Ash Wednesday glimpses and papal liturgical music observations

First, lunch was a cup of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.


This was consumed while viewing the Holy Father’s Mass at Santa Sabina, the Roman Station.  The day began at the nearby San’tAnselmo on the Aventine Hill for the collect.  There was a procession to Santa Sabina, with a litany sung in Latin.  I was watching for, among other things, friends.   The Vatican “on demand” stream has really improved and the player is good.  Kudos to CTV!

The Holy Father used a Roman pianeta today.


The Mass was in both Latin and Italian.  It seems the principle was, if it is spoken it is vernacular, and if it is sung it’s in Latin.

This is exactly the same principle that my old pastor, the late Msgr. Richard Schuler used when building (in continuity with our Roman tradition) the liturgical practice with exceptional sacred music at my home parish in St. Paul, Minnesota.  For the Novus Ordo “High Mass”, celebrated ad orientem, with deacons vested properly – including maniples and birettas – what was sung was in Latin (the Ordinary in Gregorian chant or polyphony or an orchestral setting and the Proper in Gregorian chant), and what was spoken (the readings, prayers of the faithful) were in English.  In the Holy Father’s Mass, the prayers spoken by the Pope were in Italian, the first reading was spoken in Italian, the Gospel however, was sung by a deacon in Latin.

The Holy Father’s brief (for him) sermon dealt with the symbolism of ashes.

Now it’s time to change the oil in my car.


I am 68% sure that the bishop, visible in the gap, behind Archbp. Fisichella (with the biretta) is Bp. Robert Morlino of Madison, in Rome to make the ad limina visit and lead a diocesan pilgrimage.

Bp. Morlino

I went back and took at look at the entrance procession, and I am still fairly sure.

Bp. Morlino

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. anna 6 says:

    I noticed that the pope stood to deliver his homily. Don’t quote me, but I think he has done that in the past on Ash Wednesday.
    I wonder if it’s a “little” Lenten sacrifice for him?

    I also thought that he looked well while greeting the congregation at the end…waving off his security in order to greet groups of children and to kiss babies.

    I think (and hope) that constant reports about his weakening health are exaggerated.

    We still need him around!!

  2. Supertradmum says:

    I love Santa Sabina’s. One of my favorite and thanks on the Latin sung bit. I did not know that.

  3. Simon_GNR says:

    Is the Pope is wearing a dalmatic underneath his chasuble? Is this what I can see in the photograph? It’s something that bishops sometimes do, I think to signify that the bishop’s ministry in some way incorporates that of the deacon.

  4. Kat says:

    I’d up that percentage of certainty that it’s Bishop Morlino to about 99%. I’ve seen and taken enough photos of him to be sure.

  5. Ben Yanke says:

    That’s Bishop Morlino alright. If the face doesn’t do it, I also recognize the surplice.

  6. Andy Milam says:

    @ Ben Yanke,

    That would properly be a rochet and not a surplice…not picking nits, but being precise. No harm or foul intended. Just being friendly.

    @ Fr. Z,

    I miss the Monsignor. He had a way about promoting the Liturgical Action which is hard to duplicate. His charism was certainly contagious, but is very hard to imitate. May the Angels be looking after him with great favor today. As you recall, today would be the day he shed his piped cassock for a plain black cassock and the wine stopped flowing. I do miss that man.

  7. irishgirl says:

    @ anna 6: I hope you’re right about the Holy Father’s health. This past weekend there was a big write-up in my local paper [supposedly] about the consistory for the new Cardinals; but all that the story focussed on was how ‘weak’ the Holy Father looked and sounded. Grrr….I’m tired of these media ‘vultures’ always ‘flapping their wings and screeching’! They did the same thing to John Paul II in his last years!

  8. It’s good to see so many birettas, but someone needs to remind the reverend clergy that if they are not paratus (vested) they carry their biretta in the procession, they don’t wear it.

