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Holy Week in Rome 2016

Holy Week in Rome: There are so many opportunities in Rome during Holy Week, I have highlighted just a few in Italian and English, including the normal Roman Rite, and a few exemplars from the “Extraordinary Form”, Byzantine Rite, and Anglican rites. All of the Station Churches and Papal Liturgies are noted.  

I would welcome input from anyone who is aware of others of particular interest, especially where good liturgy can be found – including good music, good preaching, good aesthetic, etc.

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

  • Station Church: San Giovanni in Laterano – 0700 (English); 1730 (Italian)
  • Papal Liturgy: Piazza San Pietro – 0930


  • Station Church: Santa Prassede all’Esquilino – 0700 (English); 1800 (Italian)
  • Byzantine Vespers of the Presanctified Gifts – Russicum/Sant’Antonio Abate – 1800


  • Station Church: Santa Prisca all Aventino – 0700 (English); 1800 (Italian)
  • Anglican Centre 50th Anniversary Eucharist/Chrism Mass – 1245 (English)
  • Byzantine Vespers of the Presanctified Gifts – Russicum/Sant’Antonio Abate – 1800
  • Evening Prayer with Sant’Egidio Community – Santa Maria in Trastevere 20:30


  • Station Church: Santa Maria Maggiore – 0700 (English); 1730 (Italian)
  • Seven Churches Pilgrimage of St. Filippo Neri (a devotional tradition since 1559)
    • Join the seminarians of the Pontifical North American College in a tour of the Seven Churches, starting with the morning station mass at Santa Maria Maggiore. It is about 22km walking total and will take all day. Pack a lunch or plan to stop along the route:
      • Santa Maria Maggiore
      • San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura
      • Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
      • San Giovanni in Laterano
      • San Sebastiano
      • San Paolo fuori le Mura
      • San Pietro al Vaticano
  • Byzantine Vespers of the Presanctified Gifts – Russicum/Sant’Antonio Abate – 1800
  • Office of Tenebrae
    • Paul’s Within the Walls (Episcopalian) – 1830 (English)
    • Santissima Trinita’ dei Pellegrini (extraordinary form) – 2030 (Latin)

 Holy Thursday

  • Papal Liturgy: Chrism Mass – Basilica San Pietro – 0930
  • Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Beginning of the Paschal Triduum Liturgy)
    • San Giovanni in Laterano – 1730 (Italian) – Station Church
    • Santa Maria in Trastevere – 1730 (Italian)
    • Oratory of San Francesco Saverio al Caravita – 1800 (English)
  • Altars of Repose pilgrimage – Roman devotional tradition is to walk around the city after the liturgy ends for the evening, visiting the beautifully decorated altars of repose in (at least seven) different churches.

Good Friday

Solemn Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion with Veneration of the Cross:

  • Station Church: Basilica Santa Croce in Gerusaleme – 1500 (Italian)
  • Oratory of San Francesco Saverio al Caravita – 1500 (English)
  • Papal Liturgy: Basilica San Pietro – 1700 (Italian)
  • Santissima Trinita’ dei Monti – 1800 (French)

Stations of the Cross devotion, with Pope Francis at the Colosseum, 2115

Holy Saturday

The Great Vigil of Easter

  • Oratory of San Francesco Saverio del Caravita – 2000 (English)
  • Papal Liturgy: Basilica San Pietro – 2030 (Italian)
  • Station Church: San Giovanni in Laterano – 2100 (Italian)
  • Venerable English College – 2130 (English)

Easter Sunday

Mass of the Lord’s Resurrection

  • Byzantine Divine Liturgy – Russicum/Sant’Antonio Abate – Midnight
  • Papal Liturgy: Piazza San Pietro – 1000 (Italian)
  • Oratory of San Francesco Saverio del Caravita – 1100 (English)
  • Station Church: Santa Maria Maggiore – 1800 (Italian)

Pope Francis Urbi et Orbi Blessing – Piazza San Pietro – 1200 (Multilingual)

Solemn Vespers (concluding the Paschal Triduum)

  • Chiesa di Sant’Anselmo al Aventino – 1700 (Italian)
  • Byzantine – Russicum/Sant’Antonio Abate – 1800

Easter Week Station Churches (Italian):

  • Monday – San Pietro – 1700
  • Tuesday – San Paolo fuori le Mura – 1730
  • Wednesday – San Lorenzo fuori le Mura – 1800
  • Thursday – XII Apostoli al Foro Traiano – 1830
  • Friday – Santa Maria ad Martyres (Pantheon) – 1700
  • Saturday – San Giovanni in Laterano – 1630
  • Divine Mercy Sunday – San Pancrazio – 1600
    • Conclusion of the Station Churches pilgrimage

ICEL 50th Anniversary

On 17 October, the Vatican celebrated the 50th anniversary of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) with a mass at the altar of the chair in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Eucharistic celebration on the 50th anniversary of ICEL

Eucharistic celebration on the 50th anniversary of ICEL

Given recent discussion that the Council of Cardinals may be suggesting reform of the liturgical apparatus of the Vatican first (after the Synod) in its recommendations for the reform of the Curia, it is an event worth reviewing. Especially since one well-established vaticanist referred to it as “farce”.

