The effect of lay participation on the souls of priests


Today during Mass I was struck hard with something, which reinforced an observation I read recently in an email.  In effect, the priestly writer said that priests, who are under constant and insidious attacks by the Devil, are therefore also constantly at risk of losing their faith in the Eucharist.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone, by the way, that priests sometimes struggle with belief.  Think of the priest who, having doubts about the Eucharist while on his way to Rome, had a Host at his Mass bleed upon corporal, thus leading to the establishment of the Feast of Corpus Christi.  Moreover, John Paul II wrote in Ecclesia de Eucharistia that priests are at risk of losing their focus because of the onslaught of the things of this world.

We all must contend with the three great foes: the world, the flesh and the Devil.

Back to my priestly writer.   Given the trials and risks, the sight of the faithful kneeling at the altar rail to receive with such reverence, reminds us that what we do, what they are doing, is of the greatest importance.  The reverence of the people in that humble and reverent way of receiving can be extremely helpful for priests.

Do you, dear lay readers, think about that at all?  If how the priest celebrates Mass, his ars celebrandi, has an effect on you, doesn’t it make sense that your comportment and actions, your ars participandi will have an effect on the priest?

More and more I weigh the importance of the gift of Summorum Pontificum to the whole Church.

Learning to say Holy Mass according to the older, traditional Roman Rite has a huge effect on priests who didn’t know it before.  Moreover, learning how to participate at the Traditional Mass, the Extraordinary Form – and, yes, people have to learn how to participate – is also going to have its own knock-on effect, most immediately on the priest celebrant.

Think about this.  A seminarian, a deacon, who has been going to Mass with the Novus Ordo Missal for a goodly amount of time needs about 10 minutes to learn how to say Mass.  However, even if a man has served at the older, traditional Mass for quite a while, he has to study and work on what to do as a priest celebrant.

Why would it not be the same for lay participation?

It takes work and time and effort.

On that note, I saw a post at Liturgy Guy about a priest, a convert (former Methodist), who learned how to say the TLM.  He wrote:

“After 9 years of offering the Latin Mass, I can say that it’s made me a better priest. I’ve loved being steeped in its tradition and being formed by its rubrics and prayers. Most importantly, offering the Latin Mass has improved the way I offer the Novus Ordo Mass. The discipline that the Latin Mass requires in offering it has certainly carried over into the way I offer the Novus Ordo Mass. I’ve certainly experienced the mutual enrichment that Pope Benedict XVI hoped would happen when the Latin Mass and Novus Ordo are offered side by side, and I believe our parish has, too. I definitely have a renewed and greater appreciation for the awesome dignity of the Mass.”

This is from Fr. Timothy Reid.  I’ve written about him before.  HERE  Also, he was recently on Marcus Grodi’s show, The Journey Home.  In a few ways he had some remarkably similar experiences in his conversion to Catholicism that I had.  But I digress.

It is hardly a leap to imagine that that experience, that transformation, would not have its own effect on the people of his parish.   However, it was a group of people who approached Fr. Reid and asked for the older Mass.   There is an interplay of roles.

Imagine the impact that you, dear readers, can have.  I, for example, as a priest am profoundly moved by people who devoutly practice their faith.  I am blown away by good confessions.  I am stirred and edified when distributing Communion to people whom I know are really striving.  Imagine, what it is like for a priest to give Communion to saintly people.  Try to fathom the knock on effect that that must have, you on him, him on you.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    *round of applause*
    Indeed, it is an interesting insight, Father. I’d never thought much about how we as faithful may or may not be affecting the priest.
    Those pictures you included are also good subject for meditation. Beautiful. Isn’t that St. John giving Holy Communion to Our Lady? What would it have been like to give God again to the Mother of God? Certainly very Alter Christus!

  2. madelaine says:

    “I, for example, as a priest am profoundly moved by people who devoutly practice their faith.” Thank you Father for this.

