What does “griccia” mean?

There was a question about the griccia style alb.  The statue of Peter in the Basilica of St. Peter on two days of the year is dressed up with the papal tiara, cope, pectoral Cross and epicopal ring.  Once upon a time, he also had a griccia alb.  What is griccia?

First, do not confuse this griccia with the Roman manner of preparing spaghetti and other kinds of pasta called "gricia" (i.e., guanciale, peccorino, black pepper). Yum.

The griccia style of cloth in priestly vestments was terribly difficult to make.  It involved pleating hard starched linen both vertically and horizontally and searing the pleats with a specially made v shaped iron. The style was specifically abolished after the Council.

You can see the griccia style of alb and rochet on old photos and films of papal events if you look carefully at what people are wearing.  Don’t bother looking at the time of Council.  Perhaps some readers can do some footwork for us and find examples in old photos.  You most easily spot this in the cotta or surplice worn by those closest to the Pope in old photos.

In marble statues both in the Basilica of St. Peter and other churches in Rome. Here is a detail from the statue of St. Pope Pius X in the Basilica (above) in which you can see the griccia.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Northern Cleric says:

    An awful lot of fun was had by the 60’s abolitionist crowd: pleated linens, buckled shoes, cassock trains etc. – replaced by sneakers, jeans and hop-sack-polyester-oatmeal-hoodie-coverall-chas-albs.

  2. Northern Cleric: And we are so much better off, no? Abolishing those things was really for the good of the People of God. Not that they were consulted beforehand.

    Hmmm… as a matter of fact, people rather like seeing those things on clerics.


  3. Antonius says:

    Just a hunch, but it wouldn’t be that surprising if Papal MC Msgr. Enrico Dante can be found wearing griccia style cottas in pictures even after the latest Council. :)

  4. Kenjiro Shoda says:

    Something else which was beautiful which the Council in it’s “wisdom” thought appropriate to discard!

    There seems to have been an attitude at the time of the Council, which some elderly priests and nuns who are die-hard Vatican II lovers still subscribe to…..”If it’s to difficult, or seems irrelevant, toss it in the trash.”

    So much of our Catholic heritage and tradition went that way after the Council.
    But surprisingly at it seems, young priests in their early 40’s down to their 20’s are bringing back these traditions….including the griccia surplice.

    I saw them on young priests. Regardless of the fact that the Council “abolished them, the young guys know of them…and are bringing them back….along with the lace surplices, mantelletas, and embroidered stoles (not the plain, simple 1960’s-1970’s style of stole to throw around your neck).

    A relative was in Rome recently (Christmastime), and was surprised to see a whole group of friars (apparently from a new Order because the white and black habit was not recognizable as an old Order), wearing the traditional monastic corona or tonsure, young nuns from several Orders wearing the “old fashioned 1950’s style nuns habits”, and young priest wearing Roman cassock and platter hats or “saturno”.

    So, fortunatly for the Church, among the young clerics and nuns, it appears that what was unceremoniously discarded is now enthusiastically brought back. What was old is new again….hopefull soon the Tridentine Latin Mass back again too.!!!

  5. Kenjiro: …the Council in it’s “wisdom” thought appropriate to discard…

    That is unfair. Think. “The Council” didn’t discard anything. These things were not mandated by the Council or even spoken of. There are no canons or laws from Vatican II making these changes.

    Do not issue a blanket disapproval “the Council” for things you don’t like.

  6. Kenjiro Shoda says:

    Thank you Father. I didn’t know that. It is so much spoken of that the Council discarded this or that, that I assumed it trashed many things.

    A priest friend of mine tried to tell me that a very large group of progressivists (nuns, priests etc.) during and after the Council took it upon themselves to discard everything of Catholic tradition (Latin, Chant, elaborate ceremonial, elaborate styles of vesture for priests, Papal court, etc. and that the Pope let them have free reign with this, even though the Council never mentioned these things, nor to discard the Tridentine Latin Mass.

    THis priest said that Pope John, who opened the Council, never dreamed of or wanted what came from it. So I wonder why it was allowed, if it was not anywhere John XXIII’s intention.

  7. Northern Cleric says:

    It seems that Paul VI’s moto proprio Letter Pontificalia insignia (21 June 1968) and the Instruction Ut sive sollicite (31 March 1969) did much of the wholesale abolishing when it came to the particulars of vesture. Ah well – I’ll just go and pleat an alb!

  8. Kenjiro Shoda says:

    If these two moto proprios of Paul VI are reasons for the wholesale abolishment of traditional vesture in Papal court, and priestly life, then He did much to destroy the visible traditions of the Church which people appreciated so greatly (aesthetically beautiful vesture, ceremonial etc.).

    The Greek Orthodox ceremonial is magnificent, but it couldn’t compare to Papal ceremonial pre-Vatican II.

    I wish Pope Benedict XVI would have the strength to recind much of what Paul VI did. He (Paul) was obviously a man who had no liking for Catholic tradition and its visible expressions. Neither was John Paul II.

    I think Benedict XVI is, which is why He should restore much of what has been lost for 40+ years.
    It’s good to know, however, that many young priests both in Rome and elsewhere are taking it upon themselves to disregard Paul VI’s restrictions regarding vesture and clothing designs and elaborations, and bringing them back themselves.

    Paul VI, in his wholesale stripping and discarding of practically every vestiage of Catholic tradition, reminds me of a man who had a real problem, and was influenced by those who wanted to demolish the Church.

  9. Kenjiro Shoda: …Paul VI are reasons for the wholesale abolishment of traditional vesture in Papal court, and priestly life,… Paul VI, in his wholesale stripping and discarding of practically every vestiage of Catholic tradition,

    Again… this is way over the top. It is entirely unjust. I am not a fan of the changes that were made by Paul VI. I think we have lost too much. Paul VI did not case the “abolishment of priestly life”. Paul VI did not discard “practically every vestige” of tradition. These statements are ridiculous. Comments are welcome, but please let’s not exaggerate.

  10. Fr. Bartoloma says:

    I never knew that! Once again I am informed by this blog. I have seen pictures of this style but I just thought that the linen was heavily startched and folded in some kind of way that gave it that unique look. I have a wonderful old picture book of St. Pius X and now it all clicks. Fr. Z, by what insightful document was this ‘style’ abolished? Was it the same one that outlawed the monsignorial shoe buckles?

    I suppose that the moo-moo albs with Princess Leia collars and floppy bell sleaves are less of a hassel than “griccia”.

  11. Dan Hunter says:

    Dear Father Zuhlsdorf,
    Thank you for the very interesting explanation and comments on the griccia style alb.
    I realize this is hypothetical,and hopefully not sacriligous,but do you think if there had not been a Vatican Council II that a lot of the wholesale trashing of traditional catholic vesture and the visible elements of traditional Catholicism would have occured,when it did?
    I realize that the council did not call for this,but it occured at this time in a way that had never happened before.
    And also why did men think they have to get rid of beauty,and still do?I have always thought that beauty is preferable to ugliness any day.But maybe I have been taught wrong.
    God bless you.

