Anything worth doing is worth doing badly

I have hesitated to post this announcement. But I am getting so many invitations to make presentations on the new Roman Missal that I cannot accept them without ending my marriage.

So the time has arrived to announce that free videos and slideshows of my January 2011 presentations to the religious education and liturgical leaders of the Diocese of San José are now posted on their website and my website, thanks to Diana Macalintal, the director of their office for worship, and her videographer, Cheyenne Cook, and my assistant Jon Andrew Greig.

I’ve “endured” watching these videos long enough to note that they would have been better if they were intercut with the slides (and Cheyenne is working on that). But the clock is ticking and I thought that I would not make the perfect the enemy of the good in this matter and post them now.

I hope you have enough screen “real estate” on your monitor to open up two windows, the video in your browser and the slides in a Keynote™, PowerPoint™, or PDF reader screen.

When and if I can improve this offering, I will do so and announce it here.

I stand ready to answer any questions or clarify any points or defend any position.


  1. Paul,

    Your work in helping clergy, catechists and liturgists throughout the West Coast (and beyond, I imagine) to put the revised missal in context over the past two years has been invaluable. Thank you for going above and beyond the call of duty with your time and scholarship. Thanks to Liturgical Press for supporting your ministry.

    1. Thank you, Patrick. Your archdiocese gave me my start. I’ve given you credit in every talk. I learned so much in my three days with your priests, deacons, and liturgical leaders.

  2. Just a comment on the audio quality. Sound is only being sent through the left audio channel, which makes it rather odd to listen to on a set of headphones. Looking forward to watching more of it.

  3. Thanks, Joshua. I would not have thought to even listen for this. I am playing it back through my computer’s speakers. Is there a way I can have this remedied?

    1. Whatever video editing software you’re using should give you the ability to duplicate the left channel and place it in the right channel as well. How this is done varies depending on the software. Sorry I can’t be more specific!

  4. Thank you Paul for a great presentation. I am in the Oakland Diocese and would love to share this with my parish. As soon as you described the book you put together for the attendees, I thought to myself, “I have $20.00… Where can I get a copy of that book?” I do hope you have some to offer those of us who want to be educated and informed with a rescource we can use to educate & inform others. One thing I would love to see is the carving of Joseph of Arimathea you mention as your patron for the presentation. Thank you for your positive attitude and ability to work through all the missal 3 drama with a true sense of charity.

    1. I set the $20 price for my Companion to the Roman Missal before I got all the bills from the printer. I am now charging $25. That said, I read the agreement I have with ICEL to restrict my distribution of it to the actual days of my workshops, and not for general sales. I’ll be back in San Jose on May 10 and 11. Perhaps we can meet at MIssion San Juan Bautista then.

  5. Thanks for making this available, Paul. I look forward to listening to it.

    I stand ready to answer any questions or clarify any points or defend any position.

    I’ll admit I was a bit surprised to see “Vatican wants to make edits to approved texts; many are minor, but some greatly improve the flow of the text” in the power-point presentation (“History of the Roman Missal”) above the videos on the San Jose web site; I suppose that’s not your power-point.

  6. Paul – thanks for the timeline. The challenge to me seems to be two or three pronged:
    – most of our ministers need basic information about the timeline/process
    – but, we also need to explain the actual translation principles; difficulties; need to study, prepare, and be able to PROCLAIM intelligably (my word)
    – find that you need to engage initially with ADULTS by capturing them with a story that engages their emotions, etc.

    Given that, understand that every educational situation has to be taken in context – audience, history, educational backgrounds, etc.

    But, thought that what was posted weeks ago from Salt Lake City conference by Paul Turner did a better job of capturing the essence, principles, and dynamic tensions that are involved in this change e.g. history of EPII

    The challenge is the same for those of us who teach history – do you focus on timelines/dates (necessary) or is that spadework so you can get to the MEANING – interpretation – what does it actually teach us – insights, etc.

    1. Bill, are you praising the timeline provided by the Diocese of San JOse Office for Worship? I did not present that at my workshop. The office posted it along with the videos they took.

      I make four kinds of presentations: a first for youth, a second for college-age and adults, a third for musicians, and a fourth for parish professionals (DREs, PLDs, school principals and religion teachers, DMMs, deacons, and priests).

      Even among the latter there is little interest in the history of the process of the revision.

      All are interested in the values of the the basic reform of the past fifty years. All want to know how to pray the Mass. I try to focus my energies here.

      1. Even among the latter there is little interest in the history of the process of the revision. All are interested in the values of the the basic reform of the past fifty years. All want to know how to pray the Mass. I try to focus my energies here.

        My anecdotal evidence agrees with yours: among the people I have spoken to about the Mass and the new translation (including young adults at a Theology on Tap, a local parish, and a not-so-local parish), less are interested with the process and the history, and more are interested in the action of participating in the Mass, and participating well. For them, that seems to mean understanding the prayers (and sometimes where they come from) and interiorizing them.

      2. Sorry, Paul – started with the timelines. My mistake…how do I get to your DRE presentation?

      3. These are the San Jose presentations, mentioned in the original post.

        The musician presentations are the LA 1/8/2011 files on my website.

  7. “John was rarely used in the old lectionary because it was considered too mystical for the lay people.”

    I’d like to know the source/context for that assertion.

    1. I too am skeptical. If anything, I fear that they had all too little concern for the laity when constructing the ancient lectionaries.

