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Thursday, August 5, 2021

PRIEST OR ENTERTAINER? A YOUNG PRIEST LAMENTS TO HIS BISHOP…

 


I’ve felt this way myself but never thought I would hear it described by a relatively young priest who said it in front of my bishop.

I was a part of a committee helping our new bishop discern how best and pastorally to implement Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio. 

It was a great meeting and our bishop ultimately knows he needs more information and clarification concerning some of the confusing or muddled aspects of this MP before he acts. 

Our bishop asked each of us for our reflections on how to move forward under a new circumstance. For now, the result of that meeting is “let’s wait and see” as the current situation in our diocese with the older form of the Mass will remain until greater clarification can be discerned. 

But one of our younger priests who celebrates both forms of the Mass said to the bishop that when he celebrates the EF Mass, he feels like a priest whereas when celebrating the OF Mass he feels like a performer or entertainer. He’s playing to the laity in front of him 

WOW! That’s how I felt as a newly ordained priest, especially at the homily time, but throughout the Mass. And that was before I ever celebrated the EF Mass. I was ordained in 1980 and my first EF Mass was September 14, 2007. But back then, I thought that was to be the feeling, that one was like an actor on stage, a broadway stage and each day he acts the same part in the same show although there is improvisation concerning the homily and the solemnity or lesser solemnity of what is performed for the audience but with audience participation.

At my first EF Mass and each one since, I have a profound sense of priesthood, offering worship/sacrifice to God behind the holy of holies (ad orientem facilitating this, as well as an archaic language). 

The sense of antiquity is more profound too. It’s palpable.

But that’s the problem with the new clericalism of the new Mass—its the priest’s stage and he is front and center and he opens his arms wide to his audience and prayer become performance, ritual become entertainment and it all hinges on the priest’s personality or lack there of. Not so with the old Mass, not so.

24 comments:

TJM said...

Ex ore infantium! This young priest should be on a fast track to a bishopric!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Unknown, I no longer print unknown comments where I cannot acces the user’s info which you have not done on google.. I use no names but the one you name was not there.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

You have to activate your google account for public access and use a name.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The comments of the "relatively young priest" (RYP) leave me with questions.

Before the questions, tough, I must say that it seems to me that he, and those who are swayed by his "feeling" - ("he feels like a priest"... "he feels like a performer or entertainer") - may be overly influenced by what in our culture has become known as the "Tyranny of Emotions." It is described as: if one feels bothered or upset or troubled, then that emotion, in this case, the RYP's feelings, should be honored and not questioned. When we have elevated an individual's feelings, such as those of the RYP, to the extent that they become the foundational drivers of our decisions, things will not end well. Think: Road Rage.

To my questions. I wonder what it is about the versus populum orietntation makes him think he is acting as an "entertainer." In my 36 years of celebrating the mass facing the people I have not once thought of myself as being there to entertain. I have never lacked "a profound sense of priesthood, offering worship/sacrifice to God..." when I celebrate the mass nor lacked a profound sense of God's presence in celebrating the others. What is the source of his mistaken notion that entertaining the congregation is his purpose.

I would also ask if this RYP was offered (and did he learn) a solid understanding of his role as a priest in the seminary, especially regarding his role during the celebration of the mass.

Also, if facing the people while celebrating mass makes him feel like he is there to entertain, does this feeling also take hold when the RYP is celebrating a Baptism facing those who have gathered? Is the "entertainment feeling" nagging at him when he is standing with and facing the mourners at the graveside? When he faces a hospitalized parishioner and prays the words of the ritual for the Anointing of the Sick, is he worried that he might be too entertaining?

I have many questions.

TJM said...

Father Kavanaugh

My question for you is why are you so heavily invested in the OF which has been a complete failure such that only about 30 percent of Catholics attending it believe in the Real Presence?

The EF placed serious constraints on the priest via the rubrics.

DJR said...

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...The comments of the "relatively young priest" (RYP) leave me with questions. Before the questions, tough, I must say that it seems to me that he, and those who are swayed by his "feeling" - ("he feels like a priest"... "he feels like a performer or entertainer") - may be overly influenced by what in our culture has become known as the "Tyranny of Emotions." It is described as: if one feels bothered or upset or troubled, then that emotion, in this case, the RYP's feelings, should be honored and not questioned. When we have elevated an individual's feelings, such as those of the RYP, to the extent that they become the foundational drivers of our decisions, things will not end well. Think: Road Rage."

Father, with all due respect, all you've done in your response is counter the young priest's "feelings" with "feelings" of your own. Your "feelings" are just different, that's all. To say that they aren't "feelings" would be disingenuous at best.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

DJR - I didn't post feelings. The "tyranny of emotions" isn't a feeling, it is a much-commented on reality. No disingenuousness here.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/feeling-our-way/202001/the-tyranny-emotion#:~:text=A%20recurring%20problem%20in%20contemporary,be%20honored%20and%20not%20questioned.

https://www.edbatista.com/2021/02/the-tyranny-of-feelings.html

From that item: "..the constant privileging of our subjective emotional experience." And, "This, of course, is the logic of young children,.."

