A Pentecost Monday lesson: “And Paul VI wept.”

Years ago I told this Pentecost Monday tale and it has made the rounds.

It stands being repeated.

I think this stands as a lesson for what happens when we lose sight of continuity.

Take this for what it may be worth.  Some years ago I was told this story by an elderly, retired Papal Ceremoniere or a Master of Ceremonies who (according to him) was present at the event about to be recounted.

You probably know that in the traditional Roman liturgical calendar the mighty feast of Pentecost had its own Octave.  Pentecost was a grand affair indeed, liturgically speaking.  In some places in the world such as Germany and Austria Pentecost Monday, Whit Monday as the English call it, was a reason to have a civil holiday, as well as a religious observance.

The Monday after Pentecost in 1970 His Holiness Pope Paul VI rose bright and early and went to the chapel for Holy Mass. Instead of the red he expected, there were green vestments laid out for him. 

He queried the MC assigned that day, "What on earth are these for?  This is the Octave of Pentecost!  Where are the red vestments?"

"Santità," quoth the MC, "this is now Tempus ‘per annum’.  It is green, now. The Octave of Pentecost is abolished."

"Green? That cannot be!", said the Pope, "Who did that?"

"Holiness, you did."

And Paul VI wept.

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132 Responses to A Pentecost Monday lesson: “And Paul VI wept.”

  1. HighMass says:

    Then Why didn’t Paul VI change it back??? Why was so much done away with??? Bugnini???

  2. A sign of the managerial skills of Paul VI. Holy Pope, not always the best planner.

    I wept at the Mass of Pentecost today because it was not Solemn in any regard. Well, there was a deacon there…that is about as solemn as it got.

  3. mdillon says:

    The closing song for today Mass Pentecost was “Shine Jesus, shine.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gr5Y63bDNNg). Once “Shine Jesus, shine” starts playing the Liturgical celebration is over. Needless-to-say, I did not wait for the priest to profess out.

  4. My sermon today focused on… bullet points…

    The birth of the Church.

    The soul gives form to the body.

    The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary at the Incarnation.

    Mary is Mother of God.

    Mary was present at Pentecost.

    She was given special graces to be Mother of the Church.

    The Holy Spirit is given to us at baptism, when we become members of the Church.

    Mary is our Mother.

    We receive the "seal" of ownership of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation.

    What confirmation does for us in our particular vocations.

    We must call on Mary and the Holy Spirit in our vocations.


  5. Matthew in Vancouver says:

    Happy Pentecost Father!

    Three questions:

    1. Were the days of the Octave considered Solemnities as they are in the Octave of Easter? or are they lesser feasts?

    2. Is the Octave still celebrated by those using the traditional calendar?

    3. In theory, could Pope Benedict reinstate the Octave? I know that in practice it would be a totally different issue.

  6. TNCath says:

    So much lost. However, there is so much we are beginning to regain.

  7. Norah says:

    I don’t believe this story. [OK. Just relating what I heard.] If Pope Paul was so upset he could have changed what was happening. I find it difficult to reconcile the man who presided over so many changes in the Church which watered down the Faith with the man who wrote the most beautiful, inspiring encyclicals and exhortations. [Then you don't know much about Paul VI.]

  8. Warren says:

    mdillon – I feel your pain.

    5 o’clock Mass at the cathedral was not much better. Appropriate first hymn, but dragged on long after the priest arrived at the chair. The Greeting was followed by welcoming niceties (ugh). The Penitential rite always misses some part. The Psalm was sung: cantor from the piano always massacres the text (neuters it, rushes it, etc.). Sequence was replaced with a sappy feel good hymn not even close to the Sequence text. Gospel acclamation – generic verse from Celtic Alleluia (not even close to proper). Closing hymn actually one meant for Ascension.

    The consecration was handled with due care and solemnity.

  9. I traveled an hour to the diocese next door in order to attend a non-kookburker Mass, at the parish I go to attend the EF Mass once a month. Father is very big on “say the black, do the red.” It was the first sane Novus Ordo Mass I had been to since I don’t know when.

  10. Well, thanks be to God, our Holy Father Pope Benedict, and SP, the Masses of the Pentecost Octave will be said in various places…not universally…yet across the globe…
    This is a very sad tale; we must pray that the Pentecost Octave be restored in both Forms.
    For whatever reason (and I don’t want to even go there) this was changed in the OF…but with the proliferation of the EF, even if not in the locale of readers here, it is happening. The Lord is going to bring about great spiritual fruits from this. Pray, hope and don’t worry (St. Padre Pio).

  11. Geoffrey says:

    “I don’t believe this story. If Pope Paul was so upset he could have changed what was happening. I find it difficult to reconcile the man who presided over so many changes in the Church which watered down the Faith with the man who wrote the most beautiful, inspiring encyclicals and exhortations.”

    I don’t know if I believe this story either. I find it hard to believe any Pope would be caught “unawares” like that. [OK.]

    I think the changes that took place were done in good faith, with no intention of watering down the Faith.

  12. Scelata says:

    Who was this Master of Ceremonies, and did he ever go on record with this anecdote? [Not to my knowledge. But he told me.]

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

  13. Jack Hughes says:

    sounds like a great sermon Father, much better than the one I heard yesterday, you didn’t record it by any chance?

  14. Mass today at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Palo Alto CA, was sung by the St. Ann Choir under the direction of Prof. Paul Mahrt. It was Monteverdi’s Missa da Cappella with the Gregorian Propers. The readings were sung in English according to the Gregorian tones (the Gospel, by the celebrant, to the Dominican tone since I know no other)–otherwise all was in Latin. Canon I was used, also sung. The congregation sang, with gusto all the responses and the Sequence.

    My sermon made the following points:

    Paracletus means “advocate” or “lawyer”; Christ is the first Advocate, but more like a “barrister” pleading our case before the Father. He promised “another advocate” (more like a “soliciter”) who guides us and counsels us outside of court. That is the primary role of the Spirit as Paraclete, not the charismatic gifts. The Fathers link this role of the Paraclete to Conscience. Which is falsely understood today to be to decide in abstract what is right or wrong. Aquinas teaches us that “conscience is about positive practical judgment, not abstract moral theory as to right and wrong. This Paraclete will remind us what he told us: that is what is objectively right or wrong, which is expressed in the Bible and the teaching of the Church.

    There are three things we can do to allow the “solicitor” Spirit to guide us: be humble and admit that we are corrupted by the culture; reform our consciences by reading the Scriptures and the Catechism; consult a priest in confession when we are perplexed. If we open ourselves by this discipline, then the Spirit will be there to guide us when he have to make life and death decisions.

    The congregation seemed to like both the music and the sermon.

  15. becket1 says:

    Your right Fr, Augustine. The Holy Spirit led me to my local Eastern Orthodox Church for a beautiful celebration of the Divine Liturgy for the feast of Pentecost. Beautiful Byzantine Chant by the talented parish choir, incense, and two priests and a deacon presiding, with six altar boys and ad-orientum worship. I highly doubt any of the NO only Churches here in northern Bucks County PA had anything close to the beauty. To bad there are no Dominicans Friars or Benedictine Monks in this neck of the woods.

  16. becket1 says:

    I don’t believe this story. [OK. Just relating what I heard.] If Pope Paul was so upset he could have changed what was happening. I find it difficult to reconcile the man who presided over so many changes in the Church which watered down the Faith with the man who wrote the most beautiful, inspiring encyclicals and exhortations. [Then you don’t know much about Paul VI.]

    The Pope was really Angelo Bugnini. What he wanted he got. A whole new Mass and Divine Office, which every Catholic had to use or be cast out.

  17. Mary G says:

    I too was disappointed. White vestments, group of children surrounding Father at the Consecration imitating him in elevating both the Host and the Precious Blood, no Creed, no Prayer for peace, no pause after holy Communion and we were dismissed within 40 minutes. Oh yes, we did sing two hymns to the Holy Spirit.

  18. Kaneohe says:

    I thought about this story this evening while putting away vol 2 of the LOL and taking out vol 3… I kept thinking what a shame to return so quickly to ordinary time and be back to Job in the office of readings…

    “…the Lord giveth, and some nitwit “councillor” taketh away…”

  19. cmm says:

    Today’s Pentecost Mass:
    All hymns around the theme “Come Holy Spirit”
    Gloria, sequence, alleluia, Agnus Dei in Latin.
    Creed in English, chanted, single-tone

    Homily, as best as I can remember: Before language came the wind and fire. The fire of the Holy Spirit possessed the apostles entirely. Are we willing to let ourselves also be radically changed by the fire of the Holy Spirit? This is the birthday of the Church. Quote from Pope Benedict’s speech in Portugal about the “terrifying” sin in the Church. Call to renewal.

    That was in St James’ Cathedral in Seattle where I am visiting.

  20. See Code of Canon Law, Can. 1364 §1

  21. becket1 says:

    Fr Augustine, I think the priest referred to in this post is a candidate for 1364.1


  22. MikeJ9919 says:


    May I make a suggestion? I am from Bucks County, and if you are inclined (either by heritage or preference) to the Eastern style of liturgy, try St. Anne’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Warrington: http://stanneukrainiancc.com/. From their website, it even appears that in July, their Metropolitan Archbishop Stefan Soroka (head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the United States) will be celebrating a Pontifical Divine Liturgy, Blessing, and Dedication of their new iconostasis and iconography.

