The “Catholic Herald” on the EF: a useful contribution

More of this, please. Source:

Excellent contribution from the “Catholic Herald” (also reported from Father Z) regarding the Extraordinary Form in the imminence of the completion of the three years assessment period. The author is Father Gary Dickson, parish priest, Sacred Heart and English Martyrs, Thornley, County Durham.

The article contains many interesting points of discussion. Personally I would choose the following as particularly worthy of mention:

1) The “full, active and conscious” participation is “first and foremost internal”. No need to make a circus of everything. This is in line with V II documents on the matter.

2) On the opposition to the EF, the author says:

“Some say the obstruction comes from bishops, but this is unfair. The problem seems to lie within the Church as a whole, being an aversion to formal, God-directed worship in favour of a liturgy that entertains with cheerful hymns, is undemanding to follow and casual in celebration. This aversion harbours resistance not only to Summorum Pontificum but even to the new translation of the New Form”.

Not sure that the bishops are so innocent, but they certainly are not the only ones to be guilty of wilful neglect of the EF.

3) On the “readers”, please note this observation:

“Undoubtedly the lay ministry of Lector (Reader) was built into the New Form so as to facilitate lay activity in the rite itself (Extraordinary ministry is not built-in; it was established for use only in exceptional circumstances), but this seems to have created a sense that unless one has a ministry one does not participate”.

4) On the future of the EF, the author also has some impressive statements to make (emphases mine):

“I believe we can no longer refuse the Extraordinary Form and for two main reasons. First, because the Church declared it to be sacred, and while the Church has all authority to forbid what is evil she has no authority to forbid what is sacred; her authority is “to build up rather than destroy” (1 Cor 13:10). Second, this Form is the rightful heritage of future generations; one to which we have no moral right to deny them access. Use of the Extraordinary Form is then a matter of recognising and promoting the holy, and an act of justice towards future generations”.

Could one say it more beautifully than this, I wonder.

Several other interesting issues are discussed in this impressive article but I will stop here. I wish we had more priests as committed, perceptive and ready to defend Catholic tradition as Father Gary Dickson.

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37 Responses to The “Catholic Herald” on the EF: a useful contribution

  1. cumanus says:

    The ‘participatio actuosa’ of the faithful in the liturgical act of the worshipping community (i.e. the Mass) recommended by VatII is fundamentally Trinitarian.
    A worshipper’s participation is ‘actuosa’ insofar as by becoming fully involved in a spiritual manner in the great prayer addressed to the Father whereby the Holy Spirit is asked to sanctify the gifts of bread and wine and transform them into the Body and Blood of the Son that the Father will accept as a fitting sacrifice for the remission of sin – a daring request justified by the moment of anamnesis in the anaphora = recalling what Jesus did and told His disciples to do as a memorial of Him – the worshipper is absorbed in the inner, intimate life of the Trinity.
    Hence ‘participatio actuosa’ has nothing whatsoever to do with screaming people cluttering up the sanctuary and carrying on like clowns – sometimes literally – or the endless recourse to idiotic gimmicks to make the Mass “relevant”, for such would surely impede it.


  2. Mundabor says:

    Beautifully put, Cumanus!

    It is sad that what was – in fact – a simple explanation of what had always happened has become the “recourse to idiotic gimmicks” you mentioned. But I wonder whether a more attentive formulation of the V II documents – and more importantly a more vigorous defence of their meaning afterwards – would not have avoided a lot of trouble.


  3. cumanus says:

    Absolutely, Mundabor. A more attentive, thoughtful, spiritual reading of the documents of VII – contextualized in the two millennia of the history of the Church – would indeed have avoided a lot of trouble. But, you know, if we do contextualize historically what has happened we don’t allow ourselves to despair, even though we might justifiably become very upset. We’ve seen worse in the past, and we do believe that, no matter what, the Church will survive, and continue to offer the essential means of salvation, till the Lord’s return, don’t we?


  4. Mundabor says:

    when I read you a fresh wind of hope always caresses my cheeks!

    I am not at all worried worried for the survival of the Church. I am rather saddened (I think this is the word used nowadays) at the damage done in the meantime!
    I am sure that I can speak for my entire generation when I say that those borne in Italy (probably: in most of western Europe) in the second half of the Sixties never got a real chance (collectively seen) to be properly introduced to Catholicism. Either they came from very catholic families able to remedy to the deficencies of their religious education, or they were rather left alone. As you know, in my years the teaching of religion was compulsory (before) or optional (after) school matter. Seen with the eyes of today, the opportunities were wonderful and have been utterly squandered.

    How many souls this has costed, I do not even want to think.


  5. cumanus says:

    Well, we’ve got hope straightened out, now to get to faith and charity 🙂


  6. Benedict Carter says:

    What about “an act of justice” to the two generations who have been denied it? Like a profound apology not only for its replacement by something woefully inferior, but a programme for its full restoration?

