Action Alert!

practical steps for liturgical reform

By Diogenes (articles ) | Nov 28, 2005

On the Pontifications blog, Father Jay Scott Newman offers some fine practical advice.

If you need to be convinced to read his whole piece, how about this sample:

  1. Take Cardinal Mahoney's pastoral letter on the celebration of parochial liturgy and throw it on the fire. Watch it burn. Now go take a hot shower.
  2. Reject the ideology that got us here. Root and branch, cut it out of yourself. Empty seminaries, despoiled religious orders, plummeting Mass attendance, and wholesale immorality among clergy and laity alike are probably pretty good clues that the vocation to holiness which is our baptismal second birthright is getting obscured along the way.
  3. Read good books that will help you understand the real nature and purpose of the sacred liturgy. Two excellent places to start are The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Ratzinger (who now goes by a new nom de plume) and Looking at the Liturgy by Aidan Nichols, O.P. For the mechanics of celebration, start with Peter Elliott's Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite and Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 14 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Nov. 30, 2005 8:04 PM ET USA

    What an insult it was to the Holy Spirit for people to foment a revolution against the Mass as it was offered 50 years ago. Good people failed to speak up when it was attacked. So ... God allowed the barbarians to take it away. Unsatisfied with destroying the liturgy itself, they also started destroying the sanctuaries where it was offered. This situation, viewed supernaturally, is a curse and punishment from God for our profound lukewarmness. Zeal for truth and holiness will lead us back.

  • Posted by: Sir William - Nov. 29, 2005 1:23 PM ET USA

    Amazing. It was perfectly OK to take beautiful old churches & reduce 'em to gymnasiums, ripping out altars, statues & rails, painting over decoration lovingly painted by immigrints. It was fine to reduce Liturgical music to a few Muppet show tunes & change exaulted prayer & worship to the equivalent flavor of library paste: "People will adapt". But those that changed it then think it will be disturbing to the people to change it back? 1970's ugly is OVER! Beauty and majesty- bring it on!

  • Posted by: - Nov. 29, 2005 12:51 PM ET USA

    We ARE we too far down the road of liturgical innovation and the proof is that many folks now believe as they worship – and that, as most of you know, is exactly backwards (i.e., non-Catholic). There are too many instances of “innovation” to cite here, but as two prime examples, think of the millions of Catholics that now believe one must receive both species to communicate fully or believe that their presence at Mass somehow contributes, or is essential to, the priest confecting the Eucharist.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 29, 2005 9:49 AM ET USA

    You have just made what was beginning as a usual bland Monday my day. I do not believe either that 40 years of rennovation chaos cannot be mitigated or even overturned. The idea that post-VCII Catholics would object is a red herring. Advocates of the social Novus Ordo have been afraid to allow the Tridentine Rite because they are afraid the people will discover its spiritual nature and abandon the social entertainment that is so prevalent. Tridentine Rite seminaries are jammed to capacity.

  • Posted by: Deacon Bart - Nov. 29, 2005 9:31 AM ET USA

    My parish has 2 Tridentine; 2 English Novus Ordo and 1 Latin Novus Ordo Mass each Sunday. I've become so accustom to the Latin Mass I must be careful when I assist at the English less I mess up. Our pews are filled with some older folks but mostly young families with beautiful children. We are strongly Catholic, pro-life, have vocations from the parish etc. Liberals wonder why, I know why. God has blessed us with an orthodox pastor. I am blessed to assist him. Deo Gratias.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 29, 2005 8:55 AM ET USA

    Interesting. My parish church, Emmanuel, in Dayton OH does EVERYTHING recommended here!

  • Posted by: - Nov. 28, 2005 8:34 PM ET USA

    Why are we too far down the road of liturgical innovation to return to the practices of the past, especially if the past consists of over 1,500 years? I don't think 40 years really compares. Sure, the change would be considerable, but catholics would be seeing the mass with fresh eyes, very much like new converts see the mass with new eyes. Besides, in this age, "change" is always seen in a good light, so why would a "change" to the mass of all time be so threatening?

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - Nov. 28, 2005 8:13 PM ET USA

    Actually, I'm hoping ex Cdl Ratzinger is going by a new nom de guerre!

  • Posted by: - Nov. 28, 2005 7:12 PM ET USA

    Funny you should mention that, Uncle Di. Just last week, I ordered copies of Msgr. Elliott's books. And I'm on the liturgy committee at my parish. And we have a priest who isn't afraid to implement the necessary changes. Rah.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 28, 2005 6:44 PM ET USA

    I prefer to shred Cardinal Hollywood's Manifesto on the liturgy before burning. It burns faster that way.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 28, 2005 5:43 PM ET USA

    Beautiful advice!

  • Posted by: zonner - Nov. 28, 2005 5:41 PM ET USA

    I also would recommend Feast of Faith,and Sing aNew Song both written by then Cardinal Ratzinger (who says the Canon can be said silently despite what the rubricssay) and the works of Aidan Nichols and Alcuin Reid as well as the proceedings of CIEL.There is also a beautiful book written by a Benedictine monk"The Sacred Liturgy" published by the Saint Austin press(all available from A seperate Latin Rite is no answer to the problem,it separates the solution from the problem.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 28, 2005 4:51 PM ET USA

    We’ve traveled too far down the road of liturgical innovation to return to the practices of the past. Besides, most Novus Ordinarians, laity and clerics alike, would strenuously object to such changes. The only real remedy is for the Holy Father to institute a Latin Rite, so that those of us who long for the old ways could worship freely, without having to worry about priest-actors, stupid music (and it is mostly stupid) and impromptu postures and gestures. Of course, that ain’t gonna happen.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Nov. 28, 2005 3:45 PM ET USA

    Added suggestion: When (not if: when) you read the whole piece, go on and click on the comments. He may slip once or twice, but other priests correct him so that the whole becomes something you will want to print out and send to your own pastor. As I just did.