QUAERITUR: I comment on noise in church, the priest reacts badly

From a reader:

My family always prays after the Novus Ordo Mass at our little country church (fits about 150) the prayers commonly recited after the Low Mass. Unfortunately, once the last note fades from the recessional, all other parishioners jump up and begin the loud and raucous chatter. We’ve spoken to our pastor about this and suggested that our parish needs some teaching on the constant respect for the Blessed Sacrament (even after Mass). [not to mention other people!]  I even made the comment that he had a great opportunity during these weeks of St. John’s Gospel (Ch 6) to remind us of the gift we have and that we should always be cognizant of His presence and act accordingly.

Well….you’d think I’d just kicked him in the shin!  He not only told me that he wouldn’t do anything (his excuse is that this is "their time to visit" despite the presence of a post-Mass donut/coffee klatch in the basement), that I had no right to dictate what he says in his homily ( I didn’t), he accused me of being a "Milleniarist", and in a "dangerous" area. I only asked him to hush folks so many of us could concentrate on prayer, not change the order of the Mass or the rubrics.

I’m upset by his reaction and saddened by his lack of concern. 

Is it proper to move to another parish? Do we stick it out?  We pray for him daily (and for all priests).  We are really torn by this but don’t know what the Church teaches.

Can you shed light on what a milleniarist is?

 

First, stick it out.  Pray for the priest and do not give up on this.

Second, you might want to put your concerns in writing and send them to him.  Very very respectfully voicing your concern.

Third, that comment about "millenarist", is rather … well… offensive.    The concept is pretty complicated, so it is rather hard to know just what the priest thought he meant be it.  However, there is no question that it wasn’t nice, at all.

Fourth, the time after Mass really should be a quiet time in the church.  People should be able to pray.  However, in many places people are so used to being noisy, the liturgy has been so unrecollected and irreverent, that people don’t any longer understand what a church is or what Mass is for.  They need to be moved very slowly to a new understanding.

In general millenarianism has a millennial history – pardon the pun – in the Church and in various sects associated with Christianity.  The general idea is that a time is coming when everything will be put to right because everything is so very bad now.  More theologically, however, m. has to do with the end times, an eschatological hope – or dread – that the Second Coming is up us.  This crops up every once in a while… for example in the year AD 1000 – thus the name of the notion.  However, the Church has condemned the strain of millenarianism which erroneously thinks that the perfection of the Lord’s rule over the world can take place in this time.  That would be a deception of the Anti-Christ.

I am guessing that the priest meant that he thinks you are of the view that he and what is going on is evil and should be swept away in the view of a more perfect way of things, that you have the correct view and that – God forbid – you are in danger of slipping into the clutches of the devil.

At the same time… I should observe in justice that yours is just one side of the story.  I can easily picture a priest getting his back up should someone stride up and in front of others start criticising the way things are.

Every suggestion made in a parish must be done with great care.  When it comes to a liturgical abuse especially, it really helps to get something down on paper.

Anyway… my first advice stands.  Pray for the priest. 

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51 Responses to QUAERITUR: I comment on noise in church, the priest reacts badly

  1. truthfinder says:

    I sympathize with the writer and also parish priets. I pray after Mass and the laughter and stories and talking is ridiculous. Some people have no qualms with coming over and wanting to talk to me even when I am obviously praying (eyes closed, kneeling, hands in the ‘prayer’ position.) One of our priests tries every once and awhile to emphasize the need for silence in the Church. The first time he did so, the people just about ran out of the church. The second time, they just ignored what he said in his homily, and he looked quite defeated after Mass. What’s sad too, is that most of the people here are otherwise quite religious and holy but just can’t keep their mouths shut. I guess I must just keep praying.

  2. carl b says:

    What I’ve taken to doing is praying, in Latin, rather more loudly than usual when this happens. Most of the time it gets the point across, and people will either stop talking in the church or will at least be quiet in doing so.

