Well my previous blog post (“Why I Didn’t Go to Confession Today”) certainly garnered a great deal of attention and responses from many people. This was not unexpected.  I knew that the post would be provocative.  The title was provocative and anytime one talks about “bad liturgical practices” or says anything at all about the “extraordinary form” [EF] of the Church’s sacraments, the comments are going to come flying in. This is especially true given that I am a bishop.  Most of the comments were thoughtful, courteous, and moved the discussion along.  A few comments were down-right nasty and ad hominem in nature.  Those I chose not to post.  My blog is entitled “Let Us Walk Together.”  Those kinds of comments are divisive.  Besides it’s my blog and I can choose to post what I will.  Yet, there are a number of points that came up quite often so rather than continue to post “comments” to the previous blog, I thought I would respond in a follow-up “addenda.”

[1] Some voiced concern that I attended Mass by sitting in the community and that I should have said a “private Mass” instead, especially as a bishop.  The theological starting point is that a cleric should celebrate in modus clerico and not in modus laico.  Agreed.  No argument here.  That is the way I normally do things, but I ask for a “pass” here.   I should have been a bit more self-disclosive in the post as I did have a scheduled Mass later in the day at which I was the principal celebrant.  When I decided to attend Mass, it was Saturday morning, I was up early, I wanted to go to Confession and I wanted to celebrate the Feast day.  The way some have attacked me for “attending,” perhaps it may have been better if I just didn’t go to Mass that morning if I wasn’t going to concelebrate or celebrate the Mass (in hindsight it was).  I had Mass later in the day.  If I caused scandal, I apologize and it was unintended.

[2] For those who say I should say a “private Mass” in a case like this, I assume you are talking about the “Mass without a Congregation” with a server, found in the Novus Ordo.  I very rarely celebrate Mass in this manner.  I’m not quite sure what “private” means.  The celebration of the Mass is first and foremost a celebration of the public worship of the Church.  Whenever I celebrate Mass I make every effort to do so in a church or public oratory with a congregation.  That is what the Church intends.  It is by exception and not for the convenience of my schedule that I would celebrate a Mass with just a server.  But let me be clear here.  I am in no way saying that one form is more valid than the other or that the Mass celebrated without a congregation and just a server is somehow defective. This form of the Mass is as much a part of the public worship of the Church as Mass with a congregation.   I simply point out that Mass with a congregation in an oratory or church is a fuller sign of the public nature of the Church’s worship because it expresses that public, not private, nature more clearly.  And I like to celebrate Mass with a congregation.  And I think it is good for a bishop to do so.  And it just “feels” right to me.  If while I’m on vacation I have to get in my car and drive to a church to celebrate Mass with a community rather than offer a Mass in my hotel room or the dining room of a rental cottage then that is what I will do first.  But if the only way I can celebrate Mass on a given day is to do so in my hotel room, I will do so.

[3] I did not at any point in my blog say that the only reason people are desiring the EF of the Church’s liturgy is because they are being driven to it by “bad” celebration of the Novus Ordo.  I said it was “at least one good reason” and you will notice by the comments posted that this is in fact the case.  However, as someone who is supportive of the EF parishes in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and of those priests who desire to celebrate the sacraments of the Church according to the EF, I know that there are many fine spiritual, personal, theological, and liturgical reasons why some within the Latin Rite Church desire the celebration of the sacraments according to EF.  My disclosure in the previous post that I prefer the Novus Ordo is not a judgment on the EF.   It just simply is what it is, a very deep personal choice.  As a valid option within the Church’s Rites, the EF is as much at the heart of the Church’s public worship as the Novus Ordo.  Furthermore, I am not at all hesitant to celebrate the sacraments using the EF as need be, as evidenced by the fact that I will be celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation for our EF churches in the Fall.  As a bishop, I am at the service of the church of the entire Archdiocese of Indianapolis and not just whom I pick and choose to be so.

