Enemies on every side: the reform of the reform

Liturgy is a hot topic again. Cardinal Sarah’s opening address at the Sacra Liturgia 2016 conference in London in early July, with its advocacy of priestly orientation to the east rather than to the people when at the altar, has had the effect of bringing many to play their hands openly. However, that this reception can be neatly divided along the usual lines, into progressives as anti-Sarah facing off against conservatives—or “neo-Tridentinists” as they have inanely been called—has become impossible.

The “conservative” ranks might be conveniently, if not with absolute accuracy, divided into two columns when it comes to this liturgical debate: the reformers-of-the-reform and the traditionalists properly speaking (i.e. those who favour the 1962 Missal). The reformers-of-the-reform have embraced the cardinal’s appeal, because it accords with the rubrics of the new Mass even as it is, and because it is a feeling almost like liberation to hear such a senior pastor advocate the traditional orientation with equivocation.

Some among the traditionalists have shown themselves to be no friends of the reformers-of-the-reform. Dr Joe Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society, has blamed the reformers-of-the-reform for the “hype heaped” on the cardinal’s words by some of them (and by implication, by me). Thus hype has provoked the reactions, it seems. More on this later.

No one claimed that Cardinal Sarah was laying down new regulations binding on all. Yet, those who disagreed with the cardinal’s remarks claimed to be responding to a confusion on the matter which, to be frank, I had not seen or heard at all. It was a straw man set up to justify the rebukes to follow. They could hardly attack the cardinal in the open. Far better to target the “confusion” he caused.

So with impressive speed, given Rome’s summer heat, the Vatican spokesman had to issue a “clarification” of the cardinal’s remarks. As Jeff Ostrowski has said, this clarification was unnecessary from a strictly logical point of view, since the cardinal had said nothing that needed clarification. Fr Lombardi, Cardinal Nichols in an email to his priests (again sent out with admirable speed), Archbishop Serratelli on behalf of the American bishops’ worship office in a letter to all the bishops, all reacted quickly to clarify not the rubrics of the Mass themselves, as these were totally ignored despite their direct and absolute relevance, but insisting on a mis-reading of #299 in the English translation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2002) (and not found, for example, in the French) to support the contention that the priest facing the people at the altar is preferred by the Church.

As I have argued earlier, the rubrics are clear and consistent in their expectation that the priest is facing the east, the same direction as the congregation. In fact, the rubrics assume it is the default position, with facing the people a permissible option. As with so many things in the wake of the Council, the option has become de facto the norm. And now this new norm is being defended to the hilt.

However, the rubrics have not been changed. Thus the priest may face East any time he wants to, and needs no one’s permission to do so. Given the postconciliar misdirection (pardon the pun) about the celebration of the Mass, it is no wonder that most Catholics might find themselves taken aback by a return to the 1900-year old tradition of Christian worship. A new catechesis is needed to remind the faithful what is involved in the priest, not them, facing east at the altar.

To be honest, I am more than a little bemused that so many should get worked up about the priest facing east (there is no change as far as the congregation is concerned). In an earlier post here it I wondered if it was fear, and tried to work out what it might be that so many are afraid of. The reaction of The Tablet has evidenced this same fear, and an obsession with a secularist understanding of things like “active participation”, in its lengthy reaction to Cardinal Sarah’s appeal. However, Fr Ray Blake identifies the deeper issue beneath that of orientation and participation, namely the nature of the Mass itself. Is it a fraternal meal (or love feast) or is it a representation of the Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross and a proclamation of his return in glory?

It is with Protestant worship in the sixteenth century where the idea of  the ‘fraternal meal’ takes over from the proclamation of the Lord’s death and return in glory. Protestantism has a supreme discomfort with the notion that the Mass is a supernatural event. In the Catholic Church the 1960’s brings in an understanding of the Mass that is essentially one of the ‘meal’. It would obviously be foolish to suggest that the Eucharist is not set within a meal but for the New Testament and the Fathers, in fact everyone up to V[atican]II, this meal is the sacred act of the Pasch,  a communion sacrifice with him the Lamb and Victim Priest.