    Sadly, faithful piety in some parishes/dioceses is often dismissed as old fashioned or archaic. We must stand with the others, for example, for to kneel at the consecration or receive on the tongue would be to call attention to ourselves. We are denied the Extraordinary form of the Mass. We are told in confession that the Act of Contrition taught to us by our grandparents is too severe (the modern versions are just fine). They prefer other people to teach the “faith formation” classes (“you must be so busy with your five children”), even though they are desperate for volunteers. I could go on, but you get the idea.

    Indeed, it would be wonderful to think that devout, faithful and pious Catholics in our parishes have a positive influence on our priests and bishop. Most of the time, however, it seems when they see us coming they run for the hills. God bless you.

  3. andia says:

    Thanks for this. I often wonder how priests feel about the laity. And whether or not we actually matter to them and if our prayers matter. It’s nice to hear from a priest that what and how we do things matter.

  4. ChesterFrank says:

    I think priests saying both forms of the Mass see devout Catholics. It is a shame that priests that are knowledgeable in the TLM are not passing that knowledge down within their dioceses. In some parts of the country people have to travel quite far to attend a TLM.

  5. FrMJPB says:

    Dear Andia–you can’t even begin to imagine how encouraging and edifying the holiness of the laity is to us priests!

  6. APX says:

    I try not to think about this (lest it go to my head). I look forward to the General Judgement when all these things will be revealed. That being said, I do genuinely wonder what was running through my confessor’s mind while he witnessed my private vow to a life of perfect chastity.

  7. Nan says:

    No idea if my prayers matter to priests but if I fail to send smartypants emails, that neglect is brought to my attention.

  8. sirlouis says:

    My recollection is that the core meaning of the Greek word for liturgy is a public work of the people. The etymology should remind us that it is work, not entertainment. We should expect that effort is required. Trying to make the Mass “relevant” or “engaging” is to go off on entirely the wrong tack. We shouldn’t care if it is relevant or engaging; it’s supposed to be effective, and we should be anxious to make our own effort to that end.

  9. JustaSinner says:

    Fr. Z., tell that to priests that mutter a gasping sigh when I do not receive the Body of Christ in my hands…

    [YOU tell it! To MARY. Ask Our Lady of Fatima, Mary, Queen of Priests to help him. Pray for him and offer reparation for him. Take on penances.]

  10. stephen c says:

    “Do you , dear readers, think about that at all? ” Probably more than a 100 times a day (that being said, I think most of us think of thousands and thousands of things every day). Well, sometimes I even forget this is 2017, a year where I might not be all that much to blame for not understanding how much other Christians have sacrificed for me, and I think I am in some year without number, where I do understand. Not often, but sometimes. I pray for priests a lot – not well, but a lot. I am absolutely certain that priests pray more for me than I do for them. I pray for nuns a lot too. I have never, though, to tell the truth, consciously offered up sufferings for priests – or nuns – hoping, I guess, that they do not need it as much as the people I have offered up sufferings for, over these long years, needed it. Plus, priests and nuns are the lucky people in this world, and are closer to God than I am, and are not about to criticize me for that, right? I know some very unloveable people, in fact, who could never have been priests or nuns, and I offer up my sufferings for them. As I hope they do for me – some or all of them probably think the same of me with respect to unlovability. Oh well. I sometimes fall into the bad habit of wishing I could look at one or two or three or more of them, and be able to think, they are not my problem at all they are completely God’s problem, nobody else’s . Life is hard, for me, at least. When I was young our parish priest was an angry and an unlikeable selfish person who, I now know, badly needed our prayers: it is sad to think about. He is long dead. I have to hope, as I did when I watched him go through his angry selfish day, that there were many wonderful sides to him besides the selfish angry side that he showed so often, but maybe there were not. I pray for his soul often. But I am no longer young and one of the great gifts God has given me is good Christian priests in every parish I have lived in for the last 30 years. I do not argue with people who say the Church is going through harder times now than it was 40 years ago but the priests I know today seem like very good priests and I would be proud of them if they were my sons or brothers. I could not have said that about the priest in my childhood parish. Please pray for him – I do not want to say his name, just pray for the proud angry Irish priest from New York. I am sure there was more than one.

