Monitio for the First Sunday of Advent

A friend who shall remain nameless sent me the following liturgical greeting for the First Sunday of Advent, 2011. I thought it was very funny and hope that the readers of Pray Tell will likewise see the humor in it.

Liturgical Greeting (Monitio) for the First Sunday of Advent, 2011

May your journey,
begun on the commencement of the new liturgical year,
be a peaceful and harmonious
foreshadowing the eternal pilgrimage which we make in this life towards our heavenly home,
knowing full well that the heavenly King is the one who assists us on our journey,
and may your reading of the words “chalice” “consubstantial” and “gibbet” fill you with a renewed spirituality of liturgical transcendence,
knowing that you are assisted by the power of Latin syntax and the approval of
Vatican officials,
thus delivering us closer to masses “ad orientem”,
a foretaste of the heavenly sacrifice renewed each day through the ministrations of validly ordained and orthodox clergy,
working under the guidance of bishops, successors to the apostles and supreme teachers and liturgists in their respective dioceses,
an occasion of renewal in the true understanding of church councils,
which have often been misconstrued,
so that we may be one church gathered in obedience and submission.


    1. When one thinks of Pinochet’s associate formerly of the Congregation for Divine Mercy and the Sacraments “the power of Vatican syntax and the approval of Latin officials.” would be more like it.

    2. Bruce, I don’t think ‘gibbet’ occurs in the new translation either, but I’m not the guy who said this translation would last 400 years ‘like Cranmer’s’ – whereas, you are. (Your successor at ICEL apparently puts it closer to 10, but I digress.)

      ‘Gibbet’ seems to have gone the way of ‘deign’ as this somewhat prophetic poem you wrote me in March of 2004 records:

      From over the main
      they hastened by plane
      or dawdled by train
      to the windswept plain
      that, I need not explain,
      receives most of the rain
      in the Bourbons’ domain.
      There, in Don Sancho’s lane
      they launched a campaign
      against ‘vouchsafe’ and ‘deign’
      yet bade us retain
      no language profane.
      We could not contain
      our vexation, or feign
      contentment, for strain
      held us fast in its chain.
      So, to ire giving rein,
      we cried out in pain,
      ‘You wouldn’t complain
      in Toledo’s great fane,
      though their speech, hardly plain,
      is what you disdain.
      Your pleas are in vain,
      to God’s people a bane,
      no more than a stain,
      only fit for the drain.
      But there’s nothing to gain
      from taxing the brain
      of persons too vain
      to think again.
      You shall not restrain
      us (like a cork in the an
      us) – but we shall maintain
      the loftiest strain –
      Vox Clara must reign!

      Lighten up, indeed, Bru Bru!

      – Gradles

  1. Many thanks for this. I was about to contribute to the ‘how was it (new missal) for you?’ thread but decided to post my thoughts here instead.
    I dislike the new translation for each and every reason so eloquently expressed by others – no need to go into that again.
    I love the Michael Joncas post because it reminds me about life, love and humour.
    I have been extremely angry about the new translation which also seemed to bring to the fore for me so many other problematic internal wranglings I have with the established church. Again, I don’t need to remind you what these might be.
    The new Mass has, astoundingly, done me a great service. I would even say it’s an act of grace, in that, after making a decision to be silent during Mass, so as not to disturb others, I have felt a sense of liberation. I now feel unperturbed by my refusal to utter words I feel to be false and wrong. I don’t now worry about explaining myself to others, but simply do, say and act what I think is true and right. I really don’t care about the rest.
    You may say this is cafeteria catholicism – please yourself – I don’t care.
    I’m not worrying about this any more and will not go along with any crazy, unacceptable ideas from ‘our betters’ in the Catholic Church.
    I love humour and satire, it neatly and bloodlessly brings pomposity and arrogance to its knees.

    1. Wendy, I’m with you here.

      I, too, decided to remain [well, mostly] silent Saturday evening. And so it shall be for as long as I continue attending. As one friend of mine said last summer “Are they TRYING to make an Episcopalian out of me?” But I’m not sure that’s right, either. For sure this new Latlish stuff is wrong, though.

