ADOREMUS: Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy
Board of Advisors
MOTHER ANGELICA -- Eternal Word Network
FR. KEN BAKER, S.J. --Homiletic & Pastoral Review
TERRY BARBER --St. Joseph Communications
FR. JOSEPH FESSIO, S.J. --Ignatius Press
HELEN HULL HITCHCOCK --Women for Faith and Family
JAMES HITCHCOCK --Fellowship of Catholic Scholars
JIM HOLMAN --San Diego News Notes
PHIL LAWLER --Catholic World Report
RALPH McINERNY --Crisis, Catholic Dossier
FR. JERRY POKORSKY --CREDO
MSGR. RICHARD SCHULER --Sacred Music
FR. PETER STRAVINSKAS --The Catholic Answer
Dear Catholic friend,
Has Sunday Mass at your parish become a trial and a distraction rather than a time of
recollection and worship? Are you upset by continual changes in liturgy, insipid music,
church renovations which remove statues and kneelers and displace the tabernacle,
lack of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament and the loss of the beauty and splendor of
the Church's rich liturgical tradition?
If so you are not alone. The members of the board of advisors that you see at the top of
this page have received thousands of phone calls and letters with these and similar
We believe that the time has come to do something to correct this unhappy situation.
For the past several years, many of us have committed our time, our energy, and our
resources to the promotion of a genuine liturgical renewal as intended by the Second
Vatican Council. And we think that if more of us work together --even though it may
take many years-- we can succeed!
If you share our concerns --if you are convinced, as we are, that Christ's Bride, the
Church, has suffered greviously at the hands of some misguided liturgists --please take
the time to read this letter to its conclusion.
The experience of the last thirty years has convinced us that the liturgical renewal
intended by Sacrosanctum Concilium has not been achieved. Despite many pastorally
beneficial reforms, too many changes have actually distorted the Church's liturgical
tradition. And there have been rampant abuses which have contributed to the
weakening and loss of faith of countless Catholics (!!!!!), and seriously harmed the
Church's evangelical mission to the world.
Because of this, we are now convinced that some of the proposed solutions to the
present problem will "not" lead to the genuine reform desired by the Council Fathers.
Two of these are:
a return to the preconciliar Mass. (Although many who seek a liturgy more in
harmony with the Church's tradition legitimately make use of permission for
celebrating the preconciliar Mass, this does not help to achieve the reforms lawfully
mandated by the Council.)
Mere insistence on more careful observance of the changes approved since the Council.
(Even approved changes need to be reevaluated in the light of a clearer understanding
of the Council.)
We do want to be absolutely clear on the principles we think are essential to a genuine
liturgical renewal consistent with authentic Catholic tradition and the Church's living
1. We fully and unreservedly accept the principles of Liturgical Reform enunciated at
the Second Vatican Council on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium. We
accept the Second Vatican Council as an act of the Church's supreme Magisterium,
guided by the Holy Spirit. Its documents are an expression of the word of Christ
himself for his bride the Church in our time.
2. We believe that the genuine renewal desired by the Church requires:
The interior appropriation of the Church's liturgical tradition on the part of every
Catholic. That is, a deeper sense of the sacred, of understanding, love and reverence
for the Church's liturgy; and
A complete rethinking and of the reform of the liturgy, using
both Sacrosanctum Concilium and an evaluation of the experience of the post-conciliar
years to arrive at a renewed liturgy in keeping with the principles of the Second
3. We believe the guiding principle in this reflection should be that enunciated in
Sacrosanctum Concilium #23:
"...there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly
requires them, and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way
grow organically from forms already existing."
How do we propose to implement these principles?
We have established a non-profit organization, ADOREMUS, for the sole purpose of
promoting authentic reforms of the liturgy of the Roman Rite according to the intention
of the Second Vatican Council as expressed in its decree on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum
Concilium . Adoremus, of course, means "Let us adore", and we have chosen the Latin
form since the renewal we desire to promote involves the worldwide Catholic Church,
and we hope to work together with fellow Catholics of other cultures and languages.
I will describe some of the planned activities of this organization below. But first I
believe a major question must be answered: By what authority do we undertake this
project of promoting genuine liturgical reform? The answer is theologically simple, but
practically complex: only our love for the Church and
our prayerful reflection on the Church's liturgical tradition and the present state of the
One of the principle efforts of ADOREMUS will, therefore, be the publication of a
monthly liturgical information bulletin. Following are some of the things this
publication will contain:
The history of elements of the Mass. (Is it a meal or a sacrifice? Did the early Christians
stand or kneel? When were candles first introduced and why? How was the altar
positioned? What is the meaning of liturgical vestments?)
