ROME: Sacra Liturgia Conference – Day 2 – Part Duh… errrr… Deux

Lots of French this afternoon at the Sacred Liturgy conference. I follow French well but… with the jet lag and the first topic… damn! I had to walk around and find coffee for to stay wakeful. And I find lots of French tedious, after a while.

So, I spent time reading Latin inscriptions on the walls. Rome is great for that.


Tonight there was what passes for a “solemn” Mass in the Novus Ordo. Card. Canizares Llovera was celebrant for a concelebrated Mass. I was in choir.

Sorry about blurry images. Something is wrong with my iPhone camera which leaves me feeling… what do you call it again… anger?

You may be tempted to ask if the celebrant stood for this prayer. Yes. He did.


This Novus Ordo Mass was about as good as the Novus Ordo gets. The music was good. The ceremonies reverent. It was MC’d well.


What irks and disappoints with the Novus Ordo – all the time – is that a celebrant will start singing and then THUD stop singing and just speak the next part, higgledy-piggledy. The musical parts are all available. Celebrants could sing them. But…. la la la and then THUD.

This is a fault of the celebrant rather than the Novus Ordo. But the NO lends itself to this nonsense.

Fathers… learn to SING THE WHOLE THING!

THUD is what happened tonight throughout.

Another view. Again, sorry about the blur.


After Mass – which was CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC – GRRRR AGAIN – I saw this scruffy bunch whom I had met in Boston during a recent visit.

They let anyone come to these conferences. (But they won’t let anyone in for MASS who lacks a ticket.)


Great guys.

Then supper.

Zucchini blossoms, stuffed with anchovy and mozzarella and then fried.

If you have a garden with zucchini and don’t know what to do with all of them, get out there in the morning early, before the new blossoms open. Pick blossoms (zucchini abortions, I guess) and wrap them in moist paper towels and put them in the fridge for later. You can make all sorts of great things from them.


Mixed seafood thingy.


Saltimbocca. So ubiquitous in Rome as to be boring. And, I must admit, this version was a little boring. It didn’t “jump” as promised. But I managed to fend off death by starvation again… again too well.


And so, after a grueling day of listening to excellent talks on sacred liturgy in three languages which I understand quite well, and having negotiated shops and eateries in the local patois, I return to my short-let apartment to do laundry and force myself to sleep … perhaps by reading some Hans Urs von Balthasar. Never fails.

I leave you therefore with a poignant quote I heard today, citied by Tracey Rowland in her near perfect address. With a measure of irony, Yves Congar, not exactly a trad from 1960:

“But we need only step into an old church, taking holy water, as Pascal and Serapion did before us, in order to follow a Mass which has scarcely changed, even in externals, since St. Gregory the Great, or we may open our missals at the pages which give the Paschal Tridiuum…Everything has been preserved for us, and we can enter into a heritage which we may easily transmit in our turn, to those coming after us. Ritual, as a means of communication and of victory over devouring time, is also seen to be a powerful means of communication in the same reality between men separated by centuries of change and affected by very different influences. Both as a lived action and as a ritualized action, the liturgy preserves and hands on to us elements which are much more numerous than were realized by those men who performed and preserved the rites, and actually handed them on to us: many more, even, than we ourselves can know. The whole Eucharist is given to me in its celebration, I myself possess it in its entirety, although I understand and could express so little of it…The whole of our love is expressed in the liturgical kiss, even if we do not really attend sufficiently to what we are doing. The whole of our faith is in the most ordinary sign of the cross, and when we say ‘Our Father’ we already imply all the knowledge which will be given to us only when we embrace it in the revelation of glory.”


My view for a while…

Pontifical Mass to begin soon!


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    “La la la then THUD…..”

    I’ve thought this so many times, Father! At my church’s Novus Ordo, Father goes, sung, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spiriiiiiiit” and then all of the sudden he cuts in with some spoken intro to the Penitential Act. Or there’s the sung, “At the Savior’s command and formed by Divine teaching, we dare to say…” with the sung Our Father, and then all of the sudden it cuts back to speaking with, “Lord Jesus Christ, Who said to Your apostles”. Finally there’s those awful announcements inserted between the Postcommunion Prayer and final blessing. They usually involve snickering or clapping or something, then all of the sudden, we’re back to a sung, melodious, “The Lord be withhhh yooooouuuuuu…”

  2. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Fr. Z guessed, parenthetically, “zucchini abortions”: perhaps my ignorance of zucchini fertilization is showing, but if “before the new blossoms open”, wouldn’t that be simply blossoms (with their various haploid gametes) ‘set-apart’?