Why the harsh language? Apparently, none of the members of ICEL prior to its “refounding” a decade ago were even present, and it is not very surprising. Few things epitomize the depths to which the curia had sunk than the bungled handling of ICEL a decade ago and the resulting mess. Though many of the conferences did the best they could given the situation (one can look to the US or England and Wales as examples), bad process always spoils even the best of products.

The advantage of our age is the great access to social media and broad communications, so we can get information quickly, and provide formation broadly. The USCCB and others showed this to great success in 2011 when implementing the new translation of the Roman Missal.

The disadvantage of this same gift is an even shorter memory. The first official translation came in 1972, after about six years of work. It was understood to be rather temporary, and by the end of the decade, work began on a much more serious translation. Everyone agreed the 1972 version was not perfect, but for forty years, the local bishops’ conferences had trusted the work to ICEL in accord with the principle of Sacrosanctum Concilium. After long years of work, the new and improved English translation was finally ready… not in 2011, but in 1998. The English-speaking bishops of the world had approved it, it should have been signed, sealed, and delivered, but something unbecoming of church leaders was afoot.

Over the next five years, all the hard working bishops, liturgists, experts and consultants who had given so much to the Church they loved felt a “cold wind” blowing from Rome, as none-too-subtle (and none-too-kind) change was imposed by a relatively small number of power brokers and their allies.

By 2003, ICEL had been effectively disbanded and replaced by an entirely new commission, Vox Clara, quite different from the mission and composition of the first. It would have been more honest to just say so, and not act as though ICEL had continued as the same entity it was before Vox Clara came on the scene. To quote the late Msgr. Fred McManus, the American peritus at Vatican II who helped the bishops establish ICEL and suffered greatly as he saw it dismantled: “They could at least have the decency to change its name.”

From an impetus to the encounter of the liturgy with culture and cultures, and the reception of those into the liturgy, the focus had moved to a fixation on the Latin language and the culture of Rome. Translation is no longer about bringing the liturgy into new cultures,  but about bringing diverse experiences of liturgy into the closest approximation of the Latin as possible.

Sound like a made-for-TV drama or a Dan Brown novel? It can certainly be dramatized… but truth is so often stranger (and sadder) than fiction. Even in the Church.

Whatever you think of the translations, the 1998 or the 2011 versions, the process by which the current version was introduced was inappropriate and embarrassing for the Church, and for the loyal sons and daughters of the church who put so much effort in, as directed, and then were so harshly dismissed.

To read the documents, the history, and the full story of ICEL and what happened to the long-sought after New and Improved English Translation – and why it was replaced by a relative rush-job that was rolled out with great fanfare as the best thing since sliced bread – I recommend some serious reading here, compiled by one of the experts involved in the more recent iteration, appointed to ICEL in 2005.  

Some of the disgruntled ask if Pope Francis would completely overturn the translations. I doubt it, and do not think that is the way to go.

What is needed is an honest accounting and a healing of memories. Apologies offered and credit given where it is due. Only then can the repair and reform of the liturgy move forward, which i suspect should include a serious reconsideration of Liturgicam Authenticam (which is deficient not least for its ecumenical shortcomings) and a move to bring the best of both the 1998 and 2011 translations into a single, common Missal. Let the “old mass” inform and enrich the “new”.

Church Reform Wishlist: Liturgy


  • Actually, i do not have too much to say. So much has been said, and liturgy is probably the best case of successful, ongoing reform, despite the bumps. So just a couple small things: put into law that which theology and history holds to be evident. Or, where we have two practices that go back centuries, the older one should be the norm,  for example:
    • The most ancient form of receiving communion is in the hand. Make this the norm, and receiving in the tongue, a later practice, an accepted alternative.
    • Communion under both species as the norm, with exceptions as appropriate
    • Translate the universal version of the GIRM into each language on the Vatican website – currently the English is actually the adaptations for the USCCB and does not reflect the original, universal, Latin version. It leads to some confusion.
    • The Eucharist is the Sunday Liturgy, it should be more or less limited to Sundays. The rest of the week should have the liturgy of the hours publicly celebrated in parishes.
    • The Creed should be recited without the Filioque, as a norm, in all liturgies.
    • The portions of Liturgicam Autenticam which violate previous ecumenical agreements  should be abrogated.


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Inaugural Homily of Pope Francis



Saint Peter’s Square
Tuesday, 19 March 2013
Solemnity of Saint Joseph

Photo Gallery


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I thank the Lord that I can celebrate this Holy Mass for the inauguration of my Petrine ministry on the solemnity of Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Virgin Mary and the patron of the universal Church. It is a significant coincidence, and it is also the name-day of my venerable predecessor: we are close to him with our prayers, full of affection and gratitude.

I offer a warm greeting to my brother cardinals and bishops, the priests, deacons, men and women religious, and all the lay faithful. I thank the representatives of the other Churches and ecclesial Communities, as well as the representatives of the Jewish community and the other religious communities, for their presence. My cordial greetings go to the Heads of State and Government, the members of the official Delegations from many countries throughout the world, and the Diplomatic Corps.

