking
before the Liturgy in a loud voice, telling how your week went, laughing,
and doing likewise after the Liturgy while others would like to pray in
God's House and not to mention the Folk Group tuning up and joking among themselves before and after the Liturgy, hardly seems pious.
[ Don't get me started on flip-flops, shorts, string t-shirts, chewing bum while you walk up for Communion - at Mass.
I have no doubt that I am a greater sinner than everyone at my parish,
but a little respect in how you dress, please. As for active participation -
well show me it when you see it.


“Today, too,” Francis added, “there’s much [work] to be done in this direction, by recovering the reasons for the decisions taken through the liturgical reform, overcoming unfounded and superficial readings, partial receptions and practices that disfigure it.”

Does that include those who destroyed the interiors of beautiful old
Churches in their shallow and totalitarian mis-understanding of
what the renewals of Vatican II sought ? Or does that only apply to us
who do not mind a little latin here and there in the Liturgy, who do not want the musicians in the sanctuary, but in the choir loft where those much
wiser than us knew they belong.


Moreover, seeking to counter a clerical mentality in celebrating the liturgy, Francis emphasized that “the liturgy is life for the entire people of the church,” and “by its nature the liturgy is in fact ‘popular’ and not clerical” because “it is an action for the people but also of the people.”

The most "clerical" mentality I have ever come across is among
Liturgy Co-ordinators who act as if the local church is their fiefdom.
If we are the People of God and if the Liturgy is an action for the people
and also of the people, where is the Mortal sin if some of the Faithful
would like to attend a Traditional Mass when no other Masses are
taking place and where the Priest is quite happy to say the Mass ?

I am bound under the pain of mortal sin to attend the Divine Liturgy
every Sunday. If insipid songs, celebrating people, instead of God,
do not move me in the least, if banal sermons move me even less,
and if Eucharistic Minsters by the handful, dressed like they were
on a Sunday Picnic hand out the body and blood of our Lord like
snacks - does not inspire reverence for the Sacrifice Jesus made for
us as the Lamb of God - should I just be quiet and endure what has
become too often the norm for celebrating the Liturgy.

Please respond Mr. O'Connell, you wrote the article and you assured
us that this is not only what the Pope wants, but the Church and thus
the Holy Spirit in terms of celebrating the Sacrifice of Christ.

Jay Zamberlin
6 years 7 months ago

Two words: Eastern Rites

Christopher Lochner
6 years 7 months ago

Are you by chance near Timonium Md.? We have a church like that where everyone, even the Priest, stands around watching the last performance of the rock band for the Mass so they can break into applause. Almost like the old hockey joke, I went to a rock concert and a Mass broke out. Really discouraging especially cause they take in the $$$$ so they get a pass, and they looooove to brag numbers for Christmas and Easter.

Henry George
6 years 7 months ago

Hi Chris,

Applauding at Church for the rock band performance...

Patrick Murtha
6 years 7 months ago

Dare I say it? I must. The Society of St. Pius X still guards the treasure that is the Church's liturgy.

6 years 7 months ago

God bless the Society of St. Pius X - all of you who consistently complain about the Novus Ordo, and now Pope Francis' teaching (even bickering over what it means to be magisterial) have not only the Society of St. Pius X as well as Pope Benedict XVI's motu proprio - Summorum Pontificum to meet your needs. So please, stop complaining about the "folk group" or whatever else is bugging you and find a church that celebrates the liturgy the way you would like it celebrated. But please, stop dissing the Novus Ordo and the work of the Holy Spirit that went into it. BTW, do know that the full, active and conscious participation of the faithful in the liturgy goes back to at least the foundation of the abbey of Solesmes - famous for its study of and renewal of Gregorian chant. Part and parcel of that renewal was to make parts of the mass (the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, etc.) known to the laity and able to be sung in Gregorian chant. Liturgical renewal did not fall out of the sky at Vatican II. The liturgy has a long history of being renewed. It has never been static. So go, with the blessings of John Paul II and Benedict XVI - they have given you what you want - the pre-conciliar liturgy with the John XXIII missal. Just stop complaining about, let alone try to influence, the way the rest of us worship. BTW, we continue to thank you for the Revised Roman Missal, with it's literal translation of the Latin texts into lousy English sentences that often don't make sense (let alone are faithful to the original Latin). Not only have you gotten what you wanted - the pre Vatican II liturgy for yourselves, but you've also foisted a terrible translation of the missal on those of us who prefer to worship in our native tongues. Well done. You not only have what you wanted but have spoiled what the rest of us have.

Henry George
6 years 7 months ago


Had I been Pope Paul VI,
I would have taken things very slowly after Vatican II when it came to the Liturgy.
I would have allowed the old Mass in Latin and the Vernacular and the New Mass,
though not the Protestantised version we have now, but a renewed Mass in the Latin and the Vernacular.
Then I would have allowed the People of God vote with their souls which Liturgy they chose to attend.
Over time if one type of Liturgy faded away, so be it.

