Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Could I have a moment, please????

The one thing that the Latin Mass was really good at was prayer.  It was a prayerful setting and it encouraged people to pray through the Mass as priest and choir were occupied with most of the work and the words.  But that was also its weakness.  About the only thing people did was pray (if they were attentive to it).  Otherwise, the people in the Latin Mass were almost irrelevant to what was going on.  Indeed, it was much like a private mass with an audience.  Okay, some will say I am being too hard on it all but I think there is some truth to my words -- more truth that some folks are willing to admit.

That said, the weakness of the Novus Ordo and most of the liturgical reforms that have followed its lead (including Lutheran) is that it is hard to find time to pray in the Divine Service.  Indeed, in the typical parish you have light conversation, laughter, and even boisterous words right up until the bell is rung or the organ begins intoning the first hymn.  I have been in some congregations where the organist seemed to pile on stops in an effort to drown out the talk and take over the lead, pointing people to the fact that now was the time to sing.  And that is one of the problems.  The people do too much.  The folks in the pews are always doing something -- speaking, singing, listening, pulling money from their wallets, walking around, picking up hymnals and putting them down, etc...  We are too busy and their are scant moments available for us to pray without someone thrusting a hand out for us to shake, whispering into our ears, nodding to us because we forgot to pass the plate, as well as all the liturgical things we can and should be doing.

I lament the loss of silence.  I lament the quick pace to things -- the presumption that if there is a moment of silence, it is a mistake by someone and a distraction from the methodical and quick pace of things from Invocation to Benediction.  We have no time for anything -- least of all a pause now and then to bow our heads and actually pray or meditate.  I have struggled to try and slow us down and provide some quiet moments but the truth is that we have all become uncomfortable with silence.  We click through the liturgy like we do the remotes as we survey the channel offerings on our TVs.  If we did get 30 seconds or so of undirected time in the Divine Service, it would seem like the worst of all punishments and the longest of breaks.

Now to be sure, I am not so sure that this is all due to the liturgical innovations of the 1970s.  We were certainly moving in that direction in many ways -- not just in church.  For Lutherans, some congregations and some pastors kept the pace of the '41 Hymnal going just as fast as the newer ones. It is not simply a problem with liturgical leadership.  It is a problem with us.  I well recall at a church meeting once in which we were given 5 minutes of silence to pray.  Within 30-45 seconds, most of us had already said all we wanted to say to God and found the remaining time an almost unbearable burden.  Prayer is not natural to our sinful hearts.  We learn it and we learn it best by slowing the pace of things and giving us moments of respite from our constant agenda of words, songs, actions, and listening.  I only wish we would learn to find more time for silence, more room for personal prayers and meditation in response to the means of grace in words for our ears, water to make us clean, and Christ's body and blood to feed us everlasting life.  For there is much to ponder. . . if only we had the time. . . and the will. . .


Daniel G. said...

Pastor Peters,

I grew up with the post Vatican 2 mass. When I attend Mass these days, it will almost exclusively be the Traditional Mass or the Anglican Use.

Your criticisms of the Latin Mass are to be expected. There are many, many Catholics who agree with you. However, and as you noted, prayer is the focus. Internal recollection. Worship of God is what matters. I really don't care if Mass is prayed in Latin or English but the focus should and always be worship of God and internal recollection with priest and congregation facing the same direction; that is, liturgical east. I rather like the distinction in the Latin Mass and the Anglican Use of the priest as advocate and the parishoners praying along with the priest in our worship of God. That is lost in the Novus Ordo.

No, when I bring my mom (I am a proud mamma's boy) to church at the parish I grew up in, I am treated to listening to all the elderly talk about their myriad health problems, greeting each other, talking about politics or what they did during the week. They don't even genuflect to the tabernacle if it is even placed in the center (which it should be)of the sanctuary. For us Catholics who believe that Christ is in the tabernacle (I'm not trying to start a theological debate) it is a mystery to me why they wouldn't want to sit and converse with the One who won our redemption on the Cross. So the focus is not on Eucharistic (thanksgiving)worship of God but on we as church, bleh!

I pray that we return to traditional worship of God rather than having tons of options, bad music, and bad preaching.

Daniel G. said...

