QUAERITUR: Use of the beretta at Mass, revisited

I just received an email request from a priest for instructions about the appropriate use of the beretta during Mass.


I hereby re-post what I already offered here.

From a reader:

Can a beretta be used in the OF? When would it be used?

Yes, without question! But make sure that it is clean and in good working order so that it doesn’t misfire.

I would use the beretta primarily when there are too many extraordinary ministers charging the altar. Another possible moment would be when the choir sings On Eagles Wings or another ditty of that sort.

The best way to use the beretta is to rise… first removing your biretta – which is perfectly correct to use in celebrations of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite – and, taking aim, go for head shots.

I have learned through hard won and tough experience that you should immediately reload!

To save you and everyone else that embarrassing hitching up of the alb and digging in the pocket for a magazine, have one … or more … ready on a silver salver covered with a linen cloth about the size of a corporal. The altar boy, or if it is a more solemn occasion, deacon, can bring you magazines as you should need them.

The beretta should be cleaned after the purification of the chalice and before the final prayer and dismissal.

The congregation will be quite patient and will not leave before that final blessing, believe me.

[No actual extraordinary ministers of Communion or pop-combo members were hurt in the making of this blog entry.]

Thus endeth the lesson.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    9mm, .40 or .45? I would always go with the heavy .45 round, big and slow but great stopping power. No need to double tap with .45

  2. Stephen Matthew says:

    If you follow padre’s advice on head shots you don’t need to double tap with any reasonable cartridge. If in fact you are capable of head shots I should think the extra magazine capacity of the 9mm, and the low cost and wide availability of the ammunion would favor it. However, I should think that for liturgical use that nickel plating and a polished finish should be considered praise worthy, while embelishments such as silver inlays and ivory handles would be most excellent. I would suggest an engraving of at least a part of the St. Micheal prayer, in Latin, be engraved in a suitable location.

    Now for a truelly difficult rubricle question:
    What prayer is appropriate while reloading?

    Also the matter of vestments must not be overlooked. The choice of holster will necessarily depend on the vestments used in a particular liturgy. I should think a shoulder holster, while ideal for use with a clerical suit, is completely unsuitable when vested for mass. [I should think so!] Perhaps a hip or thigh holster could be in order, or even one of those cross draw holsters on the abdomen. This clearly raises the important question of at just what point the holster is to be put on during the vesting process. Is is over or under the stole? the alb? etc…

  3. Stephen Matthew says:

    Almost forgot…

    Is the Prayer of Reloading recited silently? pronounced sotto voce? or is to be considered a presidential prayer? the nature of which “demands that they be spoken in a loud and clear voice and that everyone listen with attention [I suspect this ritual will hold the congregation’s attention]. Thus, while the priest is speaking these texts, there should be no other prayers [I suspect many will feel moved to private prayer, but this can be quickly “corrected”] or singing, and the organ or other musical instruments should be silent [and the band played on…].”

  4. APX says:


    Before you can think about vestments, first you must determine which type of Beretta you are using. If it’s a rifle or a shotgun, vestments would be different than that of a handgun.

    I have a picture of this going down Boondock Saints style.

  5. Phil_NL says:

    For some further consideration of relevant points, see https://wdtprs.com/2009/12/quaeritur-what-rubrics-to-follow-at-mass-in-case-of-gunfire/

    Also, would there be a special blessing for the ammunition? Perhaps with optionals for hollow point bullets?

  6. RichardT says:

    But Father, are you not usurping the role of the deacon?

    Two quotes from the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia:
    “According to the ‘Apostolic Constitutions’ belonging to the end of the fourth century the guarding of the door of the church during the service was the duty of the deacons”
    “as St. Chrysostom says: ‘if anyone misbehave, let the deacon be summoned’ (Hom. xxiv, in Act. Apost.).” [hmmm… I hadn’t thought of that. Perhaps he should also pack?]

  7. RichardT says:

    Also if you believe the theory that clergy did not use edged weapons, then you’ll have to use flat-nosed rounds. Could be messy.

    The theory is probably false anyway, but here’s a nice picture of Bishop Odo wielding his club:

  8. John UK says:

    Turning to the biretta rather than the beretta, a new blog has appeared:

    Kind regards,
    John U.K.

  9. jbas says:

    What about the use of the surplus?

  10. jbas: I think you simply save the surplus magazines until the next Mass. After Mass, the sacred ministers, dressed in cassock and surplice are too lock the surplus magazines in a cabinet in the sacristy. 

