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June 04, 2006



Why can't the Tridentine Mass be offered in English?



Because no approved English translation of the 1962 Missal exists. Whether one ought to be made or not is a whole 'nother kettle of fish, which I'm not touching. :)


I was in a Raleigh, NC Diocese when the Bishop made a similar change - no kneeling after the Agnus Dei. I checked the GIRM - he had authority to make that change.

Some folks stood, other knelt, the pastor never made a big deal of it at all. No "mortal sin" admonitions like those of Fr. Tran. Life went on.

john chrysostom

Here are some other articles about what is happening in Orange County:

Vocations director under fire in California

A Ban on Kneeling? Some Catholics Won't Stand for It

Venial Issue, Mortal Response

The Open Letter to Bishop Brown, which is linked in the thread, while long, is meant to connect dots about a general trend within the Diocese of Orange, which has alarmed a number of Catholics within the diocese. It also links a lot of articles from various sources to support its claims. Additionally, it provides photographs to provide further support.

Although the issue of Bishop Brown's actions and attitudes about homosexuality are discussed throughout much of the letter, his actions and attitudes about liturgy and other matters are discussed towards the last part of the letter, so reading the first part of the letter and concluding that covers the gist of the letter's concerns would be a mistake.

Whatever a person's take on the editorial aspects of the letter, the objective facts presented should be enough to help fair minded Catholics understand that there is real cause for grave concern about the direction the Diocese of Orange has been headed since 1998.

john chrysostom

This link also provides helpful insights, including responses from Cardinal Arinze (with working links) on the subject of kneeling during the various parts of the Mass. The comments are worth reading as well:

Do Catholics Have A Right To Kneel?

This post from Fr. Jim Tucker at Dappled Things echoed some of my own sentiments (posted in the thread linked above) about the mind of the Church on the regulation of the posture at Mass:

Whether to Bend the Knee?

Fr. John

Amy, I was with you until the end of your comments, when you said that if the priest was actually praying at Mass, he wouldn't notice what the parishioners were doing. Wrong on two counts: first, facing the people, it is impossible not to notice what they are doing, try as one might; second, it is the job of the priest, as presider, to notice what the people are doing, as he has the responsibility of leading them in prayer.


For good or ill, ALL Traditionalist communities have large numbers of disaffected Catholics. Virtually everyone who goes regularly dislike altar girls and lectors. And the other end of the spectrum is Feeneyites and people who think the Novus Ordo is invalid.

Many of them are nice people, though you might not expect it.

I figured that the pastoral notion is, better to draw such fringe people in than to leave them out. If you really want only the people who don't question altar girls, then you'll have an pretty sparse indult community. Almost no reason to have it.

Look, lots of Novus Ordo priests in my Arlington diocese question altar girls. And Fr. Brian Harrison questions altar girls. My wife questions altar girls. It's not a heresy to think that altar girls are a disaster, though it may be wrong.

Father Ethan

I can never understand what is going on in California. I went out to California for my sister's wedding when I was a seminarian and a wedding coordinator from the parish in California said to me that the East Coast is very conservative. I almost choked on my own spit. The reason why she said this was because we asked for kneelers for the bride and groom. C'mon, it is a no brainer to put kneelers out for the bride and groom. She also said that kneeling is a penitential act. I argued that it is an act of adoration and not penance. We stand during the penitential rite and kneel during the Canon, how is kneeling penance? She then told me that they don't kneel during the Eucharistic Preyer or after Communion. On Sunday, I attended the parish Mass and, lo and behold, she was correct.

If someone came up and knelt in front of me for Communion, I will gladly put the Host on his tongue. The only thing I worry about are those people who receive the Host in their hands and walk away with it.

Bishops and priests who get all caught up with the debate about whether or not the faithful should kneel after the Agnus Dei should lock themselves up and throw away the key. The problem with California is that they have too many people who call themselves "liturgist."

Have a nice day!

Fr Raymond

"I figured that the pastoral notion is, better to draw such fringe people in than to leave them out."
Of course it is.
I confess, I went through a period in my priesthood when I would have acted like Bishop Brown and Father Tran. It was disasterous, I did a lot of damage to God's people, and to myself.
A priest and more so a bishop has to first of all to be sign of God's love and his mercy, certainly he has a duty to correct error and refute falsehood. That more than ever has to be done with gentleness and patience. The Church is held together by love not by obedience or the even laws. Even the the last paragraph of the Code of Canon Law reminds us that Charity is the Law of the Church.

Karen LH

My folks live in the Raleigh diocese, and the last time we visited, the congregation stood after the Agnus Dei. We knelt and no one gave us a hard time. (We did ask our pastor when we got home what the bishop could or could not do in this area, and the next time we go we will stand. When in Rome... Don't like this change, though, and I sure hope it doesn't happen here in the Washington Archdiocese.)

About bishops' selective obedience to norms... It seems to me that nobody but nobody is as dictatorial about obedience to himself as someone who has trouble practicing obedience to others. That seems to be true for anyone, liberal or conservative.

Marion (Mael Muire)

What if instead of kneeling, members of the congregation stood like everyone else, but stood slightly bowed at the waist, and with their heads deeply bowed? (As if they were trying to examine the tips of their shoes). And if they also kept their hands in one of the prayer positions. (Palms together in front of them, or hands clasped.)

(The posture I described above felt very reverent when I attended Holy Mass with a cast on my leg and was unable to kneel or put much weight on the leg at all.)

I think I will try this posture the next time I visit a no-kneeling parish in Calif. or at OBX No Ca. (also no-kneeling)

Marion ("I'd Rather Be Kneeling") Mael Muire

Sandra Miesel

Standing is also required in my diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana. But because of arthritis and other problems, prolonged standing is painful for me and I prefer to kneel.

Let's not kid ourselves. Standing is being commanded to break down reverence for the Eucharist. Our bishop has actually forbidden prayer after reception until everyone has received. Sorry, he's not going to control when I think what. In my more cynical moments I speculate that the office of bishop was established to torment rather than lead us.

reluctant penitent

'Let's not kid ourselves. Standing is being commanded to break down reverence for the Eucharist.'

