Saturday, 20 August 2011

Diabolical dialogue!

There is an interesting series of posts, starting with Rorate Caeli and continuing on the LMS Chairman's Blog, on the subject of audience participation participation of the faithful at low Mass.

I guess that what really focuses our minds is the dreaded dialogue Mass where the congregation mumble latin responses woodenly and in the style of a primary school class.

I remember its introduction well (although not the year). I was still a regular altar server and was thrown into a state of utter confusion by the babble coming from the rear. It's rather like what happens at a large Corpus Christi procession, the front half is singing verse 6 of Ave Maria while the rear end is still on verse 2 - mayhem!

The Tower of Babel - at a Dialogue Mass
near you!

Joseph Shaw posts about the impossibility of the faithful reciting the 'Suscipiat Dominus' prayer before the Preface and that is the case except that, this is the one prayer in a dialogue Mass that the congregation tend to leave well alone. Why?

Ah......even some (or quite a few actually) EF altar servers get this part wrong and give the response as soon as the priest has completed the 'Orate fratres' prayer.
What should happen is that the priest slowly returns to face the altar still reciting the prayer; the server gives him a count of 10 to finish and then comes in with the 'Suscipiat'.
Now congregations in a dialogue Mass always appear flummoxed at this point and, apart from the server, all are silent - good, it should be that way all through the Mass.

The dialogue concept is an aberration and one that should not, under any circumstances be revived. It distracts, it prevents the server from picking up on important signals, it sounds painful and drawn out and it prevents decent and reverent participation in the form of prayer and meditation.
Sadly, according to Rorate Caeli, it is legal and all set to be encouraged.
Is nothing sacred?


  1. The Mass you describe, is not for the unlearned, not for the less able mentally, not for the very young, not for the confused, not for the hard of hearing, not for the doddering, sometimes signally amiss old. Who, is worthy to attend such a Mass? An elite few, I fear.

    I am in deep discussions with Our Lady about all this less than preferred, more like insisted upon, perfection of form, Richard.

    It's not like AA, which works by attraction. This fills me with dread and looking at the faces of it's enthusiasts, unless one was determined, would one keep looking?

    Anyway, just to prove I am not anti, check out my latest blog post and link. Your gentler side is welcome at the linked to blog. Your thoughtful considerations would be most welcomed there, I am sure. Although, older vat 2 types are also welcomed, so bear that in heart. ;)

  2. 'signally amiss' Should read 'singularly signally' ( I mean those apt to miss cues).

  3. Ros - do you mean the EF Mass or the EF Dialogue Mass. If the former I would have to disagree. In the Middle Ages, the poor, the lame and the unwashed all participated fully in the Latin Mass by means of, firstly just by being there and secondly, by praying themselves. A learned Oxford Don wrote an article some time ago stating that latin was understood by English (and Welsh) peasants but, leaving that side, you do not need any form of intellect to benefit from the TLM as I have personally proved!

  4. I agree with Shadowlands. I celebrate the EF Mass and love it. I was trained by a priest who has celebrated it - with permission - since he was ordained, and, with the grace of God was granted the joy of being PP where there is an old chapel in the grounds of a stately house, where the family retained the EF Mass. He advised me to encourage participation, and I have. I do not find the "gabbling" distracting at all - these are God's children. It is true that when they cough or sneeze or bang the benches moving about I am distracted, but not by their prayers. What is going on here? I saw the post on the LMS blog and found it distressing. I am happy to celebrate Mass for people who want to be silent, but why is this kind of language now being used about those who struggle with the prayers? Is God offended by them? As a matter of interest a little booklet recently fell out of an old 1962 missal - the "Dialogue Mass" approved and printed in 1960. I remember it coming in. I was 10 when the dialogue Mass began (1958?)and I remember being taught how to say the Pater and a few other things. We always struggled with the "Suscipiat" even when I was older at Grammar School, but it did not disturb our concentration. It helps if the priest says the whole prayer aloud - which he may do. Each to his own, as they say, but please do not fall into the trap of now trying to erect an exclusive celebration of what belongs to everyone.

  5. "In the Middle Ages, the poor, the lame and the unwashed all participated fully in the Latin Mass"

    Perhaps I could be directed to a twenty first century pew containing today's poor, be they materially or intellectually so, I have no 'preference' (that's the third pun in as many hours, I'm on good 'form' today!(Oh no, another one!))!! God bless ;)

  6. The thing is that very few people nowadays can abide silence (or stillness). They just gotta keep talking.
    Ah, blessed silence.

  7. Distractions everywhere. Stops people from ever having to do an examination of conscience!

    Until the Lord sends them spiritual insomnia! Better to go through life awake and reflecting in this world, than spend eternity with a head full of silent remorseless remorse. (Not all remorse is remorseless, only the unacknowledged and unrepented and unpenanced type).

  8. "The dialogue concept is an aberration"

    Perhaps you could explain why you think this to be so?

  9. Thank you all; Patricius, Fr John and Shadowlands, please excuse a collective response.

    This may be a bit of a ramble...the EF Mass is not exclusive in my book, it is open to one and all whether they speak latin or not (I don't as it happens but I can read it).
    The 'dialogue' EF Mass I find very distracting as the congregation gabble it and it invariably gets out of sync from response number one.
    Fr John, I understand your concept of having free access to the liturgy to all of God's children but that is not a licence to turn something quiet, meditative and beautiful into a shambles. I believe that God would not be offended by the 'gabble' if that was the best that could be provided but, there is no doubt (I believe) that He would prefer a more measured and respectful approach.
    I now bring in the old chestnut that is so often presented as being a terrible thing from the past - that (fallacious) opinion that the priest often 'gabbled' the latin.
    It would be quite wrong for the celebrant to do this just as it is wrong for the congregation to do so.
    Finally, I leave you with part of a famous psalm (46:10)
    "Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen,I will be exalted in the earth"
    That is why I believe the dialogue part of a Mass is an aberration.