  9. Samuel: O tempora! O mores! I am afraid we have a lot of work to do, to restore proper birettaquette.

    BTW… as the procession was entering the church, and the cardinals began to come in, Card. Burke was leading, probably as a fairly junior cardinal in the gang. In any event, he took off his biretta at the threshold and the cardinals behind him did the same after his example.

    The good thing is that birettas, which were always allowed, are coming back into use after years of liberal sneering and persecution of clerics who used them.

  10. Father K says:

    I remember when the Pope celebrated at Santa Sabina the year after he was elected, during the procession from San Anselmo the Pope was dressed in purple cope and white mitre, flanked by 2 cardinal deacons in purple dalmatics and white mitres: I seem to recall it was on this blog I saw the photos. When and why did this change, anyone?

  11. keithp says:

    What a lovely grilled cheese sandwich, Father.
    A well crafted (and toasted) grill cheese is a thing of often un-sung beauty.
    Been making those for years for my boys.

  12. Denita says:

    Very beautiful photos. I love tradition.

  13. ContraMundum says:

    What kind of cheese is that in the sandwich?

    I’m impressed by your cooking skills, but a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup, though fast and simple, are very hard to beat!

  14. MaryW says:

    Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich was what I had for dinner tonight, very comforting.

    From that picture it appears that the Holy Father is in good health. Hope So!

  15. Centristian says:

    Father K:

    I wonder if it wasn’t because the Pope arrived by…papal golf cart (the elimination of the sedia gestatoria has resulted in alot of interesting papal vehicles and conveyances)…and didn’t walk in the procession. Clearly the Holy Father is dealing with mobility issues. He was supported up and down the steps leading to the altar and to his throne during this service…and it wasn’t merely a matter of a couple of cautiously outstretched hands in his direction just in case; the monsignori assisting him were clearly offering him real support.

    Perhaps it would have been impractical for the Holy Father to travel in the golf cart fully vested in cope, stole, alb, and miter, with ferula. Or, perhaps, the wearing of all those heavy and cumbersome vestments was not possible on account of the Pope’s current fragility. And so, instead, he opted to travel in mozzetta and rochet.

    I think it’s so interesting that ashes are imposed by sprinkling atop the head, even with respect to veiled nuns. It really makes moot certain American Catholic scruples as to whether or not it is acceptable to clean one’s forehead afterwards. I did notice, however, that one of the priests at Santa Sabina administered ashes to worshippers on their foreheads (very quickly) instead of doing it the Pope’s way. An odd-looking congregation afterwards with some smudged and others not.

    The vestments were marvelous. I still would that the Holy Father would restore the fanon, the falda, and the rest of it, but I suspect that isn’t likely, and that he’s probably got it just about right anyhow. I just think a pope doesn’t look quite complete in a fiddleback without a fanon, but that’s me.

    I did notice that the cardinals’ white miters are now taller than they used to be, but not quite as tall as they were before they got shorter, if that makes any sense. I wonder who decides how tall the cardinals’ miters are and who gets to break the news to them that they have to buy new ones everytime someone decides that the height needs to change. Liturgical reform and reformed reform and the constant tweaking of the reformed reform must delight the Roman clerical haberdashers to no end.

    The choir sang magnificently.

  16. southern orders says:

    I hate to disagree with you Father Z, but the Gospel was chanted in Italian!

  17. “The good thing is that birettas, which were always allowed, are coming back into use after years of liberal sneering and persecution of clerics who used them.”
    I fully agree.

    I just published two articles about

    The Hats Worn by a Cardinal – Consistory on 18th of February 2012

    Biretta of George Cardinal Alencherry (with video)

    on my blog philippi-collection.blogspot.

  18. Pius says:

    Yes, it was Bishop Morlino. I spoke with him briefly after the Mass. One of his seminarians was with him.

    The Pope did appear to be wearing a dalmatic under his chasuble.

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