Concerning the “liturgical vigilante”

VOTE FOR WDTPRSBe sure to check out Pat Archbold’s perspicacious and amusing piece over at the National Catholic Register entitled, “Liturgical Vigilantes“.

A few of good bits:

As general rule, vigilantes are not born, they are made. Their steely resolve to right the wrong, forged in the fires of un-rectified lawlessness, transforms them into self appointed guardians of the good. They become—watchmen.

The Mrs. McGillicuddys of the world have had much to endure these last forty years. They sit in their pews and watch as liturgical experimentation and improvisation transform the holy mass into a vehicle of self expression for those who do not understand what it truly expresses. They sit and wonder, when will somebody do something about this? When? When they finally reach the reluctant conclusion of never, what follows results in either resignation or transformation.

Now a confession, I’m a Mrs. McGillicuddy. But I don’t want to be.


I resolved to call the diocese. I got the Director of Worship on the phone. I said, “I want to report some liturgical abuse.” I never knew this before, but you can actually hear eye-rolling over the phone.

And this is something about which I both agree and disagree at the same time:

This is not my job. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be that guy.

Point is, somebody has to care for the law and I don’t want it to be me or the Mrs. McGillicuddys of the world. Its not our job.  It’s someone’s job, if they would only do it.

In Redemptionis Sacramentum we read (my emphases):

6. Complaints Regarding Abuses in Liturgical Matters

[183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.

[184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.

I posted tips about writing to ecclesiastical authorities HERE.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Very timely. I am considering how to approach the priests of my parish about the liturgical abuses, from gender inclusive changes to Creed and Gospel, to footballs in the sanctuary… Enough is enough, and since nobody else is doing anything about it…

    But Father, could you perhaps invite the readers to share with you strategies that have worked for them, perhaps sample letters to pastors etc…? It is hard to know how to raise the issues and what to say/write.

  2. TNCath says:

    Being a “liturgical vigilante” is a double-edged sword. I have found that while “liturgical vigilantes” often get publicly ridiculed for being overly scrupulous about what are conceived to be “trivial matters” or dismissed for being “unqualified” to know what they are talking about, bishops and liturgy offices do pay attention even if they may never do anything about it. They usually engage in “damage control” with evasion techniques with the vigilante, and then downplay the issue in question whenever it is later addressed by a higher authority. I can attest to this from personal experience.

    No matter how much one raises a concern “in truth and charity” about a clear case of liturgical abuse, 95% of the time the reaction by diocesan officials–be it the Office of Worship or the bishop himself–is usually something like this:

    “Thank you so much for your letter. Your comments and concerns have been noted, and I appreciate your interest in our liturgies being done well and in keeping with the spirit of the rubrics. ”

    That was a direct quote from a bishop about a liturgical abuse several years ago. After a letter to the nuncio and a subsequent trip to Rome, nothing has yet to be done. I have since given up on the entire issue.

  3. Choirmaster says:

    Which “Reason Number” for Summorum Pontificum would this be?

  4. Centristian says:

    “This is not my job. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be that guy.”

    I feel the same way. When clergy do something screwy at Mass, it does not follow that I somehow become responsible for it just because I saw it. I will not ever have to answer for a priest’s liturgical abuse and it is not my role to enforce rubrics at my parish.

    My role is to present myself for public worship every Sunday at some Catholic Church or other and, in that setting, unite myself to the public, corporate worship of the Church. If what I happen to encounter at any given worship venue is something that doesn’t even resemble Catholic public worship, then I have nonetheless fulfilled my obligation; the celebrants of the deficient liturgy will have to answer for its deficiencies.

    That having been said, if do I encounter foolishness at a church, I will go to a different church, for while it is not my responsibility to monitor liturgical abuse, it is my preference not to be subjected to it.

  5. Centristian: Does the admonishing sinners and informing the ignorant not come into play here? Priests are sinners too, and when they abuse the Mass, ought we not tell them so that they might save their soul, they might correct their behavoiur? Many priests are victims of mal-formation in seminary. If we could help just one priest, would it be worth it?

