Vatican preparing manual to help priests celebrate Mass

No showmanship, please

The following comes from a January 16 story on

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments is preparing a booklet to help priests celebrate the Mass properly and the faithful to participate better, according to the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

Cardinal Antonio Cañizares confirmed this Tuesday at an address at the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See on “Catholic Liturgy since Vatican II: Continuity and Evolution.”

“We are preparing it; it will help to celebrate well and to participate well. I hope it will come out this year, in the summer,” the cardinal told ZENIT.

During his talk the cardinal reiterated the importance Vatican II gave to the liturgy, “whose renewal must be understood in continuity with the Tradition of the Church and not as a break or discontinuity.” A break either because of innovations that do not respect continuity or because of an immobility that freezes everything at Pius XII, he said.

In particular, Cardinal Cañizares stressed the importance that Sacrosanctum Concilium gave to the sacred liturgy, through which “the work of our Redemption is exercised, above all in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist,” adding that “God wants to be adored in a concrete way and it’s not up to us to change it.”

The cardinal said that there is talk of a renewed Church, which must not be understood as a mere reform of structures, but as a change starting with the liturgy, because it is from the liturgy that the work of our salvation is effected.

When speaking of the liturgy, continued the cardinal, one must not forget what the conciliar document states: “Christ is always present in his Church, especially in the liturgical action. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, be it in the person of the minister, ‘offering himself now through the ministry of the priests as he then offered himself on the cross,’ be it especially under the Eucharistic species.”

He stressed that the objective of the liturgy “is the adoration of God and the salvation of men,” which is not a creation of ours, but source and summit of the Church.”

The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments criticized existing abuses such as showmanship, and praised moments of silence “that are action,” which enable the priest and the faithful to talk with Jesus Christ and which exclude the predominance of words that often becomes showmanship on the part of the priest. The correct attitude is the one “indicated by Saint John the Baptist, when he says he must decrease and the Messiah must increase.”

The cardinal criticized the effort to make the Mass “entertaining” with certain songs — instead of focusing on the mystery — in an attempt to overcome “boredom” by transforming the Mass into a show.

He added that the Council did not speak of the priest celebrating Mass facing the people, that it stressed the importance of Christ on the altar, reflected in Benedict XVI’s celebration of the Mass in the Sistine Chapel facing the altar. This does not exclude the priest facing the people, in particular during the reading of the word of God. He stressed the need of the notion of mystery, and particulars such as the altar facing East and the fact that the sacrificial sense of the Eucharist must not be lost.

Asked by the ambassador of Panama to the Holy See about the action of native cultures in the liturgy, the cardinal specified that “the Council speaks of inculturation of the liturgy,” respecting “the legitimate varieties,” without affecting the principles

He recalled his experience on Palm Sunday in Santa Fe, Spain, when he attended a gypsy Mass in which a youth sang the “Lamb of God,” with an instrument used in flamenco singing, “a real groan of the soul,” which “moved everyone and brought the whole assembly to participate.”

He also referred to the fact that in many churches the Most Blessed Sacrament is placed in a side altar or chapel, so that “the tabernacle disappears,” and people talk before the Mass and arrive less prepared.

In regard to the case of Marcel Lefebvre, the founder of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, the cardinal said that Benedict XVI offered a healing measure, but that the archbishop’s followers did not respond. To “think that Tradition stops with Pius XII is also a break,” he noted.

To read entire story, click here.

To add a comment, click on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ icons OR go further down to the bottom of comments to the Post your comment box.


  1. Clinton R. says:

    This sounds good for the most part, but will anything come of it? There was a time when Rome spoke and the rest of the Church listened. Now when Rome speaks, the rest of the Church just snickers and goes on ahead doing whatever they please. Summorum Pontificum is going on 6 years, and we have San Buenaventura Mission ending the TLM. You have to look far and wide to find a TLM in the Los Angeles Archdiocese. It’s all about ‘pastoral’ decisions, nothing is binding on dioceses to do what the Pope desires. I will continue to pray for the restoration of Holy Mass in the Latin tongue, ad orientem and with the prayers and rubrics excised by Annibale Bugnini restored. +JMJ+

  2. Chuck Burrows says:

    Do they really think a booklet is going to help? Honestly? After all we already have the Roman Missal.

