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Online Edition - Vol. X, No. 5: July-August 2004
About Letters to the Editor


Readers' Forum -- the lively "Letters to the Editor" of the Adoremus Bulletin provides a forum for exchange of ideas, comment and information on the sacred liturgy -- but the letters column is not published online. [Exception this month - all letters online]

If you are reading the Adoremus Bulletin in the "online edition" only, you are missing one of the most popular and useful features of the journal. To become a member of Adoremus -- and receive the "hard-copy" edition, including the "Readers Forum", see Membership page.

We are grateful for your letters. While we read every letter, we get so many that it is impossible to answer or publish all of them. In selecting those to appear in "Readers Forum", preference will be given to subjects of widest interest. Letters should be 250 words or fewer, preferably typed. They may be e-mailed. Please include your name, address, city and state (which may be withheld on request). If a letter refers to a previous issue of AB, please include the date of that issue and name of article. All letters may be edited for publication. Be sure to indicate clearly if your letter is NOT intended for publication.

Readers' Forum - July-August 2004

A Heart Lifted High | The Old Mass | Seek Inspiring Examples | "Abba"? | On Architecture | Altar Rails and Ecumenism | Baffling Bishops | Reverent Funeral Mass | On Implementing the Instruction | Clarifying... | Anglican Use | Sign of the Cross | Charting Changes | Who May Purify the Chalice? | Night Club Music

A Heart Lifted High
I can't begin to tell you how heartening it was to read Helen Hitchcock's "Roman Missal Translation Update" in the March 2004 Adoremus Bulletin. I remember sitting in the pew in my parish in Florida in 1965-6 and hearing the priest say his prayers in English. Even as a teenager I thought something wasn't right. I then realized that the priest's prayers had changed and seemed to be less edifying. Later more banality, and even silliness, entered into the Mass, thereby diminishing its beauty, solemnity and mystery. Offering the Mass in other languages it is easy to see the stark banality of our present English translation.

Recently, at a post-Confirmation dinner, the bishop remarked that in the new Missal translation, "none of the prayers were the same". He seemed disappointed, whereas his comment gave me a cautious and hopeful expectation. Now I can wait with a joyful expectation of offering Mass in English where rightly and justly the heart may be raised to God by thanking Him and giving Him praise in an idiom that is both beautiful and solemn. Thanks for the good news.

Father S. Edward
Westchester County, New York

The Old Mass
Stop! Take off the rose-colored glasses and face a reality of 20/20 hindsight. I began serving "the old Mass" in 1939. I am now 73 years old, 45 years a priest, having begun my seminary studies in 1950. As a kid knowing the perfect recitation of all the Latin Mass responses, we dealt with mumbled praying of many priests. In the old days there were parishes that were known as "whiz churches": Sunday Mass, in and out in 20 minutes.

Young priests were told the motto: "Get them out fast". In college I was too embarrassed to invite my dormitory roommates to Sunday Mass - the blatant lack of piety was a scandal. Rarely do I look back and remember edifying experiences as being the norm. But, yes, there were some.

In my experience today the gains outshine the losses. Yes, I know where craziness exists and horror stories are a fact. But the gains were tremendous. Yes, we are still growing/becoming what we should be. Change begets excesses -- the pendulum swings from one extreme to the other, yet eventually resting in the middle.... The recent writings and promulgations of our Holy Father give us hope, e.g., the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (USCCB Website), Sacrosanctum Concilium, and Ecclesia de Eucharistia.

Don't despair. If there is craziness in your parish, pray for your bishop, write lovingly to the offending priest and copy it to the diocesan liturgical committee. Don't you be crazy too -- document accurately the observation of misdirection.

Having been a pastor for 27 years, in a variety of multicultural parishes, I have witnessed, in these changing times, the evolution of a profoundly rich contemporary Mass that is celebrated within the rules.

Would I go back to pre-Vatican II days? No way. I reverence the past, but live and work in the richness of the present, championing orthodoxy and "working to beat hell!"