  6. Brooklyn says:

    I’d rather just walk away from liturgical abuse as well. But I think we are almost under obligation to say something because it may be putting other souls at risk. Kind of comes down to, am I my brother’s keeper. Do we care enough about others to get involved, or are we just thinking of our own wellbeing.

  7. Choirmaster says:

    All that is needed for liturgical abuse to grow and jeopardize the salvation of souls is for good men (including, of course, laymen and women, and bishops and priests) to remain silent!

  8. Banjo pickin girl says:

    I wonder about this myself. I go to what had previously been the N.O. “refugee parish” in our diocese but is now becoming less reverent and the only parish to go to is the TLM one. I am staying but it is hard. I have mentioned the problem but people just got mad. I don’t know if there is a plan to intentionally make us conform to the style of worship of the other parishes in the diocese. I wish they would be honest with us. I hate all the joking and fishing for applause and stupid advice: for bodily mortification drink something you don’t like or rinse out your mouth with salt water. Come on, I have pain in my spine that would have most people blubbering and sucking their thumb. Oh well. I am learning better how to pray anyway.

  9. disco says:

    The blatant violations are horrible, but I wonder if the borderline things (extraordinary ministers, altar girls, kumbaya Protestant music) aren’t even worse. Ridiculous things that are allowed make it harder for the well meaning but uninformed mass attendee to know what’s right.

  10. Will D. says:

    I am Mrs. McGillicudy, too. We had a visiting priest yesterday that gender-neutralized the prayers, and telescoped the blessing of the bread and wine (Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread and wine to offer…), and said all the low voice prayers audibly.
    What was really irritating is that he was a great homilist. For some reason that I can’t fathom, priests that have really engaging homilies tend to be much more inclined to “wing it” and “improve” the texts.

  11. For me, there’s ignorant, there’s clueless, there’s tasteless – and then there’s sacrilegious and evil. The first set, even though they are illicit and stupid, I can tolerate, at least for a while. The second set perversely both demands action and is almost guaranteed to be impervious to any action I can take (outside of prayer and fasting).

    I shot all my ammo at my current parish about 8 years ago, fighting the “renovation” of our 1950’s humbly noble concrete-box-in-the-Mission-style church into a “more appropriate” “liturgical space”. What I succeeded in doing was 1) marking myself as a person to be contained; 2) getting people I hardly knew walking up to me in the supermarket to say they appreciated me speaking up – but not much else. We avoided the most egregious proposals. We ended up with very nicely done renovation that makes no liturgical, architectural or theological sense at all.

    Anyway, this post inspires me to try again, especially as Fr. Z’s quote of the Redemptionis Sacramentum makes it clear that it is my job. Let’s start with anti-Catholic hymns – how ’bout we not sing any of those at Mass?

  12. amenamen says:

    Misuse of the term

    Reporting an abuse to the proper authorities is not the act of a “vigilante.”
    How is that any different from calling the police to report a burglary?

  13. Francis says:

    Last year we wrote a humble, respectful letter to His Pozzotine Lordship at the PCED and CDF concerning 1. Liturgical abuses, 2. Non-application of SP in our diocese. Signed by several gentlemen, of whom a French aristocrat, a barrister, and an ‘esquire’.

  14. APX says:

    Let’s start with anti-Catholic hymns – how ’bout we not sing any of those at Mass?

    I think it’s going to take more than that. Likely having someone take over the music direction and do an about face, which would likely cause an uproar. It would likely have to happen gradually such as switching over from these new Masses, to something like the Mass of the Angels, and slowly add more hymns. Start with one Mass, and see how it goes from there. If you’re really feeling daring, you could replace the hymnals with the old hymnals that only contain hymns. Once I’m done school and have the time to dedicate myself to a liturgical ministry, I’m going to change at least one Mass back to traditional music.

    Being young and growing up with these Masses, I never noticed the liturgical abuses, but as I get older and become more aware of them, they do start to aggravate me. As mentioned before, “This is not my job. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be that guy.” is exactly how I feel. Especially being young, it feels wrong to try to correct someone who is older and more authoritative than me. I’m fortunate to own a car and have the means to go someplace else if I find it too irreverent. Unfortunately others don’t have that option, so we owe it to them to try to correct the wrongs. At the same time, there’s also a lot of people who like these touchy-feely self-expression Masses which makes it even more difficult to overcome the abuses. It turns into a numbers game.