And just another thing, the criticism that the Latin Mass is more like a private Mass with an audience is a bit off. As the priest is the advocate for the congregation at Mass, his duty is just that, to advocate and pray for us to God. We as a congregation, and as you note, immerse ourselves in the silence with our own prayers and unite them to those of the priest/advocate. That is the function of the priest and the disposition of the congregation.

But I get how that appears to people on the outside.

Daniel G. said...

I just thought I’d post this. I pray this doesn't happen to all faithful Chridtians. Another reason why liturgy should be God centered. Lex orendi lex credendi

Cliff said...

Another thing Catholics do better than Lutherans is the reading of the lessons for the day. Catholics read them reverently and slowly allowing the words to penetrate your inner being, while Lutherans read them as if it is a race and rush through the readings as quickly as possible.
This always annoys me as it shows a disrespect for God's holy Word.

There ie more than a little fixing to be done in our church.

Daniel G. said...


Some not all. It would be better if the priest or deacon would do the readings rather than appointed lay lectors. I think LCMS has only ordained clergy read the lessons?

At the parish I attended as a child, there are lectors who can bearly enunciate or read clearly. It is especially annoying for people who are hearing impaired such as my mom. It is more appropriate for the ordained during Mass to read and make sure that they are heard.

Anonymous said...

One of my "pet peeves" is that organists feel a need to provide a constant "soundtrack" through the whole service. Quiet is ok.

Daniel G. said...

Yup agreed and that while in line to receive and after reception of communion, you sing a hymn. Aftet I receive, the only thing I want to do is to take the time to thank Christ and to pray and recollect.

Cliff said...

Daniel, your point is well taken that lay readers have a difficult time enunciating some words, but having pastors read the lessons does not rectify the situation. Many or most pastors I've heard also jump into their race car and away they go. This is common in both LCMS and LCC.

Another point to take into account is training. The RCC offers training on how to read scripture properly. Sadly, many Catholic lay readers do a far better job than some of our Lutheran pastors.

Daniel G. said...


Agreed that having only ordained minsters proclaim the good news is not a "complete" fix but what I've also found is that many of the lay lectors (and some priests and deacons) have injected their own personality into the readings so much that sometimes they are either overly dramatic or painfully dull. The scriptures sung are very beautiful be they sung in Latin or English. If only that would happen in my childhood parish.

Jim Wagner said...

Not all Lutherans are in a hurry. In the congregation I served for nearly thirty years, we were very deliberate in our liturgical movement. There were pauses and silences - not long, but certainly deliberate and recognizable. After visiting other congregations our people often commented on the “rush” through the liturgy. Prayerful liturgy is not difficult; all it requires is a prayerful celebrant.

Anonymous said...

Cliff, I've been in hundreds of LCMS congregations over the years and I've never heard a pastor read the lessons in a rush. I have no idea what you are talking about (and I don't think you do either).

Daniel G. said...


In Cliff’s defense, how do you know? Have you been to every LCMS or LCC in North America to justify your inflammatory response?

It’s a big world out there for you make a blanket statement like you did. And further, Cliff didn’t say all LCMS pastors.

Cliff said...

Anonymous said, September 26 @ 6:24

Now was your comment really necessary? You are being over defensive and I am disappointed that a fellow Lutheran would use such strong language, as it is disingenuous of you to make that comment.

If you only knew my situation and that I am well qualified to make that observation as I have been in many, many North American Lutheran and Catholic churches. I will not mention my involvement at all levels of the Lutheran church, but..........

I should not even be replying to someone who hides behind anonymity. Do you have a name?

Peace be with you!

Unknown said...

Prayer during the Mass is a weakness? You've truly gone off the reservation now, Fr. Peters. What an absolute ridiculous statement!


Cliff said...

My previous comment was directed at Anonymous at 6:03 PM

Ted Badje said...

Pastor Peterson, the Collect is part of the service in every hymnal of the LCMS. It is a beautiful summary of the worship topic every Sunday. Wouldn’t there be an opportunity of private prayer after the Collect?

Anonymous said...


"Prayer during the Mass is a weakness? You've truly gone off the reservation now, Fr. Peters. What an absolute ridiculous statement!"

He complained that the people only prayed during the Latin mass and that they pray not enough, no time and no silence, during the modern version but I never heard him say prayer during mass is a weakness.

Anonymous said...

