Posted February 25, 2009 by rwp
Categories: Catholicism

to here.



Posted January 22, 2009 by rwp
Categories: Misc

The ridiculously named Unreasonable Faith demonstrates how alien morals are to him:

Did you know you can stump anti-abortionists with one simple question? Just ask them this: If abortion was illegal, what should be done with the women who have illegal abortions? Now watch their faces

No, don’t watch my face; watch my lips. The answer is what is done with any mother who murders her own child.

This amoral twit seems to think this is some sort of a brainteaser. It is not. Murder is murder, and murder just to make your life more convenient is more heinous than murder in the heat of passion. Women who murder their children are murderers, and they should be prosecuted for murder.


The Enthronement Speech

Posted January 18, 2009 by rwp
Categories: Eastern Christianity

Of Metropolitan Jonah after being elected as Primate of the Orthodox Church in America. The Metropolitan is an American convert to Orthodoxy.


Strange Places, Part 1

Posted January 18, 2009 by rwp
Categories: Catholicism, Eastern Christianity

There seems to be a lot of interest in Eastern Christianity among Catholic blogs, which I am unable to grasp entirely, given that most Catholics don’t even know that Eastern Rite Catholics (or the Orthodox) exist. Of course, the oblivion is understandable; for every Eastern Rite parish, there are at least a thousand Latin Rite parishes, and Eastern Rite Catholics are limited to a few areas in the US.

Pennsylvania is one of the few states where there are, at least comparatively, a great many Eastern Christians, both Eastern Rite Catholics and Orthodox. There are six Byzantine Catholic parishes in Indiana, and one hundred and twenty here in Pennsylvania, and that doesn’t count the Melkites or Ukrainian Catholics, both of whom are well represented here (and there are even more Orthodox than Eastern Rite Catholics in Pennsylvania, mostly Slavs who immigrated here to work the coal mines and the steel mills). Yet even here, they are the forgotten stepchild of the Church.

This is surely, at least in part, because the Eastern Rite Catholics have far more in common with the Orthodox than they do the Latins. They use the Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil, so are liturgically identical, or nearly so, to the Orthodox, and strange to the Latins.1, 2  They follow the same liturgical calendar as the Orthodox, and not the Latins.3  Go to the official Byzantine Catholic Church webpage and peruse the sources and conversations on the forum: They’re indistinguishable from the Orthodox.1   (The English text of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom as used by the Byzantine Catholic Church is here; the Orthodox, and other autonomous Eastern Rite Catholic churches use the same liturgy, but each its own translation. If you’re interested in the liturgical music, you can view the Byzantine chants here, and listen here. As with the liturgical translation, each group has its own system of chants, although all have eight tones, which correspond to the modes of the western Gregorian chants.)

Some churches have been architecturally Latinized. A fair number, for example, contain pews, which never developed in the East, and not until relatively recently in the West. I have been in one Greek Orthodox church (St George in Knoxville, Tennessee) with an organ (instrumental music was never allowed in Eastern Christianity, and does not occur in most Eastern parishes). The forced westernization of Russia by Peter the Great bled over into the church, and what are today traditional Slavic icons look more West than East. The Slavs were also the only group of Eastern Christians to allow polyphonic liturgical music, and is today the only Eastern polyphonic system of chant (though technically, they aren’t chants); however, many parishes of other jurisdictions use Slavic liturgical music.

Extra-liturgical sacred music, however, does not exist in Eastern Christianity. There are no hymns. There is only the chanted liturgy. Both Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky wrote liturgical music, but “wrote” is an overstatement. Had they composed the music, it would not be allowed to be performed. They rewrote the harmonies, but left the tones intact, as they were required to do. There is no Eastern equivalent of the Missa Solemnis.

The whole Divine Liturgy, and the Divine Services, are chanted, and all but the smallest parishes have choirs. If you are a Western Christian, Catholic or Protestant, you are probably visualizing the “passive” worship of Roman Catholics prior to 1970, understandable, but incorrect. This “passsive” worship never developed in the East. Members of the congregation chant along with the choir (or in a parish too small to have a choir, alone), except for the equivalent of the Propers. The Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel readings are chanted. The only thing that is not chanted in an Eastern liturgy is the homily.

Eastern worship is more physical than Catholic, and far more physical than Protestant, worship. Eastern Christians do not genuflect, but have three worshipful actions that roughly correspond.

There is the bow, in which one lowers his head, often while making the Sign of the Cross. Eastern Christians typically bow when censed or blessed by the priest (and if you’re curious, cross themselves from right to left to mirror the priest, who makes the Sign of the Cross from left to right). There is the metanoia, performed most often when reverencing icons, where one crosses himself, then bends at the waist and lets the fingers of his right hand brush the floor, and then rises; the metanoia is always performed three times in succession, and reverencing icons involves making the metanoia twice, then kissing the icon, then making the third metanoia. Finally, there is the full prostration, in which one falls to one’s kees, places his hands before his knees on the floor, then touches his forehead to the floor, and rises (because Christ arose from the dead). Eastern Christians do not kneel, save during certain liturgies in Lent. There is certainly nothing “passive” about Eastern worship, and to an Eastern Christian, most Western worship seems “passive.”

