Friday, September 13, 2013


Now that I celebrate both forms of the one Roman Rite, I think I can tell what is triumphalism and what isn't in the modern context. Certainly there are some vestments that are a bit out there in the Extraordinary Form. Uusually these are derided as being pompous, such as the cappa magna which isn't a liturgical vestment at all, but when it is worn into Church eye-brows are raised. It looks out of place in today's t-shirt culture.

But most Catholics throughout the world are not made to suffer at the sight of a cappa magna prior to Mass. They don't see baroque Roman vestments. They don't see the things that princes wear. What they do so is a banal, secular sort of triumphalism. Let me explain.

We all know that the Oridnary Form of the Mass celebrated facing the congregation is a great temptation for priest to become "celebrities" as they celebrate. So they have to look appealing, either look pious or friendly or both. They have to smile and engage with the congregation. There is a sort of triumphalism of the cult of the personality, a sort of cappa mangna and some personalities of priests at Mass have longer trains than any cappa magna. Others have very short or non-exisitent trains.

Then we have the Mass with its completely upbeat music. We are Easter people after all, so let us be happy, joyful and roll out that symbolic cappa magna at Mass, that says to the world just how big and long and red our joy and Easter pleasure is. We are a happy-clappy Easter people enjoying our cappas very much and trying to make it as long as possible!

The instruments that exude a cappa magna style would be guitars and tambourines, bongos and drums. Also brass instruments surely are a long cappa magna and says look and listen to me and my triumphalistic song of joy that drags into the liturgy like a mile long cappa magna.

I watched a part of the rededication of the renovated cathedral in St. Petersburg, Florida. The liturgy is somewhat typical of today's Cathedral liturgies and while no cappa magnas were used, it was quite prevalent in the sounds coming from the very fine choirs. It was triumphalistic music. Surely it is meant for Christ, but given the nature of the Mass it surely pointed too to the triumph of a capital campaign and all those who contributed to its success and the high clergy who came in after the lower clergy with a long pause between both processions to make sure that the high clergy were given their due, their Ordinary Form Cappa Magnas to be sure, and very long ones at that.

On top of that at the homily time, the bishop introduced just about every guest there from the higher clergy to thunderous applause each time. I absolutely despise this kind of cappa magna placed on the roll call of popular celebrities at Mass, but it is so common today.

So, I would say, get rid of the Ordinary Form cappa magnas that have proliferated over the years and disfigure the liturgy making it triumphalistic not in a majestic sort of way, but a banal, secular way, truly a perversion of the Mass to its utter decay.

Use only organ or no instruments while singing Gregorian chant in Latin or vernacular according to its various styles.

Use other instrumentation for the Easter season, especially Easter season, such as tympani and brass. But sober liturgy with a short cappa magna is better than a raucous liturgy with a long cappa magna.

Don't introduce anyone at any time at any liturgy of the Church and don't encourage applause! Applause must be the worst kind of cappa magna that can be worn at any Ordinary Form Mass. It is obscenely narcissistic.

So, if I had a choice between a bishop who wears as long trained cappa magna to the Church and processes in before the Mass starts, to a cappa magna Mass with all the cappa magnas used at Mass from triumphalistic music and instrumentation to the overpowering personality of the priest to the applause meter going off the measuring device, give me an EF Mass with a cappa magna only at the beginning!


Kneeling Catholic said...

Good points, Father!

sometimes I wonder if the Holy Father has done all his homework on heresies, Church history, terminology.

The triumphalism he described:

no literal resurrection
no crosses in churches
emphasizing the congregants rather than Christ

seems to be aimed at modernists. They certainly fit the face-value description

Gene said...

There is absolutely nothing more triumphal than secular progressive humanism. It is celebrated everywhere with great the media, at sports events, and in the silly, vapid TV shows and movies that serve for egalitarian/humanist propaganda. It is about the "triumph of the human spirit," as Faulkner blurted out in one of his sober moments when receiving the Pulitzer (which is why I prefer Flannery O'Connor).

On the other hand, is it not, indeed, triumphal that Christ has overcome sin and despair, redeemed us from our darkness, and established His Church to sustain and nurture us until His promised return (in history) and the ushering in of His Kingdom, the new Heaven and new earth? Why should not this eternal Triumph and the sovereignty and majesty of God be celebrated in the Church and in its Liturgy, vestments, art, and architecture? God's sovereignty was certainly shown through His love in the humility of Christ, however, His love is ultimately and finally shown in His sovereignty and righteous judgement and triumph over all Christ's resurrection, ascension, and promised TRIUMPHAL return.
Certainly the Mass focuses on the Sacrifice, but the very fact of the Real Presence and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit give the Mass a quiet and subtle triumphal character. It should be regal, royal, and triumphant.

John Nolan said...

Most people miss the point about the cappa magna. The bishop enters in all his worldly pomp. He is then divested of the cappa (sic transit gloria mundi) and assumes the vestments of a subdeacon, deacon and priest.

But then, liberals neither understand symbolism nor want anything to do with it.

Will said...

I couldn't agree more, Father. Thank you for saying what needs to be said again and again. The "It's all about me" liturgies are truly offensive.

Sean L. Tobin said...

The only mistake Pope Benedict XVI made is that he did not establish the Mass in the Extraordinary Form as a Rite in it's own right. Given that most liberal bishops aren't willing to assist the reestablishment of Parishes dedicated to the Mass in the EF(they prefer the Church of Nice rather than the Church of Christ), had it have been established as a Rite, we could have had one bishop as an Ordinary and not got involved with the petty politics and roadblocks consistency thrown up by the Liberal episcopacy. .

