Another thing about the Holy Father’s Mass on Sunday (hint: not about the Fanon!)

I just watched the on-demand video of the Holy Father’s Mass on Sunday with the canonization of seven new saints.   This is the Mass for which the Holy Father wore the fanon.  See my comments about the fanon and what the Pope is up to HERE.

First, the Sistine Chapel choir’s Gregorian chant has improved.  Thanks be to God.  The pace could be a little less lugubrious.  C’mon, people!  Pick it up a little?  It’s speech!  Prayer!  Not just melody! And it’s too bad they had to sing outside in the big parking lot in front of the Basilica.  They belong in the Sistine Chapel, after all.  Right?

Also, just to freak out some liberals, you can see that the kids in the choir are sporting clerical collars.

Second, apart from the restoration of the fanon, another traditional practice was restored.

Notice something in this shot?  It is a little small, but there is an ambo where the arrow is pointing.  That is where the first readings were read.

The first readings were done on one side, the Gospel on the other.  The Epistle side and the Gospel side of the altar were recognized.

The restoration of continuity continues.

Now what we need to see is the suppression of the “prayers of the faithful” in the Novus Ordo and the older form of the Roman Rite celebrated coram Pontifice… coram Romano Pontifice.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Now what we need to see is the suppression of the “prayers of the faithful” in the Novus Ordo
    This has me somewhat puzzled. Sure enough, the way that is handled in many OF Masses is dreadful, but what is the objection against the prayers itself? In fact, if the priest pronounces certain prayers (vetted, of course) the parishioners have submitted, I don’t see any problem at all.

  2. padredana says:

    So, since the choir boys can wear roman collars, can altar boys?

  3. Ben Yanke says:

    I find the use of the two ambos very fascinating. I have never seen that before, but it only seems fitting to have a more ornate and prominent (and traditional) place to chant the gospel, set apart from the rest of the readings.

    Very exciting.

  4. Mike says:

    I hate to be a downer, I really do, but I don’t think the Holy Father will get much response via example. I gave my priest a quote from The Spirit of the Liturgy when asking him to celebrate the Mass ad orientem and he gave a response that signified, “Well, okay, but that’s just his opinion.”

  5. SonofMonica says:


    I’m with you. I do trust the Pope, but I can’t help but feel that most of the time, sheep need the crook used on them. That’s why they’re sheep.

  6. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    Just out of curiousity, with the altar turned around, wouldn’t the Epistle and Gospel sides (in theory) also swap?

    Is there a symbolic reason for Epistle being Sanctuary (I refuse to say stage) left and the Gospel Sanctuary right?

  7. Will D. says:

    I’m curious about the Gospel/Epistle side thing as well. When I was a kid, during the early ’80s, I recall the readings were read from the two lecterns/ambos, and this was at a very non-traditional parish. Sometime in the middle of the decade, the practice stopped and all of the readings were done from the Gospel side. As near as I can recall, every Mass I’ve been to since then has been the same way: one ambo on the Gospel side.

    Salvatore_Giuseppe, that is an interesting question. My (uninformed) assumption is that since the right hand side is traditionally the place of honor, that is why the Gospel was proclaimed from that side.

  8. Fr. Thomas Kocik says:

    Taking the altar/apse as the “east” (either literally or symbolically), the Gospel has traditionally been proclaimed from the left side (left as you face the altar, or what Salvatore calls “sanctuary right”), that is, the north side, because Europe north of the Alps was, for much of the first millennium, the pagan/barbarian world, the world in need of evangelization. So I’ve heard.

  9. acardnal says:

    Although I made this comment under the “Fanon” post, I think it is appropriate to make it here, too, with Father Z’s permission. As an addendum, I very much enjoyed the Greek schola during the reading of the Gospel in Greek:

    One can watch the entire Mass here.

    The gospel of St. Mark was chanted twice: once in Latin by the Latin Rite deacon and the second time in Greek by the Eastern Rite Catholic deacon. I appreciated how the Eastern Rite deacon draped the book of the gospels with his stole as he walked to the ambo and then again the the Holy Father afterwards.

  10. Related Ambo Question:

    Why are Ambo’s sometimes on the Epistle side, even in older wonderfully designed Cathedrals?