In the Gospel we heard that “Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife” (Mt 1:24). These words already point to the mission which God entrusts to Joseph: he is to be the custos, the protector. The protector of whom? Of Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the Church, as Blessed John Paul II pointed out: “Just as Saint Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing, he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model” (Redemptoris Custos, 1).

How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand. From the time of his betrothal to Mary until the finding of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, he is there at every moment with loving care. As the spouse of Mary, he is at her side in good times and bad, on the journey to Bethlehem for the census and in the anxious and joyful hours when she gave birth; amid the drama of the flight into Egypt and during the frantic search for their child in the Temple; and later in the day-to-day life of the home of Nazareth, in the workshop where he taught his trade to Jesus.

How does Joseph respond to his calling to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church? By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit. Joseph is a “protector” because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions. In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!

The vocation of being a “protector”, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!

Whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is opened to destruction and hearts are hardened. Tragically, in every period of history there are “Herods” who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.

Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world! But to be “protectors”, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!

Here I would add one more thing: caring, protecting, demands goodness, it calls for a certain tenderness. In the Gospels, Saint Joseph appears as a strong and courageous man, a working man, yet in his heart we see great tenderness, which is not the virtue of the weak but rather a sign of strength of spirit and a capacity for concern, for compassion, for genuine openness to others, for love. We must not be afraid of goodness, of tenderness!

Today, together with the feast of Saint Joseph, we are celebrating the beginning of the ministry of the new Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, which also involves a certain power. Certainly, Jesus Christ conferred power upon Peter, but what sort of power was it? Jesus’ three questions to Peter about love are followed by three commands: feed my lambs, feed my sheep. Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-46). Only those who serve with love are able to protect!

In the second reading, Saint Paul speaks of Abraham, who, “hoping against hope, believed” (Rom 4:18). Hoping against hope! Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope; it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds; it is to bring the warmth of hope! For believers, for us Christians, like Abraham, like Saint Joseph, the hope that we bring is set against the horizon of God, which has opened up before us in Christ. It is a hope built on the rock which is God.

To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly. Let us protect with love all that God has given us!

I implore the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul, and Saint Francis, that the Holy Spirit may accompany my ministry, and I ask all of you to pray for me! Amen.

 © Copyright 2013 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Vocations and Ministries

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears My voice, and opens the door,
I will come unto him and dine with him and him with me.
Revelation 3:20

Pulled from the archives, i found this file on vocations, created for one of scouting’s religious emblems programs. I cannot for the life of me find the original attribution, if there was one, but we made several adaptations anyway. This version was prepared by me, for the  Archdiocesan Committee on Catholic Scouting in Seattle, several years ago. Still worth a reminder: there’s more to vocation than priests and nuns.

There was a time when, if somebody said the word “vocation”, people would think mainly of “priests and nuns”. However, the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines vocation as “The calling or destiny we have in this life and hereafter.” Today the church clearly uses the term to refer to the calling each of us has to use our God-given gifts to participate in the mission and ministry of the Church: All Christians have a vocation.

Each person’s vocation has three components: The first part is the call to faith. The second is the call to relationship. The third is the call to ministry.

The call to faith is sometimes referred to as the ‘universal call to holiness’: “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.” (Lumen Gentium 40 §2). We are all called to be the best Christians we can be, with the help of the gifts God has given us. We are called to love one another, to practice justice and charity, to help those most in need, and to transform ourselves and the world around us to be more like Christ. This is more than asking ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” It involves asking “Who does Jesus want me to be?”

The call to relationship is sometimes referred to as your ‘state of life’. Each of us is called to love everyone around us. But, we obviously do not love everyone in the same way. The call to relationship is about how we love the people around us, how we are in relationship with other people. Some people are called to marry and raise a family. Some are called to take vows and live in a religious community with other people who make the same vows. Some are called to remain single for life and not get married (this is called celibacy). Most people spend several years as single persons before committing to marriage, religious life, or celibacy.

The call to ministry is probably what most people mean when they talk about vocations. This is about what you do as a member of the church, and how you participate in the mission of the Church. The Church’s mission is to carry on the mission of Christ: Proclaim the good news of God’s saving love for all people; to establish a prayerful community of believers; and to serve the needs others, especially the poor and marginalized. Through our initiation by Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist, each member of the church takes responsibility to carry out this mission of Christ in partnership with other church members.While everyone is called to contribute to the common mission of the church, not everyone is called in the same way. After all, we each have different gifts and talents.

Within the call to ministry there are two essential groups:Lay ministries and ecclesial ministries.

Lay ministries are sometimes called ‘the lay vocation’ or ‘the lay apostolate’. The word “lay” comes from the Greek term laos theon (People of God). The people whose calling is to lay ministry are called “the laity” or “lay people”. They are the people chiefly responsible for the mission of the Church in the world. This includes evangelizing (bringing non-believers into relationship with Jesus), doing works of charity for the poor, advocating for justice to eradicate poverty, and transforming the world so it is more like Christ. With such a big job, it’s a good thing that 99.7% of all Catholic Christians are called to lay ministry!

