Category Archives: Liturgy

All the Saints of Paris

This charming video from the Fraternities Monastiques de Jerusalem is a Paris-specific litany of the saints, accompanied by architecture, stained glass, and other splendors.  Enjoy it as a “warm-up” to the Solemnity of All Saints tomorrow.  And why not be a saint yourself?  Or at least enjoy the riches of FMJweb. Born out of the tumult of the late 60’s, the Fraternity has always appreciated and exercised the attractive power of beauty in music and art.  Deo gratias!

Oh, Those Rosary Ladies


We all remember them – even those of us who never saw them – those dear ladies who said the Rosary during Mass prior to 1970.  (I actually remember coveting their crystal and pearl rosaries.) Although they are nearly as extinct at dinosaurs, they will surface in every debate over the Extraordinary Form if the discussion goes on long enough.

New flash!  Their behavior was regarded as undesirable in its time and was fading by the mid-1960s.  The first generations of liturgical reformers struggled manfully against this and many other out-of-place devotional practices during Mass.  However, they didn’t believe the solution was the abolition of the Extraordinary Form.  Their goal was education that would progressively engage the worshippers with the liturgy.  Congregational chant, the dialog Mass, hand missals, and extensive lay education were all aimed at displacing the pious practices that were themselves a response to another abuse – the dead-silent Low Mass.

There is no reason to present the case that it’s “rosary ladies or the Novus Ordo.”  That’s the informal fallacy known as a false dilemma.  The Extraordinary Form is a rich ceremony that can demand the full participation of its worshippers, as can the Ordinary Form when it is well celebrated.  Let the poor Rosary Ladies rest in peace and pray for the repose of their souls.

(By the way, I still see the occasional rosary-reciter at masses in the Ordinary Form.  And you know what, I don’t care.)

The Last Bastion of ”Improv”


Slowly but surely, the liturgical practice of the Latin Rite has begun to improve.  The last General Instruction for the Roman Missal and the revised translation that went into effect in Advent 2011 have raised the level of practice in most parishes. 

But there’s still one hold-out from the 1970s everywhere I go:  the prayer of the faithful.

In many parishes, these prayers reflect the “causes de jour” – we plead for universal healthcare from our leaders, an end to bullying thanks to compassionate school personnel, improvement in the ground-water supply, employment, natural resource conservation, and selected disasters and addictions.  Every week is a new set of concerns.  If you’re really unlucky, there’s a surprise every day! 

Most of these petitions come from little books put out by liturgical publishers who found another income stream with these subscriptions.  And of course, liturgists, clergy, and choir directors find it hard to resist the urge to “tweak” them.

There’s the” improv.”  There’s the “me” part of the 1970s hanging on. There’s occasionally a scolding quality to the intercessions – as though we in the pews haven’t been working hard enough on these issues and better hop to it.  I thought that belonged in the homily. 

Not only are our requests specific, we tell God how He should fix the problem in case He can’t figure it out by Himself.  Maybe that’s a bit presumptuous?

If you want an all-purpose litany, simply do what the Anglicans did with Rite I. Steal the Orthodox great litany and make minor revisions (obviously they’re not interested in patriarchs, especially now).   It covers everything from weather and crops to civil disturbances, with all points in between and lets the Almighty work out the details.  Full coverage and no surprises.  Then I will no longer need to pray to be delivered from these prayers.