Restoring Sensory Experience to the Ordinary Form Mass

I recently went to a Theology on Tap session on “The History of the Mass” and the priest who gave the session lamented that the OF needed to regain that sensory experience that the EF had gained through centuries of liturgical experimentation and cultural shaping.

Let’s say that within the confines of liturgical laws, which are obviously open to implementation on a diocesan level by the diocesan bishop, Masses of this progressive sort do not wholly constitute liturgical abuse. Discuss.

I think for many, the EF Mass was fairly devoid of almost any “sensory experience.”

The celebrant had his back to the faithful. He spoke (often extremely rapidly) in an unintelligible language. People couldn’t really see what he was physically doing on the altar.

Many resorted to praying the Rosary during the Mass because they had no real idea of what was going on.

And, if one were to say the exact thing about the OF one might be banned or reported. I can tell you about the less then heavenly things I see when I go to the OF — abuse and lack of reverence has become the norm so it isn’t frowned upon in the OF.

Those “less than heavenly things” are not by design either. They contravene the OF rubrics.

On the other hand, things that are part of the EF design – ad orientum orientation and speaking the entire Mass is a language foreign to most is by design.

English isn’t doing too well either.

Wait a minute…

Is there an an emoticon for someone shaking the cobwebs out of their head to ensure that they read what they think they just read?

The EF was formed through centuries of experimentation and was shaped by secular culture? Did I read that right?


Don’t really want to watch a linked video, so I am just going to comment on the thread title and the good Father’s comment. I suspect one of the things that would help is if liturgists would stop using new-fangled terms such as “sensory experience”.

the root of the problem comes down to the same thing. people are not being instructed properly. if people are praying the rosary during the EF mass, well somebody somewhere din’t explain to them what the mass is supposed to be about and the different parts of it. if people are not being reverent in the no mass, again, somebody somewhere didn’t do their job properly. be it priests, parents, schoolteachers, i dont’ relaly know but it really boiils down to that. now i don’t know what you are referring to by less tha heveanly things, but i haven’t noticed any problems in thye no mass that i attend. i have yet to attend an ef mass so i can’t comment on that

A lot of the lecture was based on the book by Pierre Loret, ‘The Story of the Mass: From the Last Supper to the Present Day’, plus added information from the priest since the book was published some time ago.

Book found here:

It was for me as a kid - except for rosary beads clicking, people clearing their throats and coughing and the priest whispering there was nothing to focus on except the back of the person in front of you.

I cannot describe the sense of relief when one day the priest made the sign of the cross actually looked at us and said the opening prayer in English. I can clearly remember that moment decades later… It was like coming home.

I think the mass as celebrated by Pope Francis is a good liturgical and sensory experience.

I have to agree though we could use more inscense in the OF as well as better music and Communion with the cup.




I thought he was praying towards the East(liturgicaly this would be where ever the Altar is) with the people, you know as a faithful sheperd leading his people unto the Altar of God.

He spoke (often extremely rapidly) in an unintelligible language.

Maybe he is conscious of the fact that there might be another Mass that has to start at a schedule time and he wants to give the people ample time to give their thanksgiving after Mass and leave and give the people showing up for the next Mass time to come in peacefully and pray before Mass…

People couldn’t really see what he was physically doing on the altar.

I don’t see why this is a problem.There were plenty of pictures in missals and other litugical resources showing what the priest was to do. :shrug:

It’s almost as if the priest wasn’t speaking to the people! I wonder who on Earth (or in Heaven) he might have been addressing those inaudible prayers in an unintelligible language to?? :wink:

I suppose you’ve never been to an EF Mass. You can hear enough of what the priest is saying to know where you are in the Mass, the schola sounds of angels, the incense, the bells, the organ, the servers, the taste of the Eucharist, etc. The EF is full of “sensory experience”. God bless.

I think what is meant here is things like incense and holy water, which is used at every principal Mass on Sundays in the EF if it is sung. In my own experience I rarely experience incense and the only time we do Asperges is in the Easter season, and then only sometimes, and then it cuts out the penitential act.

Also, I would say that, in that video, one of the worst liturgical practices imho is employed full-stop, which is trying to do a pre-Mass forced dress rehearsal with the people in the pews. “First we’re going to sing ___, and then we’re going to sing it in Spanish, and please turn the page, and then we’re going to ___, and then ___.” It seems so artificial, or alternatively, like ruining a good piece of art by telling too much about it.

We’re lucky. We get the Asperges (with the penitential act) every Sunday. The Mass in the EF does cover all the senses:

SIGHT - Beautiful Statutes, Paintings, Vestments
SOUND - Gregorian Chant and Polyphonic Mass Settings
TOUCH - Holy Water
SMELL - Incense
TASTE - Eucharist

One thing I’ve learned is that “active participation” is one of the oldest essential aspects of the Mass. Some people may find it “corny,” but I would say that it’s better to be informed and to understand what one does at Mass instead of being a mere spectator. I thought that was the reasoning behind teaching little kids the Mass responses. :shrug:

If liturgical memory serves, that’s why the bells were added to the consecration. “Hey, pay attention! Something important is happening.”

Frankly, it sounds to me more like “Modernism on tap” - eerily similar to the “spirit of Vatican II” which, relatively unchecked, lead the Church so far off track in so many areas. The Church is called to form the world, not the world to form the Church - that has always been the problem.

Sensory experience? What the heck is he talking about? Why not restore the knowledge of, and reverence for the supernatural nature of the mass and let the sensory take care of itself?

Of course, as you know, the Second Vatican Council called not for active participation (participatio activa) but called for actual participation (participatio actuosa). Praying, listening to the chant, contemplating the mystery is actual participation - dancing, clapping, etc. may be active, but it certainly isn’t actual participation.

BTW, if the Mass is celebrated strictly according the rubrics, everyone knows that to expect, you don’t need to be told before hand. It’s like a baseball game, in that way. The announcer doesn’t have to come on before every game to describe what the latest rules are going to be for the game. Everyone knows what they are and what they always have been. Any changes grow organically from within and are not imposed from without. Heck, if MLB did to baseball what “liturgical experts” did to the Mass in the Sixties, they would have went under. If it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit, who knows what would have happened to Mother Church.

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