Catholic laity doesn't get to decide what form of Mass will be celebrated

Here are two recent quotes from participants on these forums in regards to their thoughts on the level of interest of the laity in assisting at the TLM.

“Those who call themselves traditionalist are a small but vocal group. In most any parish if you ask about going back to the TLM the response is no. Most strongly from those who grew up with that mass and do not want to see it’s return. The Church is allowing the TLM as an alternative for those who do want to use that mass to worship, there is little chance that it will become mainstream.”

"What I hate, what I REALLY hate are the misguided folks that are attempting to reimpose Latin on the Church. Thankfully, they are a very tiny minority, and their influence is miniscule at best. (No I don’t really hate any of you.)

The VAST majority of those advocating a return to Latin were not even alive before Vatican II. They have no memory of a Latin Mass, they just know that it is beautiful (and it is), and can not see that part of its appeal is because it is NOT the norm.

It would be a whole different thing if every Mass, every day, was in Latin again. The vast majority of Catholics in this world would revolt (and rightfully so)."

What both of these Catholics fail to understand is that the laity doesn’t get to decide what Mass will be celebrated. That’s the job of the pope, bishops & priests.

For example, the young diocesan priest at the parish where I go (at times) has introduced a weekly TLM (Wednesday) a monthly (soon to be weekly) TLM to fulfil ones’ Sunday obligation, reception of Holy Communion for all communicants at the altar rail and no more girl altar boys. This at a parish which for 35 years exemplified the ‘spirit of Vatican II’.

I’ve been told by a long time parishoner that some of the laity apparently left the parish for greener pastures because they didn’t like the changes. As a matter of fact, the pastor told me that when he announced that he was going to introduce a weekly TLM, 1/2 of the parishoners left the meeting.

The cathedral is about 2 miles from this parish and it has two newly ordained priests serving there. It is highly unusual to have two newly ordained priests as pastor and parochial vicar of a cathedral but I think it is an example of the direction the bishop wants to take the diocese.

The pastor of the cathedral has also begun to institute similar changes as the pastor of the original parish I cited above. Girl altar boys are being phased out. Monthly TLM. No more face-to-face confession. Rumors are that the bishop will be adding altar rails and moving the tabernacle back to the center of the sanctuary.

Many of those who left the original parish because they didn’t like the changes began going to the cathedral. Unfortunately for them, the pastor there seems to be taking the cathedral in the same direction.

After Mass, I spoke with a diocesan seminarian who served as MC for the Missa Cantata that was celebrated on Ascension Thursday evening. He will be ordained to the priesthood next year. He told me he’s seen a growing interest among seminarians to learn to celebrate the TLM. He said when he first went to the seminary he’d guess that about 1/2 the seminarians were interested in learning to celebrate the TLM. He thinks that’s up to 75-80% now. He said he thought the release of the Summorum Pontificum played a pivitol role in the increased interest among seminarians. This is a seminary that was anything but traditional 25 years ago.

I think Catholics are kidding themselves if they opine that “there is little chance that it (the TLM) will become mainstream.”

Pope Benedict XVI doesn’t agree with this sentiment:

catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0803186.htm

please make it clear what you mean by TLM
for those in my generation the Latin Mass means the EF, Extraordinary Form, using the 1962 missal. The TLM means to us (boomers) the Tridentine Mass before the liturgical changes introduced by Pope Pius XII through the 50s. Comparing the missals my parents, siblings and I were given for communion or confirmation throughout the 40s-1962 tracks those changes (so periodic change in liturgy was something Catholics already were familiar with by the late 60s). The TLM therefore means that offered through indult or special permission prior to the universal permission for the EF.

When you talk to most of us boomers, no matter what our stance, we are recalling the EF the so-called dialog Mass, with the readings and sermon in English, and congregational (rather than only the servers) responding. This was the basis for the first English and other vernacular translations immediately following V2. The further changes had to do with adding other Eucharistic Prayers to the Roman Canon, revised lectionary etc.

