Cardinal Raymond Burke
In Appreciation of his Contributions to Liturgical Life of the Church

The Sacred Liturgy
Here you will find articles and pictures on the Sacred Liturgy . 


The Ordinary Form
Novus Ordo Mass 

Pope Francis: First Papal Mass

The Extraordinary Form
Tridentine Mass 


Pope Francis on the Liturgy:  

"The liturgical celebration is not a social act, a good social act; it is not a gathering of the faithful to pray together. It is something else. In the liturgy, God is present,” but it is a closer presence. In the Mass, in fact, “the presence of the Lord is real, truly is one thing to pray at home, to pray in Church, to pray the Rosary, to pray so many beautiful prayers, to make the Way of the Cross, so many beautiful things, to read the Bible... The Eucharistic celebration is something else. In the celebration we enter into the mystery of God

Pope issues message on 50 anniversary of Sacrosanctum Concilium

2014-02-21 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio/VIS) – The fiftieth anniversary of the conciliar Constitution “Sacrosanctum Concilium” on the Sacred Liturgy – the first document promulgated by Vatican Council II – is an cause for “gratitude for the profound and wide-ranging renewal of liturgical life, made possible by the conciliar Magisterium … and at the same time urges relaunched commitment to welcoming and more fully implementing this teaching”.
Thus began Pope Francis' message to Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, on the occasion of the conclusion of the symposium “Sacrosanctum Concilium. Gratitude for and Commitment to a Great Ecclesial Movement”, organised by this dicastery in collaboration with the Pontifical Lateran University.
“Sacrosanctum Concilium”, promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 4 December 1963, and the further developments of the Magisterium in the furrow it has traced “have improved our understanding of the liturgy in the light of the divine Revelation, as the 'exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ' in which 'the whole public worship is performed by the mystical body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the head and His members'. Christ is revealed as the true protagonist of every celebration, and He associates with Himself 'the Church … His beloved Bride who calls to her Lord, and through Him offers worship to the Eternal Father'. This action, which takes place through the power of the Holy Spirit, possesses a profound creative force able to attract every man and, in some way, the whole of Creation”.
“To celebrate true spiritual worship means to offer oneself as a living sacrifice, sacred and agreeable to God. A liturgy detached from spiritual worship would risk becoming empty, declining from its Christian originality to a generic sacred sense, almost magical, and a hollow aestheticism. As an action of Christ, liturgy has an inner impulse to be transformed in the sentiments of Christ, and in this dynamism all reality is transfigured”. The Pontiff quoted Pope emeritus Benedict XVI who, in his Lectio divina to the Pontifical Major Roman Seminary in 2012, explained that “our daily life ... must be inspired, profuse, immersed in the divine reality, it must become action together with God. This does not mean that we must always be thinking of God, but that we must really be penetrated by the reality of God so that our whole life — and not only a few thoughts — may be a liturgy, may be adoration”.
To our gratitude to God for what it has been possible to achieve, the Pope stated that it is necessary to unite “a renewed willingness to go ahead on the path indicated by the Council Fathers, as there remains much to be done for a correct and complete assimilation of the Constitution of the Holy Liturgy on the part of the baptised and ecclesial communities. I refer, in particular, to the commitment to a solid and organic liturgical initiation and formation, both of lay faithful as well as clergy and consecrated persons”.

2014-02-10 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio)

To rediscover the sense of the sacred, the mystery of the Real Presence of God in the Mass: that was Pope Francis’ invitation during the Eucharistic celebration this morning at Casa Santa Marta.

The first Reading of the day speaks about the “theophany” of God in the time of Solomon the king. The Lord came down like a cloud upon the temple, which was filled with the glory of God. The Lord, the Pope said, speaks to His people in many ways: through the prophets, the priests, the Sacred Scriptures. But with the theophanies, He speaks in another way, “different from the Word: it is another presence, closer, without mediation, near. It is His presence.” This, he explained, happens in the liturgical celebration. The liturgical celebration is not a social act, a good social act; it is not a gathering of the faithful to pray together. It is something else. In the liturgy, God is present,” but it is a closer presence. In the Mass, in fact, “the presence of the Lord is real, truly real.”

“When we celebrate the Mass, we don’t accomplish a representation of the Last Supper: no, it is not a representation. It is something else: it is the Last Supper itself. It is to really live once more the Passion and the redeeming Death of the Lord. It is a theophany: the Lord is made present on the altar to be offered to the Father for the salvation of the world. We hear or we say, ‘But, I can’t now, I have to go to Mass, I have to go to hear Mass.’ The Mass is not ‘heard’, it is participated in, and it is a participation in this theophany, in this mystery of the presence of the Lord among us.”

