Rorate Caeli

Sacramentum Caritatis

At 1100 GMT (1200 Rome; 0700 EDT), you will find the English version of the following document:


Official text in Latin.


  1. You're the man. I've been up all night desiging a new blog and waiting for this.

  2. ...and waiting for this.

    SP, you too?

  3. VIR: Things certainly change when one becomes Catholic, up all night waiting for the Pope, rather know. AMDG!

  4. Anonymous10:43 AM

    1042 GMT What's keeping them?

  5. Anonymous10:45 AM

    A few more minutes of this lenten exercise won't kill us.

  6. Anonymous10:53 AM

    I thought it was supposed to be 11.00 GMT, not 10.30 - so we may have to wait 7 more minutes! Wow.

  7. Anonymous11:02 AM

    Its there now.

  8. Anonymous11:04 AM

    Is it? I can still only see the title.

  9. Anonymous11:14 AM

    Under the heading "Authentic Participation", there is this:

    'It should be made clear that the word "participation" does not refer to mere external activity during the celebration. In fact, the active participation called for by the Council must be understood in more substantial terms, on the basis of a greater awareness of the mystery being celebrated and its relationship to daily life.'

    I haven't dared to do a word search for *ad orientem*. It is a monumental document and will bear patient reading. Thanks for the good news this morning, New Catholic. Let us hope that it is good news, indeed.

  10. I'll be the first.

    She's a dud!

  11. Anonymous11:24 AM

    Most disappointing to those who expected anything but a restatement of the propositions which were reported out of the Synod some 17 months ago. Since that's all it is, and all that anyone should've expected, what took so long?

  12. Anonymous11:25 AM

    A very quick scan doesn't reveal anything earth-shattering. Sound spiritual catechesis on the Eucharist. Some re-statements of past 'instructions' (eg on the use of latin), nothing about ad orientem and not much on the tabernacle placement or well-known abuses other than what's in existing documents.

    I need to read in more detail, but at first glance (which is all I can at present as I need to get to work) it's a bit disappointing.

    Let's pray even harder for the Motu Proprio.

  13. Anonymous11:27 AM

    My heart is sinking as I read, especially paragraph 3. So far it does not sound like good news for traditionalists, sorry to say. Hopefully further reading will prove me wrong.

  14. Anonymous11:33 AM

    This line is the key, my friends:

    'The difficulties and even the occasional abuses which were noted, it was affirmed, cannot overshadow the benefits and the validity of the liturgical renewal ...'

    The neo-cons will sing the praises of this document. For traditionalists, it is dead on arrival. The affirmation of the "theology of the paschal mystery" in the opening paragraph should have been the first clue. Forget any reconciliation with the SSPX. The winter of our discontent continues.

  15. Anonymous11:36 AM

    Very disappointed. A lot of words that say very little to bring hope to traditionalists of a genuine Liturgical renewal.

  16. Anonymous11:38 AM

    Disappointed. Nothing on orientation or women in sanctuary. Some stuff on sober celebration, tabernacle, sign of peace, general absolution and the like but nothing that a 'progressive' would be hemmed in by. Disappointed. Disappointed.

  17. "Concretely, the changes which the Council called for need to be understood within the overall unity of the historical development of the rite itself, without the introduction of artificial discontinuities."

    ". . . after the Council in the place of the Liturgy as the fruit of organic development came fabricated liturgy."

    Both of these cannot be true!

  18. Anonymous11:42 AM

    Come now, it is really very good on several fronts. Indulgences, seminarians to learn how to celebrate in Latin, the faithful also exhorted to learn Latin prayers, Gregorian chant. And we must remember that this does nothing to suggest that the Motu won't be released; indeed it gives just the background for it.

  19. Anonymous11:48 AM

    I am also rather disappointed by the skipping over of the many liturgical abuses that have abounded over the last 40 years.

    On a more positive note I found this encouraging:

    In order to express more clearly the unity and universality of the Church, I wish to endorse the proposal made by the Synod of Bishops, in harmony with the directives of the Second Vatican Council, (182) that, with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, such liturgies could be celebrated in Latin. Similarly, the better-known prayers (183) of the Church's tradition should be recited in Latin and, if possible, selections of Gregorian chant should be sung. Speaking more generally, I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant.

    Also, the emphasis on indulgences and Eucharistic adoration can only be a good thing.

    So let's not be too downhearted.

  20. Anonymous11:49 AM

    "Disappointed" - heart-broken, more like.

    I know we were warned not to raise our hopes too much but, given everything the Holy Father has written in his previous incarnation about the "fabricated liturgy", liturgy not being what the Councuil Fathers asked for etc, it's hardly surprising our hopes were raised.

    I feel betrayed - but still cling to the truth that the gates of hell will not prevail etc.

    I can't see anything in this document which will give any positive signs to those wavering over the liturgy or to the SSPX.

    On the contary, there is little in it to worry Mahony et al.

    I still pray for the MP, but I'm less certain about that now. How could it possibily be related to this document? We're talking here about two different ecclesiologies.

    St Pius X, please pray for our Holy Father and the Church.

  21. David, that only refers to so-called international Masses.

  22. I think the comparison between the text and the predictions of those who claimed to know what it said -- and thus gives rise to disappointment now -- highlights that those sources were not trustworthy...

    Was it not rather improbable to expect a series of "smackdowns"?

  23. Hope springs eternal, I suppose, Father . . .

  24. Nothing revolutionary.

    Maybe the section on Latin in the liturgy (62)could be of benefit (encouraging priests to know Latin, Greg. Chant, etc.), however it immediately follows the section on 'large-scale concelebrations' (61)which means that there will be more and more Latin in papal ceremonies. (no surprise). Sadly though, the section about Masses on, I suppose, the local parochial level, i.e., 'small groups' (63) follows next and DOES NOT mention Latin.

    Furthermore, this made me cringe:

    " must be stated that such celebrations should always be consonant with the overall pastoral activity of the Diocese" (63)

    I could hear it now:

    "Latin is fine for the big Masses for the pope, but not in 'this parish' or 'this diocese'."

    Like most of these documents, it is a two-edged sword that both sides could selectively quote from and utilize.

    I can only hope that the delay in the release of this document was arranged so that explanations of and commentary on the the Motu Proprio could more proxomately reference it.

  25. Anonymous12:01 PM

    "We're talking here about two different ecclesiologies"

    In a sense that is true, I think. If the Motu Proprio is issued, then it seems to me that having re-stated in this new document what is essentially now the norm for the Ordinary rite" (allowing for some urging around things like latin, adoration etc), the "Extraordinary Rite" will end up having its own followers, seeing themselves as distinct from the rest and the two will grow apart, not converge over time. Will this be appealing to anyone?

    Maybe people allowed themsleves to be seduced by what they wanted in the AE, not realising that it would be virtually impossible for the pope to meet those ends in the current climate.

  26. Anonymous12:02 PM

    'Come now, it is really very good on several fronts.'

    Of course it is good on several fronts. Benedict XVI is a gifted theologian who loves our Eucharistic Lord. No one denies this. The question is, does this document give me any leverage with the "Worship and Praise" committee of my local Novus Ordo parish? Please. It's hopeless.

    I am quite crestfallen this morning. Oh, well. As someone said, the gates of hell will not prevail.

  27. Anonymous12:13 PM

    Really, if anyone expected the Pope to produce a document which wasn't a reflection on the conclusions of the Synod Fathers, he was mistaken; and we knew what the propositions were eighteen months ago.

    Let's also be realistic, and say if "traditionalists" were expecting this Pope to turn the clock back by the stroke of his pen, they have also been fooling themselves. Ratzinger has never been a "traditionalist" if by that you mean someone who rejects anything coming from II Vatican Council.

    BUT, he has produced a very subtle document. The exhortation that seminarians learn Latin, and learn to celebrate in Latin, for example. This can't possibly be intended only for those great gatherings mentioned in the previous paragraph. He intends, rather, through forming future priests (something he refers to several times I notice, even in a cursory reading) that the Latin language should naturally return to pre-eminence. That's only one example.

    It seems to me that with this document, which rightly reflects upon and focusses on the final propositions of the synod, the Pope is subtly introducing the themes which will create the future liturgical life of the Church. This is much better than attempting sweeping changes (such as those he has previously criticised) which are unlikely to be able to be implemented (for the various reasons of human weakness, even (or especially!) among the bishops) in the world-wide Church.

  28. Anonymous12:14 PM


  29. I can't find it. The link just goes to the main site. Someone help me!

  30. Anonymous12:25 PM

    If there's to be a reform of the reform, which I now doubt, it'll have to take another form.

    It galls mightily to acknowledge the long-faces at Angelqueen were right all along.

    Quaesumus, Domine?

  31. Never mind, I got it.

  32. Anonymous12:32 PM

    Fr. Fox, it is the failure of B16 to grab the bull by the horns and issue detailled prohibitions that is disappointing. For me it is all summed up in the exhortation that the taberacle should be 'at the centre of the apse area, or in another place where it will be equally conspicuous...'. So that's the narthex then.

  33. Anonymous12:41 PM

    Archbishop Lefebvre was absolutely right all along. They have no desire to fix anything. They broke it on purpose, why would they want to fix it?

    Maybe we'll get a Motu Proprio with teeth, all that would mean is that its an equal rite with Father Skippy's "praise and worship" guitar Mass. EQUAL!

  34. Anonymous12:50 PM

    "Concretely, the changes which the Council called for need to be understood within the overall unity of the historical development of the rite itself, without the introduction of artificial discontinuities."

    ". . . after the Council in the place of the Liturgy as the fruit of organic development came fabricated liturgy."

    Gregg said: "Both of these cannot be true!"

    Why not? The changes that the Council called for resulted in fabricated liturgy. However, to save the Church from the curse of fabricated liturgy, it is necessary to read the Council's called-for changes "within the overall unity of the historical development of the rite itself, without the introduction of artificial discontinuities."

    The problem, as we all know, is that the Church didn't do that, but instead launched into an unprecedented liturgical overhaul, which has been (and should have been predicted to have been) a colossal pastoral catastrophe.

    Anyway, I haven't had the chance to read the Apostolic Exhortation yet, just give it a quick skim. I'll comment further when I've read it. I know a lot of traditionalists had some unrealistic hopes for this document, but judging from my quick skim it seems to be pretty good overall.

  35. Anonymous1:32 PM

    "We're talking here about two different ecclesiologies"

    "It galls mightily to acknowledge the long-faces at Angelqueen were right all along."

    As one of the longest of the long-faces at AQ, I suggest that it's not two different ecclesiologies, but, as Mons. Lefebvre pointed out, two different religions that clash here. A re-birth of the Church will only take place (assuming these are not the final days) with the complete death and extirpation of Newchurch, the succubus that has fastened itself upon THE Church like a malignant parasite invading every organ and tissue, including, if you get my point, the brain. We either need a very elastic notion of "the Church cannot defect" and of magisterial infallibiility, or we need to admit that the game's up. I'm latterly inclined towards the latter proposition.

    It will be bitterly interesting to watch those who have looked to Pope Benedict as some sort of savior much as some people of my generation (I, alas, not the least) looked to JPII at his installation to fix the Church begin to realize the depth of their misplacement of hope and trust, the shaming degree to which they have been had. These papal creatures of the conciliar religion (I do not say they are not popes. How should I know?) will not drive the stake through its heart. It is their misbegotten illegitimate child, it is the reflection of their own minds, and they love it to the end. Vae Victis, for that is what we are, the conquered. Conquered by a foreign religion that uses the promises made to the religion it seeks to supplant as a straight jacket to quell dissent.

    I can't wait to read the spin the neo-cons/trads must be revving up to put on this dismal document.

