Francis’ Corpus Christi Eucharistic procession. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

Here is a really sad tweet about this year’s Corpus Christi procession moved from Rome to Ostia. (Not a great idea, but, hey, they didn’t ask me.) There is a link to a video of the whole thing. Click ahead and watch the crowd.  WARNING: The music is horrific.  Once you hear it, you can’t unhear it.

None of this should surprise us after the last, say, 50 years or so.

We can grant, that getting a procession together can be a little chaotic and distracting, and it can be distracting to have the Pope in your neighborhood.  We can grant that people who are truly wicked can kneel and put on a pious but empty show.  What you see through the streets in the video is something else entirely.   It seems to be a lack of comprehension, rather than of indifference.

Were there no signs of faith or reverence?  Of course there were.  But watch extended moments and get a sense of it.

And this started a long time before Pope Francis was Pope.  On the other hand, I don’t think I am being entirely unfair to remind people of Benedict XVI in Hyde Park, London – HERE (try 40:00 on).    Also, lest I be unfair, you can find youtube videos of Corpus Christi processions of yesteryear and not everyone kneels.  1925 HERE – 1941 HERE  1947 HERE  There is an entirely different ethos.   We also must adjust our minds for cultural differences and locations: cathedrals of major cities are different from parishes in small towns.  Nevertheless…

We all understand the concept quantum potes tantum aude, but the quantum and the tantum and the posse and the audere have been nearly reduced to zero.   I refer the readership to my rants about milk and goop v. steak and cabernet.  We also know that in most places, if there is even cultural Catholicism left, it’s a surprise.  We have to be patient and realistic.

Above all, however, we have to examine ourselves and what we are doing.

All the more reason for our own truly devout relationship with Christ in the Eucharist and efforts to initiate, foster and promote worthy sacred liturgical worship.

I often have written in these electronic pages of the connections between our identity as Catholics, our impact in the public square, and our sacred liturgical worship. This is what Benedict XVI’s “Marshall Plan” (as I called it) was all about.

You might recall what the Marshall Plan was.

After World War II many regions of Europe were devastated, especially its large cities and manufacturing. These USA helped rebuild Europe through the Marshall Plan so as to foster good trading partners and, through prosperity, stand as a bulwark against Communism.

After Vatican II many spheres of the Church were devastated, especially its liturgical and catechetical life. We need to rebuild our Catholic identity so that we can stand, for ourselves as members of the Church and in the public square for the good of society, as a bulwark – indeed a remedy – against the dictatorship of relativism.

If we don’t know who we are as Catholics, if we don’t know what we believe or pray as Catholics, then the world has no reason to listen to anything we have to say as Catholics. We will be all the more easily driven from the public square.

In that procession, with the Holy Father and Eucharistic Lord, people just stared – like passive observers. They were exactly as libs falsely accuse people of being at the Traditional Roman Rite.

We need a Church wide “Marshall Plan”. No renewal of the Church can take place without a revitalization of our Catholic worship. Without a renewal of worship, all our other efforts will be lacking.

We are beset from within and from without. At the same time, our obligations to strive for greater holiness and fidelity within the Church, and to bring the Good News and Christ to the rest of the world, both remain. We must be renewed internally, so as to be effective externally. This is an ad intra imperative (Catholics considered as Catholics among themselves) and also an ad extra mission (Catholics considered in relation to the wider world).

Catholics, as Catholics, have been shoved out of the public square. They are more often than not excluded from contributing to discussion of the burning questions of our day. This is usually because Catholics themselves, as Catholics, excluded themselves from contributing a genuinely Catholic voice because they are either dissenters or because they are weak or because they are ignorant or because they are cowardly.

Catholics must contribute to the discussion in the public square, or as Pope Benedict called this phenomenon the “digital continent”.

We have an obligation, each of us according to our vocations, to shape the world around us to the extent we can. Holy Church has a God-given mission to teach both ad intra and – of course – ad extra.