  2. “and may your reading of the words “chalice” “consubstantial” and “gibbet” fill you with a renewed spirituality of liturgical transcendence,knowing that you are assisted by the power of Latin syntax and the approval of
    Vatican officials,”

    Oh that is really funny and very cleverly done. But I am not sure whether to laugh or cry, for many a truth is said in jest!

  3. Well, at least you don’t have 🙂 (for real): “rendering unto thee most hearty thanks for the innumerable benefits procured unto us by the same” . . . [“blessed passion,” “mighty resurrection” and “glorious ascension,” that is.]

    “And we entirely deisre thy fatherly goodness mercifully to accept . . . ”
    Book of Common Prayer, Rite One, Eucharistic Prayer I

    1. Well Mark, I hear these words every Sunday and they seem to cause no consternation to me or anyone else at Mass. And they’ve lasted 400 years. There’s always Rite II. “At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.” V. May the force be with you (Gilligan). R. And also with you. 🙂

  4. Somehow, I don’t find it at all disturbing that I understood every word of your greeting. Must be a sign of old age.
    With that, all I can say is:
    “And with your spirit!”


    1. I don’t understand the word “spirit” in your return greeting. I think it goes back to the Hebrew of the Book of Ruth, but I don’t understand it there either.

  5. I am greatly heartened to know that Michael Joncas is focused on the current situation.

    Ever since it became clear that the Vatican II Deniers were driving this bus, I have taken solace in Sir Kenneth Clark’s observation: “That which is too silly to be said, may be sung.”

    Perhaps, I have said to myself, in the hands of a Michael Joncas, even the infantalizing glossolalia of the Moroney Missile [sic] may yet manifest a euphonious aspect. [Honest! Of all the musicians who have enriched our worship over the past few decades, it really was Joncas who first came to my mind!]

    I hope Joncas’ “friend” will continue to help him plumb the eighth-graders’ Shakespeare parodies in which we now are supposed to pray to the One who some call — in scandalously un-elevated language — Our Father.

    I have every hope that Joncas’ artistry could fashion even this nonsense into engaging and meaningful prayer.

  6. I, too, think this is amusing! Even though I am quite pleased with what the writer is making fun of. One could, if one set one’s mind to it, make equal fun of the vapid language of which we are now, thankfully, rid.

    It is really quite astonishing that so many people are making so great a to-do over ‘chalice’, ‘consubstantial’, and ‘gibbet’. These words are neither obscure nor inapt. If anyone (and, I can’t imagine who that would be) actually does not know what they mean, he or she could, as one always does with new words, simply look them up. Problem solved! Nothing to complain about. Knowledge increased.

    (There is something untoward in that the author of this ditty has need to remain, or be kept, anonymous. Perhaps he or she would be embarassed to be known to have penned such shallow and pointless silliness. I can see why.)

    ‘Blessed is the man [or woman] who… hath not sat in the seat of the scornful’. – Ps. 1

    1. “These words are neither obscure nor inapt. If anyone (and, I can’t imagine who that would be) actually does not know what they mean, he or she could, as one always does with new words, simply look them up. Problem solved! Nothing to complain about. Knowledge increased.”

      Really? So does chalice mean “cup” — as in Elizabethan English — and are we supposed to think “cup” even as we mouth “chalice”? Does “gibbet” mean “cross” or perhaps the “tree” of Deuteronomy or a literal gibbet or a metaphor for any place of execution?

      Does consubstantial have a clearly defined meaning? Has it ever had?

      Answers are not so easy to find, it seems to me.

      But indeed these words are NOT obscure and inapt in terms of their intention, to bog us down in fussy anachronisms and make us forget still more completely Vatican II and the challenge to make the Eucharist freshly meaningful for the modern world in which we happen to live.

