Friday, May 30, 2014


The Holy Father wore nice but muted gold vestments for today's Episcopal Ordination at St. Peter's but it was a predictable and bland celebration.

Don't get me wrong. I see nothing wrong with austerity, simplicity and the manner in which Pope Francis celebrates the Mass. At Mass he is serious, of a somber persona and celebrates the Mass while facing the congregation in an "ad orientem" sort of way. He has, by the way, also celebrated Mass as pope "ad orientem" twice in public.

The music is the same at the Vatican Masses as it was for Pope Benedict, propers are chanted and the parts are chanted in Latin.

But the Holy Father is not known now or in the past as a liturgist. After all he is a Jesuit and the two words used together "Jesuit liturgist" is an oxymoron.

On top of that, he has only made minor adjustments to the Vatican's liturgical departments and to date has made absolutely no changes to the Congregation for Divine Worship, no changes whatsoever.

Under Pope Benedict, liturgical blogs delighted in every effort to make the liturgy beautiful and in the variety of styles of vestments Pope Benedict would employ and every effort to restore some continuity between the papal liturgies of yesteryear and today.

But liturgical blogs today are stumbling. I'm having a hard time keeping fresh in that area too. Look at Praytell, they blather on about this, that and the other and the old guard keeps making the same inane comments and fewer and fewer comments are appearing. They had an inane discussion on Roman vestments and ornate vessels. THEY ARE JUST PLAIN BORING NOW, of course that started as soon as I stopped commenting there :)

But Pope Francis really wants the Church to focus on what is essential to everyday Catholic life and to stop the ideological liturgical wars. I think he might be succeeding by putting liturgy on the back burner and saying the black and doing the red even if it is in a bland way.


Unknown said...

Perhaps a new direction for your blog, Father, could be found. Maybe reflections on the day's readings from Mass or some aspect of the days Office?

Danilo said...

Dear Fr. Allan J. McDonald
I agree about the boring. The liturgical blogs are shutting down or changing the focus from Rome to diocesan life or any other religious institute. It is global, not just in the USA but here in Brazil too. Pope Francis liturgical style played a big role on this shutting.
But I disagree about the "Jesuit liturgist" as an oxymoron. That is not least here in Brazil. Our great liturgist was a holy jesuit named Fr. João Batista Reus, S.J. He was a deep spiritual priest, a pius man of God and very humble among his jesuit peers. Nothing but an example to all priests and seminarians down here.
Of course this was true till Vatican II. Now our liturgists think only in liturgical dance, simple (poor) liturgy, women priests, etc.

Anonymous said...

The Pope's liturgies may be boring, and more boring than I personally prefer, yet he is MY Pope! :-)

p.S. His homilies are not boring.


MR said...

Given what my fears originally were, I am happy to settle for boring.

Luke said...

The new bishop's vestment's were hideous. Straight out of the 70's. That probably is a good indication of the man's theology as well. The Church is going to continue to be in disaster mode until priests that were ordained after around 2000 start becoming bishops. I also expect vocations to decrease over the course of this papacy. As Bishop Bruskowitz used to say, men will give up their lives for a mystery but not for a question mark.

Cameron said...

Lol straight out of the 70's, what? How?

They are not my favorite by far but, gosh, I never thought I'd hear someone say the Tau design for a chasuble is straight out of the 70's.


Anonymous said...

"But Pope Francis really wants the Church to focus on what is essential to everyday Catholic life and to stop the ideological liturgical wars. I think he might be succeeding by putting liturgy on the back burner...."

What? The most important aspect of a Catholics life is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. No act of charity on earth can compare with the Mass. Vatican II called it the source and summit of our lives.

To be Catholic is to be liturgical. Only the very best should be used for Mass if possible. The Mass should be offered by priest and people in a prayerful, respectful, formal way. Always following established rubrics and practices of the Church.

As for Francis being boring. Yes he is. He does not have the elegance of Pope Benedict or the charisma of St. John Paul or the bearing of Paul VI. Thats fine but he could wear better, more beautiful vestments. Thank god he isn't wearing that ridiculous brown stripped mitre and chasuble. I'm not saying he should wear what Pope Benedict used to wear, because frankly he couldn't pull it off and he would look foolish. I mean can you picture Francis in the red shoes, he would look like Bozo the clown. But he could try more than he does.