  3. Girgadis says:

    It is never wrong to pray for someone. I wonder if perhaps another parishioner had
    approached this priest with criticism about something else and he was feeling
    put upon and therefore overreacted this way. As someone who manages a very large
    and sometimes difficult bunch of personalities, I know that timing is every-
    thing. If something is important enough to me that I feel the need to mention it
    to my pastor, as a rule I don’t approach him after Mass. I will drop
    him an email or a note and ask if he can call me to discuss the matter. This
    priest was obviously very touchy about this and I think pointing out how he
    could have used the Gospels of St. John might have seemed to him like the
    reader was dictating what should be in his homilies (Interestingly, my pastor,
    who demonstrates great reverence toward the Eucharist and is trying to get
    our parish to follow suit, did exactly that, even using part of his homily to
    review how people approach the altar for Communion and also advocating again
    reception on the tongue).

    This priest’s reaction points to another case of misplaced emphasis on the
    people (and their need to “visit”)and completely ignores that while in church,
    the Eucharist should be the center of our attention, not one another. The reader
    and his family should stay where they are and continue to lead by their quiet
    example.

  4. jbalza007 says:

    Perhaps you might want to consider requesting permission from the priest to say a group rosary after mass (of course this depends on whether you have time or if there’s another mass that follows!). In my experience with my former parish (My parish now, St. Margaret Mary, is a Traditional parish so now problem there), people tend to leave the church once they hear others starting to pray the rosary.

  5. Fr Martin Fox says:

    I am sympathetic to the concern, but in reading the account, I am wondering in what fashion the person describing it, approached the priest.

    Sure, the priest may simply have been grouchy or he may have overreacted. On the other hand, one can easily imagine someone approaching the priest in a poor manner, and getting a poor response.

    What’s more, sometimes people can be aggressive in manner and not even realize it. And as a priest, I know I’m sometimes caught unawares and don’t react as well as I might–my fault.

  6. I would encourage this unfortunate person to visit the closest traditional Latin Mass and to attend it regularly if that is possible for him. A directory of traditional Latin Masses is here: http://www.ecclesiadei.org/masses.cfm.

    It was issues like this that finally drove me away from my Novus Ordo parish. Why did I feel cheated and empty at the end of every Mass? It was the cumulative, desacralizing effect of all this nonsense.

    Pray for the priest, by all means, but there is no reason to subject your family to such distraction. The more people vote with their feet, the faster the traditional movement will reach critical mass.

  7. jfk03 says:

    I sympathize. Chit-chat before and after Mass is very, very common. It did not used to be. On the other hand, one needs to exercise sensitivity and charity in calling the problem to the attention of the priest. The unfortunate practice of visiting in church will end only when the faithful regain an understanding of what the Liturgy actually is. This will take years of catechesis.

    I attended Mass in a small rural parish while on vacation this summer. The sanctuary was connected to the parish hall and was separated only by an accordion-type partition. There was a Coffee klatch in progress when I entered the church (through the parish hall), and the noise filled the sanctuary making it impossible to pray before Mass. The coffee klatch ended about 10 seconds before the processional, and resumed about 10 seconds after the recessional. It was very distracting. But the priest was a humble man and gave a reasonably good homily. So one must see these things in perspective and not let them override the fact that the Lord Jesus came to us and was present on the altar, even if many present did not act like this was the case.

    Those of us who consider ourselves traditionalists must focus first on our own humility and our own charity. That does not mean that we must condone liturgical abuses, but it DOES mean that we must deal with these things in a measured, non-self-righteous way. We must fast and pray, and ask the Lord to forgive our own sins, which are many indeed.

  8. Kimberly says:

    I agree with Timothy, find another parish. I have, in the past, tried to stay and stick it out but the distractions spoke louder than my prayers. Instead of letting my anger get the best of me I thought it best to go where others had the same respect for the Mass as I did. I think it is also a good example for the children to realize that you should not compromise when it comes to the sacred.

  9. TomB says:

    The catechesis must actually begin before it can be done even slowly. I would leave, unless we don’t know “the rest of the story”.

  10. ipadre says:

    It’s a constant battle for me. Last time I preached on it, they really got something out of it. It’s a rebuilding of all the years of destruction. I get impatient, but we have to be patient and continue on. As Fr. Z says, “Stone by stone”.

  11. joan ellen says:

    I sympathize and try to keep charity in my mind and heart in these instances, which is most difficult for me. At a recent TLM an older priest during his sermon said that when the music or homily is bad, that we should remember that we are there for the Eucharist – to give thanks.