The loss of a sense of the Mass as being about Christ’s death and coming again has been the most significant change in both the Church’s understanding of herself and her mission. It would be ridiculous to suggest that this change is not signified by the 1960s re-orientation of the Mass and it is for that reason that Cardinal Sarah speaks about the return to the ancient (and correct) orientation of the Mass as being both ‘urgent’ and ‘necessary’.

The more I have discovered about the nature of Mass, what it actually is rather than what it has been alleged to be, and about the history of its celebration and the principles sure surrounding the celebration, I more and more understand the stridency of Michael Davies and even Archbishop Lefebvre, and the brave intervention by Cardinal Ottaviani during the Council, in identifying the alarming aspects of the reforms both as proposed and as, through quite differently, enacted. Any honest reading of the Council’s defined principles for liturgical reform cannot an adequate reflection in the reality of the reform that came to be made in its name.

At the end of the day, this is the heart of the matter. (Above, Douai Abbey’s choir crucifix)

So when prelates have recourse to a mistranslated paragraph of law referring to altars rather than orientation, in order effectively to try to render near-impossible the traditional, and still normative, direction of worship, it is difficult not to lose hope in the reforms, and indeed in whole the postconciliar edifice itself. So much of it was imposed citing the Council but barely obeying it (and sometimes outright contradicting it). This edifice has had 50 years of supporting catechesis that has flushed out much of the traditional understanding of doctrine and worship from the minds of the faithful. It will take longer to undo once (or if) a revised catechesis is employed.

Which brings me back to Dr Shaw. There is so much that is almost offensive in his latest post (linked to above). Take this for example:

The golden rule in such matters is that you don’t press for clarification unless you are sure things will be clarified in your favour.

This is the rule apparently forgotten by the organisers of the Sacra Liturgia conference, and their friends in the Catholic media, both on and offline. I certainly don’t attribute any blame to Cardinal Sarah… The problem lay in the hype heaped on his words by others. Not only was the hype false – as just noted there wasn’t anything new or big about what he said – but it meant that Cardinal Nichols, Fr Lombardi, and all the others felt that they had to respond. And what sort of response did the organisers imagine they would get? What sort of official atmosphere do they imagine pertains in the Church right now? Where, in heavens’ name, have they been for the last few years?

Dr Shaw, for all his doctoral logic, is prone to the ad hominem argument from time to time, and also to gloating just a little. For the record, with regard just to this small quotation:

  1. No one at the conference or those heaping hype were seeking clarification from anyone. If anything, Cardinal Sarah had offered the clarification that the tradition of worship still obtains in the new liturgy. The “clarifications” from Rome and elsewhere were reactions to the favour with which the cardinal’s appeal was received.
  2. So no one forgot the golden rule of Dr Shaw, as the situation for its application was not envisaged.
  3. There was something new in Cardinal Sarah’s remarks, not in content but in effect and in their coming from the head of the congregation for worship. If Dr Shaw cannot or will not see the significance of this then there is nothing I can do to remedy that.
  4. The official “clarifications” were not compelled by any real necessity in the Church, but by particular interests. In every way they appear purely as reactions.
  5. So the organisers did not have any expectation of response as there was nothing that required a response.
  6. Where have they (and by implication that includes me) been these last few years? Slogging away in the ordinary, grassroots Church. It is very easy to be snide and dismissive from the secure fastness of a 1962 worshipping community. The reality in the parishes and elsewhere is of a Church that has lost touch with its liturgical roots, and mostly does not know it.

Dr Shaw dismisses the whole enterprise of the reform of the reform, and clearly looks forward to its demise. No doubt this is in part due to his exclusive advocacy of the pre-conciliar forms of worship; the reform of the reform distracts from his endgame.

