The Old Tridentine Mass Has its Appropriate Uses, and so Does the New Mass - - There has been more ink spilled, and more words spoken about which Mass is best for today, than needs be. There is no intrinsic reason to prefer one over the other. The time has come to give each Mass its due.
THE NEW MASS
The new Mass is designed to emulate the kind of Mass that was said in the catacombs in the days of Nero. In those days, the attendees were known to each other (and were fearful of being captured and tortured or killed). This ancient Mass was said in the vernacular, in that time and place, this was Latin, just as the new Mass is said in today’s vernacular languages, English, Spanish, French, etc. as appropriate.
The New Mass has the ability to give small groups, particularly where many of the attendees are known to each other, a real sense of togetherness, a sense of being part of a group endeavor of extreme importance, a sense that there is a deep linkage between Christ’s death for us and his command that we help each other, etc. This communal spirit is reinforced by the method of communion where the host is given to each person in his hand by a celebrate who is usually a personal friend of those present. This Mass offers many opportunities for the participation by the laity as readers, Eucharistic Ministers, etc. All this emphasizes the communal bonding in Christ inherent in this liturgy.
THE TRADITIONAL TRIDENTINE MASS
The old Tridentine Mass features a priest facing the same way as the congregation all those present looking at a large image of the Crucifixion. Additionally, this Mass is said in Latin which gives a sense of mystery and majesty that is lost when the vernacular is used.
This Mass is particularly effective when there is a large congregation. This Mass allows the faithful to be caught up in their individual relationship with their savior Lord whose large crucifixion dominates their attention. Some follow the Mass in their missal’s translation, others simply fall to listening to the Latin and communing with God, still others prefer to do parallel praying like saying a rosary or simply praying while viewing the stain glass images or stations of the cross, etc. The congregation has a sense of unity, but rather than that being the unity of friends, it is the sense of unity found in a large group, many strangers to each other, but still all seeking a common goal. An example might be an army battalion under the direction of Joan of Arc facing a difficult battle. The majesty, mystery, and affinity to Christ, our King and Savior, is accentuated by the fact that this traditional Mass features a communion rail and kneeling communicants.
In Matt 7:15-20 Christ said “by their fruits you shall know them”. The new Mass which grew out of the “spirit of Vatican II” was intended to: 1) replace the traditional Mass, 2) provide a way for the faithful to become more knowledgeable about the foundations of their faith, and 3) provide an experience at church more like what Protestants had been experiencing thus bridging the gap and facilitating the conversion of Protestants to Catholicism.
Of course on all three points the opposite has occurred. The traditional Mass remand popular with certain older Catholics and is gaining popularity with young Catholics today. There has been a general decline in the typical Catholic’s knowledge of their faith. Additionally, conversions have increased between Protestant churches and Catholicism, but unfortunately the majority of conversions have been away from Catholicism to Protestantism.
Returning to Matt 7:15 the installation of the new Mass has not been an unalloyed success. There have been problems, so the Church might consider mid course corrections, perhaps as suggested above.
It appears the new Mass is very appropriate for small groups, like a home Mass or daily parish Mass, any Mass that is not well attended and tends to attract the same people. Alternatively, the Tridentine Mass seems most appropriate for well attended Sunday Masses, or even daily Masses that attract more then a few dozen people. The Church is truly blessed to have two wonderful liturgies, and it is time it utilizes both of these wonderful liturgies appropriately..............(prepared by Hugh Murray on 7/14/2013)
Really Great Homilies Come Along ..... Occasionally
- At the 7 PM Mass at St Mary Magdalen Church (Brentwood, Missouri) on the Feast of the Assumption (2013) a visiting priest said the Mass and delivered a short but well considered homily.
The homily began with the announcement that a quick theological review was about to commence. Father then started with a brief review of Christ’s natures and person. The Church teaches that Christ was one person with two natures, a divine nature and a human nature. Christ received his human nature from his mother, Mary, and his divine nature from His Father in heaven. These two natures had to be fully infused into the one person, Jesus Christ, and this was done at the time Mary said “yes” to the angel and “she conceived by the Holy Spirit”.
Father then spent a few sentences speaking about original sin and the need for Christ to be the spotless victim who comes to die on a Cross to redeem all men from their sins. Since Christ had to be free of original sin to be the spotless victim, it was necessary for Mary to be born without original sin so she could not pass original sin on to Christ. Thus Father quickly explained the Church’s great feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
At this point Father, noted that Mary who had been born without the corruption of original sin did not have to suffer the bodily decay which is the fate of all who have inherited original sin. She is therefore taken up into heaven at the time of her death to be with her Son, Jesus.