  11. jonh303 says:

    Fr. Z, speaking of continuity, I would love to get your opinion on a brief post/question… Perhaps you would make your own post on the topic…

  12. mibethda says:

    The altar boys of the Basilica do wear the collars as well.

  13. Katheryn says:

    I don’t disagree that maybe a little papal “crack down” would do some good. However, I do think that those priests who are truly looking to fulfill their vocation will greatly benefit from the Holy Father’s example. It is human nature to be wary of change, even for the better, so if a more gentle approach is taken, it will help alleviate anxiety. Perhaps our dear pope is waiting to see if clergy will take the hint before getting the lib priests all loud and hysterical about something else. There is also something to be said about a boss creating a safe environment for his employees to embrace a different routine.

  14. Servant of the Liturgy says:

    I recall reading something about the Gospel Side being to the left as viewed from the nave be because, assuming we are facing East, that would be North, and there was something about the North “not having received/heard the Word of God”.

    Don’t have time to look it up now. Anyone else heard of this or am I totally making this up?

  15. smcollinsus says:

    Phil_NL: While the Prayers of the Faithful may have once been where they are now, they worked their way into the Canon of the Mass long before the Council of Trent. It seems much more fitting to me that these intentions be included during that more special part of the Mass than earlier on. But, if the current Eucharistic Prayer mentions all of these intentions in general, that makes the earlier prayers redundant – a situation most “liturgist” decry! The new style gives something for the Deacon to do/say, yes. But then the Deacons have been robbed of so many actions during the Mass that it simply seems fair to us that he be given something to say now. And they are to some extent optional anyway.

  16. drea916 says:

    I hope the prayers of the faithful are done away with. They’re just mini-lectures/big hints that should be clearly preached on during the homily. They usually don’t include things that I pray for (sanctity of life, souls in purgatory, safety of travelers, etc) They are for fru fru stuff.

  17. Jacob says:

    Funnily enough, the most traditionally laid out church I’ve been in is a Lutheran church in my mom’s hometown. The church’s interior has been totally destroyed (I was told by my grandma that back in the day it had all kinds of ornamentation one could find in a Catholic church), but even so, the altar is against the wall and there is a Gospel side and an Epistle side ambo. I haven’t been there in a number of years and it’s been twenty years since I went to a Sunday morning service with my Lutheran relatives, so I cannot say that both are still used.

    I remember as a child going to church with my grandparents and looking at the altar and wondering how the minister was going to get behind it to do communion. :P My curiosity was never satisfied because in all the times we went to church when I was a kid, we never went to one that was a communion service.

  18. AnnAsher says:

    Yes, Please God and Amen, the banishment of the “prayers of the faithful”.

  19. Dan says:

    SC 50: “The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, may be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful may be more easily achieved. For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance; elements which, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated, or were added with but little advantage, are now to be discarded; other elements which have suffered injury through accidents of history are now to be restored to the vigor which they had in the days of the holy Fathers, as may seem useful or necessary.”

    It would seem that one could make a case that the universal prayer has been restored, in accordance with SC.

  20. FranzJosf says:

    Pulpits: In parish churches on the Gospel side, in Cathedrals on the Epistle side.

    This seems to have been the situation in the more recent past (say, the last 400 years). I’ve always assumed that pulpits were put on the opposite side from the ‘highest’ chair: In cathedrals, the bishop’s cathedra is on the Gospel side, so the pulpit is opposite, while in parish churches the priest’s sedalia in on the Epistle side, so the pulpit is opposite. I don’t know if I’m right, but that seems to have been a common practice in many places in Europe which travelled to the US.

  21. acardnal says:

    Dan, there is nothing in SC50 about the Universal Prayer or “prayers of the faithful” that I see.

    Perhaps a better citation would be #53: “Especially on Sundays and feasts of obligation there is to be restored, after the Gospel and the homily, ‘the common prayer’ or ‘prayer of the faithful.’ By this prayer, in which the people are to take part, intercession will be made for holy Church, for civil authorities, for those oppressed by various needs, for all mankind, and for the salvation of the entire world.”

