Leeds: Priests stop saying “good morning” at Mass

In The Telegraph we find this piece with some good news… and some errors.

My emphases and comments.

Priests stop [is that a use of the imperative?] saying ‘good morning’ to their congregations
Catholic priests have stopped [apparently not…] saying "good morning" to their congregations over concerns that their services had become too informal.

By Julie Henry
Last Updated: 4:31PM BST 04 Apr 2009

Clergy attended a meeting last month to hear about the work of The International Commission of English in the Liturgy, which is producing a new English translation of the Latin mass which will be used in churches next year.

Priests at the meeting, held in the Diocese of Leeds, [where Archbp. Roche is – long a member of the ICEL leadership] were told to question whether it was appropriate to say "good morning" once the priest was on the altar and had made the sign of the cross.

Following the meeting, some priests in the diocese told their congregations that they would no longer greet them in an informal manner at the start of services. [God bless them.]

A spokesman for the diocese said: "The review of the liturgy is looking at whether there are elements of the service that have become a bit too distracting.  [Distracting from … what?  From the real purpose of liturgy?]

"People might argue that if you go in to a house, you say ‘hi’, but the priest is not going in to a house. He is going in to a sacred service. We need to emphasise that the priest is president of the community and is presiding at the service[ARGH!  NO! GRRRR…. even as they do something good, they seem to miss the stable basis for their choice.]

"It is a debate that has been going on in the Church for a long time – are we doing a cabaret or are we actually celebrating the Eucharist?

"The fear is that if some guidance is not given and general decisions are not put down, the interpretation of the liturgy leads to unsuitable things, like strobe lights and girls in hotpants. [Hmmm…. sounds like Austria…] The aim of the new translation is to bring more dignity to the service."  [Well… okay… but… well no… that is not quite it.  The aim of a new translation is to convey what the prayers really say.  In doing that, yes, "more dignity" will follow.  But it not merely a matter of style (which is probably what they mean by "translation" here).]

Arguments have long raged within the Catholic church about the current translation of the Roman Missal. Some believe the translations that came out of the Second Vatican Council, in the 1960s, were too quickly done and failed to capture important nuances[Nooooo not at all!  Those translations failed to capture the entire point of most of the Latin originals.]

The Vatican has approved a new English translation for the most commonly used text of the mass but its full contents have yet to be revealed.

Changes that have emerged so far include; when the priest says "The Lord be with you", the faithful will now respond "And with our [sic] spirit", rather than "And also with you", as they do now. 


The writer was confused, I think, and perhaps didn’t speak with very many people before dashing this off.

Still, the news is good.

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  1. Dominic says:

    It’s still “Bishop” Roche — or do you have some inside information on who is replacing Archbishop Vincent Nichols at Birmingham?

  2. martin says:

    We get welcomed and greeted before Mass. Sometimes we even get thanked for coming to Mass. Whilst well meaning, it is unnecessary and inappropriate. I don’t want to be thanked for doing, at least, the minimum of what God has asked of me, and He Himself has generously offered me, for my salvation.

  3. TJM says:

    I always found it highly irritating when the celebrant would say “good morning” before commencing Mass. This is a good beginning. Moreover, since Mass is generally in the vernacular, the priest and the rest of the folks (cantor, etc) should knock off the stage directions, over-explaining things,
    etc. It’s in English for God’s sake. If we didn’t need these “helpful hints” when Mass was celebrated in Latin we certainly don’t need them for English. Tom

  4. Sal says:

    Excellent news. It’s not a meeting, it’s the Mass.

  5. RBrown says:

    IMHO, worse is the \”have a nice day\” sendoff because it implies that the Final Blessing is inadequate.

  6. Marcin says:

    I find it equally irritating to hear “Have a nice day” from behind altar right after “Mass is ended…”. Blah. That’s what we get most of the time in the NNMC chapel Bethesda. Other than that the friar who usually say Mass is refreshingly restrained for a Franciscan, but can’t really help not to greet. I have tried to get myself so many times to charitably confront him, but, oh boy, to correct a priest?

