Was that a Catholic Mass or a Protestant service?

From the often amusing Eye Of The Tiber:

No One At Mass Sure Whether They At Catholic Or Protestant Service

Despite efforts to figure whether they were in a Catholic or Protestant service, local parishioners were left baffled after an “animated” man wearing vestments put on a head mic and began pacing back and forth as he delivered his sermon.

“The man looked like a priest and I was quite certain I was in a Catholic Church,” said longtime parishioner Joyce Parlin who had no clue as to what the hell was going on. “But he kept pacing back and forth, ending each statement with a ‘can I get an amen?’ No one was exactly sure what he was asking for. I overheard one gentleman respond, ‘yes, I suppose,’ but the priest or pastor or whatever he was kept desperately asking if he could get more amens.”

Parlin went on to add that the priest or pastor or whatever the heck he was continually used words like “fellowship” and “ministry” during his sermon, words, Parlin admitted, she had never heard before.

“He also used the phrase ‘saved by the Blood of the Lamb,’ which I suppose is some sort of Christian take on the TV show ‘Saved by the Bell.’ Hell, I don’t know.”

At press time, the band has begun singing praise a worship as beach balls are being thrown to and fro, confirming that the event is a Life Teen Mass.

Jokes are funny because they contain some truth.

Remember: We Catholics are shaped by our worship. You know the adage: Lex orandi – Lex credendi.  If we believe certain things, we come to pray in a certain way.  If we pray in a certain way, we come to believe certain things.  Change our prayers and you change our beliefs.

We are our rites.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    A local priest here utilized his N’Sync face mic to do dramatic John Wayne personations and make sound effects.

    Unsurprisingly he also had a sort of ‘Non sum dignus’ shudder during the elevations, gazing up upon the Lord and then recoiling.

    Great guy – he just felt like he needed to make some theatre about it all I guess.

  2. Prayerful says:

    The nearby Conciliar parish sometimes had a curly haired Australian priest (probably on a family visit) say (New) Mass, well and good. The problem was that come the sermon he would descend to the aisles, strolling back and forth like a talk show host. Maybe that impressed some, but I thought it lacked dignity, that it was unpriestly.

  3. KatieL56 says:

    I thought you were talking about my parish until the mention of the beach balls (great, you would have given him the idea if he ever read this blog. Judging by his services, he either hasn’t read it, has read and doesn’t understand it, or has read and disregarded everything suggested).

    Seriously, the priest here is ALWAYS shouting out for the Amen–along with jettisoning the Kyrie, Gloria, any creed, making up his own service from “good morning, may the peace of the God who loves you, yes you, just as you are, and welcomes you on your faith journey as we enjoy the weather (whatever it might be), surrounded by all these smiling faces –yes, you, Eleanor, I’ll bet you’re smiling because school’s started, am I right? Everybody, am I right? Oh come on kids, you KNOW you’re glad to be back, ha ha ha. . .well, we need to think about how we can make this world a better place, like Pope Francis said. Now don’t go tattling on me to the Bishop (loud laughter) but I think we need to stop thinking about all this ‘rote’ stuff. Guys, God doesn’t want us to be little robots, saying the same old thing at Mass. He’s made everything new! New year, it’s mercy time, folks, stop all the glum faces and all the ‘thou shalt nots’, let’s be free’, can I get an Amen?” (looks at collect for the Sunday, makes up something that might contain one or two words so it’s obvious that he HAS the correct collect that ‘all the other churches’ do, but that it just isn’t ‘fresh’ and ‘spontaneous’ enough). . .then on to the liturgy of the Word, which if we are lucky won’t be in dialogue form again this week. . .
    Seriously I have a lot of great Protestant friends and over the years I have attended (after attending Mass of course) many services just like this. But until this parish, I had never attended a service that was held in a Catholic church by a Catholic priest and purported to be a Catholic Mass, but which from start to finish ‘protested’ every single scrap of authentic Catholic liturgy. My mother quipped once that he would be a great Protestant pastor (thinking of the community emphasis, the “Amens”, and the ‘off the cuff’ speaking), but I said no, he’d only be a mediocre though popular one, because the great Protestant pastors might use those techniques, but they still would base their services on worship of God, not worship of community/self.

  4. yatzer says:

    KatieL56 and anyone else in this situation, you have my profound admiration for being able to continue attending Mass under such conditions. I don’t understand why a priest would do this.

  5. Spade says:

    “The problem was that come the sermon he would descend to the aisles, strolling back and forth like a talk show host. Maybe that impressed some, but I thought it lacked dignity, that it was unpriestly.”

    One of my favorite priest who gives awesome orthodox homilies (on stuff like going to confession!) does this. Walks back and forth in front of the altar.

    He was asked about it. It turns out he’s absolutely terrified of public speaking (which you’d never know) and the walking back and forth was a nervous habit that helped him.

  6. HeatherPA says:

    This is just so cringeworthy. I just… can’t. So much second hand embarrassment when this is encountered in real life.

    I went to a parish retreat once where a husband a wife team were giving it. They were from Away.
    The first clue that they were not what I expected was the rainbow guitar strap on the man’s guitar which he used abundantly for sing-a-longs (and not of the bent of Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring). The smiley face on the front of his guitar winked at me.