  11. iPadre says:

    Bravo Father Z!

    I am often scandalized when distributing Holy Communion and see how some people receive. Sometimes as I distribute the Sacred Host, I tell our poor Jesus how sad I am that His Church has allowed Him to be so cruely mistreated, and beg Him to enlighten souls.

  12. Chiara says:

    Father, you may be assured that I and many of my lay brothers and sisters pray for you and our pastors and parochial vicars often every day, as well as our bishops and Pope Francis. These are not automatic, rote prayers, either.

    You may not realize it, but you are very important to us, as much as our families. Where would we be without you? I can tell you the answer to that – we would be cold and alone without our good Jesus in the Eucharist, and we would have no Sacraments to comfort us and give us grace. No relief of Confession. No membership in the Body of Christ via Baptism. No reception of the True Body and Blood of our Savior, to strengthen us. No Confirmation, to go forward as adults to serve God, the Church, and His children. No Holy Orders or Marriage, to give our lives their true vocation if we are not called to single life. And no Anointing of the Sick, when we are in danger of our health or death, to give us the grace to go forward to God. You, dear Father, and all your brother priests, are very important indeed to us, and we most certainly do not fail to remember you daily when we talk to God. That is why we get hurt and upset if we are on unhappy terms with our priests. You matter.

    Now, I must ask, why the comment, “A seminarian, a deacon, who has been going to Mass with the Novus Ordo Missal for a goodly amount of time needs about 10 minutes to learn how to say Mass.”?

    I am no priest, and I have no clue of even a bit of what goes into training a priest. But surely, our good Novus Ordo priests need more than 10 minutes to learn to say the Mass. I assume you were being sarcastic or joking when you said this. I think you do them a great disservice to flippantly downplay their learning, intelligence, and training. Not to mention the holiness of the valid Novus Ordo Mass. They are worthy of great respect, as is the Novus Ordo Mass.

    I realize your sympathies and those of your readers are with the TLM, and I respect that. But respectfully, Father, we who attend Novus Ordo parishes, and love the Novus Ordo Mass and our priests who serve us, are not a subspecies of the Catholic Church. We are fully your Catholic brothers and sisters, every bit as faithful to God and the Church. And we, the lay faithful, and our good, holy priests, deserve your respect as such. We will never have unity or Catholic understanding between us if either the Novus Ordo or TLM factions do not respect each other and realize we are faithful children of the Holy Catholic Church.

    I wish you and all here every blessing of Pentecost, and peace and all good – Susan, ofs

  13. Todd says:

    Hosea 4: 9 And it shall be like people, like priest;

  14. Kerry says:

    Chiara, there are factions where you attend Mass…I pray that is not so. The great dividing chasm (in my experience) is not NO/TLM, but beauty and reverence. Does the music, ‘song’ or hymn makes one cringe or soar? (In the Diocese of Sioux Falls, SD, six seminarians were ordained this Friday last.) The entrance hymn was ‘God, We Praise You’, the notes below reading: “Text, based on the Te Deum…Tune: NETTLETON.” The Kyrie was VIII, from the Missa de Angelis; the Gloria was in English; Litany of the the Saints in English; at the preparation of the Altar, Vaughan Williams ‘I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say’, Sanctus in Latin; Mysterium Fidei in English; Agnus Dei again, Missa de Angelis; the Communion Antiphon from Mark and Matthew, “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel”, with neumes printed in the ‘follow along’ booklets. The Communion ‘Hymn’, the Adoro te Devote, in Latin, all seven verses.
    Concluding hymn was Michael Perry’s ‘O God Beyond All Praising’.
    If, (and this question not asked of Chiara), but had the music been all Marty Haugen, with Eagles Wings and its like, the Mass would have been “changed, changed utterly, a terrible (boredom)…born”. Oh, and not forgetting the choir and organist, who were all first class. (During the Vesting, or Fraternal Kiss, with constant organ gently the background, I heard the Veni Creator Spiritus coming and going on the right hand.)
    The Mass started at 1100 hours, concluded at 1432 hours, yet no time passed.

