Thursday, February 19, 2015

WHEN THE MASS WILL HAVE TO DO!

I was on vacation last week and attended Mass on Sunday from the pew. It was in a modern church that was quite ugly although I am sure the parishioners who built it and attend there think it is just fine.

There were two video screen above the altar that showed the words to the songs and prayers. Thus there was no need for a missalette or hymnal. I hate that!

In addition, the Mass was televised on this video screens. So I could look at the priest in front of me or look up and see him on the video screens. I hate that! In this particular church, everyone could see the altar. There was no need to see the priest on the video screens.

The priest, 81 years or so, extremely well tanned and well-healed was an entertainer beginning immediately after the processional hymn, through the homily and at the end. I hated it! It was all about him, his humor, his life and his peccadilloes. I was embarrassed by some of what he said although I think he was clueless.

But as I looked around at the elderly congregation they were eating it up. Dysfunctional? Yes I would say so.

But the Mass was valid. I heard the Word of God. I got something out of the stupid, narcissistic homily and the Holy Sacrifice was offered and I received Holy Communion, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord. I believe I received our Lord worthily too!

I can be very critical of how Mass is celebrated today as there is much to criticize. However, this is counterproductive during an actual Mass and can be an occasion of sin, even mortal sins against charity, for the one who is so critical and negative no matter how much material is present for critique and negativity.

Sometimes we have to rely on ex opere operato.

Wikipedia summarizes this principle in the Catholic Church:

Ex opere operato is a Latin phrase meaning "from the work worked" referring to the efficacy of the Sacraments deriving from the action of the Sacrament as opposed to the merits or holiness of the priest or participant. In modern usage, the phrase often refers to the idea that sacraments are efficacious in and of themselves rather than depending on the attitude either of the minister or the recipient. For example, Confirmation might be held to bestow the Holy Spirit regardless of the attitude of both the bishop and the person being confirmed.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I got something out of the stupid, narcissistic homily ..."

Any comment that is vitriolic and disrespectful of the laity in general, and Pope Francis, bishops and priests in particular will not be posted!

The FARCE continues....

Anonymous said...

Well-healed? You know his medical history?

Well-heeled? You know he is wealthy?

Artax57 said...

I completely agree. Ex opere operato is always in my mind, now more than ever.

Anonymous said...

It is "well heeled", not "well healed".

The priest had a tan...Did you get a tan?

You seem to have chosen not to reveal details of your "winter vacation". Whatever...

John Nolan said...

I disagree. Such a perversion of Catholic liturgy is an abomination. I don't care whether it's technically valid or not, if I hated it as much as you say you did, I would certainly not feel disposed to receive Holy Communion.

Ex opere operato doesn't apply here, since it was the work performed which was unworthy, not the priest performing it nor the congregation lapping it up, who obviously did not know any better.

Henry said...

"Sometimes we have to rely on ex opere operato."

But why, oh, why in the name of all that's holy should we have to? Why can't every single Mass offered anywhere on earth not only be holy (intrinsically), but look holy, sound holy, smell holy, and in every conceivable way be holy? How in the name of all that's holy can one explain the literally incredible phenomenon of priests who simply can not, or will not, celebrate a truly holy Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?

But isn't the answer obvious enough? These narcissistic clown-like priests simply do not believe in the Mass as the bloodless sacrifice of the Cross re-presented on the altar before them. However they may protest their fidelity in whatever faithful sounding words, their nonbelief is written on their faces and in their actions for all to see.

What other explanation could their be? If a priest personally believes he is confecting the Body and Blood of Christ on the altar and offering Him up to the Father in sacrifice in propitiation for the sins of men, then he acts like it. If he does not, then he doesn't. If he believes he's simply serving a community meal, then he may well act like an entertainment TV kitchen chef.

quicumquevult said...

Father, how do you receive Communion "from the pew"? On the tongue or in the hand? All the concelebrated NOs I've been to have had the Host placed in the right hand of the concelebrant (if there is just one) or have had the concelebrants self-communicate (if there are many). But I believe that in the older form, priests communicate on the tongue when they aren't celebrating the Mass.... I suppose, you being ordained, there would be nothing to bar you from receiving in the hand even if laypeople were not allowed to do so. But it's something I'm curious about. :)

Anonymous said...

