Charismatic Tridentine Mass

My visit last weekend to the Evangelical Catholic Institute’s conference in Madison WI seems to have put the cat among the pigeons. It engendered my largest (and most passionate) thread of comments yet. My own opinion is that all this blather has generated more heat than light, but there it is…we’ve all had our say, and I hope we all feel better….

The debate was between those we may categorize as ‘traditionalists’ who took objection to the term ‘Evangelical’ and thought it should not be associated with the term ‘Catholic’ and those who were happy with the term and the agenda of Evangelical Catholics.

Of all the comments, this was the one I found most interesting:

This past fall I heard our bishop say mass at the statewide charismatic conference. He made a passing comment to that audience about the forthcoming widening the use of the Latin Mass, and the whole congregation cheered. You could not have found a group of people who were happier to get this news.

This cheered my heart no end. There is nothing I would like better than to attend a Tridentine Charismatic Mass. Tambourines in place of the sanctus bell. Cool! I can think of lots of mutual benefits: charismatics like to speak in tongues with no one translating. They’d be happy as can be in a Mass that is unintelligible. Both sides would benefit: the charismatics could swap their felt banners for some decent embroidery and the Tridentine folks could learn to lighten up.

Seriously now, if charismatics are happy to hear that the Tridentine Rite will be more widely available then there are some very interesting conclusions we must draw.

First of all, it indicates that we must make a real distinction between charismatics and liberals. Although both may enjoy informal types of worship, they are not both liberal in their theology. Charismatic Catholics are usually theologically and morally conservative. They are usually very loyal to the pope and to church teaching. They like informal worship, they go in for healing, speaking in tongues and evangelization. They are zealous and perhaps sometimes a bit wild eyed with enthusiasm, their thinking is sometimes tainted with a Protestant type of individualism, but they are not (for the most part) liberals.

In addition to this we have to distinguish between ‘Evangelical Catholics’ and Charismatics. Evangelical Catholics are not necessarily charismatics. They do not necessarily go in for praise and worship music. They are often suspicious of the charismatic movement and have criticisms of the excesses of Charismatic Catholicism.

If the Charismatics were delighted to have the news that the Tridentine Mass will soon be more widely available then there are some other conclusions to be drawn. One conclusion (which must make the more stuffy traditionalist think twice) is that Charismatics are clearly more open to ‘the other side’ than the traditionalists are. In other words, (if the report is true) Charismatics seem not only tolerant of the Tridentine Rite, but are happy for it to be more widespread. We must assume, therefore, that they would attend and support it if possible. One assumes that they would do so, while still being happy to attend happy clappy charismatic worship from time to time. The Charismatics therefore seem to score the most points on being tolerant, open minded and encouraging towards the Tridentine Rite folks, while most of the afficionados of the Tridentine Rite still throw up their hands in horror at the idea of charismatic styles of worship. Who’s more likely to be right?

The final conclusion from all this is a reminder that whether we like it or not, our church has a variety of expressions of worship. It has a wide range of apostolates, ministries and sub-sets. Those who long for uniformity of worship may lament this variety. I admit it has many disadvantages, but it also has advantages: in a multi-faceted society with a wide range of people and nationalities moving everywhere across the globe we have a flexibility and adaptability that will help keep our worship alive and fresh without it necessarily becoming totally rubbery and relative.

This is the main reason why I also look forward to the expected motu proprio allowing a wider celebration of the Latin Mass. In the midst of all the liturgical variations the Tridentine Mass will provide a balance and a check. It will provide an anchor and a standard that will correct the others and provide a star to steer by.

  • Anonymous

    I hope you’re including your own comments under the “blather,” Fr. Longenecker, including the introduction to this post.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Of course!

  • Jennifer

    “One conclusion (which must make the more stuffy traditionalist think twice) is that Charismatics are clearly more open to ‘the other side’ than the traditionalists are.”I wonder if maybe traditionalists are getting a bad name? Using the spectacularly unreliable Mantilla-Method of assessing traditional-ness, it appeared to me that the charismatic conference was drawing traditionalists.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    This is a good observation, and an angle I hadn’t thought of. My analysis may be upside down and traddys are surprising us by tootling off to charismatic conferences! Interesting. Thanks!