It's even mentioned in Scripture. It is commented on by Paul Miller in his book "A Loving Life." Miller writes: "Naomi neither suppresses her feelings nor is trapped by them. She didn’t have to act on her feelings. She felt anguish, yet she was free from the tyranny of her feelings…if we follow (our feelings) we become trapped by them.”

DJR said...

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said..."DJR - I didn't post feelings. The 'tyranny of emotions' isn't a feeling, it is a much-commented on reality. No disingenuousness here."

The following is an expression of your feelings: "In my 36 years of celebrating the mass facing the people I have not once thought of myself as being there to entertain. I have never lacked 'a profound sense of priesthood, offering worship/sacrifice to God...' when I celebrate the mass nor lacked a profound sense of God's presence in celebrating the others."

In other words, in offering Mass facing the people, you don't "feel like a performer or entertainer." That's your viewpoint.

In other words, your "feelings" differ from those of the priest aforementioned. But they are still "feelings," just as his are.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

DJR - No, not every assertion someone makes is an expression of feelings.

The RYP's expression, that he "feels" like an entertainer, is not supported by the theology of the liturgy or the theology of the preisthood. It is, as Fr. Blog Owner states, his "feeling."

Imagine if the RYP were to say to his physician, "I feel like I have gone deaf," and his physician were to say (or write on a tablet since the RYP thinks he's stone deaf), "All the tests, based on the medical and physical facts regarding audiology, indicate that your hearing is fine." One has asserted a feeling. One has asserted a fact. The feeling of the RYP is not in concert with the facts. Will you say to the physician, "Well that is just your viewpoint."?

The RYP may "feel" that he is in the position of being an entertainer when, in fact, nothing about the theology of the mass or the theology of the priesthood supports the feeling. It is, indeed, a "feeling," that is entirely of his own making. My suspicion is that he heard the "entertainer" notion somewhere or read it on a blog such as this one and thought, "A Ha!", that's a notion I can use when I want to denigrate the NO.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Given the fact that priests have feelings about this,that or the other when celebrating Mass, it would be necessary for a priest to be able to compare feelings depending on the way in which he offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

I had only offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass toward the people until September 14, 2007. Prior to that, I really never thought about my feelings although in giving a homily there was always a certain sense of performance and a desire to please the audience either by content or antics. Watching people or establishing eye-contact with them during the audience gave me the feeling that they were either engaged or not engaged in what I was saying.

When I celebrate today ad orientem, with either form of the Mass, I can compare my feelings between the two ways of doing so. I have the criteria for doing so.

So we would have to ask Fr. MJK to tell us what his feelings are when he celebrates either form of the Mass, first of all, and then secondly what his feelings are when he has celebrated ad orientem even in the OF Mass?

Let us know, so we can compare your specific feelings regarding this topic and your experience with ad orientem.

TJM said...

Notice how Father Kavanaugh NEVER addresses reality like 30 percent of OF Mass attendees believe in the Real Presence or that the OF has not been a very effective tool for the New Evangelization? Could his “feelings” have overtaken his reasoning?

Fr Martin Fox said...

The RYP is clearly right, as anyone with eyes to see.

Priests who "preside" in the fashion he describes are everywhere. Quite a lot of Catholics have grown so accustomed to this manner that if a priest shows up who doesn't give them lots of eye contact and ad libs and highly emotive interactions, he will seem, and be made to feel, as an odd duck. And, if a priest is, like me, an extrovertive person, that interaction with the faithful, during Mass -- especially getting laughs -- is enjoyable and rewarding; so it's a real temptation.

What's more, the very structure of the 1970 Mass encourages it, to the extent that it (a) fosters lots of options and adaptations and (b) has several places where the priest is invited to add explanations or commentary. Facing the people -- which isn't required by the new Mass, but is how it almost always is offered -- further invites this approach.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Fr. ALLAN McDonald - Unlike you and, maybe, the RYP, my feelings have never been among my concerns when I celebrate the mass or the other sacraments.

You see, I understand that my role as a priest isn't about how I feel. Now, I may feel a bit tired if I haven't slept well, or a bit anxious if there's a storm blowing outside, or a little happy to see a parishioner has returned to mass after being hospitalized for several weeks while battling a Covid-19 infection.

