ASK FATHER: “Priest screws around with order of Mass. Should I mind my own business?” @FatherZ rants, advises.

From a reader…


Our priest always reverses the order of the peace and the fraction.

Specifically, he observes the following order:

  1. Our Father, embolism, doxology.
  2. Prayer for the peace of Christ.
  3. Fraction and commingling.
  4. Exchange of peace.
  5. Agnus Dei.

As you can see, #3 and #4 are reversed.

He says it’s because “peace comes from Jesus’s broken body” or something like that. Is this an abuse worth taking up with the bishop, or should I just mind my own business?

“Just mind your own business….”…?!?   No!  This is YOUR business!

Sacred worship is your business.  Our sacred liturgical worship is not the property of the priest, who can do whatever the hell he wants.

The fact that you wrote, “He says it’s because…” suggests that you have spoken with him or he has publicly explained himself.

If you have not communicated with him personally, I urge you to do so.   Drop him a note and, if he doesn’t answer, approach him.   Of course, use common sense and be kind and respectful.

At the same time, you should discreetly get a few instances of what he does via the video camera setting on your smart phone (assuming you have one).

The paper trail and the video are what might be called “proofs” in the case that this needs to go to another level.   It isn’t enough simply to say that Father X is doing Y.   You need to show that he is really doing it.

The next step, if the priest continues to commit this clear abuse, is to go to the bishop (I am assuming that this is the pastor of the parish).   And/or you can go to the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome.   If there is no bishop right now, write to the Congregation directly.

I have tips for writing to bishops and to Rome, HERE.

I said at the top that this is YOUR business.   The Church thinks so too.

The document Redemptionis Sacramentum clarifies your role.

6. Complaints Regarding Abuses in Liturgical Matters

[183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.

[184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.

The last paragraph clarifies that the faithful have recourse directly to the Holy See at any time in the process.  However, they urge that the problems be dealt with at the lowest level possible before seeking help from a higher authority.    Hence, if you do not get satisfaction from the priest directly, after collecting written and video proofs you should try the local bishop and then the Congregation.

Again, friend, this is your business.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Just one point I would like to add because I see it all the time. Facebook messenger is Not Ever the appropriate venue for lodging a complaint. Managing social media accounts is usually done by staff (or more often volunteers), and in the case of my parish, a team of volunteers which includes teens. To my knowledge, there is no way to prevent them from seeing potentially very awkward messages while enabling them to do their job.

    [I don’t know what any aspect of Facebook is really for.]

  2. Diana says:

    The Catholic Church closest to my home–which I no longer visit–was rife with annoying things going on at Mass and elsewhere. I left the parish years ago, but before doing so, I made many appeals to the Monsignor in charge–a very laissez faire sort of leader–other people in charge of various groups at the Church, and, finally, our Archbishop. The response from all was generally a version of, “well, what are ya gonna do?!” *shrug*

    Some of my frustrations included the following. I’d be curious to know if I was indeed correct in being annoyed by these things.

    1. A Sister of St Joseph who was often a lector regularly changed male pronouns to gender neutral ones. It was particularly confusing when she did it to SIR 6:5-17, which has ten instances of he or him. I spoke to the woman in charge of the lectors about it after two different occasions of her doing this. She suggested I speak with Sister to “better understand” why she was doing that. I told her that it was not my job to tell lectors to follow the rules, but it was hers. And that no lector should be changing the words of the Bible in the middle of Mass. I left the parish after that.

    2. Before I left, I regrettably took a friend through RCIA. The “catechist” never used a book, but just taught off the cuff. His knowledge of the faith was extremely lacking. For instance, when asked what happens to Catholics who leave the Church, he said he didn’t know. I said, “I do—they are excommunicated. It’s apostasy.” “Oh, I don’t know about that,” he said. That night, I went home and found an article ( that defined the act of leaving the Church as heresy. I forwarded it to him in an email. He never said anything about it RCIA later. (I did tell my catechumen the truth of what the Church teaches.)