Be patient. Treat all with charity, pray unceasingly and know that truth will conquer. As the Adoremus Bulletin tells us: "The Holy Father asks bishops and liturgists to build on the 'riches' of the reform while also pruning 'serious abuses' with 'prudent firmness'". ("The Foundations of Liturgical Reform", March 2004)

Father Andre J. Meluskey
Senior Priest, St. Patrick Church
Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Seek Inspiring Examples
Your Adoremus Bulletin is an interesting and informative vehicle for liturgical news and reflection. While we applaud the efforts of AB to promote the authentic renewal of the sacred Liturgy, we humbly submit that a broader expansion of your presentation would make your periodical even better.

We suggest that you provide specific examples of churches in the US and around the world where Liturgy is celebrated in a solemn and dignified manner. These articles, with pictures included, would provide inspiration and encouragement for priests wishing to celebrate the "Novus Ordo" faithfully and solemnly.

Some examples would include Brompton Oratory in London, England; the Cathedral in Salt Lake City, Utah; St. Agnes Church in St. Paul, Minnesota; St. John's Basilica in Des Moines, Iowa and smaller churches, like St. Anthony's in Omaha, Nebraska. These churches have the architecture and solemn liturgical celebrations we would like to see highlighted. They inspire as well as teach.

While your emphasis on translations is important, we feel that a profound lacuna exists in overlooking the need for priests in the field to have concrete examples of how to celebrate the Liturgy with solemnity and dignity.

Both of us have subscribed to AB since its inception. We are hoping for practical help in celebrating the "Novus Ordo" well. We believe this suggestion will inform and inspire us and many other priests.

We thank you for your efforts to promote the authentic renewal of the Liturgy and we hope our suggestion contributes in some way to that effort.

Monsignor Frank Chiodo
Omaha, Nebraska
Father Ray Atwood
Riceville, Iowa

Good suggestions. We have featured the Brompton Oratory and St. Agnes Church in St. Paul in past editions of AB. And stay tuned for a newly-produced video on "How to Say Mass".

I so very much love and admire humility, as long as it's in other people. Your piece in the May 2004 Bulletin, "Homer Nods", listing corrections, was an excellent setting of the example.

That said, I must ask if Homer hasn't nodded again! - "only His Son addressed Our heavenly Father as 'Abba'". (Readers' Forum, April-May 2004) How, then, are we to read Romans 8:15?

I was taught that we can only call God our Father in and through Jesus Christ. Thus we can never say "My Father". But how to interpret Saint Paul's "we cry 'Abba Father'"? (Emphases added).

Dick Reeder
Green Village, New Jersey

The first 14 verses of Romans chapter 8 are the key to understanding verse 15: It is precisely and solely man's acceptance of "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" that enables us to share in the life of Christ, God's only begotten Son.

"If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you [He] will give life to your mortal bodies also through His Spirit who dwells in you". (v 11)

Paul explains that it is not our selves living according to the flesh who call the Father "Abba"; but "it is the Spirit Himself" united with our spirits that makes us "children of God, and if children, then heirs...." (v 16, 17)

Further, in Romans 12, Paul calls us to make our "bodies as a living sacrifice", and to "be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind" so that, united in the "perfect will of God", "we, though many, are one body in Christ". (v 1-5)

On Architecture
On Michael Rose's "Ave Maria University Reveals Plans for Giant Church" (AB April-May 2004) - I agree with him, and as a contributor to Ave Maria, I am expressing my opinion on the design of the glass church. My wife and I agree that the glass and steel structure has no appealing qualities to draw people into the church; it has no warmth.

The Divine Mercy Chapel in Ireland, illustrated in AB April-May, is a style that would be appropriate for the Florida climate. When you see the chapel from a distance you should know you're looking at a church.

Modern design is fine for skyscrapers, but not for churches. A church should show the feeling of reverence, and that God is the main attraction, not the architecture.

I hope that the Ave Maria committee changes their minds and erects a church equal to the ones shown in Adoremus Bulletin, especially the Divine Mercy Chapel.