Nativity scenes, the Way of the Cross... these are representations. The Mass, on the other hand, “is a real commemoration, that is, it is a theophany: God approaches and is with us, and we participate in the mystery of the Redemption.” Unfortunately, too often we look at the clock during Mass, “counting the minutes.” This, the Pope said, is not the attitude the liturgy requires of us: the liturgy is God’s time, God’s space, and we must place ourselves there, in God’s time, in God’s space, and not look at the clock”:

“The liturgy is to really enter into the mystery of God, to allow ourselves to be brought to the mystery and to be in the mystery. For example, I am sure that all of you have come here to enter into the mystery; however, someone might say: ‘Ah, I have to go to Mass at Santa Marta, because on the sight-seeing tour of Rome, each morning there is a chance to visit the Pope at Santa Marta: it’s a tourist stop, right?’ All of you here, we are gathered her to enter into the mystery: this is the liturgy. It is God’s time, it is God’s space, it is the cloud of God that surrounds all of us.”

The pope recalled that, as a child, during the preparation for First Communion, there was a song that spoke about how the altar was guarded by angels to give “a sense of the glory of God, of God’s space, of God’s time.” And when, during the practice, they brought the hosts, they told the children: “Look, these are not the ones you will receive: these count for nothing,” because they have to be consecrated. So, the Pope concluded, “to celebrate the liturgy is to have this availability to enter into the mystery of God,” to enter into His space, His time, to entrust ourselves to this mystery:

“We would do well today to ask the Lord to give to each of us this ‘sense of the sacred,’ this sense that makes us understand that it is one thing to pray at home, to pray in Church, to pray the Rosary, to pray so many beautiful prayers, to make the Way of the Cross, so many beautiful things, to read the Bible... The Eucharistic celebration is something else. In the celebration we enter into the mystery of God, into that street that we cannot control: only He is the unique One, the glory, the power... He is everything. Let us ask for this grace: that the Lord would teach us to enter into the mystery of God.”

1. What Should Be Prayed in the Liturgy of the Hours
And More on the Washing of Hands

By Father Edward McNamara, LC

ROME, January 15, 2013 ( - Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: I am writing this note concerning the obligation of praying the Office of Readings for the benefit of those who subscribe to the "spirituality of the minimum." All those who pray regularly the Divine Office (and unfortunately there are a good number from among those consecrated to God in a special way who do not even care to pray) seem to accept that lauds and vespers are obligatory perhaps because they are identified as the "chief hours" in the General Instruction on the Liturgy of Hours. They feel the other hours are optional, including the Office of Readings, though they might concede that these "greatly assist spiritual progress" as stated in the General Instruction. May I request you to kindly clarify whether they are obligatory or optional? -- S.D., Old Goa, India

A: First of all, we must distinguish among those who have an obligation to pray the Divine Office.  
All Latin-rite priests and transitional deacons have the grave obligation, undertaken in the moment of ordination, to pray the entire Liturgy of the Hours: "Are you resolved to maintain and deepen a spirit of prayer appropriate to your way of life and, in keeping with what is required of you, to celebrate faithfully the Liturgy of the Hours for the Church and for the whole world?" (cf. Roman Pontifical, Rite of the Ordination of Deacons)." This is confirmed by No. 29 of the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours and Canon 276, §2.3, of the Code of Canon Law.  This comprises: the Office of Readings, morning prayer (lauds), one of the three hours during the day (terce, sext and none), evening prayer (vespers) and night prayer (compline).Permanent deacons pray that part of the office determined by the competent local authorities, usually lauds, vespers and compline.
Non-clerical religious and other consecrated souls pray that part of the office as determined by their particular legislation and personal commitments.
Some orders of monks and religious have their own particular version of the Divine Office that is usually more extensive than that of the universal Church.
There may be some other realities in the Church. For example, it is probable that clergy pertaining to the new Anglican ordinariates follow their own traditions in this respect, although some may also adopt the Liturgy of the Hours.
The importance of the obligation for clergy stems from the nature of the mission itself as an intercessor for souls. Hebrews 5:1 expresses it beautifully: "For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins."
For this reason, on Nov. 15, 2000, the Holy See issued an extensive "reply to a doubt" (Prot. No 2330/00/L) regarding the obligation of the Divine Office and recalled that "The integral and daily celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours is, for priests and deacons on the way to the priesthood, a substantial part of their ecclesial ministry."