The ad intra dimension entails Catholics knowing who they are and what they believe. If we don’t know who we are as Catholics, we will never be able to articulate anything clearly about the burning questions of our day and make a contribution as Catholics according to our vocations. If we don’t know these things, if we are not firm in them, then we are vulnerable to every manner of marginalization and, don’t doubt it, persecution.

We will be marginalized and persecuted anyway. We may as well strive for holiness and salvation within the hardships we will inevitably face as living signs of contradiction.

There is an incremental erosion of human, common sense values taking place. At a certain point, the erosion will pick up speed and, suddenly, we will wake up in a new kind of world.

Good grief… it already is.

The process of revitalizing our identity and our Church will take time. Our gains will be slow and incremental. Brick by brick. And, in worldly terms, we may make no discernible progress in our lifetimes.

Do we have time? When the Lord returns, will He find faith? Shall we be judged for not having done our part?

Are we passive observers?

For the near future, we must not be complacent or one day soon we will find we are living a nightmare. Our judgment will follow.

I firmly believe that in Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, the emancipation proclamation for the older Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, we have a mighty gift and tool to help us revitalize our Catholic worship, to reconnect with our tradition and identity as worshiping Catholics. Summorum Pontificum, clearly one of the important achievements of Pope Benedict’s pontificate, is slowly being implemented. We need more.

No renewal of Holy Church and our identity, our ability to contribute to and shape the world around us as Catholics, is possible without a renewal of our liturgical worship.

The older form of Holy Mass of the Roman Rite, the Usus Antiquior, must return in strength. Recovery of the older form will exert a “gravitational pull” on the way the Novus Ordo is celebrated. As priests learn or relearn the older form, they change the way the say the newer form. The deepening of their ars celebrandi will have a knock-on effect in their congregations.

A good example of what I mean is the impact that ad orientem worship has when it is restored.

This is not for the sake of aesthetics or nostalgia. I think we are in a fight for our spiritual lives.

Revitalized worship of God is a necessary element of a New Evangelization.

The Biological Solution continues is scything work. New priests, free from the dominating hermeneutic of the 60’s-80’s, are rising up. In the next few years, we should see a more rapid increase in the number and places where the older form is used.

To save our world we must save our liturgy.

And even if the world is slipping beyond our reach, we must nevertheless relentlessly seek through grace and elbow grease the salvation of our souls and those of our loved ones and as many as will come with us.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ¡Hagan lío!, "How To..." - Practical Notes, Cri de Coeur, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, New Evangelization, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, Turn Towards The Lord, Wherein Fr. Z Rants and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Anneliese says:

    Are they singing “Taste and See” at the beginning? (I couldn’t watch more than two minutes ).

    It could have been worse. They could have played “Lord of the Dance” while doing liturgical dances.

  2. Julia_Augusta says:

    Ah, the music . . . sounds very 1970s, a mix of 10cc and Air Supply. I wonder what Cardinal Sarah would say about this.

  3. Sawyer says:

    One thing I noticed along the procession route is the large percentage of people recording it with their cell phones. They weren’t present to the event. They weren’t attentive to the moment. They were “experiencing” it on tiny screens once-removed from real life. For what? To post the video on Facebook? Cell phones and Facebook are tempting people to retreat from reality, away from live and interpersonal experience. You see cell phones out recording at every public gathering because the most important thing for many people is to capture the event rather than to experience it.

    There is a depressing trend in parish catechesis too in which much of what is called “faith formation” is done via video presentation. People gather in a room, passively watch a video, then discuss prepared questions from an official guide whose purpose is more for sharing than learning; talking for talking’s sake.

    Authentically and beautifully celebrated worship will either be completely alien to many people these days or exactly the actual, in-person, live, direct encounter with reality and mystery that people want but might not realize it yet because they are all in a sort of Plato’s cave with their video screens.

