Thursday, April 10, 2014


For better or worse, people use Pope Francis and the Francis effect for their own purposes. There is no doubt that Pope Francis is trying to be the "people's pope" by not acting as a monarch and having the common touch. Soon to be Saint Pope John Paul II did the same. Pope Benedict brought more of an aloof regal approach to the papacy which seem to increase the more his woes did. Many, many in the Church (including myself) like the regal papacy. I often felt Pope John Paul II created too much of a celebrity cult around himself, the cult of the personality. I much more prefer the "cult of the papacy" over the "cult of the personality." When I use cult, I don't use it negatively but in the positive sense.

So what is the "Francis" effect on the Liturgy. At the Vatican Masses and the Masses the Vatican has some control over in terms of music and style, I have not seen any major change except in the celebrant pope. Pope Francis loves simplicity. His vestments indicate this. They are tasteful but certainly not splashy or ornate. They are modern Gothic.

To date the altar arrangement has remained the same. While I was in Rome for the entire Fall, Monsignor Marini had different angles for the candles. The last major Mass in St. Peter's the candles were more angled than before and a smaller crucifix in the center was used and the episcopal candle was to the side rather than the center. Will there be more adjustments or is this just one more of many arrangements. Time will tell.

The music has not changed from Benedict to Francis. Gregorian Chant is employed with much Latin used especially for the Propers, the Introit is always chanted, even is there is a hymn for the procession prior to it. The parts of the Mass are chanted in Latin using one of the traditional forms.

Pope Francis uses Latin but seems to prefer the vernacular, whereas Pope Benedict as it papacy proceeded would only use Latin for the preface and Eucharistic Prayer, although he used a variety of the Eucharistic prayers not just the Roman Canon.

Pope Francis does not distribute Holy Communion to laity, only the deacons of the Mass and now they stand rather than kneel.

I think Pope Francis has chosen not to distribute to the laity except at First Communions and the Easter Vigil's new Catholics because he does not want to promote kneeling. I think he prefers standing. But I could be wrong.

For Pope Francis, the translation wars of the Mass are off his radar screen. He prefers to focusing in on what happens outside of the sanctuary with rank and file clergy and laity.

To date he has not named a new Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and in a talk to them he seems to have asked them to continue on the path they are on to actually implement Sacrosanctum Concilium. Liturgy is not the focus of Pope Francis in terms of tinkering with it, Christian life is! We know that Pope Francis is the one who ultimately approved the Anglican Ordinariate's Mass with the options of the "Prayers at the Foot of the Altar" the EF's Order for the Introductory Rite of the Mass as well as the EF's Offertory Prayers and the Last Gospel and rubrics for the Roman Canon more similar to the EF's rubrics. This is rather interesting. And it is clear that people are allowed to kneel for Holy Communion and the Mass may be celebrated ad orientem as Pope Francis has done twice now publicly.

Prior the Vatican II there wasn't much rank and file discussion or obsession on the Liturgy. We can't say that after Vatican II where the focus of Christianity was misplaced, shifted from charity of Christian discipleship in life by knowing, loving and serving Jesus Christ to tinkering with the Mass, rearranging the furniture of the Church and becoming  a liturgical interior decorator not to mention the obsession with dumbed down vernacular translations of the glorious Latin. 

Now that we have a good and glorious English translation, someone needs to tell the one who still obsess on using pedestrian English that the Francis effect should move them from liturgy and the sanctuary to the real world of knowing, loving and serving Jesus Christ by one's manner of life outside the sanctuary. 


Anonymous said...

Really. If Francis could he would be saying Mass on a card table wearing a bed sheet with a hole cut into it for a chasuble.

Anonymous said...

"Any comment that is vitriolic and disrespectful of the laity in general, and Pope Francis, bishops and priests in particular will not be posted!"

"If Francis could he would be saying Mass on a card table wearing a bed sheet with a hole cut into it for a chasuble."


John Nolan said...