  36. Anonymous1:34 PM

    Alex said...
    Archbishop Lefebvre was absolutely right all along. They have no desire to fix anything. They broke it on purpose, why would they want to fix it?

    Alex, I'm afraid you're right. The one hope that remains is this -- with the reform of the reform now revealed to be an incrementalist enterprise, at best, then all prospects for true renewal (at least in our lives) must rest with the motu proprio. Maybe this reality will hasten its release and positive reception. It's becoming our only hope. This Sunday, let's all vote with our feet and attend the nearest Tridentine Mass, whether Indult or SSPX.

  37. This document maintains the status quo. Conservatives will continue being conservative, liberals being liberal (and, in their corner, traditionalists being traditionalists). It seems to me to be a band-aid solution, still devoted to the chimeras of the Second Vatican Council. Honestly, I can't see any changes in the way the Novus ordo is celebrated. Without teeth, nothing will change.

    Further, this document does not reflect the true mind of Benedict on the liturgy, but rather, a compromise with powerful episcopal factions devoted to the new liturgy.

    I suggest that we await in prayer the Moto Proprio.
    Perhaps here we will see the mind of Benedict, here we will see the future of the Church, here we will see the beginings of what the Church will be 40 years from now.

    Let us not forget, the Holy Ghost is still in charge of the Church. The release of the Mass will release incredible spiritual blessings.

    Confidence! Con fides!

  38. "Gregg said: "Both of these cannot be true!"

    True, but both of them can appear in the same document. The thing about these AE's is that you have two distinct voices speaking in them. When you see apparantly contradictory statements, what you are seeing is the voice of the Liberal bishops, which can't be left out because they were the source of the Synod. On the other hand, you have the voice of the Pope, expressing his opinion, which reads much more conservatively, and is usually pretty easily identifiable.

    Well, at least there's no further liberalization in the document. We'll have to wait and see, meanwhile more diocese's will probably go bankrupt, and the Traditional communities will continue to grow. The latter is a grace to be thankful for!

  39. After 17 months, we're in a worse position. This is a retreat from Spirit of the Liturgy and the Gamber preface. We knew there wouldn't be any smackdowns (although we still hoped for them), but this doesn't even have strong positive arguments for Latin or ad orientem.

    It would be boring if it weren't so heartbreaking.

  40. Anonymous3:28 PM

    It's almost as if we've regressed back 25 years to a document which would have been groundbreaking at that time. As far as where we are now, with regard to the state of the liturgy and the Church, it's decidedly out of sync.

  41. Anonymous4:49 PM

    " must be stated that such celebrations should always be consonant with the overall pastoral activity of the Diocese" (63)

    In other words, there should be more Latin in the Mass, and more chant, "unless the diocesan bishop determines otherwise." (remember that phrase?)

    Cardinal Mahony must be opening a bottle of champagne right about now.

  42. Anonymous5:31 PM

    I'm sorry - you guys have been misreading Ratzinger. If you had only read "God is Near Us" and "Feast of Faith," you'd know that his much-quoted critique of a "fabricated liturgy" is hanging on a very slim thread.

    For the truth is, Pope Benedict likes the Novus Ordo's new Eucharistic Prayers (with epiclesis, unlike the Roman Canon, whose epiclesis is in the Offertory.)

    Pope Benedict likes the new Offertory Prayers.

    He thinks that having a crucifix between the celebrant and the congregation adequately replaces "ad orientem,"

    That communion in the hand was a legitimate practice that dates back to the ancient Church.

    So, what were you all expecting? The truth is - he and Arinze see each other eye-to-eye. Both believe that once the Novus Ordo is cleared up of all the abuses, there would be no need for the Indult.

    I'm really sorry, you guys are hurting. But if you try and read his books, you may yet learn to love the Novus Ordo.

    I used to be a radtrad (quite impractical, since I love going to daily Mass, which unfortunately, are all NO), until I read Ratzinger's books. This AE simply reflects his own thoughts on the Liturgy.

  43. Anonymous5:53 PM

    " must be stated that such celebrations should always be consonant with the overall pastoral activity of the Diocese" (63)"

    I think the Pope referring to the Neocatechumenates, the Charismatics, the Teen Lifers, the various Masses held in Retreat Houses in California, etc.

    Those Liturgies are just way out there. The Neocats insist on celebrating separately from the parish and only on Saturday evenings, with everybody seated around a dining table and everybody giving a "reflection" instead of the homily. (Remember Arinze red-tagged them on this.)

    The Teen Lifers like singing "Jesus is My Boyfriend" type of music.

    The Charismatics "tongue" the Gloria instead of singing or reciting the words.

    And the Retreat House Liturgy are almost unrecognizable. At a Jesuit Retreat House in Northern California, we were made to wash our own hands at the foot-washing rites on Holy Thursday. At a Franciscan Retreat House north of San Francisco, the consecrated Bread nnd the cup were passed on from one person to another, making everybody like an EMHC. And there were only 20 in the congregation!


    Those are the "small groups" that the document must be referring to. I'm glad AE is finally blowing the whistle on them.

  44. Anonymous6:59 PM

    Anonymous, you really need to re-read Cardinal Ratzinger's books, especially what he truly says in regard to Mass celebrated "ad orientem". Read his preface to Fr. Lang's book on this subject. I also recommend reading Gamber's Reform of the Roman Liturgy which he also endorsed. But then, a legitimate question follows from this: Why didn't this document on the Eucharist reflect his endorsements of these aforementioned books? Answer: Because the document reflect the thinking of the Synod of Bishops and is only a brief reflection of what they discussed.

    Concerning Communion in the hand, please read this thread:

    Personally, I believe you will see more of his thinking brought out by the release of the upcoming Motu Proprio.

  45. It doesn't matter if it is just a summary of the Synod. The Pope put his name on it and endorsed all that they said.

  46. Anonymous7:49 PM

    Mr Galliano,

    The private writings of Joseph Ratzinger as a Cardinal are one thing; the documents of the magisterium of the Church promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI are another thing of an entirely different kind.

    Even the private writings of Pope Benedict - such as his book on his Predecessor - are lengths away from possessing the same strenght as Documents of the Church - i.e. magisterial statements.

    Plus, there is the question of the graces of state - the special charism - associated with the Chair of Peter. Magisterial documents promulgated by Pope Benedict carry that charism proper of the papal teaching office - private writings do not.

    If the pre and post election writings of Pope Ratzinger state different things, if his pre-election ideas are not carried out in the actions of his pontificate, then the pre-election writings are worthless, all the more so as by his post election words, actions and ommissions the Vicar of Christ decides to contradict them.

  47. "If the pre and post election writings of Pope Ratzinger state different things, if his pre-election ideas are not carried out in the actions of his pontificate, then the pre-election writings are worthless, all the more so as by his post election words, actions and ommissions the Vicar of Christ decides to contradict them."

    Huh? So it's not possible that after his election, the Pope changed his mind and was wrong in so doing?

  48. Anonymous8:11 PM

    What you stated isn't quite accurate, gregg. Just because the Pope puts his name on something doesn't mean that he FULLY shares the views of everything stated in official documents (which can be superseded in the future), especially ones that contain statements made by his fellow bishops during a Synod.

    We know this as a fact simply by observing the actions of the previous two Popes. For example, with regard to Communion in the hand, we know that both Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II personally opposed this practice and preferred the more "traditional" practice as Paul VI himself described it.

    It's not the same as agreeing when they approve of these practices. The term that best describes these actions of theirs is called,(gulp), "collegiality".

    To anonymous,

    I know very well the difference between private writings and the authority of documents issued by the Magisterium. Still, to discount private writings is wrong since they reflect the true, inner thinking of the writer even though they may openly promote a contrary viewpoint out of "collegiality".

    Also, our current Holy Father is only just beginning to launch his "reform of the reform" (which he spoke about before becoming Pope) so we haven't really seen what he is really going to do in that regard. Maybe we should be patient and see what happens when the Motu Proprio and the new Novus Ordo Missal are published? What is happening now is called strategy on the part of the Pope. This is the calm before the storm. He has to appear to be collegial before implementing a more rigid, traditional reform.

    Overall, I believe he has been making some changes favorable to tradition. Some articles written by Rome insiders like Msgr. Barreiro ( have proved that this is true. And, at least, Cardinal Arinze cleared up a few liturgical controversies recently especially over the pro multis issue.

  49. Anonymous8:28 PM

    Oops! I wanted to edit my last post but I accidentally posted it by mistake!!!

    Anyway, I'm not saying that this new document isn't a fully, authoritative document by the Magisterium. I just want to make that clear.

    IMHO, the Motu Proprio is truly the Pope's own thinking and by his own power in comparision to a document that reflects and is basically an overview of a Synod.

    I believe that the MP will truly mark the beginning of his long anticipated "reform of the reform". The Pope always said in writing that the suppression of the "old" Mass was a mistake because you can't suppress or replace organic development, especially one as ancient and holy as the Traditional Latin Mass which has been much misunderstood and attacked by modern Catholics.

  50. Anonymous9:02 PM

    I wish that I could share Anthony Galliano's optimism, I really do. However, the opportunity to set a clear direction for the "reform of the reform" has now come and gone. The MP, as I understand it, will deal solely with the Traditional Mass, not the Novus Ordo. My fear is that the MP, if and when it is released, will only harden the opposition between Traditionalists and adherents of the New Mass. The sad fact is that the vast majority of Catholics are happy with the Novus Ordo (in whatever bizarre guise it is served up on any given Sunday) and have received what pretty much amounts to validation by this Apostolic Exhortation.

    I don't know, maybe there is a grand strategy here that I'm just not seeing.

  51. Anonymous9:02 PM

    "(...) Still, to discount private writings is wrong since they reflect the true, inner thinking of the writer even though they may openly promote a contrary viewpoint out of "collegiality"."

    I have no concern for the inner thinking of the Holy Father - that is a matter for him and for his soul. My concern is his public thinking, that is, his words and actions by the way of which he governs the Church universal, which includes myself.

    His repressed inner feelings have nothing to do with that, if he gives up his own will for the sake of collegiallity. In the end, only what he promulgates and does is what counts.

    Your own example proves that point. You say that Popes Paul VI and John Paul II disliked Communion in the Hand. And if they trully did, then they were correct, because it only promotes lack of reverence and possible dessacration of the Sacred Species. But by actions and omissions in ruling the Church of God they authorized that henious practice, and that is what counts.

    I see here an analogy to the question of Faith and Works. You don´t really have Faith unless it is reflected in works. A purely theoretical adherence to the Faith, with no consequence in the practice, is a dead Faith. Similarly, one´s personal views and opinions are only relevant to the extent that one acts according to them. Thus, if the pope surrenders his personal views for the sake of pleasing others, it is by those actions that the pontificate must be evaluated.

  52. The exhortation's great, I think the Pope has produced a wonderfully clear, concise and heartfelt message on the Eucharist. I picked out my favourite bits on my blog

    Apologies for shamelessly promoting, but so far nobody looks at it :(

  53. Anonymous12:08 AM


    Given your current status in relation the Catholic Church, I can fully appreciate your enthusiasm for the Apostolic Exhortation. There is much that is good in the document. Benedict XVI is a gifted theologian who deeply loves our Eucharistic Lord. Yet I hope that you will come to understand that there are indeed grounds for the disappointment that has been expressed on this blog today.

    This disappointment, I should point out, is not due to an exclusion of an Indult from the Apostolic Exhortation. The former is a separate document that we now await with a mixture of anticipation and weariness. What many of us had hoped from the present document was a clear sense of direction and a strong hand steering the Church toward a "reform of the reform" of the post-Vatican II Mass. The "reform of the reform" and the "liberation" of the Traditional Mass are two separate yet closely related issues.

