From a reader:
I’m sure this has been discussed to death (as has holding hands during the Our Father, whether it should be done or not, etc) but I was wondering about reverence for the Mass. Or even reverence before, during and even after the Mass.
I’m in my mid 40’s so was very familiar, and was even comfortable, with the new Masses of my youth, the music, etc. Maybe it was the Church’s way of welcoming or bringing back the youth, I don’t know. But now I believe that something was lost along the way.
I read that Catholics younger than me are thirsting for more, wanting and seeking the reverence that they do not find in some of their parishes. I seek that too.
One Sunday, whilst waiting for Mass to begin, there was casual chit-chat behind my husband and I, and voices in other places, that I felt as if we were waiting for a show to begin. What was missing was the crunching of popcorn and peanuts in the pews. My husband described is as "cacophony" and I was later surprised to read online that there were others who described it that way too.
I understand that sometimes people need to talk in hushed whispers or that the choir needs to practice. But why is there still conversation going on while the other parishioners are saying the rosary? My husband sits in his seat with his eyes closed. That is how he prays in the church. I remain quiet in my seat. And yet one parishioner goes over to the seat behind my husband, where her friend is seated, and they have a conversation. And not in hushed tones, either. My husband later said that there was no respect. If it were the Pope seated there, surely they wouldn’t do that. I had to agree with him. [But they do so in the presence of the tabernacle and… their fellow worshipers.]
I have never attended a Latin mass and I don’t think there are any around here. I enjoy our Masses but it’s disturbing as well as frustrating when a priest exerts his own personality upon the mass and turns it into a show of sorts. There was a visiting priest who said a few masses several Sundays in a row. He was very respectful during the consecration but was otherwise "entertaining". I know we are not supposed to judge but I also suppose that is precisely what I am doing right now.
How to deal with this, Father, on a regular basis, when there are others who insist on talking and carrying on whilst waiting for the Mass to be performed. It is not always that way but it does depend on the priest, I have to admit, not only the congregation.
Unlike me, my husband doesn’t care what others think of him, but I do sometimes wonder if there are other parishioners who think that we are too quiet in church. But then, are we not supposed to be quiet and prayerful in church? I miss that. I used to love sitting quietly in church by myself (when churches used to be opened during the day and before they had adoration rooms). It’s not that way anymore.
Here are a few thoughts.
I believe that over the last decades there has been a dissolution of our Catholic identity and our Catholic worship. They are inextricable, the one from the other. When we changed our forms of prayer, the design and decoration of our sacred spaces, and the manner of the prayer – so much in the hands of priests – we slowly but surely have been forgetting who we are in church, who others are in church, who we come to find in church.
Our Holy Father in his letter Sacramentum caritatis addressed the issue of the manner and style of liturgical celebration, especially in reference to the priest celebrant. The ars celebrandi or "art of celebrating" is of critical importance. The foundation of a sound ars celebrandi must rest on the priest getting himself out of the way of the words and actions of the true Actor during our worship: Christ the High Priest. We must carefully follow our texts and rubrics and get ourselves out of the way so that what Christ desires to give us through the ministry of Holy Church will ring clear and true.
Our sacred spaces must ring clearly only with what is sacred. Our texts and music must be oriented to God. But just as important is what does not ring at all: silence. Worship must must must include silence. We are busy creatures, easily distracted, with many cares. We depend for our proper attitude of participation in worship – our active receptivity to what the Priest is offering – on the proper environment, before, during and after. We need silence for the sake of our immediate disposition for our receptivity.
We are culturally bound, to a certain extent. We are people of our era and our environment. But surely it is incumbent on the priest to help his flock to the very best sort of active participation in our worship even if what he proposes – imposes – is counter-cultural. Even if he must strive to break bad habits, it is his duty to see to it that his flock benefit as much as possible from what the Church is offering.
The pathetic thing is that if the Novus Ordo WERE some sort of show made for entertainment, it would be an incredibly lame and uncool one.
Who do the priest’s who do this think they are entertaining? And, what’s perhaps more baffling, what kind of incredibly square person is entertained by On Eagle’s Wings and hokey little “and also with you”s??
People from the Kitsch Generation, I suppose. The kind that go to Branson, Missouri.
Trust me, the young people find it incredibly lame. At least the Old Rite has mystery, grandeur, logic, history, or even just a certain other-worldly transcendental set-apart surrealism (even if we must avoid the danger of it becoming a sort of dress-up Dungeons and Dragons game, as I worry some trads and even trad groups are using it as).
This specific question is what got me going with an interest in the TLM. Summorum pontificum appeared in the last few months of my time as a deacon. Understanding that our Holy Father had empowered the faithful to ask for this form of Holy Mass, I thought I should become acquainted with it. Once I was settled in a parish, I looked up local celebrations of the TLM and attended when I could, just to learn.
What made me stay and drove me to believe that there was something worth recovering in the traditional liturgy was the attitude I witnessed among the faithful. Unlike at home, the time before Mass wasn’t a din of conversations. No cell phones rang, and none were answered during Mass. (!) I began to be intensely grateful for the TLM community I prayed with when I could, for their quiet and reverent recollection, which I had been missing.
Let us not kids ourselves, it isn’t the form of Mass which makes the difference, but knowing what is going to happen and in Whose Presence we find ourselves. Granted, this is more typical in an OF parish but not ignorance will make it all “lame”. I think Father’s commentary says it all. Let us pray that “brick by brick” is moved to a much quciker ( althoughly equally impacting) pace.
Here’s my difficulty — attending Mass can sometimes be an occasion of sin, as I struggle to fight off critical and judgmental thoughts about the celebrant, cantor, EEMs, and the hand-holding chatting people sitting around me. I try my best, which is not always good enough. Too often, the critical thoughts transform into critical comments. My only regular opportunity for confession during the summer is with the very same priests who are (IMO) responsible for the less-than-reverent atmosphere. “Bless me father, for I have sinned in criticizing you…”
Not sure how that would fly.
I know we are not supposed to judge but I also suppose that is precisely what I am doing right now.
This is part of the problem. Why do people think they are supposed to leave their brains behind when they go into Church? Realizing that there is a problem is not “judging”, it is just recognizing the truth.
