Sunday, July 16, 2017


I attended Mass today as I am on vacation in a beach island resort community. The 8 AM Mass was in a church that must seat up to 1,500 people or more. Most in attendance were vacationers.

The deacon, who preached, was very positive about vacationing Catholics attending Mass is such huge numbers. He was very cognizant of the young people there with their parents. His homily was brief after a bit of a gimmicky start, but not over the top. But the gimmick was disconnected from the homily which I think he could have tied into the homily, but alas.

Attending Mass, I commit the venial sin of being too critical. I did not plan to be critical and did not give it forethought or planning, thus the venial category of sin rather than mortal.

The church building is a 1980's in the half round concoction with the altar in a sort of mini-pit with the sloping floor. In fact I was toward the back of the church in a side transcept and was higher than the altar, but in an almost full church when people were standing I could not see the altar.

Of course we are in a beach side facility with vacationing Catholics, but the sense of the sacred prior to and sadly during Mass was lacking not just because of the location of the church.

People got up during the consecration to take care of crying babies, go the bathroom and the like. One young father with his baby walked directly in front of me and I knelt during the elevation of the Sacred Host.

But apart from that, the church was full, so we don't want to be overcritical.

But now, let me critique the Ordinary Form of the Mass.

1. It has too many Scripture readings for the Liturgy of the Word. The EF Mass has the right number. I would recommend the EF Lectionary format with the Gradual and Tract, using it as Year A and creating a Year B and C modeled after its format to include a year of the Old Testaement as the First reading (except of course during Eastertide). Thus more Scripture would be lavished upon the Church as asked by Sacrosanctum Concilium.

2. The useless repititon of the refrain of the Responsorial psalm now drives me to distraction. The Gradual would solve that, but simply singing the refrain at the beginning and the end with the Psalm sung straight through would help.

3. The cantor intoning the Alleluia with the congregation acting like a parrot should be eliminated, no need to repeat and the congregation can join in singing automatically when this is established.

4. The Universal Prayer needs to go, meaning eliminated. The exclusive use of the Roman Canon would, should and does include all the intercessions that are necessary for the Mass and are general, not specific or preachy as are homemade intercessions that are banal, poorly formulated and often inane.
(As an aside, just to show you the less of the sense of the sacred even during a prayer, the deacon prayed the Intercession for the pastor who is celebrating his priestly ordination anniversary to which to the congregation applauded!).

5. Get rid of the presentation of the offerings. It is stupid to do so and adding a theology that these come from the laity is just dumb because they come from the clergy too.

6. Move toward a low voice Roman Canon, audible but low.

7. Ad Orientem is a no-brainer, apart from the elevation, which should be seen, and is ad orientem or facing the people, there isn't anything to see and makes seeing a show rather than a prayer for many, to include the priest who plays to his captive audience.

8. Kneeling for Holy Communion would go a long way to restoring reverence during Communion time.

9. There need not be an Offertory hymn as there was this morning as the collection was being taken by passing the basket and two sets at the same time for a second collection. No one can open a hymnboook and give their gift at the same time.

10. I did not join in signing the Offertory hymn as it was stupid to ask us to sing at the point and I hate that I was asked, yes asked, to join in singing the Commmunon song. I think there should be no congregational singing at Communion. Get rid of it, although a choir, cantor or organ only could be done if it is Eucharist and meditative.

Just my two cents from a venial sin committing priest attending Mass as though a layman.


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Oh well, I think many people have similar reactions when, on vacation, they visit other places. My nephew is a restaurant owner - he is very hesitant to go out to eat anywhere!

Victor said...

I have mentioned before that the call for more Scripture readings in the Mass by the Consilium has to be taken in the context of the EF Mass. The post Conciliar fanatics interpreted that to mean that people had to be exposed to more Scripture on the days of obligation, Sundays and feasts. Of course, Bugnini's input in the writing of Sacrosanctum Concilium was purposefully vague in this and many other things to leave room for the "spirit of the Council". The problem with the EF Mass is that the reforms of the Council of Trent actually eliminated proper daily readings, so that the same prior Sunday readings are repeated during the whole week unless there are commemoration of Saints and Martyrs which have their own proper readings, usually as a common. I agree, that having an Old Testament reading in addition to the other two is over-kill and typical of what happens when you let scholars do the reform, since they bring their Biblical classroom into the liturgy.

