Friday, March 16, 2012

When Mass is hardly recognisable as Mass, is one obliged to go?

I will blog more on this in good time. But here is a simple question. We went to Mass in the US state where we were on vacation last Sunday and it was such an utter wreck of a Mass liturgically (all the usual North American vices: non-stop Haugen-n-Haas; everyone shaking hands at the priest's invitation at the start of Mass; a 'cantor' more prominent than the priest, a condemnation of preconcilar Catholic practice in the sermon, the laity holding their hands up/holding hands at the Our Father, 14 (YES, FOURTEEN) extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, the reader holding the gospel in the entrance procession etc etc).

Eldest (who is 12) came out of Mass shaking his head saying, "I couldn't stand any more of that, dad, it was just awful. That was not how you should say Mass".

Is there a point where away from home and where we had to travel some distance to get to Mass on Sunday - would there have been any justification to saying that it is better to avoid such an abusive litrugical celebration than imperil the development of a tender soul, who is clearly badly affected by such abuse? Could we adopt the "three miles even with a car" Evelyn Waugh rule, even though we had gone the same distance to buy milk?

Answers in the box, please.


Blogger Sixupman said...

Well the E&W Bishops' Conference issued a document in the 1990s which stated one could fulfil one's Sunday Duty by attendance at a CofE church or Free Church chapel. I kid you not! Ecclestone Square headcases.

You might have found a USA Episcopal Church closer to the acceptable.

7:16 PM  
Blogger servusmariaen said...

Sixupman said:

E&W Bishops' Conference issued a document in the 1990s which stated one could fulfil one's Sunday Duty by attendance at a CofE church or Free Church chapel.

I have never heard of this in my life. Is this still in effect in England and Wales?

I assisted almost daily for a few years at the Traditional Mass. My experience there has forever formed my piety, devotion and recollection. Since I had become accustomed to kneeling to receive Our Lord at the TLM, I of course was presented with dilemma after relocating and having only access to a garden variety Novus Ordo. I had an option to drive 45 miles one way to a "reverent" Novus Ordo Missae and kneel with everyone there at the altar rail or go 5 minutes away by auto to a place where there are 4 "Extra Ordinary ministers" on an average Sunday with less than 100 people present. I was told by a holy priest to kneel at communion in this local parish and set an example. I have been doing this for a few years. There is one other family that does it.

8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:49 PM  
Blogger Melancholicus said...

Non-stop Haugen-n-Haas: check.
Everyone shaking hands at the priest's invitation at the start of Mass: check.
A 'cantor' more prominent than the priest: check.
A condemnation of preconcilar Catholic practice in the sermon: check.
The laity holding their hands up/holding hands at the Our Father: check.
14 (YES, FOURTEEN) extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion: check.
The reader holding the gospel in the entrance procession: check.
Etc etc: check.

Sounds remarkably familiar! Were you at my local parish, by any chance?

11:32 PM  
Blogger Melancholicus said...

Seriously, I should say that the Sunday obligation works both ways.

If you, the layman, have an obligation to be present at Mass every Sunday and Holy Day, then the Church, in the persons of her sacred ministers, has an obligation to feed you with bread instead of stones and fish instead of serpents and to provide you with a Catholic liturgy worthy of the name.

If they fail to uphold their end of the bargain, leave them alone. God knows your heart.

Of course one doesn't find this kind of situation addressed in the preconciliar moral theology manuals that go into detail on valid reasons for not attending Mass because today's liturgical execrabilia did not then exist. If you consult different priests on this matter, you will get different opinions.

It's up to your conscience.

11:37 PM  
Blogger Paulinus said...

Sixupman I have a vague recollection of the BCEW thing.

Servusmariaen I found out afterwards I could have attended TLM about 20 mins away. Wish we had known that.

Anon - I doubt they would know what the initials stand for.

Melancholius - i think I see why you are melancholy. It's just a mess. Not sure what will solve it. Keep praying.

5:46 AM  
Blogger Tonia Marshall said...

In a word, yes, if it's Sunday you have to go!

It could be worse, I went to a retreat centre about an hour from Sydney last year. There was daily Mass, we were asked to sit for the Gospel, the chalice was a wine glass, the patten a glass plate, at Communion we stood but didn't leave our seats and the patten was passed from person to person, each saying Body of Christ to the next (some people weren't Catholic let alone EMHCs). We were asked not to consume the host until everyone had one in their hand. I only attended once and was glad I wasn't there for a Sunday.