Henry..."....then he ACTS like it." I really think that to many of you, that's the whole deal....."ACTING". Pot on that aloof, holy, above it all "I represent Jesus" air....

People are human. Priests are human. It's OK if that shows. Mass is not an audition for a movie.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Well healed (he was) and well heeled? Maybe, he looked it.

I received in the hand from a female EMHC! I received our Lord and that is what counts to me.

Concelebrating priests receive in the hand or self-communicate.

If at Mass in choir dress, the choice is the priest's choice. If you watch the video of Pope Francis' Ash Wednesday Mass, Archbishop Piero Marini, (the progressive Marini that was not named prefect for the Congregation of Divine Worship) received Holy Communion in choir dress but he chose to kneel as did the others near him. He received in the hand, others on the tongue, but kneeling!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The homily was stupid and narcissistic nothing disrespectful in telling the brutal truth.

That statement was not a farce!

Anonymous said...

You are not "telling the truth". You are giving your personal disrespectful opinion.

You think your "act" is better than his "act".

Gene said...

Fr. Mc, you are beginning to sound like Gene.

Anonymous said...

The FARCE is that you claim - falsely - that you will not post disrespectful comments, that you will not allow name calling, that you desire intelligent and civil comments.

Then you post your own comments which are disrespectful, that call names, and that are not civil.

Yes, the FARCE continues.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I could delete you farcical, nonsensical remarks that are haughty too, but I don't because you are free to read my blog as you seem to delight in doing so and I appreciate your farcical remarks.

Gene said...

So, let me get this straight…ex opera operato is a blank check, a trump card, and excuses any abuse, any abomination. Man, that is just about the coolest parallel to the protestant theology of grace I have ever heard…hey, man it doesn't matter what you do….Jesus loves you! Now, pass that bong...

Marc said...

Well, Gene, if Christianity is merely a series of transactions, then eventually all you're left with is questions over concepts like "validity." This is simply the logical consequence of that reductionism, which is why it lines up so well with the Protestant idea. They're two sides of the same coin.

JBS said...

I'll add a few observations, if I may.

First of all, perhaps it's worth noting that priests are free from experiencing this sort of thing week after week, encountering it only on occasion. How does this affect a priest's outlook on the state of the Latin liturgy?

Second, we all feel helpless to do anything about the problem described in this post, so we look for calming ways to contend with it. Father MacDonald does a good job here of calling a spade a spade, while also assuring everyone of the potential fruits of such difficult experiences.

As for Anonymous, she clearly has some deep pain in her life that moves her to lash out at others with emotion, rather than engaging intellectually in dialogue. Perhaps we could just let her "vent" and move on. The CHARITY continues.

Anonymous said...

I don't suppose we'll be told the "offending" church or diocese, so as to protect the guilty?! Well, at least we know it wasn't the Archdiocese of Atlanta, as none of our 69 counties touches a coast (Gulf or Atlantic). Unless you were at the "beach" on Lake Lanier or Allatoona---not recommended with our latest cold snap!!!! I'll guess it was somewhere in Florida as there are not many public beaches on the Georgia coast.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I loved Lake Allatoona, but haven 't been there since I was 5. You can imagine that that became my nick name! We lived outside one of the gates of Ft . McPherson where my father was stationed on Patton a Drive off of Stanton in East Point. Those apartments and that street are gone now! We were there from 1956 to 60, a great time to be in Atlanta! I even went to the grand opening of Lenox Square in 58. It was not an enclosed Mall when built. Peach tree Road was two lanes at the time and was being widened for growt in that part of Atlanta !

Flavius Hesychius said...

Anonymous said:

Henry..."....then he ACTS like it." I really think that to many of you, that's the whole deal....."ACTING". Pot on that aloof, holy, above it all "I represent Jesus" air....

Any comment that is vitriolic and disrespectful of the laity in general, and Pope Francis, bishops and priests in particular will not be posted!

The FARCE continues...

Anonymous said...

So Flavius, are you the elusive "farce" man?

Gene said...

To the Anon who likes to cry "farce,"
And everyone's words likes to parce,
I tell him with glee
If left up to me
You can blow it right out of your ar**.

George said...

Marc
"Christianity is merely a series of transactions..."?

