QUAERITUR: A priest’s lack of reverence and fear of saying anything to him

From a reader:

At our daily NO Mass after the priest raises the Host and after raising the Chalice he never genuflects but merely bows by a slight inclination of his head. In addition before he begins the Offertory he adds the water to the wine. Might I add that throughout the Mass there is continual substitution of Creator God for Father etc. though not in the main prayers of the Mass–a “fishers of people” type thing. So the New Translation won’t mean much for this Mass! None of us dare say anything as I think there is pressure to discontinue this Mass altogether and it is the only early Mass for the working folk. So, is this an invalid or an illicit Mass? BTW there is no physical impairment to prevent the priest from genuflecting. Thank you, Father!

It is not invalid, though what the priest is doing is liturgical abuse.

If you are talking about “none of us dare”… that suggests that there are at least a few people who are upset by what this irreverent priest is doing.

If this Mass is in a precarious state on the schedule, and you don’t want to risk doing something to lose it, then get everyone together whom you know to be upset by this priest’s lack of respect for the congregation, for the Church’s liturgy, and for God, and make a pact just before Mass begins to pray to the priest’s guardian angel asking him to nag the priest into reverence, to move circumstances in his life so that he begins to see the point of being more reverent in his celebration of Mass and more respectful for the congregation.

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  1. Henry Edwards says:

    Many people say they have seen abusive priests like this one. But I wonder if anyone has ever seen such a one changed into a holy and reverent priest–by prayer, by complaints to the bishop, by learning Latin, by getting religion, or by anything else.

  2. Banjo pickin girl says:

    I have known holy priests who did this kind of thing. They do everything else well but not just this one thing (unfortunately the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the most important thing). But I have never known one to change. But I have no idea if anybody was praying about it.

    I am to spend next week at a place with a famously altered Mass where I just grit my teeth and get what I can out of it (I get Christ out of it for one thing). They do other things right but not the Mass for some reason, probably historical (they have the first seminary, I have heard to get rid of Latin in the curriculum as early as 1965).

    I have only been Catholic for 4+ years and it’s hard but not nearly as hard as being Protestant. So everybody just hang in there. We have Christ physically present in our churches in a way the Protestants never can.

  3. misternaser says:

    Our parish priest never stops the “mini-homilies” throughout Sunday Mass, so much so that I now dread having to go every week. It is so distracting that I can’t even pray during the limited seconds of silence. This sort of thing is damaging to the whole parish community. Many of us there need the courage to address this with the pastor.

    I’ve been praying for our priest generally; now I’ll try being more specific, as you suggest here, Father. Thank you.

  4. benedetta says:

    I am always quite startled when a priest in celebrating the Mass displays traits of virtue which in general are really quite rarely encountered these days wherever you go, such as meekness, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, patience, simplicity. It is surprising and that sort of has an immediate attraction and brings attention, they do not hide their own personality by any means, yet their words and actions encourage you to look beyond them, the limit of what they are doing does not begin and end in them…it’s sort of like what one experiences in prayer with the support of icon.

    Will say that any schoolteacher worth her or his salt knows very well that it is much more effective to speak very quietly, even silently, than to talk over, boss around, or yell if listening carefully and attention to important content is needed.

    Now if one feels acting in a drama in theatre, or pressured to convince of a point as a politician, then I worry that we all miss out on the most important reality…

  5. James Joseph says:

    That is a beautiful answer. I am going to see if I can get some folks together now.

    Our mosignor rarely uses the word Father even in the fixed prayers (except in the Seven Petition Prayer where he always says, “Our Father”). He tends to adlib the gospel reading too. That goes on a lot around here. (“This Gospel is important so I want you all to sit when you listen to it”)

    “You don’t need to kneel. They don’t kneel in Europe,” we are told.

    In his defence he says… get this… seven (7) Sunday Masses and he is in his 70’s. He is a very holy man and almost nobody can beat the depth of His homilies. And, I am very fond of him. But, I daren’t say anything either. He is old and I don’t want to destroy his faith. He so greatly loves Pope Paul VI that it break his heart if he were to ever actually see anything written by the good Pope written in the Latin or Italian and not in the Fr. Reggie-Latin-is-the-language-of-Whores-progresso-English. (Sorry, Fr. Z. for taking fown Fr. Reggie. I would like to play cribbage with him. I am sure he is good). I believe he honestly is doing the “right-thing”.

  6. Actually it is very common for people to kneel in Europe.No it is not enforced and there are a number of people that do not. However, when we went to France we felt more comfortable kneeling there as a good number of people do. I wonder where the priest got that from- it seems he was misinformed.

  7. catholicmidwest says:

    Henry, you said, “…. But I wonder if anyone has ever seen such a one changed into a holy and reverent priest–by prayer, by complaints to the bishop, by learning Latin, by getting religion, or by anything else.”
    Never seen it myself, never heard of it on the internet. No one has ever said this to me. In my experience and I attend mass at several parishes, it generally only gets worse with time. I never gets better. The thing to understand is that priests become the objects of personality cults and there are a lot of factors involved that allow a liturgical abuse situation to become self-sustaining.
    When a parish gets too bad to attend, I switch to another one. When the liturgy of a parish has gone sloppy or the priest has become a rogue, the only thing that fixes it is to get a new priest in. And of course, the old one has to go somewhere, so that messes up a parish somewhere else, even if it cleans up the one in question. Not particularly evident in a large diocese maybe, but in a small one, it’s a very real consideration when you’re trying to find a decent mass to attend.

    Sed libera et al: Some people do kneel in Europe, but it’s more interesting than that. A lot of people don’t kneel, also. In the USA we have this annoying little follow-the-leader & get-in-line thing that goes on that doesn’t occur in Europe. Our thing is all very Dewey-esque, whereas in Europe, during mass, people sit, stand, kneel etc as they see fit. There people join the Holy Communion line irregularly stepping out intentionally to join it. In the USA, we all hop in line like lemmings very conscious of how we look. As a consequence, there are many people here living in mortal sin who get in line to save appearances, you know. Soooo…yes, your priest is misinformed and thus wrong about kneeling in Europe, but no, it’s not as cut and dried as you seem to suggest if you look at several countries, several situations.

  8. catholicmidwest says:

    I think that Europeans might actually think we’re a little nuts on this topic of body language in mass, and I think that’s part of the reason why it doesn’t get corrected from an American point of view.

    I’m not sure they realize the depth of our lemming-ness and what it means to us, or at least most of us. If you opt not to follow the conventional American body-dance in mass, no matter what it is in your locality, you get glared at. You can get glared at HARD. And that situation exists in atmospheres across the church-politics spectrum from conservative to progressive. It’s a typically American cultural thing.

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