ASK FATHER: So angry from liturgical abuses that I didn’t go to Communion!

From a reader…

QUAERTUR:

While out of town we attended a Redemptorist ____. They had a visiting priest from “Food for the Poor. He began the Mass as if he were a Baptist preacher making us all say “Amen” several times until we pleased him. The Homily did not apply to the gospel reading or any of the readings. During the very abbreviated Eucharistic prayer, he threw in some “ad lib” lines and just seemed to throw the consecrated hosts around. He even dropped one on the floor (which he picked up and threw in his mouth). I had so much anger in my heart and didn’t feel as if he had adequately presented the Precious Body of Christ that I did not take communion. I intend to go to confession at our local parish this week. I think my anger for him is sinful but I don’t think not receiving communion was a sin. Am I correct?

Refraining from reception of Holy Communion is not sinful, unless you do done for a sinful reason (e.g. pride: “I’m much too good to be receiving Holy Communion from Fr. X or Deacon Y, I’ll wait until we have a Monsignor or a Bishop here”).

That said, as I have said on this blog more than once, some priests do silly things.

It is easy to get angry, and sometimes that anger is justified.

When it is not justified, it is sinful.

Even if it seems justified, it is a good practice to mention it in confession, and allow Father Confessor to help with your conscience formation.  For example:

YOU: “Father, I was REALLY ANGRY, 17 times, when I heard that Christians were being crucified in Syria!”

FATHER: “My child, that anger is justified.  Now channel the energy of that anger into positive action, such as prayer, or helping refugees from that region, or getting oneself ready for the Crusade.”

Anger over liturgical abuse can be justified. It is important not to wallow in that anger. If you leave Mass every Sunday with clenched fists and a red face, it’s probably time to look for a different parish.  I will herein presume that reasonable efforts of dialogue and letter-writing have been undertaken in vain.

In this situation, the priest was a visitor, as was the writer.  It could be a good thing to confess this anger, and submit it to the priest confessor to help determine how justifiable it was (it seems pretty justified). With that level of anger, it was probably good to refrain from receiving Holy Communion, and may have even been virtuous.

In addition, you might consider making an appointment to speak to the pastor, especially if this is a parish you visit regularly visit.

“Father, we always enjoyed visiting your lovely church for Mass when we’re in town. Your homilies are inspiring, the propers are chanted so well, and the ad orientem celebration of the Mass really draws us in to prayer. However, last month when we were in town there was a visiting priest who really angered me by the way he said Mass. It made me appreciate how reverently you offer Mass. The next time we come, we’ll call ahead to make sure that visiting priest isn’t on the schedule.”

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24 Responses to ASK FATHER: So angry from liturgical abuses that I didn’t go to Communion!

  1. Scott W. says:

    While out of town we attended a Redemptorist ____. They had a visiting priest from “Food for the Poor.

    Did he have a black and grey beard, bushy grey hair balding in the middle and thick-rim glasses? I wonder if I’ve seen same guy. He made people repeat responses if he didn’t think you were loud enough, used his homily to prattle on about his work in the third world (nothing wrong with the work of course, but this priest was palpably smug about it), and at the end of Mass he said, “and for those of you who think I talk too much…get over it!” (classic bully’s excuse). Dreadful time.

  2. Dutchman says:

    Ok,so what do you do if the offender is the pastor himself? We changed parishes and enjoyed our church life deeply. But now we have a Polish priest who makes the congregation repeat the entrance song until the level of singing pleases him. He even said ” I can keep you here all day if I want to.” Worst of all, he has now made the cantor terrified and so the cantor exaggerates to get everyone to sing like a tent revival. Sheesh

  3. LeeF says:

    As a long time supporter of Food for the Poor, and who has heard many of their guest preachers over the years, this behavior is not typical of them. I would consider reporting him to the organization. They are trying to raise funds and presumably would not want to alienate potential donors with the antics of some priest pursuing his own liturgical fantasies.

