QUAERITUR: Things manipular. Wherein Fr. Z rants and ties on one.

From a reader:

For some reason unbeknownst to me I am intrigued by the maniple. My understanding is that when the maniple comes off, the Mass is suspended, hence the reason for permitting the reading of announcements just prior to the sermon. Without it the Mass is invalid.

So now in the OF Mass during which wearing a maniple is permitted, but not required, thus very rarely ever worn (I myself have never seen it, only read about it on here), is the Mass automatically suspended on its own right after the Gospel when the priest starts saying the homily and/or doing whatever else he likes to do during that time?

Now, assuming it doesn’t, if a priest chooses to wear a maniple during the OF and removes it before the homily, would this suspend the Mass, or in the OF is the wearing of a maniple merely a completely symbolic gesture having zero effect on the Mass?

I usually like/take questions with one clear point, but I’ll deal with several here.

1. When the maniple comes off, Mass is suspended.

Not quite.  In some schools of thought concerning the older form of Mass the sermon was not considered part of Mass.  The priest wears the maniple only during Mass.  Thus he removed it for the sermon.  The maniple comes off because Mass is supended, not the other way around.

2. Without it the Mass is invalid.

No.  Absolutely wrong.  A TLM would certainly be valid.  However, the maniple is a prescribed vestment for the TLM.  The priest must wear one if there is one.  Of course, the priest is not bound to the impossible.  If there is no maniple and not even a stoll can be adapted, then Mass goes ahead and that’s the way it is.

3. The maniple is permitted in the Ordinary Form.

Yes, it is.  The maniple is permitted as an option but not obligatory in the Ordinary Form.  The maniple is obligatory in the Extraordinary Form and is not an option.  There is some confusion about this point.  Some say that if in the GIRM the maniple is not mentioned, it cannot, must not be used.  I reject those claims with a dismissive wave of my hand and pursed lips.  Wrong, simply wrong and very wrong.  Wrong wrong wrong.

Let maniples abound!  Let maniples multiply!  Let maniples be used by all priests of the Latin Church always and everywhere in both forms of the Roman Rite!

I wonder if the New Evangelization can take place without the maniple.

Think about this.

  • For there to be a New Evangelization, we must have a revitalization of our Catholic identity.
  • For there to be a revitalization of our Catholic identity, we must reclaim our liturgical heritage.
  • For us to reclaim our liturgical heritage, we need the fruits and influences of the older, Extraordinary Form.
  • For the Extraordinary Form to be helpful, if must be celebrated in more and more places.
  • For the celebration of the Extraordinary Form to take place in more and more places, we need more maniples.
  • Maniples are a quibus sine non, necessary for a successful promotion of the New Evangelization!

As I boldly proclaimed here some years ago, Fathers….

Tie One On!

The New Evangelization depends on you!

And don’t forget this.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I think a maniple would be a perfect Christmas gift for all of the hard-working priests I know, OF or EF. Let’s call it Multiply the Maniples.

  2. Ygnacia says:

    Funny, I just asked our EF Chaplain about this yesterday, is the maniple allowed in the OF. Yes, use of the maniple would be a step in the right direction for the OF, along with ad orientum, the use of Latin, the growing, greater use of our rich musical heritage. If we continue to take the Mass more seriously, perhaps some of our youth would too. I see the difference in my youngest child – I have to intervene with him much more at the OF Mass. At the EF Mass, or the Big Boy Mass as he calls it, he automatically acts (almost…) perfect.

  3. To repeat an old story. . . . Some years ago, after an indult TLM, a woman approached the priest and said “What a beautiful Mass, Father, just wonderful!”

    “Thank you,”, he replied. “Too bad the Mass was invalid,” she said.

    Why? “Because you weren’t wearing a maniple.”

    When he got back to his home parish, Father found the maniple lying on the floor where he’d dropped in his haste to get to the TLM with his Roman vestments.

  4. pfreddys says:

    This letter highlights a danger many people get into when they first embrace tradition. We start thinking that there are so many things, even small insignificant things that can invalidate a sacrament. In 1979 at the ripe old age of 19 when I first embraced tradition I remember reading and believing that not having a proper grill between the penitent and confessor invalidated the Sacrament of Confession! I was lucky to have recourse to a wise old priest who showed the difference between folly and fact.

  5. priests wife says:

    invalid doesn’t equal illicit

    Fr Z or another, would it be at the level of illicit to celebrate a TLM without one?

  6. anj says:

    Plus, it is humane…

    …because every time you celebrate Mass without a maniple, God kills a kitten:


  7. I like this tidbit about the maniple from the old Catholic Encylcopedia:

    In the Middle Ages the maniple received various symbolical interpretations. At a later period it was common to connect this vestment with the bonds which held the hands of the Saviour. In the prayer offered by the priest when putting on the maniple are symbolized the cares and sorrows of this earthly life which should be borne with patience in view of the heavenly reward.

    Source: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09601b.htm

  8. Supertradmum says:

    Likewise, I had heard that it was a symbol of Christ’s Passion, either the bonds at the Scourging, or the Cloak of Humiliation at His Crowning of Thorns. Also, I had heard that it represented the binding cloth, or the Shroud, at Christ’s Burial. In any case, it is an important vestment for priest and laity alike, as we all need symbols and reminders of the Passion.

  9. laud1645 says:

    It is the most obvious sign that it is an EF.not an OF mass (perhaps it’s only me that notices). [Ummm… there are a few other signs that are both more obvious and more trustworthy, given that – as I wrote above – maniples can be used on the Ordinary Form.]