Father said he did some research to determine when Christians began to believe in the Assumption, and he found that even in the writings of the early church fathers the Assumption of Mary was stated as an understood fact.
Father pointed out that he had a personal experience that tended to support this early belief in the Assumption. He was visiting a museum in Cologne, Germany, and he noticed they had on display the head of St John. Father remarked to a curator that this relic was probably the most valuable item in the museum. The curator said it really wasn’t so valuable because there are literally a dozen or more heads of St John around Europe, and no one is sure which is authentic. The curator pointed out that there was a lot of grave robbing and relic forgery in the late ancient period and middle ages.
This led Fr to ask about forged relics of St Mary. He was told no one bothered to forge relics of St Mary because the forgers knew the relics would be instantly condemned as fake because everyone knew Mary had been assumed into heaven so there could be no relics from her body.
This homily is a great example of how modern American homilies should be constructed.
First, it begins with “we are going to have a little theology” this tells everyone to listen up and put their thinking caps on. There is going to be some meat here.
Second the homily is tight and short, perhaps four minutes. The thoughts are expressed in well considered sentences. It begins with the natures and person of Christ, then goes to the Immaculate Conception, then to the need for a pure, perfect victim at the Crucifixion, finally the need for Mary’s body to avoid corruption.
Third, the points expressed link one to the other logically and the links are pointed out clearly. The internal integration and connectedness of the points made was obvious. If you hadn’t seen these links before they are now obvious. It is true that the feast of the day was the feast of the Assumption and the Assumption was not mentioned till the second half of the sermon, however, because the sermon was so short and tight this factor was not even noticed.
Fourth the humor about the dozen heads of St John provides smiles all around but it also reinforces the missing relics of St Mary. Additionally this humor will afford those who need a hook to remember things, the hook they need.
Finally, the intellectual pitch of the sermon was just right for both:
...a) the level of education and
...b) the preexisting knowledge of the faith .
found at St. Mary Magdalen. The area is gradually upscaling as older homes, purchased by young professionals, are torn down and replaced by much larger homes. Lots of young college graduates live in the parish and lots of older retirees, who remember studying the old Baltimore Catechism, live in the parish as well. Both of these groups were well able to absorb the content in the homily.(prepared by Hugh Murray on 8/21/2013)
An Open Letter to Bill O'Reilly (9/4/2013)
Dear Mr O' Reilly
There is too little discussion about the effect on Christians of our Middle East policies.
The Vatican asked Bush not to invade Iraq to head off a purge of Christians. We invaded anyway and hundreds of thousands (maybe a million) of Iraq's Christians had to flee to Syria and Jordan. Christians are still fleeing Iraq .
Obama goes to Cairo and "runs on and on" about democracy and "one man one vote", So we get Mourisi and burning Coptic Churches with Muslim men raping Christian girls and forcing them into conversion to Islam and Muslim marriages.
Now the Orthodox leader Putin has pointed out that without an Assad victory in Syria. The west will see another purge of Christians. This time in Syria.
Jordan is starting to spin into instability and all the Christians who fled there are going to be on the march again.
But through it all America's media remains mute (or nearly mute) on the Christian aspect of this. If we had helped the Assad government, they probably would not have had to use chemical weapons and we might have weaned them off of such close involvement with Iran.
It is a "revolting development" (as my father use to say). And it will get worse if Christians like you don't educate your viewers about the trend that is manifesting itself in this part of the world
Hugh Murray.......(prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/4/2013)
The Catholic Catechism para. 2585 to 2589, the Importance of the Psalms -
The Psalms, 150 songs or chants compiled over a 800 year period well prior to the arrival of Christ, are the largest book in the bible. They contain a near complete exposition of Jewish religious belief regarding man’s proper relationship to God and other men.
The numbering of the psalms varies slightly between the Jewish and Catholic versions. This is not a problem when looking at the order of the verses, but rather it stems from differences in choosing the proper place to break one psalm from its neighbor.
The Psalms are generally analyzed in several different ways: by author, by section, and by subject matter.
About half the Psalms, 73 in all, were authored by David, a small number were authored by identifiable others such as Solomon (2 psalms), musically oriented sons of Korah (10 psalms), a musically oriented priest named Asaph (12 psalms), Herman (1 psalm), Moses (1 psalm), and Ethan (1 psalm). But about 50 psalms have anonymous authors.