    On another instance, when discussing confession and Communion, he—and his assistant (mentioned below)—stated that before Vatican II, Catholics were required to confess even venial sins before taking Communion, and if they had a venial sin on their conscience, they could not take Communion. I said this was impossible, that no one would ever take Communion, but they disagreed. I asked a Monsignor friend about it (because I was not born before Vatican II), and he agreed that what they said was untrue. I emailed the Catechist, and he somewhat attempted to clarify at the next class. He said that it is ok to believe that Jesus did not know that He was God until later in life—that many modern theologians agree that He grew in knowledge of His mission as her grew in age. Whenever he mentioned that the fullness of truth is contained in the Roman Catholic Church, he always did so apologetically, so as to avoid seeming to insult people of other religions. I pointed out to him that the catechumens are there because they believe the Church is the true Church, and he should be less apologetic about it. When asked why Jesus said “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” from the Cross, he did not know that Jesus was quoting the Psalms.

    As for his assistant, she went through RCIA about 10 years ago. Clearly, she was badly catechized, as most of what she said was contrary to Church teaching. For instance: when discussing her annulment, she said “the Church blessed my divorce.” I said, “the Church would never bless a divorce. They decreed your previous marriage invalid. There’s a big difference.” She disagreed.
    At the next class—in the Church chapel—she discussed psychics, and how she knew one who helped police. My spiritual director had told me to stay quiet, so I didn’t say anything on this occasion, but the Catechist didn’t say anything about what the Church teaches about psychics. They just discussed them as if they were real and ok.

    When I brought these concerns to our Archbishop, he said, “these are the kind of issues you should take to your local pastor and not to me as the bishop. In fact, the pastors get quite angry when people go over their head directly to the bishop.” But when the pastor is allowing these things to continue, and putting badly catechized people in charge of forming new Catholics, what use is it to go to the pastor?

    The Archbishop also said, “In reality, none of the things you bring up are ‘little things’ but you also might be nitpicking. You don’t want to become the kind of parishioner that pastors and other parishioners dread because they are always correcting. It’s unfortunate when those who are part of the RCIA program really don’t know the faith deeply and pass on wrong information. But again, the local pastor is the only one who can handle that matter.”

    God forbid I become “the kind of parishioner” who cares about how God’s word is read, and how new Catholics are formed. This is why people don’t say anything. And why I now go to an FSSP parish that has me over the moon with joy after every Mass.

  3. Diana says:

    Sorry that my comment sounds so angry. I had forgotten how angry this situation made me, and clearly still does. I need to pray for forgiveness and for all of them. It just makes me so angry when God and His Church is so disrespected and treated so cavalierly. I love our Church so much. It makes me sad when others just want to change it and water down the truth.

  4. BrionyB says:

    I didn’t know those who left the Church were excommunicated. I left as a teenager and considered myself an atheist or neo-pagan for many years, and indeed was quite anti-Catholic for a while; when I finally returned I confessed all this and was absolved, but should there have been an additional process to lift the excommunication? The priest who heard my confession did not say anything about this.

  5. As I understand it, the priest, in giving absolution, has removed the excommunication – only very few sins have to be referred to Rome – so you are fine! Welcome home!

  6. BrionyB says:

    That’s good to know – thank you for the reassurance!

  7. Gab says:

    Diana says “It just makes me so angry when God and His Church is so disrespected and treated so cavalierly.”

    Many a time I had to go to Confession over my being angry and judgmental (inwardly), during Mass, over the disrespect shown in His church. The list of “little things” that occurred during Mass is too painful to repeat. Politely mentioning these “little things” to Father resulted in a shrug and response “The people here are very liberal, not much I can do”. The straw that broke the camel’s back was Father celebrating Mass on the counter next to the large coffee machine in the kitchen area of the foyer in the church, one weekday morning. Reason given was since only 30 or so people were there for Mass, it was more intimate. The church is not huge by any standard. Our Lord in the Tabernacle was alone as Father said Mass in the coffee/foyer area. I had an incredible urge to flee right then and there. In the end, I had to remove myself from that parish “to avoid the near occasion of sin”.

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