  15. Bryan Boyle says:

    If not one person, who then to point out the emperor of ‘being with it’ has no clothes?

    Someone else?

    If not us (respectfully, with full documentation…hard to argue with a paper trail), then who?

    (Mind you, though, it’s hard to argue with touchy-feely inclusiveness, ‘diversity’, and ‘active participation’ as commonly (mis)understood. Joe and Mary Bagodonuts have been sooooo badly served by just plain catechesis and dumbing down of the Mass to the point that ANY attempts to force people out of their comfy self-referential worship will meet with, if not active, then passive-aggressive turf protection.)

    It’s time to reclaim the terms of the discussion and engagement from those who’ve twisted it to their own ends.

    And that goes for the clergy, also. In other words, the faithful will have to grow spines.

  16. Kevin B. says:

    This sounds like a comic book or screen play waiting to happen. The Prefect of the CDW would be the Commissioner Gordon to the liturgical vigilante’s Batman. Every time Father allows liturgical dancers, every time he uses regular wine glasses for the Precious Blood (I’ve seen both at the same Mass) the Liturgical Vigilante comes swooping down from the rafters on his grappling hook. The only sound Father hears is the rustling of a cassock. He turns and the Vigilante is there armed with the GIRM and SC!

  17. The Egyptian says:

    APX says:
    Being young and growing up with these Masses, I never noticed the liturgical abuses, but as I get older and become more aware of them, they do start to aggravate me. As mentioned before, “This is not my job. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be that guy.” is exactly how I feel. Especially being young, it feels wrong to try to correct someone who is older and more authoritative than me. I’m fortunate to own a car and have the means to go someplace else if I find it too irreverent. Unfortunately others don’t have that option, so we owe it to them to try to correct the wrongs. At the same time, there’s also a lot of people who like these touchy-feely self-expression Masses which makes it even more difficult to overcome the abuses. It turns into a numbers game.

    AMEN, at 52 I still feel that way, I get told off by folks older than me, “your one of THOSE”, “I suppose you want women in veils and pregnant too” or the one I loath the most, “but the kids love it we don’t want to drive them away”,and,”we have got to be hip” out of ones who only knowledge of hip is “replacement”

  18. Centristian says:

    “In other words, the faithful will have to grow spines.”

    I’m a little bored with the notion that the clergy’s deficiencies are somehow my responsibility. I’m a bit vexed by the strange notion that I, as a layman, am somehow called to do the jobs of priests and bishops when they won’t do their jobs “Catholically” enough. The fact of the matter is that I, as a layman, am not responsible for the actions of priests, neither am I responsible for bishops who do not take action in the face of liturgical abuses or errant clergy. I do not have to grow a spine when it comes to somebody else’s responsibilities; it isn’t incumbent upon me to.

    To monitor the liturgy and correct the clergy isn’t my job, that’s the bishop’s job. It’s the bishop’s job to guarantee liturgical propriety within his diocese. It’s the Pope’s role to make sure the bishops are doing what they are meant to do.

    My role in the setting of my parish is to go to Mass every Sunday and to unite my worship to that of the Church. That’s all. If the priest does something screwy, he’ll have to answer for it, not me. I know that if I point out his flaw, he won’t care. I know that if I approach the bishop about it, he won’t listen. That having been said, I’m not their parent or babysitter. It isn’t my role to correct them. Ultimately it is Jesus Christ’s Church and it is His responsibility to safeguard it from evil.

    We are not here to save the Church. The Church is there to save us. I think we, the faithful in the pews, can walk away from any guilt associated with liturgical abuse in peace.

  19. Hey, APX – good luck and Godspeed on your efforts to correct liturgical music. As Fr. Z fondly says: one brick at a time. I’m not at all opposed to your wholesale approach. I suggest we *start* with trying to get rid of blatantly anti-Catholic songs, such as “What Is This Place?” both the source and text of which are non-apologetically anti-Catholic. You suggest storming the palace – well, maybe a younger, energetic person who lucks into exactly the right pastor could pull this off. I, and many of us older people on this list, bear the scars of trying to get some artistically worthy, theologically sound music sung, and are wary. But it’s a new age now. We’re still a good 10 – 20 years from when Time will have inexorably removed enough of the remaining flower children, free-thinkers and intellectual midgets (may God bless them in their retirement!) from their positions in the diocese and parishes for wholesale change to be the rule, rather than the rare exception.

