Video of the great Archbp. Ranjith (Sec. CDWDS) on liturgy

I have been alerted to these videos from of His Excellency Most Rev. Malcolm Ranjith, Secretary of the Cong. for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.

The videos, here and here, have been edited a little.  And the sound is not perfect.  However, Archbp’s comments are very apt.  He exemplifies an excellent sense of humor.

One of them concerns the use of Latin as a sacred language for the Latin Rite.

He mentions false understanding of "active participation" and Communion in the hand, Mass as mere "celebration".  He warns against the attitude that just because a liturgical practice is old, or ancient, it is there best.

He talks about Pope Benedict’s purposes for issuing Summorum Pontificum, connecting his motive to salus animarum suprema lex, the supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls.

Do it yourself liturgy.  He compares abusive creativity or the imposition of personal preferences, which are "disastrous", as making oneself like God.

He also obliterates the false claim that "because Jesus faced the apostles at the Last Supper, we should have Mass facing the people".  In the ancient world, people reclined to eat, facing more or less the same direction with their couches arranged in a "U".

You might enjoy these.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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


  2. RichR says:

    Ah, if cloning were moral…………

  3. RichR says:

    Ah, if cloning was moral…………

  4. Limbo says:

    God bless and preserve this man. You know he could be pope !!

  5. shadrach says:

    What an attractive character! All this time I’d admired Abp Ranjith, without realising what a charming, fun and happy person he seems to be. God bless him.

  6. Great videos, great personality, he’d make a great Cardinal Archbishop for Los Angeles.

  7. Shane says:

    “When they face the people, they feel, they are powerful.”

    I am a very strong supporter of the ad orientem posture. For various reasons, I think it’s superior. Of all of the things Extraordinary Form proponents talk about, this is the one that I am virtually unequivocally in agreement on.

    That said, I just… this just really isn’t a good argument in favor of it. If priests feel powerful when they face the people and so go ahead and alter the Liturgy, that’s a problem with the priests, not with facing the people. There are all sorts of very good reasons why the priest ought to face the altar, but in my mind this isn’t one of them. If a man is a priest, he should be obeying the rubrics however he feels. It is a temptation to do otherwise, not a defect in the posture. One could just as well argue that the canon ought not be silent because when the prayers cannot be heard, the priest feels like he can rush through them. In both cases, a person who’s given his entire life to a total sacrificial service of God should have the integrity to do things properly, regardless of what opportunities, temptations, or feelings there are.

    I mention this because this is the sort of problem I see in most arguments for traditional Liturgical practices. There are plenty of good arguments for things like the ad orientem posture… making arguments like this, in my opinion, weakens the case for the traditional practices because the vast majority of those who do not fervently support them recognize the stretches and weakness in the arguments that are so often presented. If a return to traditional Liturgical discipline is desired, those fighting for it need to be very humble and intellectually tidy in their presentation of the case for it. I know that so, so many people don’t see the strength of the case for the traditional practices because so often the arguments that are made for them are sloppy, weak, or simply invalid, and so even when the good arguments are presentded they are colored by the weakness and round-aboutness of the other arguments surrounding them.

    The single thing I would most like to see Liturgically speaking is a widespread use of the ad orientem posture… I really hope those fighting for it can do it well!

    Peace and God bless

  8. Salus animarum suprema lex. Yes, and that law is put into effect by Christ’s obedience, and ours with His. This Sacrifice of obedience is the essence of the Sacred Liturgy. His Excellency has has much to say about obedience or the lack thereof. God bless him.