Overall the Book of Psalms is divided into 5 sections each loosely related to the first five books of the bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These are the sections: First are Songs of Worship dealing loosely with Man and Creation compiled by David, these end with Ps 41. Second and third are Hymns of National Interest dealing loosely with deliverance and redemption (ending with Ps 72) and then with worship and sanctuary (ending with Ps 89) and which were compiled by Hezekiah or Josiah. Fourth and Fifth are Anthems of Praise dealing with the wilderness and wanderings (ending with Ps 106) and also scripture and praise (ending with Ps 150) which were compelled by Ezra or Nehemiah. Each of these five closing psalms have as their last verse a call for the faithful to praise God. Additionally. it is important not to confuse a compiler with an author.
Finally the book of Psalms is studied by ten subject matter: individual laments and petitions, (40), communal laments and petitions (9), individual thanksgivings (10), communal thanksgivings (2), general praise of God (8), specific descriptive praise of an attribute of God, (10), enthronement of God (6), Pilgrimage Songs for going up to Jerusalem (21) , royal psalms for God and the Jewish kings (11), and Wisdom or didactic psalms on how to live life (3).
The foregoing gives a good idea of how wide the subject matter of the psalms is; A quick review of the responsorial psalms in the missal for ordinary times reveals no overlap week after week of the psalm being used from Pentecost to Advent. The Church provides the faithful with a wide exposure to the psalms.
The daily office said by priests for their own spiritual development contains readings from the psalms. In Trappist monasteries the psalms are repeated in their entirety so often, as the monks do their daily communal chants, that many monks can recited the entire book of psalms from memory. In fact, in the early church the psalms were so important that priests who aspired to be bishops were expected to know the psalms by heart.
Protestants and the Orthodox have a deep love for the psalms as well. A study of their services reveal a particular love for these psalms:
#22 which speaks of steadfastness during times of testing
#23 which states the “Lord is my shepherd” . This is a very important part of many funeral services
#51 (also called the Miserere) which calls on God to have mercy on the petitioner
#82 which speaks of God as the Supreme Ruler and is another widely used as funeral psalm
#103 has the famous line “bless the Lord, oh my soul” - this psalm has been made into a popular song.
#137 has the line “by the rivers of Babylon we sit down to weep” - this is popular with people who have experienced slavery or feel disposed.
Turning to the Jews, from whom the old testament comes, chanting of the psalm make up a very important part of their Saturday services and personal prayer life. When Jews are seen praying at the wailing wall in Jerusalem they are oftentimes praying the psalms.
A orthodox Jew will have a person next to him intoning the psalms from the moment of his death until his burial. In former years it was expected that relatives would perform this duty, but modern practice allows an employee of the funeral home to substitute.
The Catholic Catechism tells us that the psalms unlike the other parts of the old testament teaches man how to pray, how to raise their hearts and minds to God. In other books of the old testament there are reports of God’s actions and the response of specific men to the situations created or sanctioned by God. But in the psalms appropriate approaches to God are set out for individual and communal petitioning and thanksgiving, for prayer and song when approaching God in temple or Church, for simply praising God, etc.
The psalms were intend to be sung or chanted and anthropologists suspect that when they were first compiled there were markings which denoted how they were to be intoned. Unfortunately those musical markings have been lost. Sometimes the psalms are published in their own separate volume. Such separate volumes are called Psalters.
Christian commentators have noted that the psalms prophecy the coming of Christ. It is clearly true that the psalms in half a dozen places say that God will come to rule for example “with justice and fairness” (Ps 98:9) but there is not much specificity beyond that.
The Psalms are so diverse they are hard to grasp as a whole. They do not lend themselves to intense study over short periods of time. However, repeated attention to the psalms can be very rewarding if pursued over longer time horizons. ................ (prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/4/2013) .
Charles Murray Again Speaks Truth to the “Politically Correct” Elite
- Charles Murray is a PhD Sociology who has over the last couple of decades been speaking up on issues that are suppose to be off limits.
A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON MURRAY
In The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life Murray and his co-author Richard Herrnstein did a sociological analysis of various groups in America and reported that American Orientals were on average possessed of about 5 IQ points more than the average White American. In like fashion they reported that the average black American was possessed of about 15 IQ points less than the average White American. This report says nothing about any individual; it speaks only about group averages. In similar fashion it says nothing about causes, it only reports that these intelligence numbers have been around for many decades and show no sign of changing much in the coming decades. Murray and Herrnstein avoided taking sides in the “nature” vs “nurture” debate.