Anonymous said...

I want to know who that terrible MC next to Msgr Marini is? He is awful. His cassock doesn't fit, he is fidgety and always looking around. And he is too touchy feely. He doesn't have the class that Marini and the other MC's have. He sticks out like a sore thumb. He cannot have been picked by Marini

Gene said...

Fix the Liturgy, fix the Church. Francis doesn't get it.

Luke said...

I said the newly ordained bishop's vestments, not the co concelebrants.

Anonymous said...

Pope Francis and his liturgies are boring?

First, liturgies are only boring for those who come to Mass with the very Protestant idea that they must be entertained. Ironically, the more that liturgical planners try to make the Mass "entertaining", the more boring and mundane it gets.

Second, if Pope Francis is boring, it's only because the modernism he embraces is and always has been boring.

You can keep your "New Evangelism". Whatever it is, nobody seems to know and if the last 40 years are any indication, it's a proven loser. Gimme that Old Evangelism. It made saints.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I'm not necessarily saying boring is bad because those who are bored really don't understand the liturgy do they and yes perhaps they want to be entertained. Pope Benedict's bodily style, apart from his desire and ability (not great ability) to chant is almost identical to Pope Francis. Where they differ is that Pope Benedict did "entertain" us with a variety of liturgical vestments of very high quality and very ornate and the use of papal garb in all its splendor and the return of papal etiquette for liturgies. That was novel given the fact the St. Pope John Paul II eschewed most of what Pope Benedict brought back. Pope Benedict was into the arts and an elegant man. Pope Francis is more into sports and more a like a truck driver. Pope Francis connects better to the rank and file Catholic and is certainly more pedestrian. I think Jesus was that way to, BTW.

Anonymous said...

" I think Jesus was that way to, BTW."

So you are saying that Jesus was more like Pope Francis then Pope Benedict. There is nothing to base that on. Both men have very good qualities but to say one is more like Christ is just another way modernists take swipes at Pope Benedict. All this worldwide adulation of Francis was orchestrated by a media not because of love for Francis but because they HATE Benedict. They know he (Benedict) is not afraid to speak the truth clearly and without compromise, BTW.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Not really saying what you are saying. I'm thinking more of the historical Jesus during his sojourn on earth. I don't think he worried much about style, music or the finer things in life, at home or the synagogue or temple.

Now that He is in glory and robed in glory, I suspect he likes high Church and what Pope Benedict modeled.

But let's face it, Pope Francis is more earth and more a a Harley sort of person (motorcycle) than a refined pianist and dressed for that part.

Jesus can be both of course, so as with everything in the Church it isn't either/or but both/and.

Rood Screen said...

There really should be no such thing as "news" about the celebration of Mass.

Why does the term "New Evangelization" baffle some Catholics? Evangelization is the conversion of pagan nations to Christianity, while the New Evangelization is the conversion of formerly Christian nations back to the True Faith.

WSquared said...

While Pope Francis's approach to the liturgy seems "staid" in comparison to Pope Benedict's, both of them taken together can be seen as constituting an acceptable range with upper and lower boundaries: if you have a lot if really beautiful vestments and the like sitting around, don't be afraid to use them. But if you don't, you can still celebrate Mass in a beautiful, dignified manner with humbler materials. If you can chant, that's wonderful. But if you can't, don't fret.

It's a big and altogether dubious stretch to even imply that Pope Francis's toned-down approach means that he endorses guitar/folk Masses and needing to be "entertained" at Mass. He's even rather bluntly admonished prevailing attitudes in so many suburban American parishes-- Mass is not a community prayer meeting, and we don't come to Mass to be entertained. Joy and "having fun" are also not the same thing. Think of Francis as Gregorian chant, and Benedict as Sacred Polyphony.

There is a sobriety and discipline common to both the Pope and Pope Emeritus. Both know that hey are servants of the liturgy, and not the other way around.