Michael A. Fenimore
Billmore, New York

You speak for many. We understand that the Ave Maria University leaders are reconsidering the plans.


I appreciated the article by Michael S. Rose in the April/ May 2004 edition of the Adoremus Bulletin. I was pleasantly surprised to see a reference in the article to the Wayfarer's Chapel in my hometown of Palos Verdes. It is a small but beautiful building overlooking Abalone Cove and the Pacific, very popular for non-Catholic weddings. Mr. Rose is correct in that the design was intended to emphasize the trees, cliffs and ocean visible from inside what the locals call "the glass church". Unfortunately, the surrounding environment isn't as friendly as it looks; the church is located at the edge of a large, ancient landslide block that re-activated over 20 years ago.

However, a correction is in order. Wayfarer's Chapel, built in 1951, was designed not by Frank Lloyd Wright, but by his son Lloyd Wright.

Greg T. Cranham
Lakeside, California

Altar Rails and Ecumenism
I was astonished by the proposed design of the chapel for St. Agnes featured on the back page of the April-May Adoremus Bulletin. The design is almost identical to that of St. Vincent's Church here in Ashfield, before its recent wreckovation. In the left alcove was a shrine to the Sacred Heart, on the right was one to the Immaculate Conception -- both demolished, as were the marble altar rails, Stations of the Cross and the Tabernacle.

In my opinion the last word has not been spoken from Rome on this wanton destruction of altar rails. It was not traditional, ecumenical, or asked for by the Second Vatican Council.

Traditionally -- prior to 1534 -- all English Catholic churches had rood screens [separating the sanctuary from the body of the church]. Since Archbishop Laud (1573-1645), Anglican churches have had altar rails.

But the tradition of a partitioned sanctuary goes back further, since Eastern (Byzantine) Orthodox churches (separated 1031 AD) all have an iconostasis and doors; the Monophysite Jacobite churches (separated 451 AD) have a screen, with or without pictures and a curtain (Syrians -- screen, Armenians -- railings, Copts -- screen plus pictures, Ethiopians -- three partitions in concentric circles.)

The Nestorians (separated 431 AD) have a solid wall of separation of the sanctuary reaching to the ceiling. The Uniate (or Eastern Rite) Catholic Churches usually follow these customs. (reference Christian Churches of the East I & II, Donald Attwater, 1961)

Recently, a royal wedding in Copenhagen was held in a Lutheran church that had a double set of altar rails. Jewish synagogues often have a separating rail between the Torah and the cantors.

We need to ask liturgists who were they being ecumenical with? Extreme Calvinists, perhaps? What tradition were they following?

When we wonder why people crowd into the sanctuary or run in and out, we should admit that this loss of a sense of the sacred is due to the removal of the dinstinctness of the sanctuary.

Cardinal Arinze has done us all a tremendous service with the release of the new Instruction, Redemptionis Sacramentum. But much destruction carried out by the liturgists still awaits repair.

Kevin McManus
Ashfield, New South Wales

The principal motive for diminishing the distinction between the nave and sanctuary is that it symbolizes the distinction between the ordained priesthood and the laity - a distinction that recent Vatican documents on the Liturgy have consistently re-emphasized.

The documents are clear enough. But they require the will of bishops and priests to change erroneous practices and to correct abuses in order to overcome the destruction of which you speak.

Baffling Bishops
I am completely baffled by your response to the letter in the April-May issue complaining about yet another bishop who has ordered his flock not to kneel after the Agnus Dei. I have seen this issue raised in many publications and it seems that all the answers are the same ... the Vatican asks that bishops not discourage kneeling; the GIRM states that kneeling shall be permitted/encouraged; yet all have the caveat "unless the diocesan bishop determines otherwise".

This is absolutely ludicrous! Any bishop can overrule the pope, the College of Cardinals, and his own Council of Bishops! How can he then accuse us of disobedience, when he is, in effect, disobedient himself? He ignores authority yet demands obedience from faithful Catholics! Perhaps we should claim membership in Call to Action or Catholics for a Free Choice and the bishop will grovel in backing away!

