RDINARY FORM priests often work tirelessly and receive very little support. Consider, first of all, the excessive size of today’s Novus Ordo parishes. A single priest often serves 2,000, 4,000, or even 11,000 families. Other OF priests offer Mass in several locations each weekend. This is quite a contrast to the “good old days” of Roman Catholicism, where Pastor and Curates could live peacefully, seldom leaving the Church, Rectory, School, and Garden. In our times, the priest is besieged by emails, phone calls, meetings, sick calls, and even text messages, asking him difficult moral questions that require an immediate (and correct) answer.
Moreover, many Ordinary Form priests possess little experience with authentic liturgy. When I say “authentic,” I mean stable. After all, the whole point of liturgy is stability and constancy. Pope Benedict XVI reminded us:
The greatness of the liturgy depends—we shall have to repeat this frequently—on its unspontaneity [Unbeliebigkeit].
The postconciliar reforms allow for an unbelievable amount of OPTIONS, referred to as “the tyranny of options” by critics. Many Ordinary Form priests were formed in liturgies changing radically from one day to the next. On top of that, some Traditionalists berate them constantly, convincing them they don’t know anything about liturgy. With so many duties, some Ordinary Form priests are tempted to say, “Forget about liturgy. It’s so confusing, and it changes so much. When I retire, I’ll have time to become an expert, but not now. Besides, very few of my parishioners seem to care about liturgy.” My brother (a seminarian) and his friends have assured me this is rather common.
AT THE SAME TIME, many Ordinary Form priests sense something horrifically wrong with their liturgies—especially the secular, emotional, uninspired, goofy, and sometimes heretical music that accompanies Mass. What can be done? Some might say “education,” but liturgy is an extremely complex subject (that’s why “Gradual” can mean four different things!) and for most is a less-than-stimulating thing to study.
But there’s a fantastic solution! No words. Don’t explain anything. Just get them a copy of the St. Isaac Jogues Illuminated Missal, Lectionary, & Gradual. Opening up the book, they’ll see the readings, formatted in a gorgeous way. They’ll see the Propers, whose typesetting is unmatched. They’ll see the Ordinary of the Mass, containing luscious color images. They’ll see incredible woodcuts, explaining the meaning of our Faith.
This pew book presents a road map to authentic liturgical reform, which could be summarized thusly:
Sing the music of the Church—don’t replace it—and always allow your congregation to follow the Mass.
Finally, a reminder: the Jogues Missal is for the Ordinary Form, and was approved in 2014 for the United States of America by the USCCB.