The installation of Archbishop Lori: liturgical notes

Without giving a full account of the event, I thought I would note just a couple of point regarding yesterday’s installation liturgy of Archbishop William Lori as the sixteenth Archbishop of Baltimore. In particular, I noted the elements that struck me as somewhat “Reform-of-the-Reform” (RoR), alongside other elements that most definitely are not.

  • Elements that struck me as somewhat RoR included the chanting of the Pater Noster and the pontifical blessing in Latin, the use of the Roman Canon, the presence of acolytes with torches and incense before the altar during the canon along with incensing during the elevations, and the chanting of the Regina cæli at the end of Mass. These were all things different from his predecessor’s installation. Also, Archbishop Lori’s vestments were a sumptuous brocade rather than the simpler vestments preferred by his predecessor (which can be seen on the concelebrants in the picture above).
  • Many RoR desiderata, however, were not in view, including the use of the gregorian propers or the copious use of Latin. There was nary a fiddleback in sight and the Mass was celebrated versus populum.
  • Some typically post-conciliar elements were also present, including lay women as lectors, music from the African American and Latino traditions, and communion under both species for everyone who desired it. The prayer of the faithful was also the typical multi-lingual affair led by lay people (one newly-ordained transitional deacon, dressed in clerics rather than vestments, also participated, but I suspect that this was because of his facility in Igbo rather than his diaconal status).

A couple of observations. First, the contrast of the RoR elements with the post-Conciliar elements was occasionally jarring — as when Duruflé’s Ubi Caritas was followed by the Mariachi-flavored Celebracion de Unidad. Perhaps more work needs to be done in thinking about how to blend elements from the past that we desire to recover with those things that have developed in the liturgy since the council. Second, I was aware of the sheer fact that things like the use of Latin and chant struck me as RoR. Can one favor those things while remaining a bit suspicious of the RoR package as a whole?


  1. Deacon Fritz: suggest highlighting and bolding your sentence – “Perhaps more work needs to be done in thinking about how to blend elements from the past that we desire to recover with those things that have developed in the liturgy since the council.”

    Could have sworn that bishops and liturgical/biblical/patristic experts spent years doing that before and during Vatican II. But, with SP, it appears that anyone (with or without expertise or experience) can pick and choose and “mutually enrich” our liturgy. (sounds about as arbitray as the “clown mass” meme)

    Though you would like MSW’s latest today – Lori’s Bizarre Sermon:

    Money quote:

    “The first reading yesterday was from Acts, recounting Paul’s visit to Athens, and Lori used that as a metaphor for his own role, but instead of preaching Christ crucified and risen as Paul did, Lori preached Neo-con Constitutional Theory 101. How very sad.”

      1. Fritz,
        I have a question? Was the assembly honored with incensation at the preparation of the offerings?
        I was just wondering since there was incensation during the elevations.

      2. They were, though in what struck me in a somewhat half-hearted way. The thurifer gave a few swings in our direction from a great distance. But I also don’t think anyone wanted the affair to be dragged out unnecessarily.

  2. The homily is here

    Few people in history went to more Areopagai than did Pope John Paul II as he travelled the length and breadth of the globe proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, as indeed his successor, Pope Benedict, XVI, continues to do.

    Every time JPII was seen on TV visiting a new place, my Polish father, a retired steelworker with an 8th grade education, would always say.

    Do as I say, not as I do

    Dad was referring to JPII’s prohibition of priests from being in politics. It only takes street smarts not a lot of education to detect hypocrisy, especially when it comes to politics.

    If such a huge number of young people have been alienated from religion by what they regard as the hypocrisy of the Religious Right and their involvement in Republican politics, one can only imagine how many young Catholics will be alienated from religion by our bishops in the coming months.

    I feel sorry for the many parents, and countless religious teachers who are about to have their efforts undone.

    The alienation of so many people, especially young people, from religion at the hands of religious hypocrites is a major tragedy for our religion and our nation.

  3. If Archbishop Lori submitted that text as a model homily for a course in Homiletics, he’d get a failing grade. As by the way would Archbishop Dolan for the “Homily” – it was closer to a stand-up comedy routine – gave on his recent return to St. Louis.
    Content wise, Archbishop Lori’s homily came closer to a being described as “a party political broadcast”, to use a UK point of redeference, or “platform speech”. A very sad performance overall.