    Stick around and follow the posts and commentary in the coming days and weeks. I hope that you'll visit some of the other Traditionalist blogs listed on the main page (if you haven't already), so as to glean some additional perspective on the pathos that has been expressed here today.

    God bless you, and welcome to the One True Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  54. Anonymous3:54 AM

    I'm not so sure that we will ever see the motu proprio now.

  55. Anonymous5:22 AM

    Anthony Galliano,

    There is nothing in Sacramentum Caritatis that contradicts Ratzinger's thoughts befor he became Pope. In fact, the AE reflects accurately what he'd been writing all along. The fault lies in those who think his much quoted "fabrication of the Novus Ordo" heavily places him in the traditional camp. It was an exaggerated interpretation of his writings.

    You mentioned "Spirit of the Liturgy." So, here's a quote from that book:

    [url=]Ratzinger on Ad Orientem[/url]

    "A more important objection is of the practical order. Ought we really to be rearranging everything all over again? Nothing is more harmful to the liturgy than a constant activism, even if it seems to be for the sake of genuine renewal.

    " I see a solution in a suggestion that comes from the insights of Erik Peterson. Facing east, as we heard, was linked with the "sign of the Son of Man," with the Cross, which announces the Lord’s Second Coming. That is why very early on the east was linked with the sign of the Cross.

    "Where a direct common turning towards the east is not possible, the cross can serve as the interior 'east' of faith. It should stand in the middle of the altar and be the common point of focus for both priest and praying community. In this way we obey the ancient call to prayer: 'Conversi ad Dominum,' 'Turn to the Lord!.' In this way we look together at the One whose death tore the veil of the Temple – the One who stands before the Father for us and encloses us in his arms in order to make us the new and living Temple."

    Another Ratzinger quote on "Ad Orientem":

    [url=] Ratzinger, the book reviewer[/url]

    "There is nothing in the Council text about turning altars towards the people; that point is raised only in postconciliar instructions. The most important directive is found in paragraph 262 of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, the General Instruction of the new Roman Missal, issued in 1969. That says, 'It is better for the main altar to be constructed away from the wall so that one can easily walk around the altar and celebrate facing the people (versus populum).' The General Instruction of the Missal issued in 2002 retained this text unaltered except for the addition of the subordinate clause, 'which is desirable wherever possible'. This was taken in many quarters as hardening the 1969 text to mean that there was now a general obligation to set up altars facing the people 'wherever possible'.

    "This interpretation, however, was rejected by the Congregation for Divine Worship on 25 September 2000, when it declared that the word 'expedit' ('is desirable') did not imply an obligation but only made a suggestion. The physical orientation, the Congregation says, must be distinguished from the spiritual. Even if a priest celebrates versus populum, he should always be oriented versus Deum per Iesum Christum (towards God through Jesus Christ). Rites, signs, symbols, and words can never exhaust the inner reality of the mystery of salvation, For this reason the Congregation warns against one-sided and rigid positions in this debate."

  56. Anonymous5:42 AM

    To annonymous who wrote:
    The private writings of Joseph Ratzinger as a Cardinal are one thing; the documents of the magisterium of the Church promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI are another thing of an entirely different kind.

    Right. Trouble is, they are NOT of different ideas. They consistently reflect each other. I'd say the trouble lies on the Traditionalists mistead him.

    For one thing, he was prefect of the CDF at that time and it would have been foolish for him to publish opinions contrary to what his Office was supposed to protect. Also, it depends on how he framed these things in his books. Most of the time, he reflected and made these official teachings his own, just as he confirms (with the first person pronoun "I") the Synod Bishops work in this Apostolic Exhortation.

    But let me give you some quotes to prove that you may have been expecting the wrong things from this AE, and that's why you are so disappointed.

    From "God is Near Us," page 68-69. (Here he discusses the objection that "with the changes to the Offertory the sacrificial aspect of the Mass has been destroyed and that the Mass has thus ceased to be Catholic." )

    First he says

    "Well, even a modest acquaintance with the Little Catechism would be enough for us to realize that the sacrificial dimension was never located in the Offertory, but in the Eucharistic Prayer, the Canon. For we do not offer God this or that thing; the new element in the Eucharist is the presence of the sacrifice of Christ. Therefore the sacrifice is effective where his word is heard, the word of the Word, by which he transformed his death into an event of meaning and of love, in order that we, through being able to take up his words for ourselves, are led onward into his love, onward into the love of the Trinity, in which he eternally hands himself over to the Father. There, where the words of the Word ring forth, and our gifts thus become his gifts, through which he gives himself, that is the sacrificial element that has ever and always been characteristic of the Eucharist."

    (The he argues that that the word "Offertory" really refers not to "offering of sacrifice" but merely of preparation of the bread and wine for the true offering to come later (in the canon).

    "What we call the 'Offertory' has another significance. The German word Opferung, and likewise the English word 'offertory', comes either from the Latin offerre, or more probably from operare. Offerre does not mean to sacrifice (that is immolare in Latin); it is rather to provide, prepare, make available. And operari means to effect; in this case it, too, means to prepare. The idea was simply that at this point the eucharistic altar had to be made ready and that to this end operari, that is, various activity, was necessary, so that the candles, the gifts, bread and wine, should be standing ready for the Eucharist, as was befitting. This was therefore in the first instance simply an external preparation for what was to happen. But people very soon came to understand it in a deeper sense. They borrowed the action of the head of the household in Judaism, who holds the bread up before the face of God, so as to receive it anew from him. By lifting up the gifts to God, by entering together into Israel's manner of preparing itself for God, the outward acts of preparation were increasingly understood as an inward preparation for the approach of God, who seeks us out himself through our gifts.

    "Right up to the ninth or tenth century this act of preparation, which had been taken over from Israel, happened without any words. Then there arose a feeling that every action in the Christian sphere also required words. Thus in about the tenth century those offertory prayers were composed that the older ones among us know and love from the old missal and perhaps even miss in the new form of Mass. These prayers were beautiful and profound. But we have to admit that they carried within them the seeds of a certain misunderstanding. The way they were formulated always looked forward to the actual matter of the Canon. Both elements, the preparation and the actual sacrifice of Christ, were intertwined in these words."

    So, he says, the Novus Ordo schemers first wanted to go back to the early situation, but Paul VI intervened:

    "For this reason, those who were reforming the Liturgy wished first of all to return to the situation before the ninth century and to leave the ritual of offering the gifts without any words. The Holy Father, Pope Paul VI, decided person- ally, and with some emphasis, that some words of prayer would have to remain here. He himself took part in the formulation of these prayers. In their main outlines they are derived from the table prayers of Israel. We must also bear in mind that all these prayers over meals of Israel, these blessings, as they are called, are related to the Paschal Mystery; they look toward the Passover of Israel, are thought out on that basis and draw their life from it. That means that they are implicitly looking forward to the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ, that we may call them at the same time both Advent and Easter prayers."

    Finally, he concludes that something of new and positive value has thereby been added to the Mass.

    "Above all, we will recall that the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, prayed in this way -- on their flight into Egypt, in the strange land, and then at home in Nazareth, and again that Jesus prayed in this way with his disciples. At that time the Jewish rule was probably already in force that in the evening the mother lights the candles and that she is then the leader of family prayers. Thus, in these prayers we may hear the voice of Mary and pray with her. The whole secret life of Nazareth, this Advent progression toward the Easter event, is present in them. Thus, a new treasure has entered the Liturgy. We start, as it were, with Nazareth, in the act of preparation, and from there we move -- in the middle of the Canon -- toward Golgotha, and finally on into the Resurrection event of Communion. I think if we hear these new old prayers in this way, then they can become for us a wonderful treasure in uniting us with the earthly life of Jesus, uniting us with the waiting prayer of Israel, and in our sharing the journey from Nazareth to Golgotha and up to the hour of the Resurrection."

    Then, from the bottom of page 68 he has this to say about Communion in the hand:

    "The second objection we wanted to consider was against the act of receiving Communion: kneeling - standing, hand - mouth. Well, first of all, I would like to say that both attitudes are possible, and would like therefore to ask all priests to exercise tolerance and recognize the decision of each person.

    "But you will ask, Is tolerance the proper answer here? Oris not misplaced with respect to this most holy thing? Well, here again, we know that until the ninth century, Communion was received in the hand, standing. That does not of course mean that it should always be so...The new development that began after the ninth century is quite justified as an expression of reverence, and is well-founded. But, on the other hand, we have to say that the Church could not possibly have been celebrating the Eucharist unworithily for nine hundred years."

    And then he went on to say how St. Cyril of Jerusalem taught his flock how to receive communion by making a small throne with their hands, "laying the right upon the left, to form the throne for the King, forming at the same time, a cross."

  57. Anonymous5:04 PM

    You really need to dig deeper and study what the then Cardinal Ratzinger had to say regarding Mass celebrated ad Orientem, especially his most recent views.

    For example, I've already cited Fr. U.M. Lang's book which was published just prior to Cardinal Ratzinger becoming Pope. It should be widely read by every concerned Catholic because it contains the most recent thoughts of our current Pope on this subject.


    Foreword to Fr. U.M. Lang's "Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer" By Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

    Here is a link that'll take you to an important excerpt from Fr. Lang's book:

    "Turning Towards the Lord: Orientation in Liturgical Prayer" by Fr. U.M. Lang

    For a more complete understanding, although much older than what he says in Fr. Lang's book, please read the following article taken from Cardinal Ratzinger's "The Spirit of the Liturgy":

    I also believe that his views concerning Communion in the hand are not infallible since this is a changeable custom that represents his opinions which I may disagree with just like many people may or may not agree (as the Pope himself has publicly declared) with his upcoming book on our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ. Sure, the approval of Communion in the hand is much different, but I may in accord with Canon Law disagree with it internally/in private by writing a respectful letter to the Holy Father. The same case applies to altar girls.

    Many scholars have provided a more thorough understanding of the early custom of Communion in the hand that completely differs with what Cardinal Ratzinger had stated in "God is Near Us". At the same time, I find it interesting how he never addressed these scholars in his book, including Michael Davies whom he publicly befriended and admired) nor did he ever attempt to refute their most convincing conclusions on this subject (by the way, I already knew for a long time about his thoughts on Communion in the hand before I read the excerpt you provided).

    Anyway, it doesn't matter what the early Church practiced regarding any particular liturgal custom because organic development doesn't turn back the clock to earlier customs which were limited and undeveloped due to various circumstances and historical conditions. The error of turning everything back to the customs of the early Church was soundly condemned by Pope Pius XII in Mediator Dei:

    ‘It is true that the Church is a living organism and therefore grows and develops in her liturgical worship; it is also true that, always preserving the integrity of her doctrine, she accommodates herself to the needs and conditions of the times. But deliberately to introduce new liturgical customs, or to revive obsolete rites inconsistent with existing laws and rubrics, is an irresponsible act which We must condemn. (...) The liturgy of the early ages is worthy of veneration; but an ancient custom is not to be considered better, either in itself or in relation to times and circumstances, just because it has the savour of antiquity. More recent liturgical rites are also worthy of reverence and respect, because they too have been introduced under the guidance of the Holy Ghost... .... the desire to restore everything indiscriminately to its ancient condition is neither wise nor praiseworthy. It would be wrong, for example, to want the altar restored to its ancient form of a table, to want black eliminated from the liturgical coloufs, and pictures and statues excluded from our churches; to require crucifixes that do not represent the bitter suffenngs of the divine Redeemer..." (63, 65, 66).