    Also recently learned that the only reason for a church building is for the Eucharist. Makes sense, for then the temple, and then the synagogue, would be to house the Hebrew Scriptures, especially Torah. Could we say this is continuity?

    And, read recently that if we only knew what we were doing, we would never be doing it. With so little regard for Our Blessed Lord in the Eucharist, no wonder we have such problems in the world today. Our Blessed Mother offers the only real solution for help and hope…Prayers, Penance, Sacrifice.

  12. david andrew says:

    At my previous church I commented during “liturgy staff” how I thought it was unforunate that people were chased out of the main church because of all the chatter and into the chapel to pray their post-Mass devotions, and even at that they were competing with the priest who was using the altar in the chapel as the locus for purifying the many, many chalices and pattens (more commonly called the “plates and cups” by one of our progressivist deacons) after Mass.

    One of the staff members said,”Well, that’s what the bishops have told us we’re supposed to do . . . the church isn’t supposed to be a place of stuffy silence, it’s where people meet and ‘be church’.”

    Ugh.

    Pray for our priests, and pray for the “lay ecclesial ministers” that plague the Church.

  13. C.L. says:

    Why “Very very respectfully”? He’s clearly an idiot. The priest should apologise to the family for the scandal of defaming them and their Catholic spirituality. Simple as that. [Simple as this: “He is clearly an idiot” is over the top.]

  14. I (almost) wish I could meekly make suggestions to this priest with great care. That seems to have been done and been greeted with the back of his hand. If this is the first such incident, then, sure, make a few more restrained appeals. But some point you either move to another parish or take action against a harmful pastorate.

  15. Hamburglar says:

    I like to say the Leonine prayers after Mass. However, I am usually shoved out of the pew so people can visit with each other. After getting shoved out, I then nearly fall over trying to genuflect by the parade of people. I have had to resort to either wait to find an empty pew after people leave or say my prayers during the “sending forth” hymn.

  16. Charivari Rob says:

    I would echo Father Martin.

  17. Clinton says:

    I also like to recite the Leonine prayers after Mass. An organized recitation of the prayers after the Mass would also serve to “usher”
    the chatterers outside — I’d wager few people are so far gone that they’d continue to stay and chinwag during public prayer in church.
    If for some reason those prayers don’t suit the powers that be in the parish, then perhaps a post-Mass rosary. Either way, a few minutes
    after prayer has begun, only those who’d like to stay and make their thanksgiving will be in church, and the others will be in the parking
    lot or the parish hall. After the recitation is over, one can make one’s private thanksgiving in blessed silence.

    All one needs to begin this is the consent of the parish priest and a few like-minded friends. And perhaps a few copies of the Leonine
    prayers. Couldn’t be simpler.

  18. Dave N. says:

    This is not a problem at all in our church. 90% are out the door by verse 3 of the final hymn–if singing can even be sustained that long…but many already bolted for the door at “the Mass is ended…” and a fair number never even went back to their seats after communion.

    There could be traffic in the parking lot, or line at the doughnuts, after all! :)

    After the singing’s concluded, the church is actually pretty quiet.

  19. Sixupman says:

    What do you do when the parish priest and his deacons generate the chatter by walking up and down the church speaking to people – as in my local church, which I try to avoid like the plague. It is unbelieveable and I have taken-up my antipathy with my confessor – he says consider it a a penance! What comes from the pulpit is even worse, the PP is not a supporter of BXVI and states it unequivocally.

  20. C.L. says:

    We’ll have to agree to disagree, Father, though where you’re concerned I certainly and gladly do so respectfully. But the priest mentioned in this post did the following: first, he lied. His response to the request made to him was knowingly mendacious and malicious. Second, he slandered good Catholics by accusing them of being heretics – an extremely grave calumny. Third, he wilfully and deliberately undermined both their ability and, worse, even their desire to worship Our Lord. These are not trivial matters. At the very least, they are infractions that should lead to his being severely repimanded by the local ordinary. He certainly does NOT deserve to be treated “very very respectfully.” These triumphalist liberal wreckers are only enabled by cap-in-hand kow-towing. In the apostolic and sub apostolic ages they would have been dealt with ruthlessly – a tough LOVE, I emphasise – but ruthlessly all the same. Had we lay Catholics displayed more ruthlessness of this Christian kind and less awe-struck beholdingness over the last few decades, certain scandals driven by clerical and episcopal incompetence could have been avoided – or at least vitiated in their eventual destructiveness.