  • Jennifer

    I think what you said about “loyal to the pope and to church teaching” is the common bond. And really, no one who actually shows up at a charismatic event (around here, I can’t speak for elsewhere) is surprised at who else turns up. It’s the people who don’t go, who are home scratching their heads. I expect the same is true for a Latin Mass, as well.

  • Thomas Pink

    My experience, teaching at a UK university, is that many of my Catholic students equally happily attend Old Rite masses, ‘reform of the reform’ New Rite masses, and guitar-strumming rather charismatic New Rite masses. These students are in general highly orthodox and devout. What links all these forms of worship? Intense piety in the Mass, which is what the students want. In their generation, this is what unites; and it provides great hope for the future.

  • Maggie

    I may have committed a breach of etiquette in my other post (re: EC conference) by sharing the address where the CD of Fr. Scalia’s talk “Pope Benedict XVI and Liturgical Reform” can be acquired. Some recent posts indicate how badly it needs to be distributed. I am willing to concede, as Fr. Dwight said that everyone who posts here desired a God-centered worship. However, desiring it and making it happen may be two different things. (If you think that “praise music” is God-centered, count the number of times that “I”, “me”, “my”, “us”, “our”, “we” are used in a song, and ask yourself where the emphasis is placed.)The Holy Father has said, “The crisis in the church is a crisis of liturgy.” The statement is puzzling at first and not at all self-evident. It is even counter-intuitive, I think. (It is interesting that he did not say that it was a crisis of evangelization.) “Tambourines in place of the sanctus bell. Cool!. . .They’d be happy as can be in a Mass that is unintelligible.” I hope this was said in jest. Otherwise, to respond to that would take an hour’s time (and Fr. Scalia does it so beautifully), but here is a note regarding language: “. . . the injunction contained in Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: ‘Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rite’”. That sounds as if language is very important to me and faithful obedience demands that Latin be preserved. Most Missals have Latin and English side by side, so understanding it is no problem at all.As far as repetition or sameness of Liturgy is concerned, it is the very sameness that allows one to get outside of oneself and to leave behind one’s preoccupation with the idea of worship and into an actual experience of worship. This is, I believe, what “active participation of the laity” really means–not one or two (or 27 Extraordinary Ministers as in one parish with a combined attendance of 350 people at 3 Masses)or a cantor waving her arms around telling us when to join in, or swaying and clapping or whatever else might be done in the interests of participating activly. (Gregorian chant is also intended to take “pride of place” in music, and the use of the organ is the preferred instrument and none other; holding hands is not acceptable, or is the laity’s imitation of priestly gestures.) “whether we like it or not, OUR church . . .” This is always the initial point at which liturgy begins to go astray, that is, when we think of it as OUR Church. It is NOT OUR Church. It is Christ’s Church. He has told us through the Magisterium (in very concrete terms that are not merely suggestions to be ignored when not to our taste)how He wants to be worshipped. There are several documents and statements from the Office of Divine Worship, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), plus all the writing that the Holy Father has published on the liturgy that we would all be advised to read and digest and put into practice. Also, the Mass is not the priest’s private devotion. The people have a right to pray the Mass as it is given to us, not as the Priest might like to say it.”First of all, it indicates that we must make a real distinction between charismatics and liberals.” No, first of all we must recognize that we are Latin Rite Roman Catholics–and there are rules. The Church and its liturgy are God’s gift to us and we do not have the right to improvise or tamper with them. If someone finds the repetitiveness of the Mass boring, the problem is not with the Mass but with that person. It seems to all come down to two words: humility and obedience. The humility to accept what has been given and the willingness to obey what has been spoken by Rome in such matters.Did you ever notice, when J.P. II died, everyone who could get in front of a microphone or a TV camera gushed with love for our beloved, Late Holy Father. And did you ever notice that, when he was alive, everyone ignored everything he said, especially regarding liturgy. And did you ever notice that, in spite of all that Benedict has written about reverent, dignified, devout liturgy, they still ignore what he has says?