    I typically go to the early Sunday Mass. The sideshow put on by the laity that use the sanctuary before Mass as a stage is appalling. This has been going on for 30 years.

    Our deacon is typically visibly hungover. He slurs and sputters his way through the proclamation of the Gospel. It’s embarrassing but the pastor allows it.

    If the music minister is the guitar player, we’ll be treated to him tuning-up DURING the Mass!

    If our pastor is the celebrant he’ll read his homily without looking up. It’ll sound as though it came out of some book.

    We don’t need a “booklet.” We need bishops who care through strong leadership!

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

      Chuck Burrows,

      Are you sure that your Deacon is not on a medication that makes him slur his words? If so, you owe him and the Pastor an apology at least on that point!

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

    • Chuch Burrows, you have a lot to offer up. A booklet won’t help if people are set on doing whatever they want. Sometimes it only takes one person to change things. Sometimes people resist and say “It’s been good enough for 30 years.” But it is right for the Vatican to make the booklet and distribute it.

      • Chuck Burrows says:

        Yada, yada, yada.

        MANY people have tried to change my parish over the years. They usually end-up leaving.

  3. ““God wants to be adored in a concrete way and it’s not up to us to change it.””: This is an example of thinking at the highest levels of Church bureaucratic hierarchy. One can only wonder what they’ve gone and done with the “mind of Christ”.

  4. St. Christopher says:

    Another laugher from the Vatican. Historically, it is interesting to see the Church’s perceived need for yet another paper on the liturgy. In fact, this is published, clearly, in response to the decades of deceitful liturgies by hippie bishops and clergy and laity which have all refused to see the Church as a living institution, with a single mission and, as should be the case, a single liturgy. Further, this pamphlet is a virtual crib from the SSPX, and other traditional groups and writers, that have shown the entertainment mission of the Church which is nurtured by the N.O. (And, no, it is not merely saying the N.O. “sincerely” or “faithfully”.) In addition to the fact that many, many are misled from salvation by the crazy masses and by poor Catholic teachings, it is highly embarrassing for the Church to show that it reaches out to God through “Clown Masses” and all the rest (and yet the good Cardinal points out the virtues of a “Gypsy Mass” as somehow valid because it brought the “assembly” to “participate”. Many at NFL games are highly emotional, speak in tongues, have sacred food and drink, and fully participate in singing foundational belief songs (? Is “Hail to the Redskins” to be preferred over “Faith of Our Fathers”?)), Also, the Cardinal’s reference to Protestant descriptive language is very troubling: “ministers” and “assembly” and the like. There remains only one way for the Church to go, and it ultimately will, and that is a tull return to one liturgy, said in Latin; some changes may be possible in such a Mass, but not much from what has already been changed by Bl. John XXIII. The closing of many, many parishes and schools and the dying out of virtually all religious orders is ignored by the Modernist Catholic Church, but one day, only Traditional orders will have new members, and many new priests want to say the TLM (although, incredibly, many bishops still refuse to permit it). This new booklet could only have meaning if it was accompanied by a newly directed set of rules, without options, for the N.O. that covered all things, such as kneeling at communion, communion on the tongue, saying Mass Ad Orientum, using only limited, traditional hymns (no “Amazing Grace” and no “Field Hand” and no Broadway tunes), and returning the tabernacle to the center of the Church; all that stuff.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

      St. Cristopher,

      You left out three very important things: restore the “Prayers at the Foot of the Altar”, restore the original “Confiteor” and restore the “Last Gospel with its accompanying “Prayers at the End of the Mass( for Low Masses)!

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

      • These are beautiful prayers and I mourn that they were not included in the ordinary form of the Roman Rite. But, I will not attend a Mass at a parish that is not part of the Holy Catholic Church to hear them. I can pray them alone, if necessary and offer them, united in Christ, on behalf of my whole parish.

