Liturgical differences between Canada and the US


#1

I've been reading a lot on here about how people from the States are concerned about perceived liturgical abuses in their parishes, such the use of Extraordinary Ministers on a permanent basis, the conferring of blessings in the communion line, etc. What I'm curious about is whether this is particularly an American thing.

Not being Catholic, but being one who is attending masses off and on and considering enrolling in RCIA, I obviously don't have the breadth of experience as those who have been Catholic for many years. So feel free to take my observations with a grain of salt.

The reason for my asking about whether the many perceived liturgical abuses enumerated on these forums are specifically American stems from my anecdotal observations from having attended masses in both the US and Canada. I've attended several Catholic churches in both countries, both "low" masses, traditional extraordinary masses, and high, albeit modern, English, masses. Here are some of the striking differences I found in parishes in the Canada compared to the US, the exception being an extraordinary form mass I attended at a small monastery in a rural area:
[LIST]
*]In Canada, even in large churches that are the 'mother ship' for the Archdiocese, there are no EMHCs and everyone goes up to the front. Smaller suburban parishes in the States seem to have EMHCs even though there are fewer people in attendance
*]There are altar rails in the Canadian churches I've attended
*]The priests in the Canadian churches I've attended make it very clear, right before giving communion, that only Catholics who are properly prepared and disposed may receive it, and that everyone else should remain seated. In the American ones, people go up for the 'communion blessing' that people often row about on here
*]Even though the Canadian churches I attended were in a large metropolitan city and the American churches I attended were in the suburbs, parishioners in the Canadian churches seemed more properly dressed (no shorts or flip flops, no tank tops or t-shirts, but no suits and ties either). I'd have expected a more secular, multicultural city to be the opposite of a suburb in the US
[/LIST]
Are the differences I've experienced due to the prevalence of "Americanism" that the Pope cautioned against back in the day, or is it merely the difference in how local parishes are run? Does anyone on here have a better explanation besides the fact that we're dealing with two separate countries? Why would an apparently 'heathen' city, with 'Gay Pride' parades, open use of drugs, etc., have what appear to be more traditional parishes than places in the States that don't even have a Starbucks and have more Churches per square kilometre than trees?


#2

I would say that your observations are anecdotal (not in a negative way :)). You will find that these factors will vary greatly from diocese to diocese and parish to parish. In my home archdiocese (in Canada), what you described is more or less true of the cathedral:
[LIST]
EMHC used only as a last resort - the several priests in residence come out during communion time to assist the celebrant in distributing Holy Communion [/LIST]
[LIST]
Chant/incense/beautiful traditional polyphony/pipe organ are the norm for Sunday mass[/LIST]
[LIST]
At least half the congregation receives Our Lord kneeling at the altar rail - many on the tongue[/LIST]
[LIST]
The homilies are often strong and to the point - “abortion is a grave evil!” is heard many, many, many, many, many times during the year…[/LIST]

The above, while the norm at my Canadian cathedral, is not necessarily the norm across the country…in my limited experience outside of the Vancouver area, many Canadian dioceses suffer from many of the same problems that our American brothers and sisters complain about on this forum. Even within our archdiocese, there are only a handful of parishes that are as traditional as the cathedral (and a couple are even more so - a couple pastors require the faithful to receive kneeling at the altar rail - and this is during English Ordinary Form masses)…


#3

You left out the most glaring difference. Canada has a different liturgical calendar than the US. Most holy days of obligation have been transferred to Sundays so that the only ones left are Christmas and Mary, Mother of God (Jan 1). Moreover the Lectionary is based on Bruce Metzger's NRSV. Why the English speaking world can't agree on a common Lectionary based on a Catholic translation is a mystery far beyond my ken. As a previous poster has pointed out, many of the other differences vary from parish to parish and from diocese to diocese.

One other thing... many differences in the celebration of the EF have their roots in differences in the Irish diaspora versus continental practices. The depth of experience in North America is a tad too shallow to develop real local usages.


