Monday, January 4, 2010

Pinoy archbishop lays the smack down on liturgical discipline

From CBCP News. Gerald of Pro Deo et Patria also blogged about this.  I read the news in the CBCP website but had no time to comment.


MANILA, Jan. 3, 2010—Saying that a decorous and solemn celebration of the liturgy is a mandate imposed on priests by virtue of their ordination, [exactly!  it is in the nature of the priesthood!] a young Catholic prelate called on his clergy to celebrate the Eucharist with the dignity and solemnity it deserves. [unfortunately, it is only for his clergy.  How I wish other bishops are like him.]

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, in a fraternal letter sent to his priests on December 31, said it is a solemn duty of priests to celebrate the Mass with utmost reverence and attentive care.

“Although we have many duties and functions as priests, in the mind of the ordinary Catholic faithful, we are priests because we can preside at the Eucharist and absolve sins in the confessional. We are priests called to bring to the Lord the sacrifice of thanksgiving from His worshipping people. We are priests called to bring the blessings of God to His chosen people. We are caretakers of the mysteries of God.” Villegas said. [Some priests say they are priests to fight for justice and peace!  Do you need ordination to be a Gandhi or Mandela?  Duh?!]

The young prelate said a solemn and inspiring liturgical celebration does not just happen. Instead it becomes so because of the ardent and careful preparation that goes with it.

“Within this spirit, I wish to raise some issues in our Catholic parishes and communities to help bring about a more inspiring and truly edifying liturgical worship,” he said.

Quoting the maxim that cleanliness is next to Godliness, Villegas encouraged his clergy to preserve the cleanliness of sacred vessels even advising them to regularly subject these to “metal plating to maintain their luster befitting the divine worship.”

“God deserves the best,” he stressed. [See below how the archbishop emphasizes name of the linens and the nature of its purpose, much the same with how he emphasized the role and nature of the presbyteros, aka priest.]

He said the altar linens—corporal, purificator, and finger towel—should be used according to their specific purpose, and not to be interchanged with the other.

Explaining further, he said the corporal is called such because it receives the “corpus” crumbs that may fall from the Host when the priest breaks the Host at the Lamb of God.

“The corporal must be laid out on the altar only at the presentation of bread and wine and folded back after the purification of the vessels,” Villegas said, stressing that “it must not be left on the altar.”

He said the purificator is used to wipe the chalice for droplets of water and wine during the preparation of the gifts and for purifying the chalice, paten and ciborium after Communion, while the finger towel is used for drying the hands after washing.

The purificator has an embroidered cross in the middle while that of the finger towel is normally in the corner.

Villegas reminded the priests to instruct their sacristans and altar servers to observe the proper use of the altar linens.

He said it is important to keep the vestments used for liturgical celebrations clean and dignified while stressing that “cleanliness and dignity need not be expensive.” [Some priests are too stingy when it comes to linens and vestments used for the liturgy but are too flamboyant when it comes to their signature secular clothes.  Oh yeah, I know some.  They'll trumpet the "Vatican II simplicity" in the liturgy, whatever that means, despising the beautiful pre-conciliar vestments for their drab plain white chasuble with an equally drab overlay stole.  But when you see them in their street clothes, man! Are they in their Giordanos!  Now who gets the best?  God or the priest? Hmmm.  No brainer there.]

“The church and its surroundings must be kept clean too from trash candy wrappers, soiled missalettes and even stuck chewing gums on the church flooring,” Villegas said, adding that “the church must be the cleanest place in the community.”

Villegas also reminded his priests on the importance of animating seriously the liturgical singing in their parishes. As a form of worship, singing together also promotes the spirit of unity and communion, he said. [And bring back Gregorian chant.  "But its too hard to understand!"  Yeah?  Tell that to the 9 year old altar servers of the EF Mass I attend to.  He chants the Credo without any guides!  Better than me actually!]