  4. Fritz, can you say something about the participation of the assembly? Where/how were the people engaged in the liturgy, and where/when did they seem to be bystanders to what was going on up front?

    1. Well, I was sitting in the midst of my fellow deacons, who are pretty enthusiastic participants in these sorts of things, so my perception might be skewed. But it seemed to me that participation was excellent. The Entrance Chant (as we now call it, right?) was O God Beyond All Praising, which seems to be used at all big events in this diocese, and the singing was. . . well, we hardly sounded like U.S. Catholics it was so loud. Even the a capella Lord’s Prayer in Latin seemed to get pretty full participation by the assembly. The Eucharistic Acclamations were the revised Mass of Light, which I had not yet sung, and people seemed to stumble a bit on the first line of the Sanctus, with the revised wording.

      The only “bystander” moment seemed to me immediately after the Archbishop was enthroned and various representatives of the local Church and the State filed past to greet him. We were singing There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit in this Place, but after a couple of minutes things began to drag. It seems like something that has to happen, but I could sense those around me getting restless.

      So on the whole I would say participation by and engagement of the assembly was very good to excellent — well beyond most of the Sunday Masses I’ve attended (except, of course, my own parish, which is perfect in all ways).

      1. The only “bystander” moment seemed to me immediately after the Archbishop was enthroned and various representatives of the local Church and the State filed past to greet him.

        Would be interested to know who greated him in Baltimore. In New York and in Philadelphia, it awkwardly included representatives of other faiths… not really appropriate since they’re supposed to be “offer[ing] some sign of obedience and reverence” (CB 1143).

        In New York at least, that would have cut the length of the moment quite substantially.

      2. It was mainly Catholics (I don’t know if a warm handshake constitutes as sign of “obedience and reverence” — I suspect not), but at the end there was a protestant minister, an imam, a rabbi, the president of the Maryland Senate and the Mayor.

        The governor — a Catholic who has, shall we say, some disagreements with some of the views of the USCCB — was not there. I did not know what to make of his absence. I think I heard he had a conflicting event — maybe tailgating in advance of the Preakness.

  5. I remember when Cardinal Shehan returned from Rome, after being named a cardinal, and held a special Mass at Baltimore’s Fifth Regiment Armory–the largest venue available at the time. The Mass then was still all in Latin, but Cardinal Shehan had gotten special permission from Rome to pray the Lord’s Prayer in English, so that the representatives of other churches could join us at least in that common shared prayer (based on the translation in the Book of Common Prayer, be it noted). That’s why it seems strange to me to hear the prayer chanted in Latin at Masses now, particularly at ones like this installation where representatives of the other churches were specifically invited to be present. If we want to chant something in Latin, that’s fine, but maybe we could choose a text that is specific to Roman Catholicism and not one that the churches hold in common.

    1. I thought it was a rather neat workaround of the English vs. Spanish issue. While there was not a huge Hispanic presence (though the second reading, part of the Psalm and a paragraph in the homily were in Spanish), I suspect that there were more Hispanics than protestants.

  6. Is there a worship aid and archived video somewhere online for this installation? I couldn’t find one of the Archdiocese of Baltimore website.

      1. Fritz,

        For the ND Sunday Liturgy which is televised and archived by Catholic TV, there is a Your Are About To Be On TV warning given among the announcements before Mass, something like “while the TV cameras will focus most of the time on the altar, occasionally they pan the congregation. We encourage your full active participation.”

  7. Having been a member of the diocesan choir in Bridgeport for many years, including the years prior to Pope Benedict’s election, much of what was described here was how Bishop Lori celebrated mass in 2004. O God, Beyond All Praising was regularly sung, and the pontifical blessing was usually given in Latin. From time to time we would also sing the Missa de Angelis. I don’t recall singing the Pater Noster in Latin. We never sang the Grad. Rom. propers. The Cathedral in Bridgeport played host to masses in Vietnamese, Spanish, English and on occasion Igbo, so there’s nothing unusual with the multicultural inclusion. Although Bishop Lori was certainly a friend to RoR Catholics, I would characterize him as being conservative in taste without necessarily being traditional(ist).

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