    And Fr. Z has posted repeatedly about opportunities to attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form in the Philadelphia area.

  23. becket1 says:


    I know the priest at St Anne’s. And yes I have heard about Archbishop Stephan coming in July. As to my attending a local Eastern Orthodox Church, the priest at St.Anne.s, who is also the priest at Presentation of Our Lord, which is closer, has no problems with me attending as long as I know the rules. As for the EF Masses in the Philly area. I refuse to drive over thirty miles one way to attend one. I already put over 500 miles a week on my car. So you can see my reason for not attending an EF Mass so far away. Let me know when a regularly scheduled EF Mass or Anglican Use Mass is available in the Upper Bucks County region.

  24. becket1 says:

    I would just like to see the Dominicans, Cistercians, or Benedictines return to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Since they seem to be the only ones of the older religious orders who are doing anything in regards to the Pope’s Reform of the Reform.

  25. becket1 says:

    The Augustinians and Franciscans in the area care less.

  26. asperges says:

    I used to think ill of Paul VI: a man entirely unprepared and unsuitable for his office. In fact this is probably still true, but history shows how he was manipulated and bullied by evil men around him. He must have suffered terribly. fortunately times move on and the damage is being repaired little by little.

    Today is the Monday of Pentecost, not Ordinary Time for many of us. DDeo Gratias

  27. Fr. Z

    You wrote, “In some places in the world such as Germany and Austria Pentecost Monday, Whit Monday as the English call it, was a reason to have a civil holiday, as well as a religious observance.”

    In Austria, Pentecost Monday is still a holiday.

  28. shin says:

    “I used to think ill of Paul VI: a man entirely unprepared and unsuitable for his office. In fact this is probably still true, but history shows how he was manipulated and bullied by evil men around him. He must have suffered terribly. fortunately times move on and the damage is being repaired little by little.”

    I’d be interested in this history, because the buck stops with him, and he is the one who destroyed it all ultimately. The work of millenia in moments. We like to absolve our popes. But I don’t think he can escape what he did, nor his successors for following the path he laid.

  29. New Sister says:

    Isn’t it absurd, then, that “progressives” – the very ones who support the “rupture” that abolished the octave of Pentecost – often repeat the line, “prior to Vatican II, the Church didn’t talk about the Holy Spirit…”

  30. nzcatholic says:

    I read the sequence at the traditional mass in my missal. It really is a beautiful peice of work

  31. RichardR says:

    George Weigel recently had a column in our dioscesan paper explaining that neither John Paul II or Benedict XVI could be held responsible on any level for the recent sexual abuse scandles since they (a) have no direct authority over the bishops and priests and (b) don’t really know what is going on “out in the field. since all they know is what they are told by the people who surround them. (It made them sound impotent and ineffectual.) It appears from your story and some of the comments that Paul VI was in the same situation regarding the liturgy. Has the Holy Spirit abandoned the papacy?

  32. Leonius says:

    My dad always referred to Pope Paul VI as the most persecuted Pope of our time, “they tortured that poor man” been his words. People born after his reign often don’t realise just what many of the Bishops, Priests and laity put that man through, I know I didn’t but bit by bit it has became clearer.

    Pope Paul VI was a simple man who suffered from a terrible weakness in a Pope, he wanted his children to love him and this desire to be loved left him terribly vulnerable when he found himself surrounded by children who had been turned into ravening wolf’s by the social revolutions that were sweeping through the whole of society at that time and had infected the souls of Catholics.

    The story of the open rebellion by the priests and Bishops all over the Catholic world in response to Humanae Vitae is now well documented whether it was the group led by Fr Charles Curran in the US or the Bishops of Canada and their infamous Winnipeg Statement. But this is only the most well known part of the revolution so much more will have been going on behind closed doors we can be sure of that.

    The Popes enemies in all ages would do well to remember that “They who would eat the Pope will die of it.”

  33. Leonius says:

    “George Weigel recently had a column in our dioscesan paper explaining that neither John Paul II or Benedict XVI could be held responsible on any level for the recent sexual abuse scandles since they (a) have no direct authority over the bishops and priests and (b) don’t really know what is going on “out in the field. since all they know is what they are told by the people who surround them. ”

    Richard that is how all leaders work, whether it is the director of Walmart or the general of an army they are totally reliant on the lower ranks, it is not a perfect system but when your governing a global organisation with over a billion members unfortunately to govern it at all you have to have a huge amount of delegation.

    This is actually not even as bad as it used to be when the Pope hardly ever used to leave Italy as now the Pope often visits the field to see for himself, that is what he was doing during his trip the the US recently and also what he will be doing in Britain, he is a general visiting the front lines to see for himself.

    On the other hand one thing that is worse now is that one time the Pope could rely on the temporal governors of a nation for support, now he can’t. And so the Pope’s power to govern is totally reliant on the consent of the governed, this is why he is reduced to governing by suggestion and proposal, because he does not have the power to impose his will even he wanted to.

    The worst punishment he can inflict is excommunication and people who resist the Pope’s authority stopped caring about that nearly five hundred years ago when it became almost a badge of honour among certain circles and often does more harm than good as its positive effects only work on people who actually hold the Catholic Faith.

  34. pberginjr says:

    We had red vestments but Veni Sancte Spiritus was sung in English (to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy), and we haven’t had the Confiteor for the penitential rite in months (not even during Lent). We did have a great homily though and the Canon (since it was a “holy day of the church year”).

  35. Jacobitess says:

    This will likely open a can of thoroughly unwanted worms, but this tale reminds me of a moment in Malachi Martin’s brilliant (and, believe it or not, balanced) novel ‘Vatican.’ As he masterfully winds his way through the intricacies, victories, and scandals involving the world’s smalled city state from the end of WWII on, the author depicted a very poignant moment after Pope Paul VI (alias Papa de Brescia in the novel) has dismissed two very modern cardinals from his presence.

    In that moment, he is faced with pictures of nuns wearing jewelry and make-up, priests with ‘dates,’ and altars without crucifixes. He recalls the warnings of more traditional clerics, whom he had dismissed as mistaken, and is overwhelmed by the onslaught of error penetrating the Church. Sinking into an armchair, he breaks into histerical sobs while trying to recite the Apostle’s Creed, repeating over and over, “I believe in the Holy Spirit…the Holy Catholic Church.’

    Whether one believes Father Malachy Martin to have been a faithful Catholic or no, this book is well-worth reading for its candid, yet sympathetic, portrayal of all the Pontiffs who have had us thoroughly confused.

  36. ikseret says:

    I believe Bugnini in his book on the “reform” oft mentions the Pope’s unease with many of the changes but eventual acquiescence.

    Is there a book specifically about Paul VI and the liturgy?

    If such stories about Paul are true it is very troubling. What does it mean when the Pope approves something without advertence and subsequently thinks it regretable?

    And if the Supreme Pontiff was truly displeased with the reform, it makes a good argument for a restoration of the traditional – perhaps incorporating some experiential insights, but ultimately abandoning the -Enlightenment- Novus Ordo project.

    Finally, as a separate issue, isn’t it strange that the Pope who changed the Roman liturgy was ordained for the Ambrosian rite?

  37. doanli says:

    I sneaked over again to the church that has the EF Mass (except for the Summer months)…beautiful, beautiful Mass. Loads of altar boys, incense, at least 3 adult men in that procession other than Father. Lots of young people and young families attending…it was wonderful. (I’m sorry some of you had a negative experience yesterday.)

  38. SGCOLC says:

    I believe the story. I can believe a good man can have strong convictions, but be uncertain of himself and accede to others more than he ought. I can even believe a good man can watch himself allowing things, out of weakness, he doesn’t believe in, and finding himself unable to rally the courage to do something about it. And sometimes, things just get away from us…

    At any rate, my choir (in reduced numbers) chanted the Veni Sancte Spiritus before the Gospel, and the Veni Creator during communion, as well as the Regina Caeli for the last time. We had a priest from Food for the Poor who gave the homily, which he managed to somewhat relate to the feast.

  39. Henry Edwards says:

    Whether or not the story is literally true in every detail — I myself accept the account at face value — it is entirely believable of a holy pope who first had such good intentions, and then such regret when it all seemed to fall apart so soon, and finally (as I understand) spent the last years of his life in much pain because the great expectations of the Council were not being realized on his watch.

    At any rate, I myself am feeling no such pain today, because after a beautiful high Mass yesterday — with MC, incense, bells, torchbearers and a large schola chanting the Veni sequence right and proper, preceded with Asperges in red cope — I assisted in the quiet of dawn this morning at a very quiet low Mass of Pentecost Monday (red Roman vestments, of course) and perhaps in this wonderful circumstance the priest’s quiet recitation of the Veni preceding the Gospel was perhaps even more satisfying. (And the blessed absence of any weekday homily was definitely satisfying).

    Actually, after the elaborate 1.5 hour high Mass yesterday, and then attendance at part of the impressively sung Byzantine Divine Litury that follows it in our parish, the quiet 40-minute low Mass this morning probably left me feeling the very best. (Though of course it’s not all about me, etc etc etc.)

