Your Sunday Sermon Notes and ASK FATHER: sermons and birettas

Was there a good point made in the sermon during your Mass of Sunday obligation?

Let us know.

Today I had the pleasure of being deacon for this morning’s Solemn Mass.  One of the local priests had, at the last moment, the services of a mission priest, so he asked to be able to offer the Traditional Mass.  Hence, Solemn Mass and I am preaching in my diaconal dalmatic.   It seems I left my maniple on.  Do we have to do the whole thing over again?

Before the sermon, I mentioned to our visitor, that the last time I preached in a dalmatic was during a Pontifical Mass with the Extraordinary Ordinary. During that Mass, Bp. Morlino felt his voice going and, to save it, asked me to preach when we got to the moment.  Surprise!  I mentioned to Father Visitor today not to let this got his head.

So, today, I have a few points about the Lord’s highly curious parable of the wicked servant who defrauded his master and then figured out how to save his backside once he was found out.  It seems as if Christ is holding up lying, fraud and leading others into sin.  It could be that sometime else is going on.

BTW… one of you readers wrote a couple weeks back to ask me if priests must wear the biretta to preach.

Here’s the deal.  If the MC brings me the biretta when I come down the steps, I put it on.  If he doesn’t, I just go preach all the same.

Liturgical manualists seem to be consistently in favor of the biretta being worn by the preacher, whether it is the celebrant or another.  Trimeloni gave a footnote to a decree, but I didn’t dig it up. Of course if the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, no head covering!   Quod Deus avertat.  Proper birettaquette should be observed (NB: Distinguish from berettaquette, please).

So, the weight is heavy on the side of wearing the biretta.

The rubrics for the biretta for the sacred ministers prescribe that they wear it processing in and out (hence, outside of Mass) and when seated at the sedilia (hence, when they’ve stepped out of the action, as it were).  This is also why the maniple and even chasuble are both removed in some places before sermons and the biretta is worn.

Auctores scinduntur … commentators are divided on the removal of the chasuble.   Some are really against it.   It seems to me that environmental circumstances as well as the needs of the preacher should matter a great deal.

So, the weight is more against than for, but I think flexibility is prudent, for reasons that should be obvious: a) how hot it is and b) how long does Father plan to carry on?

Another point is that a biretta on a cleric is also a symbol of his teaching office, as a professor’s cap would be.  They developed from the same origin.  Yes, the sermon has a strong didactic dimension, but that’s not its only dimension.    Some say that the biretta is a symbol of authority, especially worn by the pastor because he has authority in the parish.  Okay.  Others recognize that it is also just a hat customarily worn by priests.  Thus, in Italy priests use “er tripizzi” – there’s a good Roman word – the biretta when going about while wearing the cassock.  They might also wear the flat Roman clerical hat, or saturno or even padella.  It’s better in the rain and hot sun.

Moreover, I’ve been using a biretta without the pom, as one does in Rome, and in the Neri style, from my devotion to that great saint.  I have more common gizmo, too, collapsible.  I use that when travelling.

One of the things we must establish for the Ritus Madisonensis™ (aka How We Solve Issues Here – for example, in Pontifical Masses the MC takes the book to the altar instead of the AP) is whether the non-celebrant preacher should ask a blessing.  Rubrics require this in the presence of a bishop, but not in his absence.  However, custom in this matter can prevail.

It’s a good thing.  I have been in places where it is done.  Why not maintain decorum?  Yes, I think that’s what we shall do.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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11 Responses to Your Sunday Sermon Notes and ASK FATHER: sermons and birettas

  1. Mike says:

    Eschewing the wicked servant, Father instead preached on the connection between last week’s Epistle (we have gone from being servants to sin, to being servants to God) and this week’s (moreover we are sons and heirs). He did not wear his biretta to preach.

  2. Fr. Thomas Kocik says:

    Dom Alcuin Reid maintains that neither the maniple nor the chasuble should be removed for preaching because (1) there is no rubrical basis for this and (2) the homily is not to be regarded as an “interruption” of the Mass. Pius XII in Mediator Dei treats the homily as an integral part of the Mass. (Of course, Mass is still Mass without a homily, just as Mass is still Mass without the Gloria. Which is why I chose the word “integral” rather than “indispensable” or “essential.”)