This whole silly idea that people have to sing everything at Mass has made the responsorial psalm a painful event, especially since these catchy refrains would often be better suited as jingles for TV commercials. The interlectionary chants should be a time for meditation and reflection on the readings, something which eludes the Novus Ordo as it is normally done

The gospel Alleluia has become an attempt at upstaging the consecration with this whole of idea of acclamation of the gospel because Christ is present in the gospel. Again, the EF has it right, it is a choir chant for meditation.

I would agree with you for all the others too, except perhaps for the offertory. There is no reason why the choir should not sing the proper offertory, and if time remains, a hymn could be sung to appease the extroverts who think there should be more singing by the people. In short, 1,500 years of practice carries a lot more weight than the experts's pet ideas for the Novus Ordo.

Joseph Johnson said...

Work obligations this afternoon (to prepare for an upcoming case) caused me to drive northwest 20 miles for 9:30 Mass at St. Paul (instead of 18 miles for an 11:00 bilingual Mass at my home parish of St. Joseph).

It was so serene and refreshing to have the Mass start with the ringing of the bell, a simple sign of the Cross, Penitential Rite A (Confiteor and untrophed Kyrie), and, (first time I've heard it in several years!)---a full-blown Roman Canon! Because we don't (yet) have the EF in rural South Georgia, this is about as good as it gets. It was sooo nice!

Is it so much to ask to want to attend this kind of Novus Ordo instead of what we typically get?

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Ah, Fr. McD -- welcome to our nightmare....

We put up with this sort of thing in our local parishes week after week, year after year, until we finally get so fed up we start parish hopping - looking for a parish close by where the priest seems to be a little more reverent, a little more according to the book, where the kids are not creating a Chuck E Cheese atmosphere.

So we change parishes, but then Fr. Reverent gets transferred and inevitably his replacement is Fr. Hip or Fr. Groovy.

And now many Masses have young families coming, only this is Family Time - where they spend an hour doing something together, even if they kids are out of control, the baby is screeching during the Consecration, and the toddler is kicking the pew in front of him, it's all good, right? Because Jesus said, "Suffer the little children to come to me, and prevent them not, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven." So the Families get the Kingdom of Heaven, and the rest of us suffer...and suffer...and suffer the distractions we cannot avoid. Then there are the families where Young Mom brings little Grandchild so Grandma and Grandpa can have some wonderful time sharing Mass with the baby - handing him back and forth, bouncing him up and down, and they all have Family Time - that way Grandma and Grandpa get to see Baby Grandchild and then everyone is done for the week! See how great that is?

I read an Examination of Conscience recently in an older prayer book I own. One of the venial sins was, "Am I distracted during Mass? Do I distract others during Mass?" Oh Lordy! I wish I could print that out and put several copies in every pew before Mass. Would that Father would print it in the bulletin.

But alas, he won't. Because God forbid anyone would ever say anything that would correct the bad behavior of young families lest they just not come back, even if they are hanging on by a thread anyway, and only half there mentally anyway.

And now, for my lack of charity, I'll have to confess this diatribe against the faults of my neighbor....
May God have mercy on my soul!

God bless,

Joe Potillor said...

An Easterner reflecting on the Roman Liturgy, and I typically agree with most of what you've said Father.

During Communion, in the Divine Liturgy (Slavic Usage), we sing Ps 148....And various Psalms are sung depending on the Feast day or seasons.

During Offertory is before the Divine Liturgy, so during the preparation of the Altar, we sing "Let us who mystically represent the cherubim, and sing the thrice holy hymn, now set aside all earthly cares." I really see no problem of having music during the offertory

I can't help but think they were aiming for an Eastern style participation in the Roman Liturgy, but the problem with that is that, the Roman Liturgy has a different approach and empahsis which does not suit all of the singing that we do in the Eastern churches. yes, the Solmen High Mass is the normal Liturgy for the Roman church, but the emphaiss is different, the road to Calvary,r rather than the Resurrection.

Anonymous said...