  21. Thomas G. says:

    C.L. – approaching the priest “very very respectfully” is probably a good idea just from the vantage point of “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar”. I think the priest’s response was wrong (even a bit bizarre), but I don’t see the need for, or usefulness of, respect diminishing.

  22. Lori Ehrman says:

    I agree with Father Z. Stick it out. Don’t give up so easily. Pray really hard for your priest. Invite him over for dinner a lot. He is part of your family. Let him get to know your love for your Lord, your faith, the Mass, your fellow Catholics and your respect for the Holy Priesthood.

  23. C.L. says:

    …I don’t see the need for, or usefulness of, respect diminishing

    Well it’s simple, Thomas. It’s a question of sincerity, not pragmatic utilitarianism. I don’t respect him. Ergo, I wouldn’t treat him respectfully.

    Prima facie, he’s guilty of lying, calumny and scandal. Respond very very respectfully? I don’t think so.

  24. Charivari Rob says:

    C.L. –

    Even if we don’t respect the man, there is (at the least) an obligation to have a certain amount of respect for his priestly “office” (absent complete heresy on his part or his presence causing some grave danger).

    We had a priest in charge at our parish once. For at least five parish assignments in a row, he made a wreck of things – ill will, driving people away from the parish or even the Church, total lack of people skills.

    Lots of us spoke up and spoke out – respectfully (to a greater or lesser degree) and through proper channels. Changes were eventually made by appropriate authorities. Many people chose to avoid him whenever possible.

    When avoiding him was not possible, or came at an unacceptable cost, there was the obligation to remember and prepare that he is still one of God’s priests, that God acted through him for the Mass and valid sacraments and even in his preaching one could (with effort) find value.

  25. Allan S. says:

    I have an alternate view (dissenting?): Mass is not private devotional time. It is communal in nature. There is ample time to pray in solitude or silence throughout the week, even before the Blessed Sacrament, but immediately following Mass is not usually one of them.

    So here’s an idea: why not take the chatter as a challenge to learn how to pray with environmental distraction? I pray the Rosary quietly while working out at the gym, offer prayers (silently) for strangers on the street, pray for those Fr. Z. asks me to while I am at my desk in the office (very noisy), etc. Try it. Go ahead, offer it up! You may discover a whole new depth to your prayer life!

    And, by the way, it’s noisy here and I am praying three Ave’s for you and your family as soon as I hit submit!

  26. Rouxfus says:

    Stay and pray; especially for your priest, and thank God your parish has a lively spirit of community – the alternative is worse. God has given you an opportunity to suffer with Him and for Him, so you must be doing something right. Your witness to the true meaning of the Mass by praying in thanksgiving afterwards is just the sort of catechesis the parish needs. Perhaps you can enlist others to join you in this prayerful vigil. Flee this cross and you may well find another somewhere else.

  27. C.L. says:

    “…there is (at the least) an obligation to have a certain amount of respect for his priestly “office”…proper channels…appropriate authorities…”

    See I think that’s antiquated, sometimes dangerous thinking. That’s what drove the sexual abuse scandal. Everyone was respecting the perpetrators’ priestly office or the bishops’ episcopal office. What people should have been doing is handing the culprits over to the police.

    This is a different case, to be sure. But, as I said, the man concerned is prima facie a liar and possibly a calumniator. His mean-spirited discouragement of Eucharistic prayer is a scandal. I do not respect him at all, based on the facts as presented. Were he to have slandered my family thus, I would simply have moved to a new parish – a Catholic one – as soon as was practicable.

    Now, I do not advocate rank vulgarity in communication with such a person – or any person. Nor am I of the view that battles royal should be engaged in over aesthetic differences within the (sadly malleable) generality of liturgical orthodoxy. The brick by brick approach is generally more advisable. In this case, however, I would be inclined to demand an apology. Failing that, I would report the priest to the bishop and/or Rome. A priest who makes an accusation of heresy against those who wish to adore Our Lord before the Taberbacle must himself be presumed to be heterdox and his ministry possibly injurious to the faithful.

    No vulgarity and un-Christian aggression – in word or gesture. But certainly no “very very respectfully”. Those days are over.

