Brick by brick in a new-style round parish church

His Holiness is trying to reinvigorate our Catholic identity.  If we don’t have a strong Catholic identity, we cannot shape the world around us according to our vocations.  We will have nothing of value, as Catholics, to contribute to the public square.

Liturgy is the key.

The provisions of Summorum Pontificum and the example set by Pope Benedict in his own celebration of Holy Mass are exerting a "gravitational pull" on the way Mass is celebrated far and wide.

This is from a reader, with by emphases and comments.

Mass in our new-style round parish church this morning probably didn’t seem much out of the ordinary to the several dozen parishioners present, though the presence of a thurifer [ïncense-bearer] in the entrance procession may have alerted them to the fact that today is a feast day, that of the apostle Matthias.  [People should immediately be able to tell the difference between ferias and feasts.]
The incense was used liberally [I hope that means "abundantly" and not that they were using one of those ridiculous pottery bowls or a silly sputnik ball  o{];¬)  ] at all the appropriate times — upon ascending the altar, at the Gospel, at the offertory, and (especially) at the consecration, when the two male servers in their surplices and cassocks knelt before the altar and one incensed the elevated Host and Chalice in seeming synchrony with the bells triply rung by the other.
The celebrant wore a beautiful red satin chasuble with gold lining and banding in traditional Gothic cut and style, the deacon a matching dalmatic, and at the offertory the chalice was brought to the altar with matching veil and burse. Directly behind the altar was a veiled Tabernacle recently moved back into the sanctuary, [huzzah!] along with flanking statues of Mary and Joseph, and a large half-century old crucifix recently hung over the altar — the one from the parish’s original church that had been replaced with a "risen Christ" when the new church was built several years ago.
The Sanctus and Agnus Dei were sung in Latin. There was no hand-holding at the Our Father, no ruckus at the sign of peace, many bowing with hands folded instead of shaking them. A likely majority of the communicants (including the servers) received on the tongue over a paten held by server. With a deacon available, no EMHC was required[excellent] The church was silent before and after Mass, [VERY GOOD!]  and no less than fully reverent moment occurred during the Mass, which was celebrated "according to the book".
Nothing here may seem worth remarking, except that none of it would have been seen in this typically liberal suburban parish at a typical daily Mass just two or three years ago. Not likely a direct result of Summorum Pontificum, but surely an example of the Benedictine reform almost silently underway, with Masses like this one probably celebrated this morning at ordinary parish churches across the land.

Brick by brick.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I’m really impressed…

  2. This post is leading me into the sin of envy. ;-)

  3. Grahame Ball says:


  4. Mark says:

    Our pastor recently moved the Tabernacle behind the altar from the side, where it had been as well.

  5. Banjo Pickin' Girl says:

    Sounds like my parish except it isn’t round. I’m glad there is more of this going on now. The first time I had Communion kneeling at the rail I cried with happiness.

    I hope there is a lot of crying with happiness going on at this nice round parish. (can the people now be said to be well-rounded?)

  6. TJM says:

    Such pleasant news. Thanks for sharing this with us, Father Z. Tom

  7. eyeclinic says:

    “With a deacon available, no EMHC was required.”

    Does this mean that Communion under both species was given, but instead of an EMHC, the deacon offered the Precious Blood? Did I miss something?

  8. Mitchell NY says:

    This is wonderful news and always welcomed, but I can only pray it stays this way, unfortuantely many times when a new Priest comes in he will undo what took so long to restore..Take the case of what is happening in Our Lady of Lourdes in Massapequa, NY…That is the inherent legacy of Vatican II, nothing is stable and everything can be changed at will, and I am not talking about within reason, but total upheavels where everything is turned upside down…And it always boils down to someone in the Hierarchy stating, “it is allowed, under the auspices of Vat II”…Like it or not this Council will be remembered for that and so much of the real messages are obscured. This constant pattern of altering things leads to the complete disorientation of the faithful, where we do not know what is correct or incorrect anymore. Everything is transient. Often we know not which side is up and which is down.

  9. “People should immediately be able to tell the difference between ferias and feasts.” ~Father Z.

    Can someone educate me on the difference? I googled it and couldn’t find a sufficient response. In fact, some of the articles used ferias and feast interchangeably to describe the occasion.