[4] For those who have opined that my preference for the Novus Ordo and not the EF is because I am uneducated in the EF rites (even to opine that it is “scary” that someone who has a pontifical doctorate in liturgy is so deficient in his knowledge of the EF), I would simply ask that you offer the same gracious willingness to accept my preference for the Norvus Ordo as I do your preference for the EF and avoid the ad hominem.  As to my education in the history, development, and usage of the Tridentine Rite, I suggest that you peruse the academic catalogue of the P.I.L. at  St. Anselmo, Rome (beginning at p. 174) from which I received my SLD, so that you may know that I am, in fact, educated and knowledgeable about the EF.  Believe it or not, I have even attended an EF Mass a number of times (since concelebration is not allowed). 

[5] I am also very concerned about some of the “unnecessary roughness” being heaped on the clergy collectively.  There are many priests and bishops out there who make every effort to celebrate the Church’s liturgy as the Church desires it to be celebrated.  They preside with reverence and dignity, they preach well, and they strive to make the liturgy not about them but about Christ.  We must encourage them in their work and their willingness to be humble enough to be a servant of the liturgy.  We should also thank them as often as we can.   In addition, I know of no bishop who is unwilling to address the need for better celebration of the Church’s liturgy within their diocese.  It is just very complicated.  A bishop can encourage his priests to “say the black and do the red,” to celebrate according to the Church’s rites, and to develop better preaching skills, he can hold all kinds of liturgical conferences and workshops for his priests, but the minute guys get back to their parishes, they can do what they want.  In truly egregious situations of liturgical malpractice, the bishop will have to step in and do something, but the question is “what?” And that’s where it gets difficult especially in this time of fewer clergy to cover many parishes.  Some would say it is better to have a few truly good shepherds than to allow for the flock to be lead astray by the “hired hand.”  That’s all well and good until there is no one available to celebrate the sacraments in any form in the parish because a priest’s faculties have been suspended because he plays with the rubrics.  As you can see, it is a difficult balancing act.

I think I’ve said enough for the present on these matters.  I plan on being a lot less “provocative” in the future (especially when on vacation).  God bless.



30 Comments. Leave new

Which had more comments , the Pats picture or why you did not go to confession? Our prayers continue for Our Pope , Bishops & all the clergy,, daily + . 🙂

I think it’s very beneficial for a Bishop like yourself to sit in the pews and then post your honest reaction to what you experienced. I don’t think you should be less “provocative” because political correctness has no place in the battle for souls. Bad liturgical practices resulted in a Bishop seeking a Sacrament elsewhere! Think about the effect those poor practices have on the poorly catechized and those struggling with their faith? This experience did not happen by chance, nor did your desire to post about it here. The truth reaches so many more when it’s veiled in a shroud of political correctness or fear of provoking a negative reaction from some.

I’m 32 years old, born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI. I have seen so many illicit practices in my short life and I’m only referring to the ones I recognize! Over the last few years my family and I have fallen in love with the Latin Mass which is celebrated at several Parishes here now. My first Latin Mass impacted my soul so powerfully, so unexpectedly, it changed me forever. I love our Pope, our Church, and the Latin Mass. I shudder to think how many good Catholics have fallen away from the Church because they were denied this form of the Mass in favor of (let’s face it) a Protestantized Mass. My Parish’s Latin Mass community is mostly younger adults with large families, kids less than 2 years apart in age might I add. I have 4 kids and I am strengthened by the example of those with 6 or more!

If I compare the pews, it’s clear where the future of the Church is to me. Don’t you see it?

I think it’s okay to provoke, to teach, and to inspire thought and conversation, even when some of the conversations stray from the point.

You know…I frankly find it unseemly for folks to send attack emails and posts to anyone, much less a bishop. The internet sure makes people senselessly rude doesn’t it?

Your Excellency – you shouldn’t have to avoid controversial subjects on your blog. You were honest about your experiences and I don’t think anyone could ask more of you.

May the remainder of your vacation be blessed and peaceful. We hope to see you back in the land of the Colts all rested and energized. 🙂

A wonderful post, Your Excellency. I greatly appreciate these clarifications (especially point 3). I hope that my input on your earlier post was not out of line. Do please feel free to delete it and/or not post this comment at your leisure.

Thank you, Your Excellency, for writing each of these two posts.

Your Excellency,

I am enjoying your discussion. I find it quite informative, thank you! Your perspective is very valuable. Keep teaching, please.

Hi Bishop Coyne – I feel somewhat responsible for your barrage of comments, as I had alerted Fr. Z at WDTPRS about your post, which he then reposted, bringing the increased traffic to your site. So I’m very sorry about that!

