Fr. Finigan responds

His Hermeneuticalness has glossed The Tablet‘s hit piece by Elena Curti "That was not my Mass".

Fr. Finigan responds saying:

This is not my Mass (#1)

A picture says a thousand words.

In the meantime… ?!? … what the…!?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    One part of me thought, “I’m surprised he didn’t close comments on that.”

    The other part of me thought, “Sweet! He didn’t close comments on that!”

  2. Christa says:

    Once when I was still a Methodist I had “sacred dance” inflicted upon me. All I could think of was that scene in “The Music Man”: “One Grecian urn…two Grecian urns..”

    Is that a scene from a clown mass? How in the world is that sacred? I would be collapsed in mortification that I was present at such a thing.

  3. Msgr. says:

    There are some things liturgically out of place here. For example, both clowns have on albs that are too short. Further, neither clown seems to be wearing a cincture, which is required. Don’t the rubrics also call for the color of the Bozo nose to match the vestment color? Hence the Bozo noses should be white rather than the red. Come on you clowns get it right! Mime the black do the red! :-)

  4. Legisperitus says:

    Christa– The Offertory hymn was, I believe, “Shipoopi.”

  5. Vox Cantoris says:


    I really would not want to be that bishop on judgement day. Kind of reminds me of something Father Z said a few week ago about the souls first ten seconds in Hell.

    Oops…am I being judgemental?

    My bad.

  6. TNCath says:

    WHO is that bishop?

  7. John Enright says:

    Wow. Another example of liturgical “Pat-a-Cake!”

  8. Dan says:

    Why do these liturgical “Lucille Ball’s”, always dress up as clowns?

    I feel bad for Trekkie conventoneers, or Civil War reinactors. They never get fair representation during Catholic Church functions.


  9. joy says:

    London bridge is falling down, falling down,
    and Christendom has collapsed behind it…

    This makes the feast of fools not sound so Middle-Age-ish
    (although the participants look middle-aged)

    my word was ‘continuity’

  10. Nan says:

    John Enright and joy, I couldn’t decide whether it was London Bridge or pat-a-cake.

    Dan, I believe the Society for Creative Anachronism and the Steam Punk movement are also under-represented.

  11. I believe this measures up to CTA’s puppets

    IN front of a high altar too….

  12. Charivari Rob says:

    No, no, no – you have it all wrong!

    The bishop is actually demonstrating his church’s new Waterford Crystal shatterproof sanctuary wall. See how it keeps the people in lab coats out of the Sanctuary, while remaining completely transparent (and highly resistant to streaks and fingermarks)!

    That isn’t a woman over to the right. That’s a teenage boy. He’s playing the oldest Von Trapp son in his school’s production of The Sound of Music. He just rushed in from dress rehearsal (the end scene, where they hike through the mountains to cross the border) and was headed for the altar boy’s sacristy to put on his cassock and surplice for Mass. He didn’t know about the crystal wall, so he’s rushing forward to defend the sanctuary from the man in the lab coat.

  13. Noel says:

    Anybody identify where and which bishop?

  14. Dan says:

    That altar appears to be set up for Mass, ad-orientem.

    Maybe this is the Austrian version of the “reform of the reform”.

  15. Do you think the Bishop is really the one in the costume???

  16. joy says:

    That ‘altar’ looks like it has benches around it. Maybe the Mad Hatter’s tea party? The labcoat guy can clean up the mercury spill…

    (and Charivari Rob has a vivid imagination)

  17. Karen says:

    I thought it was “London Bridge is falling down…”

  18. Mary says:


    Come Lord Jesus, Come through the heart of Mary!

    It will take an act of God to clean up this madness. Has anyone identified
    which parish and bishop?

    Come Lord Jesus, come through the heart of Mary!

    For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

  19. Matthew says:

    Is there any chance the bishop is not really a bishop and is just someone dressed up?

    I think in front of the other altar are little chairs for the bishop and the clowns.

  20. Athelstane says:

    “Say the black. Wear the red.”

  21. Bob K. says:

    I would love to see some Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox Bishops come to the defense of the Holy Father. The Orthodox may not be for Papal supremacy, but they know how important “tradition” is.

  22. Bob K. says:

    Something that most Catholics, Religious Orders and Bishops are showing a blind eye to!.

    Our beloved Crescat would like this gallery.

  23. Bob K. says:

    Look what we lost, thanks to sex and liberalism. Most of the ancient sees of the UK. And thanks to sex and liberalism, the Anglicans have lost their Catholic faith and rich liturgical tradition adapted from Catholicism. All the West knows today is secular morality!.

