Evangelizing young people: The power of liturgical signs and symbols…


Over at Fr. Z’s blog, there’s a great photo album posted by the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius Parish (Archdiocese of Chicago). The photographs contained in the album were taken as rose petals descended from the church’s ceiling upon the congregation below.

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As Fr. Z explains the ritual, it developed for the Solemnity of Pentecost in the Pantheon (now a minor basilica called S. Maria ad martyres). Rose petals are dropped through the circular oculus opening at the top of the dome, which is the widest  in all of Rome.  The petals descend upon the congregation below, reminding its members of the descent of the Holy Spirit like tongues of flame.

In the picture below, study carefully the faces of the little girl and boy.

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Now study carefully the surprise, delight, and glee on the faces of the children in the church’s main aisle.

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It’s obvious this ritual has struck a sense of awe and wonder into these young people, opening their consciouness if not their souls to the mystery surrounding the birth of the Church on Pentecost Sunday.

Over the past five-plus decades, how often has Rudolph Otto’s description of the “awe and wonder” (tremendum et facinans) that is experienced upon encountering the Holy been demonstrably visible on the faces and in the behavior of young congregants?

During those decades since the Second Vatican Council, have all of those guitar Masses, puppet Masses, and even those clown Masses struck young congregants with that sense of awe and wonder that’s evident in these photographs?

When it came to evangelizing young people through the Mass, the architect of the so-called “reformed” liturgy, Cardinal Annibale Bugnini, may have made the Mass more relevant by a worldly standard by appealing to the masses (pardon the pun).


Cardinal Annibale Bugnini

But, he very well have thrown the baby away with the bathwater by a spiritual standard.




To read Fr. Z’s blog, click on the following link:

To view the photo album, click on the following link:

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  1. We are incarnate souls, body and spirit. The iconoclasts refuse to believe that, and privilege the spiritual.

    To everyone’s detriment.

  2. Yes. and I repeat my comment on Ireland’s Debacle: “People are attracted to mysticism and sacrament which the Catholic Church has been playing down for 50 years now…”

  3. Only one woman and one little girl covering their heads as Scripture instructs us to do when we are in God’s house. Shameful.

  4. Is the dropping of rose petals any less “gimmicky” than a guitar mass? Is it authenticaly liturgical? Since when do we measure sanctity by the expressions on the faces of a few children? One of the flaws in the criticism of the post-Vatican II Mass is that some people compare the worst cases of liturgical abuse to the best experiences of trad-Latin Mass. That’s not fair. When done with faith,reverence, and adherence to sound liturgy, the modern Mass is engaging and mystical. I was an altar boy in the pre-Vatical II times, and I experienced the traditional Mass done badly with priests going through the motions with their backs to disengaged Mass-goers either involved in their own personal devotions or sitting through the boredom out of obligation. the Vatican II Church Fathers determined what is best for the Body of Christ. I think we should seek to conduct liturgy with the goal of experiencing heaven on earth faithful to their vision of the celebration of the Eucharist.

  5. ” the Vatican II Church Fathers determined what is best for the Body of Christ.”

    If what we have experienced in the liturgy over the past half century is the best as determined by the participants in Vatican II, that is perhaps the most appalling commentary on Vatican II I have ever read.

  6. The rose petals were floating down at the END of Mass. They didn’t alter the form or content of the Liturgy

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