Seriously and frankly I am at a loss -- I do not share the optimistic feelings of many like yourselves. I don't believe that the Holy Ghost has abandoned us, but I do think that He is letting us make fools of ourselves before He drops the hammer. Your advice to the letter-writer that she attend Eucharistic Adoration will probably lead to greater frustration -- the bishop probably forbids that also, or else it is done in the new "inclusive" style (dancing, marching, clapping, stomping, etc.)

God save us!
Alfonse W. Scerbo
Boonton, New Jersey

Reverent Funeral Mass
You deserve my sincere thanks for helping my family and me plan a simple reverent funeral for my wife of 63 years ... helped by all the emphasis of Adoremus on simplicity and reverence in the Liturgy.

There's a lot that Adoremus covers that I don't understand, but I think the message of a Liturgy that moves the Mass, like a drama, smoothly from the introductory rites to the consecration and communion to dismissal makes for the uplift of the spirit.

My wife, Dorothy Burke, 88 years old, had been declining in health for the past five years, and finally on the morning of Good Friday we took her to the hospital, where after modeling Christ's suffering and entombment she died at five minutes after twelve on Easter morning, the day we celebrate His resurrection. A deep comfort to me, as if He had said, "Dorothy, you've done your full day's work, come home".

The funeral couldn't be held until Friday, giving us time to plan a simple, reverent Mass, the only time a Mass is said for an individual, a Mass that would eliminate the aspects of a production -- music that distracts, lyrics that are irrelevant, family eulogies that don't mean much, a congregation with non-Catholics present, to whom the Mass is a mystery.

No music. Our four daughters (we have eight children, one deceased) covered the casket with a pall in the church vestibule; a well-informed MC had seen that the readers had been printed for the lectors, a son who reads well and a granddaughter -- short selections, remembering that the attention span of individuals these days is short.

Father Alvaro Delgado said the Mass, welcoming the congregation and telling them that they enriched us by their presence. He also included them by simple gestures to let them know when to stand or sit -- a great help to family, believe me, who were in need of protocol.

His sermon (he'd read a bio of Dorothy) tied her life and death in with Christ's resurrection and Easter week, not easy but the blend of life, death and resurrection came through, comforting me.

The consecration and communion flowed easily. The casket was censed, the pall bearers -- six grandsons -- placed the coffin in the hearse; then the internment ... all a comforting ritual.

I'm immensely grateful to Adoremus.

Frank Burke
Modesto, California

We are grateful for your kind words, and offer our condolences on the death of your dear wife.

On Implementing the Instruction
The continuing question that I have concerns the implementation of Redemptionis Sacramentum. I live in Philadelphia and I have a high regard for Cardinal Rigali. But I have not noticed that there has been even the smallest change in liturgical behaviors, and it is all the worse because they are doing things that are now officially reprobated.

The use of earthenware and glass cups (they don't call them chalices) continues. I have stopped going to one local Mass where the Eucharistic Prayer is clearly none of the 13 available. At another daily Mass one priest never wears a chasuble, simply his alb. In the four churches near my residence, everyone still follows various aberrant practices. I have yet to go to one single Mass where the Mass as outlined in the Missal is celebrated.

These are the reasons why we belong to an Eastern Catholic parish and celebrate the Divine Liturgy, which is always done in a very dignified and appropriate manner. On special feast days, I attend a wonderful indult Mass.

My question is: what would make Adoremus think that this document will in any way change liturgical behaviors and what evidence do you have that would support such a belief? I still think these problems seem endemic to the new rite, unfortunately.

David Nelson
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The effectiveness of Redemptionis Sacramentum, of course, depends on the diocesan bishop's resolve to instruct, and if necessary to re-educate, his priests. This document, which clearly lists abuses in the celebration of Mass, is already proving useful in parishes and dioceses where the priests are correcting the problems on their own initiative or at the direction of their bishop.

One example we've seen: in a parish where the priest had habitually consecrated a flagon (glass pitcher) of Precious Blood, then poured it into separate chalices before Communion, this practice has now ceased.