  28. a catechist says:

    I’d ask him if you could have a group rosary for priests and vocations to the priesthood, in honor of the Year for Priests, after Mass. Or maybe a pro-life rosary? I think it might be more attractive to the priest if it’s something that addresses needs of the Church/community rather than private devotion. And if you can get other folks who want to do this, it’ll be helpful. Are there Serrans who’d like to offer a rosary for priests & vocations with you? Maybe Knights of Columbus who’d like a pro-life rosary? If you’re careful (i.e. not ganging up on the priest), this might actually help build the parish as a spiritual community, not just a social one.

    Personally, I really prefer silence before and after. But I’ve certainly seen for myself where group recitation really gets the point across that the house of God is a house of prayer.

  29. mpm says:

    Had we lay Catholics displayed more ruthlessness of this Christian kind and less awe-struck beholdingness over the last few decades, certain scandals driven by clerical and episcopal incompetence could have been avoided – or at least vitiated in their eventual destructiveness.
    Comment by C.L. — 21 August 2009 @ 5:31 am

    I once heard a weird old priest preach on the “virtue of selfishness”. Now you espouse the “Christian virtue of ruthlessness”. The two of you ought to be co-authors.

    Traditionally, the time after Mass was regarded as a time for giving thanks to Our Lord while the sacred species persist. I am not partial to vocal prayers at that time, including the Rosary (which I do pray daily, but later in the day), and besides I don’t think that praying the Rosary as a means to this end is especially devout.

    Maybe the best thing, after praying for that intention, would just be to put the question straight out to the other parishioners: Could you please refrain from conversation until outside the church’s doors, so that those of us who wish to continue our communion with the Lord can do so? Maybe it never occured to them before?

  30. Joe Magarac says:

    Prima facie, he’s guilty of lying, calumny and scandal.

    I wish I had C.L.’s ability to know the details of a conversation he didn’t witness between two people he doesn’t know. Sadly, I don’t. I wasn’t there, and I know that there are two sides to every story. I think Fr. Z’s advice is excellent, as usual: stick it out, and pray for priests.

  31. Girgadis says:

    I don’t fault those who say pack up and leave but I look at it this way. Jesus is being disrespected and by leaving, how is the situation going to get any better if no one at least makes an effort? Where I attend morning weekday Mass, there is a gaggle of regulars who bantered about as though they were at the office water-cooler. They talked out loud, at length, joked, and seemed oblivious that they were in the Real Presence. By sitting near them, rather than away from them, and making it obvious that their chatter meant I had to struggle to pray, after a few weeks, they got the idea. It’s not perfect in that I think there should be no conversation at all, but it’s much better than it was. Had it not improved, I would have probably said something to them. To just up and leave would have meant I squandered a personal trial and an opportunity, in charity, to correct irreverent behavior.

  32. Prudentius says:

    I agree… pray for the Priest at the end of the day it’s the ignorant Parishoners who are creating the problem. The thing I’m not keen on is presentations to Priest after or during the Mass, we have had this a few times when the priest reaches a significant anniversary or age. It usually involves a parishoner giving a short presentation with a few jokes thrown in. We have a perfectly good church hall for things like that.

    Do you guys all have RCIA groups in your Parish? I was born into the faith but my wife converted. The RCIA group was a mix of different people, a lovely, kind and helpful group but some people have told us that it should only have been the Priest she should have seen each week? Not sure about that? Surely having an RCIA group is not another example of reform and modernism creeping into the Church?

  33. JPG says:

    With all do respect to the pastor, he needs to take a chill pill so to speak. First objecting to a legitamate complaint ,then accusing the parishioner of Milleniarianism. How to win friends and influence people! Perhaps the good father was having a bad day. He likewise as pastor must give due consideration to the complaint. If one person voices this , others may feel the same. This is basic people skills and as shepherd of this flock I would think he should give this due consideration.
    JPG

  34. Henry Edwards says:

    This sounds like a minor and fairly trivial event, one that may admit a number of possible explanations.

    However, it seems rather common for clerics to react hyper-sensitively to criticism from the faith-driven side of the fence.

    Does anyone think its equally common for clerics to react similarly to similarly expressed criticism from the other side of the fence?

    If not … Why the difference?

    Hmm … Are abusive personalities more common on one side of the fence than the other?