Bee, I usually appreciate your comments in this blog but as a father of three small boys and a wife who has all but apostasized, it's a struggle trying to raise my children catholic sometimes in spite of my wife's distaste for the Church. I am grateful whenever we make it to mass because it is a struggle to get them all out working songlehandedly. But I know that as long as I can make it to mass and into the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, they are being exposed to the graces of the sacrament and maybe those graces along with my example and efforts will help me form them to see the awesome thing happening in mass. Sometimes they are better behaved than others. I am deeply sorry and embarrassed when they act up and they are infinitely more distracting to me than if I were to leave them home with mother. But I care about their souls, their formation, and their exposure to the graces present at mass. You would send them away and deny my children Christ so that you can have your quiet time. You would let me watch my family slip away to hell because you can stand the sound of young life. Your comments just put me on a very uncharitable mood seeing just how self absorbed your priorities are at mass. I'm pouring myself out in an effort to raise Catholics in a selfish world, doing the "work of the people" as liturgy, literally sweating to carry two sleepy children as a third follows and you have the gall to ask me to stay away. I will not.

John Nolan said...

Victor makes a good point. In the Roman Rite the first reading (Epistle) for all the weekdays of Lent is taken from the OT. Many of these are at a far greater length than would be countenanced in the Novus Ordo, where despite the use of the vernacular, a minimal attention span is taken as read.

Expanding the Roman lectionary to include more weekday lections would have made sense, and has sound liturgical precedent. It would have satisfied the requirements of SC. Instead, we have a thoroughly unsatisfactory and cumbersome lectionary which was conceived in great haste, signed off by a pope who admitted he hadn't read it, and deliberately destroyed the Sunday cycle which everyone was familiar with.

Bee, I sympathize. One of our most intelligent, tolerant and courteous Members of Parliament (qualities which would surely exclude him from high office) is the Catholic Jacob Rees-Mogg. He is still in his forties and has six children. He was once criticized by a woman parishioner for NOT allowing his children to misbehave at Mass.

Crying babies are one thing. Rowdy and perambulating pre-schoolers are quite another.

Anonymous said...

8am and a full church?! How blessed you were to experience that---this time of year at my parish in Atlanta, we have a hard time filling up our main Mass at 10am...certainly not every is on vacation at this time of year?

And at least you had a deacon preach...we haven't had one do so for years at our parish...I don't know why...I would think it is appropriate to have a deacon preach once a month if for no other than to keep his preaching ability in tune. How often do any of your deacons preach at your parish?

rcg said...

Fr McDonald, in a recent post you reinterated your admiration for the Mass prescription for the Ordinariat. This post sort of reprises that theme. Isn't there something disturbing about the idea that the same things are needed to rehabilitate the NO as is needed for a schismatic sect?

As far as the crying children, it is disturbing. But as long as the parents are able to bring them to Mass and deal with the outbursts I can work with it. It is the same dilemma I face when new people show up and want to behave in our chapel as they do at their old one. I have to put up with it as long as they are adapting to our convention, however slowly.

Anonymous 2 said...

I can sympathize with both Bee and Anonymous with the three small boys.

Surely it is possible to work out practical arrangements that can accommodate both sets of needs—for example, encouraging families with small children to attend certain Masses in the Mass schedule and publicizing these Masses as “family Masses’ or some such term, or encouraging such families to attend all Masses but providing a special “cry room” or “children’s room” for families with crying babies and more “active” young children.

Anonymous with three small boys (all under 5) said...

There is no place you could put a cry room, or even to step out at some churches , like St. Joseph's in Macon. You just have to leave the building altogether. Or at my current parish st. Mary on the hill in augusta, they built a large cry room which is always filled with many people who don't even have any children with them!

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

I'm sorry, Anonymous on July 17, 2017 at 8:04 AM. I know you also speak from the heart, and have a desire to catechize your children and make sure they have some sense of their Catholic faith, in the hopes they will come to know God and Jesus Christ and be saved, and this without the support of your spouse and in the midst of a hostile culture. You don't need your fellow Catholics throwing more spears at you. I'm sorry.

I am deeply affected by Cardinal Sarah's new book, "The Power of Silence" and have been remembering the special sacred silence that used to fill our churches, and how people did not talk in church, and Fr. McD's post here touched that place in me that longs for that silence and reverence of God I had once experienced, but rarely do anymore, in church.