I think that the reason why Pope Francis doesn't distribute Holy Communion (except to the deacons) is that he doesn't like the idea of people being pre-selected for the 'privilege' of receiving from the pope, this selection usually being based on the assumed 'importance' of the recipients. Does he distribute at the morning Masses he celebrates at the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae?

Normally the celebrant should not entirely delegate the distribution of Communion to others unless he is physically incapable of doing it himself. This abuse was reprobated as long ago as 1980 in 'Inaestimabile Donum', and there is a danger that some priests 'of a certain age' will take their cue from the Pontiff and hand over the task of distribution to lay people.

It will be interesting to see what changes, if any, will be evident during the coming Holy Week. Interesting, but not necessary all that significant. I know that where I choose to go there will be no nasty surprises.

Rood Screen said...

"Pope Benedict brought more of an aloof regal approach to the papacy..." I'm not so sure about that. In fact, Benedict was more interactive than is Francis during liturgical processions, for example. I don't recall any indications that Benedict was interested in restoring a royal appearance to the papacy, although I'd be open to reviewing evidence suggesting otherwise.

"He prefers...focusing in on what happens outside of the sanctuary..." I'd say Francis is focused on the liturgy during the liturgy, and on evangelization and works of mercy outside of the liturgy. I agree that this is the proper order of pastoral activity. The sacred rites are not meant to be the subject of endless manipulation and novelty. Any changes needed in the liturgy should occur gradually and organically.

Unknown said...

"Any comment that is vitriolic and disrespectful of the laity in general, and Pope Francis, bishops and priests in particular will not be posted!"

"If Francis could he would be saying Mass on a card table wearing a bed sheet with a hole cut into it for a chasuble."


Pot, meet my good friend, Kettle.

John Nolan said...


I, too, have noticed that Pope Francis hardly ever imparts his blessing to the faithful when he processes in and out. Contrast this with another liturgically austere pope, Pius XII. In those days he would have been of course carried in on the sedia, but he was always blessing right and left.

Francis's approach to the liturgy comes over, rightly or wrongly, as not just austere, but glum. During the singing of the Gloria, for example, Benedict would stand motionless, his eyes slightly raised (this was a typical Benedict trait) as if he were focusing on something higher. Francis stares at his (black) boots. One gets the impression that he would rather be somewhere else, and that the required liturgical observances bore him.

It was noticeable that he moved quickly to truncate the lengthier services, such as the Easter Vigil, not to mention the ceremonies of his installation Mass which had been worked out in advance. Pope John XXIII was the same age as Francis (76) when elected, but insisted on the full five-hour coronation, even restoring some elements which had been dropped from the previous coronation in 1939.

Anonymous said...

The Francis Effect is what you make it, I guess.

I'm more concerned with the Archbishop (Name Withheld) effect that causes me to drive 3 hours roundtrip to another diocese for Sunday Mass.

Benedict couldn't fix that problem even with his very clear actually written instructions. So I don't Francis will have any effect whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

If Francis prefers standing for Holy Communion then that is not a good recommendation for his liturgical practices. If kneeling was occurring prior to Francis and now there is standing then that is a key indicator of what you can expect from him. I think it's a bad sign and only confirms that his frequent off-the- cuff comments that come across as being un-Catholic are in in all likelihood exactly that.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why the card table and bed sheet observation is offensive to commenter #2? The recent Maryknoll magazine has a photograph of a "mass" using a coffee table and a "presiding" priest in street clothes, sitting on the floor in native American style. Why do liberals hate to have their preferred liturgical practices described in exactly the manner they do them? Francis' vestments are not just simple. Better to describe them as lacking religious symbols. That's not good.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anonymous - Pope Francis' vestments ARE religious symbols.

The ALB symbolizes the white garment of baptism, the white pall of the funeral mass, and the white robe worn by those gathered around the throne of God in heaven.

The CHASUBLE symbolizes the yoke of Christ. This priestly vestment also symbolizes charity.

The STOLE symbolizes the office of the deacon when worn on one shoulder and the priest when worn over both.