    I am assuming ferias is not a feast day, nor a Sunday but any other day of the week. Is that right?

    On a side note: I am proud to say that although my parish does not have an EF Mass, we do have a very traditional OF where the tabernacle is behind the altar, incense is used abundantly in all the correct places, bells are triply run during consecration, the servers use patens during Communion, many prayers are said in Latin, Father faces the altar with the congregation at many points, and the church is quietly reverent before and after Mass. Now, once into the gathering space, everyone feels welcome to greet and speak to one another. We don’t have many people leaving before the closing prayer because Father is openly annoyed about that. Our Mass is also one hour and twenty minutes long and no one complains, even families with many small children! This has been going on for years and I am happy to be a part of such a faith-filled community. Could there be room for improvement? Sure, but I expect Father is working on smoothly transitioning the congregation towards a better liturgy.

  10. Anthony in TX says:


    Could this be the parish of St. Louis King of France on Burnet Rd?
    This was my parish church while I lived in Austin. IMO it was precisely because of the liturgy that so many people were involved in parish life and it’s ministries. Oh, how I miss that parish.


  11. Anthony,

    Yes, I am speaking about St. Louis! I love love love my community of faith and Father Larry. It was nice to see your post. I too will miss St. Louis when I graduate and move back home. I only hope I can find a parish where the priest cares so deeply about the liturgy and that I can be major part in service.

  12. Henry Edwards says:


    Apart from Sundays, the “festival days” of the Church calendar are divided — in decreasing order of dignity — into solemnities, feasts, and memorials.

    There are 14 solemnities, including Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, and the various holy days of obligation. The feast days give special honor to special events and saints, for instance. Memorials generally mark “lesser” saints; some are prescribed and some are optional.

    Below these three are ferial, or week, days with no special ritual rank; optional memorials may be observed on these days.

    The solemnities, feast days, memorials, and ferias of the post Vatican II calendar correspond generally to the days of classes 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the 1962 calendar.

    Although many people dislike optional opening remarks by a celebrant, a reasonable everyday exception might be to tell just what day is being observed and what Mass will be celebrated.

  13. Rellis says:

    Continuing Henry Edwards’ summary, you might also hear about Simples, Semi-Doubles, and Doubles. These were former names for what we now call Solemnities, Feasts, etc. They were simplified in 1954, and eventually transferred to the rather clunky and mid-20th Century “First Class,” “Second Class,” etc.

    One of the (many, imho) improvements of the 1969 calendar is giving nice names to these former Soviet-sounding rankings.

  14. EJ says:

    This post sounds like the parish where I attend as a stowaway in McLean, VA – they have excellent “EVERYTHING,” whether in the EF or the OF, and have also done wonders in what one could easily dismiss as a modernist church in the round – someone who has been considering a move to Austin, TX for some time now – I can`t thank you enough for your tip…a very real concern for me was not having an orthodox parish with beautiful liturgy if I moved away. I hope newcomers are welcome at your parish!

  15. Anthony in TX says:


    St Louis King of France on Burnet Rd is approx 10 mi North of downtown.

    Be sure to check out the 9:30 Sunday Mass for a very reverent N.O. with an outstanding choir and organist. Father even wore black vestments for All Souls Day. Here’s their site:

  16. Jayna says:

    Wow, and this is a daily Mass? None of this would ever happen in my parish, no matter what the occasion. It does give me hope, though. May take a little longer where I am as my parish isn’t your “typically” liberal parish (there are a lot of parishioners who are Call to Action members).

  17. Matthew W. I. Dunn says:

    The provisions of Summorum Pontificum and the example set by Pope Benedict in his own celebration of Holy Mass are exerting a “gravitational pull” on the way Mass is celebrated far and wide.

    I certainly hope Fr. Z is right. But, honestly, I doubt it.

    The Pope can give out Holy Communion on the tongue to people on kneelers as much as he likes. But, how does that play in the Diocese of Peoria? It doesn’t: People still receive in the hand standing.

    Immediate jurisdiction might as well be no jurisdiction.

    Still, Benny gives people on the blogosphere something to talk about.

  18. Jim says:

    Hello..I’m not sure exactly where to ask this question, so I thought I would try here. Is there any instruction about how to lay out the vestments that the priest will use at Mass? Our priest has asked me to start laying out the vestments on the vestment case before Mass and I would guess the first vestment on the case would be the chasable since it is the last vestment put on.