Absolutely right, which is why one OUGHT NOT OBEY this command. If a Bishop commands something immoral--and participation in something that is intended to show less reverence to the Eucharist and to water down Catholic Eucharistic theology IS immoral--one is under no obligation to obey that command. In fact, one is obliged not to obey the command.

John B

A few things to mention here. First, as another poster has mentioned, it is not heresy, much less being disobidient to question the use of altar girls, nor is it disobidient to question or even object to the USE of EMHCs, what liturgical music is used, use of both species or even posture one uses for communion(Despite the USCCBs best efforts, Rome has stated strongly in 3 letters that a parishoner is allowed to kneel for communion and can not be considered dis-obidient). The GIRM suggests norms, and norms are not the equivlent of canon law, as norms suggest, it suggests how somthing is normally done, but doesnt require it.

What Bp. Brown has done to St Marys by the Sea is disgusting, and since Fr. Johnson stepped down as pastor 2 years ago, at least half the parishoners of this once vital parish have left, not even the liturgically infamous Cdl. Mahoney has gone as far as Bp. Brown has in terms of stamping out kneeling, I know of at least 4 parishes in the LA archdiocese that still use the altar rail for the Novus Ordo(Thomas Aquanis college is the most well known example).

Lastly, and people on all sides have to remeber this, is liturgy in of itself is not dogma or doctrine, its a discipline, and while unity is important, it should not be the only goal, and if parishoners do not have unified postures, that doesnt mean they are being sinful.


This whole thing is a mess, as Amy rightly notes.

First, you easterners (by which I, a good Californian, mean everyone east of the Sierra Nevada mountains), listen up. California is really two states, North and South. The Church in the South, with all its flaws, is a very model of good health compared with the Church in the San Francisco area, which is way to "smart" for its own good. Let's not blur that distinction, OK? Do you-all think Atlanta and New York are the same place?

We always stand at the Agnus Dei here in the north. Mostly. No one can figure out the difference because no one cares enough to worry about it.

Good pastoring would be much more sensitive, but why did I expect good pastoring from the Catholic Church in America in 2006? Sorry. My bad.

Let's not kid ourselves. Standing is being commanded to break down reverence for the Eucharist.

As for the rest of it, Sandra has hit the nail squarely on the head here. This has become open war in Southern California because people down there care about it one way or the other, but that is certainly what the war is about.


Tangential question sparked by the first and second comments: If there's no approved English translation of the Tridentine Mass, what's the English translation doing in my Dad's old (c 1959) Latin/English missal? Given the copyright date it's got to be of the Tridentine Mass. ?

Watching the rest of the discussion with fascination, and starting to tie it in to something that came up in the parish class on the Bible & Mass.


It is a mess. A "who's the boss" moment in that diocese. No one wins because the emotions generated can be very distructive spiritually.

I cannot imagine 'fights' like this going on 30 or 40 years ago when pieces of parishes were being dismantled week to week, votives and statues were relegated to the basements and the tabernacles were moved off to the side... I think a lot of Catholics have had it and will not go quietly while more "less Catholic" liturgical changes take place.


As a conservative Lutheran feeling drawn toward Catholicism, this information shakes me up greatly. I can only suspect it also shakes others in similar situation. I've been reading a lot of Catholic theology, the Church Fathers and listening to EWTN, and hearing about the great truths of the church -- and I've come to believe that it is true. But it's a big jolt to the system to actually speak to (liberal) practicing Catholics who attack their own faith, put it down, or wish it were different: usually more progressive, more liberal, more like the Episcopal church. And the idea that the Bishops themselves openly defy the Pope and foster defiance in all kinds of views is just chilling.

Luther -- understandably -- has an awful reputation among Catholics, but I believe he would even have plenty of negatives to hurl at the way modern Bishops and liberal church-sponsored groups appear (to me) to be gnawing away at the orthodox truths of the church. [I'm not trying to argue Luther as correct about anything specific here, just making a point that he was perhaps more a traditionalist/orthodox believer in many respects than some of the bishops and liturgists holding office today. That is a worry, given that for all his good intentions, he was wrong about plenty, IMO.]

I'm not exactly sure what my point in this post is, other than I wouldn't mind hearing some words of encouragement about life inside the Catholic church, and that my children wouldn't be taught heresy against the Creeds if my family took RCIA. ...And, to say that in some ways, the hierarchy of the Church is acting as a deterrent to conservative Protestants who might otherwise more speedily throw off their inhibitions and head toward the Tiber. And, an aggressive outreach by conservative Catholics to Biblically literate, conservative Lutherans and Anglicans -- who are facing liberal onslaughts in their own denominations -- might actually help shore up traditional worship and Creed-faithful belief in Catholic parishes.

(Please don't misunderstand this post. It's not meant to be a Protestant-vs-Catholic entry. I consider myself a guest at this site and mean no disrespect to it, Amy or the honored post-ers here.)


Donald R. McClarey

'Let's not kid ourselves. Standing is being commanded to break down reverence for the Eucharist.'

Bingo! Sandra is right on target as usual!

Marion "I'd Rather Be Kneeling" Mael Muire

Dear Mark,

Thank you so much for your comments. I am sorry to hear these matters shake you greatly. (Join the club! Many of us Catholics are shaken, as well.)

But, in the words of our own Holy Father John Paul the Great, "Be not afraid!"

Mark, the disciples in Jesus' boat were also shaken pretty badly during the storm in which the Master was asleep. "Master! Master!" they cried, "Don't you care that we all going to be drowned?" But they were in no danger of drowning. The only danger was their own panic; If they lost their heads, they might go overboard, or otherwise injure themselves or one another, then, yes they might well drown.

It was a question of staying calm, and keeping their eyes on the Lord, staying near Him, and trusting in Him, ever ready to do as He directs us.

It is the same with us today.

Catholics refer to our Church as the Barque of Peter. A barque is a small boat, like the ones in which those fishermen were riding out their storm. We are riding out storms of our own, as well.

Mark, you do well to watch EWTN and read the books they recommend. They are a solid Catholic group. Also, if you have an opportunity to check out Opus Dei, I cannot sing their praises enough. I am not a member, but I am very devoted to their founder Saint Josemaria. I think his prayers, and those of our late Holy Father are helping to keep our barque intact and seaworthy.