    What Pius XII condemned as a serious error has been welcomed by the post-Conciliar Church which has suppressed the Traditional Latin Mass by misreading or distorting the Second Vatican Council. Sadly, many other noble customs that developed since the Scholastic period due to an increase in Eucharistic piety (e.g., Adoration, Eucharistic processions) have also been suppressed in favor of a more simplistic approach to the liturgy of the early Church.

    Most of the blame for all of this liturgical wreckovation should be placed on the Concilium which included Fr. Joseph Gelineau. He cited in one of his writings the liturgical practice of the early Church as a way to defend the Concilium's agenda to turn the liturgical clocks back to the customs of the early Christians.

    This is precisely why Father Gelineau, who was a powerful, influential member of the Concilium, unambiguously declared without regret and with a bit of "in-your-face" arrogance the following statement:

    ''Let those who like myself have known and sung a Latin-Gregorian High Mass remember it if they can. Let them compare it with the Mass that we now have. Not only the words, the melodies, and some of the gestures are different. To tell you the truth it is a different liturgy of the Mass. This needs to be said without ambiguity: the Roman Rite as we knew it no longer exists [Le rite romain tel que nous l'avons connu n'existe plus]. It has been destroyed [il est de'truit] (Gelineau, The Liturgy Tomorrow, 9-10).

    This is why Cardinal Ratzinger could call the New Mass a "fabricated liturgy". He had Fr. Gelineau and the pathetic Concilium in mind.

    On the other hand, Cardinal Benelli, who was likewise one of the top architects of the new Mass, went further by stating that the new Mass reflects a ''new ecclesiology'' (Christian Order, Oct. 1978) The full quotation from the Cardinal is astounding (and disheartening):

    ''At the end Dr. de Saventham asked the prelate whether the traditional liturgy could not be permitted at the side of the new one. The answer was startling: 'Sir, all these reforms go in the same direction: whereas the old Mass represents another ecclesiology!' Dr. de Saventham, 'Monsignor, what you said is an enormity!' ''

    Note: I recommend reading the "Anti-Liturgical Heresy" by Dom Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., Abbot of Solesmes:

    Keep praying!

  58. Anonymous5:29 PM

    Here is a good article by Fr. Fessio. I don't agree with some of his views, especially regarding the "Traditional Latin Mass" and the Second Vatican Council or his use of political language to describe different camps in the Church (he is more of a Neo-Catholic than a traditionalist and chooses the "middle way" between the so-called "two extremes" which is an unorthodox approach that Dr. Dietrich von Hildebrand condemned in his writings). That being said, Father Fessio is very close to the present Pope (he was his former studnet) and he does raise several points of view worth noting:

    The Mass of Vatican II By REV. JOSEPH FESSIO

    "With regard to the Mass we have now two extremes and a moderate position. One extreme position is the kind of informal Mass, all in English, facing the people, with contemporary music, which does not at all correspond with what the Council had in mind. But it is legitimate, it is permitted; it is not wrong. And we have on the other extreme those who have returned, with permission, to the Mass of 1962 and, as others have noted, it is thriving and growing. But it is not what the Council itself specifically had in mind, although it is the Mass of the ages. Then you have the moderates."

    Rev. Joseph Fessio, S.J.

    This essay is based on a lecture on the liturgy given by Father Fessio in May, 1999.

    The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, was one of two documents issued on the same day, December 4, 1963, the first two documents issued by the Second Vatican Council. The other document, Inter Mirifica, is on social communication. Sacrosanctum Concilium is one of the most important documents of the Council, one that has been the least understood and, I believe, has wrought the most havoc — not by having been fulfilled — but by having been ignored or misinterpreted.

    Now there should be no argument about the central intent of the Council concerning the liturgy. The Council actually spells out its intent, in paragraph 14 of Sacrosanctum Concilium: “Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations, which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy.” The key words here are “full, conscious, and active participation.” The Latin for “active participation” is actuosa participatio.

    I did a little research into previous uses of that expression in papal and other ecclesial documents. The first papal usage was in 1903 by Pope St. Pius X, whose motto was “Omnia Instaurare in Christo” (To restore all things in Christ). He considered himself a pope of renewal. He was elected in August of 1903 and in November, he issued one of the first documents of his pontificate, a motu proprio called Tra Le Solicitudini, that is, “Among the Concerns.” This was a document on the renewal of sacred music. In it, the Holy Father states, “In order that the faithful may more actively participate in the sacred liturgy, let them be once again made to sing Gregorian Chant as a congregation.”

    That’s what the term “active participation” meant when it was first used in a papal document. But it had been used ten years earlier in another document, issued by Pius X before he was pope. He was the patriarch of Venice, and the document — as it turns out — was actually written by a Jesuit, with the wonderful name of Angelo dei Santi (“angel of the saints”). Sounds like a fictitious name.

    In any case, the first use of actuosa participatio, i.e., active participation, referred explicitly and exclusively to the restoration of the congregational singing of Gregorian Chant. In 1928, Pope Pius XI reiterated the point in his Apostolic Letter, Divini Cultus. Nineteen years after that, in the Magna Carta of liturgical reform, Mediator Dei, issued by Pius XII, the same term was used with the same meaning. So until the Second Vatican Council, the term “active participation” referred exclusively to the singing of Gregorian Chant by the people.

    No Innovations Unless the Good of the Church Requires Them

    But back to the Council. In the same paragraph of Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 14, the Council continues: “In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else.” So the Council itself defines the primary aim of liturgical renewal: full, conscious and active participation. How does the Council initially intend for the aim to be achieved? That, also, is not something we have to guess at or speculate on: “And, therefore, pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it by means of the necessary instruction in all their pastoral work.” The Council’s idea is clear: the liturgy is to be renewed by promoting more active participation through the means of greater education. Nothing whatsoever is said here about any kind of changes or reform of the rite itself. Later, when changes are discussed, the Council states in paragraph 23: “There must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them.” So no changes unless there is a real, proven, demonstrable need.

    Paragraph 23 continues: “And care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.” Organic growth — like a plant, a flower, a tree — not something constructed by an intellectual elite, not things fabricated and tacked on, or brought back from ten centuries ago, or fifteen centuries ago, but an organic growth. That’s what the Council itself said.

    Paragraph 48 begins the chapter on the Mass. And the title of this chapter is interesting. It’s not called “The Eucharist” or “The Mass”; it’s called “The Most Sacred Mystery of the Eucharist.” Even in the chapter title, you have the sense that what’s important is mystery, sacredness, awe, the transcendence of God.

    Paragraph 48 returns to the theme of greater awareness, a greater knowledge of the faithful, in order that they might enter more fully into the mysteries celebrated: “For this reason the Church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ’s faithful, when present at the mystery of faith should not be there as strangers or silent spectators. On the contrary, through a good understanding of the rites and prayers, they should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing with devotion and full collaboration.” Then, in paragraph 49, the document says, “For this reason the sacred Council, having in mind those Masses which are celebrated with assistance of the faithful, especially on Sundays and Feasts of Obligation, has made the following decrees in order that the sacrifice of the Mass, even in the ritual forms of its celebration, may become pastorally efficacious in the fullest degree.”

    Paragraphs 50 to 58 contain nine specific changes the Council had in mind for the renewal of the liturgy. But before we consider them, we must recall that when the Council made these proposals, it didn’t dream them up overnight. Although this was the first document issued at the Council, it was not issued without long preparation. The modern liturgical movement began in the middle of the 19th century. It was given great impetus by Pius X himself, in the beginning of the 20th century, and by years of study, prayer, and liturgical congresses during the first half of the century. In fact, after Mediator Dei in 1947, there were seven international liturgical conferences, attended by liturgical experts, by pastors and by Roman officials. If you read the minutes of those meetings and the concrete proposals they made, you will see that what the Council outlines here is the fruit of those meetings. This is really the distillation of the prayer and reflection that was the culmination of the liturgical movement, which had existed for over a century prior to the Council.

    Nine Proposals

    What are the nine liturgical proposals, or the nine liturgical mandates, of the Council? Paragraph 50 says the rites are to be simplified and those things that have been duplicated with the passage of time or added with little advantage, are to be discarded. And, after the Council, this reform did take place in many ways. I think it took place to a much greater degree than the Council intended, but there are certain simplifications in the Mass that the Council clearly intended.

    Paragraph 51: The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more fully. That has been accomplished by a greater number of readings from the Bible interspersed throughout the liturgical cycle, both in the Sunday and weekday cycles. Now, especially if you attend daily Mass, you have a much richer fare, if you will — a much expanded selection of Biblical readings.

    Paragraph 52 says: “The homily is to be highly esteemed as part of the Liturgy itself.” The Council called for a greater effort to have good homilies and I think the effort has been made. Whether the homilies are better or not, you can judge for yourselves. Paragraph 53 says that the Common Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful should be restored, and that’s been done, too.

    Paragraph 54 is a key paragraph: “In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue.” What did the Council have in mind? Let’s continue: “This is to apply in the first place, to the readings and to the Common Prayer. But also as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people.” Yet it goes on to say, “Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass” — (that is, the unchanging parts, the parts that are there every day) — “which pertain to them.”

    So, the Council did not abolish Latin in the liturgy. The Council permitted the vernacular in certain limited ways, but clearly understood that the fixed parts of the Mass would remain in Latin. Again, I am just telling you what the Council said.

    Paragraph 55 discusses receiving Communion, if possible, from hosts consecrated at the Mass in which you participate. That is often done or attempted in many parishes today, but it is difficult to do in a precise way. It’s hard to calculate the exact number of hosts you will need. Also, you have to keep some hosts in the Tabernacle for the sick and for adoration. The Council also permits Communion under both species here, but under very limited circumstances. For example, “to the newly ordained in the Mass of the Sacred Ordination, or the newly professed in the Mass of Profession, and the newly baptized in the Mass which follows baptism.” The Council itself did not call for offering both species to all the faithful all the time, but it did grant limited permission for it.

    Paragraph 56 says that there are two parts of the Liturgy, the Word and the Eucharist, and that a pastor should insistently teach the faithful to take part in the entire Mass, especially on Sundays and Feasts of Obligation. That is, to consider the first part of the Mass, the Table of the Word, as a significant and essential part of the Mass, so you don’t think you have gone to Mass just by coming after the Offertory and being there for the Consecration and Communion.

    Paragraph 57 states that concelebration should be permitted; paragraph 58, that a new rite for concelebration is to be drawn up.

    That is the sum total of the nine mandates of the Council for change in the ritual itself, although there are a few other pertinent paragraphs to mention here.

    In paragraph 112, in which the Council speaks specifically of music, we read: “The musical tradition of the Universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art.” That is a stupendous and shocking statement; the Council actually says that the Church’s music is a treasure of art greater than any other treasure of art she has. Think about that. Think about Chartres Cathedral. Think about the Pieta. Think about Da Vinci’s Last Supper. Think of all the crucifixes from Catalonia in Spain, and all the Church architecture and art and paintings and sculpture. The Council boldly says that the Church’s musical tradition is a treasure of inestimable value greater than any other art.

    But the Council would be remiss in making such a shocking statement without giving a reason for it: “The main reason for this preeminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy.” What that means is this: it’s wonderful to have a beautiful church, stained glass windows, statues, a noble crucifix, prayerful architecture that lift your heart up to God. But those are all surroundings of the Mass. It’s the “worship environment,” as they would say today. But it’s not the Mass itself. The Council says that when the Mass itself is set to music, that’s what ennobles music, which, itself, enhances the Mass; and that’s what makes the musical tradition the most precious tradition of the Church.