Likewise, it is perfectly legitimate to tell people the truth when they are objectively sinning. We can not know, and should not try to guess the state of someone’s soul, but when we can see with our eyes and hear with our ears that something is wrong, we have every right to speak up.
In my experience, it seems that the response to what the Holy Father is asking for is that he’s thousands of miles away. He doesn’t know us and what works for us. Even in places where there’s an effort to follow the “letter of the law” [such as silence and rubrics] doesn’t work. Silence seems to be a “time out” and the rubrics call for “robotism”. The error here is the lack of effort in obeying the “spirit of the law”. Silence without an earnest attempt to understand why does seem to be a time out. This is where catechesis and charity must come in to strong play. But of course, much easier said than done.
We know the value of doing things properly, and the fruit that it bears. But how do we charitably inform others of this great treasury? Especially when its just so easy to say, “This is what’s right so just do it this way!”?
I agree with anon that there were far too many occasions of sin when attending my neighborhood parish. It was just too much (no need to give the list–i think we all know it), but I will say that i guess the culmination of it was when the choir sang ‘happy birthday to you’ to the priest during mass. I have been attending mass in the EF and have NO regrets (no pun intended). Brick by brick is just not happening in the regular parish, just not happening. So why subject myself to it? It is just plain sad and I’ll continue to pray, but I too will make my thoughts known in a respectful manner. Several years ago I did just that, and the priest looked at me like I was from another planet.
I have often chosen to close my eyes at Mass. This way I am not distracted by some of the things going on nor by the indecent manner some people choose to dress to come to church. On the issue of talking at church before, during and after Mass. It is neverending. When I was a kid it was better; at least people whispered! Now it is like meeting at the watercooler. The topper though for me came one day in Adoration with the Blessed Sacrament exposed. Two women sat in the back pew of our small Adoration Chapel yacking about everything they could think of, and they were not kids either. Finally as the time for me to leave I “prayed” out loud something to the effect that Dear LOrd I’m leaving now. Perhaps these two ladies are waiting to be alone with You and will speak to you now. I got up and left. Never had that problem again. We do have one person who reads the local church paper for an hour turning broad sheet pages as noisy as possible. Like the old Peter, Paul and Mary—When will they ever learn?
Verbs are important. Notice what our correspondent wrote:
” … whilst waiting for the Mass to be performed.”
“Brick by brick is just not happening in the regular parish, just not happening.”
This is what has so discouraged me. When I travel outside my little circle of TLMs (yes, I am blessed to have a few choices)I am filled with anxiety as to what I might be subjected to. I put up with it to fulfill the obligation. But I am sick at heart because of it. Putting up with it just doesn’t seem right.
“I have often chosen to close my eyes at Mass.”
I know. The ironic thing is that I am now MORE likely to just close my eyes and pray my rosary during the New Mass than at the Old (the “accusation” always hurled against it, even though doing that is not, strictly speaking, wrong). Just to distract myself from the nonsense and “get through it” without being uncharitable, I have to just “tune out” a lot of it.
And this is at a very “by the books” neoconservative parish where I can identify no particular “liturgical abuses” (though they certainly arent “reform of the reform” either). But the priest is up their reading the patronizing Kindergarten translation in his polyester abstract-dove-decal chasuble, and the lady-lectors read the NAB lessons in their nasally cloying rendition, and weird middle aged men with creep-staches aggressively grab your hand during the our father, and the saccharine carnival music is sung pretty much just by the rather effeminate sounding cantor; everyone else just sorta sits their looking around awkwardly, except the few “teacher’s pet” neocon types who very diligently read along with every word and every hymn in the missalette…making me wonder “wait, then what was the point of translating it if they are going to be following in a book anyway?”
Talking in church has started to seriously annoy me. People use mobile phones a lot too. Priests should serve as an example of reverent behaviour but many like to stress the importance of ‘community and friendship’ among the congregation. We had a priest who would give football results before the end of Mass. I was very happy when he left to another parish.
Some of these posts remind me of the English anecdote about the low church Anglican bishop’s comment on going to Anglo-Catholic churches.
“I quite enjoy a Solemn High Mass. I just close my eyes during the busier parts.”
In his book on the Curé of Ars, which I am earnestly plugging through, Fr. Rutler has a wonderful phrase which I think relates well to the problems the writer cites — especially that of the priest who imposes his personality on the Mass and approaches it as entertainment. Addressing the matter of the French Revolution and the man-made pagan religion that was imposed by its proponents, Rutler speaks of the “temptation to be silly about solemnities and solemn about silliness” (p. 40). Surely we have all witnessed our share of solemn silliness and silly solemnity during the last few decades.
Gee, my old parish had everything described in this thread PLUS the popcorn and peanuts, literally. During Sunday Mass, some children would run across aisles droppin peanuts and candy while yelling and crying, and the priest did nothing. This went on for some time. Then, when Summorum Pontificum came out, I asked the pastor if he would consider Mass in the EF. The response was negative. I left the parish with no regrets. Sometime thereafter, I was informed that the pastor had to go into rehab. He needs our prayers, but he gets no money or support from me. The EF Mass that I attend now is truly heavenly, and I can feel the benefit to my soul.
Rather than be driven to a Church much farther away because of all the talking and irreverence before Holy Mass begins, I have discovered the value of ear plugs. Yes, unfortunately, it has come to that. I have knelt in prayer before Mass when the pastor has socialized down the aisle, even talking..not whispering..with someone right beside me. When walking into the Church, the sounds are similar to a bingo parlor within. I have left articles on the sinfulness of talking in Church in the back of Church but to no avail. Most Churches in my immediate area are much the same. I have even respectfully given the associate priest several articles regarding reverence at Mass. On Easter, a parishioner went to the microphone and asked everyone to remember where they were, and to pray quietly before Mass. Two minutes later, the priest came out and apologized for her and said he hoped that she didn’t offend anyone. Lord have mercy.
In our otherwise Novus Ordo parish in coastal Calif.(!), the influence of the EF (3 dailies/week & 1 Sunday/month) that now peppers the Mass offerings has really started to perceptively turn the tide of irreverent behavior—from talking in church to dress code. All that has probably improved by 30-40% in the short time since Summ. Pont. – which is no small feat in a large parish!
