I am thinking about those red shoes.

I am thinking about the infamous red shoes.  I am thinking about the non-wearing of the mozzetta.  I am thinking about the growing juxtaposition in some conversations of simple liturgy versus lofty liturgy.

Some people are saying, “O how wonderful it is to get rid of all the symbols of office and power and be humble like the poor.”

When I first learned to say the older form of the Mass of the Roman Rite, that is to say, when I first learned how to say Mass, because there has never been a single of day of my priesthood when I couldn’t say it, I admit that I was deeply uncomfortable with some of the gestures prescribed by the rubrics.  I even resisted them.  For example, the kissing of the objects to be given to the priest, and the priest and the kissing of the priest’s hands… that gave me the willies.

I resisted those solita oscula because I had fallen into the trap of thinking that they made me look too important.

The fact is that none of those gestures were about me at all.  They are about the priest insofar as he is alter Christus, not insofar as he is “John”.  For “John” all of that would be ridiculous.  For Father, alter Christus, saying Mass, it is barely enough.

When you see the deacon and subdeacon in the older form of Holy Mass holding, for example, the edges of the priest’s cope when they are in procession, or when you see them kissing the priest’s hand, or bowing to him, or waiting on him or deferring to him or – what in non-Catholic eyes appears to be something like adoration or emperor worship – you are actually seeing them preparing the priest for his sacrificial slaughter on the altar of Golgotha.

It is the most natural thing in the human experience to treat with loving reverence the sacrifice to be offered to God.  The sacrificial lambs were pampered and given the very best care, right up to the moment when the knife sliced their necks.

The Catholic priest is simultaneously the victim offered on the altar.  All the older, traditional ceremonies of the Roman Rite underscore this foundational dimension of the Mass. If we don’t see that relationship of priest, altar, and victim in every Holy Mass, then the way Mass has been celebrated has failed.  If we don’t look for that relationship, then we are not really Catholic.  Mass is Calvary.

The use of beautiful marble in the church building, precious fabrics and metals for vestments and vessels, music that requires true art and skill to perform, ritual gestures which to worldly eyes seem to be the stuff of bygone eras of royals and the like, all underscore the fact that step by step during Holy Mass the priest is being readied for the sacrifice, which – mysteriously – he himself performs.

Back when I resisted the liturgical kissing of my hand when being handed a chain, spoon or chalice, I had made the mistake of imagining myself to be more humble by that resistance.  That was a mistake.  Ironically, my resistance to those gestures turned the gestures into being about me.  Submission to the gestures, on the other hand, erases the priest’s own person and helps him to be what he needs to be in that moment: priest, victim, alter Christus.   The trappings, the rubrics, the gestures erase the priest’s poor person.  Resisting these things runs the risk of making them all about the priest again.

In a sense, I had made the objection of Judas about the precious nard which the woman brought to the Lord.  Jesus responded that the precious stuff should be kept for His Body, which was to be sacrificed.  People who object that we should have only poor liturgy are falling into the argument of Judas.  We must submit to the precious and sublime in recognition of the truth of what is going on.   To pit the sublime and complex and precious and beautiful against the low, simple and humble is schizophrenic and not Catholic.

There is no real conflict of the humble and the sublime in liturgical worship.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, SESSIUNCULA, The Drill and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. racjax says:

    It sounds as though I may tentatively say, “Welcome back, Fr. Z.”

  2. TP says:

    The Poor are AT MASS. To have all the rich elements of the Mass is to share the richness with the poor. We should give to the poor our Best. Why would we only give to the poor our minimum, we should give to the poor the best.

    If the richness of mass is powerful symbolism, why would the poor NOT want powerful symbolism. They have simplicity at Home. Lets give them richness at church.

  3. HighMass says:

    TP is Correct….God Bless Papa Francesco….but one does worry about what is going to happen to the E. F. of Holy Mass and The reform of the reform our Dear Pope Benedict put into place.

    Fr Z. any Thoughts???? [Not much more than this: Nothing, unless you stop working for it. Nothing has to happen to it. But if those who want it freak out and start acting like jerks about the Pope, then we will lose in days what it took years to gain.]

  4. Pingback: Father Z is thinking about those red shoes | Foolishness to the world

  5. Fr_Marc says:

    Sorry to be off-topic, but the Papal Coat of Arms has just been presented to the public:


    Kindest regards!

  6. DachsiesWithMoxieMama says:


    Thank you for the explanation- I have never considered the deference shown a priest as preparing him as the sacrificial lamb on the altar of Golgotha before- it has always been a recognition, for me, of the priest as altus Christus, but not as the sacrifice itself. Thank you for helping to further expand mynlove of the Mass with this website and your teaching here. God Bless you!

  7. Corey F. says:

    The “poor Church for the poor” is just that: an impoverished Church. Impoverished of beauty, of solemnity, of dignity; and bereft of the capacity to lift those very poor out of the conditions of their material poverty to allow them to realize their spiritual plenitude as Children of God and co-heirs with Christ of his eternal Kingdom. The Church builds magnificent edifices of marble and gold in the slums because She loves the poor and believes that they deserve to be ennobled through the sublimity of the liturgy. Indeed, many of those same poor have contributed much of what little they had to build those churches because they believed that they owe their Lord and King the best that they could offer Him. (Which, of course, makes the wreckovation of so many of those churches an even greater travesty.) There is no higher act of love than that. The “poor Church” is not the Catholic Church; it is a Puritan monstrosity that despises the material.

  8. ThomasL says:

    To Card. Mahoney- it’s not like Red Shoes have to be more expensive or extravagant than black shoes…the symbol can remain in humility.

  9. andersonbd1 says:

    The “poor Church” is not the Catholic Church; it is a Puritan monstrosity that despises the material.

    I’m hoping he must’ve meant something else by this phrase considering his favorite Catholic film is Babette’s Feast which highlights exactly this point.

  10. pledbet424 says:

    Patrick Archbold writes an interesting piece that somewhat reinforces Father Z’s post:


  11. RobertK says:

    Same here a good article on Gregorian Chant. Far from going away. Actually perfect for more simple liturgies.

  12. New Sister says:

    I recall the first opportunity I had after Confirmation to meet the new Archbishop of the Military Archdiocese. It was during a pilgrimage to Lourdes and I was eagerly looking forward to the chance to demonstrate my submission to his Apostolic Authroity by kneeling and kissing his ring. The Abp would not permit this sign of fealty – he jerked back his hand and looked displeased…. I must say it was hurtful, after that long journey of faith, to be denied this privilege.

  13. GAK says:


    I’m hoping one of the graces that will come to Pope Francis (with the benefit of Papa Bene praying for all of us) is that when he slows down a bit our new Pope will slowly shift out of “how he’s always done things” into more of an appreciate for how Pope Benedict did certain things.

  14. GAK says:

    Geeze. “Appreciation.”

  15. Jim of Bowie says:

    pledbet, I was about to post the same link. I think it’s the same point Father is making.

  16. rssalazar says:

    My parish priest told me this pearl of wisdom yesterday after Holy Mass: the poorest person at the Mass is Jesus Christ.

    I am reminded of it when I read the last Gospel after each Holy Mass: ‘He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.’ (St. John 1:10-11)

    I pray for Pope Francis and for all the holy, orthodox priests and consecrated religious who preach Christ to the world.

  17. New Sister says:

    I also find it worrisome to consider the consequences of eshewing the symbols of authority. Were a general to do that in the military, he would have a difficult time commanding afterward. I’m not sure that he could, actually.

  18. fizzwizz says:

    Thanks Fr.Z . A lovely explanation

  19. Hieronymus says:

    Wonderful reflection, Father.

    I had started to worry that you were going to applaud every change for the sake of being supportive to the Holy Father. This is precisely the sort of reflection that we need as the press continues to try to juxtapose this pope’s humility with BXVI’s prideful (we are now supposed to understand) acceptance of the external signs of his office. BXVI was/is an incredibly humble man. Red shoes and traditional liturgical solemnity do not undermine that assessment, but support it.

  20. SimonDodd says:

    Vanitas in pallio humilitatis sæpe venit.

  21. SwanSong says:

    As an outsider (an interested and sympathetic Anglican) I watched with some joy the Ratzinger-Marini project to restore a degree of dignity, decorum and beauty to the celebration of the Novus Ordo Mass. But I fear that Benedict XVI came too late and was with us too short a time to effect a permanent reform. Francis I may turn out to be a great pope in all other respects, but all the signs are that he will throw the liturgical revival into reverse gear and it’ll be back to polyester ponchos and nuns with guitars before we know where we are. His rejection of the mozzetta and the fact that he removed the stole as soon as the blessing was over suggests a lofty disdain for those outward symbols which some regard as important. I guess Mgr Marini will be replaced as Papal MC sooner or later and Benedict’s reign will come to be seen by those who care about these things as a ‘brief, shining moment’. Perhaps Ben.VXI ought to have been a little more audacious in ‘in your face’ about the reforms. If my watching of Youtube is right, the most important innovations (if I may call them that) took place within the relative safety of the Vatican: St Peter’s, the Sistine Chapel and so on. But a real debate about liturgy could have been started if he had had the courage to celebrate Mass ‘ad orientem’ at some of the big public services he has conducted abroad, or out in St Peter’s Square at Easter.

  22. Traductora says:

    I just took a look at the new papal coat of arms linked above, but I think the Vatican page is displaying the wrong image. The text mentions a lily flower (to symbolize St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church) but I sure don’t see one in the drawing!

    Other than that, yes, it’s true that the liturgical vestments, gestures, etc. aren’t about the person of the priest. The symbolism is very beautiful and very complex and has nothing to do with honoring the individual celebrant or calling attention to him personally in any way. However, the only reason I can think of that might justify the new Pope’s (apparent) desire to “simplify” is that many of these gestures have ceased to communicate and instead require explanation. A symbol that needs explanation is not a symbol.

    Possibly the reason people were fairly willing to let go of some of the symbolic gestures 50 years ago is that many people didn’t really understand them anymore. That was the result of everything from sloppy praxis to inadecuate education. And now we have more than one generation of Catholics who have never even seen them, so they certainly have ceased to be intelligible without explanation.

    The new Pope has spoken often of the essential nature of worship, of adoration, in prayer and clearly it’s up to adherents of the more formal liturgical tradition to make a case for it on the grounds that it is the dramatic expression of adoration. Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I don’t think he’s going to reject all ritual or prohibit others from doing things that he might not want to do himself. It’s quite possible (since his past shows that he seems to be willing to reconsider things and to learn) that he will realize that some of the things he is rejecting now actually are expected and desired by the people.

  23. RobertK says:

    I just hope he can take the 20% of practicing Catholics out of the 40 million in South and Central America and increase the number of practicing Catholics in South and Central America. Only than can you call South and Central America truly Catholic. What disturbs me is the fact that famous Latinos like Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayeck, Ricky Martin, etcc are ex-Catholics. Can he bring them back to the Church of their grand parents?. Can he convert them into understanding Church teachings, vs questioning the Churches teachings, then leaving. Hollywood and fame is the worst of all evils. Secularism and atheism is the God of Hollywood and fame. Penelope Cruz, example. Worked with Mother Theresa, but became a Buddhist and married an atheist. Her husband just said that if he were Gay he would marry just to screw with Rome. Great representatives of Catholic Spain.

  24. O. Possum says:

    I’m reminded of Jimmy Carter carrying his own luggage. I don’t see true humility in doing public acts of casting off people and things already in place to establish yourself as “common.” Maybe I’m reading too much in to things. :(

  25. Cricket says:

    Thank you for your insightful commentary, as always, Father. Can you please go into a little more detail about what you mean by ‘continuing to work for the Reform of the Reform?’ Is this the responsibility of the clergy? The laity? Both? I grew up in the 1960s-early 1970s. I’ve heard that “poor church for the poor” song & dance before; it does not lead us down a very pretty (or holy) path. While I do love our new “Papa,” I’m a bit worried…

  26. Pearl says:

    The Patrick Archbold piece is beautiful. Thank you for posting!

    Fr. Z, one of the comments over there got me to thinking of something that I have completely missed so far. The last two popes have both taken the name of the founders of great religious orders.

    I know monks who follow the rule of St. Benedict and they, playfully of course, joke that the Francicans are off the mark to go around begging when they can work. I don’t know any Francicans, but I can imagine what they would say about the Benedictans selling food and goods for money!

    Could you do a short article on the two different spiritual types and how they may relate to the two popes who took their names? This might be beneficial for those of us who are more Benedictan in our outlook.

    Thank you!

  27. scholastica says:

    I too keep thinking about what he means by wanting a “poor church”. It could mean stripping the churches, but that’s already been done in many places, it may mean stripping the excess (vessels,etc. no longer in use, but kept as in a museum-there is certainly a wealth of treasure within the walls of our churches). My hope is that it is simply stripping the unnecessary excesses. Clearly, Pope Francis does not see expensive limos, hotel rooms, and meals to be a privilege of even the Princes of the Church. It seems he wants them to be on the ground with the people as he has exhibited at St. Anna’s and elsewhere as a true pastor. Just as Benedict gave us an example in the liturgy, it seems that Francis’ mission is different and he is giving pastors an example of being among the people and with his brother cardinals. If you haven’t seen it, there is a meme which states,” bros before limos” concerning his choice of riding with the cardinals rather than the papal limousine on Wed. evening.
    I have to admit, I also think of how Obama clearly seems to want a poor America via socialism, so perhaps we’ll see the juxtaposition of holy poverty vs. forced poverty. Pope Francis has a true love of the poor, but he also has a true love of the Christ in the Eucharist and the Blessed Mother as seen in his coat of arms. I anticipate that he will allow the fresh seeds of the liturgy which Pope Benedict so carefully cared for and planted to continue to grow organically, while at the same time planting the seeds which he has been given for the Church.

  28. Fr.Estabrook says:

    “There is no real conflict of the humble and the sublime in liturgical worship.” So very well said. Thank you Reverend Father!

  29. WesleyD says:

    Has Pope Francis actually stated that he will not be wearing red shoes? Or is it possible that it takes a while to custom-make shoes in the right size?

  30. vox borealis says:

    If that’s the new papal coat of arms, more or less, then *sigh* the tiara (on the coat of arms) is gone forever. Which is something we all knew anyway, I guess.

  31. ljc says:

    I have to say I’ve been getting annoyed with all of the talk of the humility of throwing off different traditions. There’s an implied comparison in this. If Pope Francis is humble because he won’t wear red shoes, Pope Benedict wore red shoes because he was _______ (fill in the blank.) Pope Francis wouldn’t wear the Mozzetta because he is so humble, Pope Benedict wore the Mozzetta because _____. There are all kinds of implied comparisons with the other Popes who followed these traditions. If throwing off these traditions means Pope Francis is humble, obviously the Popes who followed them lacked humility. Something about that argument just doesn’t seem right.

  32. New Sister,

    I understand your concern about priest or bishops who will not allow you to kiss their hand, the hand that blesses in the name of Christ and has nothing at all to do with the guy in the robes. A friend of mine who is a monk on Mt. Athos was with a Greek priest who pulled his hand back so the monk could not kiss it. My friend then yanked his hand back, kissed it, smiled and said, “Don’t take it personally Father.” It isn’t about the man it is about Christ who acts in and through the ordained priest. Actually I am always humbled whenever my hand is kissed, the I offer a prayer to Christ and say “This is for you, dearest Lord.”

  33. Giuseppe says:

    I agree with Father Z – it takes time to adjust to one’s role. Give the pope some time.

    I believe that his Jesuit vow of poverty, which he obviously has taken very seriously, is one that he is struggling to implement in transitioning to his new role. There is an authentic modesty and self-effacement that characterizes some of the most holy Jesuits I know. I believe the cardinals saw this in Pope Francis, and it will take some time for him to figure out his job.

  34. Prof. Basto says:

    I wonder what our Orthodox separated brethren, and even our Eastern Catholic brethren think of this Modern Western compulsion to do away with the liturgical and extraliturgical paraments of sacred ministers and ecclesiastical hierarchs. Is this Western trend wise in ecumenical terms?

    The Easterners seem to understand perfectly that those symbols are due to one’s consacration to God, and that the custom of wearing them, and of doing things in the same manner, is a praiseworthy exterior aspect of the tradition of the Church.

    Deacons, Priests, Bishops and even Popes have for centuries always adapted to the Public Ceremonial of the Church, instead of having the Ceremonial of the Church adapted to their preference. The oposit trend is a novelty that subverts the character of the rites and ceremonies of the Church: they belong to God and to the Church, not to the minister or officer for the time being invested in an ecclesiastical function.