  40. doanli says:

    I feel very badly for Pope Paul VI reading these comments. Poor man, I have the same faults myself. At least he didn’t do it diabolically.

  41. marthawrites says:

    becket1: We are blessed in York County, PA, to have a young Capuchin friar who learned the EF from an FSSP priest and now offers that form each weekday morning before the regularly scheduled Masses, i.e. EARLY. So I had the privilege of reading the Pentecost Monday prayers today. He is in the same province–St. Augustine, based in Pittsburgh–as some of those indifferent or even hostile Franciscan priests you mention who serve in Philadelphia. I ache for their close-mindedness.

  42. The Astronomer says:

    First off, I need to go to confession, as I left the local NO Mass early due to the outright disrespect and pure idiocy of the proceedings. We had a visiting Mexican priest who could only speak the most fractured English (he ministers to the local ‘undocumented’ migrant Catholic community), so we had Deacon Bob pretty much do everything but the confection of the Blessed Sacrament. His Solemnity of Pentecost 20 minute homily was about the courageousness of the 1959 Glassboro State College soccer team and how they prevailed against the visiting team from Lincoln College packed with Kenyan and Nigerian ‘ringers.’ (As the Good Lord is my witness, I wish I was inventing this) Then, although NOT ONE PERSON in our central NJ parish speaks a word of FRENCH (yup, FRENCH) and there were NO French speaking guest worshipers in attendance, a good portion of the remainder of the NO Mass was loudly and simultaneously translated into French by a woman standing on the altar with a microphone. This was the brainchild of the parish lay liturgy committee to ‘illustrate the confusion’ the early faithful must have felt when they heard the disciples speaking in their native tongues.

    My wife is a convert from Presbyterianism and at about the halfway point, I thought I could see the steam of anger at this charade coming out of her ears. I wanted to stand up and yell “What in the Name of God are you doing here?” I know it was not right to leave, but I was afraid of either bursting out laughing or venting my frustration in a most unbecoming way. After we left, my wife looked at me and said “I don’t care if we have the drive an hour or more to the ‘Old Mass,’ we are never setting foot inside that church again.”

    Interested in moving the NJ, Father Z?

  43. Phil says:

    I know a few priests who circumvent this in the OF during this week–they simply wear red and use Votive Masses of the Holy Spirit!

  44. Thom says:

    To Matthew’s second question in Vancouver: yes, the Octave is still celebrated in the traditional calendar. That calendar has not changed since 1962 (or whenever the last pre-Council change occurred). A blessed Pentecost Monday to you!

  45. Mitchell NY says:

    I believe the story, it was all too often that Pope Paul VI seemed to not know what was going on around him and had little control over it due to his emotional state. In the end he was so distraught over his close friend, Aldo’s death that it is said by some he could barely function. Reason enough to review many of the decisions he took during his Pontificate, and render them void if necessary. ANn Pope Benedict is a Pope who cares deeply for the liturgy and the entire external and well as internal disposition of the Church and her people. He will be the one to restore much of what was lost in haste or simply ignorance. I too believe Pope Paul VI was a tortured man inside that by the end was external. We must pray for him.

  46. The Astronomer says:

    Just to reiterate, we felt like doggy-doo for leaving early and will go to confession for it, but in retrospect, I think if Pope Paul VI wept, it may have been at realizing the implications at his actions taken and their future consequences. I feel truly heartsick over having left Mass, no matter how goofy or disrespectful. I thought to myself, there are two ways of looking at this disrespectful charade from a spiritual perspective. As the Mass is the bloodless re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Calvary, either I was spiritually consoling Our Lord as the Roman soldiers ‘scourged Him anew’ or by my silent participation in this farce, I was no better than one of those Roman soldiers.

  47. Charivari Rob says:

    Very nice Masses Saturday night and Sunday morning.

    A full roster of good music Saturday night, including the Veni Sancte Spiritus, Veni Creator Spiritus, and Anima Christi, as well as the psalm. A new volunteer from out of the congregation on Sunday morning to help prepare the music there. Thought-provoking homilies at both.

    What part of Central NJ, Astronomer, if I may ask?

  48. JCCMADD says:

    Sorry to say I have no pitty for that poor man who sold his tirra to the world and destory and did more damage too holy mother church..May God have mercy on him.

  49. stilicho says:

    It was a very nice NO Mass complete with all smells and bells. Our semenarian sang the Sequence in Latin a cappella. Very haunting and beautiful.

  50. pelerin says:

    Interested to see Phil’s comment regarding priests circumventing having to ignore the Pentecost octave in the New Rite. This morning I noticed that the Chalice covering (sorry don’t know its correct name) was green and felt quite disappointed after the scarlet of yesterday. But then the Priest came up to the altar and changed it to scarlet. Although he celebrates both the EF and the OF now, the morning Masses during the week are always OF so I was confused. On entering vested in scarlet he announced that he was celebrating a Votive Mass of Pentecost thus carrying on the feast of Pentecost at the same time as obeying all the rubrics – wonderful!

  51. Jacob says:

    I don’t believe this story. [OK. Just relating what I heard.] If Pope Paul was so upset he could have changed what was happening. I find it difficult to reconcile the man who presided over so many changes in the Church which watered down the Faith with the man who wrote the most beautiful, inspiring encyclicals and exhortations. [Then you don’t know much about Paul VI.]
    Comment by Norah — 23 May 2010 @ 11:19 pm

    Father Z (or anyone else): are you able to recommend a biography of Pope Paul VI that does justice to the man’s conflicts?

  52. Rob Cartusciello says:

    A great deal of damage was done to the Church because of misplaced faith in experts – be they liturgical or psychological – so I believe the story.

    As for Upper Bucks County, I have always had good experiences at Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown. The lower chapel is a replica of Czestochowa in Poland, and the Mass there is celebrated ad orientam.

    It has a special place in my heart. It’s where I proposed to my wife – and neither of us is Polish.

  53. joanofarcfan says:

    And we’ve been weeping ever since.

  54. TJerome says:

    Paul VI who promoted “collegiality”, “consensus” and the like, was ironically a tyrant when it came to imposing a radically different form of Mass on the Church. Given the loss of esteem for the papacy during my lifetime, I seriously doubt he could impose such sweeping changes today. Prominent laity would challenge him, if the heirarchy would not. I generally think of Hamlet when I think of Paul VI.

  55. MarkJ says:

    My family and I were blessed to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost at a sung High Traditional Mass at St. Margaret’s in Oceanside. The Sequence was chanted in Latin. Very reverent (as usual) and very Catholic.

    Why, oh why did the Church ever jettison this beauty? That will always be for me a great Mystery…

  56. MikeJ9919 says:


    I agree, Czestochowa is beautiful. Also, the priests there are very rigorous. I had one of the most penetrating Confessions of my life there one Holy Week.

  57. Leonius says:

    “Prominent laity would challenge him” TJerome

    Not if they supported the changes as the prominent laity did back then, do not make the mistake of transferring the situation we have today back into history. Pope Paul was facing a schism by the modernists and gave much of what he did in order to try and preserve the unity of the Church.

    With hindsight he probably made the wrong decision, and I say probably not because I like any of the changes but because an outright and open schism throughout the entire Catholic world could have perhaps done even more damage than what we have had since then.

    We will never know.

  58. New Sister says:

    Dear Mr. Edwards – it sounds like Heaven — where, may I ask, do you live to be so abundantly blessed?

  59. Sedgwick says:

    Ever come across the theory that Paul VI had a double? Check out the photographs:


    Hmmm…could that possibly explain why he seemed to have no knowledge of something he did, that was so devastating?

  60. TJerome says:

    Leonius, we would have been better off with schism. It would have separated the fake Catholics from the faithful ones.

  61. The Astronomer says:

    What part of Central NJ, Astronomer, if I may ask?
    Comment by Charivari Rob — 24 May 2010 @ 8:20 am

    Howell Twp in Monmouth County

  62. Tina in Ashburn says:

    I don’t have a problem believing the story. Pope Paul VI has always been an enigma to me, he certainly had the Faith, yet acted very weak.

    Some activities of recent popes remind me of the denial of Peter – a grave mistake, yet a saint. Our popes, and all clergy, are always due mercy and our prayers.

    Paul VI named the ‘smoke of Satan’ in the Church, so he must have been aware of the evil men and onerous bureaucracy. The heartbreak in his face is apparent in photographs.

    What will our Church do from here? There are so many things to repair, what is taking so long? Laity and clergy continue to suffer – when will our suffering be addressed?

    Have we forgotten how the Jews wandered the desert for their sins? We suffer for our sins – the hierarchy runs off in situations and leaves us the sheep to fend for ourselves. Do we really believe we deserve a Church that men have held in contempt? Humanity always suffers because of evil choices of man. I have to remind myself to offer up the tragic circumstances in our Church today for my sanctification [helplessly witnessing awful Masses included]. Perhaps our sufferings will bring about the changes we so desperately desire.

    Yesterday my husband and I had to attend a Mass that we don’t normally attend. Although our parish priest is utterly orthodox, some parish occurrences completely mystify me. The first line of the opening hymn were words to the effect of asking Jesus to send forth his Spirit. [Fortunately I am not familiar with this heretical hymn]. I immediately turned to my Baptist-raised husband whispering, “God the Father sends the Spirit, not Jesus!”, hoping I could deflect the incorrect teaching in his hearing.