Anyway, you’re a bishop, and you’re allowed to used your judgment on liturgical matters such as this. As others say above, please continue to write about whatever you want on your own blog, and we’ll continue to enjoy reading it!

Thank you Julie M for your kind words. Please know that I am not at all bothered by the number of comments I have received. It’s great that people are reading my blog and posts.

Back to “Hidden One” again no need to apologize. if I thought your comment was “out of line” I would not have published it. Frank discussion means engaging other opinions.

I remember serving Masses for my uncle, when he’d be on vacation from his work as an Army chaplain. Often my family would join him at a cottage on Cape Cod. It was the custom for each priest to celebrate Mass himself. Indeed, I remember Masses going on at the same time on different altars in the same church. One rarely sees that now, except in large Basilicas such as St. Peter’s.

But the Mass as a symbol and instrument of Christian unity should be shared, not divided. St. Francis of Assisi, in his Letter Addressed to the Whole Order, writes:

. . . that . . only one Mass be celebrated each day . . . If there should be several priests . . . let one be content to hear the celebration of the other priest. (tr. Brady, 1983, p. 124).

Now, if there’s time, priests might arrange to concelebrate. But in your case, when you’re traveling, I think you made the right choice. Better to be in the congregation of a public Mass, than to use your motel room.

Your hits will go up again thanks to Catholic Culture; I linked through from there. You have a new reader.


Your Excellency,

Thank you for the two articles and your observations. As a lifelong liturgist and church musician I applaud your decision to attend a celebration of mass as a congregational member since your loving obligation would be fulfilled later that day. It was not until I retired that I realized how much I missed mass from the other side of the rail. It serves to broaden our perspective and often helps us to see what works and what doesn’t work in the liturgy.

I grew up with the Tridentine and will forever find it a rich spiritual experience. That was in an era when Latin was part of many school’s curricula and it was a “fixed” language reserved for the sacred, the artful, and the scientific. That said, I also love elegant English liturgy. The older translation of the Novus Ordo does not requite that love but the new one has promise. The language of the Cranmer-Coverdale liturgy in the Book of Divine Worship comes closest.

We are creatures deeply rooted in symbolism and often the changing of symbolic practices has a much deeper impact than we realize. The Novus Ordo is not bad liturgy but some of the rubrical practices are questionable. They change the whole character of the celebration and certainly the role of the celebrant is altered.

History does repeat itself. There are eerie similarities between the years that followed the Council at Trent and those that followed Vatican-II. Both synods stated the clear intent of making the mass more accessible to the congregation, but how that was interpreted on the diocesan and parish levels traveled a bit afield from the intent of the councils. The years following Trent saw the wholesale destruction and removal of elegant rood screens from cathedrals just as V-II saw the removal of communion rails and many high altars. Neither council addressed those changes but some clergy saw the two architectural entities as barriers. Our ancestors failed to recognize the symbolism of the rood screen as the “Temple veil” marking the Holy-of-Holies from the body of the temple. Our Orthodox brothers have great respect for the Iconostasis. The communion rail required a posture of adoration for receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist.

I like the Holy Father’s intent that the two forms should enrich one another. There are elements of both that ought to be included in a more perfect liturgy. A few tweaks to the rubrics of both ought to accomplish that goal.

I am reminded of the thinly-veiled allegory in Genesis about Adam’s and Eve’s desire to become as God is. As we “humanize” our liturgy we gradually blur that distinction between the divine and the human. We’re losing the awe, the mystery, the reverence, and the solid view of our place in the wondrous tapestry of creation.

I live in Kenya and I enjoy reading your blog. Your Excellency, kindly continue with the provocative posts as they get us to think and to appreciate our catholic faith in a deeper and better manner. Thanks.

James N.

<3 You have my love and prayers. <3

*goes back to lurking*


Its a delight to see bishops take to the blogosphere. Thank you for a great blog and your kind encouragement to your readers.

– Fr. Maurer

Thank you, Your Excellency.

I think the relative anonymity of the internet brings out the worst in some people, and that for some reason, charity is not to be practiced in comments (here, or on Fr. Z, or any blog).

Sin in the virtual world can definitely be sin in the real world.

I will be celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation for our EF churches in the Fall.

