Monday, May 7, 2007


Ah . . .

Back home.

I cannot tell you how glad I am to be back in my own sweet parish. It is not perfect, but it is not bad. Not bad at all. Not as bad as it could be. Not nearly.

Has that given you a clue as to my experience over the last couple of days?

I’ve often quipped that I am so glad that I am a priest and do not have to put up with a lot of what the guy in the pew has to deal with. (This usually comes after a quibble about the sign of peace.) It can be rough and irritating out there. How do you people put up with this . . . junk?

Sunday morning, because of the situation, I attended mass in the pew at the church where I was as opposed to my usual role as celebrant. The mass was so poorly celebrated, there were so many invented rites and additions to the mass that I found myself angry. It was a struggle to remember that I was there to pray and not to critique but all I could think of was grabbing the priest afterwards and asking what the get out he thought he was doing. (I didn’t.)

What was perhaps one of the most ironic and bizarre things experienced was in the music ministry. Traveling around the city and touring churches with some family I was explaining why Catholic churches tend to have choirs in the rear and Protestants up front (having to do with a secondary role to the Eucharist rather than a primary role of focus unto itself in many Protestant churches.) Well, this went over well until we attended mass and for EVERY SONG, PSALM, MASS PART, that choir stood, walked in front of and facing the congregation so that they were directly before the altar and sang. Now I will grant that they sang phenomenally well. In fact, they sang incredibly poor music about as well as I have ever heard it. But can you imagine, say during the Sanctus, the choir standing, walking in front of the altar and singing? GAH . . . .

The best part was the bass who was not singing a particular piece who just yawned gape mouthed staring out at the congregation. I hope his mother saw him and slapped him upside the head. (He looked to be a bout 35.)

Anyway, I take this moment to sincerely apologize for anytime I may have done something out of the norm during the mass even inadvertently to distract from your celebration of the mass. Man, we priests can be annoying.

“The priest is above all a servant of others, and he must continually work at being a sign pointing to Christ. . . This is seen particularly in his humility in leading the liturgical action in obedience to the rite, uniting himself to it in mind and heart, and avoiding anything that might give the impression of an inordinate emphasis on his own personality.” Sacramentum Caritatis 23.

A big thank you to Habemus Papem for manning (womaning? personing? - we'll go with manning) the wheel of Adam's Ale whilst I was away.


Adoro said...

I'm so sorry you had to experience such a disaster. Or set of disasters.

The last time I saw major liturgical abuse (won't go into it here, maybe in an email), it was actually physically painful.

Now, if I know a particular parish regularly innovates, I simply don't go there, that way I don't have to suffer like that.

Is it martyrdom if someone keels over dead during a badly celebrated "Mass"?

Anyway, glad your back, and HP did a wonderful job! :-)

Anonymous said...

I'd thought the choir having relocated itself to the left (in front of St. Joseph, St. Anthony, the Reconcilation Room and the Sacristy) was the improvement they'd all hoped for -- to make sure no one crosses in front of the altar as they go to their seats (rather than remaining so near the altar), thereby freeing up the right for the podium and the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. Well, that was until I sat in a left side pew and at Communion time found a monstrous disorganization of receiving both Species as we weaved in that narrow space past the piano and stepped around the EMHC, and then returned to pews - and suffice it to say it only takes one person to re=-seat wrongly before another 8 do, and that's the one thing that ticks me off the most - it's not bad enough to have so much music one cannot think or even rest in Him, but to be forced to smile or speak while trying to consume Him with a shred of reverence.

If we're not going to return to receiving at altar rails, then at the very least, we need to do without the Species of Blood OR the choir. And it's not about me, it's about the Real Presence. When one can't even FIND Him without searching, something is too grievously wrong to be endured.

In every RC church, now, I find this ridiculous problem of empty choir loft (we used to sing without a leader, believe it or not), and I find some validity in the Trads' jibes. There's a Syriac Maronite church in town, and it's about to house one more of us who cannot stand the entertainment being equally important as the Sacrifice.


Anonymous said...

Indeed, Habemus Papem was a joy to read as well. Well done, HP.

Anonymous said...

It always amazes me that even when I travel within tht United States, I have to look around and see whether we are standing, kneeling or sitting when I go to mass. Let alone if there are any other local nuances. I thought we were supposed to be one universal church. A mass anywhere we go should look pretty much the same. Am I way off base?

Anonymous said...

And I'm amazed at how in the same diocese, different parts of the Revised GIRM are [or are not] implemented - it makes one wonder if there is open defiance to the Bishop, or a Bishop who sends the message, "You can try these things if you feel like it."

Fr. V said...

You guys (you guys, can you tell I am from Ohio) have me thinking deeply on this. All of my parishes have been at least mostly loyal to the Church. What if I had no choice? My mind is racing.

Boy! If there were ever a time for a saint to rise from our midst!

Odysseus said...

I have come to see that much of the "abuse" we discuss is not so much abuse as neglect. The poor liturgy sits in the corner like a hungry child whose parents have better things to do.

