• miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I am in the middle of email discussion with someone who is a devout EF mass catholic.(sorry I didn't mean to differenciate them). I also appreciate "silence" in EF, but is it prohibited by the Church to "dialogue" (responses of the altar servers)from the pew, because the congregation is uniting themselves with Christ in silent meditation in EF? She says there are heated debates on this issue in her parish. In some ways I found it is a bit distracting when a few people here and there respond while others are silent. Could anyone clarify this? I'd appreciate it. (I'm not sure whether there is a clear answer to this, preferably from the Church's instruction.)

    The following is just a part of her email. I just want to make sure what she is saying is not from her own preferences. (I read that she has spoken to many distinguished priests, but there are also others say differently.)


    "I have spoken and listened to face to face with the great, Catholic writers and speakers, Rev. Fr. John Trigilio, Michael Davies, and Alice von Hildebrand; with Mr. Michael Matt editor of the Remnant, an author and law professor of CU, the rector the of the Sacred Heart Basilica, a professor and President of the Lepanto Foundation, as well as the esteemed Vicar General of the Institute of Christ the King and Provincial for North America (I can supply the names if you like), and many priests and others about this topic. All these people agree…that prior to the era of Modernism, prior to the enemies of the Church having a hand in changing…destroying… the Ancient and most sacred prayer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass…the congregation in the pews silently practiced interior prayer…contemplation/meditation…attaching their minds and hearts to the Priest and the action of the altar, while the Priest spoke and the servers answered him on behalf of the people; dozens of books pre-Vatican II and now newly reprinted give the same information."
  • miacoyne, I am not sure that this forum is the appropriate place to speak about this matter.

    That being said, Pius XII encouraged the "dialogue Mass," which was a continuation of the movement started by Saint Pius X. The fact that, for example, Michael Davies (a high school history teacher), disagreed with Pius XII really doesn't make the slightest difference. Pray for this lady, but don't waste valuable time trying to change her mind.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,331
    The 1958 document De musica sacra treats this subject:


    22. By its very nature, the Mass requires that all present take part in it, each having a particular function.

    a) Interior participation is the most important; this consists in paying devout attention, and in lifting up the heart to God in prayer. In this way the faithful "are intimately joined with their High Priest...and together with Him, and through Him offer (the Sacrifice), making themselves one with Him" (Mediator Dei, Nov. 20, 1947: AAS 39 [1947] 552).

    b) The participation of the congregation becomes more complete, however, when, in addition to this interior disposition, exterior participation is manifested by external acts, such as bodily position (kneeling, standing, sitting), ceremonial signs, and especially responses, prayers, and singing.

    The Supreme Pontiff Pius XII, in his encyclical on the sacred liturgy, Mediator Dei, recommended this form of participation:
    "Those who are working for the exterior participation of the congregation in the sacred ceremonies are to be warmly commended. This can be accomplished in more than one way. The congregation may answer the words of the priest, as prescribed by the rubrics, or sing hymns appropriate to the different parts of the Mass, or do both. Also, at solemn ceremonies, they may alternate in singing the liturgical chant (AAS 39 [1947] 560)".

    When the papal documents treat of "active participation" they are speaking of this general participation (Mediator Dei: AAS 39 [1947] 530-537), of which the outstanding example is the priest, and his ministers who serve at the altar with the proper interior dispositions, and carefully observe the rubrics, and ceremonies.



    In short, interior participation is of the first importance, and exterior participation makes it more complete. In low Masses, the faithful may recite the "dialogue" responses (see paragraphs 28-34 of the document) and in sung Masses they may sing the liturgical chants proper to the people.

    I expect some of the notable Catholics your friend cites would share her opinion, but I doubt that all of them do.
  • The situation as described here was, I believe, quite the norm: the liturgy having long since become an act of worship by those in the sanctuary which was 'prayerfully participated in' by those in the nave, who prayed their rosaries or read their other private devotions, not so much as daring to contemplate actual participation in the sacred rite. Exceptions to this norm were just that: exceptions. Such a warped concept of the public worship of the Church was but one of a number of characteristics of Tridentine and pre-Vatican II ecclesiology which cried out for reform. The mass is an act in which all present should rightly, fully, actively, and consciously participate according to their several roles. I would be among the first to affirm that 'full and consious participation' has been abused greatly, even blasphemously, by a multitude of priests and others. There is no question about this! But, the relegation of the people to a role of observers engaged in private devotions, not public worship, is an equal abuse - and an incredibly demeaning one.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I sincerely apologize if this is not an appropriate topic here. But thank you for the answers and thoughts(especially thank you so much for the citation of the document). They helped me greatly. I do appreciate EF mass, but don't have much knowledge and usually follow what other people do there. I want to learn more though. I was confused at EF mass when some are responding and others don't.
    She sent email when she found out that I'm leading 'mixed' schola and had a concern about my intention. So I wanted to make sure what she is saying is valid. So much to learn. Thanks.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    This is TOTALLY the right place for this. Is this not the "General Discussion: Catholicism" category???

