Catholic Phoenix


Holding Hands During the Our Father, and Other Liturgical (or Not So Liturgical) Calamities

WARNING:  This is likely to annoy and/or offend anyone and/or everyone at some point.  Just thought I’d get that out of the way.

As a sacristan at my local parish, I enjoy a unique view of things.  Many weekends, you will find me doing my best to not interfere with Father’s work at the altar, thereby invalidating the Mass, or at least keeping my servers alert, attentive, and reverent in the performance of their duties.  Other weekends, I enjoy just being one of the regular folks, participating in the Mass with the balance of the lay faithful. 

On occasion, I will venture out to other parishes, becoming a “Roamin’ Catholic.”  What I find out there sometimes sets my blood boiling, and at best leaves me scratching my head, and at its worst, leaves me poorly disposed to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist.  Below are just a few of my observations of a “typical” Sunday in the provinces: 

I often find my problems begin at, well, the beginning.  Before the Mass has even started.  Unless it happens to be Good Friday, remember that Jesus is in the room!  When one and in fact, many, come in to prepare for Mass, please, keep your conversations with your neighbor, your husband, wife, children, whoever, to a dull roar.  Most are only in the church for that one hour (unless Father heads down a homiletic rabbit hole, then it could stretch to a whole hour and fifteen), and if folks are not going to spend that time in prayer prior to Mass, then it would be nice if they would respect their neighbor enough to sit in reflective silence (perhaps it might cause one to actually hear the voice of God).

During the processional hymn, please, sing already!  It’s terrible when the only voice you hear is your own, or the music director.  Do not worry about whether or not you can sound like a rock star, make a joyful noise unto the Lord!  Join the choirs of angels, and your voice will be fine.

While we are talking about music, let us walk down this path for a minute, and I promise to stay off it until the very end.  The music in Mass should help us join in the worship of God, not help one’s own voice andor instrument to be exalted (amplified?) above all else.   Guitars and drum sets have little or no place in the Mass.  Just saying.  Also, don’t want to hear Matt Maher, John Michael whoever, Bob Jones, Bob Denver, Steely Dan, or anyone singing their version of Psalms 1-150.  The Psalmist was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and that should be enough.  There is a time for praise music.  Mass is not that place.


Hands.  Keep them to yourself.  Unless you are a ministerial priest (i.e., ordained priest or bishop), hands clasped in front of you, or at your side is what is appropriate.  You say there is nothing in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal that forbids waving and gesticulating?  You are right.  However, please show me where it says that you should do it.

When the priest or deacon says “The Lord be with you”, just say, “and also with you”, or after Advent 2011, “and with your spirit” or “et cum spiritu tuo”.  Keep your hands still!  It’s not appropriate!

Join in the prayers where appropriate- at the end of the OT and Epistle readings, say with conviction, “The Word of the Lord", and after the Gospel, “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ”!  Sing the responses to the Psalm! 


Participate in the Mass!  During the Creed, when the priest says “by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man”, bow!  Not a little head nod, like you heard a bit of music you like, but really bow, in reverence.  Remember at Christmas we genuflect--give a good bow the other weeks of the year!

During the Offertory- again, keep your hands to yourself- you are not the priest!  You are not standing in persona Christi!  The priest's orans position refers to Christ on the Cross.

Now my biggest one- the Our Father!  Here it comes!  This was inspired by my friend Amy, who posts recently on her blog about her own frustrations.  Father Z lent his own voice to the schola recently as well .  If you find you must hold hands with nary anyone who comes near you, make sure it’s okay with them.  Don’t grab my hand, or slap my arm with the dead-fish hand.  Please and thank you.  I understand that some priests invite everyone to hold hands during the Our Father.  I would probably not attend Mass again there should I experience such a thing.  Amy talks of germs and such, and just in general, her whole phobia of random strangers touching her.  I don’t have such issues, but what I do have issue with is when our focus is taken away from Christ, who is truly present before us, so that we can hold hands with our neighbor, not to mention the odd fellow who wants to come across the aisle. 

I often get really upset at the “passing of the peace”.  I understand the priest or deacon encourages us to share a sign of peace, but really, when the rest of Mass is disrupted by this glad-handing, coming across two, three, four rows and across the aisle again detracts from what comes next:  our reception of the Eucharist.  Keep it simple, keep it close, please.  Short range peace-passing only. 

So, we’ve finally gotten through the Communion Rite (I will save my thoughts on EM’s for a later rant!), and now, Father has given the final blessing, the deacon has exhorted us to “go in peace to love and serve the Lord” (is that one or two alleluias at the Vigil? Inside joke, can’t help myself), and the exodus begins.  No sooner does the recessional pass, and people are killing themselves to get out the door, stumbling over those that might, oh, wait a minute for the music to end, to possibly say a prayer of thanksgiving for the privilege of worshiping God, and that He might protect our priests and bishops.  Once the music ends, the prayerful applause breaks out for the choir.  Why? For doing the job they volunteered for, or got paid for?  (Wait--this is a Catholic Church, so it's definitely the job they volunteered for.)  They were there to worship God as well.  But please, after it’s all said and done, if you just have to get out of the pew, would you mind going the other way?  I’m just going to be a moment, but I’d like that moment, thank you.

So, that for the moment concludes my Mass rant.  Stay tuned next time, as we dig further into bad form during the worship of Our Lord.

Pax on all your houses.

183 comments | Add one of your own.

  1. Benjamen J. Bennett

    I live this blog entry so much. Best blog entry ever. I had to double check to make sure I didn’t write this one. Brilliant stuff.

    Also… Children with toys/books at Mass: No. Children with food at Mass: NO. Receiving Blessed Sacrament then making a beeline to the door like the building is on fire? Nope.


    1. Justin

      Wow Mr. Bennett, maybe you should find a monastery somewhere and attend mass there so those darned innocent little children don’t bother you. I suppose you would criticize parents if their children were making noise during mass too so we’re darned if we do and darned if we don’t. We should just put them in muzzles and straighjackets before going to church to keep Mr. Bennett happy.


        1. John


          No, I think Mr Bennet is expecting we parents to do what my wife and I do, or at least try to do: keep the kids in line like a PARENT, not a buddy, and keep their heads in the Mass, learning to love God and to follow the Liturgy instead of being strapped to a feedbag of Cheerios. You’d be surprised what a little old-fashioned, firm-but-fair parenting can do.

          Our kids are only 4 and 2 and are probably 2-3 years ahead of their peers in knowledge & practice of the faith just because we actually take the time to keep them on track at Mass and teach them their prayers. Yes, our own praying suffers a bit but it gets better every time. There’s no reason any parent can’t also be doing this… after all, what we’re doing used to be NORMAL before this crazy time in the Church.

          Leila (below) is right, though… books on saints, the Mass, etc — things that enhance their faith — ok, we can make exceptions for that. But not coloring books, nor Dora or Spongebob or whoever the marketing flavor of the month is. Mass is for God, not for SuperWhy. Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi… if we don’t use Mass time for, well, praying the Mass, how do we expect our kids to actually grow in their faith?


          1. WSquared

            ” But not coloring books, nor Dora or Spongebob or whoever the marketing flavor of the month is. Mass is for God, not for SuperWhy. Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi…”

            Indeed. Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi…

            …not Lex Luthor. ;)


      1. Matt

        If anyone is wondering why Catholics are leaving the church…it is because of the people! These people say words like “Persona Christi” and yet completely forget that Christ didn’t flaunt His Power and position, he loved His kids. I wonder how much of this blog was written out of love for our Savior and how much was written to prove how right you are in your practices of the faith.

        Sad to say that many of our “would be” Catholics leave because of the lack of love in our Churches. Our the practices more important than the hearts of Gods people?

        If this post was the only Chance someone had to hear about the love our God, I am afraid to say they would probably think “you can keep it”.

        I would encourage anyone reading this post to read a book called “The Screwtape Letters” by: C.S. Lewis. It gives great insight as to how Satan uses issues like this and turns the “believer” into an impostor. All the while being a “Good Catholic” and yet on our way to hell, simply because we waste our time being distracted by non salvation issues, instead of focusing on Christ in the Mass and how Christ would have us serve Him.


        1. WSquared

          Matt, one might argue that it is your words that are uncharitable and judgmental here, wherein they accuse the person who write this post (he’s spot on, by the way) of not paying attention to the hearts of God’s people.

          Let me ask you an admittedly pointed question (in part because I am admittedly sick and tired of cheap, hollow “empty ritual” accusations when it comes to the Church’s liturgy): what makes you– or any of us– so sure that any of these rituals and prayers and therefore the right attention that needs to paid to them *aren’t* there to tend to the hearts of God’s people? You accuse the author of this post of trying to justify that his practice of the faith is correct. Have you not done the same?

          Since you talk about focusing on Christ, has it ever occurred to you that posture, sacred silence, and appropriate sacred music are there SO we can not only focus more on Christ, but be re-oriented toward Him so we can live through Him, with Him, and in Him: this is the kind of participation that allows Him to take us deep– at Mass, and definitely also when we are sent forth. It allows Him better access to our hearts, because we’re better focused on Him.