Eastern Christians are liturgically conservative to an extent most Western Christians would find at least odd, if not a bit disturbing. This is partly because Western Christians view liturgy as a superficiality, whereas Eastern Christians see it as the fullness of the communal church, and the expression of the apostolic faith. The East also has far more laity who are fascinated by theology, a distinctive feature of the East that has existed back to the earliest days of the Church. Eastern Christians view prayer, liturgy, and theology as inseperable parts of one whole, the expression of the apostolic faith, and many can discuss at great length the disctinctions between the monophysite and monothelite heresies, or can discuss the seven Ecumenical Councils in detail. You are unlikely to find a practicing Eastern Christian who needs to look at a book to remember the Nicene Creed, or the Divine Liturgy as a whole, and many Eastern parishes have no equivalent of the Missal(ette) available in the church. There is a whole discussion on the Byzantine forum devoted to whether “and became a man” in the newest translation introduces heresy into the Nicene Creed, and whether there is, in fact, a theological distinction between “and became man,” “and became a man,” and “and became a human being,” and what heresies the re-translations do or do not introduce. You’re unlikely to ever see this kind of discussion on a Catholic forum, and even less likely to see it on a Protestant forum. Whereas heresy is a somewhat quaint and outdated concept in the West, save among the most traditional and conservative, and most of those Catholics, it is a very important, living concept in Eastern Christianity. Even the slightest deviation from the apostolic faith is taken very seriously.

Consequently, no “liturgical modernization” movement has ever taken hold in Eastern Christianity, nor is it likely to. An “updated” translation of the Divine Liturgy has been published by the Byzantine Catholic Church, but no parish is required to use it, and from what I have seen, very few do.

The truly fundamental differences between East and West aren’t theological, but philosophical. These distinctions are numerous, and I cannot tackle them all, at least not in one post. But I can tackle one or two here, both of which partly are due to historical reasons.

In both the West and East, the hierarchy and monasteries maintained a tense, often oppositional, relationship. In the West, this problem was (mostly) solved by allowing monasteries to be autonomous, as they are today, subject to their own heirarchies, answerable only to the Vatican. The result was that over time, monasteries became more and more separated from the rest of the church, and lost what influence they had once held. Today, we see this in the fact that few Catholic churches regularly offer the Liturgy of the Hours, or in the softened expectations of the laity.

This would not have been a solution in the East, where no strong central authority had developed, and monasteries had always been autonomous. In the East, the monastics usually won the struggle, and gained even more power in the church (to this day, Eastern bishops are chosen from the monasteries). The monastic tradition of Christianity as a rigorous, daily struggle was cemented into the life of the church, so that even today, Eastern Christians observe a fast approximately half the year. In Eastern Christianity, the equivalent of the Liturgy of the Hours, the Divine Services, are chanted in the parish. When a Western Christian tells me he is going to an Eastern church, I always tell him to wear the most comfortable shoes he owns, no matter what they look like: Serious, practicing Eastern Christians spend many more hours in church than their Western counterparts, and even not counting Matins before, Divine Liturgy will run close to an hour and a half. And the shoes? Well, most Eastern churches have no pews, so unless you’re going to sit on the floor, like everybody does during the homily, you stand. You’ll soon find why all of those people are gently rocking back and forth.

Eastern churches are forbidden by Canon Law to offer more than one Divine Liturgy per day at the same altar, and anticipatory liturgies are non-existant.

A word about differing church etiquette, only because Westerners, particularly Catholics or high church Episcopalians, are likely to find it a bit disconcerting. The concept of “on time” doesn’t appear to have developed in the East. The parish here, for example, begins Sunday Matins at 9 o’clock (Matins lasts about an hour and runs directly into Divine Liturgy, that is, there is no break between the two), and Divine Liturgy is over anywhere from 12:15 to 12:30. Matins begins on time, but Eastern Christians feel no compusion to arrive on time. If you go at 9 o’clock, you may be one of only fifteen or so there; people arrive when they arrive, and nobody notices or pays them any mind, because, well, that’s the way it is (typically, the church is packed by the time Divine Liturgy starts, and most arrive during Matins).

When Catholics arrive, they genuflect, then kneel in prayer. If Catholics arrive after Mass has begun, most will participate with the rest of the congregation, that is, not kneel in prayer. This is in direct opposition to the East.

When Eastern Christians arrive, no matter what is going on in the church, they reverence the icons, then find someplace to stand (there are no pews). Eastern worship seems a bit messy as a result to Western Christians, at least until everyone is there. Also, different jurisdictions have different customs, and many Eastern parishes in the US are pan-ethnic, so you will see different people crossing themselves a different number of times (once or thrice), performing menaions at different times, and doing different things in general. It’s rather silly to worry about doing what everyone else is doing, since everyone else isn’t doing the same thing.

If you are not Orthodox, you may not commune. However, the Eucharist is taken a great deal more seriously in the East than in the West. For one thing, many Eastern Christians do not commune every Sunday. More importantly, the Eastern priest takes his duty as the guardian of the chalice far more seriously than his Western counterpart. Even if you are a Roman Catholic at an Eastern Rite liturgy, do not approach unless you have first talked with the priest, who may require you to make a confession first. I cannot stress this enough. And make sure you ask the priest, if it is your first time, how you should commune; in the East, the (leavened) bread is mixed with the wine and hot water in the chalice, and the priest places it on your tongue with a spoon (photo here). It’s very different, and even if you may commune, check with the priest about how before you do. Eastern priests expect not only regular confession, but regular attendance, and most Eastern priests do not consider only every Sunday regular attendance. Both the Byzantine and Orthodox priests here expect attendance at Vespers as well as Matins and Liturgy on Sundays. The Orthodox parish offers Vespers and confessions every Wednesday and Saturday evening, and the priest expects attendance on Wednesday evenings, as well as Holy Days, in order to receive the Eucharist. Both priests require regular confessions.