Please encourage the choirs to undertake their task as a ministry and not as a performance for public adulation,” the prelate said. [the reason why some choirs sing secular songs.]

He said secular love songs, even with religious themes, should not be used for liturgical rites. [how about songs from born-against, ehem, again "Christians" like from Don Moen, and Hill Song?  Nice to listen to but should we even give these songs a chance to be sung in a Catholic Mass?  Songs from these groups are being given more priority than those composed by the Jesuits, Franciscans and SVD Fathers.  And how about Gregorian Chant which Vatican 2 mandates that be given priority, hmm?]

Villegas also advised the clergy to “refrain from the practice of having children or young people dance in the parish sanctuary” during liturgical celebrations until the Episcopal Commission on Liturgy approved the rules pertaining to dancing within the liturgy. [Hah!  That could have hurt Diwa and Chupungco!  Redemptionis Sacramentum is against liturgical dancing.  This instruction bear a universal weight, if I may use the term, than those produced by episcopal conferences.  An essay published by the official organ of the then Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, Notitiae, 11 (1975) 202-205, is labeled as a "qualified and authoritative sketch." The congregation consideres this as "an authoritative point of reference for every discussion on the matter." Therefore, diocesan liturgical commissions and offices of worship must base their discussion on the liturgy on this essay!  But, I don't have much faith on the CBCP's Liturgy Commission being headed by the master inculturator.  Chupungco even wrote an instruction which prohibits the EF Mass from being celebrated in the Archdiocese of Manila, in direct defiance of the Pope!  On another note, Studio 23 televises a Mass from the SM Megamall chapel.  Their is a regular liturgical dance, performed during the singing of the Gloria.  Again a clear defiance of Redemptionis Sacramentum!  What do we do about these dissenters?]

The prelate said it is likewise important to observe silence as a means of communing with God. [which is so rare nowadays.  Why?  After the homily, there is little to no time at all to reflect on what the priest has given since he or the commentator asks the people to rise for the Credo.  Or even after communion where the parish announcements are made.  Why in such a hurry?  Are we too afraid to sit still and know that He is God?  (cf. PS. 46:10)]

Quoting St. Charles Borromeo, he said: “You must realize that for us churchmen, nothing is more necessary than meditation. We must meditate before, during and after everything we do. Would you like me to tell you how to give God more pleasing worship? Stay quiet with God. Do not spend your time in useless chatter.” [Beautiful quote!]

Villegas told the clergy to teach again their parishioners the practice of genuflecting before the tabernacle, the observance of prayerful silence in the church, modesty in dress and the discourtesy of chewing gum or using cell phones in the church. [genuflection becomes rare nowadays, why?  because the hippie priests say it is so "pre-Vatican 2" and "Vatican 2 did away with the medieval mumbo jumbo".  Yeah, right.  As if I would believe that.  I understand older priests who have joint problems, but for younger ones who play bowling at weekends, my golly!  Bend your knees for the Lord!  Genuflection is an age-old sign of respect to someone who is superior that the one making the genuflection.  A knight's respect for his king!  Here are the specific instructions of the GIRM for genuflection:  
  • Three genuflections are made by the priest celebrant: namely, after the showing of the host, after the showing of the chalice, and before Communion. 
  •  Certain specific features to be observed in a concelebrated Mass are noted in their proper place.
  • If, however, the tabernacle with the Most Blessed Sacrament is present in the sanctuary, the priest, the deacon, and the other ministers genuflect when they approach the altar and when they depart from the sanctuary, but not during the celebration of Mass itself.
  • Otherwise all who pass before the Most Blessed Sacrament genuflect, unless they are moving in procession.
  • Ministers carrying the processional cross or candles bow their heads instead of genuflecting.]

The archbishop concluded his letter by saying that celebrating the liturgy should bring the priest-celebrant to “become more caring and attentive to the needs of the least, the last and the lost.”

“Good liturgy can sanctify only to the extent that it leads us to serve, imitating the example of Him who stooped down to wash the feet of His disciples,” he said, adding that “Sunday must not only be the dies Domini. May it become too our dies caritatis.”