          I also think it somewhat disingenuous to use the “Jesus loves the little children” to justify any and all behavior, or certainly behavior that actually ends up distracting from Christ, if not obscuring who He is. What we pray is what we believe, and we believe what we pray: so it makes sense that the public prayer of the Church and our surroundings at Mass reflect the God we profess to believe in. Catholics believe that the human person is matter and spirit, and not matter divorced from spirit. As such, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength” is made very clear through those material things present at Mass. Not only is this true of basic sacramental theology, but really: Catholics are meant to pray with all that we have and all that we’ve been given. And worshiping God means allowing Him to have a say, whereupon we are to listen. Does anyone really think that electric guitars and drum sets are helpful in this regard, especially when the voice of the Lord is that “still, small voice”? Can we please not forget that the Word of God is not just Holy Scripture but the Word Made Flesh?

          The set prayers of the Church– certainly the public prayer of the Church, which is what Mass is– teach us to pray. This is Christ teaching us through His Church how to pray. Right worship in general (both inside and outside of Mass– this is not just true of our lives outside Mass, but whether or not that life is buoyed and girded by the Sacramental Life of the Church; yes, folks, this means Confession, too!) conditions us more toward receiving Him into our hearts so that He can convert us and be our daily food.


    2. Leila

      No books for children at mass? Even mass books or saints books? Really? I don’t know how a small child reading a book could bother anyone. This said by someone who actually doesn’t bring books for her kids, but is not bothered by those who do.

      Love the article, Charles!! Thank you!


    3. Charles Smith

      Personally, I’d rather have the children in the church, reading a book, then put in daycare. But as Leila said, let’s give them a saint book, or a Magnifikid. But please, not hot wheels, no cheerios!


      1. Will

        So, we’re okay with kids in the mass, but only if they’re quiet and not doing anything besides reading? Might as well be in daycare. And a bag of Cheerios was what helped my daughter to sit quietly through the mass till she was about three. Sorry, but I’m bringing Cheerios. Not sure what you find objectionable there.


        1. Kathleen

          There are really good “Sunday toys,” from cloth books and soft Noah’s Arks and dolls to rosaries. I’ve made these for children!

          I make a point of complimenting parents when their children do no more than wiggle, giggle, and generally behave like ordinary restless children. I just wince when spoiled angry children screech out of sheer brattiness, loudly crunch snacks non-stop like hamsters, punch out their siblings, slam their shoes into the pews, etc. Last week a 9 or 10 year old lay on the pew, then stood up to run back & forth, tried to pull her mother’s clothing off, and generally behaved like a brat. Her mother shoved food at her, which worked for about 2 minutes — the girl left the empty Doritos bag in the pew.

          Yes, doting parents, I am the Grinch who doesn’t think all your children are automatically adorable. And if Our Lord was kicked sharply in an arthritic knee, He might not have said, “Suffer the little children”! Teach your children we all share this world.


          1. Ted Seeber

            Pretty good for neurotypical kids, but what about those of us with special needs kids? Should we ban autistics from the Mass? How about Downs Syndrome Children?

            Having said that- I think it would be *ENTIRELY* appropriate for a pastor to offer several Masses a Sunday, for different audiences- and it is entirely appropriate to restrict young families to a single mass.


            1. Elisabeth Smith

              I am entirely against masses for specific populations. We are the Body of Christ and to exclude anyone is abhorrant.

              Parents have to choose whatever Mass lessens their stress level when they have challenging kids. As fellow parishioners we have to learn to be gracious and patient – just as Christ is gracious and patient with each of us.

              I think people’s frustrations with children at mass is not so much with the occasional outburst or a child who has real beahvioral issues but with parents who make no attempt to control/direct their child’s behavior and whose attempts at placating are at least as disruptive as the original bad behavior.


            2. Jarrad Faulk

              Restrict Ted… really?! I get enough restriction when our family of 4 kids under 6 years old go to restaurants and we sit in the “kid” section. I certainly don’t need it in mass…


            3. Charles Smith

              Wow, seriously, restrict the young families to a single mass? If you have special needs children, it amazes me that you would suggest a separate mass at all. I would think that you would want your children to be as much a part of normal life and society as possible.

              Aren’t “teen” masses a source of issue for many that claim abuse in and of the liturgy? I think young families are a source of joy in the life of the parish community, and necessary for the continuance of the church. Telling them they can’t worship with the more mature segment of the community is what drives them away.


          2. Fr. Frank

            Amen!! I am the priest who goes pew-by-pew through the church cleaning up the children’s Cheerios/Lucky Charms/Fruit Loops between Masses with a hand vac. It’s not all about you and your child. Most adults are oddly averse to walking up to Communion with your child’s Cocoa Puffs and Gummy Bears pasted to their rears. FWIW, I don’t blame the little ones. I blame parents for not thinking (or caring) what 50 kids with a snack bag apiece can do to the interior of a church. In my case, multiply that by 4 weekend Masses.


            1. Jennifer

              Glad I’m not the only one who thinks feeding kids during Mass is wrong! We’re only there for one kind of food, and that’s Jesus. The kids will not die of hunger if they don’t eat for one hour. Tell them to offer it up!


        2. Joe

          One hour without Cheerios is not going to hurt anybody. I find it difficult to believe that you can argue your child’s need for Cheerios is more cause for concern than respecting the house of the Lord. Also, think about the people who volunteer to clean the church. It is sad to see how many of those innocent Cheerios need to be swept up because a parent couldn’t find a more considerate way to share the mass with their child. I understand that maybe you haven’t thought of another way to keep your child quiet during mass, but you can either think of something else to be more reverent or just be stubborn and dismiss objections that you find unreasonable. Nobody is going to kick you out but just remember the only opinion that really matters is the one who sees all and knows all. This is what keeps me going when I have to scrape Cheerios and sometimes gum off of the church floor on cleening day.

          Unless Catholics want to be like the rest of the world we have to be willing to take advice on what can make us better Catholics. People leaving the church because of some of these complaints need to check their loyalty to their faith. Many times have I not agreed with decisions that were made in my parish but since I’m not a narcissist and don’t wish to be, I have to be obedient to God, not my own will.

          I loved the article because it really gave advice as to how to become a better Catholic. Recently, I found out about how hand holding during the Our Father is not something that sound be done, so I stopped doing it! Why is this difficult? Do I make up my own religious rules? No, I obey the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Thanks to those of you who do the research on apologetics, and history to keep this line of communication open, instead of just allowing the rest of us to be sloppy followers and do our own thing in mass.


      2. Charles Smith

        Hey listen, as a convert, I find myself envious of the graces a child receives just being present at the Mass. And besides, how are they supposed to learn how to act at Mass if they don’t attendtill an appropriate age?

        Sometimes the baby’s gonna yelp and holler, God Bless them I say. But if they’re unconsolable, then yeah, mom or dad can take them outside or to the cry room.


      3. AveMaria


        This is the first place I can reply to you directly.

        I’m sorry that you find in the various Catholic Churches you have visited, so many things you are so distraught about.

        I’m also sorry that you have chosen to be distressed about the the outward acts.

        I’m remdinded of a guy who commented on that same obsessesion. I think he said something like:

        “Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy–full of greed and wickedness!”

        In my book, sadly (so very very sadly) you fit the bill of the Pharisees. You are someone who TALKS about others in a high and mighty way — passing judgement about others who may hold hands, not sing, clap during songs, listen warmly to drums/guitars, talk before or after mass, etc.

        I’m very saddened that you would think our Lord Jesus Christ would be so narrow-minded and limited in his infinity as to be concerned about these insignificant things.

        My advice: Christ wants you there so He can love you and feed you. Stop being the “mass police” pharisee and live life a little more lovingly and closer to Christ.

        Let Christ worry about the others and their state of grace.


        1. Charles Smith

          Wow, really, a Pharisee? If you knew who I was in the slightest, you would know that I am far from high and mighty. I am aware of my own limitations, and have a good core group of friends that keep me honest.

          I said that these are annoyances, not an order to tell those who don’t see eye-to-eye with to get out of MY church. Well first of all, it’s not my church, it’s God’s Church, it is the mystical body of His Son.

          I don’t proclaim to be holier than anyone in the slightest.

          But, as we’ve seen by some of the examples posted within, there are in many cases norms dictated by church documents that are violated frequently, and liberties taken within the “gray” areas that detract from what we are supposed to be at Mass for: Worship God. Anything less detracts.

          You will hear that people will blame Vatican II for a great many “wrongs”. My contention is that I blame media for the misconceptions about Vatican II. If people bothered to read the V2 documents instead of media interpretation, one would find a different understanding. Granted, there were again liberties taken, but that’s not the fault of the documents, but of those interpreting them, and only giving us pieces that fit a particular mentality.


          1. AveMaria


            Trust me Charles — I was once you — like you, I felt justified in carefully explaining my righteous indignation at the abundance of “other’s” inappropriate acts — especially during mass. You didn’t touch on “dress” but I can sense from you that “dress” would be another topic that would light your fire. Also, as you can tell, like you I still find a solemn, reverent mass to be the most spiritually uplifting for me.

            But what I have concluded — and I hope you will quickly mature to — is that I am dust, and to dust I shall return.

            It is not my place to judge the holiness or worthiness of others before, during or after mass. Of course, if there is a sin, we must judge the sin. But what you address above is not sinfulness. It is only your judging others they way you think they should act in the Church of Charles. They are, fortunately for all of us, rather in the Church of Christ. Let us, therefore, allow them to worship Christ as Christ draws them.

            Also like you, I may have my own predilections, my own ideas about how I (myself) should worship. I may — as many on here have done — be able to source Catholic writings on the practices at a mass to bolster my own position. But (should you be so open to it), you will find there are EQUALLY valid Catholic writings from different Popes/Bishops/Councils which encourage participation in masses which do not fit with other Catholic writings demonstrating a conservative position.