  35. JPG says:

    Also not so much of an afterthought but my advice would be to stick it out and to continue to support the pastor with prayers and silent witness.(keep praying as you are doing)
    JPG

  36. robtbrown says:

    Interesting that some, like Fr Martin, assume a worst case scenario in the way the priest was approached. Others assume the worst case in the way the priest reacted.

    My policy is that I NEVER say anything to the priest about mass or a homily. Most are simply products of their below average formation, so it’s a waste of time.

    I have noticed how many priests are good at small talk/greetings but are incapable of rational discourse about the Church (and I’m not referring to Rahner’s theology of grace or anything that erudite). That is because they have not been trained in theology but rather in the Eucharist as a communal meal ideology. Mass is a big get together, and talking after mass is simply part of that get together.

    My guess is that that people in the letter to Fr Z encountered such a priest.

  37. C.L. says:

    Now you espouse the “Christian virtue of ruthlessness…”

    I’m not sure why you’ve dishonestly used quotation marks for the phrase. It must be going around. What I wrote is this:

    These triumphalist liberal wreckers are only enabled by cap-in-hand kow-towing. In the apostolic and sub apostolic ages they would have been dealt with ruthlessly – a tough LOVE, I emphasise – but ruthlessly all the same. Had we lay Catholics displayed more ruthlessness of this Christian kind and less awe-struck beholdingness over the last few decades, certain scandals driven by clerical and episcopal incompetence could have been avoided – or at least vitiated in their eventual destructiveness.

    I wish I had C.L.’s ability to know the details of a conversation he didn’t witness between two people he doesn’t know. Sadly, I don’t.

    Well, I’m not the one who published the story. I was presented with the story and have commented upon it. If it does not convey the holistic truth it shouldn’t have been posted. But I take it on trust. The facts as presented to me indicate that the priest lied about the matter of prayer before the Eucharist and slandered his interlocutors as heretics. These are extremely grave matters. The priest – prima facie – certainly does NOT deserve to be treated “very very respectfully” any more than Cardinal Law deserves to be treated very very respectfully.

  38. robtbrown says:

    Do you guys all have RCIA groups in your Parish? I was born into the faith but my wife converted. The RCIA group was a mix of different people, a lovely, kind and helpful group but some people have told us that it should only have been the Priest she should have seen each week? Not sure about that? Surely having an RCIA group is not another example of reform and modernism creeping into the Church?
    Comment by Prudentius

    People should be competently instructed in the faith in RCIA. When I was taking instruction in 1970 (pre RCIA), the priest invited a professor (John Senior, who later was my sponsor) to speak to the class on the Eucharist.

  39. Will D. says:

    My parish has had this long-term problem, and last Sunday, Father delivered a fire-and-brimstone homily about respect for the Eucharist. He covered the chatter before and after Mass, asking people to take their conversations out to the lobbies. He asked people to refrain from applauding the choir after Mass. He reminded people of their obligations to go to Confession and be in a true state of grace if they wish to receive the Eucharist. And he encouraged people to consider following the Holy Father’s recommendation and receive the Eucharist kneeling.
    And it was very quiet after mass, with many people staying to kneel in prayer. I’d never have believed it possible in that parish, but prayer and a good priest can make profound changes.

    So, pray, speak to the priest as courteously as possible. Preferably with a witness. In the unfortunate event that he makes the same accusations, discuss it with the pastor or the Bishop. But I hope that he was simply having a bad day, and will realize the error he made.

  40. C.L.: That is enough. Your position on at least outward respect for priests is to be rejected.

  41. mpm says:

    C.L.,

    To answer your question, I did not “dishonestly use[d] quotation marks for the phrase.” Rather, I coined a phrase that I thought captured what the thrust of your argument was, and put it in quotations to indicate its hypothetical nature. Prior to that I quoted your words exactly.

  42. Eric says:

    On the question of “to leave or not to leave” , one would have to ask himself, “Is my soul at risk?” Or if you are a husband and/or father ,”are the souls of those I am to protect at risk?” If so, then you should leave.

    If not then you will have to determine how much you can take.

    If I am off base, Father Z please correct.

  43. Fr Martin Fox says:

    RobtBrown said:

    “Interesting that some, like Fr Martin, assume a worst case scenario in the way the priest was approached. Others assume the worst case in the way the priest reacted.”