    Thank you for the Congar quotation!

  3. CharlesG says:

    I agree with you that it would be nice, particularly in something called a “solemn mass”, to have everything sung, including the lessons. However, I would think you could make your point without the snarky bashing of the “novus ordo,” i.e., the ordinary form, as such, since it does allow it. Why not say something positive to promote the singing of everything at “solemn” OF masses rather than take the occasion as another excuse to take a swipe at the OF?

  4. markomalley says:

    Oh, man…

    Father, I miss zucchini blossoms sooooooo much from living in Italy.

    (and my current abode is not really zucchini friendly)

  5. contrarian says:


    That’s an awesome expression.

    (Note to self: start using that expression.)


    As to the THUD thing, I’m glad you brought this up. As a former Lutheran, I’m used to an entirely sung Mass, and I’ve never adjusted my sensibilities on this matter, this side of the Tiber. The stop-n-start approach to singing the NO Mass has always grated on me.
    “So the priest is supposed to sing that one part but then speak the next part?” I asked when I was still in RCIA and taking notes in the pew of my NO parish, and assuming, a la my Lutheran upbringing, that the celebrant followed instructions strictly. “That’s a strange idea…”


    Those Zucchini fritter things look good.

  6. As the movie character said in response to an offer of water in his whiskey, “when I drink whiskey – I drink whiskey, and when I drink water – I drink water.

    There really should be a clearly defined difference between a solemn “sung” mass and an “low” mass even in the Novus Ordo. Having experienced both, and loved each for their own beauty, I must agree that, when it comes to sung liturgy, it should be one or the other – not a mash-up of the two.

  7. jaykay says:

    “And so, after a grueling day of listening to excellent talks on sacred liturgy in three languages which I understand quite well, and having negotiated shops and eateries in the local patois, ”

    I could do that kind of grueling. In fact, that kind of grueling sounds like heaven on earth to me right now in grey, expensive Dublin with three months to go until I get away :(

    Fond memories of the time I got to look after my sister and friends’ apartment in San Paolo fuori le Mure, too many years ago…

  8. JonPatrick says:

    What really bugs me is when you go to what starts out to be a sung Novus Ordo Mass, then they say the Gloria. Somebody once compared it to going to a baseball game and reciting the National Anthem. It’s the Gloria, for crying out loud, let’s sing it.

  9. pjsandstrom says:

    Could you provide the source of the quotation from the writings of Yves Congar? It is not very useful to provide as a citation “as I once saw in a blog of Father Z. Thanks

  10. Suburbanbanshee says:

    When I was a kid, most of the priests sang Mass, at least the chanting-on-a-tone thing. And it wasn’t that hard, fathers. It’s easier than talking, really.

    I remember, because it’s also easier for kids to learn and understand anything with a tune and a rhythm to it….

  11. Winfield says:

    pjsandstrom: Yves M.-J. Congar, O.P., “Tradition and Traditions” (NY: MacMillan, 1967), 429.

  12. Stephen Matthew says:

    The mass should certainly always be sung or chanted as a normative matter. Certainly there are circumstances where there must be a deviation into reciting, but let that be the exception not the rule. (I have even known of the Byzantines to concede reciting the creed when it is likely that a common tone or translation may be lacking.) There are parts in particular that are very much suited to singing, such as the above mentioned Gloria.

    I do appreciate the flexibility of the present order, as it at least in theory allows you to approach ever nearer the ideal as it becomes practical without such a giant leap, but it needs to be always trending towards that higher form. Sadly I know of several places where EF communities find all sorts of excuses to only have a low mass regularly with a once a blue moon high mass, and take the view that solemn mass is somehow a rarefied creature that only has its places in the greatest of the cathedrals and basilicas, as if it were entirely beyond the ability of a small parish community to even contemplate.

    Let us keep going farther up and farther into the liturgy, both as to its solemnity and mystery.

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