I am the parent of two young men you will be Confirming this fall. I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks for your willingness to come down and do the confirmations in the traditional form.

Keep up the good work and enjoy your vacation.

Response to Fr. Dismas: most of the comments have been fine. You are right to some extent. While it can be a bit discouraging at times to try and have a reasonable and courteous exchange on the net, most respondents try.

My mantra is “Always take the high (Christ-like) road.”

Your Excellency,

Some of what you describe would fall under an offense against CCC 2478 (rash judgment), would it not?

I think Catholics need to discuss provocative issues, but always with care not to commit sins of detraction calumny, and rash judgment (CCC 2477-2278).

I think the problem is that people do not recognize rash judgment when they read it or hear it so it is easy to fall right into following suit.

How much less do people understand, derision, quarreling, and other subjects?

In my observations and personal experience, I think fans of the EF (myself included) can be rather contentious is a result of feeling ignored or alienated from the English speaking Church. Our concerns are downplayed, priests and bishops take advantage of the latitude the Holy See permits in celebrating the Mass and we are told to quit being “pharisaical.” We feel that heresy and irreverence are tolerated but the moment one questions a plethora of EMHCs or heterodox homily, we are told to be silent. This has led to many fleeing OF pajamas or, in my case, supplementing their Sunday Masses with an EF. I appreciate my bishop and all faithful priests — who are often manacled by local customs and committees– but I want to celebrate Mass reverently without someone pawing my hand at the Pater Noster or having to see more skin than I ought. Does this justify bitterness or rudeness? No; nothing does. It does help to explain it.

Your Excellency,

I want to commend you for your posts. I wish more bishops would use the internet more in this pastoral way. I personally find it beneficial, and I think that it is beneficial to the Church and to humanity, to hear bishops talk about such issues, and their personal — not just clerical — feelings. It helps me grow in my faith. I can peer inside another person’s head on faith issues, can understand the liturgy better, and also can understand our very human clergymen. I think that as the internet becomes more and more established, the value of such blogs will grow. Don’t let the ad hominen attacks and the growing pains thwart your openness. The Catholic Church suffers from too much secrecy over all and too much isolation of our bishops and priests.

One way it helps is to remind me that priests wear many different hats, and not all priests are equally good at or equally enjoy all parts. Some are great pastors, some great preachers, some great liturgists, some great fiscal managers. Rarely is one preist, one man, great in all things. As lay, we must step up and help our priests in those areas where they are not gifted, not throw bombs from the back.

I am a member of the Latin “wing” of the Catholic Church and personally prefer neither the “EF” or the “NO”. I prefer Anglican Use. That speaks to me the way the others do not. I can understand your preference, though I share another.

Am I wrong? Flawed? No. In the Universal Church there are billions of people. God made each different and each made in His image. Not only that, but we each change and grow. Add in the differences in people in the congregations and in clergy and you get a hugh variety of experiences.

EF can vary greatly from country to country. Filipino Latin masses have a different feel than Bostonian Latin masses, for instance. God has made us all human, so that we share things, and yet all different — genders, races, ethnicities, personalities, ages, hair color, height, launguage, etc. Just like the liturgy of the Church — all the same, with the same basic core, and yet all different. There is the EF, the NO, Sarum Use, Anglican Use, the various uses of the monastic traditions, Milan and Spain, Eastern Catholics, etc., How boring would our families be without differences? How boring would the church be without differences? Viva la difference!

Bishop Coyne: I am from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. I tried to comment on your first post but for some reason it did not go through. Thank you for addressing this topic, and in such a kind way. I would love to go to a reverent and Christ-centereed OF mass. My parish mass is mostly about us and how great we are. I think that priests have been trained for a long time to be “creative” and to stress the communal aspects of mass. I would love to go to mass that just followed the rules and that emphasized God, not us. I wish that more priests would save their creativity for the many other things that go on in a parish. My pastor, for instance, has his own version of many of the prayers, including the words of institution, and skips the Creed about a third of the time. Yes, I have mentioned this to him. But that is the way he likes it. I know that bishops have a lot to do. Surely scheduling clergy education sessions and retreats that told priests “hey, we were wrong about what we told you before” would help a lot. I am a big believer in not assuming the worst — I’m sure that many priests would quit ad-libbing if they were told to frequently. They are not disobedient or malicious, they are just doing what they’ve been encouraged to do. Thanks again for writing about what is all too common an experience for many of us!