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene: You ask “Why should not this eternal Triumph and the sovereignty and majesty of God be celebrated in the Church and in its Liturgy, vestments, art, and architecture?”

I don’t necessarily disagree with you in principle, but I worry about the risk that many (not just liberals, pace John), in particular non-Catholics, will misunderstand what appears to them to be ostentatious (triumphalist if you will) “pomp and circumstance” and that this may harm the efforts of the Church to evangelize (not among those who are attracted by it it, of course). How does one best meet this concern, assuming it is a real concern?

George said...

The following was from the Vatican Radio website

The Holy Father:

"Triumphalism brings the Church and Christians to a halt. A triumphalist Church
is a half-way Church that is happy, well-organised and efficient but denies martyrdom and does not know that martyrs are necessary for the way of the Cross."
The Pope continued: “It is the temptation of Christianity without the Cross, a half-way Church without Jesus. A Church that thinks only of triumphs and successes, does not follow the rules of Christ, which is about triumphing through failure, human failure, the failure of the Cross. This, he said, is something which we all have."
The Holy Father concluded his homily with a prayer asking the Lord for the grace that the church may not be a half-way church, but a humble one that walks resolutely just like Jesus.

Anonymous said...

The photo above looks like a scene from "Saturday Night Live-The Movie".

Gene said...

Anon 2, First, I do not assume it is real. Second, you explain it to prots and catechize it to Catholics. If they do not understand it or do not like it, they can go pound sand. The Church does not need to change to suit the fads or ignorance of any age.

Gene said...

George, then the Holy Father does not understand "triumphalism," either. His theology leaves Jesus on the Cross...which is what progressives want.

John Nolan said...

Sean Tobin

What Benedict chose to call the Extraordinary Form is already a Rite sui generis, and so does not need to be established. It is, in fact the Roman Rite, incorporating all the changes up to and including the year 1962. Some people refer to it as the Usus Antiquior, but this is misleading as it suggests that the Novus Ordo is also a Use of the Roman Rite rather than a new rite explicitly designed to replace it. Tridentine Mass is accurate up to a point, but the term Extraordinary Form also includes Uses such as the Dominican which predate Trent by centuries, and the Roman Rite itself existed for a millennium before the Council of Trent. Vetus Ordo, used recently in an official document does imply that the Roman Rite has been replaced and not simply reformed; however it fails to convey the reality that the RR is still part of the living tradition of the Church, and will remain so.

However, had Benedict made the correct and obvious distinction between the Roman Rite and the Novus Ordo he would have been emphasizing the 'hermeneutic of rupture' and giving the impression to the vast majority of the clergy and faithful who only know the Novus Ordo, that the rite they use is in some way inferior.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Actually Gene it is the progressives who want the resurrection without the cross.

Anonymous said...

The prelate who lives a princely style outside the mass is a hypocrite. Capes, jewels, kissed rings, courtiers - these are trappings of the world, not of the Kingdom of God.

That they take off some of these princely trappings when vesting for Mass is meaningless. When mass is over, it all goes back on and the earthly "Prince" lives again.

Gene said...

Yes, Fr, an "existentialist" type resurrection of self-epiphany and inner apocalypse. No risen Christ. But, their image of him is always some old hippie or tramp of some kind whom they say reflects the "suffering of the masses..." whom, of course, they will liberate through their social programs.

George said...

Pretty much everyone I've ever worked with has been Protestant and so I've been in many of their Churches (mostly for funeral services). The ones I've been in
had a Scandinavian sparseness to them. That's not true of all of them of course. The biggest thing one notices (for a Catholic) is the cross (If there is one) which lacks the corpus.
The Catholic Church has the Cross and the Resurrection in it's liturgical services, teachings and devotions.
(I don't mean to come down on Protestants I have known and worked with. I'm often amazed how good some of them are
versus some Catholics I have known who leave much to be desired).
One thing about Catholics though-when they are good they can be very,very good-
Saints, Blessed s,etc.)

John Nolan said...

Anonymous, the Kingdom of God is not of this world. Bishops are, and they need to be both princes and pastors. A High Court judge assumes scarlet and ermine because he represents the majesty of the Law. The bishop represents the majesty of the Church and exercises temporal power by virtue of his office. What is truly hypocritical is to pretend you don't have that power by deliberately dressing down. I suppose we have to excuse Pope Francis with his Jesuit and banana-republic background.

Gene said...

Any day now I expect to see the Pope say Mass wearing a Che t-shirt...

Anonymous said...

A prelate removes his cappa magna as a sign of his humility before God.

He then dons a tailor-made tropical wool cassock, linen alb with handmade lace, a silk damask dalmatic with matching silk damask chasuble AND maniple (the fabric for which costs upwards of $50.00 a yard), a precious miter covered with semi-precious stones, silk gloves embroidered with threads made of real silver and/or gold, a ring made of 18 c gold with a 10 carat amethyst surrounded by 32 old mine cut diamonds, heavily embroidered silk buskins, a gold crozier with an antique cloisonné image of the Blessed Virgin in the crook...

All this to show he has divested himself of "worldly pomp."

John Nolan said...

Anonymous, you just don't get it, do you? Liturgical vestments, sacred art, architecture, great music are in the service of God, not man. The Ark of the Covenant wasn't any old packing case, nor was the Temple of Solomon a mud hut.

Even Protestants could build St Paul's Cathedral, so I assume you are not just a Protestant, but a fundamentalist one, and a philistine to boot.

Anonymous said...

How do jewels, lace, embroidery, cloisonné, silk, damask, etc. serve God?

Gene said...

John, Anonymous is both Biblically and theologically illiterate.
He also has reading comprehension issues. Are you certain Ignotus does not have a son running around out there?