From a reader…
On Friday, my family and I arrived at Mass (NO) a few minutes early and took our usual places. When Mass was about to begin, a Sister (non-identifiable) came out to announce that the priest was running a few minutes behind, but that he told her to begin without him. She said we would begin with the First Reading. Then she asked us all to stand and she began the Penitential Rite. I looked at my family, told them to follow me, and we walked out. I don’t know how long it took the priest to arrive but I was stunned to say the least, and angry. What, if anything, can or should be done? We attend this Mass during the week and, thankfully, an FSSP Mass on Sundays about 45 min away. Thank you, Father, for any advice you can offer.
Ahhh! Beginning Mass without the priest….
That’s sort of like beginning a baseball game without a pitcher.
Sure, the umpire can squat down behind home plate, the base coaches and the officiating crew can take their places, the vendors can start hawking beer and popcorn up and down the stadium, and the fans can hurl invectives or cheers down upon the field of play. The announcer can even pretend to describe a few plays, while making banal comments about the weather and the state of the fans.
No one would mistake that for a baseball game. They’d walk out. They’d demand their money back. The League would probably get involved and discipline the one responsible for allowing it to happen.
How much better – if Father was delayed – would it have been for Sister to lead the faithful in a decade of the rosary, or a litany, or a prayer for vocations, rather than pretend to “begin Mass” without the priest.
I think a politely worded letter of inquiry (“Is it an accepted custom here, when the priest is late, for someone else to start saying Mass until the priest shows up?”) sent to the pastor and the chancery office might be called for.