From a reader…
When I attend Mass in the Ordinary Form, the priest sometimes illicitly modifies the texts or even makes up his own prayers. Is it sinful for me to silently pray along with the priest or to answer “amen”? Does this count as forbidden cooperation with the priest’s sin? Does it depend on whether the made-up prayers are heretical or otherwise intrinsically bad?
Allow me to preface this with a story about a faithful priest.
On March 3, 1796, Father Pierre-Rene Rogue was led from the prison where he had been held aintsince the previous Christmas Eve, having been arrested for the crime of bringing Holy Viaticum to a sick man in Vannes, France. The Revolutionaries had tried at length to get him to go along with the spirit of the times, and adhere to the rites of worship that had been adopted by the revolutionary authorities, but kindly Father Rogue (he was only four foot ten and known as “le petit prete” by the locals) held fast to his faith. Before he was executed, his Roman collar was cut, his head shaved so he had no sign of tonsure, and his arms were tied behind his back. On the way to the scaffold, he sang a song of praise he had written in prison, and managed to give his watch to the man who had betrayed him. His mother was present at his trial, where she was horribly abused by the Revolutionaries who screamed at her, “You reared a monster!” She was likewise present at his execution, performed by one of his former pupils. He was beatified by Pius XI on May 10, 1934.
Fathers, it’s not that difficult to read the black and do the red. Your liturgical “creativity,” rather than making people holier, is causing confusion and crises.
Stop it. Stop it now.
I realize that I’m preaching mostly to the choir, but I get so fed up with the brethren who decide, upon their own initiative, to change things around. A word here or there, or a slip because of old habits… that’s one thing, but wholesale making stuff up because you know better is entirely another.
Perhaps it’s not entirely their fault. First, they might simply be a little dumb, but not malicious or vain. Otherwise, they may have had poor formation in the seminary. Combined with poor leadership in their diocese or order… results vary.
At the same time, they are adults, privileged by the grace of God to stand at the altar and offer the most august sacrifice, so they presumably have enough sense in their heads to know what they are doing.
When attending a Mass at which liturgical abuse is taking place, one should certainly pray for the priest (or whomever is inflicting the abuse upon the faithful). If the priest, say, is making up his own Collect, one would probably not sin by saying “Amen” at the end of it, but neither would one sin by reading the appropriate Collect out of one’s hand missal quietly. Don’t, by doing that, attempt to usurp the priest’s role. Intend, rather, to pray together with the entire Church, even though Father is rowing against the tide.
Depending on how well you know the priest, and having considered what sort of a man he is, it might be worthwhile to take him out to lunch some day. Explain to him how conflicted you are by his choice to mess with the Mass.
In an ideal world, speaking to the bishop about him might have some effect, but I fear we live in less than an ideal world.
Pray for him, and all those like him.
Bl. Pierre-Rene, intercede for all priests, and give to them a portion of your courage to remain faithful to the faith, their priesthood, and the liturgy.