If you ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in sticking to very solid Catholic material and solid Catholics, and to help you steer clear of the iffy stuff, you'll come out all right.

Unfortunately, much of what is out there is pretty "iffy".

Good luck, and may God bless you.



Marion is right about what out's there. That's the bad news. The good news is that there's probably enough people out here who can guide you to where things Catholic are not "iffy" if you ever decide to cross the Tiber.

Amy has helped facilitate that before with a bleg with a general geographical area where the convert is seeking RCIA. She's probably willing to do that again if asked.

Will keep you in prayer.



I was a Lutheran who became Catholic 5 years ago, and I have 3 small children, so I think I can relate to your situation. I wouldn't hesitate to make the switch again. The practice of Catholicism varies widely even within dioceses. But although I don't know where you live, I strongly suspect that you could find a parish within a reasonable distance that would nurture an orthodox faith. Don't get me wrong -- there are a lot of parishes that aren't particularly vibrant and that don't offer a particularly challenging form of Catholicism, but I think what you fear -- your children being taught heresy against the Creeds -- is easily avoidable, and you can make up for any deficiencies with personal devotion and catechesis, as well as possible membership in lay movements. It is also my direct experience that newer priests are quite orthodox and vibrant, and I suspect that trend will continue.

In short, please come join us. I think you'll be glad you did, and if you do, your presence will make a difference in purifying the Church.

john chrysostom


Just stick with the Pope and you'll be fine.

The whole reason we have a beef with any Catholics is when they deviate from what the Pope teaches.

As for the rest of the discussion, I am happier with more comments I have seen here (on this topic) than in a long time.

Please continue. It will help Mark see how much people here love the Catholic faith and want to defend it.


Dear Mark,

I'm so glad you are thinking of becoming Catholic. In spite of the problems, the grace you would receive is well worth it. My advice is, don't be afraid to shop around for Catholic parishes and priests. The quality (especially in terms of orthodoxy and obedience to the Pope) can vary greatly from parish to parish. Also, if you can find a priest who is willing to instruct you personally and baptize you privately, that is a legitimate way of avoiding RCIA. A good test is, if the pastor or others won't give direct answers to your questions about orthodoxy, the Pope, obedience, etc., RUN, don't walk! On the other hand, if you cannot avoid a heretical RCIA/parish priest, you could become Catholic anyway, consider the "formation" a good educational experience/"teachable moment" for the kids, and offer it up to God, especially for those Catholics who are being instructed by heretics and don't even know it.

reluctant penitent

The problem is that the standing requirement is not overtly heretical. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with standing at a given point at Mass--standing can be a reverent posture, and is in the Eastern Liturgy. Its origins, however, are heretical. Advocates of standing think that it will kill the last vestiges of the 'vertical' dimension of the Mass. 'See. Nothing mysterious going on here. Important people like the Bishop wouldn't be asking you to stand if there was something awesome and mysterious going on.' This attempt to eliminate evidence the real presence of God in the Eucharist is pervasive. It is reflected in the manner in which the Eucharist is received, hand-holding, the lack of incense and consecration bells, Church architecture, statuary and art and--most painfully--in the music. All of these are motivated by the heretical belief that the Mass is just a get-together and the real presence of Christ is just the community being joyful and really really liking each other. I'm not saying that the Novus Ordo Mass is a heresy. It need not be. But, de facto, it has become an expression of a heresy in most parishes--even ones that are otherwise orthodox. What Mother Angelica said about Cdl Mahony's document about the Mass applies to liturgical practices in a majority of U.S. parishes. Cdl Mahony was just being honest in putting on paper what most liturgists, bishops and priests do. "Nothing special to see up there folks! Just clap your hands, smile, and open another can of manufactured joy."


Also, nobody said that following lawful superiors' lawful orders is always easy, or sensible.

Although I still don't understand why nobody's fainted or lost their footing from not being able to stand so long. One pathetic-looking teenage girl fainting right in front of the Bishop would end a lot of this silliness. (I don't advocate waiting until some old lady breaks her hip this way.)

reluctant penitent

Let me be clear...though the standing requirement is not overtly heretical it is heretical, as anyone familiar with its origins would recognize. It is a requirement that should not be obeyed.


In the beautiful chapel of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC, there are many statues and images of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Dominic, and the other saints. The friars in their long, simple white robes chant the magnificent Gregorian hymns in Latin, and incense is used and bells are rung during Holy Mass, but we do not kneel.

Throughout the entire Mass, the friars remain standing in their carved wooden choir stalls, or sit briefly during the always-stirring homilies.

But their Eucharistic devotion is palpable.

And after Mass, the friars recite the Holy Rosary.

There are kneelers available in the chapel, and sometimes visitors kneel during the Consecration and Communion, and no one ever says anything.

Marion (Mael Muire)

You know what the difference is?

In so many West Coast Catholic parishes I've visited, the "worship space" has as much Catholic character as does the average aiport lounge.

Everything "Catholic" in these places has been stripped away - the images and icons are gone; the music is secular in tone and instrumentation. The Blessed Sacrament has been benched on the sidelines in some walk-in-closet away from the sanctuary. The overall feel is one of empty air.

The people who mind this change have put up with it, and put with it over a period of many years, and they perhaps thought, "at least I can kneel before Him in the Blessed Sacrament. They can banish the statues and the stained glass windows, the Latin, and the incense, and all else that made the church feel special and set apart. But they can't take away my reverent posture of kneeling."

But now they have taken even that.


"We always stand at the Agnus Dei here in the north. Mostly. No one can figure out the difference because no one cares enough to worry about it."

North here meaning northern California. But in the churches I attend in San Francisco we kneel right after the Agnus Dei and except for the Communion walk, continue to kneel until the priest himself sits after Communion.

Where I find confusing variation is during the Offertory. Does one stand with or just after the Suscipe? That varies from church to church.

I repeat what I said elsewhere. If the hierarchy don't want kneeling, just take out the kneelers. The furniture, that is.

For some people the posture is a really big deal. And I know the Pope has written about it. And I am willing to please anybody with the posture they want if I can do it physically, but I can't get any more excited about it than Paul did about eating meat of animals sacrificed to idols.