            You cannot say: “If you knew who I was in the slightest, you would know that I am far from high and mighty.” and then write something where you state your opinion in a high and mighty way. So, from one sinner to another, I do say: If the shoe fits wear it.

            Let’s see if you can spot the offensive language in your own writing:

            “I enjoy a unique view of things.”

            Yes, and so do the others in the mass with you. Your unique view does not equate to “better” or “right.”

            “What I find out there sometimes sets my blood boiling”,

            Is this the spirit in which you wish to receive Christ in communion (note: COMMUNION’s root word is not “solitude-ion”).

            There’s more from you, Charles, if you have the stomach for it:

            “I often find my problems begin at, well, the beginning.”

            (Here you use the clever “my problems” to actually describe how “your problems” are actually the inappropriate action of others. That’s like answering the interview question of: What are your job weaknesses? with the answer: I work to hard!)

            “… it would be nice if they would respect their neighbor enough to sit in reflective silence (perhaps it might cause one to actually hear the voice of God).”

            Yes, and being kind to strangers or welcoming warmly others who have not been seen in awhile is what exactly??? Disrespectful???

            “The music in Mass should help us join in the worship of God, not help one’s own voice and or instrument to be exalted (amplified?) above all else. Guitars and drum sets have little or no place in the Mass.”

            Talking of disrespect! That’s quite a one-sided statement by you disparaging those men or women who feel called by God to join their gifts to the Holy Sacrifice of the altar!

            “Hands. Keep them to yourself.”

            Spoken just like a momma to her children. I’ll let you figure out who wants to be the momma and who she treats like children. Enough said.

            “You say there is nothing in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal that forbids waving and gesticulating? You are right. However, please show me where it says that you should do it.”

            Now that’s a classic! You only get to do things in the missal and you are guilty if you do anything more! Ouch Charles!

            “Keep your hands still! It’s not appropriate!”

            Yes, momma (see note above).

            “… but really bow, in reverence.”

            Perhaps, like a Pharisee, you think we should put a ruler in each pew so we can measure if someone bowed low enough for your tastes Charles? Come, come now — are you getting the picture of yourself — which you have painted by your own words?

            “I would probably not attend Mass again there should I experience such a thing.”

            You are welcome to your opinions, but I’m reminded of our duty to attend mass period. As Cardinal Francis George told Father Pfleger: ““If that is truly your attitude, you have already left the Catholic Church…” If you want to be a protestant and pick-and-choose your church, so be it. But in the Catholic tradition, you go to the church for our home unless you are traveling or receive dispensation otherwise.

            “No sooner does the recessional pass, and people are killing themselves to get out the door, stumbling over those that might, oh, wait a minute for the music to end, to possibly say a prayer of thanksgiving for the privilege of worshiping God, and that He might protect our priests and bishops. Once the music ends, the prayerful applause breaks out for the choir. Why? For doing the job they volunteered for, or got paid for? (Wait–this is a Catholic Church, so it’s definitely the job they volunteered for.) They were there to worship God as well. But please, after it’s all said and done, if you just have to get out of the pew, would you mind going the other way? I’m just going to be a moment, but I’d like that moment, thank you.”

            Yes, you correctly called all that a “mass rant.”

            Charles, I’m holding this up to you in the full light of day not to mock you, but to tell you again — I was there. I was you. I made the same sinful mistakes.

            And then I realized the immensity of Christ in the Eucharist and in the mass. Everything I thought of paled in comparison to that. Everything I complained about, detracted from the immensity of that.

            I hope you take this in the spirit in which it is given: A reproach, yes — but in the spirit of hope.


            1. Charles Smith

              You know, I have to wonder at the audacity with which you choose to chastise me, while hiding behind a pseudonym. Believe it or don’t but Charles Smith is really my name (at least that’s what my mother told me).

              I do not mind receiving constructive criticism, when delivered in a charitable spirit. I do not pretend to have it all figured out, but let us see if I cannot answer some of your comments, and not lose my own spirit of charity.

              I never said I was expressing righteous indignation. I didn’t say that everyone better bow down before the altar of Charles because I am so bleedin’ right about everything (though I’m still convinced that the day I walk into a Wal-Mart and find a McDonald’s on one side of the store and a Starbucks on the other, that the apocalypse will begin, but that’s a matter for another time).

              Not aware I was encouraging a Church of Charles. If one exists, let’s blow it to smithereens (get it, Church of Charles blown to Smithereens? Where do I get this stuff?)

              Not aware of the writings you speak of, can’t help but notice you don’t reference them, whereas our fellow commenters have posted reference.

              I do enjoy a unique view of things, so do you, and others. I did call them my problems, they may even be irrational responses to my own shortcomings (not being charitable enough, understanding of other’s relationships with God, inappropriate piety, the list goes on). Did I not say that already?

              We are called to be in Communion with Christ, not the guy next to me.

              I love the work interview question- I have never answered that question with “I work too hard”. I’m lazy, self-centered, petulant, argumentative, quick-tempered, bold, often rude, frequently disrespectful. I tend to overcommitt and underdeliver, I want to please everyone and frequently please no one.

              On the people talking in the pews comment, touche. Just this Sunday I was admonished by my own wife for talking to her before mass, when she had just read my own blogpost.

              Oh yeah, I’m a hypocrite and a sinner, too. But those don’t usually play well at job interviews. Wait! Is this a job interview? I need a clean shirt! Okay, joking there.

              And another touche on the bowing thing. You are completely correct for calling me out on that point. Thank you.

              But in the next comment you compare me to Father Pfleger? I’m sorry but that is completely uncalled for. First of all, Fr Pfleger should be held to a higher standard in the order of the Church because he is an ordained priest. Second, if Bishop Olmsted chooses to admonish me, I will be obedient to him. I’ve even been known to be obedient to my pastor, especially when I disagree with him. You don’t believe me, you say? Ask him.

              Then you speak of the Roman Missal. Well, I think it best to quote Cardinal Arinze, who said, and I paraphrase, “the GIRM doesn’t say you cannot bring a dog to Mass, but you don’t see people doing that, do you?” My apologies to the good Cardinal for any butchering I may have made of his comment.

              In my case, these are one man’s opinions. I did my best to present them with some charity, a little humor, and the intent of inspiring dialogue. I knew some of it would be in opposition to my thoughts. I’m no better than anyone out there, and I still have a long way to go on my own faith journey. Good to see I have plenty of company.

              Thank you


              1. AveMaria


                I’m not sure what the “thank you” is for, since my pleas seem to be falling on deaf ears. That’s alright. I recognize after life itself, the greatest gift God gave us is our free-will. And I can see you have a strong free-will.

                I suppose I could sum up my guiding principle about what you wrote (humorous in your attempt or not — you clearly recognize the content is highly divisive, judgmental and excluding) — by referencing this quote of St. Bernard of Clairvaux when speaking about the three most important virtues: “Humility, humility and humility.”

                You and I are sinners. We come to Communion in a Church, not in a forest by ourselves. This magnificent Church was given to us by Christ. Moreover, we have a Magisterium who we follow on issues like this — it is the Church’s Magisterium.

                Unfortunately, we have a lot of others who think they are adjuncts to the magisterium by the sole nature of their intellect. Most of those are academics/theologians but there are more than enough lay-people who feel they belong to the magisterium with a small “m”. Witness the recent letter to Speaker Boehner, purporting to represent Catholics. To them, I say: Just because you stand in a garage, you are not a car. Those letter signers are welcome to their opinions all day long. If you knew any of them, I can bet none suffer from an abundance of humility. I am quite certain they believe their opinions were offered in the spirit of Catholic goodwill and charity and should carry some weight — else, why write it in the first place?

                In reality, they were pushing their own agenda. We all see that as clear as day. They want the Church to adopt their views, not the other way around.

                If you feel you are in a different class than those people — whether because the subject is of your own choosing, or because you believe you are properly citing Catholic teachings (as they also all believed), or whatever reason — so be it.

                Still they remain NOT the Magisterium with a capital “M”. They wish they were. They wish their letter carried the same weight, or was viewed as weighty in some way, but still they are not.

                Anyway, you write well. You are passionate and you are on a path that I hope takes you deeper into love with Christ. You can disregard all my comments and carry-on. As for me, I will focus on praising God in Mass. If that means clapping when others clap around me, or laughing and being joful when others laugh and talk around me, or singing with drums and guitars playing loudly, or listening patiently to little children — then that is what I will do in the House of the Lord.

                (PS: You claim I hide behind a pseudonym, but my email address is real and you can use that to reach out to me personally at any time. I also live in Ave Maria, FL and if you come to visit here — and you should if you want to see something Catholic — I’d love to take you out for a cup of coffee at the Bean).


                1. Charles Smith

                  My “thank you” was for your participation in the discourse, and for helping me see both sides of my own arguments.

                  I don’t think I’d want to be a part of the Magisterium, the men who compromise it have been called in a way that I have not, and shoulder burdens I can’t imagine. As for the smaller “m” version, I would not wish to be part that either. It seems to take on an air I do not desire to be part of either.

                  I am seeking daily to be in a deeper relationship with Christ, and through him, His Father. Most days I fall woefully short, but I pray that at the end of my days, He will have mercy on me. In the meantime, I will continue to call out bad practices when I view them, try to correct my own when I committ them, but to do so with charity and compassion. My intent here has been to entertain and inspire dialogue. To some extent at least, it appears I might have been successful.

                  I will take you up on that offer should I find myself in FL.



            2. Joe

              I think we should ease up on Charles.