    It’s easy to want to pass by this question on the other side of the road. None of us like negativity for it’s own sake. But justice demands an answer to this question.


  7. Benedict Carter says:

    Father Cumanus, where did those who wanted the Old Mass replaced get the strange -and wholly false – idea from that the faithful before VII did NOT participate in Holy Mass? I vividly remember my parents closed in deep prayer during the Canon and particularly of course at the Consecration and Elevation.


  8. Benedict Carter says:

    Father Cumanus:

    “We’ve seen worse in the past …”.


    ” … and we do believe that, no matter what, the Church will survive, and continue to offer the essential means of salvation, till the Lord’s return, don’t we?”

    We do indeed 🙂


  9. cumanus says:

    Ben, if I had that kind of knowledge I wouldn’t be an impoverished mendicant friar, I’d be making trillions playing the stock market on Wall Street.


  10. Benedict Carter says:

    Well then, a different question. What do contributers think were the major strands which went to make up the mindset in the 1960’s that the Church had to be “renewed”? What was going on in these men’s minds?


  11. cumanus says:

    Ben, we did see much, much worse in the past: the Church in the tenth century, with the papacy in the gift of a few Roman families; the Church during the Renaissance, with all the scandals affecting the Papacy itself that occasioned the Protestant revolt; the Church devasted and an humiliated Papacy in the aftermath of Napoleon, and so on. But it’s always picked up again, finding in itself as the Mystical Body of the Risen Lord informed by the presence of the Holy Spirit the never-lacking spiritual resources to become always bigger and better. Look at two-thousand years of Church history and you’ll see that the deepest troughs have always been followed by the highest of peaks.


  12. Benedict Carter says:

    Father Cumanus:

    Yes. It is easy on my part to forget all that. It’s true. And I do believe, worry not, that the Church of today is exactly that church Christ founded and which has been ploughing the Oceans for 2,000 years. I just want Her to be supremely glorious and utterly sure of Herself once again.


  13. Caroline says:

    Cumanus has mentioned both relevance and charity. Here is something I was reading yesterday that applies to both. Msgr. Alfred Gilbey, Cambridge University chaplain, on the subject of “relevance” as quoted by Roger Scruton in his book, “Gentle Regrets: Thoughts from a Life” (pp. 67 & 68):

    ” ‘What an absurd demand – to be relevant! Was Christ relevant? To be relevant means to accept the standard of the world in which you are, and therefore to cease to aspire beyond it. Relevance is not merely an un-Christian but an anti-Christian ambition….’ Alfred went on to add that Christian charity is now entirely misunderstood, as a kind of collective effort to improve the world…. ‘We are not asked to undo the work of creation or to rectify the Fall. The duty of a Christian is not to leave this world a better place. His duty is to leave this world a better man.’ “


  14. Benedict Carter says:

    Unless I am very much mistaken (you are very much mistaken – Ed.) I met Gilbey in 1981 in my first year at Cambridge, at Fisher House, the Catholic Chaplaincy there. I have no real memory except of a very old man who smelled of sherry.

    I have to relate that my association didn’t last long: some nuns there at one point organised an ecumaniacal meeting where platitudes would be issued in superabundance. I and some friends went and suggested (loudly!) that instead of ecumania the nuns should actually be trying to convert the attendees. Much uproar followed by ejection.

    Thus ended my 1980’s sojourn in the Church. Oh dear.


  15. Caroline says:

    I wondered if you might have known Msgr. Gilbey, BC, because I remembered you were at Cambridge. He lived to be almost 100 years old, and apparently he was quite well known. As far as the pre-V2 Mass, I was reading an account just the other day, by someone quite credible, of the many abuses that often took place. Unfortunately I cannot remember who wrote it, or I would provide a link. The closest EF Mass is probably at least an hour and a half away. I have started going to a (vernacular) spoken Mass. When I mentioned the EF to a Catholic friend here, I was scolded for bringing up “the Days of Oppression.” I kid you not; those were her exact words. The funny thing is that she is too young to know anything about it first hand!


  16. Brother Burrito says:

    I have contributed a new thread to this blog.

    Kindly review and critique.


  17. mmvc says:

    Some of my Catholic friends firmly believe that only when the Novus Ordo Mass gives way to the Old Rite Mass will the glory of the Church be restored. I too have been moved to tears by the sense of sacred mystery at a Tridentine Mass and have often felt the need for Mass “post-mortems” (our term for family discussions following a Sunday Mass full of liturgical abuses and dumbed down music).

