Friday, October 21, 2011


There are three types of speaking that a priest does at the Mass. 1) Those parts that he must be faithful to the text 100%. He has no right to change them for any reason (and those in the pew have the right to hear them.) And even if the priest AND a particular congregation agree that it would be Okay to change the texts, the Church, you and I, have the right to know that they are praying with us and hearing the same thing.

2) There are those parts (far fewer) that can be in “these or similar words.” That is, there is a recommended text, but the celebrant is free to personalize it although it is with the understanding that it must convey a similar meaning. So at the beginning of the penitential rite it says, “. . . the priest invites the people to recall their sins and to repent of them in silence. He may use these or similar words.” He certainly cannot talk about how the Cleveland Indians are doing (or not doing) but the moment can be more personalized.

3) Then there are those parts that the priest is to create. Sometimes it is optional such as with the introduction of the Mass. “The priest . . . may very briefly introduce the Mass.” The largest section where this occurs is the homily. Outside of some guidelines it is completely generated by the priest. It is also one of the few parts of the Mass that the congregation is not required to say amen to.

Creativity does not come from throwing off all constraints but finding a way of creating something with restraints. And over rigidity where it is not needed can make even heaven on earth seem a trial.  And to be quite honest, its more fun that way too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Check the new Roman Missal regarding introducing the Penitential Rite in "these or similar words." In fact, a lot of the prior options for the priest are no longer present.