When priests are nitwits or reason #905726 for Summorum Pontificum

Put down your WDTPRS mug of Mystic Monk Coffee for a moment.

From a reader:

For the past 11 years, our pastor has never said the correct words for the Ecce Agnus Dei, he loves to ad lib, and we are used to it. But today my head snapped up when he said, “This is Jesus, the Ground Zero of love…”

Okaaaay, perhaps I should buy him a mug!

Yes, dear reader, perhaps you should.  Click, below.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. chiners says:

    I’m not convinced the mug will do sufficient damage. Perhaps we need a ‘Say the Black, Do the Red’ beretta. If proper user instructions are provided we can probably rely on the priest doing exactly the opposite…

  2. As everyone knows, I’ve seen some fairly strange and nutty things over the past 13 years or so and over 630 different parishes, but that would be among the stupidest ad libs I have ever heard. [Do I hear an “Amen!”? And if there is anyone who has an experience of a range of parishes, it is you.] I don’t know if the extraordinary form would stop someone like that, determined to make his mark on the liturgy and impose his will on it. A priest like that would just as easily look away from the 1962 Missal as he looked away from the 2002 Missal.

  3. flyfree432 says:

    Not sure the combox should be open on this one. The only responses I can think of would land me in confession.

  4. medievalist says:

    Is that a mug to give him or with which to hit him over the head for every liturgical idiocy? In case of the latter, a bag of Mystic Monk coffee, being softer, perhaps lessens the sin of striking a cleric.

  5. MissOH says:

    Wow, I am stunned….

  6. Alan Aversa says:

    Whose priest actually mentioned today in his homily the “culture of death” and abortion in the context of terrorism and 9/11? Mine said that the “culture of death” is a bigger threat than Al Qaeda and radical Islam, although they certainly do contribute to the “culture of death.”

  7. Henry Peyrebrune says:

    When the priest is free-lancing on the Ecce agnus dei, I just quietly say the Latin response to balance it out.

  8. Philangelus says:

    The Ground Zero of love? What does that even mean?

    …I’m trying to parse that. Since Ground Zero is where the towers were destroyed, or in more general terms where a bomb goes off, does that phrasing mean that Jesus is the place where love was destroyed? I’m confoozed. :-(

  9. nanetteclaret says:

    Our pastor does this all the time. At every Sat. Vigil Mass he ad libs, although he does tie it in with the Gospel for the day. Yesterday it was “This is Jesus, who forgives” (or something similar). I usually don’t pay close attention because I’m silently praying the “Prayer of Humble Access,” memorized from my BCP days.

  10. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    At least in this case, the Prince of Wales couldn’t be right. He criticized modern translations as, “telling God something He already knows.” Since the priest’s ad lib doesn’t make any sense, How could God already know it about Himself?

  11. FXR2 says:

    I posted this in the comment to Too Fussy…..
    I think it applies here as well.

    Dr. Eric says:
    11 September 2011 at 12:03 pm
    Cardinal Arinze, this morning on EWTN, talked about how he would rather go to Mass offered by “Fr. Saint” than “Fr. Doesn’t Care”. “The Mass is still the Mass, no matter what. But I would rather go to a Mass offered by a Saint than by ‘Fr. Doesn’t Care,’” he said.

    No disrespect to the good Cardinal Arinze, but it seems to me that “Fr. Doesn’t Care” is likely to rush through the mass and not attempt to inject himself and his personality into mass. More often than not “Fr. Saint” will inject his personality into mass going even as far as to personalize the prayers by changing the liturgical texts. I will usually prefer the homily of “Fr. Saint” to that of “Fr. Doesn’t Care”.
    I know in my heart that almost all priests are good and holy people who are either confused or misled to take on the extra burden of injecting themselves into the mass instead of losing themselves as another Christ following the Church’s liturgy.
    Therefore when ever possible I fulfill my obligation with the TLM.

    My perspective for what it’s worth.


  12. Long-Skirts says:

    MissOH says:
    11 September 2011 at 7:11 pm
    Wow, I am stunned….

    REALLY? !!