    Re not receiving communion, there is a nearby parish lead by a similar type of priest as you describe, with anomalies galore including women preaching. Even though I know this, I end up at Mass there about every two years and wish I had not. The last time I was also upset enough not to receive communion, and not because I actually doubted the validity (which I had in past years on occasion). I did not feel in communion with the priest nor the other people there, so I just didn’t receive as the communal aspect of the Eucharist was missing. The communal aspect is not a major consideration with me, but when the situation is so negative and upsetting it can become the main consideration.

  4. Imrahil says:

    He even said ” I can keep you here all day if I want to.”

    You know what I’d do?

    I’d leave on the spot. Get out of the pew, and to the middle not the side, make a very reverent genuflection towards the Blessed Sacrament, and leave the Church.

    And then worry afterwards about the Sunday obligation. Which is an obligation to worship God and to attend Mass, not to remain in a room at a priest’s discretion, nor either to learn how to sing loudly or well or both.

    If there’s another Mass still to be reached on the same Sunday, if think I’d better go there… otherwise, I guess I’d consider myself excused on the grounds of “no Mass available”. For although the priest will of course celebrate Mass eventually, I do not know when he actually comes to it, and as he explicitly has said that it may take all day*, the effort is unconscionable. [*Of course he doesn’t mean to take all day; but he does mean that he has the right to arbitrarily decide on it, and it’s often a good idea to surprisingly people literally.)

    In the military, extending the time of service beyond the appointed hours is considered a semi-punishment (to be more correct an “nurturing measure” in the sense of nurturing morals) and only to be given if the offender has given due reason for it.

  5. jacobi says:

    Personally, in such a situation, I think I would buttonhole the visiting priest after Mass and tell him clearly and precisely where I thought he had gone wrong, and that I was going to report his behavour to the parish priest. I have done that once, although I can’t remember the detail now!

    As for getting upset at Mass, I can now cope with it now, even the sign of peace where most of them, except the odd dear little old lady, whom I would never be rude to, have got the message.

    Again, for my own part I stress, I do not treat Mass as an obligatory communion service and sometimes do not receive if not properly disposed, or for other reasons.

  6. Lisa Graas says:

    Excellent post, Father. It all sounds right to me. I would like to add something as an aside, if you don’t mind.

    As you know, I am a Eucharistic convert. I had essentially been an agnostic who wanted to believe Jesus is the Son of God, as my Baptist parents had presented Him to me, but I could not get past the “Flesh and Blood” verses in John 6 because I did not have any idea how it could be possible for us to eat the Flesh and drink the Blood of Jesus. I made a promise to God, “If you show me how this is possible, I will believe that Jesus is Your Son and I will follow Him always.” The answer was revealed to me several years after that promise, the first time I attended Mass with a friend. So, I became Catholic and a Christian at the same time via the Mass. By the way, it was a Novus Ordo Mass where I was converted.

    I notice that most traditionalists are cradle Catholics and also that liturgical abuses seem to be their primary concern. As a Eucharistic convert, I also want to ensure that Jesus is treated with the most reverence possible. I, too, would have been angry as the person whom you are responding to in your post. I may not have received either. Having said that, it concerns me that many spend a lot of passion and time over matters of discipline when dogmas are openly rejected. If you are too distracted by people at Mass who are not showing reverence, perhaps you yourself are not being reverent enough. If I can find Jesus in the Eucharist at a Novus Ordo Mass, simply because (1) I knew the Bible, (2) the words of consecration were sound, (3) of the example of people leaving their pews to file up and receive Communion (most received in the hand), (4) I listened to the words of One Bread, One Body…then I think that anyone else can also recognize Him in the Eucharist.

    Then again, maybe it’s because I have autism and my mind is inherently focused on a goal while everything else is inherently a distraction.