The MITRE, the PECTORAL CROSS, the RING, and the PASTORAL STAFF all SYMBOLIZE the episcopal office which the pope exercises as Bishop of Rome.

Francis' vestments may be lacking ornamentation, but they are not "lacking religious symbols." They are, themselves, religious symbols.

Anonymous said...

I noticed from March 13th of last year that unless circumstances compel him Francis imparts a blessing to no one. Watch him, he waves, he kisses, he shakes hands, he smiles. But he gives no blessing.

It's enough to chill the spine.

John Nolan said...

Pater Ignotus is right. The vestments are derived from late-Roman formal dress, and have acquired their symbolism over the centuries. Although religious symbols can be added to vestments, they are not necessary; indeed baroque vestments often have a floral decoration with no symbols at all. Similarly, some 20th century vestments were plain to the point of having only the liturgical colour, although such minimalism is not to everyone's taste.

For what it's worth, I think that Roman-style vestments fit into any environment; Gothic-style vestments are particularly suited to Gothic-style churches; and some modern designs are of good artistic merit and should not necessarily be disparaged.

Where did 'the white pall of the funeral Mass' come from, PI? I seem to recall the coffin covered with a black pall and flanked by six unbleached candles. But then, I'm not up to speed with all the Vatican II absurdities. Deo Gratias!

Pater Ignotus said...

John - The symbols of Baptism and the Funeral Mass are "bookends" to the life of a Christian.

The oil of catechumens is echoed in the oil of the Sacrament of the Sick.

The Paschal candle which stands at the head of the coffin echoes the Paschal candle, and the individual candle given to the parents/godparents.

The white pall placed over the coffin recalls the white garment given at Baptism.

The reformed rite properly restores the white pall in reflecting the Baptismal imagery.

It is not an absurdity, but a welcomed restoration.

John Nolan said...

PI, it is a typical absurdity of Vatican II to describe as a 'restoration' something that never existed. Funeral palls were red, black, sometimes even cloth-of-gold, or heraldic (for example the royal arms or the national flag) but the idea of white to recall the baptismal garment is a twee post-V2 conceit, like the lighting of the paschal candle and the wearing of white vestments in a presumptuous 'Mass of the Resurrection'. Keeps the relatives happy, and stops them thinking about inconvenient things like purgatory, but a travesty of a Christian funeral nonetheless.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - There is nothing absurd about echoing the Baptismal symbolism in the funeral liturgy.

"The use of a rich cloth pall to cover the casket or coffin during the funeral grew during the Middle Ages; initially these were brightly coloured and patterned, only later black, and later still white." [Fran├žoise Piponnier and Perrine Mane; Dress in the Middle Ages; p. 151, Yale UP, 1997]

The color has changed over time, and this is not a bad thing.

We use a pall to recall: “For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” Imperishability and immortality are granted to us in Baptism, hence, the recapitulation of the Baptismal imagery is entirely apt.

No one is kept from thinking of Purgatory by using a white pall at funerals.

John Nolan said...

PI, there is every reason to wear white vestments at the funeral of a baptized child who has not attained the age of reason. There is every reason not to do so for the funeral of an adult (except in those cultures where white is the colour of mourning). It gives the impression that the presumption which is inherent in the first is being carried over into the second. Otherwise, why do it?

We are told that the emphasis in the funeral rites has shifted, but on whose authority? We can't blame Vatican II for this one, at least not directly. What appears to be a doctrinal change cannot be made by bishops' conferences, or even Vatican dicasteries.

The white pall as a cultural artefact hasn't yet caught on over here, but whacky liturgical ideas, like weather systems, have a habit of crossing the Atlantic, so I won't hold my breath. Vestal not-exactly Virgins with smoking incense bowls have been reported at 'liturgies' in Ireland, and I recall some hippy goings-on in Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral not long ago. Fratres, sobrii estote, et vigilate ...

Pater Ignotus said...

John - How did you become an expert of the status of the hymens of the women who carry incense on that side of the pond? Wait, I don't really want to know.