  24. Antonius says:

    oh my goodness Bob K. That priest he had his back to the people and look he does the consecration behind the door, how is he supposed to get active participation and look at the design of the church that is so an affront to the poor.

    someday the west will be able to reclaim it’s heritage

  25. Bob K. says:

    And no female altar servers or EMHC’s. This can’t be Christianity or Catholic. Oh my God!!. He He !!

  26. Bob K. says:

    The Pope’s needs his support and prayers.

  27. Dino says:

    A Pontifical High-Five Mass??

  28. Father says:

    The Bishop playing “happy clappy” with his fellow clowns is the Primas Germaniae – the Archbishop of Salzburg!!

  29. John Enright says:

    Why isn’t the “bishop” wearing either a cope or a chasuble? The only things I see are the cinctured alb, stole and miter.

  30. Bob K. says:

    Good and Sacred Music!

  31. Al says:

    Or as I thought, “Where in the theological place of eternal damnation was this picture taken!!!!!”

    I assume this was taken in front of what is supposed to be an altar but looks more like a picnic table. Given the circumstances, that is probably what it originally was.

    My only other thought was, this has got to be an Episcopal Church, things can’t have devolved that badly in the Catholic Church.

  32. Stephen says:

    What on earth is that??

  33. Calleva says:

    Actually I believe this is the new ‘liturgical strip the willow’. In the familiar barn dance, several couples face each other, join and raise their hands, as in the illustration, and in this version, people liturgically dance through the aisle created. In this case, the lead dancer is carrying the Gospels and is being followed by dancers carrying glass vessels.

    It’s not my Mass either.

  34. Dave says:

    Not my Mass, and fortunately not my bishop either. (Could be my previous bishop, though. Things are improving.)

  35. Chris says:

    So, Father, what say you: is this Mass valid or not? [Can you tell from a still photo?]

  36. Paul Haley says:

    And this is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? Not! But this is what liturgical innovation has wrought, folks, and the advocates of the “new Springtime” will not give up. Ahem, neither will we.

  37. Anthony says:

    Until this picture, I really thought the clown Mass was something people made up to scare you, like the boogeyman or La Llorona (for the non-Mexicans on the board, another really scary story for kids and adults)

  38. AM says:

    I am 90% sure this photo was taken during an Anglican/Episcopalian event. The guy in the mitre … doesn’t look like a Catholic bishop. Even the bishops who countenance such things mostly don’r dress like that for them.

    We will even know? Where’s the picture from…?

  39. Frank H says:

    For those who thought the “Clown Mass” was an urban legend…

  40. AM says:

    OK, so it’s Salzburg Cathedral. And presumably its Bishop. Sigh.

  41. I am not Spartacus says:

    You know what I learned at my N.O. Mass this morning?

    The Deacon gave the homily (outside of the Sanctuary, natch)and told us the Scribes and Pharisees were “good guys” who knew the Golden Child, Jesus. They were just like me and you, “good guys…”

    One does not have to dress as a clown to be a clown. Our Deacon was aptly vested.

    In preparing for Mass i, literally, had to press my fingers into my ears with great force so I could block out the sound of chatter prior to Mass. When The Bride is with me, she holds my pew place while I go outside into the parking lot so I can find a place to pray in silence.

    I congratulate This Bishop and his Circus. He ain’t hiding anything. He is upfront and honest about his perfidy. You are what you eat and you vest how you believe. (I sometimes think these men are the sort of folks who, back in the day, would have thought it a good idea to bring a Picnic to Calvary).

    Next Week? Heaven on Earth. My Diocese will have a Missa Cantata with Gregorian Schola.

    Reverence. Silence. Beauty. Sacred Music.

  42. Mitchell NY says:

    I am going to assume this picture was taken AFTER 1968, when things really went off kilter. Please Father, or someone, tell me did these things happen in the pre-conciliar days? People talk about abuse in those times but this? Or did it go on and no one had cameras, cell phones cams, and digital cams to catch it. This is simply outrageous and how the people participating in this can sleep at night knowing what they did to Holy Mass that day and what they are propagating is beyond me.

  43. veritas says:

    Are they playing pat-a-cake?

  44. HQD says:

    What’s kind of interesting is there is a Benedictine altar arrangement in the back! You see the crucifix and three candles on both sides. Take a gander!

  45. EJ says:

    Maybe this was the photo of “the kind of bishop we want” that the Austrian bishops sent the Holy Father after their defiance over the Wagner appointment.

  46. don Jeffry says:

    “This is not my Mass”

    I think you are all missing the point… The point is… “This is not Christ’s Mass!”

    Best, don Jeffry

  47. Barb says:

    This is simply another “sacrifice of Cain”. *sigh* How long oh Lord?