Although the Bell Curve is not Charles Murray’s only exploration into areas restricted by America’s politically correct “policeman”, it is surely his most inflammatory violation. Since the Bell Curve came out Murray has been doing his sociological work looking exclusively at data for White Americans. In this way Murray has avoided additional complaints that he is racially bias.
A CONFERENCE AT PRINCETON IN 2013
By Aug. 2013, Charles Murray was sufficiently rehabilitated to be invited to participate in a panel discussion at Princeton on causes and consequences of the cultural revolution of the 1960. Murray’s comments were brief but pointed. He said he thought that the historian of comparative history, Arnold Toynbee, was on to something when he posited that civilizations come to an end because the cultural elites refuses to coax, cajole, or force the average people to accept and follow the traditional morals and mores of their civilization. Toynbee had studied over 20 civilizations and found this common trait in the years before their demise.
Murray pointed out that America’s cultural elite does for the most part follow the old time traditions. They get married, stay married, profess belief in God and patriotism, work hard, save and plan for unexpected set backs, etc. However, Murray pointed out these people seem absolutely unwilling to insist that lower class people behave comparably. They have bought into a “you’re ok, I’m ok” world view where it is wrong for one person to judge another’s behavior.
Why this ducking of responsibility?
Perhaps it is because this generation of leaders are unwilling to impose such morals and mores on others when they, in their youth, objected so fiercely to LBJ’s and Nixon’s imposition of their questionable values during the Vietnam War?
Perhaps they lack a broad gauged understanding of the important aspects of the west’s culture and civilization because their educations were so specialized, in accounting, engineering, medicine, finance, or law, that they lack knowledge of history, philosophy, and theology to sense the importance of the inter-generational transmission of culture, values, and civilization?
Perhaps they are personally afflicted with questionable moral behavior, such as a) sexually degenerate things like pornography, b) involvement with financial decisions that have injured others such as the closing of American factories and the relocating of large number of jobs to China or Mexico, or c) exhibiting excess materialism, such as excessively large homes, expensive cars, costly club memberships, etc.
Perhaps they feel disassociated from those who need their guidance on cultural, and moral questions because, although in a earlier time they might have lived in the small town and worked at the same small factory, they now live in a large city and actually live 20 or 30 miles apart.
However, the most important question that went unasked at Princeton is “are the cultural elites and other leaders in the western world in a position enforce their morals and mores given the fact that many tools of control have been removed from their hands?” Consider the informal quotas that human resources departments and college admissions people face. Consider the anti discrimination rules that govern pay and promotions in many work places. The married man with two children who is trying to live a good moral life can not be favored against the openly gay man who might have a little better job performance. The manager who would like to give the promotion to the married man worries about a lawsuit if he passes over the gay worker. Consider the easy situation where a community leader who would like to say something critical when he sees a teen wearing an obnoxious phrase on his tee shirt at a ball game but holds is tongue thinking “that kid might figure a way to find and damage my car.” Fear of anonymous retribution hold back many needed comments. (In former days when more people lived in small communities anonymity was rare, and the strength of the comment or threatened sanction or criticism could be less because everyone knew the community pecking order and adjustments to behavior could be implemented earlier and in a more gentle fashion. The fact is in large cities today the only operating sanction is an appearance before a municipal court judge for a misdemeanor offence (e.g. public indecency, etc..)
OLASKY ADDS A COMPLIMENTARY DIMENSION
The other barriers are the excessively generous direct benefits which the government offers. These various programs have a one size fits all design with no room for sticks only carrots. Marvin Olasky has written extensively on the need to run government support payments through private and church related charities, and allowing these charities to set behavioral requirements as prerequisites for the aid. For instance, behaviors, such as having sexual partners and children outside of marriage, might not be allowed.
There is no doubt that Murray, Toynbee and Olasky are on the right track. However, is it possible in a society where 90% of the votes are in the hands of average people, to expect the government to roll back the generous benefit programs that have gotten politicians elected over the years? Is it possible to put back in the hands of civic and business leaders the right to discriminate in civil society and the work place to promote broader societal benefits?