  35. Might i hasten to add that it is time for the Latin Church to figure out what it is about liturgically. Why all of this confusion and tension every time a new Pope or Bishop comes to town? As Father Z says: Say the black and do the red. The Holy Liturgy is the most awesome act that we can offer to God, and all from the celebrant to the people should follow the admonition that is given before communion in the Eastern Churches: ” In the Fear of God, with Faith and with Love draw near”. I must say most Orthodox people that I have known loved and respected Papa Benedetto. We will see about Papa Franco. Time will tell.

  36. tealady24 says:

    That’s why I often wonder what was actually accomplished through Vatican II. Much strutting about, and getting the laity involved (in the wrong places) has not made the Church stronger; if anything it has created greater vacuums and dissent among the pew-sitters.
    Who are we indeed, to think the mass is centered around us?
    All the beauty of the Catholic Church was made manifest on 3/13. That’s why the world hates it so much.

  37. charismatictrad says:

    I agree with Father Z. And how desperately do we need reconciliation between those who are “service” oriented and those who are “liturgically” oriented. It seems that you must scrap one to have the other. What a statement our Holy Father would make by being “for the poor” and yet having a glorious liturgy. Father Z, perhaps our next Twitter mission should be a humble request for our Holy Father to bring back some tradition, perhaps the red shoes could be a start: the media gets all in a tizzy about this, so maybe it’ll make them think twice before dubbing him an anti-traditionalist. Thoughts?

  38. Robbie says:

    Wonderful thoughts. The other night I was discussing ideas much like these with my Dad. He spoke about the ways the Church’s outward appearance changed in the 1970’s. Before VCII and the new Mass, the churches were beautiful and ornate while the priest wore lovely, vibrant vestments.

    And then in what amounted to an instant, it was all gone. The churches, many anyway, were stripped bare. Beautiful alters were replaced and so were the vestments. After 1500 years of one thing, my Dad said we got another in what amounted to an instant. We got the low Church, but with low results. The pews emptied out over the 1970’s.

    A low Church that serves the poor is a wonderful aim, but celebrating Mass in the highest form is a sign a deep affection for God. I hope Pope Francis sees that. A humble person can still want to honor God in the highest form.

  39. TXSem says:

    God bless our Holy Father Francis!

    Pope Benedict XVI gave my generation of seminarians and priests an example of an authentic liturgical vision that’s oriented towards God. The Reform of the Reform will have to continue from the “bottom-up.” I am excited about this prospect when I consider my future priesthood (I’ll be ordained a transitional deacon next year, God-willing) and I can assure you that most seminarians I know share my enthusiasm.

    I think Pope Francis will provide us with a pastoral vision. I have been impressed by his prayerfulness and willingness to be with the people (oftentimes potentially compromising his own security). Good liturgical taste and relatability are not opposed and I pray to embody both.

  40. catholicmidwest says:

    Fr. Z,

    You are completely correct in what you write. The problem is that there are so many misunderstandings, on the part of everyone, laity and clergy alike. Many clergy do not see it with the clear eyes you have, nor do many laity. Personal uber-clericalism is alive and well in the West, on both the part of the laity and the clergy and has been steaming along at top speed for more than 100 years. In this regard, V2 was more a symptom than a cause. On the meaning of the rubrics of the Mass, I agree with you, it’s not about the priest personally. It’s about the Mass that he celebrates, which is bigger than the priest and bigger than the congregation. It’s about service to, and worship of, God.

    I truly believe a lot was accomplished at the last council, although I don’t believe that a lot of it had to do with the liturgy or with many laypeople. The document Dei Verbum is an excellent example of something that was accomplished at the council, although it hasn’t been picked up in earnest by many Catholic laypeople.

    If you want to know the truth, many laypeople on both sides of the ideological spectrum continued (and still continue!) to do exactly the same things they did before Vatican II. It only looks different because they are carefully steering around a) things they’ve been terrorized about like singing or lack thereof, and b) general societal breakdown, which may or may not have anything to do with V2, allows them to break the rules they would have always broken if they’d had the chance. Remember, there was no definitive break at the council. This is the same Church as it was before, not a new one. That’s true, not in a trivial sense, but in a very robust sense, meaning that it is true not only in a liturgical or theological sense, but also in a phenomenological one. Catholics, deep down, didn’t change as much as they thought they did.

  41. roseannesullivan says:

    I am pleased to see this. I was thinking along these same lines. Why waste the red shoes and the cape both of which were so lovingly prepared for you? Why reject wearing the treasured vestments that were reverently created over the centuries to give honor to God? I was a poor child and the churches delighted me because their beauty was shared with me.
    No, O. Possum, you are not making too much of things.

  42. acardnal says:

    Fantastic essay, Father Z! Thank you.

  43. cheerios in my pocket says:

    I am grateful for Fr. Z’s post. I believe Pat Archibald’s link was a good one. Both show a respectful perspective, which stirs our reason. Well done. My concern is that we are so quick to respond not with our reason but with our senses alone. Also, discussing garments at this moment in time seems like we’re quite American and are either not fulfilling our real duties and responsibilities (that was my confession yesterday, may God have mercy on me and us all) or have too much time on our hands and need to volunteer our time and talent somewhere that needs it.

    I was hoping to hear some response to my concern about the souls of Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and whoever else our Bishops may be aware of that should not receive the Body and Blood of Christ at Pope Francis’ “enthronement” Mass (my son informed me that we’ve become so p.c. that they rarely if ever use the correct name and now call it “installation” Mass). Fr. Z’s blog regard pro-abort politicians or anyone pro-abort should not receive according to Canon 915.

  44. Tom Ryan says:

    I don’t think any one could dispute his humility before he was elected. But, wouldn’t it have been a greater act of humility to go unnoticed by doing what new popes have always done?

  45. nanetteclaret says:

    Thank you for this post, Father. I’ve been thinking about Judas and the precious nard. It seems very appropriate to this discussion:

    “Mary therefore took a pound of ointment of right spikenard, of great price, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, he that was about to betray him, said: Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and having the purse, carried the things that were put therein. Jesus therefore said: Let her alone, that she may keep it against the day of my burial. For the poor you have always with you; but me you have not always.” John 12:3-8 D-R Version

    The Mass and all the things connected to it (church architecture, music, organ and choir, stained glass, wood panels and pews, chandeliers, vestments, linens and communion vessels , candles, statues, etc.) are to show forth the Glory of God, who is in Himself the ultimate of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. They are there to point the Way to Heaven and to make us long for it by giving us a small foretaste of its beauty. Those who make ugly everything connected with God are doing the work of the enemy, because ugliness, destruction, chaos, anger, and falsehood are his hallmarks. Even from a simply philosophical standpoint, it cannot be otherwise, because Truth, Goodness, and Beauty cannot exist simultaneously with Falsehood, Wickedness, and Ugliness. God is the ultimate in the Virtues and for people to pretend that God doesn’t care about ugliness and the destruction of His holy places and the way we worship Him is just not logical. The ugly church buildings and pared down, ugly Masses do not make us long for heaven. They are a reflection of our everyday world and it is no wonder that people are not excited about going to Mass. Why would they be? Since it’s no different from going to the mall, many people just don’t want to bother. A person has to be very, very determined to remember that it’s all about Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament in order to overlook the dreariness. For people outside the Church, who don’t know or understand about Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, there is nothing there to make them want to find out. People naturally gravitate to Transcendence and Mystery and if our churches do not reflect that, they will look elsewhere. The void is now being filled with all the eastern religions (buddaism, etc.) . By convincing us that ugliness in Mass and everything connected to it is synonomous with “being in solidarity with the poor” the enemy has succeeded in depriving us of a “foretaste of heaven,” and even worse, that God is to be found in ugliness. “Heaven on earth” is now very, very difficult to find and the enemy is quite pleased with the destruction.

  46. benedetta says:

    We need transcendence. Sacramentals are important. We cannot separate out the alter Christus from the man.

  47. BLB Oregon says:

    I was thinking about this this morning, too, because I had been reading a book about the famed New York Times food writer, Craig Claibourne. I started thinking about C.S. Lewis and the Screwtape Letters, and his concept of the “gluttony of delicacy”, but also about the dismal state of cooking that Claibourne found in the US when he started writing: canned sauces, overcooked vegetables, filthy restaurant kitchens, and slovenly service.

    Combining those two, let us suppose that one of us is very knowledgeable about food; is in fact, both a chef and restaurateur who is adept at all the classic dishes, but also thoroughly knowledgeable about nutrition and hygiene. Let us say now, that we are invited to someone else’s home for a meal. Under what conditions is it necessary to refuse the food or feel slighted by the service, and under what conditions should charity bid we accept the rules of that house and the food being served with both graciousness and true gratitude? I think we might find a lot of answers in that analogy.

    We have to remember that the Supreme Pontiff is the Supreme Liturgist. Still, he cannot redefine human nature to suit him. What we have under each new Pope, then sort of like a new cuisine. We are bound to be open to what are simply differences of opinion and what are truly differences in how to nourish people and welcome them.

    Whether the Pope wants to wear a velvet mozzetta with ermine trim is not a violation of rubrics–and as nearly as I can tell from the pre-conclave pictures of the Room of Tears, no other papal mozzetta was made available to him. He did not refuse to appear in the robes that define him as the Pope, but rather chose the most simple clothing that still makes him appropriately distinctive and signals his singular authority. As far as I know, for instance, Pope John Paul II never wore the ermine-trimmed mozzetta, either. It is no more wrong for Pope Francis to dispense with wearing it than it was for Pope Benedict to do so. The mistake might have with whomever assumed they knew what would be wanted, and failed to make anything else available. If that is true, it is more gracious for the new Pope to remain quiet about the whole matter and let people say what they will, rather than to defend his choice. Given a choice between unappreciated mercy and giving an answer to critics, mercy ought to win.

    Likewise with rubrics. There are those things that have to do with whether the offering is fit. There are those things that show on the exterior whether there is an interior attitude of reverence towards God and God’s commands. Then there are those things that express these things in a way that expresses “excellence in the heart”….which even for a great chef might sometimes mean the most classic and complicated of dishes and at other times might mean a simple omelette and a lovely little green salad, seasoned simply but with knowledge and care, that he was able to put together in mere minutes. Yet as Father points out, the quest for “simplicity” can unthinkingly go overboard, or slip into the situation where it is called simplicity when knowledge and care are dispensed of. As Job put it, “Can a thing insipid be eaten without salt? Is there flavor in the white of an egg?” (Job 6:6)

    It would be wrong to forget the classic cuisines of Europe, whether in food or in worship, unless one of these represented a true excess–I mean like deciding it was wrong to eat a dish that required the tongues of 50 hummingbirds to make. It would also be wrong, though, to be ungracious when the offering, while excellent, is less complicated or classic than one might have hoped. It is not wrong to wish for the wonderful dishes one knows are possible, not at all, but it is wrong to step over into Lewis’ “gluttony of delicacy”, where we turn our noses up at what is entirely excellent but happens not to be what we personally want.

    I don’t think this Pope will dispense with knowledge and care. Things will change, but I think he will season appropriately and prepare carefully, no matter how simple he gets. My only great fear is that he will leave an opening for “chefs” and others who want their spoon in the pot who are unthinking or, worse yet, those who want to let laziness and ignorance masquerade as simplicity. Let us see what happens, though. Let us pray with fervor, let us look with eyes bent on charity, and let’s see what happens.

  48. mamajen says:

    I really don’t know what to think about all of this. It’s got to be difficult for Pope Francis reconciling his background as a Jesuit with all of the elaborate trappings of the papacy. I know the Holy Spirit will guide him, and if there is truly anything problematic about his preferences, I hope he will gradually correct himself. None of us know for certain why he has made the particular choices he has made so far.

    I grew up in a rural area where we had small, very simple churches. They had some ornate features like beautiful stained glass and statues, but otherwise many people would probably think of protestant churches because they were so plain. But the mass was said very reverently, and that has always seemed the most important thing to me. I would not say that the simplicity of the churches helped my understanding of the faith, but it didn’t hurt, either. It was what it was. My dad was a lapsed Catholic for a while before meeting my mom, and the reason he left the church was because he saw families like his own struggling to make ends meet while the priest drove a fancy Cadillac funded by their donations. There are examples of gross financial mismanagement even now. Of course, that has nothing to do with items intended to glorify God that have already been paid for long ago, but there may be people out there who don’t see it the way we do.

    On the other hand, I have also seen how the beauty of our Catholic churches has converted people. I had a friend in architecture school who was an avowed atheist. We became friends over a debate about religion one late night in studio. I was surprised when he was married in a Catholic church, but then again lots of non-religious people do that. I was shocked when I learned that not only was he married at that church, but he has continued to attend, joined the men’s council, and is very involved in historic preservation there. He regularly posts pictures on Facebook of the gorgeous, very ornate church despite the fact that many of his friends are not at all religious. Not only has he come back into the fold, but he is evangelizing others (whether he knows it or not). In his case I do not think a plain boring church would have had the same impact.

    I think Pope Francis is trying to evangelize as many people as possible. It’s difficult for us (and probably even for him) to know for certain what kind of message, what kind of visuals, will resonate the most with the people who need it the most. I will be praying for him that he gains the wisdom to make the right decisions. I am not expecting the right decisions always to coincide with my own opinions–I’m completely wrong on a regular basis.

  49. Pingback: Letting go: the challenging lessons of Benedict and Francis

  50. New Sister says:

    @ Heiromonk Gregory – how cherished is that custom, to kiss anointed hands. Imagine denying someone the grace of doing so in a place they rarely see a priest, such as in China. How cruel that would be! Or, relevant to this thread, the cruelty of denying souls the grace of providing the most beautiful, ornate vestments they can afford for the Mass they spend months waiting for. Indeed, I think it is the poor who suffer the most when denied objects of splendor.

  51. momoften says:

    Thank you Father for the perfect insight. I was rather surprised when I saw a video of him leaving into the crowds on Sunday and people were walking up to him and just talking to him, no kissing
    of the ring, no kneeling. Sigh. I believe while he wants to become accessible and not feel high and
    mighty, he places himself at great risk, which will entail danger. How would I feel if I were placed
    to guard him and he was injured, or how does that look if I were killed trying to protect him
    when he isn’t being prudent? I am having reservations about his method of delivery of his message
    or mission as Pope….

  52. BLB Oregon says:

    “…his favorite Catholic film is Babette’s Feast…”

    Obviously he has my vote on that one!!!

  53. BLB Oregon says:

    And one last thing….marble floors are not merely beautiful. With care, they can be kept splendid for literally hundreds of years. Silk is much more humane than polyester, too, and also wears well. We could spend an awful lot on vestments before we touch what a dozen typical “middle-class” American teenagers might shell out on their prom. Let no one start thinking that false economy helps the poor, nor that the first one to do without when economy becomes necessary ought to be God!

  54. APX says:

    Once again, “poor church for the poor” was a bad translation. “Poor Church” should have been translated to “humble Church”.

  55. momoften says:

    …I may give the wrong impression in my last sentence, I have reservations mostly on delivery of
    his mission as Pope, not his mission. I do not mean in any way to bash the Holy Father-I pray
    that he leads us all to a greater holiness.

  56. Gus Barbarigo says:

    Tremendous post; every Catholic (and Vatican staffer) would benefit from this.

    The reason people don’t know the meaning of some of our symbols is, certain iconoclasts over the past 50 years have refused to teach the meaning. If you do not teach the alphabet, it will be hard for a child to learn to read.

    I have thought of Jimmy Carter often over the last few days and hope that will prove to be a false comparison. I hope the ‘poor Church’ has more to do with discipline in the lives of the bishops, like Abp. Chaput and the Cardinal from Boston, each of whom, I believe, has modest living arrangements. Perhaps a leaner, meaner eposcopacy would be more effective in managing and preventing scandal.

    Patton was perhaps the most effective combat officer ever, and he wore the symbols of a soldier and general to motivate his men, and help them be better soldiers.

  57. mamajen says:

    Regarding a few comments above, I have seen in various videos many examples of the faithful kissing Pope Francis’ hand, bowing or kneeling, etc., without him pulling back or correcting them.

  58. HighMass says:

    Thanks Fr.Z for answering and offering great advice…..no freaking out here, just wondering. I know you understand what the Church went thru, post N.O.

    Pray Pray Pray and God Bless you Fr. Z for all you do for the Church!

