Cleansing Fire

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Creative Liturgical Abuse

January 3rd, 2011, Promulgated by Abaccio

Every so often, I attend Mass somewhere and see a rather creative liturgical abuse.  Most of the time, the geriatric liberals that run these parishes choose tried and true methods of dissent–lay homilies, (il)liturgical prancing, improper vestments, ad-libbing the Eucharistic Prayer, and the other old stand-bys.

It is utterly confusing when I see or hear an abuse of the liturgy that I’ve never even HEARD of before.  Such was the case Sunday at St. Michael Church in Rochester.  I will preface by describing the usual situation there, first.

Whenever I assist at Mass at St. Michael, I hope beforehand that Fr. Larry Tracy is not the priest who will be saying Mass.  He’s a rather notorious abuser of the liturgy, you see.  When he speaks the words of consecration over the chalice, he replaces the phrase “so that sins may be forgiven,” with “so that there may be forgiveness and peace.”  He likes to give a pre-reading (and pre-Gospel) summary of its contents, and blather on at the outset of Mass with some explanation of the day’s feast.  He also, due to arthritis, sits when he ought to stand–when giving his homily, when distributing  Holy Communion, and (most egregiously) for the entire Eucharistic Prayer (including the consecration).  This leads to a miniature bow of the head at the moment of consecration, rather than a genuflection or even a deep bow.  In fact, it’s downright disrespectful.

The people at St. Michael are also rather infamous for creating one giant chain of hand-holding (across the main aisle, etc.) for the Our Father, and featuring an incredibly extended time period in which to offer your fellow congregants the sign of peace.

That’s not to say that everything there is bad–it is perhaps the most beautiful church in the diocese, and the music (though not chant or polyphony) is generally both sacred and astoundingly beautiful.  The music is generally the high point of the liturgy there.

Therefore, I was shocked on Sunday to hear the cantor announce, “Today’s Gloria can be found on page x in your red hymnals, “Angels We Have Heard on High.””

Now, this is just plain absurd!  There’s no possible reason anyone can come up with that justifies this.  Sure, it’s beautiful.  Certainly, it contains the word Gloria.  It’s not the Gloria anymore than “I believe I can fly”  is the Credo.

So, kudos to the folks at St. Michael.  They’ve surprised me with a whole new, fascinating abuse of the Liturgy.  I look forward to Jingle Bells instead of the Sanctus next weekend.

Just because something is objectively beautiful does not make it liturgically appropriate.

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16 Responses to “Creative Liturgical Abuse”

  1. avatar praedicator says:

    They’ve actually done the exact same thing at St. Stanislaus (at the English, not Latin, Mass, of course). I think they may have swapped out some of the verses to roughly (VERY roughly) fit, or allude to, the actual text of the Gloria.

    Sidebar: Why do musicians feel the need to sing the Gloria in refrain/verse/refrain/verse, etc, format? Why not just sing the prayer the whole way through?

  2. avatar Nerina says:

    Nice “tag,” Abaccio.

    Praedicator, I wonder the same thing about the Gloria refrain/verse arrangement.

  3. avatar Dr. K says:

    The Jesus Christ in “You alone are the most high, Jesus Christ” has been omitted in some versions I have heard. Why, I do not know.

  4. avatar Anonymous says:

    They did it at the cathedral also.

  5. avatar Dr. K says:

    And then there’s the one that goes: “Glory to God in the highest, sing glory to God, glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth”

    Inclusive drivel and an unnecessary refrain.

  6. avatar Anonymous says:

    I attended St. John the Evangelist in Greece on Sunday and boy it was tough to sit through. Fr. Pius loves to sing the preface, and everytime he feels the need to sing it, he always uses the ordinary time preface no matter the time of the season. He also bleesed the congregation with holy water while still standing in the sanctuary. He sprays holy water towards the people, never actually reaching anyone, and says “consider yourselves blessed”. The organist who sits at his piano in the front of the church cracks a joke and everybody laughs. After the final song, everybody claps at his performance. Apparently Mass is a joke. I thought I was going to Mass, not a comedy show/concert. Fr. Pius too gives a 5 minute pre-Mass homily before the sign of the cross. God help us!!!

  7. avatar Anonymous says:

    Dr. K. It sounds like something I heard at St. Ambrose when I attended Mass there last year. I sang “His people” over everybody’s “God’s people”. That’s the proper way to say it. Right?

  8. avatar Abaccio says:

    Fr Tracy gives it AFTER the sign of the cross…then again before each reading…

  9. avatar Bernie says:

    “…Jingle Bells instead of the Sanctus…”
    That is precious!

  10. avatar verdi says:

    To anonymous 9:37pm: Wow, you sure showed them!!!

  11. avatar Abaccio says:

    My heartfelt thanks for your meaningful contribution as always, verdi.

  12. avatar Anonymous says:

    A backbone isn’t too hard to have verdi. Maybe you should use yours someday. I believe everybody has one somewhere in their body. If people take liturgical abuse for too long, it will only become the accepted norm.

  13. avatar Anonymous says:

    I can only sit here and shake my head after reading what you just wrote. Instead of tearing down, why don’t you build up? Instead of complaining, why don’t you do something productive and positive? Try prayer. It works better. If tearing down others is the best you can do, you need prayer. Matthew 5:5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth… leave the judging to God, and may he bless you with some new insight for the better.

  14. avatar Abaccio says:

    I appreciate your prayers, anon! Tell me, would you also accept that the meek thing to do would be to humbly pray the Mass as instructed, rather than creating a false congregationalist personalized Mass? Wouldn’t it be much better if our priests meekly obeyed?

  15. avatar Hidden One says:

    “The trouble is that everyone talks about reforming others and no one thinks about reforming himself.”
    St. Peter of Alcantara

  16. avatar lloyd says:

    Some of the things you mentioned are abuses and some are not. Changing the words of the consecration is, and, if you can’t get your priest to stop, should be reported to the bishop. Introducing the theme of the mass and/or the readings is not. And if the poor man can’t stand due to arthritis, it’s certainly not irreverent.


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