A picture is worth a thousand words. – UPDATED

A picture is worth a thousand words.

This on 12 March 2022, the 400th anniversary of the canonization of Sts. Teresa of Avila, Phlip Neri, Isidore, Francis Xavier and Ignatius Loyola.

At the altar of the great Jesuit church in Rome, the Gesù (location of the tomb of Ignatius and arm of Francis Xavier), as the principle celebrant is NOT the ranking cleric there, but rather the head of the Jesuits who seemingly doesn’t believe that the Devil is a personal, angelic agent and who undermined the Faith in a comment that there were no tape recorders at the time of Christ and who doesn’t like doctrine. Standing among the “secondary” celebrants and quite obviously concelebrating, is an old Jesuit, the guy in white.

No alb.  No chasuble.  Not even a stole.

Apart from the fact that Francis is not the main celebrant, I propose that the Jesuits had all those things available at the Gesù and that they could have been fetched a matter of a few minutes.

I am reminded of the old phrase: As lost as a Jesuit in Holy Week.

Jesuits are famously lax in liturgical matters… though there are exceptions and perhaps some of the younger men are more conscientious.

BUT… this is quite simply DREADFUL.   The disregard of liturgical propriety and the of the sensibilities of the faithful is on a global scale here.

But, remember, the Traditional Latin Mass needs to be suppressed.


My friend Fr. Murray wrote about this at The Catholic Thing.  HERE

He wrote with his characteristic clarity:


He brought up this problem in his July 16, 2021 letter to the bishops of the world accompanying Traditionis Custodes, his motu proprio restricting the celebration of the Old Mass: “I am saddened by abuses in the celebration of the liturgy on all sides. In common with Benedict XVI, I deplore the fact that ‘in many places the prescriptions of the new Missal are not observed in celebration, but indeed come to be interpreted as an authorization for or even a requirement of creativity, which leads to almost unbearable distortions.’”

He counseled the bishops: “I ask you to be vigilant in ensuring that every liturgy be celebrated with decorum and fidelity to the liturgical books promulgated after Vatican Council II, without the eccentricities that can easily degenerate into abuses.”

Pope Francis’ own words serve as a rebuke of his decision to concelebrate Mass without liturgical vestments. The sacred character of our acts of worship is fostered and protected when priests and bishops willingly and carefully follow the requirements of liturgical law. The Christian faithful have the right to participate in liturgical prayer without being compelled to experience “unbearable distortions” of good liturgical order. That right depends upon the willingness of priests and bishops to obey what is set down in liturgical law.

There is no clerical privilege that allows priests and bishops to rewrite the rules to suit their own tastes. Yet that is precisely what some priests and bishops will sadly take away from this regrettable instance of papal liturgical abuse.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Pò sì jiù, What are they REALLY saying? and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Lurker 59 says:

    No mask either.

  2. Fulco One Eye says:

    There is a very good analysis of this situation by Father Gerald Murray in “The Catholic Thing” today.

  3. roma247 says:

    I might go one step further.

    This image is an encapsulation of everything that is wrong with the whole modern concept of concelebration of the Mass.

    This is not the likeness of Christ offering Himself to the Father for our sake.
    This is not the likeness of a recreation of the Sacrifice of Calvary.
    It’s not even the likeness of a recreation of the Last Supper (can you imagine da Vinci’s famous painting with all the Twelve simultaneously gesturing and saying “This is my Body”?).

    This is the likeness of a group of wizards casting a spell.

    And the worst irony of all: even if a group of wizards got together to cast a really important spell, they would still have the grand wizard be the one in the center.

  4. Fr. Thomas Kocik says:

    This reminds me of the Mass celebrated by my late uncle on the occasion of his 25th anniversary of ordination. The bishop was present, assisting in choro, but when the Preface dialogue began he left his place to join the concelebrating priests at the altar as a concelebrant. Whether he intended this from the start or acted on a whim, I don’t know. In any event, it’s high on the Richter scale of sacramental convulsions, given that the liturgy signifies the (hierarchical) mystery of the Church.

  5. sjoseph371 says:

    Hey, I’m at least glad there’s no pagan idols on the alter, electric guitar wielding prelates, laser light shows, homo-erotic porn posters, or rainbow carpets in the aisle, so I guess there’s that!