    The effects of the Reformation [bad hymns at Mass] and changes after Vatican II continue to mislead the Faithful. How long oh Lord?

  63. becket1 says:

    Quote: “As for Upper Bucks County, I have always had good experiences at Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown. The lower chapel is a replica of Czestochowa in Poland, and the Mass there is celebrated ad orientam.”

    True!, but they (Pauline Order) are extremely hostile to anything not in the Polish language or English. Especially Latin. Several years ago a fine young priest Fr Angelus was removed from the order for saying the Mass in Latin.

    Let’s face facts here people. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is a bastion of Novus Ordoism!!. And contemporary Novus-Ordoism mind you. Even the Norbetines of Daylesford are hostile. Sent a kind email to their Abbot, about the Extraordinary Form, and never received a single reply!!.


    Nothing like the Nordertines in California, or the UK. The complete opposite!. But then again I think only one of the Norbertines in Daylesford is under fifty.

    Sorry for the Rant!

  64. wolfeken says:

    Astronomer — you have traditional Latin Masses every Sunday just 25 miles north of you in Rumson and 25 miles south of you in North Middletown.

    It sounds like you’re going to go to them every week now. Good for you. Be sure to let your Howell pastor know about this in writing (along with a formal request for a TLM at that parish).

    We need to stop suffering (and complaining), folks, when there are options available to us.

  65. liebemama says:

    In Germany it is a holiday today. We attended a beautiful N.O. Mass in the Muenster Cathedral and the vestments were red.

  66. Dad of Six says:

    We had a great Pentecost! Not just one, but two first Holy Masses by two newly ordained priests.

    The first was an Solemn High E.F. orchestra Mass we sang at Assumption Grotto in Detroit (Hayden’s Paukenmesse). The second was a Latin N.O. at Immaculate Conception in Lapeer, that we sang with organ only (Gounod’s Convent Mass). Both were followed by First Blessings and great receptions…we’re still buzzing!

  67. Henry Edwards says:

    New Sister,

    I suppose most any place can look heavenly from a sufficient distance with only the positive selected and accentuated. You can look at http://www.knoxlatinmass.net for information about our local community.

    The two Masses I mentioned were in adjacent parishes in which I am registered. Our Sunday EF Missa Cantata is in an old traditional looking church with its original high altar. The early morning low Mass is a “private” daily Mass just started in a typical modern in-the-round-church.

    A half dozen years ago, our diocese probably had not seen a TLM in 35 years, and the current situation – with a half dozen priests who celebrate the TLM, all but one ordained in the last 10 years – would have seemed impossible to imagine.

    Ditto (and perhaps more significantly) with the most recent daily OF Mass I attended last week. The celebrant processed in wearing a beautiful Roman chasuble carrying chalice in veil topped with burse, preceded by a single adult male server in surplice and cassock. No singing, the congregation reciting the day’s Introit. Not a single extemporaneous word preceding the Sign of the Cross (nor anywhere else in the Mass). Straight to the Confiteor, then the Kyrie in Greek after the Absolution. Silent Offertory with the priest visibly whispering his prayers, quietly recited Roman Canon with no saints nor any of the half dozen optional Through Christ Our Lord’s omitted. The Sanctus, Per ipsum ….. per omnia saecula saeculorum, and Agnus Dei in Latin, no hands held or handshakes anywhere, most everyone receiving HC on the tongue, prayer to St. Michael at the end of Mass and “Most sacred heart of Jesus, Have mercy on us” (thrice) as the celebrant and server processed out in silence.

    Of course, the other side of the coin is visible hereabouts to those who want it (as many do). But I never see it myself, because I stay away from bad liturgical news, and hence account only the good.

  68. pattif says:

    I have heard this story before, although it might have been via a circuitous route that originated with Fr Z.

    Another story I have heard relates that, because Pope Paul was deeply suspicious of the Curia, as a result of his experience as Sostituto under Pope Pius XII, he was vulnerable to Bugnini’s playing of the “I’m a victim, too” card. During the period when the Consilium was at work, therefore, Bugnini enjoyed almost exclusive access to HH, resulting in scenes like this:

    B: Your Holiness, the Consilium want to delete the Cursing Psalms.

    HH: What?!

    B: I know. I don’t agree with them, but they are most insistent.

    HH: Very well. If they’re certain, let it be as they request.

    B: Colleagues, I have had a very strange request from the Holy Father. He wishes that the Cursing Psalms should be deleted.

    Consilium: What?!

    B: I know. I don’t agree myself, but the Holy Father is most insistent.

    C: Very well. If that is the wish of the Holy Father, let it be so.

    My own private theory on the Liturgical Reform/Deform is that, as has been observed above, Pope Paul was rather weak in that he just wanted everyone to love him. Having done an undoubtedly courageous thing in promulgating Humanae Vitae, he was completely unequipped to deal with the explosion, including the disgraceful dissent from many of his own bishops. I think he resolved never to put himself in that situation again, and therefore just accepted everything that was presented to him as coming from the Consilium, on the basis of “If that’s what they want, then let them have it.”

  69. irishgirl says:

    I was almost nine years old when Pope Paul VI was elected, and I remember the craziness that went on in the Church under his tenure. All I read in the papers or saw on the TV news were stories of ‘dissident priests and rebellious nuns’.

    I remember when his friend Aldo Moro was murdered by the Red Brigades in the 1970s. It was said that the Holy Father needed an injection of heart meds because of the shock of the news of Moro’s death.

  70. New Sister says:

    M. Henry Edwards – “The Most Beautiful Thing This Side of Heaven” indeed – thanks!

  71. Leonius says:

    “Leonius, we would have been better off with schism”

    I have often felt that way but ratehr telling for me none of the Popes agree with you including our current Pope judging by the way he is implementing his reforms he could have easily taken a “this is the way it is if you don’t like it leave” approach but he hasn’t, instead he is doing things like inviting the Anglicans to become Catholics while maintaining their Anglican practices etc.

  72. Jason Keener says:

    Father Z, I believe your story is most likely true. I have a friend who worked at the Vatican for years in the area of sacred music and was close to Paul VI’s Papal Household. I have heard stories about Paul VI walking around his apartment during the last days of his life lamenting, “What have I done? What have I done?”

  73. mpm says:


    “you have traditional Latin Masses every Sunday just 25 miles north of you in Rumson and 25 miles south (not) of you in North Middletown.”

    Actually, E. Middletown is North of Rumson.

    So, depending on where in Howell exactly,

    a) St. Catherine Laboure, North Middletown (East Keansburg) is actually NNE of you (take GSP to exit 116, get on Van Shoick northbound 3 miles then right onto Middle Road, 1/2 mi, then left onto Harmony Road, left at “T-junction” on Bray, 2 blocks to church. The TLM is the 9 am Sunday Mass, and usually Noon Mass on Monday and Friday (these are not “published”).

    b) Holy Cross, Rumson is a bit more easterly then St. Catherine’s. Head towards the Seabright/Rumson bridge, while looking for Holy Cross School on the left before you reach the bridge. Make left at Ward Ave for Church. I don’t know the schedule there (so I would call ahead of time), as St. Catherine’s is much closer to where I live.

    Google works well for both; Diocese of Trention website is harder to use for looking parishes up.

  74. mpm says:

    Correction to prior post:

    To get to N. Middletown, exit 114 off GSP (not 116, which is the Arts Center). Sorry.

  75. Geoffrey says:

    On a more positive note, it would seem that some extra “solemnity” is encouraged for the week after Pentecost in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. For example, at the end of the Mass of the Day, the Missale Romanum says:

    “Ubi feria II vel etiam III post Pentecosten sunt dies quibus fideles debent vel solent Missam frequentare, resumi potest Missa dominicæ Pentecostes, vel dici potest Missa de Spiritu Sancto.”

    And the Ordo lectionum Missae says:

    “Ubi feria II vel etiam III post Pentecosten sunt dies quibus fideles debent vel solent Missam frequentare, resumi possunt lectiones Dominicæ Pentecostes ut supra, vel sumi possunt lectiones in conferenda Confirmatione.”

    And the Liturgia Horarum says:

    “Feria V post dominicam Pentecostes: Officium D.N.I.C. Summi et Æterni Sacerdotis.”


  76. JosephMary says:

    Yes, many have cried along in sympathy with Paul VI ever since over what has happened to our holy Mass.

    The first TLM I went to was a couple of years ago in Fall River on a Saturday morning. The habited sisters sang and it was so beautiful and in that incredible church of St. Anthony of Padua. At Communion I just asked the Lord over and over why we had to lose this beautiful Mass.

    I did not know there was ever an octave of Pentecost until today when I heard about it on Catholic radio coming home from Mass. It makes sense though that we should.

    I know how Astronomer feels. I am like that when I visit my son. I try to never be in that town on a Sunday but had to go to Mass there for Thanksgiving and Christmas–had skits and ladies running about and other innovations. Father says that he knows that Mass is good “When I am having fun”. I hope to never attend the farce they make of Mass there ever again.