#4

[quote="Freyr, post:3, topic:290549"]
You left out the most glaring difference. Canada has a different liturgical calendar than the US. Most holy days of obligation have been transferred to Sundays so that the only ones left are Christmas and Mary, Mother of God (Jan 1). Moreover the Lectionary is based on Bruce Metzger's NRSV. Why the English speaking world can't agree on a common Lectionary based on a Catholic translation is a mystery far beyond my ken. As a previous poster has pointed out, many of the other differences vary from parish to parish and from diocese to diocese.

One other thing... many differences in the celebration of the EF have their roots in differences in the Irish diaspora versus continental practices. The depth of experience in North America is a tad too shallow to develop real local usages.

[/quote]

You missed out perhaps the most glaring difference of all: the fact that half of Catholics in Canada is French-speaking, and the majority of their liturgies are in French (with a smattering of Latin here in there in monasteries). Also the francophone Catholic element is much more rooted in 16th+ century France than in Irish practices like the anglophone side which owes much of its old-stock existence to the Irish diaspora. Although there was quite a bit of intermarriage between the French and Irish. Also today the English side is seeing more and more cultural incursions from immigrant cultures (Filipino, African, South American, etc.) plus older immigrant cultures such as Polish and Italian.

As far as "abuses" go, it varies from diocese to diocese even in French Canada. EMHC are widespread, communion rails are present in some places absent in others, etc. CITH is the norm and I have no problems with it. But you never ever hear at French Mass that only Catholics can receive. Perhaps that comes from the fact that Francophones are mostly at least nominally Catholic and they don't feel the need; or that we tend to leave that to individual conscience. I can't say for sure but that's the way it is. French Canadians are famous for thumbing their noses at rules... and that's not just related to religious life. It's our Latin blood ;)


#5

I can honestly say that in my travels throughout Canada I have rarely been in a parish that doesn't use EMHCs and while there are a few churches that still have altar rails I've yet to see anyone receive kneeling there at OF Masses.

Only once have I heard a priest announce who could receive, and that was last Christmas when we had a visiting priest. In fact, in my parish at funerals it's not unusual to see the United Church and Pentecostal ministers receive Communion. The Anglican Archdeacon doesn't which may stem from the outcry when the Archbishop gave Communion to Prime Minister Harper, an evangelical Protestant, at Romeo LeBlanc's funeral in 2009, provoking an outcry like I'd never seen before when it appeared that he pocketed the Host.


#6

[quote="SgtSchultz, post:1, topic:290549"]
[LIST]*]There are altar rails in the Canadian churches I've attended[/list]

[/quote]

This is something that is probably a bit misleading. Older churches, such as those found in cities, are more likely to have altar rails than newer churches, such as most of those found in suburbs. However, in all my years I have only once been to a regular Novus Ordo mass where the altar rail was used, a practice which was only introduced at that church in the last four years (I'd previously attended there when communion was received standing in line).

Canada in general is slightly more secular, the US slightly more religious. Those are pretty broad strokes, with lots of exceptions. Again, I think the real key is the city vs. suburb issue. Cities in both countries tend to be much more secular, with fewer traditional families, more non-Christian immigrants, more singles, more unmarried couples, more non-religious college and post-college younger adults. Many of them won't bother with church at all. Those few who do attend church (I would suggest both Catholic and non-Catholics from churches with liturgical traditions) may be more likely to seek a more traditional presentation of liturgy, and this crowd is supplemented by those who come from the suburbs seeking a more traditional liturgy than is available near their home.

On the other hand, in the suburbs there are school and family pressures to attend mass, so you get a much broader spectrum of the population attending, and for that matter being involved in the planning and execution of aspects of the mass. This translates to a more liberal presentation of the mass, and a more liberal approach to what is involved in participation when one attends than is found in the narrow segment of the population who attend in cities.