    Notice, however, that the Council implies what many Church documents have said explicitly — that the most perfect form of music at Mass is not the hymns, the so-called “Gathering hymn” and its antithesis — I guess you would call it the “Scattering hymn” — at the end. The most appropriate use of music at Mass, as seen by Church tradition and reaffirmed by the Council, is singing the Mass itself: the Kyrie, the Agnus Dei, the Sanctus, the Acclamations, the Alleluias and so on. Again, this isn’t Father Fessio’s pet theory; this is what the Council actually says. Paragraph 112 adds, “Sacred music is to be considered the more holy in proportion as it is the more closely connected with the liturgical action itself.” This reinforces my point.

    Paragraph 114 adds: “The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care.” Then in paragraph 116 we find another shocker: “The Church acknowledges Gregorian Chant as specially suited to the Roman Liturgy. Therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.” That’s what the Council actually said. If you are in a parish which prides itself on living the spirit of Vatican II, then you should be singing Gregorian chant at your parish. And if you’re not singing the Gregorian Chant, you’re not following the specific mandate of the Second Vatican Council.

    Now, just a little footnote on the Gregorian Chant. In reflecting on these things about Church music, I began to think about the Psalms a few years back. And a very obvious idea suddenly struck me. Why it didn’t come earlier I don’t know, but the fact is that the Psalms are songs. Every one of the 150 Psalms is meant to be sung; and was sung by the Jews. When this thought came to me, I immediately called a friend, a rabbi in San Francisco who runs the Hebrew School, and I asked, “Do you sing the Psalms at your synagogue?” “Well, no, we recite them,” he said. “Do you know what they sounded like when they were sung in the Old Testament times and the time of Jesus and the Apostles?” I asked. He said, “No, but why don’t you call this company in Upstate New York. They publish Hebrew music, and they may know.”

    So, I called the company and they said, “We don’t know; call 1-800-JUDAISM.” So I did. And I got an information center for Jewish traditions, and they didn’t know either. But they said, “You call this music teacher in Manhattan. He will know.” So, I called this wonderful rabbi in Manhattan and we had a long conversation. At the end, I said, “I want to bring some focus to this, can you give me any idea what it sounded like when Jesus and his Apostles sang the Psalms?” He said, “Of course, Father. It sounded like Gregorian Chant. You got it from us.”

    I was amazed. I called Professor William Mart, a Professor of Music at Stanford University and a friend. I said, “Bill, is this true?” He said, “Yes. The Psalm tones have their roots in ancient Jewish hymnody and psalmody.” So, you know something? If you sing the Psalms at Mass with the Gregorian tones, you are as close as you can get to praying with Jesus and Mary. They sang the Psalms in tones that have come down to us today in Gregorian Chant.

    So, the Council isn’t calling us back to some medieval practice, those “horrible” medieval times, the “terrible” Middle Ages, when they knew so little about liturgy that all they could do was build a Chartres Cathedral. (When I see cathedrals and churches built that have a tenth of the beauty of Notre Dame de Paris, then I will say that the liturgists have the right to speak. Until then, they have no right to speak about beauty in the liturgy.) But my point is that at the time of Notre Dame de Paris in the 13th century, the Psalms tones were already over a thousand years old. They are called Gregorian after Pope Gregory I, who reigned from 590 to 604. But they were already a thousand years old when he reigned. He didn’t invent Gregorian chant; he reorganized and codified it and helped to establish musical schools to sing it and teach it. It was a reform; it wasn’t an invention. Thus, the Council really calls us back to an unbroken tradition of truly sacred music and gives such music pride of place.

    The last thing I want to quote from the Council is paragraph 128, which talks about sacred art and sacred furnishings: “Along with the revisions of liturgical books . . . there is to be an earlier revision of the canons and ecclesiastical statutes which govern the provisions of material things involved in sacred worship. These laws refer especially to the worthy and well-planned construction of sacred buildings, the shape and construction of altars, the nobility, placing and safety of the Eucharistic tabernacle, the dignity and suitability of the baptistery . . .” and so on.

    What the Council Didn’t Say

    That’s essentially what the Second Vatican Council actually said about the renewal of the liturgy. Let me tell you what it did not say. The Council did not say that tabernacles should be moved from their central location to some other location. In fact, it specifically said we should be concerned about the worthy and dignified placing of the tabernacle. The Council did not say that Mass should be celebrated facing the people. That is not in Vatican II; it is not mentioned. It is not even raised in the documents that record the formation of the Constitution on the Liturgy; it didn’t come up. Mass facing the people is a not requirement of Vatican II; it is not in the spirit of Vatican II; it is definitely not in the letter of Vatican II. It is something introduced in 1969.

    And, by the way, never in the history of the Church, East or West, was there a tradition of celebrating Mass facing the people. Never, ever, until 1969. It happened occasionally in Germany, in between the wars; it was done sometimes at the castle where Romano Guardini would have his group of students meet; it was done in Austria near Vienna by Pius Parsch in a special church, in what he called a “liturgical Mass.” That’s an odd expression, a “liturgical Mass.” The Mass is the liturgy.

    But in any event, I can say without fear of contradiction from anyone who knows the facts that there is simply no tradition whatsoever, in the history of the Church, of Mass facing the people. Now, is it a sin? No. Is it wrong? No. Is it permitted? Yes. It is required? Not at all. In fact in the Latin Roman Missal, which is the typical edition that all the translations of the Missal are based on (not always translated properly, but at least based on it) the rubrics actually presuppose the Mass facing East, the Mass facing the Lord.

    Now, for the first 25 years of my priesthood, I celebrated Mass like you see it when you go to a typical parish: in English, facing the people. It can be done reverently; I’ve seen it done reverently; I’ve tried to do it reverently myself. But the last three years, after study and reflection, I’ve changed. I actually think the Mass facing the people is a mistake. But, even if it’s not, at least this much we can say: there is no permission required to say Mass facing God, facing the tabernacle, facing East, facing with the people. And it should be given equal rights, it seems to me, with Mass facing the people. It’s been around for 1800 years at least, and it should be allowed to continue. I happen to think it’s symbolically richer.

    It’s true that when the priest faces the people for the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, there may be a sense of greater unity as a community. But there is also a danger of the priest being the performer and you being the spectator — precisely what the Council did not want: priest performers and congregational spectators. But there is something more problematic. You can see it, perhaps, by contrasting Mass facing the people with Mass facing East or facing the Lord. I don’t say Mass “with my back to the people” anymore than Patton went through Germany with his “back to the soldiers.” Patton led the Third Army across Germany and they followed him to achieve a goal. The Mass is part of the Pilgrim Church on the way to our goal, our heavenly homeland. This world is not our heavenly homeland. We don’t sit around in a circle and look at each other. We want to look with each other and with the priest towards the rising sun, the rays of grace, where the Son will come again in glory on the clouds.

    And so, in Mass celebrated in the traditional way, the priest does face the people when he speaks on God’s behalf to proclaim the Word and explain it. And he does face the people when he receives their gifts. And then he turns to face with the people and to offer those gifts up to our common Father, praying that the Holy Spirit will come down and transform those gifts into the Body and Blood of Christ. And when that most sacred act takes place, the priest turns to offer the gifts back to the people. I think that is much more dramatic. Whether I am right or not, all I’m asking is a right to exist. If not peaceful coexistence, at least coexistence.

    Now strange as it may appear, there is absolutely no permission required to say Mass facing East. The Pope does it every morning in his chapel. But there is such a taboo against it that most pastors would be afraid to do it for fear they would be exiled to some lowly parish.

    The Council also said nothing about moving the Tabernacle. It said nothing about removing altar rails. It said nothing about taking out kneelers. It said nothing about turning the altar around. It said nothing about multiple canons. That, too, is an invention; a pure invention.

    There has never been in the Church a choice of Eucharistic prayers at a given ceremony or a given Church. In the East, there were two main Eucharistic prayers. Generally, they were regionally different, or used on different feasts. But in the Roman rite, the Latin rite, there has always been one Eucharistic prayer. It was different in Milan, slightly; it was different in Spain, slightly, the Mozarabic rite; and it was different in a few other places — the Dominican Order and some others after the Middle Ages. But there was only one canon, the Eucharistic Prayer, the Roman canon. I happen to think it is the best. Not only because of the fact that when I am saying it I am uniting myself with what was actually said by the Fathers, and doctors, and saints, and mystics of the Church for hundreds of years (more than a thousand years) — but because I think it is richer.

    One problem, both at the time of the Council and after, is rationalism, which the Holy Father has spoken against. This is the idea that we can do it all with our own minds. The liturgists after the Council tried to construct a more perfect liturgy. But you know something? When you’ve grown up in a house and a room is added on and a story added on, a garage is added on, it may not be architecturally perfect, but it’s your home. To destroy it and try to construct a new one out of steel and glass and tile because that’s the modern idea, is not the way you live a human life. But that’s what’s happened to the liturgy.

    Look at the other canons. First of all, when I celebrate Mass with the Roman Canon, I’ve often had people come up and say, “What canon was that, Father?” I say, “Well, that was the Roman Canon, the one that has been used for about 1600 years.” “Oh, I haven’t heard that.” Generally, you get Canon Two. Why? Because it’s the shortest. So, you can spend all kinds of time with singing, and the commentators explaining things, and a long homily, with big processions and greeters coming in and whatever else. But for the Sacrifice of the Mass, the attitude seems to be “Let’s get that over as soon as we can with Canon Two.”

    Now, where did Canon Two come from? From what’s called the Canon of Hyppolytus, composed by a theologian who became a heretic, later was reconciled to the Church and died a martyr. Around the year 215, he wrote an outline of how Mass was celebrated in Rome. It was probably never used as a liturgical text because in the early days of the Church there was no final, written formalization of the liturgy, so this was an outline to be used by the celebrant.

    Thus, the Canon of Hyppolytus was perhaps never used as a canon. If it was, it ceased being used at least 1600 years ago. Yet from the Council, which says changes ought to come through organic growth and there should be no changes unless necessary, we come to liturgists saying, “Oh, let’s pull this thing out of the third century and plug it back into the twentieth.” That’s not organic growth; that’s archeologism, specifically criticized by Pius XII in Mediator Dei.

    The Third Canon was entirely made up. There has never been a canon like the Third Canon in the history of the Church, except in bits and pieces. Father Vagaggini, with the help of Father Bouyer, I believe, actually constructed it using their knowledge of liturgical history, which was enormous. But they totally invented the canon. It would be like taking piece of a carrot, a piece of a tomato, a piece of a peach and a piece of some tree, then putting them together and saying, “Well, you see that? It’s organic.” But it’s not organic; it’s constructed.

    Canon Four is based on an Eastern Egyptian canon, still used in the Eastern Church; and so, there is some justification for it. But it’s seldom used today because you can’t use it with any other prefaces; it has more or less dropped by the wayside.

    The point is that the Council did not call for a multiplication of canons, and I think there are lots of other reasons for sticking with the Roman canon. Nor did the Council, as I mentioned, abolish Latin. It specifically mandated the retention of Latin and only permitted the use of the vernacular in certain circumstances. And, finally, the Council did not prohibit Gregorian Chant, as you might be led to think from its absence in your parishes. The Council actually prescribed Gregorian Chant to have pride of place.

    Pope John Paul II Addresses the Bishops

    So, that is what the Council actually said. I’ve been saying this now for several years. Because I’ve been saying it and other things, Archbishop Weakland has called me a “papal maximalist,” but a year and a few months ago I was with him at an all-day meeting in Chicago on the liturgy. It was a very congenial meeting, actually; there were eight or nine of us there. And towards the end, they were discussing a document, the Pope’s address to the bishops of the Northwest in 1998. Remember, in 1998 all the bishops of the United States went to Rome for their Ad Limina visit. For one whole year, as each group of bishops came, the Holy Father spoke to them on how to interpret the Second Vatican Council in a way that will lead us into the Third Millennium.