But what is his endgame? The full restoration of pre-conciliar worship, no matter what the Council said? The thing is, there is much to be said for that goal. It is the liturgy that, with only minor variations, nourished the Church in holiness and steadfastness for nearly all of its existence thus far. It was the liturgy that so often drew into the Church those outside it or estranged from it. And for one I very much regret that it was denied me as a boy. In fact the latest round of official obfuscation has convinced me to learn the old Mass, at least to be ready for that day when I am banished to some little chapel to worship with only the angels for a congregation.

Yet, if the full restoration of pre-conciliar worship is the goal, how to achieve it? By fiat, an imposition on the Church as violent as that in 1969 which made mandatory a Mass that few if any laity were really prepared for? Notwithstanding other factors, people voted with their feet, and it was not in favour of the reform: most fled to the traditional movement or left off going to Mass altogether.

As I and others have been at pains to make clear, liturgical reform and restoration requires a new catechesis. A people formed in the expectation that Mass is a family meal, a celebration of community, and that holy communion, if it is really the Body and Blood of Christ (and not just symbolically so), can be received by anyone who wants to participate actively, will not take to the imposition of the 1962 Missal, which will be to them a totally alien creature.

So one reason for advocating the reform of the reform, at least for some of us, is that we see it as a necessary part of the new liturgical and sacramental catechesis. Once people can be led to discover afresh the sacrificial nature of the Mass, the symbolism of the celebrant’s orientation at the altar as one with them, the true nature of active participation even in the new Mass, they will come to see how more faithfully and fruitfully these principles are met in the traditional liturgy. At the risk of reaching for a guitar and crooning St Louis Jesuits’ ditties, it has to be said that this is a journey for the Church today, a journey not least of discovery and nothing will substitute for that.

So it is very easy for those who have no pastoral responsibility before the Lord to advocate the extreme solution of the instant reimposition of the old liturgy. The risk of this, however, is a shattering of the Church even beyond that it has already suffered, and the vast majority of the faithful, unprepared for such a sudden change, leaving the liturgical practice of the faith, or even all practice of it, as a result. Unless, of course, that is precisely what is desired: a faithful remnant from which root and new plant can grow.

But what of those pruned away? Where are they to go? Who will give an account for them on the Last Day? Whether the reform of the reform is conceived of as seeking to return to what the Council actually asked for, or as a route by which to rediscover the pre-conciliar liturgy, it is for pastors pretty much a necessity in one form or another. That is “the real world – that annoying thing which gets in the way of so many fine theories. In this real world, which I at least am condemned to inhabit, this plan is not working.” Dr Shaw seems to mistake his traditional community for the real world of the universal Church

Lastly I do think Dr Shaw is quite mistaken in one thing especially:

…the Traditional Mass is not today seen as a poisonous, problematic thing at an official level in the Church. Although a much more radical departure from the reformed Mass than R[eform]o[f]t[he]R[eform] ideas, it is treated much more leniently.

It is more likely that for many bishops making such provision is a way of silencing the vocal body of traditionalists while looking magnanimous in the process. Many progressives, and so many bishops too I suspect, see the traditionalist movement as very much on the fringe of the life go the Church, no matter how they cater for it, and I suspect that they think it will remain relatively small and indeed die out in time, and so cease to be a problem. Is this leniency or pragmatism? Is this acceptance or merely tolerance?

Ultimately, when it comes to ends and goals, Dr Shaw and RofRers such as myself have much common ground, indeed it would mostly be common ground. This is one reason, and reason enough, for those who share goals and aims to stick together rather than white-ant our best endeavours and treat us like idiots or knaves. Perhaps more than one of us is thinking, Et tu, Brute? Life goes on, of course, and no doubt none of us will lose sleep or emotional health over something so unnecessary.

