ASK FATHER: “Have a nice day!”, after the final blessing at Mass.

Si tacuisset, philosophus mansisset.

From a reader:

Is it licit for a priest to say “Have a nice day” after the final blessing?

When the Mass is over, priests and bishops can utter any banal cliché that pops into their distracted heads and not technically violate the rubrics.

Violating custom and good taste is another thing.

But we must ask: When does Mass end?

I checked quickly in the Novus Ordo’s General Instruction of the Roman Missal in the Concluding Rites to see whether or not the exit procession, recessional, is described or prescribed.  The relevant bits I found were:

D) The Concluding Rites

90. To the Concluding Rites belong the following: [...]

d) the kissing of the altar by the Priest and the Deacon, followed by a profound bow to the altar by the Priest, the Deacon, and the other ministers.

That sounds like Mass ends the moment the celebrant kisses the altar.  But also:

186. Then, together with the priest, the deacon venerates the altar with a kiss, makes a profound bow, and departs in a manner similar to the procession beforehand.

It seems that, in the Novus Ordo, the exit procession, recessional, is part of the rites of the Mass.

When the exit procession concludes (there should be a moment that defines the conclusion, as there always was in the sacristy when everyone would bow to the Cross and the priest would bless the servers) then the priest can violate good taste all he wants.

Therefore, priests should eschew rubric-violating outbursts of logorrhea at the altar.  Decorum and custom require a dignified exit by the sacred ministers (hopefully with a minimum of grinning, waving, winking, and hand pumping), and a respectful silent waiting on the part of the laity until said clerics have once again drawn themselves apart (please, God, to the sacristy).

Let the rag chewing and back slapping occur amid the coffee and doughnuts in the church hall.

Have an adequate day and try not to sin.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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30 Responses to ASK FATHER: “Have a nice day!”, after the final blessing at Mass.

  1. Josemaria says:

    Father, perhaps you covered this in a previous post, why immediately to the sacristy?

  2. Netmilsmom says:

    Question, when our parish says the prayer to St. Michael before the recessional hymn, is that not allowed? [First, this is a long established custom, ongoing for many decades in the Roman Rite. Second, this isn't "Have a nice day!" Yes, I think it is entirely acceptable.]

  3. Priam1184 says:

    Question: is the practice of making announcements about the parish bake sale or the Knights of Columbus Lenten Friday night fish fry between the post-Communion prayer and the dismissal covered anywhere in the rubrics?

  4. gracie says:

    Why oh why do priests have an allergy to genuflecting before the Tabernacle? [That isn't the topic at hand.] At Novus Ordo Masses you’re lucky if they genuflect when they open the little doors to remove the Reserved Sacrament prior to Holy Communion or when they replace remaining Consecrated Hosts afterwards. This rule of bowing to an empty altar instead of to God is scandalous. In all the years since the NO was enacted, I have seen just one priest genuflect to God before he turns and bows to the altar and holds up the book sitting there prior to the Gospel reading. The same priest, after the homily, genuflected again to God before crossing in front of Him to return to his seat.

    If the priest refuses to acknowledge the Real Presence of God, why is it a surprise that 80 % of Catholics no longer do? Saying, yes, but God does appear at the Consecration doesn’t cut it. In Catholic Churches God already is physically present and if the priest bore witness to that fact it might actually get people realizing that God Himself is there in front of them from when they first walk in that door. I’m sick and tired of fighting myself to be reverent at Mass while watching priests who no longer are.

  5. benedetta says:

    The reason why “Have a nice day” and other assorted folksy flourishes are hypocritical are: 1.) it implies that the grace of the final blessing and dismissal is not enough for us, limited, or that we can by our own pride and powers fill in that which may be desired or needed in all cases, and 2.) it implies that the pastor somehow does truly know your situation or wants to know, cares, and even will be a reliable aid to whatever may be, which, in most spirit of VII megachurches, we all know, extends only to a small subset of parishioners, if that.

  6. benedetta says:

    The blessing in Christ is far more powerful and charitable and pastoral than any other added sentiments. Do our priests not believe it? Do they not want us to believe it? Do they not realize that is what they are conveying to us apart from all else they may wish to say.