  3. Gab says:

    Our newly-ordained priest from our TLM parish (who looks about 15 years old!) led us in the Solemn Mass in the traditional Dominican Rite with emeritus Bishop in attendance. The Mass was 2 hours long but it flew by! Individual blessings from the new Father given after Mass, (opportunity to gain a plenary indulgence). Father gave a superb homily on why the “Dominic option” is needed more than the “Benedict option” in these times and he gave the reasons why. Very enlightening homily.

    BBQ gathering after Mass, a couple of speeches and then His Lordship gave a short speech and a blessing. “… The Church is in a great phase of dislocation and confusion, which is a great cross for many of us and particularly in my case with the destruction of the John Paul Institute (here his voice breaks slightly). The work of thugs. A scandal that cries out to Christ in Heaven for justice. … The students are now resisting and I think most of them will walk out. So what’s been achieved? And don’t tell me that “renewal”, don’t tell me that’s reform. …”.

  4. Bryan Baldwin says:

    All that remains after you die is your charity (as a partial explication of the of why the steward’s actions were praised by his employer as an allegory to the disposition of our own gifts from God).

    Also, after Mass, there was the opportunity to venerate a first-class relic of St. Dominic, which was much appreciated.

  5. Bthompson says:

    I used to only wear my biretta on big holidays. Later, I began to use it pretty much always.

    But… I have vacillated what to do with my hat during the homily. Rubrical directions regarding never-abrogated-and-now optional vestments like the maniple and Biretta are nonexistent so far as I can tell. (So I fall back on the GIRM norm to look to the tradition if the modern directions are ambiguous or presume knowledge)

    At times I have worn my biretta preaching at (OF) Mass as a symbol of my teaching role, but I later stopped when I noticed in Noonan’s “the Church Visible” (thorough, but not obviously not inerrant nor rubrically authoritative) a note that wearing headgear while preaching is a prerogative of those higher than a mere priest. So, rather than risk being presumptuous, I leave my hat behind at my chair when preaching. (Plus, it is one less thing to juggle, if I am also reading the Gospel)

  6. bartlep says:

    The homily this morning, at the TLM, was on the sins of omission and how they are not usually part of the examination of conscience and Confession.

  7. JonPatrick says:

    We spent the weekend in Kennebunkport ME staying at the Franciscan Guest House which is a hotel located on the grounds of St. Anthony’s Friary which is a community of Franciscans from Lithuania. Most of the Masses are NO although outside of summer there is a TLM on the 3rd Sunday of the month. The masses are very reverent and I like the fact at communion some Franciscan priests materialize to hand out communion – no pant suited EMHC’s here.

    At the early Mass Sunday preached on the theme of the readings that our treasures are spiritual with God in heaven and not material things here on earth. The man who was pleased with himself and wanted to tear down his barns and build bigger ones was not at fault for being rich, but because he put his trust in the things of this world and not in God. We need to ask God to help us be less caught up in the material world and more in Him. One suggestion he had was a Novena to St. Jude for spiritual healing.

  8. Maintining decorum? Father, you must HATE VATICAN II!

    All for it. Like incense, processional torches, and acolytes who know their parts, you can not have too much when you’re talking about the Sacrifice of the Mass.

  9. exNOAAman says:

    Went to a reverent NO. A young priest ( unknown to me ), summed up the readings in the phrase, “Momento Mori”; then finished with a Tolkien quote. Not bad actually.

    A priest at our local EF parish, (since returned to LA), used to always wear the biretta for his homily, and lifted it at the name of Jesus, and I think for the re- reading of the gospel, if he did it. Maybe a few other times. Sorry I failed to take proper notice.
    (Haven’t been on my game. Typing this from the waiting room at my surgeon’s office, in notable pain. Everyone here is. Praying. Sorry I’m OT)

  10. Kenneth Wolfe says:

    Fr. Thomas Kocik says: “Dom Alcuin Reid maintains that neither the maniple nor the chasuble should be removed for preaching because (1) there is no rubrical basis for this and (2) the homily is not to be regarded as an “interruption” of the Mass. ”

    The only rubric on the sermon seems to be #474, which encourages a sermon on Sundays and holy days (later required under canon law) and prohibits another priest from delivering a sermon while the celebrant continues with Mass.

    But I am not sure how one can make an argument that a sermon is part of the Mass when the missal assumes the celebrant goes from the Gospel to the Credo, and another priest is permitted to deliver the sermon in between.

  11. lgreen515 says:

    Father preached on the ephemeral nature of life. Key point: don’t die with so much stuff that your heirs have to spend three months sorting it out.

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