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proper liturgical gunplay

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Dec 10, 2009

His What Does the Prayer Really Say blog is always useful, but Father Z has outdone himself with a thoughtful answer to a question that is surely uppermost on the mind of most Catholics: “What rubrics to follow at Mass in case of gunfire?”

Father Z’s treatment of the question is magisterial, of course. I offer just a snippet, to convey the flavor of his exposition:

I believe there is a little known rubric which calls for the deacon and subdeacon (who in any event should be packing) to take out, reverently, their .9mm and return fire. As I read it, they are to recite the Maledictory Psalms while firing. At the change of a clip/magazine, they may bow, or duck.
These rubrics, I hasten to point out, apply only to the Extraordinary Form; an entirely different approach may be prescribed for the Novus Ordo. We anxiously await those details.

It surprises me that the rubrics of the extraordinary form would call for the use of a 9 mm. weapon, rather than the more traditional .45. Did the Vatican ever formally adopt the standard NATO round? I hesitate to question a priest who once served on the staff of the Ecclesia Dei commission, but I strongly suspect that the authoritative liturgical norms in force before Vatican II would refer to the 1911 standard.  

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Steve214 - Dec. 10, 2009 3:23 PM ET USA

    Yes, yes, you are quite right: a 9 mm is not the proper form of address in traditional Latin Mass. Nonetheless, I must point out that an acceptable weapon might include a revolver--a .38 or perhaps a .44. After all, we must keep in mind Clint Smith's admonition that wheel guns are (still) real guns. Also, we must admit a certain American bias, as the 9 mm has been a European favorite since WWI. Still, I think that's fair: Europeans have given up their gun rights and are generally effete.