    I’m glad to clarify; my purpose was not to “assume the worst” but to remind people of that as one possible explanation. My purpose was to allow for some balance, since we heard the account from only one party to the conversation.

    “My policy is that I NEVER say anything to the priest about mass or a homily. Most are simply products of their below average formation, so it’s a waste of time.”

    Well, if I may say, first, I’m sorry you take that approach. Few people would enjoy receiving negative feedback, but I think it’s helpful and there are effective and ineffective ways to present it. True charity would seem to require it at some point.

    Second, I’d say that your assessment of “most” priests is rather harsh–at least, if I take your meaning right. (I would normally let this go, but given such a harsh critique, I will point out that your statement says rather less than you may think; and I’m left guessing what you mean. Do you mean “below what should be standard”? Logically, something can be rather good and still be “below average,” if the average is, itself, rather high on another scale.)

    I realize you may not deem me part of that “most,” but I know the formation I received, along with many other priests, and while I have offered my suggestions for it to be changed, it was not “below average”; for all its faults, it was very good.

    I have noticed how many priests are good at small talk/greetings but are incapable of rational discourse about the Church (and I’m not referring to Rahner’s theology of grace or anything that erudite). That is because they have not been trained in theology but rather in the Eucharist as a communal meal ideology.”

    Again, “many” gives you an out, I guess, but those priests I know, who admittedly give strong emphasis to “meal” rather than sacrifice, would–I think–be well able to explain the theology of sacrifice and do it well. So to suggest as you do they’re either not bright enough or well trained does not bear out in my experience–and I’m speaking of those who tend to disagree with on this point.

    I’m sorry you have so little regard for so “many,” even “most,” priests. Setting aside your differences with their theology or manner at Mass, can it really be possible you find little to admire about their dedication and generosity? How sad indeed.

  44. C.L. says:

    Your position on at least outward respect for priests is to be rejected.

    Come come, Father. You’re now using a new formulation of words.

    The opinion I expressed on “at least outward respect for priests” was…

    …I do not advocate rank vulgarity in communication with such a person – or any person… No vulgarity and un-Christian aggression – in word or gesture.

    What I HAVE expressed an opinion about is kow-towing to the priest in question “very very respectfully.”

    This was an exaggerated phrase, conveying – in the circumstances – a false and imprudent reverence for the person concerned.

    That was my opinion, respectfully made.

    The family is the domestic Church and to accuse one head of it of being a heretic for wanting to reverence Our Lord in the Taberbacle is an outrageous scandal.

    I have nothing further to add, though. So that’s that.

  45. C.L. says:

    Oops. Forgot blockquotes:

    Your position on at least outward respect for priests is to be rejected.

    Come come, Father. You’re now using a new formulation of words.

    The opinion I expressed on “at least outward respect for priests” was…

    …I do not advocate rank vulgarity in communication with such a person – or any person… No vulgarity and un-Christian aggression – in word or gesture.

    .
    .
    What I HAVE expressed an opinion about is kow-towing to the priest in question “very very respectfully.”

    This was an exaggerated phrase, conveying – in the circumstances – a false and imprudent reverence for the person concerned.

    That was my opinion, respectfully made.

    The family is the domestic Church and to accuse one head of it of being a heretic for wanting to reverence Our Lord in the Taberbacle is an outrageous scandal.

    I have nothing further to add, though. So that’s that. [Indeed. That is that.]

  46. Bernie says:

    Wow! I’m worn out.

  47. patrick_f says:

    Be patient friend. I too deal with this. I sat through a “dialogue mass”, at christmas. I use the quotes because every five minutes there was someone “narrating” what we were doing every moment , e.g. “Now we have heard the readings… let us reflect on these readings…Jesus calls us to reflect…blah blah blah”….Oh….this wasnt the priest doing this. However I simply bit my tongue, found out the pastor later on dealt with it, behind the scenes (this was a part time associate, surprised me too, the man is usually VERY orthodox, this was just something he always did at the 4:30 mass where all the youth go on christmas eve)

    My point is, and this speaks to another comment here, priests do share a special charism, that us laity do not have. However, and I am sure Fr. Z and any priest will attest, they are human beings, with all the imperfections all of us have. Remember there is only one perfect High Priest, and none of us are worth to stand in His presence at this stage.