  6. zama202 says:

    When I went to Fordham University in the ’80’s – some of the older lay professors joked that the first Jesuits were the best because they didn’t have a Jesuit education.

    It was a funny then – not so much now.


  7. ocsousn says:

    One might also be astonished that there are so many concelebrants at a Jesuit liturgy. In y experience, with notable exceptions, they tend to shy away from vesting and standing around the altar, adhering to Rahner’s theory of concelebration. He held that a priest had simply to be present and un-vested in the congregation at Mass, without saying anything, to truly offer the Holy Sacrifice as a priest. Only a Jesuit could come up with a valid sacrament without any external act or form! But what we see here has been going on for years. I once went to the installation of a pastor where the bishop presided in cope for the liturgy of the word and the installation rite. (All perfectly kosher.) The new pastor continued the Mass with the bishop, now in choir dress, kneeling to the side. Come the consecration he remained kneeling, extended his right hand and joined in the words of institution. He did not communicate himself but piously received while kneeling. Perhaps we might apply to the “restoration” of concelebration those oft heard words of regret: I seemed like a good idea at the time.

  8. Gaetano says:

    Having suffered through nearly a decade of Jesuit community liturgies, this is better than most. All of the priests apart from Pope Francis are actually vested in albs & stoles…

  9. summorumpontificum777 says:

    Sigh. This is oddly appropriate. For the last 9 years, we’ve seen the full implication of investing absolute power in the papacy. If the pope considers himself the servant of ecclesial law and tradition, then the system works, more or less. If the pope considers himself the master of ecclesial law and tradition, then there are problems… lots of them. A pope who’s unbound from law or tradition can and will do whatever he wants. “L’église, c’est moi.” We’re just lucky that he wasn’t concelebrating in jeans and a Grateful Dead t-shirt.

  10. danus1317 says:

    This is one of those liturgical abuses that just seems lazy – as though spending an extra two minutes donning the right vestments was too much work.

    The laziest abuse I’ve ever seen for myself happened during a Mass at a nursing home chapel. I was visiting my late grandpa (God rest his soul) when I was a pre-teen. There was a man in the congregration who I later learned was a priest. He was sitting there among the congregation wearing essentially lay clothes — as I recall, he was wearing gym shoes, khakis, a button-down shirt, and a stole. (‘Twas the Jesuit habit, one might say.)

    Because so many of the nursing home residents were in wheelchairs, almost the entire congregation remained seated for the entire Mass (even young people like myself, who probably should have kneeled). I bring this up only to point out that, because of all that, this priest didn’t stand up or kneel or anything the entire Mass. He just put on a stole, sat there in lay clothes, raised his arms a few times and muttered a few words.

    Laziest concelebration ever.

  11. Atanasio says:

    When I was at seminary my superiors warned me not to read everything that my intellectual curiosity was attracted to. I thought of them as rigid. Today I thank God for them. What we see in every day’s Church life is a consequence of lack of true discernment of spirits which consequences we see in our elder (and not so) pastors. One is not vaccinated of these consequences because of the grace and sacrament received: gratia non mutatur natura

  12. Angelo Tan says:

    I deplore the hypocrisy of this Pontificate. They turn a blind eye esp on the Liturgy. We all know that our form of worship speaks of what we firmly believe.

  13. Elizabeth D says:

    The one time I saw this happen, it definitely was confusing and surprising, but the apparent reason I supposed was that the visiting priest who “concelebrated” without vestments was a bit distracted ahead of Mass and lost track of what time Mass would start (or he and the priest hosting him hadn’t adequately communicated about his plans to concelebrate and what they would do). He was there to lead some type of talk or program that would begin after Mass and was wearing a cassock or a cassock-like religious habit (can’t remember exactly but it wasn’t a suit). Mass started (directly from the sacristy) without him and he walked up to the sanctuary a little belatedly. I assumed that he was participating “in choro” until he began participating in the Eucharistic Prayer–probably to the surprise of the main celebrant. He did not seem to be a liberal priest at all, but he did not make a good impression by doing that. I was baffled that he didn’t simply participate “in choro”. The only thing I could imagine is that his background didn’t really expose him to that as a normal thing to do. Or that he wasn’t sure if he would be able to celebrate a Mass of his own later in the day.