    As others have commented, it’s not just a case of bad taste or good intentions gone awry, it’s also about turf (you will meet, if you haven’t already, all sorts of interesting people who volunteer or get hired at Catholic churches who, shall we say, have their own agendas) and, frankly, about Presbyterians who, for whatever reason, don’t want to walk down the street to the Presbyterian Church, and who often don’t even know they’re Presbyterians – they think they’re enlightened Catholics. They have missed that their flavor of enlightenment – that the Church is the people, that doctrine and morals should be determined democratically, that appeals to any authority outside their own skulls is tyranny – would be right at home in many mainline Protestant churches.

    I propose boiling the lobster – you get it into a nice comfortable pot, and turn the heat on real low. The lobster drifts off to sleep in its comfy warm bath, unaware that the butter is being drawn. Storming the castle is much more invigorating and noble – just pick the right castle.

    In the meantime, I’ll quit being a coward and start respectfully to complain about bad liturgy, as is my duty.

  20. pseudomodo says:

    Why doesn’t somebody DO SOMETHING! Then I realized, IAM A SOMBODY!

    I think that is what paragraph 183 and 184 of Redemptionis Sacramentum really says…

  21. Supertradmum says:


    I partly agree with you, having learned the hard way, that the chancery really does little about liturgical abuses unless, and here is the key, either the bishop or his liturgical director for the diocese cares about the issue. Some issues are more important than others. I have had the dubious position of complaining many, many years ago to another bishop, not mine here, about so called Inter-Communion at a university where I worked at the time. I spoke with the priest and
    with the Bishop. Because the priest was the president’s (of the university) best friend, I was told to resign or be fired from my position. I resigned. Four months later, the bishop sent a pastoral letter to all the priests in that diocese stating that there was absolutely no such thing as Inter-Communion, that is, giving Communion out to non-Catholics, period. However, by that time, I was out of a job in the area where I had been working, and out of the country, working. And, when I phoned the chancery for a job after the situation, earlier, I was told that I was “too hot politically” for a job in that diocese (exact words), which mystified me and still does today. There were priests who knew this was going on and did nothing, as they felt they had to be loyal to the errant priest. One may point out serious errors, but one must be ready for consequences. I would do the same thing today, as I was doing my bit and there were consequences, but complaining about priests changing the Eucharistic Prayers has done little to change things, even though the liturgical director has also written about that. The last time I pointed something out, in 2008, the liturgical director did act upon the specific situation, but I no longer “complain”, as it is time for the younger ones to take over. Part of the problem is that few people actually see the problems, as they either have grown up with novelties, and cannot tell the difference, or do not pay that much attention, or worse, agree with the aberrations.

  22. skull kid says:

    supertradmom – sounds like unfair dismissal. I am in the same predicament myself – risk speaking out, and accept that I will be unemployable in the diocese since I would be blacklisted.

  23. APX says:

    ”we have got to be hip” out of ones who only knowledge of hip is “replacement”

    When old people try to be hip, they fail in epic proportions.

    People need to stop trying to make the Church dope thinking it will appease the younguns. Just keep it real and people will come around to accepting it for what it is. People appreciate and are drawn to things that are genuine.

  24. Brooklyn says:

    Centristian, for you and all the rest of you who do not feel it is your duty to correct a wrong when you see it, how do you deal with this from the letter of Paul to the Galatians: “Brothers, even if a person is caught in some transgression, you who are spiritual should correct that one in a gentle spirit, looking to yourself, so that you also may not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:1) Or how about: “My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19)

    You could make the argument that this isn’t talking about liturgy, but isn’t liturgical abuse a sin that should be corrected? You say that isn’t your job and you can’t be bothered. Maybe we need to tell that to James and the Apostle Paul, who seems to think it is our job.

