Archbishop Sample on the Latin Mass and Liturgical Reform


With so much enthusiasm and anticipation resulting from Cardinal Robert Sarah’s recent talk at Sacra Liturgia U.K., it would seem appropriate for us to look back at another significant contribution to this ongoing discussion on the liturgy from a prior conference. The following is an excerpt from Archbishop Alexander K. Sample’s address at Sacra Liturgia Rome in 2013.  While the archbishop’s entire talk is worth revisiting [1] his discussion of the Traditional Latin Mass and it’s role in diocesan liturgical reform is of particular interest.

“Let me begin by saying that, in my humble opinion, the 2007 motu proprio of Pope Benedict XVI, Summorum Pontificum, is one of the greatest gifts that could be given to the Church in the service of liturgical renewal and reform.  Why do I say this?

“I think it is fairly safe to say that the liturgical reform that was called for and envisioned by the Second Vatican Council became derailed…not very long after the Council itself.  It is my concerted opinion that the post-conciliar liturgy as it is celebrated and experienced in most churches today is sadly not what the Council Fathers envisioned.  I will not bore you with the liturgical horror stories we all experienced in the wake of the Council.  I was formed as a young Catholic in the late 1960’s and the 1970’s, so I know of what I speak.

“If we are going to bring about an authentic and fruitful renewal in the liturgical life of the Church, we need to be open to almost “starting over”, taking into account all of the good fruit achieved in the wake of the Council.  Pope Benedict XVI often spoke of a need for a “reform of the reform.” I am solidly in that stream of thought.

“But if we are going to accomplish what the Council envisioned, we need a reference point in re-appreciating that to which the Council Fathers called us. That reference point is the usus antiquior. The older rites are our “touchstone” in moving forward with the reform of the reform. All that we do, authentically called for by the Council, must be measured against the ancient liturgical tradition of the Church embodied in the pre-conciliar liturgy. That is not at all to say that the Council Fathers did not have legitimate concerns regarding the need for the renewal and reform of the liturgy as expressed in the conciliar texts themselves. I am not at all calling into question the Council’s call for reform. But many of us believe that the reform that actually came about in the wake of the Council lost much of what is truly the genius of the Latin Rite.

“This is what Pope Benedict XVI spoke of in Summorum Pontificum when he tells us that there can be no rupture with what has gone before, but that a hermeneutic of reform in continuity must guide us, not just in liturgical matters but in theological matters as well. Allowing for a more generous use of the usus antiquior is not meant only to reconcile individuals and groups who have been disaffected by recent liturgical reform, but also to reconcile the whole Church with her past…”

“All of this is why I would urge bishops to familiarize themselves with the usus antiquior as a means of achieving their own deeper formation in the liturgy and as a reliable reference point in bringing about renewal and reform of the liturgy in the local Church. Speaking from personal experience, my own study and celebration of the older liturgical rites has had a tremendous effect on my own appreciation of our liturgical tradition and has enhanced my own understanding and celebration of the new rites.

“I would further encourage bishops to be as generous as possible with the faithful who desire and ask for the opportunity to worship in the usus antiquior in their dioceses. Allowing for its natural flourishing will have its own effect on the liturgical life of the whole diocesan Church. It must never be seen as something out of the mainstream of ecclesial life, that is, as something on the fringes. The bishop’s own public celebration of it can prevent this from happening.”

“The bishop should also encourage his seminarians to familiarize themselves with that usus antiquior, not just for the possibility that they may…be called upon to celebrate this form of the Mass for the benefit of the faithful, but indeed for the future priest’s own appreciation of the deep and rich liturgical tradition from which the reformed rites flow…”

Let us hope that addresses such as those given by Archbishop Sample in 2013, and Cardinal Robert Sarah more recently, are received with true humility and docility by their brother bishops, and that authentic liturgical reform, consistent with the tradition of the Roman Rite, is finally implemented on a significant scale. As Cardinal Sarah noted during his address just last week:

We Bishops have a great responsibility, and one day we shall have to answer to the Lord for our stewardship. We are the owners of nothing! As St. Paul teaches, we are merely “the servants of Christ and the stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1). We are responsible to ensure that the sacred realities of the liturgy are respected in our dioceses and that our priests and deacons not only observe the liturgical laws, but know the spirit and power of the liturgy from which they emerge. I was very encouraged to read the presentation…made to the 2013 Sacra Liturgia conference in Rome by Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland in Oregon in the USA, and I fraternally encourage my brother bishops to study his considerations carefully.

Archbishop Sample celebrating a Pontifical Mass at the Throne in the Extraordinary Form at the Brigittine Monastery of Our Lady of Consolation in Amity, OR, March 2014 (Photo credit: Mark Salvatore)

[1] Reid, Alcuin ed., Sacred Liturgy: The Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church (San Francisco: Ignatius Press), 2014, 269-270.

Posted on July 10, 2016, in liturgy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Fr. Addolorato Maria

    The time has come. The time has come to be sincere. The time has come to be objective. The time has to come to say enough of putting the Holy Patience of God to the text. The time has come for the subjective part of the Holy Roman Catholic Church TO WAKE UP. Wake up implies returning to the Sacred “in spirit and truth”. Amen. Ave Maria!

  2. More than any other prelate in the Catholic world, Archbishop Sample is the one who could jumpstart the reform of the post-conciliar liturgy, if he wants.

    Yes, he can – simply by leaning on the Oregon Catholic Press to stop publishing insipid and feminized music for use in the Novus Ordo.

    And to insist that the Propers [the Introit, Responsorial psalm, Gospel acclamation, Offertory and Communion antiphons] be chanted, even in the vernacular [English, Spanish, etc.] Replacing the Propers with pop-music “sacred” songs has gone on for so long, this foul practice has much diminished the Novus Ordo for over 40 years.