  • Maggie

    “That sounds as if language is very important to me”Meant to say, “That sounds to me as if language is very important.”Sorry.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Thank you Maggie. The words you mentioned about tambourines were said in jest. That’s why the next paragraph starts with the word, ‘Seriously…’

  • Andrew

    I can think of lots of mutual benefits: charismatics like to speak in tongues with no one translating. They’d be happy as can be in a Mass that is unintelligible. Both sides would benefit: the charismatics could swap their felt banners for some decent embroidery and the Tridentine folks could learn to lighten up.LOL! I thought this was hilarious!I’m pretty orthodox and conservative in my thinking. A bunch of us are trying to bring our parish back, to reform the misguided reforms that tore the heart out of our church in the 70′s when the some stained glass was removed (though the main ones were kept) and the architecture severely modernized. We’ve been trying to get our priests to follow the rubrics even though that gets us branded as too closed minded and too preoccupied with the little things. Our garage Gregorian schola is also taking off as are our efforts to have the servers bow at the et incarnatus est and strike the breast at the Confiteor.But having said all that, I do often attend Charismatic praise and worship sessions and have seen how some types of praise music make the people participate more actively by actually singing(!) during Mass as opposed to their usual miming. Yes, there have been some abuses and excesses but who are we to stay the hand of the Spirit if He should chooses to rain on some people in that way? The Charismatics whom are know are also, for the most part, very devout and loyal to the Holy Father, love the Church greatly and have active prayer lives. In my parish, the only mantilla wearer who did not take it off in the 70′s is also a charismatic. Interesting, ya?On the other hand, as a person who leads the rosary and novenas once a month, I can testify that the elderly traddies are also quite devout people and make the bulk of the daily mass attendees. But some of them are rather glum.A traddie friend is also starting to get really disturbed at the liturgical abuses going on and has lost a sense of joy in coming to Mass. So, you’ve right, Father. Perhaps, we traddies should lose our smugness and learnt yo lighten up a little =)

  • Maggi

    “Perhaps, we traddies should lose our smugness and learnt yo lighten up a little”Andrew, if, by “lightening up a little” you mean accepting the abuses as the norm, that would be very sad, indeed. However, if you mean understanding that the abuses are wrong and an offense to our Lord if it trivializes His Mass, adding unauthorized gestures, music, instruments, spontaneity, novelties, and free-wheeling changes in the wording, and you stick it out as an act of prayer-inspired reparation, then, by all means, lighten up. Don’t let the devil see how much you are suffering. But do not give up the good fight. Many Catholics I know also suffer such abuses in a spirit of reparation. I compare them to St. Monica, but instead of praying for a son’s conversion, they pray for their priest’s conversion. I am happy to report that, after many years of prayer, their priest is finally going to put the tabernacle in the center and move his chair to the side. That is one giant step for the parish.The next thing they pray for is that he will let go of the most grotesque crucifix that was ever hung–from some angles it is downright pornographic. My friends are willing to spend another ten years in prayerful reparation for that if that is what it takes. The rubrics, remember, are not suggestions. They are orders. So what if others think you are close minded. What does our Lord think? Whom do you want to please more?I have to make a confession. I left the parish that I describe above. I had been in it only a year, and since I could see that progress was going to take more years than I will be alive, I couldn’t afford to come out of every Mass with my stomach in knots and my ears ringing like sirens. Yes, that is an excuse, but there you are. I still pray daily for that priest (whom I like very much, in spite of it all), but when my husband and I are in the Adoration Chapel, just off the nave, and we hear that piano player practicing for what sounds like a Holy Rollers camp meeting while the organ stands silent, well, there you are. I used to go to Mass with ear plugs because the percussion of the piano would bounce from brick wall to brick wall and, in less than a minute, my tinnitus would kick in, and I would come out of Mass thinking there must be a fire somewhere.”but who are we to stay the hand of the Spirit if He should chooses to rain on some people in that way?”The Holy Spirit does not rain contrary to His revealed worship. He may rain like that outside of Mass–that is an altogether different story, but He doesn’t desire that we disobey the rubrics that He has given us. If you are criticized for wanting to be obedient to Christ, well, what can I say? It’s your choice to make. You really do need to hear Fr. Scalia’s talk. He addresses just exactly the concerns you express and will give you all the support and ammunition you need to change the hearts of your fellow parishioners. Remember the Holy Father’s words: “The crisis in the church is a crisis of Liturgy.” Those who call you narrowminded are the danger to the church; they are the cause of the crisis.”But some of them [old folks] are rather glum.”Pray for them and thank God for their faithfulness. Their steadfastness is the reason you have a church to go to. When you get to be their age, suffering their aches and pains having sat on hard pews for as many years as they have, coming to daily Mass whatever the weather, perhaps having lost a spouse and many friends, having your children lost to the Faith and your grandchildren and great grandchildren unbaptized, you have my permission to look glum, too (in spite of what Fr. Dwight says about being joyful). As Bette Davis said, “Old age is not for sissies.” Pray for them.Fight the good fight. As Fr. Corapi always says at the end of his talks, someday you will hear those blessed words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Inherit the kingdom that has been prepared for you from all eternity.”

