"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Spanish cardinal recommends that Catholics receive Communion on the tongue
Disminuir tamaño de fuente
.- Spanish Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera recently recommended that Catholics receive Communion on the tongue, while kneeling.

“It is to simply know that we are before God himself and that He came to us and that we are undeserving,” the prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments said in an interview with CNA during his visit to Lima, Peru.

The cardinal’s remarks came in response to a question on whether Catholics should receive Communion in the hand or on the tongue.
He recommended that Catholics “receive Communion on the tongue and while kneeling.”

Receiving Communion in this way, the cardinal continued, “is the sign of adoration that needs to be recovered. I think the entire Church needs to receive Communion while kneeling.”

“In fact,” he added, “if one receives while standing, a genuflection or profound bow should be made, and this is not happening.”

“If we trivialize Communion, we trivialize everything, and we cannot lose a moment as important as that of receiving Communion, of recognizing the real presence of Christ there, of the God who is the love above all loves, as we sing in a hymn in Spanish.”

In response to a question about the liturgical abuses that often occur, Cardinal Canizares said they must be “corrected, especially through proper formation: formation for seminarians, for priests, for catechists, for all the Christian faithful.”

Such a formation should ensure that liturgical celebrations take place “in accord with the demands and dignity of the celebration, in accord with the norms of the Church, which is the only way we can authentically celebrate the Eucharist,” he added.

“Bishops have a unique responsibility” in the task of liturgical formation and the correction of abuses, the cardinal said, “and we must not fail to fulfill it, because everything we do to ensure that the Eucharist is celebrated properly will ensure proper participation in the Eucharist.”


Priest close to Pope calls for mass resignation of Irish bishops

By Mark Greaves on Wednesday, 20 July 2011
Priest close to Pope calls for mass resignation of Irish bishopsBenedict XVI meets Ireland's bishops in 2010 (CNS photo/L' Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

A theologian who is a former student of Pope Benedict XVI has called for every Irish bishop appointed before 2003 to resign.

Fr Vincent Twomey, emeritus professor of moral theology at Maynooth seminary, said the Irish Church had been “without any leadership effectively for the last 15 years”.

He said that all bishops appointed before Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin in 2003 should stand down even though there were many good bishops among them. “We need new leadership,” he said.

Fr Twomey told RTE radio that he was “incandescent with rage” after reading the Cloyne report. He said the conduct of Bishop John Magee and other officials was “mind-boggling”, describing it as “incompetence, inertia, and lies”.

“I can understand the outrage. The people most upset by this are the people who have stayed faithful to the Church. They have been let down, to put it mildly,” he said.

The report recorded stark disagreement among bishops over whether Bishop Magee should resign in 2009.

At an emergency meeting of the Irish bishops’ conference, Archbishop Martin argued that Bishop Magee should resign while Cardinal Seán Brady insisted he should stay.


Compare, Contrast, Conclude

This post....


After the Pfarrer-Initiative (300 Austrian priests and counting) in favor of all that is wrong, lukewarmly condemned by the Cardinal of Vienna (who took the very strong and decisive measure of declaring: "I'm shocked!"), 157 American priests (and counting) support Maryknoll priest-activist Roy Bourgeois. From "Call to Action":
In an unprecedented move, 157 Catholic priests have signed on to a letter in support of their fellow embattled priest, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, who has been told to recant his support for women’s ordination or be removed from the priesthood. The letter that supports Roy’s priesthood and his right to conscience was delivered, Friday, July 22nd, to Fr. Edward Dougherty, Superior General of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers in Maryknoll, NY.

“We can no longer remain silent while priests and even bishops are removed from their posts
simply because they choose to speak their truth,” said Fr. Fred Daley, a spokesperson of the effort and a priest of the Syracuse Diocese. “Together, we are standing up for our brother priest, Roy, and for all clergy who have felt afraid to speak up on matters of conscience.

“We hope that our support as ordained priests in good standing will help give Fr. Dougherty the support he needs to make a decision that is fair and just.”

With this one.

You report: first diocesan Solemn High Mass in Charlotte since the liturgical revolution

Reader Chris Lauer of the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina, sends us the following report:

I am overjoyed to report that yesterday evening (July 26th) the Most Reverend Peter Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte graced with his presence in Choir, a Solemn High Mass at the Parish of Saint Ann's in honor of the Feast of Saint Anne.

The Solemn High Mass was celebrated according to the 1962 Missale Romanum and was celebrated by Father Timothy Reid, pastor of St. Ann’s. Father Matthew Kauth served as deacon; and Jason Christian, Seminarian of the Diocese of Charlotte, served as sub-deacon. Jason Barone, also a Seminarian of the Diocese of Charlotte, served as Master of Ceremonies; and the schola was directed by Terese Rowe.

This was the first Diocesan Solemn High Mass in Charlotte since the introduction of the new Mass.

Remember: keep sending us your reports of significant events that took place in your area, wherever you may be in the world. Our label "You report" includes dozens of reports provided by our readers since the publication of Summorum Pontificum.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Extraordinary Challenge of Being Counter-Cultural

It is often said that it is counter-cultural to be a follower of Christ. No believer who hears that statement disagrees with it, but few of us take it completely to heart. And that is a deceptively dangerous thing.

Before I explain, let’s first clarify what it means to say that to be a Christian is to be counter-cultural. I think it means that the teachings of Christ, His truth and His way, are concepts that are largely foreign and nonsensical in today’s world. In fact, they are as counter-cultural today as they were in the days of the early Church. Really.

Though few of us are being physically persecuted or threatened with death for being a follower of Jesus, we are no less discouraged from doing so by the modern, secular world. And while that discouragement happens in more subtle ways than it did in ancient Rome, I’ve come to believe that those ways may actually be more dangerous and insidious because we are less prepared to protect ourselves.

You see, the earliest Christians knew without a doubt that their way of life was counter-cultural. Given the overt persecution they faced, how could they not? And so they took measures to live with other followers of Christ, to spend most of their hours encouraging one another to reject the cultural influences that corrupted their bodies and souls. Though they certainly lived “in” the world and ministered to it as Christ called them to do, they knew the dangers of living “of” the world, and sought fellowship and unity to keep themselves sound.

Today, we continue to recite that exhortation – “live in the world but not of it” – but few successfully do so. We certainly don’t live our daily lives exclusively with and among other followers of Christ. I’m willing to guess that would be considered unacceptable, even among most believers. There is an unspoken attitude that to focus most of one’s social life around other Christians would be exclusive, elitist or intolerant.

