Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"Say the black do the red" Sounds rather perfunctory, don't you think?

JFK funeral.
The nation was in mourning, 
the Mass was anything but perfunctory.

Fr. Blake posts a nostalgic look back at the Requiem Mass for JFK.

Fr. Blake commented on the Old Rite - or Ordinary Form of the time, the Low Mass - without making the post about Kennedy.  I  find it interesting to read such commentary on the "Mass of the Ages" as some traditionalists often refer to it.  What is depicted in the video Fr. B posted is the way Mass was always celebrated in the churches I attended, although without a bishop.  They celebrated Pontifical Masses in the Cathedrals of course, but I do not remember ever having attended one.   On Sundays and holy days, there was always a High Mass of course - but I almost think Fr. B would have noted that it too was celebrated in a somewhat perfunctory manner, as he noted for the Kennedy Requiem Mass.  I could be wrong - but flourishes and external signs of 'extraordinary piety and devotion' such as saints like Padre Pio exhibited, were severely criticized.  Which is why 'say the black - just do the red' is such a throw back to that perfunctory style of saying Mass.  It's ironic.

That said, I left a comment on Fr. Blake's blog saying:
You wrote: "Of course what we might do with Old Rite today might well be regarded by our forefathers as a bit prissey."
Having been around in those days, as well as having been an altar boy, 'perfunctory' was indeed the 'ordinary form'.  It strikes me as very much in keeping with the adage, 'say the black, do the red'.  More to the point, I think our forefathers would regard what is done with the 'Old Rite' today as overly pious and affected.
I'm not sure if the comment will be published or not, so I reprint it for my post here - just because I like these discussions.

So maybe celebrating ad orientem isn't enough now?

Say the black, do the red - git 'er done.

One ought to appreciate Fr. Blake's commentary for calling attention to the ordinariness of the ordinary form of the time, or the 'Old Rite'.  As well as the idealism glowing around those who idealize the Extraordinary Form of Mass.  It very clearly demonstrates how the Pre-Conciliar Mass may have been in need of reform, since viewing it now, a priest can say it was a perfunctory Rite celebrated in a perfunctory way.  Even the vestments were very simple.  I should also mention that a low Mass was 'quicker' if you will - so much so, daily Mass could be celebrated in 10 minutes, and often was.  (Not everyone went to communion in those days either.)  A common complaint among Protestants at the time was that Catholic funerals were too long.  I'm serious.

Rose Kennedy went to daily Mass all of her life,
this photo shows how many Catholics assisted
at Mass in those days.

Cardinal Cushing - yes, I clearly remember him - wasn't especially charismatic either.  But the Church wasn't about personality nor celebrity in those days.  Indeed, 'trendy priests' were discouraged from singularizing themselves in those days.  Which just might explain why the Cardinal Burke of that day, Archbishop Sheen, was more or less banished from NYC and sent to Rochester, but that's another story.

In the 1950's and 1960's the American Church was very much about being American and normal, baseball loving nuns and USO touring Cardinals and all that.  No longer prickly and decorous like the stern looking Pius XII - except at Mass, of course - but no one noticed at the time because they had nothing else to compare it to.

And then the Civil Rights Movement came along.

Hey sis, we're on kisscam!


  1. I went to a Latin High Mass this past Sunday. This time I tried to 'say the black and do the red" by following along in the missal. I'm still somewhat confused but I do love the Asperges Me. And oddly enough - the Latin Mass makes me appreciate a good NO. Who knew?!

    PS - Terry, my friend brought me a blessed rosary from Fatima with a little bit of the holy ground in the joiner!

    1. The extraordinary Form is lovely as is the Ordinary Form when celebrated according to the rubrics. Those who never experienced the EF could mistake the OF as the 'old rite' when the Ordinary form is celebrated ad orientem and in Latin. Fr. Z's parish in St. Paul, the church of St. Agnes always celebrated the Ordinary Form in that manner.

      I'm glad you have a rosary from Fatima.

  2. I really have to take exception to your comparing Cardinal Burke to Fulton Sheen. Bishop Sheen was a loyal son of the Church, never publicly speaking against his superiors or colleagues for any reason, not even when injustices were committed against him personally. The same cannot be said of Cardinal Burke. Cardinal Burke's love for the ostentious also distinguishes him from the simplicity and humility of Bishop Sheen.

    1. I only meant in the sense that Spellman did all he could to marginalize him. My apologies if it sounds as if I was calling him out as a 'trendy' priest. He was everything you say about him.

    2. Yes, Spellman did try to get rid of Bishop Sheen, and Bishop Sheen's response - or non-response as it was - is a lesson to all of us today. I can't see Bishop Sheen ever supporting people like Dr John Rao, who denounces everything post Vatican II, as both Cardinals Pell and Burke did.

    3. You are absolutely right. I often think of Archbishop Sheen's encounter with JPII - when the Holy Father embraced him and told him he was a "Faithful son of the Church" - dear Archbishop Sheen was so deeply moved.


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