#7

[quote="SgtSchultz, post:1, topic:290549"]

[LIST]
*]In Canada, there are no EMHCs and everyone goes up to the front. Smaller suburban parishes in the States seem to have EMHCs even though there are fewer people in attendance
*]There are altar rails in the Canadian churches I've attended
*]The priests in the Canadian churches I've attended make it very clear that only Catholics who are properly prepared and disposed may receive it, and that everyone else should remain seated. In the American ones, people go up for the 'communion blessing' that people often row about on here
*]Even though the Canadian churches I attended were in a large metropolitan city and the American churches I attended were in the suburbs, parishioners in the Canadian churches seemed more properly dressed. I'd have expected a more secular, multicultural city to be the opposite of a suburb in the US
[/LIST]

[/quote]

You live in a very blessed diocese! :)


#8

[quote="Digitonomy, post:6, topic:290549"]
However, in all my years I have only once been to a regular Novus Ordo mass where the altar rail was used, a practice which was only introduced at that church in the last four years (I'd previously attended there when communion was received standing in line).

[/quote]

St. Joseph's Oratory, in Montreal, is one place where I've seen the altar rail used regularly at weekday Mass. Some do line up to receive standing but the majority receive kneeling, some in the hand, some on the tongue.

I go to Sunday Mass usually at a Benedictine monastery. There is no altar rail but then that's been the case for monasteries for centuries. One usually lines up at the cloister gate to receive; almost everyone receives standing. With 28 of the 43 monks being priests, EMHCs are a non-issue.


#9

I frequently pass between these two great nations and have had nearly the opposite experience. The only liturgical differences which cannot be attributed to local leadership are the Lectionary translations, and the fact that in Canada there are only two holy days of obligation which might not fall on a Sunday. Where I am, it is on the US side that you will see altar rails; -on both sides there are at least two or three EMHCs at even a weekday Mass or maybe even five if it is Sunday. Rarely have I heard an announcement of who may recieve Communion on either side (usually at weddings and funerals) and on these rare occasions people are encouraged to come up for a blessing. As for attire it is really a mixed bag on both sides, people seem to do there own thing some dress up and others are in shorts and a t-shirt. In some ways I think so long as people are covered, attending Mass prayerfully; we are off to a good start. That being said, we should always strive for what is ideal.

As for the question of "Americanism" we Canadians tend to be heavily influenced by our neighbour to the south, this is true of both those who would be classed as liberals or conservatives. So I don't know how wise it would be to compare and contrast with us in this regard.


#10

[quote="twf, post:2, topic:290549"]
I would say that your observations are anecdotal

[/quote]

[quote="Digitonomy, post:6, topic:290549"]
Older churches, such as those found in cities, are more likely to have altar rails than newer churches, such as most of those found in suburbs.

[/quote]

Indeed, it seems I was misled due to a very small sample size of data! I went to a mass today that did not have an altar rail, likely due to the fact that the church was built in the latter half of the 20th century. However, I do not believe there where EMHCs. There were instead two men assisting the father who may have been either deacons or monks. (They had white robes, shaved heads, and wore sandals.)

Those of you who wrote about the differences stemming from the different demographics of each country's early European settlers never occurred to me, nor did the fact that our countrymen from the east might be using a translation of the liturgy in a different language.

[quote="OraLabora, post:8, topic:290549"]

I go to Sunday Mass usually at a Benedictine monastery. There is no altar rail but then that's been the case for monasteries for centuries. One usually lines up at the cloister gate to receive; almost everyone receives standing. With 28 of the 43 monks being priests, EMHCs are a non-issue.

[/quote]

I went to an extraordinary form mass in the States at a monastery containing only two monks (I am not sure which order they represented) that took place in a small room that only sat 10-12 people. They too used a gate. The experience was so moving, spiritual, humbling and sacred. I think that experience may have been one of the things that started drawing me to Catholicism, though I attended a few masses here and there on random occurrences before that.

[quote="Phemie, post:5, topic:290549"]
The Anglican Archdeacon doesn't which may stem from the outcry when the Archbishop gave Communion to Prime Minister Harper, an evangelical Protestant, at Romeo LeBlanc's funeral in 2009, provoking an outcry like I'd never seen before when it appeared that he pocketed the Host.