Of course, there is also direct abuse (like the hand holding, the mad,mad,mad world of the out-of-control sign of peace, the really bad music). But I think the worst is the neglect, the lackluster approach, the sloppy dress, etc.

But I am a Latin-mass Catholic and don't have to worry about this stuff! Woo-hoo!

sattvicwarrior said...

dude,, you say![ or quote
]FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND – “Truth means having an openness to reality as it is, not as we would like it to be.” Bishop Edward O’Donell

Anonymous said...

Father V,

Do you think the Diocese of Cleveland will be doing away with the "Pilla Rite" Masses anytime soon? The Orans position and the standing when we should be kneeling are drving me crazy!

Anonymous said...

last anon-

for the sake of comparison and comment, can you tell me when in your diocese you stand when you should be kneeling, etc.
just so i can compare to what is happening where i live
and when the orans [is it your contention that it should never be used?]

Fr. V said...

Section 43, paragraph 3 of the GIRM states in part that in the Unites States the people should kneel from after the Sanctus until after the Great Amen. Then again after the Agnus Dei unless the diocesan bishop determines otherwise (as is according to the universal rite.) Bishop Pilla has determined that we should not. I'd rather especially in the doubful Eucharistic climate in which we live that we kneel - but it is a matter of obedience. That is what we are called to and it is a matter over which he has (had) jurisdiction.

The orans position however is not. Confronted about this innovation the person who introduced it to the diocese backed off stating that it was a suggestion (a forceful one, but one none-the-less) I must say that although I personally find it a bit trite in this situation it is a far, far improvement of some of the absolute silliness that we've witnessed with holding hands at the Our Father - you'd think in some parishes that that was the most important part of the rite.

It is true that standing after communion is preferred, but JPII stated emphatically that if one chooses to kneel after returning from communion even if for purely personal pius reasons, he shall not be refused the right to do so (those aren't the exact words, but I am too tired to look it up tonight.) So at my last parish I would not give an instruction. I said it was preferable to stand but they had a right to do as they pleased. Interestingly some people were quite angry. (Somebody is always angry) Some wanted me to force everyone to stand, some wanted me to force everyone to kneel, some wanted me to tell them one or the other so that they didn't have to decide. I felt I didn't have the right other than to inform them of the above. In the end it worked out rather well - or at least I think.

Adoro said...

"It is true that standing after communion is preferred, but JPII stated emphatically that if one chooses to kneel after returning from communion even if for purely personal pius reasons, he shall not be refused the right to do so..."

Wait a minute! We're supposed to stand AFTER communion?????? I've never heard that.

Most of what you wrote up there I've seen pertaining to the actual reception of communion...that people should be allowed to kneel and should not be refused communion, etc.

OK, when I get a chance, I'm supposed to go look up something in the GIRM anyway, but now that's on the list, too.

Anonymous said...

We've been through the yes-no-yes kneeling/standing exercise here, even within one parish, but especially as we went to another during Lent for its 12:05pm daily Mass. Obedience and unity is very important, i.e., "When in Rome..," so we try to follow the ways established, but sometimes it'd be nice to have a brief instruction manual near the door, because Mass is no longer (small c) catholicly celebrated. That's not as small a problem as it could be. It also would be handy to have a key to finding the Tabernacle, now that He is no longer reposed in the main altar, and sometimes finding the red sanctuary light doesn't disclose His whereabouts at first glance. I'd thought maybe I was just challenged by innovation and had missed the side altar/Tabernacle in a couple of parishes, and having been in the back, didn't see from whence the Hosts were retrieved.. However, I explored when no one was around, and indeed, Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is reposed in a wall.


I've read the reasons for the moving of the Tabernacle, and at one point was nearly convinced that I was a beast and an oaf for ever having longed for Him to be reposed on the main altar.

We are truly not nitpickers, I think; some of this change is, as adoro_te_devote notes, painful. The older I get, the more I have seen a loss of belief in the Real Presence-- in more than one generation.. thus one wonders, whom/what are they celebrating?

Well, it only stands to reason that if we do not make that Real Presence part of Mass except at the liturgy of the Word and at Table (and even then, have silly unrelated homilies and/or rafter-shaking music/singing and collisions throughout Communion -- not to even mention EMHCs opening Adoration in their plaid shirtsleeves and bare hands..), generations are indeed going to have trouble loving Him above all, for He is often MIA while we are told we are Eucharist, broken and shared and must bind each other's wounds..

Sometimes I am filled with hope, because as the Pastor notes, the church is filled to bursting every Sunday.. sometimes, tho', I am spooked on behalf of Christ. I've seen a piano blot out even His exile to the chapel.

I think sometimes we fixed what wasn't broke, and that it has done tremendous harm.


Dad29 said...

Thanks for the insight into the placement of choirs...

Pragmatically speaking, "rear" works better acoustically than "front," as well.

Not to mention that the disturbance-factor is minimized with rear-choir placement.