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Liturgical Pet Peeves

  /   Saturday September 21, 2002  

Maybe I’m just a crank . . . I don’t want to go to Mass to criticize it. Even in some of the worst liturgy I’ve seen, Jesus is still there. That alone should fill my heart with joy. I wish I could easily just offer it up when I see what I’m about to list below. Unfortunately, I’m bothered by these things.

My basic view is that a priest should stick to the book when saying Mass. When we go to Mass, we are entering something that is so sacred and so much greater than ourselves that no one, including the priest, has a right to alter it according to his personal tastes. It’s also a question of faithfulness and obedience. If a priest isn’t obedient in such a simple matter as reading words from a book, then I wonder what else he is doing.

I just don’t know how to deal with it when one of the following happens (in no particular order):

1. We are invited to “greet one another” before Mass starts. (read this for more info)

2. The priest says “Good morning!” (or anything else, for that matter) before making the Sign of the Cross.

3. The Penitential Rite is introduced with no mention of calling to mind our sins (e.g. “Let’s take a moment and think about what impresses you most about Christ as a person.” – I kid you not; this happened.) What’s the point of the Penitential Rite if we aren’t calling to mind our sins?

4. The words “The Lord is with you” are used in place of “The Lord be with you.” This cheats us out of a prayer. In fact, I wish for none of the words to be changed unless it is permitted by the rubrics.

5. The Scripture readings and/or the hymns are changed to reflect “inclusive language” or some other form of political correctness. Honestly, the renderings are not always bad, it’s just the fact that someone thought he/she needed to do this.

6. During the preparation of the gifts (“Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation . . .”) the bread and wine are prepared together. (Uh, hello, the separation of the blood from the body symbolizes death. Remember that Mass is a re-presentation of Calvary.)

7. Holding hands during the Our Father. Just what is the point of that? I don’t think it’s diabolical, just pointless.

8. Part of the Mass is rendered in Latin, but I don’t have the text in front of me when I’m supposed to sing. Actually, I really do like Latin, but I don’t know it. I need the text to follow along.

9. Right before Communion, the priest says “Happy are we who are called to his supper” instead of “Happy are those who are called to his supper.” Uh, did you ever figure that those words refer to all of the Church throughout all ages. Besides that, they also refer to the Wedding Feast of the Lamb at the end of time. We cannot and should not presume that we will be called ot this. (Read this excellent book by Fr. Francis Randolph for more information.)

10. The final blessing consists of “May Almighty God bless us . . . ” instead of “May Almighty God bless you . . .”

11. People leaving right after communion.

12. People leaving during the singing of the closing hymn. I know some people need to leave, but surely not all of them.

13. The host is not shown to the people after the consecration. Yes, I have seen this.

14. Talking in the Church. I have no problem with a simple acknowledgement of our brothers and sisters, but extended conversations need to go into the narthex or outside.

15. Ushers trying to seat someone during a prayer or time of reflection. Hey! Just wait a second. Seriously, I’ve had this problem before, and I mentioned it to the usher after refusing to move until the prayer was finished.

16. Music that isn’t prayerful.

17. Things being done that give the appearance of having been taken out of a book entitled something to the effect of “Cool Things to Do At Your Liturgy.” For example, during one Pentecost Sunday, the first reading was read in French. On Holy Thursday in another parish, the readings were read “dramatically” (like a play); then, at the same Mass, we had the washing of hands instead of the washing of feet (Pontius Pilate washed his hands; that’s the only corollary I know of.).

18. Walking into the Church and having difficulty locating the tabernacle or confessional. I guess they decided they needed to move Jesus since he was getting in the way of their liturgy.

19. References to sin before the Penitential Rite that do not mention God. For example, one priest said before the penitential rite “Let’s take a moment to call to mind those times we’ve failed to love and forgive each other.” I have no problem with a priest saying “. . . love God and one another.” This makes sense.

20. Having the dismissal consist of “Let’s go out in to the world and serve one another.” Why not say “Let’s go out into the world to serve God and one another.”?

Let me add that my point is not to judge the intentions of the people who do these things. Only God can do that. However, I long for a recovery of a sense of the sacred. Things that are treated as a toy to be played with are not being treated as sacred.

I bemoan the difficulty in finding understandable reading on what liturgy is about. I know there are some good books, like the one mentioned above and Cardinal Ratzinger’s The Spirit of the Liturgy, but I know of little else. I’m about to start reading The Eucharist: Essence, Form, and Celebration by Johannes Emminghaus. I hope it is good. It seems like the Mass is often regarded as “whatever you want it to be,” so materials on its objective meaning are hard to find.

Category: Posts imported from Danger! Falling Brainwaves, Uncategorized



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