[/quote]

Now you see, it strikes me as incredibly disrespectful when people knowingly do this. I'm not Catholic and I know that when I attend a Catholic mass I'm not supposed to take communion so I stay seated or I kneel and pray while everyone else is queuing up. (Just because I was baptised Protestant doesn't mean my mother didn't teach me manners!) :p

[quote="Digitonomy, post:6, topic:290549"]
I think the real key is the city vs. suburb issue. ...] Those few who do attend church (I would suggest both Catholic and non-Catholics from churches with liturgical traditions) may be more likely to seek a more traditional presentation of liturgy, and this crowd is supplemented by those who come from the suburbs seeking a more traditional liturgy than is available near their home.

On the other hand, in the suburbs there are school and family pressures to attend mass, so you get a much broader spectrum of the population attending, and for that matter being involved in the planning and execution of aspects of the mass. This translates to a more liberal presentation of the mass, and a more liberal approach to what is involved in participation when one attends than is found in the narrow segment of the population who attend in cities.

[/quote]

This explanation seems right on the mark to me. My experiences were different because I was comparing an urban and a suburban setting. The fact that they were in different countries was not relevant.

[quote="OraLabora, post:4, topic:290549"]
Also today the English side is seeing more and more cultural incursions from immigrant cultures (Filipino, African, South American, etc.) plus older immigrant cultures such as Polish and Italian.

[/quote]

This actually got me thinking about a different topic. Do you think that these immigrant cultures are causing a resurgence in traditionalism? A Catholic friend of mine half-jokingly said that it's going to take these people and their values (Christians from China, Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines, South America, etc.) to set our culture straight, just like I've heard friends from the States say that it'll be the Mexicans and Central/South American immigrants who help, if not reverse, then at least slow down the expansion of the 'culture of death'.


#11

Orthodoxy, yes. "Traditionalism" as defined on this forum, I think no. Many communities even in EF times had their cultural traditions including their own vernacular hymnals (yes these were used in EF times). You're more likely to see those, I should think. Remember that in many parts of the world (especially Asia), Latin has very little inculturation unlike Europe where it was once a sort of lingua franca.

But orthodoxy, yes, I think in that sense these communities are probably quite a bit more conservative concerning things like sexual ethics, intermarriage, etc.


#12

[quote="SgtSchultz, post:10, topic:290549"]
However, I do not believe there where EMHCs. There were instead two men assisting the father who may have been either deacons or monks. (They had white robes, shaved heads, and wore sandals.)

[/quote]

Good morning again!
The only ordinary ministers of Holy Communion are the bishop, priest, and deacon. If these men were monks and not also priests or deacons, then they also were extraordinary ministers.


#13

[quote="SgtSchultz, post:1, topic:290549"]
Why would an apparently 'heathen' city, with 'Gay Pride' parades, open use of drugs, etc., have what appear to be more traditional parishes than places in the States that don't even have a Starbucks and have more Churches per square kilometre than trees?

[/quote]

I suppose it depends where you go. Keep in mind most cities in america have "gay pride" parades and the other stuff you listed. Or maybe the French like things more traditional than the Irish. :shrug:;)

But I've actually never gone to a Catholic Mass that wasn't traditional (but not Latin). :shrug:


#14

[quote="SgtSchultz, post:10, topic:290549"]
This actually got me thinking about a different topic. Do you think that these immigrant cultures are causing a resurgence in traditionalism? A Catholic friend of mine half-jokingly said that it's going to take these people and their values (Christians from China, Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines, South America, etc.) to set our culture straight, just like I've heard friends from the States say that it'll be the Mexicans and Central/South American immigrants who help, if not reverse, then at least slow down the expansion of the 'culture of death'.

[/quote]

I think only for a while. Once each becomes assimilated (marrying the natives, dropping their own languages, etc.) into the host culture, their behaviors seem to change, including Church attendance, catechism, etc. Maybe the hope comes from the increasing use of Spanish in the U.S. or French in Canada, but that's just a theory of mine.