  7. TNCath says:

    Wonderful news! Now, if we can get the weather report or the score of whatever game happens to be on during Mass eliminated…

  8. Isolda says:

    I am a nordite, and I’ve always believed it superfluous/redundant for the priest to begin Mass with such a mundane greeting as ‘good morning.’ It seems to suggest that the far more meaningful and appropriate greeting of ‘The Lord be with you’ just isn’t enough in the mind of that poor priest. To me it’s a sign that to the priest the Mass is mundane, and ad-libbing is his way of addressing his own problem of viewing the Mass–and all its glorious and meaningful prayers, gestures, and symbolism–as mundane. I’ve also thought that it may be a further sign that the priest really has little personal connection with his flock, and so he uses the Mass as his platform for trying to make this connection, when he could make greater efforts outside of Mass and let Mass be the platform from which he strives to connect the faithful with the divine.

  9. J. Basil Damukaitis says:

    How sad. The secularization of the Church’s liturgy. Having been raised in both the Byzantine Rite of my mother and the Latin Rite of my father I have a particularly rich liturgical life.

    My mother’s family would always say (in Slavonic), Christ is Among us, and we always said, “Indeed he his among us” or during Easter “Christ is Risen” “INdeed he is Risen”. And this was OUTSIDE of Church.

    This is where the Liturgical Reforms have FAILDED MISERABLY!!!! Putting the liturgy in the vernacular and facing the people and changing the prayers has NOT educated priests or people, it has only DE-formed them and banalized the Opus Dei. (And mind you, I’m all for a vernacular liturgy, that’s not my bailywick!)

    It is worth weeping over.

  10. LCB says:

    “”And with our [sic] spirit””

    I fully expect that variation will appear in my places. After all, isn’t it all about us? Aren’t we celebrating ourselves and how we’re okay just the way we are and Jesus doesn’t want us to change at all?

  11. Glen says:

    Great news. Other distractions to remove include the greeters, the leader, the hand shaking and all the chatting in the pews. Brick by brick.

  12. Jane Teresa says:

    Clergy in the Diocese of Leeds are perplexed by this story. Possibly it was a core liturgy meeting for a select few in the diocese, but the story is doubtful. I also don’t think a spokesperson for the diocese would have said “girls in hotpants”. The story seems dubious to me.
    (I live in Leeds)

  13. Jim says:

    Rather than \”good morning\” we get a variation on \”In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.\” Instead we get \”I greet you in the name of…\”

  14. Duuhhh... says:

    “leads to unsuitable things, like strobe lights and girls in hotpants.”


    Oh my… I’m telling you now, as a young person (maybe not many of you are), comments as wonderfully inane and, well, stupid, as that only serve to alienate more people from the Church.

    Strobe lights? Girls in hotpants? Am I missing something here? Is this a reference to some previous event?? I’m really at a loss to understand the train of thought that occurred in this guy’s head. And what’s with the random reference to Austria?

    Also, what exactly is so evil about a strobe light? Why are these lights getting all the bad press, whilst halogens get away scot-free? They’re the real usurpers, you know. Blasted halogens.

    Absolutely amazing. The Church is shedding members faster than you can imagine, and the only thing that the hierarchy can think of is banning a friendly greeting before and after a service.

    None of you want to hear this, probably, so go ahead and ban this comment, or delete it, or maybe even send me to Hell, but it’s the TRUTH. And I don’t think the Church can handle it.

  15. Geoffrey says:

    If the celebrant “has” to say anything, the proper time is indicated in the rubrics. However there is no reason to greet the faithful with a “good morning”, etc., as Mother Church already has a time-honoured greeting: “V/. The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.” There are even a few other options as well.

  16. EDG says:

    Our pastor at the Cathedral has recently stopped saying “Good Morning.” I was quite impressed because I am sure this was not easy for him, and I don’t know exactly what inspired it. But I think that little by little, men of good will are beginning to reexamine some of the things they have just “always” done and wonder exactly why they were doing these things.