  25. Supertradmum says:


    Clarification, when I said I partly agree with you, I meant that it is the job of the priests to first correct their own brother priests about these things. But, if they do not, we need to step in.

  26. EXCHIEF says:

    I firmly disagree with those who assert that taking reasonable steps to correct liturgical abuse is not their job. We all have responsibilities for adherance to the rubrics. If everyone adopts the attitude “it’s not my job” then no one has the right to complain and the problem will never get fixed.

    Having said that it is frustrating when those who should know and care about doing things the right way don’t. And, yes, a consequence of taking responsibility and bringing abuses to the attention of higher authority is being strongly disliked by the liturgical abuser and his loyal followers–I know that for a fact, been there and done that.

    If one does not know that an abuse is occuring there is obviously no responsibility for doing something about it. With knowledge, however, comes responsibility. The priest (or other liturgical abuser) will have to explain his actions to God. I prefer not to have to try and explain why I knew about a wrong and yet did nothing about it.

  27. Rich says:

    Are you really a layman, Centristian?

  28. benedictgal says:

    I think that, based on RS No. 183 and RS No. 184, it is incumbent on the faithful to do something. I would rather be part of the solution than to simply allow the problems to continue by sticking my head in the proverbial sand.

    I am a Texan. Texans tend to have a fighting spirit about things. Had this not been so, on March 2nd, we would never have declared our Independence from Mexico. I also believe in putting my money where my mouth is. There have been many a time when I have stood up against liturgical abuse. In some cases, we managed to get the problem solved, in others, I was tarred and feathered and relegated to persona non grata status. Yes, I have suffered a lot for holding firm. Would I do it again? Yes.

    If it’s worth dying for, it’s worth fighting for, in my opinion. Seminarians preaching the homily, the laity reading the part of Christ during the proclamation of the Passion when the priest is there, using parts of the Mass that are paraphrased and EMHCs distributing by intinction are serious matters.

    Keeping silent on this issue is, in my opinion, giving ascent to the abuse.

  29. Centristian says:

    “Are you really a layman, Centristian?”

    LOL. Yes, I assure you.

    Let me make it clear, too, that I don’t think that a layman may NOT report abuses or complain (guarding, of course, all due respect). I only mean to say that he isn’t obliged to do so, and he isn’t RESPONSIBLE, in any way, for the actions of priests or for the inaction of bishops.

  30. benedictgal says:

    Actually, if you read RS, you might have a different opinion. Christ is our Brother. Christ is in the Holy Eucharist. We are our Brother’s keeper. Therefore, we do have a responsibility. We risk committing the sin of omission if we know, in good conscience, that there is serious liturgical abuse.

  31. Mike says:

    I would complain about some rather minor departures from the rubrics, and the ushers and the horrible sappy music, but my pastor is as mad as a hatter, but he keeps it just close enough to avoid being pulled…

  32. Norah says:

    This is not my job. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be that guy.”

    I im in this situation at the moment , about Eastern meditation techniques being introduced to the parishes and schools in the diocese, and I have been praying for guidance from the Holy Spirit as to what to do.

  33. Deacon Nathan Allen says:

    Someone should come up with a coat of arms for the Order of Liturgical Vigilates. The Motto could be from the antiphon for Compline, “Salva nos, Domine, vigilantes”.

  34. albizzi says:

    Liturgical abuses are inherent to the Novus Ordo mass.
    The Vatican knows well that It has the key to stop the abuses in reverting to the TLM.
    Why then to ask the faithfuls to spy the priests and sneak them on?
    That’s ludicrous

  35. albinus1 says:

    People need to stop trying to make the Church dope thinking it will appease the younguns.

    It never ceases to amuse me how those who insist on the need to “appeal” to young people seem to think that young people are as stuck in the 1970s as they are.

    To the average teenager today, the St. Louis Jesuits are probably as foreign as Vivaldi.

  36. Mrs. O says:

    My sentiments exactly: it’s not my job and I don’t want to do it either!

    I hate being called liturgical cop and sometimes it is like a curse almost – I don’t look for things at all but as with a beautiful piece of music you just know when something isn’t right. And usually I have checked my sources 3 or more times before I ever contact anyone.