In fact, we are even made to feel that progressive Christians should be indifferent to the beliefs and faiths of their friends and neighbors, exposing themselves and their families to others regularly and indiscriminately (except, perhaps, in matters of physical safety). This is considered a sign of open-mindedness and maturity. Well, as politically incorrect as this may sound, and as hard as it is for me to admit this and risk sounding intolerant or exclusive, I’ve come to believe that it is a recipe for spiritual disaster.

The modern world, the secular culture in which we live, will quickly erode the faith of an unsuspecting Christian. Though we may well avoid the more obvious perils of drugs, alcohol abuse, pornography and adultery, we can so easily become saturated with the subtleties of sin by being around others who don’t like to think about sin at all, or who define it in very different ways. As a result, we slowly dull ourselves to the realities of sin in our world, and we lose our way. I know because it happens to me all the time.

After spending long or regular periods of time with friends or family members who don’t believe in and feel comfortable acknowledging Christ, I begin to lose my sense of His presence. And while I don’t go off on a drinking or sex binge, I cannot deny that I see the early warning signs as I begin losing peace, joy and good judgment. That is certainly the first step down a long and dark road.
For those who think that I am starting to sound like a close-minded or self-righteous or moralistic prude, consider that this is exactly what the world wants you to think. It wants us to feel bad for yearning for regular refuge among fellow believers who will remind us that even the relatively tame influences – movies, television shows, video games, fanaticism about sports – are subtly poisonous. It wants us to believe that we are strong enough and smart enough to intermingle freely with secular culture and sort it all out scene by scene, frame by frame, moment by moment. Of course, even the holiest person will become exhausted and beaten down by such a challenge. The saints certainly never tried to live in such a way.

But what about the call to live in the world? First, I’m certainly not advocating that we turn our backs on the world and run from it. We are called to shine Christ’s light for all to see. But as I like to say, if you’re an alcoholic, don’t live above a bar. And if you have a predilection toward lust, don’t buy a house next door to the Playboy mansion. Learn to cope with those things when you must, but certainly don’t put yourself in a position where that is your primary social context.

And so, for those of us who truly want to follow Christ, perhaps we shouldn’t be so flip about putting ourselves in positions of regular, unfiltered exposure to the secular world. Perhaps we should build a life that seeks more regular fellowship and social reinforcement from other true believers, the ones who will alert us to the subtle dangers that others will feel uncomfortable pointing out to us. Because those are the dangers that are likely to trap us.

Which brings me to a powerful truth that I easily and often forget: Every sin is a sin. None of it is good, and all of it, in every form, can corrupt us. I love the saying “whether a bird is tethered by a chain or a piece of twine, it still can’t fly.” We must face the fact that the secular world – the one that is the theater of the prince of darkness – will be happy to see us tied down by twine. It/he hopes that we will be falsely comforted by the idea that “it is only twine.”

Only those who are willing to be counter-cultural will be able to see and avoid that twine. And only then, when we see the world for what it is, can we go out and live in that world and minister to it, without letting it corrupt us.

A final analogy might be helpful here. To be a follower of Christ in the modern world is like being a fish trying to swim upstream. Why is it a good thing for those of us swimming against the current to do so in groups with others who are headed in the same direction? Because when you’re working so hard to fight that current, it’s helpful to look around and see others doing the same. If nothing else, it reminds us that the work is hard for us all and that to relax and stop fighting is to float with the current. This leads us to have a false sense of security believing that at least we’re going slower in the wrong direction than the fish that are swimming downstream. Of course, if we’re going in the wrong direction, it doesn’t matter how fast we’re moving.

May God help us be the fish that swim hard against the current or the birds who avoid being tethered by a twine, or better yet, men and women who are comfortable being criticized or ridiculed for having the courage to stand together and be counter-cultural.

Please help us in our mission to assist readers to integrate their Catholic faith, family and work. Share this article with your family and friends via email and social media. We value your comments and encourage you to leave your thoughts below. Thank you! - The Editors

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Priest beaten up in front of his mother for celebrating the Traditional Mass

Priest attacked, guilty of celebrating the Latin Mass
Tue, 26/07/2011 - 15:24

"You have been tough, but we will smash your head. Signed, Your friend Satan". That was one of several threatening messages sent to Father Hernán García Pardo, parish priest of San Michele, in Ronta [Mugello region of the Province of Florence, Tuscany]. His fault [was] that of celebrating the Latin Mass, liberalized by Benedict XVI in September 2007.

The warnings, which had been recurrent for some time, had not made the priest, who despite everything has continued to say Mass according to the ancient rite, give up. The last chapter [took place] last Wednesday, when he was beaten up by a 'faithful' in the town's rectory in the presence of his aged mother. The beating caused him a bruise on the back; having been sent to the emergency room of Borgo San Lorenzo, he was medicated.

The news item was published today in the Giornale della Toscana; the accusations made against Father Hernán are those of scattering the flock; above all, he is not forgiven for distributing communion in the mouth [to the] kneeling [faithful], instead of on the hand, in the same manner as Benedict XVI. For others, the Italian-Argentinian priest has only brought back some sacred austerity to the parish, excluding guitars from the functions and bringing back to within the walls of the church the ancient Gregorian chant. ...
[Source: Il sito di Firenze]
[Other sources: Libero News, La Nazione; tip: Secretum meum mihi.]

Monday, July 25, 2011

FutureChurch celebrates Feast of St. Mary of Magdala

Jul. 22, 2011

Dominican Sr. Diana Culbertson gives her homily at a Magdala celebration hosted by FutureChruch in Independence, Ohio Wednesday. (Photos courtesy of Jim Metrisin)

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- "If we are to build the kingdom of God, we dare not ignore the words of Paul: 'There is no male and female among you.'"

Thereby Ann Klonowski, presider at FutureChurch's 15th annual celebration of the Feast of St. Mary of Magdala, opened the event, which took place Wednesday, July 20, in the aptly chosen town of Independence. This year's program, "Unheard Homilies: Ending the Silencing of Catholic Women," featured three homilists, all female.

FutureChurch was founded in 1990 to raise awareness of the consequences of doing nothing about the priest shortage and to call for opening ordination to all who are called to it, said Sister of St. Joseph Christine Schenk, founder of the organization.

Fifteen years ago, FutureChurch held its first celebration of the Feast of St. Mary of Magdala to restore the saint's reputation and to bring to visibility women's leadership in the church.

"Mary of Magdala was not a prostitute, but she was the first witness to the resurrection of Jesus," Schenck said. "Jesus chose her to proclaim his Resurrection saying to her, 'Go to my brothers and say to them, 'I have seen the Lord.'"

The act of choosing a bible passage (John 20:18) to frame her homily held great significance for the women.