    Nobody here should write these folks off just because their practice hasn’t been perfect in the past; they were doing what they had been taught, and if we don’t alienate them and get their backs up, it can and will improve. People in any area always want to defend their habitual practice – that’s just human nature in any field – and it’s much better to just let bygones be bygones and move ahead.

  17. RBrown says:

    Absolutely amazing. The Church is shedding members faster than you can imagine, and the only thing that the hierarchy can think of is banning a friendly greeting before and after a service.

    The Church is shedding members faster than you can imagine simple because people like you have no sense of the sacred.

    And I think you missed the point I made above. There are already greetings in the liturgy, both at the beginning and at the end. The fact that you seem unaware of them indicates that you have little sense of liturgy. (See above: no sense of the sacred.)

    How many people do you know who greet the same person twice within a few moments?

    None of you want to hear this, probably, so go ahead and ban this comment, or delete it, or maybe even send me to Hell, but it’s the TRUTH. And I don’t think the Church can handle it.
    Comment by Duuhhh…

    Your opinions won’t send you to Hell, but you do seem well on the road to a life of Spectacularly Disabling Ignorance. You probably don’t want to hear that, so go ahead and ignore it. But it’s the TRUTH. And I hope you can handle it.

  18. Mitchell NY says:

    I have heard the annoying ‘hints” from Priests during Mass as well. As if people do not understand the watered down English anymore. I am curious about one thing. Yesterday (Palm Sunday) right before the final blessing and dismissal (NO) a woman went to the pulpit and proceeded to remind parishoners of their financial obligation to the parish, and in her words to do it “quickly”. Is this allowed?, or should it be left for the bulletin? Shouldn’t Mass have been dismissed and not interupted? This parish I have seen for the first time use altar servers to distribute Holy Communion. I usually attend the UA but as this Beautiful Gothic Church is across the street from me I gave it another shot. They seem more lieral than 3 years ago.

  19. JC says:

    I don’t know what, exactly, “hotpants” are, but I see laity coming to the altar as lectors or extraordinary communion ministers wearing any number of immodest outfits. Let’s not talk about what nuns like the Erie Dominicans while engaging in “liturgical dance.”

    Then there’s what the laity wear. I will have forever burned in my memory the image of a teenaged girl who wore pants with such a low hem that I could see not only the top of her pants, but the top of her underwear, and her body hair above that.

    Or the girls who sat in the pew in front of us several years ago, wearing completely sheer tops and colored bras. In that case, the young ladies also conversed through Mass and attempted to steal hosts (long story; we are pretty sure one of the three girls was successful: the priest went after one when he saw she didn’t consume the Host. They got into a “huddle” when they got back to the pew, and one of the other girls held out her hand).

    Lastly, there is quite obviously a huge difference between “strobe lights” and “halogen lights.”

    I will agree that there *is* a bit of a “slippery slope” in the author’s reasoning.

    Nevertheless, the fundamental reasoning behind, “Good morning” or “Have a nice day” is, as others have said, that the liturgy as written is insufficient. There is already a much more substantial greeting and dismissal provided by Holy Mother Church.

    I would much rather we used more overtly religious/blessing oriented language in our daily greetings, like the Byzantines do, rather than replacing religious language in church with secular trivialities.

  20. Russ says:

    My (new) pastor does the formal greeting (Deo gratias!) but then launches into what I call the “pre-homily”:

    He says something like “in today’s readings we hear that … blah blah blah …” before getting on with the real liturgy.

    I am thinking this must not be de rigueur but I don’t know for sure. I wish he’d just stick to the black.

  21. Emilio III says:

    Mitchell, between the post-communion prayer and the final blessing the rubrics say “If there are any brief announcements they are made at this time.”

    At our trendier-than-thou parish they used to have the announcements immediately after the homily. While that was improper, I found it much less disruptive than standing for the post-communion and being asked to sit down for a few announcements and then stand up again for the final blessing. It is more clearly an interruption in the licit location. This would probably be good if the announcements were strictly limited to something important which arose too late to be included in the bulletin and cannot wait until next Sunday’s. Unfortunately they very rarely are important or not in the bulletin.