It helps indeed that our priest, through his obedience to the rubrics, often therefore becomes that transparent “door in the wall” through we which we are able to see the Great High Priest. His own unaffected but unabashed gestures of reverence for Jesus in the Tabernacle—-even in the vestibule outside of Mass—-are silent homilies all by themselves. And the young people copy him. Willingly.
Some of us here can’t wait for more EF offerings!
And as for the loaded silence that frames and infuses the Mass and begins to intrude itself (in an oh-so-welcome way) on the rest of one’s busy day — it’s downright addictive . . . !
There’s a lot of chatting that goes on in my church before and after Masses on Sundays, too. I once asked about it and was told that “it’s a sign of a vibrant parish.” I didn’t tell her what I think it’s a sign of…
in our parish there is a piped in music, which to me is disturbing. They play this piped-in music before mass, supposedly to give a feeling of serenity. But for I consider it a form of abuse. It disturbs me and sometimes I cant say the rosary well or medidate because I get to her the music. It is so artificial. Its noisy most of the time and people come in ordinary clothes. Clothes they use for malling or strolling. (sigh) God save us from these. Most of our Priests don’t care about this.
Yes, I would have to agree with some of the more critical comments here.There is (Canada) a total lack of reverence, dignity, and solemnity. Before Mass men and women (mainly in the 60-70 age group) flock to gossip.Meanwhile Extraordinary Eucharistic Minister’s,Lay Reader’s etc all gathered at the rear of the Church add to the cacophony with their noise.One does find it rather a penance even just attending Holy Mass (and it also requires REAL effort to maintain a charitable spirit too!).Meanwhile; after mass there is a general melee by all and sundry, gathered in small groups loudly chatting away ; trying to make one’s thanksgiving with all this is again, not easy.
Another telling point; notice how many people, of all ages, do NOT genuflect when they enter their pew. I think this is the litmus test, whatever the rationale behind failure to observe this mark of respect.
Reading these comments, I’m “happy” about one thing: I’m obviously not alone.
I’m not above turning around and asking people to be quiet. Yes, this seemingly outrageous request is sometimes met with hostility. Every weekend I see the same group of gals who can never let go of the fact that I had the audacity to remind them they are in a Church and some people like to pray in silence after Confession. What’s truly sad is our priest did ask them to be quiet and they laughed, yes, LAUGHED, at him and kept right on.
I put the blame in the “we have to reach the people” nonsense. That’s how all this disrespect started. Somewhere along the line someone had the mistaken notion that if Church is not a social gathering place, we are going to lose everyone. Look around: the churches are more social so where is everyone?
Community bonding has nothing to do with it. Execute on the basics: they will come.
Also, I think the decline in respect for the priesthood is a serious problem as well. Look at what I just said above: a PRIEST asked parishioners to be quiet and they ignored him.
Although let’s not romanticize too much either. Let’s remember that church is a social reality. Let’s not forget that in the middle ages church services WERE the main form of both entertainment and the main place of socialization, to the point that as Mass went on up front in the Cathedral, people would mill around talking, a pious few following the liturgy up front (behind a screen or iconostasis anyway), but many just mingling, enjoying the music, or visiting various private-devotion “stations” around the church (relics and icons and stuff), there were even vendors selling food and stuff IN the Cathedrals, and people playing dice out in the porch still considered “morally present” enough to meet their obligation. Today the thought might scandalize us, in our more literate society, and I’m not proposing that model for us, but remember that’s even how the “peanut gallery” attended many of Shakespeare’s plays; it formed the excuse for “an event” but was not necessarily the be all and end all of the event in itself. [And…. none of those things are good to do today. Just because these things happened centuries ago, that doesn’t justify irreverence in church now.]
And in an age of an impersonal, mass-marketed, bureaucratic Institution of a church, [good grief] where you can hop parishes, where there are “drive-through” confessions, where the pastor couldnt possibly know all the thousands of parishioners names, where you feel anonymous and “alone in the crowd” even at your own parish, where parish picnics hardly have the sense of a day with an intimate group of friends…can we really blame people for wanting to talk at least before and after church before going off back to their isolated, alienated individual lives that church is supposed to remedy, but which thanks to anti-social compartmentalizing attitudes of some otherwise good Catholics…the church isnt necessarily providing. Suggest a more Eastern model of small parishes, with a pastor who knows everyone, where confession is always with a Spiritual Father and combined with holistic spiritual direction, where Sunday IS a social event with the parish, and where the whole parish gathers for every wedding and every funeral…and you’ll be met with resistance. A lot of the same Catholics turning up their noses and casting the evil eye at people talking before and after church, are the same ones who want to be able to come to Mass on Sundays and then leave right afterward without being “forced” to socialize at any event the parish might have planned for afterward, who want confession available every day but want to be able to switch confessors or otherwise not have a personal relationship with their pastor, who would absolutely rebel against being “obligated” to attend every wedding and funeral and baptism within the parish family. This sort of “fast food franchise” very independent and individual “leave me alone” Catholicism is a problem, and was before the Council as well. [All over the place….]
Consider the following from the very first section of Vatican II’s, Presbyterorum Ordinis (“On the Ministry and Life of Priests”):
Since, however, in the renewal of Christ’s Church tasks of the greatest importance and of ever increasing difficulty are being given to this order, it was deemed most useful to treat of the subject of priests at greater length and with more depth.
Also, consider that the above-mentioned decree is amongst the shortest of the Council . . . which kind of tells one where the bishops’ mind really was on the matter. [Indeed, yes. But the bishops sure talked about themselves and how important they were.]
Several of the medieval councils (e.g., Lateran V) were adjudged failure because they refused to produce any effective reform of the clergy. Where they failed, Trent finally succeeded because the Pope and bishops finally got serious . . . unfortunately, they were forced into this by a fractious and fed-up friar named Martin Luther.
Read some of the canons from Trent in vol. 2 of Tanner’s Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils. Things in the celebration of the Tridentine Mass were not pretty: People talking and carrying-on during the Mass; priests celebrating with filthy linens; superstitious practices; etc. Trent cleaned them up.
I think Vatican II was an immense blessing to the Church, but I think its “failure” was in its lack of any true reform of the clergy. The liturgical as well as doctrinal chaos, in my opinion, is evidence of this.