  • Norman

    While I’m happy to leave the Charismatics alone to do what they want, I (and many others) really do believe that their ‘informal style of worship’ leaves much to be desired. A previous commenter has mentioned the self-centeredness of the songs. I would also point out that effective prayer is not measured by how emotionally fired up one is (by singing those happy clappy songs).In the many occasions when I’ve attended Praise and Worship sessions, songs with very weird lyrics were chosen (the “Jesus is my boyfriend” sort) At the very least, they should put more thought into the choice of songs. I’m happy to hear that the Charismatics are open to the Tridentine Mass, and I’d welcome them with open arms and teach them how to sing Gregorian chant. That does not mean how they choose to worship (ie. their Praise and Worship sessions) should not be open to criticism, done of course in a spirit of Charity. Finally, everyone should come to a proper understanding of what the liturgy is, so that we don’t have anymore abuses in the name of ‘variety’ and ‘uniqueness’.

  • Darwin

    I am not by the vaguest stretch a charismatic, but I did go to college at Franciscan University of Stuebenville, which is something of a charismatic stronghold.Campus masses were not necessarily my style (I usually went to mass at the local parish where most of the professors went, where the NO was celebrated with incense and thundering organ) and the “Festival of Praise” praise and worship sessions definately weren’t.However, I think it bears emphasizing in the light of some of the feelings being expressed by commentors that:a) a great deal of effort was generaly made to celebrate campus masses according to the GIRM. Sure, I’m much more fond of a chant of Palestrina style of drawing out a psalm than a modern charismatic one, but musical flourishes were generally used only where the rubrics allowed. b) having kept in touch with a lot of those folks since, many people I then knew to be very charismatic worshippers have since matured into having very traditional or (more often) Eastern Rite spiritualities with a strong understanding of ancient liturgy. I’ve seen a few parishes run amok with what they claim are “charismatic” innovations, but I think it would be far from accurate to label all innovations taht one doesn’t like as being the result of the charismatic movement. Most of them are just innovations for innovation’s sake, and from what I’ve seen of the charismatic movement (as an outsider — so I’ve certainly not seen it all) most of those involved in it are indeed very devoted Catholics who are _not_ trying to destory the liturgy.