Answers to liturgical questions that affect you. (What is the proper posture during the
Eucharistic prayer? Are extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist supposed to distribute
communion when there are priests or deacons present? Is Latin permitted in the new
Reports on churches where Mass is habitually celebrated faithfully and beautifully,
with descriptions of what has helped genuine worship.
Reviews of liturgical resources (including music) that can improve Mass in the parish
and promote interior renewal of worshippers.
Updates on changes being proposed for the worship of the Church.
Action items. What you can do in your parish and beyond.
The main point is to educate Catholics about what Catholic liturgy is and ought to be.
We are convinced there is a genuine hunger for traditional, reverent, liturgical worship.
As more people see what that has been and what it is meant to be, we believe that will
help the bishops and the Holy See move toward the renewal that should have been.
And this is why we need your help.
We know that if you are concerned about the state of the liturgy, you will want to have
this monthly bulletin; but there are many more --priests and laity alike-- who have only
a vague sense that all is not well.
We think many such people will be encouraged and strengthened by receiving such a
bulletin, so we would like to send it to them free of charge. I In order to do this, we are
asking you to contribute to ADOREMUS with gifts of whatever size you can afford.
We will send this bulletin out to the bishops, their staffs, the appropriate Vatican
officials, and to as many Catholic laity as your donations will permit. (Of course we
will put you on the mailing list for our new bulletin.)
The more generous you are, the more we can do. All the money received will be spent
directly for the promotion of genuine liturgical renewal. Our hope is that support will
grow so that we can expand this work.
We entirely accept the Catholic teaching that the regulation of the liturgy is the
prerogative and responsibility of the college of bishops in union with the successor of
It is also a sad fact, however, that the liturgy has too long been in the hands of self-
appointed experts, many of whom are openly hostile to essential Catholic teaching. Far
too many liturgical commissions function as political pressure groups with a self-
perpetuauting membership, rather than as agencies genuinely fostering greater
understanding and appropriation of --and actual participation in-- the Church's
worship. And in the United States (as elsewhere) even conferences of bishops, relying
on these liturgical commissions, have permitted liturgical changes which have
contributed to an impoverishment rather than an enrichment of the liturgy.
Moreover, it is clear that the Holy See is increasingly concerned about liturgical (and
linguistic) changes. This was evident in the Vatican's re-translation of the English
edition of Catechism of the Catholic Church. Also, the Holy See rescinded approval of
"inclusive language translations of the Bible.
We know that many bishops share our concerns and are looking for assistance in the
decisions they are making concerning the liturgy. (Their numbers are growing --Deo
gratias!) It is the goal of ADOREMUS to assist the bishops in their sacred task.
One of the activities of ADOREMUS will be to provide support services for the many
bishops who are deeply concerned about the Church's worship. We cannot compete
with the money and manpower of the many liturgical experts, commissions,
conventions, etc., or the multi-million dollar liturgical publishing businesses. But recent
history has shown that a few concerned bishops, when supplied with accurate
information, can make a big difference.
Another activity of ADOREMUS will be to aid the many parish priests who have told
us they lack the materials they need to celebrate Mass properly. We have been asked to
provide a better hymnal, better parish bulletin overleafs, a Lectionary with approved
Bible translations unaffected by feminist ideology, beautiful and durable books for
parish use to replace the throwaway misalettes.
But perhaps the most important activity will be aiding the rediscovery of the beauty,
the holiness, the power of the Church's rich liturgical tradition. What is needed now is
the appropriation in parish life of the results of the Liturgical Movement. We believe
that it is primarily in the parishes that the liturgical life of the faithful will be renewed
in the way Vatican II intended.
There are abundant materials already available for this. A very fruitful Liturgical
Movement decades before the Second Vatican Council produced a wealth of
information on the history and development of the Roman Liturgy. For the most part
centers on this Liturgical Movement were in European monasteries, such as Solesmes.
Unfortunately the fruit of all this research, which actually provided the groundwork for
the Second Vatican Council's liturgical reforms, has been largely ignored.
We wish we could promise you that this will be a short term project. The task of
educating ourselves and supplying aid to bishops and the Holy See will probably take
years. But the service we will render will be one that will affect generations of Catholics
here and elsewhere.
Please pray with us that the Holy Spirit will guide all our efforts that they may truly
benefit the Church, and that they may help to bring forth a vigorous new blossoming
of the Catholic faith.
Sincerely in Christ,
Joseph D. Fessio, S.J.
Editor, Ignatius Press
(For the Board of Advisors)
If you would like to help support ADOREMUS please make a donation to:
Mr. Richard R Hough III
PO Box 5858
Arlington VA 22205