    Our Pentecost was not upsetting. We did not, thanks be to God, have to listen to “Sing to the MOuntain” or “We come to tell our story” this week but now with ordinary time we will go back to all those yucky songs that try to pass as hymns. I have complained to the music director but he says Mass is about the community and is about us and our story and the priest is just one of us too.

    I am able to attend a low Mass a couple of times a month thanks to a FSSP priest that makes the trip here. Have not been to a high Mass as such in full splendor. FSSP parish is 75 miles away.

  77. albizzi says:

    In addition I sent Fr Zuhlsdorf some disturbing pictures but I don’t think he noticed these well among the huge number of e-mails he is accustomed to receive daily.

  78. wolfeken says:

    mpm — Good clarification on New Jersey TLMs. I was actually going for Saint Vincent’s TLM in Yardville. But that is actually west, not south, from Howell. But still easily driveable. So I guess there are three TLMs within 30 miles from Howell. Not a bad start.

  79. mpm says:


    Good to know about Yardville also. Yes, we have TLMs around hear, but there are clergy who speak about those priests who serve the TLM (even their fellow diocesans) as kooks, and crazies. I completely sympathize with Astronomer.

    It also illustrates, IMHO, what priests who want to implement Pope Benedict’s reforms are up against (even regarding the Englished liturgy): ignorant, willful, dumb, uncultured, “know-it-all”, but protected, lay committees who stand in their way, so my (putative) hat is off to all such priests.

    “LEM”, “lay ecclesiastical minister” or “lunar extra-ecclesiastical moron”? You be the judge!

  80. PghCath says:

    Yesterday, I attended an OF “Chant Mass,” which normally means a Mass in English accompanied by traditional chant. Even without the chant, this particular parish offers the best OF Mass around- Father uses the Benedictine arrangement and exudes love for the Mass. Much to my delight, yesterday he did the entire consecration and the dismissal in Latin. This bit of bonus Latin made my Pentecost. I wish they could mint priests like him by the dozen.

  81. Charivari Rob says:

    Astronomer -

    wolfeken and mpm beat me to it, as I was going to mention St. Catharine’s.

    According to their websites, St. Catharine’s TLM is Sundays at 9 AM, Holy Cross is Sundays at 7 pm.

    In addition to those two and Yardville, you may not be too much further from Father Z.’s friends at Mater Ecclesiae… Never mind – just googled it – probably twice as far.

  82. For any of you that are interested, Peter Hebblethwaite’s “Paul VI: The First Modern Pope” is one of the best and comprehensive biographies on the subject. It’s been out of print for a while, but stray copies are available on amazon.com.

  83. avecrux says:

    I just stopped in to pay a visit at my parish and the first thought I’d had was how jarring the green cloth over the tabernacle looked.

  84. albizzi says:

    Dear Fr Zuhlsdorf,
    You cancelled my comment.
    Is Fr Villa’s book “on the Index”? Is this book speaking the truth about Paul VI or is it nothing but a stuff of slanders?
    At least please give me a reply on my private e-mail.
    What about the pictures I sent you?

  85. wolfeken says:

    BTW, I thanked Father Z here late last year for the above story, but this post reminds me to publicly thank him again.

    His Pentecost octave account made the editing cut of the New York Times, in the seventh paragraph of my November op-ed:

  86. Andrew says:

    I would cation against reading Peter Hebblethwaite’s biography. He also wrote a biography of John XXIII in which he makes a malicious assertion about the Pontiff, refuted later by credible witnesses.

  87. Astronomer: why don’t you attend the traditional Latin Mass at St. Catherine of Laboure in Middletown? It is a beautiful little church and the pastor is rock solid. Their traditional Latin Mass is at 9:30 a.m. on Sundays.

  88. Ikseret said: Is there a book specifically about Paul VI and the liturgy?

    Read Pope Paul’s New Mass, by Michael Davies. It is available here: http://www.angeluspress.org/oscatalog/item/8424/pope-pauls-new-mass?lineitem=1

  89. Agnes of Prague says:

    Pope Paul’s New Mass is “a whopper,” as my dad would say. It’s like a punch in the gut, but so well backed-up and even in tone that it is very convincing.

    I went to a local parish today and there were green vestments and the pastor even called attention to them during his homily. “What time is it now? Ordinary time! What is the ordinary work of Christians? Preaching the Gospel and serving people.” There were two young ‘girl altar boys’ as someone phrased it once, but the robes were tasteful and somehow the fact that they had neat fair bobs rather than the usual ponytails annoyed me less than usual; they looked like little angels (not older than 9 and 10, I guess; I think they were sisters). Before the Consecration they left the sanctuary and went to kneel outside it at the altar rails on either side… but when the priest came to give them Holy Communion they stood up. It was sad, but they only know what they’ve been told and I prayed for them to become saints.

    We got a lot of incense, which was lovely and smelt of cinnamon. Also, after Mass last time I was here the priest had us all offer one Hail Mary together. He said he had been asked to increase it to three, and said ‘let’s pray for vocations, which we need so much!’

  90. doanli says:

    One sour note: When I did attend the lovely EF Mass yesterday, there was one guy who stood up and received Holy Communion instead of kneeling like everyone else.

    I hope I was just sitting at a bad angle and they just told him he could stand beside the ones who had already filled the kneeler at the altar rail.

  91. eulogos says:


    People who have had knee replacements are told not to kneel. Or he might NEED a knee replacement and be unable to kneel. Some people have trouble kneeling and getting back up. Why don’t you just assume he had a physical problems?
    Susan Peterson

  92. Alice says:

    When I attended the EF, there were plenty of people who stood for Holy Communion, sometimes even children. Why? Because they couldn’t kneel. I used to think they should try harder, but as I got older, I injured my own knees a few times and realized that sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. (I’m still only old enough to remember records vaguely.)

  93. spock says:

    I heard that story about Pope Paul VI as well. If it’s unreal, then it’s probably coming from multiple directions.

    The post-VII psalter is in a 4 week cycle. I do my best to pray it but daily challenges makes that difficult at times. I have been told that the pre-VII psalter was the whole psalter in 1 week. Seems like a lot (~25 psalms/day). Is that true? Also, was it a requirement for diocesan as well as religious ? That is so much I don’t know how clergy could do anything else. Maybe I need an education here ?


  94. spock says:

    OK, I’m a little off. More like 21 psalms/day. ( I can’t dp math anymore today :) ) . THat’s still a lot.

  95. Maltese says:

    He also wept when he realized the council was spiralling out of control.

    As Charles Coulombe writes:

    “So, you might ask your author whether or no Vatican II was really an Ecumenical Council. Well, all the Catholic bishops were gathered to solemnly deliberate; the fact that it was all for naught in terms of dogma is beside the point. Those who demand that the Holy See one day openly disavow it ignore history. What is more likely to happen is that, after the present crisis is surmounted, it will be flushed down the memory hole with Constantinope II, Constance, and Basel. Present on the lists forever as: “21st Ecumenical Council: Vatican II, 1962-65, Dealt with pastoral problems.” There safely filed, scholars in 2567 will breeze over it to look at more impressive and important Councils, just as we breeze by Lateran V to look at Trent.

    Paul VI was not unaware that things were out of control at the Council. He took decisive action there: he wept.” [Puritan’s Empire, 513-514, emphasis added.]

  96. Andrew,

    I have not read Hebblethwaite’s biography of Blessed John XXIII, but his work on Paul VI was thoroughly engrossing as well as interesting.

  97. Timbot2000 says:

    John Zmirak was right, Paul VI really was the worst pope of all time. Sure, we had popes who were madmen, thieves, murderers, serial fornicators steeped in every sort of perversion, and political intruigers of the 1st order, but these usually seemed bored by the faith and left it alone. Paul VI OTOH signed off on the wholesale dismantling of the Church’s most precious charge, its liturgy, and his main response was to weep when he got around to realizing what he had allowed. I’ll say this for him, he makes JPII look even greater, and BXVI even greater still.
    May Benedict out-rule John Paul, and outlive Leo XIII.

  98. Geoffrey says:

    “…Paul VI really was the worst pope of all time… May Benedict out-rule John Paul…”

    I knew this thread would soon devolve into pope-bashing.

  99. patrick_f says:

    Popes shouldnt be bashed – Critiqued, maybe..maybe…by qualified individuals. I am far from that.

    What I DO Know is from a management perspective – It is VERY easy to be played the fool, especially when you have a good, kind heart. I think deep down, Paul VI had a good king heart. The problem is, people walk all over that when you present the opportunity.

    If the Second Vatican council was NOT dogmatic, which most people that visit this forum insist upon (and rightly so) then there is no basis whatsoever to criticize any pope for the council, along those lines. NOt once was any of this professed Ex Cathedra. There fore, to bash the pope for Vatican II, and things like the mass, are some what far fetched.

    Did Bugnini abuse his privilege? I am probably inclined to say, yes. BUt lets look at the position he had. For whatever reason, Paul Vi trusted him to give him that position . You dont make a total enemy (well…percieved total enemy) your most trusted advisor. I believe Bugnini, abused this privilege. I honestly dont think Paul had a clue what had happened until it was too late

    Make no doubt too – this was not the FIRST time in nearly 2000 years that the Supreme Pontiff hadnt been taking advantage of. We have numberous “Anti Popes” because of this. Many of them did far worse to the church, and recieved less Criticism then a humble man who I honestly think was a victim of Circumstance.