In my opinion the more time I spend preparing to help prepare the parish for the Revised Roman Missal, the angst experienced by my generation throughout the intervening years is attributable to two things. One is the poverty and ineptness (and that is being charitable) of the intervening English translations. I am astounded how close the new translation is to the missals we have from the late 60s and am mystified why intervening translations were even necessary from the first ones produced.

The second is the general lack of catechesis and preparation that accompanied the changes as they were introduced in the domino effect we remember from 1968 onwards and the lack of conformity from diocese to diocese and parish to parish. That is the impetus for the mass exodus from the Catholic Church throughout the 70s IMO.

Yes the bishop decides when his diocese is ready for the EF and the priest is the only and only liturgist.

There are still parishes offering the TLM through indult but from now on the EF will be what we mean when we say “the young priest is saying the Latin Mass.” I think the drama is unecessary. In most parishes people will choose as they do now between Mass in English or Spanish, adding the EF as another choice. They will get peeved because the time of “their” mass changes and they miss their golf, not because of the translation itself.

If the parish makes radical changes in the Mass schedule for whatever reason–adding a Spanish or Vietnamese Mass, dropping one of the evening Masses due to lack of priests, adding the EF as an option, whatever–without educating the parish on what, why, when and how–then people will react with resentment and there are always some people looking for an excuse to leave so they will jump on it. There has to be preparation and education or the EF will remain simply a step-child and seen as placation of a group of extremists.

I would be very surprised if Catholic laity did not have a good deal to do with what form of Mass will be offered at their local parish.

In our parish, we have a 1.5 million dollar mortgage on our church. In a parish of 900+ families in the smallest Diocese in terms of % of the population in America only about 1/5 of the families in the parish are really active and contribute to the payments of the mortgage and other financial obligations. It is not enough, we are in the red completely every single month, barely, but still in the red. The ones who contribute the most are the ones that also serve on the parish council, liturgy committee, etc. We are quite literally hanging on by a thread in terms of meeting our expenses and making things run in the parish on a daily basis. And we are in good shape compared to some others in our Deanery.

Some of those same members are the ones who started Catholicism here in East Tennessee. Their families literally started the deanery back when they only saw a traveling priest on a monthly basis who would come from another Diocese. They run everything in the church from the music, RCIA, child formation, liturgy, financial committee, etc. because they are the ones who are willing to step up to the plate and get involved. They care deeply about the parish and the Faith in general. They physically built the first two churches by hand and paid for 85% of it out of their own pockets.

The idea that they will be ignored by a new priest coming in doesn’t make any sense to me at all. If he does, he is setting himself up for failure in many ways and any smart priest would know that. No parish can run without significant sacrifice and effort from the faithful and the priest is there to be a servant and shepherd of his flock, not a tyrant who rams things down their throats. This is even more true for a young priest (as in the posts above) who is just coming out of seminary. If that priest thinks that the path to success is to come in fresh out of seminary and try to browbeat members of the laity who have been sacrificing for that parish since well before he was born and without whom there quite literally would not be a parish in the first place, he is setting himself up for failure.

Now, having said all of that, if a priest wanted to come in and offer a weekly TLM I would personally have zero problem with that and I doubt very much that anyone else in our parish would either. However, I have zero desire to see it become the norm and I highly doubt that the vast majority of our parish does either.

…the pastor told me that when he announced that he was going to introduce a weekly TLM, 1/2 of the parishoners left the meeting.

:dts:

One of most rude acts I’ve heard of a parish doing to a priest. Who does that?

I enjoy both forms of the Mass. And I enjoy a mix of both Masses.

I’m old enough to have served Latin Mass before the Second Vatican Council changes. I had Latin “in my face.”

As a matter of fact, learning the Latin prayers was difficult, for me, as a fourth grader. And, I was only just learning to parrot the words. The priest was patient with me, for what reason only God knows; he wasn’t very patient, in general, as I could tell.

The only reason I would choose to attend a Latin Mass today, would be as a relief from the “noise” and distraction of the regular English Mass.

I still have my “daily and Sunday Missal” which has the Latin and English texts of the Mass, side by side. The scripture readings were the same every year, so the missal was manageably small. It seems it would be difficult to hold a missal so large as to hold all the daily and Sunday readings of the NO.