Why are you allowed to influence the way some people worship and we are not ?
Who died and made you Pope or more powerfully Msgr. Bugnini.

If you want Folk Song concerts at the Liturgy you attend - that is your choice.
Just don't force me to attend such events.

As for awkward sentences in English from the Latin, far better than bland English sentences that misrepresent the Latin.

Nothing prevents you from digging out a Daily Mass Missal from the 80's and reading from it during Mass.

6 years 7 months ago

Well, we can't go back and change history, now can we? One of the reasons the II Vatican Council started with the liturgy was because it was the one place that affected most Roman Catholics. As for taking things "slowly," well I am not as old as you, but am old enough to remember the excitement that was present not only in my own parish, but I suspect in the archdiocese of Detroit (where I have lived since I was born) when Vatican II occurred and the renewal of the liturgy took place. It was slow and gradual. There were interim versions of the missal (back then called the Sacramentary) as well as the Liturgy of the Hours. I still have a copy of "Prayer of Christians" in my library. All of these were interim versions, until the new Latin versions could be translated into English by the International Committee for English in the Liturgy (ICEL). These wonderful people, several of whom were Benedictine monks and nuns (several from Stanbrook Abbey), did a heroic job of translating the Latin into English (mind you, this was the mid 1960's) and have never received the recognition they deserve. Many have passed on to full glory, Dame Hideleth Cummings, Fr. Henry Ashworth, both English Benedictine monastics, and Rev. John Rotelle, OSA, an Augustinian. All three, as well as many others, have devoted their lives to bringing the liturgy to life in English.
I will say that I take offense at your statement about the "Protestantised version we have now." Come on, Henry George, we live in the 21st century, not the 16th. The RC church could not accept, let alone understand what the reformers, especially Luther, were saying. It took the Roman Catholic church 450 years to admit the need for renewal - liturgy in the vernacular, greater use of Scripture in the liturgy, the priesthood of all believers (we ARE baptized as priests prophets and kings, btw), the full, active and conscious participation of all the baptized in the liturgy, each, of course, in light of their ministry and vocation, reception of communion under both forms of bread and wine, the idea of the gathered assembly as the People of God, salvation by grace alone, not be works, etc. If the Pope and curia at the time of Luther would have listened to him, and not, instead hold on to its power and need to be always right, even when it was wrong, I can't help but wonder how things would have turned out.
I do need to point out that the fruits of the Reformation (it is 500 years this year) and the fruits of Vatican II are appearing more and more. Anglicans and Episcopalians, as well as Lutherans, are re-discovering their liturgical roots. So are the Presbyterians and other reformed denominations, though it ia taking the latter much more time. (You complain about the Protestantization of the Roman Liturgy, they complain, "you are making us too Catholic." That being said, do know that among Protestant liturgists (I know, hard to imagine those two words together) there is an expectation (at least until Benedict XVI) of the Roman Catholic church as establishing the best scholarship and setting the standard for liturgical renewal. Prior to Benedict XVI's pontificate and the new Roman Missal, ICEl worked with the various Protestant liturgical groups in arriving at shared common texts. It is a very little know fact that originally the Episcopalian, LUtheran and Presbyteiran churches (along with a few others) developed a shared common lectionary. It was in use for a few years, until the Roman Catholic lectionary for Sunday Eucharist, was published. At that point, they revised their lectionary to greatly conform to the RC lectionary, noting that it was far superior to what they had developed. It's now called the Revised Common Lectionary and on most Sundays, especially during Advent/Christmas, Lent/Easter/Pentecost Sunday, one will hear the same Sunday readings in an RC church, an Episcopalian, a Methodist and a Lutheran church. (Presbyterians are a tad more problematic, but many do follow the common lectionary.) So, no snarly comments about RC liturgy being "Protestantised" - the influence flows both ways.

Considering you were in Rome during Vatican II, I can't call you "dude" as you are my elder. I was only an altar boy at the time. That being said, yes, the bishops were not all experts on the liturgy, let alone Scripture, or the governance of the church, or ecumenical or inter faith relations. They did bring along experts at the time - "petri" who conducted on going education and advise to the council Fathers. Yves Coungar, William Courntey Murray, Joseph Ratzinger, etc., were among the scholars and expects who advised the bishops.

One final comment, dear friend. Please re-read my post. No one died and made me pope (thank God.) Nor am I trying to influence the way some people worship. Read my post again. YOU WON. You have Summorum Pontificum. Before that, you had John Paul II allow the missal of John XXIII which is the Tridentine rite. If anything, it's YOU and folks like you who are trying to influence the way the rest of us worship. I can ask you the same question, "Who died and made you Pope?" The last two popes have given you everything you want. Go and find a parish that has it.