Dear Bishop Coyne, you have an excellent blog. I’ve especially enjoyed your podcasts regarding the new translation to be introduced Advent 2011 as well as these recent discussions on the liturgy. There is a need to recapture the mystery and awesomeness of Christ’s real presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament; and it is possible in both OF and EF but in both cases it relies heavily on the manners of the Celebrant. A priest that is in love with Christ will show it by “keeping His commandments” and following the rubrics in a spirit of holiness and humility.

I am an Anglo Catholic priest living in your new home city eagerly anticipating the establishment of the US Ordinariate this autumn. The Anglican Use is an interesting blend of EF and OF in that it more closely follows the form of the Tridentine rite but in an hieratic English. I agree with AU Philippines, the variety of rites enshrined within the Catholic Church is part of her glory. It is a truly catholic mark of the Church that she embraces our differing liturgical/ethnic temperaments; this signifies our Christian charity for each other. Nevertheless, each rite must not be allowed to degrade into a parish by parish psudo-syncretism. Collectively each rite must retain its essential purity. This is the purview of the Church’s Magesterium. God bless you and your ministry within it.

Bishop Coyne,

Your post did much good and I would encourage you to continue to be open with your compassionate heart. It is what revealed itself in the post and your priests need to hear it and understand it.

It is very difficult even for lay people to navigate the waters of the Catholics deprived of their religion who have retreated to blogosphere to be nurtured and fed, much less a priest and even more so a Bishop. Their trust has been broken and they are wounded. There is a gauntlet. Some cannot be healed and will continue to show you their wounds by needling you. We learn to ride it out like we do a Mass we’re questioning the validity of. It will take time to build trust – but you are gifted with honesty, humility and compassion and you could serve a multitude with these gifts. They are sorely needed. Just a thought.

Thanks for posting this. #5 in particular caught my attention because I read all sorts of priest bashing (and Ordinary Form bashing), yet it was a priest who celebrates in the Ordinary Form who, through his love of God and passion in celebrating Mass, changed me. I’m sure there are lots of stories of priests changing our hearts out there, yet you don’t hear many of them. (Hmm, maybe I need to start a blog!)

But #5 also caught my attention when you mentioned that there is only so much a Bishop can do. Most of us are used to the boss/employee relationship, and I suspect that many view the Bishop/priest relationship in the same way. I do know that there are people who struggle with difficulties with their priests, sometimes even scandalous problems, and wonder why the Bishop doesn’t do more. I’m wondering if it might be worth a blog post about what Bishops can and cannot do, just so people understand better what to expect and to know when it’s appropriate to contact a Bishop.

In regards to “yes, I’m Catholic”, I would have to agree that I too wonder why there is only so much a Bishop can do. I think about my own kids and how I was raised. I think about the ramifications of every decision I make. I think about how many times I was saved by the grace of God from doing something really really stupid, or saved from following a path to my own spiritual ruin. Now I see things much more black and white for my family. I have to make hard decisions constantly so that I will never look back and think, “did I do enough to protect my child?”. Fr. John Corapi used to say, “I’m not going to hell for any of you” and that really stuck with me.

I know that God expects much from His Bishops and I assume that must weigh heavily on every decision that you make. Though I know you only from a couple of blog posts I can tell you are a good and faithful Bishop. Thank God!

Dear Bishop Coyne,

I would have preferred to write you via email but, it appears, that route doesn’t exist, so I’ll do my best to be “concise” here.

I am “troubled” by the use of Deus Supplet in your original posting. There has to be a line somewhere that prevents us from becoming so “indifferent” to the sacramental ministry of the Church that “Deus Supplet” forgives all things. One could say “Deus Supplet” and render all manner of Protestant liturgies equivalent at the level of grace to the Catholic Mass. (It isn’t the fault of the congregation that their minister isn’t a validly ordained priest but, nonetheless, their belief in the Real Presence and the Eucharist is honored by God because Deus Supplet?).