    The fact is, when I go to the supermarket, the mcdonald’s drive through, or pay a toll, I am encouraged to “have a nice day”. I already kind of got that, a lot of it, in my life. As the militant dissenters lecture their pastors who have the gall to mention prolife once in awhile I could add “I don’t come to the church for…that”.

    It also makes it seem as if prayer, the Mass, begin and end on the priest’s personal terms. The Mass has fixed points in time for us, but not because of whatever the priest may add or change. If a priest does not add such gems of folksy wisdom at any point, we will not be losing out in any sense at all. Why do we feel we must have those?

  7. anna 6 says:

    Well said Benedetta.
    I find “have a nice day” to be just as irritating as “Good Morning” spoken before the sign of the cross at the beginning of Mass. It just seems wrong, for all of the same reasons.

  8. mrshopey says:

    I thought Mass ended when he gave the final blessing and pronounced “the Mass is ended go in peace” or something similar. I didn’t know the procession was part of it.

  9. mrshopey says:

    Dang it Fr. I hope you know you have messed us up how you are interpreting what concludes mass (recessional procession) and what doesn’t.
    Have an adequate day and try not to sin, INDEED!
    gah…

  10. ocleirbj says:

    @Priam1184, I would also like to know about the proper place for announcements. Of course, if people all read their bulletins, there would be no need for any announcements :-) Does anyone know when the custom of announcements at Mass began? Pre-Vatican II? Also bulletins, when did they begin to be used? There has to be some way of letting people know what is going on in the parish.

    We used to have announcements before the post-communion prayer, which was such an intrusion. Now we get them after the prayer and before the dismissal, which seems like the proper oikonomia. This also gives the blessing its own nicely separate moment, as we are commissioned to go forth into the world. Occasionally we may hear Have a nice day, Merry Christmas, Be careful the parking lot’s icy, but never any extensive jokeyness or glad-handing down the aisle, thankfully. A little brief friendliness is fine by me compared to this kind of thing!

  11. Josemaria says:

    The proper place for announcements is the bulletin. Any intra-Mass announcements disrupt the liturgy, although after the intercessions is perhaps the lesser of all evils, even though that leaves less time for a beautiful offeratory chant!

    Again, bulletin only is ideal.

  12. Priam1184 says:

    @ocleirbj and @Josemaria Probably the bulletin is the best place for them, but it might be possible that one of our multitude of lay ministers could make all of the necessary announcements just before the priest processes in. Any thoughts?

  13. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Priam1184, and ocleirbj: The GIRM section Fr Z has quoted from does provide for announcements after the Post-Communion – (a) ‘brief announcements, should they be necessary’ – before the Blessing, Dismissal and final recession from the altar.
    I wish Fr Z’s reminder could be sent to every diocese. The casual book-ending of Holy Mass with an informal secular greeting at the start and an even more secular sign-off after the Blessing (‘Have a good evening/good week/see you in the bar later/enjoy the football’) is effectively to bracket and trivialise all that has come between.
    And don’t get me started on celebrants who begin with greetings and comments on the weather/traffic/cricket and then routinely omit the Sign of the Cross…[Deep breath :-].

  14. sirlouis says:

    “b) brief announcements, should they be necessary.” If they can be covered in the bulletin, are they really necessary? Is the GIRM perhaps contemplating something like “Please wait in your pew until the First Communicants have left the church,” that is, a necessary direction or reminder about an immediate matter?

  15. Bea says:

    benedetta and Anna6
    I know just what you mean.
    I feel like I’m leaving Walmart with the “Have a nice day”.

    We get both the “Good morning” and the “Have a nice day”at Mass.
    The “Good morning” breaks my meditation as I prepare for Our Lord’s Sacrifice
    and the “Have a nice day” blots out my “God and I” interaction after communion and brings me back to the world with a thud.

    This has to have been inspired by satan, himself, to keep us from getting too close to God.

    Priam1184:
    “it might be possible that one of our multitude of lay ministers could make all of the necessary announcements just before the priest processes in. Any thoughts?”

    That would be my preference, too. Many people don’t read the bulletin until they get home and may be missing things going on right after Mass and some people don’t read the bulletin at all.

