Bp. Paprocki’s Pastoral Letter: Ars celebrandi et adorandi

His Excellency Most Rev. Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois, who is not afraid to use exorcisms, has issued a pastoral letter called Ars celebrandi et adorandi… The art of celebrating and worshiping.  He has taken his title, surely, from Benedict XVI’s paragraphs on ars celebrandi in his post_synodal Exhortation, Sacramentum caritatis.

“But Father! But Father!”, you liberals and progressives out there are by now shouting, “This is TERRIBLE!  Any le… le… letter from hi… him will be rigid and mean!  He hates Vatican II almost as much as YOU!”

Let’s see what the contents may hold!

Apparently, according to Bp. Paprocki, tabernacles belong… imagine this… in a visible place!

23. With this in mind, in order that more of the faithful will be able to spend time in adoration and prayer in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord, I direct that in the churches and chapels of our diocese, tabernacles that were formerly in the center of the sanctuary, but have been moved, are to be returned as soon as possible to the center of the sanctuary in accord with the original architectural design. Tabernacles that are not in the center of the sanctuary or are otherwise not in a visible, prominent and noble space are to be moved to the center of the sanctuary; tabernacles that are not in the center of the sanctuary but are in a visible, prominent and noble space may remain.

The nerve.

On top of that, he tells people GENUFLECT and suggests that there should be EXPOSITION!

This is the New Evangelization.

Fr. Z kudos to Bp. Paprocki.

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28 Responses to Bp. Paprocki’s Pastoral Letter: Ars celebrandi et adorandi

  1. acardnal says:

    Bp Paprocki has been doing some exemplary things. He would be a great Archbishop of Chicago!

  2. Legisperitus says:

    The really, really good Bishops stick out like sore thumbs these days, don’t they? God preserve and protect them.

  3. YorkshireStudent says:

    If he’d put his tabernacle directions more concisely (hard, given the importance of the subject), I’d have it tattooed on myself! Or branded on certain ecclesiastical architects…! In other news, can I suggest a playground-esque trade? A Cardinal, plus as many bishops as you want for Bp. Paprocki as Papal Legate in charge of architectural reform in England and Wales? Please…

    Until then, may God grant him the strength to carry on the good work he is doing!

  4. FrJohn says:

    Fr. Z, I applaud the good and holy Bishop for speaking out boldly.  

    However, he brings up a point of concern for me: not genuflecting before Jesus in the tabernacle (in the center of the sanctuary behind the altar) whenever crossing before the tabernacle during Holy Mass.

    I understand this practice for times when our Lord is present on the altar and our attention should therefore be focused on Him, present, before us, on the altar.  However, if we truly believe that God is present in our tabernacles, how can it ever be acceptable to do anything other than to recognize His presence by genuflecting every time we pass before Him, including during Holy Mass?  To do otherwise seems to be hypocritical.

    It seems that the faithful see one thing during Holy Mass and then naturally conclude that practice must be the acceptable practice before and after Holy Mass also. (after all, we Catholics don’t kneel or genuflect any more – thats so…..dark ages, so….pre-Vatican II)

    A very good and holy priest once said that it is not unlawful or illicit or sinful to be more pius.  For the sake of reinforcing our belief in the Real Presence it seems to me that the pius act of genuflecting toward our Lord in the tabernacle should always be done, even during Holy Mass (isn’t this also the practice for the Extraordinary Form as well?)  Your thoughts?

    [I have written about this before. I am a Say The Black, Do The Red kinda guy, but on this point I say, "To heck with that stupid rubric" and I genuflect anyway.]

  5. frjim4321 says:

    Has he had any formal instruction in liturgy other than for his M.Div.?

    Just wondering.

  6. bookworm says:

    I received a copy of this pastoral in the mail (being a parishioner in the Spfld. Diocese) and the part that most got my attention was where Bp. Paprocki shared a baseball analogy used by a seminary instructor: you don’t inspire a person who has never seen a baseball game to love the game by quoting the infield fly rule to them; rather, you take them to a game and show them the beauty of the game. After they grow to love the game, then they can understand the reasons for all the rules and statistics.