Just one example: There are otherwise conservative priests who yet hate ritual: It’s not “pastoral;” the liturgy becomes longwinded; etc. Incense? Taking the time to go through the whole church sprinkling the congregation with holy water? A Sung Mass every Sunday? They’ll look at you like you’re crazy. And, you can talk to them until you’re blue in the face about Vatican II and what it wanted for liturgy, and documents like Sacram Musicam (which they’ll not have even been required to read in seminary). For them, a priest is a nice guy [RIGHT! That is the overriding thing.] with an “ontological change” — if they even know what that means!
Whoops! I meant Musicam Sacram.
At least the Old Rite has mystery, grandeur, logic, history, or even just a certain other-worldly transcendental set-apart surrealism (even if we must avoid the danger of it becoming a sort of dress-up Dungeons and Dragons game, as I worry some trads and even trad groups are using it as).
This is as brilliant as it is true.
A few years ago I began attending Mass at the local parish nearest to my new home, which happened to be the cathedral. The rector and deacon actually worked their way through the gathered throng shaking hands and chatting before Mass, making it difficult, if not impossible, to pray. In effect, I think they discouraged praying by their example and antics. At least it was disruptive to my own attempts to prepare myself before Mass.
During the Mass, the usual suspects of lector, song leader, etc. carried on in the usual manner. At least the choir (a rather good one) was in the rear balcony. I tried to cope with this by positioning myself behind a pillar that blocked my view of the song leader. That helped, but overall the distractions before and during Mass were unhelpful, if not detrimental, to my spiritual health.
Just in time, Summorum Pontificum came into effect. I sought out the EF at a former indult community and haven’t looked back. What a relief to be in a place that is focused upon what it should be focused upon. I do need to get to Mass especially early, though, in order to get a seat, and that’s just fine with me: I cherish the time I spend before Mass in prayer. And I cherish even more the splendor, beauty, richness and holy awe of the EF.
I noticed that there were a couple of comments about lay readers, especially women. They seem to imply that lay readers are tolerated but are not a good thing. I am a woman lay reader at our parish. I feel very grateful to serve in this way, and did so because I was asked. I am conservative, not a feminist and deeply long for a reverent mass with a better translation, which I hope we will have soon. Could someone tell me what are the requirements for a lector and what is the difference between a lector and a lay reader? Should I not be serving in this capacity?
I have also been disturbed with all the talking in church before mass. For a while we were always running late to mass and getting there just before mass began. Lately, we have been able to arrive at mass early and there is a BIG difference with all the chit chat. Unfortunately, at this point I prefer to arrive at church just before mass to avoid becoming annoyed and distracted before mass
Part of me wonders if all the “welcoming” at church has gotten out of control. We have people who greet you at the doors and say, “hello” in an effort to be more welcoming. I never liked being welcomed into church and neither did my preteen daughter. I think having chit chat at the doors encourages people to talk more as they enter the church.
Something else I’ve noticed is that the people who are lectors and EMHC are some of the top offenders of those who chit chat before mass.
It bothers me to see people my age (mid 40’s) or older, especially the senior citizens who talk so much and so loudly.
If the the tabernacle was a thrown on which the King of Belgium was sitting in silence, things would be different. Alas, the tabernacle is merely that which the King of Kings is dwelling within in silence.
“They seem to imply that lay readers are tolerated but are not a good thing.”
They are not ideal. Then again, neither are lay servers. The ideal is instituted(in the NO)/ordained(in the TLM) lectors and acolytes.
Of course, lay altar servers were common (and still common) in the Old Rite because of how they (perhaps unnecessarily) came to reserve conferring Minor Orders on seminarians, and people seem to love the idea of “altar boys”.
But at least servers were men and wore clerical garb while serving, so it LOOKED like a cleric even if it wasnt.
There used to be an idea, a logic, that public prayer required a Public Pray-er, that is to say, the only strictly speaking liturgical prayer had to be spoken by a public representative of the church, ie, a cleric.
“Could someone tell me what are the requirements for a lector and what is the difference between a lector and a lay reader?”
A lector must be a man and is instituted in this position by a bishop. A “lay reader” is like the EMHC of lectoring, and can be a man or woman, used when no lectors are available.
Most parishes do not bother to get men actually instituted as lectors because of a) laziness, and b) a desire not to exclude women.
“Should I not be serving in this capacity?”
There is nothing strictly speaking illicit about it. But it would be much nicer to see a man up there in alb or cassock and surplice (even if he wasnt instituted), and CHANTING the readings instead of just “reading” them.
Well, in all parishes of the city where I used to live there are popcorn sellers in front of the church before, during, and after Mass. As their specialty is popcorn with chunks of strong fried cheese, its dirty-socks smell pervades the church throughout Mass. Needless to say, plenty of people buy their children popcorn before Mass, so there is always the chunching of popcorn in the pews.
No peanuts, though.
And the worst of all is that I’ll be there next Sunday, and I’ll have to endure it again.
There is crunching at some of the Masses I attend. The other week, I watched a two-year old polish off a bag of Cheetos. It took her half-way through the Liturgy of the Eucharist to finish.
We have chatty 60 and 70 year olds but they are very quiet and other than their whispers it’s pretty quiet before Mass. The main reason is our priest who can often be seen praying on his knees before Mass.
Reading these comments, I got a strong sense of how pervasive the lack of reverence and the view of Mass as “entertainment” are. Like a previous commenter, it’s reassuring to know I’m not alone in my desire to have more quiet and less socializing at what is supposed to be an act of worship. It’s sad, though, to see how extensive this problem is throughout North America. We need to pray harder!
“even if we must avoid the danger of it becoming a sort of dress-up Dungeons and Dragons game”
This is interesting – I like the EF Mass, although I don’t assist in one regularly any longer, but the EF actually seems more “showy” to me, particularly the Masses with a large liturgical entourage. That’s not a complaint; it’s more just an observation.