    Anyway, just please don’t leave Jesus in the Eucharist if you know that He is there, even if you see liturgical abuses and even if the people around you in the pews aren’t showing reverence. If He is there, that is all that really matters. If He is not there, go somewhere else because even if all other disciplines are treated perfectly, if no consecration occurs or if the consecration is invalid, you are in the wrong place.

  7. What’s to be gained by reception of Holy Communion when–for whatever reason, distraction, lack of spiritual concentration, etc–not fully and properly disposed for intimate spiritual union with Our Lord? As compared to what’s lost by unworthy reception? What if you’re not sure? Is “When in doubt, don’t” a good answer?

  8. Imrahil says:

    Dear Lisa Grass re your second paragraph,

    beautiful testimony… thank you very much!

  9. Imrahil says:

    and, dear Lisa Graas, do please forgive me for spelling your name wrong.

  10. James Joseph says:

    I was in a similar boat as our questioneer here; being tossed about and nearly capsized by the many rogue waves which seem to come from out of nowhere, even on a seemingly clear and lovely day.

    I no longer refrain because I am all stirred-up or become distracted and lose focus anymore; that is, because I decided it is worth the long round trip drive to the holy Mass instead of the local new Mass.

  11. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    The whole reason I’ve moved to a parish that offers the Mass in Latin is to get away from Priests and Deacons like the one described. Thankfully, I’ve never had to endure anything like what was described.

    The things I’ve had to deal with were bad Homilies. I’ve had my fill of mindless homilies that don’t really talk about the readings, and don’t explain what we just heard, and instead just ramble on and on, or worse, cover topics that have nothing to do with much of anything, such as how the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd are on their way to sainthood, or how “gun violence” needs to be stopped, basically every politically-correct talking point from the previous week, and the worst of the worst: heretical homilies.

    I can silently endure hearing almost every sort of craziness from the pulpit, I can endure Homilies that don’t say anything at all. But… That being said, do not malign Jesus! Do not preach the heresy of Arianism, “The real miracle was Jesus getting everyone to share…” and then get up there and say the Creed: “True God from True God…”. Just don’t. What if someone who is seriously considering converting, and had been thinking long and hard about Jesus, was in the pews, what are they going to think when they hear that?

    Being a hypocrite who doesn’t practice what you preach is one thing, everyone is that to one degree or another, but “not preaching what you purport to believe” is even worse.

  12. rms says:

    To Lee F: I wish you were right Lee! At the Parrish I worked at for 11 yrs we stopped having them come. We had the three years in a row. The first Priest was very rude. He told me that the problem with the church is that we have heritical bishops like the bishop of our diocese, the bishops offense? He let us use the altar rails for Holy Communion and the priest in our Parrish said mass ad orientum. He refused to distribute Holy Communion and become really mad when I refused to put out a table for him to say mass on. This guy was a real jerk. The second was great! A very nice gentleman! He was a Franciscan hermit most of his life and actually did work for the poor three months of every year. We had no problems with him. The last was so horrible! Changed the mass text and the Gospel reading to inclusive crap. Only took his personal comunion at one mass, wore the chasuble set out for Sunday mass once then looked everywhere until he found a chasuble that was used for masses outside of the church building( it was plain, no image on it) refused to pray the collect and closing prayers and much much more. We stopped having them come which is a shame, the people wanted to help! We started giving to the ICRSS mission in Gobon. I nolonger work in this Parrish so I know not what hey do now.

  13. Fr. Erik Richtsteig says:

    Food for the Poor comes to my parish every year. Most of the time they are quite good. However, last year the priest had several problems the worst of them was being very rude to a family with a sweet little girl with Downs Syndrome. I called and talked to Food for the Poor. They were very apologetic and the priest we had this year was again good. So I would suggest also writing to Food for the Poor. Unless they get feedback, they really have no way of knowing.

  14. Joseph-Mary says:

    Been there, done that. Sometimes one can get so upset at the shenanigans at Mass that one cannot prepare the heart to receive our dear Lord; it is hard to pray at all.