    I suppose if we want to extend the baseball/liturgy analogy a little further, we might note that there are different levels of play, from Little League and T-ball leagues all the way up to the major leagues. A Little League game that is not technically perfect, but played with heart, can be just as beautiful to watch as a World Series game. Likewise, a game poorly played by players who can and should do better can be an ordeal that turns one off from the sport. The same things could be said of great, major league liturgies, small parish liturgies, and liturgies that are just plain done sloppily or badly.

  7. Good job for the Bishop. Father John, I also share the same concerns although I am not a priest. Whenever I’m altar serving at Latin rite Mass, I always genuflect to the Tabernacle, it would be an injustice to do otherwise. (In spite of the pain I’ll be in afterwards)…If an 87 year old Emeritus Pontiff can genuflect, so can we.

  8. Salvelinus says:

    Apologies for the length father, but I think this true story is poignant and makes the moderator cut. [Usually, as soon as I seen even a mention of something like "the moderator cut" I simply delete the entire comment. FYI. There will be no whining.]

    God bless and protect bishop Paprocki. There is no doubt that there will be a letter writing campaign for this thoroughly uncontroversial move.

    I wrote a long letter of thanks to +Paprocki after his brave action of standing up against the evil powers attacking marriage.

    The public exorcism he performed in the diocese awhile back was truly commendable and after I wrote him expressing my appreciation, he actually took the time to write me back! Given the heap of hate mail he was likely getting for “behaving like a Catholic bishop” the fact he personally acknowledged my letter of thanks will put his Excellency near the top for prelates truly gaining all of my deepest respect.

    Regarding his statements on the tabernacle, kudos once again. But in all seriousness, what a sad state of affairs that:
    1. This type of letter would get jeers, considering the blessed sacrament Is the source and summit of all things and should get it’s due reverence.
    2. This letter needed to be written in the first place.

    Imagine a fellow Catholic from 1955 reading this? The fact that tabernacles we’re moved off and hidden In the mop closet, to be replaced with extravagant versus populum “stadium seating” It would give our poor preconciliar visitor a heart attack, or at the very least a broken heart.

    Recently at a parish in south Texas where I assisted at Sunday mass while traveling, things got surreal. The blessed sacrament was nowhere to be found. Turns out it was in an adjacent building in a locked room. When I got In, just a wood box sitting on a table with a couple of foldup chairs. No room to pray and it felt as if our Lord was hidden away as to not get in the way of the performance in the next building over. I like to visit the blessed sacrament before mass sometimes, but not today unfortunately.

    The Church itself was large and open, with concentric rows of padded pews (no kneelers and no room to kneel) all facing the center “island” where two podiums on opposite sides (for the lay readers) flanked the large “band setup” complete with drum set in the middle of the “island”.

    The teenaged altar girls (naturally) sat in large chairs near the middle, and had a large resurexifix (crucifix with a modern risen Lord insted of crucified Lord) ominously hanging above at an angle so it looked like it was in flight.

    Father sat with the altar girls, and had a “presentation area” that wound around the perimeter of the island.
    Further off to the side was a table (altar, I suppose) where consecration was done.
    “Our God is an Awesome God” played loudly as the congregation waved their hands back and forth right about the time approximately 20 lay extraordinary ministers came up to the island and passed out communion in each concentric row.
    I wasn’t properly disposed due my anger and had to forego with the blessed sacrament that Sunday.

    Later that day I found a parish that had Eucharistic adoration and I prayed for hope faith and charity to override my bad feelings.
    And if anyone is curious, this was built as a Catholic Church (ie it wasnt originally a nondenominational place).
    I knew I shouldn’t trusted my instinct when noticing the tabernacle and blessed sacrament where nowhere to be found.

    Imagine now, If our friend from 1955 saw this parish with the missing tabernacle and other innovations?
    I can almost guarantee It that our visitor would insist he wasn’t in a Catholic Church.
    I want alive in the preconciliar days, and sadly I felt the same.