So this is not to start an online debate with Dr Shaw (and I suspect that a debate with me would be infra dig to him), but rather to highlight the way in which his article will have been received by so many with whom he shares ideals. Maybe the reform of the reform is nothing better than making the best of a bad lot, but it is still better than washing our hands of the majority of the faithful and retreating into a liturgical Mayfair, a luxury which priests and pastors cannot have.

So, if Dr Shaw is right and “it is not such a bad thing, all things considered, that the cause of the Reform of the Reform has been set back by twenty years”, then good luck to him! Most of us reformers-of-the-reform will just have to muddle on as best we can wherever we find ourselves, and trust God to make fruitful whose work He will.


PS For an fascinating insight into the motives of those who advocated Mass facing the people in the decades before the Council, do read this short and illuminating article by the Cistercian, Dom Edmund Waldstein.

And at CC Watershed you will find a page of really useful links on the matters discussed above.


23 thoughts on “Enemies on every side: the reform of the reform

  1. It is always amazing to me how the “powers that be” can get woefully lost in the minutia—as they seem to relish dealing with the said devil in the details…and perhaps it is the devil himself who is most bemused by the brouhaha…
    One would think, with this ‘one’ being a mere member of the laity verse the clergy and in this case, of the seemingly evil protestant persuasion, that to face the altar, the cross, the sacred head of the very mass itself—as in essence to be facing God, only makes sense.
    As priest and congregants are all facing together as one, before the only One in the room who deserves the “respect” of worship and offering…as in the mass, or in communion as the non catholics often describe it, is the epitome of the very offering of self and thus a receiving of the One who gave Himself as He continues to give through the partaking of the bread and the wine…the body and blood…
    It only makes sense Father that all should face east or to the altar…
    but then again, common sense never makes sense to the power’s that be….
    Blessings Father


  2. Leaves me wondering why Rome manifests such “impressive speed” to clarify things in this case (though of course Cdl. Sarah only suggested a change and one to be preceded with catechesis) but not in so many others?


  3. I should begin by saying that, as an attendee of the TLM, I actually do share your hope that, through traditional restorations in celebration of the Ordinary Form (such as ad orientem celebration), “[o]nce people can be led to discover afresh the sacrificial nature of the Mass, the symbolism of the celebrant’s orientation at the altar as one with them, the true nature of active participation even in the new Mass, they will come to see how more faithfully and fruitfully these principles are met in the traditional liturgy.”

    But I do think that such a hope will have great difficulty in being realised, for the reason given in Joe Shaw’s essay, not addressed here: In most places (the very great majority, I think), it really *is* easier to introduce a regular TLM as an addition to an existing parish Mass schedule than it is to start modifying existing OF Masses to ad orientem celebrations. Trying to introduce ad orientem to an existing Mass is much more likely to generate, as Dr Shaw puts it, “liturgical war zones,” and worse, angry complaints to the local ordinary, something that rarely ends well for a pastor. One can reduce the risk of such blowback by extensive preparation and catechesis, as Fr Jay Scott Newman famously did in Greenville, SC; but even this will not avail in many places, and whatever the GIRM really says, an ordinary hostile to the project can make such a project difficult to sustain.

    It is a deeply unfortunate and tragic situation all around, insofar as the large project of restoring the Church’s liturgical tradition and self-understanding is concerned. The Extraordinary Form is certainly growing, but it remains a small phenomenon in Europe and North America, and even more marginal in the rest of the Catholic world; it cannot reach nearly as many Catholics as a real Reform of the Reform project embraced energetically (with legal backing and reform) by the Holy See and episcopates could. But with that backing absent, and replaced instead by continuing hostility, the prospects for any real Reform of the Reform seem mainly dead, outside a handful of more traditional-friendly sees, such as Lincoln, NE, Madison, WI, or Frejus-Toulon, FR.