    It happened that when the bishops from the Northwest came — from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Montana and Idaho — the Holy Father spoke on the liturgy. Archbishop Weakland and others were not particularly happy with what the pope said. And so I took the occasion in the afternoon to say to Archbishop Weakland, “You know, Archbishop you’ve publicly called me a papal maximalist. You published an article in America magazine in which you used that title for me. But you know, I can’t help it. The Pope keeps agreeing with me.”

    Here’s what the Pope said to the bishops of the Northwestern United States: “The two-thousandth anniversary of the birth of the Savior is a call to all Christ’s followers to seek a genuine conversion to God and a great advance to holiness. Since the Liturgy is such a central part of the Christian life, I wish today to consider some aspects of the liturgical renewal so vigorously promoted by the Second Vatican Council, as the prime agent of the wider renewal of Catholic life.” So, the Council itself wanted to renew Catholic life. And within that, it wanted to renew the liturgy. The Pope is saying here that as we look toward the year 2000, we must go back and see what the Council wanted for liturgical renewal, because that is the prime agent of the wider renewal of Catholic life.

    He continues: “To look back over what has been done in the field of liturgical renewal since the Council is first to see many reasons for giving heartfelt thanks and praise to the Most Holy Trinity for the marvelous awareness which had developed among the faithful of their role and responsibility in the priestly work of Christ and his Church. It is also to realize that not all changes have always and everywhere been accompanied by the necessary explanation and catechesis. As a result, in some cases there has been a misunderstanding of the very nature of the Liturgy, leading to abuses, polarization, sometimes even grave scandal.”

    The Pope generally speaks diplomatically, especially to bishops. These are pretty hard words, and this is the introduction, so obviously he’s going to give some guidelines for avoiding this polarization, this grave scandal and these abuses. He says, “After the experience of more than thirty years of liturgical renewal we are well placed to assess both the strengths and weaknesses of what has been done . . .” (listen carefully now)“ . . . in order more confidently to plot our course into the future, which God has in mind for His cherished people.” The Pope, here, speaks to our bishops, looking toward the new millennium and says, in effect, Here is what I think is the plan God has for all of his people as we move to the next millennium. And, specifically, here is the liturgical blueprint that, I, the Holy Father, believe we are to follow.

    “The challenge now,” he continues, “is to move beyond whatever misunderstandings there have been and to reach the proper point of balance, especially by entering more deeply into the contemplative dimension of worship, which includes a sense of awe, reverence and adoration which are fundamental attitudes in our relationship with God.”

    What does the Pope say we must do to restore balance? Enter more deeply into the contemplative dimension of worship. Can you contemplate when you’ve got drummers up in the sanctuary? Where do we find the sense of awe? Not in this “chatty” stuff at Mass: “Good morning, everybody.” Does that inspire a sense of awe? “Have a nice day.” The Pope mentions reverence and adoration. Standing is a sign of respect; but kneeling is a sign of adoration. The Pope says we must restore the sense of adoration.

    The Pope says to the liturgists and the bishops, “The Eucharist gathers and builds the human community, but it is also ‘the worship of the Divine Majesty’.” That’s from Sacrosanctum Concilium, paragraph 33. He continues: “It is subjective in that it depends radically upon what the worshippers bring to it, but it is objective in that it transcends them as the priestly act of Christ himself to which he associates us, but which ultimately does not depend upon us.”

    This is why it’s so important that liturgical law be respected: an objective act is taking place. “The priest, who is the servant of the liturgy and not its inventor or producer, has a particular responsibility in this regard, lest he empty the liturgy of its true meaning or obscure its sacred character,” says the Holy Father.

    Then he talks about “The core of the mystery of Christian worship.” Is the core of the mystery of Christian worship a sense that we are the people of God? Is it feeling united with each other? Spiritual bonding? Not according to the Pope, who says, “The core of the mystery of Christian worship is the Sacrifice of Christ offered to the Father and the work of the Risen Christ who sanctifies his people through the liturgical sign.” The sacrifice of Christ, sanctification. That’s what the Pope says. Remember, he’s looking now to lead the Church in the new millennium liturgically. He continues: “It is, therefore, essential that in seeking to enter more deeply into the contemplative depths of worship, the inexhaustible mystery of the priesthood of Jesus Christ be fully acknowledged and respected.”

    There is a movement to refer to the celebrant as the “presider,” instead of the “celebrant” or the “priest.” Now it’s true, he is a presider. But that’s an abstraction; and I think there’s an agenda behind the abstraction. You see, all the Sacraments need someone who presides: at Confirmation, at the Eucharist, at Confession — and at Baptism. And who can preside at Baptism? The priest is the ordinary minister and presider, but under certain unusual circumstances a layman — man or woman — and even a non-Catholic can preside at Baptism. And, so, I believe some people want to get us in the habit of thinking of the priest as a presider primarily because that’s an abstract term, which could include women.

    What does the Pope say about the matter? “The priest, therefore, is not just one who presides, but one who acts in the person of Christ.” You see, only the priest can act in persona Christi capitis, in the name of the Bridegroom (Jesus) over against the Bride (the Church) in the nuptial act, which is the Mass.

    Full, Conscious and Active Participation

    The Holy Father next discusses three attributes of the liturgy: full, conscious and active participation. Remember that I began by reading paragraph 14 of Sacrosanctum Concilium, which states that the purpose of the Council in renewing the liturgy was to achieve full, conscious, active participation? Well, those words can have different meanings. It is very interesting to find out what the Pope thinks they mean, as he tells us what he believes God is calling the Church to do in the liturgy in the new millennium.

    First, he talks about the fullness of participation. “The sharing of all the baptized in the one priesthood of Jesus Christ is the key to understanding the Church’s call for full, conscious and active participation. Full participation certainly means that every member of the community has a part to play in the liturgy. And in this respect, a great deal has been achieved in parishes and communities across your land. But, full participation does not mean that everyone does everything. Since this would lead to a clericalizing of the laity and a laicizing of the priesthood, and this was not what the Council had in mind.”

    What does he mean by “clericalizing the laity”? It’s the idea that, for example, the lector, the server at the altar, or the cross-bearer participates more actively than the mother with her child in the back of church. It’s the idea that being more like the priest in the sanctuary somehow makes you participate more fully. But the Pope says no to that idea. No, the “clericalizing of the laity” and the “laicizing of the clergy,” whereby the priest doesn’t do priestly things but sits while lay people are distributing the Eucharist, are not what the Council had in mind, says the Pope.

    “The liturgy, like the Church, is intended to be hierarchical and polyphonic,” he says. Not concentric and egalitarian, but hierarchical and polyphonic: “Respecting the different roles assigned by Christ and allowing all the different voices to blend in one great hymn of praise.” I’m not saying there shouldn’t be lectors and acolytes, and so on. There should be. But the point is, it’s not how close you get to the altar that determines how fully you participate. If that were the case, then those who aren’t ministers of some sort at Mass would be second-class participants. That’s not what the Council meant, says the Pope, by full participation.

    Then the Pope comes to active participation. “Active participation certainly means that in gesture, word, song, and service all the members of the community take part in an active worship, which is anything but inert or passive. Yet active participation does not preclude the active passivity of silence, stillness, and listening: indeed, it demands it. Worshippers are not passive, for instance, when listening to the readings or the homily or following the prayers of the celebrant and the chants in music of the Liturgy. These are experiences of silence and stillness, but they are in their own way, profoundly active. In a culture that neither favors nor fosters meditative quiet, the art of interior listening is learned only with difficulty. Here we see the liturgy, though it must always be properly inculturated, must also be counter-cultural.”

    Especially in our noisy world, we need to have silence. Especially in our world where it is hard to pray, we need to have contemplative adoration. In a world that doesn’t respect the liturgical cycles and seasons, we need to celebrate the Feast of the Ascension on a Thursday, not on a Sunday. Precisely because we have to be counter-cultural, we need to say there’s something more important than the workday. It’s our feast day.

    Finally, the Holy Father discusses conscious participation. He says, “Conscious participation calls for the entire community to be properly instructed in the mysteries of the liturgy” — the Council’s main instruction — “lest the experience of worship degenerate into a form of ritualism. But it does not mean a constant attempt within the liturgy itself to make the implicit explicit, since this often leads to verbosity and informality which are alien to the Roman Rite and end by trivializing the act of worship.”

    Conscious participation, then, is not a multiplication of commentators telling us what’s happening as the Mass goes along; it’s not laid back informality and the trivializing of the liturgy. That’s why I think it may seem like a small thing, but it’s a very bad to begin a liturgy by saying, “Good morning, everyone.” That’s not how you begin a sacred liturgy. You begin a sacred liturgy, “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” or better yet, “In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.”

    The Holy Father continues: “Nor does conscious participation mean the suppression of all subconscious experience, which is vital in a liturgy which thrives on symbols that speak to the subconscious, just as they speak to the conscious. The use of the vernacular has certainly opened up the treasures of the liturgy to all who take part.” There is, then, a positive value to the vernacular. “But,” the Holy Father continues, “this does not mean that the Latin language, and especially, the Chants which are so superbly adapted to the genius of the Roman rite, should be wholly abandoned.”

    What, then, does the Pope say about full, conscious, active participation? That it should be hierarchical, that there should be quiet, and worship in awe and reverence, and that there should be a place for Latin and, certainly for Chant in the liturgy. I submit to you that in most parishes across this country that’s not what you habitually find at the ordinary Masses for the people. Thus, although the Pope doesn’t say it in so many words, he is of the opinion that the way Mass is currently celebrated doesn’t conform fully to the mandates of the Council, as intended by the Church for the next century.

    We have now two extremes and a moderate position. One extreme position is the kind of informal Mass, all in English, facing the people, with contemporary music, which does not at all correspond with what the Council had in mind. But it is legitimate, it is permitted; it is not wrong. And we have on the other extreme those who have returned, with permission, to the Mass of 1962 and, as others have noted, it is thriving and growing. But it is not what the Council itself specifically had in mind, although it is the Mass of the ages.

    Then you have the moderates. Those in the middle. Me and a few others. But I am going to insist on my right as a Catholic and as priest to celebrate the liturgy according to the Council, according to the presently approved liturgical books, to celebrate a form of the Mass that therefore needs no special permission — and which in fact cannot be prohibited — what I’ve called “the Mass of Vatican II.”


    Father Joseph Fessio, S.J., "The Mass of Vatican II." Catholic Dossier 5 no. 5 (September/October 2000): 12-20.

    This article is reprinted with permission from Catholic Dossier. To subscribe to Catholic Dossier call 1-800-651-1531.


    Father Joseph Fessio, S.J. is the publisher of Ignatius Press and chancellor of Ave Maria University in Venice Florida.

    Copyright © 2000 Catholic Dossier

  59. Anonymous5:47 PM

    Sorry, I inadvertently posted a broken link to the Holy Father's preface to Fr. Lang's book in my last post.

    Here's the correct one:

    It's really worth reading.

  60. Anonymous5:49 PM

    The link still isn't posting correctly here.

    Copy and paste the title of the article in Google search. It should come up that way.

  61. Anonymous6:16 PM


  62. Anonymous4:47 AM

    Anthony Galliano,

    The Ratzinger quote I provided was from the Foreword to Fr. Lang's book (from the same link you provided.) If you think its Ratzinger vs. Ratzinger fighting in the same text, read again:

    "Even if a priest celebrates versus populum, he should always be oriented versus Deum per Iesum Christum (towards God through Jesus Christ). Rites, signs, symbols, and words can never exhaust the inner reality of the mystery of salvation. For this reason the Congregation warns against one-sided and rigid positions in this debate."