  9. Chironomo says:


    It can be argued reasonably that one of the purposes of ritual practices, and the rubrics and laws which govern them, is to assure uniform behaviors, and even to go so far as to make it difficult for contrary behaviors to occur. While there may be compelling and legitimate theological reasons supporting the rubrics of the Mass, there are also practical reasons rooted in the actions themselves. Thus, even a person without a complete understanding of the theological significance of the action will still perform the action correctly, even if mechanically. If the purpose of an action is seen as totally rooted in it’s “meaning”, then might thisd perhaps lead the Priest to substitute some other action which he believes expresses that “meaning” better? I think that this is the wisdom behind “Say the Black, Do the Red”

  10. Andy says:

    Great man, great sense of humor. And I really like that he points out that all other great religions except – it seems – Christianity carefully preserve their old, liturgical languages. Also, I love the clarity of his statements. That is the clarity that the present Church lacks much too frequently.

  11. TNCath says:

    Archbishop Ranjith seems to be one of the “flag bearers” of the Pope’s “Marshall Plan.” I especially appreciate his ability to have a sense of humor about the current state of affairs in the Church. I hope we see more of him in the near future.

  12. David Andrew says:

    There was an article posted over at NLM which I’m certain most of us in the blogisphere have already read, but there was a terrific quote that really struck at the heart of the “relevant” progressive liturgist crowd.

    It’s from an article by Gregor Kollmorgen on Nicola Bux and his study of the theology of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite as reflected in recent catechesis on liturgy given by the Holy Father.

    The quote reads:

    ” . . . to create for oneself a lituryg of one’s own, means de-sacralizing the liturgy. In this way the liturgy is no longer receiving from above as at the Sinai the divine word that is the law for our steps, but building down here the golden calf with our hands and dancing around it. How much responsibility have the priests!”

    [end quote]

    Recall Moses’ question to Aaron: “What did this people ever do to you that you should lead them into so grave a sin?”

    Will the golden calf of progressive liturgy will be ground to a powder, mixed with water, and will the progressive liturgists be (or are we now being) forced to drink it?

  13. Gavin says:


    I respect your point, but disagree. Shouldn’t we remove temptations to sin from our priests as much as we can? I would use the crude example of a priest in a strip club. Ideally a priest should have the moral strength not to slip into lust while in such a location. But the point still remains that he is better off not to be there (“near occasion of sin” aside). The same goes with “versus populum”: it is a real psychological temptation, when one is facing people, to communicate to people. That temptation ought to be removed as much as is possible in the liturgy. There are times when the priest must communicate with us, and at those times he is instructed to turn towards us to make the difference known.

    When you have me facing a group of people in any context in the morning, my gut reaction is to greet them “Good morning!” And I’m an extreme introvert. Imagine someone like our host, who claims to be an extrovert, having to appear facing a congregation on a regular basis and the temptation to make the liturgy about HIM that he must feel. And even with our most liberal priests, who would think to face an altar while saying “Good morning everyone, how about this weather?”

    I think this is in fact a very good reason to restore ad orientem as a norm, or at least a more commonly used practice.

  14. Tom Ryan says:

    Where was this talk delivered? The occasion?

  15. Shane says:

    I understand the point of view that we should be removing the occassion of sin, and that the Liturgy ought to be structured in such a way so as to remove as far as possible the opportunity for making changes, and I actually thought of this myself while I was thinking before posting :p, which is why I mentioned the silent canon. To me, the temptation to celebrate the Liturgy lazily is simply overwhelmingly more common and stronger than the temptation to make it be about oneself, yet the silent canon creates the temptation to do this.

    The point I’m really making is not about this issue in particular, but about all issues of traditional liturgical discipline. There is a tendancy to argue in their favor using arguments that blame the Liturgy itself for the shortcomings of the priests – e.g., the Pauline Missal is responsible for liturgical abuses whereas the 1962 Missal doesn’t “allow” abuse (as if the Pauline does!). This particular argument is an example of the same thing. What it comes down to is that whenever these arguments are made, they are readily dismissed by the folks they are aimed at persuading because they recognize that the argument is not about the Missal, really, but about the abuses of the Missal. It would be fairly easy for someone to bring up a bunch of arguments against the 1962 Missal on the basis of the various abuses that priests may make of it. Such arguments would not be good ones, and any thoughtful person ought to reject them immediately. The same goes for arguments in favor of traditional practices.