To the correspondent, I guess I would say, maybe God wants you in that place to set an example. So offer up your annoyance and distractions, etc, and behave in the way that you want others around you to behave. Pray that others come to have the reverence you have. Have you considered wearing a chapel veil (if you don’t now)? That would be a sign to everyone around you that you recognize the Real Presence (which is why I wear one anyways) and that you are at Mass for WORSHIP, not chit-chatting, at least not immediately before the Mass (although I have to say, this is not a problem at the OF parish I attend). Also, I participate only minimally in the Sign of Peace. I kind of nod to one or two people around me, but that’s it. I’ll shake someone’s hand if he or she really doesn’t get that I don’t want to, but I very seldom extend my hand to anyone. I don’t want people to think that I’m unfriendly, though, so I smile and maybe give a little wave to the people around me as I go into the pew (without making conversation) and I talk to lots of people outside, after Mass. There are ways to show that Mass is not about socializing without seeming completely unsociable! It takes some effort, though.
“This is interesting – I like the EF Mass, although I don’t assist in one regularly any longer, but the EF actually seems more “showy” to me, particularly the Masses with a large liturgical entourage. That’s not a complaint; it’s more just an observation.”
And not an incorrect one. It’s just that the EF is like Shakespeare, whereas the Novus Ordo is well, as I said, like a dinner show in Branson.
we should not have to ‘request’ reverence. let there be two forms of the roman rite in EVERY parish by the first sunday in advent.
Lay off the Branson, MO remarks!
I love that place!
Well, the Holy Spirit still works in mysterious ways folks. So be of good(ish) cheer. Our priest (God bless him) has thankfully been moved.I spoke to Fr.’s replacement about the same problems even describing our congregation as ‘sheep without a shepherd’. Fr. listened and stated that there is also a ‘tendency’ to go to the other ‘extreme’. Not sure what that meant and am at fault for not seeking clarification. I know of a gentleman at a parish ‘down the road’ who was so disturbed by the liturgy meeting that he walked out and literally dusted his shoes, once outside. No surprises what happens during mass.Him and the missus attend weekend masses elsewhere though weekdays are still celebrated locally.Recently his wife had a dream whereby she witnessed the’devout’ parishioners standing and shivering outside their local church. Upon awaking, she wondered whether they had let these parishioners down by not remaining at their local parish rather than going elsewhere?
I too at times feel the need to remove myself on weekends.I know that it is very challenging to remain but what if it is the will of Our Lord to remain where we are and with reverent posture, ‘obvious’ respect and silence, influence others ‘BRICK BY BRICK’ i.e. one at a time. People do notice (though this is not the reason for reverence of course).I noticed a young child (approx. 6) recently imitating my posture of hands held in the praying position. Sure, I have also told few people to be silent but Fr. really needs to get a handle on this.
I urge you folks to think long and hard (PRAY to Mother Mary and the Holy Spirit) for guidance.Your remaining could also act as solidarity and support for others who feel the same as you do. Of course, there may come a time of unbearable………
“I tried to cope with this by positioning myself behind a pillar that blocked my view of the song leader.”
That won’t work in some cases. One of the “new” phenomenons no one has menitoned, I believe, is the sound system. The “cantors,” priests, readers are all wired up; mostly wirelessly now. And they are WAY TOO LOUD, sometimes even distorting. How one can even think of saying a rosary with this going on…well, it is impossible for me. If the song leader can’t sing very well, then it is totally and horrifyingly excruciating. At one church I “tried,” the song leader rang, with her fingers, wind chimes into the microphone all during the offertory, nonstop. It was so painful, my ears ached, to say nothing of the annoyance it caused. From now on I always carry earplugs in my purse. Churches used to be constructed for acoustics and microphones were not needed. Smart.
Isn’t all this so stupid? Why should we HAVE to go to Mass when it is like this. Going to Mass should bring comfort to the weary soul.
I know, I know, but still….
Here’s the Canadian Catholic Register’s take on entertaining vs reverent priests, entitled, oddly, : “In Praise of our Priests”.
Meanwhile, I cannot imagine anyone attending the EF in a “Dungeons and
Dragons” spirit. For one thing, the priest is usually inaudible, so you have to
pay active attention at all times to keep up. No time for fantasies of the “Here
I am, the beautiful warrior maiden under my mysterious black mantilla, deeply
in love with that elf in the tweed jacket in the third row, wonder if he’s
Oh, but and in fairness to two year olds, they’re not going to pay attention at Mass
anyway, so they might as well eat cheezies. Personally, I find cheerios a much
more churchy snack, but that’s just me.
I will ask my father if he remembers if small children ate snacks in church
before 1970. As long as they’re not running around, bawling or prattling loudly unshushed, I
don’t believe small children as removethe solemnity from Mass. Cheezies (or
cheerios) no doubt keep two year olds quiet.
My mum used to take five kids to church and we were all “good”, mostly because
we were afraid of what would happen if we weren’t. And I’m almost certain the
youngest ones scrunched cheerios in a meditative sort of way.
There are very few babies at the EF I attend, and I’m sorry, as I love to see
babies in church. They remind me of the Infant Christ, and they are a sign that
the Church will continue. I’d love the EF to continue, so the more EF-trained babies,
as I said, like a dinner show in Branson
This is undoubtedly true of some OF Masses. It isn’t true of the Masses at the OF parish I attend, however.
“There are very few babies at the EF I attend, and I’m sorry, as I love to see
babies in church. They remind me of the Infant Christ, and they are a sign that
the Church will continue. I’d love the EF to continue, so the more EF-trained babies,
The EF I attend has loads of big families with lots of little kids. I can’t explain it, but the kids are always quiet and well behaved. Babies, are babies and sometimes they get a little fussy, but after about 3 yrs old, the children are very respectful. But what I also notice is that there are NO diversions for the kids. No coloring books or Cheerios or anything else. Maybe a child’s missal, which is typically undisturbed. It seems that the parents come with the expectation that their children WILL be quiet and attentive, rather than with a arm full of contingency plans in case they aren’t. I don’t know what kind of parenting skills are required for that, but it’s impressive.
I’m disappointed that most the the near 50 comments following this post are not suggestions for solutions, or even encouragements. Most of the the near 50 comments contain pathetic whining and the advice to find an EF parish. Maybe I feel this way because I don’t have an EF parish available to me, but how is change supposed to happen if those proposing it refuse to see it through?
My husband is an organist in a protestant church and we’ve been in a few over the years. One thing that killed me about them, that always made me proud to be Catholic, was that Catholic parishes are drawn on neighborhhod lines. Catholics don’t “move their letter” when something in their church upsets them. They stick it out, fix it, or compromise. Not the wdtprs-ers, apparently. You jump at the first chance to abandon your NO parish.
