ASK FATHER: The priest changes many things during Mass

From a reader…


In my parish, the priest is a bit of a progressive type (he recommended Fishwrap as a good Catholic website). Anyway, just wondering whether it’s OK that he never says the Nicene Creed (it’s always the Apostle’s Creed), whether getting the congregation to say the Eucharistic Prayer while standing is acceptable, whether he can omit the Mystery of Faith and finally, whether he can omit one of the readings on Sunday as if it were a daily mass for the purpose of shortening the mass at the suggestion of some of the parishioners. I might also add that he doesn’t use the new translation of the mass. He started removing a reading as of this Sunday, 19th Oct. 2014. The rest he’s always done since he came to my parish over 9 years ago. I’ve only recently started learning my faith and following your most excellent blog, and I’ve not got many people to ask. Thanks.

The Apostles Creed is a legitimate option in the Novus Ordo. The Missal says that it may be substituted “especially during Lent and Easter Time.”   However, substitution with the Apostles Creed is not the norm.  It can be done occasionally and for a good reason.

The Athanasian Creed, as wonderful as it is, is not an acceptable substitute at Mass.

The 1953 Jane Froman song is not permitted, even if it’s projected on the back screen and sung by Tom Jones

“Getting the congregation to say the Eucharistic Prayer…”? If he’s trying to do that, he’s flat out wrong. That’s not good at all. The Eucharistic Prayer is reserved to the priest.  

He may not omit the Mystery of Faith. But, come to think of it, if he truly is messing around this much with the liturgy, one might begin to question if the Mystery of the Faith is truly being made present to the congregation.

He may not chose to use the former, flawed translation of the Mass. That’s over and done with now. Using the obsolete translation is not permitted.

The posture of the people – standing, kneeling, sitting – is not up to him to determine. These postures are determined by universal law, sometimes modified by provisions made by the local bishops’ conferences.

You might be better off learning about the faith somewhere else, at some parish where the Church’s liturgical rites are actually observed and where the priest understands his role as servant of the liturgy.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    There are several priests locally who “occasionally choose ” to revert back to the old translation of the Mass.

    These are the SAME priests who bemoan the ‘liturgical police” in the parish.

    It would be a GREAT GIFT if the Bishops would communicate DIRECTLY and CLEARLY that this type of independent liturgical innovation was NOT acceptable…. that there will be consequences.

  2. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    The late Fr. Benedict Groeschel, God rest his soul, had good advice when parishioners are confronted by such disobedience: “MOVE ON!” Go to another Parish, and (I myself add) even if that means a drive for an hour each way.

    My own advice: Find a Mass in the Extraordinary Form, or if none is available, start a “group of the faithful” and petition for one.

  3. Devo35 says:

    I was a parishioner of the parish in the town where I live for several years before abandoning it for my former parish in Chicago (hint: S.J.C.). The priests at the parish NEVER said the Nicene Creed, always the Apostles Creed. While I was never answered as to why this was the case, I started having a feeling that they wanted to avoid the words “….for us MEN and our salvation.” Better to use a more “gender-neutral” Creed as not to offend anyone. Sigh………….

  4. Back pew sitter says:

    Obviously, the Tom Jones song “I believe” was unacceptable with the former ICEL translation, but as “Credo” has been properly translated – hey, what’s wrong with it?! (It’s a darn site better than many of the ditties in our churches)

  5. twele923 says:

    And as to the question about omitting a reading:

    GIRM 357 – Sundays and Solemnities have assigned to them three readings, that is, from a Prophet, an Apostle, and a Gospel, by which the Christian people are instructed in the continuity of the work of salvation according to God’s wonderful design. These readings should be followed strictly.

    Weekday Masses have some flexibility, but still:

    GIRM 355 – If he celebrates [an Optional Memorial] with the people, the Priest will take care not to omit too frequently and without sufficient reason the readings assigned each day in the Lectionary to the weekdays, for the Church desires that a richer portion at the table of God’s Word should be spread before the people.

  6. Mike says:

    Any cleric who huffs about “liturgical police” should be prepared to answer respectful inquiries about how their innovations safeguard Catholics’ obligation and right to worship with reverence and with due regard to their liturgical patrimony.