Eastern Christian homes typically contain shrines, as Roman Catholic homes typically did before the Protestantization of the church in 1970. Many Eastern Christians have a daily cycle of prayers, often the Divine Services (the equivalent of the Liturgy of the Hours), and the Jesus Prayer. These prayers are offered in front of the shrine. Eastern Christian homes (and businesses) are blessed by the priest in the weeks following Theophany.

Another distinction which I will touch on, and elaborate further in a later post, is that Eastern Christianity is masculine, while Western Christianity is feminine. Frederica Mathewes-Green, who converted to Orthodoxy from Protestantism, has discussed this at length, but for now, let’s take her article, Men and Church.

In a time when churches of every description are faced with Vanishing Male Syndrome, men are showing up at Eastern Orthodox churches in numbers that, if not numerically impressive, are proportionately intriguing. This may be the only church which attracts and holds men in numbers equal to women. As Leon Podles wrote in his 1999 book, The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity, “The Orthodox are the only Christians who write basso profundo church music, or need to.”

Rather than guess why this is, I emailed a hundred Orthodox men, most of whom joined the Church as adults. What do they think makes this church particularly attractive to men? Their responses, below, may spark some ideas for leaders in other churches, who are looking for ways to keep guys in the pews.


The term most commonly cited by these men was “challenging.” Orthodoxy is “active and not passive.” “It’s the only church where you are required to adapt to it, rather than it adapting to you.” “The longer you are in it, the more you realize it demands of you.” 

The “sheer physicality of Orthodox worship” is part of the appeal. Regular days of fasting from meat and dairy, “standing for hours on end, performing prostrations, going without food and water [before communion]…When you get to the end you feel that you’ve faced down a challenge.” “Orthodoxy appeals to a man’s desire for self-mastery through discipline.” 

“In Orthodoxy, the theme of spiritual warfare is ubiquitous; saints, including female saints, are warriors. Warfare requires courage, fortitude, and heroism. We are called to be ‘strugglers’ against sin, to be ‘athletes’ as St. Paul says. And the prize is given to the victor. The fact that you must ‘struggle’ during worship by standing up throughout long services is itself a challenge men are willing to take up.”        

A recent convert summed up, “Orthodoxy is serious. It is difficult. It is demanding. It is about mercy, but it’s also about overcoming oneself. I am challenged in a deep way, not to ‘feel good about myself’ but to become holy. It is rigorous, and in that rigor I find liberation. And you know, so does my wife.” 



What draws men to Orthodoxy is not simply that it’s challenging or mysterious. What draws them is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the center of everything the Church does or says.

In contrast to some other churches, “Orthodoxy offers a robust Jesus” (and even a robust Virgin Mary, for that matter, hailed in one hymn as “our Captain, Queen of War”). Several used the term “martial” or referred to Orthodoxy as the “Marine Corps” of Christianity. (The warfare is against self-destructive sin and the unseen spiritual powers, not other people, of course.)

One contrasted this “robust” quality with “the feminized pictures of Jesus I grew up with…I’ve never had a male friend who would not have expended serious effort to avoid meeting someone who looked like that.” Though drawn to Jesus Christ as a teen, “I felt ashamed of this attraction, as if it were something a red-blooded American boy shouldn’t take that seriously, almost akin to playing with dolls.”

A priest writes: “Christ in Orthodoxy is a militant, butt-kicking Jesus who takes Hell captive. Orthodox Jesus came to cast fire on the earth. (Males can relate to butt-kicking and fire-casting.) In Holy Baptism we pray for the newly-enlisted warriors of Christ, male and female, that they may ‘be kept ever warriors invincible.’”

After several years in Orthodoxy, one man found a service of Christmas carols in a Protestant church “shocking, even appalling.” Compared to the Orthodox hymns of Christ’s Nativity, “‘the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay’ has almost nothing to do with the Eternal Logos entering irrevocably, inexorably, kenotically, silently yet heroically, into the fabric of created reality.”

All of this is absolutely true. Much has been writtten about the feminization of Christianity, but few have mentioned that this feminization was wholly a Western phenomenon. The Eastern Christ is the Pantocrator, the Almighty Ruler of the Universe, who battled Satan and to quote from the Divine Liturgy, “trampled down Death by death.” The concept of the passive, sweet Christ does not exist in the East. Christianity is seen as our battle against Evil. Eastern Christianity is difficult and rigorous, and this appeals to Christian men. Eastern Christianity is also fundamentally and intensely conservative in its approach to the faith, and how we must live it daily, not by doing good works alone or primarily, but by praying, fasting, and being an active part of our parish. You will never hear discussions about how one “feels” in an Eastern Christian parish.

I will return to this topic later, because there is much to be said about the fundmental masculinity of Eastern Christianity. I suggest that if this interests you, you should read Frederica Mathewes-Green’s blog. She has much to say on this topic.

