Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Glum or a piety of the pre-Vatican II era which should still be in effect in the post-Vatican II era? This is not a liturgical happy-clappy face so often  found at modern Ordinary Form Masses, but certainly not at the Extraordinary Form Mass.

Which of the two images below capture the sentiment of Pope Francis' serious, pre-Vatican II piety in the photo above?

I've already written another post that Pope Francis' demeanor during the celebration of Mass is very pre-Vatican II. He comes across as a different person or persona as he celebrates the Mass compared to when he simply presses the flesh and visits with people such as after the Palm Sunday Mass.

Even Vatican Insider, Andrea Tornielli, takes the world press to task for reporting that during the Mass the Holy Father looked tired or in a bad mood. And yes the photo above would give the happy clappy types who want to drag happy-clappy antics into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass where we stand as believers at the Foot of the Cross where Jesus hangs in agony and then in death! How stupid is that? If we truly understood as Pope Francis does, that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is serious business and not a pep rally, we would all celebrate Mass as Pope Francis does.

Even when the Pope is celebrating Mass outside of the Vatican Walls at Roman parishes that seem to consistently use happy clappy Italian Folk music, he remains serious and glum looking. The same at the fiasco of musical entertainment style of the Masses in Brazil. Watch the pope and see the disconnect between his authentic liturgical piety and the pep rally entertainment style of liturgical music that is so often the case today in so many places.

From the Vatican Insider:

 At the Palm Sunday Mass, Francis reeled off a list of Bible characters asking faithful to think about which one they identified themselves with

ANDREA TORNIELLI vatican city  

The entire square fell silent when the Pope began his Palm Sunday homily, marking the start of Holy Week. Francis looked serious and deep in concentration as he left his prepared text to one side and began by asking himself and all those present the big question: Which Biblical figure do I identify myself with?

His questions - which started with “Am I like…” - obviously moved the crowd; there is no other way to explain the silence that accompanied the Pope’s brief but intense reflection. Some tried to play down Francis’ homily as “similar to those pronounced in many parishes this Sunday”. But this is coming from individuals who never lose a chance to talk down the Argentinian Pope’s words, probably because they are incapable of understanding that it is possible to be profound and simple at the same time.
“It would do us good to ask ourselves one question: Who am I before the Lord, who am I before Jesus who enters a Jerusalem during a time of celebration? Am I able to express my joy and shout it to the world or do I take my distance? Who am I before the suffering Jesus? We have heard so many names. The group of leaders, the Pharisees, experts in the law who decided to kill him and were waiting for the opportune moment to get him. Am I one of them?” the Pope asked.
“Am I like Pontius Pilate who walks away from his responsibilities when the situation gets tough, allowing others to be sentenced or sentencing people?” Francis went on to ask. “Or am I like the crowd of people who weren’t quite sure whether they were at a religious gathering, a trial or a circus and chose Barabas because to them it was the same; it was all the more fun because they could humiliate Jesus. Am I like the soldiers who beat Jesus, spit at him, insult him and enjoy humiliating the Lord?”
“Am I like those leaders who went to Pontius Pilate the next day to tell him that Jesus said he would be resurrected and blocked life by blocking the entrance to the tomb to defend the doctrine, so that life could not come out?”
Francis looked serious as he pronounced these questions. His seriousness was mistaken for tiredness or a bad mood by those who are not able to understand that for those who have faith, reliving Jesus’ Passion is no walk in the park and that the liturgy is not a show. At the end of the mass Francis spent a long while in St. Peter’s Square socializing and joking with the many young people present. Indeed, the Pope did not look serious because he was tired or in a bad mood. He was simply in deep concentration as he always is when celebrating one of the mysteries. This is something some Vatican observers fail to grasp, but simple faithful understand fully and they made this clear with their silence and presence.


Anonymous said...

Does he look tired or in a bad mood? He looks miserable as he'll, just like he always does when he isn't actively degrading the papacy. The only time he smiles is when he does things like wear clown noses and hold meetings with liberal nuns who hate the Church, atheist media who are trying to destroy the Church etc. But, he isn't as miserable as he would be if he was church staff by the Franciscans of the Immaculate, then he would pop a vein.