  11. Rob Cartusciello says:

    I’ve seen the rubrics for this:

    1. Follow the Distribution of Communion, the priest shall retire to the credenza, check the chamber to ensure it is empty and remove the clip/empty the magazine. Upon confirmation that the gun is empty, the priest shall state sotto voce “Haec inani.”

    2. As the choir intones Asparges me hysopo et mundabor lavabis me (Ps. 51:7) the priest shall select the proper Jag or Patch Holder. After the Torch Bearers shall be ordered to a safe distance, the Acolyte shall pour Hoppes No. 9 onto the patch.

    3. The Cleaning Rod shall be introduced into the muzzle until it enters the breach. The patch shall then be attached to the Jag and drawn out.

    4. If time permits, the Jag shall be removed and the Bore Brush attached. This action may be taken later in the Sacristry.

    N.B. In his moto proprio Tibia Anguis, Pope Benedict XVI provides a pastoral provision for the use of Bore Snake in substitute for the Jag & Bore Brush.

    5. The Jag will then be reattached, and an additional patch of Formula 3 Gun Conditioner shall be applied.

    6. One complete, the choir shall intone Super nivem dealbabor, and the Mass shall proceed.

    7. Upon return to the Sacristy, the priest shall inspect the firearms for cracks and other signs of excessive wear, and employ a nylon brush soaked in Hoppes No. 9 to remove any reside around the action. He shall then lightly lubricate all moving parts and surfaces that have been degreased.

    8. Lastly, all metal surfaces shall be wiped down to prevent corrosion and the firearm returned to its storage case.

  12. The Egyptian says:

    And I was told years ago by the Sisters that I had a wild imagination, but still, WOW love it,

    BTW Is it legal and licit to off a eagles wing warbler any time or is there a season and bagging limit


  13. Ellen says:

    Poor Benedictines – their rule lets them carry only a knife. But they can maybe get some Gurkhas to show them how to handle it.

  14. pseudomodo says:

    In keeping with the sanctity and decorum of Holy Mass, your beretta should be equipped with a silencer…

    An interesting word ‘silencer’….

    Speaks to BOTH its function and purpose. It silences the beretta itself and in like manner, the now silenced beretta silences…

    This reminds me of the part in ‘The Hobbit’ where Gollum and Bilbo Baggins are sparring with riddles and Bilbo asks Gollum, “What have I got in my pocket?”

    No, WAIT… that was Harvard Lampoons ‘Bored of the Rings!”

  15. Daniel Latinus says:

    But Father, according to an article in the Catholic Encyclopedia, beretta is a more correct spelling for the head covering: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02577a.htm (See first paragraph.)

  16. Catholic Encyclopedia? Bah! What do they know? Besides, you looked it up under “Biretta”!

  17. Animadversor says:

    Daniel Latine, The Catholic Encyclopedia does not say that beretta is more correct; rather, it says that it “would [my emphasis] more correctly be written beretta.” And, I think, even that is debatable.

    It would be, but is not.


  18. Tony Layne says:

    It may be necessary to have a squad of Knights of Columbus (in full ceremonials) armed with M16A2s and SAWs to protect the Host and, if tactically prudent, provide suppressing fire on full automatic.

  19. disco says:

    But father but father! You did not include instructions as to how one might obtain permission to use the indult glock.

  20. disco: Glock? Indult? I was unaware that there was one. I knew about the use of the Colt by clerics who are also members of Equestrian Orders, but nothing about the Glock.

  21. Animadversor says:

    I believe that the Glock is permitted to the Teutonic Knights and to the members of the Austrian branch of the Order of the Golden Fleece. I wonder if Archduke Otto is packing?

  22. The Egyptian says:

    Please don’t stop, this is better than the comics, i wonder what some people had in their mystic monk today, gunpowder

    would server practice be an appropriate time to instruct the younger ones on how to refill the clips or should that be left to the master of ceremonies?

  23. The Egyptian: Oh come now. After a few shots things will calm down amazingly. Unless, of course, Brown Shirts are storming in.

  24. jeffreyquick says:

    Father! Are you coming out in favor of 69th trimester abortions? It’s a choice, not a parishoner. St. Gabriel Possenti, pray for us!

  25. Daniel Latinus says:

    I’ve always thought we need to organize a more militant version of the Knights of Columbus. They should were camouflage, red berets, and carry arms openly. They would be useful in situations when ceremonial swords don’t quite cut it.

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