Your Sunday Sermon Notes – Holy Family/Baptism – 2020 – Fr. Z rants about word accents and microphones

Was there a good point made in the sermon you heard at the Mass that fulfilled your Sunday Obligation? What was it?

There are a lot of people who don’t get many good points in the sermons they must endure.

For my part, since I am visiting my mother as I write, and I had no public Mass, I did not say anything.  However, I went to check out the comparatively recently instituted TLM at the parish in my mother’s town.  It was Low Mass.

The priest, whom I believe is the administrator of the place, made a good point (among many) about the way God created man, male and female, such that through their complementarity new images of God could come into the world.  Adam and Eve could do what Adam and another Adam cannot, what Eve and another Eve cannot.

On another note, the priest did very well with the rites of Mass, though he had a running battle with word accents and a few other points of pronunciation.

Note to priests: Make sure that those prayers which are to be heard by the congregation have some polish on them!

Get those accents right, especially those 3rd person plural perfect endings.   Dear Fathers, it’s “deduxÉrunt et adduxÉrunt” not “dedÚxerunt et addÚxerunt”.  I can barely make my mind think about how that sounds.   The horror.  The horror.

Reverend and dear Fathers… you will find, right there on the pages of the Missal, indications about how to place stress in the word.

For example,

Sometimes, you change the meaning of a word by shifting the accent, as when you goof up cónditor and condítor.  At other times, when the meaning doesn’t shift… well… you just sound a wrong.

Also, Fathers, I recommend NOT using a microphone during the Roman Canon.  Let silence be silence.

There are, in the traditional form of Holy Mass, different levels of voice.  Sometimes you are so quite that someone very close, like a deacon or MC might have a hard time hearing you.  Other times, just those in the sanctuary or near the altar.  At other times, also those in the congregation.  The microphone destroys the distinction and brings us into the kind of liturgical schizophrenia which McLuhan would have recognized.

Let it be completely understood that I abhor clip-on wireless microphones.   That said, there is now a vesting prayer for the clip on!

Concede, Domine, virtutem labiis meis et prudentiam ad Tuam proclamandam veritatem, ut per indigni servi Tui vocem, vox Tui tonitrui in rota contremat terram.

Priests – especially American and younger – might want to consult


for some help with the Latin, particularly of those prayers which are pronounced at full voice.  For example, you don’t want to get anything in, say, the Pater Noster wrong.

Just some helpful hints, since I can’t post my own sermonizing today.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Elizium23 says:

    Our pastor is flying solo after the departure of our parochial vicar. He has celebrated every English Mass since before Christmas.
    Our pastor asked us how many people know our birthday. Then he asked us how many of us know our date of baptism. He said this is important to know, especially because baptism is necessary for salvation, and the primary mission of the Church.

  2. Just Some Guy says:

    Something I’ve seen a lot are old priests who have learned the Extraordinary Form (praise God!), but were not able to learn with someone in their area. Their solution was to use SSPX training videos, which are great! But these gringo priests now pronounce Latin with a thick French accent (complete with throaty “R’s”), because the videos were made in France. It’s funny and rather innocent (and it’s not hurting anything), but priests, please do your research on Latin pronunciation. There are several clerical and non-clerical Latin bootcamps run by very competent people.

  3. Discerning Altar Boy says:

    Got to enjoy a rare Solemn Mass at the local FSSP parish, celebrated by a diocesan priest with a Fraternity seminarian assisting as subdeacon. Father pointed out that it’s difficult to imagine how peaceful and beautifully virtuous the Holy Family’s household must have been. In as much as we ought to imitated Our Lord and Our lady, our sinful nature makes it difficult to conceive of this. But, we ought to look to the example of the Saint Joseph, who in spite of his sinful nature was surely among the greatest and most virtuous of all the saints.

  4. Rob in Maine says:

    Baptism of our Lord, OF Mass.
    Fr. Upham began by mentioning the Christmas Cards he gets and how he skips the pretty picture and printed message and reads the personal message that is unique to the sender. He then compared this to the individual uniqueness of Baptism upon us.