  22. RichR says:

    I think Thomas Day mentions this issue in his book, “Why Catholics Can’t Sing.” Any ambiance created by environment, music, vestments, etc…. is killed with a resounding “THUD” when the priest starts off with, “Good Morning!”

    If you are reading this post and comments and you can’t understand what the big deal is, then I highly suggest you get Day’s book. It is a very informative read and is liked and disliked by Catholics of both the conservative and liberal wings. That means it’s probably right on many counts.

  23. Fr; A says:

    This is very good indeed. But – I remember going to Mass as a boy, where one of the priests of the parish – there were two – would stand outside the church, in his cassock, and say ‘Good morning’ to everyone who entered the church. He was a good, traditional Catholic priest, and we had the ‘Novus Ordo’. That was about thirty years ago. We didn’t have any of the zany things that you can find elsewhere during the liturgy. I wonder if what we can see in many places today is an example of a ‘good thing’ that has been misused ?

  24. Richard says:

    Mitchell, between the post-communion prayer and the final blessing the rubrics say “If there are any brief announcements they are made at this time.”

    Will someone please define “announcements”?
    How about: “Please be seated. Do we have any visitors today? Ah, where are you from? And you,and you?” Then we all get to clap for our visitors. Now, lets find out who’s celebrating an anniversary. How long? Clap, clap, The grand finale is “BIRTHDAYS”. How many (years)? And on until we joyfully screech “Happy Birthday to You”,with guitars joining in. Those of us who leave when this starts are chastised. We’ve made it clear we are there for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Not a social hour. Doesn’t register. Just perplexed looks.

  25. Jason Keener says:

    Informal greetings like “Good Morning” are another way the sacred tension has been stripped from the Ordinary Form. Could you even imagine a priest beginning the Traditional Latin Mass with a “Good Morning?” The Liturgy is a cosmic event that opens out beyond the here and now. It is not some ordinary event where we use everyday greetings and gestures. We don’t begin with “Good Morning.” We begin “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

  26. Marcin says:

    “Please be seated. Do we have any visitors today?”

    Oh boy, I had to endure through this during my last winter stay in Myrtle Beach, SC. I had to grab and hold my chair tightly so I wouldn’t scream out loud. I always fear any stay outside my home area during the weekend for that exactly reason. The way Mass is treated _over there_ (read: ANYWHERE) is just a disaster. No exception yet.
    But my home area is no better. I can’t go to the closest Catholic church (I guess it would be our territorial parish) – they have _music ministry area behind the glass screen_ with guitars, drums, a piano and a lady cantor _performing_ to a mike. We are forced to go to a distant parish which also has it’s liturgical problems, yet they are relatively minor. But frankly, we try to worship as often as possible in the Melkite parish which is also quite distant. If time is constrained I sometime visit a nearby Ruthenian mission, which even though offered in a school gym (sic!) is still hands down Heaven on Earth compared to suburban NO.
    Basically it looks like wherever in the US one moves to, a Special Ops reconnaissance mission ought to be sent first to asses the liturgical status of the area of interest. Yea, be prepared.

  27. Jenny says:

    The priest at my parish seems fairly orthodox and conducts a dignified Mass, but he has two habits that are a little off-putting. 1) None of the “secret” prayers are secret. They are said full voiced. 2) He always adds a “thank you” to the greeting sequence. “The Lord be with you” “And also with you” “Thank you” I’m not sure why he does these things. I am sure he is trying to be open and friendly and wants people to know what is happening on the alter. Believe me I would rather have his “abuse” than some of the other things I have seen at other parishes. The action that really gets my goat is the the cantor who chants the psalms throwing his hands in the air to prompt the congregation to join the response. It isn’t like we don’t do it every week. It makes me feel like I am in kindergarten. The folks who want to sing will figure out when to sing. The folks who don’t want to sing won’t, no matter how high those hands go.

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