Here is something from a priest reader I think is appropriate right now. A little food for thought.
My emphases and some editing.
A story came to me in the last week or so which struck me as potentially helpful for your readers. ….
The first comes from a priest in _____. His “cluster” covers five parishes in four counties. On a typical weekend he says Mass seven or eight times, visits the regional hospital, and logs more than 100 miles on his car. He’s a young hardworking priest who, in spite of the demands being placed upon him takes great care in his celebration of the liturgy, his instruction of the people, and his pastoral care of the poor (who are more plentiful in rural places than one might expect) and the sick.
He was recently saying Mass at one of the parishes under his care. It was his six Mass of the day, and he fumbled with the embolism after the Lord’s Prayer. I can’t reconstruct it exactly, but he kept slipping somehow into the prayer before the Sign of Peace. Anyhow, he caught himself, tried to correct himself, fumbled again, actually corrected himself, but then got to the prayer before the Pax and basically did the same thing in reverse. This time he was able to land the prayer in a single try but was obviously embarrassed and genuinely dismayed. He said he contemplated apologizing during the announcements but thought the better of it and went on as usual.
After Mass he was harangued by someone whom he thought was a strong supporter since he’s a young priest (the mother of a traditional Catholic family, six or eight kids, home-schooled, the whole shebang). She couldn’t believe that he’d fall in in with “those” priests who tinker with the Church’s liturgy willy-nilly and was so disappointed. He apologized profusely, admitted that he wasn’t being as attentive as he should have been, and asked that she pray that they find some way to have him say fewer Masses, but she was rude and left.
Later that week he got a call from the chancery. There was a letter, and after speaking to someone (I think the V.G., though I’m not sure) the matter was settled.
Still, it was very discouraging for this young priest who so desperately needs support to be so rudely treated, especially from someone on whom he thought he could count.
I only mention this because while I think we have helpfully trained people to expect a liturgy in line with the Church’s tradition and in conformity with liturgical norms I do wonder if sometimes we’ve presumed a level of charity that isn’t always there. At bottom, even the correction of a liturgical abuse needs to be about charity, the charity owed to the people who are due the Church’s liturgy, and the charity due to a priest (or whomever) is in error. It’s hard enough for priests formed during a confusing period of the Church’s history to make sense of loads of correction from the pews, but it can be very, very demoralizing for young priests who are much more conscientious about these things to get jumped on for every single mistake they make.
Priests are people too, and so are prone not only to sin, but to weakness, forgetfulness, mistakes, and even fatigue (esp. when he is being asked to say an unreasonable number of Masses).
This is a good and timely reminder.
This is why I often quote those last paragraphs of Redemptionis Sacramentum and will urge people to give the priest the benefit of the doubt in many situations where something out of character happens. Mistakes happen.