Category Archives: The Furrow
In response to permission granted by the Holy See to various national hierarchies for greater use of the vernacular in the administration of the sacraments, the Irish hierarchy appointed a committee of experts in 1957 to commission a draft Collectio Rituum to be submitted to the Irish bishops and subsequently to Rome for approval. The new trilingual Ritual was approved by a rescript from Rome on December 12, 1959, and was introduced into Irish parishes on the Feast of St. Brigid, February 1, 1961. (For those interested in the background to the Ritual, Canon J.G. McGarry – who was on the committee – wrote an article explaining it in The Furrow in December, 1961.)
The Ritual has been scanned online here. Many thanks to RevDBH – a curate in rural Ireland – for sending me the link. Father would be grateful if any priests or lay people familiar with the traditionalist scene in Ireland could confirm whether this is used by priests in Ireland nowadays and, if so, do you know where a hard copy could be acquired? If you can answer either of these questions, please send an email to me at shanesemail2010atgmail.com (replace ‘at’ with @).
Below is the introductory foreword in the inaugural issue of The Furrow from 1950. The author is the editor and founder of The Furrow, Canon J.G. McGarry, then Professor of Sacred Eloquence and Pastoral Theology at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth. Accompanying this foreword was an article warmly commending the editor’s programme by the Most Rev. John D’Alton, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland, along with a message of fraternal support from The Catholic Standard.
The Furrow is something new. It is new in the ground it opens. Many branches of pastoral work to which our times have given a special importance demand a fuller treatment — preaching, pastoral organisations, the liturgy, the Church, its art and architecture. And it is in such matters especially that theory needs to be confirmed and corrected by practice. The pooling of experiences in varying conditions of work and the exchange of views on new pastoral methods are means hitherto little used, yet they can give valuable help to all who are charged by God to keep His field.
A new opportunity is offered in The Furrow for the sharing of such experience. Moreover, recent years have given evidence of an increasing interest in writing on the part of our younger priests. Life in the priesthood and Christian culture offer to such young writers rich and fertile themes, opening to them a new way of serving the Church, its faith and civilisation. The Furrow will consider it a point of duty to support and encourage such writers.
In pursuing these aims The Furrow will be guided by the mind and spirit of the Church. Obedience to the Vicar of Christ and to His bishops, whom the Holy Ghost has appointed to govern His flock, will be the corner-stone of its policy. But besides this higher allegiance there is place, too, for a special, domestic loyalty. Reverence for the traditions of the Irish Church and pride in its distinctive way of life must be an influence upon the policy of any Irish Catholic review. For us this reverence is more than an influence. Our past is our special glory: Kells and Cashel, Cong and Glendalough are a rich inheritance, challenging their heirs to high endeavour, to call forth new treasures from old.
How frequently Christ speaks of His Kingdom as the field — the field that is sown with good seed and bad, field of the hidden treasure, the field challenging the ploughman’s courage and persistence! Only the tiller of His field does not work alone; the sower needs the weeder’s help, the ploughman is nothing without the reaper. To all who work in that field the call is to come and share with their fellow-workers the labours of the harvest, to be men of His meitheal.
Yet co-operation alone is not enough. “We are God’s workmen; you are His field,” St. Paul writes to his Corinthians. But the workman counted for nothing, neither Paul who sowed, nor Apollo who watered. The harvest was the gift of God alone.
May He who gives the harvest prosper this sowing.
The following is an extract from a letter published in The Furrow in February, 1973, by JF Foyle.
“When things were in Latin, we followed the words in the vernacular in our missals, often pausing to reflect even if that meant not being in line with the priest’s words, though we made sure to be in line for the three peaks — offertory, consecration and holy communion. Sometimes we filled in, in between the peaks, with Rosary-reciting, favourite prayers (often from prayer-books or leaflets).
Reading, informal praying and reflecting, in between the peaks, played dominant parts in our Mass participation. We had tremendous scope for using our own individual initiative to fill the in-between spaces. The vernacular changed all that and what was designed to increase our participation in the Mass has, in fact, made it awkward for us to participate to our satisfaction.
We were suddenly left without missals and expected to attend to the priests’ words all the time. This ruled out reflecting, as we were kept going keeping up with the words the whole way through Mass. Also, we had little to reflect on — we are far from expert in catching a series of sentences while they are flying. We were virtually forbidden to switch off the words (to reflect or pray via reading or thinking parallel to the priest). It was uncomfortable deliberately switching off, anyway, since the words, being in English, kept obtruding in snatches, something that didn’t happen with the Latin (except with some students of the language, and then only when words were said specially loudly). We felt obliged to attend to English words, whereas it was optional with the Latin. We felt inferior at being unable to attend, whereas we felt superior when we succeeded with the Latin.
This was, and is, a far from pleasant Mass experience. It also resulted in the three peaks ceasing to be peaks in the Mass — they are just parts of the series of words, almost, often (especially the middle one) passing unnoticed, as our minds wander.
What this suggests is that the liturgists equated the scope for being aware of what was being said with scope for participation. Apart from the Latin allowing for similar awareness (even for illiterates), the equating erred in wrongly estimating the strain going with non-stop listening. It did not allow gaps for reflecting, nor for having another look at the words for that purpose. Nor did it recognize that participation is very much an individual matter, made-up around the priest’s Mass words but not rigidly tied to them. The Latin facilitated such individual participation. The vernacular hinders it.
Liturgists ought to have been aware of such effects of the change-over, since they were predictable from awareness of how those in the pews participated in the Mass. […] Those in the pew automatically, now, mind-wander most of the time when subjected to amplified voices in churches or halls. Their recall of things said in the liturgy of the word, for example, is nearly nil most of the time, just as their recall of newscasts and radio-television discussions is very fuzzy.
Further, Mass is now attended with very little forethought about the theme of the liturgy and even less afterthought about it. There is little time for thinking about religion, anyway, and seldom is a special attempt made in advance of Mass. Getting there quickly by car lessens the scope for forethought, too. Watch the aftermath — as everybody rushes for cars and papers to provide food for some other kind of thought. The Mass words are part of the pattern of information flow which envelops us daily. They get even less attention than the other words, since so few have them in print for fore and after thought. This has contributed in no small away, I find, to very, very little reading about things spiritual. The taking-away of the missals (or their too slow replacement, which amounts to the same thing, in effect) broke the habit. And it is well and truly broken, now.
[…] Those of my generation who believe in the power of the Mass, and in it being a mortal sin not to participate in Sunday Mass, keep going on that account. It is in spite of the vernacular, not with its aid.
[…] The Rosary beads and the devotional prayers could have a place, again, for individual participation between the peaks. […] All the amplified talking of the introductory rite, liturgy of the word and the homily is a nuisance, when we could be reading and reflecting quietly. Let the Bible readings be relayed to us, maybe, and let the rest be read silently or, at least, with the amplifiers turned off. That way the homily (unamplified) will have a chance of getting attention, too. Let the rest of the Mass be silent mainly, apart from the three peaks and ‘Our Father’, say, relying on us in the pew to participate in our individual ways, reading and reflecting.”