Why white for the funerals of sinners? To reiterate the symbolism of Baptism, doubling its efficaciousness. To
recall the hope expressed in Baptism of the saving grace of God. To express belief in the power of God to overcome sin. To provide consolation to the grieving. To offer the grieving a chance to renew their hope in God's mercy.

Among other reasons.

Anonymous said...

Francis' vestments lack religious symbols, regardless of the fact that the items themselves have religious significance. A cross, icon etc on a chasuble helps to distinguish the garment from being a poncho or a bedsheet as described in post #1. Many of Francis' vestments seem ugly to me especially his black an gold striped one. It makes him look like a Purdue grad. I do think that his vestment choices offer a clue about who he is as it does for many clergy.

John Nolan said...


'To reiterate the symbolism of Baptism, doubling its efficaciousness'. The efficaciousness of Baptism, or of the funeral rites?

Your implication that vestment colour has such an influence on sacramental efficacity (increasing it two-fold, forsooth!) is more astonishing than my reasonable inference that a mature married woman is unlikely to be virgo intacta.

Pater Ignotus said...

Anon - If a viewer, such as yourself, cannot distinguish between a poncho/bed sheet and a chasuble, when said garment is being worn by a pope at mass, then I doubt any form of ornamentation would make much difference.

John - The efficacy of the symbols is doubled, not the efficacy of the sacraments. (Since the conversation is about symbols, there is no implication that the efficacy of the sacraments is doubled.)

John Nolan said...

PI, be that as it may, but the worst liturgies I have attended have been in connection with funerals (because one cannot exercise choice by avoiding them). Bishops are frequently having to intervene and moderate the worst excesses. I well recall the funeral Mass I attended 23 years ago for a friend who died suddenly at no great age. He was a semi-lapsed Catholic but attached to the liturgy with which he had been brought up, and which was at that time virtually unobtainable.

His widow was non-Catholic and so his sister (a liberated V2 modernist and an EMHC to boot) organized the Mass which was tacky, maudlin, and would have had the poor man turning in his grave. More recently I attended the funeral Mass for a neighbour who died of cancer in middle age and one of her friends preached a eulogy in which she described her as now being an angel in heaven (and this was from a Catholic!)

On a more positive note, I have been called upon to sing at Requiem Masses for people I didn't know from Adam, because they had stated in their will that they wanted the time-honoured rites of the Western Church, rather than the ad-hoc, improvised, and often not even recognizably Catholic dogs' breakfasts which pass for obsequies nowadays. Even medieval peasants would make provision for Placebo, Dirige and Requiem (Vespers, Matins and Mass). By doing this for others, I have a reasonable hope that others will do this for me.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - Citing examples of poorly planned and/or executed liturgies doesn't mean that the liturgy itself is in need of fixing.

It is entirely possible for a choir to present a terrible performance of Handel's Messiah, but no one is suggesting that that oratorio needs serious reform.

John Nolan said...

PI, you could not have a poorly planned liturgy before V2 for the simple reason that the liturgy was not planned or assembled to suit people's personal tastes. Although a prince might have a splendid funeral with a monstrous catafalque, a mile long procession and music by the greatest composers of the day, the liturgy itself would have been exactly the same as for the meanest of his subjects.

This is where post-V2 modernists like yourself get it so horribly wrong. Everything is subjective, individualistic, and purely functional. This morning I attended the (OF) Solemn Mass at the London Oratory. The Passion (St Matthew) was sung in Latin by a deacon and two priests, with the turba choruses by Tomas Luis de Victoria. It took over half an hour. 'What's the point?' I hear you say. You can shorten it and recite it in English, as no doubt you do, and not put any burden on the congregation.

Incidentally, the Tract for this morning was 'Christus factus est'. It's been around since the first millennium, and so should suit your archaeologist mentality. It also happens to be one of the greatest chants in the repertoire, and one of the greatest pieces of music of all time. Did you sing it this morning? I won't wait for an answer since I'm pretty damn sure you didn't.