But my feelings aren't my concern. Here's why:

From Christ, through my bishop, I have received, "...the mission and faculty ("the sacred power") to act in persona Christi Capitis;..." (Catechism 875)

I understand that it is in presiding at the Eucharist that my priestly ministry is most evident. (Catechism 1142)

I understand that, in speaking the words of the Eucharistic prayer, it is God, through me, who changes the bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. (Catechism 1375)

I know and beieve that, "In order to leave them a pledge of this love, in order never to depart from His own and to make them sharers in His Passover, He instituted the Eucharist as the memorial of His death and Resurrection, and commanded His apostles to celebrate it until His return; “thereby He constituted them priests of the New Testament.” (Catechism 1337)

The only thing I may "feel" is a profound sense of gratitude that I have been called and equipped to minister as a priest.

TJM said...

Father Kavanaugh is like Mark Thomas - avoiding reality

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Fr. MARTIN Fox - I find nothing in the GIRM or rubrics for mass that "encourages" or "fosters" "highly emotive interactions" or "getting laughs."

Maybe you could point out those sections.

William said...

Any priest who adlibs or plays for laughs during Holy Mass should be tossed out on his chasalb.

TJM said...

Father Kavanaugh,

LOL! Please share with us what YOU have done to foster belief in the Real Presence like Fathers McDonald and Fox have. No Mark Thomasing!

Fr Martin Fox said...

Father Kavanaugh:

Talk is cheap. If you can't acknowledge the widespread practice of priests making a show out of the 1970 Mass (based on the looseness of the rubrics and allowance for "adaptations" etc.), or you are going to claim you don't know what I (and others) are talking about, then I'll be happy to provide you with all the evidence you can possibly want. But not for free. You'll pay for every instance of what you claim is infrequent. If you're right, you won't pay much.

Why, here's a freebie: if the videos are still available, find the website for Father Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina in Chicago, and watch him offer Mass. You don't admit there are rubrics opening the door for widespread distortions and narcissism? I'll let you square his parish's routine practice with the rubrics. And then we can move on, from parish to parish to parish -- I'll give you a tour of the entire country.

Your impression of Margaret Dumont exclaiming, "why, whatever are you talking about?" is funny, but it's also sad.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Fr. MARTIN Fox - Yes, it can be true that talk is cheap.

You "talked," posting that the NO mass "encourages" and "fosters" "highly emotive interactions" or "getting laughs."

You can give that assertion credence by pointing out where the GIRM or the rubrics or liturgical theology in general "foster" and "encourage" such.

That these things happen is akin to saying that traffic laws "foster" and "encourage" speeding, passing on double yellow lines, or parking in fire lanes.

I know this is not the case, as do you. The laws do not foster and encourage such. Individuals, contemptuous of the law and with a self-serving sense of themselves, may commit such in infractions. But, come on, are the traffic rules and regulations to blame?



John Nolan said...

I assume that Fr Kavanaugh 'says the black and does the red', and all credit to him. However, the rubrics of the new Mass tend to be descriptive rather than prescriptive and can be vague. After reciting the words of Consecration the celebrant is enjoined to show Host and Chalice to the people. But how? If he is celebrating versus populum there is no need for the elevations. Some priests stick to the traditional manner. Others elevate one-handed (emulating JP II who had to do so because of Parkinson's disease). Some elevate both Host and paten together (this is particularly prevalent when a large 'bowl paten' is used). Others tweak the rubrics and gesture with the elements towards the people while saying 'Take .. eat/drink ...' (imagine I'm Jesus at the Last Supper and you're the disciples, right?).

It would be interesting to hear Fr K's take on Timmy Dolan's 'Thanksgiving Mass' on getting his red hat in 2012. It's 'working the audience' with a vengeance. The Cardinal processes the length of the nave laughing, chatting, glad-handing, even blowing kisses. When he reaches the altar the razzamataz continues. Bishops offer paeans of praise and Dolan laps it up, playing to the gallery amid rapturous applause. There's no doubt about who's centre stage, and it sure ain't God.

The whole unedifying spectacle is available to watch on YouTube.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

What you described about C. Dolan and others is what happens when one is formed by the Liturgy and ethos of the post-Vatican II Church--glitz and shallowness over substance and authentic reverence. And yes, entertainment it is--the cult of the celebrity.

At least Pope Francis seems to have curtailed some of the exuberance at St. Peter's Masses when the pope enters. I suspect it was that way prior to Vatican II also, but not for every bishop, I don't think.

TJM said...

Father Kavanaugh still cannot bring himself to deal with the fact that only 30% of OF attendees believe in the Real Presence and what he is doing to change that. And he has no legitimate response to Father Fox other than to play Clintonion word games - it depends on what your definition of "is, is!"

John Nolan,

No, Father Kavanaugh, does not say the black. He has admitted here that he "improves" the texts, a reprobated practice. Where is the "unity" there?

TJM said...

Father McDonald,

You mean you missed YouTube clips of Pius XII jumping off the sedia gestatoria and high-fiving everyone?

TJM said...

Father K has no further comments? Shocker!