    1. Hello Richard. Thanks for yours.

      I wonder if the reason why the EF is easier to install in a parish than a RotR OF, is that the majority of the OF parishioners will be happy to tolerate what does not affect them. “They can get on with their own thing.”. They might even feel magnanimous at allowing them to do so. On a pragmatic level, this is surely useful. For the longer-term, the vital issues are only being avoided.

      Nothing is going to change without clear and consistent catechesis, made with a positive spirit not an adversarial one. One thing modern man seems to have lost is a healthy sense of history. The myth of progress is the dominant dogma of modern society, and a proper presentation of tradition is needed to counter it.



      1. Hello Fr Hugh,

        “I wonder if the reason why the EF is easier to install in a parish than a RotR OF, is that the majority of the OF parishioners will be happy to tolerate what does not affect them.”

        In practical terms, I think that’s it, really.

        (There is also the canonical aspect: Disdained as the TLM/EF might be by some in chanceries, it does have more formal legal protections, in a certain sense, than most ROTR practices do; though it is also true that in the most retograde progressive dioceses, even this is not enough.)

        This is certainly been my experience, at any rate. I am a Juventutem board member, and I think of one parish we are working with. The demographics are quite on the older side, and liturgically, it had been run in a certain way for a very long time. The new pastor was able to make some modest changes in ars celebrandi and sanctuary arrangement, but attempting something like ad orientem (which the pastor would certainly *like* to do) would have spurred at least a few calls to the chancery (not something one wishes to have happen in *this* diocese), no matter how much catechesis might have been tried first; they are elderly and do not like change very much. But adding on a new Mass slot for a regular EF Mass has worked out well; it has been going on for several months without any complaint, even if it is viewed with wary curiosity by old regulars.

        I agree with you that this really avoids resolving the larger problem of liturgical rupture, by putting these different approaches and communities in different “silos.” But I do think Joseph Shaw has a point just the same about what the brutal, practical reality is for the typical pastor. Stress levels are high enough now for priests as it is; and it is hard to blame them when they decide to avoid higher risk options. Which suggests that the whole ROTR project really *is* hard to pull off with any depth without serious support from the hierarchy, preferably from Rome on down. Otherwise, a pastor is typically going to have a very tough time of it.


      2. Hi Richard.

        Thanks for a thoughtful and useful comment. It is always interesting to hear of experience directly. I think the technique of a new slot for an EF Mass makes a lot of sense, as it does not disrupt the regulars’ routine. But that could also work for a RotR Mass, ad orientem say. Slip it in, catechise about it beforehand, appeal for servers, dispense with EMHC, keep it otherwise simple to start off with, and I suspect it would be popular enough in time.

        As for your well-intentioned but contained pastor, he has my sympathy, understanding and prayers. Suggest to him a slot, at least occasionally, for a RotR Mass. He should present it as an offering of liturgical variety if he needs to, opens to new things (ancient actually but you know what I mean). There will be some who will be interested and once they are hooked they can evangelise for it!

        And I quote agree about support from the top; but also support from brother clergy. It is the feeling that one stands alone that is so crippling. That is partly why I bang my drum. There is not much to take from me, and I have no career prospects at all. In that sense, I am freer to act.

        Blessings on your Juventutem work. I must admit I am feeling the pull towards learning the TLM more and more every day.



      3. Hello Fr. Hugh,

        Thank you for the thoughtful reply!

        A couple quick thoughts:

        1) On adding an ROTR Mass to the schedule, as opposed to a TLM: That’s an interesting thought, and it might answer in some situations, especially where the pastor is less comfortable trying his hand at a TLM. There are a number of reasons why it was not an option in our case, some of which i am not at liberty to delve into; but it may suffice to say that we had a guaranteed audience, servers, and cantors we could build on as a base cohort with a TLM, but we simply had no such identifiable cohort for a ROTR OF Mass, inside the parish or out of it. I think this is worth mentioning because I’m afraid it is surely the case in a number of places I can think of. Before 2007 it was a different story, perhaps…

        2) Your point about support from fellow clergy is well taken. In dioceses where ad orientem is becoming a significant reality – I think of Lincoln, Kansas City-St Joseph, and Madison here in the States – this is *exactly* the sort of thing you can observe (usually among the younger priests) in helping solidify and expand it.