  12. David says:

    I think there was perhaps a feeling that too much emphasis had been paid to the externals of Catholic and not enough to the internals. Hence, the almost-Calvinistic move aganist aesthetic beauty.

    Presumably this was the same spirit (or anti-spirit) that became incarnate in so many of the soul-less churches that were built from the 1960’s onwards.

    But I can’t help feeling that this movement was limited to a relatively small number of people who felt that they had the superior insight and therefore the right to impose these changes on the unsuspecting “People of God”.

  13. I wonder whether this is an example of a griccia cotta, worn by Mgr Dante at Pope John XXIII’s coronation:

  14. Dan Hunter says:

    David,thank you for your response.One cannot place to much emphasis on external beauty as it pertains to the Sacred.We are men of sense, therefore to the extent which physical beauty elevates the mind and will to the majesty of the Triune Godhead it can never be to much.Such was the case with all of the externals of Catholic Tradition in its outward beauty.
    Other than elevating our senses above the mundane and banal, this traditional Catholic beauty images,albeit,in our vastly limited way, the splendor of heaven.
    You can never have enough outward beauty when it comes to expressing the glory and majesty of the heavenly realm.All else will be added unto us as a result.
    God bless you

  15. Kenjiro Shoda says:

    I agree with Dan Hunter.

    I know of a traditional parish near me (not a Lefebrist parish at all, but a regular established parish), which has a beautiful Church with stained glass, murals on the walls, candles, votive candles and lights etc. and a magnificent altar. They just spent $1 mill. + to clean all the marble ornamentation and fix the roof….and voted to restore confessionals into the Church (which had been wripped out and replaced with a reconcilliantion room which no one went to), and also to make a shrine with more statues to three of the Church’s most popular saints (Padre Pio, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, and Saint Anthony of Padua).
    The Mass attendance is very high, and people from other places come to see the beautiful Church.
    It’s a true expression of Catholicism. As a comparison, there’s a parish when has gone the other way, and is often mistaken upon first sight inside the Church for Methodist or presbyterian (even though the sign says RC Church). It’s really an empty place. They cut back Masses to 3 (50 yrs ago, 6) which says alot for the direction they chose to go.

  16. Dan Hunter says:

    Kenjiro Shoda,
    Great example of how beauty attracts piety and many men.Can you please tell me where this church is and if there is a website with pictures associated with it?I would love to see it.
    My wife and I have to drive 100 miles, one way, to the nearest pretty Catholic church.
    God bless you and yours.

  17. Mary Sue says:

    Pretty, yes, but ironing the albs now is enough of a pain– horizontal AND vertical pleats? Golly gosh and gumption, no thank you.

  18. Dan Hunter says:

    Mary Sue,
    For many this would be a great joy,to serve our Divine Master in such a sacred and humble fasion.
    For yet others this is a blessed way to offer ones little inconvienances up to our loving Father.
    God bless you and yours.

  19. Leguleius Magnus says:

    Dan, Check out my parish at http://www.ourladylourdes.org It is beautifully restored. Real candle vigil lights. Lots of statues. It’s in Philadelphia. We have a novus ordo Mass at 10:00 am Sundays in Latin, ad orientem, with Gregorian chant.

  20. Brian says:

    Dan Hunter: I can’t remember if you live in North or South Carolina, but in Cary North Carolina there is a Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholic Church (St. Cyril and Methodius) and in Fayettville NC there is St. Micheal the Archangle Maronite Catholic Church. There is St. Rafka Mission in Greenville SC too. Perhpas closer than where you have to drive to (Do you drive to Chattanooga for the Indult Mass there?). These two rites (Maronite and Byzantine) are both very different from each other, but retain many traditional expressions of the faith lacking in American Catholocism by and large. I only mention this because you seem to be VERY unhappy in your current situation, and I know — from personal experience — that suffering through bad liturgies can be destructive of one’s faith and piety in the long run.

  21. Fr. Bartoloma: I suppose that the moo-moo albs with Princess Leia collars and floppy bell sleaves are less of a hassel than “griccia”.

    Except to the people who have to look at the awful things on the clerics who wear them.

    I don’t recall exactly which document abolished the griccia. Eventually it’ll turn up.

  22. Fr. Finnegan: I believe you’ve got it. Perhaps someone will find some stills that will be clearer.

  23. Northern Cleric says:

    I found an english version (from L’Osservatore Romano, weekly English edition, II (April 17, 1969), p. 4) of the 1969 Instruction here:


    The only reference to pleats seems to be at Mo.19, when referring to what hasn’t been abolished of the dress of Apostolic Protonotaries Supernumerary and the Prelates of Honour of His Holiness,

    “When appropriate, the unpleated surplice (cotta) can be worn over the purple cassock, instead of the rochet.”

    Suggests that pleated is out and unpleated is in?

  24. Dan Hunter says:

    Thank you,ever so much.We are very unhappy with the state of the liturgy at the Catholic churches in our part of,Hillsbourogh,North Carolina.We are located abot 20 miles north of Chapel Hill.
    and 50 miles west of Cary,and Raleigh.We are also 50 miles east of Greensboro,so I guess you could say we are in Catholic Siberia.
    We stopped by the Byzantine Catholic Church in Cary NC to go to confession one Saturday at the appointed time and the priest was not anywhere to be found.We did not assist at a Divine Liturgy but maybe we will try it sometime.The church was very ugly.It looked like a modular building used for drivers ed classes,with icons and an iconostasis.Folding chairs and asbestos ceiling tiles falling apart.
    My wife has Rheumatoid Arthritis at the young age of 44 and it is very painful for her to travel over 40 miles one way to assist at mass.
    Please pray that Bishop Burbidge authorizes the building of a church that would make God proud,closer to Hillsbourough.
    This diocese is so wealthy,why dont they build pretty traditional country churches like they used to when they did not have as much money.I am sure that these gymnasium looking churches they build now are just as,if not more expensive.And more people would feel at home in a Catholic church that looks like a Catholic church.This would greatly please Our Father in Heaven.
    God bless you.

  25. Northern Cleric says:

    here’s a colour photo with Mgr Dante


  26. Dan Hunter says:

    Dear Father,
    That is an awesome miter Pope John XXIII is wearing.Why do the bishops wear little ugly short ones nowadays.Let us know they are the heirs to the apostles shout it out loud with authority and moral certitude.
    Gung Ho!
    God Bless you.

  27. Dan,

    That is an awesome miter Pope John XXIII is wearing.

    It’s tempting (but probably two simplistic) to say that degree of orthodoxy is proportional to length of mitre. But surely there was a time when “real bishops wore real mitres”. Hmm … dare we say anything about real men and real albs?

    More seriously, I understand that your new bishop is very solid and orthodox. So perhaps, after what your diocese has been through, help is finally on the way.

  28. Fr Arsenius says:

    Not to cast doubts on Fr. Z’s observations, but I wonder if “griccia” refers not so much to the pleating as rather to the ornamentation?