  5. JesusFreak84 says:

    The only official TLM in this Diocese is one where the mic is used ALWAYS, even during Low Mass. I mean that mic was on until a few moments after Father re-entered the Sacristy, so EVERYONE would hear the first few words he’d say to the altar servers before he turned it off. I. Hated. It. With. A. Passion! The result during the Mass itself was that I’d hear the priest, “IRL,” before the mic transmitted, and then hear the mic as an overly-loud echo. It was one of many reasons, (a very small reason, mind,) why I stopped attending that parish. (That and the fact that the pastor seemed to be trying to come up with a “mutual enrichment” hybrid of OF/EF on his own authority and that was just another…no…)

    The sermon where I did go was, I think, Father’s attempt at a mini pre-Cana. Indirectly, I suppose it was a warning not to marry for the wrong reasons, and for parents to examine themselves when their kids seem to bolt out the front door the second they’re 18. (Father’s sermons are a bit of a challenge to follow sometimes–I’m autistic, and he tends to talk in circles and a bit more stream-of-consciousness than I can parse out some weekends. It was a good sermon–I remember thinking so at the time–but I always hate how hard it is for me to summarize later.)

  6. Bthompson says:

    A seminary professor of mine often opined that the microphone was a crucial cause of the now ubiquitous practice (hopefully, in the long run, fad) of celebrating Mass versus populum. Many people find it disconcerting to hear someone so clearly who is faced away from you; it makes more sense, even from hundreds of feet away, for a speaker to face you.

  7. Andrew says:

    I’ve heard priests struggle with “perhiberet” and other words in the:

    “Hic venit in testimonium ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine, ut omnes crederent per illum. Non erat ille lux, sed ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine.”

    Perhaps it might help (surely it would) for the priest to understand that “perhibere” is akin to “habere” (2nd conj.) Please, Fathers, don’t say “perhibere” with an accent on the “i”.

    [Yes, perhiBEret is also a problem for most. These, however, would also more than likely say HAbere, as I have often heard, rather than haBEre.]

  8. Kate says:

    Oh, boy… once every few years, we will visit a certain parish that has a Latin Mass on most Sundays. It is simply dreadful. The priest wears a microphone and uses it for everything (except the canon), and the one person (sometimes a man, sometimes a woman) schola uses a microphone, too, which he simply does not need. These mikes are turned up loud, too. That Mass is just as noisy as a NO, and I always walk out of there wishing that’s where I had attended. I’m glad no one has asked me what I have thought of this Mass; I don’t know how I could say things charitably.

  9. Dinocrates says:

    Our sermon this Sunday had a number of excellent points, but the priest tied them all together in a way I don’t think I have heard before. The focus was on the Holy Family, which he stated up front is under attack. He described what the marital embrace is for, why even when a married couple are infertile they can still enjoy the marital embrace, that abstinence is the appropriate answer to times when having children is dangerous or financially imprudent, and the effect that birth control and abortion are having on the entire world. He cited statistics that the birthrate has been reduced by half in every country in the world over the past sixty years. He stated this is not the Church telling people what to do, it is an issue that is tearing apart society as we know it. He ended by encouraging everyone to go to the March for Life in our diocese or at least offer a rosary for that intention.

    This particular priest is very humble and quiet. I think for people in the parish that could have found this a difficult sermon to listen to, they got the message from the best person possible. I was very impressed and encouraged. I hope people that struggle with sins against the 6th and 9th Commandments found this sermon as encouraging as I did.

  10. WGS says:

    I’m not as bothered by the utterings of an occasional “mumpsimus” priest as I am by the congregation or server boldly proclaiming “et cum spiritu tuOH” or “a-MEN”.

    and in English, we have the inevitable bable related to “AH-men” or “a-MEN”, but there’s also the popular variation presented to us in 1963 by Sydney Poitier from Lilies of the Field.

  11. William says:

    A lot of comedians joke about living at home with wife and kids who can do no wrong. For St. Joseph, it was a reality.

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