  7. Jim says:

    This sounds like the parish where I go for daily mass (across my office). All priests over there are, I think 60+ years old.

    I think 80% of the Mass everyday is ‘ad lib’ed.
    “poured out for you and for all” is used on most days
    “cup” is used during consecration instead of “chalice” (on one occasion Fr. said “He took the chalice” and then used “cup” for the rest of the consecration)

    “Pray brethren that my Sacrifice” is sometimes “Pray sisters and brothers”.

    The English translation for “Ite, missa est” is always “Let us go.. blah blah blah… long flowery words”

    Early last week, following the now infamous mid-synod relatio the prayer of the faithful always included “let us pray that the synod will bring an end to injustice that the Church has done to certain people”.. after Thursday it has become “Lets pray for next year’s synod” :-) :-)

    Yesterday as I was given Holy Communion, a small piece flew off from Fr.’s hand. I let Fr. know of this after Mass, he walked away with a “thank you” :(

    Sometimes I wonder if I should go (its daily Mass), but then how can I not go, when I am blessed with a Church right across the street.? :S

  8. gracie says:

    A few years back, I attended a Sunday evening Mass at a neighboring parish in New Jersey where the priest omitted the words: “you take away the sins of the world” from the Gloria. My ears pricked up but I figured that Father had accidentally skipped over those words. Then came the Nicene Creed where he left out the phrase: “to judge the living and the dead”. I looked around the Church but nobody else seemed surprised. I figured out the reason at the Sign of Peace when a number of same-sex couples embraced each other. The coup de grace was the Invitation to Communion where the priest said: “Lord, you are worthy to come to us”.

  9. APX says:

    However, substitution with the Apostles Creed is not the norm
    Unless your reader is from Canada. In Canada the Apostles Creed is the norm.

    It would be a GREAT GIFT if the Bishops would communicate DIRECTLY and CLEARLY that this type of independent liturgical innovation was NOT acceptable…. that there will be consequences.

    At least one bishop did and, for lack of a better term, fired a priest for it.

  10. Matthias1 says:

    Sigh; my parents’ priest also uses only the Apostles Creed. I think it’s his protest against the new translation because we the laity are too stupid to possiby understand “consubstantial.”

  11. LarryW2LJ says:

    I know of a priest who, while using the old translation, always omitted the word “men” and instead would say, “for us and our salvation”. However, since the new translation came out, he has been very faithful and now ALWAYS says “For us men and our salvation”. Not exactly sure what triggered the change, and I’ve never asked. I don’t want to upset the apple cart when it’s upright!

  12. JesusFreak84 says:

    That’s the sort of baloney that sent me to the Ukrainians =-\

  13. Prayerful says:

    If at a NO Mass, ‘us and our salvation’ is how the PP says that line of the Creed, but otherwise he sticks to the current translation.

  14. Allan S. says:

    Sounds like the only things that didn’t change were bread and wine….

  15. HeatherPA says:

    Pray for our priests!!!!
    They too have to give an account for every word uttered. God help them if they do their own “mass”.
    And go to confession.

  16. Son of Trypho says:

    You should film it discreetly and then send it with a list of clearly documented issues to the relevant bishop who has jurisdiction and ask them to address the matter.

    Alternatively, and much more controversially, you can do a protest sit-in during the Mass and complain about the liturgical abuses. The priest will be extremely reluctant to have you evicted by police for protesting liturgical abuses. Well, that at least is what a dedicated liberal would do.

  17. Landless Laborer says:

    How does Our Lady continue to restrain the wrath of God? Pagan societies just gave themselves over to their passions. But that’s not enough for the world today, oh no, our world goes out of its way to crucify Our Lord all over again. I’m sick, just sick.

  18. jfk03 says:

    I went over to the Ukranian Greek Catholic Church about eight years ago after the priest announced during a sermon that it really wasn’t necessary to go to confession. I no longer grit my teeth during the Liturgy.