KNow, too, that my comments come from someone who was a Benedictine monk for several years. I love Gregorian chant. I can sing the Salve as well as the Christus Factus Est, let alone Conditor alme siderum, Ave Maria Stella, and any number of Latin gregorian hymns from memory. I know our church's liturgical history and its roots. You want to hold on to a 1950's Catholicism, do so. You have places to go and do that. But please, stop complaining about the places that don't meet your needs.

Henry George
6 years 7 months ago

Read you initial post to me.
You are the one who insinuated that I was trying to force one type of liturgy on people, when I said I would
offer the Old/New Mass in Latin/Vernacular and let people vote with their souls and the Bishops could adapt
the Masses in the Parishes as they saw fit.

The changes were far too quick and the translations were not up to par, I am not sure anything by ICEL for the missal proper was worth celebrating in the 70's.
[ I had a Stanbrook Abbey version of the Divine Office, that I rather liked.]
If you wish to show me passages that ICEL produced in the late 60's/early 70's in comparison to what the present Missal
has and explain to me why you find them superior, please do.

As for the experts at Vatican II, experts do you little good if the Bishop, himself, is too ignorant of the topic, to be a
judge of whether what the expert is advocating is and will be good for the Church. You seem educated enough to have
read Plato, as such you know that Plato demonstrated that experts are more self proclaimed than proved via their words
and actions.

The fundamental mistake of Vatican II was to begin with the Liturgy.
The preparation for such changes should have been much, much better explain,
even the Bishops and Priests were confused, I can still remember a Cardinal in London saying to the
Congregation at Westminster Cathedral that he had no idea, no idea at all, why Rome was demanding the
implementation of these changes. There is a large volume entitled along the lines of:
Questions concerning changes in the Liturgy since Vatican II, and page after page of question sent
to the Bishop's Committee in Washington, D.C., show the enormous confusion surrounding the authorised
and un-authorised changes. [ Where did Vatican II say that all altar rails must be removed ? ]

The 60's were an age of immature excitements. [ The same type of excitement that leaves people thinking JFK was
a greater President than LBJ or Eisenhower. ] You would have thought the last words of Saint John XXIII were on how to
bring about a Liturgy that was not desired by the faithful, that was a Protestantation of the rites of the Church, notice
how the Byzantine and Orthodox, and even Conservative Anglicans/Lutherans have not embrace the changes you so say the Church needed. I am glad you admire the various translators/composers of prayers that provided texts for ICEl, but they did not, did not, did not bring the liturgy to life in English, we would have been better served if we had gone back to
the earliest versions of the Book of Common Prayer, where not only is the translation faithful to the latin it is authentic.
[Likewise, so many beautiful Anglican Hymns could have been introduced instead of the banal tunes, if tunes they be,
and mediocre lyrics. ] John Rotelle, O.S.A., in a conversation with me said that mistakes were made in implementing
Vatican II and it was hubris to think that one generation of translators should be preferred to all who came before or after in presenting the liturgy to a Church that endures.

You are aware that Luther was not a Church Historian and was not an expert on the Liturgy. To his credit he insisted,
against many Protestant Reformers, that the simple meaning of the words Jesus spoke at the Last Supper should
be retained - it is His body and blood. You wholly misunderstand the reasons why Protestants changed the liturgy
and the church, it was not about bringing people closer to God, but to bring power/wealth to Kings/Merchants and to
fulfil their desire for power over their fellow Christians. You do not destroy Churches/Statues/Crucifixes/Burn Bishops
who doubt your right to divorce your first wife - because you have suddenly realised the proper way to celebrate the

I received Communion in both Species, long before Vatican II.

If we are, via baptism, Priests, Prophets and Kings, why did so many stop attending the Sunday Liturgy after the changes following Vatican II were imposed on the "People of God". And why are the Parish Liturgists who treat everyone like
serfs ?

Where are you getting Salvation by Grace alone, here you step into a minefield, for without works where is your grace ?

One can wonder if those self proclaimed "Prophets" who destroyed beautiful old churches because they claimed
the "Spirit of Vatican II' instructed them to, had not sought out power, how much more peaceful life in the Church would be.

If and as, the major Protestant Churches decide(d) to have a common Lectionary, so what ?
What has that got to do with the Liturgy in the sense, that no one ever opposed reading the Bible during the Liturgy of
Word, yes it is nice to have the three year cycle and a more full exposition of the Scripture, but that does not justify
the changes to the rest of the Liturgy via misconstruing what Vatican II proposed.

I do not make "snarly" comments, nor did I make one about the simple fact that the misapplication of what
was asked by the Council in Vatican II led to the Protestantation of the Liturgy, for it clearly has.