Keep coming to Mass. I'll just put in my earplugs and pray as I always do that Our Lord will forgive me for my lack of patience, my selfishness, and my lack of charity toward my fellow Christians. Perhaps it will mitigate the punishment due me for my sins.

I'm sorry.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Anonymous with three small boys (all under 5) on July 17, 2017 at 7:05 PM said:

"..they built a large cry room which is always filled with many people who don't even have any children with them!"


I have heard some people escape to the "cry room" for the quiet, because families are not using them, and it's quieter in there than in the church! Then those inside get annoyed when a family with small children enters... :-)

Maybe they should have a sign on the "cry room" door - "NOT A CRY ROOM - ADULTS ONLY"


I don't know the answer... :-)

God bless.

Anonymous 2 said...


For more than two decades of my thirty seven years as a St. Joseph’s parishioner we had a cry room. Indeed, I used it myself with my own son when he was little and very “active” indeed (please believe me when I say that I empathize with your situation and acknowledge that the “activity” of toddlers, especially male toddlers, is not always in a parent’s complete control—and I had only one very “active” little boy). The facility was eliminated during the renovation of the Church at the beginning of Father McDonald’s tenure as pastor for what I am sure were sound liturgical and aesthetic reasons, but there was, as you experienced yourself, a trade off. However, this still leaves the alternative option of “family Masses,” and possibly also other solutions that can be devised.

My point is that you have a very legitimate point but so does Bee, and reasonable “compromise” (a term somewhat unfamiliar in the current Zeitgeist, I recognize, but a venerable one nevertheless) is possible.

As for the cry room at your current parish, are you saying that you cannot use it sometimes because it is filled also with people without children? If so, again, there are surely practical solutions available, most obviously giving preference to those families who do have children.

Gene said...

Anon 2, Did you use the cry room when Trump was elected?

John Nolan said...



Anonymous 2 said...

No, I couldn't get in because it was already overflowing.

Anonymous 2 said...

But then I realized I did not need it because the entire world had become a cry room.

ByzRC said...

Gene - Props!

I'm not bothered by crying children or, even slightly fussy children. Why? They are the future. For smaller parishes, they are potentially the key to survival. I've seen, in a smaller parish's bulletin, how joyfully the crying children of a recent baby boom were welcomed. Happily, it was announced in the same bulletin that a changing table was being installed.

What am I bothered by: Bad liturgy, bad 'That 70s Show' music, Priests who are inattentive to rubrics, Priests who, while exercising their chosen profession/vocation can't wear big-boy shoes and proper vestments, ugly architecture, ugly banners, tabernacle off to the side, anything that is off to the side or, asymmetrical, the sacrament of peace, when the sacrament of peace lasts longer than the consecration, liturgy committees, liturgists, art and environment committees who arrange the rocks and dead branches every year for lent and on and on and on and on and on and on............

ByzRC said...

Father -

I agree with everything you say in your critique. To me, really what you want is the English side of page for the TLM. We have perfection there. Maybe its time to stop agonizing over this and simply adopt TLM rubrics with English and Latin for the common people's parts. Will there be wailing and knashing of teeth from the Lectors and EMHC? Yes, but, at the end of the day, neither 'ministry' is critical to the celebration of mass.

#'s 4 and 5 would be so easy to implement/eliminate. The Offeratory is just awkward, beginning to end. So often, people do not want to do it, aren't really dressed to do it, and its just silly to march the elements from the sacristy to the middle of the church so they can be brought back by the people. If, as Joe suggests, the NO is an attempt at bringing eastern liturgical practice to the west (and I agree with him) why not instead have a procession across the front of the sanctuary or, through the church with the gifts by the priest and servers? That would be consistent with the Byzantine practice of processing across the solea in front of the iconostas or, through the nave of the church prior to the anaphora (consecration).

# 7 is the absolute solution to so many of our problems for the reasons you mentioned. Aside from the elevation, there is nothing to see. Why we are so hung up on this as the key to participation is beyond me. Again, it's like a counter in a store where we are interacting from our respective sides of the counter instead of being unified by it (the altar becomes a barrier). The NO Mass is really mass unnecessarily celebrated from the waist up from the vantage point of those in the nave.