    OCP is the biggest publisher of Catholic missalettes and throw-away pop-music hymnals used in Novus Ordo Masses all over the world. OCP traffics in warmed-over Protestant hymns with little appreciation for traditional Catholic hymns in Latin and English. How can we expect to regain our Catholic identity while using inferior music?

    OCP is headquartered in Abp. Sample’s archdiocese. While it is good to hear the Archbishop promote the Vetus Ordo, I feel he, too, must look at the faults in the music used in the Novus Ordo. OCP composers have pretty shaky theology, one or two of them do not believe Jesus Christ to have been celibate on earth and another is a practicing homosexual. Their belief and lifestyle reflect in their annoying music.

    Pope Benedict XVI said that sacred music is integral to the celebration of the Mass. Let’s hope and pray Abp. Sample puts his money where his mouth is and puts a stop to the lame music produced by OCP.

  3. Yes, indeed, All changeable texts of the Mass need to be chanted (even recto tono until good English chant is available). Ad Orientam when addressing God, turning to the congregation when addressing it; removal of all females as servers, communion ministers, and several major restorations of ceremonial AND THE CALENDAR!,( like the OCTAVE OF PENTECOST (!!!) , restoration of the SOLEMN FEAST OF THE PRECIOUS BLOOD, keeping Ascension Thursday on that Thursday, and a number of textual restorations(e.g.,for the Masses of the Sacred Heart the now excized phrase “wounded by our sins”), and a better use of Deacons for the petitions (facing God) And even having men become permanent acolytes , and priest intincting the consecrated Host for communion under both species (one can even do this by having the recipient kneeling — with several STATION for only a few people so the priest doesn’t have to move too much; restoring the Kyrie eleison back to 3, 3, 3 petitions ( a perfect TRINITARIAN significance) and some Latin for shorter parts of the Ordinary prayers) etc.

  4. Hope & Prayer

    We recently were assigned a new pastor. Our prior priest retired after about 20 years with us. The new priest was coming in from being an assistant at a university parish and was ordained only about 3 years ago. Young priest, university parish, I was worried he would come in with his leftist agenda blazing. Prior to Mass I noticed the hymn board. Most of the hymns were old time traditional Catholic hymns (although neutered as most are nowadays)
    Normally we sing what sound like Disney tunes and folk ballads, poorly written I might add.
    When the lector introduced Father she did so by saying “The Holy Sacrifice of The Mass” is being offered this morning by Fr. Richard Davis. Not Father Bob or Fr. Joe but his actual priestly name and”Holy Sacrifice of The Mass” not today’s liturgy. When Father had processed down the center aisle instead of walking directly onto the altar he knelt at the foot of the altar for 30 seconds or so. “Prayers at the Foot of the Altar!” I remembered those. Once on the altar, all the opening prayers were chanted! The younger congregants were not sure how to react. We even said the Confiteor. The sermon was given from the lectern rather than while waltzing up and down the aisles.
    After Communion Father actually preformed the Purification! Carefully washing each Chalice and Ciboreum. My heart leapt.It was clearly evident this young priest really beleived in what he was doing.
    I look forward to see how he slowly transforms our parish.
    What are they teaching these young men in the seminary!! I hope they keep it up.
    Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

  5. We are very blessed to have Archbishop Sample in this archdiocese, one of the least churched states in the union and one of the most secular “celebrate the culture of death” cities in the country as well. Archbishop Sample is slowing, thoughtfully and with a long term view, making changes in this diocese as well as influencing others. We have several parishes returning to the traditional Mass with reverence and periods of silence. As a convert I appreciate this distinct difference between’ “It’s Showtime” in my former Protestant and Evangelical churches and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    I have also noticed the younger priests are far more reverent in their posture, in their silences, in their focus on Christ from the entrance to the careful Purification of the Chalices and Ciboria.

    To “Hope and Prayer” above, I think we will continue to see an influence on OCP. Pray for Portland. This is Sodom and Gomorrah in the 21st Century. I think only Archbishop Cordileone (Heart of the LION!) has a more depraved environment in which he must shepherd its people.

  6. Monica Harris

    Agree with Elisabeth–Archbishop Sample in 2015 said “Patience, we didn’t get here overnight.”
    I have lived for awhile in San Francisco, and now Portland, and Archbishop Cordileone really REALLY needs prayers. So does Archbishop Sample, but San Francisco-OMG.

  7. While it is important to keep the sanctity and reverence in the celebration of the Holy Mass, I am bothered by the picture of a TLM priest offering the sanctified bread and wine with his back to the people. This position implies that the TLM rite excludes the people of God in the church whose body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus said to Peter ‘Get behind Me’ He explained to Peter that he was a stumbling block to Him as setting his mind not on divine things but on human things. Matthew 16:23.

    • Many proponents for Mass facing the people contend that it best represents the direction of Our Lord at the Last Supper. In Liturgy and Architecture (Notre Dame Press, 1967), Fr. Louis Bouyer sets the record straight. Let us hope that, through greater awareness, we might finally see an end to this erroneous appeal.

      “The idea that a celebration facing the people must have been the primitive one, and that especially of the Last Supper, has no other foundation than a mistaken view of what a meal could be in antiquity, Christian or not. In no meal of the early Christian era did the president of the banqueting assembly ever face the other participants. They were all sitting, or reclining, on the convex side of a C-shaped table, or of a table having approximately the shape of a horse shoe. The other side was always left empty for the service. Nowhere in Christian antiquity, could have arisen the idea of having to “face the people” to preside at a meal. The communal character of a meal was emphasized just by the opposite disposition: the fact that all the participants were on the same side of the table.”

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