    Fr Blake had a very convincing article about how minor the differences CAN be between OF & EF but when I saw the photos thereof, i noticed immediately the lack of three maniples.

    Tie one on indeed

  10. BigTin says:

    Hoorah for Henry Edwards posting the funny maniple story! I was hoping someone would!

  11. ipadre says:

    The very first time I wore my Roman style vestments for a Sunday Mass OF, I gave a nice homily on the Hermeneutic of Continuity. These beautiful traditions give us an opportunity to evangelized the “evangelized”. I make it a point to done my Roman vestments at least once a month for all Masses. If one is not shocked a priest wearing some of the strange modern vestments, why should they be shocked at a beautiful set of Roman vestments in all their glory?
    Tie one on for the Ordinary Form!

  12. A priest who read this sent me a photo of a new vestment he just had made.

    My arrow:

    You can tell he is zealous to promote the New Evangelization.

  13. RickMK says:

    The story I’ve heard, as far as I can remember, is that the maniple came from a bell, that the celebrant would ring to signal to stop reading (before there were prescribed Readings for each Sunday). The bell evolved into a cloth in the shape of a bell that would be waved to signal the end of the Readings for that Mass, which would be picked up at that point at the following Mass. This was, I heard, how the maniple originated — and why it has a bell-shape.

    It seems there are a lot of cases where elements of the Mass had their beginnings in a purely practical function, which over dozens of centuries gain symbolic meanings, after they are no longer used for their original purpose.

  14. My understanding of the maniple (from the Baronius Press 1962 Missal) is that it came from a handkerchief the Romans once wore knotted around their left arm to wipe away sweat, tears, etc. Hence the symbolism of the maniple as representing the sufferings and tribulations of the priesthood. Also, if memory serves, the maniple, stole, and cincture together are said to represent the cords that bound Christ during His passion.

    I attended Mass in the Ordinary Form on Sunday where the priest wore a maniple.

    Incidentally, the picture above of the priest in his new vestments reminds me that this same church I went to on Sunday had a most unusual crucifix with a Y-shaped cross and no titulus. Anybody ever seen a crucifix like that before and/or know the significance of the Y-shaped cross?

  15. As it is common with most of the Vesments, at some different points in time, different meanings were given to them and that might be why there were different (sometimes slightly) different versions of the prayers to be said when putting them on.

    The practice of removing the Maniple to preach was very common among Priests. This is rather strange because I do not think that it was common when Bishops celebrated Mass. Most especially, it does not seem to have been the practice of the Popes to remove it when preaching. In pictures of the Popes and in the video of the Coronation Mass of John XXIII, we can see that he keeps the Maniple on.

    Mr. Jeffrey Collins in “The Roman Catholic Ceremonial ” (pg. 60, fn 3) does not encourage the practice of removing the Maniple to preach because in the Ceremonial of Bishops it is assumed that the Bishop keeps all his Vestments on. J. B. O’Connell in “The Celebration of Mass” also does not think it necessary to remove the Maniple to preach.

    Some people say that the Maniple (and even the Chasuble) should be removed if the Priest leaves the Altar to preach, but if he preaches from the predella of the Altar, then he should keep them. I frankly do not see any reasons to remove either of them. I always saw the Sermon (if it is a real Sermon that instructs the faithful in the eternal truths and Christian virtues) as part of the Mass. Additionally, depending on the types of Maniples, it might very inconvenient to remove it and then put it back on (tying it, putting it in place, using pins, etc.).

    Adrian Fortesche in “The Mass” refers to the Maniple as the Eucharistic Vesment “par excellence,” since it is only used for the Mass.

    I just prefer to call it the “Sacrificial Vestment,” since “sacrificial” would seem to be more precise than “eucharistic” because, in the Roman Rite, the Maniple is only used for the actual Sacrifice of the Mass and not outside of it (not even for Benediction nor processions of the Blessed Sacrament when Chasubles would be allowed!).

    This reminds me of reading (or hearing somewhere) that one of the mystical meanings of the Maniple is that it symbolizes the handkerchief the priests used to use to clean the blood when they offered sacrifices. Of course, we all know that the Maniple very likely comes from the Roman handkerchief.

  16. notredame1208 says:

    While I personally agree that the maniple can and should be used in the OF, could you point me in the direction of documentation that would allow for this? It is very difficult for me to counter the argument that the neither the GIRM nor the Missal makes mention of the maniple and therefore, it is not envisioned for use in the OF.

  17. Supertradmum says:

    I have recently, in the past year, seen a priest remove the maniple before moving over to the ambo to preach at a TLM,in fact, he does this at all his Masses. When I first saw this, I was puzzled, but then, after a few times realized what he was doing. And, another handkerchief theory is that upper-class Romans carried some sort of fancy linen and the maniple is from that. http://anglicanexfide.blogspot.com/2010/11/more-on-deacons-and-maniples.html

  18. James Joseph says:

    If Mary is the Star of the New Evangelisation; that is, the Star spoken of in Gospel. And, She is likewise proclaimed the hand-maid of the Lord. Does this mean that the maniple signifies the wearer is has the intention to be a servant (minister) of Lord, with Mary as his role-model?

  19. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Miss Moore, That is called a “thief’s cross” or “pall cross.” It was believed that thieves were crucified on such crosses but historians say that doesn’t make sense because they would have been much more difficult and expensive to construct.

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