Is the elimination of kneeling part of a plot to undermine belief in the Real Presence? I doubt it and I would like to see some empirical proof for that theory, with all due respects to Sandra. Wthout belief in the Real Presence the Catholic Church would literally put itself out of business. What else do we need it for that we can't find elsewhere?

Matt C. Abbott

Liturgical "innovations" may or may not be intended to undermine belief in the Real Presence, but, sad to say, I think they have.

reluctant penitent

A casual comment reported by an online journal, but illustrative of the reasoning behind the kneeling prohibition and many other innovations:

a review of anti-kneeling literature indicates that the resistance to showing special "respect" for one part of the Eucharistic Prayer is based on a dubious sacramental theology. For example, Fr. Bill Marrevee, S.C.J., lecturer in liturgy, sacramental theology, and ecumenism at St. Paul University in Ottawa, has said that in order to preserve the "integrity" of the Eucharistic Prayer, "it is important not to single out one moment or part (such as the moment or words of consecration), as more important than the rest." He has also argued that in emphasizing the importance of the Consecration – and, by extension, the Real Presence – the Church has forgotten the other ways in which Christ is present at Mass: in the Word, the priest, and the whole gathering of worshippers. ("Standing or kneeling?" and "‘Real Presence’ and the ‘Body of Christ,’" September, 1995, The Voice, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Gatineau-Hull.)

Of course, showing special "respect" for the Consecration does not indicate contempt for the rest of the Eucharistic Prayer. It is indeed a sign, however, of the belief that at the words, "this is my Body, this is my Blood," Christ Himself becomes present on the altar.

In number 1377 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we read that "the Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the Consecration." Most Catholics naturally assume that this makes the Consecration the high point of the Mass, and deserving of recognition as such. Christ is indeed present in the liturgy in other ways, as Fr Marrevee says; yet, as Pope Paul VI taught in Mysterium fidei (number 39), Christ is present in the Holy Eucharist in "a manner which surpasses all the others....This presence is called ‘real,’ not in an exclusive sense, as if the other kinds of presence were not real, but ‘par excellence.’"


"One might not agree with the evaluation of every point in the letter, but the gist of it gives you a clear sense of the frustration. Why 'tolerate' questionable behavior and dissent from the 'left' but put the hammer down on those who seek a little diversity from the 'right?'"

It all depends on where you are, who the pastor or bishop might be, and how effective your letter-writing campaigns are.

This episode struck a chord in the blogosphere mainly because many internet people enjoy getting angry about things. The victim mentality, being coopted by the Oprah/Donohue/Jerry Springer culture. Imagine.

Bishops have certain liturgical authority in their dioceses. Like it. Or not. Brown is soapboxing on a pretty stupid point, but guess what? He can do it because he's the bishop.

If the Tradi community is getting broken here, it's because they're not playing GLG's and GLB's like they're supposed to.

And the difference between this and FutureChurch's eviction in Cleveland? Not much, I'd say. Blogosphere, speck, log, eye, etc..


I'm pleased Bishop Brown has agreed to meet with Restore The Sacred.

Actually, astounded would be a better word. Whether the Bishop actually goes through with the meeting is another matter.

I share Amy's assessment of the hypocrisy. The Sixties generation of priests like Bishop Brown strike at traditional Catholics like Zeus with his thunderbolt, even as all sorts of heresy and undermining of the Faith by diocesan and parish functionaries is taking place all around them.

I stand at the Agnus Dei, as do my fellow parishioners at St. Norbert. I loath the standing, and long for the day when either Bishop Brown is gone and a new Bishop restores kneeling -- or the Vatican takes some action to restore it.

AT thr same time, it appears to me from reading Cardinal Arinze that we have the right to kneel if we want to. And it's terrible for the Diocese to persecute parishioners in a small parish who simply want to kneel.

It baffles me to see this. Several years ago, when I was in La Purisima Parish (also in the Orange Diocese) the Director of Religious Education told a large gorup of parents (including me) who were waiting to attend Mass with are children at the conclusioon of the first Holy Communion retreat, that she believed in an "open theology" of the Eucharist -- i.e. anyone, Catholic or not, should be able to receive Holy Communion. I was thunderstruck that the person overseeing our children's preparation for Holy Communion held beliefs so totally at odds with Church teaching.

Yet, she is still the DRE at La Purisima even as these poor souls are being lambasted by their pastor for kneeling.

Much of the Diocese of Orange went through the "spirit of Vatican II" looking glass when I was just a boy. I'm 42 years old, and still waiting for it to come back to reality.

Tired of Battlefield Clutter!

There are people who were in the diaconite program in the Diocese of Orange, who were asked to leave. These people questioned the fact that the Instructor stated that if you teach that the Eucharist is really the Body and really the Blood of Christ, you are teaching Cannibalism. Does that answer the quetion of belief in the True Presence. Also, in all newly constructed or renovated Churches, the Tabernacle is in some side chapel or hidden cave. This was a directive from Bishop Brown. Everyone has seen the video of Bishop Tod Brown yanking a woman up for Communion. Gerald had it posted on the Cafeteria is Closed. Wake up and see the Protestantizing of Progressive Bishop Tod Brown. Why do you think he hates kneeling? This is not difficult!


Nicholas (or anyone else who might know the answer):
You say there isn't an "approved" translation into English of the Tridentine Mass. Wasn't the English translation in the missals used prior to the change "approved"? Maybe some of you aren't old enough to remember that everyone brought missals to Mass that had the Latin on one page and the English on the facing page. I'm sure they had nihil obstats and impramaturs. The missals were encouraged and used all over the USA and English speaking world. There was never a fuss about the translation prior to the introduction of the Novus Ordo. I've been to a Tridentine Mass several times recently and the words were so beautiful that I can't understand why - if it can be said in Latin - it can't be said in English.
I suspect it is the proper emphasis on the transcendent that is the objection, not the accuracy of a translation that was in use for hundreds of years.
Anyone know?