    It will no doubt be some time before both clerical and lay resistance to the E.F. breaks down in our parishes, but I’m thankful that for the past few years we’ve been blessed with a solemn (English and Latin) N.O. Sunday Mass in our parish, complete with choir and incense. The EMHC presence on the sanctuary is still de rigeur (for Communion under both kinds) and our pp is reluctant to ditch the polyester servers’ gowns. Nevertheless, with more attention to such detail, with our altar rails restored, and our priests once more “saying the black and doing the red”, the New Mass may yet come to be more widely appreciated as another jewel in the Church’s liturgical crown.


  18. Brother Burrito says:

    I believe the good Monsignor was a member of the famous gin family.

    A black sheep, possibly. (or is that a Black Russian- Ed).

    Caroline: “The funny thing is that she is too young to know anything about it first hand!”

    (BB shrugs, with arms raised, in bewilderment, like a comic Frenchman)


  19. Benedict Carter says:

    He was well-known Caroline and was spoken of by the undergraduates with awe, probably though because of his rich family associations more than anything else. There’s nowt so snobbish as a Cambridge undergraduate, as I discovered to my cost, being a simple Norfolk village boy! Yes, it was the Gilbey gin (“mother’s ruin” wasn’t gin called?) family from whence he sprang.

    “Days of Oppression”, eh? Tell that to the Fathers of the Church, the Saints, my mother! These people make you vom …. well, you know what I mean.


  20. Mundabor says:

    “When I mentioned the EF to a Catholic friend here, I was scolded for bringing up “the Days of Oppression.”

    Interesting concept: the Holy Ghost has kept the faithful oppressed for 2000 years and after that, 50 years ago, suddenly “liberation” intervened. Is she friends with rutzinger? Or with some Argentinian nun? 😉

    Oh well, she has good Catholic friends.. 🙂 Given time and patience, who know what can’t be done.. 😉


  21. Caroline says:

    It is very strange to me. On the one hand I would say that she is quite devout; she says the Rosary every day and would not dream of missing Mass. On the other hand, I know that she does not subscribe to a number of Church teachings. I think there must be a lot of that in the US. Also, in my limited experience, I have not heard many homilies that addressed Church teachings…. They tend to be very nice and bland–reminiscent of Blancmange.


  22. Mundabor says:

    this is an obvious dramatic failing in giving the poor girl a halfway acceptable catechesis. If she were confronted with the Truth, I imagine she would accept it.

    I have written elsewhere of the same problem you mention: if Church Teaching is not regularly addressed (and what better or more useful place than the Homily?) and the message from the Priest becomes a shallow “oh please do try to be kind”, then we can leave the homily to the mcnabs and the cutleys of the world; of whom I think the priesthood has no scarcity.

    Good night everyone.


  23. hopeful62 says:

    Mgr Gilbey!!!

    If you only ever buy one book in English on the Catholic Faith then make it ‘We Believe’ by Mgr Gilbey.

    What a timely reminder of what I should be doing with my time on a Sunday. I’m off now to my quiet local to once more read Mgr Gilbey over a pint of Guiness.

    God Bless,



  24. Benedict Carter says:


    “Some of my Catholic friends firmly believe that only when the Novus Ordo Mass gives way to the Old Rite Mass will the glory of the Church be restored”.

    Believe me, they are 100% right. Europe was built with 1,965 years of that Mass – and its fate I utterly believe is tied up with the fate of this form of the Mass. It IS the Mass.


  25. Mundabor says:

    “Some of my Catholic friends firmly believe that only when the Novus Ordo Mass gives way to the Old Rite Mass will the glory of the Church be restored”.

    add myself to Benedict.

    The Novus Ordo is obviously sacramentally valid (I do not think that among our actual members there is even one who would question this). But I personally would never dream of seeing the “Novus Ordo” as remotely connected with the “Glory of the Church”. What has happened these last 50 years was, if you ask me, anything but glorious.

    Should you feel depressed by this, i suggest re-reading Cumanus’ comment of yesterday, 17:45 🙂 . Non praevalebunt.


  26. churchmouse says:

    Hello, Mundabor — Re your comment of 00:58: Does anyone here think that Cutley and McNab might be NuChurch priests masquerading as laymen? They were awfully full of the ‘let’s be nice’ routine.

    Agreed that all this ‘kindness’ and ‘niceness’ faux-theology overshadows Church teaching considerably. True Christianity isn’t necessarily nice. Mercy and compassion are one thing but not at any cost.


  27. kathleen says:

    Yes churchmouse (btw, I love your avatar!) – I agree with you – and it is neither “kind” nor “nice” to puff up this teaching, and ignore the dire consequences that mortal sin could lead us to. It is in truth much “kinder” to teach the Four Last Things than to gloss over them!! God is ever merciful to poor weak sinners, but we have to be aware of our need for His mercy and to beg for it with true contrition in our hearts. If we are unaware of our own sinfulness, we would feel no need for forgiveness, and could then so easily become presumptuous and self-righteous…. and easy prey to temptations!