Finally, if you are a Roman Catholic and you want to attend an Eastern Rite parish, all you have to do is go. The Eastern Rite churches are sui juris, that is, autonomous, with their own hierarchies, but you are not required to do anything to worship there, or partake of the Eucharist (see above). However, if you want to become a member of an Eastern Rite parish, tell the priest you want to change jurisdictions, particularly if you may have another child. Eastern Christians chrismate (confirm) children immediately after baptism, and all chrismated Christians may partake of the Eucharist. Changing jurisdictions avoids confusion about whether your child has been chrismated, or confirmed.

In the 80s, the Antiochian Orthodox Church accepted a number of whole Episcopalian congregations, and established a Western Rite. If you are an Episcopalian who has reached the breaking point, this is one option. Check the web page for the Antiochian diocese (see the blogroll). 

That’s enough for the first intallment. Blessed be God!



To western eyes, I should say. While there are few, if any, substantial liturgical differences between the Eastern Rite Catholics and their Orthodox brethren, there are differences in practice. The Orthodox typically have Vespers at the church every Saturday evening, often with confession afterwards, and Matins precedes, and runs directly into, Divine Liturgy on Sundays, whereas the Eastern Rite Catholics are less likely to offer either Vespers or Matins. 

There has been a small amount of Latinization in the Byzantine Catholic Church, certainly. They kneel during the Prayers of Consecration, and use the filioque clause in the Nicene Creed. Predictably, because Eastern Christians are exceedingly conservative about their Faith, some are not happy about it (there is a whole thread devoted to it here), although there is a gradual purging of liturgical Latinisms. But the overall point still stands, that they are far closer to the Orthodox than they are the Latins.

3 I don’t refer here to the Gregorian v. Julian calendar differences, nor to the calculation of the date of Easter (which in the East, must fall after Passover; hence, the usual difference between Western and Eastern Easter, or Pascha. I am referring to the Liturgical Calendar. Eastern Christians celebrate Theophany, not Epiphany, and so forth (and Theophany is not simply the Eastern “word” for Epiphany; the two celebrate two different things).

Which Church Father Are You?

Posted January 16, 2009 by rwp
Categories: Catholicism


You’re St. Melito of Sardis!

You have a great love of history and liturgy. You’re attached to the traditions of the ancients, yet you recognize that the old world — great as it was — is passing away. You are loyal to the customs of your family, though you do not hesitate to call family members to account for their sins.

Find out which Church Father you are at The Way of the Fathers!


Embracing the Sacred

Posted January 12, 2009 by rwp
Categories: Catholicism

I have been thinking about this a lot since Christmas. I went back to my old parish in Indiana for Midnight Mass, and was jolted. It was a Novus Ordo Mass, but done as I had never experienced. The priest offered the Eucharistic Prayers ad orienetem. There were bells at the consecrations. There were Gregorian chants. The priest chanted most of the Mass (and he has a beautiful voice, by the way). It was uplifting. It was prayerful. It was reverent. It was beautiful.

Most importantly, it was Sacred. 

The other day, the Anchoress pointed to an article of Amy Wellborn’s on Eastern Christianity, and while most of the comments are insightful, I think they miss the central issue.

Many, if not most, of the liturgical changes that occurred after Vatican II were wrongly attributed to it, in that the Council did not prescribe them. In many cases, nothing implying the changes was mentioned by the Council. I, at least, am not going to suggest that we should undo the Second Vatican Council, and even though I am a linguist and yes, am old enough that I took two years of Latin in high school, and yes, can halfway read Latin, I have no desire to return to it in the Mass.

But we have lost the distinction between the profane and Sacred. We have profaned our churches and the Mass. And we must recapture the Sacred which, yes, means undoing may of the uncalled for liturgical changes after 1970. (I am, if you haven’t realized it, using “profane” in its correct sense, rather than to mean dirty or blasphemous, so if you’re feeling yourself enraged with self-righteous anger, it isn’t justified.)

I remember the Tridentine. I knelt at the altar rail for my First Communion. I still have the Tridentine missal and breviary I was given for my First Communion. I was in high school and then an undergraduate when the changes were implemented. I am speaking from remembrance, not hearsay, as younger people only can. And because I lived through the era, I can tell you what happened, and where we veered from the Sacred to the profane.

It was the 70s, and I might add, the worst part of the 70s, the beginning of the decade, when the influence of the 60s was its strongest. The world was caught up in nature worship, and relevancy was all the rage — relevancy meaning “attractive to the hippie generation,” I might point out.

Relevancy captured the imagination of the bishops and clergy, who imagined that if the Church were to become more “relevant,” we would have more young people at Mass, even entering seminaries and taking vows. The hierarchy were also caught up in the whirlwind of nature worship — not, understand, to the point of heresy, but the point that holding Mass by the brook or wearing vestments with leaves and trees was felt to be somehow a more honest Christianity. (Note that this updating and relevancy, instead of bringing more young people to Mass and the priesthood, had the reverse effect.)

If you’ve watched these designer shows, you’ve heard this nonsense about “bringing the outdoors inside,” and that’s exactly what the clergy did. The Sacred, the idea that the church was a Sacred space and that Mass should be an experience and celebration of the Sacred, was deemed irrelevant and outdated. Monks, nuns, and priests wrote dreadful doggerel as lyrics for trite “folksy” tunes, all either openly centered around us, our experiences, and nature, or converting God and the Divine into us, our experiences, and nature.