    See “griccia” on this textile website:

  29. John Polhamus says:

    I seem to remember that among the nuns who used to make, mend, launder and repair ecclesiastical vestments, each stitch, each pleat, and each fold was considered a prayer, and a prayerful act. No doubt our women religious are much more plentifully and gainfully employed now. Not that every nun in the world was completely occupied by ironing Griccia Cottas, but those who did so did it because they wanted the discipline of doing so. But of course the generation of the ’60’s knew better how to employ them, to the ruin of the orders. Nah, there’s no significance in any of that house-frau stuff. Sure it’s quaint for quakers, but for Catholics, it’s nothing short of scandalously demeaning. SCRAP IT! It would be interesting to see if contemporary religious were able to humble themselves enough to find value in attaching their prayers to the decoration of the liturgy…oh, except that there aren’t enough of them to make the survey. Thanks to what? I’m sorry Father, but it’s just another little fruit-let by which we know the Council, and a bitter one. So with due respect, I think you’re all missing the point a bit regarding Griccia Cottas.

  30. Fr Arsenius says:

    On second thought…

    Doesn’t the Italian griccia derive from aggrinzare, to fold, crease, bend, pucker, crimp, pleat…?

    Ah, “ignorance is bliss”!

  31. Antonius says:

    Northern Cleric: A classic Dante. It just happens, we feature the very same picure (and some more) on our website:

  32. I’m all for surplices and rochets etc., but I don’t care for those that are highly “lacy” and rather sheer. Anathematize me all you want, but I believe one can overdo such things (just as surely as we’ve way “underdone” such things in recent days.

    And on that point…in fairness to those who instigated many of these things things in the wake of the Council, I think many, many folks never imagined they’d be wiping out so much — I suspect they thought they were merely “trimming” or “restraining” the quantity.

  33. John Polhamus says:

    Fr. Fox: Don’t expect us to be understanding “in fairness to those” who turned out to be wreckers of tradition and flagrant discarders of dearly held conduits of identity. It’s rather pathetic. There are two appropriate responses to that point of view:

    a) If they didn’t know what they were doing, they should have erred on the side of caution regarding holy things, or not been in the positions of responsibility that they were in. In view of the level of fairness they exhibited to two thousand years of collective Catholic experience, they deserve not understanding but our censure.

    b) They knew exactly what they were doing, warned by Cardinal Ottoviani and others, and chose to proceed recklessly, purposefully, and willfully. The same generation is now costing the church hundreds of millions of dollars due to perverted vocations and a sense of the faith rooted more in the spirit of the world than in the spirit of God.

    I’ll give you credit for just being naive, since I don’t know you. But I know others in my own diocese who deserve not only censure, but condemnation. Personally, I believe this is the more appropriate response, but soon the matter will be moot because the not entirely unjustified judicial cancer currently feeding on the American church will probably in my lifetime consume it’s “reformed hierarchy”, leaving nothing but scattered local churches in need of oversight by Vicars Apostolic appointed by the SSPX.

    Sound like a plot from a science-fiction novel? Look to the court in Los Angeles on Monday for a reality check.

  34. John Polhamus says:

    Fr. Fox: Let me also remind you, if you haven’t read me before, that I am a Diocesan Catholic, who has labored for 20 years for the old rite, but currently works for a Novus Ordo parish rife with abuses. I like the priests personally, believe in their good intentions, but could not reccomend them liturgically. I wanted you to know that I’m not an SSPV crackpot raving from the sidelines, I’m right in the thick of it, and we discuss these things in the parish.

    With this in mind, a lighter anecdote. My perch in the organ loft overlooks the left rear door of the church. Even if the church is not full at some masses, which it generally is, some people choose to stand in that area, and use the kneelers attached to the back of the last row of pews. Last Sunday at the 10:30 “choral” mass, I looked over my left shoulder, and spied a man below me reading out of a St. Joseph Daily missal (I’m eagle-eyed when it comes to spotting appurtenances of tradition in my present circumstances!). I thought he might look up at me, whereupon I could acknowledge his perseverance. But he didn’t look up, despite a couple of coughts and throat clearings (carefully timed and muted, of course).

    So when the Creed came along, as I frequently do, I started reciting it in Latin, in a voice not above my normal level of projection, in fact, somewhat below it. I saw his head move, and he looked up, whereupon I winked my left eye and nodded in recognition. He smiled and nodded back. Mass continued, and the man was gone when I left the loft, but it was a pleasantly unexpected moment.

  35. Dan Hunter says:

    Mr Polhamus,
    Very well put.Are you in a scola perchance?
    God bless you.

  36. With all respect, Mr Polhamus, your reaction seems a bit much.

    When I spoke of “instigators,” I meant those who wrote the documents that Fr. Z was citing, concerning the griccia alb. I do not believe the authors of various decrees and rubrics were the awful people you appear to think they were. While I may be faulted for insufficient clarity, “instigator” is a properly descriptive word for those I meant — i.e., “implementers” are not “instigators.” I think the context makes that clear I did not mean the church-wreckers, but the document-issuers.

    That said, I’d have been just as happy to have said a little more.

    There is no question others then took what was issued from Rome and went to town. I think many of them do deserve censure and fit your description.

    But here’s the thing — both “progressives” and “conservatives” (for lack of shorthand terms) likewise insist on conflating both the legislation and the implementation, to the point that there is a continuous wave of surprise (sometimes mingled with suspicion) at what Vatican II and even post-Vatican II implementing policy, did not say, mandate, demand or call for.

    Now, I do not accuse you of bad faith, but there are those, both “right” and “left,” who have a vested interest in this conflation. For those “on the left,” its to communicate the credibility of an ecumenical council, to their nostrums; to those “on the right,” it is to communicate discredit in the opposite direction.

    Again, I am not saying that any of this is your purpose; but there are those who persist in this purpose, and frankly, this activity seems pretty prevalent in blog comment boxes. It becomes a sort of common parlance — and as such, serve the interests of those with the agenda.

    And it seems that your response seems to demonstrate that; (I assume) unwittingly, and with no bad purpose, you read into my remarks such a conflation. And it seems to short-circuit a lot of discussion that might otherwise be fruitful.

    The sad irony is that when each “side” does it, that strengthens the argument of the other. Curious, n’est pas?

    Meanwhile, the truth — and those who benefit from, and pursue, the truth — have that much a harder slog. Such as parishes that re-introduce Latin into the current rite of the Mass, or want to return the tabernacle to its proper place, etc.

  37. John Polhamus says:

    With all charity, Fr. Fox, my reaction is disproportionately understated compared to the gravity of the situation. Nor does the fruit of the Vat II reform need any of my help to heap discredit upon it. The evidence speaks for itself. The newspapers report it, not me. What interest, exactly, do you suppose I would have in helping to scuttle it? I make my living from it. The healthier it is, the more secure I am; the healthier the reform is, the more it would reflect and give evidence of a vibrant and living church, reaping the fruit of a wise, well ordered and logical integration into the civilization of its times. Instead, I’m told today that the parish secretary and two others are the only emloyees of our parish who will receive secure deposits of their paychecks. Everyone else will receive personally signed checks drawn on the parish accounts, so that the diocese won’t be liable for them if they bounce.