    [This strays considerably from the topic.]

  15. padredana says:

    Beautiful post Father! It is VERY TRUE that priests NEED the faithful to be devout. I am blessed by devout parishioners, but even so, I still wait in joyful hope for a stable group to approach me about offering the Extraordinary Form regularly in my parish. What a joy it would be! It’s hard in tiny parishes to find a stable group who wants a TLM regularly.

  16. Legisperitus says:

    This makes total sense. The Eucharist, alone, is an invisible miracle. It’s the sacred surroundings, the ritual, the behavior of people, that make us see it.

  17. Mike says:

    Irrespective of recipients’ posture, one wonders what effect it has on a priest’s faith when everybody troops up row by row.

    [Row by row is indeed a deep concern in most places, especially where catechesis and preaching has been weak for a long time. It can be deeply troubling to a priest.]

  18. KateD says:

    A priest once explained exactly what you have written. He said when the communicant kneels, the priest is reminded of Whom it is that he serves. The reality becomes very apparent and their own negligences, etc., come immediately to mind. One who has gone astray becomes agitated. It is an anger more appropriately directed at themselves, but don’t we tend to take our frustrations out on those around us?

    It is appropriate to kneel before God and therefore it is necessary to persist.

    As a mother one becomes accoustomed to lovingly persisting in doing what is necessary despite vociferous objections. My children complain when they get sick about having to drink some tincture or awful bitter decoction I’ve made them. But they are healthy, haven’t needed antibiotics for years and have stronger immune systems. The medicine works, even on those who would prefer not to have it applied.

    Our kneeling is out of reverence for God alone, but that reverence seems to act as a spiritual salve for those who witness it. Even though a priest or bishop might become agitated by one’s kneeling, it is necessary to continue and just endure their wrath in patient and loving humility.

    We’ve recently witnessed an entire parish healed from what started as one humble communicant persisting in kneeling and reception of the Eucharist on the tongue. Oh what that person has been put through! But now during the reception of the Eucharist at all the exclusively Ordinary Form parish’s Masses, kneelers are brought forward and the faithful are invited to kneel to receive on the tongue…Where it used to be only this one individual at one Mass quietly walking up last so as not to trip or offend anyone and among scoffs and askance glares, now most the parish receives on the tongue while kneeling! Such a beautiful conversion to behold.

    One individual’s persistent, quiet reverence spoke to the priest’s heart and (God bless him!), he acted on it.

    It goes without saying he has been under considerable attack (corporeal and spiritual) for his conscientious care of his flock. Prayerful support has seen miraculous intercession on his behalf.

  19. majuscule says:

    We have had a priest who brought reverence and traditional beauty to our NO parish (along with frequent confession hours and private TLMs). Yes, this has flowed out to the people in the pews (except for the few who love the Spirit of Vatican II™ and want a golfing buddy instead of a priest).

    But something else that I noticed is that another priest, who I know to be holy but sometimes a bit too casual with the liturgy, has taken on a more reverent manner in his Masses. I don’t know if it’s from being around the other priest or from the more reverent demeanor of the laity.

    Note to iPadre–I watched a live stream of one of your Masses (thanks for that!). It was Novus Ordo ad orientem and I was impressed. However, when it came time for communion I was a little bewildered when the people knelt around the communion rail and it seemed like the majority received in the hand. I must quickly add that it was done very reverently…but I guess in my mind I assumed that if you’re going to kneel at the rail you’re going to receive on the tongue. Silly me! And still, it’s better than trooping up in a line and grabbing!

  20. padredana says:

    As to the claim that it takes a priest only “10 minutes to learn the Novus Ordo,” as a priest, I would say that it is not far off the mark. I for one, at my Mass practicum class in the seminary, stood at the “altar” and did it the first time with no training. It’s a piece of cake. But the Extraordinary Form, well that takes serious study and practice. I took me weeks to learn it. One couldn’t just walk up and do it like you could with the Ordinary Form.