        3) As a closing thought, I would like to ask if you think that an expanded permission to use the Ordinariate Use missal by diocesan and religious clergy might be of any benefit. In England & Wales, it’s easier to make that case than anywhere else… I have served the Ordinariate Use, and I can’t help but but be struck by the impression that it really is the most concrete ROTR legacy that Benedict left behind: a fully (hieratic) vernacular liturgy with some more dialogical aspects while preserving so much of the ethos of the traditional Roman/Sarum Rite (at least through a BCP filter). That would require legislation from Rome and cooperation of the local ordinary, I realize…but I sometimes think that if a genuine reformed Roman Rite with genuine continuity is ever attempted in the future, it might not look terribly dissimilar to the Ordinariate liturgy.


      4. Hi.

        Your question about expanding the permission for the Ordinariate Use, beyond Ordinariate clergy and parishes, is one that has struck me before. I have written it off as being highly unlikely, in England at least. A goodly number of bishops were apparently against the Ordinariate project so would be unlikely to want its liturgical practices to move beyond the quarantine zone of Ordinariate parishes.

        Moreover, if these same bishops, and Rome, are feeling the NO liturgy to be in danger from the increasing number of shots now finding their target, they might see in an expanded Ordinariate Use another implicit attack on the mainstream status quo.

        But this is only a guess!



      5. Hello Fr Hugh,

        I figured that the was the case – certainly nothing would be changing for the foreseeable future.

        Perhaps the mood might change in 20 years or so…


  4. I think this exchange of views sums things up extremely well. Surely the aim must be widespread provision of the traditional liturgy and a full acceptance of it into typical parish life, but alongside good, reverent Ordinary Form provision.

    If we are to think of the two forms as being versions of the same rite, then I see no problem with the OF being more “comprehensible” and verbal than the EF and the EF being more symbolic and ritualistic. Prior Cassian Folsom called the one “speaking in prose” and the other “speaking in poetry”, and given how prose-minded many people are it makes sense to communicate to the two sorts of person (or the same person in different moods) in the most effective way.

    The key task for the RotR is I think to make the OF into a good version of itself, moderating its extremes but not obscuring the things people like most about it. Celebrating it in a way that is reasonably accessible but not in such a way that it seems insipid or cringeworthy, and rejecting innovations that point away from the Church’s teachings.

    So, to sound like Bridey for a second and muse “If I were a priest…”, then I think a healthy position would be for most parishes to offer the EF on Sundays, along with the OF, and maybe to offer Sung or even High Mass in the EF on solemnities etc. The OF could then be virtually a Latin-free zone if the people preferred, the ceremonial could aim for the famed “noble simplicity”, and we could be content with hymns rather than chant etc. Personally I would do away with Extraordinary Ministers and return to kneeling for Communion, because the Real Presence is a teaching that really should not be soft-pedaled.

    The aim, perhaps, should be to make the OF more like a Catholicised Anglican service, not ritualistic but rather high and dry. This means accepting that the OF is more in the tradition of Protestant worship than of Catholic or Orthodox liturgy, but then going further and accepting that a great many people in the West respond better to that sort of thing than to what we ourselves like, and resolving to master this new tool and make it work for us rather than against us.


    1. There is much to agree with in what you write, Edward. I admit that I also envisage the EF and OF co-existing in the one parish, which will allow for mutual enrichment, personal preference and preventing either group being marginalised; they must both be fully within the parish.

      Fr Cassian has a good understanding of the issues involved, as he has grappled with them actively and fruitfully. The prose and poetry metaphors are worthy of development, especially with regard to the modern mind.