  4. Kukla65th says:

    The video was educational, let’s say. I have to believe that the music, the vestments, the girl servers, all are included specifically to upset the same people time and again in the crosshairs of the pope’s own remarks and those of many aroundd him. Further, what was that location in Ostia? I thought maybe Ostia was bombed in the war and redeveloped with brutalist architecture.

  5. JARay says:

    The state of Catholicism in Italy is no different from the state of Catholicism in Ireland. Both have lost their Catholic identity. However, there are excellent Catholics in both countries but their numbers are few

  6. Hb says:

    Father, I whole-heartedly agree with you. Missa ad populi is that closed circle where we gaze lovingly into each others’ eyes and tell each other how wonderful we are. Ick. Missa ad Deum removes the personality of the priest and makes it easier to see the priest as Mediator leading the people to God.

    The Mass needs to be offered as given to us through the centuries. Offering the TLM informs how I offer the Novus Ordo. Given my druthers, the TLM would be my exclusive modus operandi. This Friday a Solemn High Mass using Lorenzo Perosi’s Missa Benedicamus Domino will be offered at my largely Novus Ordo parish. Yet people come from all over for the TLM. At the risk of upsetting other priest, it seems to me that the TLM is far more pleasing to Our Lord, and people seem to get it too.

  7. Fr.JP says:

    lol. did anyone else here the well known noises of RTD2 when they arrive at the Altar at the end? Someone’s phone no doubt, but just added to quirky nature of the whole thing, lol.

    Also, a question: Who were the women wearing albs in procession? We can especially see them at the end arriving with a bunch of other men in albs. Any ideas? Are they a local lay community? or wives of deacons? or something else…?

  8. benedetta says:

    There have been great gains and strides but there are still many issues that go unaddressed, to the faithful’s detriment. Today I had to go to a Mass, not at my beloved parish, but elsewhere due to a commitment of my homeschooler son who was performing a Mozart aria at a youth concert and had to rehearse through part of the morning. We were both discouraged at what we encountered and our only solution sadly was to mock it and agree to feeling fortunate to be able to regularly attend our Byzantine parish which doesn’t feature many of the troubling aspects we encountered. The Mass we walked in on, so to speak, was sparsely attended, and people just seemed out of it, and I couldn’t blame them because the issues encountered were so distracting, the only solution was to distract one’s self. One would have never known it was Corpus Christi Sunday, from anything done there this day. It was just a routine, phone it in, less than mediocre type of local thing. There was a guy who banged on a terribly out of tune upright piano pushed to the front (although this church has an outstanding organ it was neglected very pointedly). A guy in an aloha shirt and a mike turned to the congregation next to the upright and basically yodeled all kinds of dumb songs not really hymns and responses to the congregation. The deacon delivered a kind of ideological resentment politically loaded and somewhat scolding homily, inappropriate for the humble people attempting to deal with him fairly before him. The whole thing was awful and we just felt like we scraped by in a dental appointment or in fulfilling an obligation. There was zero joy or enthusiasm, it was not horribly irreverent but then it was not that reverent either. I felt that the people there are being denied their birthright in the faith. No procession. No nothing really. And it felt like this was the way the guys running it wanted it, frankly. Certainly I couldn’t see that anyone there was rejoicing about it. It seemed that everyone was phoning it in, all there out of obligation. I suppose it could all be worse still…and in some places it is, worse even than that, but it was a pretty depressing experience. We were glad, even though it is a stunningly beautiful church, to get back out into the air and sunshine where at least one could breathe in fresh air and feel alive.

  9. Adaquano says:

    We have a pretty solid pastor who is in his late 30’s my son is 3 and it is interesting to watch as absorbs things as we try to expose him to things that are authentically Catholic. Today after our Eucharistic procession he was asking about all the candles, and he noticed how the seminarian was walking backwards during the procession but our pastor was not. He was talking about how they were using the thurible and he was connecting the seminarian to the other seminarians from our diocese that we pray for every day. We asked him at dinner why is it important to have priests, and he answered “because we can’t do Mass by ourselves. We have to have the priest to do Mass.” When I see the young families in my parish with other kids absorbing what is happening with our liturgical celebrations, and as I encounter other young parents like ourselves eager to discover many things that were missing from our youth it gives me great hope that the Church while smaller will be stronger.