    Sia Lodatto Gesu Cristo!

  59. JacobWall says:

    The idea of “alter Christus” is the most important here. However, of secondary importance there is another point that is largely ignored. The poor do not want a poor Church. Middle-class socialists sit around talking about how poor people would relate to a poor Church, essentially imposing their own “intellectual” ideas on people they know nothing about.

    A evangelical Protestant friend of mine (who is fairly unsympathetic to Catholicism) once observed that one of the most equalizing, fair and just things you could do (if you want to think in these terms) is to build a beautiful, ornate cathedral with gold, stained glass, awe-inspiring images, etc. in a city full of slums. Where else, when else, how else would any of these people enjoy the beauty of such things? In as much as these things belong to the Church, they belong to these people. The simple fact that they can worship God in this setting during such a beautiful Mass, or enter to pray when they choose, means that they are “enjoying use” of these items.

    From my experience with extremely poor people who live in slums, this reflects much closer what they think than the semi-socialist idea of a “poor Church.”

    Again, simply from my personal experience, the people who attend the “popular-style” Masses are not poor people; they are middle-class people who think they are associating themselves or being welcoming to the poor. The poor churches I’ve been to – half-built cinder block structures with fiber-glass roofs, etc. – make every attempt to be reverend and beautiful (sometimes successfully, sometimes strikingly unsuccessful, but often heart-moving simply in their effort to “give all.”) They are not trying to be or look poor because they know Who it’s for.

    As for Pope Francis, I feel his humility is authentic. Perhaps lacking in its expression still, but authentic. He has had real contact with the poor, and perhaps he understands their hearts. If so, he will know that they don’t want a “poor Church.” In any case, as people have pointed out, Benedict’s renewal of the liturgy has taken root at the bottom, and will continue according to the work those at the “bottom” put into it.

    Personally, I think Pope Francis will add something to what Benedict has started, even if is not the same example and support for traditional liturgy – perhaps something like the idea in or perhaps something different. It’s too early to say.

    In any case, I’m excited about Pope Francis, and with that excitement has grown my enthusiasm for and my excitement to become active in the renewal of the liturgy. For the moment, I’m content to have it this way.

  60. dreamergal says:

    To those who are worried about the availability of the Extraordinary Form, I merely say to pray for Pope Francis. He has bigger fish to fry with the pedophilia/pederasty scandals and cleaning up the Curia than worrying about if some parish is saying the 1962 Missal.

    While he might not actively promote the Extraordinary Form, I sincerely doubt that he will try to suppress it where it already exists.

  61. Theodore says:

    Thank you for the post Fr Z.

    On a more mundane note, the crowns of the Kingdom of the West, for the Society of Creative Anachronism, are engraved on the inside, “You Rule Because They Believe.”

  62. Johnny Domer says:

    It strikes me as odd that individuals who habitually dress in colorful, odd, ceremonial clothes, think that the wearing of certain other kinds of odd, colorful, ceremonial clothes is just beyond the pale or bizarre. Why is a Gothic-cut chasuble “humble” or “normal” or “pastoral,” but a Roman chasuble isn’t? At the end of the day, the priest is still wearing a weird ceremonial garment. Why is it weird for a priest to wear a maniple? He’s already wearing a bunch of weird ceremonial vestments that have no practical purpose. How is it over-the-top or outlandish to wear red shoes and a red mozetta, but to wear an all-white gown with a watered silk sash and a white skullcap, without those other articles of clothing, is normal and humble?

    I think sometimes people get so enclosed in their own Catholic/liturgical/priestly universes that they lose perspective, or lose an understanding of how either the laity or the outside world views the Church’s ministers, as far as vesture goes. Neither the laity nor the outside world thought Paul VI was humbler or more relatable than John XXIII because Paul abandoned the tiara and Roman vestments; he still wore funny clothes all the time. It’s just that the funny clothes he wore were a lot lamer-looking than the cool ones John XXIII wore, which more fully expressed the nature of the See of Peter. In our desire to appease the world, or to seem more humble to the laity, all we’re doing is weakening our own Catholic identity, shedding more and more of these symbols of our faith. The Pope isn’t less “other” because he doesn’t wear the full range of cool vestments; he’s still the successor of Peter, and no amount of abandoning fanons or tiaras or pontifical dalmatics is going to change who he is. Keeping those vestments helps to elaborate upon who he is.

    PS – Don’t let people fool you; “humble” chasubles often do not mean “cheaper” chasubles.

  63. sirlouis says:

    Great essay, Father Z.

  64. JacobWall says:

    Just wrote a long comment which disappeared when I clicked “post.” In any case, my two basic points were:
    1. The poor don’t want a “poor Church.” For them, a beautiful temple and liturgy is the only way they would ever enjoy such things. From my experience, the poor love the full beauty of the Church if they can have it. Even in their cinder block structures with fiberglass roofs, they strive to give all they can to create beauty.
    2. I’m enthusiastic/excited about Pope Francis. With this excitement has grown my enthusiasm to become active in the renewal of liturgy begun by Benedict. It seems contradictory, but I’m happy to live with that contradiction for now and hope to see some sort of connection work out in reality. Perhaps the connection lies in the idea expressed here – http://www.chantcafe.com/2013/03/is-chant-in-danger_15.html – or perhaps in something else. We’ll have to see.

  65. Supertradmum says:

    Fantastic, bravo, excellent; Questa è la migliore ancora. ( I am trying to learn Italian).

    A priest had to write this piece. I am sending it to some sems…

  66. Legisperitus says:

    Coincidentally, the nard flower is on the new papal coat of arms.

  67. PA mom says:

    Mama Jen-our thoughts are similar. Even during the Conclave, our newspaper was running letters questioning the grandeur of the Vatican, why the Cardinals needed such expensive clothing…(I referenced explanations of Father Z to surprising support.) I think that message resonates, even with Catholics who never hear it explained in this beautiful way. These are genuine issues that need address, like weeds growing up over our little Faith seeds.
    And for the abuse scandals, I believe that there are people, even very faithful people, who would like to see some self imposed public penance by the Church, who will view this as reform. If our new Pope can work at the top to soften the hearts of some of our separated Catholics (both of my parents), while the liturgical reform straightens out what they find on occasions of return,

  68. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    I have but a few minutes left in my lunch hour with no time to read through all of the comments.

    One thought that has struck me through all the glee for “humble liturgy” with simple vestments and what not, is this:

    The poorest of the poor love beauty as much as the richest of the rich.

    One can find in many TLM communities poor people who love to see Jesus given the very best. I too leaned on Scripture where people complained of the oil being used on Jesus when it could have been sold and the money given to the poor. Yet, he admonished them for it.

    I also agree with the comment Father Z made near the beginning of this thread, about what can happen if people are jerks about things Pope Francis does. I think it is better to not over-react to everything we see, and just keep raising the point about the fact that even the poor love beauty.

    I really think we have an ongoing difference of values – both well-intentioned, but in tension with one another. Pope Benedict XVI worked for 8 years on this and has influence priests and seminarians alike with the whole notion of beauty in worship, and “anointing” Our Lord with fine things to help us distinguish our worship from what goes on at the office, the mall, in a flash mob, or in a park.

    There are some very deep grass roots that aren’t going away, and I agree whole heartedly, that throwing a nutty and coming across as a crank will make matters worse, not better.

    After some time, write letters with love and kindness expressing these things and asking him to ponder the points and to pray on it. He’s humble and I think if he were flooded with humble letters (not demanding, angry, or whiny – but of a proposing nature), he may surprise us.

    Remember to pray for him and don’t discount that. Be sure to go through the Blessed Mother…. it will be hard for him to refuse her graces on this.

  69. lmo1968 says:

    Somebody mentioned that symbols don’t work when people do not understand that symbols have a meaning. I guess I am one of those people since I never knew what the red shoes symbolized or that the deference to the priest was due to his preparation as sacrificial lamb, symbolically, at the Mass. I don’t know that knowing the meaning behind these gestures convinces me that these symbols are necessary.

    In fact, they have become a stumbling block for the people because these symbols are associated with a self-regarding Church and clergy that revels in luxury and believes itself to be above both God and human laws. Unfortunately, the financial and moral scandals of the past 12 years lends support to this interpretation of the church’s traditional symbols. The Catholic Church’s mission is evangelization. Go and announce the gospel to all nations, says Jesus Christ. These “trappings” are interefering (at this point) with the Church’s mission whereas the symbols may have reinforced the gospel message at some point in the past. Maybe at some point, after the bleeding has stopped, and the Church’s wounds are healed, these symbols will again edify.

  70. Supertradmum says:

    And, why nun’s and sister’s habits and other order’s habits are SO important–less ME more Christ.

  71. Father, thank you for a great post on a message that needs to be repeated over and over today. Our materialistic world has lost the sense of ethereal symbolism and mystical essence – many of our clergy have truly forgotten that the glory of the Church and their office is not about them personally. No wonder the laity is confused about its true role and place too.

    Unfortunately, much clergy and religious DO abuse power and money as if it was their own, driven by envy and fear of losing position/reputation. Pope Francis may be affected deeply by bad example. I do hope that our Pope learns that glorifying God properly, generously and visibly is the best antidote.

    Ditto your response “if those who want [the continuation of the Reform of the Reform] freak out and start acting like jerks about the Pope, then we will lose in days what it took years to gain”.

  72. Lamentably Sane says:

    You have your critics among traditionalists, and I have not always agreed with everything you write. I am an SSPX supporter. However, I have to say that rarely have I read such a wonderful post on any blog. I hope we will ‘meet merrily in heaven’ (St. Thomas More), but is there no way that we can reach some charitable accord on this Earth? I am not a schismatic. I love the Church and the Holy Father, and I pray that we can all work together in our different ways for the greater glory of God.

  73. The Masked Chicken says:

    When I put on a concert tuxedo for a concert, it changes everything. It says, this is no longer a rehearsal. This is for the ages. If only some priests would realize that every Mass they say is one for the ages. Perhaps, some priests who vest down for Mass come to think of Mass as merely a rehearsal with infinite do-overs. If such priests would merely consider that this Mass may be their last, it might change everything. This may be their last chance (as the familiar meditation goes):
    God to glorify,
    Jesus to imitate,
    The Angels and Saints to invoke,
    A soul to save,
    A body to mortify,
    Sins to expiate,
    Virtues to acquire,
    Hell to avoid,
    Heaven to gain,
    Eternity to prepare for,
    Time to profit by,
    Neighbors to edify,
    The world to despise,
    Devils to combat,
    Passions to subdue,
    Death perhaps to suffer,
    Judgment to undergo.*

    Perhaps, if they realized each Mass as their last and possibly final act, they might be sobered. What Marine would dare show up for a funeral of a fallen comrade (outside of the battlefield) without wearing their dress uniform? It is a form of respect for the dead or do they not believe that, in some mystical way, Christ dies on the Altar at every Mass? The first thing a priest must vest when he vests for Mass is his heart. No liturgical vestment means anything without a realization that, during the Mass, his heart is not his own. Such creatures are we, however, that, sometimes, the vesting of the externals can penetrate to the heart and clothe it with an appreciation it might not, otherwise, have.

    So, love and do as you please, but if your love is not yet perfect, perhaps it is best to clothe the corruptible with the incorruptible garment of the Office you bear, for whose knows if your love, without such aid, might be enough to face God.

    The Chicken

    *From: http://hicatholicmom.blogspot.com/2007/07/meditation-for-day-remember-christian.html

  74. priests wife says:

    about vestments and money and Church riches- this is painfully obvious- vestments are not bought every day…they are worn for a few hours and then hung up, ready for the next Liturgy. They will last for decades, most likely passed down to another priest.

    That being said- my husband’s purple vestments (passed on from another priest) for one of the parishes is looking a bit shabby- the gold threads in the front have worn off, so the pattern is ‘off’

  75. Ben Dunlap says:

    @Cricket, a simple way for us laity to work for the reform of the reform is to pray the older form of the Divine Office at home. The texts are freely available at divinumofficium.com and you can hear monks singing traditional Lauds and Vespers every day at osbnorcia.org/blog (their version is a bit different from the Roman Rite but it’s close enough).

  76. thereseb says:

    I have changed jobs on average every five years in my thirty-years of working life. There were also frequent changes of senior management. At every new workplace there was always someone keen to disparage the work of my predecessor – and with every senior reshuffle there was always some toady who waited till a senior person had gone to disparage him to his successor. I didn’t trust that sort of person – and nor should anyone else. I think a lot of the anger here was directed at those who disparaged a great and Holy Pope – rather than being aimed directly at his successor.

  77. GordonB says:

    Also thinking about the same things as Father Z., but at the same time, there is a place for the type of simplicity (vs. humility, which is a slightly different, but related issue) that Pope Francis feels called to live out as Pope (and which he lived out as an Archbishop). While I agree that we should also be reminded of the kingly glory of Jesus, I think we should also embrace the simplicity (which certainly is emphasized as part of our Catholic heritage as well) which Pope Francis looks to convey — especially when we compare the global haves and have nots (North America v. South America, for example). But it would be nice if Francis would be so nuanced as to show forth BOTH sides, and perhaps he will.

  78. pmullane says:

    Fr is right, and thank you for this post, it makes a point that very much needs to be made.

    I cant help think that Pope Francis eschewing with some of the finery associated with his office has a lot to do with the person that he is and from where he has come. Argentina is not like the west, the people in Argentina who are afforded the pomp and trappings of office are precisely the people opposed to the poor (like the odious Christina Kirchener). Papa Francis does not want to identify himself with those who live in palaces, ride in limosines & have servants. He didnt do this as the bishop and now he doesnt do it as the Pope. He wants to identify with those in his country who are poor, and who are kept poor by those who grasp at the wealth and power in the country. Again, all the world is not the West. Here if you work hard, do the right things and have talent, you can make yourself comfortable, and even rich. There you can work hard, do the right things, and some petty beurocrat can come and steal what is yours because they know the right person. Some polititian can cause all you have accrued to disappear overnight by destroying the currency.

    I think to understand Pope Francis we must get out of the hermeneutic of the west, and into that of a 3rd world tinpot dictatorship. Take, for example, his call that those in Argentina should not attend his installation, but give that money to the poor. To our ears that it a bit insulting, but remember who the rich are in Argentina. Those who have power and those who steal. Those who pay bribes. Those who know someone (and can pay someone) in the government. Those are the people who can fly halfway around teh world at a moments notice. And Francis tells them – Give that money to the poor, the poor that you helped to create, the poor who remain poor because you choke their attempts to support themselves. Give them what they are due, and then you can come to Rome.

    To my mind, thats why the Pope doesnt want to be seen in all the finery that his office affords. He wants to stand with his people, and he does not want to be seen to be kitted out in the finest garments, because he does not want those people in his land to see him and think he is like those people in his country who keenly indulge in the finery associated with their offices. That is who he is. That is not to say he does not think that the Lord or the Church deserve beautiful things, he uses precious chalice and ciboria, but he has to make a judgement, and he was elected to make that judgement so it is his judgement to make. Remember – in the room of tears he had the choice of two stoles, a ‘traditional’ stole and a ‘modern’ stole, he chose the traditional one, but only used it for its purpose – imparting his apostlic blessing.

    The Church did not truely embrace a proper spirit of poverty after the Council. The ‘poverty’ that wrecked ornate and beautiful churches and replaced it with garish polyester was superficial and showy, but it was neither radical not real poverty. Many priests and bishops sold the gold from the sacristy but kept the Gold in the presbytery. Cardinal Mahoney may have stripped out the beauty from his churches, but he kept for himself the fancy and expensive lawyers that no poor man could afford. Thats not poverty. A poor church gives the best to Christ and keeps nothing for himself or his reputation. The Church is to be poor – yes. Not poor in the shallow narcissistic sense of getting rid of the splendour we have for Christ, but poor in spirit, poor in the sense that we keep nothing for ourselves and give everything for Christ. That is the true poverty of Francis of Assisi and, please God, the poverty of Pope Francis too.

    Apologies for the long post.

  79. catholicmidwest says:

    About the Society of Creative Anachronism, and that motto, “You Rule Because They Believe”….
    That may be true of the Society of Creative Anachronism but it’s not true of the Catholic Church. This is precisely what the Canticle of Brother Sun, Sister Moon” is about.

    Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord, All praise is Yours, all glory, all honour and all blessings.
    To you alone, Most High, do they belong, and no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.
    Praised be You my Lord with all Your creatures,
    especially Sir Brother Sun,
    Who is the day through whom You give us light.
    And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour,
    Of You Most High, he bears the likeness.
    Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
    In the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.
    Praised be You, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
    And fair and stormy, all weather’s moods,
    by which You cherish all that You have made.
    Praised be You my Lord through Sister Water,
    So useful, humble, precious and pure.
    Praised be You my Lord through Brother Fire,
    through whom You light the night and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
    Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
    Mother Earth
    who sustains and governs us,
    producing varied fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.
    Praise be You my Lord through those who grant pardon for love of You and bear sickness and trial.
    Blessed are those who endure in peace, By You Most High, they will be crowned.
    Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death,
    from whom no-one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.
    No second death can do them harm. Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks,
    And serve Him with great humility.

    If every human being on earth ceased praising God this very moment, creation itself would give him praise by its very existence. This idea is also found in Scripture in many, many places: the Psalms, the book of Job, the book of Genesis, even the book of Isaiah, and more. Psalm 148:3-6…

    ….Praise him, sun and moon;
    praise him, all you shining stars!
    4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
    and you waters above the heavens!
    5 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for he commanded and they were created.
    6 He established them forever and ever;
    he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

  80. catholicmidwest says:

    Of course, it’s important that human beings give God praise, and don’t cease praising God because Christ came to take our sins by his Crucifixion and Resurrection. But it’s not true that without belief, God falls into nothingness. Not at all. He reigns forever and always by his very nature as the Creator.

  81. Choirgirl says:

    @ BLB Oregon

    IMO, your 10:29AM post was excellent. And just as there are different cuisines in the gastronomic world, there are different Rites/Forms in the world of Catholicism, each having its own rubrics and symbols, none of them negating those of the others. Each type focuses on different aspects of God, the priest, and the people, and at the same time ALL of them are reenactments of the Sacrifice of Calvary in a mystical and unbloody manner.

    I saw this point illustrated when I attended a Ukranian Catholic Mass (Liturgy of St. John Chrystostom). This Eastern Rite Liturgy focuses on the Divine Mercy, and with the Offertory and Consecration taking place behind a screen, the Mystery of God and the Holy of Holies is emphasized.

    I may be totally wrong, but I don’t think Pope Francis will touch any of the Rites/Forms of the Church. IMO, his particular charism is to be a sign of contradiction to the world, and whatever he does will be an expression of that.

    Above all, let’s see what the Lord has planned. “Wait on the Lord, take courage! Be stouthearted and wait on the Lord.” (Ps. 27)

  82. SimonDodd says:

    pmullane, advocatus diaboli ludere: We have not been elected to Argentina, an Argentine has been elected to the See of Rome. Surely, if there is a paradigm shift to be undertaken here, it is not us who need to change our hermeneutic, but he who needs to adjust his?

  83. Kathleen10 says:

    New Sister, what a disappointment for you. I’m sorry. That must have been so painful. Too bad his misunderstanding had to lead to your hurt.

    Regarding poverty, Mother Teresa said the greatest poverty she experienced was in the United States as we are all so spiritually poor in spirit. I suppose it depends on the definition of “poor” as to who is poorest. America and Europe seem very poor in that aspect.
    Father Z., very good words, thank you for them.
    It seems so easy for man to allow even humility to overshadow rightful pious acts and glorious tradition, and then, in an ironic way, it becomes more about the humble man than the piety and tradition. What a fine line to walk! Pride wears many disguises. We’re so vulnerable to it.
    The manner that Pope Francis “wades” into crowds is still very worrisome. I wish he would stop.
    God protect him.
    Yesterday at Mass, the first Mass I have attended since Obama was re-elected. (I’m not proud of it, I held some resentment) the priest got up to give a homily, and it being St. Patrick’s day, told some funny stories and wore a silly hat, which was met with applause. This was to raise funds for the “poor box” in the church. I told my sister there was only one time on earth I didn’t want to laugh, only one, and that is during the Mass. To counter that depressing point, I did go to a wonderful young priest Saturday for Confession, and this is the priest that gave my mother a very wonderful funeral Mass complete with Latin at times, only two years ago. I plan on attending his Mass next week. The first priest was older, the second priest much younger.

  84. mamajen says:

    Another thing that crossed my mind… Pope Francis is faced with undoing years of work by the devil, especially recent years. Many of “the poor” have been taught to feel entitled and to despise the rich. They have been taught to seek instant gratification instead of valuing quality and tradition. Meanwhile, vulgarity and classlessness have been glorified by the secular world. Many of these people are not happy that the Church has beautiful things with which to glorify God; they are angry about what they don’t have. Most of us here have been raised differently (or otherwise learned) and it can be difficult to realize that others are starting from a vastly different place. Certainly Pope Francis has seen it first-hand much more than many of us have. It will take time for some to overcome that knee-jerk resentment of the finer things in order to appreciate the beautiful symbolism.

  85. mamajen says:

    @pmullane – Very well put!

  86. skellmeyer says:

    If Saint Francis had not dressed in rags, he would not be St. Francis.

    You’re all so busy worrying about clothes and rings.
    I thought St. Francis said not to worry your head about these things? [This is the point at which I delete the rest of your comment with a roll of my eyes. NO. We are not “all” worrying about “clothes and rings”. If you are going show us how wrong everyone is and how right you are… at least get your audience right.]

  87. Cathy says:

    Our Holy Father, in not wearing red shoes, has not condemned red shoes. Our Holy Father, in not wearing ermine, has not condemned ermine. Our Holy Father, in hoping for a poor Church, for the poor, has not condemned the beauty, truth and goodness of the Church. Sometimes I fear in projecting our own weakness or understanding upon the Holy Father, we become so many Peters in defiance and fear of what Christ is doing in going to Jerusalem to be rejected, beaten and crucified. I pray for understanding, I pray to know my weakness and I pray for the Holy Father.

  88. catholicmidwest says:

    Also, St. Francis was utterly and completely faithful to the Church, and so he would have said precisely the same thing about her. The Church cannot fall by her very nature as the arm of God in the world. God reigns forever and always by his very nature, and the Church with him. Even if no human being shows up. (This is a bit of a synthetic argument about no one showing up, however. There are millions of dead faithful, as well as millions of live faithful, all believing to one degree or another. However, the point remains that the existence and sovereignty of God does not depend on this, nor does the status of the Church in the order of salvation. This the ultimate non-Protestant argument BTW.)

  89. JKnott says:

    Superb commentary as always Fr Z. Thank you.

  90. mamajen says:

    Another thought (sorry, this post has the gears churning)…

    If indeed that is a nard flower we see on Pope Francis’ coat of arms, it sends an interesting, and promising message, no?

  91. JayneK says:

    Fr. Z., you wrote in the comments above: “Nothing, unless you stop working for it. Nothing has to happen to it. But if those who want it freak out and start acting like jerks about the Pope, then we will lose in days what it took years to gain.“

    This is too important to be buried in the comments. Please do a post on this. Perhaps is extra big letters. This is not Pope who will allow defiance of his authority.

  92. monmir says:

    Thank you Father. I remain more impress with the deeper form of humility of Benedict. More profound because it stays hidden.

  93. pmullane says:

    Mamajen – Thanks, hope you and baby are well.

    Simon Dodd, I understand what you mean, I’m just trying to see things from the Holy Fathers point of view. This is a man who has spent a very long life in a country very different fom ours. He sees things from a different perspective. Where he comes from, if you bribe and corrupt and tell lies you get into power, and then you can exploit and stick your nose in the trough and make yourself wealthy at the expense of others. Pope Francis shunned all of that, he wanted to be an effective witness against this corruption, so he gave up the servants, the palace, the limosine. He rode the bus and lived in a modest flat. People could have said to him ‘you have not gained these things by corruption, you are innocent, you may have them’ and indeed he could have. But he chose to live in his own poverty as a sign to those that have no hope in his country that he – an by association the Church and ultimately Christ – are with him.

    Then he comes out of the conclave pope. He has a decision. He has been Cardinal Bergolio, who gave up what was rightly and justly his to stand with those who are unjustly deprived of what is theirs. He can justly wear ermine and gold, but what does that say to the poor, not just of Argentina, but of more than half of the world? Will they feel like he is abandoning them, that he could stand giving up the frippery of The Diocese of Buenos Aires, but not the Diocese of Rome? No, he will give these things up, not because he shouldnt have them, but because even though he has moved accross the world, he wants them to know he is still with them in poverty. Because if he is still with them, then so is the Church, and so is their God. Now, does that mean that we, who value giving to Christ what is rightfully his – the best of everything – does that mean that we get another message, that he does not value the treaures of the Church? Or that his humility has become a source of pride? Or that he has put his own personal feelings before the office of Peter? Or, as some ridiculously claim, that he ‘hates’ tradition? Perhaps. But that is his decision to make. Did he make a good one? mabye, mabye not. But he was elected Peter, it was his choice, and I will let him make it.

    Sorry for rambling on once again.

  94. ghp95134 says:

    Traductora says: I just took a look at the new papal coat of arms linked above, but I think the Vatican page is displaying the wrong image. The text mentions a lily flower (to symbolize St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church) but I sure don’t see one in the drawing!

    [American Heraldry Society]
    “The blue shield is surmounted by symbols of papal dignity, the same as those taken by his predecessor Benedict XVI (miter placed between crossed keys of gold and silver, bound by a red cord). At the top, stands the emblem of the order of origin of the Pope, the Society of Jesus, a radiant and flamboyant sun with the letters in red, IHS, monogram of Christ. The letter H is surmounted by a cross, at the tip, the three nails in black.

    Below, are the star and the flower of nard. The star, according to the ancient heraldic tradition, symbolizes the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and of the Church, while the flower of nard shows St. Joseph, patron of the universal Church. In the Hispanic iconographic tradition , in fact, St. Joseph is depicted holding a branch of spikenard. By placing these images in his shield, the Pope wanted to express his particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph….”


    –Guy Power

  95. Miserando says:

    With regard to the red shoes, it seems to me that every media outlet brings up the shoes for some reason. There’s usually a side comment about them and some reporter wonders if they’re from one of the popular Italian designers. So perhaps as part of Pope Francis’s evangelization he’d like the world to talk about the core message of the Church rather than the typical secular-materialist prattle about fashion and gossip. (Although now all the talk from these loquacious folks is about the lack of red shoes…ugh).

    But I’m not sure that it’s possible to change the media’s conversation from materialism to mysticism. So what effect will there be? And why should the media dictate these things, anyway? But then is it really the media dictating things, or Pope Francis dictating to the media that they need to open their eyes to the present truth and then communicate that to the world (remember, as best as the Church demonstrates the faith – it ultimately passes through the lens of some media outlet). That said, I figured I’d add the above fact that the red shoes get lots a press coverage.

    As far as other things so, I find your thoughts to be entirely reasonable in the paradox that is the glory yet humility of Our Lord. And so that’s the paradox which the Church faces – how best to demonstrate the glory and humility of Our Lord.

  96. PatB says:

    About the poor and beautiful liturgy, often the poor contribute the widow’s mite for the maintenance of beautiful liturgy. A secular friend of mine, who went on a tour in South America, told me the tour director said, “Don’t give to the poor, they’ll just give it to the Church.” My friend rolled her eyes about this awful “Church,” agreeing with the tour director. I told her that the poor ARE the Church. We are the Church…it’s not us and them. When the poor give to the Church, they are giving to their own family, their own heavenly Father. The poor may live in ugly surroundings, but when they go to Church, they are going to their own beautiful home. It was lovely to see the light of understanding dawn on my friend, and she changed her mind.

    (Sorry if this is redundant; I didn’t have time to read all the comments).

  97. MKR says:

    Uh oh…Is Fr. Z coming around to the opinion of those no-good-meany-weany-uncharitable Rorate Caeliers?

  98. jhayes says:

    From the Vatican Press Office briging today:

    “Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran will present Francis with the pallium — he’s the one who declared, “Habemus papam!” And the pope’s Ring of the Fisherman will be presented by Cardinal Angelo Sodano. What kind of ring? Sort of a hand-me-down. The ring belonged to Pope Paul VI’s personal secretary, Archbishop Pasquale Macchi — and it won’t be solid gold, but gold-plated silver.

    You’ll hear the regular readings for Tuesday, the Feast of St. Joseph — not the readings that go with the Mass for a papal inauguration. The first will be in English; the second Spanish. And the Gospel will be chanted only in Greek — not both Greek and Latin, as is customary. The pope will preach only in Italian, as he did when he met with journalists on Saturday and when he gave his Angelus address yesterday….

    You won’t see an offeratory procession. You will hear prayers of the faithful for government leaders — and of course for the poor. Nor will the pope distribute Communion (hundreds of deacons and priests will handle that).

    The idea, Vatican spokesmen explained, is to keep the Mass as short as possible.

  99. Sieber says:

    On the right hand side of this blog Fr. Z has a connection the Hugh Hewitt’s website. Click on that to read the transcript of Hugh with Archbishop Chaput. Read his comments on the Pope’s liturgical propensities regarding VII & so much more.

  100. Maria says:

    Dear Pmullane,

    Define poor and poverty?

    God’s blessings of peace & joy,

  101. Rachel K says:

    @pmullane- very well put, I agree totally that we are coming out of a “hermeneutic of the West”. After all, the Catholic Church is, well…catholic! It is not the Western European Church. My feeling is that we could not have had another European Pope at this moment; the faith of this part of the world is in meltdown and this is largely because of secular materialism. Here is a Pope who has lived as a Bishop in a very poor Third World country and has lived evangelical poverty with great devotion and love. This is what we need at this point in time.
    Now, I have no idea how the Holy Spirit wishes this charism to influence us at this stage in history, it may well be that it has nothing to do with liturgy. With the points made above, it is clear that giving our best in material terms is part of our authentic worship. However, over time and with our prayerful support I think that Pope Francis will lead us in becoming more detached from material comfort and excess. It is indeed a scandal that many in the world go hungry each day and suffer for lack of basic needs such as housing, eduction and healthcare. We in the developed world are very insulated from this fact, especially in Western Europe and the US. We need to be aware of how the “other half live” and not just wish them well but give of our comfort and even give of our legitimate needs for their well being. After all, one purpose of our participation at Mass is to go out afterwards and act as Christ to others. Sometimes we think it is only an end in itself. This is part of the “New Evangelisation”, to receive the free gift and pass it on to others.
    Don’t let’s worry about the liturgy, we continue to press on and do our best with whatever liturgical situation we are in, none of which will be perfect until the end of time , to pray for our Holy Father and all priests and love our neighbours. Yes, and keep building brick by brick.
    Regards to all.

  102. pmullane says:

    Hi Maria.

    In what sense? There are different types of poverty. Spiritual, social, material. One of the fruits of the modernist debasement of the language is that we have lost the sense of true material poverty. I don’t think we in the west know what real material poverty is. Pope Francis comes from a continent where poor people have to live in rubbish dumps and fight the seagulls and rats for scraps of food.

    God Bless.


  103. mamajen says:


    We are doing very well! About two more months to go. It was nice of you to remember–thank you.

  104. mamajen says:

    I don’t know if this is too off-topic for this post, but how did the nard flower (thanks acardnal for the link) come to be associated with St. Joseph? Does anybody know?

  105. skellmeyer says:

    Hit too close to home, eh, Fr. Z?
    ROTFL! [No, actually not very much. But you go ahead and have a great time in your self praise.]

  106. BLB Oregon says:

    My only fear is that our Holy Father is like Vatican II itself: the real substance is not what we have to fear, but what some with their own agendas may try to pretend it is.

    “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Let us remember the lesson that Vatican II taught us, then. Let us always be well-acquainted with the real thing, and let us be vigilant that nothing is passed off in our churches which claims the “spirit of Pope Francis” but which in reality does not meet that true standard that he sets. I think that then we will be OK. The damage that might be done if we were to fail would not be on the Holy Father’s hands, but on our own!

  107. slcath says:

    I think it’s still a bit early to draw conclusions as to Pope Francis’s motives concerning red shoes, etc. After all, couldn’t Benedict XVI have been similarly criticized for substituting a miter for the tiara in his coat of arms?

  108. The Masked Chicken says:

    ” Will they feel like he is abandoning them, that he could stand giving up the frippery of The Diocese of Buenos Aires, but not the Diocese of Rome? No, he will give these things up, not because he shouldnt have them, but because even though he has moved accross the world, he wants them to know he is still with them in poverty.”

