Is the homily the best and only time to welcome people, draw attention to oneself or do other things like announcements?
The deacon incenses me on my triumphal return to the parish--not really, from the Transfer of the Most Holy Eucharist, Holy Thursday!
Behind my rectory's stove!
Don't panic, of course the priest is necessary for the Mass as he is a sacramental sign of Jesus Christ. This past Sunday was my first Sunday back from vacation. It also happened to be the first Sunday of the month which in our parish means the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the High Mass at 2:00 PM. I celebrated our 12:10 PM Sung Ordinary Form Mass and then right into the 2:00 PM EF High Mass.
At the OF Mass at 12:10 PM, I felt compelled at the introductory rite to let everyone know how glad I was to be back and that I had a very nice and restful vacation. My remarks were very brief, but I felt compelled to acknowledge that I had been gone and that I was back, as though my mere presence didn't already indicate that.
After the Prayer after Holy Communion, during our announcement time, I bantered with the congregation a bit about the vacation, the four humongous rats that were killed in the rectory and that I was freaking out over this and having nightmares.
However, at the 2:00 PM EF High Mass, I had no opportunity or need to welcome myself back to the parish. It would not be in keeping with the spirituality of this Mass to draw any attention to little old me.
As I continue to reflect on this odd coincidence of the OF and EF MAss and my return to the parish, I realized that so much of the training I've had in the OF Mass in seminary and later was to help the priest to make people feel comfortable and welcomed at Mass, as though I'm the host of a television show and the congregation is the visitor or paying audience. The parish did well without me during my vacation, but they would not do well without Jesus and the Sacred Mysteries the Mass celebrates of which every bishop and priest is meant to be a humble servant in showing forth the one Sacrifice and offering the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Risen Lord to the Church as Food and Drink for the journey to eternal life. In other words, the Mass and other sacraments do not hinge on a particular priest, but simply on a priest.
Eliminating the lengthy Prayers at the Foot of the altar and substituting it for the abbreviated Introductory and penitential rite of the OF Mass is meant to enable us to move quickly to the Liturgy of the Word. Yet how many greetings, mini-homilies and acknowledgments do we now hear at this point in the Mass. I've been to Masses where after the greeting the congregation is asked to sit and about a 20 minute process of acknowledgments and credits begins, almost like reading them at the beginning or end of a movie. This is no improvement over the EF's Prayers at the Foot of the Altar.
So what are your thoughts of ad libs during parts of the Mass where the OF Missal clearly allows for "these or other words?" Does it contribute to the "cult" of the personality of the priest?