    I’m speaking as one with experience dealing with folks on both sides of the fence. I’m speaking as one who loves many of the traditional disciplines but has been turned off to them so many times by the attitudes and arguments made in their favor. As soon as people stop making these sorts of arguments, you’ll see far more embracing the traditional practices and you’ll see them being used far more often… that’s what it really comes down to.

    Peace and God bless

  16. Michael says:

    I really do not think anyone is truly proposing that the Pauline Missal “allows” abuses. Instead, it is a shorthand way of saying that the Pauline Missal invites abuses by failing to give clear direction, and that an increase in abuses should have been a foreseeable outcome of lax discipline. What would you think, for example, of a state that removed all of the clearly marked speed limit signs and replaced them with “Do not exceed a safe driving speed”? Would this encourage or discourage excesssive speed and would the fault of an increase in excessive speed lie soley with the drivers? Similary, you can’t lay all of the blame for the nearly universal abuses on the “shorcomings of Priests”.

  17. Shane says:


    Without in the slightest directing any ill-thoughts towards yourself, I will say that I find the general line of thought that there would be no abuses were the Pian Missal in widespread use today to be very naive. I am firmly convinced that had there never been a reform of the Liturgy, one would see abuses of the “old” Missal just as frequently as we see abuses of the Pauline Missal today.

    There really aren’t rubrics which fail to give clear direction. The Roman Missal and the GIRM give all the direction one needs. Where there are options, the options are most always limited to a particular set of alternatives, rather than whatever the priest happens to feel like doing.

    The real problem is the same general malaise of modernism that has infected the whole world. Sinatra’s appalling line “I did it my way” is just the mindset of the western world these days. It’s affected the Liturgy because western priests unfortunately shared it for so long. As more and more orthodox and holy seminarians are ordained, liturgical abuses grow less and less.

    There’s no coincidence. If the Missal itself somehow “invited” abuse, then it wouldn’t matter how orthodox, how holy, how dedicated the new priests were. History shows something pretty simple. In the 60s, 70s, and part of the 80s, quite a lot of dissident priests were ordained. Consequently, the liturgy was abused quite a lot. In the latter 80s, the 90s, and the zeros, quite a lot of dedicated and orthodox priests were ordained, and in that time liturgical abuse began to decline as well. The Missal remained constant through this. The change was in the character of the priests.

    I don’t think there’s any telling what would have happened had these same dissident priests been celebrating the Mass in the 1962 Missal all these years. I think it would only be worse than it has been, given the generally more ceremonial nature of the Pian Missal.

    Peace and God bless

  18. Michael says:

    Good job anticipating the next logical point which was to highlight the disparity of the number of abuses in the Extraordianary form vs the Ordinary form. You seem to be saying that the “zeitgeist” of the 60’s – 80’s is the source of the current problems rather than the liturgy and that we would be facing the same frquency and severity of abuses if the Novus Ordo had never been invented.

    This explanation though is a bit unsatisfactory. For this to be true it would require acceptance of the modernist error that the current generation is somehow unique in their virtues and vices and in the temptations they face. Otherwise, the Extraordinary form (when it was the Ordinary form)would have suffered the same. Additionally, it denies the reality, as Father Zuhlsdorf puts it, that the liturgy is “the tip of the spear”. If the liturgy cannot help man overcome his fallen nature, if it is an ineffective tool for catechis and cannot direct man toward God and away from the world, its rather pointless, don’t you think? Why bother having any liturgy at all if it does nothing to affect orthodoxy?

  19. Shane says:


    The problem for the argument you are making is that the Pauline Missal and the abuses that followed came from somewhere. If we try to look at the Pauline Missal as the source of all of these problems we have had, then there is a real logical problem, namely, how did the Pauline Missal come about?