    And why should this be so? Because the disordered generation of the reform thought that for the first time in history the Church should try to adapt itself to, and reflect the disordered society around it, and thus the disordered lives of so many of our clergy, who’s disordered attachment to carnal pleasure overrode their disordered sense of vocation. I suppose they were getting in touch with their inner child by getting in touch with an outer one. And to what cost? And on what scale? And you think my reaction is “a bit much?” Father, where is your sense of proportion?

    You know, some of us were actually there in person, we know what was said, we know what was promoted, and the evidence, fortunately – since we live in the age of preservation of evidence – is all down in print, inconveniently for some. It was all presented as such a good idea at the time; it all made perfect sense; it was all a natural “development.” Don’t claim lack of intent.

    The clergy need to get with the picture. I’m neither left nor right, Father. I’m right smack in the middle, and as our clergy, I and alot of people like me are going to hold you and yours jointly responsible. Stop calling for “understanding” and start getting the act together.

  38. John Polhamus says:

    Dan, thank you. Again on a happier note, yes, I’m the founder of the Chorus Breviarii Gregorian Chant Schola and Liturgical Prayer Group here in San Diego. They’re a terrific bunch of men who have through the past five years revived Sunday vespers in this diocese, along with quite a few other offices. Have a look at the website, http://www.chorusbreviarii.com

    We’ll be doing our seventh annual Gregorian Tenebrae on Wednesday of Holy Week this year, at the invitation of the pastor of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church. I expect we’ll have about fiteen to twenty in choir for the office. A local diocesan priest will be hebdom. It’s a record of service I’m pleased to have contributed to.

    We also have achieved a consistent record of celebrating the Novus Ordo (since we lack permission to do the Tridentine, not that I haven’t sought it) in Latin, with Gregorian chant, ad orientem, even to the point of using the 1970 Lectionarium (when I say it’s all in Latin, I mean it’s ALL in Latin!) of which we have a copy. In other words, we take all the options in the light of tradition. It’s amazing what a difference it makes, although it still doesn’t work as smoothely as the Tridentine, since for instance the priest can’t start the canon until the music of the sanctus is over, despite the fact that everyone has a missalette, and were able to pray the sanctus as fast as they could say it.

    I find it a wonder that the concepts of either underscoring or multitasking were too much for the Council fathers. They must not have gone to movies much. “Stop playing that background music…there, now that it’s over go ahead with the dialogue.” Boy, Casablanca would have been a real disappointment if it had been handled like a new rite mass! But I really must go, Dan. I have to go play for the Stations of the Cross tonight. God bless you, too!

  39. Mr. Polhamus:

    I really don’t get why you are being so aggressive toward me. I don’t believe I’ve lectured you, and I don’t know that you are entitled to lecture me. As to the “gravity of the situation” — the precise situation is that we are exchanging comments on the Internet. That is very far from “grave.”

    If this is because of the misery and tribulations you may have suffered in the context of practicing your faith, or your work situation — well, I’m sorry about that, but barking at me is neither appropriate nor productive.

    It does sound as though you are doing very useful things, thank you for that.

  40. Geoffrey says:

    Wow… I’d fear for my soul if I EVER talked to a priest (alter christus) like that!

  41. Kenjiro Shoda says:

    I don’t know if anyone else konows this (Fr. Z. might because He lives in Italy and in Rome) but they once existed in other countries too (even the USA and Canada), that there were actually communities and Ordoers of nuns that were founded to be of domestic service to priests, and ironing the vestments of priests, the altar linen , cleaning rectories, churches, seminaries, acting as cooks in seminaries, rectories, and even serving as nurses and physical therapists in nursing homes for priests. I know of two such Orders (1 Italian, 1 Canadian) who were founded for such noble work, and I am sure many a sister actually did (especially in italy), iron the griccia surplices and albs. Like one commentator said before, that they considered this work a prayer.
    But I disagree that they are more plentiful, nor have more meaningful work. Certainly they are not more plentiful! The Canadian Order of sisters which I mentioned (which had 1-2 USA houses), is practically extinct. UNfortunatly, and as usuall after Vatican II and the disaster that followed, they updated their apostolates, discarded the habit, and engaged in more and more bizarre liturgies and feminist agendas. Today, there are only about 30-40 of them….all aged women in Canada.
    But before the Council, there were close to 400 !
    I don’t know the exact staus of the Italian Order I mentioned today, other than that they dropped the part of their name which translated as “for Domestic service”. Surprisingly they were once over 1,000+ members, but I am sure that they have by now either discarded, or pathetically simplified their beautiful habits and have declined significantly.
    What a wonderful time it must have been in the Church, and what a spirit, when doing domestic service for a priest, mending His clothes and doing backbreaking ironing of griccia surplices, or creating masterpieces of richly embridered altar line was considered a prayer, and not an imposition or a degredation of women. The Mass and the priesthood was so revered and sacred, that nothing was too difficult . It was all a glory for God. Now it’s all gone of course. But just the spirit of it all must have been fantastic. It would be wonderful if Benedict XVI would try to restore some of this Catholic spirit….many would join the effort. Not the femminst Orders of nuns, and rad progressive Orders of priests like the Jesuits of course.
    Unfortunatly, I think the only place this Catholic spirit still survives among an entire community, is in the Lefebrist movement and other groups. All the more to pray for a strong and all encompassing Moto Priorio to restore the Tridentine Latin Mass, and bring back this Catholic spirt to the whole Church. Because I for one am sick and tired of hearing about ecumemnism, justice, peace, and the “integrity of creation” which has taken the place of our Catholic spirit we once had.

  42. RBrown says:

    And on that point…in fairness to those who instigated many of these things things in the wake of the Council, I think many, many folks never imagined they’d be wiping out so much—I suspect they thought they were merely “trimming” or “restraining” the quantity.

    I think that’s historically incorrect. A new rite was promulgated, and that’s why it’s called the Novus Ordo.

    I suggest you look into some of the comments of Cardinal Antonelli.

  43. Andrew says:

    John Polhamus:

    “And they received him not, because his was going to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John had seen this, they said: Lord, will you command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them? And turning, he rebuked them, saying: You know not of what spirit you are. The Son of man came not to destroy souls, but to save.”

    Compare that with Elias:

    “And again he sent to him another captain of fifty men, and his fifty with him. And he said to him: Man of God, thus saith the king: Make haste and come down. Elias answering, said: If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And fire came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.”

    Sometimes one has to be patient even with those who are not on the right track: or should I say, precisely with those.

  44. Jordan Potter says:

    RBrown said: “. . . that’s why it’s called the Novus Ordo.”

    Actually I think it “was” called the Novus Ordo when it first came out, but officially or technically it’s just called the Ordo Missae.

  45. Andrew:

    Elijah did not pursue his ministry fully in accord with the Lord’s wishes; if you read that section of 1 Kings, you will see God had to remind Elijah of His mercy, which Elijah wasn’t so keen on. Ultimately, God had Elijah anoint Elisha to take his place, and Elijah was taken up into heaven. Elijah, like Moses, notably departed this earth outside the land of Promise. And Elisha, notably, did exactly twice as many miracles than Elijah, and had a much longer ministry. We may like Elijah’s ferocity; but Elisha got more done.