    First, I do not believe this was a necessary accretion to the Mass but agree with Father Z’s suggestion regarding its demise. After all, are not all of these intentions naturally and supernaturally bound up in the Holy Sacrifice? Do they have to be specifically enumerated? The list is infinite after all. (Which is another reason I dislike it when clergy ask the congregation to vocalize their intentions. . . .this goes on for a looooooong time at some Masses I have attended. It’s endless! ) Moreover, this paragraph is but one more example of how the Council DID direct change to the liturgy and, consequently, it is responsible for the subsequent miasma in our liturgy. Remember, the Mass is the heart and soul, source and summit of our faith.

  22. HighMass says:

    Bring Back the Tiara! The Holy Father was gifted one from his countrymen

  23. Dan says:


    Ah! Thank you for the input. If only I had scrolled down on the online version, I might have seen that.

    This, however, only strengthens the argument for continued inclusion of the universal prayer in the Mass. It would seem that the Council Fathers were aware that petitions like these were already included in the Roman Canon. Why, then, would they ask to restore these, immediately after they said that unnecessary duplication should be avoided?

    In other words, what do the documents of Vatican II really say? I’m not claiming there have been no abuses and misguided implementations of Vatican II, but we don’t get to pick and choose which parts we implement. For example, SC 54 says, in part, that “steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.” Just because some people don’t believe this is necessary doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do it.

  24. Matt R says:

    FranzJosf, that seems reasonable. My parish church here in KY is an example of that.

  25. Emilio III says:

    “The Priest, who says Mass without Deacon and Subdeacon, should, when he reads the Gospel, so place the Missal, that he himself shall be somewhat turned towards the North. It is the same with the Deacon: — he stands facing the North when he sings the Gospel: — because, according to the word of the Prophet Jeremias (i.14.) From the North, shall an evil break forth upon all the inhabitants of the Land. It is for the same mysterious reason, that in the Baptism of adults, the Catechumen is put, so as to face the North, when uttering his renunciation of Satan. Formerly in the larger churches there were erected two Ambos, or pulpits: one for the Epistle, and the other for the Gospel…”

    From The Holy Mass by Dom Prosper Guéranger pp 34-35 in the Baronius Press edition.

  26. About facing north for the Gospel: the mystical reasons (such as because the deacon preaches to the barbarians north of ancient Rome, among others) were probably imputed later. The practical reason may possibly be because the bishop’s throne is north, so at a pontifical Mass, the deacon faces toward the bishop, or at least without his back to the bishop. Another reason may be because the deacon wishes to face the people as much as possible without turning his back completely from the altar.

    I wrote extensively on the lost art of lecterns, pulpits, and reading desks on my blog here: Two Lost Arts: Singing From Oversized Books, and Using Lecterns. You’ll also find there a wealth of photos. It’s really unfortunate that even most Latin Mass churches only have one ambo/pulpit. It’s also an unfortunate minimalist trend within the traditional Mass to have the subdeacon hold up the Epistle-book by himself, or to have him hold the Gospel-book for the deacon, rather than use lecterns for these things. O’Connell’s “Celebration of Mass”, though, very clearly states that lecterns can be used and are even to be preferred. He also states that the Epistle ought to ideally be read facing the people. His direction for the place of the subdeacon and MC says: “Then they go and stand on the right side of the choir facing the altar, or, preferably, facing the people for whose instruction the Epistle is being sung.”

  27. Widukind says:

    Two thoughts:
    Prayers of the Faithful – could a litany (as in the Divine Liturgy) be composed to replace it? It should be singable. Someplace I read that these prayers do not have to be newly written for each Mass, but that they could be composed to use at mutiple liturgies, and that in fact the same set could be used for every Mass. The ones given in the back of the Missal are really not helpful.
    Setting the Example – regardless of the Holy Father’s intention. of his desire that we emulate him in the liturgy, without a juridical bite to it what he does will go nowhere. If not, then it all becomes “just his opinion”. He could give some directive to say – giving such a list of practices – stating that these things are now permitted. Without having some type of aproval most priests won’t touich them nor will the faithful, by and large, accept them.