"Tonight, I got to pick the Gospel," said Sister of St. Joseph Theresa Hafner, who chose Luke 8:22-25, the passage in which Jesus calms the sea. During an interview later, she said, "Giving that homily meant a lot to me. I have a degree in religious studies. I have a passion for scripture. There are not too many opportunities to share that. So, whenever I get the chance I jump at it."


The resurrection story, John 20:11-18, was the scaffolding Dominican Sr. Diana Culbertson chose for her homily. "Mary of Magdala experienced grief so profound she didn't realize angels were speaking to her. And yet Jesus said to her, 'Let go.' Could any word have been more disturbing? Everything she'd thought about was rearranged. Nothing would ever be the same. 'Let go.' And so must we all -- let go of the Jesus we think we know so well. Let go of the Jesus prescripted by our understanding of him. Leave the tomb. He is alive. He is with you. He is unpredictable. Mary of Magdala is the patron saint of those who have to abandon preconceptions."

Noel and Rose Marie Egensperger, among the some 120 people at the event, have been members of FutureChurch for about 19 years and attend the Magdala celebration each year they can. They were present at the first Magdala celebration.

"This is our way to support women in the church who are really struggling with not being able to share their gifts," Rose Marie Egensperger said. "Being a member of FutureChurch has helped me to stay Catholic."

The yearly Magdala celebration is important, said attendee Lynn Rollins, 40, who is married with four children. "Mary of Magdala is a symbol of how Christ really treated women. She was the person Christ chose to herald the resurrection. I want to celebrate that and to celebrate her. And I want my children to see women in positive leadership roles in the church."

Modeling effective leadership to children is important as well to homilist Patricia Shullick, a pastoral minister at Mary, Mother of God Parish in Lorain, Ohio. During her homily, framed by Mark 7:24-30, which tells the story of the Syrophoenician woman's faith, she shared a story of her own: "Years ago, I began to tell my 4-year-old daughter about God and referred to God as 'he.' She said, 'God isn't a he or a she. God just is.' The woman in Mark got Jesus' attention and challenged him to set in motion avenues to inclusivity. It shows that personal exchanges can change us, if we remain open to the spirit in others. This gospel shows how Jesus continued to grow."
Dominican Sr. Diana Culbertson, Ann Klonowski, St Joseph Sr. Theresa Hafner, and Patricia ShullickDominican Sr. Diana Culbertson, Ann Klonowski, St Joseph Sr. Theresa Hafner, and Patricia Shullick
The event included some strong singing -- "Christ be our light, shine in your church" --and a litany of women witnesses and leaders throughout the ages, including Esther and Judith, Perpetua and Felicity, Scholastica and Hildegard, Catherine of Siena, Clare of Assisi, Julian of Norwich, Theresa of Avila, Dorothy Day, Teresa of Calcutta, Jean Donovan, Ita Ford, and Dorothy Stang. Each homilist was blessed by the congregation before she began speaking.

Joan Reidy, 58, has been a member of FutureChurch for about four years. "About five years ago, I got involved in the JustFaith program, a lot of which is about social justice. When you start looking at these issues, you look in your own backyard, which includes your church. As I grow more in my faith, I realize there has been misogyny in the church and that it's just time to recognize women's gifts."
Reidy said the Magdala celebration is so important to her that she's attending one today, July 22, at Boston College.

Attendees said the Magdala celebration was uplifting and hopeful, that it stressed the importance of working together to foster change in the church. It's a long process, all who were asked agreed, but to a person, they are hopeful.

"We have to remain faithful and keep trying to educate one person at a time," Reidy said.

"Things have always changed this way in the church," Hafner said. "People push for change, and other people push back. I know it's going to happen eventually. I just concentrate on what I can do now for it to happen in the future. We just say who we are, what we believe. We give people a good experience. And we remain positive and open."

As of this writing, FutureChurch reports there have been an estimated 300 Feast of St. Mary Magdala celebrations planned, including 30 in 12 countries outside the United States: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Finland, Ireland, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, England and Puerto Rico.

[Kate Oatis is a freelance writer and director of communications for the Sisters of St. Francis of Tiffin, Ohio, and former features editor for the Catholic Chronicle in Toledo.]


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

General Instruction of the Roman Missal

The General Structure of the Mass

45. Sacred silence also, as part of the celebration, is to be observed at the designated times.54 Its purpose, however, depends on the time it occurs in each part of the celebration. Thus within the Act of Penitence and again after the invitation to pray, all recollect themselves; but at the conclusion of a reading or the homily, all meditate briefly on what they have heard; then after Communion, they praise and pray to God in their hearts.

Even before the celebration itself, it is commendable that silence to be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner.

Reclaiming the Sacristy as a Place of Prayer and Preparation

The title of this piece might sound foreign precisely because the present culture of many sacristies has taken on an atmosphere of a work room and visiting room. It is not an uncommon sight (or sound) for the servers to be visiting, for laity to be coming in and out to catch up with the priest, for priests to be visiting with one another and so forth. Commonly heard are discussions surrounding sporting events, work, the weather, or practical parish discussion and so on. No doubt most of us have ourselves participated in this very same activity over the years to at least some extent -- I can certainly include myself in this. In a culture that is devoid of silence and inclined more to external activity than interior preparation and participation, this is not a surprise; it's a symptom.

In practice what has often happened is that our sacristies have come to be viewed as merely utilitarian and divorced from the liturgy itself. They are simply seen as rooms for servers and clergy to vest -- "backstage" if you will -- often stripped of the ceremonial actions of vesting, devoid of vesting prayers and so on. While socializing can be nice of course, the sacristy should ideally be, before Mass, a place of preparation; not simply material preparation but spiritual preparation. After Mass it is a place of prayerful thanksgiving for the sacred mysteries worthily offered.

If you walk into older sacristies, particularly in places such as Italy, you are liable to see this posted prominently somewhere, a reminder which tells a different story of what the sacristy can be and, ideally, should be:

Being a place of spiritual preparation for the most powerful and central act of our Faith, an atmosphere of hushed quiet, even silence, was to be observed in the sacristy. In this atmosphere the priest prays as he vests and the servers assist in the preparations for the Holy Sacrifice.

One might think this has been removed from the modern Roman liturgy, but in point of fact, paragraph 45 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2002) notes the following:
Even before the celebration itself, it is commendable that silence to be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner.

This commendation should be taken seriously by each of us for we should note that the atmosphere and approach we take to the sacristy can have influence upon the character of the celebration of Mass itself for priests and servers alike.

With that then, some suggestions, particularly for priests who are best in a position to influence and enact this.

Suggestion One: Recover the Silence of the Sacristy and Catechize

I would encourage our priests to recover this preparatory aspect in their parishes and chapels, providing catechesis on the matter, not only to servers, but even to all parishioners. This small opportunity also provides an opportunity to catechize about our approach to the Mass itself, for if the sacristy is to be treated in this way, how then should we approach the church and the august Sacrifice itself?