We need more of the likes of Archbishop Villegas for the Catholic Church in the Philippines!

Ad multos annos, Your Grace!


  1. The average Pinoy's acquaintance with Gregorian Chant is with the song "Losing my Religion" by Gregorian. You cannot undo 40 years of Novus Ordo innovations and jump into EF overnight (or even in one generation). The OF should be celebrated according to the rubrics. IMHO, we should have it said in Latin. The Tridentine panoply is not an absolute requirement for the OF. It could be sacredly simple Some parishes I don't think can afford all those traditional vestments that EF advocates want. If the EF congregation can afford it, then let it be. But don't expect the poor parishes to have EF style vestments in celebrating the OF Mass.

    As for the songs, parish priests should be more sensitive to taste. Making the Mass sound like a pop concert is in very poor taste. However condemning all Protestant or even Born Again hymns is not at all a good idea. Some of their hymns are Catholic in spirit (although some are doctrinally at odds with our belief) The Philippine church doesn't have a hymnal. The Protestants have it better than us in this department. For example the Anglicans have preserved their Hymnody. I'd rather worship at Anglican Choral Evensong than in a Roman Catholic Starstruck concert!

    Well if some priests are fashionistas, this doesn't mean ALL are so. Please don't generalize. The Popes exhort us to RESPECT our priests. All the priests I know dress simply. How I wish all priests are required to wear clerical dress outside church. They should wear the Roman Collar. Some Protestant ministers wear their collars more than the Catholic priests.

    I am also concerned over the lack of respect for the Eucharist. Hardly anyone kneels at the Elevation and Consecration. The excuse "there is no kneeler" Now did Moses require a pew with a kneeler when he met his God at Sinai? He took off his shoes!

    People look at me when I kneel even outside the church when the elements are consecrated and the Bread and Wine becomes TRULY THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST.

    Some Anglicans have greater reverence for the Eucharist than us Catholics. (Even if Apostolicae Curae says their Eucharist is invalid).

  2. blackshama gave a nice comment. clap! clap! clap!

    “'Please encourage the choirs to undertake their task as a ministry and not as a performance for public adulation,' the prelate said."

    When we first sang for a Mass, our leader told us that we are singing for our Lord, not to make ourselves known to all. We may not sing as good as others but as long as we sing with all our hearts, everything's alright.

    "The archbishop concluded his letter by saying that celebrating the liturgy should bring the priest-celebrant to 'become more caring and attentive to the needs of the least, the last and the lost.'"
    Very good! That's why we have the Vatican II.

  3. To clarify what REAL ACTIVE PARTICIPATION IS, for both the priest and the laity, let's see what Papal Master of Ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini (the good Marini) has to offer:

    "Nevertheless, there has not always been a correct understanding of the concept of “active participation”, according to how the Church teaches it and exhorts the faithful to live it. To be sure, there is active participation when, during the course of the liturgical celebration, one fulfills his proper service; there is active participation too when one has a better comprehension of God’s word when it is heard or of the prayers when they are said; there is also active participation when one unites his own voice to that of the others in song ....All this, however, would not signify a participation truthfully active if it did not lead to adoration of the mystery of salvation in Christ Jesus, who for our sake died and is risen. This is because only he who adores the mystery, welcoming it into his life, demonstrates that he has comprehended what is being celebrated, and so is truly participating in the grace of the liturgical act.

  4. blackshama, I am sharing my exprience at the regular TLM at Sikatuna village where 9 year olds know the Latin prayers and chants better than me.

    About the fashionista priests, I also based it on experience. I know some who are modest in what they wear and prefer the roman collar than signature clothing. I am NOT generalizing. I just don't have a good sampling of priests who dress modestly.

  5. Hi Pinoycatholic

    I suggest that you attend the OF masses said by priests visiting rural "visitas" in the provinces. I haven't attended a mass with a fashionista priest.