With respect to the extent and possible exceptions to this general rule, the Congregation for Divine Worship offered the following clarifications:

"Question #1: What is the mind of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments regarding the extension of the obligation of celebration or reciting daily theLiturgy of the Hours?

"Response: Those who have been ordained are morally bound, in virtue of the same ordination they have received, to the celebration or the entire and daily recitation of the Divine Office such as is canonically established in canon 276, § 2, n. 3 of the CIC, cited previously. This recitation does not have for its part the nature of a private devotion or of a pious exercise realized by the personal will alone of the cleric but rather is an act proper to the sacred ministry and pastoral office.

"Question #2: Is the obligation sub gravi extended to the entire recitation of the Divine Office?

"Response: The following must be kept in mind:

"A serious reason, be it of health, or of pastoral service in ministry, or of an act of charity, or of fatigue, not a simple inconvenience, may excuse the partial recitation and even the entire Divine Office, according to the general principal that establishes that a mere ecclesiastical law does not bind when a serious inconvenience is present;

"The total or partial omission of the Office due to laziness alone or due to the performance of activities of unnecessary diversion, is not licit, and even more so, constitutes an underestimation, according to the gravity of the matter, of the ministerial office and of the positive law of the Church;

"To omit the Hours of Morning Prayer (Lauds) and Evening Prayer (Vespers) requires a greater reason still, given that these Hours are the 'double hinge of the daily Office' (SC 89);

"If a priest must celebrate Mass several times on the same day or hear confessions for several hours or preach several times on the same day, and this causes him fatigue, he may consider, with tranquility of conscience, that he has a legitimate excuse for omitting a proportionate part of the Office;

"The proper Ordinary of the priest or deacon can, for a just or serious reason, according to the case, dispense him totally or partially from the recitation of the Divine Office, or commute it to another act of piety (as, for example, the Holy Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, a biblical or spiritual reading, a time of mental prayer reasonably prolonged, etc.).

"Question: What role does the criterion of'veritas temporis'(correspondence to time of day) play concerning this question?

"Response: The answer must be given in parts, to clarify the diverse cases.

"The 'Office of Readings' does not have a strict time assigned, and may be celebrated at any hour, and it can be omitted if there exists one of the reasons signaled out in the answer indicated under number 2 above. According to custom, the Office of Readings may be celebrated any time beginning with the evening hours or nighttime hours of the previous day, after Evening Prayer (Vespers) (Cf. GILH, 59).

"The same holds true for the 'intermediate hours,' which, nevertheless, have no set time for their celebration. For their recitation, the time that intervenes between morning and afternoon should be observed. Outside of choir, of the three hours, Mid-Morning Prayer (Tertia), Mid-Day Prayer, (Sexta) and Mid-Afternoon Prayer (Nona), it is fitting to select one of these three, the one that more easily corresponds to the time of day, so that the tradition of praying during the day, in the midst of working, be maintained (Cf. GILH, 77).

"By itself, Morning Prayer (Lauds) should be recited during the morning hours and Evening Prayer (Vespers) during the evening hours, as the names of these parts of the Office indicate. If someone cannot recite Morning Prayer (Lauds) in the morning, he has the obligation of reciting it as soon thereafter as possible. In the same way, if Evening Prayer (Vespers) cannot be recited during the evening hours, it must be recited as soon thereafter as possible (SC 89). In other words, the obstacle, which impedes the observation of the 'true time of the hours,' is not by itself a cause that excuses the recitation either of Morning Prayer (Lauds) or of Evening Prayer (Vespers), because it is a question of the 'Principal Hours' (SC, 89) which 'merit the greatest esteem' (GILH, 40).

"Whoever willingly recites the Liturgy of the Hours and endeavors to celebrate the praises of the Creator of the universe with dedication, can at least recite the psalmody of the hour that has been omitted without the hymn and conclude with only a short reading and the prayer."

* * *
Follow-up: Hand Sanitizer at Communion Time

In line with the question on the use of hand sanitizers (see Dec. 18), a German reader asked why the priest washes his hands after the offertory. He says: "The lavabo after the offertory, in my opinion, dates from the time when the priest brought animals and food for his support. Coming after the handling of the bread and wine and a precious chalice, the lavabo is misplaced. If anything, it would be appropriate as a penitential rite at the beginning of the service."

Our reader espouses a theory of the origin of the lavabo rite that was popular a few years ago, that the rite was originally practical and was required because of flour dust in order to physically clean the priest's hands. Only later was a spiritual meaning given to the rite.

