Archbishop Gullickson on the liturgy

"My point and the point of many, more prepared than I to discuss such matters, is that despite the frustration with the old rite, the Novus Ordo did not deliver on its promises. Instead of countering the preconciliar malaise, it contributed to it. It has banalized worship or at least rendered it less than sublime. You could argue, I suppose, that abandoning the Novus Ordo with the sole argument that we should not be pushing lemming-like over the cliff as if this were our mindless destiny in the light of the Council, does not cut the mustard. What choice do we have though? Continuing as we are seems almost an act of desperation. But why not reform the Novus Ordo? Why go back to the Vetus Ordo, especially since its last reviews in the pre-conciliar period, were mixed at best?

Be advised that “turning back” is not so much a nostalgic turning back of the clock. Rather, it is a systematic reset aimed at recovering our footing, if you will. Why bet on a loser? Why jump into the abyss if you do not have to? Right reason would decree that a best effort be made at recovery; we need to pick up the trail that was lost or abandoned. Liturgical restoration could become a rallying point for a general recovery of faith life, or perhaps given the half century and several (2+) generations which separate us from our patrimony, represents the hoped-for bulwark against an even greater loss of faith. The Vetus Ordo could become the beachhead for a new evangelization, a renewal of faith life within the Church and for the world."


I am quite sure that my peers growing up would not have en masse abandoned the faith as they have had they grown up with the “old” Mass and way of doing things. As an example; growing up with “Be Not Afraid” and the likes rather than the hymns found in the Liber Usualis did nothing to spark our faiths. How was 60s folksy-like music that is now musty to most supposed to replace timeless hymns that all of our ancestors going back centuries worshiped to? That cultural and spiritual link to them has now vanished. At least one older Bishop I heard speak said in a talk that his generation of churchmen failed. Few are willing to admit it, let alone do anything about it now other than go on with the status quo. And yet now to revert to the 1962 Missal might possibly create among the far fewer faithful left essentially the same alienation and resentment that occurred back then when the Novus Ordo was introduced. What a place to find ourselves in.

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High Anglicans really have it good.

Any statistics on church attendance trends among “High Anglicans?” I suspect they are not immune from what all mainline churches are experiencing.

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I suppose you’re right. Most churches nowadays are suffering from the “None” phenomenon.

Can you please provide a link to the full quote/article from the archbishop?

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We could see more stringent and uniform standards to the practicing of the OF. I’ve been to a couple of churches which conduct the OF with a great deal of reverence and solemnity. And of course, others that aren’t.

But that’s the rub. It might have a little less to do with the rite and more to do with a lack of the renewal that Vatican II tried to usher in. Many TLM prior to Vatican II were often quite banal in celebration. The EF conducted today tend to be incredibly beautiful precisely because they’re, well, coming from communities devoted to that type of solemn liturgy. If it was the norm everywhere you’d probably see some tepidly celebrated EF masses.

I’m not proposing any solution here. I do wish people were more invested in the liturgy in general, filled and renewed in the spirit.


There are many parishes in my area that offer the OF extremely reverently, beautiful music and all. The local Dominican parish being just one example. Our Archdiocese has been blessed with a boom in vocations among young men who are passionate about their faith and about offering the OF reverently.

Personally I think Pope Benedict’s approach of allowing the EF and the OF to exist side by side and influence one another is probably the better route than “turning back the clock.”


I find the Archbishop’s comments unfortunate as castigating the Ordinary Form of the mass and stoking the fires of division, respectfully, does not help anyone. His comments seem to contradict the spirit of the Pope Benedict’s Summorum… ‘These two expressions of the Church’s lex orandi will in no way lead to a division in the Church’s lex credendi (rule of faith); for they are two usages of the one Roman rite.’

It is clear by the good Archbishop’s public comment over the years, that he has a preferences for the Extraordinary Form - which is just fine. However, I do not believe many prelates share his disdain for the OF or the belief that reverting to an older expression of the Mass will be a magic pill.

This is the point in his commentary that gives me the most anxiety… We are not separated from our patrimony. The Catholic tradition is a living tradition and as Pope Benedict fought so hard to convey, the 2nd Vatican Council is in continuity with the past. To suggest otherwise is to undermine the Pope Emeritus in an egregious way.


I liked your point about the “magic pill.”

It seems like Catholics in general are looking for the “magic pill” that’s going to fix/save the Church. Some claim tinkering with the Liturgy (whether that means further revisions or “reverting back to an older expression”) is the magic pill. Others claim that better programs are the magic pill. Some think that if we just make our parishes more welcoming, then that’s the magic pill. The list goes on and on.

I certainly don’t think that any of these things are bad. But the only “magic pill” I’ve noticed for “saving” or “fixing” the Church when looking over the Church’s history, is the difficult pill of personal conversion and living witness. But no one wants to talk about those things. Perhaps it’s because because they are 1. difficult and demanding on a very personal level, and 2. can’t really be marketed.


If the only reason they are staying is because of the liturgy then something is very wrong.

There is an elephant in the room which the bishop either is unaware of, or is ignoring.

Part of that elephant is the fact that, if we want to use the measure of the rate of attendance at Mass, the fall-off started after the peak in about 1957 - well before the OF reached the U.S. and well before it was released. So what started that fall-off? And what did that fall-off look like?

What it amounted to was a gradual falling in attendance rates; and it was about 1 to !.5% per year - in other words gradual. Interestingly, there was a clear tick upwards in attendance with 9/11.

The other part of the elephant in the room? The mainline Protestant churches experienced the same or greater fall-off, and it paralleled that of the Catholic Church. It is thus more than a bit unlikely that the OF is the source of people falling away from the Church.

If one wants to look at motivators, the fierce onslaught of relativism (truth is whatever supports my personal view), secularism (Christianity is under fierce attack both here and in Europe - and there, the battle has been won), hedonism, and a whole list of other “isms” as well as the results of the Pill and the sexual revolution are all matters which cause internal conflict. And how does internal conflict get resolved? One either faces up to the moral order, or one huts down any input from the moral order.


His English is perfectly fine.


I don’t believe it is the reason. I think it may have contributed but I think many of the other changes and the crisis in the Church also contributed, plus the cultural changes. And then yes, definitely as you said the growth of secularism and humanism in the culture and in the Church which began a very long time ago, back into the 1800’s had a very large impact on people falling away.

Well, if the OF is the reason people fell away from the Church, then what you are saying is that people who favored the EF (whether or not it was available to them at the time they fell away) are the people who left; and that means that people who profess belief in the Eucharist quit.

Aside from the fact that I would find that absolutely astounding and mind boggling, I also have zero evidence of it as a cause of leaving - and I have been involved with Catholics Returning Home and have never seen it noted as a finding in any poll, nor any other evidence offered by anyone. Speculation? Yes, I have heard it posited, but never with any evidence, even anecdotal.

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