  21. APX says:


    My friend who’s a priest said pretty much the same thing. The OF was so simple and quick for him to learn, but the EF he finds one needs a degree in rocket science to learn in comparison. [Perhaps “in comparison”. But let us not forget that a lot of priests who were decidedly not rocket scientists learned to say Mass well and reverently.]

  22. teachermom24 says:

    “I, for example, as a priest am profoundly moved by people who devoutly practice their faith.”

    I, as a lay person, am deeply moved as well when I see the devout practice of faith in lay people and priests (true devotion and true love are two things that quickly bring on the tears). Sadly, there are few examples of “devout practice” from laity or clergy where we live–few, but very few. I have never been aware of a priest outside the TLM (which we ever so occasionally are able to attend) who appreciated our family’s reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, though I have received comments of appreciation from several parishioners. Once, when visiting another parish in our diocese, my 12 year old daughter knelt before the priest to receive Holy Communion; he hesitated, gave her the Body of Christ, then rebuked her, “That’s not the way we do it.”

  23. hwriggles4 says:

    One thing that bothers me as a layperson is attending Mass and the congregation has the attitude of “when is this over?” and 33% leave after communion. Years ago I was the only usher at a parish who was under 25 years old, and it saddened me to see people come in after the Gospel, take communion, and skedaddle. I have even seen on at least two occasions where the priest was getting upset during the Mass because hardly anyone was participating (i.e. singing, reciting prayers, etc.) I am sure any lectors, choir members, altar servers, priests, deacons, etc. reading this have experienced this behavior among fellow parishioners. It’s much easier to be at a Mass where the majority have their heart in the Mass.

  24. iPadre says:

    APX, St. John Vianney and St. Joseph of Cupertino learned to celebrate the EF (only Mass in the Roman Rite at the time), despite their learning disabilities.

  25. scholastica says:

    I had an I interesting experience of the lay effect on the clergy this weekend. Our moderate Bishop in a fairly liberal diocese was sitting in his chair receiving faithful after the Holy Mass. I have never witnessed anyone kiss his ring or genuflect, but having recently been in the company of a bishop who encouraged the practice for the indulgence, I was comfortable doing so. I approached him, genuflected, kissed his ring, then stood and greeted him. He is elderly and no doubt tired after a season of confirmations, but he perked up and his face brightened immediately. It was beautiful to see!

    [A good lesson. Treat priests and bishops like priests and bishops can often produce an effect like watering a plant providing sunshine to a struggling plant. Of course, “quidquid recipitur… whatever is received is received in the manner of the one receiving it”. If you are faced with an inveterate lib, such signs might rile up the demon. However, I have seen the effect on bishops who, when they experience for the first time the customs of a traditional community… it is like watching a lightbulb go on. I strongly suggest to every community of traditional Catholics regularly to write kind and supportive notes to their bishops and priests.]

  26. PhilipNeri says:

    I rely on the prayers of my lay friends and family. I would not have survived as a priest for as long as I have if it were not for those who pray and sacrifice for me and my ministry.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

    [I know what you mean.]

  27. cunderwood47 says:

    Row by row = Catholic schools. Everybody goes. (I taught 28 years.)

  28. Jen The Blue says:

    I was once a traditionalist Catholic. I was once a Catholic. It would be unfair to say that the current Pope completely destroyed my Faith. But, events in life, as happen to us all, caused me to question my certainty of my religion. This happened at the same time Pope Benedict abdicated and was replaced by Pope Francis.

    His manifest heterodoxy, his lack certainty in belief just finished off what Faith I had left. When the Pope tries to change 2000 years of Doctrine…..he essentially said, “what we told you was true for 2000 years was utter rubbish, of course you can divorce, of course you can be a homosexual and by the way, Islam is great.”, one then questions why I should believe anything the Church teaches……if it is so open to change.

    I don’t suppose the grinning Pope Francis has any idea of the damage he is doing…….I suspect he just thinks that a Church that condones sin will get more “bums on pews”.

    That’s not what the Church used to be about…….it used to be about “Souls in Heaven”.