It wasn’t pantheism, but it teetered on the edge.

There are two crucial differences between the Tridentine and Vatican II liturgies: The first, as I have already begun to discuss, was abolishing the Sacred in favor of the profane; and the second, related to the first, was changing the focus from God to us.

The Mass, you see, could not be “relevant” if it was about God and the Divine. Only by becoming profane could the Mass be “relevant.” Gregorian chants were dropped in favor of trite “folk” music accompanied by all too often out of tune guitars. Ugly banners of trees and peace symbols and other profane symbology covered the walls. The Stations of the Cross and many statues were torn down to be replaced with more profane symbols. And in what I believe to be the most destructive act of post-Vatican II excess, the priest turned around to face the congregation.

It was the ultimate act of narcissism. The Mass was finally all about us, and God was some borderline-pantheistic abstraction in the background. Mass had become group therapy. God was no longer why we were there; we were there for us.

As an aside, I know somebody is going to say that I am remiss, and that it is up to me to create my own sense of the Sacred. Well, I do, but no, this is not an argument. I am not speaking of my individual reaction to or experience of Mass; I am speaking of how changing the Mass will inevitably change Catholics.

I have had this discussion many times, and I am often accused of focusing on “superficialities.” Yet it is no coincidence that theology suffered in the same way at the same time. Catholics are balking (to say the least) about the more accurate translation of the Novus Ordo that is to be used: They dislike the most the correct translation of “credo” as “I believe” instead of the current “we believe.” They don’t like it because they do not, in fact, believe. “We believe” takes the burden of belief and faith off the shoulders of the individual and places it on some sort of imaginary communal entity. Catholics voted in a large majority for the most pro-abortion candidate ever to run for President. Catholic universities regularly and predictably teach heretical courses, and award anti-Catholic faculty, so much so that the Cardinal Newman Society was created to act as a watch.

Nothing here is superficial, least of all liturgy. As the Mass decayed, so did our faith, because the Mass is the expression of our faith. When the Mass ceases to be focused upon God, so does our faith.

It is interesting and ironic that one of the largest groups in favor of profaning the Mass at the time, the charismatic Catholics, have now aged, and many have become devout traditionalists. The next time you go to Mass, glance quickly around during the Lord’s Prayer, and you will see people assuming the orans, with elbows bent and palms raised upward, perhaps the most ancient prayer posture of the Church, dating back to images in the catacombs. The charismatics are responsible for people assuming this ancient and reverent posture, and today, people who were charismatics in the 70s are some of the strongest supporters of making the Mass Sacred again.

Certainly, there has been a gradual but constant movement away from the excesses of the 70s. Many parishes no longer display the ugly banners, and guitar Masses are blessedly rare. But we have not (with notable exceptions, such as Midnight Mass at my old parish) yet succeeded in recapturing the Sacred. We still employ hideous music with trite, banal lyrics, instead of using the rich musical tradition of the Church. Mass is still an exercise in narcissism. Priests still wear vestments decorated with profane symbols (admittedly, not as awful as in the 70s). At our relatively conservative parish, altar servers wear a shapeless white robe that looks like a wingless angel costume made out of old sheets for a sixth-grade play, instead of cossacks and surplices. Litanies and homilies center around the mundane, instead of the Divine.

Most distressing, however, is how the Eucharist itself has been purged of God and reverence. We were taught to approach the altar with our hands together and fingers extended to express reverence. People approach the Eucharist doing everything but picking their noses. What is the ostensible reason for standing instead of kneeling when we recieve what is the true Body of Christ? If one does believe that he is receiving the true Body of Christ in the Eucharist, why would he receive it in his hand? Why is the congregation asked to sing during the Eucharist, instead of kneeling and praying afterward? And although I think lay ministers are an unimportant issue in themselves, why do parishes with ordained deacons, like ours, not use them, and why have eight lay ministers to administer the Eucharist, unless you see it less as receiving the Body of Christ, and more as an assembly line to get it done as quickly as possible?

The post-Vatican II Eucharist is a travesty, and in practice, falls just short of blasphemous. All of the reverence has been purged, because it’s no longer about God. It’s about us. We receive it in our hands because it’s about us. We stand, and do not take the trouble or discomfort to kneel, because it’s about us. We sing instead of pray because it’s about us. Us, us, us, us, it’s always about us.

This leads to the central, fundametal issue that Amy and her commenters missed. The crucial distinction between the Mass and the Divine Liturgy is that the profane has never corrupted the sacred in the Divine Liturgy. Attend the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and you feel the sense of the Sacred as soon as you walk into the church. The liturgy transports you, and the profane, the “relevant,” is left behind. The liturgy centers solely on God and the Divine. There are no trite lyrics, no peace symbols or dove banners, the litanies are directed to God.

Most importantly, the Eucharist has not been profaned. If you are unknown to the priest (or are known, but have not been to Confession, or are known to be a twice-a-year attender) and approach, he will not give you the Eucharist. In Eastern Christianity, the priest is still the guardian of the chalice, and the clergy, both Eastern Rite and Orthodox, take this duty most seriously of all.

We must reclaim the Sacred and eject the profane from our churches. To do so, we need only look to our Eastern brethren. I do not mean that we should adopt their liturgies, but that they have never rejected the Sacred, and they can show us how to embrace the Sacred once again.

