Monday, June 17, 2019


This past weekend at the 4:30 Mass the singing was so above average for the congregation that I had to say something at the beginning of the Mass.  I believe I said something along the lines of, "That was awesome!  The best you have ever sounded!"  And indeed it seemed as though more people than usual were participating and in our big, echo-y church it was inspiring.  Even the Our Father was prayed with extra loud gusto.  When that happens I get excited and have more life when I celebrate.  Then that feeds back into the congregation and then back to me and so forth.  It's great.

One of the great things about it is that the congregation is not there to witness but to pray and offer THEIR sacrifices too.  It "shouldn't" matter who the priest is - or how exciting the Mass is - or if one is entertained enough or not - we are their to pray our little hearts out regardless.

One of the drawbacks to the priest no longer facing east in the Mass is that a now people hang a lot more on the personality of the priest for what they "get out of it."  Sometimes people will say something about a priest not being exciting enough etc . . .   But if you want your priest to be excited, what are you giving him to work with?  It is easy to see why sometimes a priest might want to say Mass facing east again.

There is the unchecked yawn where a priest, in the middle of prayer, will look up and be able to count the number of fillings a particular parishioner might have.
Then there is the death stare person.  No matter what you say - you get the death stare.  Fortunately I know a lot of these people and it is just who they are.  It has little to no bearing on whether they are taking it in, mad, finding it hilarious or offensive.
Then there is the person with consumption whose mother never taught him to cover his mouth or to wait.  Can you imagine talking to someone in the grocery store and in the middle of your sentence, looking right at you, he hacks up a fur ball the size of a compact car?  It is a little disconcerting.
Add to that errant phones, screaming children, bathroom runs, latecomers and a host of other things and east starts looking mighty good.

But, in the end, a priest loves all of these people because they are part of his family.  And that is what one does with family and in the best situations the priest is loved back the same way.  I would rather have every one of these people there than not there.  It also helps me to remember that I am not there to pray well when others are praying well but to pray my best regardless - and hope others do the same when I am off my game.


Anonymous said...

Don't know if this is quite on subject, but I will offer it in answer to your comments on how some of us have preferences when it comes to which priest prays Mass.

My parish was without a pastor for some months when our pastor ditched us for a nice, wealthy parish out in the country (my parish and our sister parish are not wealthy, and are inner-city with the endless problems that come with that). Our parochial vicar, who was nearly 75 at that time, was faced with running two parishes and everything that goes with that - Newman Center, parish school, K of C, daily hunger programs - and endless other activities needing a pastor's attention.

One of those things was daily Mass, and Mass on weekends at two parishes. Poor Father Parochial Vicar couldn't possibly handle it all himself. So we were very blessed to have various priests from the area (including your excellent Fr. Simone - whom we all loved, needless to say), as well as retired priests.

A retired priest who regularly helped out was at least 85. He very generously came to us often for daily Mass, and also to cover a weekend Mass at one of our parishes.

He was a very kind and holy priest, but unfortunately, he spoke very quickly and nasally, to the point no one could understand a word he said during Mass. As a matter of fact, friends at our sister parish told us they felt certain they were being punished because this particular priest was sent to them (they weren't - he came to us in turn as well). It was not because of his age, because I can remember when he was a pastor at an area parish decades ago. When he had Mass, one of my fellow choir members would say, "Father is mumbling in Latin again," (he wasn't, but it sounded like it). He just has always had this particular speech impediment.

I must say, however, that I had the great pleasure and blessing of going to Confession to this same priest. He spoke much slower and clearer in the Confessional, and, perhaps with the exception of my own good pastor and Fr. Pfeiffer, I have never been to Confession to a better and more merciful Confessor than this particular priest. He truly has a God-given vocation, and I am grateful, even if I cannot understand what he is saying during Mass.

So, my point is, Father, that it isn't necessarily that a congregation may prefer one priest over another because of personality or another superficial and uncharitable reason. Sometimes it is because of something no one can really control. This good priest cannot help it if he has a speech impediment, and it certainly does not make him less holy. And for some of us, Sunday or Vigil Mass is the only Mass we can attend, and it is the highlight of our week. It is disappointing when we cannot digest our spiritual food, so to speak. Sometimes these things cannot be helped.

I hope you don't view this as ungrateful and shallow. I, and I am positive, the parishioners of all our cluster parishes, cherish and are blessed by you, Fr. Anthony, Fr. Norm, Fr. Frank, and Fr. Chris - God bless and protect each one of you! I do not know how we all got so very lucky to have such good priests sent to us, but I am happy about it! - Sue, OFS

Dick Spangler said...

Again, one reason I love the Latin Mass: the priest is "ad orientem." Father is leading the congregation in prayer and consecration. The focus is on Christ, the tabernacle not on the priest. Someone once said to me how she "hated" that the priest "turns his back on us" during TLM. I tried some comparisons such as he is leading us towards Christ, imagine a bus driver guiding us along, he is focusing on the blessed sacrement, etc. Don't think I got through to her. I have read some bishops are asking their priests to do ad orientem during consecration at novus ordo masses. Not a bad idea. I always love to hear babies crying, children fussy,etc because I think "there is the future of the Church and they are here, now."

Pat said...


I appreciate how you put "energy" into the prayers that you offer at Mass. The impression I receive is that what is being prayed is important.

Perhaps you don't feel "energetic" on a given morning, but your offering of the Mass in such a way reminds me to listen and to pray better.