    Yours, an ex-Catholic, ex-Christian who would love to have a reason to return, but cannot see it happening.

    [What on earth does this have to do with the topic?]

  29. chantgirl says:

    As a sign of appreciation for one of our baby priests for his ordination anniversary, a group of parishioners pitched in to buy one of these gorgeous hand-embroidered palls made by Jeanne Perlier in France. It was absolutely beautiful in person, and our priest just beamed to receive it!

    I don’t know how we impact our priests, but I do know that my husband, who used to not like going to Mass, now very much appreciates the manly priests we have celebrating the EF. The masculinity of the priests who reverently celebrate Mass has made him sit up, pay attention, and take Mass seriously.

  30. Chiara says:

    Kerry –

    [REMOVED… irrelevant.]

  31. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Jen the Blue, I’m sorry to read about what’s happened to your faith. Jen the Blue, don’t you know that our Catholic faith is not centered upon this Pope or that one? But rather, it’s centered upon Jesus Christ, and Him crucified! And upon His glorious resurrection from the dead. And upon His sacred Body and Blood which He gave to us to be our food for the journey to Heaven! Please ask for the gift of faith to return to you, and please, from now on, keep your eyes on Jesus Himself. To the extent that this Pope or that one, this bishop or that one speaks and acts in conformity with the spirit of Our risen Lord, then let those words and acts remain with you, and treasure them in your heart. And to the extent that this Pope or that one, this bishop or that one speaks or acts in a manner which seems to you not in conformity with Our Lord’s own words and deeds, then pray for that prelate’s enlightenment and heavenly guidance . . . as well as for your own.

    God has His reasons for allowing certain unfortunate things to enter the Church. We don’t know what those reasons are. Do not ponder on things too deep for you or busy yourself with matters about which none of us has full knowledge. It’s necessary to “still our hearts like a weaned child in its mother’s lap” and to trust in the Lord. “Be steadfast, and wait for the Lord!” Jesus is so wonderful, so marvelous, and so perfect a Savior, a God, and a King, that to serve Him is to partake of every delight known to man. Ask Him to restore your faith. Do not turn your back upon Him. He’s the Prize for which we all strive – even if don’t know it at the time. God bless you!

    [Please, let’s CLOSE this rabbit hole.]

  32. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    Another commenter recounted that, “the priest was getting upset during the Mass because hardly anyone was participating (i.e. singing, reciting prayers, etc.”

    Of course, we should always recite the prayers and sing *sacred*, *Catholic* *hymns.*

    I feel a tad upset at Mass when the musical pieces selected for us to sing sound secular in nature. Usually these are unfamiliar and un-singable, which usually means for me that the piece is written in 3/4 time, meanders up and down the musical scale with no particular rhyme or reason, (making them difficult to “catch onto”) and generally resemble the opening credits theme of a television prime-time romance/drama series instead of like a sacred hymn.

    Oh, and “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” by Martin Luther.

    These I can’t and or won’t even try to sing.

  33. Semper Gumby says:

    Great post and comments Fr. Z, padredana et al.

    Chiara: Note Fr. Reid’s quote in Fr. Z’s post that offering the Latin Mass has made him a better priest and improved the way he offers the Novus Ordo. That is good news for everyone.

    If I may add amiably, “respect” is “admiration elicited by achievement.” That is, respect is earned. In pop culture of the last several decades “respect” is often demanded via a harangue. Pax.

  34. Chiara says:

    Hi Gumby, Father, and others here –

    [REMOVED… again, irrelevant]

  35. OldLady says:

    Even though I accept that we do not usually realize the effect our actions have on others, I have never wondered how I might affect our priest at confession or the communion rail. So I am sitting here wondering if I have somehow conceptualized the Body of Christ as a one way street. Powerful stuff, Fr. Z!

  36. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    If it were true that respect for a particular person “must be earned,” then how to explain “respect life” as it applies to the infant in the womb, who has not yet been able to earn anything?