      1. Father Anthony is quite correct: “they had all too little concern for the laity when constructing the ancient lectionaries.”

      2. It would seem that (as Fr. Ruff points out obliquely) that the claims:

        The ancient lectionary compilers had all too little concern for the laity when constructing the ancient lectionaries.


        “John was rarely used in the old lectionary because it was considered too mystical for the lay people.”

        Are in somewhat of a tension with each other, since if they weren’t concerned with the laity, there would be no reason for them to hold back on using the Gospel of John because it was too mystical for the laity.

    2. I assume that’s in the presentations?

      Not even on a motivations basis “considered too mystical”, but on its face “was rarely used” that doesn’t seem true.

      The Gospel of John is used every Sunday from Low Sunday to Pentecost. It’s used on Gaudete Sunday and Laetare Sunday and Passion Sunday. It’s used on the Second Sunday after Epiphany and Christ the King. And of course the usual Last Gospel is from John and it’s the Gospel of the day for the Mass During the Day on Christmas.

      If I’ve counted counted correctly, that’s 12 of 52 Sundays, which isn’t that rare.

      It’s also used in the daily Mass for the dead (and the Mass for All Souls), the First Saturday Mass for the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Mass for the Feast (and regular First Friday votive) of the Sacred Heart.

      1. Samuel, in my talks I try to take the position of the person in the pew, attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. I have been in those pews for well over fifty years and have paid attention to such matters.

        Thanks to the influence of St. Bede the Venerable and his fondness for Saint Matthew’s Gospel, the average preconciliar person experienced the Gospel synoptically, following Matthew’s outline (373 verses used or 34.8%), supplemented by Luke (188 verses used or 30%). Only 30 verses of Mark were used (or 3.4%). And the Sunday and Holy Day Catholic heard only 129 verses of John, or 15%. And these are largely narratives, not mystical passages.

        The average person still experiences the Gospel synoptically (there is no harm in that) but now hears all four gospels, three of them more or less sequentially.

      2. I hope to tackle some of the claims here when I get a chance (it would be helpful if you clarify precisely what is meant by mystical passages, but I’ll take a look at the talks where perhaps you do that) , but if this was a response to my question above, “What evidence do we have for this claim [that the ancient lectionary constructors had little concern for the laity]?” I’m afraid that you haven’t answered it.

        Certainly they chose a different structure and different passages, but it seems reasonable to think that they simply had a different idea about what made for good liturgy for everyone (lay and clerical) and that they implemented that idea. Just because certain modern liturgists think a different ordering is better doesn’t prove that the previous one had different motives, only that they had different methods.

    3. Fr. Ruff, I suppose that could be true. I was thinking of the objective statement (rarely used) as well as the subjective one (too mystical).

      Fr. Felix Just’s summary statistics of the Scriptures in the 1962 Missal rank John and Matthew together at 43 selections throughout the year.

      To add to that, here are the selections from John’s Gospel in sequential order, with omitted verses in brackets and chapter-percentages in parentheses (by verses).

      1:1-14, 19-28, 29-34 [15-18, 35-51] (30/51 = 60%)
      2:1-11, 13-25 [12] (24/25 = 96%)
      3:16-21 [1-15, 22-36] (6/36 = 17%)
      4:5-42, 46-53 [1-4, 43-45, 54] (46/54 = 85%)
      5:1-15 [16-47] (15/47 = 32%)
      6:1-15, 44-52, 56-59 [16-43, 53-55, 60-71] (28/71 = 39%)
      7:1-13, 14-31, 32-39 [40-53] (39/53 = 74%)
      8:1-11, 12-20, 21-29, 46-59 [30-45] (43/59 = 73%)
      9:1-38 [39-41] (38/41 = 93%)
      10:1-10, 11-16, 22-38 [17-21, 39-42] (33/42 = 79%)
      11:1-45, 47-54 [46, 55-57] (53/57 = 93%)
      12:1-9, 10-36 [37-50] (36/50 = 72%)
      13:1-15 [16-38] (15/38 = 39%)
      14:15-21, 23-31 [22] (30/31 = 97%)
      15:26-27 [1-25] (2/27 = 7%)
      16:1-4, 5-14, 16-22, 23-30 [15, 31-33] (29/33 = 87%)
      17:1-11 [12-26] (11/26 = 43%)
      18:1-40 [] (40/40 = 100%)
      19:1-42 [] (42/42 = 100%)
      20:11-18, 19-31 [1-10] (21/31 = 68%)
      21:1-14, 19-24 [15-18, 25] (20/25 = 80%)

      (I am assuming Fr. Felix’s data are correct. Fr. Felix does not include (as far as I can tell) the “lesser” days of the liturgical year.)

      Total percentage of John’s Gospel heard (by verses): 601/ 879 = 68%

      Now, I’ll admit that there are some sad omissions from these selections. But I’m sure there’s some mystical content in any two-thirds of John’s Gospel!

      1. Jeffrey, thank you for questioning this. I too use Father Just’s website and am working with him on completing his psalter statistics.

        I went back to my figures (as you can see from my reply to Samuel Howard above) and checked all the citations. Your list mentions ALL the uses of John on Father Just’s page. If you focus, as I do, on the Sunday and Holy Day experience of the average preconciliar Catholic, you see that the verses heard are not 601 but 226 or 35%. If you eliminate Holy Thursday and Good Friday, you get down to 129 verses or 15%.

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