    The Pope, although the bishop of Rome, has a universal office. He does not merely witness to Buenos Aires and he does not belong merely to them, anymore. His union with their poverty was subsumed when he became Pope. There is no such thing, by the way, as a corporate poverty. Poverty is always individual. Christ does not unite His poverty to crowds, but, person-by-person. In that sense, since the Pope belongs to all of us, then, if he has a calling to poverty, it must be of a universal poverty, not tied to any time or place. A universal poverty knows every man, not just that type of poverty unique to Latin America…and there are many types of poverty, those both seen and unseen. If the Pope is being poor, then it must be in the context of what is enriching to us.

    That bring said, I am not really that concerned about the Pope’s expressions of poverty. Those are his to make. They may be a useful witness, but they are not forced on him (except, perhaps, by voluntary vow). I cannot see how he could use his voluntary poverty as a way of reaching out to those whose poverty is involuntary. What does his giving up the tiara or the shoes have to do with my not having enough money to buy dinner, say? Some of us do not get to choose poverty.

    I don’t want to get into a prolonged discussion of poverty, but the Greek, ptochos, in the Beatitudes, does not refer to even a poverty that is merely getting by, living from paycheck-to-paycheck. Greek has a separate word for that state – penes, from which we get the word, penny, in English. Ptochos is absolute, live-on-the-street destitution. It is a poverty that thinks nothing of pleading. What Pope Francis is practicing is not, strictly speaking, poverty. It is restraint. It is important to make that distinction. One gets to choose restraint. Poverty, even a voluntarily chosen one, is an act of God, outside of one’s choosing. The vow of poverty is not merely an act that one chooses. It is a calling. An act that is chosen for you by a God to which you voluntarily assent, because to live that way is a part of you. Both voluntary and involuntary poverty must be accepted, but voluntary by the higher part of the soul and involuntary by the lower and the higher part.

    All of this is really a tempest in a teapot at this point. If Pope Francis ever gets around to publishing something about liturgical dress or the Mass, then I will pay attention, but what he chooses to wear has little effect on most people, and rightly so, otherwise we would be fashion mavens and not Catholics. A good witness is a good witness, but the Office of Pope is not one, yet, carved in stone.

    The Chicken

  109. elaine says:

    Amy Welborne has a wonderful blog post that addresses all of this. Our discomfiture, the red shoes… why it matters… http://amywelborn.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/a-word/

  110. Traductora says:

    The spikenard on the shield looks, unfortunately, like a bunch of grapes and was originally interpreted that way by the people who saw the Archbishop’s coat of arms (unchanged now that he’s Pope except for the addition of the mitre above and the keys behind). In art, it’s usually shown on a long stem or at the top of St Joseph’s staff, where it looks a lot more flower-like . Perhaps the addition of a stem would help? Or angling it up more?

    The lily was based on the traditional belief that his staff blossomed to show that he was the one chosen to be the spouse of the Blessed Virgin (this comes from one of the apocryphal gospels). I imagine it may also relate to “the just man shall flourish like a lily,” and St Joseph was considered a just man.

    The actual flower used to represent this varies from place to place, but it is usually recognizable as a flower!

    By the way, spikenard was supposedly in the oil with which Mary Magdalene annointed the head and feet of Jesus, and also represents worship. I thought that might be encouraging!

  111. ocalatrad says:

    Father, your words are truly sublime and sorely needed. I couldn’t agree more. Where in the world the poor see despair, abject misery and suffering they may be lifted up by the tender hands of Holy Mother the Church towards Heaven in Holy Mass.

  112. As I see more and more of the few remaining symbols of the papal office shunted aside, I can only think of Abbé George de Nantes comment about Paul VI, who started the fad:

    “He lacks the humility of his glory.”

  113. The Masked Chicken says:


    Here you go. It seems to be an Hispanic thing:

    Below, are the star and the flower of nard. The star, according to the ancient heraldic tradition, symbolizes the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and of the Church, while the flower of nard shows St. Joseph, patron of the universal Church. In the iconographic tradition Hispanic, in fact, St. Joseph is depicted holding a branch of spikenard. By placing these images in his shield, the Pope wanted to express his particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph.


    The Chicken

  114. avecrux says:

    Personal opinion: God has given us Pope Francis, in part, because we have been incapable of recognizing the time of our visitation. I don’t see his way as higher than Benedict – just presently suited to the Church and the world, for the glory of God.

  115. The Masked Chicken says:

    Sorry, for the cross-posting. I put the comment in the wrong post, originally.

    The Chicken

  116. McCall1981 says:

    @ Sieber

    Thank you for pointing out that Archbishop Chaput aricle.

    I found the following quote from him about Pope Francis to be very informative and encouraging:

    “But right from the beginning, I sensed that he was a man who was impatient with formalities, and very much anxious to be part of the new evangelization, which is to admit the fact that we need to do things differently than we’ve done in the past, and to understand that many people who have professed themselves to be Catholics or Christians, really aren’t in any real way committed to what their baptism should mean. He was aware of the fact that although South America, his own country, Argentina, was heavily Catholic by percentage points, it wasn’t as heavily Catholic in terms of real belief and lives that flowed from belief. And so the new evangelization really is a re-evangelization of people who think they’re Christians but really aren’t. And he understood that, and had a great energy in that direction. And as I said, was not patient with formalities that got in the way of being busy about the work of the Gospel. I think he’s already shown that in his time at Pope, too. He seems to be impatient with formalities, and very much anxious to personal embody and then preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

  117. Juergensen says:

    The Catholic faith is so beautiful, so rich, offering something new to learn every day. Why, I just learned this past week that the Successor of Peter must wear red shoes.

  118. Sol says:

    @ mamajen:

    Another thing that crossed my mind… Pope Francis is faced with undoing years of work by the devil, especially recent years. Many of “the poor” have been taught to feel entitled and to despise the rich. They have been taught to seek instant gratification instead of valuing quality and tradition.

    Exactly what I’ve been thinking. Every time someone mentions ‘social justice’ and ‘the poor’ in the same breath, alarm bells and flashing red lights go off in my head. In many quarters, social justice has come to mean ‘social welfare’ – there are thousands of people who have never worked in their life, despite being perfectly fit for work and despite having been offered jobs. Benefit systems in some countries are a complete joke – how can one be better off on benefits than working? And yet it is possible (see the example of the UK). Not long ago I ran across an article or an interview in one of the papers, where a young couple unashamedly said that they would never work, as in benefits they made more than the National Minimum Wage.

    When talking about social justice, maybe we need to shift the focus from : ‘give me because I’m poor’ to: ‘maybe it’s time to start looking for a job and actually do something with your life’.
    What we seem to be having instead is very often demoralising people and debasing them through handouts.

    Now, of course I appreciate that there are people who truly cannot work, as well as those who would love to work but can’t due to structural unemployment etc. I’m not an insensitive knobhead. All I’m saying is: all this discourse about the poor, about social justice etc seems to have been hijacked by the Left, and it is now cleverly used to introduce socialism through the back door, so to speak. The govt needs money to combat budget deficit? No problemo, raise taxes and tell the voters it will all go on ‘social security’. What should be done of pure goodness becomes a hideous act of the state robbing citizens of hard earned money, because of course the state knows better what to do with your cash than you. Dishing out benefits to buy votes has become so common it’s cliche to even mention it.

    On a side note:

    I remember listening to and seeing the bosses of the union of medical workers in one Eastern European country – while most of medical staff in the country are massively underpaid and can barely make a living, the big union bosses are on govt paychecks riding in limos and all they do is complain how bad their lot is and how the unions are mistreated by employers. Never actually worked in years, their only job being ‘union director’. I once asked the regional director of teachers’ union in the same country when was the last time he actually had a proper lesson in class, with pupils, a blackboard,a lesson plan etc. I got a blank stare. But I digress.

    This is socialism, folks. Alive and well. And ‘social justice’ is a yet another aspect of it.

    Ad rem:

    ‘Social justice’ gives me chills. For all the reasons I mentioned above.

    Admittedly – Pope Francis has in mind a completely different type of poverty, and one of the Posters above put it quite well – in Argentine slums people really ARE poor, and to a degree hardly conceivable to an affluent European middle class average Joe.

  119. mamajen says:

    @The Masked Chicken – thank you!

  120. Giuseppe says:

    Thanks for the nard info. I just assumed it was a bunch of Malbec grapes.

    Re. the silver cross and now the silver ring – Pope Francis is from ARGENTina.

  121. ireneadler says:

    it appears that the conservatives are already turning on pope francis. papal authority is swell until it enforces something we personally find offensive–then it much be the devil. i suppose we could let the conversation descend into dissecting what are the “legitimate” poor and that sort of thing.

  122. gretta says:

    Reading the comments on the various liturgical blogs after the election of Pope Francis has gotten me thinking about this over the past few days. And there is something that I have been pondering long and hard. It has struck me that so many people on these blogs have given witness to the fact that for them, the choice of the vestments, incense, and liturgical surroundings speak deeply to them and play a critical role in helping them connect with God. I remember a story about the czar of Russia sending delegates to different churches, and deciding to become Orthodox because of the beauty of the liturgy. That appeal to the senses is critical in their connection to God.

    But…I’m sure that many folks here have taken (have been subjected to) some of those personality tests out there, like the Myers-Briggs. And something that tries to demonstrate is that there is a continuum on the sensory scale, with some folks being on the far other side of the sensory scale. In other words, the sensory aspects of things does not have near the importance in the way they interpret the world as those who interpret the world through their senses.

    So this is my question/thought: for all those that find deep connection and power in the those aspects of worship, do you think that it is possible that others would be on the opposite side of that scale and would actually find such things to be distracting – like a form of sensory overload. That rather than enriching their worship, it actually detracts from it?

    Now I am not talking about liturgical abuses (clown masses and that ilk) where things are being done outside the proper rubrics. But…might there be people out there who really legitimately do not like such things because they find them distracting, as much as some folks find them uplifting and connects them with God? If that is the case, are these folks simply wrong/misguided? I just wonder because of the widely differing reactions to Pope Francis. Is it possible that it isn’t that folks are ignorant, don’t care, or want “bad” liturgy, but that they legitimately do not understand the importance of those things that are so dear to Traditional hearts because they aren’t wired that way? And if I’m just off on this, I’m sure Fr. Z will direct me correctly!

  123. catholicmidwest says:

    There’s a chemist in every crowd. :)

  124. Did i read correctly? The Paul VI/ JPII Cross is back in? oh dear God why didn’t Pope Benedict have it melted down and give the proceeds to the poor!

  125. Juergensen says:

    Giuseppe says: “I believe that his Jesuit vow of poverty, which he obviously has taken very seriously, is one that he is struggling to implement in transitioning to his new role. There is an authentic modesty and self-effacement that characterizes some of the most holy Jesuits I know. I believe the cardinals saw this in Pope Francis, and it will take some time for him to figure out his job.”


    This is something I have considered but have not seen discussed at length. Perhaps taking – and living a holy life under – the Jesuit vow of poverty is in conflict with some of the things that some are demanding that the Holy Father do?

  126. JacobWall says:

    @mamajen and others,

    The kissing of the ring doesn’t seem to be a problem for him, which is good to see. At his Mass yesterday:

    I think Fr. Z only mentioned it because it was a personal “issue” for him when he was first a priest if I understand what he wrote correctly. (I’ve heard even Benedict struggled with this point earlier on.) Commenters probably picked it up from Fr. Z’s reference.

    I certainly don’t think we’re going to see a “clean slate” rejection of all traditional features, etc. So there will definitely be points where we’ll say, “Oh, look, he does do that!” And it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s in any sort of transition toward the traditional. I think the point is that not wearing the red shoes or traditional vestments are likely based in the same way of thinking; “to show humility, I won’t …”

  127. jrainesk9 says:

    it is as though those of us who are not “poor” financially are being cast out. We who are poor in spirit long to see things like red shoes as a sign of our Holy Father’s willingness to stand in his own blood to defend Holy Mother Church. In the light of God we are all poor, minister to us all. Please!

  128. PA mom says:

    Regarding papal coat of arms, now that I know that those aren’t grapes… What does it say?

  129. Pingback: Father Ho Lung and the Missionaries of the Poor - Big Pulpit

  130. Luvadoxi says:

    Geek alert! I’m thinking of that episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation with Wesley Crusher and the young officers, where Captain Picard had to learn a lesson that showing that he was in charge and being somewhat reserved from the young officers actually comforted them and let them know that things were running well. Trying to be best buds with them filled them with insecurity.

  131. Traductora says:

    It means “having mercy on and choosing,” and is a quote from a homily of the Venerable Bede (7th century) describing the moment in the Gospels when Jesus calls the despised publican who was to become the Evangelist, St. Matthew. Before you attribute great scholarship to me, I have to admit that I just read it in Robert Moynihan’s Report from Rome. Obviously, everybody’s been wondering about it!

  132. Geoffrey says:

    “The ring that Pope Francis will put on during the Mass once belonged to Pope Paul VI, and is made of gold-plated silver” (Associated Press).

  133. NBW says:

    Thanks for the post Fr. Z.

    I agree with Diane at Te Deum Laudamus: “The poorest of the poor love beauty as much as the richest of the rich.” I knew a lady who wasn’t very religious but she used to spend a lot of time sitting in the pews of a parish that had TLM Masses. The church was very ornate and beautiful and I will never forget the look on her face; it was one of serenity and child like fascination with the beauty of the church. She enjoyed being there. Perhaps one day she will convert. I can guarantee if the church would have been stripped down to bare walls and a table for an altar, she would not have been attracted. We seek beauty and we seek truth; what better place to find both than in the Catholic Church.

  134. PA mom says:


  135. JabbaPapa says:

    I’m thinking he may simply be waiting for his current shoes to wear out before getting himself a new pair of red ones ; though it also strikes me that he may be waiting for his enthronement before wearing the red on his feet.


    Everyone else’s guess is as good as mine !!!

    We’ll see …

  136. greasemonkey says:

    OK.. the reality… this is it. Maybe some day the Holy Father will speak to the issue of the liturgy and clear the air for the record regarding his approach to these things, but for now it would be good to start letting the following sink in:
    The red shoes are gone (they aren’t being made at some cobblers shop for his size). The mozetta, the fanon, the Roman chasubles. .. Ad orientam is gone too (it’s not because “he might not be TRAINED to say mass that way).
    It’s a low Church mentality, and it’s ALL throughout the Church. I honestly fear(my problem..fear…) that there has not been enough to secure the future of the liturgical renewal begun under B16. I fear that there isn’t enough momentum to keep this going. So many places (like my ALBANY diocese) there is a top down approach. Priests here will NOT step outside the box) I don’t see a man in his late 70’s changing his approach to these things. Learn to deal with it, or become a sede vacantist.

  137. lmo1968 says:

    Pmullane: Your comments have been very valuable to this conversation and jibe with what I have heard about Latin America from people who I am close with. I belong to a lay movement that is largely Hispanic. I know many people from Latin America. They tell me that there is no equivalent in English/United States for many aspects of the life there. I think that it is important for us to realize that the Church is global and that the United States is a very small part of that global church. Forty percent of the world’s Catholics are in Latin America. That figure blows my mind!

    I can see how Bergolio came close to the papacy in 2005. But I think the Holy Spirit stepped in and said let us have one more European pope who understands Europe and its culture, so that he may work to undo secularization, consumerism and the other anti-Christian forces on that continent. It is too soon to tell whether this has borne fruit.

    As European as Pope Benedict is, as Polish as Pope John Paul II was, that is how much being Latin American has likely influenced the sensibilities, concerns, attitudes, etc., of our present Pope Francis. It is us who have to come to terms with this, not him.

    I have many loved ones who are deeply impressed with Pope Francis. They are not Catholic. They may have admired Pope Benedict, but the instantaneous sense of being loved and understood in their (our) poverty, marginity, etc., was never something Pope Benedict could express. I think this pope may be able to bring the unchurched into the faith, and re-evangelize Catholics, if we let him.

  138. Denis says:

    Do red shoes cost more than black shoes? Whenever I go to one of those discount shoe stores where they sell the shoes that no one wants, the brightly-colored shoes tend to be the cheapest.

  139. Maria says:

    Dear Pmullane,

    God’s blessing of peace and joy!

    I asked the question because I wanted to know your perspective.

    “One of the fruits of the modernist debasement of the language is that we have lost the sense of true material poverty.” — Did we?