              I think this conversation is simply supposed to be about constuctive criticism and how we can make the Mass a more holy experience. We are called to be obedient to our “momma” the Church, The Bride of Christ. We don’t want to fall into relativism in worship, we should celebrate the Mass by the books. It is our duty to admonish other sinners when we feel something they are doing is sinful in the eyes of God. Charles had the guts to write this knowing it would strike nerves. Tell us why his points are contrary to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, don’t just attack him for pointing out truths that might be difficult for people to hear. We have a duty to keep our rituals true, otherwise we are just Protestants who pretend to be Catholic.


          2. Paul

            I also like my mass pretty quiet and conservative, but, I know I have had Catholic theologians who disagree with your take on these things. I think anything that discourages the family from joining in mass is on shaky ground, but parents should absolutely keep children as quiet as possible and clean up after them absolutely. I hate a noisy child in church but I’d much rather have them there than elsewhere. In church they have a chance to eventually learn better.

            As a counter example some might very well object to your singing feeling the less than ideal noise makes it harder to focus on christ. Well I’m going to sing anyway. I think christ wants me to use what little ability he gave me.


            1. WSquared

              Paul, I think there’s a very real difference between babies crying at Mass and children who are old enough to know better throwing a hissy fit because they can’t have their snacks or do whatever they want to have fun.

              By no means should any parent keep their kids away from Mass because they’re afraid that said kids will make noise. No. Let them grow slowly into the Mass by using fair and gentle, but firm, discipline when needed. Also, as many people have said, parents themselves should be setting good examples at Mass: our children have to know that we think that Mass is important to our lives.


        2. Danica

          Yeah, Charles! You’re not your brother’s keeper, right? I mean, we’re not called to admonish those in the wrong…. wait a sec! It is out of love that parents correct their children, and out of love that those who see indiscretions occuring during Holy Mass correct their brothers in Christ.


        3. WSquared

          “Let Christ worry about the others and their state of grace.”

          How is anybody supposed to come to Him if we can’t see Him as clearly as we should? Classifying those practices that allow for this clarity as “pharisaical” and “focusing on the externals instead of what is in the heart,” I would actually argue is a lack of charity. Our hearts are restless until they rest in the Lord, but we are in danger of losing sight of Him if he is presented in a fuzzy way (in all senses of the word).

          What makes you or anyone who makes these kinds of accusations of “phariseeism” so sure that those externals don’t speak to the heart as well by conditioning us to recognize the Lord on His own terms?

          Furthermore, Scripture should remind us very clearly that “what’s in the heart” is not primarily about sentiment or feelings or “what makes the people feel good”: the heart is meant to be guarded, because all that we do flows from it. One guards one’s heart so that it is better able to see God by practicing the virtues that allow us to see Him– namely, purity of heart (…straight out of the Beatitudes) that comes with temperance, chastity, humility, and obedience.


    4. Melissa

      As a mother of two — a three year-old and an 18-month old — I can say that I agree with you, Benjamin! My three year old went to the baby room until she was able to listen to and follow directions and behave herself during mass. Before that, she was a disruption to me, my husband, and everyone around us. Out of charity for the other parishioners, we accepted that there was little she was getting from sitting with us, and we put her in the baby room until she matured a little more. Once she was able to understand simple directions like “no,” “sit quietly,” “kneel,” “stand,” and so forth, we brought her into the pew and directed her participation in the mass. We were not content to just let her read, eat, or sleep during mass. We wanted her to fully participate because we knew she could. Now, she kneels, prays, sits, and stands during all the parts when such actions are necessary; she fully participates, and she loves going to mass. We do not use food or petty diversions to entertain her during church; that is not what church is for. Our youngest is still in the baby room during mass because she has more trouble behaving herself. Again, until she can properly participate in mass, she won’t be joining us in the pew. I don’t judge others for not doing the same, but I do believe they are instilling bad habits into their children when they allow them to eat, read, and play during mass. I do, however, get annoyed when parents are so prejudiced against the baby room that they will allow their toddlers to scream, run, kick, and throw things in the pew rather than put leave them with the kind, competent ladies who will gladly play with these overactive children so that the rest of us can fully worship at mass. Just my opinion.


  2. Titus

    I’ve been to these parishes. That’s why I stopped “roaming.” But if the choir is halfway decent, and Joe next to you can’t sing, maybe he just shouldn’t. That’s my only quibble.


    1. WSquared

      We have an old guy at the Latin Mass parish where we go once a month who sings all of the Ordinaries of the Mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei)– well, the parts that he knows really well– really loudly.

      Sure, it can be a bit distracting, but he’s such a dear when he does that. It’s still not nearly as bad as a drum set playing Phil-Spector-like drumrolls, which is plain distracting: there should not be any imitation of secular pop music in sacred music, because we get enough of that sort of thing outside of Mass. Mass is a time set apart.


  3. Gary Zimak

    Great post! If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that you visited my parish :-) You touched on many key points which, in my opinion, contribute to a lack of respect for the real presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist. While I’m all for Christian charity (the basis for a lot of these practices), Catholics need to understand the purpose of the Mass. Keep up the good work!

    In Christ,
    Gary Zimak


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  5. Richard Reff

    This is a question, not a comment, however, your article encourages me to ask your guidance or help in locating some source to resolving a difficulty I am having with a certain selection of music at mass.

    At our parish each Sunday, we are handed a printed sheet of the songs that are to be sung during mass. Last Sunday, the concluding rite song was from the 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship (according to the reprinted with permission license). My question: “Is this appropriate to use this type of music according to the Church’s Mass guidelines?”


    1. Charles Smith

      I am going to defer to my more knowledgeable compatriots on this one, for I truly do not know. I would think that it is not appropriate, or falls in that gray area, where it’s not explicitly prohibited, so they use that as license to do their own thing.

      However, I know I am frustrated constantly when I see clearly Protestant music showing up in the Mass.

      I am aware though, that these things will take time, patience, and prayer.


      1. Paul

        I am under the impression that any music which glorifies God may be used in Mass so long as it does not contradict Catholic teaching. This is very nice for someone like me who grew up listening to hyms written by the Wesleys, many of which are beautiful and do not go against doctrine.


        1. Melissa

          I completely agree with Paul. Although I grew up in an ultra-conservative Catholic church, I really appreciate the modern practice of assimilating Protestant hymns, esp ones by “classic” Protestant hymn writers, so long as the lyrics do not contradict Catholic teachings. It enriches us as a Church and, as I see it, is one of the good fruits of ecumenism.


  6. Jim

    If one doesn’t sing well, so what? We refer to “making a joyful noise,” not to “making a joyful, aesthetically pleasing harmony.” Rather than being annoyed that one’s neighbor doesn’t sing well, instead find joy in the fact that our brothers and sisters in faith pray (yes, our hymns are prayers) with fervor, joyful in their worship of the Lord.


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  8. Tonya

    Deo Gratias for posting.The solemnity and elimination of liturgical abuse is our number one cause…at Mass we are meant to be focused on the Lord,with the priest leading us in prayer.The Mass is not a presentation and mere dialouge between the faithful.We need to be ever conscious of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament at church and during Mass.The orientation of the people has long been refocused on us and not the Lord.Pope Benedict has done so much to correct this,and I pray it continues.This new translation is a great move in the way of reorienting our minds and hearts.How you pray is how you believe.


  9. Kevin

    Wow, with all the time you spend noticing what everyone is doing wrong how do you have anytime to spend in solemn prayer? I’m tired of hearing all you old “foggies” complain about guitar music at mass. Without the guitar we wouldn’t have “Silent Night” one of my favorite hymns. David’s Psalms were written for the harp an instrument much closer to the guitar than to the “all stops pulled play as slow as you can traditional Catholic Organ”.


    1. Cordelia

      Kevin, I think you need to read the 1963 VII Constitution on Sacred Liturgy–Sacrosanctum Consilium Chapter VI on Sacred Music, paragragh 120: “In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man’s mind to God and to higher things.”


      1. Melissa

        Note, though, that while it extols the organ (rightly so) it does not in fact say anything negative about the guitar. In upholding the one, must we necessarily reject other instruments?
        I am not a guitar mass person myself, however, I do think it is very important not to be more strict than we need to be.


        1. Cordelia

          Here’s the whole excerpt from Sacrosanctum Concilium:
          “120. In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man’s mind to God and to higher things.

          But other instruments also may be admitted for use in divine worship, with the knowledge and consent of the competent territorial authority, as laid down in Art. 22, 52, 37, and 40. This may be done, however, only on condition that the instruments are suitable, or can be made suitable, for sacred use, accord with the dignity of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification of the faithful.”

          In terms of viewing liturgical music as a ministry of beauty and complementing choral works (not chant), think of full orchestra as other instruments made suitable for sacred use like one a Mozart’s masses. Also, Fr. Pierre Paul, maestro di cappella (chapel master) at St. Peter’s Basilica visited St. John Cantius parish in Chicago in February of 2011. The following excerpt from the post at the New Liturgical Movement says it all:

          “The Mass, which was celebrated ad orientem in Latin, featured two of the parish choirs, the Schola Cantorum of St. Gregory the Great which sang the Gregorian Chant propers and the St. Cecelia Choir which sang the Madrid Mass by Alessandro Scarlatti along with motets….

          Father Paul shared with the parish how he has been able to introduce much more Gregorian Chant in the music program at St. Peter’s Basilica and in the future he hopes to incorporate more Polyphony as well. “What you are doing here, I am trying to do in Rome,” said Fr. Paul.