  • bernadette

    I would call myself a traditional Catholic (Looking forward to the more widespread use of the Tridentine Mass), who has been very much formed and nurtured in the grace of the Charismatic outpouring upon the Catholic church that we`ve seen in the last 40 years since the famous Duquesne weekend. One thing we Charismatics have got wrong (among many) is confusing Praise and Worship music with music that is appropriate for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I think they need to be quite different. I agree with Norman’s “Jesus is my boyfriend” anaolgy. Some of it is utterly cringe-making and can repel many people.(Loads of people, of course,love it, and are drawn into a deeper relationship with Jesus because of it) Maybe more Tridentine Masses will provide the right checks and balances. I hope so.

  • Jennifer

    “In the many occasions when I’ve attended Praise and Worship sessions, songs with very weird lyrics were chosen (the “Jesus is my boyfriend” sort) At the very least, they should put more thought into the choice of songs.”Norman, I couldn’t agree more. Elsewhere I have commented in this blog about having attended a parish mass that was so full of ridiculous deviations (some, pseudo-charismatic), that it caused me to develop great sympathy for uber-reform-reformers.In contrast, my local experience has been that while there is quite a lot of informal worhship outside of Mass (congo line, anyone?), the charismatic mass itself was more what Darwin from Steubenville is reporting.Music choices were peppy, certainly, and not especially poetic, but perfectly orthodox. Think prayer requests along the lines of “Fill us with your Holy Spirit”, and during communion, statements of eucharistic adoration, such as “We love you, Jesus” and “We worship you, Jesus”.******”I would also point out that effective prayer is not measured by how emotionally fired up one is (by singing those happy clappy songs).”I sometimes find myself making this exact point to non-catholic friends who are convinced the local catholic parish must be “dead” because the people in the pews appear to be “just sitting there”. But the reverse is also true — prayer is not less effective when it is loud and cheerful and artistically unremarkable.

  • Maggie

    “the local catholic parish must be “dead” because the people in the pews appear to be “just sitting there”. “Jennifer, you can remind them of the line from Scripture: Be still, and know that I am God.If they counter with, “The Psalm also says, ‘Make a joyful noise unto the Lord’ “, you can answer, “We do, at the appropriate time. You should hear our ‘Allelujahs’ at the Easter Vigil. Maybe you’d like to come with me next Easter.” My husband has a saying that is also applicable: “You never learn anything when you are talking.” You will never hear the voice of God if you don’t stop talking long enough for Him to get a word in edgewise.We just saw “Into Great Silence” the other evening. I recommend it for people who think that they have to be talking all the time–and the chant was heavenly.Great comments, everybody.

  • Kate

    I really have to object to the assumption maggie makes repeatedly that liturgical ‘looseness’ and charismatic Catholicism necessarily go hand in hand. The Catholic charismatic parish my husband is from has always been very careful to stick to the GIRM, and even the smallest variations are run past the bishop. So, for example, when the last North American explication of the GIRM seemed to suggest that congregations should stand, rather than kneel, after communion, Fr. asked us all to please, out of obedience, respect the instruction and refrain from kneeling until he had a chance to speak with the bishop and ascertain the proper course of action. In the meantime, the more ‘traditionalist’ parishes disregarded the instruction entirely, did their own thing, and later turned up the opinion of a theologian in Rome as justification for ignoring the authority of the local ordinary. In the end, the bishop gave the diocese an exemption until the bishops council has a chance to reevaluate the decision….but I was amazed int he meantime to observe and realise how much an emotional attachment to body posture and aestheticism drive even those who like to pretend there is no place for emotion in worship.