I would follow along and read the appropriate prayers in English that corresponded to the actions of the priest.

The Latin Mass that I see celebrated on EWTN is something I never experienced first hand. EWTN has all these embellishments, like the deacon and subdeacon doing all these little gestures during the Mass – I don’t know how they remember all that choreography. I never saw a Papal Mass that was so complicated (and silly).

Years ago, the two complaints about the English Mass that I heard was that with English “we are becoming exactly like Protestants.” And, a distant second complaint was about the guitars that had replaced organ music (“hootenannie” masses).

What I don’t like NOW about the English Mass, is that the priests throw out everything that is optional and they take the shortest version of any prayer, just because it is the shortest.

So, my observation of the Latin Mass, is that often the priests used to speed through the Latin Mass, because nobody understood it, anyway, and certainly didn’t complain if the mass got over quickly. So, now, there is a similar choreography in the NO.

THAT’S what bothers me – the lack of uniformity of the Mass from place to place – and the obvious effects of time pressure on the priest. What bothered me about the English Mass originally or after a while, there were conspicuous pauses in the Mass for reflection. These were simply nerveracking, to me – unnatural pauses that just don’t occur in normal human activities.

The only place that I appreciate a pause (and a second’s pause is warranted) is after the scripture readings, before the reader says “the Word of the Lord.” Without it, I seldom can grasp the last few words which often are a punchline in the reading. example

Bad: “forthefirstshallbelastandthelastshallbefirst.ThewordoftheLord.ThanksbetoGod.”
Good: “for the first shall be last (a second’s pause),
and the last shall be first. (a second’s pause).
(another second’s pause) The Word of the Lord.
(another second’s pause) Thanks be to God.”

I’m quickly bored though, with anything, especially with off-script delays, that slow down the proceedings, like having small kids bring up their money offerings separately. “That’s SOOOOO cute.” I hate cute.

For those who never experienced the Latin Mass, I have to add another “plus” for the Latin Mass.

I don’t know the official title for the “sheet music” that is used most commonly for the Latin Mass. You’d have the idea that there was one and only one set of music ever written.

Nothing could be further from the truth. It didn’t happen often, maybe only on special days, but there were fantastic and stimulating and uplifting “scores” for the sung parts of the Mass.

But, now, the “latin mass” seems to be associated with just that ONE score – because it is the one people are most familiar with.

Unfortunately, using just that one set of music is boring to me. Does anybody listen to just one song every day, to the exclusion of all others?

That happens not only in Latin, but in English as well. What’s the matter with these people.

In regard to the OP, not only do the laity not get to decide which form of the Mass the priest says, but they don’t get within a mile of deciding the music. The music director seems to want to satisfy only the pastor, yuck. The musicians seem oblivious to what real people want to hear – they don’t even ask, ever!

The dialog Mass is something we never experienced in my Atlantic Canada parish. That’s why it was so difficult for parishioners when the vernacular Mass came into being. It took a good long while before adults stopped being self-conscious about ‘talking in church’ and the responses could actually be heard AND understood.

another factor is that the pastor will not offer the EF unless or until enough people express and interest to make it worthwhile, so in some sense, the impetus will come from the people. In areas where the TLM has been offered, the privilege has been withdrawn in some cases where there no longer was enough of a congregation to support it.

I don’t know, I’m partial to and perfectly happy to always sing the same Mass setting unless it’s MOC. The first English setting of the OF that I remember learning so long ago was Somerville’s “Good Shepherd Mass”, then (New) Good Shepherd Mass and it’s one I’d be happy to sing forever.

As for music directors I wish they’d give people what they need, not what they want. And I wish they’d base the distinction on the proper documents.

If indeed, the Mass is totally up to the priest, then it can work both ways.

Yes, a priest can mandate a very traditional Latin Mass.

But a priest can also mandate a Life Teen Mass. Or a clown Mass. Or an ecumenical Mass.

I don’t think this is a good situation.

I think jwinch2 is making a lot of good points. A wise priest will never “impose” anything upon his congregations (many priests serve in multiple parishes these days). A wise priest will gain the favor and good will of his congregation, and gradually introduce changes into the Mass so that the people will have time to assimilate the changes and eventually embrace and love them.

