Rorate Caeli

Cardinal Zen in action

More pictures of the Cardinal's "Missa Cantata" last December 27 can be found here.

Pictures of his Solemn Pontifical Mass on Easter 2009 can be found here.

I'm perfectly aware that bishops aren't supposed to do the "Missa Cantata" according to the rules of the classical Roman Rite, but really, in this situation, is it fair to overlook the Cardinal's willingness to offer the Traditional Latin Mass frequently? Keep in mind that he has actually volunteered to be part of the line up of priests who alternate in celebrating Hong Kong's Sunday TLM. To my knowledge, he is the only cardinal who frequently celebrates the TLM in a fixed site.


  1. Carlos,

    Thank you for this; maybe you can explain, why aren't bishops 'supposed to do the "Missa Cantata" according to the rules of the classical Roman Rite'? He's a Priest still!

  2. Anonymous2:58 PM

    Actually Blessed John XXIII modified that rule and did allow Bishops to celebrate a Missa Cantata. I myself saw Archbishop Lefebvre do just that in 1990.

  3. Basil3:46 PM

    Anonymous 14:58

    Please give a reference to this permission.

    A 'Missa cantata' by a bishop is a product of the 1965 reforms.

  4. Anonymous7:16 PM

    Who and where has ordered that the bishops always have to celebrate from the Pontifical instead of the Missal?

  5. Anonymous12:27 AM

    Please take a look at the photo of Cardinal Zen in action - I see Jesus with bruised knees and the Sacred Heart pierced on His left side.

    Over the years I have asked numerous priests why the wound is on the left side, esp. so with he corpus that has bloodied knees.

    No one seems to know? The best answer I got was that it is an error made by the artists that was allowed to continue.

    If any one knows better, please explain and if possible give with some references that I can check into.

    Thank you.

    Jerry, TOSF

  6. Anonymous said

    The Gospels do not tell us which side it was that the soldier pierced. The heart is toward the left side of the body. However, we know that the right auricle of a dead person's heart fills with blood but not the left side. From St John's account in 19:34 we can therefore assume that the soldier pierced the heart of Jesus with his lance from the right side (toward the heart on the left side). If he had pierced Jesus from the left side no blood would have flowed out.

    Interestingly, The Holy Shroud of Turin has the wound clearly on the right side. Our Blessed Lord is wonderful. He knew we would be living in the time of scoffers and Christophobes and so he places at our disposal plenty of evidence to produce for the skeptics and to satisfy the genuine inquiries of those who are truly interested.

  7. Basil3:10 PM

    Anonymous said: "Who and where has ordered that the bishops always have to celebrate from the Pontifical instead of the Missal?"

    Try reading the rubrics in the same Missal. It lays down how a bishop celebrates.

  8. First of all, it is wonderful to see the great Cardinal Zen dedicating part of his retirement towards assisting the promotion of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

    Secondly, is it actually true that Bishops were required to follow all of the ceremonial procedures for Pontifical Low/Pontifical Solemn Masses at all times? Did every bishop before 1962, whenever he offered his daily Low Mass, really need two clerics to assist him, as is prescribed for Pontifical Low Mass? Would a bishop necessarily need to follow the rubrics for these ceremonies all the time? In this specific circumstance especially, I would think that where a retired prelate is regularly offering Mass, it would be extremely burdensome on the community to have to put together a Solemn Pontifical Mass at the Throne, one of the most elaborate and complicated forms of the Mass possible, every time the good Cardinal offers Mass. Even a Pontifical Low Mass would be difficult, since it requires two other clerics to assist.

  9. Anonymous7:58 PM

    What if one can't find a deacon or subdeacon? Should the faithful be stripped of spiritual good? Acceptance of this way of celebration in later editions shows that this practice isn't wrong in itself.

  10. John has a point clearly with merit.

    Basil: not all of us have access to said rubrics. Maybe you could cite, quote, or precis them?

  11. Anonymous11:02 PM

    Leong said. "...The Gospels do not tell us which side it was that the soldier pierced."

    Seems to me that there is one mention of the right side being pierced, though I am not certain if that is in the gospels or other letters of the New Testament. I did read it in the Douay-Rheims version.

  12. "But one of the soldiers with a spear opened his side, and immediately there came out blood and water.." (John 19:34) [Douay-Rheims]

    Read the Gospels and Epistles as many times as preferred, they do not say which side. The key is that the Roman centurion wanted to be sure Our Blessed Lord was truly dead and that as a sequel to this action, blood and water flowed out. This is essential knowledge for those who wish to devote themselves to His Most Sacred Heart. The rest is pure science for the genuinely interested.

  13. Basil4:05 PM

    The rubrics concerning the celebration of Mass by a prelate are given throughout the Ritus servandus in the Missal - that surely is available on line somewhere for those who don't have access to a copy of the Missal.

    A bishop either celebrated a Low Mass with two chaplains or celebrated from the faldstool or throne (depending on various jurisdictional factors). For Mass at the faldstool the minimum requirements would be an assistant priest, a deacon, a subdeacon (and the MC is supposed to be a priest according to some authors when the celebrant is a bishop). Clearly Pontifical Masses in parishes would generally be Low Mass.

    With Inter Oecumenici permission was granted for a bishop to celebrate a Missa Cantata in the same way a priest does.

    Inter Oecumenici, Cap II, I. Ordo Missae, (48), l "It is lawful, where necessary, for bishops to celebrate a sung Mass following the form used by priests."

    This is not a criticism of Cardinal Zen. I am merely pointing out that according to the 1962 rubrics a Missa Cantata by a bishop is not allowed. It seems a clear case where the '1965' rite is more sensible.

  14. Basil: thank you for this. Good points. However, I still don't understand why a Prelate can't say an 'ordinary' Low Mass...


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