          Father Paul also spoke about the upcoming events at the Vatican in which he is involved, referring particularly to the upcoming Mass of the Beatification of John Paul II in May.

          In closing, Father asked the people of St. John Cantius parish for their prayers, that the Church’s ideal vision of Sacred Music will be realized in other places. Finally, Father thanked the people of St. John Cantius Parish for their “ministry of beauty.””


    2. Charles Smith

      First, let me mention that I am not old- unless of course, you count the opinion of my 11 year old daughter, who frequently comments when I show my wife affection, “EWWW- old people kissing.”

      I understand the history of guitar- but still not sure of it’s place in the Mass. And certainly not electric guitar!

      Do you really think this is just one Sunday’s observations? This is now years of observation. And as Sacristan, I have what I can best call a unique view of goings-on.

      There is a place for praise music. Mass isn’t that place.

      And then, yeah, what Cordelia said!



      1. peppin the short

        What a nit-picking, hair-splitting annoying prat of a sacristan you must be to face on a Sunday morning! Thank the Lord that you are not in my parish, country or even continent…
        One other thing – don’t forget, you’re JUST the sacristan, not the priest, so if the priest expressly invites the congregation to do this or to say that, IT IS NOT UP TO YOU TO GIVE A GRUDGING OK FOR SOMETHING AFTER THE PRIEST HAS ALLOWED that action. To quote you, “you are not the priest! You are not standing in persona Christi! ” The priest is, though. So please, shut up and concentrate on carrying out your duties as a sacristan.


      2. Bruce

        Charles, I whole heartily agree. There is a time and place for praise music, guitars, and drums. Not at the Mass though.

        At this Church I went to during Lent the music director and cantor performed a piece from Bethoven on the piano before Mass and after communion they did another song pulling out all the stops on the organ. Don’t get me wrong the music was beautiful and powerful and the cantor had the most beautiful saprano voice I had ever heard. But this performance was DURING LENT! Isn’t music during Lent suppose to be solemn and subtle? I brought this up to the pastor and he expalines that, while I was correct, they were trying to sell tickets and get people interested in a concert they were giving later on in the week. (Are You Kidding)! Now they are using the Mass to sell concert tickets! Where did it all go wrong? When did the Mass become about us and not about the sacrafice before us? We are in the presence of God and should act accordingly.

        For those who like to catch up with there neighbors before Mass please read Habakkuk 2:20 “But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.”


        1. Melissa

          Note, though, that while it extols the organ (rightly so) it does not in fact say anything negative about the guitar. In upholding the one, must we necessarily reject other instruments?
          I am not a guitar mass person myself, however, I do think it is very important not to be more strict than we need to be.
          Also, @ Bruce, there is some amazing masses out there written by some of the best composers of all time. I have heard them in music halls, but feel the same way about hearing them in that secular setting as I do about seeing altarpieces in museums. It is better to experience them there than not at all, but they were made to enhance our prayer and it would seem that they would be best experienced in the context for which they were written.
          That being said, I do recognize that performance style liturgical music is not appropriate and some of those masterpieces were seen as controversial in their time because of their ostentatious character.


  10. AnneG

    I appreciate your comments and, mostly, agree. On the processional, I have permanently given up singing “All Are Welcome,” anything that starts with WE, and anything by certain current and former writers with the initials SJ or MH.
    Our diocese, for some reason, years ago decided that we were worthy to stand in the presence of Our Lord, so generally people stand after the consecration and during communion. I just can’t do that, and our current bishop gave permission to kneel. By kneeling, I can avoid proximate occasions for sin both before and immediately after communion, especially regarding the EMC2 that proliferate in our parish. I’ve also noticed that the choir has been singing more traditional music for recessional, meaning more people actually stay and sing. One thing you didn’t mention is those who receive and run. I am going to ask my pastor if we could put up a sign in the narthex saying, “Judas left early, too.”


    1. Howard Kainz

      @AnneG: I agree. I just can’t get into singing about how inclusive we are, how we are all called, etc., etc. I’m not there to celebrate us.


      1. WSquared

        Plus, isn’t it CHRIST Truly Present in Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity the real welcome, anyway, and not *us* and how nice we are?

        I’ve been thinking a lot about this, given that I’m an ethnic minority as well as Roman Catholic, and politically correct stabs at “cultural relevance” (news flash: relevant to *what*? If it’s not oriented toward Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, then it’s irrelevant) that are, in reality, condescending really do try my patience.

        One thing that I am glad of is that I am welcome in any Catholic parish in the world, regardless of whether I know the language, because of Christ. Because of the Eucharist. …and not because people there are “nice” to me, ethnically “look like” me, or want to “include” me in any superficial way. Somebody who makes snide comments about me behind my back every Mass, say, isn’t going to keep me away from the Mass and away from the Church.

        I really do fear when we lose sight of who Christ is– “Who do you say that I AM”– if it weren’t for Him, what’s left, and to whom shall I go, Lord? Do I therefore have to fall back on how many people are nice or nasty to me?


  11. Mark O'Malley

    In regards to singing the processional hymn, you ought to read Bishop Slattery’s take on the subject:

    “Hymns belong in the Liturgy of the Hours and in the common devotions of the faithful, but the idea that the parish liturgy committee should sit down sometime early in the month and look through a hymn book, trying to find pretty hymns which haven’t been overdone in the past three or four months, which explore the themes of the Sunday Masses and which brings the people together as a singing community is an idea completely alien to the spirit of the Catholic liturgy.”

    “It is alien first of all because the singing of hymns as Sunday worship was a Protestant innovation, better suited to their non-Sacramental worship than to the Mass, and alien secondly because an opening hymn introduces – at the very inception of the sacred action – that element of creative busy-ness, which is, as we have seen, antithetical to the nature of salvation as a gift we receive from God.”

    “What belongs at the beginning of Mass is the sung introit, that is a sung antiphon and psalm. In the Catholic liturgical tradition, these are unique compositions in which a scriptural cento is set to a singular piece of music. The melody explores and interprets the text of the cento, while the composition as a whole illuminates the meaning to be discovered later in the readings of the day.”


    1. Denys

      That’s right on. The reason why I have a hard time getting motivated to sing the “entrance hymn” is that I am thinking about the introit chant that SHOULD be sung there.

      GIRM 48 prescribes what should be sung at the entrance:

      (1) the antiphon from the Roman Missal or the Psalm from the Roman Gradual as set to music there or in another musical setting; (2) the seasonal antiphon and Psalm of the Simple Gradual; (3) a song from another collection of psalms and antiphons, approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop, including psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) a suitable liturgical song similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop.

      There are those who say that the numbered order reflects no hierarchy, no meaningful order, no list of decreasingly desirable options–that it’s just a menu, and you can order whatever you want. I’m not convinced.

      Get the “Gregorian Missal”, easily available on Amazon, and you can see what the offical song-book of the Church prescribes be sung at the Entrance, Psalm, Alleluia, and Communion.


    2. David Homoney

      I thank God that Bishop Slattery is my shepherd. He is a wonderful Bishop and filled with love for our Lord. It is a blessing to be in the Diocese of Tulsa.


  12. Gordon

    I understand where you are coming from and agree with you regarding all the points regarding reverence but we must remember that the mass was created by us and for us. We should be charitable to each other in these small matters lest.we divide the body of Christ. Oh everyone should sing regardless of ability we are singing for the Lord not each other.


    1. Charles Smith

      Wait a minute, I thought the Mass was given to us by the Church for the purpose of worshipping God. On the one hand, we should be charitable to one another. However, we appear to go so far to not offend, or include, everyone, that we only end up offending. then the added insult of turning the Mass away from God, and focusing on ourselves, and we become, well, Protestant.


      1. Frank

        Well put, but,
        Jesus Christ gave us the Mass, and set us as caretakers of the Celebration of the Sacrifice of the Eucharistic we partake in each week on Sunday and daily when we can. This is not ours to shape around whatever current social norms people “feel” comfortable with. This celebration has been formed since the very beginning, carefully to bring all in attendance to one thing. The true and physical presence of Jesus Christ crucified in the tabernacle. Christ can be your buddy on the golf course, in your car, the kitchen or where ever you feel comfortable, but when you pass through the doors of a Catholic church and bless yourself with holy water. You’re in God’s house, his son hangs on that cross with no one wondering about his “feelings” or whether he minds the single parent family giggling because one of them passed gas during the opening prayer.
        I hear constant noise of how everyone wants to be treated with respect but to one peep about how we can do more to respect Christ crucified.
        My beloved wife and I of twenty two years have different opinions on how to approach this topic of reverence at Mass. She is constantly being dragged out of a prayerful state, me I can’t see anything but the tabernacle anymore, I no longer see women coming to mass half exposed, or unable to genuflect because their skirts are too small. I don’t see the father’s refusing to reprimand or “parent” their child/children when they act up. I don’t see the mother yawning and braiding her daughter’s hair during the homily. But I have begun to notice the individuals united to me and the celebrant focused on the sacrifice Christ made for each and every one of us. My apology to our Lord is the fact that there seem to be so many people who have convinced themselves that because the sacrifice was for them they owe nothing in return for it. And respect and reverence are nothing to pay given the fact that no one has come around looking for us to pay for our own sins with a scourging.
        The puritans took it too far by rapping people on the head with sticks during their services for all sorts of minor infractions. I’ve seen my fair share of Sunday services that would sound like a matinee show of Stomp if we had those types of ushers. :)
        Glad I stopped by to read all these posts.
        God Bless


    2. Fr. Frank

      “. . . we must remember that the mass was created by us and for us.” I promise I don’t mean this as a “gotcha,” but do you really believe this? The Mass is a gift created and given to us by the Savior to make present His sacrifice and His real presence until He comes again. I’m sure your statement was kind of a slip-up, but I’ve often thought the wide spectrum of behavior at Mass — from great reverence to extreme irreverence — may have to do primarily with a fundamental disagreement among Catholics about what the Mass actually is.