  13. Why is it always the Ecce Agnus Dei that priests seem to tamper with? Even the great Archbishop Chaput, whom I highly admire, seemed to make up his own version during his installation Mass last Thursday. I could be wrong, but isn’t the correct text right in front of the celebrant? It’s not like he has to memorize it or anything.

    What makes the Ecce Agnus Dei, at least in my minimal experience, THE single most likely prayer to be tampered with during the Mass? Why is this particular prayer so attractive to liturgical innovators?

  14. spock says:

    That’s OK. I am sure the Parish does very well with Social Justice type stuff. Therefore that makes these kinds of abuses OK. He’s meeting people where they are; etc., etc., etc.

    I am being cynical here.

  15. Speravi says:

    EtVerbumCaroFactumEst’s observations also accord with my experience. I have noticed many more-or-less orthodox (I know this phrase doesn’t make sense…but I am avoiding another word) priests, who generally do not tamper with the Liturgy, change the Ecce Agnus Dei. As I recall, I even once had a professor tell me that this was formerly a “these or similar words” text. However, I just checked an older sacramentary (one with “for all men” in it), and saw no indication of this being a “these or similar words text.” Nonetheless, it seems that there are a lot of priests out there who think that it is…or at least think that it is a necessary place for them to re-emphasize the Real Presence in there own words rather than just reading the words of the Church.

  16. Random Friar says:

    I am totally baffled. Not angry or irate at that priest, just really confused. I wonder if this was one of those “ad-libs” that somehow made sense in his noggin’ when he thought about it, but as soon as he said it he thought, “What in the name of all that is holy was THAT?” That was certainly my thought.

    Say the black: you have no chance of sounding foolish.

  17. AJP says:

    Wow. Before 9/11 I would sometimes hear (and use myself) the term “ground zero” used as a synonym for epicenter, birthplace, primary locus, etc of some thing or cultural phenomenon. It was often used to desribe positive or neutral things or trends – Florence is the “ground zero” of the Renaissance, or Seattle is the “ground zero” of grunge . . . that sort of thing. Obviously this idiom cannot be used like that anymore. What the priest said was absolutely appalling. Perhaps Random Friar is right, it was a momentary lapse that was immediately regretted. Everyone makes humiliating slips of the tongue. But even assuming that, it just drives home how wrong ad libbing the Mass is to begin with. If a priest is in the habit of saying the black and doing the red and ad libbing is unthinkable, then he is far less likely to suffer a “brain fart” and inadvertantly say something so horrible during Mass.

  18. doodler says:

    I fully understand the concerns expressed by so many people here and would certainly never ad-lib in this way, I am also aware that sometimes an idea can lead to a useful insight or topic for meditation. On a day like the anniversary of 9/11 to contemplate the incarnate presence of Christ in the total catastrophe of what happened on that day it has been of help to me. We in England and Wales are living with the new translation which keeps our eyes on the black!!!!

  19. Central Valley says:

    During the Christmas season in the diocese of Fresno, at the Ecce Agnus Dei the priest elevated the host and had everyone sing “oh come let us adore Him” the Ecce Agnus Dei was omitted. So goes Fresno. Thanks be to God most Sundays I can attende the Extraordinary Form and avoide such things.

  20. Supertradmum says:

    Why priests must say the black, do the red. Just silly disobedience….

  21. Rich says:

    I wonder how well the priest could articulate what he meant by “The Ground Zero of Love” as well as he could just want to appear unique.

  22. Glen M says:

    Not that I’m trying to make excuses for this particular priest, but, remember many were very poorly formed and they don’t know any better. Yes, they should know better, but when they were trained by modernists and are surrounded by them on parish committees it’s understandable why they get led down the wrong path. IMHO the charitable thing to do is respectfully offer a priest like this Redemptionis Sacramentum and the other relevant documents. Maybe take him to lunch and ask something like: “Father, may I ask why you freelance with the liturgy?” If after being exposed to the truth and rejected, then by RS every Catholic has a responsibility to correct errors through proper channels.