    Maybe Paul VI could have stopped all of this with a simple “Slam of the pastoral staff”. Would it have made things worse or better? No one can really tell that at this point. All we can do is hope, pray, and trust in the Holy Spirit, who creates the world (and the church) anew

    I think this pentecost season is an excellent time to reflect on that. Either we as a people can keep whining and complaining at the evils of Paul the VI, or we can pray for his soul, and more importantly the Holy Church that he once led, for better or worse.
    Some people would seriously have him added to Dante’s inferno, if the good man was still alive… Wasted energy.

    I seriously think we as catholics, spend far too much time looking at the negatives. God fixes everything in time. In the end, its the Holy Spirit that guides the church, and He will make things right. Atleast thats where i place my perspective trust.

    Does the Novus Ordo mass come up lacking in most cases? Yes. But, it is what I would guess 70 percent of catholics know and are used to. Benedict is smart in his approach as a pastor, in that , to use Fr. Z’s phrase, is taking a “brick by brick” approach. Look to the past, now apply that to the future – If Summorum Pontificum abolished the Novus Ordo – What then? You lose alot of people, simply because of lack of catechism, like it or not. The only effective course, is the one the Holy Father is taking, and I think in time, we will see magnificent fruits from it

  100. “Critiqued, maybe..maybe…by qualified individuals. I am far from that.” Thanks to the clericalism of the 20th century, most of the laity are convinced they are barely qualified to dress themselves in the morning without first consulting their bishop. Are we really to believe that in the most literate and educated society to have existed so few of the laity are qualified to critique the policies of a pontificate? Why is it that the laity can critique the pontificate of a Borgia pope, but not any pontificate of the 20th century?

    I’m afraid, Patrick, you have been brainwashed in this regard. If you are qualified to type what you did after you typed these words (i.e. have an opinion about the Church and religion in general), you are qualified to critique, in charity, of course, a former pontificate. It may sound all sweet and gentle to state that we peons may not critique a pope or his pontificate, but what it really is is a bow to a pernicious 20th century clericalism that casts the laity as a rabble of idiots drooling all over themselves.

    I don’t follow your logic here: “If the Second Vatican council was NOT dogmatic, which most people that visit this forum insist upon (and rightly so) then there is no basis whatsoever to criticize any pope for the council, along those lines. NOt once was any of this professed Ex Cathedra. There fore, to bash the pope for Vatican II, and things like the mass, are some what far fetched.”

    What does the dogmatic nature of VCII have to do with the policies of Pope Paul VI after the Council in regards to the Mass? If VCII was not a dogmatic Ecumenical Council, why can’t the popes and the fathers of the Council be criticized for introducing such a novel thing into the life of the Church?

    A bit of research would demonstrate that Pope Paul VI was very much influenced by the 20th Century Liturgical Movement. There’s no doubt that he supported Bugnini and Bugnini’s friends. That he probably came to regret his former position doesn’t negate the fact that he, like John before him, was squarely a “reformer” in the Bugnini camp.

    While I agree with you that we shouldn’t whine or waste energy, and certainly not confine these popes to the inferno, at the same time it is critically important that we understand the causal relations and the underlying factors that brought the Church to its current liturgical and doctrinal circumstances. To fail to do so will fail to give direction to the positive work of real reform because that reform will not have a sound starting point: http://arsorandi.blogspot.com/p/about-this-blog.html

  101. albizzi says:

    Pius XII dismissed Mgr Montini from his post in the Vatican due to a string of serious disobedience matters (concerning his secret “contacts” beyond the iron Curtain) about which the Pope was given obvious proofs. Very angrily he declined to name him a cardinal in order to be sure that he would never be papabile in a next conclave.
    Only a few weeks after John XXIII was elected, Montini was named a cardinal… Why?
    Is it politically incorrect to bring up this old story too?

  102. Maltese says:

    Mr. Antoniello: I think the verdict is still out as to whether he was “holy” or not. There is something hinky about the fact that he so quickly elevated Weakland:


    (more on Engels book here: http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=140926.0;wap2 )

    One good encyclical does not a good pope make.

  103. mpm says:

    Clearly, anyone can critique recent Popes, and often do. The wisdom of becoming attached to such critiques is not clear.

    To write a solid, judicious, thorough history of recent Popes, or Vatican II, an historian will need to spend a lot of time not just reading memoirs of actors deemed important, and books reporting on current events while those events have still not been appreciated fully, but even longer term trends in history.

    For example, what role did the trauma released by the French Revolution, and Napoleon, on the whole European continent, and especially on the Papal States, have in leading some Popes from Pio IX to forbid Italians from cooperating with the modern Italian state and politics? How did that policy come to an end? What effects did that experience have on the (political) thinking of Montini and other European prelates, including Popes? Did that have any impacts on the thinking of the bishops assembled at Vatican II when they wrote Gaudium et spes? If so, what were they? [Hint: Liberalism is opposed to Authoritarianism. In human affairs that may be OK; regarding the Bible or the Faith, it is poison. Why is that? How to distinguish one thing from the other in the Church's "praxis" (i.e., "lo pastorale"), so as to augment the Church's authority in preaching the Gospel?]

    Just to study what the answer to that question might be, one would need to read Latin, French, German, Italian, Spanish and even English source materials (primary and secondary); become familiar with canon law principles as they existed prior to the codification of CIC in 1917 (almost all Latin sources), become familiar with the “re sociale” (not the “re publica”) as it was addressed by Leo XIII, etc., etc.

    Objection: This has nothing to do with Liturgy!

    Response: Maybe, maybe not. What was of most concern to the Bishops who attended Vatican II? If it was not the Liturgy (I don’t think it was) how did their concern with other issues affect the nature of the liturgical changes, and how they came into effect?

    Book-series like that will eventually come into being, when historians can get at the facts: until then, critiques should not try to be too sweeping or too final.

  104. robtbrown says:

    I think it’s a mistake to blame Paul VI for all the mess. It’s also wrong to exempt him from any responsibility.

    1. John XXIII turned loose forces in the Church that neither he nor his successor could control. He understood that the Counter Reformation era in the Church was ending, that the Church needed to be invigorated, but he didn’t know what would take its place. He called the Council, then did little work in planning for it–he was not a theologian. At the first session he took the side of the Northern European progressives.

    2. Paul VI inherited the situation and did a p-poor job of managing it. Although he hadn’t intended the total vernacularization of liturgy and integration of Protestant elements in the mass, he bought the idea because he was interested in Ecumenism with the Protestants. Unfortunately, he was so interested in finding the lost sheep that he lost the flock.

    With the persecution of Lefebrve and the SSPX, I cannot understand how anyone could say PVI had a good heart.

    I think it important to note that in the Vatican is that Paul VI Museum of Modern Art.

    3. Both JXXIII and PVI made the same mistake: They took for granted the giant system of discipline (e.g., Latin liturgy with all its consequences, the formation in seminaries and religious houses). Then one day during the papacy of PVI, he looked up, and it was all gone. His response was tears–and blaming everyone else.

  105. Andrew says:


    Interesting comment! I ask myself often what did the Pope think when he permitted the total vernacularization of the Latin rite? Did he think Latin was not important? Did he think it would survive on the good will of select individuals? Then again: one could ask the same question about John Paul II and Benedict XVI and the overwhelming majority of prelates. Baffling! If Latin is not “required” how is it supposed to survive?

  106. Henry Edwards says:

    Although I tried to follow these things as closely in the 1960’s as so many of us do now, I was unable to understand what happened to the liturgy until recently I read Nicola Giampietro’s book The Development of the Liturgical Reform: As Seen by Cardinal Ferdinando Antonelli from 1948 to 1970. As a result, I now think Vatican II bashing less warranted than I once did.

    Msgr. Antonelli was a very dedicated and faithful Vatican officer who kept careful notes and meetings on the development of the liturgy during this 22-year period. Although his name is largely unknown today, he was at the center of all this development, and kept careful notes and minutes of all that he was involved in.

    Following his monumental 1947 encyclical Mediator Dei on the liturgy, Pope Pius XII appointed in 1948 a Pontifical Commission for the Reform of the Liturgy that worked for the next 12 years in preparation (as it turned out) for Vatican II’s consideration of the liturgy, with Antonelli as Secretary and Msgr. Bugnini as a member—with the two of them seemingly often at different poles. (It will come as a surprise to many to find that Pius XII then thought reform of the liturgy was not only desirable but necessary, in response to a world-wide liturgical reform movement that few pew-sitters were aware of.) Antonelli was probably behind Pius XII’s liturgical reforms, such as that of the Holy Week rites in 1955 and the 1958 instruction attempting to implement the 1903 actuosa participatio recommendations of Pius X. However, most would probably consider him quite traditional by today’s standards.

    But then, when in 1960 a new Preparatory Commission to draft a schema on the liturgy for the Council, Bugnini was its new secretary, and Antonelli was pretty much out of the picture until the Council itself began in 1962.

