Tuesday, May 26, 2020


common abuse or not so common abuse?

Deacon Fritz Bauerschmidt, one of the few voices of reason at the Praytell blog, is a permanent deacon in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He has this to say about odd liturgical abuses:
...I tried to discuss  a couple of years ago the undue attention given to certain bad-but-rare liturgical practices. If we were to judge simply by number of mentions, we might think that flying monstrances (or clown masses, or babies being baptized with squirt guns, etc.) were a common phenomenon, when in fact the attention they receive is precisely because of how rare and outside the mainstream they in fact are.

I think the good permanent deacon is correct. The greatest abuse and it may not be an intended abuse, are these things which I fear are rather common:

1. horrible musical selections chosen for Mass, some heretical, and executed in a less than sacred way, more profane than sacred

2. Liturgical sloppiness with little or no training for the plethora of "ministers" carrying out functions here and there

3. Sloppiness of dress for laity and in particular for those laity who act in a liturgical role such as lector and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.

4. Loss of reverence at Mass and for Mass especially in the manner in which Holy Communion is received

What say you? I think any critiques should be based on what the GIRM of the Ordinary Form requires and how faithful or unfaithful priests and parishes are to what is actually required for the celebration of the OF Mass. 


Bob said...

sez the "reformers", "Rules?! We doan need no stinkin' rules, seƱor!"

Anonymous said...

I cant say that I have witnessed every liturgical abuse you wrote about,but for the photographs? For the photography, I have seen every one of those and more ! The odd thing is that I was reading something from the evangelical community. That pastor was excited about all of the new innovations that have cropped up due to COVID-19. He was thrilled that some of these new changes can be incorporated into services after the pandemic subsides.

Anonymous said...

Even though the diocese of Savannah has guidelines that permit Communion on the tongue, St. John the Evangelist Valdosta continues to violate the rights of Catholics by demanding Communion ONLY in the hand. Someone posted a Church document on the rights of Catholics to receive in the hand on their Facebook page.

Predictably, the powers that be deleted the post.



Message received. Sieg Heil.

rcg said...

The abuse that strikes me is the lack of reverence and scrupulous care for the meanings in the prayers and readings. The attitude of fatigue with the rituals and the constant seeking of what is the least we can do and the claims that it was good enough a thousand or 1500 years ago. These sloppy attitudes lead to sloppy liturgy and sloppy liturgy leads to decaying Faith.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago a friend invited me to a Mass at Marytown (outside Chicago). It was a long drive and wanted some company.

It's a beautiful church, but I never expected what I experienced there. The Mass was versus populum and all in English, but almost completely sung. The priest wore beautiful vestments and a biretta and even chanted the Gospel (which I'd never experienced before). The Mass setting was that of the St Louis Jesuits, but even that seemed so much more elevated what with it being sung by a choir and organ. The Mass was that of Epiphany, so the hymns were solid traditional ones with a "Puer Natus in Bethlehem" at communion. It was very familiar to me as someone who only experienced a standard OF up to that point, yet it was worlds different just because the priest sang and had good ars celebrandi. I eventually discovered the Traditional Latin Mass, but it showed me how much promise the OF has.

Paul McCarthy said...

Who wants to bet that the dispensation from attending Sunday mass will never be lifted. Goodbye 3rd commandment.

UK-Priest said...

Paul McCarhy - I'd willing place a bet with you about that not happening - how much do you want to wager - how about $100k? That's how confident I am that your assertion if nothing more than destructive hyperbole. If you really believe it then put your money where your mouth is!

Anonymous said...

Over the years attending and observing the Catholic Mass celebrated in various parts of US and Europe (including the Vatican) I am convinced that only two things are required for worthy celebration of the Roman rite:

1. rightly intuiting or understading the meaning of the Mass by both the celebrant and the pew sitters; and
2. that the priest have truly orthodox Catholic faith according to the teachings of Trent and Vatican council 1 (one).

For example, one finds such Masses (on the internet) by priest celebrating at S. John Cantius in Chicago, Illinois - NO & TLM; not just there of course.

Must have right formation of priests and the attending faithful, because, the way you believe is the way you pray; and vice versa.

John Nolan said...

When I was in my 20s (the 1970s) what kept me practising was not the availability of the Tridentine Mass, which was hard to find, but the Novus Ordo celebrated in Latin with traditional music. It was quite prevalent in London but with a bit of effort could be found elsewhere. The basic musical structure of the Mass was retained in the new rite, including Gregorian chant; the chants were redistributed to conform with the new calendar and are set out in the 1974 Graduale.

I was painfully aware that the average parish Mass, while not overtly abusive (although abuses were to be found and went uncorrected) was dull, pedestrian, showed a lack of attention to detail, and was accompanied by music which was by any standards dire. It was not helped by a truly dreadful translation. I occasionally attended it, but always found something to irritate me. If that was all that was on offer, I would have lapsed a long time ago, although I would have remained intellectually a Catholic.

I don't think this is just snobbery on my part - a lot of Catholics I talked to felt the same. All Catholics over thirty had been brought up with the old Mass and could and did make comparisons.

Bob said...

Local Masses are of the DIY variety, and seems nearly participating in organized sacrilege, since hardly any attend to encounter God, but only meet with one another. Very little burning love for God, while am assured of a friendly plastered smile greeting only by those whose job description is "friendly greeter." They miss the point that without loving God above all things and people, it is quite impossible to love other people. A heart of stone is a heart of stone, and one who ignores God the majority of their waking lives and betrays the love he offers us, can hardly be trusted as a friend.

When I have been in parishes with folk who love God, and they show, as they are there often with whom completes them, only wanting to spend time with their beloved, I have had all manner of close friends.