    There is the respect of admiration due to achievement, but even criminals and pagans do as much among their own kind. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the excellence of another in this or that endeavor, but that’s not the kind of respect that earns us a place in Heaven.

    For Catholics, we recall that all human persons are made in the image and likeness of God, and some few of them have been placed by God in authority over us. According to the virtue of justice, we owe in our demeanor and behavior toward all human persons a certain reverential gentleness and consideration in conformity to their dignity as children of God, and we owe that acknowledgement not so much to the person per se, but to the God who created him or her. It is to God Himself that we owe the respect we show to other persons, no matter who they are, no matter what they’ve earned.

    Then according to that person’s state in life, we may be called to accord to certain persons a special kind of reverence, in addition to the respect we owe to all.

    To those whom God Almighty has placed in authority over us, we owe the greater reverence – honor – and obedience, where that obedience does not contradict the law of God. Children owe honor to their parents, no matter who their parents are, or how they behave (but not, of course, to obey in what is wrong.) Adults, while no longer owing obedience to their parents, still owe the reverence and consideration toward them that God requires of all offspring toward their parents. And we owe some of this reverence and consideration toward all senior family members, including our in-laws. We owe a special kind of deference and consideration to all elderly, infirm, and disabled persons. And we owe godly honor and obedience to the civil authorities in all that does not contradict the law of God. And most of all we owe to priests and bishops the highest reverence of all, not because of anything they may have earned personally, but because of the reverence we owe to the Sacrament of Holy Orders, and to the sacred station they occupy in the Church. This is particularly true of the reverence and obedience we owe to the holy Father the Pope, whom His Divine Majesty God Almighty, by His permissive will, has allowed to be placed at the Head of the Church. However, insofar as any Pope may fall short in his role of teacher and leader of the Church, we should not follow or imitate him in his mistakes, but should gravely and without rancor acknowledge those mistakes and continue on in the way God has always called His people to do.

  37. StLindaUnderConstruction says:

    Fr. Z, thanks for confirming what I already suspected, that the little things I do for our Bishop, Priests, and Seminarians do matter. Without Priests, we don’t have the Church or the Sacraments. We can’t live without the Bread of Life.

    I’m a member of the Vocations Club for the Diocese of Madison so I try to remember and recognize our religious anytime I can.

    For Seminarians, I try to attend their ordinations to the Diaconate and Priesthood. If you’ve never attended these, you should! The music is heavenly and the liturgy is glorious! At Christmas, I give them a little gift along with a card that I’m praying for them. Our diocese has a card with pictures of all the Seminarians. I like to use that as a bookmark to remember to pray for them often. I took that card on my trip to Lourdes, Fatima, and other holy sites and touched it to all the holy places.

    I reverently bow when a priest passes by. For my parish priest, I try to thank him for an especially touching homily, for offering Eucharistic Adoration, etc. If I have some fresh produce or a jar of home-made soup, I share that with him – after checking first to see if he’d like it. I try to remember the anniversary of his ordination by putting a note in our church bulletin and having a little social for him after a weekday Mass. I try to remember him for Father’s Day, his birthday, National Pray for a Priest Day, World Day of Prayer for Vocations, and any opportunity with a little treat and a card thanking God for calling him, for him answering God’s call, and for all he does for our parish.

    For our Bishop, I like to give him the same Christmas gift I give to Seminarians. Thanks to Scholastica’s comment, I plan to reverently genuflect and kiss the Bishop’s ring the next time I have the chance.

    A happy and holy priest is the best advertising for vocations. Hopefully these ideas will inspire others to show appreciation to your Bishop, Priest, and Seminarians.

    And thanks, Fr. Z., for your ministry to our Church!

  38. Semper Gumby says:

    Chiara: Please note that my username is Semper Gumby, those words are paired for a specific reason. Though the “Semper” nickname is fine.

    “Respect,” as I previously mentioned, is “admiration elicited by achievement.” If one decides to redefine “respect” as “a matter of charity and manners, an expression of high regard” then the word has no meaning. Again, respect must be earned- demanding or repeatedly insisting on “respect” is a recent pop culture contrivance.