Ecclesial ministries get their name from the Greek word ekklesia which means ‘assembly’ or ‘church’. It basically means official church ministries. Ecclesial ministers serve the pastoral and spiritual needs of the Church members by preaching, teaching, and sanctifying (inspiring others to holiness). They are often, but not always, the most visible leaders within the church and most are employed full-time by the church. Some are ordained (Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons) but others are not (Theologians and Lay Ecclesial Ministers). They make up the remaining 0.3% of the Church’s members.

It is always important to remember that “there is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are many types of service to be done, but always the same Lord, working in many different kinds of people; it is the same God who is working in all of them.” (1 Corinthians 12.4-6) In other words, each vocation is different, but they are all equal.

This section lists a variety of currently recognized ministries in the Catholic Church in Western Washington. It is not complete: New ways of serving God’s people are constantly developing as needs are identified and awareness is sharpened. Traditional church roles can take on new characteristics as the culture and social climate changes.

Ecclesial Ministries  (ordained)

  •  Bishop
    • Archbishop; Auxiliary Bishop; Retired Archbishop
  • Presbyter (Priest)
    • Vicar General; Episcopal Vicar; Dean; Pastor; Priest Moderator; Priest Administrator; Parochial Vicar; Chaplain
  • Deacon
    • Archdeacon, Protodeacon, Pastoral Coordinator; Pastoral Associate; Pastoral Assistant

Ecclesial Ministries  (non-ordained)

  • Theologian
    • University/College Theology Professor; Archdiocesan Theological Consultant; Author (of theological books/articles)
  • Lay Ecclesial Minister
    • Archbishop’s Delegate; Chancellor, Ecumenical Officer, Pastoral Life Director; Pastoral Coordinator; Pastoral Associate; Pastoral Assistant; Catholic School Principal; Youth Ministry Coordinator; Campus Minister; Prison Minister; Hospital Minister; Missionary; High School Religion Teacher; Catholic Elementary School Teacher; Lay Presider; Lay Preacher

Lay Ministries (Instituted)

  • Acolyte
  • Reader 

Lay Ministries

  • Liturgy ministers
    • Altar Server;  Cantor; Choir; Eucharistic Minister (Extraordinary Minister of Communion; Lector; Master of Ceremonies; Musician; Sacristan;
  • Catechists
    • Baptism preparation;  Bible Study leader; Catholic media (journalists, bloggers, etc); Faith Formation/CCD teacher; Confirmation preparation;  CYO camp staff;  Engaged Encounter team; Evangelization team;  First Communion preparation; First Reconciliation preparation; Religious emblems facilitator; RCIA team; SALT; Scout leader; Young adult ministry; youth ministry
  • Consultative Leadership
    • Diocesan Synod, Pastoral Council, Finance Council, Liturgy Commission, Ecumenical Commission, Faith Formation Commission, Social Justice/Outreach Commission, Parish School Board/Commission
  • Social Justice and Pastoral Care ministries
    • Annulment Advocate;  Cabrini Ministry; Catholic Community Services worker; Catholic Relief Services worker; Catholic Worker member; Food Bank volunteer; Grief minister; Hospice minister; Hospitality minister; Jesuit Volunteer Corps; Just-Faith/Justice Walking; L’Arch Community; Mission trip; Parish Nurse; Parish Counselor; Peer Minister; Pro-Life advocate; Sant’Egidio, St. Joseph’s Helpers; St. Vincent de Paul; Visitor to sick and elderly;
  • Spirituality and Devotions
    • Communion and Liberation; Cursillo; Faith Sharing group leader; Focolare, Marriage Encounter; Retreat leader; Returning Catholics team; Spiritual Director; Spiritual Coach; Stephen’s Ministry

States of Life/Call to Relationship

  • Vowed Life
    • Marriage
    • Religious vows (monastics [monks, nuns], mendicants)
  • Consecrated Life
    • Consecrated Virgin, Hermit, Opus Dei Numerary, “Brothers”, “Sisters”, members of some lay movements
  • Promised Life
    • Celibacy
    • Engaged/Betrothed persons

From Conciliaria: Back to the Future (of the Liturgy)

Reposted from Conciliaria

The Future of the Liturgy:
Liturgical Week to open at Seattle World’s Fair tonight

Original publication, 20 August 1962, by Seminarian Michael G. Ryan

From Seattle, a report on the upcoming National Liturgical Week by Michael G. Ryan, a seminarian at St. Thomas Seminary in Kenmore, Wash.

This is an exciting time to be in Seattle. I never imagined that our city would host a World’s Fair, but now the “Space Needle,” as they are calling it, rises at the foot of Queen Anne Hill, and the sprawling modern buildings of Century 21 have taken the place of the quiet neighborhood where my dad once taught me to drive. For Catholics, it is an especially exciting time, since Seattle will also be hosting the National Liturgical Week from August 20 to 23 at the World’s Fair Arena.

The Century 21 exhibits are all about the future—there are displays about Sputnik, space exploration and new inventions (including telephones with push-button pads instead of dials – amazing!). But good as these inventions are, we know that this endless advancement is not the purpose of life. Our Archdiocesan newspaper, the Catholic Northwest Progress, reports:

We Christians are not indifferent to these works of human genius. We too are thrilled to find ourselves now at the very threshold of untold new worlds. But in all this we must be reminded again that our eternal hope lies still not in any works of man’s doing, but in the ageless Victory of the Risen Christ: in the triumph of Life over death.

