The Heartbeat of Christ – Fr. Z’s First Thoughts on the Pope’s Recent Speech

The Heartbeat of Christ – Fr. Z’s First Thoughts on the Pope’s Recent Speech

As I wrote HERE, the recent speech by the Holy Father has been moving through the internet at lightning speed. I said, in that article,

“I’m going to let this play out, and see what those who are greater experts than me (e.g., my friend, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf) has to say about this. But, my first reaction is, “Bring it!” If the Pope wants to solidify Sacrosanctum Concilium, than let’s – FINALLY – get at what this document said, EXACTLY. And, what it DID NOT SAY.

Well, Fr. Zuhlsdorf has weighed in, and it is genius … as usual. Read the whole thing at Fr. Z’s blog: First Thoughts on Pope Francis’ Address to Italian Liturgists.

This part of Fr. Z’s article is particularly brilliant …

First, His Holiness of our Lord makes an analogy with a heartbeat.


“Just as there is no human life without a heartbeat, so too without the beating Heart of Christ there is no liturgical action.”


Ummm… well… yeah.  Okay.


I would only point out that we have a resting heartbeat.  Our heart rates speed up and slow down according to activity, etc.  The resting heartbeat is a baseline which is consistent, even, continuous.  When our heartbeat is erratic there are problems.   An arrhythmia can result in cardiac death.  This is probably what happened with the artificial imposition of many liturgical changes after the Council (not actually called for by the Council Fathers in SC): liturgical arrhythmias.  Think of ventricular fibrillation or paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia: when the heart or part of the heart gets out of sequence and starts doing its own thing… not good. Another heartbeat problem is congestive heart failure: fluids build up around the heart such that it can’t beat properly, blood starts backing up into the wrong places, nasty things result. I suppose that might be like the oppressive constriction imposed by bishops and priests who, for example, failed to implement St. John Paul II’s norms (issued explicitly… without hints or suggestions or cryptic meanings… by his Apostolic Authority (which sounds magisterial) that respect should be shown to those who have the legitimate aspiration to participate in the Church’s traditional liturgical worship and when he called for – by his Apostolic Authority – that the norms should be applied generously.  “Pastors of souls” clamped down hard on the beating hearts of the faithful who desired traditional forms, such that they nearly died of broken hearts.  Another problem with a heartbeat can come from cardiomyopathy, when the heart is too weak to beat well.  I suppose that results liturgically when we, for example, slam shut the treasury of the Church’s sacred music or when we refuse to implement the actual mandates (rather than the imagined mandates) of Sacrosanctum Concilium in regard to the use of Latin, Gregorian chant, polyphony, pipe organ etc.  Hearts can have beat problems because of weak valves, when there is leakage between the chambers and a low ejection fraction.  I suppose that could be like being minimalists in our approach to worship, stingy, avoiding the beautiful and richly noble out of a perhaps pretentious disdain for “triumphalism”.  Cardiogenic shock is a really bad one for heartbeats.  This is when the heart is damaged.  Liturgical abuses can cause cardiogenic shock in the Body of Christ, the Church, like a gunshot or a knife slash.  There is a weakening of the heartbeat caused by lack of potassium called hypokalemia.  This might be likened to culpable ignorance about matters liturgical which could benefit the everyone by making liturgical worship stronger and more regular, after all, regular is the key to ritual which is the essence of worship.


Screw around with the Church’s liturgical heartbeat, and you wind up with what we have seen in the Church for the last 50 years, as virtually every aspect of Catholic life has become enervated, weak, lethargic and even necrotic.


So, I’m all for a strong, healthy, consistent liturgical heartbeat.  Aren’t you?

Read the rest of the article HERE

I try my best to be a student in these confusing times. I believe all of us need to refrain from jumping to any conclusions when reading the headlines of press reports, each time the Holy Father speaks. My mode of operation has always been to begin by anticipating the best possible interpretation of the Holy Father’s words, and then I patiently wait to gain clarity from the intellectual giants, like Fr. Zuhlsdorf, who are a tremendous and necessary gift in our “Church in a storm” today.

Please consider being a regular reader (bookmark it) of one of the most important blogs for our Church today – Fr. Z’s Blog at

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