  16. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Bea, the problem with pre-Mass announcements is that latecomers would not hear them: unlike the poor, latecomers are not always with us :-)
    Like others I cannot see why parishioners cannot just pick up a bulletin or read notice-boards. But oral notices could be made following the Creed and before the bidding prayers and the Offertory. I have heard this done, and I personally find it the least worst option.
    We need to re-sacralize the post-Communion period of inner and outer silence. While the Final Blessing and recessional does not rupture it, announcements about collections, raffles, schools and excursions arguably do.
    The only announcement I’d like to hear before the Blessing is one that sternly draws attention to the need for respectful, reflective silence and individual prayer inside the church following Mass. That would be a real once-in-a-lifetime ‘Nunc Dimittis’ moment.

  17. Bedens says:

    Fr. Z,

    I am 54 years old and a cradle Catholic and I try hard to understand where you and your posters are coming from most of the time, but objecting to a friendly “Have a nice day” from the priest is just incredible to me. I recently attended RCIA classes with my husband of 30 years. The young parish priest who taught the class said that we are called to worship together as a community, and not to sit in our homes and worship the Lord by ourselves. Doesn’t community imply that we are to at least be sociable with our fellow Catholics? I’m not advocating talking in church or having a party in the aisle, but my goodness! If your piety means that you must turn your back on someone who acknowledges you or your concentration is so fragile that the priest wishing you a nice day is going to somehow negate your entire experience of the Mass, then I think something is very, very wrong. [Doesn't that seem to be an exaggeration? This isn't the only alternative.]

    Peace be with you,
    Bernadette

    [I'll bet the readers and commentators here can jump in and explain this. A great deal hinges on what "community" means (often it's a vague buzz word) and what participation in the sacred mysteries is really about.]

  18. markomalley says:

    @Priam1184 and @ocleirbj

    Priam1184 asks the very astute question,

    Question: is the practice of making announcements about the parish bake sale or the Knights of Columbus Lenten Friday night fish fry between the post-Communion prayer and the dismissal covered anywhere in the rubrics?

    If you have trolled the Catholic Blogosphere for any amount of time, you may recall the illustrious and, sadly, now retired LarryD (of Acts of the Apostasy fame).

    About 4 years ago, he published what some believe to be an addendum to the GIRM. Although he never acknowledged the true source, there were rumors floating about that this was actually intended to be published in an edition of Notitiae. Originally written in Esperanto (or was in Klingonese), apparently the pages were stuck together when the original copy went to the printers for publication.

    At least that’s the story I heard. Anyway, here is a portion of the translation that he published. Hopefully it addresses your concerns:

    Liturgy of the Bulletin

    This normally occurs prior to the final blessing, but it can occur at the beginning of Mass as well. Sometimes the priest makes announcements of upcoming events at the parish, reading directly out of the church bulletin, such as social justice opportunities or the local CORPUS meet-n-greet pancake breakfast in the school hall; mostly, though, the Liturgy of the Bulletin is led by the Extraordinary Minister of Remedial Reading. Incidentally, many congregants participate on their own, particularly during the homily.

    You can read the rest on his site.

    :-p

  19. Nan says:

    @Bernadette, worship together as a community means participate in Mass together, go to Adoration together, pray the liturgy of the hours together, wait in line for confession together. Praying and socializing are two separate functions; socializing before Mass, when people are there to pray, during Mass, and after Mass when people are praying is very distracting. Socializing is great but not during prayer.

  20. trespinos says:

    One of the younger commenters has asked how announcements were handled pre-Vatican II. I am old enough to remember, I hope accurately. The priest who would be giving the sermon, celebrant or otherwise, would take his place at the ambo after the Gospel, launch into any announcements that were needed and when he had finished with those, would signal that by making an emphatic Sign of the Cross. The members of the congregation would make it with him. Lesser matters out of the way, what followed that clear dividing line was the sermon.

