Card. Ranjith works personally to improve liturgical worship in his diocese

I desire to redirect you to our friends at Rorate who have presented some exquisite reflections and directives from His Eminence Malcolm Card. Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo.  May he be emulated far and wide.

You may remember that last year Card. Ranjith in his diocese reinstituted kneeling for Communion, which is to be received on the tongue.

During March the Cardinal informed his clergy that he personally was going to take stock of the manner liturgical worship in the diocese.  He is trying to eliminate liturgical abuses.  He is, for example, insisting on proper vestments, for example, and offers a fine reflection on vestments.

And there is this:

And so dear fathers, kindly ensure that in each Church in your parishes there is an adequate supply of a sufficient number of amices, girdles, stoles and chasubles for daily use. When I come for my parish visits starting from January next year, I will check on this matter personally. Kindly begin celebrating your daily sacrifice of the Eucharist properly clad and that means dressed with the alb, with or without the amice, the girdle, stole and chasuble. This should start immediately. The Auxiliary Bishops and Episcopal Vicars should kindly ensure that this is strictly followed in your areas.

It is good to read that a diocesan bishop is taking such steps, personally, to improve the ars celebrandi of his clergy.

WDTPRS kudos to Card. Ranjith.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Jim of Bowie says:

    Hurrah Cardinal Ranjith. But, is use of the amice optional.

  2. AdamRules247 says:

    Card. Ranjith for Pope (after Pope Benedict, of course)

  3. discerningguy says:

    The use of the amice is optional if the alb is made in such a way that it covers up the clerical collar (or whatever else is being worn as a bottom layer) by itself. However, I remember reading an article (possibly written by Msgr. Marini) on the Vatican website about the liturgical vestments that basically says that the amice should basically always be worn. Of course, this was an opinion piece, but still. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen priests–even bishops–having their clericals sticking out from the top of their chasubles. I wish amices were always required. Optionitis kills liturgy.

  4. chcrix says:

    and for those who could use a chuckle:

  5. MyBrokenFiat says:

    I’m trying really hard not to be jealous of his flock right now… lol.

    Indeed may his example catch like wildfire!

  6. Lucas says:

    I wonder what the reaction of the priests are. I can ny imagine the outcry if a American bishop tried this.

  7. jacobi says:

    Archbishop Ranjith is surely one of the leading thinkers behind the “Reform of the Reform” movement. Let’s hope his example here will be copied by other bishops and priests.

    We must get back to what Vatican II really intended in its relatively limited liturgical reforms, which were highjacked by the Reformers.

    By the Grace of God we should see a convergence now of the new liturgy towards the ancient and Catholic liturgy of what is, at present, called the Extraordinary Form.

    A change of names is now overdue. What about the “Mass” for the EF and the “Pauline Mass” for the current NO?

  8. Phil_NL says:


    I suspect most American and European priests would simply open old drawers with mothballed vestments. After all, the instruction deals with availability, and I suspect very few parishes wouldnt have some spare sets of either very old vestments, or otherwise a set from the 70s so heinous they havent been used since the 80s.

    Now when it comes to instructions that refer to actions, such a mandatory communion on the tongue, that would be a wholly different cup of tea. And truth be told, not wholly without some cause: there are plenty of priests from whom I’d rather not receive communion in that way, until such time they have sufficient practice in it.

  9. digdigby says:

    Maybe he can send missionaries into the savage and pagan wilderness of Europe.

  10. Legisperitus says:

    And tomorrow the maniple!

    Tie one on!

    (Or better yet, pin it on in case you need to remove a spider from the chalice.)

  11. Sid says:

    The Global South rides to the rescue of the Church! John Allen has written about this. GAFCON is doing this for the Anglicans. Soon parishes in Northern Europe and Gringoland will have Tamil priests, and Dioceses there bishops from Kenya. It’s happened before. The first Archbishops of Canterbury were Greek and Roman.

  12. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Huzzah to Cardinal Ranjith! This is a nice antidote to yet more utterly depressing Cardinal Schönborn news. We may fear for the survival of the Catholic faith in Vienna, but surely not in Colombo.

  13. I hope this can be considered a valid case of ecclesiastical jealousy…and more reason to pray for my Bishop.

  14. Darren says:

    Re: AdamRules247: “Card. Ranjith for Pope (after Pope Benedict, of course)”

    According to Wikipedia, “Ranjith is fluent in ten languages; Italian, German, French, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Spanish, English, Sinhala and Tamil.” Speaking many languages is a good thing for a future pope!