    It is neither forbidden nor required to make the responses at a dialog Mass. I am suspicious of those whose practice of devotion is ruined by having reminders that there is a Mass going on (responses, music, audible priest...) I also caution against the viewpoint expressed of framing everything in terms of "enemies of the Church".... "Modernism"... and such. That's the makings of a skewed ecclesiology. Someone once said something to the effect of "the truth is not to the right or to the left..." I recommend we strive to follow that, rather than always being in a "crisis mode" that conveniently makes infallible one's personal preferences.
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    I wish that I could cite the reference, but I recall reading several years ago that Mass in the 16th and 17th centuries was a raucous occasion with people milling about, chatting, and generally carrying on while the priest quietly went about the rite. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that earnest reformers in those times worked diligently to impose a respectful silence in the church. Now the pendulum swings again. I think that's all part of the human condition.

    The only truly sad thing in your note, Mia, is that the debates are "heated".
  • Tra le Sollecitudini 3:
    "Special efforts are to be made to restore the use of the Gregorian Chant by the people, so that the faithful may again take a more active part in the ecclesiastical offices, as was the case in ancient times."
    There you have it: the greatest opponent of modernism of the 20th century, encouraging the people to use Gregorian chant in order to take a "more active part" in services.

    Still a desideratum for EF and OF.
  • Its a good idea to politely stick to authoritative documents. The three referenced above are all pre-conciliar and speak directly to the question. If she is concerned about having a mixed schola, you can point to 'De musica sacra'. Though it doesn't need to be mentioned in conversation or email, such documents clearly trump (informed) opinions of respected Catholics and the lady should recognize the higher authority.

    I would also let your pastor know of her concern and ask him how he would advise you to respond. Since it is acceptable, though not required by any means, for the faithful to make responses, clarification can come from him.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 986
    Every time I deal with people who question my intentions about chant, etc., I remind myself that "no good deed goes unpunished." Stick to the documents. You're unlikely to change anyone's mind who is devoted to the 1950s dead-silent low Mass. At the same time, knowing the authorities is useful. And do give the pastor a heads-up.
  • Steve CollinsSteve Collins
    Posts: 1,003
    There ARE options at play here. I believe the concept of the Dialog Mass pertained to the responses during the Mass which would normally be sung, which at least the schola cantorum or choir would respond, but to which the entire congregation usually responded. Just look at it: the priest is at the Altar, and turns to the congregation, opens his hands and says/sings "Dominus vobiscum". It then seems quite normal for any/all to respond in kind. But the Prayers at the foot of the Altar are a different story. As I recall growing up pre-Vat. II, we did NOT respond to those prayers, nor to the Orate fratres. But I don't believe that it is prohibited either.

    Here and now we have two regular TLMs. The one held in a medium sized church does NOT include the Prayers at the foot and Orate fratres, while the much smaller chapel Mass does invite the people to respond. I actually like verbally participating in these prayers, but not to the point of insisting on doing so - no matter what!

    Then here is the next level of common sense. It involves the "silence is golden" concept.
    1. If all are invited to respond, then it will probably not be noticed if some prefer to respond silently only.
    2. But if all are NOT invited to respond, then 1 or 2 people insisting on doing so is very disruptive, and spoils the preferred silence in that instance.

    Alas, common sense is not a classroom subject at any level of our educational systems!
  • THe Dialogue Masses (1959-1966)which we attended weekly were publicized as such.These were always low Masses. The congregation sang the Latin Ordinaries, four vernacular hymns, and there were spoken responses and some sung responses (this singing was mostly reserved for high Mass). The prayers at the foot of the altar, confetior, suscipiat were recited by the servers. These were always low Masses so orations were recited quietly and the propers assigned to the choir were omitted. I do not remember what we did with the gradual.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    I am sorry but I have to quote her another email one more time. It is very touching.

    "I was a child and in love with the sacred Mass…a Mass which no one thought would ever change. Saint Pius V said that is was “The Eternal Mass” the “Mass for All Ages”, it was not be to changed, not ever but, it was in the turbulent, chaotic 60’s. I remember the first time “they” turned the altar around. I, honestly, was afraid to look up because I realized as a little child that the altar was something sacred and that…God’s work…takes place upon this stone. I sensed this change and all the others which came along were wrong. Catholics were taught, years ago, that it was a mortal sin to touch the Sacred Host…today anyone can handle it! Hope this helps a little of where I am coming from. Everything we knew was turned inside out or somehow changed. Countless disillusioned Catholics left the Church because of it…I am most sorry to say. I stayed, I felt I must be loyal, but I can honestly say to anyone…that for me all those years growing up were like “being in a desert”…it was truly “long suffering”. Plus, I felt because I was in the Novus Ordo and because I saw people handling the Sacred Hosts and dribbling the Precious Blood…because it happens and that is why this practice was outlawed to begin with…I felt like I was an accomplice to a crime..."
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 986
    She's very unhappy and very passionate. However, you are not responsible for this or any of the sins and omissions of the past. You are doing your best - in the "right here and now." You take the liturgy and your musical contribution to it very seriously. You study and research, you teach adult and young singers. And I think you need to stay focused on that.

