Monday, May 3, 2010


This guest submission reviews the Pontifical High Mass of April 24th. The celebrant was a last minute pinch-hitter for Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos who was caught up in the sex abuse controversy.
I recorded the EWTN special on April 24 of Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, OK, saying Mass in the Extraordinary Rite, a Pontifical High Mass at the National Basilica. It was quite a sight! I must confess, I'd never actually seen someone wearing a "Cappa Magna". There's enough watered silk there for six of us, at least, to get a new cassock! The rubrics were followed to the letter. The music was well done. Bishop Slattery gave a decent sermon. Yet, when it was over, I felt like singing, "Is that all there is?"

I like Latin; got generally good grades in it for four years at Quigley. I have enjoyed attending and even celebrating a Latin Mass on occasion (novus ordo or Tridentine). I prefer many Latin chants over more modern music, on occasion. But the Mass as offered April 24th left me cold. As I reflect on it, I believe it was the DISCONNECT that bothered me. The Choir sings as the Bishop is vested off at a side chapel. The ministers pray at the foot of the altar while the Choir sings a Kyrie. The bishop goes back to the throne while the Gloria is sung. He starts the Eucharistic Prayer (Canon) while the choir sings the "Holy Holy", carefully making sure the choir is done by the Consecration. It seemed like the Bishop is doing one thing while the Choir is doing something else, and somehow as long as everyone ends at the same time its okay!

At the risk of pushing a metaphor too far, that Mass seemed to represent the Church today. The Pope and many bishops are looking back at the 1950's, wishing they could take us back to the future in liturgy and church life. Clergy and laity who remember the excitement of Vatican II are past graying, and still hopeful that we can fashion a "city of God." Younger clergy and some of their contemporaries in lay life are calling for John Paul II to be canonized. Victims and many others in the Church are calling for genuine reform to prevent the crisis that has eaten at the heart of church life for almost a generation now. Others insist this is just "rabble rousing" on the part of the press and some unhappy (that is "non-practicing") Catholics. There is a lot of talking, but little conversation. Therein lies the DISCONNECT.

Vatican I was called the Pope's Council. Vatican II was the Bishops' Council. Perhaps it is time for Vatican III, the People's Council, where a sensus fidelium can be fashioned by all of us, ordained, religious, laity, regular and irregular, all have a seat at the table. We'll argue, as families do. But we may just break the "disconnect" that currently causes so many of us to say, "They just don't get it!"

Peter Ignotus

1 comment:

  1. I admire Peter for watching and reporting on that Mass. It reminds me of my first experience with the "All Latin Mass" at St John Cantius. I perceived three different groupings:

    1) Priest in full vestments including biretta, with two acolytes carrying lighted candles led by a cross bearer. 2) People spread thru a huge Church, a few couples seated together with individuals seated as far apart as they could get from one another. Some were reading missals, some praying the Rosary, a couple of seminarians (deacons) reading Brevaries (I know they were brevaries because these guys lips were moving. 3) Finally, a mile above and behind the people a magnificent old organ blazing, sometimes allowing the aging Gregorian choir muddling through. The altar railing was still there and the altar boys lifted the white cloth beneath which you placed your folded hands. A gold paten stabbed you in throat as you received. Believed it or not, they all finished at the same time. EXEUNT OMNES!

    I'm still sticking with my image of the Upstairs - Downstairs Church with no stairs between them. That's where I disagree with Peter's Vatican III dream.

    Who knows? Maybe both of us will be wrong and there may be a day when Holy Mother the Church is led by Her Holiness Magdalene II.