IMO, it depends on the bishop. A good bishop will counsel his priests in a fatherly way, teaching them that the laity are not just a bunch of wayward children who need to be spanked into submission, but are actually fellow human beings who love Jesus and need to see Him in their priest and in the Mass.

Yes, these fellow human beings can be stubborn and child-like in their actions and attitudes at times, but spanking them will merely lead to rebellion, just as it does when parents use spanking to punish older children.

It will do no good for an enthusiastic young priest to scare everyone away from the parish by making all kinds of abrupt changes to the Masses. If people leave, this will not only mean that many people will no longer be receiving the graces that come from assisting at Holy Mass, but on a practical level, it will mean decreased finances and manpower, both of which may put the parish in danger of closing permanently.

It would make more sense for the priest to “woo” his people, his “bride”, whom he is there to serve, and gain their love and respect so that they will follow him gladly into “new Mass territory.”

A lot of times, changes are hard for people to accept because they don’t trust the one(s) making the changes. Trust is so important, and the wise priest will be careful to curry trust in his flock, and then introduce changes. People may be wary at first, but if they trust the shepherd, they will follow him wherever he leads.

Consider at the moment that the trust level of lay people for priests is not exactly high. Yes, it’s unfair to judge all priests by the actions of a few bad ones, but that’s the way it is. Once burned, twice wary. Educated people today see priests in the same light as used car salemen, politicians, and con artists–we don’t trust them right away like we used to in the old days. So like it or not, priests are struggling to overcome a tremendous credibility gap. No wonder lay people are not willing to simply follow the priests everywhere because they’ve seen that some of the places where certain priest lead are dark and evil places.

Like I said, the wise young priest will work to gain the love and trust of his people before introducing changes to the Masses in his parish. The foolish young priest will barge in and start up the changes without knowing his people and with no regard for whether the people are with him or not, and then he will condemn the people for resisting his changes and leaving his parish.

While I’m not willing to let all music directors off without blame, you do have to cut them some slack. Honestly, a music director who does not work to satisfy the pastor completely often is out of a job very soon. I’ve had that experience twice in two years time because I chose the Church’s directives over the pastor’s personal opinion. So while I don’t approve of debasing the Mass due to cringing in the sight of the pastor, I can thoroughly understand others just complying with his wishes because they probably do need their jobs to support their families (assuming it’s a paid position).

Also, music is not about what the people want to hear, so I, as a music director wouldn’t ask people what they wanted to hear because that’s not relevant. The Church doesn’t want a democracy in which the parishioners get to vote on everything and the majority wins. We have directives to follow and someone who takes his job seriously should follow those first and foremost. If that means riling the “crowd”, then so be it. If it means raising the ire of the pastor and losing the job, so be it. At least it won’t be on the director’s conscience.

As for the revival of the EF, I think there’s a lot more interest in it than we are led to believe. For one, many people don’t even know that it is permitted and their pastors fail (intentionally sometimes) to inform them about it. They don’t actively look to find it in the news or search for places at which they can attend one. Most of them will just continue where they are going, oblivious to the fact that there is a Latin Mass somewhere that they could attend. This is my experience after working at a parish and finally getting a TLM. It was surprising the amount of positive comments considering that I had though most people in the area to be hostile to it at first. Not so. Watch for a bigger resurgence. It’s coming, that’s for sure.

Agreed. I find that to be distasteful as well and am disappointed to hear that it happened. Disagreement and honest concern is one thing and that should be presented to the priest in the appropriate forum and in a respectful and chartable manner. The priest, should then receive it in kind and give it the attention that it deserves. Things should not be handled in the manner described above.

My wife and I converted in 1985. Since then we have experienced the Latin Mass on several occasions, when we took extended weekends to visit Cullman, Alabama, at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament (Mother Angelica).

While we found it solemn it was hard to focus when we didn’t understand what was being said. This makes me wonder how many don’t speak Latin?