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Sacerdos said...

Sixupman implies that the attendance at a CofE church or a Free Church chapel entails attending a Protestant service.

I have been a priest in a diocese in England for 30 years and this is the first time I have heard of this. Chapter & verse please!

I assure you that I would have protested loudly about this if I had heard of it. And I am sure, so would have many other priests.

On the other hand, there have been (and still are) CofE churches or Free Church chapels where a Catholic priest regularly celebrates Mass - with the permission of the local Catholic bishop and the relevant Protestant authorities - in villages where there is no Catholic chapel of ease. Years ago, Mass would sometimes be said in pubs or village halls when there was no Catholic chapel of ease.parishes .

With regard to the question about driving to church for Mass, I think that it would depend more on the time taken to drive (and how much the family could afford to spend on travelling costs) rather than the actual distance.

I think that all priests (naturally I include myself) have a duty not to alienate the faithful through imposing on them unusual or uncanonical customs.

As the great Fr Z puts it: "Do the red. Say the black."

4:07 PM  
Blogger V. Rev. Fr. Gregory Bellarmine SSJC+ said...

Just found your blog via Fr. Simon Henry's blog.

To your grave issue, there are the same kinds of arguments to trod out about validity but on a basic human level, if by some miracle that priest has managed to confect the Eucharist validly, the sheer volume of righteous idignation evoked should be enough to mean that it's not healthy for you or your family to continue attending, let alone receive the sacrament. Complain to the Bishop if you wish, but please consider finding a new Church home asap.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Respect All said...

Loosen up! You were on holiday, you weren't to know that their Mass was not going to be to your taste until you had tried it. Now that you have you can go home to a priest acting as a 16th century Italian prince if that is what you like. I have been to Mass in churches as varied as St Peter's in Rome and a doum-palm hut in a desert and the essence was the same

8:07 PM  
Blogger Melancholicus said...

@Respect All:

It's about more than mere personal taste, guy.

11:19 PM  
Anonymous Respect All said...

Please tell me, Melancholius, which, if any, of the practices Paulinus objects to disqualifies this Mass from being a proper Mass: the congregation shaking hands?; a cantor?; condemnation in the sermon of a pre-conciliar Catholic practice?; the congregation raising hands at the Our Father?; 14 ministers of the Eucharist?; the reader carrying the Gospels? It appears to me that there was a large and enthusiastic congregation, the Gospels were told, the Eucharist was consecrated, communion was distributed to a multitude (if 14 ministers all had some to distribute). What is Paulinus objecting to except the style of this Mass? And the opinion of his 12-year-old son merely shows that the apple does not fall far from the tree. If there is nothing liturgically wrong, leave this congregation to celebrate Mass in a way that obviously engages them or tell me why they should not be allowed to do so.

11:56 PM  
Blogger Paulinus said...

Respect all

If you are going to come on here, I'd be grateful if you moderated your tone.

If the Mass in question is quite clearly so at odds with the norms that my 12 year old can suss it (his aesthetic tastes are very different from mine) then the game is a bogey.

It may have been a valid Mass, but the priest and the congregation there appear to have gone out of their way to flout the GIRM. It was 'liturgically wrong' precisely because it flouted the GIRM.

2:34 AM  
Anonymous Respect All said...

Thank you for your reply, Paulinus. I have now read the General Instruction of the Roman Missal ("GIRM") including adaptations for the USA as approved by the Vatican on 17 March 2003 and published by the American bishops on 19 March 2003. I can find absolutely nothing in it which supports your argument except for a few words in the first part of clause 42 referring to gestures and postures which 'ought to contribute to making the entire celebration respendent with beauty and noble simplicity' (subjective judgments both and the second part of clause 42 should also be read) and many clauses, cf 17, 18, 19, 95, 96, 97, 100, 194, which appeared to me to endorse the practices which you object to. By way of an example, clause 194 provides that a lay lector shall carry the Gospels in a raised position. As you have stated that the Mass you attended 'flouted the GIRM', I should be grateful if you were to direct my attention to the provisions in the GIRM which you believe were flouted.

7:48 PM  
Blogger Sixupman said...

Re The English & Welsh Bishops' Conference document regarding Sunday Duty, I have hard copies. But the same has been taken down from their web-site. I will post precise reference later.

Two documents were published at the same time - the other regarding reciprocal courtesy to the Protestants.

3:15 PM  
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4:07 AM  

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