Of course I’ve experience the same problem as the OP. How am I dealing with it? (Well, not by deciding that Mass is too much of an occasion for sin to warrant my going) My husband and I pray the rosary before Mass. We started softly at first, but we’re increasing in volume. We’ve invited a few others to pray with us. It’s slow work, but I hope that in a few months time, we’ll have nearly a crowd praying the rosary together. Eventually, I would like to get permission to have the rosary led (yes, with mics!) before each Mass.
If there is ever too much irreverant talking before Mass to pray, I simply turn around and ask those to remember that some wish to use this time in prayer. It nearly always works, and if it doesn’t, then I say a prayer for them. My conversion is not complete and I’m sure there was a time when I did the same – or worse. They could use your prayers, no?
Finally, after Mass seems to me to be the most popular time for networking, so my husband and I kneel and recite the St. Michael prayer before silently leaving. Change will only come through example. Most people haven’t studied their faith as we(?) have. How can you expect CCD or RE to teach reverance during Mass? I learned that through daily attendance at my parish school. Not everyone is so lucky.
The original article contained interesting observations, one in particular: “I’m in my mid 40’s so was very familiar, and was even comfortable, with the new Masses of my youth, the music, etc. Maybe it was the Church’s way of welcoming or bringing back the youth, I don’t know.”
It is frustrating to see this rusty, dull, toothless old saw flexed again and again about Vatican II and “bringing back the youth.” Whenever I read this, I immediately know the author has no real knowledge of how this supposed “youth welcome” of post-Vatican II liturgy affected the young at the time that this “welcome” was first extended.
I was in my mid-teens attending a parochial school when the changes began in late 1965. Most of us “youth” did not care one way or another about Church tradition or liturgy, and had a take-it-or-leave-it attitude to what was *pre* Vatican II or what was *post* Vatican II. You could have swapped the pastor with a Jehovah Witness and his assistant with a Mormon and few would have cared. These were the types who easily and readily adapted to the liturgical mutilations.
But to the minority of us for whom there was tremendous value and significance attached to the liturgy of the previous 1500 years, the changes were the *most* alienating disconnect that we had *ever* experienced. For many, it was just too much. Millions upon millions of the most faithful departed even before the 1970 novus ordo sealed the descent into meaningless, trivial, banal, happy-me/happy-you/patty-cake services and songs which remain the signature of many Roman Catholic parish services today. Post-Vatican II young people, having been raised as church mushrooms (kept in the dark, etc., etc.), knew and were exposed to nothing better. The church hierarchy (except SSPX and a very few others) under Paul VI and John Paul II exerted extreme efforts to keep it that way.
Now, under the gifted leadership of the magnificent Benedict XVI, more and more (but still way too few) of today’s young are afforded an opportunity to experience the timeless liturgy of the pre-Vatican II epoch. It is absolutley no surprise to me that when this occurs, many young people find revelation in it.
Likewise, it is no surprise to me that many of the surviving pre-Vatican II Roman Catholics (including the clergy) who adapted to the changes are most resistant to the traditional Mass. These types, after all, typically could not have cared less what liturgical disfigurements were inflicted post-Vatican II, and have since grown comfortable with the pre- and intra-mass revival-style shenanigans of the novus ordo as practiced in many localities.
I suspect that most of the people who remained after the Vatican II changes would have remained, had those those radical changes never been made. So that’s a wash. What was a most profound loss was the millions who saw their Church leave them, those for whom the Church formerly had held profound importance in their lives.
Hey, well, I married a Trid, so that’s why I left my parish. I joined his, after a very nice Novus Ordo wedding liturgy, over which we had quite a lot of control. Which is to say,
the priest did the red and said the black and there was no clapping or “you may
now kiss the bride” or other made-up crap.
Anyway, let me see. WDTPRSers have mentioned shushing people and saying loud,
passive aggressive prayers, too. And some have spoken to priests and been looked
at as if they were space aliens. So hmm… What else is a lay person to do?
What about letters to the editor of the local Catholic paper? It’s a start. And then, using Father Z’s guidelines, letters to the bishop. And then, if you happen to be on one, mentioning the issues
in a parish council meeting. Or a parish Catholic Women’s League meeting?
There there’s encouraging one’s own children to A) go to Mass b) behave at
Mass c)listen for a vocation to the priesthood. There’s suggesting to the
pastor that a word in the parish bulletin about reverence and quiet would be nice.
Maybe even a sign at the door saying ‘ “My Father’s House Shall Be a House of
Prayer”… Quiet, please.’ A pastor at my ex-parish put up anti-mobile phone signs reading,
“Don’t be selfish,” which I thought a bit rude, though to the point.
The problem is that although lay people are told we have to “take up our
priesthood,” and be active worshippers, blah blah blah, most of us, especially the meek, are still powerless over the liturgy and communal worship. So in the end it is simply
easier to find an EF parish or at least a parish with a decent choir director.
Threatening to cut off money in the collection is no good, as the priest
gets paid his pittance no matter what. All we can do is walk–and pray–and
complain in progressively less charming ways.
Genevieve wrote: “I’m disappointed that most the the near 50 comments following this post are not suggestions for solutions, or even encouragements…Maybe I feel this way because I don’t have an EF parish available to me, but how is change supposed to happen if those proposing it refuse to see it through?”
I am compelled to attend the typical novus ordo on average about 15 times each year when taking older relatives to their church. I’ve always felt much worse for the experience.
But there are many things that can be done to improve the novus ordo if the pastor of the parish has the strength, will, courage, and integrity to act. Recently, I inadvertently attended a novus ordo at the OLAM Shine in Hanceville, AL. (I thought it was to be an EF Mass.) It was as good as the novus ordo can be. It was celebrated by Fr. Joseph Mary, with a N.O. permanent deacon, and the monastery nuns as choir. In contrast to the typical novus ordo as “performed” in many localities, the remarkable characteristics of this mass were:
1. It was celebrated with a fair amount of Latin.
2. It was celebrated ad orientem.
3. The priest and deacon were both properly vested in a traditional manner.
4. The altar servers were men, in traditional server vesting.
5. There was no lay lector.
6. There was no bidding prayer.
7. There was no presentation of offerings by lay people.
8. There was no hand-holding at the Pater Noster.
9. There was no congregation-wide hand-shaking “signs of peace.”
10. There were no extraordinary ministers of communion.
11. There was no communion of both species.
12. Communion was delivered only “on the tongue” (!) with a server holding a paten.
13. Those receiving communion knelt (!) at the communion rail.
14. The music was traditional Catholic chant in Latin or hymns in English (None of the vulgar post-1965 caterwalling first-grade mentality “music” of the typical novus ordo paperback “missalet” hymnals, whose best hymns are those copied from the Protestants!).