The bishop should be informed of abuses in his parishes so that he can take appropriate corrective action. Some dioceses are holding special meetings with priests to convey the information; some others are publishing booklets to be sent to parish priests.

No doubt, some priests will resist change and ignore the rules. It will doubtless take time to end all the abuses noted in Redemptionis Sacramentum. But providing a concrete list of abuses is a good first step to begin the necessary repairs.

As you may know, the pope has just declared a Year of the Eucharist, from October 2004 to 2005, when a world Synod on the Eucharist will be held. This is a strong indication of the Holy See's resolve to continue its corrective action.

I want to clarify a statement in the online version of "The Discipline of the Eucharist" (AB April-May 2004): "The existing norm permitting lay people to receive Communion more than once on the same day, provided they participate fully in each Mass (Canon 921 §2) is repeated". (RS 95)

I offer two rather minor corrections. First, the relevant norm is Canon 917, as noted in footnote 182. Canon 921 §2 contains an exception to the norm for those who are in danger of death.

Second, it is not required that lay people "participate fully in each Mass", but only that when they receive Communion "again on the same day", it be within a Mass in which they fully participate. The first time need not be during a Mass. In fact, Canon 918 provides that if the faithful ask for Communion apart from the Mass with good reason, "it is to be administered to them".

As I say, rather minor points, but I'm like you: we both try to make sure we get it right.

The day Redemptionis Sacramentum came out, I was able to download a copy from Adoremus's web site. Thanks for being so on top of it!

John M. Hart
Cincinnati, Ohio

Anglican Use
I am a cradle Roman Catholic. A few years ago I visited Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, an Anglican Use Roman Catholic parish, founded by former Episcopalians and their priest.

Is Adoremus familiar with the Anglican Use Mass, as codified in their Book of Divine Worship? Have you ever experienced the same?

I wonder if we couldn't bag ICEL and all of the efforts at reforming it, and simply trust those who gave us our language? I venture that the Anglican Use Mass would appeal to most orthodox Catholics (provided that they harbor no animus toward traditional Anglicanism).

I welcome your thoughts on this.

L. Peter Galusky, Jr.
Findlay, Ohio

We are aware of the so-called Anglican Use parishes that were established subject to the "Pastoral Provision" of 1980, which also permitted the ordination of former Episcopalian clergy.

There are seven of these Anglican Use parishes in the US; five of them in Texas. We, too, have visited Our Lady of Atonement, and agree that the worship there is dignified and reverent.

The Book of Divine Worship, expressly for Anglican Use parishes, was approved in August 2003 by Cardinal Bernard Law, the Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision. The BDW is based on the Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer, with the approved Latin rite Eucharistic Prayers.

Unhappily, the BDW contains texts from Episcopalian books revised in 1979 that employ so-called "inclusive" (i.e. gender-neutral) language -- an alteration that is expressly forbidden by Liturgiam authenticam, the 2001 Instruction on translation of biblical and liturgical texts

We do not know how this serious defect escaped correction before the BDW was approved for use in Catholic parishes. And we hope this error will soon be corrected.

Sign of the Cross
Some months ago this announcement was circulated among staff, students and "regular" attendants.

"While all make the Sign of the Cross together at the beginning of Mass, it is not necessary to bless onesself as one is being blessed at the dismissal since the General Instruction is silent on this point (GIRM 167)".

It seems so odd to have the celebrant give his blessing and very few make the Sign of the Cross. Can that be what was intended?

Name Withheld
Conception, Missouri

Whatever the intention of the announcement, it represents a seriously misguided reading of the GIRM.

Not all gestures of the congregation are made explicit in the Missal. The Sign of the Cross -- a sacramental -- is a potent symbol that signifies baptism and our incorporation into the life of the Trinity. It is a serious mistake to eliminate this sign, and other traditional gestures of reverence, such as genuflection before entering our pews (also not specified in the GIRM). The message conveyed is, "We don't believe that anymore". Alas, that may be the objective of this kind of liturgical iconoclasm.