Suggestion Two: Reclaim the Use of Vesting Prayers

Reclaim the use of the vesting prayers while putting on the different vestments, complete with the actions of touching the amice to the back of the head, kissing the cross upon the stole and so forth. Consider printing and laminating copies of these in Latin and the vernacular to make available for yourselves and other clergy. You might also consider mounting and framing a copy of these somewhere in the sacristy (near the vesting area) in a more permanent fashion. (See Sancta Missa's Resources for a copy of these prayers.)

Suggestion Three: The Crucifix

Most sacristies still have a crucifix mounted on the wall or in the sacristy somewhere, but if it has been removed or is less than prominent, consider putting it back into greater prominence. Use it as a focal point for yourselves and the servers in the way it traditionally was in the sacristy before and after Mass.

Suggestion Four: Place a Silentium Sign in the Sacristy

Post your own "Silentium/Silence" sign in the sacristy (be it in Latin, the vernacular or both). This can be as simple as framed printout to something more ornate. This will serve as (what Mother Angelica so aptly called) a "holy reminder" for priests, servers and laity generally. It not only reminds but it will also serve as an opportunity for catechesis.

Suggestion Five: The Blessing

If you aren't already doing so, along with the bow to the cross at the end of Mass, also recover the ceremonial blessing of the servers following Mass. This further emphasizes that the sacristy is not a place devoid of prayer and ceremony.

Why not begin these things at your next Masses?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

They’re lining up for reconciliation in Round Lake


His homilies must be working: For the past month, Rev. James Clark has been hearing twice the number of confessions he normally hears at Corpus Christi parish in Round Lake.

The pastor’s Saturday hours for the sacrament of reconciliation were previously 3 to 3:30 p.m. — half an hour before the vigil Mass. But when the number of penitents grew from four to about eight each week, that became a problem.

“It was pushing me at the other end because I couldn’t get ready for Mass,” Father Clark explained.

Reconciliation now starts at 2:30 p.m. More people are seeking the sacrament during the week, too, the pastor said: “I have people who just pop their head in and say, ‘Hi, do you have a minute?’”

This increase, however humble, stands in contrast to national trends. Three-quarters of U.S. Catholics report that they never participate in the sacrament of reconciliation or that they do so less than once a year, according to a 2008 study from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

The Church teaches that Catholics should seek the sacrament at least once a year.

“We don’t talk about sin anymore,” Father Clark lamented. “We just forget about it. But sin is part of life. Priests need to make an effort to convey that to people.”

He blames the decline in confessions not on the 1960s’ Second Vatican Council, but on a society that has pushed the parish church out of the center of people’s lives today.

When he was a child, Father Clark said, confession fit into his Saturday schedule alongside Mass, the parish dance and a bath.

The way today’s laypeople see their parishes is “a different relationship now than it was 50 years ago,” he said.

In his homilies at Mass, the priest reminds parishioners that reconciliation is a welcoming sacrament. The recent increase in penitents at Corpus Christi has even inspired Father Clark to more frequently seek out his own confessor.

The sacrament of reconciliation “is just one more visible sign that God loves us,” he remarked. “We need that voice hearing that our sins are forgiven.”


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book Review: Work of Human Hands: A Theological Critique of the Mass of Paul VI, Anthony Cekada

Anthony Cekada, Work of Human Hands: A Theological Critique of the Mass of Paul VI, Philothea Press, West Chester, Ohio 2010, 445 pp pb. (Product Link)

by Dr. Alcuin Reid

I have long been in Father Cekada’s debt, for it was his booklet The Problems with the Prayers of the Modern Mass that alerted me almost twenty years ago to the significant theological difference between the pre-conciliar and post-conciliar Roman Missals. Work of Human Hands is by no means so succinct a publication. It is a substantial attempt to demonstrate profound theological rupture between the two, and more. It deserves serious attention.

Some will dismiss this study because Father Cekada is canonically irregular and a sede vacantist. Whilst these are more than regrettable, ad hominem realities are not sufficient to dismiss this carefully argued and well researched work. We must attend to his arguments on their merits.

The principal thesis is that “the Mass of Paul VI destroys Catholic doctrine in the minds of the faithful and in particular, Catholic doctrine concerning the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the priesthood and the real presence,” and that it “permits or prescribes grave irreverence.” His secondary thesis is that the Mass of Paul VI is invalid. His practical conclusion is that “a Catholic may not merely prefer the old rite to the new; he must also reject the new rite in its entirety. The faith obliges him to do so.” These strong, even extreme, positions may themselves repel readers. But again, they must be examined.

Work of Human Hands seeks to lay an historical foundation for these theses, examining the liturgical movement of the twentieth century and the work of liturgical reform from 1948-1969. Unfortunately this history is not dispassionate. It makes the mistake of repeating the all-too-frequent shrill cries of “modernism” that abound in Father Didier Bonneterre’s slim work, The Liturgical Movement, which I have reviewed elsewhere as “not a study that reaches a conclusion, but a conclusion which seeks the support of a study.”

That is not to say that those at whom the finger is pointed ought not to be scrutinised. Dom Lambert Beauduin certainly inaugurated the pastoral liturgical movement, but anyone who studies his seminal work Liturgy the Life of the Church can see that this was both sound and traditional. Beauduin’s ideas developed, yes, and he became a suspect ecumenist, certainly, but there is no evidence that he conspired towards or would have been happy with the missal of Paul VI. The influence of the Jesuit scholar Joseph Jungmann―expounded very well here―is certainly crucial. Louis Bouyer’s liturgical theology was definitely different to the prevailing twentieth century scholasticism, but that does not mean that it is necessarily modernist or heretical: theological development is possible so long as it does not deny truths of the faith.

Father Annibale Bugnini is pivotal, of course. But the idea that prevails here, and elsewhere, that he held the reins of power in all liturgical reform from 1948 onward, carefully manipulating and conspiring towards the goal of the new Mass, is false. Bugnini was an activist and an opportunist, certainly. However, as Msgr Giampietro’s study of Cardinal Antonelli’s liturgical role, The Development of the Liturgical Reform, demonstrates, Bugnini was by no means the principal or sole architect of the liturgical reforms of Pius XII. His moment came later, in 1963, when his friend, Cardinal Montini, became Paul VI and rehabilitated him, naming him secretary of the commission to implement the Council’s liturgical reform. This singular opportunity and their frequent personal collaboration is what brought about the Mass of Paul VI.