      If I read you right, you would agree with me that the OF, before it can ever be justly dismissed, must be seen at its best not its worst, and judged against its own rubrics and not the ignoring of them.

      And I think you are right to state that unsettling truth, that the OF is more in the tradition of Protestant worship than Catholic. How to accept that, if we must, is a challenge.

      You’ve given me much to think about.



      1. Thanks for your reply, Father. I do agree that the OF ought to be made the best of, and I think that were that to happen the result would not be a sort of EF-lite, such as we see celebrated at the Brompton Oratory and other similar places (with all respect to the Oratory – I go there often). Such a rite would be neither fish nor fowl, and would not fully satisfy people’s need either for the poetic or the prosaic.

        I’ve been greatly influenced by Joseph Shaw on this subject. The OF was not intended by its creators to be the same kind of thing as the EF, and it seems the laity were not intended to engage with it in the same way they would with the EF. I think the RotR has been motivated partly by a desire to revive in Catholic worship the sort of experience that is so plentifully provided by the EF, but now that the EF itself is becoming more widely available I suspect those particular needs can be better met by that.

        To use a political term, I think the Catholic Church should recognize the OF as an attempt to steal the Protestants’ clothes. To make a success of that theft we need to become comfortable with the new clothes and use them for our own purposes, but we must at all costs avoid thinking that we are Protestants ourselves because we’ve been wearing their clothes for so long.


  5. Greetings,

    I have to be honest and say that you are out of touch with what is actually going on, not only on the ground, but on the internet. Your groups/tags are certainly not correct… There are not two columns anymore. It has all changed in a very short period of time. You also don’t seem to understand that in common understanding that Traditionalists are not conservatives in any way shape or form. Those days have long gone. Anyone following the Catholic internet knows this implicitly.

    Since Summorum Pontificum the internet now considers conservatives to be ‘slow liberals’ who will accept anything given enough time. There is no such thing as a traditionalist who is a conservative. There is also little reference anywhere to ‘neo-tridentists’ as you refer to them. You mean neo-conservatives. I suspect that this is your own made up phrase that will not catch on. Neo-conservatives are younger conservatives who are under the disillusion that they can ‘fix the Novus Ordo Church’. They want what the TLM Catholics have, but they want it in the New Mass, and it isn’t going to happen (for the reasons I list below which can no longer be ignored)…

    The conservatives will remain in the New Mass, because they made their mind up after Vatican II and have fully accepted it. Most conservatives are ageing and were never really that bothered. They like the New Mass, with its own theology and homilies. It will be the neo-conservatives (like Clare Short and others) who will struggle to move over, because they still think that they can fix the problems. Which they can’t. Thousands of letters (and face to face meetings) from members of Pro Ecclessia et Pontefice lead by Daphne McCloud over the past 60 years to Westminster Diocese and CDF & CDW have never fixed it. They are not going to fix it now that the hierarchy have finally shown their true colours. Daphne McLoud will tell you that Westminster in particular are not interest in the complaints. Numerous Catholics will tell you that they don’t even bother to send a reply.

    These neo-conservatives will be obstinate and remain angry, and will make others angry. They will remain behind in the New Mass and create the sort of bitter arguments you get in the Anglican Church. They will do this, because they will not want to admit that they were wrong. They have failed to work out a number of things (including the use of the phrases Low Church (New Mass) and High Church – (TLM). These names are already being used on the internet:

    The neo-conservatives will not get their ROTR in the UK because…

    1. You can’t beat Cultural Marxism by complaining, and the Cultural Marxists are fully in charge of the Church hierarchy.
    2. They wont get their ROTR New Mass because all the people with the high skill set required have already moved over to the Latin Mass.
    3. The UK has a small population of Catholics compared to the USA where the ROTR has had some success (there are so many more Catholics in a U.S. population of half a billion).
    4. They are not just fighting liberals, but also ageing conservatives, who also don’t want change in their local churches (the neo-cons really don’t understand this point!).
    5. Most of the devout priests (who have been trained in a traditionalist seminary – i.e. correctly trained in the spiritual life and orthodoxy) have already moved over to the TLM.
    6. I could go on…., but the great irony is that most neo-conservatives have never experienced a real reform of the reform New Mass, and consequently actually haven’t a clue what it is. The absolute minimum required for a ROTR New Mass is the Missa de Angelis, and Latin Chant at the Offertory and Communion (every week). Most have never even seen it, and certainly never in a local church setting.