Sometimes the first step to solving a problem is asking the right questions. Here is a essay where the right question has probably been asked, but no solution comes to mind, not even in faint outline. ................... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/16/2013)
Catholic Hierarchy Seeks A Way to Undo A Particularly Destructive “Spirit of Vatican II” Reform - The Vatican authorities are quietly trying to find a way to undo the “communion in the hand” reform of the post Vatican II era.
On the Sunday between Pope Francis’ election and his installation as the Vicar of Christ, he attended a Mass in a small parish church that was aired on EWTN. This church was described as the parish church for those who live around St Peter’s. When it came to communion two kneelers were place at the head of the two rows of communicants coming up. In front of the two kneelers were two deacons and two servers with pattens. Each communicant knelt and received communion on the tongue with a patten held below the chin.
The Vatican has shown that at least for the parish that encompasses Vatican City the two biggest post Vatican II abuses surrounding the reception of communion have been reversed . Knees are again bending, and the host is again entering directly into the body of the believer.
A PATH TO FULL ADOPTION OF MORE REVERENT PRACTICE
The officials in the Vatican understand that greater reverence needs to accorded the Holy Eucharist in general, but particularly at the time it is received in communion.
The problem now is how to justify a world-wide implementation of a change from the causal “in the hand” reception to “with bended knee” and “on the tongue” reception.
Probably the best way to implement the change is to simultaneously: a) report on and widely circulate stories about abuses that have occurred with ignorant people and dissidents taking the hosts home and desecrating them or otherwise dishonoring them, and b) have the Pope and the bishops give repeated sermons and addresses about the need for greater respect and reverence for the consecrated host.
Unfortunately, the first effort regarding publicizing info on the mishandling of consecrated hosts will be easy to do because such abuses are very common. Homosexuals are upset with the church’s stand on gay rights and have been discovered repeatedly at Mass receiving the hosts at communion and palming them for subsequent desecration. However, such intentional abuse is not the only problem. Well intentioned, Protestants have been observed going to Catholic communion and palming the host so they could take it home for display as a curiosity in their homes. The only thing that needs to change is for the church to give up its policy of downplaying reports of desecration and begin insisting on publicity and reporting.
The second effort will be more difficult because it will receive push back from more liberal bishops, priests, and deacons who will find excuses to avoid giving these sermons. However, the effort needs to be made.
After a time, perhaps six months, the Vatican could simply require that all “able body” Catholics should henceforth receive kneeling down and on the tongue. Of course, every church will have to have a way for people with bad knees to receive communion.
A MAJOR BENEFIT FROM THIS CHANGE
Almost every change has both expected and unexpected consequences some good some not so good. Regarding this reform, the principle advantage easily predicted is a greater belief in the Real Presence on the part of all Catholics but particularly those under the age of 12. Young people of grade school age are very impressed by the deference that their parents show a certain person or process or thing. If youngsters see the adults they admire kneel to receive a host, they are very likely to hold that host, that process, that sacrament in particularly high regard until they die.
The Catholic Church has been seeing a marked fall off in belief in the real presence amongst young Catholics in their twenties, thirties and forties. It is probably too late to reverse this group’s “unbelief”, but a change in the method of reception of the host runs a good chance of reversing the trend amongst the younger generation.
WHY BELIEF IN THE REAL PRESENCE IS IMPORTANT
Some might ask “why is belief in the real presence so important?” The real presence is critical to the structure of the Catholic Church and to a lesser extent all of the Christian world.
All should recall Jesus instituted the Mass at the Last Supper in the presence of the apostles, not in the midst of a larger group of followers. At this “the first Mass” Jesus said “do this in memory of me”. This command to a limited group is one of the strongest connections between apostolic succession and the Mass. Jesus made it clear that only a carefully selected group would celebrate the Mass. If belief in the real presence fads it is likely that support for the idea of apostolic succession will also fad. After all if you don’t believe in the real presence what sets the Mass apart from the typical Protestant service with bible readings, a good sermon, and well executed music.
However, even the Protestant Churches will be weakened by a weakening in the Catholic Church. How so? All Christians , whether they admit it or not, look to Rome for guidance on doctrine, theology, and the proper take on moral questions that come up periodically. A specific Protestant Church might, in the end, take a stand in opposition to Rome but all Christians pay close attention to what the Pope and the other successors of the apostles are saying and over time that universal attention to Rome’s teachings gives Christendom a degree of unity that Islam, for instance, sorely needs.. ................. (prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/17/2013)
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