Before and after

Today I was strolling and found the Church S. Maria della Pace open.  "Miracolo!", quoth I and entered.  It is a gem.  Standing before the church’s main altar I saw a picnic table pushed to the side of the sanctuary.  What really got my attention, however, were a couple of young people looking at the sanctuary and talking about how beautiful it was.  I heard one say, "Imagine, for Mass they put that nasty table (tavolaccia) in front of that!"  They were all properly disgusted with the idea.  The moral of the story?  What the aging hippies think they need to do to engage "the people", "the people" don’t want.  And today younger people, who are not hauling around the baggage of the ’60’s don’t want what the hep-cats have pushed on us for years. 

But times are changing rapidly.  I think we will see more and more younger priests ridding their churches of iron-boards and re-orienting the Mass once again.  We are getting constant hints that this is path of the future.  I am guessing the Holy Father might even talk more about this in a document.

I also tip my biretta to the Whappers for these photos of the Holy Father’s chapel in the Apostolic Palace.  Notice the before and after differences.




About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Father Bartoloma says:

    Sweet setup!

    (I’m also sick and tired of seeing that goofy Italian setup with two candles on one end of the altar and a cutsie little vase of flowers at the other)

  2. Fr. Bartoloma: Generally, that is not how men set up altars.

  3. Brian says:

    Father, you are dead on about the younger people. Of the few friends I have who actually attend church(I’m 26), they universally want greater reverence, chant, and orthodox preaching. My friend started crying when I took her to a Tridentine Mass and she saw what a reverent, spiritual Mass could be and how our generation has been given happy-clappy banality.

    Of course, my friends who agree with progressive views would never waste time in a church. I think they figure if they want to hear 60’s hippie songs and how abortion is a right, they’ll just go to a Beatles tribute band concert. At least there they aren’t pretending to be Catholic.

    Priests, please don’t be afraid to be orthodox and preach the hard topics. You might lose some people with grey hair but you’ll keep all the young couples with large families and that’s where the future lies. The people with graying hair who remain will have secretly wished for such a priest and will be just as happy as the young people. You might even see some tears in their eyes!

  4. Joe says:

    Wonderful changes are indeed happening in the Church, particularly as regards good liturgy. It’s wonderful to see so many young people embracing the liturgical standards of the Old Rite – a Rite most of them will not have grown up with.

    But, please, don’t write-off all of us who are “greying”. Since the age of 14, I have spent 40 years decrying most of the liturgical changes. Nothing makes me happier than seeing those changes subtly and gradually being un-done and the promise of a return to what the Council Fathers asked for being delivered.

    And, yes, I am still a whole-hearted supporter of the Old Rite Mass, too.

  5. David says:

    I had a similar experience where I took an agnostic friend to a sung Tridentine Mass. She was overwhelmed with how beautiful it was. She also said that he had been invited to “religious stuff” before – including Catholic Masses – but this had just been different somehow…

  6. A Priest says:

    I just wish this would move faster. We who work towards these goals are persecuted by the people and other priests.

  7. Humboldt says:

    Is this really true? I am stunned. I cannt believe my eyes. Have I misjudged Benedict XVI?

  8. Ken Buck says:

    I think the differences are amazing between an liberal parish and an orthodox one.
    I live in Bloomington, MN, about a mile away from a liberal parish i have had to attend a couple of times.
    It was disappointing both times; though the church was full, you could count on two hands the number of children
    under 15, and there were even fewer poeple of child-bearing age.

    I normally attend the Tridentine Mass in S. St. Paul, about a half hour away (well worth the drive!). i would say
    almost half those in attendance are under the age of 15, and another quarter are of child bearing age.

    it’s the same way at Fr. Z’s beloved St. Agnes parish…on a Saturday afternoon! incredible. the youth will
    inherit the Church!