  10. TonyO says:

    This is not for the sake of aesthetics or nostalgia. I think we are in a fight for our spiritual lives.

    Yes, you said it, Fr. Z! Let Francis put that in his pipe and smoke it. The love for the old Mass isn’t a blindness or coldness or stupidity or nostalgia, it is a love for Catholicism. I fear for anyone who can’t get that.

  11. jameeka says:

    “I think we are in a fight for our spiritual lives.”

  12. TNCath says:

    In the words of the late, great Paul Lynde: “Oh, my goodness.”

    The whole thing was a third-rate side show. Additionally, that non-stop fereverino commentary from that Italian woman hogging the microphone with those mindless pious platitudes when the music wasn’t playing was also obnoxious. I’ve seen this kind of show live before in Italy. It seems to be a staple of modern Italian religiosity. Vomit. If this is what Pope Francis means by going out to the peripheries, well, perhaps we are getting what we deserve.

  13. marybiscuit says:

    The Oratory Of SS Gregory and Augustine in St Louis, MO processed down the Delmar Loop (for the second year in a row) this afternoon bringing our Lord to all the restaurants and shops and passers by. Thanks to some persistent parishioners we had the city police agree to block the busy roads for us. A bagpiper lead our procession which included sixteen altar servers and our first holy communicants along with a good crowd from our Oratory Mass. It was awesome! Our little Oratory of ten plus years has endured a year of transition and displacement but we just got the good news of a permanent home and rector as of July 1! Thanks be to God!

  14. maternalView says:

    I think too many active parishioners think effective evangelization comes from lots of parish activities! But reading this I see all this activity is covering for the fact that they probably don’t know their faith. So all they’re left with for recruiting purposes is coming up with what seems to be significant activities. But you can join any club for stuff to do. Unless it’s yoked to God it won’t mean anything in the end.

    I was on the parish council for a few years and I kept asking for the parish to focus on what makes it unique– the Faith! Instead we had pancake breakfasts and Halloween parties to get people to participate in the parish. Because the logic was if they came to the spaghetti dinner they’d found out how cool we are and want to join us. I tried to explain that was backwards. They can’t get the faith anywhere else. They can get dinner anywhere.

  15. monstrance says:

    Beautiful Procession in Manhattan with Holy Innocents.
    If you can it there, you can do it anywhere – sounds like a song.

    As for speaking up in the public square….
    It has reached the point in the workplace environment where defending Church teaching could easily cost you your job.
    When does it become like “throwing pearls to swine” ?

  16. comedyeye says:

    I saw the cameraman kneel down. To take a picture.

  17. JonPatrick says:

    I think the problem with the Marshall Plan analogy is that after WW II you had a consensus more or less on the need to rebuild postwar Europe. In the current situation in the Church (just like in US politics) there is a “deep state” that resists any reforms and is just fine with the way things are. So even if you have a General Marshall (in this case Pope Benedict XVI) he is blocked at every turn. So change has to come at the local level, the “brick by brick” approach. The Army Corps of Engineers isn’t showing up anytime soon.

    Another thing to consider besides expanding the TLM is to encourage the Eastern Rite. It seems for the most part to have avoided the disastrous liturgical reforms and has remained true to its traditions. It also might appeal to some people who find Latin a barrier, as most Eastern Rite parishes today seem to use the vernacular in their worship.