We live always in the “last days,” preparing for no other future than the Coming of Our Lord and the lasting triumph of His Kingdom. These truths, which are the constant theme of the liturgy throughout the year, will be developed in the major talks of this Liturgical Week and will be applied to our practical Christian living. (April 13, 1962)

It is fitting, then, that the theme chosen for Seattle’s Liturgical Week is “Thy Kingdom Come: Christian Hope in the Modern World.”

What is a Liturgical Week?

The first Liturgical Week, sponsored by the National Liturgical Conference, was held in 1940, in a room in the basement of Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. It was attended by just a handful of people, mainly priests. But these days, it is clear that the Liturgical Movement is not just a fad or a trend, nor is it only for priests. Pope Pius XII, and his successor, our beloved Pope John XXIII, have embraced the Liturgical Movement as the work of the Church itself. Last year’s Liturgical Week in Oklahoma City drew about 5,000 people–priests, religious, and laity–who came together to pray together and to learn more about the Church’s worship and to explore displays, listen to lectures, view demonstrations and art exhibits, and even take part in a contest for the best church design. This year’s Liturgical Week in Seattle is expected to be the largest yet, with as many as 6,000 participants. The added attraction of the World’s Fair, and the excitement about the forthcoming Ecumenical Council, both have something to do with the surge of interest in the Liturgical Week.

Feverish Preparations Underway

All of us seminarians are glad the Liturgical Week is happening in August, because it means we are free to join in these exciting events. Most of us are helping out in some capacity or other, as it will take hundreds of volunteers to pull together this three-day event. There are dozens of drivers to bring special guests to and from the events. Others are forming a typing pool during the conference. About a hundred men and women will join in a National Choir. And then dozens of volunteers are needed as ushers and greeters at all the events.

A young Michael Ryan helps at the info booth at the 1962 Liturgical Week

I have been assigned to host some of the guest priests in the mornings, and then to help at the information desk at the Arena in the afternoons. One of my seminarian classmates and I will be responsible for preparing for the priests’ morning Masses at the temporary altars which will be set up in lower level of the Mayflower Hotel downtown. It should be pretty exciting for us to serve the Masses of these liturgical luminaries whose names we have seen on the covers of books, but whom we never dreamed we would meet in person: Father Frederick McManus, the President of the Liturgical Conference, Father Gerard Sloyan of the Catholic University of America, and Father Godfrey Diekmann, OSB, from St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, to name just a few.

Arranging facilities for Masses has occupied much of the energies of the organizers, since about 300 priests will be participating in the Liturgical Week and each of them needs an altar to celebrate his Mass each morning. About 100 of them will be saying their Masses at St. James Cathedral, where in addition to the Cathedral’s altars, temporary altars have been set up in the Cathedral Hall. There are also about 28 prelates in attendance, and Father James Mallahan, the Seattle priest in charge of local arrangements, has had the large task of borrowing 28 prie-dieus from neighboring parishes and chapels, and returning them again when the Liturgical Week is over.

It all begins tonight, with Mass at 5:00 p.m., celebrated by Father Fred McManus. It will be in Latin, of course, but there is a lot of talking and dreaming about a vernacular liturgy among the members of the Conference – even though one of our seminary professors told us recently that such a thing would never happen in our lifetime.

A first for Seattle, and most people present: Mass in the ancient form, facing the altar and the people.

But there will be one very noticeable change at the Conference Masses in the Arena: through a special indult from Rome, all of them will be celebrated facing the people! I wonder what that will be like. I’m especially wondering what it will be like at the concluding Mass when Archbishop Connolly is scheduled to be the celebrant. I’m not sure he is completely favorable to all the latest liturgical developments (which are really not new at all but far more ancient than what we have grown up with), but I suspect he’ll be a good sport and do his best. One thing is for certain: like the Space Needle and the other exhibits of the World’s Fair, the Liturgical Week promises to give us a glimpse of the future. It’s one I can’t wait to see!

Back to the future: The Very Rev. Michael G. Ryan is pastor of St. James Cathedral, Seattle.

Breaking Bad Liturgical Habits

George Weigel wrote this column in January for ‘the other’ NCR that recently piqued my liturgical antennae.

He has good points and bad, mixed together in an acerbic style that is by now pretty well known. It got me thinking about my own version, offered in contraposition and in complementarity, based especially on some of the “liturgical abuses” I have witnessed in Rome, as well as some of the “best practices”.

It has happened on occasion, even here in Rome, that I have been accused of being a true liturgist – in the sense of the old joke about the difference between terrorists and liturgists. I offer these as suggestions merely, humbly, and invite, as always, critique and commentary.

Some of the basic points I agree with Weigel are these:

“there is no “reform of the reform” to be found in lace surplices, narrow fiddleback chasubles and massive candles.”

Another great sage of liturgical aesthetic, the clock from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, put it this way: “If it ain’t Baroque, don’t fix it!” We are as done with Baroque as we are with orange shag carpeting and felt banners, thank God. Let us not idealize one period of the past at the expense of the entirety of Tradition, and the need for ongoing aggiornamento. Ecclesia semper purificanda, after all.