    My encounters with people like this end in my utter exhaustion because nothing I say or do can repair their unhappiness. No present progress will heal the wounds. After a certain level of attention, I suggest spiritual direction or the pastor.
  • miacoyne
    Posts: 1,805
    Thank you May Jane, I appreciate your advice, especially focusing on 'right here and now.'
    It is heartbreaking to know those who really really know what 'sacred' means had to suffer and still suffer. I'm sure there are lot that I don't know. It's humbling to know that I thought I knew what 'sacred' means, but I'm still far away.
    We just have to move on and pray for them, and trust that Christ and His Church will heal their wounds. In the mean time, the musicians have to work diligently to help bringing 'sacredness ' back to our liturgy. Carry our own crosses in charity.
    Thank you everyone for all the helpful input. This issue I know will come out when we have EF mass in our parish or in our area, which I hope to happen in the near future.(By the way, this lady is not from our parish.)
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    Sorry, but I've had it with angry paleo-trads. This kind of attitude stunts the Church, hampers the return of authentic tradition (rather than the Low Masses with the Marian hymns which were a fine time to read the church bulletin), and it's causing serious emotional harm to a very good friend. This person has had 40 years to get used to the way things are, and it's 40 years of bitterness. Then the Pope graciously returns the 1962 Mass to mainstream Catholicism, to move liturgical development forward. What does this individual do? Complain because women open their mouths at church. Give me a break!

    I've made my views somewhat clear, and frankly I tend to view the abolition of the 1962 missal as a bad thing and an example of spiritual abuse by the whole RCC. But I see signs of hope in various local churches, such as where I played for the orchestral High Mass on Christmas. On the other hand, people like this, whom I run into FAR too often at 1962 Masses, are just going to stand in the way of our goals as serious church musicians. Luckily the younger generations of trads are much more interested in turning the Mass into what it CAN BE rather than trying to turn the clock back to the worst era of what it was.
  • Bravo, Gavin! I especially like your last sentence.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 986
    Some folks travel with a lot of baggage. And Gavin (when he's not angry himself) is right about the younger generation, whose members operate from a base of enthusiasm and not residual rage.
  • Though I am sympathetic to real abuses mentioned, the email reads a bit like, "this happened to me, this happened to me, this happened to me...". Still seems like "me-centered liturgy", and its a refrain I've heard often.

    Perhaps the most wise disposition is not to guard the sacred liturgy as if it were the property of one person or group, but understand what the Church is asking and simply do one's own modest best to achieve it.

    Mary Jane is right- you are not responsible for any of her grievances and cannot fix her wounds. Thanks be to God, we sacred musicians do not have the competency to do that. You can listen (within reason) and pray.
  • Although I'm usually loath to comment on this contentious subject, I received the following today, which I think is a propos, if only to suggest that practice has not been uniform at all places and times:

    "The following is taken from a 1960 book published by Sheed & Ward, called "The Other Face: Catholic Life Under Elizabeth II", [sic--I suspect "Life Under Elizabeth I" is intended, dfs] collected & edited by Philip Caraman, S.J. (Evelyn Waugh's great friend). It is interesting as giving evidence of 16th century practice in the matter of layfolk making the responses at low Mass."

    THE DEATH OF QUEEN MARY

    She left this world . . . the 17th day of November 1558. That
    morning hearing Mass, which was celebrated in her chamber, she being
    at the last point (for no day passed in her life that she heard not
    Mass) . . . she answered in every part with him that served the
    Priest; such yet was the quickness of her senses and memory. And
    when the Priest came to that part to say, Agnus Dei, qui tollis
    peccata mundi, she answered distinctly and plainly to every one,
    Miserere nobis, Miserere nobis, Dona nobis pacem. Afterwards seeming
    to meditate something with herself, when the Priest took the Sacred
    Host to consume it, she adored it with her voice and countenance,
    presently closed her eyes and rendered her blessed soul to God. This
    the duchess hath related to me, the tears pouring from her eyes,
    that the last thing which the Queen saw in this world was her
    Saviour and Redeemer in the sacramental species; no doubt to behold
    Him presently after in His glorious Body in heaven. A blessed and
    glorious passage. Anima mea cum anima ejus.

    (the text indicates that this passage was taken from The Life of Jane
    Dormer, Duchess of Feria, by Henry Clifford)
  • Oooh, neat, David.
    Wonder what Elizabeth saw last in this world...