If you have an Eastern Rite or Orthodox church nearby, I encourage you to attend. I am not suggesting that you change parishes, but go and experience the Sacred. Only if we have this experience will we have any hope of reclaiming it in our own parishes.

Corrected English Novus Ordo

Posted January 5, 2009 by rwp
Categories: Catholicism

Introductory Rites

When the people are gathered, the Priest approaches the altar with the ministers while the Entrance Chant is sung.

When he has arrived at the altar, after making a profound bow with the ministers, the Priest venerates the altar with a kiss and, if appropriate, incenses the cross and the altar. Then, with the ministers, he goes to the chair.

When the Entrance Chant is concluded, the Priest and the faithful, standing, sign themselves with the Sign of the Cross, while the Priest, facing the people, says:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

The people reply:


Then the Priest, extending his hands, greets the people, saying:

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


The Lord be with you.

The people reply:

And with your spirit.

In this first greeting, instead ofThe Lord be with you, a Bishop says:

Peace be with you.

The Priest, or a deacon, or another minister, may very briefly introduce the faithful to the Mass of the day.

Penitential Act

Then follows the Penitential Act, to which the Priest invites the faithful, saying:

Brethren (brothers and sisters), let us acknowledge our sins, that we may prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.

A brief pause for silence follows. Then all recite together the formula of general confession:

I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,

And, striking their breast, they say:

through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault;

Then they continue:

therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

The absolution of the Priest follows:

May almighty God have mercy on us and lead us, with our sins forgiven, to eternal life.

The people reply:


From time to time on Sundays, especially in Easter time, instead of the customary Penitential Act, the blessing and sprinkling of water may take place as a reminder of Baptism.

The Priest invites the faithful to make the Penitential Act:

Brethren (brothers and sisters), let us acknowledge our sins, that we may prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.

A brief pause for silence follows.

The Priest then says:

Have mercy on us, O Lord.

The people reply:

For we have sinned against you.

The Priest:

Show us, O Lord, your mercy.

The people:

And grant us your salvation.

The absolution by the Priest follows:

May almighty God have mercy on us and lead us, with our sins forgiven, to eternal life.

The people reply:


The Priest invites the faithful to make the Penitential Act: Brethren (brothers and sisters), let us acknowledge our sins, that we may prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.

There follows a brief pause for silence. 

The Priest, or a deacon or another minister, then says the following or other invocations

You were sent to heal the contrite of heart:

Lord, have mercy.


Kyrie, eleison.

The people reply:

Lord, have mercy.


Kyrie, eleison.

The Priest:

You came to call sinners: Christ, have mercy.


Christe, eleison.

The people:

Christ, have mercy.


Christe, eleison.

The Priest:

You are seated at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us:

Lord, have mercy.


Kyrie, eleison.

The people:

Lord, have mercy.


Kyrie, eleison.

The absolution by the Priest follows:

May almighty God have mercy on us and lead us, with our sins forgiven, to eternal life.

The people reply:


Then, when it is prescribed, the Gloria is sung or said:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.

We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks for your great glory.

Lord God, heavenly King, O God, almighty Father. Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son, Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us; you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer; you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.


When the Gloria is concluded, the Priest, with hands joined, says:

Let us pray.

And all pray in silence with the Priest for a moment.

Then the Priest, with hands extended, says the Collect prayer, at the end of which the people acclaim:


The Liturgy of the Word

Then the reader goes to the ambo and reads the first reading, while all sit and listen. To indicate the end of the reading, the reader acclaims:

The Word of the Lord.

All reply:

Thanks be to God.

The psalmist or cantor sings or says the Psalm, with the people making the response.

After this, if there is to be a second reading, a reader reads it from the ambo, as above. To indicate the end of the reading, the reader acclaims:

The Word of the Lord.

All reply:

Thanks be to God.

There follows the Alleluiaor another chant laid down by the rubrics, as the liturgical time requires.

Meanwhile, if incense is used, the Priest puts some into the thurible. After this, the deacon who is to proclaim the Gospel, bowing profoundly before the Priest, asks for the blessing, saying in a low voice:

May I have your blessing, Father.

The Priest says in a low voice:

May the Lord be in your heart and on your lips that you may proclaim his Gospel worthily and well, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The deacon signs himself with the Sign of the Cross and replies:


If, however, a deacon is not present, the Priest, bowing before the altar, says quietly:

Cleanse my heart and my lips, almighty God, that I may worthily proclaim your holy Gospel.

The deacon, or the Priest, then proceeds to the ambo, accompanied, if appropriate, by ministers with incense and candles. There he says:

The Lord be with you.

The people reply:

And with your spirit.

The deacon, or the Priest:

A reading from the holy Gospel according to N.

and, at the same time, he makes the Sign of the Cross on the book and on his forehead, lips, and breast.

The people acclaim:

Glory to you, O Lord.

Then the deacon, or the Priest, incenses the book, if incense is used, and proclaims the Gospel.

At the end of the Gospel, the deacon, or the Priest, acclaims:

The Gospel of the Lord.

All reply:

Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Then he kisses the book, saying quietly:

Through the words of the Gospel may our sins be wiped away.

Then follows the homily, which is to be preached by a Priest or deacon on all Sundays and holy days of obligation; on other days, it is recommended.

At the end of the homily, the Symbol or Profession of Faith or Creed, when prescribed, is sung or said:

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.