“Catholics who embrace the truth of Catholic faith do not enjoy clericalism.”

Clericalism is a systemic and personal sin that ought to be rigorously avoided and rooted out of ecclesial structures like the cancer that it is… but, that is a topic for another post.

“Music directors and pastors: As a general rule, sing all the verses of a processional or recessional hymn.”

Weigel seems to conflate his personal musical taste with some objective sense of quality, and goes on to express this rather rudely and without perspective – Compared to the angelic chorus, even the best of Palestrina, Bach, and Mozart, would sound like a ‘treacly confection’. That aside, this is one way we can remember we have left chronos and entered kairos.

I would just add that songs should be singable, for the most part, though there is room for a reflection or meditative hymn, it would be a tragedy if the entire liturgy were converted into a concert given by professional choirs in polyphonic chant that is impossible to follow without expert training. It is not without reason, and this is one of them, that more than one cardinal expressed to us while visiting Notre Dame that the Triduum liturgy there was done better than in Rome!

“Sacred space [sanctuary] is different from other space; the inside of the church is different from the narthex.”

True… but how many churches do not have adequate narthex space? Most I would say. At St. Brendan the Navigator in Bothell, WA, there is an excellent example of good use of narthex and sanctuary/nave in the same building.

He also offers a few points that I disagree, or would attenuate

“Celebrants (not ‘presiders’)”

Weigel channels Ratzinger when he insists that presider be called celebrant. The problem is simple, though. The entire assembly celebrates the Eucharist, but only the bishop (or presbyter-delegate) presides. This language goes back much further than that of “celebrant”, and we can see the title in Justin Martyr, before presbyters are even allowed to take on the role.

“Extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist are vastly overused in U.S. parishes, a practice that risks of signaling that the Mass is a matter of the self-worshipping community celebrating and feeding itself.”

There may be some parishes where extraordinary ministers of communion are overused, but when I see hundreds upon hundreds of communion ministers at St. Peter’s here in Rome, whether priests, deacons, or extraordinary, it is hard to say that anywhere else overuses them. Most use what they need. And there is no connection between having too many communion ministers and making the mass a self-worshipping act. This is a nonsensical and unsupported assertion.

“no one outside of those in holy orders should “bless” in a liturgical context”

This is a matter under the authority of the local bishop, as legislator and liturgist of his diocese. Offering a blessing at communion, especially to those not in full communion, but who desire it, is a significant practice that should not be lost.

“And while we’re on the subject of the congregation, might we all reconsider our vesture at Sunday Mass?”

Absolutely. The entire assembly, at least those fully initiated with Baptism, Confirmation, and admission to the Eucharist, should be vested in albs, the white baptismal garment. Can you imagine the effect, if all the initiated were actually vested?

Bad habits in Rome

When in Rome, do as I want to do.

The cynical observer, or the realist, will tell you that the Romans do pretty much whatever they want. But when you come to Rome, observe the official practice, and the actual practices, and try not to impose your practice from Milan, Seattle, or London upon the community here. Observe and adapt.

At the same time, just because (some) Romans do it does not make it right. Here are a few observed practices of which I am wary:

Communion from the tabernacle during the liturgy.

The ideal situation is that each Eucharist should consecrate enough bread and wine for all those present, and maybe just enough for the sick and homebound. Ideal is not always pastorally possible. However, here, you can frequently see only one host consecrated, for the presider, and then everyone else served from the tabernacle.

Communion under one kind only.

While minimally sufficient, it should normally be under both species, or it lacks the fullness of the sacramental sign. Further, it is the choice of the communicant to receive on the tongue or in the hand. The latter is more ancient, the former is canonically the norm here in Italy. I have addressed these points here and here.

Confessions during the liturgy.

It is one thing in a giant basilica where you have mass in some side chapel, and confessions going on a football field away in another part of the building. Quite another when the 18th century wooden confessional is cozied up so close to the pews in the parish church that you can hear the penitent while you are sitting in reflective silence after the homily. When the liturgy begins, no other sacrament or devotion should be happening in the sanctuary, unless it is a part of the liturgy.

Many altars, many breads, no body.

One of the beautiful tragedies, or tragically beautiful moments, is if you go to St. Peter’s early in the morning (this happens rarely for me), and you see dozens of priests at dozens of altars all offering the Mass, separately, and with at most one assistant. It is easy to think of all the places in the world where people go days, weeks, or months without access to the Eucharistic liturgy. But it also begs the question, why not concelebrate? Why not have one mass, so that the few morning pilgrims could all join as well? Is a liturgy without the presence of the Church even a liturgy, or a private devotion of the presbyter?

Excessive Concelebrating.

I never thought I would agree with the Lefebvrists on much beyond the basic dogmas of the faith. But they have a certain point here, though for different reasons. Imagine a liturgy with twenty people. Fifteen are vested and concelebrating, and five are in ‘plainclothes’ and simply celebrating. Is it really necessary to have so many concelebrants? A priest may feel obligated to celebrate the Eucharist every day, and this is a worthy thing, but he need not do so vested every time, especially in such a scenario. There could be the presider, a deacon, and as many concelebrants as needed for communion, or for a preacher, etc. With occasional exceptions, less is more.