  37. Supertradmum says:

    Dear Norah,

    I would come out of my liturgical vigilante retirement for the cause of standing up against Eastern meditation or religious practices which may be occult or heretical. You have the great document of which condemns most of these types of things.
    I shall pray for you and you have the Vatican to back you up. Souls are at danger.

  38. I think the right approach is two-fold.

    First, send a concise letter about the abuse to the pastor, with a copy to the bishop. Avoid histrionics, as Fr Zuhlsdorf has counseled. Having mailed the letters, any duty you have is discharged.

    Then register with a parish that offers the traditional Mass. Support it in every way you can. The situation will only change when people vote with their feet and form centers of strength. When a boat is capsizing, you move to the other side of the boat. You don’t just sit there.

    Move, people!

  39. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    At this point in my life, after years of writing letters, documenting liturgical and other abuses and meeting(s) with the regional bishop, I am ready to hang up my word processor and shake the dust from my sandals. It would take something awful — such as a priest on call “too busy” to go to the hospital to give the last rites — to get me to write the chancery again. My time is better spent saying Rosaries.

  40. APX says:

    It never ceases to amuse me how those who insist on the need to “appeal” to young people seem to think that young people are as stuck in the 1970s as they are.

    Which is even more amusing because as a young person, I’ve never been in the 1970s to get stuck in them.

    When I think about it, right now it’s more hip to be a young person at a TLM because it’s not the norm, and in a way, somewhat rebellious.

  41. Henry Edwards says:

    I’ve never been able to explain why so many bishops and priest seem to be uncaring or oblivious to the pain and anguish caused by either sexual or liturgical abuse. It seems to me that the average lay Catholic is actually pretty empathetic. Why do clerics so often seem different? (Or are they?)

  42. LorrieRob says:

    As a recent convert, I am curious to know if other parishes are generally like my own which has a 9am Mass with contemporary music, a 11am with more traditional hymns and a full choir, a 6pm that seems geared to youth in its music…Sun. 7am and Sat vigil seem somewhat more traditional but without a choir. I think they are all wonderful in their own way. The parish has 2600 families and is very reverent but with a range of musical expression which seems to be a truly blessed solution to varying tastes that makes the liturgy accessible to a broader range of people. I would love an occasional option with Gregorian chant but at the moment must content myself with the Wyoming Monks and a few other recordings I have…great way to start the morning before the 7am Mass.

  43. catholicmidwest says:

    I used to be much more of a “vigilante” than I am now. My crap-filter has been mostly off for several years now. I got tired of sacrificing my ability to pray to my alarm over the mutilation of the liturgy.

    Now, I can honestly tell you, Fr Z, I pray more easily in mass. It’s done me a world of good. But it hasn’t done anything for my opinion of most of the local clergy, and that’s a fact. I tried to do something about what I was seeing for years and nothing was done, nothing. All I got was derision. Fine. The lousy condition of the mass nowadays is their fault, not mine. And cleaning it up is their duty, not mine.

    I’m looking forward to the new translations. I expect that I’ll see some real messes, but it’ll do me good to hear a more faithful version anyway, even if I have to read it out of a book to get it.

  44. LorrieRob – first off, welcome, always heartening to hear from converts. I’m so glad you find your parish’s Masses wonderful in their own ways. Your experience seems pretty normal to me – a set of Sunday Masses with some mix of more traditional hymns at one, no or very little music at another, ‘contemporary’ at another and finally a ‘Life Teen’ style Mass – if your parish is large enough to have that many Masses on a Sunday. Latin and Gregorian Masses are still pretty rare in most places, but getting less so day by day.

    I worry that us old guy cradle Catholics might hurt the faith of converts by our whining – I hope that’s not the case here. We all want the Mass to be beautiful and sacred, with reverence and a deep appreciation of what Our Lord is giving us there – Himself. It’s good to be reminded that the Mass still works by working – that, for people new to the Mass and unfamiliar with all the infighting and abuses, it can still work the miracles of conversion it is intended by God to work.