    Fiat Voluntas Tua

  48. Marc says:

    Although you addressed Father Z., Chris, my two cents’ worth of opinion would be that I don’t see how the Mass in the photo wouldn’t have been valid in the sense that probably the Sacrament was confected–of course we know nothing about the intention of the prelate, the form he used etc etc. Illicitly celebrated, doubtless, but ‘valid’, more than likely.

    (I would have left the church myself–that has been my solution, since 1980ish, when something like that depicted has happened. After becoming Catholic in the mid-70s, I spent a few years trying to do the ‘is it valid, though?’ calculus sitting in the pew but decided that simply not participating was the better option. There’s always another Mass, another day, another priest.)

  49. Dr. Eric says:

    These kinds of things make my blood boil. I can’t keep looking at this stuff.

    I cannot fathom WHY the Mass was changed. I am stuck in Novus Ordo Land, at least until my son makes his First Holy Communion as his Catechism Classes are stuck between the two Masses on Sunday. Then, I think we will try to make it to St. Francis De Sales Oratory in St. Louis at least once per month.

    If “they” wanted the vernacular, “they” should have just allowed the 1962 Mass to become translated. If “they” wanted “more Scripture” “they” could have just added another reading. My highly logical brain cannot understand it. I’m like one of those robots from the 50s “Does… not… compute…”

  50. Malta says:

    The Mass is Christ’s death, His Sacrifice, presented to us on the Altar:

    So much of this is lost in the Novus Ordo. The clown mass is, of course, one of the more extreme examples of this systemic problem in the new order mass.

    I’m just grateful that the Traditional Latin Mass was preserved by the likes of SSPX, rather than vernacularized, as Vatican II would have had it. Ironically, Pope Paul VI is call for a brand new mass, actually preserved the TLM in a cacoon. Vatican II did not call for a new mass. Paul VI ignored Vatican II on this. Vatican II called for changing the existing rite only.

  51. #
    Comment by Dan — 21 February 2009 @ 10:31 pm

    “That altar appears to be set up for Mass, ad-orientem.
    Maybe this is the Austrian version of the “reform of the reform”.”

    More like “deform” of the reform

  52. Jack says:

    Is that the Ghost Busters logo on the back of the man high-fivin’ the woman? Holy Ghost Busters? I dunno.

  53. Elizabeth T. says:

    Hmmm… when I was in Salzburg for Holy Week two years back, somebody commented to me that the beautiful churches are primarily tourist destinations, not too many people actually practice their faith. Now, I can’t imagine why the profound solemnity of well-formed “Clown Spirituality” isn’t reinvigorating the faith of these Austrians!

  54. RichR says:

    P.S. This is when it starts to pay to have access to WDTPRS. The global media is going to start really laying it on thick, and will have dissident critics everywhere to quote.

    Tell your friends about WDTPRS so they don’t get fooled.

    Thanks again Fr.Z. for all you do here!

  55. TJM says:

    This is a joke, right? If not, maybe Ms. Curti could do an in-depth article on this. Tom

  56. Lindsay says:

    *”Once when I was still a Methodist I had “sacred dance” inflicted upon me. All I could think of was that scene in “The Music Man”: “One Grecian urn…two Grecian urns..””

    “Christa—The Offertory hymn was, I believe, “Shipoopi.” “*

    LOL–Too funny!

  57. Thomas says:

    This is definatly Archbishop Alois Kothgasser of Salzburg, who is shown in this clown mass photo from as far back as 2004 on a few blogs. Also one of the Archbishops who criticised Pope Benedict over his Bishop pick.

  58. TJM says:

    I hope that Archbishop Kothgasser is very near to retirement age. This definitely looks like something I would expect to see in a nursing home fun-time activity rather than in sacred precincts. Tom

  59. Hum, apparently, it’s not just Quebec. Austria too needs a
    “Good and Joyful Inquisition”!

  60. With Sacred Language comes sacred dignity. If you make it look like a circus, it is one. If you make it look Holy, it will be

    Take a stroll through a church, a cathedral, or a religious art exhibit. There are no clowns, puppets, or dancers.

  61. Eric says:

    If that is Salzburg, than maybe that is one of the Von Trapp boys.

  62. Matt says:

    Please tell me these are Anglicans!

  63. Angela says:

    Wow, I am speechless! As a recent arrival to the Church, it saddens me to see people with such a rich religious heritage desecrate and mock it. The holy Eucharist is meant to be done in remembrance of our Lord…it sickens and saddens me to see abominations like this apparent “Clown Mass.” Shame on them, and shame on the pastors and bishops who allow this to happen. And shame on those who participate.

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