    I grew up in the Philippines (Mindanao in younger times and in Manila). I usually like to go places that are not popular because I just want to understand people. I went to Uganda, Tanzania, Mexico (countryside), Peru (countryside), Fiji and Tonga. The places I like to visit were the wet markets, churches and malls. I wanted to go to these places because these were people go for ordinary purposes. Museums require entrance fees and taste for art and some education. This is for comparative purposes.

    Growing up and in prayers, I always fight with God why he made a lot of people so poor. Why my family is better than most. I was always scared because our priest would always say obey God and don’t question Him but I always fight with Him. So you see, I am a great sinner. I fight with St Ignatius because a lot of his schools here in US are questionable.

    In my school, he have what we call immersion programs. The nuns (Franciscan Nuns) or brothers (Christian Brothers founded by St John De La Salle) have exposure programs. We live with these families. I know what it is to be materially poor. In my time in the Philippines, we have what you call smokey mountain. This is a mountain of garbage. Just imagine families leaving in a house where there is no room, the flooring is basically garbage and soil, and a bed were all of them sleep horizontally. Oh, inside the house there is a pig, a dog and a lot flies. In Uganda, on my first day, I cried because it was too much for me to see (aside from poverty, you have malaria and AIDS/HIV to deal with). I thought I have seen enough in Philippines. When I was very young, an OMI missionary priest told me once: if you want to work with the poor, you have to be centered on Christ, otherwise, you will forget why you are working for the poor. I never understood him until college days … liberation theology. When you work with the poor you often forget that there is a God who sees everything. When we work with the poor, we sometimes put justice in our hands. This is the reason why religious people becomes political and others, became renegade.

    Both of my grandparents (mother and father side) were very very very poor. My grandma, I considered a saint. Their logic was the only way out on this situation was to trust God, pray and study hard. Education played a great role. My aunts and uncles did not go to Catholic school as it was expensive and private but our generation went to Catholic schools. May was the month for Flores De Mayo and my grandma even without money would build this beautiful and magnificent altar for Mama Mary. It was fantastic and all of us grandchildren look forward to it every year. We pray at 3pm, the novena for the Flores de Mayo. Mama Mary was so dress up so nice. I could not understand too that my grandma, every Sunday at mass would always dress-up so nice, her green best dress. I asked why. She replied, we are going to mass. She had second grade education only. In the school, we were taught that your best was your heart. I just go to mass really with clean clothes, decent of course.

    I see that in poor places, they have this concept like my grandma. The best for God. They give their very best to God. They have the joy of knowing God. They have the richness of the soul.
    When I came to US, I was shocked to see the excesses. My prayers were My Lord and My God, if Philippines will be as rich as US and forget who you are, then please allow us not to be rich. By history, when countries become rich they often forget the Giver, the Creator.

    Since you are argue or posted on Argentina economy or being poor, this is for comparative study (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/):

    GDP: $474.8 billion (2012 est.)
    GDP – real growth rate: 2.6% (2012 est.)
    GDP per capita: $18,200 (2012 est.); country comparison to the world: 67

    GDP: $240.7 billion (2012 est.)
    GDP – real growth rate: 4.8% (2012 est.)
    GDP per capita: $4,300 (2012 est.); country comparison to the world: 162

    As you can see the material aspect of being poor is not counted in heaven and it could be even rewards points in heaven. The poverty of the soul without re-evangelization leads to damnation and it is eternity.

    Praying at Planned Parenthood, I do not pray that I can save a baby. I pray because I want people to know that God is good, God is the solution and that God loves them. If I can be this witness and they believe, the result will be saving a baby and lifetime of trusting, knowing and loving God.

    Truth is universal. It cannot be hermeneutic of west nor hermeneutic of the rich. Doing this divides us Catholic. Our love for God, ever ancient ever new (St Augustine & PBXVI) is hermeneutic of continuity. This is the hermeneutic of loving and adoring God from conception to natural death, sufferings and joys, and to the fullness and beauty of who God is, the grandeur of God’s love who died for us so that we might have a chance to eternal life. The best we could offer to God both materially and being. Tradition binds us: sinners and saints, old and new — our love for God through Mama Mary.

    I ask pardon for all my defects (PBXVI).

    God’s blessing of peace and joy!

    Just loving God,

  140. Prof. Basto says:

    According to the Vatican Information Service (http://www.news.va/en/news/tomorrow-mass-of-inauguration-of-bishop-of-romes-p), Pope Francis has decided to simplify the rites for the beggining of the Pontificate approved by Benedict XVI on 20 April 2005 and revised by the same Benedict XVI in February 2005.

    The decision that all Cardinals would participate in the act of homage to the new Pope has been reversed. Only two Cardinals from each order will approach the Pope to kiss his ring in the act of obedience.

    Also, the Gospel won’t be chanted in Latin and Greek as is traditional in the most important Papal solemnities, but only in Greek. There won’t be a Novus Ordo type offertory procession.

    And, most importantly, the Pope has decided not to use any of the readings (I’m not sure about the other propers) prescribed in the liturgical book “Ordo rituum pro ministerii Petrini initio Romae episcopi”, that governs the rites of installation. Instead of the several options of readings contained in that book, the readings will be those of the regular Mass of the day, that is to say, those of the Solemnity of St. Joseph.

  141. Mariana says:

    mamajen says:

    “If indeed that is a nard flower we see on Pope Francis’ coat of arms, it sends an interesting, and promising message, no?”

    I hope so! I’ve been thinking about the nard flower all day….

  142. Dr. Timothy J. Williams says:

    “TP is Correct….God Bless Papa Francesco….but one does worry about what is going to happen to the E. F. of Holy Mass and The reform of the reform our Dear Pope Benedict put into place.

    Fr Z. any Thoughts???? [Not much more than this: Nothing, unless you stop working for it. Nothing has to happen to it. But if those who want it freak out and start acting like jerks about the Pope, then we will lose in days what it took years to gain.]”

    Here we see how Fr. Z. is going to explain the persecution of the Traditional Latin Mass that will occur under Pope Francis: he is going to blame the victims! [That’s what I am going to do? Ridiculous.] Were the Catholics in Argentina who sought the Mass under Bergoglio denied it and persecuted because they were all “jerks?” Is that why Bergoglio expressly disobeyed Benedict in the failure to honestly implement Sommorum Pontificum? For that matter, are we all “jerks” to point out the videos of his “youth masses” celebrated with costumed Disney characters? I would like NOTHING more than to be proven a hysterical “Chicken Little.” But there is not one shred of evidence, so far, that suggests anything other than a looming liturgical disaster. [Being a jerk does, however, include making rash judgments about what I meant. Hasta luego.]

  143. Fr_Sotelo says:

    This is what I wrote to a friend: “The red shoes aren’t going to happen. I don’t think it’s humility or a stubborn streak. I think he just likes his shoes, and when so many poor people can’t afford a decent pair of shoes, he figures, “no thanks. I’m fine.” It’s hard for a man who’s just walked out of the slums of Buenos Aires to start getting excited about wearing pretty, red shoes. We sort of fly around in a different universe here in the U.S. Think of our parents and grandparents who survived the depression and I think you’ll get some of his mentality.”

  144. pmullane says:

    Maria – god bless you indeed, you put me to shame!!

    When I said that ‘we ‘ have lost sight of the true meaning of poverty, I meant people like myself, lazy westerners who have never seen the truly (materially) poor. Nowadays politicians in my country use the term ‘poor’ to mean those who have slightly less than average. Thus here in the UK, ‘poor’ people have plasma TV’s, iPhones, cars etc. ‘poor’ people are more likely to be fat than thin. Poor people will never have to work a day in their lives, but can eat, drink and pursue leisure like most of humankind couldn’t dream of. Governments perpetuate this myth to allow them to make people dependant, but that is another issue. We have poverty though, the poverty of loneliness, the poverty of the unloved, the poverty of an empty hedonism. Mostly we have the poverty of those who do not have Christ. We in the UK have everything, and yet we have nothing. Our hearts are empty. That is our poverty. In my ignorance I presumed that you were in my position. I beg pardon for that. Now I see that you have seen things that I have not, and have wisdom that I don’t.

    I agree with you that truth is universal. I didn’t mean that what’s true for us is not true for others, or vice versa, only that the Holy Father has decided to emphasise certain things in certain ways, and that he has his reasons for doing so. For example, some have mentioned concern that he has emphasised being the bishop of Rome in his message from the balcony on Wednesday night. I can understand how a man who is unknown to the majority, from a far flung country, speaking to a crowd of mainly Romans, may wish to show them a special care and episode that he is their bishop, lest they worry that this man has no concern for them. Pope John Paul II did some thing very similar when he was elected (…your city…our city). That does not mean that Pope Francis does not take his role as universal pastor seriously, just that different times call for different emphisis to teach us different lessons.

  145. jbosco88 says:

    Excellent post, Father. Almost hitting parable territory here.

    Continued prayers for you.

  146. jbosco88 says:

    …and let us not forget that many things were thought “lost” under Bl JPII, but reappeared under another strong Successor of Peter. Nothing is gone for eternity (except maybe the Tiara and Sedia).

  147. acardnal says:

    Comments from today’s Vatican Press briefing regarding the Inauguration Mass, the ring, etc:

  148. pmullane says:

    Lm01968 – thank you for your kind words.

    Maria, just for clarification on Argentina. Argentina, as you rightly point out, is not per se a ‘poor country’. It has, however, a lot of poor people, because it is a corrupt society, run by corrupt people. That corruption has turned it into a basket case, and it is not alone in the Americas.

  149. acardnal says:

    From Catholic News Service (CNS) Tweet: “OK. Lombardi clarifies. Ab Macchi’s ring was model for Pope Francis’ fisherman’s ring.”

    Photo here from CNS: https://twitter.com/CatholicNewsSvc/status/313632169329303552/photo/1

  150. Gemma says:

    “The fact is that none of those gestures were about me at all.” My older children and I had this discussion and came to the same conclusion. We should always give the Lord our best. I will get on my soapbox and add further that we should always strive to show our children the best in everything. Liturgy,music,art, literature, architecture,our faith, churches,etc. I cannot say this enough. The beautiful and true. It is not about us, but our Lord.

  151. Stephen D says:

    For many years I did not understand this but I now realise that if we get the liturgy right all sorts of good will follow for the priests, people, the Church and the world.

  152. Elizabeth M says:

    I think what he is trying to say is this: It is a better practice of the virtue of Humility to recognize the deeper meaning in all the externals that the Church adorns her priests & places of worship with. Humility should not be confused with meekness, which has it’s own beauty and merits. Throw off the garments of this world and be clothed in the garments of Christ’s Church.

  153. Maria says:

    Dear Pmullane,

    “Argentina, as you rightly point out, is not per se a ‘poor country’. It has, however, a lot of poor people, because it is a corrupt society, run by corrupt people. That corruption has turned it into a basket case, and it is not alone in the Americas.” — same as in my country.

    Argentina’s President: Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner – Catholic, corrupt govt, bills on same-sex marriage
    Philippine President: Arroyo – Catholic, corrupt govt, passage of RH bill that promotes contraception
    US Vice-Pres: Biden – Catholic, promote anti-life
    US Min leader: Pelosi – Catholic, promote anti-life

    What is the real poverty here?

    We give the highest honors to God? In our liturgy – our highest worship and our highest prayer, in visible office here on earth and our witness to His love.

    For the poverty of the soul? — we pray for the conversion of minds and hearts, for the unity of the church, adherence to magisterium, promotion and participation in our tradition and most of all, that Mama Mary will lead us in serving, knowing and loving Her Son more.

    God’s blessing of peace and joy!

    God bless,

  154. pmullane says:

    Maria – nothing to disagree with there.

    God bless

  155. VexillaRegis says:

    Did you know this about the red shoes? Quite touching :-) http://www.ewtn.com/vnews/getstory.asp?number=124438

  156. acardnal says:

    EWTN just Tweeted this 2 minute video where Pope Francis speaks about the Holy Mass (as sacrifice) and the priesthood:

  157. bourgja says:

    One of the things that concerns is that the Pope is not just disdaining certain types of vestments, but is actually dressing sloppily. You can see his ill-fitting black trousers through the thin white fabric of his cassock. I can’t help but think somehow of Mt. 22:12, although not in the eschatological sense of course!

  158. Gaetano says:

    A review of the Coronation/Installation Mass Program shows a great deal of Gregorian Chant, the Second Reading in Spanish, the Gospel in Greek and the Prayers of the Faithful in a variety of languages. I have read elsewhere that some of the music will be from Palestrina.

  159. AAJD says:

    Quite right–it’s not about you when your hands are kissed. Many of my Eastern priest-friends like to say to me that, however uncomfortable it once made them, and sometimes still does, when the faithful kiss their hands it’s a useful, constant reminder that they must take care as to what they do, what and whom they touch, with those hands because they regularly also hold the Body of Christ, give absolution in His name, etc.

  160. There is an old adage, if you don’t use something, you lose it. It can be applied to just about anything…

  161. Katylamb says:

    Oh thank you for that link, ACardinal! I love him. He is holy, I know. He doesn’t sound like a pope who would want to destroy any of the beauty of the Church. Of course, maybe I’m missing something that others will point out about something wrong in what he says. However, as far as I can see he’s wonderful. :)

  162. acardnal says:

    Here is a short video from CNS where Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who knows Pope Francis while both were in Argentina, talks about what the new pontiff will bring to church with regard to ecumenism. He is a proponent of Pope Francis. Of course, he may also be designated as a Patriarch under this Pope! ;-)

    For those who have not experienced an Eastern Rite Catholic Divine Liturgy, note at about the 2:35 minute mark how Holy Communion is distributed: the consecrated bread cubes, which are now the body of Christ, are floating in the Precious Blood in the chalice and delivered via spoon into the open mouth of the communicant.


  163. MAJ Tony says:

    The Holy Father is going to be Pope Francis, with all that is implied. In keeping with the “Keep Calm” meme of the current fad, I’ve included this Papal Arms atop somewhat “tongue-in-cheek” “Keep Calm, and Be Frank” on a white and yellow (gold) background. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10200702465427044&set=a.1246313600981.36835.1323640612&type=1&relevant_count=1&ref=nf

  164. jhayes says:

    Excerpts from Fr. Lombardi’s press conference today

    “The main part of the press conference was dedicated to how the Mass inaugurating the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome will be celebrated. “The correct term for the ceremony,” Fr. Lombardi clarified, “is not enthronement but inauguration. As successor of Peter, the Pope is Bishop of Rome and the Church of Rome ‘presides in love’ over the others. Also, it is a celebration rich with symbols that recall the Pope’s tie to St. Peter, beginning with the place where, according to tradition, Peter was martyred….

    The Imposition of the Pallium:

    Made of lamb’s wool and sheep’s wool, the Pallium is placed on the Pope’s shoulders recalling the Good Shepherd who carries the lost sheep on his shoulders. The Pope’s Pallium has five red crosses while the Metropolitans’ Palliums have five black crosses. The one used by Francis is the same one that Benedict XVI used. It is placed on the Pope’s shoulders by Cardinal proto-deacon Tauran and, after the imposition, there is a prayer recited by Cardinal proto-presbyter Daneels.

    The Fisherman’s Ring:

    Peter is the fisherman Apostle, called to be a “fisher of men”. The ring is presented to the Pope by Cardinal Deacon Sodano (first of the Order of Bishops). It bears the image of St. Peter with the keys. It was designed by Enrico Manfrini The ring was in the possession of Archbishop Macchi, Pope Paul VI’s personal secretary, and then Msgr. Malnati, who proposed it to Pope Francis through Cardinal Re. It is made of silver and gold….

    The Mass will be that of the Solemnity of St. Joseph, which has its own readings (therefore they are not directly related to the rite of the Inauguration of the Pontificate). The Gospel will be proclaimed in Greek, as at the highest solemnities, to show that the universal Church is made up of the great traditions of the East and the West. “Latin,” Fr. Lombardi said, “is already abundantly present in the other prayers and Mass parts.”….

    The Pope will give his homily in Italian and, as is his style, it probably will not follow the written text strictly, but will contain improvisations.

    Fr. Lombardi said that the Master of Celebrations expects that the ceremony will not last much more than two hours and, always with the intention of simplification and not making the rite overly long, there will not be an Offertory procession. The Eucharistic gifts will be brought to the altar by the ministers who prepare the altar. Also, the Pope will not distribute Communion, which will be done by the deacons on the “Sagrato” and, in the various areas of the piazza, by priests.