    Does anybody have any clues where I can get instructions?

    Thank you,

  19. Gustavo Ráez-Patiño says:

    Hello Jim,

    I am an altar server at a TLM. I don’t know if your priest celebrates a TLM or a Novus Ordo Mass but anyway you can try this:
    Lay first the chasuble, with its front facing down and its back facing up. Fold up the end of the back, for the priest to grasp it more easily. Then (if Father uses one) lay the maniple on top of the chasuble like a vertical line (a letter “I”). Then lay the stole, forming with it a letter “H”. Then lay the cincture, making sure there are no knots, like a letter “S”, with both ends together. Then, on top of it all, lay the alb, with its front facing down and its back facing up. Again, fold up the end of its back for the priest’s ease. If an amice is used, extend it on top of the alb, with its ribbons at both sides, making sure there are no knots.
    Hope it helps you.

  20. Jim says:


    Thank you for your reply. This will help a lot. The priest will celebrate the TLM. Which way does the top of the stole (the part the priest kisses) face? Toward the edge or top of the vestment case? How do you get the stole to form the letter \”H\”? Does the biretta go on top of the burse which is on top of the chalice?

    Thanks again,

  21. Gustavo Ráez-Patiño says:

    Hi Jim.

    The top of the stole should face upwards. Aproximately all the length of the stole which goes around the neck forms the horizontal part of the letter “H”, while both lengths that go crossed over the priest’s chest form both vertical parts of the “H”. Just fold the stole as many times as needed to make this. It doesn’t have to be a perfect “H” ;)
    The biretta… of course! I forgot that because our priest never wears one: he’s a dominican and he wears a cowl instead. If the priest arrives with his biretta, he puts it aside while he vests, and then puts it on again before Mass begins. If a biretta awaits for the priest at the sacristy, then you should put it aside, near the vestments, but not on top of the burse.
    Good luck!

  22. Jim says:

    Gustavo: Thanks so much for your patience in answering my questions. I will try everything you told me. Does your Dominican priest celebrate Mass in the Dominican rite?

    Oremus pro invicem, Gustavo

  23. Okay, I hope you guys are still reading this post (Or Father Z, please get back to me about this question, no rush of course). I have a question about the solemnities. I was told that there are 14 and my LOTH Christian Prayer calendar in my book does have 14 but it doesn’t have Easter or Pentecost on it! And I have searched online and several places say that Easter and Pentecost are solemnities. So what is the deal? Are there really 16? Here is the list of what I have for solemnities, if there are only 14 which two on my list are not solemnities?

    Jan 1 (Holy Mother of God)
    Jan 6 (Epiphany)
    Mar 19 (Joseph, Husband of Mary)
    March 25 (Annunciation)
    First Sunday after Pentecost (Holy Trinity)
    The following Sunday (Corpus Christi)
    Friday after Second Sunday after Pentecost (Sacred Heart)
    June 24 (Birth of John the Baptist)
    June 29 (Apostles Peter and Paul)
    Aug 15 (Assumption)
    Nov 1 (All Saints)
    Last Sunday in Ordinary Time (Christ the King)
    Dec 8 (Immaculate Conception)
    Dec 25 (Christmas)

  24. Gustavo Ráez-Patiño says:


    Nope. Roman Rite.

  25. Laurinda,

    It was probably me who in this thread first mentioned the figure of 14.

    However, as in The Modern Catholic Dictionary (ed. Fr. John Hardon), the correct statement appears to be that — “besides the movable feasts such as Easter and Pentecost, 14 solemnities are celebrated in the universal Church, namely: … .”

    The 14 listed are those in your list besides Easter and Pentecost, which are certainly regarded as solemnities, Easter being sometimes referred to as “the solemnity of solemnities”. Moreover, the additional “movable feast” of the Ascension is also included as a solemnity on the calendars I’ve checked.

    In which case there are actually 17 solemnities on the calendar. But with the complication that the whole 8-day octave of Easter is thereby counted as a single solemnity. Thus it appears there are actually 24 (out of 365) calendar days that are celebrated as solemnities.

  26. Hi Henry,

    Thank you for getting back to me and for letting me know where you found your information. I appreciate it very much!

    Many blessings,

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