Wednesday, January 05, 2011

'Personal preferences'?

Update: see this fascinating exchange on the 'Leadkindlylight' comms box:

Trisagion said...
Father, you wrote:'It seems when someone will go to only the so called “Old” form of Mass then it is a case of a bit about preference and personal taste.'

It might just as well have read: 'It seems when a priest will celebrate only the so called “New” form of Mass then it is a case of a bit about preference and personal taste.' Since the Holy Father's Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, what is sauce for the EF goose is sauce for the OF gander. My experience has been and continues to be that there is a far higher proportion of priests who are prepared to impose their 'preference and personal taste' by refusing to say or countenance Mass in the Extraordinary Form, than lay faithful who exercise their 'preference and personal taste'. Refusal, on principle, to attend or celebrate either of the two forms of the Mass in the Latin Rite is disgraceful but it is very much a two-way street.

It might be worth reflecting the interaction between 'preference and personal taste', on the one hand, and grace on the other. Out of 'preference and personal taste', when I have a choice, I avoid the Masses in my parish where a certain musical style is adopted. When I am compelled to attend those Masses, the poor quality of the music and its performance, taken with the banalities and errors in the lyrics does not predispose me to a fruitful encounter with the grace God offers me. So the grace is the same but the fruitfulness of it in me is not. That is not simply a matter of 'preference and personal taste'.
6 January 2011 12:45

PatHound said...
The Mass is the same in either form.

The Holy Father does not say that a priest "Must" say Mass in the EF form he opens the possibility for those who wish to do so. It rather destroys the point you make as you do not appreciate what the Holy Father has actually said!

One Form of Mass is not "better" than the other form. (if you think it is then surely that is taste and personal preference!)

The Mass when celebrated with reverence and following the norms laid down is the source of grace. The fact that you are annoyed by the music does not make the Mass invalid or the grace null and void!

There is so much liturgical snobbery in the church!
6 January 2011 13:29

Trisagion said...

In your haste to judge me adversely you appear to have misread what I have written. I am very well aware of what Summorum Pontificum says: that is why I used the expression 'or countenance' in my previous post. I have sat in numerous clergy meetings over the last three years where the question of how to 'willingly accept...requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962' [SP art.5], has been brought up. The response has almost always been a doctrinaire refusal to countenance that such requests are in any way legitimate. It is to that attitude which I referred. I am aware that my experience is far from unique - even in your own diocese.

Neither did I say - nor even hint - that my annoyance with the music makes any Mass invalid or the grace null and void. What I was asking you to reflect upon (with charity) was that 'preference and personal taste' can make a substantial difference to the fruitfulness of grace in an individual - at least that is what St Augustine would seem to teach. So the matter of 'preference and personal taste' (allowing, of course, for the effect of sin on the appetites) can be a perfectly legitimate criterion upon which to base a decision about whether to go to this Mass or that, if one is free to make such a choice. You will recall that I also noted that rejecting one or other form of the Mass 'on principle' is disgraceful.

As for 'liturgical snobbery': I'd suggest to you that the real problem is anti-liturgical snobbery, combined with a refusal to accord to others the presumption of good faith.

I am sure that you celebrate the Mass with reverence, recollection and dignity. You are also, doubtless, aware that your practice is neither universal nor infrequently departed from. Since Christmas I have attended Mass in six dioceses - including your own diocese. In no fewer than seven of the Masses, in all bar one of the dioceses, the faithful have had to put up with priests changing the words of the Mass - including two egregious examples where both the Opening Prayer and the Preface were altered. Canon 846.1 would seem to suggest that this practice, which I can assure you is widespread, is wrong. That didn't make those Masses 'invalid or the grace null and void' but it did make them scandalous. Would manifesting my concerns - in accordance with the rights, duties and obligations outlined in canon 212 be 'preference and personal taste', 'liturgical snobbery' or what?

6 January 2011 14:35
PatHound said...
I have not judged you...

I doubt that anything I say would be acceptable to you!

All I can say in response to your comment is God Bless
6 January 2011 15:04
Post a Comment


"It seems when someone will go to only the so called “Old” form of Mass then it is a case of a bit about preference and personal taste."

I am indebted to Jackie Parkes for drawing this criticism of traditionalists to my attention. It was made by a priest called Fr Patrick Brennan.

First off, this does not seem a very charitable interpretation of the motives of people who prefer the traditional Mass. Of course it is a very common one. But why is Fr Brennan so eager to criticise a phenomenon, of Traditionalism, he doesn't appear to understand?