    Human beings make mistakes, and yes they even put their foot in their mouth. The important thing to do is first pray for the priest (one human being praying for another). But in my opinion you do have to be concerned about your own spiritual growth. However, ask yourself this one simple question. Is the test you are being allowed to endure with your own parish, an element of that growth? Is God calling you to be an example there? God Calls all of us, to do different things, and not all of them involve a collar or a veil.

    In my own experience, I am finding this to be more and more true. Dont get me wrong I dont have this grandiose idea that I am going to be the Savior of my home parish, but I do hope that not only in my humble way can I lead by example, but also learn by the examples given me

    What person here, because of their upbringing, didnt delve into their faith and learn it solid because of one “abuse” or another? I really think thats why God put any of us where we are. We have the capacity to be true to what vatican II intended, for the faithful to truly learn their faith anmd evangelize. Evangelization happens outside the mass too, but I digress.

    Just be patient, and remember you are there tolerating it because God is doing good things through you. It might not be apparent, but I would bet money on it.

  48. dcs says:

    Prudentius writes:
    pray for the Priest at the end of the day it’s the ignorant Parishoners who are creating the problem.

    I agree that one ought to pray for the priest, and I also agree that parishioners who don’t know better are causing the problem. But one must ask why the parishioners don’t know better — is it because they are willfully ignorant or is it because they’ve never been told how to act in church? And if the people of a certain parish do not know how to act in church, whose responsibility is it to tell them?

  49. Mickey says:

    I know its not particularly charitable, but I have actually gone over to people and asked them to be quiet, or even “shushed” them.

    I’ve tried the “pray loudly in Latin” technique, too…and more often than not people just try to “out-loud” me so I shut up.

    The experience leaves me feeling bewildered and defeated…and alone.

    As I’ve written here before, I pray that my grandchildren (I have none yet, my oldest is just 18) will never have to know the feeling of going to see Jesus, and being unable because people won’t get out of the way.

  50. This will not get fixed until the priests really make an effort to preach the necessity of silence. The culture has gone to that of the secular world – noise noise noise.

    As a layman, I would say kindly something like “Please be quiet in front of Eucharistic Jesus, you are interrupting my prayer. The church is a place for prayer.” Some would stop or move out, and others would keep yapping. I would not say anything a second time, but just pray while they yapped.

    It is important to speak kindly about faults – at all times by everyone. One approach which may make things easier is a kind letter, rather than face to face.

  51. robtbrown says:

    Fr Martin Fox,

    Sorry this took so long.

    I stand by my comments–I’m not looking for an “out”.

    My assessment of priests is based on my experience, which includes eight Roman years of living with them–at times we had men from 18 different nations. I was frankly surprised at the deficiency in their training because I thought the problems were mostly an American phenomenon.

    Is there generosity and dedication in many? Yes, but that doesn’t mean that they have not been poorly trained.

    It is good that your formation was better, but I notice that you didn’t return to the Church until 1991 and enter seminary until 6 years later. You missed a lot of the fun. Seminarians were pushed out because they opposed women’s “ordination” or liked Latin liturgy in favor of swingers. Priests were persecuted because they wanted to say mass in Latin, while the chancery babied those whose “friendliness” with altar boys violated nature.

    Is the formation now better in seminaries? Yes, but the products of 25 years are still in positions of authority.

    I have noted before that a priest here after the election of BXVI gave a homily in decided opposition against liturgical reform and accompanied it with the addition of a second handshaking moment during mass. His homilies are almost always centered on the Protestant concept of Eucharist as communal meal.

    You suggest that I should say something. I think not. Every priest around here knows my theological background. If they have a question, they can ask it. My impression is that they feel a little threatened–maybe more than a little.

    Having said that, I have at times considered, usually not seriously, offering during the bidding prayers my own little petitions:

    We pray for the return of Latin liturgy and ad orientem celebration.

    Or:

    May the bishops and priests realize that the liturgical reforms do not adequately reflect Catholic teaching or liturgical tradition.

    In the end, however, I reject such an approach and read the Latin Breviary during mass.

    I will, however, act on your suggestion of offering comments to priests. Why don’t you take a few days off and drive down to Clear Creek?