    ..."This is an important clarification. It sheds light on what is relative in the external symbolic forms of the liturgy and resists the fanaticisms that, unfortunately, have not been uncommon in the controversies of the last forty years. At the same time it highlights the internal direction of liturgical action, which can never be expressed in its totality by external forms.

    "The Congregation's response should thus make for a new, more relaxed discussion, in which we can search for the best ways of putting into practice the mystery of salvation....The labelling of positions as 'preconciiiar', 'reactionary', and 'conservative', or as 'progressive' and 'alien to the faith' achieves nothing.

    So what does that tell you? He's saying that even if a priest celebrates facing the people, he could - and should - always be facing the Lord! Ratzinger does not advocate ad orientem per se, unlike what most traditionals think he does!

    As I said before, you must have misread Ratzinger, that's why you're so disappointed with the AE.

    You, Anthony, also wrote:

    I also believe that his views concerning Communion in the hand are not infallible since this is a changeable custom that represents his opinions which I may disagree with just like many people may or may not agree..

    So, why were you expecting that topic to be covered in AE? If there is no cut-and-fast rule about it, you couldn't expect it to be included in the document, could you?

  63. Anonymous5:08 AM


    Have you noticed lately (lately meaning - after Ignatius Press came out with "Feast of the Faith" and "God Is Near Us") that Fr. Fessio has become less vocal about "ad orientem."

    Have you noticed? It looks like Fr. Fessio became a little more flexible with his views on "ad orientem" after reading these two Ratzinger books!

  64. I think all the people saying that traditionalists were wrong to expect more than what we got in the exhortation are correct. It was perfectly reasonable to expect exactly this. As many quotes as can be thrown around from Ratzinger about the liturgy and his dissatisfaction with the Novus Ordo and the reforms in general, there is more than adequate evidence to show that he accepts those reforms, more or less in toto.

    For me, and I expect for other traditionalists, too, this was simply a way of holding onto hope. Yes, Ratzinger while cardinal did say many things that traditionalists would be uncomfortable with, but the few times he spoke in a way that sounded very traditional were the basis for a HOPE that God was going to use Pope Benedict as the means of rebuilding the Church, or at least of starting that reconstruction. It was not something that was probable on the natural level; but it was something that we might hope and pray for to happen through the Providence of God. For, though no one knows the future, it would seem that the successor to Pope Benedict is unlikely to be more friendly towards the tradition, unless his pontificate should last an unexpectedly long time. Hoping the Benedict would be the great reformer was an expression of hope that the crisis in the Church would not last very much longer. One cannot despair, of course, but this confirmation of his acceptance, more or less, of the status quo makes it difficult, if not impossible, to square with the hope that he would be the one to set things right.

    We must keep praying, but I must admit, it seems as if the crisis in the Church will last much longer than we might have hoped for.

  65. Anonymous6:39 AM

    Anthony, you wrote:

    This is why Cardinal Ratzinger could call the New Mass a "fabricated liturgy". He had Fr. Gelineau and the pathetic Concilium in mind.

    I see what you mean, and Cardinal Ratzinger did call the New Mass "a fabricated liturgy." I'm not denying that. What I'm saying is, perhaps the traditionalists have put a little more weight on that quote than Ratzinger had originally intended. To expect Sacramentum Caritatis to "correct" the issues of communion in hand, "versus populum," etc. was to set yourselves up for big disappointment, which could have been prevented if you had only read the later Ratzinger books.

    (By the way, I personally don't like "communion in hand," "altar girls," "liturgical dancing," either - and would prefer "ad orientem" any time, if you ask me. But as I said, I go to daily Mass, and at least where I live, all daily Masses are Novus. Out of curiousity, where do you go for a Tridentine indult daily Mass?)

    But back to the AE, you should not have expected Ratzinger to "correct" communion in the hand and "versus populum" in the Novus, even if the Synod Bishops didn't. It's not that Benedict XVI is weak. It's not that he's going against his own preferences just to preserve "collegiality." No, it's not that. Having read these newer books, I really believe that he agrees wholeheartedly with the lineamentas so much so that he even gave permission for them to be published even before the Synod started.

    On the other hand, we have much to thank for in Sacramentum Caritatis. It reiterated and settled, once and for all, the challenging questions about (a) communion for the divorced-and-remarried; (b) priestly celibacy; (c) communion for those who dissent from the official teachings of the Church, i.e., support for abortion and homosexual sex (d) the strange liturgies of "small groups," (I believe this means the neocatechumenicals, the charismatics, teen life, etc.); the total non-use of Latin in the Novus. Most of these issues are established teachings, but given that a lot of questions are being raised about them now, it's a relief to hear them again.

    As to suggestions (from elsewhere, not from you) that people read Sacramentum Caritatis for clues that the much-rumored "Universal Indult" of the Tridentine Mass would be released, I must say there's absolutely nothing on it. I suspect the reason was because Pope Benedict does not consider the Novus and the Tridentine as two separate rites. So if the Novus Ordo is reformed (so as to make it a little more "organic,") there would not be any need for a wider Indult of the Tridentine. (This has always been Cardinal Arinze's position, whom I tend to believe more on these matters than either Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos or Cardinal Medina, sorry!)

    You want proofs that the Pope personally agree on what he wrote in the AE? Okay, here are some quotes, from Feast of the Faith, pp.82-87:

    CARDINAL RATZINGER: ... I would like to make a brief reference to the so-called Tridentine liturgy. In fact there is no such thing as a Tridentine liturgy, and until 1965 the phrase would have meant nothing to anyone. The Council of Trent did not "make" liturgy.

    Hence those who cling to the "Tridentine Missal" have a faulty view of historical facts. Yet at the same time the way in which the renewed Missal was presented was open to much criticism. We must say to the "Tridentines" that the Church's liturgy is alive, like the Church herself, and is always thus involved in a process of maturing which exhibits greater and lesser changes. The Missal can no more be mummified than the Church herself.

    Yet for all its advantages, the new Missal was published as if it were a book put together by professors, not a phase in a continual growth process. It is abolutely contrary to the laws of liturgical growth and it has resulted in the nonsensical notion that Trent and Pius V had "produced" a Missal 400 years ago.

    Lest there be any misunderstanding, let me add that as far as its content is concerned (apart from a few criticisms), I am grateful for the new Missal, for the way it has enriched the treasury of prayers and prefaces, for the new eucharistic prayers and increased number of text for use on weekdays, etc., quite apart from the availability of the vernacular. But I do regard it unfortunate that we have been presented with the idea of a new book rather than with that of continuity within a single liturgical history.

    In my view, a new edition will need to make it quite clear that the so-called Missal of Paul VI is nothing other than the renewed form of the same Missal to which Pius X, Urban VIII, Pius V and their predecessors have contributed, right from the Church's earliest history.

    This awareness of continuity is destroyed just as much by those who "opt" for a book supposed to have been produced 400 years ago as by those who would like to be forever drawing up new liturgies. At bottom, these two attitudes are identical. It seems to me that this is the origin of the uneasiness to which you have referred.

  66. Anonymous7:21 AM

    From Sacramentum Caritatis:

    The presentation of the gifts

    47. (...) The authentic meaning of this gesture can be clearly expressed without the need for undue emphasis or complexity...

    Question: Does anybody believe this line adequately addresses Cardinal Mahony's "liturgical dances?"

    Just asking! Ooops!

  67. Anonymous11:31 AM

    Regarding paragraph 47, I suppose that it all depends on the translation, eh? As it stands, we can reasonably expect that Mahoneyfest 2008 will hold more of the same and worse in store.

    I'll say it again (and again and again and again): a geniune liturgical renewal will not happen until a full understanding of the sacrificial purpose of the Mass is recovered. In case anyone here needs reminding:

    Ulitmate purpose of the Mass: the sacrifice of praise rendered to the Most Holy Trinity.

    Ordinary purpose of the Mass: a propitiary sacrifice in atonement for our sins.

    Immanent purpose of the Mass: the act of sacrifice itself.

    A strong re-affirmation of and clear teaching about the threefold and essentially sacrificial purpose of the Mass is notably absent from NC. Based on all of the past writings of Joseph Ratzinger (as Marie has reminded us here), this should not come as any surprise.

    Nothing is going to change on the basis of this document. Neither will the anticipated MP bring the desired renewal, unless it addresses the theological fundamentals. Don't count on it.

  68. Anonymous7:39 PM

    No one seems to be picking up the section regarding a "Eucharistic Compendium." In that document, perhaps, the vision of SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS might be actualized via more concrete rule and/or suggestions.

  69. Anonymous9:11 PM

    That's wishful thinking. The problem is that Sacramentum Caritatis proceeds from the same theological basis as the Novus Ordo itself. The New Theology that underpins the Novus Ordo essentially reduces the Mass to the simple proposition that "God is Love" -- and we see this again in Benedict's explicit linking of the Apostolic Exhortation to his first encyclical. Of course, the traditional theology, which understands the Mass as a propitiary sacrifice, never excluded the dimension of Divine Charity. Yet try telling that to the proponents of the New Theology. For them, it's not just about promoting Divine Charity; above all, it's about saying farewell to any concept of propitiation, expiation, and atonement. The promised Eucharistic Compendium will be more of the same. It won't be bad, it won't contain heresy, indeed it will include much good food for spiritual reflection -- yet it will not promote the fundamental theological renewal that is needed.

  70. The Mass is a propitiatory sacrifice BECAUSE God is love. It is out of his love, that he gave men a means of accessing and obtaining his grace both for themselves and for one another, whether living or dead. Because God is love, Christ gave himself up to death on the Cross and re-presents this sacrifice in an unbloodly manner whenever Mass is offered.

    I know you agree with this Brideshead, and I respect your criticism that there is not enough emphasis in recent documents.

  71. Anonymous6:29 PM

    With Peter,

    Of course I agree, and I think that the Pope would agree, too -- or would he? The lack of emphasis on the eternal truth that the Mass as IN ITSELF a propitiary sacrifice is revealing, especially in light of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's statements on the meaning of sacrifice, cf., Chapters 2 and 3 of *The Spirit of the Liturgy*.

  72. Anonymous9:37 AM

    Ulitmate purpose of the Mass: the sacrifice of praise rendered to the Most Holy Trinity.

    Ordinary purpose of the Mass: a propitiary sacrifice in atonement for our sins.

    Immanent purpose of the Mass: the act of sacrifice itself.

    I think what Pope Benedict wants to emphasize in the AE is not so much that the liturgy is something people use for "a purpose" (i.e., worship, propitiation, atonement, sacrifice) as it is first and foremost, an INITIATIVE by God. The liturgy came from God, it's a gift from God that Christ offers as sacrifice for our redemption.

    At least that's how I (not a native English speaker) understand these words by Benedict XVI:

    "As I have said elsewhere, "Christ's death on the Cross is the culmination of that TURNING OF GOD AGAINST HIMSELF in which he gives himself in order to raise man up and save him. This is love in its most radical form."

    In other words, the Liturgy is not so much the "people's work" as it is "A free gift of the Blessed Trinity."

  73. Anonymous12:25 PM


    The traditional theology of the Mass certainly assumes that the sacrifice is God's initiative. It is Jesus Christ who offers the sacrifice of praise to the Holy Trinity, it is Christ who offers himself as a propitiary sacrifice in atonement for our sins, and it is Christ alone whose self-oblation is pleasing to God.

    When Pope Benedict describes Christ's death on the cross as God's "turning against himself" and thus the most radical form of love, one could of course argue that he is deepening and enriching the traditional theology of sacrifice. This way of describing Christ's death is certainly the formlation of a "creative and daring" theologian, a theologian who owes more to von Balthasar than to Aquinas.