  46. John Polhamus says:

    Fr Fox (with all due respect, and in a subdued and understated tone of voice): You know exactly what I’m talking about. The council has degraded the church, and the church is suffering for it, and will probably suffer more. That degradation can be charted in two directions, both from the outside in, and from the indside out; from Concilliar decrees to their effect on peripherals like Griccia Cottas, or from “Rainbow Mass” tolerance to its effect on the social expression of individual members of the clergy. The whole thing is disordered, and the whole church from the Basilica to the Hospital Chapel is suffering for it.

    So again, with due respect, when you call for understanding of those who with knowledge aforethought undertook the mutilation of something that was theirs only in trust for the past as well as the future, I feel that I actually AM entitled to lecture you, since I and others like me, are the ones who will pay the bill for this misadventure, and pay it in real, concrete, tangible, cold, hard cash. My understanding runs out on that point Fr. (actually it runs out earlier than that, but it gets really irritated right about that point!). The time for sympathy is over. Sure, there’s a time to plant and a time to reap, a time to laugh and a time to weep, but Jesus also said, “I come not with peace, but with a sword.” The church had better learn how to wield it again, and like a scalpel, because the cancer is advanced.

    Thank you for the compliment. Please understand, though, that we’re not playing at being clerics, and we would all much rather that the leadership in such an endeavour came from clergy. But the fact is that there aren’t enough of them in this diocese to constitute a liturgical choir, nor are they apparantly interested in doing so. Nevertheless, if they’re not going to do it, we will, insofar as we are able.

    Having said all that, I’ll reiterate that although on this point I DO feel that I’m entitled to lecture a bit, but don’t think that in disagreeing your opinion I feel any lack of respect or reverence for your office, nor that in the heat of argument I bear you or anyone else any “ad hominem” ill will. That would be uncharitable. But in the words of Sir Richard Runciman Terry, first choir master of Westminster Cathedral under Cardinal Vaughn, in reference to a dispute over Tudor church music (and which was carried on not in the comparative privacy of a blog but in the editorial pages of the London Evening Standard, no less!) “One can’t discuss hot topics without heat.” No, no one can’t. And there’s no hotter topic for our church or even our civilization, than the situation in which we find ourselves as a church, and the course we chart from here.

  47. RBrown says:

    Actually I think it “was” called the Novus Ordo when it first came out, but officially or technically it’s just called the Ordo Missae.

    Paul VI, who promulgated the 1970 missal, himself referred to it as the Novus Ordo to distinguish it from the Missal promulgated in 1570.

    Novus Ordo promulgatus est, ut in locum veteris substitueretur post maturam deliberationem, atque ad exsequendas normas quae a Concilio Vaticano II impertitae sunt. Haud dissimili ratione, Decessor Noster S. Pius V post Concilium Tridentinum Missale auctoritate sua recognitum adhiberi iusserat.

    Although in the strict sense Ordo refers to the Missal, it is called “Novus Ordo” because it is, as Paul VI himself said, a “new rite”.


  48. John,

    Your sustained and fruitful efforts over a period of time are well-known and much admired among those committed to the “reform of the reform”. Let me take this opportunity to add my personal admiration and gratitude for the example you and your schola have and are setting in support of reverent and beautiful celebration of the Novus Ordo liturgy. It sometimes occurs to me that exemplary celebrations of the new Mass may be even more valuable than such celebrations of the old Mass, where beautiful and relevant celebration is simply the normal expectation.

    So you have earned your spurs, and the right to use them. Including the indulgence of lecturing (if you please) any young folks, whether lay or clerical, who demonstrate by expressed naiveté and inexperience their need for instruction by those who as steadfast and devoted Catholics actually lived through “the terror” of determined destruction of faith and liturgy all around them. It is easy enough for well-intentioned folks with a blank memory slate to assume that the grievous mistreatment – whether by “instigation” or “implementation”, endured by so many, both in spite of and too often because of their loyalty to Pope and Magisterium – was always similarly well-intentioned. You and I know it was not.

  49. Mr. Polhamus:

    “Fr Fox (with all due respect, and in a subdued and understated tone of voice): You know exactly what I’m talking about. The council has degraded the church, and the church is suffering for it, and will probably suffer more.”

    And, with all due respect, Mr. Polhamus, I think you know exactly what I’m talking about. A combox on the internet does not, in my judgment, justify you or anyone to have to wrestle with maintaining a “subdued and understated tone of voice.” When people are posting comments online, and actually have to make an effort to maintain composure or calm — then something is wrong, and that something is not the Second Vatican Council or anything that came in its wake.

    Second: I am not going to go further down into a byzantine discussion of causation and intent. I will stand by what I said, or at least intended to say (since it seems my comments uncorked all your reactions that you struggle to keep “subdued”): “in fairness to those who instigated many of these things things (such as abolishing vesture, the original discussion) in the wake of the Council, I think many, many folks never imagined they’d be wiping out so much—I suspect they thought they were merely ‘trimming’ or ‘restraining’ the quantity.”

    I reiterate that many, many people never imagined we’d be where we ended up. I will stick my neck out and assert that “many, many” of the Council fathers themselves “never imagined” such an outcome; that “many, many” of those in the Vatican, circa 1970, “never imagined” such a thing; and I will further assert that I doubt that “many, many” of the U.S. bishops imagined the terrible outcome that everyone here agrees is terrible.

    If you choose to directly contradict that assertion, may I ask what proof you have to do so? You are, in contradicting it, assert the negative: that “many, many” of all those categories (Vatican fathers, the Vatican, the U.S. hierarchy) did, in fact, foresee and intend all that we consider awful consequences of the implementation of the Council — or, if you prefer, the Council itself.

    Now, if you want to own such an assertion, that’s your business; but it brings with it quite a burden of proof.

    There is a separate assertion, that I think is true: that there were — to my mind (and perhaps yours, I’m guessing) — bad actors; they had an agenda, and they rode the “Spirit of Vatican II” horse right through the treasured patrimony of the Church.

    But when I use the term, “many, many,” I guess I mean that a whole lot — a substantial minority if not the majority — of those involved were not participants in what would seem to be something of a “conspiracy” or at least, a deliberate massive demolition project that was, nonetheless concealed. I fail to see how you can deny that it was concealed, insofar as what happened was not mandated. So either it was a hijacking . . . or a deliberate deception. And I believe “many, many” were not intentional collaborators in either.

    As I say — you chose to directly contradict my assertion, so I take it you are asserting the opposite: that a substantial minority, if not majority of — take your pick — (a) Council fathers (b) Vatican hierarchy (c) U.S. bishops (d) Other (e) Combination of the above (f) all of the above were willing, intentional collaborators in either a hijacking of the Council — or, worse, a deliberate deception.

    “So again, with due respect, when you call for understanding of those who with knowledge aforethought undertook the mutilation of something that was theirs only in trust for the past as well as the future…”

    That is not what I said; please do not put words in my mouth.

    I did not “call for understanding of those with knowledge aforethought“–my words precisely referred to those lacking such knowledge.