    After your excellent comment regarding Mass and Benedict XVI (this could have served as the basis for Mutual Enrichment), you instead chose to fill the rest of your comment with strawmen, mischaracterization, hectoring, and condescension.

    Chiara, you may wish to reflect on your motivation for writing the following sweeping accusation directed at the host, commenters, and readers of this blog: [AMEN!] “Sadly, all I can see is that whenever anyone has a chance to attack the Novus Ordo Mass, our priests, and our parishes, they do so with venom, condescension, and a shocking lack of, yes, respect for Jesus in the Eucharist…”

    Well now, a reasonable person can view that statement as invective, or possibly, disinformation meant to influence other readers negatively. Pax

    Marion Ancillae Mariae: As you are aware, the pro-life case rests on God, not the definition of “respect.” And it is indeed true that respect must be earned or the word has no meaning.

    Also, there is far more going on in the criminal and pagan mind than “respect,” such as: obedience, fear of the consequences of disobedience, excitement over exploits, attraction to a charismatic leader, attraction to the diabolical, rejection and disdain of society, primacy of the individual will, etc. Cheers.

    [Let this be the last point about that!]

  39. Joe in Canada says:

    It might take 10 minutes to learn the Novus Ordo, but then it takes an hour every week to meet with the liturgy committee, the readers, the ushers, etc; to discuss the theme of the Mass, to share how that theme makes you feel, the consider the latest hymns from the latest stars, and so on. What is the EF priest doing during that time???

  40. Yes, Amen.
    Our pastor gave a very good homily this past Sunday and touched on the effect of 2 people within the Church. One was Saint Francis of Assisi ? (I am quite partial) The other Martin Luther.

    Obviously we need to imitate Saint Francis’ charity and I think very often overlooked and mistaken as a weak virtue, his beautiful and imitable piety. Which ordered his charity and showed through even among scandalous clergy and their embarrassing habits.

    Pray for our priests, NO. TLM, Eastern..they’re our gifts given to us from God.

  41. benedetta says:

    There are some reverent, well planned/executed Novus Ordo Masses around. Less so where I am, longstanding. But in other places in the country, here and there. And even where the bad and the lame and the wrong prevail, they can be found if one knows where to look. But the point is the same, which is that they are exceptional, and take something above and beyond the typical and the usual and the select by strange committee. I think furthermore that these priests whose ars celebrandi translates to an exceptionally beautiful and reverent and worthy Novus Ordo Mass fully understand the hunger that is unmet out there for exactly what they are doing, and, while I don’t know that they are themselves edified, I think that they understand that what they are doing is crucial and a work of God.

    The preparation of liturgy by committee (and one often hears intentions prepared this way, in some places, non Catholic famous people who pass away such as rock stars or political celebrities in the given week have a special intention, Lord Hear Our Prayer…) also tends to let priests off the hook in terms of that mutuality of priest and laity contributing to one another’s edification and salvation. They can shrug and say that it was what “the people wanted” (although the committees are pretty much pastor’s favorites and a lot of yes men and professional busybodies who haven’t a clue about reverent liturgy or tradition or what is needed for the care of souls) and they can also step back and pretend that some pastoral minister or minisress has had it the way johnny in his shorts and flip flops popping back the host who is her next door neighbor and on the lacrosse team is after all how all should be in the realm of his personal pastoral domain. No one really wants to challenge one another to the good very much. I suppose people are afraid of what might happen if the good were truly unleashed among us and so we have to settle for committee and officious councils regulating our spiritual lives if we are to partake in the suburban community of faith scene . It must be on those terms if at all, apparently. For people who live in desert areas, I’d suggest finding someplace such as a nursing home, chapel, or religious community Mass which isn’t under the thumb of those watchful powers that be for something reverent, though humble and relatively powerless.

  42. Mary Jane says:

    Joe in Canada who asked, “What is the EF priest doing during that time???”

    My guess would be he’s enjoying a good glass of wine and reading one of Cardinal Sarah’s books.

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