    Then the guy whips out a glass enclosed pyx in which he claimed he carried a piece of his father’s flannel shirt and gravel from the scene where his dad died in a car accident, saying it was a second class reli of a saint in heaven. I was so uncomfortable I didn’t know what to do. I have never, ever heard of such a thing. Ever.

    After that, he began another kumbaya song I swore I had heard on Captain Kangaroo when I was 5, and my 14 year old daughter pulled on my arm and whispered, “Is this a Protestant retreat?” I then stood and we left poste haste.

    I wish I was making this up or embellishing any of this. Same diocese as Sr. “Litany to Joan” Chitester.

  7. JARay says:

    I cannot believe that these accounts are true…and yet…given the actual details narrated, they MUST be true. All I know is that I would never, ever, put up with such a display. I know that I would break out and interrupt such a mockery. I could never acquiesce in such offences.

  8. Luvadoxi says:

    Bingo, Katie! ” the great Protestant pastors might use those techniques, but they still would base their services on worship of God, not worship of community/self.” This is why I feel like I’m worshipping God at some evangelical services but feel great discomfort at some Masses. When the congregation is worshipping God, you aren’t feeling fake, forced community participation that makes you want to run screaming out the door. You may not be into the handshaking, etc., but there’s not the feeling that it’s anything but genuine Christian kindness. In my experience. Others may differ; I have a friend who wasn’t comfortable with the touchy, huggy stuff in an evangelical service.

  9. Luvadoxi says:

    I found the interview of Jimmy Fallon on going to Mass. It’s quite revealing. It’s all good–starting at 37:13, but especially listen to 39:14-40:03.


  10. Filipino Catholic says:

    @HeatherPA — Class II relics do exist, but it’s obviously not for laymen to decide if a person is a saint (if I remember rightly), even if said person is family. The fact that the ersatz relics were in a pyx makes it all the more troubling — I thought pyxes were only for the consecrated Hosts.
    Zelus domus tuae…

  11. HeatherPA says:

    Yes, I know. That was what made the entire thing so… strange and awkward.
    Our priest said we can be completely assured that our infant daughter who passed away shortly after her birth is a saint in heaven, because we had a priest (him) baptise her while she was still living. She died in perfect grace. One of the few instances where it is a certainty.

    This guy’s dad? I have no idea. But the imprudent behavior of carrying around a dead person’s clothes and such and saying that they are saintly relics because “*I* think so” smacks of pride and ignorance.

  12. Filipino Catholic says:

    That aside, it also smacks of presumption and is probably a major reason the Church Suffering draws the short straw when it comes to receiving prayers. After all, why pray for dead family members if they are already in Heaven? Granted, I’m fairly sure many Catholics of the poinsettia-lily variety have forgotten Purgatory is a thing that exists for the time being, choosing to sweep it under the rug to appease Protestants shouting “That’s NOT in the Bible you statue-worshipping Babylonians!” (Quaeritur: do the Eastern Orthodox have a similar concept to purgatory?)

    Also I just did a little background check on the “Litany of Sister Joan” you mentioned earlier and… that horrific work is absolutely blasphemous and the height of arrogation, usurpation, appropriation, and other words for ‘taking from God what is not rightfully yours’.

  13. HeatherPA says:

    Yes, our diocese needs lots of prayers. We do not get many graces from the Lord and can anyone actually blame Him? Our vocation rate is abysmal. If one of our sons is ever called to priesthood, he will be going to seminary in Nebraska at the FSSP.

  14. hwriggles4 says:

    I haven’t seen balloons (I’ve heard stories about squirt guns, and I remember the “happy-clappy, let’s hug everyone Masses at a Catholic college” I attended in mid-to-late 1980s), but I have participated at Life Teen Masses 15-20 years ago were we would make a circle around the altar and even do hand motions to the music, which was predominately Christian Rock, even if it was Kathy Troccolli or Richard Mullins . At the time I thought it was “cool”, but as I learned more, I realized we should not have been performing those antics at Mass. Also, I was never comfortable with liturgical dance, even though it was only used at the parish where I did youth ministry on certain occasions.

    I even heard stories from friends where a priest would sometimes ride a bicycle up to the altar (i.e. this really happened years ago at the Jesuit parish close to Georgetown), and one priest in my area who did this a few times in the 1990’sand would seriously say “Mass is a show” left the priesthood after 4 years of ministry to marry and is now Episcopalian priest.

    Today, in the diocese where I did youth ministry, and my current diocese, most of the “youth oriented Masses” that I know of have been toned down. There may be some youth readers who are modestly dressed and EMHC’s (if they are confirmed and practicing) and some Christian Rock guitars, but the hand motions, dance, and gathering around the altar are gone. Quite a few youth tell me they don’t like to attend “youth Masses”, because they find them too much social and/or too much trying to be “hip.”

  15. polycarped says:

    @KatieL56 – simple question: Why do you go there? What you describe is appalling and not at all funny really. Sounds like you need to either firmly challenge/protest or vote with your feet (and your financial contributions). Obviously I don’t know enough about this priest but the overall picture you provide (ie his constant ad libbing) makes me think the risk of the Mass being invalid reasonably high anyway.

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