At the words that follow up to and including “and became man,” all bow

For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
And one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.


Instead of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, especially during Lent and Easter time, the baptismal Symbol of the Roman Church, known as the Apostles’ Creed, may be used.

I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

At the words that follow, up to and including “the Virgin Mary,” all bow.

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist

When all this has been done, the Offertory Chant begins. Meanwhile, the ministers place the corporal, the purificator, the chalice, the pall, and the Missal on the altar.

It is desirable that the faithful express their participation by making an offering, bringing forward bread and wine for the celebration of the Eucharist and perhaps other gifts to relieve the needs of the Church and of the poor.

The Priest, standing at the altar, takes the paten with the bread and holds it slightly raised above the altar with both hands, saying in a low voice:


Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.

Then he places the paten with the bread on the corporal. If, however, the Offertory Chant is not sung, the Priest may speak these words aloud; at the end, the people may acclaim:

Blessed be God for ever.

The deacon, or the Priest, pours wine and a little water into the chalice, saying quietly:

By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.

The Priest then takes the chalice and holds it slightly raised above the altar with both hands, saying in a low voice:

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you: fruit of the vine and work of human hands it will become our spiritual drink.

Then he places the chalice on the corporal.

If, however, the Offertory Chant is not sung, the Priest may speak these words aloud; at the end, the people may acclaim:

Blessed be God for ever.

After this, the Priest, bowing profoundly, says quietly:

With humble spirit and contrite heart may we be accepted by you, O Lord, and may our sacrifice in your sight this day be pleasing to you, Lord God.

If appropriate, he also incenses the offerings, the cross, and the altar. A deacon or other minister then incenses the Priest and the people.

Then the Priest, standing at the side of the altar, washes his hands, saying quietly:

Wash me, O Lord, from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

Standing at the middle of the altar, facing the people, extending and then joining his hands, he says:

Pray, brethren (brothers and sisters), that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.

The people rise and reply:

May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.

Then the Priest, with hands extended, says the Prayer over the Offerings, at the end of which the people acclaim:


The Eucharistic Prayer

Then the Priest begins the Eucharistic Prayer.

Extending his hands, he says:

The Lord be with you.

The people reply:

And with your spirit.

The Priest, raising his hands, continues:

Lift up your hearts.

The people:

We lift them up to the Lord.

The Priest, with hands extended, adds:

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

The people:

It is right and just.

The Priest, with hands extended, continues the Preface. At the end of the Preface he joins his hands and concludes the Preface with the people, singing or saying aloud:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

The Priest, with hands extended, says:

To you, therefore, most merciful Father, we make humble prayer and petition through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord:

He joins his hands and says

that you accept

He makes the Sign of the Cross once over the bread and chalice together, saying:

and bless these gifts, these offerings, these holy and unblemished sacrifices,

With hands extended, he continues:

which we offer you first of all for your holy catholic Church. Be pleased to grant her peace, to guard, unite and govern her throughout the whole world, together with your servant N.our Pope and N.our Bishop, and all those who, holding to the truth, hand on the catholic and apostolic faith.

Commemoration of the Living.

Remember, Lord, your servants N.and N.

The Priest joins his hands and prays briefly for those for whom he intends to pray.

Then, with hands extended, he continues:

and all gathered here, whose faith and devotion are known to you. For them and all who are dear to them we offer you this sacrifice of praise or they offer it for themselves and all who are dear to them, for the redemption of their souls, in hope of health and well-being, and fulfilling their vows to you, the eternal God, living and true. Within the Action. In communion with those whose memory we venerate, especially the glorious ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ, and blessed Joseph, Spouse of the same Virgin, your blessed Apostles and Martyrs, Peter and Paul, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude: Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damianand all your Saints: through their merits and prayers, grant that in all things we may be defended by your protecting help. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

With hands extended, the Priest continues:

Therefore, Lord, we pray: graciously accept this oblation of our service, that of your whole family; order our days in your peace, and command that we be delivered from eternal damnation and counted among the flock of those you have chosen.

He joins his hands.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Holding his hands extended over the offerings, he says:

Be pleased, O God, we pray, to bless, acknowledge, and approve this offering in every respect; make it spiritual and acceptable, so that it may become for us the Body and Blood of your most beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

He joins his hands.

In the formulas that follow, the words of the Lord should be pronounced clearly and distinctly, as the nature of these words requires.

On the day before he was to suffer

The Priest takes the bread and, holding it slightly raised above the altar, continues:

he took bread in his holy and venerable hands,

He raises his eyes.

and with eyes raised to heaven to you, O God, his almighty Father, giving you thanks he said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying:

He bows slightly.


He shows the consecrated host to the people, places it again on the paten, and genuflects in adoration.

After this, the Priest continues:

In a similar way, when supper was ended,

He takes the chalice and, holding it slightly raised above the altar, continues:

he took this precious chalice in his holy and venerable hands, and once more giving you thanks, he said the blessing and gave the chalice to his disciples, saying:

He bows slightly


The Priest shows the chalice to the people, places it on the corporal, and genuflects in adoration.

Then the Priest says:

The mystery of faith.

And the people continue, acclaiming:

We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.


When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again.


Save us, Savior of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free.

Then the Priest, with hands extended, says:

Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation. Be pleased to look upon them with serene and kindly countenance, and to accept them, as you were pleased to accept the gifts of your servant Abel the just, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the offering of your high priest Melchizedek, a holy sacrifice, a spotless victim.