    “I feel that I actually AM entitled to lecture you, since I and others like me, are the ones who will pay the bill”…

    And I do not “pay the bill”? When does this “us vs. them” between laity and clergy come to an end? Could this have something to do with you’re going off on me in all this? And you still don’t think you over-reacted?

    I think if a combox comment occasions all this for you, maybe a walk or something would be helpful.

  50. Mr. Polhamus et al.:

    I guess if clarity is lacking (including surely on my part), I’ll try to provide some, as to “where I stand”:

    I consider the assertion that the Second Vatican Council was something evil or misbegotten — because of deliberate, bad intention (what Mr. Polhamus calls “knowledge aforethought” of “degradation” and “mutilation”) — to be, if not on its face unsustainable (because of what we believe about God’s promises regarding guidance of the Church and infallibility)…

    …then it is an assertion that — by its extremity, demands extreme proof.

    I.e., even if the assertion is not ruled out of court on theological grounds, it remains an assertion with an overwhelming presumption against it. Who said it? “Extreme assertions call for an extreme burden of truth.”

    So, apart from a theological reason to reject such an assertion, I think there are other rational reasons to seek just about every other explanation before adverting to that one.

    Now, I raise the question this way simply to ask: is that what Mr. Polhamus and other recent commenters are saying?

    Because it seems to me this whole “heated” thread is not about what Ottaviani or Antonelli said, but what some great body of actors, at some level, knowingly intended, to such a degree of common purpose that my assertion of a large number not being complicit is considered indefensible.

    Just where does the knowing, deliberate “cancer” originate?

  51. John Polhamus says:

    Fr. Fox: Your quite right Father, I do have my opinion, and hold to my assertion. You keep calling for evidence, which you know is both all around you, staring you in the face like a big lavender elephant in the living room of the church, and which is evidenced in the written record of the period, and testified to by the situation we have come down to.

    And where exactly do you think those innocents thought they were on the first Sunday of Advent 1969, so thouroughly suffused in a hermenuetic of continuity that no one could possibly think that anything but a completely natural and evolutionary mutation of the liturgy was taking place? Take the blinders off Father, they knew exactly what they were changing, as they were changing it, and that it wasn’t natural.

    But most of the humble priests of their generation who would have objected were not men of independant means, free to say what they truly felt at risk of their employment as priests, convenience of location (i.e they can be transferred to the hinterlands or worse if they make trouble, butk the system) health insurance, all the things that bring security and stability to the life of an individual saecular priest, which is a lonely vocation to begin with. From there they became yes men to whatever the reformers wanted. No one wants to be a martyr, but that carries a certain degree of culpability. If you want evidence of this, ask yourself, how exactly does one think the employment of secular diocesan priests works? The answer is that most people never think about it, but that doesn’t mean there are not mechanics involved, nor implications.

    They also had the highly public pronouncements of Fr. De Pauw, which were carried in the press of the day, warning and pleading with the Holy Father to restrain the destruction. When one reviews the period it becomes apparant that the old rite didn’t exactly die quietly. Ottoviani, Antonelli, DePauw, LeFebvre, even Fr. Feeny (although he had certain other issues of his own), were prominent voices raised in defense of tradition, and even reasonable change – DePauw even allowed for the mass in the vernacular “for those who are interested in that sort of thing.” A little prophecy there, since today we have so few people who are sufficiently interested in “that sort of thing” to manifest a vocation, that we have trouble supplying “that sort of thing” to the parishes. Hence the self-justifying communion services overseen by extraordinary ministers of communion. Lest you doubt the verscity of my evidence, I’ve attended one myself in Mississippi. Whether anyone chose to listen to them was another matter, but these were voices of substance, and their arguments still carry weight and import for our times. One doesn’t need to be a historian to discern that, nor do I consider myself one. But that doesn’t mean I go through life in a state of ignorant bliss.

    Oh, and here’s another bit of evidence you won’t find written in a book, but which I can testify to. A certain MC of my acquaintance, now in his seventies who lives in London, recalled to me the day in the late 1950’s when he was shown a pamphlet outlining the “mass of the future.” It turned out to be the Novus Ordo. His jocular response at the time was, “Over my dead body!” He’s not laughing anymore. Few of us do when discussing this subject.

    Nor was he laughing when they came – and I mean LITERALLY – with jackhammers, to destroy the gothic altar of a prominant inner London Catholic church (nor was London the only place where such attacks were carried out). How much lack of intention do you really think there is in a jackhammer? It’s an object with a fairly definate purpose and function, rather difficult to mistake. I’m sorry Father, but your vocation, which I revere, doesn’t allow you to rewrite history or to conveniently ignore the parts of it you don’t like, or the undeniable results of one generation’s making of a guinea-pig out of Christ’s mystical body. And you don’t need me to write a dissertation to figure that out. Your evidence is all around you. You’ll see it if you look.

  52. RBrown says:

    Fr Fox:

    I have one question–do you say your office in Latin?

  53. Dan Hunter says:

    Father Fox,
    Satan was working so hard at the flaw in the armor of the Church in the 1960’s,that heads rolled.
    Read Dietrich Von Hildebrands book,”The Devastated Vineyard”,and “The Rhine Flows into the Tiber.
    They state in no uncertain terms and without flamboyance and rhetoric,that many Church Fathers comprimised their faith for their,”itchy ears”,to be satiated.
    The devastation is obvious now.
    This past Ash Wednesday I forced myself to go to mass at the local church.I say forced because the liturgical abuses which occur there put up a keep out sign for sensitive Catholics.Well anyhow it sounded like a bingo hall before mass with everyone trying to be louder than the next man.Finally Father came out wearing what looked like a polyester gunny sack.He ambled up to the front of the church,pulled a folding chair out of the first row and sat down with a big grin on his face.He opened with questioning,”Do we have to start now?
    Why can’t we start Lent tomorrow?He got a big laugh,it continued.
    I had to get up and genuflect to the Tabernacle hidden somewhere in a broom closet in the church,and leave.
    I was not even allowed to worship The Almighty on Ash Wednesday!I guess Lent is the beginning of fun time.
    There is GIGANTIC problem here.
    God bless you.

  54. John Polhamus says:

    Fr. Fox: I should also point out that the rhetorical questions you pose have already been asked and answered many times, by many commentators lay and clerical, and in varying degrees of accusation and explanation. I begin to suspect you’re rather new to the argument, because you act as if you don’t know that.

    What is undeniable is that things are greatly amiss, and that there has been a gross disruption of the processes of the church in matters liturgical and doctrinal, lay and clerical. The largest proof of that disorder is being played out in the court systems of the United States and western Europe at the moment, and that tactic (again, not entirely unjustified) will eventually eat its way all the way to the doors of St. Peters unless the church gets very serious about its identity and methodology, and very soon. Beg all the after-the-fact rhetorical questions you wish, deny the assertion if you want. But you’re whistling in the wind, and if you don’t know it now, I feel unfortunately certain you’ll learn it later.