It is possible to abuse Deus Supplet when pondering the complexities of the priest shortage. It sure seems better, on first blush, to have more rather than fewer priests. But what if the few priests we have afflict their congregations, routinely, to liturgical abuses and “questionably orthodox” teaching from the pulpit. Liturgical abuse is, in reality, public disobedience to the Church. If priests are publicly disobedient in this most sacred of settings, how does this not set a bad example for obedience to OTHER teachings of the Church in OTHER settings? How is it more helpful to have many disobedient priests rather than a smaller number of obedient ones?

A lot of lives are being ravaged by liturgical abuse and heterodox preaching/teaching. Which would be better: a smaller number of faithful priests, or a large number of unfaithful ones? The large number have serious negative impact on the faith lives of many. Would it not be preferable for people to NOT be exposed to public disobedience and heterodoxy, i.e., if a faithful priest was only able to preside at Eucharist once per month, doesn’t the ABSENCE of a liturgically abusing heterodox yield a net positive?

I know all this is complex. But, if Deus Supplet means ANYTHING, it must mean that God will provide ALL that is necessary for the salvation of His people, even in the absence of a sufficient number of priests. I don’t see how liturgically abusing heterodox priests ought to be considered acceptable just because there is a priest shortage. I would rather have a good priest once per month than one who makes me sick more frequently.

I’ve had to find another parish because the one I had been attending for YEARS was now, consistently, making me angry during and after Mass. I accept that this response is entirely personal. I know my limits and weaknesses. Perhaps Deus Supplet was at work where I was, but I wasn’t strong or faithful enough to respond fruitfully. I just can’t accept that priests abusing their flocks through public disobedience and heterodoxy are more acceptable than “a few good men.”

Just some thoughts. I don’t mean to be confrontational or antagonistic. I am happy that you are willing to engage people on these subjects.

Bishop Coyne,
I would like to say that I enjoy your blog immensely. I think it’s “wicked awesome” to see our auxiliary bishop diving into the New Evangelization wholeheartedly. Please keep it going and keep it real.

I have a basic introduction in the Latin language (four years in high school, and 4yrs towards a minor in Latin education in college)along with several years studying both Italian and a year and a half of German.

While I cannot in any way evaluate my sisters and brothers who have commented on this blog and their spirituality and relationship with the Living Word of God, I would like to speak towards my own experience. I can honestly say, with conviction, that I would never be able to give authentic worship to God through Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Latin language. I would no more be able to have an intimate relationship with my God in Latin than I would be able to with any human. I do not think, eat, breathe, love, feel, or dream in Latin any more than Italian, or German. I am not immersed in those languages as an American. I am immersed in English. It is a part of my very being. Jesus commands us to “Love the Lord our God with all our heart, and all our soul, and all our mind.” It is the greatest commandment according to Matthew. How then is it possible to participate in that act of love, the Eucharist, in a language that is extinct. It is not possible for me. It would never be possible for me whether it was the new order or the extraordinary form that was being celebrated.

Harold M. Frost, Ph.D.
May 25, 2016 8:49 pm

Thank you, Bishop Coyne, for having made yourself available to everyone who can go online and see your blogs, including your “Addenda” of August 9, 2011, from whose sec. 5 is quoted these statements: “There are many priests and bishops out there who make every effort to celebrate the Church’s liturgy as the Church desires it to be celebrated. They preside with reverence and dignity, they preach well, and they strive to make the liturgy not about them but about Christ. We must encourage them in their work and their willingness to be humble enough to be a servant of the liturgy. We should also thank them as often as we can,” that is, those ordained to Holy Orders in the two higher degrees of the episcopate and presbyterate (plus the lower one of the diaconate), directed in their efforts towards the service and salvation of others to build up the People of God (CCC #1534) of whom I am one who is especially grateful for the lifelong commitments that they — bishops, priests and deacons — have made to Christ. So I thank them all and pray for them in my own way. Never will I criticize any one of them but will always reserve a kind word or thought that fits the occasion. In that vein, they need the support and appreciation of the laity, partly because they can go through trials that few lay people know about. So, to take a cue from your online CV at vtcatholicDOTorg, that you were “Ordained to Priesthood for the Archdiocese of Boston” in “June 1986,” happy 30th anniversary next month! Further, my check was in the mail two days ago in response to your annual 2016 “Bishop’s Appeal” whose final collection I hope meets your every expectation. God bless you!