Thursday, February 18, 2016


This is a venting and a ranting!

Just finished our 8 AM Holy Mass. I was the concelebrant as the parochial vicar was the celebrant.

During the Eucharistic Prayer, and of course we are facing the congregation, I noticed a young man enter the side door of the church which would have been to my front left. That in and of itself is a distraction. I did not recognize him and today, that causes some concern, although he looked harmless enough.

But he looked surprised that Mass was going on. He knelt in prayer and then during the consecration of the Precious Body and Blood of our Lord, he decided to get up, drop a coin into our votive candle stand and light a candle and then he promptly left.

I could feel my blood pressure start to rise as I was completely distracted by what he was doing and doing it during the words of consecration. And I was even more distracted that he then departed.

Obviously, as a visitor to the church he didn't know Mass was in progress and as a coloring book Catholic he didn't know how important the consecration of the Mass is and that no one should ever do anything to distract anyone let alone the priest at this or any other point in the Mass.  He simply want to light a votive candle for a prayer intention and nothing, not even the most hallowed part of the Mass would distract him or detain him from doing so and he didn't mind walking out of the Church during this moment at Mass!

But my point to you is the following:

I just recounted to you in vivid eyewitness detail what happened and how it affected me, my blood pressure and consternation. In other words, I was not praying; I was not adoring; I was not contemplating; I was not in spiritual rapture of awe and wonder at what was happening before my very eyes at the Holy Altar of Most Holy Sacrifice!

If I had been facing ad orientem as a celebrant or concelebrant, I would not have experienced any distraction in prayer, praise, contemplation or adoration.


Rood Screen said...

I don't think the man did anything wrong, but I'm all for ad orientem recitation of the Eucharistic Canon.

TJM said...

"coloring book Catholic!" Good one. One of my favorites is "doubleknit dinosaur" a code name for priests from a certain age group who can't give up the burlap vestments and 60/70s nonsense

Anonymous said...

You need a chill pill, Fr. Consternation-For-No-Reason.

Stephen Conner said...

This is the very reason I have to sit in the front row when I go to Mass. I am very easily distracted. Seems like there are some people at Mass that are not there FOR THE MASS!

Православный физик said...

There's always one way to solve this....have all Masses celebrated Ad Orientem, or Versus Deum. Sorry that you were distracted Father.

Anonymous said...

Well, you might then have not been distracted, Fr., but your parishioners would still have been! Perhaps you should lock the side door during Holy Mass, then have the usher unlock it at the end? That seems a better solution than anger issues causing a hypertensive crisis...

John Nolan said...

Fr McDonald, the concept of the Mass as the assembly of the People of God, with the priest presiding and the people actively participating according to their role, with prescribed responses and postures, is a twentieth-century idea based partly on what was assumed to be the practice of the early Church. There's nothing wrong with it, of course, but it is not the only way to connect with the liturgy. In the East people wander in and out, kneel before icons and light candles while the Divine Liturgy is being celebrated. In the medieval West it would have been much the same; the often lengthy cathedral liturgies would be sung by the monks in the choir, separated by the screen from the laity in the nave.

To fulfil the obligation one has to be present for the Offertory, Consecration and priest's Communion; otherwise to wander in, say a prayer and light a candle, perhaps sit for a while and listen to the choir, and then wander out again is a very Catholic thing to do, and in larger churches and cathedrals throughout Europe is commonplace.

Lisa said...

I totally agree with Joe P. above - celebrate all Masses Ad Orientem. As pastor, you have the authority to do more than vent and rant. Cathecize the people through homilies, bulletin columns, etc and say as of x date, all Masses will be celebrated Ad Orientem. Yes, some people will murmur and/or leave - that's true no matter what a pastor does, but others will come.