15. People were quiet and respectful both before and after mass.
I’m sure there were other aspects of this mass that escape recollection right now, but I admit that I was very impressed and appreciative of the efforts exerted by Fr. Joseph and company to eliminate the most offensive aspects of the typical novus ordo. Still, even the simplest of EF low Masses is so very much more satisfying.
So, there’s a suggested list of 15 simple and easy things that can and should be applied to the novus ordo everywhere. Do it.
Genevieve wrote: “Catholics don’t “move their letter” when something in their church upsets them. They stick it out, fix it, or compromise. Not the wdtprs-ers, apparently. You jump at the first chance to abandon your NO parish.”
Some in novus ordo parishes have waited fruitlessly for 45 years for things to straighten out and get better. How long should they continue to wait? Unless you have a pastor like Fr. Joseph who can bring some dignity to the mass, I’d encourage all to abandon the typical novus ordo parish if a traditional parish is available. Let the bitter and poisonous fruit of Annibale Bugnini whither on the vine. The Church will be much the better for it.
There were, indeed, probably a few other things you could have mentioned, such as the Ordinary (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, etc) in Gregorian chant (Latin), incense used at all appropriate times (especially at the moments of consecration), etc.
On the basis of a number of visits to the Shrine, I think you would see the same things at the principal conventual Mass 7 days a week, whichever of the 5 or 6 Eternal Word friars or a visiting priest is the celebrant.
I continue to wonder whether how much Pope Benedict’s program would be accelerated if this Mass could be televised daily around the world, as Mother Angelica intended. (I hope no one asks why not. We’ve been through this several times, and I don’t know what the bishops are afraid of.)
Incidentally, however much more satisfying you think the simplest EF Mass may be, I understand that pilgrims to the Shrine sometimes remark following such a Novus Ordo Mass that they hadn’t realized that a traditional Latin Mass would be offered that day.
The first item you mention was my intent with “14. The music was traditional Catholic chant in Latin…” I’d forgotten about the incense, though. I could also have mentioned that the priest did not sit at the center of the sanctuary, as is so common with many novus ordos. But since that is not possible at OLAM, I decided not to take credit for it. :-)
Even the televised EWTN daily mass is a fairly decent version of the novus ordo. The principal difference is that it is versus populum. I wish the one that I have to attend on occasion were like that. But I agree, mass from the OLAM Shrine instead of Irondale would be far better. Former Birmingham Bp. David Foley put the hex on that back when it was politically correct to discourage anything that smacked of traditionalism. Most bishops are nothing if not politicians. I would think that could be changed now that he’s gone and the EF Mass has been generally legalized. He also insisted that the altar at OLAM be built free-standing to allow vesus populum services. (AFAIK, none have ever taken place there.)
Some of the volunteers in that castle-thing they have there (the only thing that I don’t much care for) years ago would claim that they had the traditional Mass there each day. Of course, it was just the “improved” novus ordo with some Latin.
For me, an important litmus test is the Requiem Mass. In such, the novus ordo eliminated the Dies Irae sequence, which in my upbringing was the core of the most important Mass in the missal. I suppose there is no reason why it couldn’t be included in a novus ordo Requiem if the celebrant desired it. It’s in the hymnals at OLAM.
I hope you were able to attend last Wednesday’s Solemn High Mass at OLAM, celebrated by Chicago Auxilary Bishop Perry. It was most impressive!
After being asked by a friend why I now attended a different parish I decided to write down all the differences between the two parishes.
I had no difficulty in finding at least twenty differences. And that was before my ‘new’ Parish Priest started celebrating a weekly TLM!
The uniformity of worship in the Catholic Church which once so impressed me is sadly no longer there but I am so grateful at having found a parish where ‘the black is said and the red is done’ and where I can once again feel proud to be a member of the One Holy Catholic Church.
It is always obvious which items, Father, generate a great deal of interest – look at all the comments! This one is no exception and is one of my pet peeves. I have admitted before :) that I knew and loved the Mass of my childhood, before Vatican II, and reverence was one of the critical differences. Moving all the tabernacles in more recent years has not helped at all, but there are numerous factors involved. I am always surprised that it is often people older than myself talking, and they should know better.
One of the few things I can do is to set a good example. For example, I genuflect behind the person receiving Communion (so it disrupts no one) and now I have seen a couple of people doing this also. We always want others to see Jesus and not ourselves.
One of the problems that has to be addressed here is the sociological phenomenon of Groupthink. The redoubtable Wikipedia has this to say:
Groupthink is a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. Individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking are lost in the pursuit of group cohesiveness, as are the advantages of reasonable balance in choice and thought that might normally be obtained by making decisions as a group. During groupthink, members of the group avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking. A variety of motives for this may exist such as a desire to avoid being seen as foolish, or a desire to avoid embarrassing or angering other members of the group. Groupthink may cause groups to make hasty, irrational decisions, where individual doubts are set aside, for fear of upsetting the group’s balance. The term is frequently used pejoratively, with hindsight. [emphasis, mine]
The classic definition of Irving Janis is:
A mode of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.
It takes a very specific social structure to create Groupthink and it is possible that these very social structures were created, either accidentally or on purpose, during the experimental period after Vatican II by its improper implementation. Janis lists two (somewhat controversial) conditions for Groupthink:
* Structural faults in the organization: insulation of the group, lack of tradition of impartial leadership, lack of norms requiring methodological procedures, homogeneity of members’ social background and ideology.
* Provocative situational context: high stress from external threats, recent failures, excessive difficulties on the decision-making task, moral dilemmas.
