ACTION ITEM! “Church Madness” Championship 2017 – FINAL!

action-item-buttonYour attention is urgently needed.

Last year, St. John Cantius in Chicago ascended the brackets to be Numero Uno in the Church Madness tourney.

This year we see that the last surviving churches are the Institute of Christ the King’s Oratory in St. Louis, Missouri

…and St. James in Louisville, KY….

Last year, I made the argument that what happens inside the church, liturgically, must be taken into consideration in determining its beauty.

I think we know what goes on at the Institute Church in St. Louis.

QUAERITUR: What goes on in St. James in Kentucky?

A trip to the website show me that at St. James they have a “Children’s Liturgy” (FAIL!), and that that post online which priest is scheduled for which Mass (FAIL!).  It is hard to find their Mass schedule (FAIL!).  They call most of their Masses “liturgies” (FAIL!).

Furthermore, you can see in their photo, above, that they have unspeakable things in their church, things which grate the very eyeball which which we are asked to gaze.  They have twisted their pews and they have in a prominent, visually unavoidable location … I can hardly bring myself to say it… a PIANO!


The horror!

No.  No, a thousand times no.   This is infra dignitatem and St. James will not receive my vote.  This is the sort of place that would have altar girls.  No. No. No.

The rest of the building, as beautiful as it is, is not enough to outweigh these defects.

What happens in the building counts for a great deal.



As of now the results are…


To VOTE for the St. Francis go…


For even thinking about voting for St. James go… HERE.  And then…


UPDATE 7 April:

The contest is officially closed. They haven’t announced the winner yet, but the situation looks to be well in hand.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ACTION ITEM!, Lighter fare, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Mary Jane says:

    Voted for St Francis! It is a stunningly beautiful church.

  2. Imrahil says:

    I’m curious: why would it be a fail that they post which priest is scheduled for which Mass?

    (After all, people might be interested in finding out 1. where to go, based on their knowledge which priest has celebrates decently, 2. which priest they will find in the sacristy afterwards to make an appointment for a life-Confession or the like, 3. which priest is going to hold the sermon – all endeavors that have nothing to do with denying that Mass is Mass.)

    [I know that some priests are to be avoided, with extreme prejudice, but people should go to Mass, not go to priest.]

  3. CrimsonCatholic says:

    I agree with Imrahil,

    Why is it bad to post which priest is scheduled for which mass?

    There was a parish that I use to go to that would post which priest for each mass. It was a good tool to avoid the mass with the retired priest that committed liturgical abuses and used a clay chalice.

    [People should go to Mass, not go to priest. Rabbit hole CLOSED.]

  4. CrimsonCatholic says:


    How did St. Ann in Charlotte lose to St. James in Kentucky? St. Ann is a wonderful parish. [More votes went to St. James’ than to St. Ann’s.]

  5. trespinos says:

    Probably will abstain since the church in Norwalk, CT, also beautifully set up for TLM, didn’t make the finals. I haven’t been so disappointed since the Zags lost to the Tar Heels.

    [Abstaining by some is why so many good people weep after election day.]

  6. joekstl says:

    I am puzzled by the judgment [No, you really aren’t.] “They call most of their Masses “liturgies” (FAIL!).” I understand “liturgy” to mean etymologically as a work of the people, or in our Catholic rituals as a public service of the Church. That’s the way I consider the Mass ritual. Also – a Holy Grail on this blog is “Liturgiam Authenticam” – Liturgiam – horrors! [Nice try.]

    Two other comments: first, in our Church we have a piano adjacent to our organ to the right of the sanctuary. [My condolences.] We use both or each depending on the finalized choice of music appropriate to the liturgy of the day. [Including music from that huge body of sacred Church music for piano?] And if David can express his worship and reverence to God present in the Ark with dance, [Under the old covenant, and pretty much naked.] and if the Psalms can call for us to praise Him with clanging and resounding cymbals, why not use all the musical instruments at hand for praise. Second, our service ministry at the altar table includes women and girls . Yes. Yes. Yes.! [Again, mu condolences.]

    Lastly – I find the The Tablet from London an authentic voice of Catholic opinion. [Why am I not surprised.] For a weekly paper to be around since 1840 says something about its value. [Leprosy has been around since, well, since about forever ago B.C., and it’s still around, too. On a happier note, Samuel Colt got his first revolver patent in 1836, four years before The Tablet. See how much this proves?]

    Peace to all

    [Everyone: don’t rise to the bait. He’s just here to get a reaction.]

  7. Andrew D says:

    Another strike against the Kentucky church is that inscription in English around the rotunda. Something tells me at one time it was in Latin, the language of the Church.

    [That doesn’t bother me too much. Would I prefer, Latin? Sure.]

  8. teomatteo says:

    One has a communion rail and one doesn’t. Hmmm…

  9. Legisperitus says:

    The vote’s still very close…

  10. Legisperitus says:

    And Andrew D, that English inscription may be older than you think, since it uses the faux-classical V in place of U that hasn’t been popular in a while.