    God bless and comfort bishop Paprocki.

  9. Trisagion says:

    Fr Jim, he’s probably got no more academic liturgical credentials than, say, BXVI, Josef Jungmann, Lambert Beauduin, Pius Parsch, Romano Guardini or Prosper Gueranger. Your point was what exactly.

  10. John Nolan says:

    Regarding genuflexions to the tabernacle during Mass, I think the good bishop is envisaging a Novus Ordo Mass celebrated versus populum. Where the Mass is celebrated ad orientem and the tabernacle is on the altar, genuflexion when crossing in front of the tabernacle (e.g. during the incensations) seems to be standard practice, if the English Oratories are anything to go by.

  11. AnAmericanMother says:

    Fr Jim,
    We can always count on you.
    Our parish recently acquired a “trained liturgist.” She is as meddlesome as Mrs. Proudie of evil memory, though doubtless (like that same Mrs. Proudie) she means well.

  12. Mike says:

    @frjim4321: Write him directly and ask, why don’t you? It is unlikely that he combs Fr. Z’s blog for his mail.

  13. Magash says:

    “The difference between a terrorist and a liturgist is that you can negotiate with a terrorist.”
    My own bishop, a number of years ago directed that churches in which kneelers were not install must install them. However those churches were allowed to wait until the next renovation to do so. Hence several churches have forestalled any renovations, less they be require to install kneelers. I guess they expect the next bishop to rescind the requirement.
    As for tabernacles the trend where I’m at is to have the tabernacle in a side chapel separated from the main sanctuary by one of those folding walls. I know of at least three parishes locally where that is the case. I suspect all were designed by the same post-Vatican II architect. At my particular parish the chapel is actually at the rear of the church. I suspect those parishes, if such a requirement was made here, would simple open the wall and say, “See its ‘in a visible, prominent and noble space.’”
    I’ve learned you can’t give liberals an out. You have to say there are no exceptions. You have to make them request reasonable changes rather than leave it to them to decide what is reasonable. Then the change is made most everywhere and the very few places it is not necessary become exceptions. If left to liberals every place will be an exception.

  14. Vecchio di Londra says:

    American Mother – You have my sympathy: Trollope’s Mrs Proudie is in no way well-meaning: she is arrogant and overbearing and mischievous, and secretly power-hungry. Not unlike the army of modernist liturgical know-alls who push themselves and their prejudices forward at every opportunity.

    Ah, if only we Catholics had realized during our centuries of benighted pre-VII worship that we really needed a clergy with several specialized degrees in the liturgy to ‘show us the Way’!

    As it is, even today one all-too-rarely hears the plaintive cry for assistance from the altar ‘Is there a trained liturgist in the church?!’ Or from the congregation: ‘This man clearly needs help – let me through, I’m a trained liturgist!’
    :-)

  15. AnAmericanMother says:

    Dear Vecchio –
    Thus Mr. Trollope on his creation:
    “It was not only that she was a tyrant, a bully, a would-be priestess, a very vulgar woman, and one who would send headlong to the nethermost pit all who disagreed with her; but that at the same time she was conscientious, by no means a hypocrite, really believing in the brimstone which she threatened, and anxious to save the souls around her from its horrors. And as her tyranny increased so did the bitterness of the moments of her repentance increase, in that she knew herself to be a tyrant–till that bitterness killed her.
    - as C.S. Lewis said, the worst form of tyrant is the well-meaning one – “. . . those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
    I don’t think Trollope’s major characters are ever unrelievedly good or completely evil – even Mrs. Proudie. He specialized in shades of gray and second thoughts.

  16. JesusFreak84 says:

    Pleeeeeeease can Chicago have him? It’s the “real” center of IL politics anyway, and goodness knows it needs an exorcism XD And Fr. Phleger {sp?} …just…..yeah….