It must be said that the author’s veneration of Pius XII, and his exoneration of him from any responsibility for the liturgical reforms of the 1950s, is excessive. The fact is that we do not know the extent of Pius XII’s personal enthusiasm or involvement in their realisation. But we do know that they were enacted on his authority. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, for better or worse, the responsibility for them is his.

Cekada’s history of the Vatican II reform is better, though to treat the discussion of liturgical reform at the Council itself in but three paragraphs, and the intense activity of the following five years in but ten pages is rather thin; and there are occasional inaccuracies. One also needs to disentangle the historical narrative from the at times amusing commentary and analogy provided by the author (“The fox [Bugnini] was back in the chicken coop”).

However the meat of Cekada’s work is found not in his history, but in his theological analysis of the Mass of Paul VI.

Two chapters are devoted to an analysis of the different versions of the General Instruction of the Missal that appeared in 1969 and 1970. Cekada rightly points out that the 1969 text confidently outlined the prevailing theological principles that underpinned the reformed rite of Mass, which was published with it. Cekada demonstrates well (but with a bit too much rhetoric) that these principles leave traditional Catholic theology behind: “sacrifice” is replaced with “assembly”, “the Lord’s supper” moves in to displace “the Sacrifice of the Cross”, etc.

This provoked an unholy Roman row and the “Ottaviani Intervention”, which declared that the new Order of Mass “represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated [at] the Council of Trent.” Note that Cardinal Ottaviani speaks about the rites, not the Instruction. As Cekada ably demonstrates, the theological principles so boldly outlined in the 1969 Instruction guided the decisions about what went, remained, or was invented for the rites of the Mass of Paul VI (just look the offertory).

This row led to the appearance of a revision of the General Instruction in 1970, with, as J.D. Crichton quipped, a more “Tridentine” phrase put beside each incriminated expression, in order to shore up its doctrinal integrity. However, as Cekada deftly observes, the prayers and rites of the 1969 Order of Mass are identical to those of 1970: a defective building is not rectified by scribbling a few changes on the blueprints. The Mass of Paul VI remains, in its Latin original (before any Episcopal Conference gets to mistranslate it), intentionally theologically different to what came before.

Over half of this book is given over to a detailed exposition of this difference, not at all unsuccessfully. Cekada draws frequently on the writings of those responsible for the reform itself, who state the difference plainly. (One of the strengths of this work is its research and detailed footnotes and bibliography).

To take but one example, Cekada’s exposition of the theological reform of the orations―the collect and other prayers (pp 223-228)―brilliantly demonstrates that, as Father Carlo Braga boasted at the time, the “doctrinal reality” of the texts was altered in the “light of the new view of human values” and “ecumenical requirements”, as well as “an entirely new foundation of Eucharistic theology.” My only regret here is that this is not augmented with references to the excellent and detailed work being done on the same topic by Professor Lauren Pristas. Nevertheless, here, Cekada makes his point very well. Indeed, it has to be said that the book as a whole succeeds in demonstrating the substantial theological difference between the two missals.

He also succeeds in demonstrating the impact of a doctrinally different rite on the belief of the faithful. Surveys on the decline in belief in the real presence amongst Catholics are sufficient to underline that.

What the book does not succeed in doing, however, is to demonstrate the invalidity of the Mass of Paul VI. For whilst there is certainly a theological difference between the two, it is by no means proven that in its Latin text the rite of Mass of Paul VI contradicts Catholic doctrine. It may be doctrinally weaker, it may be theologically different, but it is not heretical. Nor can it be successfully maintained, as does the book, that Paul VI had no authority to modify the formula for consecration in the Mass.

Given that, it is certain that a validly ordained priest who intends to “do what the Church does” in celebrating the Mass according to the modern rite, celebrates a valid Mass. Yes, it is possible, perhaps even more likely, that some priests with a formally defective liturgical and Eucharistic theology that may have been unintentionally encouraged by the liturgical reforms, may more easily celebrate invalidly; that too is an indictment of the rite. But Peter holds the Keys, and whatever prudential errors he may or may not have made in the liturgical reform following the Second Vatican Council, he cannot have committed the Church to an intrinsically invalid rite of Mass.

Given its theological deficiency, Father Cekada dismisses the efforts, led by Pope Benedict XVI, to celebrate the modern rites in more visible continuity with liturgical tradition. We disagree here: the Mass of Paul VI is a valid rite, and its better celebration is all to the good. One may even prefer it in good conscience―as do many generations who have known nothing else. We can argue (and I think quite convincingly) that we can and ought to do better that what is in the Missal of Paul VI, but to worship according to the modern rite is not of itself sinful.

Regardless, Father Cekada’s great service is to flag the big question that we have not widely, as yet, been prepared to face. Whilst it is certainly better to celebrate the modern liturgy in a traditional style using more accurate translations, that is not enough. For if the Missal of Paul VI is indeed in substantial discontinuity with the preceding liturgical and theological tradition, this is a serious flaw requiring correction. It is high time, then, that we not only recognise, but do something about the elephant in the liturgical living-room.

Dr Alcuin Reid is a liturgical scholar and a cleric of the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, France.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pope will appoint Archbishop Chaput to lead Philadelphia archdiocese


A Vatican source has confirmed that on July 19 Pope Benedict XVI will appoint Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver as the shepherd of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Several news outlets reported on July 18 that Archbishop Chaput will lead the Philadelphia archdiocese, beginning this coming September.

Archbishop Chaput’s appointment was confirmed to CNA late on Monday by a Vatican source who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

On June 30, the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops picked the name of a potential Philadelphia archbishop from a list of three candidates – known as a “terna” – to recommend to Pope Benedict.

However, after praying over the issue during the Fourth of July weekend, Pope Benedict decided not to select any of the recommended candidates, and specifically chose Archbishop Chaput for the post.

The Denver archbishop is no stranger to Pope Benedict, since he spent a significant amount of time working with Archbishop Chaput during the apostolic visitation of the Legion of Christ between 2009 and 2010. Archbishop Chaput also led the visitation of Bishop Bill Morris in the Diocese of Toowomba, Australia in 2007.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, who has lead the Philadelphia archdiocese since 2003, submitted his resignation on April 19, 2010 when he reached the retirement age of 75. That resignation is expected to be accepted by Pope Benedict tomorrow.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

