Saturday, June 01, 2013

Priest's illuminating impressions on attending a Novus Ordo Mass in the congregation after 8 yrs

A priest recently sent in the following observations to Fr. Z., who posted them on his blog HERE. Fr. Z. introduces the priest's remarks as follows:
Some people argue that the Traditional Latin Mass is too hard to follow because of A, B, or C.

Let’s turn that sock inside out.

It is actually, often, too hard to follow what is going on most celebrations of the Novus Ordo because there is just too much going on.

The following is from a priest who reads this blog. He sent it by email:
For the first time in my eight years as a priest, I recently attended the holy Mass not as the presider, con-celebrant or while being vested in choir. The experience was quite illuminating, for it gave me insight to the regular obstacles many lay faithful face when attending Mass. The experience, while insightful, was also painful. The occasion was the baccalaureate Mass for my youngest brother’s graduation from high school. I purposely did not vest because I did not know what was in store, and I have a poor poker face when it comes to silly liturgy.

In all honesty, my attention was not to find any and all liturgical error or abuse, for I knew silliness was in store. That being said however, I quickly became aware of how difficult it was to enter into this busy, disoriented, error filled liturgy. Although this was a special Mass, I cannot say it was all that different from a typical Sunday Mass in my diocese. To be brief, it was near impossible to wade through the obstacles in order to pray, and the reason lay in three pieces: the music, the posture, and the manners of the ministers.

Although I routinely suffer through the gems of Break’n Bread, I am, more often than not, involved in sacred prayer at the moment allowing me to tune it out. The lay faithful do not have that choice. We have taken that away from them. This is tragically sad. The music was in no way effective in drawing the faithful out of themselves in to divine contemplation. It is like a locked door with no key. It was pure, ambient noise.

The second great obstacle lay in our diocesan norm to stand after the Agnus Dei until reception of Holy Communion, (or even after in some parishes). What I observed, as I exited the pew to let my family through, was a line similar to those at the entrance of a sporting event. Everyone was standing, and or talking, shuffling bit by bit to get to where they wanted to go, only to eventually sit down in padded pew comfort. They whole event was just like every other line they are daily in complete with background music and lines that move too slow. Again, it was in no way effective in helping the faithful to move beyond themselves into divine contemplation.

In regards to the priest, deacon and extra-ordinary ministers well, their ministry came across as task driven as opposed to worship centered. I am not trying to judge their piety, but their manners seemed to reflect they were just doing a job not ministering to God.

Let us face the facts. We are celebrating the Mass like a protestant liturgy, but we are doing it much poorer than most of them would ever dare to. If this is the environment we are constantly fostering to our faithful, it no wonder they are going somewhere else, or not at all. We are not proclaiming the truths of liturgy or fostering environments that point to these truths.

I know we are in a liturgical mess; I just forgot how poor it is until this experience. I am aware once again. After this encounter I am left with a profound respect for those faithful who routinely suffer through poor liturgy for their love of Christ and his Church.

They have the right to good, solemn liturgy, and we priests are too often failing them. I am truly, deeply sad for them, and now I am ever more resolved to fulfill my duties as a sacred minister. Lord, have mercy on us.

To steal your line Reverend Father, “Reason number 54,622 for
Summorum Pontificum”.


Pertinacious Papist said...

"... it was near impossible to wade through the obstacles in order to pray ..."

Perhaps we could draw a parallel: Just as school hours are no longer used for teaching anything of substance in most classrooms these days, Catholics no longer expect to "use" liturgy for prayer.

Chris said...

Perhaps the underlying problem is that too many people think that the Mass is anthropocentric by nature. If we expect Mass to be about us, then constant attention to us - and, I might add, away from distractions like God, the altar, the tabernacle, the 4 last things,and so on -- makes perfect sense.

Such is our topsy-turvy world.


Anonymous said...

Money quote: "We are celebrating the Mass like a protestant liturgy, but we are doing it much poorer than most of them would ever dare to... no wonder they are going somewhere else, or not at all."
On converting, the most mind-defying truth for me was not transubstantiation, but the fact that the Church that supposedly believed this managed to have turned its liturgy into a an ugly, chaotic mechanism far less reverent in practice than any Protestant communion I had ever attended. Protestants had altar rails and silence, Catholics had assembly lines and clerics in embarrassing robes and ghastly cantors front and center. Still that way. The only time I have encountered a reverence similar to the Protestant sort I grew up with: a Latin Mass chapel run by the FSSP and filled with Filipino ladies.

Anon. said...

There was this guy visiting during a "communion service" at our Baptist high school years ago. When the little tray of broken saltine crackers was passed around, he took a piece and crumbled it in his fingers, letting the crumbs fall to the floor. Several of us who saw it were aghast that he would do this.

Funny, we never thought for a moment that the pieces of cracker were the actual Body of Christ, but we were incensed that anyone would treat the symbol so disrespectfully.

If only Catholics had as much respect for the TRUE HOST, the LIVING VICTUM, CHRIST OUR LORD.

I am not Spartacus said...

This book isn’t the place for the critique of recent liturgical changes in the Church-particularly the method of dispensing Holy Communion. But we’d like to suggest an experiment.

From now on, to get a movie ticket, Americans should have to kneel before a consecrated celibate wearing ceremonial robes and take the ticket between their teeth – never daring to touch it with their hands. Within a generation or so, they’d all develop certain ideas about movie tickets and their significance.

Now take the Eucharist and reverse the process, treating it like a movie ticket…Enough said."

The Bad Catholics Guide to Good Living Jiohn Zmirak

Pertinacious Papist said...

Brilliant! Thanks! =)

Anonymous said...

As a follow-up to my 12:13 am post above... I accompanied my father to his Methodist Church on Sunday. The altar rail remained in place, but the minister was most obviously of the "People of God" school of theology that has also infiltrated the Catholic world. He stressed we are ALL children of God, pointed out how similar Jesus and Mohammed were, made us all applaud a 19 year old for his birthday (!!) ... At communion, he had his wofe come up and idspense with him, while he had two other service stations, one with the seminarian and her son dispensing, another with another couple dispensing... THREE distribution points for fifty people, and no use of the rail. I cannot even recall much of a prefatory liturgy. We are all people of God, being fed by him. Blah... blah ... blah. Do you think his theology affects his liturgy, and do you think the liturgy affects the attitudes of the congregation? Utterly demoralizing, and so clearly a verison of liberalism or modernism that is quietly by directly opposed to tradition. Everyone very spiritual and NOT religious. I used to stress religion and Christianity were very different thinggs. I am no quite convinced of the contrary.

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Anonymous. Catholics have Churches and Protestants have buildings. Absent Apostolic Succession, absent Holy Orders, absent The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there is no church.

What the protestants call Communion is no closer to actual Communion than the Necco Wafers Fathers use to teach their children how to receive Communion on the tongue.

As to the man's theology, to the extent it is orthodox that is solely attributable to the authority of The Catholic Church and all that is not of the Catholic Church but derivative from the brothers Wesley, and others, ought be abandoned by the gentleman so he would be open to the Truth as Taught by the One True Church established by Jesus and which One True Catholic Church Teaches with the voice of Christ (Lk 10:16)

What I have written is truthful but I know that I am required by the effete ecumenical times in which we live to add that I intended no offense by writing the truth in a non-nuanced way.

I also mean the following words in the kindest and most solicitous way possible - Outside of the Catholic Church there is no salvation.