  13. JoAnna

    I abhor the hand-holding during the Our Father. Luckily, the last few years I’ve almost always had a baby in my arms so no one has tried to hold hands with me. Otherwise, I just fold my hands, bow my head, and close my eyes, and try to ignore the hand-holding around me.


    1. Leila

      We are blessed that most of the people in our parish do not want to hold hands. And once, the priest even told the congregation that it was most certainly not required, and hinted strongly that we shouldn’t. That was a welcome messsage.


    2. Sue

      I always remind my little ones (in a loud whisper so the neighbors can hear) to “hold your hands with Jesus” during the Our Father.


  14. David Homoney

    Mr. Smith,

    You are spot on and I would love to know when you get to your rant on EMHCs, from what you wrote here I am in full agreement with you. I found all these things so distracting while going to the Novus Ordo Mass that I had to go to the Extraordinary Form, the Tridentine Mass. There you find reverence, no priestly gestures by the laity, no EMHCs, and no holding of hands. There is no disruption of the august sacrifice of the Mass with glad handing. Nothing to take you away from focusing on the fact we are present with God himself. Nothing to take you from prayer. Nothing to distract you from having real moments of silence to commune with our God. Sounds like you need to check out a Latin Mass.


  15. David Homoney


    The Mass was not created “by us and for us”. The Mass was created by the Church, and in the case of the Novus Ordo Missae it was created by Bugnini. It was created to offer up sacrifice to God the Father, a bloodless representation of the sacrifice on Calvary for the expiation of sin.

    Is it charitable to do things that are contrary to the spirit of the Mass, that have dubious and otherwise Protestant theological nature? Charity is used to allow and accept abuse after abuse and this false charity has been the downfall of the faith. I do not accept the argument of being charitable. The Our Father is a prayer between God and I not a community prayer.


  16. phatcatholic

    Every sentiment in this post is mine exactly. Well done. I think you negotiated well the balance between expressing your grievances and being crass and/or mean-spirited.


  17. Diego Jose

    I absolutely adore the way I get trampled by the flock of stampeding wild hippo while I attempt to genuflect….

    …so now I stay about 3-minutes to say a Salve Regina (but not without being shoo-shooed out of the church right about the time I finish 1 minute 23 seconds later. “Lockin’-up…We need to lock-up!”


    1. Charles Smith

      Thanks for your comment- I had completely forgotten about the custodial staff pressing parishoners prayer process along expeditiously.

      It appears that gone are the days when one could just go into a church and pray. Now, it is reserved for certain times only.

      I heard that at a particular parish that it was locked up because some kids were caught inside the church during the middle of the day on their skateboards! Now I can understand the cause for concern there, but instead of using this as an excuse to lock the place up, couldn’t it have been used as an opportunity to evangelize our youth?


  18. Dianne Dawson

    “Join in the prayers where appropriate- at the end of the OT and Epistle readings, say with conviction, “The Word of the Lord”, ”

    BTW, OUR part is “Thanks be to God.” Only the lector should say “The Word of the Lord.”


    1. Charles Smith


      Thank you for catching that! In my late night writing, I guess I didn’t check to make sure I had the correct response.

      I will have to speak to my editor!!


  19. Veronica

    Wonderful post! I could have written it myself. Unless I missed it, you forgot to include about one-third of the folks making a hasty departure immediately after reception of Holy Communion. Guess they make their thanksgiving on their way out of the parking lot…hopefully before they cut someone off.


  20. Anima

    I disagree with all of your comments (save, everybody needs to sing), though I found your piece quite humorous. We are the Body of Christ! Especially at Holy Mass, we are there to celebrate and worship, hopefully moved by the Holy Spirit, to greater unity and communion not just with our Lord, but with eachother. The beautiful and moving (praise)music, prayer gestures and hand holding (for me, and many in my parish, it would seem) only enhances the experience and acknowledgment of the True Presence of our Lord before and among us. Amen


    1. Kathleen

      In many NYC churches, families engage in hand-holding during Mass. Many young couples move the hands UNDER the partner’s clothing at the sign of peace.

      Although I love the sign of peace, I realize unhappily that many treat it as if they are a movie star waving to the adoring public. In my parish, a “V for Victory” is used. No one can explain why. A lazy forefinger turns this into “giving the finger,” making it even sillier.


      1. Veronica

        Kathleen, you must be very young. I can explain the “V for victory” sign being given.

        In the sixties, we (the hippies) would flash the “V for Victory” sign for everything – it meant “Peace”.


  21. Robyn

    Awesome post!.. I just started going to a new church since moving and when I saw people holding hands during the “Our Father” and the woman next to me grabbed mine I was DUMBFOUNDED!.. LOL I have NEVER seen this before and frankly, I”m really not comfortable with it.. I have a gripe myself.. I really can NOT stand it at this new church when people walk out right after receiving the Host and then at the end of mass they congregate IN the church to talk.. I wish they would take it outside as I have noticed that myself and a few others like to spend time in quiet prayer after the mass with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. I have to wait like 10 minutes for everyone to leave to do this..OK rant over but I could go on.. LOL


  22. Ave Maria

    I AGREE! And please, hurry with the column on EMs. It is unbearable anymore. The theatrics on the altar with the EMs is hard to take. WHY do they need 20 members of the congregation on the altar to do the priest’s ministry? And why is it so necessary that every Mass offers the Blessed Sacrament under both species. The most devout and reverent Masses that I have attended were those where the priests (and if necessary, the deacon or a man) distributed only the Host.
    And while your writing about this t0pic, please include the crystal “goblets” that pose as chalices. So much abuse. I cannot wait for the reform! Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam +


  23. Elinor

    This is a good week so far at CatholicPhoenix!
    Thanks, Charles, especially for your work as a sacristan and for helping the servers to be reverent!


  24. AnnaRose

    What do you do when it’s the priest making all the loud noise and laughter before church? When he jokes around when passing out the Host to the EM’s? Or how about the priest that on the first Sunday of the month calls all those having birthday’s up to the front of the church right after the homily…..and then those with wedding anniversaries that month to give a blessing? Only 1 Catholic church in that small town while at camp, so we don’t have a choice. I have to keep saying to myself…..”what would Jesus do?”


  25. Rich

    Well spoken Frank, the same thing happens here in Florida. Keep vocal , we need people like you to be vocal about it. I do, but I am out numbered. The orans position, drives me nuts, they act like , because they do that that they are holier than everyone else, and the ultimate is the clapping. Are we in a concert hall? I blame the pastors for all this.


  26. AAA

    I am sorry, but I am getting tired of all the articles on this site saying how “they” are always wrong, and “I” know the “right” way to do it. Do it MY way, not THAT way!

    Can’t we be positive every now and again, and for once be glad that there are so many people trying to be faithful??


    1. JoAnna

      AAA, do you know what an “opinion” is?

      However, if you are dissatisfied, I’m sure the good folks here at CP will happily refund you the money you paid to read this blog.


      1. AAA

        Yes, as a matter of fact, I do know what an “opinion” is…
        AND, I am not dissatisfied here, just wishing that instead of being seeminly so negative, this site could bring out more of the positives within our faith, especially here in the Phoenix Diocese. While some practices are definately out of line, were they too far out, our beloved priests and bishops would be correcting the faithful to right their ways. Our Bishop here in the Diocese of Phoenix is often doing much of this, not claiming the spotlight, and instructing the right thing where it is indeed needed.


        1. April

          Dear AAA:
          Not everyone at CP chooses to be negative, and in fact, we do post a lot of positives. I, myself, thought about doing a post on the condition of ranting in the blogosphere, till I realized I would be a hypocrite, as I would be – ranting about ranting. I suffer from this condition. I believe the hearts of all those who post at CP are filled with love, and their passion is seemingly zealot at times, and if I may say so, so was Peter’s heart full of love when he cut off Malchus’ ear. Thankfully we are not cutting off any ears here. Your words are well-spoken, and we should all check ourselves as to the final outcome as well as the intent of our posts and comments. Prayer is the number one thing we all need before posting/commenting, and may we all look forward to the Kingdom of Heaven where rants won’t exist, because they won’t be necessary. In the meantime, let us proceed with charity and humor, and humility. Thank you for your charity, and for reminding us that we may come across negative. I think we can all be kept in check, based upon our readers’ perception.
          If anyone is interested, here is the etymology of “rant” followed by the more common definition. I imagine Charles Smith is likely speaking “at length in a(n) impassioned way.”
          rant (v.)
          1590s, from Du. randten “talk foolishly, rave,” of unknown origin (cf. Ger. rantzen “to frolic, spring about”). Related: Ranted; ranting. The noun is first attested 1640s, from the verb. Ranters “antinomian sect which arose in England c.1645″ is attested from 1651; applied 1823 to early Methodists. A 1700 slang dictionary has rantipole “a rude wild Boy or Girl.”
          The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English | 2009 | © The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English 2009, originally published by Oxford University Press 2009. (Hide copyright information) Copyright
          rant / rant/
          • v. [intr.] speak or shout at length in a wild, impassioned way: she was still ranting on about the unfairness of it all.
          • n. a spell of ranting; a tirade: his rants against organized religion.
          rant and rave shout and complain angrily and at length


        2. JoAnna


          My opinion comment was directed at this statement:

          “…how “they” are always wrong, and “I” know the “right” way to do it. Do it MY way, not THAT way!”