      1. JO’L –
        Well, a chalice, of whatever materials and dimensions is a very, very special cup, isn’t it?! Jesus, I think, used a ceremonial vessel that was probably of greater significance than a very mere cup. I don’t know this – but sort of infer it from my meagre knowledge about Jewish ceremonial meals. At any rate a chalice is a special cup for special purposes. And the vessel of salvation is humbly called a cup, but also worshipfully called, as is most appropriate, a chalice. Why do we need this insistent, almost malicious, argumentation over it.

        As for gibbet. I suspect one would infer which was the correct interpretation of the word from its context. That’s what I do, and I feel certain that I will have apprehended correctly its meaning. I suggest a similar approach on your part would lead you, as well, to certitude of its usage and meaning. (I suspect that you really already know this!)

        There is nothing anachronistic, as you suggest, about these words. They only present problems for those who prefer and deliberately cultivate an inadequate vocabulary, thinking that they are thereby humble, simple, poor folk who are thus spiritually superior. They are not – not, at least for these reasons. They are troublesome and often very arrogant in their efforts to compact everyone into the lowest literary level that they can manage…. you know: where we have been until last Sunday.

        In contrast to you, I think of all these words as modern…. because they are in use. Not on the street, but many other places where converse and discourse make them necessary. We should not be allowing loud people who cultivate inferior and inadequate English to deny us the full glory of the wondrous English tongue in all its richness past and present. There are times when an ‘old’, seldom used word is the only one that give the meaning ‘just so’. You have yet to apprehend what a blessing the Church has graciously vouchsafed to us in the new translation.

      2. M.J.O. You have absolutely no proof what kind of cup Jesus used. However there are a number of things you may be certain of:

        1. His clothes were not referred to as a chasuble or stole.
        2. The table he sat at with his disciples wasn’t called an altar.
        3. The written text(s) he used (if he did use) wasn’t called a missal.

        It makes no sense to retroject terminology of today’s ritual memorial into the situation of the historical Jesus. And it is a major inconsistency to do so in relation to a cup alone.

      3. And he wasn’t even sitting at table, but reclining…. It’s hard to get Da Vinci et al. out of our imaginations…

  7. Thanks, Fr. Joncas.

    Graham, Anna Russell once said of her great parody of Richard Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelungs: “Some people were shocked that I would send up this august piece of music, but I don’t consider it a sendup. I merely tell the story as accurately as possible and play the bits of music exactly as written. I can’t help it if the story is absurd.” In her Ring Cycle standup routine was this memorable line: “That’s the beauty of grand opera: you can do ANYTHING so long as you sing it!”

    Hey, if it works for Wagner, why not the solemn blessings too?

  8. Ah, Michael, Michael, if only you had a really serious conspiracy suspicion, you would understand that this whole revised translation is a secret plot by the hand missal publishers to produce and increase sales of a new hand missal that will translate the offical text into language that can understood by simple lay people–you know, like the old preconciliar (and postconciliar, for that matter) Latin-English hand missals! Tongue firmly encheeked.

    1. I know you meant this as a joke, but I sit in a choir that faces the congregation, and it was rather disheartening to see all the heads down reading off the cheat sheets last Sunday.

  9. According to Lewis and Short, the term “monitio” means “a reminding, admonishing, advice, admonition, warning.” In my understanding when used liturgically, it refers to any statement, whether scripted or spontaneous, by which a minister addresses the faithful about an upcoming ritual practice. Thus when a minister may “briefly introduce the faithful to the Mass of the Day” after the Sign of the Cross and Greeting in the Introductory Rites of the OF of the Roman Rite, that text would be a monitio. But I am open to correction, as always, by those who know the tradition better than I.

  10. Cranmer once more: in the BCP the cup was always – the Cup, even in the rubrics: “. . . the Minister who delivereth the Cup…”

    We all call it the chalice when refering to it for all practical purposes, and for a while the Communion Ministers were called “Chalice Bearer”

    But I’m sorry, I just think it funny to hear Jesus quoted saying “chalice.”

    Mark Miller

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