    If indeed the Pauline Missal truly does invite abuse, or if it is truly some sort of dumbing down of the Liturgy, then that means that the folks who put it together were already not where they ought to have been spiritually. However, these men worshipped all of their lives under the Pian Missal. The worship and the catechesis that they received came out of the Pian Missal.

    This refers both to those responsible for developing the Pauline Missal, as well as the countless throughout the world who implemented it. A tremendous number of the priests who went and implemented the Pauline Missal (as well as the other concilliar and post-concilliar reforms) had to have been goofy in the first place. If they were tremendously orthodox, holy, and liturgically sound, then they would have been celebrating the Pauline Missal as reverently and in accordance with the rubrics and the GIRM as possible. They did not, quite obviously.

    So how then did these men get to the point where they would do this? If one holds the Pauline Liturgy to be poor (as some do), how did men come to the point of producing it? If one simply holds the Pauline Liturgy to have been wildy mis-implemented and abused, then how did they get to the point of doing so?

    If we contend that the Liturgy is entirely or laregly responsible for this, then this logically necessitates that the Pian Liturgy was responsible for the creation or this new Missal which invites abuse and/or for the the implementation and ultimate abuse of it which began almost immediately.

    The more coherent view is that there was a general malaise in western society which infected the priesthood and was the ultimate cause of all of these evils we have experienced for the past several decades. That would be consistent with all of the evidence and wouldn’t go creating any logical or other sorts of problems.

    I really don’t at all think that to say so is any modernist error. It is certainly true that the vices or temptations men have are not any different today than in the past, but it’s entirely false to assert that there are no hills and valleys of vice and most particularly of external temptations. There is no question that there are a great many more temptations in the world for people today than in the past. The intrinsic fallen state of man and all that goes with that remains constant, but there are times when mankind as a whole or when one society or another is in better control of them than at other times. Sodom and Gomorrah were experiencing a time of vice and temptation far greater at their destruction than is average, and the world of the 1960s and 70s was similarly a time of great evil. Even Jesus makes this point when He consistently refers to the people of His time as a faithless generation.

    I agree entirely that the Liturgy is altogether important, but I think that so often it is for those in the traditionalist movement a great distraction. I don’t mean by any means that it’s not absolutely critical to have a proper Liturgy, and that having a proper Liturgy will greatly improve the spiritual quality of a people. That is all entirely true. What I do mean is that I believe sometimes too much focus is put on the Liturgy to the exclusion of other things.

    I recall a post Fr. Z linked from another blog recently which very succinctly illustrates my point. The author had titled a post about a beautiful EF Liturgy “Is it possible to be any more Catholic than this,” to which the first line of the post responded “no.” The person entirely missed the point. Attending a beautiful Liturgy, or an ugly one, or an EF or an OF or a Divine Liturgy has nothing whatsoever to do with what it means to be Catholic. To be Catholic is to Love Jesus Christ, and to submit entirely to Him. If one is not doing that, then no matter what Missal one uses, it is for naught. I believe that sometimes folks get too caught up in the Liturgy to the point where they forget about the Love which ought to form all of their actions, Liturgical and otherwise. If one loves the Lord, then one will worship Him reverently. If one does not, then no amount of black and red will do any good.

    What happened in the 60s and 70s had far more to do with people forsaking the Love of Jesus in the name of progressivism than it did with the Liturgy. What became of the Liturgy was the result of people utterly forsaking the Lord.

    Peace and God bless

  20. adamsaj says:


    I have no doubt that the secularism of the 60’s and 70’s is largely responsable for the state we are in now. You are right that the problems we face come from a faction of people who have chosen to ignore the Church in favor of secularism. However, it does not change the fact that these people have managed to enshrine many of their ideas in the Pauline missal, and this missal does have in influance on those who do choose to listen to the Church.

    Applying this to the mater in question: yes, the human centered attitude did come chronologically before versus populum, but you cant deny that versus populum perpetuates this atitude.

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