  15. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    I’ve heard his named mentioned too—and, noooooo, not by anybody in a position to cast a vote, etc etc etc. :)

  16. “I can ny imagine the outcry if a American bishop tried this.”

    I wonder. Perhaps most Catholics would find refreshing a bishop who knows how to actually bishop.

  17. brotherfee says:

    “and for those who could use a chuckle:

    Ha-ha, very funny. Some of those vestments would be perfect on the golf course, to provide greater visibility so as not to be wacked by an errant golfer. Or maybe a Saturday night fever type of liturgy, burn baby burn, disco inferno! (:-

  18. robtbrown says:

    discerningguy says:

    The use of the amice is optional if the alb is made in such a way that it covers up the clerical collar (or whatever else is being worn as a bottom layer) by itself.

    The purpose of the amice is to cover the head (no matter how it’s made). Thus the amice vesting prayer: Impone, Domine, capiti meo galeam salutis . . . (Lord, place on my head the helmet of salvation . . . ). Obviously, the practice for priests not in religious habit has been just to wear it on the shoulders, but they could have worn it over their heads, then lowered it at the altar.

  19. ContraMundum says:

    I may be the only one of your commenters to feel this way, but here goes anyhow:

    Questions of clerical garb are “inside baseball” issues I leave to the clergy themselves. I don’t know what an alb or an amice is, and I really don’t want to. If I’m busy checking out if the priest is dressed to the nines, my attention is in the wrong spot. I just don’t want to see a priest make his entrance wearing only a loincloth and antlers and banging on bongo drums.

  20. acardnal says:

    Maybe Cdl. Ranjith can talk some sense into Cdl. Wuerl of Washington, DC.

  21. SonofMonica says:


    Well, I consider WDTPRS and Rorate to be pretty inside-baseball-type sites.


    At least Cdl. Wuerl isn’t one sombrero away from an offensive Mexican stereotype every time he vests, like another bishop I know.

  22. acardnal says:

    actually wearing the correct vestments is analogous to the rubrics and should be observed. Say the Black, Do the Red and Wear the Proper Vestments Properly.

  23. kittenchan says:

    Girdle?? Is that a common alternative name for a cincture? I would hate to think that Cardinal Ranjith is overly concerned with how trim and svelte his priests look while wearing the proper vestments… teehee.

  24. Former Altar Boy says:

    This is what any true leader, a real shepherd” does. He gives orders, expects them to be obeyed, and then goes around and double-checks that his directives ARE being followed.

    Lucas said, “I ca[n’t] imagine the outcry if a American bishop tried this.” I suspect that if someone, say Bishop Bruskewitz, who has trained up and properly LED his priests, gave the order, there wouldn’t be a whimper. But then, on the other hand, bishops of that stripe wouldn’t have to say something so obvious to begin with!

  25. ContraMundum says:


    Yes, the priest should obey all the rules, including the ones about what he is to wear. I question, however, why a layman would worry about these details.

  26. Clinton R. says:

    May the Lord bless His faithful servant, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith. I agree, he would have my vote to be the next pope. May Our Lord bless the Church Militant with more faithful men heeding the call to His priesthood.

  27. acardnal says:

    As I layman, I am concerned that the clergy comply with the rubrics, vestments, “Say the Black, Do the Red” and so forth. Why? Because when they don’t, then I wonder what else the priest doesn’t comply with or believe in, for example, celibacy or saying the right words of absolution.

  28. dcs says:

    I question, however, why a layman would worry about these details.

    Well, on the one hand laymen shouldn’t worry about these details. But some people just aren’t happy unless they’re worrying about something.

    On the other hand, of course, priests should not give members of their flock cause to worry about the details.

  29. Slappo says:


    The vestments aren’t only for the priest. To lead us properly in worship he needs to be dressed for the ocassion. Do I want the general of my military standing on the front line in blue jeans a t-shirt and a baseball cap or do I want him in full uniform ready for combat? One might say “but why should the foot soldiers worry about the details of the general’s uniform?” Why for the sake of moral! The foot soldiers see the general as a military leader when he is dressed in full uniform wearing the signs of his rank and are ready to respect and follow his command.

    So too the priest properly vests himself to lead the laity in worship. The laity see the priest as an Alter Christus when he is properly vested and are prepared to be lead by him to worship God.

  30. muckemdanno says:


    I am shocked to read that it’s unimportant to you if clergymen are obedient.