Here? about as many as at a local play or other similar form of dreadful local theater. They cannot dent my Faith in the Church or its deposit and perrenial teachings, but they surely give no incentive to go hang with the blind leading the blind.

Which is where enters the local churches hemorrahging members. Folk know phonies when they see phonies. Trying to make it a haphaphappy place for everybody is simply striking up a bouncey tune on the deck of the Titanic.

TJM said...

,John Nolan,

It was not snobbery at all, it was devotion to the One, Holy, Roman, Catholic and Apostolic Faith.

Anonymous said...

I have seen almost everything in those pictures. Many of those bad practices have become normative. The one picture that is really hard to see is the two girls giving out Holy Communion. I was taught that the hands of a priest were sacred. Only they should touch Jesus.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Father. Just thinking about how Mass is celebrated (and attended) in my own Savannah parish, I think I would say that the kind of extreme abuses I heard about in years past (a clown with balloons at a Funeral Mass in Seattle, for example,), are indeed rare today. Instead, it seems to me that there is an overall mediocrity that in see in my parish, and that mediocrity is found in several areas: liturgy/music; preaching/teaching (especially as it relates to teaching/explaining the Church's actual doctrine during the homily); and, architecture of the church building itself (though this, obviously, cannot be easily remedied).

In other words, in my own parish, I see an almost complete lack of beauty: beautiful music/liturgy (what I would call "high" liturgy and music); beautiful teaching of the faith during the homily; and, beautiful art/architecture (which themselves can teach and inspire). My church simply lacks beauty. The liturgy, music, homilies and building are, if you'll forgive the word, "low." (There is one priest who does celebrate Mass faithfully, reverently and beautifully, and who also always has an excellent, well-prepared homily).

I think I would say that this mediocrity leads to a very relaxed, casual approach to attending Mass: the people are usually casually attired (some very, very casual); and, a casual, laid-back behavior before, during and after Mass (with laughing, talking and waving before Mass, at the Peace, and after Mass has ended but still inside the church).

My observations are admittedly those of a layman, but I have also seen the reverse: I attended a Mass in the ordinary form on a Sunday morning in another diocese, where the Mass was celebrated ad orientem; only boys were altar servers (i.e., "altar boys"), and they had lots of them, based on the pictures in the bulletin; the music, with organ (no piano, thank you), included truly beautiful hymns; and, not surprisingly, the people were attired much more modestly, in what appeared to be their best clothes (not tee shirts, shorts and flip flops, etc.), and all observed a reverent silence before, during and after Mass. The church was packed, and it isn't the only one in this particular diocese doing these things (ad orientem at Sunday morning Masses, all-male altar servers, etc.).

I realize these are only my own personal observations, but it does seem to me that a return to beauty in liturgy/music, teaching/preaching and at least an effort to make the church interiors somewhat attractive would send the right message to the laity: the celebration of Mass is the most important thing we do, and everything that is done for that celebration, whether by the clergy or the laity, should reflect that.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I think you hit the nail on the head. Liturgical mediocrity is the "abuse." Most parish OF Masses are visually uninspiring which reminds me of the post-Vatican II adage that a liturgy well celebrated builds up faith and one poorly celebrated tears it down.

The photos I include in this post emphasize the "blah" visually and spiritually uninspiring aspect of the Ordinary Form and how it works against beauty and piety and reverence.

Music in the ordinary form is so eclectic that most of us are at a loss about it and there is the temptation to want to please the various factions in our parishes with music that will keep them there, which is a form of idolatry, since it is the Lord they encounter in the Sacrament that should keep them there. I love piano and allow it at St. Anne's but more and more I think it is not an instrument suitable for Mass unless it is used in conjunction with the organ and the music chosen very classical and not honky tonk sounding.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Organ and piano together can be stunning.

TJM said...

Father McDonald,

I have played the piano my entire life and derive a great deal of pleasure from it but I find it off-putting in Church. I believe the organ is more fitting and it has pride of place as you know. When I was a young man I played the pipe organ in Church. Another reason I do not care for the piano is that it creates clutter in the sanctuary and leaves the impression in my opinion that the pianist is entertaining us rather than supporting congregational singing.

TJM said...

I looked at the pictures again and read this into picture 2:

I have been a good girl, so may I please have my goody? Sure little girl

PDQ said...

Why isn't the piano "suitable" or "fitting" at Mass?

"I don't like it, therefore it is not suitable."

Nevermind that the musician is very talented and using those talents to serve God and to serve the people.

Nevermind that stringed instruments and human powered instrummnets ("flutes") have been around in worship, Pre-Christian and Christian) have been around 3 times as long as organs.

Nevermind anything else... I don't like it, therefore, it is not fitting for Mass.

TJM said...

PDQ aka Anonymous K,

You really are a busy beaver. I am going to start keeping track of your various nom de plumes.

"Nevermind anything else ... I don't like it, therefore, it is not fitting for Mass."

LOL - many Novus Ordo priests and "liturgy committees" having been doing that for decades. Hence, the total disregard for the mandate of Sacrosanctum Concilium that a pastor teaches the congregation to sing, in Latin, the parts of the Mass proper to them.

John Nolan said...

'I don't like it, therefore it is not fitting for Mass.'

'The employent of the piano is forbidden in church' (Pius X). Whatever reservations one might have about 'Tra Le Sollecitudini' the saintly Pontiff was not motivated by personal likes and dislikes.

Nor was liturgical singing in the first millennium embellished by fiddles and flutes. From the early Fathers until at least the thirteenth century there was strong disapproval of any kind of musical instrument and the Eastern Churches still do not allow them.