    It is sometimes suggested that the Council pretty much rubber-stamped Bugnini’s schema, but this is far from true. When the Conciliar Commission on the Sacred Liturgy was appointed in 1962, Antonelli had reappeared as its Secretary, and Bugnini had disappeared (banished, some say) and nothing was heard from him until after the Council (when he was brought back by Paul VI).

    This liturgical Commission held 50+ meetings to work methodically through 662 “interventions” submitted by Council Fathers (totaling 1200 printed pages of suggested amendments). There was much debate, available now for the first time in English (so far as I have seen) in the minutes of these meetings presented in this book. My impression of these meetings, in which the Council’s liturgical constitution Sacrosanctum Consilium was shaped, is that the deliberations were detailed and careful, based on the finest scholarship available in a Church having then a much finer historical memory than is generally apparent now.

    The Council Fathers as a whole voted on some 85 different amendments, and finally approved Sacrosanctum Concilium on Dec. 4, 1963 by a vote of 2,147 to 4 (with Ab. Lefebvre counted among the majority). On Dec. 8, Antonelli concluded an Observatore Romano article with the words

    ”When St. Peter’s Basilica resounded with these great words [of Sacrosanctum Concilium], the bones of St. Pius X exulted. The Constitution on the Liturgy is nothing but the precious fruit of a small seed sown by him [in his 1903 instruction with its emphasis on actuosa participation]. It is also the beginning of a new era in the liturgical life of the Church.”

    Amazingly, the book gives the impression that all three of these sentences make sense. It is possible to see continuity from Pius X through Pius XII to Sacrosanctum Concilium. But what the remainder of the book reveals is the almost unbelievable (except for those of us who lived through it) discontinuity that followed. An entirely new Consilium was appointed to implement the constitution on the liturgy, and who but Bugnini reappeared from nowhere to serve as its General Secretary.

    For any sense of the difference between what the Council did and what happened in its implementation, you must read the book itself. Only a fully documented account suffices to grasp the scope of it. But I believe almost anyone who reads it will find a different villain than solely the Council itself, because it seems clear from the minutes of all these meetings and deliberations that the Council Fathers themselves intended very little of what has since happened to the liturgy, and blamed by most on the Council. Their intentions were based firmly on Tradition and the Tridentine Mass, and it is this continuity that Pope Benedict is trying to reestablish in fidelity to Vatican II itself.

  107. doanli says:


    I did not even think there may have been something wrong with that man—thank you for admonishing me. I do have problems assuming the worse intentions in people. Something I need to work on with the Lord.

  108. robtbrown says:


    There are a lot of really good things in Sacrosanctum Concilium. There are also some that are not so good. In fact, Cardinal Koenig, the putative grand elector of JPII, said in an interview a few years ago that the document was not really very good.

    IMHO, the document is an attempt at compromise, with conflicting texts both being put inserted.

    BTW, met a priest in Rome whose doctoral research was on SC. He said that the man behind the scenes was Cardinal Montini.

  109. HighMass says:

    Mr. Edwards,

    Those of us who lived during that time period have nothing and I do mean nothing but horrid memories. One day the Holy Mass celebrated in a very sacred, very Holy, the next forget everything and it is the KUMBAYA generation, and they couldn’t wait! Guitars, drums, etc….I have also had the arguement with Liberals that the Mass of Today (VALID & HOLY) is not the Mass of the Council Fathers!!!

    Latin was thrown out, along with it the Beautiful Music, it was our Tradition, and NOW THANK GOD for POPE BENEDICT XVI.

    Just venting I guess, but the real villian here seems to be Bugnini and the Free Masons in the Vatican.


  110. doanli says:

    I was just a baby before the Mass was changed, but my earliest memory is of being aware of something holy going on, being in church, but other than that, I don’t remember the Latin Mass.

    I remember how more ugly the church that I grew up in became. (The guitar players playing alongside the altar— very loud!)

    My grandparents tried to find the most reverent Catholic church they could find. Grandma wore her mantilla all of her Catholic life. (She was a convert from the Lutheran Church.)

  111. Frank H says:

    Highmass – speaking of “Kumbaya”, we have seen this before…


  112. Henry Edwards says:

    Dr. Brown,

    Of course it is true that any complex document hammered out by contentious forces in a large committee likely will have similarities with a camel or a giraffe or both.

    My only point is the impression, from reading the minutes of the 50+ meetings of the Council’s own commission that drafted SC and steered it through the Council, that at this stage the parties involved were conscientious and knowledgeable and their discussions were careful and deliberate.

    Whereas all this changed after the Council when Bugnini (whom John XXIII had apparently banished) was brought in by Paul VI to supervise the implementation of SC. After that the considerations were disorderly and even chaotic, no minutes were kept, and no recorded votes were taken. Sometimes it was simply announced that a decision on an important matter had been made without anyone remembering exactly when or how it had been made.

    In regard to Paul VI, the following quotation from Antonelli’s personal notes from 1968:

    ”That which is sad ….. [is that] many of those who have influenced the reform, ….. have no love, and no veneration of that which has been handed down to us. They begin by despising everything that is actually there. This negative mentality is unjust and pernicious, and unfortunately, Paul VI tends a little to this side. They all have the best intentions, but with this mentality they have only been able to demolish and not to restore.”

    Because Msgr. Antonelli is generally so dispassionate in his voluminous notes, and nowhere else appears to breathe a word even slightly critical of the pope, this remark may say more than is obvious.

  113. MichaelJ says:

    I have a great deal of respect for your expertise and almost always defer to your well reasoned opinions, but this time, I’ll have to disagree with you.

    My problem with the Vatican II Council is not what it says or does not say or how it was putatively “hijacked” by malicious individuals, but with the fact that it exists at all. Once an Ecumenical Council is called for such frivolous reasons, it really does not matter what it ultimately says or does not say. At that point, the seed has already been planted that the Church must change to accommodate the political whims of the world.

    Since her founding, the Church has been hated by the world. Vatican II is the first Council I am aware of that was convened not to address an emergent heresy or a crisis facing the church but because we wanted to be “liked”.

  114. Tina in Ashburn says:

    [Henry! Excellent comments, as usual. And you lived through the changes too.]

    Two things to consider when judging others:
    1. hindsight is 20/20, and
    2. don’t we all behave the same, in degrees?

    Was anybody prepared back then for the powerful onslaught of insidious evil that we all suffered? Popes? Hierarchy? Parents? Schoolteachers? Musicians?

    The thread here illustrates how we tend to judge others harshly – while we can see history in perspective and hindsight NOW. Those of us living those tragic times didn’t see it all clearly then. Today we have children who have lost the Faith because we trusted organizations that once did good jobs. Now we see the path of destruction and its sources – but the evil wasn’t so clear back then. Now we compensate with teaching catechism ourselves, homeschooling, judging more carefully the exterior actions of our hierarchy. But before these times, trust was easier to exercise!

    Yes, I see that Church authority suffered from naivete, permissiveness, even fear of acting authoritatively. I think of how the apostles fell asleep as Christ entered His Passion. But so did we! We all “trusted” everyday influences – just like generations before us.

    Should we judge so harshly others in past circumstances that we today don’t suffer or comprehend?

    Just my 2 cents, in light of too much Pope-bashing…

  115. Henry Edwards says:


    I’m not sure we have any actual disagreement. I was suggesting mainly that the real “bad” came after the Council, without trying to argue that the Council itself was full of “good”.

    For the reasons that Tina has just enumerated incisively, it seems clear in hindsight — at least to most of us here — that the Church would now be better off if Vatican II had never been convened.

    I say “seems clear” because we probably cannot be certain the same pernicious forces that had been burrowing within the Church for a century would not have come out in the chaos of the 1960s anyway, even sans Council. But its surely true that the Council established an atmosphere that that was most favorable to the worst of those forces.

    Finally, I think it important to remember that Pope John XXIII did not call the Council with any expectation that it should or would make significant changes within the Church. He and others at the time though the Church at the height of its power, ready to go out through that open window triumphantly into the world. He had no expectation that, instead, the world would come in through the window to overwhelm the Church.

    As Tina suggests, it is clear to us in hindsight that the early 1960s was the worst time imaginable to open the window, but nobody then was able to look just a few years into the future and see the chaos that was coming.

  116. Maltese says:

    Robtbrown: he hadn’t intended the…integration of Protestant elements in the mass I think the evidence is to the contrary on that one my friend.r

    In an article titled “The Attractiveness of the Tridentine Mass,” Cardinal Alfonso Stickler discusses the protestantizing of the Mass and mentions that Jean Guitton, a friend of Paul VI, said his purpose was to “assimilate as much as possible of the new Catholic liturgy to Protestant worship” (Latin Mass Magazine, Summer 1995). Then, to directly quote Mr. Guitton in Christian Order, October 1994:

    “The intention of Pope Paul VI with regard to what is commonly called the Mass, was to reform the Catholic Liturgy in such a way that it should almost coincide with the Protestant liturgy. … There was with Pope Paul VI an ecumenical intention to remove, or at least to correct, or at least to relax, what was too Catholic in the traditional sense, in the Mass and, I repeat, to get the Catholic Mass closer to the Calvinist [service]…”

    You know, I see people bending-over backwards defending Paul VI as if he was an innocent Pope caught-up in the maelstrom enveloping the Church; a sort of unwitting bystander who was wont to weep and whimper, but otherwise made nice speeches about the Church, and, after all, gave us one really good encyclical. I think the truth is more nuanced. Pope Paul VI could be viciously strict–with those who stood for tradition. Remember HE set up the concilium and called for novus ordo’s unbridled suppression by supplanting a rite 2,000 years in the making. No one forced his hand on that one.