    One other point, just because the church has the Divine guarantee of success, doesn’t mean it can’t be damaged or its work unnecessarily set back. Or did you think that the Divine mandate meant that it would be all scones AND jam in everything the church undertook? Whole councils have been overturned at the stroke of a pen before, that’s nothing new. This one was pastoral, and as so it is subject to such a possibility. The Church’s success is by no means promised to be uninterrupted. What is sad is that having emerged once from the catacombes the Church may wind up there once again through the impatient inability of one generation to weather the social storm. I’m not military, but as they say, I don’t like paying for the same real estate twice.

    I’ll say it again: nothing would make me happier than to see the work of God in the results of the Council which have had such impact on all of our Catholic experiences for the past forty years. But I don’t see it. I don’t see it at all.

    And with that, I end these commentaries. Nice talking to you Father. (My security word was “daffodils”; how cheerful! A timely reminder that Easter is in the offing.)

  55. John Polhamus says:

    P.S. I can think of one very practical reason for Griccia Cottas: WARMTH. The marble basilicas are cold alot of the time, even in summer, and even today. All the folds are heat resevoirs and insulation.

  56. Dan Hunter says:

    The traditional vesture is a lot more comfortable than their modern counterparts.I have this information fro several priests who have worn both,and also find the older vestments more maneuverable in.
    My wife thinks that the Griccia is more comfortable since it breathes better and wisks heat from the body in the action of the fluted cloth and pleats.
    God bless you.

  57. Janet says:

    Fr. Fox, and anyone else:

    I know the topic is supposed to be about a type of pleated cloth here, but since the responses have already drifted onto the usual topic of the ‘evils’ of Vatican II, I’ll ask this in here.
    Wasn’t John Paul II one of the members of the council in Vatican II, as well as Cardinal Ratzinger? And as a very long-reigning pope, JPII surely had ample opportunity to reign in the abuses in liturgy that Vatican II may have somehow unleashed accidentally.

    I have great love and respect for JPII, don’t get me wrong. But WHY did he allow so many things to go so far afield in the Novus Ordo mass? (and as a convert, it’s the only mass I know. The most traditional mass I have access to is EWTN’s Sunday morning mass, which I’ve recently begun attending regularly since I live nearby). I sincerely want to know why there is so much criticism of the NO liturgy but yet no criticism of the very one who it seems had the power to correct the problem: the pope. What am I not understanding about the papacy, here?
    Many thanks, and again I LOVE JPII, and think he’s a Saint for sure. Help me understand the contradiction in all this, please.

  58. RBrown says:

    Why did JPII allow so many things to go?

    IMHO, there are several reasons:

    1. He was a conservative, i.e., he wouldn’t have made the liturgical changes in the 60’s, but he wasn’t going to change things back.

    2. It is well known that administrative work wasn’t his long suit. When he was a Polish bishop, the Cardinal Primate ran the Church in Poland.

    3. He attributed many of the abuses to Western decadence and thought that once the wall fell, Poland would influence Western Europe and the Americas.

    4. He was very, very interested in international politics, especially in the Euro Union, whose creation would protect Poland’s sovereignty.

    5. Abuses or no, liberalism in the Church made it easier for Vatican to deal with secular governments.

  59. Mr. Polhamus:

    I’m sorry to say I consider your replies to be largely non-responsive. If you consider them otherwise, then let’s call it a day. I’ve had my quota of condescension and sarcasm, thanks. And I’m well aware that my questions have been discussed and answered, many times . . . by others. I asked you.

    RBrown: I wonder why you ask about the office. My answer is partly. As I can, I am teaching myself the office in Latin. It isn’t easy, because it means reading the same psalm, side-by-side in Latin and English. Of course, I could simply pray it in Latin, but I’d like to be familiar with the texts I pray. And there are many, many days when I find it difficult to pray the office at all, let alone –to a certain degree–“twice.”


    I think that’s a good question. Here are my thoughts (as I’ve reflected on that myself):

    1. General principle: it takes a lot of time, preparation, effort, etc., on any “big thing.” This is true if you’re a pastor, a business owner, a politician, or a pope. Even when everyone is “with you”; and even more when everyone isn’t.

    Related to this is a principle I learned in politics: anything really substantive, significant, that’s really going to make a major difference, isn’t going to be easy to do. There’s no way it’s not going to generate significant opposition. So it will take time, time, effort, effort.

    So, my point is that John Paul, like any pope, is going to be able to do certain “big” things, but not every “big” thing we might like. Just how it is, for various reasons, not hard to figure out.

    That said, consider this summary of our late pope’s reign:

    2. John Paul II began his reign with a crisis in Poland and the Cold War in full vigor. He gave quite a bit of attention to that, through the ’80s.

    3. He also gave quite a bit of attention to “culture of life/death” issues.

    4. He also promulgated both a new code of canon law and the new catechism.

    5. He dealt with some economic/social justice questions at various times, including after the fall of communism.

    6. He did, in fact, do a number of things on liturgy: wasn’t the second edition of the Missal his doing? The third, certainly. Also, he promulgated a new GIRM, and he issued several documents on the Eucharist, particularly those toward the end of his reign.

    7. Related to this would be what he did, in the catechism, regarding non-inclusive language, which preceded the Liturgicam Authenticum letter on principles regarding translation of texts. That, in turn, was preparatory for the forthcoming translation of the Missal which has caused fits for all the “progressive” elements. Also, he exerted a modest corrective influence on the English lectionary, including insisting it be revisited.

    8. He obviously made worldwide evangelization a great focus of his pontificate, with a focus on the young.

    9. He has contributed a great deal to moral theology — in addition to “culture of life” matters, his theology of the body.

    Now, I realize some would be eager to come back with criticisms of his priorities and of his execution of these items.

    My point would be to consider that in faulting him for not doing enough on liturgy, to realize that doesn’t mean he wasn’t busy about important matters. And even the pope can’t do all these things at once. He just can’t.

    Not having walked in his shoes, I do not feel qualified to fault how he ranked the priorities.

    I do wish he’d given greater priority to personnel; although, again, it does seem he got better appointments as he went further along, so there might be more to that story that exculpates him.

    A pope, after all, has to rely on a great number of other people to execute policy, including appointments.

    It’s not as though he comes into this office with a “shadow cabinet” already loyal to him. At least, I hardly expect that of a man chosen pope. So it doesn’t surprise me that someone like JPII would take a while to develop his own loyal folks. That said, I do think he was more focused “outward” than inward.

    It seems to me you could argue that by focusing on many things he did, John Paul steadied the barque of Peter, and got a lot of the craziness reigned in (not all), and laid some foundation-work, that Benedict now is in a position to build on. Of course, we await him doing so in liturgical matters. (Once again, not actually being pope, I don’t know how I can be qualified to fault our present pope’s priorities, either.)

    In summary, I think Pope John Paul II deserves credit for quite a bit of impact on the Church and the world. That does not mean there isn’t legitimate criticism.