We stand for prayer, not for announcements.

The most elegant remedy to this I have seen is that the Prayer after Communion be offered at the end of the Communion procession, rather than at the beginning fo the concluding rites. That is, remain standing (or kneeling, or sitting, as the local case may be) for the entire communion procession, and as soon as everyone has received, the presider offers the communion prayer. Only then do we sit in silence (or with meditative hymn) for the post-communion reflection. Then, while still seated, any announcements can be made.

Christmas and Easter.

Midnight Mass is at Midnight. Not 10pm. Even if the pope does it. Then, you can still use the midnight readings, just do not call it midnight mass! At Easter, do not do as the Romans did last year…. At the Vigil, the lights came on entirely too early. Actually overheard behind me  “Well, that rather destroys the effect, doesn’t it?” or variations, from more than one voice. Let the service of light continue as long as it can, the readings can mostly be done in darkness, with only the paschal candle to light the ambo.

Lord I am not worthy…

English masses in Rome after the translation


“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter my table… roof… whatever…”

I actually heard these words at a liturgy a few months ago.  Some of the changed language has caught on beautifully: “Right and Just!” and “..and with your spirit!” were a little easier for everyone here to adopt, since these are in the Italian translation as well.

Because the Italians are not worthy to welcome the Lord at their table, rather than under the roof, however, and every language seems to have translated, rather than transliterated, this idiom previously, there are places where this one is not yet been received. Likewise, the Creed and the Gloria tend to still require the use of the convenient cheat-sheets included now in every church, but often enough, it will be the old Gloria, and an occasionally mumbled Creed.

Of course, it depends where you go. At the NAC-lead English station masses during Lent, you would never know there had been any other way to celebrate the mass. Each of the national colleges or parishes has their own quirks and adaptations, and the international English-language community, with regular worshipers from over twenty countries, probably gets the most variety.

In December, I was preparing for an evening liturgy in one of the Roman basilicas, as the rector proudly showed me the new English-language Roman Missal they had just purchased, our group being the first to use it. So concerned with navigating it, as it was my first use of it as well, I failed to notice the Lectionary was still the 1970 version…

Even in Rome, the biggest contingent of anglophones are those who were, shall we say, less than enthusiastic about the new translations. The second largest would be those who prefer we dump the translations entirely and stick to the Latin and Greek. Already there are rumors about the need for revisions…

Look West, Young Church!

For the last several decades, the US Catholic Church has been demographically shifting from the 19th century bulwarks of New England and the upper Midwest, to the South and the West.

That does not mean that fact is quickly grasped by individuals or institutions. At one national conference I attended annually for nearly a decade, it was clear that the organizers thought of it as a nation-wide event. Yet, in its 45+ year history, only two had been held in the Northwest, both in the ‘80s; fewer than ¼ of the meetings had been held in the western half of the U.S.

Or consider that of nine cardinalatial sees in the U.S., seven are east of the Mississippi. And one of those that is west of the mighty river, Galveston-Houston, is so close as to still be part of the eastern half of the mainland U.S.

This is not as bad as the need to redraw diocesan boundaries in Ireland, which have been unchanged for just over 900 years, yet it is still slow… But, I digress…

Recent moves indicate that Seattle is making its mark felt again on the national, and international, ecclesiastical scene. Not since the days of Archbishop Hunthausen has the Church in Western Washington captured attention much beyond its own boundaries.

Fast-forward a quarter of a century, and for the most part Seattle had dropped off the radar, but not gone silent. Just in the years since Archbishop Murphy took over from Archbishop Hunthausen, the Catholic population has nearly tripled due to immigration – now there are as many Spanish-speaking Catholics in western Washington as there were total Catholics 15 years ago.  Bishop George of Helena, Bishop Joseph of Yakima, and Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio have all been ordained from the local presbyterate, the first such ordinations in nearly half a century.

The reputation of being on the cutting edge of lay involvement and creative pastoral ministry solutions, social justice and ecumenical commitment has slipped in recent decades, both among those who cheer the change and those who lament it. My age-peers in the presbyterate are as likely to be interested in the traditionalist movement and the extraordinary form as their peers anywhere else in the country, and some of the most well known Catholic voices to have come out of the Seattle milieu – author George Weigel and blogger Mark Shea – are not known for their particularly progressive mien.

Consider, though a few highlights of the last few years that suggest that there is attention shifting back towards the Emerald City and her local Church – both Catholic and Ecumenical. Some of these are newsworthy enough to get attention here, across the atlantic, so they certainly say something is happening. Significantly, you cannot pigeonhole all of these into “progressive” or “conservative” success stories, but nevertheless indicate that, perhaps, Seattle is on the radar again.

Very Rev. Michael G. Ryan

By now virtually everyone knows some part of the liturgy wars saga. Most people do not know it all; I certainly make no claim to such comprehensive view of the last fifty years of liturgical reform, renewal, development, reform of the reform and rejection of reform.