  45. iowapapist says:

    I fought this battle for many years (although, admittedly not since BXVI become pope). I confronted pastors over liturgical abuses and scholastic irregularities like offering yoga instruction and forcing Catholic school students to learn, and recite Hindu prayers. Letters to the Archbishop were usually not answered. If they were answered, they were deprecatingly terse. Subsequent letters to dicasteries in Rome produced responses which informed me that they had sent copies of my correspondences to the bishop (thanks for doing what I already did). I have turned this battle over to God. It is His Church-He is sovereign.

  46. Goodwin says:

    My own thoughts are similar to those of Centristan, but I do believe that lay men and women do
    bear some responsibility to speak up when it comes to serious abuses. From what i can see most
    are accustomed to the Liturgy being celebrated poorly and do not appear to care or know any
    better. I am not sure I have witnessed a real Liturgical abuse per say but what I do see is the fruit
    of lousy Liturgical formation at every level. And while I am at it I am aghast at the poor preaching!
    But I think perhaps a better way, and this is something I am thinking about doing where I am,
    is to form a group of concerned lay people who as a group could voice their concerns about the
    Liturgy to the Bishop. But then again look at all the rancor that appears to have been stirred up with upcoming changes in the Missal. Lots to pray about!

  47. Goodwin says:

    I am a convert by the way

  48. TKS says:

    I am hugely non-confrontational so it took a lot of nerve for me to ask our pastor after daily Mass one day if that was a stole around his neck on the outside. He said yes. I said I thought they were worn under the chasuble. He said they used to have to do it that way but not anymore. In this parish you don’t ever question what’s going on because there’s so much ‘inclusivity’ that’s there’s nothing wrong anymore. I won’t say anything.

  49. catholicmidwest says:

    Goodwin, I’m a convert too. It’s not that we don’t care. It’s that the people who are in charge of it, and could so easily fix it, don’t care.

  50. catholicmidwest says:

    And I’ve learned the hard way that if the clergy doesn’t care, you can’t make them care. You can wear yourself out and poison your own ability to pray because you’re so busy watching them. I finally stopped all that. I don’t keep score anymore. I do have an “off-switch” which I use if it gets too stupid or banal and I can’t take it anymore. I switch to prayer and outlast em. ;) They can’t go on forever.

  51. Shellynna says:

    I was at the same parish for all 14 years of my “Catholic life.” (Convert.) In all that time, I think I spoke up once, when a priest started off Mass promising to rush through so everyone could get home to see a baseball game and then DID. Didn’t do any good. So I held my tongue and observed. I noticed that liturgical abuses tended to wax and wane depending on who had the pastor’s ear. I suspect this happens in other parishes too, for various reasons (new clergy, new liturgy committee, etc.). I finally did find a new parish elsewhere and am very happy with it (young, solidly-orthodox, JPII-generation pastor and a good mix of families) but the reasons I ended up leaving the first parish ended up having nothing to do with the liturgy but were instead with catechesis. I don’t have any “words of wisdom” to offer, just my observation that “liturgical vigilantes” usually only end up embittering themselves and frustrating everyone else.

  52. I am a Mrs. McGillicudy as well. I pray before I approach. It really works! ;0)

  53. Lurker 59 says:

    I don’t mind bringing things up — I feel it is sort of expected if one has a MA in Theology to act as a white blood cell in the body of Christ. The biggest draw back is that you end up creating a name for yourself, which really isn’t a problem if you have gainful employment. However I don’t have that, so it is a bit hard to speak up about things when one is trying to gain employment someplace in the Church.

  54. Goodwin says:

    to catholicmidwest,
    Of course what you say is true and I did not mean to imply literally that no one cares. But it
    appears the majority do not care all that much. And of course those like yourself that do care
    have spoken up and have paid the price. I agree with Shellynna that the temptation to
    bitterness is real. I have had to learn to bite my tongue and talk only in a very limited way
    about these matters.

  55. Lili of the fields says:

    You better be strong to “politely” correct others “mistakes”. Few years ago, a priest tried to correct some of these “mistakes” and return some piety in the bazar of our church. He was confronted, criticized and isolated by his fellow priests in the parish, and of course by the parishoners . The few who followed him , including me, were branded as retro- dinosaures, ridiculed and in my case the ridicule preceded me as I moved to another parish. I eventually left church for years, I felt I just did not belong in the catholic social club.