Anonymous said...

The entire debacle of happy-clappy Masses and denigrating piety is based on the very Protestant idea that we are automatically saved because the Bible tells us so. While we have great hope for salvation, it is guaranteed to no one.

The Traditional Mass reflects this reality and our great unworthiness. Reading the Prayer of St. Ambrose is a revelation in man's unworthiness and inability to save himself. It is unnerving to think of the sheer vastness of sacrileges that have been committed since the advent of the New Mass. Not to say that the New Mass is itself sacrilegious, but that it has been stretched, warped and manipulated in so many directions that when it is celebrated with piety, many congregants think the priest is "holier than thou" or "grumpy".

I just can't get on the "Mass as a party" bandwagon.

John Nolan said...

It is undeniable that the V2 liturgical reform was a disaster. Benedict XVI talked of standing in the ruins of what the Liturgical Movement actually strove for. No-one, however young(and I was very young at the time) could have missed the fact that the liturgical revolution of 1964-1967 was welcomed by a few zealots but generally disliked by most.

The reformers had a very good idea even before the Council met what the new Mass would look like; but what actually happened surprised even them, and in some cases dismayed them. Yet the assumption that one could destroy a 1500 year-old rite and replace it with something significantly different and suited to a particular decade of the 20th century was a quite astonishing conceit. Paul VI has much to answer for, but Vatican II can't be let off the hook.

Did anything good come out of the Council? Was there ever a pontificate in the modern age like that of Paul VI who came to despair of what had been done in his name but lacked the will to do anything about it? Historians have a lot to go on.

WSquared said...

Father, this is not "glumness," but sobriety, and a sobriety that is not antithetical to joy, but is meant to safeguard it.

Rood Screen said...

While I accept the reformed (post-1970) missal as providing the ordinary form of the Roman Mass, I do fear that it's typical use requires the additives of choral extravagance and clerical whimsy just to keep it interesting enough for modern Catholics to continue coming for it. Whereas the older missal provides a form of Mass interesting enough even without a sermon or song, an Ordinary Form Mass celebrated without these elements seems to leave participants bored or even depressed. Ours is a culture addicted to stimulation, and so the liturgical leisure of sober celebration just doesn't provide the craved for "high".

John Nolan said...


I wonder. A Novus Ordo Mass celebrated in Latin or English in a sober and restrained manner, without commentaries, music, homilies, mini-homilies, eye-contact with the assembly, lay readers, EMHC, and moreover giving the impression that its efficacy was ex opere operato, could be an edifying and prayerful experience. Indeed, in the early years of the NO such celebrations were by no means uncommon. I remember in the 1970s attending one such during my lunch break. The Mass was ad orientem, and although the priest did not hurry it along unduly, it took a mere twenty minutes.

It would be, however, shorter than the EF Low Mass, although this is not necessarily a bad thing. 'The Mass was low and short', wrote Hilaire Belloc on one of his travels, 'since they are a Christian people'.

I have always been drawn to the sung Mass with its music and ceremony, but there are those who are not musical and for whom a two-hour Pontifical High Mass would be wearisome. It is said of Evelyn Waugh that when attending High Mass at Farm Street he would spot a priest and server approaching a side altar for a private Mass and immediately transfer his attendance.

Pater Ignotus said...

I think Pope Francis looks like . . . Pope Francis.

Some people just have a "glum" or a "mad" or a "dreamy" or a "disinterested" natural appearance.

John - Undeniably, Vatican II's liturgical reforms were not a disaster. You err in misdiagnosing the cause of the problems in the Church.

Switching from Latin to the vernacular, or leaving aside the maniple, or reducing the unnecessary repetitions of sign of the cross over the elements on the altar did not drive people away.

There have been tectonic shifts in our Western culture - the rise of consumerism with it's underlying materialism, the development of radical individualism, and the unprecedented mobility of individuals and families - that, I think, are the causes of many of the ills we face both inside and outside the Church.