Charting Changes
I have been thinking in the past few months about all the notices of corrections in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass -- re: kneeling, standing, etc., as well as vessel usage in the Mass, etc. There is so much to organize that I wonder if you've considered -- after all the explanations -- coming up with a chart or charts to show periods of corrections, ending up with the most recent.

It would be very interesting and beneficial to see just what the bishops have requested in the way of adaptations. I remember one instance where there was a request for some 90 changes.

Helen L. Gordon
Morton Grove, Illinois

We do sympathize. The complexities of liturgical changes in the past few years are, indeed, daunting. We'll keep your suggestion in mind - although not many matters can be neatly reduced to a chart without the risk of distorting or over-simplifying. (For example, the 185-paragraph Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum.)

Who May Purify the Chalice?
I do not know where on the Internet to find the answer to this question. Is the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion allowed to purify the chalice of a priest? It doesn't seem right, but, of course, I could be wrong!

Lucretia Morrison
Plano, Texas

This is a good illustration of the "complexities" we have noted.

The short answer is "yes, but" In the dioceses of United States only, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion may help cleanse the sacred vessels, subject to the following restricted conditions:

1. A diocesan bishop must have "grave pastoral reasons" for this exception to the universal rule;

2. The priest must always have the express permission the diocesan bishop;

3. The priest may allow this exception only "when necessary";

4. This indult (special concession) by the Holy See to the US Bishops' Conference ends March 22, 2005.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) says,"The sacred vessels are purified by the priest, the deacon, or an instituted acolyte after Communion or after Mass, insofar as possible at the credence table". (279)

(The GIRM-US Adaptation is accessible on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops [USCCB] web site:

The recent disciplinary instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum (119) explains in detail the procedure for purification of the sacred vessels, and repeats the GIRM restriction to "the priest, the deacon, or an instituted acolyte". (See RS 119 in this issue; or access it on the Adoremus web site: www.adoremus.org/RedemptionisSacramentum.html. Many other Church documents are available on the Adoremus web site as well.)

A special US document, "Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America", approved by the USCCB June 14, 2001 and by the Holy See March 17, 2003, modifies the GIRM. The US-adapted GIRM (283) states, "In all that pertains to Communion under both kinds, the 'Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America' are to be followed". (The US "Norms" are available on the USCCB web site at: http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/current/norms.shtml)

In a letter to the president of the USCCB dated March 22, 2003, Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez, then-Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, granted the US conference's request for an indult for purification of sacred vessels.

Cardinal Medina granted the request, stipulating that "for grave pastoral reasons, the faculty may be given by the diocesan Bishop to the priest celebrant to use the assistance, when necessary, even of extraordinary ministers in the cleansing of sacred vessels", and wrote: "This faculty is conceded for a period of three years as a dispensation from the norm of the Institutio Generalis, edito typica tertia of the Roman Missal".

This letter granting the temporary indult for the dioceses of the United States appears at the beginning of the US "Norms".

Night Club Music
Very early in his career the late Ray Charles was criticized soundly for taking "Gospel-style" music from the church to the night club.

Ironic, isn't it, that today we have taken "night club"-style music into the church, generally without disapproval of pastors, liturgists or musicians.

I remember Monsignor Richard Schuler saying at a Sacred Music Colloquium several years ago, "What we hear in church shouldn't be heard in a bar, and vice versa".

Jack Kortegast
Arlington, Texas

Pay Attention! We've all heard this since we were toddlers! But PAY ATTENTION takes on new meaning as we find ourselves plowing through the intricacies of official documents concerning Catholic worship.

We do PAY ATTENTION. Because we know you, dear Adoremus Bulletin readers, are counting on us.

We have to PAY ATTENTION to present our careful summaries of complex documents, and to respond to so many complicated questions that often require much careful digging and laborious writing.

We are counting on you, too, to PAY ATTENTION. We rely entirely on your donations for all our work. And we NEED YOUR HELP. (An envelope is enclosed.)

Thanks, as always, Your AB Staff

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