  56. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Lili, how sad. I am afraid the same thing is in the process of happening to me. I won’t leave though. I am staying as long as I can. It is so hard when priests shun parishioners at the behest of the people who are running the parish behind the scenes with their clubbiness in the guise of being “volunteers.” We had a homily one day on how it was wrong to cut somebody out of your life if they do something you don’t like but that is exactly what the priest who preached the homily is doing.

  57. StellaMaris says:

    I was once a vigilante of sorts. Each time I was concerned about something, I approached the priest. I was told in no uncertain terms that it was not my concern or I shouldn’t think of it that way or I was not being kind, etc. I found myself a prisoner in my own parish, chained to the pew, with “Sing a New Song” playing over and over until I went mad. We did what we thought was best—left.

  58. catholicmidwest says:

    I skip around from parish to parish sometimes. After being in the Church for about 10 years, I realized that there really is no “community” to it. People come careening in to get their obligation done for the kids, and then afterward they lock the place up, and that’s pretty much it for the week unless you’re unemployed or retired or the like and don’t have anything else to do but hang around weekday mornings.

    I don’t take the BS that goes around parishes as seriously as I used to either. I really don’t care who thinks they’re a big shot and what the pecking order is. Most of those people couldn’t get a job as a parking attendant anyway OR trust me, a fair number of them would instead. I don’t care what Fr so-and-so likes for dinner or what not. I have no intention of hanging around to find out either. It’s none of my business and that’s how it should be. The parish music is bad, ho hum. And the homily, well. I heard one last Sunday all about Mr Rogers, no joke. The last line of the homily as “be all that you can be.” Seriously. I kid you not. I wish I were kidding.

    But I know 100% what I’m there for anyway. I try to stay in a state of grace so I can go to Mass because it’s the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (no matter what) and so I can receive Holy Communion. In the end, Mass is Mass and maybe it’s as simple as that. I still believe in the deposit of the faith and in God of course, and what scripture says. I’m Catholic. I’m not so sure about some of the cultural baggage that goes along with it, though–upside down statues of St Joseph, fanatical ideas about apparitions, etc. Some of these things are just artifacts of some sort. Same thing about rebelling nuns, priests who act like clowns, etc etc. More artifacts.

    PS, one exception: I do like Paczkis, but I’d like them in any case. They’re donuts, not artifacts. ;9

  59. Lili of the fields says:

    Thank you for your kind comment. I left the Church but I would not recommend it to anyone. Leaving can bring you down with resentment, bad memories and more sins on your conscience. Prayers, patience and forgiveness is a better approach to these problems. And you’re not alone, ever.
    I’ll be praying for you.

  60. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Lili and Catholicmidwest, Thank you for your intelligent comments (others here are intelligent too, though this is for you). The Imitation of Christ is my mainstay book besides the Bible and it repeatedly says we are to really be doormats for Christ. So, that is what I shall try to be from now on. Regardless of our supposed obligation to talk to people about problems such as liturgical abuse, my formerly very orthodox N.O. parish has now begun the slippery slope toward becoming yet another one stop entertainment center parish. And the politics are different because it is run by an order of priests so there is more than one involved with the in group. One of the priests recently told me he hopes I can find a priest to talk to! (I am very sick and need help with that too). I have recently begun to wonder if all this isn’t a huge sin, this shunning and playing favorites, especially when old people and people with health problems fall through the cracks. Anyway, you are helpful. Thank you.

  61. Jenny bag of donuts says:

    Ishmael, that was a really kind response to Lorrie.

    Our pastor recommends the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” The title of the book at first made me laugh, but it really is a worthwhile read. I think it offers lots of practical, common sense ideas on how to approach someone and bring them around to your opinion or at least to bring them to a point where they receptive to what you have to say. A must read for us liturgical vigilantes. It’s been around for years so I’m sure many of you have read it.

  62. Jenny bag of donuts says:

    All of you intelligent, well articulated posters please don’t give up. People like me have the disadvantage of not being paid attention to bc our way of talking or communicating betrays a lesser educated mind.

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