JBS - We are not given the mass so that we can be "interested." The celebration of the mass is meant to be, for us, transformative - to draw us more deeply into the saving mysteries of Jesus Christ. A mass without a homily is not all that it can be in that regard.

I think the stimulation of the whole person is a laudable goal for any celebration of the Eucharist. If the homily stimulates a person to consider his/her sin, that is a good thing. If that person is moved to greater generosity, challenged to forgive someone who has harmed him, even confronted with the reality of her sinful acts - then stimulation is entirely worthwhile.

Rood Screen said...

Pater Ignotus,

I agree that we "are not given the [M]ass so that we can be 'interested'", and that the "celebration of the [M]ass is meant to be...transformative". Further, I agree that our transformation participation in the Holy Mass is heightened by well-prepared and well-delivered homilies.

Finally, I, too, "think the stimulation of the whole person is a laudable goal for any celebration of the Eucharist". The Roman liturgical tradition is expert at delivering this stimulation. Addiction to stimulation, however, is another matter.

George said...

It could be said that the mis-implementation of Vatican II reforms coupled with the the social upheaval of our times-the" tectonic shifts in our Western culture" as you say, that were a perfect storm to causing what has transpired.

I don't doubt for some, what you say is true(as far as stimulation). For those who come to Mass with the necessary and proper attitude, no stimulation beyond the spiritual is necessary. It is true have the incense,candles and bells, and in some cases there has been the unfortunate foray into liturgical entertainment, but when it comes to what passes for modern stimulation, as long as the Church endeavors to engender reverence and respect for God, it is just not going to go there.
There are some who find favor with
the Latin Mass because it is so out of the ordinary with the over-stimulation one finds in our modern existence.

Anonymous said...

I have always noticed that Pope Francis has always had a very different demeanor while saying mass vs when he is out amongst "the people". I have always interpreted this as him being in a very prayerful state while saying mass. I liken this to all of us being more serious while at work vs being not being at work. I don't see him as looking grumpy at all. However, sometimes he does look quite tired and I pray for him that God will continue tio bless him with the energy needed to continue his job as Pope for many years to come.

John Nolan said...

PI, there are indeed a number of reasons for the current problems in the Church, and the general debasement of Catholic worship is undeniably one of them.

'I am convinced that the crisis in the Church which we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy'.

'We have a liturgy which has degenerated so that it has become a show which ... strives to render religion interesting in the wake of the frivolities of fashion'.

You know who made these statements, and many others in the same vein, and I think you will concede that a) he was a greater liturgical scholar than you are, and b) he was (and is) by no means a lone voice.

Complacency and inertia over clerical (homo)sexual abuse caused great scandal; complacency and inertia over liturgical abuse is arguably an even greater scandal.

George said...

Last year Cardinal Raymond Burke, in an interview, told Zenit’s Edward Pentin that a fitting worship of God is essential to the moral life.“There’s no question in my mind that the abuses in the sacred liturgy, reduction of the sacred liturgy to some kind of human activity,” he said, “is strictly correlated with a lot of moral corruption and with a levity in catechesis that has been shocking and has left generations of Catholics ill prepared to deal with the challenges of our time by addressing the Catholic faith to those challenges.
“You can see it in the whole gamut of Church life,” he added.

Speaking with Pentin at the Sacra Liturgia conference in Rome at the end of June 2013, Cardinal Burke explained the oft-observed connection between a love for solemn liturgy and dedication to the pro-life cause.

“It’s in the sacred liturgy above all, and particularly in the Holy Eucharist, that we look upon the love which God has for every human life without exception, without boundary, beginning from the very first moment of conception, because Christ poured out his life as he said for all men,” the Cardinal said. “He identifies himself in the Eucharistic sacrifice with every human life. So on the one hand, the Eucharist inspires a great reverence for human life, respect and care for human life, and at the same time it inspires a joy among those who are married to procreate, to cooperate with God in bringing new human life into this world.”

The prelate also stressed that a proper grasp of liturgy is “fundamental” to evangelization.