      • I agree and they can get rid of the butcher block in the center of the sanctuary. Use the hight alter where our Lord in front and center. Blessings Mr. Fisher to you and yours.

    • Anonymous says:

      St. Christopher, it appears that you did not read the article fully or, if you did, you did not fully understand it. Or perhaps you have broken with Traditon by thinking “that Tradition stops with Pius XII”?

      • There are indeed some who think true Catholicism died with Pope Pius XII.

        if they were critters, they would be called hairy ticks – but being human beings, they are known as heretics.

  5. This is all well and good. The Holy Father has put forth reforms of the so-called “reforms” of Vatican II, but his efforts in this and promotion of the “Extraordinary Form” Mass are almost uniformly ignored by priests and Bishops in this country. The abuses in the Novus Ordo will continue and the suppression of the Traditional Latin Mass will also continue.

    • The Spanish website Acción Liturgica keeps a record of ALL bishops and Cardinals who have attended (not necessarily offered) the Extraordinary Form Mass since Summorum Pontificum. The number is 313 out of a total of about 5000. They do not even teach Latin in most seminaries. So unless they are forced, the bishops do not obey the Pope. Vatican Council II went up to their heads and disobedience reigns. There are two forms of the Mass in the Latin Rite and most bishops actively suppress one of them. A simple booklet will not do it. No obedience, no promotion; that would do the trick.

  6. Maryanne Leonard says:

    Is there nothing the Vatican can do that will satisfy some people? In order to avoid all this harsh criticism, should they just do nothing while Rome burns? Do all the Vatican’s critics, Catholic and otherwise, prefer fiddling around rather than trying to fix some of the outrageous meanderings we see in our great Church today, with priests, nuns, laity and everyone else running off in all directions? I think for a man of his age, our wonderful Pope is trying to get our wonderful Church not only back to what it once was, but to take it even beyond. God bless him in all his great efforts. Critics, yammer on and on into the dark night if you must, for whatever good your words may do (I’m not expecting any, but you never know!), but more power to our wonderful Pope Benedict. May the best man win.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:


      You are correct; however greater enforcement of his directives may well be in order!

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

  7. Both the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form of the Mass are Holy.

    Catholic music that lifts our Souls to God; stopping the distracting yakking before and after Mass in Church; stopping the hand holding; and stopping the raising arms by the people — violation GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) all needs to be improved.

    If each of us strongly set the example while at Mass, including asking the yakking distractors to be quiet, things will change.
    It starts with each of us, first.

    Violations of GIRM should be reported to the Parish Priest, and if not corrected then to the Diocese Bishop. If violations continue to the US Papal Nunicio and the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments at the Vatican.

    In particular, Cardinal Cañizares stressed the importance that Sacrosanctum Concilium gave to the sacred liturgy, through which “the work of our Redemption is exercised, above all in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist,” adding that “God wants to be adored in a concrete way and it’s not up to us to change it.”

    “He stressed that the objective of the liturgy “is the adoration of God and the salvation of men,” which is not a creation of ours, but source and summit of the Church.” — We go to Mass to adore God, not visit with our neighbor.

    If people don’t do anything about abuses, they have no right to complain.

    • Forty years on, and we’re still hearing the advice to inform the priest of irregularities and then if that doesn’t help, take it to the bishop, and then to the papal nuncio, and then to “Rome”, and finally to the pope, and pray all the while. Apparently such notifications do not travel quickly; so, maybe in a century or so these notifications of irregularities will arrive at their destination. What the bureaucracies do with them then … well, assuming there is a “then” by then.

  8. Things will never change until the disaster of the Missal of Paul VI is abrogated and repealed. If the Vatican really wants reform, they need to abrogate Paul VI’s Novus Ordo, and replace it with the Missal of Benedict XVI.

    • Cafeteria is open! :-(

      If you don’t like what the Holy Father does, call him and his decisions a disaster.

      If he is blessed enough to meet Your Glorious And Personal Standards, call the Holy Father wise, orthodox and faithful.