How to Receive Holy Communion

This weekend the Archbishop of Westminster, His Grace, Vincent Nichols issued a Pastoral Letter "On Receiving Holy Communion"
It is very good in parts, stressing the reverence required to approach the Lord.“ However, as A Reluctant Sinner notes "some traditional Catholics will be disappointed" in the way he stresses the rubric to be inserted into the Missal for England and Wales that standing and receiving on the hand are to be made the preference here, as an exception from the norm in the Universal Church. There are extensive footnotes in the Pastoral Letter which make sure that the nuance and detail of the Church's teaching are covered but I doubt if many priests read out the footnotes. It can be difficult for people to see that the norm can be something that is hardly ever done, either through disobedience or because an indult has been given to a particular place. The way the Letter puts it really gives every encouragement to stand at communion rather than kneel and to receive on the hand rather than on the tongue. This is what the Bishop's Conference appear to want but the constant drive for this is a little sad for those who want to keep doing what is , in fact, the universal norm in the Church and something hallowed by centuries of practice.
I notice that although the 2004 Instruction Redemptionis Sacrametnum is quoted in the footnotes and this is meant to be a detailed letter on ensuring reverence in receiving Holy Communion, there is no mention of another one of its injunctions - number 93. "The Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful should be retained, so as to avoid the danger of the sacred host or some fragment of it falling." I wonder why that is?
(I also notice that the use of blessings for those unable to receive Holy Communion is also spoken of as perfectly "normal", although there is no mention of this practice in any rubric of the old or new missal or any of it's translations. I know that in many parishes, such "blessings" are given by the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. I've posted on this abuse before.)
The Letter says:
"The usual practice in our parishes is for the Sacred Host to be received on the hand, standing." (Usual where? I know of parishes in the Archdiocese of Westminster where it still "usual" for the faithful to kneel before Almighty God) and – when practical and prudent to do so reverently- for the Precious Blood to be received from the Chalice, also whilst standing. This practice of standing is now confirmed in the Liturgical Norm for England and Wales, just recently approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome.”

“This Norm together with the General Instruction of the Roman Missal also provide choices which each recipient is at liberty to make: to receive the Sacred Host in the hand or on the tongue, either standing or kneeling. Each way has its symbolic and spiritual meaning helping us to be profoundly aware of whom it is that we receive and the unity of faith we share.”

I can only wonder just what "symbolic and spiritual meaning" standing & receiving in the hand have? Seriously, what "spiritual meaning" can this actually have? Standing "symbolises" what exactly? Maybe Cardinal Ratzinger can enlighten us:
"..there is a story that comes from the sayings of the Desert Fathers, according to which the devil was compelled by God to show himself to a certain Abba Apollo. He looked black and ugly, with frighteningly thin limbs, but most strikingly, he had no knees. The inability to kneel is seen as the very essence of the diabolical.
(Spirit of the Liturgy)

Then-Cardinal Ratzinger also had this to say:
"Communion used to be received kneeling, which made perfectly good sense.The attitude of kneeling ought never to be allowed to disappear from the Church. It is the most impressive physical expression of Christian piety, by which, on one hand, we remain upright, looking out, gazing upon Him, but, on the other, we nonetheless bow down."

"'Man is never so great,' said John XXIII, 'as when he is kneeling'. And that is why I believe that this attitude, which was already one of the primitive forms of Old Testament prayer, is something essential for Christians." (God & the World)

And how can standing & receiving in the hand possibly help us "to be profoundly aware of whom it is that we receive and the unity of faith we share.”? Mgr Marini, papal Master of Ceremonies, has stated clearly that the reason the Holy Father only distributes to communicants kneeling and on the tongue is that this preference:
"better highlights the truth of the Real Presence in the Eucharist, helps the devotion of the faithful, and introduces [them] more easily to the sense of the mystery. These are aspects which, in our time, pastorally speaking, it is urgent to stress and recover."
I myself heard Mgr Marini reiterate this at the recent Adoratio Conference in Rome.
The Archbishop also states that "Each way of receiving Holy Communion expresses awe". Really? Is he serious? Awe? I've never seen awe, I've seen reverence, yes, but not awe. It is simply not an awesome thing to queue up and put out your hands!

In complete contrast to the words of the Archbishop of Westminster we find the Cardinal Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Ranjith:
"I would recommend all faithful, including the religious, to receive Holy Communion reverently kneeling and on the tongue."
(Liturgy Circular, 7th October 2009)

His Eminence also addressed these words to his priests at the Convention on Sacred Liturgy on 2nd September 2010:
"Invite the faithful to receive Holy Communion kneeling, provide facilities for them to kneel at the Altar railings and help them to receive Holy Communion with reverence and devotion."
Cardinal Ranjith is, of course, not the only important voice calling out.

Interestingly, Cardinal Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, speaking to Life Site News on July 22, 2009, stated:
"It is the mission of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments to work to promote Pope Benedict's emphasis on the traditional practice of liturgy, such as reception of Communion on the tongue while kneeling."

Once again, it seems that we in England & Wales are 'behind the times', pushing an agenda that is long past its sell-by date! I know that the Latin language is considered obsolete in these lands, but two well-known phrases come to mind: Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia (where Peter is, there is the Church) and Sentire cum Ecclesia (to think with the mind of the Church). Perhaps if we clung to Peter and listened to his teaching, we would not be in the mess we are!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

250 years of In Dominico Agro
The faithful need the basic, simple, uncorrupted Truth

As he struggled against the trends that, in the very heart of Catholic Europe, did all they could to "destroy the Infâme" and plant the seeds of the Revolution that was about to come, Pope Clement XIII knew that the hearts of the faithful had to filled with true, basic, simple, essential Catholic doctrine, to be found in the Roman Catechism - which should be once again made widely available to all priests. In Dominico Agro, signed on June 14, 1761, is thus a strong charter for the catechization of the faithful - and, at the same time, a dramatic reminder of what the failure to properly do so has allowed: the loss of entire nations and of uncountable souls.

Particularly interesting is the warning of Pope Clement XIII on the teachings of Catholic writers. It is not only with heterodox writings that Bishops should be concerned. Scholarly discussions should not be introduced to the faithful - and the post-Conciliar period seems to prove this true.

The faithful -- especially those who are simple or uncultivated -- should be kept away from dangerous and narrow paths upon which they can hardly set foot without faltering. The sheep should not be led to pasture through trackless places. Nor should peculiar ideas -- even those of Catholic scholars -- be proposed to them. Rather, only those ideas should be communicated which are definitely marked as Catholic truth by their universality, antiquity, and harmony. ... The faithful should obey the apostolic advice not to know more than is necessary, but to know in moderation.

As our predecessors understood that that holy meeting of the universal Church was so prudent in judgment and so moderate that it abstained from condemning ideas which authorities among Church scholars supported, they wanted another work prepared with the agreement of that holy council which would cover the entire teaching which the faithful should know and which would be far removed from any error. They printed and distributed this book under the title of The Roman Catechism. There are aspects of their action worthy of special praise. In it they compiled the teaching which is common to the whole Church and which is far removed from every danger of error, and they proposed to transmit it openly to the faithful in very eloquent words according to the precept of Christ the Lord who told the apostles to proclaim in the light what He had said in the dark and to proclaim from the rooftops what they heard in secret. ... Therefore, in case the Church should be deceived and wander after the flocks of the companions who are themselves wanderers and unsettled with no certainty of truth, who are always learning but never arriving at the knowledge of truth, they proposed that only what is necessary and very useful for salvation be clearly and plainly explained in the Roman Catechism and communicated to the faithful.

