HERE WAS ONCE a priest who shrieked at me that the sine qua non of the Catholic Mass must be participation. He said the congregation must participate in absolutely everything. I was very young—and rather audacious and imprudent—so I immediately asked whether he would be printing out his homily, so the congregation could recite it along with him. The priest replied: “No, Jeff, the people participate in the sermon by listening to it.” Then he got really angry (because it dawned on him what he’d just admitted).
Did It Really? • Some claim the post-conciliar Mass gave “participation” back to the congregation. But did it really? For example, let’s assume 600 people are in the congregation. We are told that having a lay person—not the priest—proclaim the reading means the congregation is participating. Yet, just one person reads while the other 599 people sit and listen. Do you see my point? Instead of saying Vatican II gave participation “back to the people,” they should really say that Vatican II gave participation to one 600th of the people!
Amy Welborn • A former student [E.K.] kindly alerted me to a remarkable video posted by Amy Welborn, showing a priest facing ad orientem during a “Folk Mass” (1968):
Nobody Singing • I don’t see any members of the congregation singing in that video. Indeed, I could easily give you a whole list of post-conciliar parishes where absolutely nobody sings. In one parish, the “progressive” music director has been there since before I was born—so it’s not as if the people haven’t had an opportunity to learn the music! (Indeed, this particular director hasn’t changed the music in 30+ years.) My entire career is based upon one idea: Catholics don’t sing goofy music, but they will sing dignified music. If I had time, I would tell the story of my struggle to introduce traditional music into an Ordinary Form parish. It took some ‘fighting’—but after a while the people embraced it, and I have never heard such congregational singing.
Banish The Nonsense! • Currently, the best collection of congregational songs (for both forms of the Roman Rite) is found in the Brébeuf Catholic Hymnal. One of the main authors for the Church Music Association of America Blog declared (6/10/2022) that the Brébeuf Hymnal “has no parallel and not even any close competitor.” Check out the newest tool:
Search for terms like “Epiphany” or “Advent.” The tool was built by Mr. James Doherty, and is currently in development.
Video Description: In the Convent of Our Lady of Sion, Bellinter House, County Meath, Mass is being celebrated in a different way. Mass is held in a convent lecture hall and the ceremony sees guitars, tin whistle and mandolin replace the church organ and hymns in Latin. The Mass has been organised by Worship ’68, an organisation for Catholic lay people and priests. Popular folk band The Weavers perform ‘Shout from the Highest Mountain’. The chief celebrant is Reverend Roman O’Flanagan, OFM (Order of Friars Minor). The Second Vatican Council (1962 – 1965) brought wide-ranging reforms to the Catholic Church. One new aspect was the use of contemporary Catholic liturgical music at Mass (???), which was now celebrated in the vernacular, instead of in Latin. The aim behind this was to facilitate active participation of the entire congregation in the Mass, in music and song. Styles varied around the world, but a folk-based genre became popular in Ireland and other English speaking countries. These became known as ‘Folk Masses’ or ‘Mass with Folk music’. A Palladian style Georgian house, Bellinter House was designed by Richard Castle and constructed circa 1750. Home to the Preston family for almost two hundred years, the house and estate was bought by an English farmer, William Holdsworth in 1854. In 1966 it was acquired by the Land Commission. The Sisters of Sion, a French religious order, were based in Bellinter House from 1966. As well as a convent, they restored the house and developed it as an adult education, conference and retreat centre. In 2003 it was sold and opened as a hotel. ‘Seven Days’ began broadcasting on 26 September 1966 and was RTÉ television’s flagship current affairs programme for ten years. The programme’s young production team was made up of producer Lelia Doolan, directors Eoghan Harris and Dick Hill, and reporters John O’Donoghue, Brian Cleeve and Brian Farrell. Muiris Mac Conghail became producer of ‘Seven Days’ in 1967 when the programme was merged with another current affairs programme, ‘Division’. This episode of ‘Seven Days’ was broadcast on 6 December 1968. The reporter is John O’Donoghue.