Certainly, the post-vatican II lack of impartial leadership, i.e., the rise of the cult of the personality-driven priesthood, who often made up things not contained/allowed in the rubrics coupled with the weakening of norms for the methodology of the Mass, i.e., the lack of a Mass and priesthood situated in an historical context, coupled with the pre-Vatican II tendency for the laity to admire and respect priests worked, synergistically, to produce the current situation in many parishes.
It is okay to admire and respect priests, but this admiration was more of a respect for the office of the priest prior to Vatican II than a idolizing of the personality of the individual priest. This admiration got transfered to the personality of the priest after Vatican II and this, along with the liturgical turmoil, threw the laity into a situation where they began to cling to any sort of stabilizing influence, which, in many cases, was the newly emerging cult of personality of the priest. This led to not wanting to rock the boat and led to many of the laity going along with the whims of sometimes poorly trained priest, after Vatican II.
Don’t get me wrong, most priest, I suspect, did not want these things to happen at the time and were, probably, as confused by the liturgical changes as the laity. Most priests did not foster a cult of personality around them. Unfortunately, enough did in key places that the dominant mindset became one of, at first, passive acceptance of the new changes, then resignation, then embracement.
These developments are not the fault of either the rank-and-file priests nor of the laity, but they cannot be changed without them.
Silence at Mass is pretty much mandated in the GIRM as “sacred silence”. The proper use of music and other liturgical functions are also mandated.
How can these abuses be corrected? First of all, one must ask how one gets a person or a whole group out of a cult-like situation. It is not wrong to say that in some parishes the aberrations in both social structure and liturgy have created such a climate. here are a few suggestions:
1. In many of these situations, the truth is suppressed. How many parishioners would be astounded to know what the Church has really mandated about Mass, music, the sacraments, etc? Indeed, there is often a profound sense of betrayal when they do find out. People, for the most part, genuinely want to do the right thing. Thus, the first thing that must be done is to tell the truth, if only to a few people. Once a critical mass of people who know the truth is reached a challenge point is often reached and social situations can suddenly snap into another mode of activity. What one must strive not to do is to sound loony in presenting the truth. It must sound reasonable and secure.
2. There are experts who need to speak out, more, even to the bishop (in a fraternal fashion). There is usually at least one music expert (not a performer) in the diocese who knows the history of Church music and can act as a point man for the discussion. For instance, I have a doctorate in performance and doctoral training in music history. There are usually others in the diocese who have a background in Church music. It is harder for a parish priest or a bishop to dismiss a recognized expert than a laymen. Most musicians I know who are really knowledgeable about the history of Church music do not like the modern folksy music as it is truly opposed to the wishes of Musicam Sacram. These are the sort of people who need to talk to the parish priest. Their arguments of “accessible” music will quickly fall by the wayside when confronted by people who know what they are talking about and are recognized to know what they are talking about.
3. Above all, pray. Among whatever actions are needed to change a situation, the first is always, prayer. People talk at Mass in part because they do not see reverence modeled for them by enough people. Protestants talk about having a personal relationship with Jesus, but this is exactly what the people who are talking often do not have. A relationship of love is always shown by the little act. What loud talker is not fascinated to the point of speechlessness by watching the silent reverence of a young child before the Blesses Sacrament? Those adults who want silence must be the same way. Not only must they show that they have a reverential relationship with Jesus, but they must show it by bringing that love to the talkers. The talkers are trying to have a need for relationship met, but in the wrong way. Those adults who want silence, must show them how.
4. If you want silence, remember that silence begins in the soul. You cannot lead other to silence if you do not understand it, yourself. Silence is not just for the hour at Mass. We talk too much as a society as a whole. Confession, mortification (including anger), and charity are the best ways to create a climate of silence. Silence must radiate from the individual. Whole walks up and back-slaps a saint? Where there is holiness, there is silence. More people need to strive for holiness and silence will take care of itself.
5. This leads to my last point (I have to go). Silence is not a matter of speaking, but of morals. The lack of silence in Church many times represents a defect in the moral life of the parish. This is where proper catachesis must take place, especially with regards to confession. In parishes where there is no silence, 8/10, I would guess that confession is only fifteen minutes on a Saturday afternoon. People speak when they do not recognize sin.
There is more to say, but I’ve said enough. I’m probably wrong in many points and have been unfair to many people and classes of people (my apologies), but maybe it will start someone to think of the correct ideas.
I think your thoughts on sociology, Groupthink, etc, could be useful in the discussion about the intra-institutional sociology of the modern priesthood, a post below, Masked Chicken, if you wanted to give it a look.
“One thing that killed me about them, that always made me proud to be Catholic, was that Catholic parishes are drawn on neighborhhod lines. Catholics don’t “move their letter” when something in their church upsets them. They stick it out, fix it, or compromise. Not the wdtprs-ers, apparently. You jump at the first chance to abandon your NO parish.”
I do have to say something in response to this. I’ve recently started attending a different parish for Sunday Mass other than the one I am registered in (though both are NO) because I simply could not deal with the disposition of my fellow parishioners and, most of all, the downright terrible “music” being played. I spent three years trying to turn a few hearts on the matter, but I am dealing with radically entrenched liberals who are rebelling against the pastor himself as he is trying to change things! I had to listen to one of the deacons complain about our pastor putting up crucifixes and icons around the church, he said they had no place in a “modern” church.
These are the kinds of people who will not listen to reason and, despite what they say, will not follow the sound examples of our Holy Father (primarily because most think his actions are based upon his having “an ax to grind” because he didn’t get his way at the Council) and the sadly few positive examples our Archbishop has set. It’s all based on their feelings, their personal opinions on things, for them it doesn’t matter what the Church says is right and wrong, it’s just what they think. It’s difficult work combating that, so I can understand when people want to throw up their hands in defeat.
The thing about the geographical parish is that it works (generally speaking) wonderfully when you have orthodox people and priests marching lockstep towards the glorious victory of the Catholic Church but it works equally disasterously when you have Fr. Whackjob come in an infect everyone with liberal nuttery and the people have no sense of a need to escape but just drink the koolaid with aplomb.
Rarely can a parish survive when a heretic priest comes in because most people simply do not know the Faith well enough or care enough to challenge him. They’ll accept his errors without so much as a whimper of resistance, especially if he’s a glad-handing “nice guy”.