We are willing to follow whatever instructions the Church gives, but I can’t understand those who want it to be so that many won’t understand what is being said. As I said, it was hard to focus on the Mass when we were constantly trying to keep up with where we were in the Mass.

At Pentecost the Apostles spoke in tongues and everyone understood them. Thousands were converted. How many would have been converted if they didn’t understand what the Apostles were saying?

At home, I spoke to our parish priest when that article came out, 3 years ago. He said there would be a problem because of the lack of priests who actually knew the rubrics of the Latin Mass. When I asked what would happen if the Pope decreed it would be so, he said he would have to retire and he also said that he worked for the Bishop.

Would all Latin Masses solidify the Church, or cause more divisions? Would the people be more ‘Holy’ by attending all Latin Masses?

Another point I question in this discussion is, did Christ celebrate the Last Supper in Latin?

I’m not trying to argue this, I’m only trying to understand the importance better.

Have a listen:
en.gloria.tv/?media=156829

The idea that they will be ignored by a new priest coming in doesn’t make any sense to me at all. If he does, he is setting himself up for failure in many ways and any smart priest would know that…
…If that priest thinks that the path to success is to come in fresh out of seminary and try to browbeat members of the laity who have been sacrificing for that parish since well before he was born and without whom there quite literally would not be a parish in the first place, he is setting himself up for failure.

Who said they would be ignored?
The above linked-to video is appropriate here, as well.

The descendants of the original members of a parish can all too easily lose direction. Sometimes, a bomb, in the form of a new priest, can be just what the vet ordered…

BTW: Why does a parish need a liturgy committee…? Isn`t the priest a trained liturgist?
Committees run the risk of existing for their own sake.

Now, having said all of that, if a priest wanted to come in and offer a weekly TLM I would personally have zero problem with that and I doubt very much that anyone else in our parish would either. However, I have zero desire to see it become the norm and I highly doubt that the vast majority of our parish does either.

Maybe…but:
Itll probably never become the norm; but its more than capable of standing on its own two feet…without being rammed down anyone`s throat!

Perhaps this led to the other extreme, though. Folks tended to talk more in Church (about other things) when the English was introduced. But that should hardly come as a surprise when everyday language is used.

When I first attended the Latin mass, I didn’t understand it, nor did I like it. It took more than several occasions of attending to change that opinion as well. What I did like was the added reverence that I didn’t see in the Novus Ordo, though that still didn’t make me really like the TLM. It grew on me, however. I still don’t understand Latin. Sure, I know how to pronounce it because I took two years of it in high school, but I can’t understand the priests words. However, that’s why I used a missal. Recently, I stopped using a missal because I know what is going on without it and I feel I can better pay attention to what is happening without it. Nobody needs to understand the language to understand the Mass. In fact, one priest lamented that the problem with the English Mass is that now people understood the language but had no idea what was going on, whereas before people didn’t understand a word and yet they knew what was happening up there at the altar.

We are willing to follow whatever instructions the Church gives, but I can’t understand those who want it to be so that many won’t understand what is being said. As I said, it was hard to focus on the Mass when we were constantly trying to keep up with where we were in the Mass.

Read the above. After a time, you don’t have to try hard to follow. If I were a new person to Catholicism as a whole and I went to an English Mass, I’d still have no clue what was going on or following it (unless I was a Lutheran beforehand!) because it would just be something entirely unfamiliar to me. Eventually one has to realize that real participation in the Mass is internal, not external. This is said even of the Novus Ordo, which is largely based on external acts by the congregation (responses).

At Pentecost the Apostles spoke in tongues and everyone understood them. Thousands were converted. How many would have been converted if they didn’t understand what the Apostles were saying?

I’ve yet to hear a priest give the sermon in Latin. It’s always in the vernacular. It would be great if we had some people who could automatically speak all languages at once, but since we don’t, Latin is actually unifying. Think about it. Back when it was the sole language of the Roman rite, you could travel to any country (where there was a Roman rite Mass) and understand the Mass. Can you do that now? No.

At home, I spoke to our parish priest when that article came out, 3 years ago. He said there would be a problem because of the lack of priests who actually knew the rubrics of the Latin Mass. When I asked what would happen if the Pope decreed it would be so, he said he would have to retire and he also said that he worked for the Bishop.