How many Catholics believe that the Body and Blood of Christ are given to them at Communion ?
How many believe that they grow closer to God by going to communion.
How many pray daily for the poor souls in purgatory, or for their fellow humans.
How many encourage their children to become Priests/Brothers/Sisters/Nuns ?
How many think they can just follow their own interpretation of Christ and ignore what the Church says ?

I think Murray did the Church a huge disservice.
Ratzinger was not as profound as his supporters presume and declare.
Yves Cougar meant well and I support his attempts to bring the Orthodox and Catholics together,
but he did not understand why Protestantism came into being and why many Protestants define themselves
as "Not being Catholics". I don't find fault with John XXIII for inviting him to the Council, but he suggestions for
renewal/reform should have been scrutinised to a higher degree. I approve his being made a Cardinal by Saint John Paul II.

It is moving on to 60 years since Vatican II, and can you really point where large numbers of Protestants have
come into the Church ? The only ones I know are the more conservative who fled ever liberalising Protestant Churches.

One can only wonder why you Pontificate and tell your fellow Catholics that unless they embrace the liturgies that
are offered in the Church today, they are suspect/2nd class Catholics who are to be pitied for their ignorance and
thickheadedness. There was nothing to be won. [ Who ever mentioned winning. ]
Rather had the Church just allowed the Old form of the Mass in Latin or the Vernacular and far more slowly
introduced the "New Mass" in Latin and the Vernacular and if ICEL had not attempted to introduce their "Progressive Theology" then it would not have found itself in difficulties with the Vatican.

I do not want to hold onto a 1950's Catholicism, I do not want to hold onto a 1960's Catholicism, I do not want
to hold onto a 1970's Catholicism, thank you God, I want to hold onto to Jesus Christ, yesterday, today and tomorrow,
and to preach the Gospel in Season and out of Season.

Do I not, please dig out your Saint Thomas Aquinas, have a right to expect a Liturgy that meets my spiritual needs and
the spiritual needs of faithful Catholics who do know the History of their Church, who take the words of Scripture as
the words of Salvation, Salvation through Christ Jesus alone, who only asked to be allowed to worship at their Parents,
Grandparents worshipped.

If you want to go and listen to a Folk Group perform at Gatherings and if you want to talk loudly before and after the
Liturgy, to repeat non-memorable prayers and watch a Presider in a Polyester Neon Blanket with a hole in it,
that is your choice.

But respect the conscience of those who do not find such a gathering to be a "Celebration of the Last Supper"
and, thus, rather not be forced to attend such performances.

I rather stand with Henri de Lubac, than with you, a wise Jesuit who accepted becoming a Cardinal but not a Bishop.

just rams
6 years 7 months ago

Tom, I hate to break into factions, but... reallllly well written. My sentiments precisely!

Henry George
6 years 7 months ago

Why do people insist that we must all go to the same Liturgy ?
If you like the New Mass, feel free to go to it.
If like the Old Mass, why does it offend you if I go to it.
As long as we have the options at nearby parishes
why does it offend anyone.
I have no option of attending the Old Mass
so I have to endure mediocre songs
about humans, not the Trinity,
that are performance pieces for less than mediocre folk bands
who dominate the sanctuary and style of singing prevent most
of the congregation from participating.

Why should anyone be expected to endure
what clearly goes against the Spirit and Directives of Vatican II ?

6 years 7 months ago

Hey, JR - thanks for your good words. I too don't care to create factions, but it seems others not only want what they want, and want to foist it on everyone else. I personally am not crazy about Bendict VVXI's Summorum Pontificum, let alone the Anglican Ordinate, but if it's going to bring us closer together and at least attempting to be one body, well, let's go for it. Let's greet one another as brothers and sisters, not as cage fighters, let alone soap opera personas who are offended when things don't go their way.
And just so you now, JR, I think the dewfall is a wonderful image, even though it doesn't really fall. (Of course, I never knew that dew doesn't fall. All I know is when I wake up and take the dogs out and the grass is really wet, I think the dew has fallen. Clearly I did not do well in earth science. LOL.) I also love "from the rising of the sun to its setting..." as opposed to "from east to west". And I'm still working on the image of the honey bee in the Easter Exultet.
It's been delightful chatting with you, and others here. My horizons have been broadened.

Justin Ramza
6 years 7 months ago

Same here Tom! And I've read everyone's replies on dewfall - I'm coming around.
And I do agree - there's room for traditional and contemporary. I think people get defensive (our pontiff included) when the cage fight posturing begins. It's a shame.

James Haraldson
6 years 7 months ago

Hell will freeze over before he grasps the concept of humility. He doesn''t even have enough humility to actually listen to those he loves to hate. The Mass is about worshiping God, not ourselves. And having a little remorse for our sins beforehand would help towards that end.

Henry George
6 years 7 months ago


Yes, yet it would.

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