#15

The overwhelming majority of Latinos in the United States are Mexican American. Mexico is in North America as are the Central American countries (where another huge chunk comes from). After that, Cuban and Puerto Ricans are from Carribean Islands. South American Latinos (aka Argentina, Peru, Brazil, etc.) make up less than 5 percent. If you want to refer to Latinos as a whole, refer to them as “Latino,” “Hispanic” or “Latin American.” The huge majority of us have no roots in South America.

Interesting how that Latin blood manifests differently in the French, Italians and Hispanics. :smiley:


#16

[quote="PacoG, post:15, topic:290549"]
The overwhelming majority of Latinos in the United States are Mexican American. Mexico is in North America as are the Central American countries (where another huge chunk comes from). After that, Cuban and Puerto Ricans are from Carribean Islands. South American Latinos (aka Argentina, Peru, Brazil, etc.) make up less than 5 percent. If you want to refer to Latinos as a whole, refer to them as "Latino," "Hispanic" or "Latin American." The huge majority of us have no roots in South America.

Interesting how that Latin blood manifests differently in the French, Italians and Hispanics. :D

[/quote]

We don't have as many Mexicans in Canada as in the US although we have seasonal Mexican migrant workers in the agricultural areas. In Quebec in particular there's a modest Chilean population, a smattering of Colombians, etc.

Sorry in Canada we don't use the same terminology as the US. I don't think I've ever heard the term "Latino" used here. We tend to refer to them based on country of origin. At least in French Canada, where I'm from.


#17

I’m from Canada and have attended a number of Masses in various provinces, towns and cities. EMHC’S are almost always used (unless it’s a diocesan event or a lot of priests present, which is rare) to extreme amounts. I have even seen clergy sit out the distribution to allow EMHC’S to distribute communion.


#18

They could have just as easily been called “Romano” since their languages are the ROMANce languages. :slight_smile:


#19

[quote="OraLabora, post:11, topic:290549"]
Orthodoxy, yes. "Traditionalism" as defined on this forum, I think no. Many communities even in EF times had their cultural traditions including their own vernacular hymnals (yes these were used in EF times). You're more likely to see those, I should think. Remember that in many parts of the world (especially Asia), Latin has very little inculturation unlike Europe where it was once a sort of lingua franca.

But orthodoxy, yes, I think in that sense these communities are probably quite a bit more conservative concerning things like sexual ethics, intermarriage, etc.

[/quote]

Ah, yes. I meant orthodoxy.

[quote="Spirithound, post:12, topic:290549"]
Good morning again!
The only ordinary ministers of Holy Communion are the bishop, priest, and deacon. If these men were monks and not also priests or deacons, then they also were extraordinary ministers.

[/quote]

I have no idea what their official position was. They could have been deacons. Unfortunately I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to who's who in mass.

[quote="ProVobis, post:14, topic:290549"]
Maybe the hope comes from the increasing use of Spanish in the U.S. or French in Canada, but that's just a theory of mine.

[/quote]

I don't understand what you mean here.

[quote="OraLabora, post:16, topic:290549"]
Sorry in Canada we don't use the same terminology as the US. I don't think I've ever heard the term "Latino" used here. We tend to refer to them based on country of origin. At least in French Canada, where I'm from.

[/quote]

Indeed. I've never heard that term used either. Regardless, there aren't very many people with ancestry from Spanish-speaking countries where I live anyway. The ones that are here are typically of European settler descent, not native to whatever countries in Central/South America from which they hail -- very different from the States.


#20

This is also anecdotal, but when I was received into the Anglican Communion, one of the biggest day-to-day changes for me was receiving Communion under both species, something I had previously done only during Triduum or on Sundays when I attended a Byzantine Divine Liturgy. Many of my American RC acquaintances were surprised when I enthused about this, since for them that was SOP and not something that differentiated them from Episcopalians. I grew up in the archdiocese of Toronto so perhaps it is a regional thing, and maybe other parts of Canada exercise the permission for a “fuller sign” more broadly. (I think but can’t vouch that my parents received the cup at their nuptial mass).


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