In Washington, D.C., we also stand during the Agnus Dei, which I don't like, but appears to be the norm, given Cardinal McCarrick's liberal norms. You might read Benedict XVI's Theology of Kneeling. What Amy says is true: people on the "left," for lack of a better term nearly always get a pass, while those on the "right" seldom get by with anything. Does anyone know if those in Rome are really worried about the real chance of schism of they really go after the left-leaning dissidents in the American Church? It just strikes me as odd that the Vatican has never really gone after the likes of those in the Catholic universities and catechetical establishments who have diluted Catholic doctrine, etc., or declared certain universities no longer Catholic (I know Egan has named some in New York). This hesitancy seems very odd to me since these dissidents act like parasites on the Church, whereas the real "right-leaning" dissidents like the SSPX at least had the spine to separate from the Church and go off on their own.

reluctant penitent


It's even worse. This is not a left-right nor are the people disciplined schismatics. There are Bishops, Priests and liturgists who want us to act at the Liturgy of the Eucharist as if we are not witnessing the representation of Christ's sacrifice on Calvary and as if God does not truly become present. In doing so, they are asking us to be party to a heresy. No Catholic of good conscience who is aware of the nature of these regulations can obey them.

RP Burke

If standing during the distribution of communion -- i.e., the period between the Agnus Dei and the silence after communion -- is so evil, why then does the generic version of the GIRM, the one that establishes the practice of the universal church and published by the boys in Rome themselves, specify standing?

reluctant penitent


As I've noted before, standing is not evil. It can be a reverent gesture in some contexts--the Eastern Church, an otherwise reverent Latin Rite liturgy of the sort described by Marion. But in many cases it is part of a package of liturgical practices the aim of which is to compel congregants not to show reverence at the Eucharistic Liturgy.


indeed, it isn't the posture itself but the grand proclamation that "we must change" that is the problem. Announcing that "we must change" implies that the Church has somehow changed its theology of the Eucharist which of course it has not.



1) Mainly I agree with Amy's comments. You do not have to be a RedTrad to look at the evidence and suspect that Bishop Brown exhibits some patterns of behavior that give real cause for concern about both his orthodoxy and pastoral leadership.

2) Altar girls and lay lectors are permitted under the GIRM and therefore entirely licit. Period.

Yet any study of the history of the liturgy reveals that more than once (and well before 1965) in the Church's history, ill-advised liturgical changes have been introduced in an entirely licit manner. In other words, a thing may be licit but not necessarily a smart move.

Thee is nothing evil about employing female altar servers, but many prudential reasons why it is likely to create more problems than it solves. I presume and hope that most of those who have reservations about altar girls follow this line of reasoning.

3) The local ordinary has the right to set liturgical norms. Yet as the CDW under both Cardinals Medina-Estevez and Arinze has repeatedly affirmed over the last six years, congregants still retain the right to kneel or stand during the times in question. And a wise bishop won't make a fuss when the occasional parishioner chooses to kneel instead of stand, or for that matter vice versa depending on what has been made normative.

I had the chance to ask Cardinal Arinze about this personally last year, and he was perplexed by why some bishops made such an insistence on their norms. What's the big deal, he wondered? If people want to kneel, why not let them kneel?

RP Burke

Thanks to reluctant and Dave. A comment in reply.

1. I don't agree that standing for the distribution of communion does "not ... show reverence". We stand for the gospel -- is that irreverent?

2. To Dave's point: Perhaps a more clear statement of why the change is necessary.

I agree with Amy that this whole thing has been botched, many of the arguments are nonsense on both sides.


The original catechesis given prior to the change to stand for Communion here in SoCal was that the apostles originally stood in apprehension, didn't really recline at table like in paintings of the Last Supper, because they feared they might have to run out at any moment because of persecution. In the Cardinal's instruction, we were to adopt that same ancient standing posture. Likewise Cardinal Mahony wanted to emphasize that "the first shall be last and the last shall be first," so he instructed that those in the last pews approach first to receive communion.

Just to add a little humor to this thread: the upshot (rule of unintended consequence!) was that while everyone obediently stood, the back half of the church was noticeably EMPTIER after communion than ever before. The standng posture inadvertently provided "cover" for those who bugged out early, now largely unnoticed! Beating the rush in the parking lot and avoiding a litany of announcements (despite a published bulletin AND a parish website) at the end of Mass became a WHOLE lot easier!

In even the most shallow liberal view of Eucharist as just coming together to share a common feast (which I certainly don't espouse), the good Cardinal has inadvertently encouraged, in practice, an eat and run mentality!

Ed the Roman


Standing for the Gospel seems to me to be more like standing at divisional quarters to here the Plan of the Day read and get work assignments. We are not primarily adoring then.


I fear that the whole plan is to eventually empty out the parish, close it down, and sell the property.

It's prime real estate, just two blocks from the beach, and would fetch several million dollars towards Bishop Brown's boondoggle of a new cathedral.

What better way to go about emptying a parish than this?

By the way, the nearest parish is St. Simon and Jude's, where everybody STANDS throughout the Eucharistic Prayer. A clear violation of liturgical norms which the bishop conveniently ignores, given the extremely liberal bent of this parish.

RP Burke

Ed, I understand adoration as a goal for the consecration and its being extended in the US to the whole Eucharistic Prayer. I am less convinced of adoration as a goal for the communion rite.

john chrysostom

RP Burke,

I'd be interested in hearing specifically where you believe each side has been in error. It will be helpful. Please be specific, though, and make sure that you are stating the true position of either side, and not merely speculating.

F.Y.I. for everyone:

Additionally, there are not yet altar girls at St. Mary's by the Sea, so this has not been a major concern. There has been concern that altar girl will be forced on the parish, but it has never ben a central theme or focus of the fliers.

The same goes for lay lectors.

I don't want people to get the wrong ideas about Restore The Sacred. They aren't radical traditionalists. If they were, they wouldn't be at St. Mary's by the Sea anymore because the bishop took the Tridentine Mass away from St. Mary's by the Sea.

The members of Restore the Sacred attend the normative Mass of the Roman Rite, without difficulty, although they sympathize with those who wish to restore the Tridentine Mass to St. Mary's by the Sea.

These people weren't hurting anybody in the diocese. They weren't running around making problems for everyone. They had been ghettoized and found a haven at St. Mary's. Then, when Fr. Johnson retired and there was no longer the protection of a pastor with canonical rights, Bishop Brown has sought to update the parish in a way that shows that he feels the parish is backwards.