  60. Janet says:

    Fr. Fox,
    Thanks, it helps to see how many things JPII did do; things I wouldn’t know about as a convert and layperson. I guess basically we could say that if not for what he did get done, we’d be in worse shape now. Maybe Benedict will repair the liturgy during his pontificate. (I’d settle for him just giving my diocese a bishop, since we’ve now been waiting for a new one for nearly 2 years! but that’s another story…)

    I guess there are limits to what even a pope can realistically accomplish. He can’t just sent out a memo saying “no more folk masses, no more communion in hand, no more holding hands during the Our Father,” etc. Would be nice if it were that simple. Naive of me, I guess.

  61. John Polhamus says:

    Dear Henry, I only just saw your kind post much earlier up the page. Thank you, your support is much appreciated, I’ll pass it on to the fellows. Ultimately I don’t know that we’ve done any real good at all, we’ve simply done what we’ve done, what we needed to do, and were able to do to improve our rather blighted Catholic lives out here in San Diego. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue doing it. But I suppose the struggle does lead to an excess of ferocity sometimes. I’m a little disapointed that Fr. Fox took me for being sarcastic, I was being absolutely forthright in every remark. Bit overly enthusiastic as usual, I suppose. Nevertheless, I take solace in the psalm verse, “Irascimini et nolite peccare”, “be angry and sin not!” So you see, it is possible. At least I hope it is, heaven knows we have enough to be angry about! It would be nice to see you, but I don’t know when I’m going to be in London next. Say hi to everyone at Corpus Christi for me. I think of them daily.

    Drop me a line at the website, http://www.chorusbreviarii.org

    There’s much to tell.

  62. John Polhamus says:

    Father Fox, you’re quite right. In re-reading my comments I find that I never did get round to answering your explicit question. But I was conducting this conversation at intervals that included teaching voice lessons, playing for a wedding, a mass and working on an orchestration. It’s late now, and quieter. I’ll try to be succinct.

    The answer is that yes, I do believe that the very writers of the documents of Vatican II intended what has been accomplished. Credo. I believe that the seeds of the destruction were planted in the documents implicetly, and germinated shortly thereafter with the fertilizer of “post-conciliar” documents. Credo. I believe that since they knew at the time that they couldn’t abbrogate the 1570 missal due to the terms of Quo Primum, they engaged in a tacit campaign to allow it to be disused, while actively promoting the new oder mass. Credo. I believe that much of this was done in a misguided and superficial notion of ecumenism, designed to bring about an artificial reunification of Christianity which glosses over the substantial doctrinal divergences which led to its splintering (Ironically the Greeks now think we’re even bigger heretics than they ever did, since we rampantly abuse our holy liturgy…good one). Credo.

    Was it the intention of many many church Fathers? Secondarily, yes, because without the bishops it would never have been put into practice, and without their practical directives none of the reordering of the life of the church and faithful could be produced. The first rule of planting a new field is that you have to till under the stalks and stems first. That is what they did, though not as completely as they would have liked.

    Was it the intention of the writers of the ducuments themselves? Clearly yes, Bugnini even says so in his autobiography. The plan was afoot a long time before the council was ever called. It goes back to the worker priests in Germany and France who were experimenting with the liturgy and celebrating versus populum in the ’30’s.

    But what is the real evidence? The real body of evidence is in the results we see around us today, and an a priori argument from which we may trustily deduce the motivation and intention. Sweet fruit does not grow from a sick tree, and our Lord himself tells us that “by their fruit you will know them.” And that is jurisprudence with which I think there really is no argument.

    My conclusions: Do I think an attempt was made by a group within the Church to uproot the traditions for one reason or another? Yes. Do I think they got away with it? Not entirely, and not as far as they would have liked, to the current frustration of some of their curial and episcopal heirs. Would I do the same to them, given a chance? No. Believe me I am a committed traditionalist (but one with a thick skin, willing to do trench work among Novus Ordites), but when the Barque of Peter turns too sharply, it risks capsize, and far too many innocents fall overboard. (Better care has been taken of the Queen Mary at Long Beach in the past forty years than has been taken of the Roman Catholic Church). I would not do to this generation what the previous one did to mine. Were I a bishop would I begin to govern more harshly? Yes. Would I free the old mass and give it equal opportunity? You bet, as long as priests want to say it. It’ll take care of itself.

    So there you have it. My opinion for what it’s worth. Another London MC once admonished me not to take up full-time religion! I should have paid closer attention. So I apologize if I was unduely harsh…but…if you go back and read your original post…;-)…you did say “anathematize me all you want”! Just taking you at your word! God bless, Padre.

  63. animadversor says:

    One would think that, in a blog dedicated to a topic involving accuracy in the use of language, that the posters might check their spelling before they post. And does it not show less than perfect respect to one’s readers to offer them comments marred by every kind of careless infelicity in grammar and usage? Ladies and gentlemen, please, do pause a moment to wipe the foam from your lips and check your work before you send it. Well, I (probably) shan’t mention it again.

  64. Northern Cleric says:

    This must be a record for the number of posts on the subject of crimped linen!

  65. RBrown says:

    RBrown: I wonder why you ask about the office. My answer is partly. As I can, I am teaching myself the office in Latin. It isn’t easy, because it means reading the same psalm, side-by-side in Latin and English. Of course, I could simply pray it in Latin, but I’d like to be familiar with the texts I pray. And there are many, many days when I find it difficult to pray the office at all, let alone —to a certain degree—”twice.”

    First, let me say I applaud your devotion to and perseverance in your vocation.

    My point is this: Your Latin is not surprisingly inadequate because of the 40 year long negligence of the hierarchy of the Church toward priestly formation. This negligance includes not only Latin but also theological and philosophical formation.

    I am not saying that the papacy of JPII was a waste. Having said that, most of the work on the new code was done while he was still in Poland. And the extraordinary Synod which triggered the catechism was the brainchild of Cardinal Ratzinger. In fact, for years I told friends that the best thing about the Wojtyla papacy was the man at the SCDF.

    Italians distinguish between un papa politico and un papa religioso, and JPII was definitely the former. It was well known in Rome that he really took little interest in the reform of the Church.

    Although I acknowledge the importance of the papacy in international politics, the health of the Church is more important.

  66. RBrown says:

    Not having walked in his shoes, I do not feel qualified to fault how he ranked the priorities.

    Agree, but I have walked in my own shoes.

    This is no time for a litany of my own personal Ecclesial horror stories, but I can easily see that after the long papacy of JPII, the Church with which I have daily contact is still not even close to being healthy.

  67. Andrew says:


    Well said: Also: It is enough to read the Code of Canon Law to quickly realize that the Church is in a state of utter disarray. Just one example out of many: every priest is supposed to be very well versed in Latin (canon 249). Are they joking? Who, what priests, where are well versed in Latin? What institution can so blatantly reject its own tenets and claim faithfulness to itself? That catholic church as experienced by an averagle churchgoer is a shadow image of itself. No wonder most folks out there think that we’re all going to heaven directly and that it makes little difference if one is a catholic or a protestant or anything else to that matter.

  68. John Polhamus says:

    animadversor: You’re absolutely rihgt! Internet cuortesy is the most importnat thnig. Quiet rihgt. ;_0

  69. Voruassetzungslosigkeit says:

    Is this an example of a “cotta griccia” (worn by the black-cassocked cleric holding the microphone)?

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