  165. djbeyers75 says:

    It fascinates me that Pope Francis’ election has aroused such strong emotions among conservatives and traditionalists. Their reaction, however, seems to me to be solely around the ceremonial style of this new pope. I find this all rather sad and disappointing.

    Don’t get me wrong – I would much rather prefer liturgy that celebrates the fullness of the Roman liturgy in all of its splendour and marvel. I much rather prefer a sung liturgy than the contemporary “Peter, Paul and Mary” Masses we so often must endure. Yet I cannot help but recall what a very holy priest once told me, as I struggled with the disregard that was common among other priests I observed, that we are to remember what the Eucharist is about. In the Eucharist the Church celebrates and joins itself to the perfect sacrifice – that of Christ – once and for all. Whether a priest wears ornate vesture or embraces all the ceremonial is besides the fact; the priest must simply intend to do what the Church has called him to do. Our Tradition even professes that the sins of the priest do not even affect the validity of the sacrament. So why is it that his ceremonial preference does?

    From what I’ve observed and read of our Holy Father Pope Francis these past few days has deeply challenged me. His preaching and actions have caused me to consider my own need for deeper conversion. While I may miss the classical elements of Roman liturgy in this pontificate, I can already tell that I will savour this man’s preaching and teaching. I only wish we were so fortunate to have more priests as dedicated as he to the Gospel. Perhaps the world, which is so often blind to the splendour of the Gospel, may be struck by the humility of this man. Remember, our Tradition celebrates Christ’s incarnation in utter humility. Maybe Christ is showing his face to us once more.

  166. acardnal says:

    jhayes, I posted that same material at 3:56 pm above directly from http://www.news.va

  167. Joan A. says:

    Fr. Z, you have just shown real humility by sharing your personal and private thoughts and feelings as you learned to say the Mass. This is absolutely the most fascinating glimpse of the Mass I’ve ever heard from a priest’s point of view. To “erase” the individuality of the priest, the Liturgy is designed so that can happen.

    As a lay person in the pews, it happens for me too, when the clear symbolism and meaning, aided by uplifting ritual, shines though.

    I want to see Jesus at Mass, I do not want to be entertained or have fun. But I know most people in my parish DO want to have fun or socialize, that is what “the service” is to them. But I see by your description how priest, deacons, servers, lay people all together will focus on God when the Liturgy is allowed to be pure and correct.

    May God bless and guide our new Holy Father, Francis.
    May God bless and console Benedict the Beloved.

  168. Di says:

    Excellent Father, Thank you for explaining!!!
    “The best parent and guardian of liberty amongst men is “Truth”
    ~Pope Leo XIII, Vicar of Christ(Immortale Dei 40, November 1, 1885)

  169. kallman says:

    The osculations of hand and biretta (not cruets) bother me too. I understand their meaning but they still bother me and can be a distraction. They can be jarring to newcomers also. I am not sure we should keep them in this current time of scandal in the clergy. [That’s not a reason not to follow the rubrics. I cannot see the good in speculating in that way.]

  170. Imrahil says:

    Well dear @djbeyers75,

    I don’t see the ceremonial style causing strong emotions among traditionalists and conservatives; not even on the Rorate blog, for that matter. What the ceremonial style is, is causing, in some, concerns because such-and-such people who have such-and-such ceremonial style often have this-or-that position and that maybe for such-and-such a reason. All this is quite legitimate, and neither state nor Church disallow us to utter our opinion.

    Generally (or, dear @jhayes),

    I do think that in any Mass, for actual liturgical reasons and not only “style”, Holy Communion should be distributed strictly 1. by the main celebrant, 2. by concelebrants, 3. by non-assistant priests, 4. by deacons, 5. in the OF by acolytes, 6. by EMHCs: in this order, so that there should not be a concelebrant non-distributing if there is a non-concelebrant distributing, etc. (How many we need, and how this depends on whether we’d need to supply with EMHCs, is another question.)

    Henceforth, I think Holy Communion should have been organized differently. Pope Francis, of all, should distribute Holy Communion to his flock; he has no fear to get amongst them on other occasions after all (something I agree with btw.).

  171. Imrahil says:

    In my “order of precedence as to distributing”, the assisting deacon (and assisting subdeacon, should there ever be a EF Mass with plurity of distributors) should come before the non-assisting priest. But that is, of course, minor to what I intended to say.

  172. catholicmidwest says:

    In the upper part of your post, I see that you have said that “style” possibly implies “position,” and then that “position” possibly implies an underlying reason.
    But in the lower part, you say that you’re not talking about style, so that leaves your conclusions to be a matter of either “position” or “reason.” I’m confused, which is it?

  173. Catholictothecore says:

    Well put, Fr. Z. Every time we celebrate Mass, it is Mass at Calvary.

  174. Tim Capps says:

    I think you can recognize the value of symbolism and choose to turn expectations on their head to make a deliberate point at a particular time to a particular audience. That doesn’t mean he fails to “get” true humility. I don’t know that we can draw any conclusions about what he plans for the church. Perhaps he is instructing churchmen here. Whatever his intentions, I am quite willing to assume the role of student and try to learn from the Pope. And some people are tossing around the term Ultramontanism like “Montanism” is a normal respect for the Pope, and mindless popebots are “Ultras,” with a disordered respect for the Pope. Ultramontanism is an old insult against the religious authority from “beyond the mountains” (Alps) I would hesitate to use as a Catholic.

  175. jhayes says:

    acardnal wrote: jhayes, I posted that same material at 3:56 pm above directly from http://www.news.va

    My 6:55 pm comment was expanding on my 12:34 pm comment on today’s press conference. I wanted to emphasize (by bolding) some specific points with the hope that it would generate some discussion of those points here.

    When I post, my hope is that other people will jump in with their views and move the discussion ahead.

  176. Felicia says:

    I think maybe our new Anglican Catholics could have the solution to this puzzle. After all, in the 19th and early 20th centuries Anglo-Catholics were not always welcome to the Anglican establishment and Anglo-Catholic priests were sent out into some of the worst slums: where they fed the hungry, clothed the naked, tended the sick—-and also made sure the liturgies were awe-inspiring.

  177. jhayes says:

    Imrahil, at Sunday’s Mass at the Vatican parish church, news reports noted that Francis also did not distribute Communion.

    It occurs to me that by not distributing Communion himself (at least temporarily) he avoids for the time being two possible sources of disputes.

    1. If he chooses not to continue Benedict’s practice of personally giving Communion only to persons who kneel and receive on the tongue.

    2. If he gives Communion to some controversial person who comes forward at the intallation Mass (e.g. Nancy Pelosi).

    It may be that he has decided that he has enough to deal with right now and that the issue of distributing Communion can be left to be resolved in the future.

  178. anna 6 says:

    I wonder if Pope Francis will ever explain why he chose to keep the black shoes and trousers and not to wear the mozzetta. We are coming up with so many different reasons which might all be wrong!

    In the case of Benedict, the teaching pope who used symbolism in profound ways, it turns out that two of his more famous wardrobe decisions simply had to do with his sensitivity to the cold. He wore a black sweater under his white cassock on his first appearance on the loggia, and the camauro (santa-like hat) when he had an outdoor general audience on a particularly cold December day.

    Until and unless Pope Francis makes the reasons for his choices known, opportunities for mischievous interpretations abound… not the least of which imply a hurtful, repudiation of Benedict XVI.

    But truth be told, I wish he hadn’t begun that way, because it caused a great amount of needless worry and division. I am not sure that it was worth it.

  179. Lori Pieper says:

    Thank you, pmullane, for all your comments. They are very enlightening. I think a lot of the world is more like Argentina than we care to admit. (And we know that only too many people, including here in the U.S. think the Pope must be corrupt, because he’s “rich”, because he’s got beautiful clothes and all these gold ornaments. For the most part, we Americans like to celebrate the rich as “go-getters,” the self-made men, people who became rich because they are frugal, capable, etc., but we can revert to the other feeling on the turn of a dime, if we want. . . )

    We do have to distinguish between the way Francis presents himself personally, such as on the loggia, and the liturgy. I can see from the pictures of him in Argentina that he always used beautiful chalices and ciboria there. For himself, he wants to be simple, but I don’t think that in any way he wants to rob our Lord of his glory!

    The rest of my take on this whole business is here:


    About the Pope not distributing Communion: he didn’t at Mass at St. Anna on Sunday, either. When I saw him sit down after receiving himself, I guessed the reason: he seemed to fall into deep prayer and recollection almost immediately. He just needs the time with Our Lord and has decided he’s going to get it.

    I wonder how many priests who distribute Communion at their Masses get time for a real thanksgiving of their own?

  180. Catholic Granny says:

    Your thoughts and questions are good ones, Greta. You said:

    So this is my question/thought: for all those that find deep connection and power in the those aspects of worship, do you think that it is possible that others would be on the opposite side of that scale and would actually find such things to be distracting – like a form of sensory overload. That rather than enriching their worship, it actually detracts from it?

    I can identify with this and I know other sincere and solid Catholics who feel the same. We are all different, for sure. It would be interesting to hear Fr. Z’s opinion. Do we just assume this is us and we accept it? Or rather is this a sign of our weakness and littleness and distance from our Lord and so we must keep working at learning to see and accept the beauty in it all rather than view it as a distraction?

  181. Maria says:

    Dear Djbeyers75,

    “It fascinates me that Pope Francis’ election has aroused such strong emotions among conservatives and traditionalists.” — I simply consider myself Catholic but with conservative views on life issues and Franciscan by heart.

    “…we are to remember what the Eucharist is about. In the Eucharist the Church celebrates and joins itself to the perfect sacrifice – that of Christ – once and for all.” — absolutely! This is the very reason we give our highest homage to God, the very core of our being and whatever materially we can offer in His house of worship.

    “Our Tradition even professes that the sins of the priest do not even affect the validity of the sacrament.” — did anybody posted here in-line with this? I go to Cardinal Mahoney’s masses on week days because he is my parish.

    “So why is it that his ceremonial preference does?” — It is not a preference but a reference point. This is a tradition that was handed to us for 2013 yrs not only by bad popes but the very good ones too. It is a tradition full of meanings and sacredness. Liturgy is not OUR invention but I think it was handed to us so “that that we might be filled with the knowledge of his will, with all spiritual wisdom and understanding, and that we might lead a life worthy of him and of his love, bearing fruit in every good work” (PBXVI last audience).

    “I only wish we were so fortunate to have more priests as dedicated as he to the Gospel.” — There are a lot. Go to Uganda, Tanzania, Philippines, China and Pakistan. These are the silent voices. Go to countries where Catholics are persecuted. I was shocked here in US that priests go to restaurants. In Mindanao, Philippines, priest visited us to have good food from my mom’s cooking.

    “Remember, our Tradition celebrates Christ’s incarnation in utter humility.” — you are absolutely correct! In utter humility and obedience even against of who we are, we give Christ our highest homage, our highest worship with fullness of freedom and love because He is our Redeemer, He is our Saviour, He is King, the Splendor and Majesty of Heaven.

    God’s blessings of peace and joy!

    God bless,

  182. Giuseppe says:

    Pope Francis loves the Eucharist. I have seen in the videos of each time he celebrates Mass. He has a look of wonder at the consecration that he, merely a man, is acting in the person of Christ. It is a beautiful look of humility that I treasure, and I believe we will learn much from this kind and self-effacing man.

    And, yes, re. the pope’s love of silver (argentum/ARGENTina), I too was trained (like Pope Francis) as a chemist. We are going to love this ARGENTine Peter.

  183. praise and glory says:

    Pope Francis seems to be a very practical man. And he also appears to have a slight limp. Perhaps it is simply that at his age he may very well have podiatry issues and/or arthritis, and so it’s just more comfortable to keep wearing his broken-in shoes this week. Perhaps the red shoes must be custom fitted to his feet to accommodate that. Or else that he might just consider it more symbolic to him to wait to don red until his Installation to the Office of Peter. I dunno…only sayin’.

  184. frjim4321 says:

    Whew . . . so much to read here. This is a popular topic.

    I certainly do agree that things related to the liturgy should be of high quality.

    I think it is the quantity that I have difficulty with at times.

    I am glad that the altar decorations at least so far seem muted if not removed . . . I will find tomorrow very interesting. I would love to see the altar speaking for itself and not festooned with distracting hardware. I will probably not be entirely pleased, but there should be modest improvement.

    I sincerely hope the good man follows the security advice that the experts give him.

  185. Fr Jackson says:

    “brick by brick”… but this time it’s Pope Francis’ way

  186. jhayes says:

    CNS reports that Francis made his own telephone call to the Jesuit Father General to thank him for a congratulatory letter he had sent – and had to convince the Jesuit receptionist that he really was the Pope.


  187. acardnal says:

    frjim, the Masses Pope Francis has done thus far(with the Cdls. and at St. Anna’s) looked like Pope BXVI’s in that the altar had 6 candles and a crucifix.

  188. acardnal says:

    The Jesuit Superior General Fr. Adolfo Nicolas Pachon of the Society of Jesus met with Pope Francis today, 18 March, in person at the Vatican.


  189. acardnal says:

    Correction: 17 March.

  190. Ed the Roman says:

    “and had to convince the Jesuit receptionist that he really was the Pope.”

    That reminds me of a story about the physicist Fermi, coming to a reception under Mussolini, who had awarded him the title of Excellency. Fermi drove himself there, and challenged by the gate guard identified himself as the driver of His Excellency, Enrico Fermi. The guard replied, ‘bene, park over there and wait for your master.’

  191. Matt R says:

    Fr Jim:

    I am glad that the altar decorations at least so far seem muted if not removed . . . I will find tomorrow very interesting. I would love to see the altar speaking for itself and not festooned with distracting hardware. I will probably not be entirely pleased, but there should be modest improvement.

    With respect, Father, the Benedictine arrangement is meant to be a mere brick in a long process of bricklaying. The goal is to eventually transition to worship ad orientem entirely, and to only have the crucifix and candles on the altar in churches where worshiping in the same direction is impossible e.g. the Papal Altar of St Peter’s Basilica. As a server in both forms, I certainly prefer facing the apse in the traditional Latin Mass, but the crucifix is a huge improvement to help my focus, and I’m sure it helps our pastor as well. I am focusing on the central action, the Eucharistic Prayer.

  192. frjim4321 says:

    acard and Matt, they seemed much smaller and pushed over the the sides, like a phalanx so they would not be a distracting; also as far as a process of bricklaying, I don’t really know that I agree. It seems that some of what had previous looked like a process was really just the articulation of a particular style and now that has run its course.

    I think a critical issue that has been raised with what some refer to as a benedictine arrangement is that it could erroneously teach that the mass is praying TO the crucified Christ instead of pray WITH the glorified Christ, as well as THROUGH him and IN him.

  193. Chris in Maryland says:

    The red shoes issue is a perfect case for thinking about appropriate gestures of humility. In this case, I’m thinking about the humble shoemaker from South America, who we all saw on EWTN, who makes his living making special shoes for special people…like the Pope. Now he can’t do that. So in my view, to have him make the shoes and pay him for it is a gesture toward abundance, in the best sense of the word…and I am sorry to say…to refuse the red shoes…seems to be a miscue in the desire for a gesture of poverty. Less limousines…yes…black shoes instead of red…not so much.

  194. MKR says:

    I don’t like Pope Francis’s sartorial “humility” one bit, and I hope he eventually comes to his senses. But there’s a much more important matter to keep in mind. Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi will publicly receive, and desecrate, our Eucharistic Lord tomorrow. Everyone knows this, and nothing will be done about it, out of a diabolical and diseased notion of “charity” and “love.” So, as important as the red shoes and so on are–and I do think they are important–perhaps we ought to redirect some of our ire to the gross sacrilege that will occur at the pope’s inaugural mass.

    If the pope truly cares more about Jesus than about his public image, then he will refuse Holy Communion to Biden and Pelosi.

  195. Mamma B says:

    Re: priest or bishops who will not allow you to kiss their hand. While viting my retired parents in Arizona, I went to Mass, met the priest afterwards and kissed his hand, he pulled my hand to him and kissed my hand. Not at all what I was expecting (I belong to and only attend Eastern Catholic Church at home.)

  196. anna 6 says:

    I wonder if Pope Francis will ever explain why he chose to keep the black shoes and trousers and not to wear the mozzetta. We are coming up with so many different reasons which might all be wrong!