    Even the priest who was the celebrant that day, I once had a conversation with about some situation (I don’t remember what specifically–maybe because of bination/trination rules?) where he might want to be present at a Mass but would not be concelebrating; he responded that as a priest it wouldn’t be normal or comfortable to simply sit in a pew as a member of the congregation–as a priest, he would expect to concelebrate. He seemed surprised and dismissed my suggestion to participate in choir dress. There is no way that would have been a strange concept to him, it just wasn’t something he would think to do.

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  15. SPWang says:

    “The War” section in Martin’s ‘The Jesuits’ is very telling in this one little snap shot.

  16. It took me a good while to notice the freestanding tabernacle there. At first I was hopeful that they would have used the original tabernacle in the High Altar, but nope! Gotta stick an eyesore right there in the middle.

    Does anyone see any candles on the altar? I mean, the altar on which the Mass is being celebrated, not the gorgeous reredos. I can see the chalice there, but no candles.

  17. Archlaic says:

    I hesitate to ascribe specific motives to the Bishop of Rome, but this sort of thing always smacks of false humility to me.

    Similar examples include the bishop in Fr. Kocik’s comment, prelates who recoil when one of he faithful attempts to kiss his ring, my own Cardinal Archbishop who is frequently photographed wearing his Franciscan habit and sandals when he ought to be attired as a Prince of the Church… And I just remembered the fad from the late 60’s wherein a priest would leave the Sanctuary during the readings and sit in the pews to show that he was “just an ordinary man, like the rest of you”… I was just a kid but I recall some mumbo-jumbo about the “universal priesthood of the laity”, etc.

    (I am of course a sinner, and I struggle particularly with a surfeit of pride and a deficit of humility; perhaps that is why I cringe at such public displays of “humility”…)

  18. mysticalrose says:

    Pope Francis does not look well in this photo. He appears to be having trouble simply standing.

  19. Chrisc says:


    It isn’t uncommon in France and Italy for there to be two butane ‘candles’ on one side of the altar. Sometimes the opposite side is empty and sometimes a meager houseplant placed is added for decoration.

    [Nuns, and men like them, do that.]

  20. Markus says:

    Liturgical Legos,

    It appears to me, after enlarging the photo, that the tabernacle is in the center of the “high” altar. It is the golden box under the “mini” baldachinno (where the altar cross was, as it is now elevated on a pole next to the ossuary). The elevated “box” appears to be an ossuary, perhaps serving as an reliquary. Strange position, perhaps meant to be seen from the nave.

  21. Dominicanes says:

    Nah, maybe Sisters but usually not nuns.

  22. MrsBridge says:

    If he wore the same liturgical garments as the other celebrants, he would be just one among several peers. White sets him apart and, presumably, above. Just an idea.

  23. Prayerful says:

    I thought it was ‘more nervous than a Jesuit in Holy Week’ as the pre-54 taxed some priests severely, particularly those with poor liturgical formation.

    It isn’t a sight that would be seen in any SSPX chapel, nor any diocesan or approved TLM. It’s like ‘thou shalt be slovenly at all times’ is like the eleventh Commandment for some of them. It will say in defence of the Jesuits, that St Ignatius in New York, does it correctly enough, for the New Order, and a few are better still, using some Latin at times. Yet the Jesuits need to be put under sanctions again, far more severe than JP2’s measures. There are too many of them who take pride in defying Teaching. If nothing happens, it’s a matter that will solve itself as they tend to be very old.

  24. pedantic_prof says:

    Archlaic wrote “ my own Cardinal Archbishop who is frequently photographed wearing his Franciscan habit and sandals when he ought to be attired as a Prince of the Church”.

    Well, not quite… Before the New Springtime, cardinals who were religious would wear a modification of their habit rather than the Roman Purple. Many would also, at least as their day dress, simply wear their habits with a scarlet zuchetto, so your archbishop is not doing anything controversial or non-traditional. See this article, for example:

  25. When I see this picture (and recall so many Masses with similar or worse lassitude about the norms of concelebrating), I can’t help thinking of the, oh, million times I’ve heard someone celebrating Vatican II’s “vision” of the liturgy cite the words from Sacrosanctum Concilium: the Mass is the “source and summit.”

    “Source and summit.” Repeat ten times, class!

    Now look again at that picture. Does what you see convey that mindset?

  26. Cincture says:

    Dominicanes – “Nah, maybe Sisters but usually not nuns.”

    Only Fr Z can give the Gold Star, but I recommend it.

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