That just displays an unwillingness to learn. That’s not a knock against the TLM, but a knock against the priest. If people want something, they will find a way, and for priests, that includes learning. If the Church made a directive that priests had to learn the rubrics of the TLM, then the priest would be obligated under obedience to do so.

Would all Latin Masses solidify the Church, or cause more divisions? Would the people be more ‘Holy’ by attending all Latin Masses?

I know one thing for sure: given the state of affairs in the Catholic Church today, nobody can claim that the status quo is getting us anywhere. I think the question is, do we sit around and do nothing while we watch the Church fall to pieces? As I mentioned before, having one language is actually unifying. If you remember the story of the tower of Babel, having many languages is a curse, not a gift. It impedes communication. The people had to split because they could not understand each other. This is actually quite noticeable in churches that have large Mexican communities. There is NO unity between them and the Americans. They have their separate Masses, separate events, sometimes separate priests.

Another point I question in this discussion is, did Christ celebrate the Last Supper in Latin?

I’m not trying to argue this, I’m only trying to understand the importance better.

What I’m commonly told is that he spoke Aramaic.

You are wrong about that. The official score is the Gregorian, whith two characteristic:

  • the ordinary (what people used to sing too) is the same words always but has several variations for the melody

  • the proper is different for every Sunday, either the words and the melody, and above that there are different tones too.

Our musical director implemented both features, so the varietas delectat principle is alive. (The Latin is sung in the English masses too)

In other had one of the dark sides of the new rite masses is lack of regulation for the music. The Church explicitly required that only approved music can be used, but people who believe that they know it better completely disregard it.

It is proven that the laity in both sides is immature, cannot make responsible decisions related to the supernatural things. It is a slow process that resolution is to turn back to the full regulation by the living Magisterium.

Actually seminarians get maybe one or two courses on the liturgy itself. I have a degree in liturgy and I have corrected many a priest on matters that they had no idea were to occur or not occur at Mass. When my pastor wants to know something about something liturgical he comes to me since he knows either I know it or where to find the answer quickly.

We have a brand new priest who is VERY conservative but does some sort of hybrid liturgy that I have no idea where he learned it (he didn’t learn it in the seminary). He doesn’t want to hear anything from me, but they know about him in the diocese so they have their eye on him.

I am wary of liturgy committees. I don’t have one in my parish since I can better do it by myself and I don’t want to argue with people who have a tiny bit of knowledge or read something in a catechist journal and think they know how things are supposed to be done. I know some parishes that have good liturgy committees but those are parishes where the pastor is well versed in the study of the documents and can lead the committee instead of having them lead him.

You might go back and read the OP in this thread. That is what I was responding to. The entire premise of the thread is that the laity do not have a voice and that the priest can do what he wants. In addition, the idea was proposed that since many seminarians seem to be interested in the TLM, that they might come out and make changes regardless of the views of the laity.

Furthermore, in our particular parish, we are not talking about the descendants of the original members, we are talking about the actual original members who built the first two church buildings with their own two hands. Other parishes are obviously different and in their situation they can figure it out for themselves.

We know what is going on in the Mass, but we learned in the English language and the Masses were also in the English language. I have trouble thinking that I could take a family member, or friend to a Latin Mass and it being easier for them to understand what was happening at the alter. Along the same train of thought, it makes me think Catholic evangelizing converts would be more difficult.

I don’t believe I’ll be traveling to another country. If I did I wouldn’t understand the homily, or the liturgy of the word for that matter, so again I fail to see the positive. I see more unity through the people of each area being able to understand everything being said, where they attend the majority of the time. Every once in a great while I attend the Hispanic Mass, because of work. It’s hard for me to feel I’ve filled my weekly obligation when I have to do that.

I’m afraid I don’t see ‘language’ as the problem with the Church. The problem lies with people not understanding the faith, and that’s not due to language.

As language was a curse in the story of the tower of Babel, Pentecost was the reverse.

Yes, He did. So, should we all learn Aramaic and change the Mass to Aramaic? Would it unify us all?

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