  23. AnAmericanMother says:

    I think I see a possible source.
    In the Horrible Haugen “Mass of Creation” a/k/a Massive Cremation, the “Lamb of God”, first page at the bottom, includes a whole list of (banal) ad libs to be substituted for “Lamb of God”.
    This setting is so ubiquitous, it’s not surprising that the emcee type priest feels he has permission to run wild.
    First Advent, please come quickly!

  24. dcs says:

    This beats my story of how, when Hurricane Irene was passing close by, the parish at which I assisted at Mass chose “Rain Down” for the processional.

  25. Thank God that some of these guys haven’t read the Stars Wars Liturgy from the American 1979 Book of Common Prayer. They could have field day with that one.

  26. meunke says:

    Yesterday out priest altered the words of one of the lines of the Agnus Dei thusly:

    “Lamb of God, Who breaks the chains of hatred and discrimination, have mercy on us.”

  27. AnAmericanMother says:

    Hieromonk Gregory,
    You mean that “the sun, the stars, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth our island home” thing?
    I had repressed that.
    Trading the ’28 for the ’79 was selling their birthright for a mess of pottage.
    But it made leaving the Episcopalians a whole lot easier. Blessing in disguise.

  28. A priest like that would just as easily look away from the 1962 Missal as he looked away from the 2002 Missal.

    Seriously, Andrew, I’m not at all sure this is true. The EF missal supports the priest and is a bulwark against his weakness and human temptations. The flexibility of missal and common practice of the OF exploit the weakness of the priest, and make it difficult for him to overcome his human weakness.

  29. New Sister says:

    The “Ecce Agnus Dei” does get tampered with a lot in the OF — ad-libbed expressions and extra drama / emotion in the voice.

  30. But there always have been priests who did throw things in or leave things out. Not as many, maybe, except in times and places when priests were so badly formed that they didn’t know Latin or how to say Mass; but it did happen. Again, if you read historical documents about things people complained about, a lot of these illusions pass away.

    The major difference is that a lot of our priests were trained (by their seminaries or workshops, and by the Sixties culture of being original and different and wild — not by the OF Missal) to think that it was meritorious, and helpful for the winning of souls, to change up and remake the words and gestures and vestments and everything else. It was for the young people, for the children, for the folks who are bored with Mass.

  31. irishgirl says:

    ‘Jesus, the Ground Zero of Love’?
    Say what? What’s this priest trying to prove?
    If I had been there, I would have shouted, ‘Hey, Padre-Say the Black, Do The Red! No ad-libbing!’
    Sheesh….another reason why I go to the EF Mass exclusively. No ad-libbing there!

  32. Glen M says:

    The easy thing for ‘us’ who know better is to retreat to a local E.F. if we are blessed to have one available – but it that the right thing to do? I’m convinced priests who abuse the liturgy have little regard for the other Sacraments, most importantly Confession. I’d be shocked to find out this particular parish has more than a handful of people at the weekly scheduled time. Therefore, are we accessories to their sins through our silence? Are we neglecting an opportunity to perform a spiritual act of mercy? What if Jesus upon our Judgement Day asks us why He gave us the gift of wisdom and we ignored it? How many of us who complain in comment boxes and rant in chatrooms actually take measures to help these poor souls most likely headed to eternal damnation? Most E.F.s are in the afternoon so we have the opportunity to also attend our local O.F. and become leaders rather than distant critics.

  33. Fr_Sotelo says:

    I agree that most priests have the impression that this is a “these or similar words” part of Mass. It is like getting blessings at Communion. Most priests think it is great to do both (ad lib at the Ecce Agnus Dei and give Communion blessings) and they are strongly encouraged in this by laity who think it is touching or cute. Whenever the lay faithful cheer this stuff on, don’t hold your breath waiting for Father to come to his senses.

  34. Luvadoxi says:

    :::sigh::::I just can’t get that Steve Miller song out of my head now….the pompatus of love….

  35. Hugh says:

    Years ago a priest announced, “This is Jesus. The Good Shepherd. The Lamb of God.”
    ‘Clash!’ went the symbols.

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