  28. mmvc says:

    Thanks, Mundabor and Ben. Is it the new rite per se that you believe to be at the root of the Church’s problems or the form’s propensity for liturgical abuse?
    At a recent retreat in France with the Community of St John, I experienced Masses (N.O.) that were entirely Christocentric (not a hint of priests trying to ‘engage with the congregation’), full of beauty, dignity and reverence. True, the stricter rubrics of the Old Mass don’t allow for the liturgical abuses that have crept in with the N.O. and are to this day wounding the Mystical Body of Christ, but isn’t a sound spiritual formation of priests and thorough cathechesis of their flocks even more important for the restoration of glory to the Church than which rite is used for the Mass?


  29. churchmouse says:

    Thanks, Kathleen, for the kind words about my avatar! 😉

    You’ve landed on something essential in your last sentence: so many who seemingly profess the faith today are indeed unaware of their own sinfulness and, therefore, feel no need for forgiveness. And, yes, they do become presumptuous and self-righteous. A lack of catechesis as children at home and a Jesus-loves-you ‘okay’ from the pulpit. (Present priestly company excepted!) I have read that some priests discourage people from going to Confession before receiving Communion even when they are in serious sin (in one particular case, premarital sex): ‘Don’t worry about it — everyone’s doing it.’

    Metro (the commuter freebie paper) published a survey a couple of years ago asking people if they thought they were ‘good’. They all said yes! My jaw dropped as I read one soundbite after another. Had I been asked, I would have said, ‘It’s not for me to say’. (Shades of Johnny Mathis — sorry.) Who proclaims themselves to be ‘good’? There’s something very wrong with this picture! 😯


  30. Mundabor says:

    Churchmouse, welcome! 🙂

    On your comment, may I mention the saying attributed to St. Francis of Sales: “Cook the Truth in Charity until it tastes sweet” (It might have been “Boil” 😉 ).
    This presupposes that there is a truth; that this truth is not easy to swallow and digest; and that we try to make it edible with a charitable approach. Charitable, again, doesn’t necessarily mean “nice”. Sometimes one has to choose whether to say it hard and true or nice and false. Particularly with those with whom a gentler approach has failed.

    “Holiness is not niceness” (Fulton Sheen).


  31. Mundabor says:

    “Is it the new rite per se that you believe to be at the root of the Church’s problems or the form’s propensity for liturgical abuse?”

    I’d personally answer as follows:

    1) The NO is not the problem. It is the symptom. If the disease had not been there, we wouldn’t have had the Novus Ordo in the first place. For two thousand years no one felt the need for a mass so massively different from what had been done up to then. Merely the idea would have seemed, I believe, worse than funny. In an healthy Church body, such a “need” would, I believe, never have been felt in the first place.

    2) The NO can be said reverently and be, in his own little and modest way, a beautiful Mass. Nothing to compare with the Tridentine, but something you can look forward to without feeling depressed. The problem with the NO is in my eyes that it makes possible and therefore invites abuses and mediocre celebrations of all kinds. With 300,000 priests around, many of whom of rather liberal inclinations, the little merit that the NO *can* be celebrated reverently pales in comparison with the fact that it opens huge doors to the many who won’t do it.

    One understands the wisdom of the St. Pius V’s crowd, who in times of liturgical abuses perfected the mass in such a way that it would on the one side remain reverent, on the other create a rigid “rail line” from which the celebrating priest cannot deviate. Reverent and practical alike!



  32. kathleen says:

    I’ve just noticed a typo error in my post of 13:56……

    Should read “dire consequences of mortal sin…” (not mortal soul). Silly me!


  33. Brother Burrito says:

    Fixed it, do you want me to delete these comments?



  34. mmvc says:

    Mundabor, I keep going round in circles with this one… On one hand it’s sad to see what appears to be emerging as a split in Catholic communities (I know devout Catholics who kneel through a NO Mass in the back pew praying from their 1962 Missals and others who, as a result, won’t associate with them) and on the other I absolutely believe that anything that facilitates the disfiguring abuses must be removed. When and how that will happen only God knows, but we know for sure that happen it will!


  35. churchmouse says:

    Thanks, Mundabor, for the welcome! It’s a pleasure to (finally) be able to exchange greetings with you after all this time. (I never registered with the DT, just spent a lot of time reading Holy Smoke.)

    Your quotes are gems. I have not read those before and have bookmarked them for future reference. Thank you.


  36. Caroline says:


    You have a fascinating blog. I mistyped your nom de pc originally as churchmuse. Was very tempted to leave it like that.


  37. Benedict Carter says:


    “When and how that will happen only God knows, but we know for sure that happen it will!”

    Can’t happen soon enough. Must and only can be through a full restoration of the Old Mass and the abrogation of the Novus Ordo.


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