  11. Deo Credo says:

    Even if de Sales doesn’t win, we still have a beautiful community. If anyone is in St Louis sunday, come on by. Nothing like a procession with palms to ease the pain of a loss or to celebrate a victory. Good clean catholic fun. As to the piano, the choir is so stunning at de Sales that even with our organ broken our mass was filled with angelic sounds. Truly a place to come closer to the almighty. Thank you Father Z for noticing.

  12. guans says:

    St. Francis de Sales Oratory (St. Louis, MO) 51.75% (9,243 votes)
    St. James Church (Louisville, KY) 48.25% (8,617 votes)
    Total Votes: 17,860
    Halleluia, Thank You Jesus.
    Thank You Father Z.

  13. Didn’t the “spirit of Vatican II” call for the organ itself to be placed between the altar and the people, almost as the iconostasis is used in the Eastern Rites? (Yes, I’m kidding)

    I would like to assist at Mass at the St.Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis, Missouri. You can tell a lot about a parish by its confession schedule. And, regarding the popularity of St. James, with the piano in the wrong place–etcetera, I believe that as more and more of the faithful learn about our most ancient and still current traditions that we will see children’s Masses go the way of bell bottoms, and pianos put back into choir lofts. I bet my life on it.

  14. TNCath says:

    A piano in church is like picking up a “Go directly to [the liturgical] jail” card.

  15. Athelstan says:

    It is hard to find their Mass schedule (FAIL!).

    For the life of me, I simply do not understand why so many parishes make it difficult to find their Mass (and Confession!) times on their parish websites.

    This is what 90%+ of new visitors are looking for when they pull up your site. So make it easy on them: put the Mass times right on the home page, and make it prominent. Don’t make them hunt for it.

    P.S. Congratulations to St Francis de Sales Oratory on pulling out the win in the final hours!

  16. Henry Edwards says:

    They post online which priest is scheduled for which Mass (FAIL!).

    Since Christ Himself is the principal actor in the liturgy of Holy Mass, and the priest acts only in persona Christi, perhaps the schedule should list Christ–rather than the particular priest–for each Mass.

  17. roseannesullivan says:

    Thank God, St. Francis de Sales won! BTW, the other finalist doesn’t have an altar rail.
    Did you see the info at the site that St. Francis was hit by lighting, a few days before the contest closed? They had recently completed work on the electrical system that got the clock working after many years and that controls the bells. Now neither are functional any more after the lightning. Makes one wonder …

  18. Packrraat says:

    My husband and I visited the oratory in St. Louis in October 2013. Stunningly beautiful church!! I took a ton of photos. Went to Mass there too at one of the side altars. I didn’t even have to provide my own gluten-free wafer. They have them already consecrated in the tabernacle. Wish we could have been there on a Sunday. Perhaps we’ll make it back there another time.

  19. L. says:

    To give St. James a little credit, at least it appears to be a real piano, and not an electronic keyboard simulation like the one I see in my parish church.


  20. Henry Edwards says:

    Arriving early one 2007 morning at St. Francis de Sales Oratory (while visiting St. Louis) about an hour before a new ICK priest’s first solemn high Mass the day after his traditional ordination by Card. Burke, I witnessed simultaneously five different silent low Masses celebrated five different priests–one at the high altar and the other four at four different side altar–each with a single server. The five Masses having started at five slightly different times, I had the unique (and powerful) experience of adoring Our Lord at five successive elevations. Recalling Card. Ratzinger’s comment after a similar experience at a traditional French monastery, I thought “This is the real Catholic Church”, which I once (in the bleakest post Vatican II days) had thought gone with the wind. Even more impressive than the magnificent solemn high Mass that followed, perhaps rivaling in just a few moments the “four hours of heaven” solemn pontifical Mass of ordination celebrated in the St. Louis Basilica Cathedral the previous afternoon.

  21. chantgirl says:

    Perhaps I am a bit biased, but the most beautiful Masses I’ve ever assisted at have to be the Midnight Mass at St. Francis de Sales- a foretaste of Heaven!

  22. joekstl says:

    I wish a prayerful Holy Week to all.

    I need to clarify: I do not post here to get a reaction. I post to show how our Florida church worships on Sunday, validly and licitly. I understand that the just about unanimous view of this blog’s posters is a preference for the Extraordinary Form. The views here and mine differ as to our theological understanding of the form of worship. If I understand correctly, the emphasis here is on the sacrificial aspect of the Mass – similar to the Hebrew Scriptures view of sacrifice with the priest in the holy area of the temple. I see the Novus Ordo as the sacrificial/meal – so a focus on the altar table as the locus of meal and sacrifice for the community, hence in the center with the presider facing the community. And as the Eucharistic Liturgy developed and the language and music developed through plain chant, polyphonic Masses and hymns sung by the people, so today there is room for other music forms.

    The emphasis on the Baptismal rights of our local community offers access to most ministries, whether male or female, including lector, Eucharistic minister and service at the altar.

    Our parish community is small – just under 500 families right now. We are growing, with each Easter Vigil seeing 6-8 adults being baptized into our Catholic Church.

    Our music ministry and welcoming of all into service is one of the things that attracts our members.

    Bottom line, if the views expressed here indicate the preferred way to pray – keep doing it. Prayer is the key however expressed. But, and a big but, I do resent being told that the way our parish worships deserves FAIL.

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