Saturday evening when Bishop Brown was at St. Mary's for Mass, when one woman begged him, Bishop Brown said, emphatically, "No. We must move forward."

That's his outlook. He's a progressive. he thinks traditional Catholics are backwards people. He's using his power to force his personal liturgical preferences and sensibilities on others without consideration for these people or reflection on the fact that their requests are for things that are licit and which have value.

Whereas, Pope Benedict XVI, had this to say about the allowing the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass:

"I am of the opinion that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it. It is impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it declares that what was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent." — Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, (From his book) "Salt Of The Earth", Ignatius Press, 1997

One more thing:

Pope Benedict XVI's views on kneeling were mentioned earlier.

Here is a link: The Theology of Kneeling

john chrysostom

Sorry, I was unclear; the woman begged him to restore the Tridentine.

john chrysostom

I was also unclear about lay lectors. They've always had them at St. Mary's by the Sea, even under Fr. Johnson, the former pastor.

I quote one important post from a member of Restore The Sacred from this thread that is significant, because it gives one something to consider:

I would give much credit to Bishop Brown if he had come to apologize instead of congratulating Fr. Martin Tran for doing a “good job” at St. Mary’s:

1. For the Liturgical violations in our parish and throughout the Diocese of Orange. (Bishop Brown favors changing the rubrics yesterday he changed to “happy are all of us who are invited to this meal” Fr. Martin Tran is also known for changing the rubrics.)

2. For sending into exile 55 families “with the permission of Bishop Brown you are officially invited to leave the parish and the Diocese” (I got a letter like that)

3. For saying that kneeling after the Agnus Dei was a “mortal sin”. (Even though they are trying to backpedal on this one. At the end it is the same: if you kneel in the Diocese of Orange after the Lamb of God it is a mortal sin!)

4. For having suspended the altar boys' coordinator and altar boys for the newly discovered “sin of kneeling”.

5. For having prohibited the “Sanctus bells” to be rung at the Sanctus and after the Lamb of God. (Of course that would invite people to kneel!)

6. For getting rid of the crucifix on the altar.

7. For having extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion against directives of Redemptionis Sacramentum 102. (No more than 10-15% of parishioners approach the cups with the Precious Blood.)

8. For not allowing parishioners to use the Communion rail with the exception of those who attend the 12 Noon Novus Ordo Latin Mass and daily Masses (later on they will likely get rid of the Communion rail when no one uses it!)

9. For Fr. Martin Tran's public statement that women should be priests! (I was present when he made that statement!)

10. Mass attendance has dropped to approximately 50% along with donations.

11. For forcing the shaking of hands after the sign of peace.

12. For forcing on to us the use of “musical” hymnals from Oregon Press. (With ugly & deceiving covers and full of horrible songs) and more.......

I wonder which of the above “accomplishments” of Fr. Martin Tran made Bishop Brown the happiest.


2. For sending into exile 55 families “with the permission of Bishop Brown you are officially invited to leave the parish and the Diocese” (I got a letter like that)

Can he do this? This amounts to excommunication, and there are rules for that, rules which have not been followed here so far as I can tell.

john chrysostom

This was posted in another blog and I thought it was helpful:

The confusion about kneeling after the Ecce Agnus Dei stems from six words inserted into §43 of the GIRM which reads "The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei UNLESS THE DIOCESAN BISHOP DETERMINES OPTHERWISE." What Bishop Brown is not letting on is that these words were adopted by the bishops EXCLUSIVELY for Masses celebrated in venues where it would be difficult to kneel, such as Masses in stadiums, outdoors in fields, or in crowded auditoriums. It was not intended to prevent kneeling in churches, as a review of the transcripts of the NCCB meetings on June 15, 2001 and November 14, 2001 will reveal.
RP Burke

chrysostom, here are the errors:

1. It's not an issue on which you can kick people out of a parish.

2. It's not any holier for you to kneel in defiance of your bishop than it is to stand; and it is presumptuous to make such a public display of super-piety ("They have their reward").

reluctant penitent


What if the priest were explicitly to say 'let us not kneel after the Agnus Dei because God is not really present in the Eucharist any more than he is present in any of us. This little wafer is not body of Christ--we are the body of Christ.' Would you still do it? Would it still be 'a public display of super-piety' to refuse to kneel? If the kneelers knowingly participate in a heresy, are you sure that they would 'have their reward'?

reluctant penitent


Would it still be 'a public display of super-piety' to refuse to stand? If the people who stand knowingly participate in a heresy, are you sure that they will 'have their reward'?

RP Burke

Reluctant, the correct response to a priest who said that at a Mass would be a certified letter to the bishop, signed by as many witnesses as heard it.

reluctant penitent


The hypothetical priest's statement is merely an articulation of the eucharistic theology behind the standing requirement. See, for example, the quote above from the lecturer in liturgy and sacramental theology at St. Paul University in Ottawa. Here is an account from the HOMILETIC AND PASTORAL REVIEW of a common Seminary experience:

Seminarians and lay people (including converts) from various parts of the United States have mentioned to me over the past two years that they have been directed, and in some cases even coerced, into standing at the Consecration of the Mass by bishops, seminary rectors, pastors, directors of RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) and coordinators of religious education. They have also been pressured to stand during the Consecration by laity, who refused to give them the communion kiss of peace, because they knelt when everyone else stood.

The reasons given by these zealous liturgical innovators for their disdain for kneeling were: there are no kneelers (they had recently been eliminated); the early Church stood during the Consecration; Vatican II said that we should give equal respect to the Scriptures and the Blessed Sacrament (therefore, stand for both); and today we must emphasize the Eucharistic Body of Christ as the spiritual presence of Christ in his people (i.e., the Church or the Mystical Body of Christ).


And why stand when, in the words of Cardinal Mahony, 'at a very basic level, the Eucharist is a meal, a Sacred Meal of communion and justice'? (http://www.the-tidings.com/2004/0326/cmelpaso.htm)

'Nothing mysterious going on here folks!' That's why the songs we sing, the clothing ('vestments' is too traditional a word to describe polyester throw-blankets) the 'presider' wears, the buildings in which we 'celebrate,' and the gestures that we make are so mundane--because the event itself is mundane in the minds of those who have made these changes. It is just a meal and communal celebration. Why make a fuss? Why make it seem mysterious and special when it isn't mysterious and special? The average Catholic schlub who still buys into the whole real presence thing cannot change the architecture, throw blankets and all the rest, but he can kneel. That's why kneeling bothers some bishops, priests and liturgists so much--it's the only visible acknowledgement of the real presence that they have not been able to eliminate because it is in the hands of the congregants.