  21. benedetta says:

    Bedens, The words and prayers of the Mass have an efficacy and a power unlike any words of ordinary social conversation. The final blessing and dismissal, originating from the earliest origins of the Eucharist, is not just “wrapping things up” as in a lecture or meeting or some other communal experience in which people gather. Adding little asides and personal anecdotes, whatever it may be, including have a nice day, diminish from the sacred. Simple is better when it comes to the Mass — as Fr. Z says Say the Black, Do the Red, and all will be well. The Mass is already powerful enough to give us our nice days, an eternity with the Lord, and the sociable, not just acknowledging one another in the sanctuary and the pews, but, giving us the power to do more than merely acknowledge one another and being sociable. The cross and the Resurrection, and God with us in the Eucharist, is not particularly about “nice”. It’s not about turning our backs as you say. It’s much better than nice and goes much farther than what we can do by polite chit chat with one another in the sanctuary.

  22. benedetta says:

    I will also add that the parishes that do not do the “Have a nice day” etc. are not necessarily the “turn our backs on one another” and never “sociable”. As a matter of fact, they are able to do this quite well and often enough much better than the Deacon Sandy we talk to and at each other so much as possible immediately when we come in to the church places. Which in and of itself is something to ponder.

  23. Lin says:

    @Bernadette…..The MASS is not about the priest. Unfortunately, far too many priests insert their off the cuff comments throughout the entire MASS instead of following the rubrics. Rubrics are critical or we might as well be protestant. The MASS is the MASS is the MASS! Customization is not required and should not be permitted! Community inside the church means coming together in a most reverant manner to worship our Lord. Socializing should be limited to the social hall or the parking lot.

  24. Where Mass is properly celebrated, “community” takes care of itself. We are promised that if we seek first the Kingdom of God and His justice, all the other things will be added unto us.

  25. JuliB says:

    “We get both the “Good morning” and the “Have a nice day”at Mass.”

    Us too. What is much worse is the rote ‘good morning father’ and ‘you too’ that comes from the pews. Sigh.

  26. Lin says:

    What is much, much worse is the opening we hear at the start of each MASS: We are gathered together to worship he who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And end with, may he bless you, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit……….Let the church say amen. Very Protestant and very sad!

  27. Priam1184 says:

    @Vecchio di Londra Thank you for the explanation.

    @Bedens I have strong and serious questions about any aspect of the Mass (and there are so many of them in this day and age) that takes the priest out of his role of being in persona Christi. And giving any sort of greeting that one person might give to another on the street does that.

  28. Sonshine135 says:

    The time for chit-chat is not during the Mass. If you read you Bulletin, you would know that there was a reception with coffee and donuts after Mass in the hall, and I would have been happy to chat with you, Father, and anyone else. Since you didn’t read the bulletin, I missed you being there, but what the hay….more coffee and donuts for me!

  29. Bob Glassmeyer says:

    A dear friend of mine came into the Church at Easter Vigil 4 years ago. He wishes he had done this years earlier, but we both agree it’s “better late than never.” He is like a kid in a candy store about being Catholic!

    At the same time, I wonder about the kind of “catechesis” he received in his RCIA program.

    Once I asked him if the RCIA team ever spoke to The Four Ends of the Mass.

    My friend asked me what these Four Ends are.

    Need I elaborate?

    It starts with good, solid, orthodox teaching, and EARLY in the game, to be sure.

    When Father is up on the Altar cracking jokes (my priest does) – when the “catechists” in RCIA, many of whom are converts, leave one thinking they are just as Protestant (or whatever the case) as they were before being received into the Church – when there is an over-emphasis on the “People of God” over God, whose people we are – it’s not rocket science to conclude that there is something very, very WRONG going on in parishes.

  30. mrshopey says:

    Bedens,
    The reason that talking is not appropriate before/after Mass is because this is the time we have set aside to worship God. We prepare ourselves (before Mass) and then give thanks (after Mass). It allows a person quiet to do what they need to do, worship God. It is hard to do this when the noise level reaches that of a gym. It isn’t that people aren’t important, nor should you take it as a snub of pious people. You should respect people who are their to pray and worship God. A quiet place is the best place to do this as it removes distractions and allows us to become focused.
    There are so many other times during the week that a person can chat/catch up, etc, that it is discouraging that some are actually weaving this in the Mass. This is also why I leave right after the priest says “The Mass is ended”. I don’t want to chat in the sanctuary and know I will be tempted as people will do it, or insist OR blame you are rude or pious….