  19. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    When I read accounts of this sort of liturgical atrocity (“abuse” is such a weak word), it bothers me that the name of the parish and diocese is always omitted. The name of the priest, parish, and bishop (along with the postal address of the chancery) should be included. These things are not taking place in private. They are not confidential matters. They are public crimes. In most cases, they have been made known to the bishop for years on end.

    Bishops who tolerate these crimes should be held accountable by name, and they should hear from the faithful.

  20. Heather F says:

    Since the new translation came in I’m pretty sure the indult making the Apostles the norm in Canada went out. Now we have the option to use either. (My new ABC St. Joseph Sunday Missal, Canadian edition, lists both with the Nicene first and an “OR” option and no note of preference.) At my parish, we normally use the Nicene now, though we occasionally still use the Apostles.

  21. KatieL56 says:

    In the near future as the snows lock onto the tundra I call home, my 80 something mom who does the driving won’t be able to travel and we’ll have to go to our ‘home’ parish where the priest does all the stuff mentioned and worse. We have a fairly new bishop but the thing is, apparently the priest here ‘brought lots of people back to Church. Young people are coming, and everybody loves him. . .’ Um, yeah, it’s easy to be liked when you’re somebody who jokes, laughs, and makes the whole show, I mean Mass, into one big old spontaneous celebration of the wonderfulness of us and how great God thinks we are. It’s easy to be liked when you’re seen as throwing out the ‘boring old rules’ and making Mass into something ‘new’. But what is going to happen when these happy people move on? This is a ‘mobile’ generation. What about when they go to their new parish and run into a REAL Mass? I’ll tell you, probably one of two things: Either they will hate the ‘real’ Mass, try to influence the priest and people to ‘get into the 21st century’, and leave the Faith in disgust if things don’t go their way, or worse, they’ll SUCCEED in getting another faux “Liturgy” and things the way they like it, and the whole travesty will continue on. . .OR they will be so upset that they were ‘duped’ by the first priest that they’ll feel they can’t trust ANY Catholic priest. . .or bishop. . .or Pope. . .and they’ll be ripe pickings for whatever group they fancy, be it atheists, fundamentalists, etc. It will be the rare person who can look back at probably a childhood and youth spent believing that he or she knew the Catholic faith, and then find out that virtually everything taught was twisted, and be able to not only forgive, but to calmly move on and ascertain, and learn to love, the REAL truth. (This parish has a Catholic grade school, so there are a lot of children involved. They do so love coming up around the altar with Father, too. . .)
    I really do appreciate priests, and I’m thankful we have somebody who cares about his people, but is it really caring in the end if you’ve basically brought in people under the false pretense that your personal version of liturgy and Catholic teachings are real, when they actually go against the true teachings? Am I overreacting when all I want is for Father to say the black and do the red? I could live with the ‘stand up and greet everybody’ at the start of Mass, I could live with the 70s music with guitars that goes on and on and on (now that I have my own Adoremus hymnal for home use), I could live with homilies that reference God once in a blue moon and are full of jokes, if ONLY I could have not ‘Father T’s ad libbed Mass’ but the plain, ordinary Mass. I thought the whole point of the liturgy was that we worshipped together, not that people in one parish would get most of the Mass with a few ‘retros’, people in another parish would get most of the Mass with add-ons that range from saying the Hail Mary at the end of the Prayers of the Faithful to asking the people to stand for the entire Eucharistic prayers to deciding that in “our” parish we use the homily time to have lay people preach, or we ALL pray a ‘parish written’ Eucharistic prayer, or ‘creed’, or whatever. Honestly, you can go to parishes only a few miles from each other and the Masses are so different. . .sometimes you can walk into protestant churches and find that their services are more “Catholic” than your own parish (and I don’t mean just among high Church Episcopalians or Lutherans either!) I’m 58 now, it seems as though I have spent over 40 years now wandering in the desert that used to be a Catholic Church. .

  22. Lili of the fields says:

    I agree with your comment: I’m 56 and I’ve been confused about the Catholic faith most of my life; partly by the very ones who were supposed to teach me and partly by the lack of good information available. I am glad that some faithful priests and lay people are now using the internet to provide the right information to us. How to carry this newly found knowledge with patience and humility in my life and parish life is another thorn in my shoe. I need courage my friend! let pray for each others.

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