  18. MrsMacD says:

    My thoughts; The mom in me can’t handle it because it’s a mess! I hit the mute button to watch the movie because I have 0 tolerance for bad music. Then I skipped parts because it’s all the same thing ie guys in boring white albs against concrete shifting here and there. Women and big microphones make me frustrated, ‘GET DOWN, you ninny, you’re making a foul of yourself, embarrassing me and ‘desacralizing’ the Mass.” I wonder if the weird processional circle at the beginning of Mass was like the little circle when a page is loading, to keep people from getting angry. Pope Francis looked pretty dour too

    Is it common through history for the Pope to sit during the procession? Our bishop carried Jesus. I was so touched. Jesus in the priest/bishop sacrificing himself for the good of souls. Awesome!

    I guess I’m just a spoiled brat. “To whom much is given much is expected.” Penance is in order. Guess I’d better go clean my house and take care of my babies.

  19. chantgirl says:

    If people aren’t asked to kneel to receive Communion, why would they kneel as Christ is carried in the monstrance?


  20. Akita says:


    It is soul-smothering liturgies like that which you experienced on the Feast of Corpus Christi that have killed the Faith of millions world wide. Death by pedestrianism. Dull lifeless, ugly. Nothing is nurtured. There is a subconscious recoiling from it because it really is like poison. Children cannot discern the truth and beauty of the Eucharist at the Novus Ordo mass because it is enveloped in such cheesy toppings. SSPX priests know the Norvus Ordo will kill faith.

  21. Akita says:

    That should read “cheesy trappings”.

  22. Andrew says:

    As I heard the crowd shouting and applauding during the Benediction, the words of St. Paul came to mind: “In the last days people will make a pretense of religion but deny its power.” (2 Tim. 3)

  23. philosophicallyfrank says:

    If we want to try and understand what is going on in Catholicism over the last 50 +/- years; there are at least three occurrences since the end of WWII that we should have been aware of.
    #1. ” A message from Our Lady of the ‘Tre Fontane’: (in part) “The entire Church will undergo a tremendous trial, to clean up the mass of rotten flesh that has infiltrated into Her ministers, in particular among the Orders of poverty: a moral trial, a spiritual trial. For the time indicated in the heavenly books, priests and faithful will be placed at a perilous turning-point in the world of the lost, which will rush to the assault with whichever means: false ideologies and theologies! Supplication from both parts, the faithful and the unfaithful, will be made according to the trials. I, among you the elect, with Christ as Our Captain, will fight for you […] The wrath of Satan is no longer restrained; the Spirit of God is withdrawn from the earth, the Church will be left a widow, behold the funeral drape, She will be left to the mercy of the world. Children, become saints and sanctify yourselves more, always love each other. […] Marshal yourselves under the banner of Christ. Working in this way, you will see the fruits of victory in the awakening of consciences to the good; despite being in evil, you will see, through your cooperative and efficacious help, sinners converted and the Fold filled up with saved souls.” (The Virgin of the Revelation to Bruno Cornacchiola, the 12th of April at the Tre Fontane.)**
    #2. “Ratzinger’s forgotten prophesy on the future of the Church”
    #3. “Our Lady of Akita”
    We have known or should have known that the day of “Reckoning” for the so-called “Spirit of Vatican II” instead of the “Reality of Vatican II” would come due.
    What is needed “NOW” is for the formation of a plan for how those of us, sinners all, who truly wish to “pick-up our cross and follow Jesus” to be able to know who and where our trusted leadership will be found. Two who I believe can help would be Fr. “Z” and “”. Since the Bishops have taken control of EWTN; I’m no longer as confident in them as I would be if Mother Angelica was still in charge. ChurchMilitant can provide the communication network and both CM’s Michael Voris and Fr. “Z”, knowing who to trust can “spread the word”.
    Forgive the length of this comment; I have tried to keep it as brief as possible.

  24. Gaetano says:

    So many people filming with their cellphones while oblivious to the Blessed Sacrament in front of them. It is a sad hallmark of our age that people work so hard to capture a moment on their cellphones that they miss the opportunity to experience the moment itself.

    [No room for both? I think we all benefit from seeing photos of beautiful liturgical moments. Someone had to take the photo.]