The Divine Transactions:

Our love in return for His Love,
Our worship and adoration in return for His Grace,
Our repentance in return for His forgiveness,
His Body and Blood in return for our eternal salvation.

Anonymous said...

A Kung Foo "theologian" called Gene
Believes his perception quite keen
He is thought to be bright
By some kooks on the right
But, in fact, has the mind of a teen

Flavius Hesychius said...

Anonymous,

Of course not, but you already knew that.

I have no reason to post as 'anonymous' when I already have an anonymous online identity.

George said...

Gene:
"ex opera operato is a blank check, a trump card, and excuses any abuse, any abomination."
It can seem that way but I see it as just the Word, the Son of God keeping His word. As long as the required form and matter are present at the consecration, the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity become present. Now as far as the abuse of the liturgy, that is something the celebrant and possibly the bishop (if he allows it) will have to answer to God for. A liturgy which is celebrated poorly and without due reverence does offend and do great disservice to God but He does not make Holy Communion contingent on it. God would not have us answer for and be punished for what a priest did or didn't do.
Unlike some of our Protestant brethren, we can always be assured that we are partaking of more than just bread and wine.

Paul said...

Offer it up. Be thankful for any valid Mass celebrated.

I see and hear things at Mass that can be distracting, offending even infuriating. I catch myself and tell Satan to get out. No matter what we may be upset about, Jesus is fully present, body, soul and divinity.

Go in Peace to Love and Serve the Lord.

quicumquevult said...

There should really be a publication that has just these limericks thrown back and forth between Gene and this anonymous poster. It could become wildly popular, I bet. They actually made me laugh out loud.

Anonymous said...

Father, I wasn't around in the 1950s so amazing to read your earlier column about Peachtree being two lanes around Lenox in those days. These days, even 6 lanes aren't enough for the tens of thousands of cars that pass through the area. One correction--Lenox Square opened in 1959, not 1958.

Amazingly in the Bible Belt South, the largest church near Lenox/Buckhead is the Cathedral of Christ the King, with perhaps 13,000 members---far and above the adjoining Baptists at Second Ponce de Leon and just up the street, the (Episcopal) Cathedral of St. Philip. Buckhead perhaps one of the few areas of Georgia where the Catholics and Episcopalians outnumber the Baptists!!!


Fort McPherson has closed of course and city hopes to redevelop that area---maybe a movie studio---but Fort Mac is in rough area of town (which pretty much describes the portion of Atlanta south of Interstate 20). Not as easy to get developers there as it is to northside of Atlanta.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Thanks for the correction! In 1959 I would have been 4/5 years old.

I have great memories of East Point at that time which was mainly army. We attended Mass on post but also went to St. Anthony's on the West End in fact I began first grade there for the 1959/60 school year, but we moved to Augusta in April of 1960. I have great memories of St. Anthony's Church, School, the traditional Sisters of St. Joseph of Corondelet of the old school.

Yes East Point and the neighborhood I remember are quite different now although the apartments that were torn down (almost project like) are being replaced with town homes and houses. Hope that continues.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

My eldest nephew lives in East Point and own/manages a restaurant in College Park.

Shameless advertisement: The Pig and the Pint 1583 Virginia Ave, College Park, GA 30337

East Point is a bit dicey, indeed, but he's happy!

James W said...

I'm probably sensitive because I'm African-American, but these last three postings seem to have subtle racial overtones...

Gene said...

James W, why does the truth have racial overtones?

Gene said...

You can't handle the truth.

Catherine Balducci said...

*starts to pray in tongues*

Joe Potillor said...

Ex Opere Operato does not mean settling for abysmal Liturgy.

George said...

Joe Potillor:

"Ex Opere Operato does not mean settling for abysmal Liturgy."

The principle of Ex Opere Operato distinguishes us from Protestants, for whom the "liturgy" or service, and how it celebrated or performed, is everything.

Now I do concur that we should give back to God the best we can, but He does not leave us at the mercy of, or hold us responsible worship-wise for that which is beyond our control. The offering of Christ, the Sacrificial Lamb, is always pleasing to God.

Joe Potillor said...

George, I agree with you...Certainly the very offering of His Son is well pleasing...But it's also true we shouldn't use Ex Opere Operato to justify *insert abuse here*