  9. Ted Krasnicki says:

    Fr: I would not blame the aging hippies on this one. It was their parents’ generation that felt the need for a second Vatican council so as to modernise the Church, and that same generation that called for and supported the liturgical deformations thereafer. The real hippies preferred log cabins to modernist architecture, the music at home to the banal hootenany Mass music at church, Eastern religions to the de-sacralisation of Western Christendom. It is the generation that went through the second world war that wanted a new beginning for the world founded in modernism, not the hippies. The fake or trendy hippies just inherited and made worse what was done for them by their parents: they know no better. In fact, the Novus Ordo liturgy was composed by committee for that WWII generation, and is now irrelevant to our young people who long for the sacred, the Beautiful, a glimpse of the divine realm in the sanctuary.

  10. Brian says:

    “But, please, don’t write-off all of us who are “greying”

    That’s why I indicated that “greying” people will have tears in their eyes as well. They are the ones who had to sit through all the changes and suffer silently because they thought it was what the Council wanted. If they disagreed, they were persecuted and belittled. I think they are a sizable majority of older Catholics who still go to Mass, in spite of everything that has happened. My parish priest snuck out the Tridentine vestments stuffed in the basement for one Solemnity and many, many people in their late 50s and 60s welcomed it.

    Such priests will, however, tick off all those bluehairs who have been running the liturgy team, parish council, and RCIA since 1970. You know, the ones in pant suits who refer to God as Mother and who raised $3 million to whitewash the murals and sledgehammer the high altar. They are too used to thinking of themselves as “the future of the Church” and are blind to the reality that the youth either despise or ridicule them behind their backs.

    As Dr. Evil said “There’s nothing more pathetic than an aging hipster.”

  11. Tom says:

    Thanks for the post, Father. Very inspiring.

    Pardon my asking, but what IS the base of the altar in that first picture? I cannot make it out. It appears to be a log, or rather a tree stump, though I doubt that’s what it is in actuality. Has anyone seen it up close?

  12. Matt Doyle says:

    As a 24 year old traditional Catholic, I can vouch for the fact that youngsters are definitely tired of 60th baggage!

    One question: Has the Holy Father reordered that Altar to such an extent that it is against the wall? It is certainly an improvement on the ‘before’ photo: and proof that he will not let the memory of Pope John Paul II and his fondness and friendship, get in the way of true liturgical reform.

    God bless you Father.

  13. According to another blog (with a picture to prove it)it was Pope JPII who was responsible for the altar as it is.There even is a picture of the Pope (JPII) dedicating the altar-ad orientem.Remember the Pope said mass in his private chapel ad orientem.

  14. Matthew Robinson says:

    It’s not just the 1960’s….it’s more like the 1560’s.

    The “symbolism” of the New Mass is 99% John Calvin. That is the true spirit of the modern liturgy….and it has ended up banishing incense, bells, and any royal dignity associated with the Priesthood, Sacrifice and Eucharist.

    Worship has been reduced to a didactic, egalitarian exercise. Hence the endless running commentary, the “pulpit” altars facing the teachable, the two lonely and utterly meaningless candles, and the didactic prayers of the New Mass. Prayers which seem to be a sterile discourse telling God what He does, telling Him what we do, and of course explaining to us what God is going to do, instead of being humble prayers of supplication.

    Klaus Gamber said most parishes “breathe the thin air of Calvinsim” and he was spot on in that assessment.

    Calvinism has always been the least evangelical form of Protestantism and one which goes into immediate decline as soon as it comes into being. It is postitively hostile to beauty, heirarchy, and Tradition. By becoming Catho-Calvinists, is it any wonder the Church is collapsing?

  15. Someone sent me another photo of the Redemptoris Mater chapel in which you can more easily see the position of the altar. BTW… I think we have not discussed the absence of a communion rail.

  16. Judy says:

    Even the little ones notice. Our 5-year old, when visiting the church at St. Louis University last summer, asked why they hid all the beautiful statues and altar with that new platform. He was especially miffed at how difficult it was to see the statue of the Blessed Mother from the pews (because of the arrangement of the new altar).

  17. Melody says:

    Judy: “Out of the the mouths of babes…” ^_^

  18. Joe says:

    Brian – thanks for the clarification. I clearly hadn’t read it fully – grey matter getting in the way!! Apologies. It’s truly great to see so many young people like yourself involved with the Church and Her liturgy. God bless.

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