I live in Southern Oregon and the Bishop (John Vlazny) has forbade kneeling as well. I do it anyway not because I want to be disobedient but because I feel a duty to my Lord to show him reverence after the Agnus Dei. I'm convinced this is an absolute attack on the doctrine of the Eucharist and I will not give in anymore.

Most priests in my area do not care about those of us who still kneel but there is one very modernist priest who says things from the pulput like "we all know that Peter really did not really write the epistles of Peter" and he demands absolute obedience. It should be noted that he does not care about people who dress in shorts, show no reverence when receiving etc.

He actually used to yell at a friend of mine during mass over kneeling at the Agnus Dei. Well even more insane is that he has a big problem with people making a genuflection before receiving communion. I am not talking about receiving communion while genfulecting because he will actually refuse people if they try that.

Recently he went after a young mother after mass who genuflected and I jumped into the conversation and told him that Rome has stated clearly that we can even recieve on our knees if we desire. He went on to tell me that I do not understand liturgical procession and community unity and that the Bishop is the absolute authority on this issue in his diocese. I then corrected him and said that Bishop must be in union with the Pope.

What did he say??? NO! Rome must be in union with the Bishops and the USCCB has ruled that bowing for communion is to be the norm. I actually asked him to repeat what he said which he did along with saying it does not matter what Rome says about the issue and that they accepted the USCCB ruling anyways.

Well all I can say is welcome the the "American Church" and I'll keep my allegience with Rome and wait for the wolves to be driven from the flock.

Eric the Read


On the one hand, I'm glad there are people who are so proud and protective of their faith. On the other, I wonder at some of the things that are considered to be problems. To arbitrarily pick a few from john chrysostom's list (only because I have something to say, not because I implicitly agree or disagree with any of the others):

* As a relapsed Catholic, I too miss the Sanctus bells. And I feel a bit uncomfortable about not beating my breast at the appropriate moments during the Consecration. On the other hand, I don't feel that this is anything more than, "That's how we used to do it, and this is how we do it now." IOW, though this is a change I miss, it's not something that's keeping me away from the Church I'm rejoining.

* Forcing the shaking of hands? Even in my current diocese, where the shaking of hands is common and encouraged, there is often at least one person nearby me who does not shake hands. Nobody minds; we understand that is not their choice, and the rest of us do. Is there more to it than that in Orange?

As for the actual subject of this post, I am reminded of Ronald Knox's description of Catholicism's appeal to his English countrymen. He claimed that the "there's nothing special here" attitude was precisely what appealed to them; that the idea that faith was so well-integrated into our Catholic lives that the sacred Mass was no less sacred than the rest of our lives. There's a difference, of course, between that attitude, and one of Mass not being special because our lives aren't special either, which appears to be the case in the Diocese of Orange, but it's a thought that appeals to me from time to time.

john chrysostom

Just to make clear, the list wasn't mine. it was from another blog. I was just quoting the list.

If you want to see why I'm upset with Bishop Brown, read the following articles about what is happening in Orange County:

Are Homosexual Priests A Gift To The Church?

Vocations director under fire in California

A Ban on Kneeling? Some Catholics Won't Stand for It

Venial Issue, Mortal Response

The Open Letter to Bishop Brown, which is linked in the thread, while long, is meant to connect dots about a general trend within the Diocese of Orange, which has alarmed a number of Catholics within the diocese. It also links a lot of articles from various sources to support its claims. Additionally, it provides photographs to provide further support.

Although the issue of Bishop Brown's actions and attitudes about homosexuality are discussed throughout much of the letter, his actions and attitudes about liturgy and other matters are discussed towards the last part of the letter, so reading the first part of the letter and concluding that covers the gist of the letter's concerns would be a mistake.

Whatever a person's take on the editorial aspects of the letter, the objective facts presented should be enough to help fair minded Catholics understand that there is real cause for grave concern about the direction the Diocese of Orange has been headed since 1998.

reluctant penitent


I doubt very much that Knox or his English countrymen would have approved of liturgical changes that are intended to reduce the eucharistic liturgy to a community meal.

john chrysostom

RP Burke,

What if Moses or Joshua had responded to God's command to remove their sandals, because they were on holy ground by saying:

It's not any holier for me to wear sandals or not wear sandals; and it is presumptuous to make such a public display of super-piety ("They have their reward")."

My point is: Sacred Scripture indicates that certain postures and actions are more reverent than others.

Have you read this: The Theology of Kneeling

Pope Benedict XVI seems to think Sacred Scripture denotes kneeling as a posture reverence, and Pope Benedict XVI seems to think that such a posture is laudatory.

Moreover, given the Open Letter To Bishop Brown, are you certain that Bishop Brown's motives for prohibiting kneeling aren't rooted in the same type of mentality, described as erroneous by Pope Benedict XVI in his book, "The Spirit of the Liturgy", the text of which is the source for the link I supplied on The Theology of Kneeling?

Is it fair of you to judge the hearts of the people who kneel at St. Mary's by the Sea?

Do you know that they do not, in fact, believe themselves holier than other Catholics? I ask you, because I know that they do not think themselves holier or more pious, because I know them and I am one of them.

Do you know that their kneeling isn't loud or showy at all? Do you know that they make absolutely no effort to disrupt Mass?

Do you know that the parish administrator has pursued them, and sought to stamp out their kneeling on an individual (and group basis) by means of public and private castigation?

Do you know that it seems really strange for a priest to be so zealous about policing the posture of individual Catholics during Mass?

Do you know that armchair quarterbacks of a liberal and conservative mindset have been rashly judging people who quietly kneel after the Lamb of God in all sorts of different blogs?

Do you know that the Church does not want to strictly regulate posture during Mass (at any part of the Mass) in such a way that those who wish to kneel are not free? Do you know that Cardinal Arinze has explicitly written (in his own hand) of a right to kneel?