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  29. Widukind: certainly. We also have a precedent for the prayers of the faithful, though, in the bidding prayers of the Sarum Use (the form of the Roman Rite most commonly used in England before the Reformation). Their location varied by practice; in the cathedral usage, they were prayed in a procession before Mass. In the parishes, they were prayed either after the Gospel (such as in the pulpit before the sermon) or the Offertory at the chancel step/sanctuary gate. By “after the Offertory”, I believe this may have meant after that “Dominus vobiscum” before the priest goes to privately read the Offertory antiphon. Some liturgists have said that because that DV doesn’t lead to any public prayer, this was where the prayers of the faithful were much earlier in the history of the liturgy, and where they vestigially remain in the Good Friday Mass of the Presanctified. I don’t claim to definitively know here. That’s just a theory.

    In any case, here’s the first portion of the Sarum bidding prayers (according to one form; there are slight variations in different manuscripts):

    “Let us make our prayers to God, our Lord Jesus Christ, to our Lady S. Mary, and all the Company of Heaven, beseeching His Mercy for all Holy Church, that God keep it in good estate, especially the Church of England, our Mother Church, this Church, and all others in Christendom.
    For our Lord the Pope, for the Patriarch of Jerusalem, for the Cardinals.
    For the Archbishops and Bishops, and especially for our Bishop N., that God keep him in his holy service. For the Dean/Rector, or all other ministers, that serve this Church. (One variation of this: “For your ghostly father, and for Priests and Clerks that herein serve or have served, for all men and women of religion, for all other men of Holy Church.”)
    For the Holy Land and the Holy Cross, that God deliver it out of the hand of the heathen.
    For the Peace of the Church and of the earth.
    For our Sovereign Lord the King, and the Queen, and all their children.
    For Dukes, Earls, and Barons, and for all that have the peace of this land to keep, all that have this land to govern.
    For the welfare of N. and N., and all this Church’s friends.
    For all that live in deadly sin.
    For our brethren and sisters, and all our Parishioners, and all that do any good to this Church or foundation. For yourselves, that God for His mercy grant you grace so to live as your soul to save, and for all true Christian people.”

    Quite different from the petitions of your local parish down the street, I imagine. You may find the rest of the bidding prayers at the bottom of my article on the Sarum Mass of the Catechumens here.

  30. Geoffrey says:

    “Now what we need to see is the suppression of the ‘prayers of the faithful’ in the Novus Ordo…”

    I personally think they are fine, and I believe were one of the few specific things called for by Vatican II in its reform of the liturgy. However, letting the text be up for grabs is not a good idea. The Holy See should compose some bidding prayers for required use throughout the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, with one or two intentions being created at the diocesan or parish level.

  31. pelerin says:

    Left side or right side for the pulpit? The Rosary Basilica in the shrine of Lourdes has installed a new Tabernacle, Altar and pulpit/ambo the latter having been placed directly in front of the altar. This means that when kneeling the altar is partially obscured by the pulpit. I have never seen this anywhere else and do wonder why this has been done.

  32. John UK says:

    re: The Prayers of the Faithful

    James is right, the Bidding Prayers remain in the Sarum Rite, and the Good Friday Prayers are seen as the last survivor of the Prayers of the Faithful in the primitive rites. (There is also a link to the Diptychs, but that is a topic for another day.)

    But one particular point to note. They are Bidding prayers in both cases. What do I mean by this?
    The Faithful are told for what they are to pray. On Good Friday the deacon told the people to kneel, the Subdeacon to Arise for the priest to collect their prayers together. Similary in Sarum, the priest concluded the Bidding Prayer with a Collect.

    Thus the roles of the different orders in the Church are preserved – in particular, in the Liturgy it is (or should be) always the priest who offers prayer on behalf of the people. (one exception might be the Lord’s Prayer, the other where, in the Kyries, Gloria and Agnus Dei, the people ask for mercy from God).

    If only those compiling modern Prayers of the Faithful would maintain the distinction. Generally the celebrant still “tops and tails” the Prayer, but sadly all too often one hears the “leader” of the intercessions not bidding silent prayer by the faithful, addressing the people of God, but directly addressing God in prayer him (or her)-self. (and one also sees this in published collections of such prayers, bearing an Imprimatur)

    Sorry to blather on, but it is a particular grief of mine. It is not the restoration of the Prayer of the Faithful to which one objects, but the manner in which it is so often done.