  31. ContraMundum says:


    Please supply the direct quote in which I said it is unimportant to me if clergymen are obedient. Was it before or after I said, “Yes, the priest should obey all the rules“?


    The military analogy fails. First of all, you probably don’t want a general standing on the front lines; secondly, if he is going to be there, you certainly don’t want him in full dress uniform. Don’t you know that enlisted men are not supposed to salute officers when they’re close to the shooting? That just lets the snipers know who to target. Finally, the armor of God, to use St. Paul’s military metaphor, does not consist of liturgical vestments.

    Therefore, take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day and to stand in all things perfect. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth and having on the breastplate of justice: And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take unto you the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).

    Folks, one of the best priests I’ve ever known was a late vocation widower with adult children. To the best of his ability, he did everything by the book. I remember one Gaudete Sunday (or maybe Laetare Sunday) he was standing outside the church before Mass as usual, when he commented on how the Protestants would smile and wave as they drove by to see him wearing “a pink dress”. This showed that he had a sense of humor, and that he was obedient even in this matter which was surely a mortification for him. It also showed, quite frankly, that he had a good enough sense of style to realize that the “pink dress” (I know, rose vestments) were atrocious. I don’t think I’ve ever seen rose vestments that don’t look humiliating for a man to wear, and that kind of submission to authority, even when it is humiliating, makes perfect sense for Lent.

    The only problem is that that is *not* was is supposed to be expressed on Gaudete Sunday or Laetare Sunday.

    So if you want a real military analogy, say that the priest’s vestments represent the soldier’s cloak that was meant to mockingly clothe Jesus in purple, and that they submit willingly, because He submitted willingly.

  32. Dave N. says:

    Hmmm….Seems that Cdl. Ranjith: 1) knows what’s going on in his archdiocese; 2) knows what needs to be fixed; 3) makes his wishes publicly known; and then, 4) follows up on his directives personally to make sure they are implemented. Wow! How novel!

    I find this refreshingly different from the laundry list of excuses so often offered here in the U.S. for episcopal IN-action, most irritatingly by fanboys (and girls) of ostensibly “orthodox” bishops: 1) oh, the chancery must be keeping everything secret–the poor bishop just “doesn’t know what’s going on” or he would do something; 2) he would do something if he could, but he has to move slowly and carefully because we can’t afford to upset sister so-and-so; 3) the bishop can’t be expected to police every parish; 4) the bishop is busy working “behind the scenes” because he can’t take a public stand; 5) the bishop tries to make changes but it’s the bad priests who just won’t listen….etc., etc.

  33. Dave N, believe me, nothing would cheer me more (even though I no longer reside in Los Angeles) than to hear Archbishop Gomez put into words: “No more glass pitchers, no more pouring of the Precious Blood after the Consecration, no more ab libbing the Liturgical Directives.” (and then following through on them. I agree it is a refreshing change of pace.

  34. Ambrose Jnr says:

    For Ranjith to become a serious papabile, me thinks the good cardinal would need a top curia job again, but as prefect this time…what about giving him the Congregation for Bishops, and moving Ouellet to the CDF…this way we’d continue Card Ouellet’s good choice of bishops but with a traditionalist twist…

    Since an anglophone is expected at the CDF and Ouellet worked at the CDF previously, he may be the man…as far as I understand, Card Ranjith is a biblical theologian mainly with great liturgical interests but without previous CDF experience…the CDF appointment is expected this month, isn’t it?

    Since Card Ranjith is such a perfect Ratzingerian, his knowledge of theology must be top quality…having him at the CDF would make him a major papabile…

  35. herring says:

    “For Ranjith to become a serious papabile, me thinks the good cardinal would need a top curia job again, but as prefect this time…what about giving him the Congregation for Bishops, and moving Ouellet to the CDF…this way we’d continue Card Ouellet’s good choice of bishops but with a traditionalist twist…” -Ambrose Jnr

    Be still my heart!

  36. irishgirl says:

    @Slappo (I love your screen name-very cool): Hear hear to what you said!
    @Ambrose Jnr: I agree with you as well! His Eminence should come back to Rome! I’d think he’d be a perfect fit for the CDF!
    Cardinal Ranjith certainly knows how to ‘oversee’ [the meaning of the word ‘bishop’] his diocese! Good for him!
    He’d have my vote for Pope, too!

  37. Nicole says:

    I hope the orthodoxy in his Archdiocese gets as close a scrutiny as the orthopraxy :)

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