Fathers! A serious warning!

Here is something to chew on, reverend and dear Fathers!

From Methodus pie et fructuose celebrandi Augustissimum sacrificium missae by G. Tamburino:

Si sacerdos per notabile tempus voluntarie distractus, eas missae partes quae canonem continent recitet, peccabit mortaliter. Videtur autem mihi gravis irreverentia, qua quis dum profitetur Deum summe venerari, cum illo irreverenter per voluntariam distractionem se gerat.

Mass eucharist sacrifice

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  1. papaefidelis says:

    Aye, “voluntarie” is the operative word, which, like “invincible ignorance”, has save more souls, perhaps, than even Baptism. Force of habit? Inveterate distractibility? Need-to-check-my-iPhone-itis? Chronic mindlessness? Any of these would reduce the culpability of “voluntarie”.

  2. Latin Mass Type says:

    I do not read Latin (outside of the Latin side of the missal) and I find the Google translation to be inadequate enough to be ambiguous.

    Because of that I am ashamed to admit that I had to go look up the author to be sure it was not one of the LCWR sisters.

    Actually I think I understood it better before I translated via Google.

  3. Latin Mass Type,

    It warns that a priest commits mortal sin if he says the Canon in a conversational or proclamatory tone or makes eye contact with the congregants as though he were addressing them rather than God. [ Perhaps a smiley might be inserted, but who can smile at such irreverence on the part of a malformed priest who’s been given the power to say Mass without knowing what it means.]

  4. cor ad cor loquitur says:

    Henry Edwards, it means nothing of the sort.

    A semi-slavish translation is:

    “If a priest allows himself to be distracted for more than a moment while reciting the parts of the Mass that include the canon, he commits a mortal sin.

    Moreover, it seems to me a matter of gross disrespect when a priest who claims to be offering God the highest veneration, behaves irreverently in His presence, by succumbing to distraction.”

    Nothing here about the congregation, or a conversational or proclamatory tone, or eye contact. It’s all about the priest allowing his attention to drift and losing touch with what he’s doing at the altar.

    [Let’s give Henry the benefit of the doubt. It could be that if the priest is purposely focusing his attention on the congregation, rather than on the text of the Canon, then he is willingly distracting himself from the sacred action.]

  5. Animadversor says:

    Si sacerdos per notabile tempus voluntarie distractus, eas missae partes quae canonem continent recitet, peccabit mortaliter. Videtur autem mihi gravis irreverentia, qua quis dum profitetur Deum summe venerari, cum illo irreverenter per voluntariam distractionem se gerat.

    Here is my very literal, though not, perhaps, unduly ungraceful, rendering into English:

    If a priest, [while] voluntarily distracted for a notable time, should recite those parts of the Mass that contain the Canon, he will sin mortally. Moreover, it seems to me to be be a grave irreverence whereby someone, while professing to worship God in the highest degree, should conduct himself with Him irreverently through voluntary distraction.

    I left “as is” in English the unusual (in Latin, at least) condtional structure of a present subjunctive in the protasis and a future indicative in the apodosis. It doesn’t seem to fit into any of the usual categories of Latin conditions. One might suppose that the author chose the present subjunctive for the verb of the protasis because it seemed to him more reverent, and perhaps apotropaic, not to put a verb for such a nefas in the indicative, and also that he used the future indicative for the verb of the apodosis so that the admonition might be all the more vivid.

    As for the relation of the voluntariness of the distraction to any culpability for it, one can consult the usual approved authors, though I’d add that the actor must here, as with all such questions, be rigorously honest with himself; moreover, even if he should justly determine that his culpability is nil on account of complete involuntariness, he ought to remember that such distraction is in itself a very bad thing, and that once he has become aware thereof, if he fails to take prudent measures to combat the tendency thereto, then he may be said to have in some sense consented thereto, or at least it so seems to me, though I should be very glad (and relieved) if someone can show otherwise.

  6. Elizabeth D says:

    What about the rest of us? When does our voluntary distraction at Mass become a mortal sin? I am distracted at Mass all the time, very often at least semi-voluntarily. Maybe I need to try harder to avoid that.

  7. Fr. JPH says:

    Any advice for young priests on how to combat such distractions during the Holy Mass? [I’m sure lots of people will chime in: offer Holy Mass ad orientem versus. And Father will be less of a distraction for the congregation.]

  8. amulack says:

    Fr. JPH. Celebrate Mass ad orientem!

  9. Methodus pie et fructuose just made me think of Methodist pie with too much sugar.

  10. Gerard Plourde says:

    A very important and serious admonition. Is there more information or a link to “Methodus pie et fructuose celebrandi Augustissimum sacrificium missae” available?

  11. St. Rafael says:

    Fr. JPH and all other priests,

    At the very least, offer the Mass ad orientem starting with the Liturgy of the Eucharist. With the prayer over the offerings and preface. Facing the people can be limited to the introductory rites and Liturgy of the Word from the celebrant’s chair.

  12. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Any advice for young priests on how to combat such distractions during the Holy Mass?”


    The Chicken

  13. robtbrown says:


    How do you know you’re being distracted “at least semi-voluntarily”?

  14. Cor ad cor,

    I had hoped that my bracketed inclusion of a smiley reference might not be too subtle a signal that my intent was not an English translation of the Latin quotation, but rather a pertinent concrete implication of it. Many priests say that the eye contact with the congregation attendant on versus populum orientation is the greatest temptation to distraction they face in celebrating Mass. Perhaps a more explicit alert as to my intent might have been helpful to some readers.

  15. Andrew says:

    On the other hand (for those who are not negligent but scrupulous) St. Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologiae, Pars III quae. 83:6 has the following advice: “licet sacerdos non recolat se dixisse aliqua eorum quae dicere debuit, non tamen debet ex hoc mente perturbari.” (Even if the priest does not recall having had said some of those things that he should have said, he should not be troubled over it.)
    In the course of the celebration it may be that a priest does not remember having said the words of the consecration. Should he repeat them? St. Thomas says for the priest not to worry but keep going since it is hard to remember things we do every day. St. Theresa of Avila stated somewhere that she can’t keep her mind recollected even during the recitation of one Our Father. It seems to me that as I get older my mind stubbornly refuses to pay attention.

  16. robtbrown says:


    Actual intention is not necessary for valid consecration; habitual intention suffices. Further, that intention can be minimal–generally intending to do what the Church does.

  17. Aquinas Gal says:

    I certainly understand the need for attention and devotion at Mass as the priest prays it, yet the idea of easily turning this into a mortal sin seems a bit much to me. It would be one thing if the priest wanted to show some deliberate disrespect–but then why would he be celebrating Mass at all? If it’s so easy to commit a mortal sin when saying Mass, I’m very glad I’m not a priest.

  18. haydn seeker says:

    Oh dear. My children were fighting over the newsletter during the Eucharistic Prayer last Sunday. I hope they weren’t an occasion of sin for our priest.

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