To recap the most recent, let us say that the updated translation everyone was waiting on was ready and fully approved by episcopal conferences around the globe in 1999. It then got delayed as a new Prefect of the congregation for divine worship rewrote the guidelines for liturgical translation, and the entire process was started anew with new rules and much controversy – and it was done quickly. After only a decade, the implementation was looming.

Enter the Very Reverend Michael G. Ryan, pastor of the Cathedral parish of St. James, where he has served as quite possibly the city’s most popular Catholic pastor since 1988. In December 2009 he penned an article for America asking the question, “What if we just said, ‘wait’?” , and launched a website gathering signatures and comments. In short order over 23,000 people signed – and a counter movement was launched. “We’ve waited long enough!”  collected just over 5,000 signatures and practically launched the blogging notoriety of “Fr. Z” and his (proudly) rubricist blog, What Does the Prayer Really Say?… and it all started with the quintessential Seattle presbyter, Fr. Michael.

Just the other day I was at the retirement party for the superior general of one of the religious orders, and conversation turned to Fr. Ryan’s stand and his recent article, “What’s Next?” Naturally, the group included supporters and critics alike, but several who were neither from the west coast or the U.S. at all – this is news throughout the Anglophone world.

In the three years since, coterminous with my time in Rome, there have been other indicators. Some smaller – like the meeting of the National Catholic Melkite Convention there in summer 2010 and the scheduling of the upcoming conference of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. Some have a bigger profile, like the June 2011 meeting of the USCCB in Bellevue.

Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon

In terms of ecumenism and lay ministry, there have been some exciting personnel moves:

In Summer 2011, Dr. Michael Reid Trice was hired at Seattle University as the associate dean of the School of Theology and Ministry. Michael and I have known each other for several years, and he is one of the most active young ecumenists in the country, having served since the age of 35 as the associate director of the ELCA’s ecumenical and interreligious office.

Shortly thereafter, it was announced that Dr. Rick McChord was retiring after 25 years in the USCCB office for laity, marriage and family – and picking up a consulting contract with Seattle-based (and Domer-founded) Reid Group, which specializes in leadership development, strategic planning and mediation for religious groups.

The latest came in April while i was in Assisi, with the retirement of Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon as General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, and his own move to a three-year contract at Seattle University, starting this fall.

Finally, the biggest spotlight to hit Seattle in recent years, ecclesially speaking, is the appointment of the relatively new metropolitan, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, to lead the five-year overhaul of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Striking every note of consultation, careful listening, and collaboration a person in his position possibly could during the press conference and interviews later with John Allen  in Rome, it seems like the best has been made of an unpleasant situation.

These are exciting times to be in the church-world in Seattle. Almost a pity I am in Rome!

Most Rev. J. Peter Sartain

Communion under one kind

The Lay Centre welcomed Monsignor Nicola Filipi, the secretary to Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the Vicar General of Rome. He is, if you will, the vicar general’s vicar general. Don Nicola joins us each year with an update about the life of the Roman Church – and no, I do not mean the Catholic Church as a whole there, but the properly called Church of Rome – the local metropolitan diocese.

I have mentioned elsewhere the great liturgical variety I see in Rome, certainly in respect the kinds of things that would have self-appointed liturgical police crying foul. But we experienced something perfectly legit, yet rather unusual, so it is worth commenting.

Much ado is made here about communion under both species – as in, they tend to forget that this is the norm.* In fact, most of Italy does not offer the cup to the assembly, or, if they do, they offer intinction. Either case is odd for someone coming from a local church where the normative value of offering and receiving under both kinds has always been strongly emphasized. At the lay centre we normally have both offered, but accommodate presider preference.

With a small community, we also try to prepare exact numbers of hosts, and while the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the chapel, it is usually just a single host in a lunette or small monstrance withing the tabernacle. While this is more faithful to the norms of the Church, it is unusual in Italy, where parishes sometimes have so many reserved hosts that they will celebrate the Eucharist and then offer communion from the tabernacle – a clear liturgical no-no.

We had an unexpected number of guests that evening, and Don Nicola had decided to offer the cup by intinction. When it came to the last two in the communion procession, we were out of consecrated hosts. Turning to the tabernacle and finding only a single host in the lunette, he opted instead to offer the cup alone.

Communion under one kind only is sacramentally sufficient, albeit liturgically lacking, and foreseen only when there is no alternative or if there is some grave reason – like wheat allergy or alcoholism – to avoid the other species. Often in Italy it takes the form of the host only, and not the cup. It was nice to see the liturgical principle put into practice for exactly and only the reason it was intended, however.

What i find interesting is the choice to leave something in the tabernacle rather than offer it as communion.


*Sviluppo: I have been informed by an eminent italian canon lawyer, that in fact, the norm for communion in Italy, as promulgated by the national bishops’ conference, is the host alone. The legal norm is not the only norm, however. I have seen the situation best described by Paul Ford thus: “It is, in truth, acknowledged by many eminent authorities, that the Sacrament, as thus administered to the laity, loses a part of its significance, and may lose a part of its grace also, not of the grace of salvation, but of the grace of sanctification.” The sacramental norm, if you will, is both kinds, while the legal norm in this case is the host only.

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