And the Pope ends his powerful document with a significant warning:

[I]t is of the utmost importance that you choose for the office of communicating Christian teaching to the faithful not only men endowed with theological knowledge, but more importantly, men who manifest humility, enthusiasm for sanctifying souls, and charity. The totality of Christian practice does not consist in abundance of words nor in skill of debating nor in the search from praise and glory but in true and voluntary humility. There are those whom a greater wisdom raises up but also separates from the society of other people. The more they know, the more they dislike the virtue of harmony. [In Dominico Agro]
O Lord, grant us priests!
O Lord, grant us holy priests!
O Lord, grant us many holy priests!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Michael Voris: What Crisis?

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sanctuary with changes mandated by Vatican II

Pictured above is the sanctuary of the Brompton Oratory in London after all the changes had been made that were mandated for Catholic churches by Vatican II and post-Vatican II legislation. Yes, that's right. Read it again.

In short, NO changes were mandated -- not moving the Tabernacle from the central point in the altar, nor placing a chair in the middle of the sanctuary, or removing the Communion rails, or even Mass facing the people with the priest standing behind a free-standing altar.

I remember being amazed by this thesis when I first ran across it years ago, illustrated so simply and ably by Michael Davies in his little booklet, The Catholic Sanctuary and the Second Vatican Council. The photograph he used was of the sanctuary in the Brompton Oratory too, though not the same photo (as you can see at right).

Makes you stop and think, doesn't it? Especially if you're one of those people who prides himself in being a faithful "Vatican II Catholic"!

What happened?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Recovery of the Sacred
Reforming the Reformed Liturgy

Online Edition

by James Hitchcock
Copyright © James Hitchcock. All rights reserved.(Original edition 1974, Seabury Press; second edition 1995, Ignatius Press.)

Forward to the online edition
The Recovery of the Sacred by historian James Hitchcock, professor of history at St. Louis University, was originally published in 1974, a decade after the Second Vatican Council. The book provided an extraordinarily incisive analysis of post-conciliar liturgical developments that had impeded the authentic reform that the Council — and the pre-1965 “Liturgical Movement” — had intended.

Twenty years later, The Recovery of the Sacred’s constructive critique was not only still timely, but arguably more urgent, as new scriptural and liturgical translations were then in progress, and their integrity was endangered by the same erroneous views that had prevailed in the intervening years. Thus the book was published again in 1994.

Dr. Hitchcock’s analysis of the unexpected and rapid desacralization of the Liturgy in the years following the Second Vatican Council under the influence of a new class of professional liturgists remains an insightful guide. Chapters of the book have appeared in Adoremus Bulletin.

Now, in 2011, the Church is about to receive, for the first time, an authentic English translation of the sacred text of the Roman Missal. Its reception and implementation is crucial to the “recovery of the sacred” in Catholic worship. After four decades — two generations — it will not be easy to overcome errors and abuses that have become deeply entrenched in the minds of many Catholics, clergy and laity alike. This has affected not only translation, but nearly every aspect of Catholic worship — from art and architecture to music and popular devotions. As Father George Rutler wrote about the second publication of Recovery of the Sacred, “what was prophecy when it was first published, now is sober reflection. There is hope here for surviving the most tragic self-mutilation of Catholic culture since the Arian crisis of the fourth century”.

Signs of authentic renewal of the Church’s liturgy, however, are no longer rare, as they were in the 1990s.

Though his book is again out of print, Dr. Hitchcock’s often prescient insights concerning the necessary recovery of the sacred in Catholic liturgy are as compelling today as when they were first written — and perhaps even more concretely useful. Thus, with the author’s kind permission, we are pleased to present a complete online edition of The Recovery of the Sacred.
— Helen Hull Hitchcock
Table of Contents
Preface -- 1995 Edition
Preface to the First Edition - 1974 Edition
Chapter 1 - The Liturgical Revolution -- Published in the Adoremus Bulletin, November 2009
Chapter 2 - The Chimera of Relevance
Chapter 3 - The Cult of Spontaneity
Chapter 4 - The Loss of History -- Published in the Adoremus Bulletin, June 2006
Chapter 5 - The Death of Community
Chapter 6 - Folk Religion
Chapter 7 - The Reformed Liturgy -- Published in the Adoremus Bulletin, April 1996
Chapter 8 - The Recovery of the Sacred
Copyright © James Hitchcock. All rights reserved.
Online edition published with permission.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mass of a newly ordained priest

I am delighted to offer hospitality to any priest. The strange thing is older priests visiting Brighton tend to sit in the congregation dressed as laymen, middle aged priests want to concelebrate but younger priests are quite different, often they want to celebrate their own Mass, and not unusually in the Extraordinary Form, or at least in Latin. It is a generational thing, it is also an illustration of a change in the Church.

This weekend we are entertaining a young German priest, Fr Frederic Kernbach, who was ordained on Pentecost Sunday for the diocese of Paderborn. He will celebrate a High Mass in the Extraordinary Form, this Saturday, here, at 11.00am, after the Te Deum he will give first blessing.
Fr Richard Biggerstaff who is part of our diocesan vocations team is preaching and Fr Sean Finneagan who has just written the history of diocesan seminary will be deacon, me, I'm subdeacon.
Come, if you are able, bring some friends, you can park in our school playground behind the church, all day if you want.

I am rather pleased it is the Feast of on of my Patrons St John Fisher and I know this is a bit silly but after my own Silver Jubilee in 2009 I was given a rather beautiful plain 1930's red High Mass, the whole thing hasn't been worn, so it will be good to see it in use.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Altar Rail Returning to Use

Architects, pastors and parishioners find it enhances reverence in church.

In Tiverton, R.I., when some parishioners suggested returning altar rails to the sanctuary of Holy Ghost Catholic Church, Father Jay Finelli gladly accepted, little knowing shortly thereafter the Pope’s 2007 motu proprio letter Summorum Pontificum would follow and he would be interested in learning how to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Mass.

In Norwalk, Conn., when a groundswell of parishioner support encouraged pastor Father Greg Markey to restore St. Mary Church, the second-oldest parish in the diocese, to its original 19th-century neo-gothic magnificence, he made sure altar rails were again part of the sanctuary.

Altar rails are present in several new churches architect Duncan Stroik has designed. Among them, the Thomas Aquinas College Chapel in Santa Paula, Calif., the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., and three others on the drawing boards.