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  26. Ave Maria says:

    One parish in town had a procession which was pretty well attended. That parish was also having an outdoor garage sale. The procession walked past the area and not one person knelt. They simply do not know to. The reverence in Church is not taught. Lots of chat before and after Mass. Very few genuflect at entering/leaving the pew or crossing before the tabernacle. And while a number of people receive Our Lord on the tongue, most do not.
    And where we went for the Novus Ordo Mass earlier in the day, the priest gave a decent homily but the people at this mass–mostly older–are just not in tune with him. It is a very hard sell for Father to try to bring these folks to a greater love and reverence. There is adoration but the oldest parishioners are almost completely absent from it, and also most of the staff. At Mass, many sit through the consecration and some read the bulletin. Ho hum, nothing to see here…

  27. Long-Skirts says:


    Man won’t kneel —
    Daily to pray
    But lift his hands
    To applaud and play.

    Man won’t kneel —
    Examine acts dead
    But perform for himself
    For himself bow his head.

    Man won’t kneel —
    Emotes bad behavior
    No matter reviews
    The director’s his savior.

    Man won’t kneel —
    He’s the star, can’t fail…
    So the prop-man struck
    The Communion rail.

  28. BrionyB says:

    In the Ostia video, I noticed one solitary woman (wearing a mantilla!) in the crowd kneel as the Blessed Sacrament was carried past. I have to say it made me think of the one righteous man in Zoar. God bless that woman, whoever she is.

    Thank you Father for posting the historical videos as well. I especially liked the 1941 one. The young soldier kneeling in the road brought a tear to my eye. Such a powerful witness in both cases – maybe that’s something worth us all remembering, when we (quietly, humbly) set an example of reverence, it can influence others beyond anything we can imagine, even on the other side of the world, or 80 years later.

  29. PostCatholic says:

    I can’t really help with your master plan, but if a kangaroo for your gardens would be any good I’ll make a few calls.

  30. edm says:

    Why the Pope Francis’ vimpas go for the walk when he was nowhere near? Ferula and Mitre off by themselves…

  31. mater101 says:

    We live in Povertyville here on the west coast of Florida. Not a lot of attention given to any Feast Days. HOWEVER, There. Is Salvation!
    We have a parish that. Hosts the Polish community of the west coast of Florida. And they are adamantly CATHOLIC!
    So, after our lackluster non celebration of Corpus Christi at 11:30 to 12:30 sharp! …the church is swarmed by a busy group of Polish, decorating, and positioning a large Divine Mercy image, flowers, tule, flags, native dress and tradional costumes about, tonal wonderful organ music, and hymns, sung as the people moved about in preparation.
    I being of the poverty-struck American Latin Church , left and went home with my husband. However, being half Polish, I can’t ignore these wonders. So giving the Polish due time for the Mass, ( the Mass begins at 1:00 pm ). I returned at 1:15 or so to join in with the procession planned.
    Lo and behold, they were still at it! …had time for a rosary…and then the doors opened…the canopy was positioned and the flower girls advanced, proceeding a statue of the Blessed Mother, carried by the women in Native Dress, followed by flag bearers of the local Polish communities, in Dress, then the altar boys and incense and then the Blessed Sacrament! All this in compliment with the singing of the traditional Polish hymns…they proceeded to the grotto of the Virgin ( which the Church has, Thank God ) and the observance began. Incense, prayers, a short address by the celebrant, and the Blessing with the Holy Sacrament. This was all repeated three more time , to three altars set up around the school property, with much sacrifice with the almost 90 degrees weather , and the people dressed to the hilt in their Sunday best, and Polish costume.It was two hours of heaven on earth in Florida…. Deo Gracias!!

  32. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I think most people just don’t know that they are supposed to kneel. If they had seen enough people kneeling, they would have knelt too.

    How can they know, if no one teaches them?

    And why would they be taught, if their town never has outdoor processions?

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