If he were to pick up any one of dozens of books and pamphlets produced over the last 40 years by traditionalists he could have laid this particular fear to rest: it is not a matter of personal preference but objective theological arguments. He may not agree with the arguments, but that's not the same as saying that there aren't any arguments.

I think the lesson here is that we should all assume that our fellow Catholics are acting in good faith - even when (horror!) they have the impertinence to disagree with us.

Can we have debate and disagreement in the Church about the Mass? Even about whether some liturgical forms, prayers, and ceremonies, are better than others, theologically or pastorally? Yes we can. The Holy Father himself has contributed some of the most important books in this debate.

By all means, Fr Brennan, you can ignore the debate. But please don't impugn the sincerity of people who do not.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


  1. Sirian10:36 am

    <span>It seems when someone will go to only the so called “Old” form of Mass then it is a case of a bit about preference and personal taste.
    What a fatuous quip to make! This priest surely cannot be versed in what actually happened at the council, if he makes such a statement?</span>

  2. Pathound2:58 pm

    Pity you did  not read what I actually said but picked up on a comment made by someone else! Oh well

  3. Joseph Shaw3:45 pm

    <span>If you read the whole of my post, Father, you would realise that I did read what you actually said, and responded to it.
    Perhaps you need to think a little more before making negative judgements about others. Isn't that what this whole debate turns on?

  4. Joseph Shaw9:08 pm

    The point about 'equal grace' wouldn't have provoked any comment - certainly not from me. If you read my post (the title is a good hint) you'll see I am picking up something else: your phrase 'personal taste and preference'. If, as you acknowledge, there is a serious debate going on, then even if you do not want to engage with it yourself you must see that people can have more than just their personal taste and preference to go on in going to one form of the Mass or another.
    Despite this you insist that they are not acting rationally, but out of 'personal taste and preference'. Now, that is not very charitable, is it? Don't you think we should assume our fellow Catholics are acting in good faith, even if we disagree with them? Wouldn't that be nice, Fr?

  5. Jackie Parkes9:21 pm

    I've heard people who only go to EF Masses say to me it's their "personal preference".
    My sons serve some EF High Masses & the Latin High every Sunday. I agree with Fr Patrick Brennan's thoughts on each Mass being the "same" Mass, since it's the same Sacrifice of the Mass. We do have a "personal preference" for the High OF but it's no better than for example the English Family Mass following. I think this is where we are coming from. It's a shame airing these thoughts causes such divisions when we should be aiming to be one united Catholic Church. I suppose with me being born in 1962 & always having a Latin Mass available if it was my "preference" rather meant we didn't have a problem. We often went weekly to a Latin Mass in the 70s & 80s as cradle Catholics of Irish descent. As you know I have a problem with the word "Traditional" since I believe Catholicism is by it's very nature Traditional in whichever form the Mass is celebrated. We don't need to distinguish ourselves into sub-groups..liberal, traditional, orthodox, modernist..I think it fragments the Catholic Church by doing so. But then it's a free country..i think & I spose people can call themselves what they like..I'm simply Catholic of the Roman kind. God bless.

  6. Fr Patrick Brennan9:49 pm

    Just One Question Mr Shaw. Do you think if a priest celebrates Mass in the Ordinary Form he is displeasing God?

  7. Joseph Shaw9:55 pm

    That will depend on how he is celebrating it I should imagine! And I assume you agree.
    I hope you are not trying to paint me as some kind of extremist. Let's not manufacture divisions - the genuine ones are enough to be getting on with.

  8. Fr Patrick Brennan10:04 pm

    <span>Not at all Mr Shaw, I am not painting you! Just interested in your opinion. If a priest celebrates the OF according to the Norms laid down is he displeasing God?</span>

  9. Joseph Shaw10:19 pm

    I thought I had answered your question. As you will agree being pleasing to God is a matter not only of outward actions but interior disposition. But - I suppose this is your point - the fact that he is saying the OF Mass certainly doesn't mean he is automatically displeasing to God.
    I think the question is absurd and your persistence in asking very strange. Do you fancy yourself as some kind of Grand Inquisitor?
    Shall I ask you a few searching questions? Do you accept the Athanasian Creed and the Oath Against Modernism? This could be fun but it is not my place. Or yours.

  10. Fr Patrick Brennan10:39 pm

    Well I was born in1967 when the oath was rescinded by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. But as you say enough of this silly banter.

    God bless and hope all goes well for the evenst of the LMS this year.