Altar (Communion) rails are returning for all the right reasons.

Said Father Markey: “First, the Holy Father is requiring holy Communion from him be received on the knees. Second, it’s part of our tradition as Catholics for centuries to receive holy Communion on the knees. Third, it’s a beautiful form of devotion to our blessed Lord.”

James Hitchcock, professor and author of Recovery of the Sacred (Ignatius Press, 1995), thinks the rail resurgence is a good idea. The main reason is reverence, he said. “Kneeling’s purpose is to facilitate adoration,” he explained.

When Stroik proposed altar rails for the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, “Cardinal [Raymond] Burke liked the idea and thought that was something that would give added reverence to the Eucharist and sanctuary.”

In Eastern Orthodox churches, there is an iconostasis — a wall of icons and religious paintings that separate the nave from the sanctuary — rather than altar rail separating the sanctuary. While the altar rail is usually about two feet high, the iconostasis veils most of the sanctuary.

“The altar rail is nothing compared to that,” he says, “and these are our Eastern brethren. We can benefit and learn something.”

Altar Rail History
They may be returning, but were altar rails supposed to be taken out of sanctuaries?

“There is nothing in Vatican II or post-conciliar documents which mandate their removal,” said Denis McNamara, author of Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy (Hillenbrand Books, 2009) and assistant director and professor at the Liturgical Institute of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Ill.

Cardinal Francis Arinze strongly affirmed this point during a 2008 video session while he was still prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments: “The Church from Rome never said to remove the altar rails.”

So what happened?

“Unfortunately, democratic ideas came into the situation after Vatican II,” Hitchcock said.

Stroik points some out of these ideas: a general iconoclasm that rejected the past, a desire to make churches into gathering spaces more like Protestant meeting houses, and the argument that kneeling is a sign of submission, which is seen as disrespectful to the modern person — we didn’t kneel before kings and queens, so it was more “democratic” not to kneel.

Added McNamara: “Some people called them ‘fences’ which set up division between priest and people.”

“Of course,” he said, “theologically there is a significant meaning in the distinction between nave and sanctuary. Just as there was confusion over the roles of ordained and laity at the time, so there was confusion about the architectural manifestation of those roles.”
Altar rails give “a clear designation as to what is the sanctuary,” Father Markey said. “The word ‘sanctuary’ comes from the word ‘holy,’ which means ‘set apart.’ The sanctuary is set apart from the rest of the church because it reinforces our understanding of what holiness is. The sanctuary is symbolically the head of the church and represents Christ as the head.”

McNamara traces church architecture roots to the Temple of Solomon: The large room corresponded to the church nave; the Holy of Holies, an image of heaven, corresponded to today’s sanctuary. They were separated visually by the great veil, which was torn when Christ died.

“[The altar rail] is still a marker of the place where heaven and earth meet, indicating that they are not yet completely united,” McNamara explained.

“But, at the same time, the rail is low, very permeable, and has a gate, so it does not prevent us from participating in heaven. So we could say there is a theology of the rail, one which sees it as more than a fence, but as a marker where heaven and earth meet, where the priest, acting in persona Christi, reaches across from heaven to earth to give the Eucharist as the gift of divine life.”

Reverence at Mass
Altar rails have an important role for the extraordinary form of the Mass where, Father Finelli noted, reception of Communion has to be on the tongue. He celebrates the extraordinary form weekly in Advent and Lent and monthly the rest of the year.

Communicants kneel at the oak railing that was crafted by a parishioner who is a professional woodworker. The rail was gilded by parishioners. They crafted a similar altar rail for the adoration chapel.

The presence of the rails has made an impression on the 2,000-family parish. “So many people kept requesting to use the altar rail,” he recalled, “I decided at the beginning of Lent that people receive at the altar rail.” (The requirement is for all weekday and special feast Masses in the ordinary form too.)
Given the option to kneel or stand, many choose to kneel to receive Communion. While they can receive on the tongue or in the hand, more people are choosing to receive on the tongue.

As Father Finelli put it, “It’s a very strong sign for the love and respect for the Real Presence because it’s really Jesus we’re receiving.”

Father Finelli clarifies that for Latin Catholics to receive the Eucharist while standing and in the hand is an indult, a special permission granted by the Holy See, because the ordinary way by Church law is still to receive while kneeling and on the tongue. (The indult was granted at the request of the American bishops.)

While the extraordinary form is celebrated three times weekly at St. Mary’s in Connecticut, Father Markey says the Communion rails are used for all ordinary form Masses as well. In his 1,000-family parish, parishioners also have the option at the ordinary form to kneel or stand.

This is approved by Rome. He notes the Vatican directive: “In 2003 the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments says in the ordinary form ‘communicants who chose to kneel are not to be denied holy Communion … nor accused of disobedience …’”

Stroik designed St. Mary’s renovated sanctuary incorporating hand-carved marble neo-gothic altar rails with brass gates that Father Markey purchased from a church that was closing in Pennsylvania. It beautifully matches the original white marble fixed altar and new marble free-standing altar, which brings another dimension to liturgical symbolism.

“When we gather at the altar rails, we symbolically gather at the altar,” Stroik said.
Making both altar and rails from the same materials — in this case marble — makes the connection even clearer.

Liturgical architecture expert McNamara agrees. He has found that some old church architecture books consider the rail the “people’s altar” and thus was made with the same marble as that of the altar.

To add to the symbolic connection, some churches cover the rails during Communion with linens similar to those on the altar.

Drawn to Prayer
There are yet more reasons for incorporating altar rails. Stroik finds where they have been removed in a cathedral, basilica or historic church receiving numerous visitors, many don’t know how sacred the altar is and wander around the sanctuary. The church has to put up ropes and signs like in a museum to do what altar rails were supposed to do: “create a real threshold so people can tell it’s a special place, a holy place set apart.”
Stroik says the altar rail is “an invitation for people to come close to the sanctuary, kneel and pray before the tabernacle, a statue of Our Lady or images of saints.”

Father Markey said returning the rails has been a great success.

Longtime parishioners who have attended St. Mary’s for 50 years or more regretted the magnificent altar rail being torn out in the 1960s. They now tell him, “Thank God you brought it back, Father.”
He also notices worship is enhanced for adults as well as children: “Little children like to kneel and pray there while their mom and dad receive holy Communion,” said Father Markey. “There’s almost universal embracing. It’s one of the most popular decisions I’ve made as pastor.”

Register staff writer Joseph Pronechen is based in Trumbull, Connecticut.

Visit StMaryNorwalk.net and HolyGhostCC.org for more info.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/altar-rails-returning-to-use/#ixzz1R55pHmTj