Sunday, March 29, 2015


My comment first: Just a liturgical side note, but why is it that no other blogs or any liturgists ever comment on the fact that at these outdoor Masses at St. Peters with both Pope Benedict and Francis (I attended three of them while on sabbatical and a couple of blockbusters at that) there is the use of two ambos for the proclamation of the Scriptures. The ambo on the Epistle side of the square is for the First two readings and responsorial psalm and on the Gospel side for the Gospel. Isn't that a reform of the reform too?

The other thing I notice this morning is that the priests who assist with the distribution of Holy Communion to the far flung areas of the square come out during the time the pope receives the offerings. They are in cassock and surplice and are holding ciborium with hosts to be consecrated by the pope. When I did this at the Mass where Pope Francis consecrated the world to Mary, at the presentation of the gifts, we entered the basilica and were given ciborium of already consecrated Hosts. We stood in two lines in the basilica facing the entrance door which was closed while the Holy Father prayed the Eucharistic Prayer. We could barely hear what was happening and saw nothing.

Then at the Pater Noster, we exited the Basilica and went to the far flung areas of the square to distribute our pre-consecrated Hosts.

It appears  that at this Mass pre-consecrated Hosts are not used but everyone is receiving Holy Communion from Hosts consecrated at this Mass and by the Pope. 

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered the homily at Mass in St. Peter's Square on Sunday - Palm Sunday - the beginning of Holy Week, 2015. Please find, below, the official English translation of the Holy Father's prepared remarks.
At the heart of this celebration, which seems so festive, are the words we heard in the hymn of the Letter to the Philippians: “He humbled himself” (2:8). Jesus’ humiliation.

These words show us God’s way and the way of Christians: it is humility. A way which constantly amazes and disturbs us: we will never get used to a humble God!

Humility is above all God’s way: God humbles himself to walk with his people, to put up with their infidelity. This is clear when we read the Book of Exodus. How humiliating for the Lord to hear all that grumbling, all those complaints against Moses, but ultimately against him, their Father, who brought them out of slavery and was leading them on the journey through the desert to the land of freedom.

This week, Holy Week, which leads us to Easter, we will take this path of Jesus’ own humiliation. Only in this way will this week be “holy” for us too!

We will feel the contempt of the leaders of his people and their attempts to trip him up. We will be there at the betrayal of Judas, one of the Twelve, who will sell him for thirty pieces of silver. We will see the Lord arrested and carried off like a criminal; abandoned by his disciples, dragged before the Sanhedrin, condemned to death, beaten and insulted. We will hear Peter, the “rock” among the disciples, deny him three times. We will hear the shouts of the crowd, egged on by their leaders, who demand that Barabas be freed and Jesus crucified. We will see him mocked by the soldiers, robed in purple and crowned with thorns. And then, as he makes his sorrowful way beneath the cross, we will hear the jeering of the people and their leaders, who scoff at his being King and Son of God.

This is God’s way, the way of humility. It is the way of Jesus; there is no other. And there can be no humility without humiliation.

Following this path to the full, the Son of God took on the “form of a slave” (cf. Phil 2:7). In the end, humility means service. It means making room for God by stripping oneself, “emptying oneself”, as Scripture says (v. 7). This is the greatest humiliation of all.

There is another way, however, opposed to the way of Christ. It is worldliness, the way of the world. The world proposes the way of vanity, pride, success… the other way. The Evil One proposed this way to Jesus too, during his forty days in the desert. But Jesus immediately rejected it. With him, we too can overcome this temptation, not only at significant moments, but in daily life as well.

In this, we are helped and comforted by the example of so many men and women who, in silence and hiddenness, sacrifice themselves daily to serve others: a sick relative, an elderly person living alone, a disabled person…

We think too of the humiliation endured by all those who, for their lives of fidelity to the Gospel, encounter discrimination and pay a personal price. We think too of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted because they are Christians, the martyrs of our own time. They refuse to deny Jesus and they endure insult and injury with dignity. They follow him on his way. We can speak of a “cloud of witnesses” (cf. Heb 12:1). 

Let us set about with determination along this same path, with immense love for him, our Lord and Saviour. Love will guide us and give us strength. For where he is, we too shall be (cf. Jn 12:26). Amen.


Rood Screen said...

Father McDonald,

The reason you alone have noted that there's both an epistle ambo and a Gospel ambo is because you're a "both/and" kind of blogger, rather than the usual "either/or" type.

Jdj said...

The Holy Father's homily is the perfect start to Holy Week. There is no ambiguity here and no chance of misunderstanding this one (unless you are just a despisers and committed to misinterpreting Francis)! I know he is an enigma at times, but this homily is the heart of our Christian walk AND Catholic faith. The powerful "little way" that changes lives.