  117. doanli says:

    Will anyone recommend some good books about this pope?

    This is too intriguing.

    And seems tragic for the Church.

  118. HighMass says:

    Maltese is correct!

  119. Matthias says:

    Tina in Ashburn,

    Yesterday, I read what I believe was your first post and just wanted to clarify that Christ, as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, also sends the Spirit, together with the Father.

    Nicene Creed: “And in the Holy Spirit…who proceeds from the Father and the Son (Filioque).”

    St. John 16:7 “But I tell you the truth: it is expedient to you that I go. For if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you: but if I go, I will send him to you.”



  120. Henry: “(It will come as a surprise to many to find that Pius XII then thought reform of the liturgy was not only desirable but necessary, in response to a world-wide liturgical reform movement that few pew-sitters were aware of.)”

    Well, I’m well aware of this fact. However, you are assuming that everyone is and ought to be on board with the 20th Century Liturgical Movement. I for one, am not. There is plenty of evidence indicating that the whole movement, from Dom Lambert Beauduin on was a corrosive Modernist movement in the Church and contravened in principle authentic Christian and biblical worship. It’s obvious that the dangers inherent in the Movement weren’t fully realized during the Pontificate of Pius XII. Indeed, the dangers of the Movement are only now coming light in hindsight.

    Henry: “It is sometimes suggested that the Council pretty much rubber-stamped Bugnini’s schema, but this is far from true.”

    I think this is a mischaracterization. The observation that is made is that of all the prepetory schemas, the only one to be retained was Bugnini’s that became SC. There’s no doubt that there were interventions and debate after Bugnini left the scene. That’s not the point. The point is that Bugnini’s schema was the only one retained, thus belying the fact liturgical reform was the primary intent of the progressives going into the Council.

    Henry: “My impression of these meetings, in which the Council’s liturgical constitution Sacrosanctum Consilium was shaped, is that the deliberations were detailed and careful, based on the finest scholarship available in a Church having then a much finer historical memory than is generally apparent now.”

    What was the nature of this scholarship? You have to admit, it was the scholarship of the movers of the 20th Century Liturgical Movement, therefore, that same scholarship was extremely biased toward the progressive goals intended by the document.

    Henry: “The Council Fathers as a whole voted on some 85 different amendments, and finally approved Sacrosanctum Concilium on Dec. 4, 1963 by a vote of 2,147 to 4 (with Ab. Lefebvre counted among the majority).”

    Relevant only in demonstrating how subtle the time bombs in this document were, and still are.

    And here is the clincher:

    Henry quotes: ‘”When St. Peter’s Basilica resounded with these great words [of Sacrosanctum Concilium], the bones of St. Pius X exulted. The Constitution on the Liturgy is nothing but the precious fruit of a small seed sown by him [in his 1903 instruction with its emphasis on actuosa participation]. It is also the beginning of a new era in the liturgical life of the Church.”’

    There it is! Emphasis on actuosa participation, but by whom? By Pope St. Pius X? He uses the expression once in a motu propio about sacred music. When one takes a few words out of the bible, and blows them up to such a proportion that those few words are used to interpret everything in the bible, what do we call this? We call this heresy. No, Pope St. Pius X did not place any more emphasis on those words as he placed on any other turn of phrase in that moto propio. Those who emphasized it are the Modernists that came shortly after and made up the rank and file of the Liturgical Movement.

  121. motu, not moto… I got a little excited there at the end. Apologies.

  122. Why was “active participation” emphasized more than this other line from the same motu propio: “The language proper to the Roman Church is Latin”? Or why not this line: “The employment of the piano is forbidden in church, as is also that of noisy or frivolous instruments such as drums, cymbals, bells and the like” ?? Or why not this line: “And it is vain to hope that the blessing of heaven will descend abundantly upon us, when our homage to the Most High, instead of ascending in the odor of sweetness, puts into the hand of the Lord the scourges wherewith of old the Divine Redeemer drove the unworthy profaners from the Temple”???

    You know you are in a battle of wits with the unarmed when they mention “active participation” as insinuating that the goals and accomplishments of the 20th Century Liturgical Movement were those intended by Pope St. Pius X.

  123. Supertradmum says:

    I heard this story many years ago and believe it is true to the character of Paul VI. As to Octaves, I wish these would be re-established. We do have “birthday octaves” in our family, however….

  124. robtbrown says:


    If you knew me, you wouldn’t insinuate that I was bending over backwards to defend Paul VI.

    I have long been aware of Jean Guitton comments (which first appeared in 30 Giorni), and I don’t disagree. You, however, have made the mistake of assuming that Guitton’s remarks refer to PVI’s original intention rather than his decision re the final product. My previous comments obviously distinguish between the two.

    I realize that it is a common lawyer’s technique to mischaracterize both comments and events, but I think it you had read a bit more closely, you wouldn’t have presumed that I wrote something that I in fact did not.

  125. Maltese says:

    my apologies, robtbrown

  126. robtbrown says:

    Dr Edwards,

    I am aware that the process to produce such documents is habitually not pretty to see (cf. sausage making).

    I am also aware of Cardinal Antonelli’s comments regarding the Concilium. Whether the contributors were conscientious, knowledgeable, careful, or deliberative is a moral judgment that I cannot make. I can, however, judge the contents of the document.

    As I noted earlier, SC says a lot of good things, but it also says some not so good things (some of which I’ve mentioned here before). Considering both, I have my doubts whether SC is an adequate blueprint for liturgical reform.

  127. Maltese says:

    Actually you and I are in agreement mostly; I generally admire your comments; they’re very good!

  128. Maltese says:

    robtbrown: I have my doubts whether SC is an adequate blueprint for liturgical reform.

    I agree with you 110% on that my man!

    It’s a train-wreck, in fact! I won’t get into who was involved (Bugnini, Weakland, cough, cough) but it wasn’t good. You combine Weakland, Bugnini, given wholesale license to reconfigure, and, really, reinvent, the Church, and what to you get? The mess we’re in!

    Doubt me if you will, but this is a fact: Paul VI, even before Pope, had Weakland on his radar. That is a verifiable fact. Paul VI, almost as soon as he became pope, focused in on weakland, and promoted him in the domninican order, etc….

  129. robtbrown says:

    It’s a train-wreck, in fact!

    I wouldn’t go that far, but I don’t think that overall it’s a comprehensively good document.

    I won’t get into who was involved (Bugnini, Weakland, cough, cough) but it wasn’t good. You combine Weakland, Bugnini, given wholesale license to reconfigure, and, really, reinvent, the Church, and what to you get? The mess we’re in!

    I realize they were involved, but–once again–I am interested in the text of SC, not who wrote it.

    Doubt me if you will, but this is a fact: Paul VI, even before Pope, had Weakland on his radar. That is a verifiable fact. Paul VI, almost as soon as he became pope, focused in on weakland, and promoted him in the domninican order, etc….
    Comment by Maltese

    1. Weakland is not a Dominican. He’s a Benedictine from St Vincent’s in Latrobe.

    2. The Benedictine’s are not an order. Weakland was the Abbot Primate at San Anselmo–and that did not give him worldwide authority over the Benedictines. Each Benedictine Congregation is autonomous.

    3. I realize Bugnini’s importance and that Weakland was involved, but the forces behind the liturgical changes were primarily Northern European.

  130. Henry Edwards says:

    I could offer some delineation between my personal views and those I quoted from the Antonelli book. However, this morning I’m still basking in the afterglow of the first actual Mass of Ember Wednesday in the Octave of Pentecost at which I’ve been able to assist in over four decades. (Where I was then, the abrupt fall of the curtain was both early and brutal.)

    So let me say only that it was not my intent to defend either the pre-Conciliar liturgical reform movement, Vatican II itself, Sacrocilium Consilium, or the various post-Conciliar culprits. My “review” of the book presented instead its apportionment (as I inferred it) of the blame among them — of which blame there surely is more than enough to spread around quite liberally.

  131. albizzi says:

    Fr Louis Bouyer: “How Cardinal Annibale Bugnini deceived Pope Paul VI on the New Mass”
    Fr Zuhlsdorf already put that issue on wdtprs.com, weeks ago.
    I am not certain of whom was deceived: Wasn’t Fr Bouyer deceived first?

  132. ssoldie says:

    We had a most beautiful T.L.M. at Flensburg, Mn, Pentecost Sunday with Fr.Hoppe (89 yrs) officiating and a host of alter boys,all in red, and a most wonderful choir.We are not in that diocese, but are so blessed to be able to drive 45 min to be able to pray the Mass there. Want to read a good book,along with “Pope Paul VI New Mass” get “IOTA UNUM”. The Hebrew ‘yod’ and the Greek ‘iota’ equote to the english letter’i’ the smallest letter of all three alphabets.Not one jot,nor one tittle, shall pass away. Matthew 5:18 Sarto House