  17. He is indeed a great bishop, and is unafraid to simply proclaim what the Church teaches. Peoria issued a directive several years back about relocating the tabernacles, and it’s been the source of some beautiful renovations.

    Another problem in most parishes I’ve been to is a complete lack of silence – it’s nearly impossible to recollect oneself, and even more difficult to have any kind of Eucharistic thanksgiving after Mass. The explosion of conversation as soon as the choir stops singing is jarring. I think this goes hand-in-hand with a lack of understanding and reverence for Christ in the tabernacle.

  18. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Coast Caritas – Absolutely. The casual ease with which so many in the congregation just turn their backs on the altar without any sign of devotion, and revert to their conversations, phone-checking, hair-flicking, laughing, you wonder what they think just happened. And where they are.
    Is this just bad manners, or poor faith?

  19. fnr says:

    As said in Benedict XVI’s book “The Spirit of the Liturgy” and in the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on “Reservation of the Blessed Sacrament,” quoted here, “there appears to be no reliable evidence that before the year 1000, or even later, the Blessed Sacrament was kept in churches in order that the faithful might visit it or pray before it. ” Its history appears to be bound up in the suppression over hundreds of years of practice of Christians taking home the Blessed Sacrament, which seems to have been rooted in the agape feasts that were the first liturgical form of the Eucharist (Jude 12, 2 Peter 2:13, Pliny the Younger’s letter to Trajan, and possibly 1 Corinthians 11:20-34). The oldest church on record, that at Duros-Europa in Syria, has no altar, suggesting that the “Liturgy of the Eucharist” in the Levant of the mid-3rd century was not in the same space as the “Liturgy of the Word.”

    There’s plenty of patristic evidence (e.g., 480′s Council of Toledo) that many Christians abused these feasts at home from the very earliest of days, turning them into events that appeared to outsiders as full of drunkenness and license. The hundreds of years spent suppressing the practice of taking the Blessed Sacrament home suggests that for many people throughout the earliest centuries of Christianity, consuming it at home was a closely-held cultural, even liturgical, rite. From there, it’s not clear to me how, but seems likely that reservation within a tabernacle within a church became a way for the faithful to adore the Sacrament, but in a radically different type of praxis.

    While I feel that adoration and reverence for the Blessed Sacrament is wonderful, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia (dated 1907-1914), it wasn’t until “modern times” that the Sacrament became as secured as it is in the most “traditionally”-designed parish churches today. As such, while I cannot argue with His Excellency Bishop Paprocki for decisions in his own diocese, I am skeptical that imposing uniformly architectural norms based on modern “traditionalism” actually will bring Christians to a higher love for the Blessed Sacrament. While orthopraxis is one way to create more orthodoxy, orthopraxis by itself can never substitute for interior conversion.

  20. Magash says:

    Vecchio,
    It is bad catechesis, combined with an overabundance of modern sensibilities. In American every man is a king. “I bow to no man or woman.” Modern American don’t understand not only the proper respect due a king, they don’t understand the concept of a person to whom deference is due. This means they fail to appreciate the symbolism of the deference required when facing the King of all kings.
    The church sanctuary is merely a meeting place for the community, where we go to meet at table our brother and friend Jesus. Of course it is all that, however even the king’s brother and sister treat the king with formality in public, and an official state dinner has more formal prescribed ceremonials than a lunch at Denny’s. This leaves aside all of the deeper theological aspects of the Mass as sacrifice and Jesus as God.
    This lack of manners is not accidental, and I do not really think that it is poor faith in itself. Regular Mass attendees are not those who show up on polls as Catholics who don’t believe in the real presence. The problem is bad catechesis at a deep level. I have been in parishes where the pastor tries to address these problems, but just doesn’t get anywhere. Mostly it’s because people just don’t appreciate the need for formality any more. They don’t understand why formality is important. They also have a poor understanding of the Natural Law underpinnings of Catholic teaching, so even if they don’t publicly disagree with the Church they can’t articulate a defense for Church teachings, traditions or practices.
    I say its not accidental because the people who hijacked the implementation of Vatican II’s teachings wanted to produce a laity ignorant of these facts and understandings. Priests who try to change things by announcing that there should be silence typically get a good response that day and maybe the next week. After that things go back to the way they were, because the priest doesn’t really have the time in a pre-Mass announcement or even a 10 minute homily to explain why the respectful silence is important. To truly explain it would require a comprehensive catechetical realignment of a majority of the faithful in the U.S.