John Nolan said...

A pity the Passion wasn't sung; to do so even in the vernacular is important. One assumes that on Good Friday the St John Passion will be sung, as is the custom. Today I attended a Solemn OF Mass but the Passion was read and not sung; the pedestrian English of the Jerusalem Bible led me to 'switch off' quite early. If I want St Mark's narrative my first stop would be the Vulgate and after that Douay-Rheims ed. Challoner.

A minor complaint, perhaps - nothing like the howls of outrage with which Novus Ordo-ites would greet anything in Latin. Fr JBS is quite right in contrasting the liberalism of conservatives with the illiberalism of liberals.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

We had three professional chanters for two of our 5 Masses. Our missalettes have the Passion in part to be spoken, Narrator, Christ, speakers and congregation. People like this too as they are involved in it, albeit the negative parts, especially crucify Him, crucify him! They get louder too when told!

Randy said...

Father McDonald,

Can you clarify how the hosts in ciboriums held by the priests at St. Peter's distributing Communion get consecrated? I always thought that the hosts had to be on the altar in order for that to happen, irrespective of the intent of the celebrant.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I think papal Masses and any Mass with thousands of people have an indult. It is the intention of the celebrant. I was a mere installed acolyte at St. John Paul's Mass on the Mall and held a wooden salad bowl filled with host and covered with plastic wrap and stood quite some distance from the altar and pope. I don't know His Holiness even knew we were there. But I did distribute Holy Communion and still have that salad bowl! I wonder if it is a first class relic since St. John Paul II consecrated Hosts in it?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Mass on the Mall in Washington, DC!

Anonymous said...

"...the pedestrian English of the Jerusalem Bible..."


Michael (Quicumque Vult) said...

I think Fr. Z mentioned the Epistle/Gospel side situation once (one of the posts where he was making sure everyone recognized that Pope Benedict was wearing the fanon).

Gerry Davila said...

As far as hosts consecrated in clerics' hands, the Ordo Romanus Primus, I believe, has the Bishops/Priests holding (a) loaf(s) in their hands on high feast days. They say the Canon with the Pope so all can hear and co-consecrate the elements.

John Nolan said...

I remember a talk by Mgr Bruce Harbert on the 2011 corrected translation in which he played a major part. He made the point that 'accepit panem' could equally mean 'he took a loaf'.

Other issues include the translation of 'Sursum corda - Habemus ad Dominum'. We are so used to Cranmer's version that the more likely 'Let our hearts be on high - We hold them to the Lord' was too much for the bishops.

'Dominus vobiscum' has no verb - is it indicative or subjunctive? Only the celebrant's gesture indicates 'Dominus sit vobiscum'. Yet the deacon keeps his hands joined, suggesting 'Dominus est vobiscum'.

This predates the vernacular Mass; those who provided the translations for the bilingual hand missals were greatly influenced by the Anglican liturgy, often using Cranmer's Collects when these were based on the Latin ones (and these were often freer translations than ICEL 2011).

Anonymous (not you again!) - objective criticism does not equate to snobbery, unless you are one of those who think that all educated people are snobs. This of course makes you an inverted snob.

Anonymous said...

"...the pedestrian English of the Jerusalem Bible..."

When I attend vernacular OF Mass I lug along my 3450-page (British) CTS hand missal to follow along in Latin, because it's the only available Latin-English OF hand missal that includes all the ordinary and proper prayers in both Latin and English.

Using this particular missal--which has the Jerusalem Bible rendering for the English translations of the readings and Gospel--has been a real eye-opener for me. Reading at each such Mass the JB translation of the readings while listening to their proclamation in the "NABish" version of English in the New American Bible, the royalties from whose episcopally forced liturgical use fund the vast bureacratic apparatus of the USCCB, I have at least been gratified to learn that the NAB is not as bad as I had previously thought--there does, in fact, exist a worse English translation, which I had not previously thought possible.

John Nolan said...

The JB has its virtues as a study bible but is not suited for liturgical use. There is an alternative lectionary based on the RSV which is much better, but alas little used. The responsorial psalm texts are thankfully not those of the JB but are taken from the Grail psalter.

Attempts to replace the JB texts with a lectionary based on NRSV (or, more recently, a modified ESV) seem to have come to nought. It wouldn't have applied to north America anyway. In the context of the post-2011 English Mass the JB stands out like a sore thumb, but it looks like we're stuck with it.

Fortunately on most Sundays and Holydays I can attend the EF and so don't have to listen to it.