      No wonder the Church has been fragmenting into more and more pieces for the past two millennia…

  9. I am with Clinton R, first poster on this thread. The new translation of the Mass was a positive step. After a few Sundays the Confiteor was once again dropped, as was the Gloria, in my Southern California Parish. No worries, we still get to sing Taste and See.

  10. This is good. We are suppose to be 1 Church, Catholic (universal). Here in Italy, of course, there are not the problems that I have been hearing about or have seen in the UK. I do live in Rome, and go to the Vatican on a reg. basis, but I do prefer going to OFM’s headquarters church, 2 min. from where I live and all of the priests do exactly the samething… be it Carmalites, Francisians, etc. Home is Rome. Pax

  11. Jeff Parker says:

    So great to have found this thread. I was born and raised in Southern California (Sherman Oaks, St. Francis de Sales) and have lived in Chicago for 22 years, worshipping at St. Clement in Lincoln Park. I am a professional actor and lector in our liturgies. I’ve also periodically coached the lectors in our parish. There is an exceedingly fine line between that which is over-expressive and demonstrative delivery of the word of God and mind-numbingly boring and syntactically deficient delivery. The same would apply to a priest’s liturgical performance and his delivery of the Gospel and the voluminous amount of text he speaks or intones in the course of the Mass. Further, his homily can suffer by his inability to speak well and connect with the congregation. Not every priest possesses great oratorical gifts or even great penetrating insight into the Gospel. But there is always room for improvement. The quality tends to run the gamut from uncomfortable, halting, monotone all the way up to Fr. Pfleger-land. I do not think one sacrifices the holiness of the liturgy and presence of Christ by having a priest who communicates the Mass and his homily in a passionate, skillful and yes, even humorous way. It is a great, God-given gift to thread that needle. There are few priests who get it exactly right.

    Perhaps our seminaries should place more emphasis on developing these skills.

    We are blessed by the great, holy structure of our liturgy. It is incredibly sturdy. You don’t need to mess with it much. (my pet-peeve: liturgical dance!) It is within this fine structure that the improvement needs to happen. I’m very proud of our liturgy at St. Clement in Chi-town (great choir, many skilled lectors, and for the most part good skilled preaching) and dismayed when I return to my home parish and find Mass to be joyless and somnolent. Mumbled responses. Catholics embarrassed by participating. Sad.

    Catholics need to trust the liturgy.

  12. Abeca Christian says:

    I bind myself today
    The might of the Incarnation of Christ with that of His Baptism,
    The might of His Crucifixion with that of His Burial,
    The might of His Resurrection with that of His Ascension,
    The might of His Coming on the Judgment Day.

    St. Patrick of Ireland

  13. Father Karl says:

    If the holy sacrifice of the Mass was always celebrated with dignity, respect and awe, then there would be no need for Vatican intervention. Too may priests and bishops celebrate the Mass as if they would rather be doing something else. At the Mass we are supposed to worship Almighty God, and not ourselves. If the priest were to say the Mass as if it were his first Mass, his last Mass, and his only Mass, many of these horrible abuses would never take place. Because the instruction says that local customs can be added, many weird and pagan acts are put on equal standing with Catholic culture, and soon these practices become the worldwide norm. This is a problem which will not go away. With the TLM most of these abuses do not occur, and that is why I believe that the Novus Ordo will not be around in fifty years.

    • Father Karl, I agree with you.

      Too many of our priests let their (terribly annoying) idiosyncrasies intrude on the Mass, which is fine as written.

      Sadly, ANY Mass can become distracting and unprayerful if the celebrant is not worshipping well, well prepared, and with a sense of awe and reverence.

      This is true of the TLM, the customary English Mass, the Syro-Malabar Mass, etc.

      And the faithful can also damage the Mass: by arriving late, yapping, doing other devotions in lieu of the Mass, letting their cell phones disrupt the liturgy, and zooming out the door right after receiving Holy Communion.

      Both celebrant and congregation should take a serious look at how they worship…

    • Father Karl, you hit the nail on the head. I have been present when a newly ordained priest said his firs Holy Mass and I could feel how reverently he holds the host; how prepared he is and his face exude the adoration and awe he has for the God that has chosen him to transform the host into the body and blood of Christ.