          I disagree, as Charles’ disclaimer made it evident that the post represented his opinions and preferences for Mass, not necessarily that he was demanding that he be made bishop in Olmsted’s stead so that he can enforce his preferences upon the diocese with a fist of iron.


    2. Charles Smith


      I’m sorry that you find this negative. It was intended to be delivered with humor, good spirit, and charity. I do not proclaim to “do it all right”, and I’m sure a few of my own actions might offend.

      However, I did post a disclaimer first.

      I for one am quite pleased that the faithful attend. Now if they would follow the instructions of the Church…….

      For hope of not offending a particular group, it would be akin to walking into Universalist Unitarian Church, and explect a central core belief, besides the belief that everyone’s viewpoint is the same, and is right accrding to the perspective of the particular person at the particular moment, but only if it doesn’t offend anyone else.

      See what I mean?



    3. Leila

      I’m just pleased that courage is not a dead virtue yet. It takes courage to speak unpopular truths these days, when the greatest sin seems to be “offending someone.” I also love a good, robust dialogue. But that’s just me.


      1. Charles Smith

        I would have never guessed you enjoyed a good robust dialogue, Leila! :)

        I do hope I’ve not offended anyone, but I did post a warning!


  27. Chantal

    I enjoy going to different masses. In my city there are many cultures and the masses reflect them. If I go to the Spanish Mass, they often use, drums, the spanish flute, guitar, ect. If I go to the Chinese Mass, they have chinese instruments. Jesus was Jewish, he would have had jewish instruments and style of music.NOT the ORGAN. God is celebrated in each culture and I feel he rejoices in them. Sometimes I go to the Basilica and they have the organ music with one cantor. It is beautiful too. It was also beautiful when the whole church was in latin. I have yet to make it to the latin Mass.
    Regarding children and books, ect. My uncle stated that Mass was where he daydreamed and didn’t understand it. He left the church and I praying for his return. I have books for my children, to read, such as the Bible, coloring Bible books, of the Saints, ect. They look at the images and reflect on them, I pray they enter into a relationship with Jesus and slowly teach them the beauty of the Mass.


    1. Cordelia

      The kind of instruments that I know of that were used in the Early Church were vocal cords used in chanting which surely would feel very Jewish as chanting was a part of the liturgy of the Temple.


  28. Tapestry

    I close my eyes at the Our Father fold my hands like I was taught in Catholic school and avoid the hand raisers I don’t find it at all Catholic (more a Protestant mode of prayer and since I chose to be Catholic I don’t need to be reminded of our brethern that are not in union with us).
    For those who question why receive Holy Communion and make a beeline for the door, another perspective:
    I do so because 1)the choir doesn’t allow any silence in the place its constant noise is annoying I prefer to adore God in the silence of my heart. I can do that in my car; 2) which is in the smallest parking lot in the world(it should be in the Guiness Book of World Records) those that are trying to get in for the next Mass are all ready stacked in the street and my open spot gives an early arrival a chance to park their car and get into the church.
    I find the 10-15 minutes driving home from Sunday Mass in my car gives me a new wonderment of the city, the sky, the homeless who are just out of the shelter and walking down the street.
    You should try it sometime.


    1. Veronica

      That’s very nice. What a guy you are!

      Not for nothing, you have some of the lamest rationalizations and justifications I have ever read.


    2. Padre Pio

      Are you actually trying to pontificate on why you are more Holy by virtue of skipping the Concluding Rite? That is nothing but bizarre.


  29. Allan Wafkowski

    I hate to sound smug, but every one of the ills you list is resolved by going to a Latin Mass.


    1. Charles Smith

      But that should not be the only solution. And it’s not.

      Besides, one could then also contend that the Latin Mass communities have their own issues.


    2. Reginaldus

      “A Latin Mass” … as opposed to a Greek Mass? A Syriac Mass? … surely, you do not think that the Novus Ordo is not “a Latin Mass” … or is it the language that makes a Mass “Latin”? So, what if a little Hebrew slips in (Alleluia, Amen) or a little Greek (Kyrie)? Does it become a Latin/Greek/Hebrew Mass? Or what if the readings are in English (as will soon happen in the EF), is it then a Latin/English Mass?

      Is anyone here discussing anything other than the Latin Mass, i.e. the Latin Rite of the Mass which is exercised in two forms?


  30. scott

    I go into church 45 minutes before mass to pray, say the rosary and read the scriptures for that day. But what do I have to contend with, the choir! They are gossiping and laughing and having a gay old time not more than 30′ from the Eucharist. They practice before mass in the church. I can’t believe it. How do you turn God on and off in His house? Oh those hippocrites!


    1. Charles Smith

      At our parish, if you come in 45 minutes early, you might still run into the prior mass, except a 730 mass, I don’t think you can get in the church before 700.


  31. Roderick

    So well written! Well said! And with humor …I had to laugh more than a few times when recognizing myself in your ‘rants’. I am not making light of these infractions -and, as someone who graduated high school in 1978 and was very active in my parish and its liturgies throughout high school and into college, I totally understand the mindset of, and fully participated in, these (and more) infractions- so I do not mean to belittle those who are “stuck in the ’80′s”, as it were.
    Later there were some wonderful priests that encouraged my love of and for the liturgy. They continued my education through casual conversation, the sharing of books on the subject, articles and such. Something I think we should be careful of, in light of the Holy Father’s reform of the reform, is any kind of ‘triumphalism’.


    1. Charles Smith

      Thanks for your comment Roderick! I know many that participated in “liturgical enhancements”, and have recovered. Our own pastor regaled us once with his tale of participating in a skit about the Gospel reading, and you could see him cringing just thinking about having participated in such a, wait for it, wait for it, CALAMITY! Fortunately for us, he found orthodoxy, and preaches truth from the ambo.

      I would love to see a day where we have enough priests to be able to have a casual conversation on an infrequent basis with our priests. We can start that by encouraging our young men to consider whether or not Christ is calling them to serve, and then respond to that call. Also, married men, consider whether or not you are being called as deacons. Let us not forget our ladies, who may be called to the consecrated life. There are good solid orders out there eagerly searching for young women to devote their lives to prayer and service in Christ’s name.

      I agree further about being careful to not engage in any sort of triumphalism, as it were. No, what we should be seeking to attain is unity within the Church, according to the Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.



  33. Ray

    Though I agree with most of the opinion in this piece, I must say that it is written in a rather uncharitable style. Sort of left a bad taste in my mouth.


    1. Charles Smith

      I’m sorry you felt that way. Each time I write something, I try to improve over my last piece. But at the end of it, I realize that not all will like what I say, or how I might relate it.


      1. Cordelia

        Charles, I think that even if your opinions are true opinions it could only help you to back up what you say with some more facts next time.


  34. PJ

    When I was a boy in parochial school our 3rd grade teacher, Sister Bernard, stood over my desk one day and said with a voice tinged with compassion-laden force that I was to become an “Altar Boy,” and to report to Father after school. In those days, Altar Boys (not “servers”) were boys, and boys showed up, learned the Latin reponses, and served mass for the parish priests under the watchful and expert eye of the Nuns. It was a “boy thing.” Men participated in the church activities (e.g., my Dad, a macho ex-infantry officer from WWII and senior agent in the FBI) was extremely involved in “church things” on Sundays.

    Something happened while I was away at undergrad & grad school in the 60′s. After that and a number of vacation tours in combat in Vietnam I married and rejoined the church (as most Catholic men I knew then). It was at that time, in the early 80′s and on that I noticed fewer and fewer man involved in anything connected with church activities. They had been replaced by women – not a slam against women, but the more women who became involved the more reasons/excuses men developed to become absent.
    Recently I’ve experienced Acolyte and Deacon training. During the concluding ceremonies for each my family attended and remarked that all of the men candidates sitting together and singing sounded remarkably professional (even my voice, which like my golf game causes people to ask me to hide myself in a safe location).
    You want men to sing at Mass? Get a group of men to sit together at Mass and encourage them to sing. You will be amazed at the vocal quality of men who don’t “feel/think/whatever” they are being judged as a man for singing.


  35. jay

    We can’t flail our arms around like protestants anymore during mass? Booooooo!

    What was V2 good for we lose a watered down, “hipper” “more relevant” faith and go back to the stuffy reverence if the past?


  36. Dust

    Amen! Preach it Brother! You hit every one of the behavioral faux pas I have observed at Mass that detract from the required reverence for the Presence of God or do not conform to the GIRM. The yaking going on is easily explained: anyone who hasn’t seen the inside of the confessional in a decade and still receives the Eucharist, hasn’t a contientious clue about the gravity of their disrespect for Christ’s real presence in the church so why not continue to BS . They have no real respect for Jesus nor for anyone else in there who does. As for the hand holding during the Our Father, it isn’t going to happen. I have been tapped or have had people reach for my hand and I’ll shake my head no. If asked why, I tell them as politely as possible, it isn’t part of the Roman Catholic Mass. If I wanted to be a Penecostal or Evangelical I would go to one of those services. Having completed a 30 year military career and being well along in middle age, I really am not bothered much by others responses when they are out of line. Thanks for your rant and the opportunity to vent in the same vein.