    In the case of Benedict, the teaching pope who used symbolism in profound ways, it turns out that two of his more famous wardrobe decisions simply had to do with his sensitivity to the cold. He wore a black sweater under his white cassock on his first appearance on the loggia, and the camauro (santa-like hat) when he had an outdoor general audience on a particularly cold December day.

    Until and unless Pope Francis makes the reasons for his choices known, opportunities for mischievous interpretations abound… not the least of which imply a hurtful, repudiation of Benedict XVI.

    But truth be told, I wish he hadn’t begun that way, because it caused a great amount of needless worry and division. I am not sure that it was worth it.

  197. Matt R says:

    Father Jim:
    It is not the articulation of a particular style. Ratzinger purposefully titled his 2000 work The Spirit of the Liturgy. He knew that the title evoked the Guarini work with which it shares a title, and which is an important piece in the renewal of liturgy in the early 20th century. Thus the new liturgical movement was born. It is about finding the best in the liturgy so that we can give glory to God in the most fitting manner, while at the same time stripping away the banalities and distractions, with a critical eye as to the merits of a practice, not one looking solely to present the Mass as we imagine it to have been like in a particular time. This renewal must come about in each generation.
    Summorum Pontificum acknowledges an ontological reality, and that liturgy cannot be mandated from on high but rather developed bottom-up. Hence, the brick-by-brick analogy. Considering the growth of the TLM over the last 5 years, unless all bishops are plucked from TLM-free dioceses, I can’t say I agree that the reform of the reform is over.
    As to them being a distraction: well, why is it a distraction? Often it comes down to the priest no longer being visible to the congregation. I do not know if that is what you are saying. But, isn’t the crucifix a visual reminder to the priest and faithful-even if they only see the back- of the Sacrifice being re-presented? This aspect fails if the crucifix is laid flat on the altar, and, if that erroneous conclusion is being made, then why not just say the Mass ad orientem and be done with it? Proper liturgical arrangements require good catechesis, as a homily or an informal response to questions.

  198. oldcanon2257 says:

    frjim4321 says:
    18 March 2013 at 10:47 pm

    I think a critical issue that has been raised with what some refer to as a benedictine arrangement is that it could erroneously teach that the mass is praying TO the crucified Christ instead of pray WITH the glorified Christ, as well as THROUGH him and IN him.

    Fr. Jim,

    The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is true sacrifice (Council of Trent, Session XXII, Canons on the Sacrifice of the Mass). In addition, without the crucified Christ on the cross, we would not have a risen Christ. Ignoring the crucified Christ means doing away with the sacrificial nature of the Mass which in turns means turning the Holy Mass into something of a watered-down symbolic memorial (anathematized by the same Council of Trent) or community gathering or a simulation, some sort of horizontal event, something un-Catholic (or shall I say Protestanizing the Mass?)

    Applicable quote from Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s “Life of Christ”:

    “The modern world, which denies personal guilt and admits only social crimes, which has no place for personal repentance but only public reforms, has divorced Christ from His Cross; the Bridegroom and Bride have been pulled apart. What God hath joined together, men have torn asunder. As a result, to the left is the Cross; to the right is Christ. Each has awaited new partners who will pick them up in a kind of second and adulterous union. Communism comes along and picks up the meaningless Cross; Western post-Christian civilization chooses the unscarred Christ.

    Communism has chosen the Cross in the sense that it has brought back to an egotistic world a sense of discipline, self-abnegation, surrender, hard work, study, and dedication to supra-individual goals. But the Cross without Christ is sacrifice without love. Hence, Communism has produced a society that is authoritarian, cruel, oppressive of human freedom, filled with concentration camps, firing squads, and brain-washings.

    The Western post-Christian civilization has picked up the Christ without His Cross. But a Christ without a sacrifice that reconciles the world to God is a cheap, feminized, colourless, itinerant preacher who deserves to be popular for His great Sermon on the Mount, but also merits unpopularity for what He said about His Divinity on the one hand, and divorce, judgment, and hell on the other. This sentimental Christ is patched together with a thousand commonplaces, sustained sometimes by academic etymologists who cannot see the Word for the letters, or distorted beyond personal recognition by a dogmatic principle that anything which is Divine must necessarily be a myth. Without His Cross, He becomes nothing more than a sultry precursor of democracy or a humanitarian who taught brotherhood without tears.

    ? Fulton J. Sheen, Life of Christ

  199. PatB says:

    For a photo of spikenard, Nardostachys jatamansi:


    It does look rather like a bunch of grapes.

  200. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    I think a critical issue that has been raised with what some refer to as a benedictine arrangement is that it could erroneously teach that the mass is praying TO the crucified Christ instead of pray WITH the glorified Christ, as well as THROUGH him and IN him.

    In the Spirit of the Liturgy (and in other places), JRatzinger makes the point that in versus populum liturgy the celebrant becomes the center of the mass, rather than Christ. And so the mass de-emphasizes praying WITH the glorified Christ, as well as THROUGH him and IN him.

  201. robtbrown says:


    But…might there be people out there who really legitimately do not like such things because they find them distracting, as much as some folks find them uplifting and connects them with God?

    I think you make a good point, but it can also be applied to versus populum celebration, the essence of which IMHO encourages priests to create their own rubrics, which I find distracting. I don’t think I have ever attended a versus populum vernacular mass in which the celebrant did not do that in some degree or another.

    A few years ago I was talking with a pastor about ad orientem celebration. He was no traditionalist and was formed as a thoroughly Novus Ordo priest. He said that it would be nice to be able to say mass without having the sense that everyone’s eyes were on every little thing he was doing.

    A woman, serious Catholic but no traditionalist, once said to me about the typical way priests celebrate mass today: There’s too much of him (the celebrant) there, and not enough of Him.

  202. pinoytraddie says:

    To add to your Point Father,If somebody told you that wearing a Fiddleback Chasuble makes you a Pharisee,tell them:

    “Do not ditch the tassels because of Caiphas”.(that’s a play on the wise rejoinder to those inclined to leave the church because of hypocrisy: “Don’t leave Jesus because of Judas”.) Just Saying…you know

  203. RickMK says:

    I don’t know if it was just a peculiarity of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia alone, but here that has never been any kissing at all (except for the priest kissing the altar).

    All the kissing strikes me as seeming more European than American. Was it always the custom in the U.S. as it is in Europe? Or was it just recently brought over to America because so many people these days have been being introduced to the EF by Europeans, rather than knowing how it had always been done here?

  204. Nicandro says:

    Papa Heraldry…”La stella…l’antica tradizione araldica, simboleggia la Vergine Maria…

    Re link to the new pope’s heraldry posted here>

    Is a true catholic Marian star not like the Chicago star?>

    “The Marian star is a symmetric six-pointed star polygon. …is the Roman Catholic symbol which is the proper shape for depictions of artistic celestial objects related to the Blessed Virgin Mary and all other cases except when the Star of David is the appropriate symbol.”

    If you look at the renaissance paintings with the Madonna and stars in them e.g. Carlo Dolci (1611- 1686) You’ll see that the five pointed stars are not used. They come much later at the enlightenment period.

    Europe’s flag is a circle of stars often described as a Marian symbol but they are five pointed stars, Our parish church in Italy has a 150 year old Madonna banner where the circle of stars are six pointed not five pointed.

    Pius the tenth had a single six pointed star but John Paul I had three five pointed stars. Woooooooh!
    Just reporting. Can we expect some sedevacantist end of the world “fruit and nuts” angle on this!

  205. C. says:

    St. Francis humbly wore sandles.
    St. John of the Cross humbly wore no shoes at all.
    Bl. Pope John Paul II humbly refused to wear the silly red shoes of the past.
    Pope Benedict XVI humbly submitted to tradition and wore the red shoes again.
    Pope Francis humbly wears his own black shoes.
    Sister pantsuit at my parish humbly wears sensible shoes.
    The sisters at the local monastery humbly wear their traditional habits.

    Now I am a recalcitrant, stubborn sinner. Where do I find the shoes of pride that would suit my feet? I checked on-line and Amazon doesn’t sell any proud shoes. Any ideas? [My first idea is that this is not really about shoes.]

  206. Anabela says:

    St. Jean Vianney lived a very austere and impoverished life himself as most of us know. But he spent much of his own funds on having beautiful vestments and vessels for the Liturgy of the Holy Mass. He did not downgrade the Holy Mass in any way because he knew the great Mystery he was entering into. The evil one hates the Holy Mass, the Priesthood and the Catholic Church, period. Be watchful because anything that takes away from the Sacredness of the Holy Mass is taking away from Christ Himself. It puts us at the centre and not Jesus. Words are all very well, but actions speak sometimes louder. God bless you and I pray for the Holy Father Pope Francis.

  207. Anabela says:

    Remember the Gospel of the Anointing of Jesus’ feet.

    It was now two days before the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth, and kill him; for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be a tumult of the people.” And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. But there were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment thus wasted? For this ointment might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and given to the poor.” And they reproached her. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you will, you can do good to them; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burying. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” (Mark 14:1-9)

  208. acardnal says:

    frjim wrote, “I am glad that the altar decorations at least so far seem muted if not removed . . . I will find tomorrow [19 March] very interesting. I would love to see the altar speaking for itself and not festooned with distracting hardware. I will probably not be entirely pleased, but there should be modest improvement.”

    I was pleased to see that at the Holy Father’s Inauguration Mass today, 19 March, seven large candlesticks and a crucifix were on the altar very similar to the way Pope BXVI celebrated Mass.

  209. An American Mother says:

    Primer Lesson

    Look out how you use proud words.
    When you let proud words go, it is not easy to call them back.
    They wear long boots, hard boots; they walk off proud; they can’t hear you calling–
    Look out how you use proud words.

    – Carl Sandburg

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  211. nanetteclaret says:

    Regarding the Papal Tiara (or lack thereof), it seems to me that just as Christ entrusted His Keys to His Vicar, the Pope, that the Tiara would symbolize the Kingship of Christ and the Pope would be wearing it for Him, until He comes again in power and glory.

    The “humility” of this Pope is very off-putting to me, in that it seems really fake. If the Holy Father thought there would be some sort of contradiction of his vows of poverty, then why did he accept the office? It also bugs me that he has stressed that he is the Bishop of Rome. Where does that leave us, the rest of the world? Does he not think of himself as OUR Holy Father? My initial reaction is that he reminds me of parents who want to be “best buds” with their children. It never works out, because their authority has never been established. And good luck to the parent who tries to assert some authority over the teenager who has never been disciplined. If the Pope is trying to emphasize that he is the “first among equals” for the benefit of the Eastern Orthodox, I think it will backfire when it comes times for him to discipline those who need disciplining. While they may not say it outloud, I can think of a certain cardinal who will probably be thinking, “You’re not the boss of me!”

  212. doanli says:

    As someone born during the V2 Council, and who has reverted to be more of an orthodox, traditional Catholic, I second the question above of what GOOD did V2 do? I’d love to think it did some good since Benedict and John Paul were both involved in it? And please, Holy Father Francis I, NO GUITAR PLAYING POLYESTER PANTSUIT NUNS, PLEASE? (Not a pleasant memory during my childhood).

  213. Imrahil says:

    Dear @C.,

    if you’re getting the point that there is no classification à la “this attire is proud, this attire is humble”, so much the better.

    Quoting a famous TV series of recent past, both Count Grantham and Matthew Crawley are doubtlessly, and from the beginning of the series, humble men. It is another question who has the more thorough erudition (I take this word in the very general and idealistic sense our German Bildung bears), or who is right (I do not say either btw., at least not to the latter question, that the answer is “obviously the former”), but there cannot from the beginning be a shadow of a doubt that they are both humble.

    I recommend again Chesterton, On American Morals, with apology for the title.

    Dear @nanetteclaret,
    two things: 1. The Pope’s humility is not a fake; especially his humour makes me believe him; and then of course, nothing unfavorable should be suspected without reasonable specific grounds for suspicion – which I simply cannot see. In any brother Christian and in any heathen, much the more in our Holy Father. Concerns and criticism is one thing, but I protest against the suspicion of faking humility for the only reason that he shows it. How can we possibly ever do a good thing if it is grounds for suspicion that we do it from a bad motive?
    [I do not protest against the criticism “he should wear a mozetta”, only against “if he shows humilty by wearing no mozetta, his humility is faked”.]

    2. The vote of poverty does not forbid to assume an office when called to it; in fact Bl. Pope John Paul II in what is still the law of the Church, says the one elected to the Papacy really ought to accept, because chosen by God. There have been Popes from orders before, even if not Jesuits.
    On the other hand, the vote of poverty does bind bishops. He’ll have to care for himself what this exactly means. If it is true that Popes from orders traditionally did not wear the mozetta (which I read in a comment above; heavily interesting), that may be such an arrangement.

  214. Imrahil says:

    I mean, of course, Earl Grantham, not count. Apologies to all British readers.

  215. oldcanon2257 says:

    Imrahil says:
    19 March 2013 at 6:24 pm

    On the other hand, the vote of poverty does bind bishops. He’ll have to care for himself what this exactly means.

    My friend Imrahil,

    Don’t forget to mention Canon 706 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law which takes into account the situation of religious being consecrated to the episcopate, including those who had professed a solemn vow of poverty because bishops may have the need to acquire and administer property on behalf of their particular church, institute or the Holy See. :D

  216. nanetteclaret says:


    IF the reports are true that there were clothes and shoes ready for him to put on right after his election, it was not gracious of him to reject them, just because of his own preferences, especially after a lot of people had gone to a lot of trouble to get everything right. I just keep thinking of the cobbler who made Holy Father Emeritus’ red shoes. Will Pope Francis go to him for black shoes? If not, this cobbler has lost one of his means of his living. How does that help the poor? And what kind of message does it send when the Pope rejects the mozzettas that are available because they are too fancy, then wastes money having one made to his specification? I suppose one could say that he is giving work to the mozzetta-makers, but at least with shoes they have a possibility of wearing out first before new ones are bought, plus they do need to fit properly. To me, it seems “penny wise, pound foolish” and that he is trying to make a statement which is not well thought out. What little I have seen so far makes me think that it seems that his former way of life will be in direct conflict with his duties as Pope. This whole scenario has got me pretty upset, to the extent that I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it.

  217. JLHernandez says:

    Thought I should share this. C.S. Lewis seemed to also have something to say about this.

    C.S. Lewis:

    “…the very fact that pompous is now used only in bad sense measures the degree to which we have lost the old idea of ‘solemnity’. To recover it you must think of a court ball, or a coronation, or a victory march, as these things appear to people who enjoy them; in an age when every one puts on his oldest clothes to be happy in, you must re-awake the simpler state of mind in which people put on gold and scarlet to be happy in.”

    “Above all, you must be rid of the hideous idea, fruit of a wide-spread inferiority complex, that pomp, on the proper occasions, has any connexion with vanity or self-conceit. A celebrant approaching the altar, a princess led out by a king to dance a minuet, a general officer on a ceremonial parade, a major-domo preceding the boar’s head at a Christmas feast – all these wear unusual clothes and move with calculated dignity. This does not mean that they are vain, but that they are obedient; they are obeying the hoc age which presides over every solemnity. The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremoniously is no proof of humility; rather it proves the offender’s inability to forget himself in the rite, and his readiness to spoil for every one else the proper pleasure of ritual.”

    “…The desire for simplicity is a late and sophisticated one. We moderns may like dances which are hardly distinguishable from walking and poetry which sounds as if it might be uttered ex tempore. Our ancestors did not. They liked a dance which was a dance, and fine clothes which no one could mistake for working clothes, and feasts that no one could mistake for ordinary dinners, and poetry that unblushingly proclaimed itself to be poetry. …Epic diction, Christmas fare, and the liturgy, are all examples of ritual – that is, of something set deliberately apart from daily usage, but wholly familiar within its own sphere. …Those who dislike ritual in general – ritual in any and every department of life – may be asked most earnestly to reconsider the question. It is a pattern imposed on the mere flux of our feelings by reason and will, which renders pleasures less fugitive and griefs more endurable, which hands over to the power of wise custom the task (to which the individual and his moods are so inadequate) of being festive or sober, gay or reverent, when we choose to be, and not at the bidding of chance”

    -C.S. Lewis, Preface to paradise Lost

  218. AnnAsher says:

    I have been thinking about these things also. For me, I have decided, if it were up to me, I would suggest Pope Francis do what makes himself comfortable in relation to all personal luxuries but when it comes to symbols of His Office – to please embrace and use them.

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  220. David Collins says:

    Thank you, Fr. Z, for this teaching. Eye-opening.

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