      Today, I am truly inspired to see the parish priest where I attend Holy Mass make his adoration before Holy Mass; I am in awe and inspired to do the same when he says the words of consecration reverently and not hurriedly; I am kind of brought into the presence of Almighty God when he hold the sacred host to give communion and holds during consecration. Not hurriedly but very reverently and delicately like one who is holding a precious expensive gold. Of course the body and blood of Christ is in the sacred host. It is the real presence that he holds. Though I have attended many times his Holy Mass, it seems to me that though he says the Novus Ordo, each Holy Mass is celebrated with an hour of adoration and the whole Holy Mass as said so reverently as if it is his first Holy Mass or as Father Karl, as if it is his last Holy Mass, I get so much from it and i could feel it that every holy Mass for me has become a real contact with the presence of Jesus and my relationship with seems to grow each day only because the priest seems to be lost in Christ and the grace seems to come out when he preach the gospel. He might be saying the same words like other priest but because of his holiness that seems to affect individuals in the way the Holy Spirit affected the apostles on Pentecost, it helps us to grow in our spiritual life. I spoke with him probably 2 times as I was leaving the church but it is not what he says at the church lobby that make me grow in my love for God but his example at the adoration chapel and the way he said the Holy Mass that has make feel my relationship with God grow. I have heard comments from some of the parishioners that they are so grateful that they were blessed to have him as their parish priest. Father is right, if every priest would say their Mass as like their first Holy Mass or as if it were their last Holy Mass, the abuses that we have now not be there or be comparatively very few abuses. We hear God in silence and we learn faster by example.

    • You are too kind Fr. I believe the Novus Ordo will be gone in twenty years or less. That’s if the world is still here.

    • Abeca Christian says:

      You are correct Father Karl.

  14. Mbûkû Kanyau Mbithûka says:

    Nothing will happen. The EF is so messed up by abuses, no one even knows how to celebrate it properly anymore.

  15. MKK, You comments are highly-likely correct on the EF, but make no mistake, the EF is not the same as the TLM. The TLM is the way it was for centuries prior to the radical changes invoked by Vatican 2 and its aftermath of changes.

  16. Does anyone remember what we called the Paul the VIth mass after the 1962 Missal revision? I remember receiving as a confirmation gift around 1966 a red covered missal with blue edged pages where about half of the service was printed and spoken in Latin and the other half in the vernacular language until it was replaced by the Norvous Ordo service and missalettes that worked out great in making small changes to the mass that made it hard for us to track with those throw-away missalettes. I was an altarboy during that era, and there hadn’t been any altargirls nor women priests yet that I had heard of at that time. Being that Benedict the XVIth has since restored the accurate words of the consecration of the wine (for the many rather than for all) it makes me ponder what the impact was to the wine. Was a miracle performed? As the exactness of our Lord’s holy words do truly matter, then did the wine truly become the blood of our Savior? If not, think of the impact of no consecration of the wine into our Lord’s blood for the last nearly 50 years! Note that not only were the words of consecration changed but also the words in the other 7 sacraments as well. What if Benedict the XVIth reverses some of those Vatican 2 changes as well? That would substantiate my concerns for them as well. The first sacrament Vatican 2 changed was that of Holy Orders. How did those important ceremonial changes impact the efficacy of the sacrament in ordinations and episcopal consecrations? Makes me wonder furthermore, and consequently in the efficacy of the other sacraments! Could this explain the apparent loss of sanctifying graces that used to keep us catholics one and all together where we are nolonger as seen as one in the posts above? Or explain the apparent loss of the wonderful sanctifying grace that used to keep us catholics with the same morals and values protecting us from this day and age’s man-centered worship, pedophile clergy, and the loss of the catholic faith within millions of souls as experienced today, and kept us from rampant annulments and divorces, abortions by catholics and on catholics, and from liberal thinking to the extremes of accepting socialism like voting for Obama and many democrats without reservation of the consequences to the voters own souls. We need to pray for God’s forgiveness.

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 250 words, and should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.

Post your comment

COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 250 words, and should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.