Sunday, August 23, 2009


CanticaNOVA Publications, home of my own Around the Throne, a Glorious Band setting, presents this great article by Kevin Orlin Johnson - The Ten Most Common Liturgical Abuses and Why They're Wrong.

One of the things that drew me to the Church of St. John the Baptist is that these things just don't happen there. Thank God!

(Note: I skipped a couple of sections so I can stress what I've seen in my own experience. Go read the article itself to see what you've seen.)

1. Disregarding the prescribed text of the Order of Mass
One very common example the author cites is the parish (or at least the priest) who deliberately omits the word "men" in the line "for us men and for our salvation" in the Creed. Normally (in my observations) it's the priest who omits "men" (probably because he isn't man enough to say it), simply creating a dead spot for that split second, rejoining the people for "and for our salvation".
Another example the author cites here is one that I used to hear in another Pawtucket parish I once served, the priest who would "wing it through the Eucharistic Prayer". TWO of the three priests there (the pastor and a resident priest from the Columban Fathers) at the time used to do this. In fact, one of them tried it, and as a consequence, lost his place, thus saying the second EP up to the Mysterium Fidei, and saying the third EP from there on. Thankfully, these two priests are now retired. Ironically, it was the curate that drove me out of that parish. He was just plain miserable - he bitched about EVERYTHING! He's now a pastor himself (I pray for the parish he's in).

2. Interrupting the Mass
In the same parish that I've heard the two thankfully-now-retired priests wing the Eucharistic Prayer, the pastor got a nice rude interruption in the middle of a homily he once preached. I didn't pay attention to the homily itself, but it started with a mention of the "School of the Americas" or something like that. And a few minutes within, I suddenly hear from the pew stand up and holler, "EXCUSE ME! THAT'S A POLITICAL STATEMENT! WHY DON'T YOU STICK TO THE BIBLE!" A couple of minutes later, another outburst came from the same jerk, prompting many from the pew to tell him "sit down and shut up!" Eventually, he walked out, and the remainder of the people gave him a "standing O".
Mr. Johnson rightfully points out that "The priest has no more right to interrupt the Mass from the sanctuary than you have to interrupt it from the pews". One fine example comes from a church in Attleboro, MA, where I once attended Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday 2008 -
The offertory was Amazing Grace (played with a hacked gospel revival feel), but not before the pastor's big announcement calling for more "eucharistic ministers" (you mean, "extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion", Father) and that there was a class for them at a church a couple of towns north, followed by his other big announcement that he recently acquired a "new pet" - a "robot puppy".
Further: No one may stop the Mass for extra homilies (CSDW, Liturgicae Instaurationes 2(a)) and certainly not for other activities that are themselves unlawful, like skits or "liturgical dance. That means NO freakin' eulogies at Funeral Masses. Save them for the wake or the burial. There is ample time at either. I might have mentioned at one time the eulogy I had to put up with where this one dame babbled on about how the deceased told her that she had too much to drink. As for liturgical dance - this article might just piss off some MahonyFest (that is, the Los Angheleeze Religious Misedumacation Congress) liturgical coordinators.

3. Omitting the Penitential Rite
The second paragraph in this section pertains to the optional "sign of peace". If the priest does include the "sign of peace", "the priest is not allowed to leave the sanctuary to exchange it with the congregation" (GIRM 136). I've been to many a parish where one would go up half the center aisle. In the case of the above mentioned Attleboro parish, the pastor went ALL THE WAY up the center aisle, and back, like a Las Vegas showman.

4. Replacing or omitting the homily
No guest speakers, unless they're bishops, priests, or deacons. And again, no eulogies!

5. Dictating posture
This section directs basically to the anti-kneeling kooks, as well as the kooks who like to make the Tabernacle "it" in a game of hide and seek.

6. Dictating the manner of reception of the Eucharist
This is for the anti-tongue kooks, namely this Cumberland parish I went to, where the only good thing going was the organist. From my post:
The worst of it all was during Communion, when I went to receive. As I got to the Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, with my hands tightly folded, the EMHC said to me, "I'm sorry, I can only give it in the hand." WTF???!!! SINCE FREAKIN' WHEN???!!! Since freakin' when can one not receive our Lord Jesus Christ in the way that the Holy Father has clearly expressed his preference to receive Him? I didn't bother to make a scene. I received and consumed, and decided to save my rant for here. I don't know if this is the pastor's policy, or the EMHC's own little pet peeve, but it's definitely WRONG WRONG WRONG!
Mr. Johnson affirms my last sentence:
Still, universal Church law does not permit reception of the Sacrament in the hand, and John Paul II disapproves of the practice. (Note: the article was originally written in 1999, still in the time of Pope John Paul's pontificate). The indult that allowed it specified that reception in the hand "must not be imposed" (CSDW, En réponse, 1969). Absolutely no priest or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion may refuse to administer the Eucharist on the tongue.
(emphasis mine).

8. Holding hands during the Our Father
Ah yes, the old custom that originated from AA meetings. The sad thing is that I know some people who cling to Catholic teachings for dear life, yet still perform this practice. Yes, I've had some of these in my former choirs. If someone tries to hold your hand, give him/her this fine item.

9. Performing liturgical dance
Another BAM! See the last paragraph of my take on section 2.

10. Closing the holy water fonts at some seasons
...or filling it with rocks. Big time wrong!


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