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.” 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.  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.  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.  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).
 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.