    It may be good for the soul to attend these OF masses once in a while as it is good for mine to attend an EF mass once in a while.

    Let's be attached to the Mass and the Eucharist and not to what the priest is wearing, be this may be simple OF vestments or EF baroque inspired ones. As long as the Lord becomes one of us under the appearances of bread and wine, that is enough.

  6. Oh blackshama. :)

    Here is what I posted "Some priests are too stingy when it comes to linens and vestments used for the liturgy but are too flamboyant when it comes to their signature secular clothes".

    I was talking about their secular clothes NOT their liturgical ones.

    By the way, I attend the EF Mass ONCE a month on a Sunday and the OF Mass MOST of the time, in our cathedral, in Quiapo Church, in our parish church where I am a Knight of Columbus serving during Mass as marshall.

    I don't despise the OF Mass. I just love the silence and "ineffable-ness" if there is such a term, of the EF Mass.

    I once attended a Holy Thursday Liturgy at Christ the King in Greenmeadows and guess what? The hymns were in Gregorian! And was it such a beautiful Mass.

    Try looking for a young priest in Our Lady of Grace, Caloocan City. He celebrates the OF Mass very solemnly. Not that I go to Mass just because of him, but because of HIM. I happened to attend one of his Masses and drove kilometers away to chance upon this young priest. And I tell you, after attending one of his Masses (OF at that), you'll agree with me that THAT is the way to celebrate the Mass.

    He chants the Canon of the Mass! How often do you get that?!

    I agree with you that we go to Mass not because of the vestments and all, (though they can be distracting, along with dances, skits, etc.)

    HE is the ONE reason why we go to Mass. So I beg you to look at me at a different light. I am not who you think I am.

    Liturgical discipline can be done, if our liturgists and priests are faithful to the true spirit of Vatican II. And this is what, I, a laity, who just knows somethings about our liturgical laws, am blogging about.

    Thank you for your concern.

    The Lord bless and keep you.

    Ave Maria!

  7. Actually, I would like that the Mass of Paul VI be said in Latin more in our parishes. Call me an OF traditionalist! I would have the OF in any language as long as it is celebrated solemnly. The famous parish priest in UP, who runs as a statement, I never supported not because of his political stance, but all those innovations in the church, liturgical and that zoo and snake in the rectory. While I love animals, I think snakes in the rectory is overboard. The days of the parsonage cat is long gone.

    The church yard as I knew as an Episcopalian, is consecrated ground! I am not a cradle Catholic.

    But Father Running Priest has to be commended for having the Protestant congregation and the Catholics at regular prayer. The Protestants know the need for quiet time.

    Our priests and parish councils do not give worshipers enough time for silence. Even if they do, people talk, text or worse play station!

    Catechesis is the answer.

    Laus Deo!

  8. Mass in Latin...

    More catechism...

    Amen to that!

  9. blackshama,

    Pinoycatholic said, "Some priests are too stingy when it comes to linens and vestments used for the liturgy..."

    And you said, "The Tridentine panoply is not an absolute requirement for the OF. It could be sacredly simple Some parishes I don't think can afford all those traditional vestments that EF advocates want..."

    I don't think you get the point of pinoycatholic. He was advocating for dignified vestments worthy of the sacred... I don't see anything in his comments about linens and vestments that are of the "Tridentine panoply." Or do you just mean that wearing beautiful vestments would automatically mean "Tridentine panoply"? Just curious...

    You say not all parishes can't afford beautiful vestments? Oh come on, a beautiful vestment does not automatically mean it is expensive... I know of a priest who wears very dignified vestment with rich and very Catholic symbolism which costed him for not a so big amount.

    I for my part am somewhat saddened when I see parishes spending a lot for outings, picnics, and "creativities for liturgy" that devoid the mass of sacredness and yet would not mind how ugly and unworthy of the sacredness of the liturgy the linens, the vessels, and vestments being used at church.