Do you know that if Catholics have a right to kneel to receive Holy Communion, the Holy See will very likely say that they have a right to kneel? Jimmy Akin seems to think so.

Do you know that the conclusions I have drawn are not unreasonable at all?

Do you know that your need to have an explicit statement on the matter while claiming that the evidence I have given you does not seem to indicate what I claim it does seems more than a little rigid and legalistic? (I ask based on statements you have made in this blog and in other blogs.)

Do you need the Pope to ring your doorbell and tell you Catholics have a right to kneel during Mass?

Did you know that all of the attention the kneeling Catholics have received will make it more likely that the Holy See will, in fact make a declaration about Catholics being free to kneel at various times during the Mass, just as they are free to kneel for Holy Communion?

Did you know that if these people had done as you suggested, the true mind of the Church might not be made manifest?

I'm just asking...

Leo Wong

If standing during the distribution of communion -- i.e., the period between the Agnus Dei and the silence after communion -- is so evil, why then does the generic version of the GIRM, the one that establishes the practice of the universal church and published by the boys in Rome themselves, specify standing?

Posted by: RP Burke at Jun 5, 2006 10:04:28 AM

It is not evil, but:

Ubi mos est, populum ab acclamatione Sanctus expleta usque ad finem Precis eucharisticae et ante Communionem quando sacerdos dicit Ecce Agnus Dei genuflexum manere, hic laudabiliter retinetur.
Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani 2002

Where it is the practice for the people to remain kneeling after the Sanctus until the end of the Eucharistic Prayer and before Communion when the priest says Ecce Agnus Dei (This is the Lamb of God), this practice is laudably retained.
General Instruction of the Roman Missal for England and Wales (Errata)

Kneeling had been the practice in the United States; that was the reason for the American adaptation of GIRM 43. Now, unfortunately, the practice is mixed; that was one of the reasons for "unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise." Two other reasons were that the bishops were confused (by their own admission), as well as ignorant of what Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani actually said.

RP Burke

Leo, it was the practice in much but not ALL of the U.S. The previous GIRM, the one published in 1975, said that one stood throughout the Mass except for certain times, and the period of the distribution of communion was not one of those times. This evolved into the two common practices in US parishes: never kneeling at all, ever, even when you were supposed to; and kneeling more than you were supposed to, because in attending the old Mass you knelt almost all the time (except for the two gospel readings and the collection). Neither follows the 1975 rules.

RP Burke

John, the very fact that you are making a big issue of this -- being obstinately defiant of your bishop in the process -- makes me suspicious.

Leo Wong

. . . the 1975 rules.

That is one reason that the bishops thought they had to have an American adaptation of GIRM 43.

Cardinal Francis George: Spontaneously, without instruction, most people continued to kneel. . . . in this case we've all been disobedient to the general norm and we haven't had particular law to justify that.

Read all of "Unless the diocesan bishop determines otherwise".

There were several issues, the bishops were confused, and they came up with poor wording for the American adaption in view of the universal rules now in effect.

John, the very fact that you are making a big issue of this -- being obstinately defiant of your bishop in the process -- makes me suspicious.

From the bishops' discussions:

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick [Newark]: I have listened with awe, not untinged with anxiety, to this discussion. I appreciate Cardinal Law's intention to bring us all together, but we're dealing with something here which really affects the piety of our people. And I would think that a decision that we would make abruptly at this time, without any catechesis, without any preparation, would be a very unwise thing to do....

I think we really need to listen to our people; we really need to prepare them for any changes we might want to make. This is something that really affects them very, very deeply and very, very dearly. I just have a concern that if we do something in the course of fifteen minutes here at this meeting that could disrupt the prayer life of our people, liturgical practices of our people, we'd be making a great mistake. So I hope that we will not pursue any determination to make a change at this time.

RP Burke

The problem with all this you have just put out, Leo, is that it ignores the first principle of legal interpretation: the simple plain meaning of the "black letter" of the law.

Leo Wong

The problem with all this you have just put out, Leo, is that it ignores the first principle of legal interpretation: the simple plain meaning of the "black letter" of the law.

Posted by: RP Burke at Jun 11, 2006 3:50:17 PM

Many law students hunger for “black letter law,” for legal rules that can be applied to the facts in a more or less determinate fashion. But in most law school classrooms, this hunger is not satisfied. Instead, the discussion is likely to focus on another set of questions: What should the rule be? What is the purpose of the rule? Would the application of the rule to these facts serve its purpose? Does that rule make sense? And so on. . . .
-- Legal Theory Lexicon 043: Formalism and Instrumentalism

Now, the first principle of legal interpretation is that a provision of law must not be so interpreted as to make it superfluous or absurd, or to virtually expunge it.
-- Ferdinand Lassalle (1863), translated by Thorstein B. Veblen.

Please defend your statement.

RP Burke

Quoted directly from the attorney general of my state.

Lasalle's statement is absurd.

Leo Wong

What state? Citation, please.

Does your attorney general overule "the salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes"?

Leo Wong

Dear RP Burke,

Please don't bother to reply. I am corresponding with a parishioner at St. Mary's by the Sea, so won't be commenting publicly on this question any more.

With your spirit,
Leo Wong

Leo Wong

For those interested:

A Letter from Mary Tripoli

RP Burke

Well, I will reply anyway, and I'm disappointed you don't seem to want to consult with someone who disagrees with you. I learned about the first principle of legal interpretation from the great Paul Freund in 1970.

Leo Wong

Bisogna saper leggere.

Your mention of Paul Freund is interesting to me, because I was acquainted with another Constitutional Law scholar, Telford Taylor, at Columbia. Please tell me more, including a citation from Freund, and from your attorney general.

I do not comment on St. Mary's by the Sea any more, because I am now corresponding with one of the parties and do not want to mix up the private and the public in my thoughts on this issue. However, if you wish to continue discussing the general question of black letter law as the first principle of legal interpretation, why don't you post your idea in a law blog and let me know where it is?

Your use of the word "consult" is also interesting to me. I have just reread Newman's On Consulting the Faithful. I recommend it to you as relevant to what is happening at St. Mary's by the Sea.

With your spirit.

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