    When my former parish was like this all the time, I began to bring a Latin/English missal and that is how I learned to pray the Vetus Ordo. In time, we moved to a new diocese. It is so wonderful to not be upset at Mass!

  15. Bea says:

    @LeeF
    I’m glad your posted that. I have sometimes donated to “Food for the Poor” and intended to continue to do so, but after reading the “from a reader”‘s misadventure I started wondering “what kind of outfit is this?”. I’m glad to hear he’s an exception and I do hope “from a reader” reports this to “Food for the Poor”. In my case they came close to losing a contributor.

    I get so tired of hearing (among our parishioners) “Fr. So-amd-so’s Mass”. I thought it was the Mass of the Church, itself, but we occasionally get a visiting priest that drives us up the wall.
    *no confiteor
    *He ad-libs a shortened version of the creed “do you believe…….?” and we all have to loudly reply “I do”
    *changes the wordings of the Eucharistic prayers.(except the words of Transubstantiation, for which I am grateful).
    *replies “Thank you” loudly after we reply “and with your spirit” to his “the Lord be with you”
    Why, oh why do some priests believe it is THEIR Mass to add, change or delete according to their whims?
    On weekdays if we see it is he, my husband refuses to stay and leaves, so he misses his daily Mass.
    On Sundays we grin and bear it. I pray for patience to see me through the Mass and follow silently the rubrics prescribed by the Church (Confiteor, Creed and try to ignore his antics, sermon in the middle of the aisle, etc.) and pray that I have heard a valid Mass.
    I have complained to our pastor, to no avail. I’m sure it’s useless to complain to our bishop, who is less orthodox than our pastor. He appears like the Haley Comet, out of the blue. The rest of the year, Thanks be to God, our regular priests are “fairly” orthodox.

  16. LeeF says:

    In our modern digital age, there is no excuse for bishops to not know what is going on liturgically at the parishes in their diocese simply because they cannot physically make a visitation except every few years, nor for bishops to be allowed to get away with not knowing by omission in order to keep up the fiction that they don’t know or don’t tacitly approve. Perhaps this is where the laity could be of service by videotaping normal weekly Masses and editing the highlights out to show just what is going on. If there were a website where such excerpts could be uploaded by diocese and parish, I’ll bet it would get tons of traffic, whether bishops like it or not.

  17. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The use of the First Generation MLP theme was almost certainly inadvertent; it’s the secularish sound that’s the real problem.

    Still, the stuff noted above is liturgical abuse. Mr. Schutte’s piece is just not sacred-sounding.

  18. Salvelinus says:

    I’m so happy the TLM virtually makes it impossible to make the mass “sound wrong”… often you just hear whispers…

  19. MouseTemplar says:

    “…or getting oneself ready for the Crusade”.

    Destrier saddled up, check!
    Sword and mail, check!
    Sandwiches, check!

    Now if only Father would assign such a penance!

  20. This is a mild reaction from what I’ve experienced. I’ve met protestants in their 70’s and 80’s who have told me that they considered it a shame for the Catholic Church to get rid of Latin in their masses. They saw it as an exclusive part of the Catholic identity and an honorary badge of pride for our religion.

    This is a mild reaction, because many Catholics have become so disenchanted with liturgical abuses that they have just stop coming to the Sacraments altogether.

  21. Tridentine Catholic says:

    “…or getting oneself ready for the Crusade”.
    Where do we sign up?

  22. scholastica says:

    Regarding not receiving out of pride, what about not receiving when the only option is an emhc due to invalid (as in physically weak) priest? It only happens on occasion, but I usually refrain.

  23. Ed the Roman says:

    FATHER: “My child, that anger is justified. Now channel the energy of that anger into positive action, such as prayer, or helping refugees from that region, or getting oneself ready for the Crusade.

    Now you’re just teasing.

  24. Bea says:

    I’m sure he’s not teasing, Ed the Roman

    Pius V where are you?
    Another Lepanto is on its’ way.