About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
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The effectiveness of liturgy does not lie in experimenting with rites and altering them over and over, nor in a continuous reductionism, but solely in entering more deeply into the word of God and the mystery being celebrated. It is the presence of these two that authenticates the Church's rites, not what some priest decides, indulging his own preferences.
— Liturgicae Instaurationes (1970)

The Ordinary Form’s Incredible Freedom
published 29 August 2015 by Jeff Ostrowski

354 Pope Paul VI ANY AUTHORS HAVE COMMENTED on a paradox of the post-conciliar reforms which—sooner or later—will have to be addressed. On the one hand, the reformers said they wanted to return to an ancient “pristine” liturgical tradition. But on the other, they tried to make the liturgy more acceptable to a creature they called “modern man.”

Yet another paradox exists, which has not received that much commentary. On one hand, the reformers claimed that modern priests were so busy they required (for example) a much shorter version of the Divine Office. On the other hand, they provided priests with an unthinkable amount of choices when it comes to (for example) readings at daily Masses, naïvely thinking priests would spend hours each week choosing them. Ten years later—having conceded that no priests were actually doing this—they went back and provided a “cheat sheet” (explained here).

Did you know that the Ordinary Form rubrics allow musicians to choose anything they like? Consider, for example, what the 1974 Graduale says:

    * *  PDF Download • The choices of the Ordinary Form

Those are just a few of the possibilities, and that’s why the JOGUES MISSAL shows only the most traditional chants:

    * *  PDF Download • Sample Page from the Jogues Missal

The whole idea was to make it easy on the congregation.

IF I MAKE IT TO HEAVEN, I would like to ask Pope Paul VI why he was in such a hurry to promulgate the Ordinary Form. (If you doubt he was in a hurry, read the quote on Page iii.) I believe that someday the Ordinary Form will be reformed and some problematic elements—such as the numerous options described above—will be eliminated. However, I believe the Ordinary Form can only be reformed if the Church leaders reach consensus, like when the bishops voted to adopt the 2011 Missal translation by an overwhelming majority. 1

Speaking of options, Pope Benedict in 2007 promulgated Summorum Pontificum, which said that any priest desiring to do so can celebrate the 1962 Missal. The same folks who always pushed for as many liturgical options as possible—I’m speaking here of the ones who hate the Traditional Latin Mass—could say nothing in the face of the document, because it was presented as an option. It reminds me of a famous quote by Professor László Dobszay:

If the right is given to African tribes to include their pagan traditions in the liturgy, I think the same should also be given to the rite of a thousand year-old Christian Church, based on a much older Roman tradition.


1   I have yet to come across a bishop who argues in favor of the previous version. By the way, a common argument made after the Council said “one must accept the reforms in their entirety or reject them in their entirey; but don’t quibble about individual changes.” Sensible people have rejected this argument, because how can a thing be judged except by the thing itself? Their argument would be as bogus as saying, “You must either accept Janet’s behavior entirely or reject it entirely; but don’t start questioning individual incidents where she did this or that.”