    Kind regards,
    John U.K.

  33. Minnesotan from Florida says:

    I am sorry, but my experience of the Prayers of the Faithful seems to be entirely different from that of John UK. The usual, I believe in my experience the only, way is for the lector to say “For [such and such an intention or person or class of persons], let us pray to the Lord,” and for the congregation to say “Lord, hear our prayer,” or “Lord have mercy.” I have not known the lector himself or herself to address a prayer to God directly.

  34. Katheryn says:

    I went to a church as a teen and the priest would offer prayers of the faithful, and then encourage the parishioners to do a “shout out” of their own prayers. Once a month some wahoo would pipe up and say “for Catholic women priests, and married clergy to be allowed in the Catholic Church!” Not knowing how UTTERLY inappropriate it was, and being quite a 17-year-old pistol, I would respond “for a respect to the magisterium and teaching of the Church.” Always awkward. The priest has stopped opening up prayers of the faithful.

  35. Dan says:

    If, by Prayers of the Faithful is meant a shouting out of various petitions from the congregation, then I would agree that this practice should be stopped. This, however, is not what the Roman Missal envisions. The following is from the GIRM, taken from the USCCB website:

    The Universal Prayer
    69. In the Universal Prayer or Prayer of the Faithful, the people respond in some sense to the Word of God which they have received in faith and, exercising the office of their baptismal Priesthood, offer prayers to God for the salvation of all. It is desirable that there usually be such a form of prayer in Masses celebrated with the people, so that petitions may be offered for holy Church, for those who govern with authority over us, for those weighed down by various needs, for all humanity, and for the salvation of the whole world.

    70. The series of intentions is usually to be:
    a) for the needs of the Church;
    b) for public authorities and the salvation of the whole world;
    c) for those burdened by any kind of difficulty;
    d) for the local community.
    Nevertheless, in any particular celebration, such as a Confirmation, a Marriage, or at a Funeral, the series of intentions may be concerned more closely with the particular occasion.

    71. It is for the Priest Celebrant to regulate this prayer from the chair. He himself begins it with a brief introduction, by which he calls upon the faithful to pray, and likewise he concludes it with an oration. The intentions announced should be sober, be composed with a wise liberty and in few words, and they should be expressive of the prayer of the entire community.
    They are announced from the ambo or from another suitable place, by the Deacon or by a cantor, a reader, or one of the lay faithful.
    The people, for their part, stand and give expression to their prayer either by an invocation said in common after each intention or by praying in silence.

  36. John Nolan says:

    While it is quite true that many of the petitions in the ‘Prayer of the Faithful’ are also in the Eucharistic Prayer, it should be remembered that when these prayers were restored (1964) the Canon was still secreto and in Latin. What I find jarring is that after just having sung ‘et vitam venturi saeculi’ we are brought down to earth with a bump by asking to reflect on what was on last night’s television news.

    When, last year, the Birmingham Oratory changed its Sunday Solemn Latin Mass from OF to EF, the lack of interruption at this point was both remarkable and welcome.

  37. Consilio et Impetu says:

    Two Ambos? Where does the GIRM refer to two ambos? Is this yet another Marini II step backwards? If Rome doesn’t pay attention to the GIRM, no wonder we have Puppet Masses. SAY THE BLACK, DO THE RED, FOLLOW THE ORDO and the GIRM.

    The Ambo
    309. The dignity of the Word of God requires that in the church there be a suitable place from which it may be proclaimed and toward which the attention of the faithful naturally turns during the Liturgy of the Word.[116]
    It is appropriate that generally this place be a stationary ambo and not simply a movable lectern. The ambo must be located in keeping with the design of each church in such a way that the ordained ministers and readers may be clearly seen and heard by the faithful.
    From the ambo only the readings, the Responsorial Psalm, and the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) are to be proclaimed; likewise it may be used for giving the Homily and for announcing the intentions of the Universal Prayer. The dignity of the ambo requires that only a minister of the word should stand at it.
    It is appropriate that before being put into liturgical use a new ambo be blessed according to the rite described in the Roman Ritual.[117]
    All readings take place at the one ambo: it is improper to have two ambos. (GIRM 58, 309, LM Intro 16)

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