  21. Bishop Paprocki may or may not have a degree in Liturgy. He does however have 7 graduate degrees. I’m making a crazy guess that he is a really, really smart guy who knows a lot of theology including some stuff about sacred liturgy, sacramental theology, and church history.

    Bishop Paprocki’s credentials:

    Niles College of Loyola University, Chicago (B.A.; May, 1974)

    St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois (S.T.B., 1976; M.Div., 1978; S.T.L., 1979)

    DePaul University College of Law, Chicago (J.D., June, 1981)

    Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome (J.C.L., June, 1989)

    Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome (J.C.D., March, 1991)

    University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, and Chicago, Illinois (M.B.A., 2013)

  22. Sword40 says:

    I pray that my Archbishop would have such courage. Perhaps if enough others show the courage he’ll suck it up and do the same.

  23. Fatherof7 says:

    Bishop Ricken in Green Bay recently put out a similar notice regarding the location of the tabernacle. We have a lot of post Vatican II churches with side chapels, and to my knowledge all of the tabernacles are now in a more prominent location. He is doing a lot of good things in Green Bay, and I feel fortunate to live in his diocese.

  24. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:
    Has he had any formal instruction in liturgy other than for his M.Div.?
    Just wondering

    Admirably answered above.

    Implicit in your question is the idea that the more someone studies liturgy formally, the more likely the adherence to the post Vat II liturgical situation. You might be interested to know that Fr Cassian Folsom, the abbot of the Benedictine monastery in Norcia (Latin liturgy, ad orientem celebration of mass) has a doctorate in liturgy.

    Once again: I recommend that you visit the Benedictine abbey in Clear Creek, Oklahoma.

  25. benedetta says:

    The clericalist, condescending and stern lectures that the tabernacles would be relocated because of “distraction” were never really very coherent, despite whatever elite degrees in liturgy Frjim4321 would demand as bona fides. The reality is that there never was any authentic grassroots demand from the pews/laity desiring relocation of tabernacle away from altar or out of sanctuary altogether. No one who was sternly directed it would be so can restate whatever the rationale. Those who never knew anything different do not seem to have benefited greatly in terms of the day to day practice of faith with their neighbors and in light of the Lord under the “congregation in the round” focal point with tabernacle removed to an elsewhere setting. Theologically, to us neophytes, it seems that the better pastoral practice is to let congregation be more and more united with the Lord, and not diametrically divided.

  26. juventutemDC says:

    Bishop Paprocki met with Juventutem DC during a post-TLM March for Life Mass in Washington DC. He is an inspiration to us all. He had nothing but good to say about Juventutem groups that are popping up around the country and world –thanks, no doubt, to Fr. Z’s encouragement. Young adults– organize and form Juventutem chapters, and pray!

  27. Aspie says:

    I think the innovation that priest have to face the people (instead of God) makes another innovation necessary to correct the problem caused by the first innovation. How can the priest imply Jesus is in the tabernacle if he prays to Jesus with his back to him? So the priest must move the tabernacle so that the priest can direct his prayers towards the supersubstantial Jesus.

  28. ajf1984 says:

    I heard His Excellency on Relevant Radio with Drew Mariani yesterday afternoon. In the segment I was able to hear, they were speaking mostly of the Fortnight for Freedom activities, but in the last 5 minutes or so Drew was able to talk a bit about this pastoral letter. His Excellency indicated that he has been receiving many positive reactions, not only from Springfield but from around the country! I can’t help but think that some of those national kudoses (kudoi? hrmm.) were spurred from this posting!