    1. Mike,

      If you read on you will see that I do not consider the “conservative” label satisfactory, which is why I redefine the label into more appropriate sub-categories vis-a-vis liturgy at least, i.e. reformers of the reform and traditionalists. Nothing you have said makes me think these rough categories do not adequately express the reality of what is labelled the conservative wing (not to be confused with the neoconservatives).

      Thanks for telling me that I am out of touch with reality and that I am clearly so stupid that I cannot be among those “following the Catholic internet” who know your version of reality “implicitly”.

      Your assertion that the Missa de Angelis is part of the “absolute minimum” for a RotR Mass is amusing. It is very late chant, and not very good chant at that. I presume you include it because it is what prevailed in most parishes prior to the Council. If that represents a widespread understanding of our liturgical heritage, then we are in trouble.

      You say, “These neo-conservatives will be obstinate and remain angry, and will make others angry.” It is hard not to believe that you are yourself very angry. For which reason I shall stop here.



      1. In retrospect my tone was not right. My apologies. I am upset, but not in the way you think. I am upset with people like Clare Short and other arm chair generals who are winding up their (literally) thousands of their followers by making them think that they are going to achieve unrealistic goals. It just causes more upset and anger. I am upset with people ‘talking’ but not actually getting their hands dirty. I have no problem admitting that I was of the same ilk at one point, but realised that the fight was pointless. In Lincolnshire we encouraged the ROTR, but the people who had the skill set wouldn’t engage in it (they eventually help with the TLM). We engaged in hands on work and introduced things like the Crowning of Mary, and even got the best part of a thousand people to various Catholic events (some more traditional, some more social). All the work was eventually destroyed by liberals (and not forgetting conservatives), who didn’t want new people turning up at their church… and I can assure you that we did bring new people to St. Mary’s Louth, and to a lesser extent helped Holy Rood, Market Rasen. Both churches were brought back to life to some extent. The ROTR was not ultimately achievable. The TLM was the only thing that has a chance of continuing.

        My reference to the Missa de Angelis was because, in my experience, where there is a reform at a church in the UK Catholic Church, it is only ever the Missa de Angelis that gets a look in. It is the default setting. I suspect that it is a default setting because people actually enjoy singing it. If it wasn’t for the Missa de Angelis at a New Mass, I would never have moved over to the TLM.


      2. The idea of Catholics not wanting new people turning up at their church is mind boggling. They are choosing death.

        The Missa de Angelis was almost de rigour in parishes before the council. I think it was so much less like chant and more like a chorale. Some chant settings (apart from VIII, Missa d A) are very easy to sing and sound very nice when done by large groups. Chant is so much more forgiving of amateur voices.

        I respect your decision to cross to the TLM. More than respect it in fact.



  6. I wish that the present hierarchs on both sides of the Atlantic could find it in their hearts to be just as sensitive, creative and solicitous to those who wish to reform the reform as they are to the LGBT community. Would that “clarifications” were made to many of the statements that they make in the media. I lived through the post-V2 “reforms.” (Sadly, I was on the wrong side.) To reflect now on what we lost, and how we lost it, as well as the tremendous injury to the sensitivities of the faithful, as well as the lack of any concept of justice makes me sad. Thank God I have learned to say (and to allow it to influence my celebration of the NO) and love the traditional Latin Mass as well. And I celebrate the new Mass with the same reverence and devotion that I have learned from the old.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.