Citing the experience of EWTN founder Mother Angelica (R.I.P.), the author describes the sinister behaviour of those who have contributed to a culture of liturgical blandness. Sullivan reports on the struggle by faithful Catholics, i.e., Mother Angelica's community, to overcome resistance to the implementation of the actual teaching of the Second Vatican Council.
Mother sent some of her Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration to study the Vatican II document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, and related decisions from the Vatican, and they discovered that the use of Latin and of Gregorian chant and the saying of the Mass ad orientem had never been forbidden. Those who frequent the New Liturgical Movement website, members of the Church Music Association of America and many others had been aware of this for years, but the average Catholic, not to mention, it seems, the average priest and the average bishop, has apparently never heard the facts of the matter, and Mother Angelica and her nuns had to determinedly ferret those facts out for themselves, in self defense.
As Raymond Arroyo wrote, “The nuns discovered that the Second Vatican Council had never intended a wholesale abandonment of Latin in the new Mass. Quite the contrary, the official council and papal documents encouraged the retention of Latin and use of Gregorian chant in the renewed Liturgy. . . .” (To paraphrase Blessed John Henry Newman, to be deep in history is to cease being liturgically illiterate.)
Masses on EWTN are routinely celebrated according to the Missal of Pope Paul VI, in what Pope Benedict XVI later called the Ordinary Form and what Arroyo referred to as the New Mass. At EWTN’s chapel in Birmingham, the friars began to sing the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin. And they celebrated the Masses ad orientem.
Arroyo wrote, “Though the monastery celebrated the new Mass of Vatican II, the priest with his back to the people (Bad description, but we'll let it go for the moment.), the sounds of the service, and the old devotions were often mistaken as a throwback to a bygone era. In point of fact, it was much closer to the renewal foreseen by the Second Vatican Council--and it was beaming into nearly every diocese in America.” (Let's get many more ad orientem liturgies broadcast for people to witness!)
Most of the American bishops objected. One USCCB priest commented that they didn’t like “her kind of theology.” (Who cares what heterodox clergy think. Give us the ad orientem worship prescribed in the rubrics of the Roman Missal! Give us the Extraordinary Form, too!) But, as Arroyo wrote, Mother Angelica’s local bishop, David Foley, who was installed as the bishop of Birmingham in 1994, was on her side, at least about the use of Latin and chant. Arroyo quoted Bishop Foley as recalling, “They didn’t like the interspersing of the Latin. But to any bishop who objected, I would say, ‘I don't care. I like it.’ ”
There will always be liturgical hellholes made all the more hellish by priests and people who are holdouts for Vatican III, liturgical wastelands where people are forced to endure banal liturgies bereft of Council-mandated chant and Council-mandated ad orientem worship. That said, one can hope that Cardinal Sarah's prescription or recipe for enhancing Catholic worship will be observed by many priests this coming Advent.
Note aside: Dear Priests, our beloved spiritual fathers, consider some of the following suggestions to help introduce your parishioners to ad orientem worship
- Preach homilies on the historical and spiritual significance of ad orientem worship. Cite articles by Cardinal Sarah, Cardinal Ratzinger and others. Use language that is inviting, positive and forthright.
- Include in parish bulletins a series of brief essays outlining key rubrics in the Roman Missal which direct the priest to face the people and when he should face "eastward".
- Host a discussion group and view videos on Catholic worship. Recruit supportive parishioners who give a personal witness in favour of ad orientem worship.
Until the Ordinary Form matches the liturgy the Council Fathers intended, get thee to an Extraordinary Form or Ordinariate Mass where ad orientem is the norm!
Our Lady Queen of Peace (Extraordinary Form/TLM)
Fellowship of Blessed John Henry Newman (Ordinariate) at Our Lady of Fatima Church (Low Mass weekdays; Sunday High Mass)