Bowing, with hands joined, he continues:

In humble prayer we ask you, almighty God: command that these gifts be borne by the hands of your holy Angel to your altar on high in the sight of your divine majesty, so that all of us who through this participation at the altar receive the most holy Body and Blood of your Son

He stands upright again and signs himself with the Sign of the Cross, saying:

may be filled with every grace and heavenly blessing.

He joins his hands.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Commemoration of the Dead

With hands extended, the Priest says:

Remember also, Lord, your servants N.and N., who have gone before us with the sign of faith and rest in the sleep of peace.

He joins his hands and prays briefly for those who have died and for whom he intends to pray.

Then, with hands extended, he continues:

Grant them, O Lord, we pray, and all who sleep in Christ, a place of refreshment, light and peace.

He joins his hands.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

He strikes his breast with his right hand, saying:

To us, also, your sinful servants,

And, with hands extended, he continues:

who hope in your abundant mercies, graciously grant some share and fellowship with your holy Apostles and Martyrs: with John the Baptist, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia and all your Saints: admit us, we beg you, into their company, not weighing our merits, but granting us your pardon,

He joins his hands.

through Christ our Lord.

And he continues:

Through whom you continue to create all these good things, O Lord; you make them holy, fill them with life, bless them, and bestow them upon us.

He takes the chalice and the paten with the host and, elevating both, he says:

Through him, and with him, and in him, to you, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, is all honor and glory, for ever and ever.

The people acclaim:


After the chalice and paten have been set down, the Priest, with hands joined, says:

At the Savior’s command and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say:

He extends his hands and, together with the people, continues:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

With hands extended, the Priest alone continues, saying:

Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil,
graciously grant peace in our days,
that, by the help of your mercy,
we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress,
as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

He joins his hands.

The people conclude the prayer, acclaiming:

For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and for ever.

Then the Priest, with hands extended, says aloud:

Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles, Peace I leave you, my peace I give you, look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and graciously grant her peace and unity in accordance with your will.

He joins his hands.

Who live and reign for ever and ever.

The people reply:


The Priest, turned towards the people, extending and then joining his hands, adds:

The peace of the Lord be with you always.

The people reply:

And with your spirit.

Then, if appropriate, the deacon, or the Priest, adds:

Let us offer each other the sign of peace.

And all offer one another a sign, in keeping with local customs, that expresses peace, communion, and charity. The Priest gives the sign of peace to a deacon or minister.

Then he takes the host, breaks it over the paten, and places a small piece in the chalice, saying quietly:

May this mingling of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to us who receive it.

Meanwhile the following is sung or said:

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

The invocation may even be repeated several times if the fraction is prolonged. Only the final time, however, is grant us peace said.

Then the Priest, with hands joined, says quietly:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who by the will of the Father and the work of the Holy Spirit, through your death gave life to the world; free me by this your most holy Body and Blood from all my sins and from every evil; keep me always faithful to your commandments, and never let me be parted from you.


May the receiving of your Body and Blood, Lord Jesus Christ, not bring me to judgment and condemnation, but through your loving mercy be for me protection in mind and body, and a healing remedy.

The Priest genuflects, takes the host and, holding it slightly raised above the paten or above the chalice, while facing the people, says aloud:

Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.

And together with the people he adds once:

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

The Priest, facing the altar, says quietly:

May the Body of Christ keep me safe for eternal life.

And he reverently consumes the Body of Christ. Then he takes the chalice and says quietly:

May the Blood of Christ keep me safe for eternal life.

And he reverently consumes the Blood of Christ.

After this, he takes the paten or ciborium and approaches the communicants. The Priest raises a host slightly and shows it to each of the communicants, saying:

The Body of Christ.

The communicant replies:


And receives Holy Communion.

If a deacon also distributes Holy Communion, he does so in the same manner.

If any are present who are to receive Holy Communion under both kinds, the rite as described in the proper place is to be followed.

While the Priest is receiving the Body of Christ, the Communion Chant begins.

When the distribution of Communion is over, the Priest or a deacon or an acolyte purifies the paten over the chalice and also the chalice itself. While he carries out the purification, the Priest says quietly:



What has passed our lips as food, O Lord, may we possess in purity of heart, that what has been given to us in time may be our healing for eternity.

Then the Priest may return to the chair. If appropriate, a sacred silence may be observed for a while, or a psalm or other canticle of praise or a hymn may be sung.

Then, standing at the altar or at the chair and facing the people, with hands joined, the Priest says:

Let us pray.

All pray in silence with the Priest for a while, unless silence has just been observed.

Then the Priest, with hands extended, says the Prayer after Communion, at the end of which the people acclaim:


The Concluding Rites

If they are necessary, any brief announcements to the people follow here.

Then the dismissal takes place. The Priest, facing the people and extending his hands, says:

The Lord be with you.

The people reply:

And with your spirit.

The Priest blesses the people, saying:

May almighty God bless you: the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The people reply:


Then the deacon, or the Priest himself, with hands joined and facing the people, says:

Go forth, the Mass is ended.


Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.


Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.


Go in peace.

The people reply:

Thanks be to God.

Then the Priest venerates the altar as usual with a kiss, as at the beginning. After making a profound bow with the ministers, he withdraws.