    The theology of kenosis that is at the center of the Exhortation essentially reduces the Eucharistic sacrifice to the simple proposition that "God is love". The problem with this is that the participants at Manhoneyfest and the Linz clown Mass do not need to be reminded that "God is love". They need to be reminded that GOD DEMANDS A SACRIFICE.

  74. Anonymous7:07 AM


    I am hoping that what happens at the annual Mahonyfest is not representative of the regular Sunday Masses held in the parishes in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. (I am not from LA, so I have no idea.)

    The AE exhorts that in large liturgical celebrations where the main celebrant is the Bishop the Ordinary of the Mass should at least be done in Latin and that chants be used for music.

    I pray that Cardinal Mahony takes heed of this part in the exhortation, at least for the Masses that he himself celebrates, thus giving good example to priests in his archdiocese. Then maybe the nightmare of the liturgical dance would at last be over.

  75. I think you know that kenosis is Greek for "self-emptying," but I want to make sure. Kenosis and sacrifice are concepts that mirror one another. Without kenosis, sacrifice is meaningless ritual. Without sacrifice, kenosis cannot happen. Although the concept is all over the place, I don't think the term is used in SCa.

    You have to be careful in reading Ratzinger's theological works. Most of these books are collections of speeches and he sometimes he speaks rather carelessly, that is, without fully appreciating how his words can be taken. In his effort to focus on one thing and define it accurately, he often ends up seeming to incidentally deny other things that should never be denied.

    In other words, when you're reading his books and he seems to be denying traditional doctrines, you have to ask yourself where his attention seems to be. Is he really expressing a conviction against these doctrines, or is he speaking clumsily?

    At any rate, I highly doubt he would consciously deny something as fundamental as the threefold distinction you defined earlier.

  76. Anonymous8:54 AM

    I do not really see how "kenosis" and "love" could contradict each other - unless you mean "fuzzy love" which is no love at all. But real love is sacrificial, isn't it? And real sacrifice should be done out of love, otherwise suffering would have no meaning at all.

    Where does Von Baltazar differ with Aquinas here?

  77. Anonymous12:40 PM

    *Introduction to Christianity* and *The Spirit of the Liturgy* are two books over which Joseph Ratzinger labored; they are not ocassional works. In the first of those books, Ratzinger expressly rejects the traditional theology of sacrifice, according to which Christ's death on the Cross was an oblation offered to appease the wrath of God. In the second book Ratzinger advances a theology of sacrifice that is difficult to reconcile with the traditional theology. The point here is that the Pope's theological presuppositions concerning "sacrifice" are problematic for creating a welcoming environment for the Traditional Mass.

  78. A few threads up I posted a more elaborate description of the problems associated with the "wrath of God." Here I only wanted to add a couple comments.

    There is - especially in Protestant but also Jansenist-influenced circles - a view of the cross that opposes God the Father from God the Son. As if God the Father is bent on one thing, but God the Son is trying to convince him of something else. This is not only false, but it wrecks havoc on the very foundation of the Christian religion. If one views the Father as disgruntled and ambivalent toward man's salvation, this will have a profoundly negative effect on your moral and religious life as a Catholic.

    God the Father must be understood as the merciful architect of man's salvation. It is he who sent and instructed Jesus. The oblation to appease God's wrath was designed and provided by the One whose wrath is appeased.

    Although Ratzinger's book doesn't communicate this as well as it might - recovering and distinguishing the traditional from the erroneous - I don't think we should hastily conclude that he opposes the traditional theological framework, which is certainly not communicated very well in either of those two books you mention.

    I agree with you that many of his works do not create a welcoming environment for traditionalists. As you can undoubtedly surmise from my comments, I'm not exactly a Ratzinger groupie. Indeed, I have a relatively low opinion of the brilliance and clarity of his theology. This said, I must admit that there are few people who can nail something as perfectly as he sometimes does. And I will defend the orthodoxy of even some of his strangest and most wayward speculations.

  79. Anonymous5:37 PM

    Dear Marie,

    You continuously and totally misunderstand my remarks and that of a couple of others here in this thread for reasons that probably have a lot to do with ignorance of issues due to a lack of clarity and knowledge. Perhaps it's difficult posting our many thoughts in comment boxes (it is for me! I personally prefer discussion forums).

    I don’t have any time to further address these and many other issues here or elsewhere for at least the next three months for reasons that are personal. I suggest carrying this conversation over to the AngelQueen discussion forum since forums are, for the most part, free-flowing and are more user-friendly in terms of posting comments, links, graphics, etc, etc. They also tend to feature several very good posters from various backgrounds throughout the world:

    Or maybe Rorate-Caeli would be willing to post a scholarly article(s) in response to this discussion and is willing to address these topics on the front page of this blog by using more informative material compared to what's been posted here?

    Anyway, Marie, you misconstrue the remarks made by the then Cardinal Ratzinger on Mass celebrated "ad orientem". He somewhat favors the option that you've cited (his option for priests who have no other choice but to celebrate Mass "versus populum"), but what he simply means is that this alternative option is fine only if, when, and where the "ad orientem" position is hopelessly impossible due to architectural reasons (sadly, some modern churches make it completely impossible to properly celebrate Mass "ad orientem", i.e., with priest and people facing the same direction).

    Btw, in relation to this, please read the Post-Synodal document more carefully. It's VERY interesting to read how it precisely encourages seminarians to study church architecture. This is enormously important if the Church desires to restore the "ad orientem" posture and traditional Catholic architecture and customs in general instead of permitting bishops to favor the Fr. Vosko/Bishop Trautman style of non-Catholic, protestant, masonic or secularized style of architecture and liturgical customs.

    Also, try reading Fr. Lang's entire work and not just the preface. The book is a favorable, explicit, biased argument for celebrating Mass "ad orientem" and the fact that the then Cardinal Ratzinger endorsed it (as a whole) just prior to becoming Pope is significant and proves that this is a specific posture that he prefers over the current “norm”. You just can't take one excerpt as you have done and pretend that it somehow represents the whole! Read the entire preface and read the entire book.

    You also attempted to make it seem as though Fr. Fessio has watered down his views on celebrating Mass "ad orientem". ROFLO! Where is your documented proof? Surely, it doesn't exist! I know Fr. Fessio through close contacts and I can say for certain that he has never backed off on his views concerning the "ad orientem" posture nor has he watered down his views down in order to appease or cower to a less traditional position. It is a concrete fact that Fr. Fessio still celebrates the Novus Ordo Mass in Latin, ad orientem, and that these Masses are well attended.

    One reason why Fr. Fessio was asked to step down as chancellor of Ave Maria University is because he openly opposed the bizarre liturgical preferences of certain university officials who favor a more modernized, Franciscan University style of Mass whereas Fr. Fessio prefers traditional liturgical customs including celebrating Mass "ad orientem". Also, I know for sure that his recent interview with the SSPX friendly John Grasmeier and the AngelQueen discussion forum didn't go over too well with the higher-ups over at Ave Maria. On AngelQueen, Fr. Fessio explicitly mentions how much he favors certain traditional liturgical customs. He is still strongly opposed to innovations or archeologism. Only weak Catholics cave into the “spirit of the age” and give up what was once treasured in favor of novelty. Fr. Fessio is the exact opposite. While he is not a “rad trad” he is certainly not a liberal.

    Proof (this is already public information):

    "A senior university official said that one crux of the “irreconcilable differences” cited as the reason for the requested resignation was a divergence on liturgical tastes; Healy and much of his leadership team take their cue from the evangelical Charismatic school of the Franciscan University of Steubenville (to which they maintain close ties), while Fessio’s crowd gravitated toward a more solemn manner of ritual. The Jesuit’s Latin Masses — Novus Ordo, celebrated ad orientem — were reported to have drawn large numbers, while similar crowds were had for monthly Healing Masses celebrated by priest-in-residence Fr Richard McAlear, a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate." (SOURCE:

    As a matter of fact, if you want to cite other recent interviews in which Fr. Fessio supports the "ad orientem" posture then you should read a brief excerpt in the Dec. 7, 2006 interview with The Wanderer titled "False ecumenism, excessive dialogue..." or an excerpt in some other publications, especially the October 21, 2005 edition of the National Catholic Reporter (article by John Allen), in which he admits that he approached the Holy Father during one of their annual Schulerkreis meetings back in 2005 and encouraged him to consider such issues as "ad orientem". He cited the Holy Father’s books as an example of how some Catholics interpret his views as favoring traditional Catholic customs.

    Even Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass correctly in his chapel when he celebrated it "ad orientem". Why this hasn't been made the norm in our Latin Rite churches can simply be explained by pointing out the ongoing error and use of “collegiality” and the fact that the Pope is doing his best to prevent schism which means he refuses to ruffle feathers in order to keep the "boys club" happy and in tact as is (although I believe the present Pope is a bit more bold than the two previous Popes and has ruffled some feathers (and rightfully so) especially among the French hierarchy and within his own Curia!!! Deo gratias!)

    Of course, any restoration of the Mass celebrated "ad orientem", and the restoration of Communion rails, Communion on the tongue, Confessionals, kneelers and so forth will have to take place gradually. One document from Rome won't suddenly cure the errors of the past 40 plus years. The present Pope is a gradualist and doesn't believe in implementing or restoring our traditional customs overnight. Being a good, German theologian he knows very well that true restoration takes place incrementally over time and not all at once. Sudden changes for the better won't work with the current group of bishops because they are the same group which has often praised the ongoing liturgical wreckovation of our churches. The restoration of tradition and the defeat of modernism will have to occur with the conversion or the replacement of the bishops who currently are at work to implement or preserve modernism everywhere. What the Pope is probably praying for is for bishops to be more like St. Athanasius, Pope St. Pius V, and Pope St. Pius X and less like Cardinal Mahony, Bishop Clark, and Bishop Trautman. But for this to happen a miracle will have to take place or the Church will need to ordain priests who are holy, humble and have a strong sense of sin and a sense of the sacred. But then for that to happen you will first need to clean up the seminaries, schools, and parishes! What a mess!!!!

    Concerning the Pope's views on Communion in the hand, I, once again, stand by remarks if anyone cares to read them carefully and thoroughly. I’m not saying that the Pope is a “rad trad” who will suddenly endorse all that is dear to the traditionalist movement. He is a bit soft on Communion in the hand, but this stems mostly from a tainted view of history and theological insight.

    Personally, I don’t believe he is a great theologian in comparison to other Popes or theologians from the past. He is super intelligent and as a Neo-Platonist he has much to offer the Church, yet his writings on various subjects have often prompted me to put his books down in favor of reading the Summa or anything written by other Church doctors. I mostly prefer reading the Sermons of St. Alphonsus de Ligouri, A Companion to the Summa, or the My Catholic Faith catechism over Cardinal Ratzinger’s Principles of Catholic Theology or Feast of Faith.

    His views concerning the New Mass and the so-called "Tridentine" Mass have been a mixed bag although his endorsement of Msgr. Gamber's book indicates that he believes in a more literal interpretation of Vatican II rather than the "fabricated liturgy" made up by the Concilium. The Missal of Paul VI represents this "fabricated liturgy" and is not the Mass of Vatican II but is a departure from both the Council and from 2,000 years of organic development which ended in the 16th century when the Mass was finally codified and established as an "immemorial custom" after many centuries of often interrupted development.

    Personally, my hope is that in the long run the Pope and his successors will listen more to the traditionalists and less to the liberals, modernists or Neo-Catholics who consider themselves "middle way" Catholics. This is the same "middle-of-the-road” people whom Dr. Von Hildebrand soundly condemned so long ago. It is an approach that all of us would do well to avoid during this time of theological and liturgical crisis.


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