Cliff, your assertion without qualification about Lutherans rushing through the reading of Scripture is simply absurd and wrong. I'll put my experiences in Lutheran congregations up against yours anyday. If you don't like what you say here to be critiqued, then don't post comments as you did making a sweeping generalization.

Daniel G. said...


Statistics please since you seem to be speaking for the entire Lutheran population of North America. Perhaps you are the one that is miffed by what he said. Does the truth bother you? And if it does it should move you to do better, no? Besides, he said "many" not all. That doesn't qualify as, to quote you, a "sweeping generalization."

Cliff said...

Anonymous @8:44 A.M.

You are one determined person, you give us Lutherans a bad name. I am saddened by such an attitude among Lutherans. You make Catholics look good at least they have a certain amount of charity.

But your comment has no credibility whatsoever by your hiding behind the dark shadow of anonymity. You are simply a drive by shooter who flees the scene after spewing scorn.

I can pray for you if you at least give me your first name. Have a good day and may the Lord give you peace!

Carl Vehse said...

While "Anonymous" has not provided any references or data on the "hundreds of LCMS congregations" he's been in over the years, neither has "Cliff" on his assertions about "Lutherans" and "Many or most pastors [he's] heard."

"Jim Wagner" on September 26, 2018 at 4:08 PM limited his observation to one (LCMS?) congregation: "Not all Lutherans are in a hurry. In the congregation I served for nearly thirty years, we were very deliberate in our liturgical movement."

And, although Rev. Peters limited his assertion to the unquantified "some", no confirming data was presented when he stated, "For Lutherans, some congregations and some pastors kept the pace of the '41 Hymnal going just as fast as the newer ones."

There are approximately 6,000 congregations in the LCMS and many of the congregations with websites also include video or audio recordings of recent worship services. Using these recordings, a person concerned about excessive liturgical velocity could time the various sections of the liturgy and develop a database of such times. Then the distribution of times, along with the average time for each section could be compared to what the person considered a proper liturgical speed limit.

Until such timed data are available, personal assertions about observed liturgical speeds are just personal assertions.

Anonymous said...

Rick Strickert says:

personal assertions about observed liturgical speeds are just personal assertions.

Really? We have been treated to many of your, ahem, "personal" assertions, opinions, insults, etc. for quite some time now.

You know what they say about people who live in glass houses.....

A Reader

Anonymous said...

"Cliff" attempting to duck the point by whining about anonymity is rather revealing.

Without any qualification, you assert that Lutheran pastors in The LCMS speed through the Bible readings on Sundays.

Are you now going to qualify that assertion? Are you willing to admit you overstated your point, by far?

"I've noticed that some LCMS pastors read the lessons to quickly."

OK, that's appropriate.

Claiming all Lutherans do and all Catholics don't as you have, is just silly.

YOU are "giving Lutherans a bad name" with your false accusations.

Daniel G. said...

Cliff, as always, when some truth is stated such ad yours, people go into a tizzy because it hurts. We Catholics have to suck it up and deal with our own messes in light of the Truth and, well, in both right and left peopke are up in arms.

Carl Vehse said...

Anonymous on September 27, 2018 at 10:41 AM, with what part of my post about claims and data on liturgical speed did you disagree, and why?

Cliff said...

Daniel G.

Thanks for your kind comments and understanding. I apologize for "some" of our Lutheran commentators as they are not representative of the Lutheran faith. We too have Lutherans all over the map, some are nice and polite while others (no comment) cause us to definitely go to confession every week.

I think my point has been proven as our Lutheran liturgy was gone over rather too quickly and didn't penetrate their inner being? Just a joke ha!

But God loves them all!

Daniel G. said...


Confession?? I didn’t know that Lutherans practiced confession to their pastors. I just learned something new don’t you know.

Anonymous said...

Cliff said: "while Lutherans read them as if it is a race and rush through the readings as quickly as possible."

He is hurt that I called him on it.

Boo-hoo for poor old Cliff.

Daniel G. said...


You hide behind the cover of being “anonymous” and your comments are childlike. Who can take you seriously?

Anonymous said...

"Daniel G." why are you hiding behind the cover of not using your name, but only a first name and last initial? What are you worried about? How can we possibly believe anything you write?

See how ridiculous all that sounds? Yes, even...childlike.

Daniel G. said...

Lol. My name is Daniel. G is the initial of my surname. You are not, my ghostly friend, to be taken seriously.