  • Andrew

    Maggie, what I mean by lightening up a little is to stop taking everything, each and every single little thing personally, as if the very purpose of those departures from the rubrics is a personal barb of offence aimed at you.I hate to do this, as I don’t want to promote by blog, but I am going to refer you to my post called ‘Joy in His Presence’.(Fr. D, pls feel free to delete this post if it’s too promotional)I find people who say:”I can’t pray here. The priest is doing it all wrong.””I can’t pray here. Father is wearing his stole over his chasuble.””I can’t pray here. All the clapping and singing is giving me a headache.”That’s a serious problem. Now, liturgical abuses are always serious and need to be corrected. But not all liturgical abuses stem from direct, purposeful disobedience. Perhaps the priest was trained that way. Perhaps he has a warped sense of ‘pastoral consideration’. But it’s not always purposeful disobedience and ‘let’s see how many liturgical rules I can break this time’ or, God forbid, ‘Let’s see whether I can make the atmosphere so bad that no one can pray’.Correct them, by all means, and pray for your priests that the Lord may give them the insight and courage to act upon it.But in the mean time, lighten up a little. Find some joy when you are in His presence at Mass, regardless of how Father wears his stole over his chasuble to how many guitars there are strumming and how many people are clapping to ‘Celebrate Jesus’.It has always been the boast of the Catholic Church that from the highest Gothic Cathedral to the humblest hut-chapel, the same Jesus is really present. During the English Reformation, it was said that the Anglicans had the Cathedrals, the Catholics had Christ. So it is now, that Christ is present though the minister is unworthy (and who can really be worthy anyway). The liturgy might be imperfect, but the Mass (as opposed to the liturgy) is the Mass. It is Christ who is there. You can recognize Christ under the species of bread. Can you recognize Him amidst the din of the guitars and clapping? Amidst the rubrical violations and ugly vestments? Or can you only recognize Him enthroned in a gold sunburst monstrance with fifty candles on each side?Of course the people of God deserve to have the Mass as the Church intended. It is their right. And of course Christ deserves all honour and glory and power. But as for you personally, during Mass, try, try to lighten up and find joy in the presence of God.If it takes the most rubrically correct Mass this side of Heaven for some people to be able to pray and find some joy, all I’ve got to say is, lighten up a little. Otherwise, should you be so blessed as to darken the doors of heaven, God save the angel or white robed elder or living creature for that matter who dared to clap or play a wrong note on the harp or sing out of tune in your presence.

  • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Great comment Andrew! Thanks

  • Norman

    Andrew, great post. That’s precisely what I try my very best to do everytime I go to Mass (which is the New rite most of the time). While I can spot abuses all the time, I try to remember that I’m there for Christ, not to spot abuses. At the same time, I do know that I have a duty to avoid those Masses that really vex me, so as not to let all sorts of bad thoughts enter my mind ie. “temptation management” so to speak.

  • Maggie

    Andrew and Norman,Thank you. Everything you said is right on target. You’re right, I don’t believe that the priest ever intend to abuse the Mass. Having said that, changes of words can hardly be anything but intented, although he may never deem them abuses, and of course they are never intended to be anything but enlightening and edifying. I’m sure that when the priest holds the Host for adoration just before distributing it and says, “You are the one we love” instead of “Behold the Lamb of God”, he isn’t doing it to see how many are paying attention. But it is wrong and unnecessary. This recalls a quotation from that CD. The speaker quotes Jane Fonda: “How can we be wrong when we are so sincere.”Well, off to Mass right now to a wonderful parish where just about everything is done just right, beautifully, reverently, devoutly. It is no accident that, while every parish for miles around is losing members, this parish is growing every day–young, old, middle aged, it bulges at the seams, which proves the Holy Father’s point: The crisis in the Church is a crisis of Liturgy. Thank you again for your responses.

  • Oswald Sobrino

    Fr. Longenecker, your post is on the cutting edge. I expect my Catholic charismatic parish (Diocese of Lansing) in Ann Arbor to start offering a Tridentine Mass once September rolls around. It will be interesting, to say the least. And some of the reader comments I skimmed are right on target too with the observation that many of us Catholic charismatics are delighted to attend both charismatic Masses and gatherings and the Tridentine Mass. Sometimes, I think (forgive any appearance of unintended hubris) Catholic charismatics live up to the literal “universal” meaning of the word “catholic” to a greater degree than many others: we want it all, Marian devotion, Eucharistic devotion, Charismatic praise and prayer, Contemplative prayer, deep Biblical knowledge and study, and even the Tridentine Mass!