Thus, some argued, the advent of pre-prepared hosts had rendered the rite obsolete. This theory, while coherent, has the disadvantage of being wrong.

Further research into the ancient rites has shown that the rite of washing of hands (dating from the fourth century) is older than the procession of gifts, and even after this practice was introduced, the celebrant often washed his hands before, not after, receiving them.

The rite has always had the sense of spiritual purification and it validly retains this meaning today. It is a significant rite and expresses the priest's need for purification before embarking on the great Eucharistic Prayer.

It is true that all have made the act of penance at the beginning of Mass, but the Roman rite for many centuries has had other prayers of purification for priests during the course of the rite.

Most of these have been eliminated or reduced in the ordinary form, but some, such as the washing of hands at the end of the offertory rites, have been retained and may never be omitted at any Mass.

2. Women as Masters of Ceremonies

By Father Edward McNamara, LC

ROME, January 29, 2013 ( - Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: There seems to be a trend in some U.S. dioceses to appoint female laity as masters of ceremonies. Is this liturgically correct? The Ceremonial of Bishops, under the section entitled "Offices and Ministries in the Liturgy of Bishops," speaks in paragraphs 34, 35 and 36 as pertaining only to the masculine gender, stating that "he (the master of ceremonies) shall be responsible for or should do this or that." In contrast, the next section, on the sacristan, speaks as "he or she should do this or that" -- clearly allowing for the use of either gender. Please comment on the legitimate use of female laity in the role of masters of ceremonies. -- G.F., New Orleans, Louisiana

A: I will address this question from the point of view of interpretation of liturgical law as I believe it now stands. It must be admitted, though, that the law as such is not perfectly clear.
As our reader points out, the Ceremonial of Bishops refers to a male in referring to the master of ceremonies and clearly makes a distinction when it comes to the sacristan. The question is: Does this reflect a legislative intent or does it simply presume the reality at the time of publication?
My personal opinion is that the Ceremonial of Bishops did not have a specific intention of excluding women but simply reflected the law in force at its publication in 1984. This law precluded services at the altar being carried out by women.
Likewise, the Ceremonial also likely presumed that this task would be carried out by the bishop's secretary or another cleric designated to accompany the bishop on his visits in the diocese. In fact, in the previous legislation the bishop's master of ceremonies was necessarily a priest at least 25 years old. The law said that all those involved in the celebration should be attentive and obey him without discussion. During the celebration he was director and not a server.
Assistant masters of ceremonies could be subdeacons or even younger. If an ordained master of ceremonies was lacking, then he could be substituted by another minister. But the law indicated that in this case he should not give orders to ordained ministers.
The present Ceremonial of Bishops makes no mention of obedience to the master of ceremonies nor specifically requires him to be a priest. In fact, No. 35 says that during the celebration "he should exercise the greatest discretion: he is not to speak more than is necessary, nor replace the deacons or assistants at the side of the celebrant. The master of ceremonies should carry out his responsibilities with reverence, patience, and careful attention."
The use of "he or she" when referring to the sacristan also reflects the reality on the ground, as women have often served as sacristans in churches and convents.
Therefore, I would say that the use of distinctive pronouns in the Ceremonial simply reflects the fact that the possibility of a female master of ceremonies was probably never even imagined. Since this is insufficient to answer the question regarding the present legality of female masters of ceremonies, we must look elsewhere for the reply.
In 1994 the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts published an interpretation of Canon 230.2 of the Code of Canon Law. This canon states that "Lay persons can fulfill the function of lector in liturgical actions by temporary designation. All lay persons can also perform the functions of commentator or cantor, or other functions, according to the norm of law."
The same pontifical council was asked if the liturgical functions which, according to the above canon, can be entrusted to the lay faithful, may be carried out equally by men and women, and if serving at the altar may be included among those functions, on a par with the others indicated by the canon.
The council replied affirmatively, according to the instructions given by the Holy See.
This interpretation specifically addressed the question of female altar servers, but the criteria used would logically appear to cover the case of a female master of ceremonies among the "other functions" mentioned by the canon.
Therefore, I would say that, lacking any specific instructions to the contrary from the Holy See, a female master of ceremonies is possible from the point of view of liturgical law.
It should be remembered that Canon 230.2 has a permissive, and not a preceptive, character. There is no right on the part of the faithful to aspire to this function.
Also, permissions given in this regard by some bishops can in no way be considered as binding on other bishops. In fact, it is the competence of each bishop to make a prudential judgment on what to do, with a view to the ordered development of liturgical life in his own diocese.

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