  37. Fleeb

    The “Protestantization” of the Mass has resulted in all of these abuses mentioned. Until Catholics understand as a whole that the Holy Mass is a re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Calvary, and not a Baptist Altar Call or phone Episcopalian communion service, we are going to see the hand holding, guitars, clapping, etc. Holy Church mandates we attend Sunday Mass, but does not compel us to receive Holy Communion (except once a year)…why, perhaps because in her wisdom, Holy Church understands that the Mass is not about US, but about us worshipping God Almighty. As stated earlier, praise and worship is a laudable and worthy event, but not at the Mass…liberals want to blend the two, but the history of the Mass says otherwise. The 1960′s crowd wanted a rupture of our history, with Vatican II and their abuses being the new starting point for our Church. The Pope thinks otherwise…the changes to the Church & the Mass should be a continuation of the past, not a rupture. The continued toleration of these “protestantized” novelties (tongue talking, hand waving, fist bumping, secular music, etc) only makes matters worse. If the Mass was changed to make Protestants “feel good”, then it worked…ignorant and lukeware Catholics have left the Church for the “fun” and care-free world of 40,000 separate magesteriums (or is it magesteria?).
    I have “hand-holding, “Thine is the power–hand raising” friends who don’t believe in Purgatory or Confession, yet still receive Communion and play EMHC. If the priests and bishops continue to allow this behavior, we will continue to see more and more abuse and confusion.
    By the way, the Roman Missal doesn’t say you can’t bring your dog to Mass, so why is the lack of a specific instruction on posture a “green light” to the laity to assume they can do whatever they want?


  38. Hilary

    Wow, you really are at mass to remember the terriffic ways of torture that were used to slay Jesus and not there to celebrate his life and loving ways.
    Sad, sad, sad…..


    1. PJ

      It may be a good idea for more to recall the “terriffic ways of torture that were used to slay Jesus.” Here was an individual who was both man and divine, who (if you believe that he was God, and that is the core of what being a Chraistian, let alone a Catholic encompasses – i.e., if you don’t believe that, you are in the wrong religion, let alone denomination) chose to suffer humiliation, torture, and an agonizing death in order to Redeem us humans so that we may freely choose to enter the Kingdom of God upon our death. The Mass celebrates thata event. It was an event which He (Jesus) certainly did not have to experience. It was his choice and reflects the love God has for His creation here on earth.

      At the crucifixion there were no bands playing, no jokes, no laughter, no parties, etc. Three was sorrow on the part of those at the foot of the cross, confusion on the part of many witnesses no doubt, and a great deal of fear, isolation, and depression on the part of His friends who abandoned Him during His three hours of suffering and death.

      The Mass celebrates that event for all time and it leaves us – hopefully – with the opposite of the feelings mentioned above. There is no need to feel sorrow. No need to feel confused. No need to feel fear, isolation and depression. We celebrate the meaning of Calvary because we Catholics are “EASTER PEOPLE.” We believe and know that Christ died so that we may one day be one with the Father in the Kingdom of God. The glory of the Resurrection confirms this belief.

      And, so, where do we stand. Our belief is really quite simple. We profess our belief during mass as we recite the CREED. To believe each and every one of those phrases is what makes us Catholic. (I know many “catholics” who have stated that they don’t really believe all of those things – pick one or two.)

      But let’s assume that you and I really do believe each and every phrase of the Creed – for starters. Now apply this belief to a common statement that regarding life after death made by many people I’ve come across: “After all, nobody has ever come back from the dead to tell me what it is like on the ‘other side.’” Well, someone has returned from the dead after all – Jesus Christ. He returned and remained with his band of Apostolic Cowards and this certainty instilled in them and the power of the Holy Spirit on Pentacost turned all of these people (men and women) into heroic champions for the Truth of Christ and the requirements to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and the glory of that alternative.

      More than that (how simple can it get?) He devoted two or three (whatever) years teaching and influencing and demonstrating what would be required behavior for a man to be welcomed into the Kingdom. By his stories, his wisdom, and actions he lived the WAY for us to get to heaven.

      (i.e., “. . . I believe in the holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.”) If we really believe this – then what Jesus teaches in the Gospels in simple terms and illustrations that even we in this day and age can understand if we choose – the path to glory is clear. It is not easy in earthly terms – it requires real love of God and fellow man, certain behaviors that turn toward God, and do not turn away from God (evil).

      Being Catholic is a 24/7 proposition. Our behavior of demonstrating peace, singing and being joyful with everyone, loving God, loving our neighbors, doning unto others …, etc. are required activities for all of us Catholics 24 hours of every day. We are required to turn to God and away from self, 24 hours every day. For about an hour or so on at least one day a week we are asked to assemble as a community of Catholics to worship God together and to recall the beautiful miracle of the Eucharist. To stand at the foot of the cross and express our connection, our love, and our total commitment without fear or ambivalence to our God. This is a time to stand by God’s side during his agony so we can better appreciate his radiance at Resurrection. This is not the time to focus on any other issues or people than our one-on-one relationship with God on the Cross. To be presesnt, and to KNOW that every time we turn away from Him and commit some minor or major wrong/sinful act, we become the soldier who hammers a nail into His body, thrusts a spear into His side, shoves gall into His mouth, crams a circle of sharp spikes into his head, flays His body unmercifully, mocks Him, runs and hides so as not to be known as an associate (let alone a friend and follower) of Jesus.

      The Mass is a celebration of an event that had to occur in order for the Resurrection to result. Without the Crucifixion we would not be Easter People – we would not be a people united and redeemed.

      But the Mass is a time to stand with Jesus at the moment of His death so we can sing and rejoice at the moment of his Resurrection. There are 168 hours in a week. We are asked to devote one hour out of these 168 hours to bravely standing with Jesus while almost everyone else abandoned Him. What a priviledge.
      PJ – Houston


    2. WSquared

      Hilary, the extent of Jesus’s life and love for us don’t make sense without His Crucifixion and subsequent Resurrection.


  39. Terrig

    Charles, very well said and I agree with you. My parish is pretty traditiional to others I have been to but even there, I have to pray before Mass asking Jesus to help me not notice things so I don’t get aggravated. I’m hoping the new missal will change things because people might start to use it and not have time for all the arm waving. That gets on my nerves so much. Fleeb, you have it right that most Catholics do not have a real understanding of the meaning of the Mass. You were properly cathecized. I’ve heard many Catholic leaders say that a whole generation of Catholics has not been properly cathecized. I can believe it from some of the things I read from Catholics on blogs.


      1. April Yeager

        Just curious why, if it really Padre Pio would you think you were in trouble? It’s honestly a cute joke, but is there truth to the humor? We often use humor to cover up what we are uncomfortable with.


          1. Charles Smith

            I was mostly joking, but I’ve heard that Padre Pio had a gift for looking deep into someone and seeing all their faults and iniquities. So if it’s really Padre Pio, then I’m in trouble!!!


  40. Dan

    Excellent article. I agree with all the points you made, and have encountered even more bizarre liturgical abuses in my area here in Ireland.
    Has anybody else here been unfortunate enough to encounter a “Gaelic football” Mass? For an anniversary of the local sports club, Mass is celebrated with the sanctuary (including the altar table) covered in football club flags and jerseys. Also footballs (the round type, like those used in used in soccer) and other paraphenalia, trophies etc., are placed on the altar table, next to the candles. Homily given by the chairman of the sports club, about how great the club is and all the stuff they have won. Screechy music provided by guitars and fiddles, bears more resemblance to Riverdance than to anything within a donkey’s roar of Sacred Liturgy.
    This was in fact just one example of the many abuses which drove me away from my local parish, following the arrival of a new parish priest a few years ago. This priest is heavily involved with the “charismatic” movement, so needless to say the baggage that came with him wasn’t good. I tried my best to put up with the abuses, I stuck with it for over two years, but found the level of distraction and irreverence at Mass was beginning to damage my own faith by almost making me dread going to Mass. I could take no more and became a “Roamin’ Catholic”. Fortunately in a smaller adjacent parish, my father’s native parish as it happens, there is an elderly priest who celebrates Mass in a much more reverent manner, and it is here that I assist most weekends now.
    It isn’t perfect – for example there are girls as well as altar boys, though the girls are only allowed to wear acolyte robes and the boys wear the proper vestments – but it is an immense improvement on my old parish.
    Following Summorum Pontificum a few years ago, I discovered the TLM, so now I also assist at the Diocesan EF which is held once per month at a priory in another town a little bit further away, c. 12 miles. Discovering this really struck home to me just how dramatic the loss of reverence has become.
    I also lay blame for the most of the Liturgical abuses here in Ireland firmly on the shoulders of the “charismatic” movement, and I think that the damage being done by this movement is dramatically underestimated. Most “charismatics” in Ireland are in their late 50′s or older, and due to seniority these are the people who now tend to make up parish councils and Liturgy groups in the Irish Church. Thus the hippie-like influences, hand-holding, guitars and folk-songs etc., have crept into the Liturgy of many parishes, as the “charismatics” try to bring in flower-power type ideas from the days of their youth in the 1960′s and 1970′s. So how does this really damage the Church? It’s very simple, by tying in with stylings of such an era as the 1960′s-1970,’s they have taken something timeless and made it into something temporal, almost a caricature. (If I can make a pop-culture comparison with “The Simpsons”, it make a “Disco Stu” of the Liturgy.) Furthermore by tying in with influences from Pentecostal Protestantism and eastern religions, which is also rampant in the “charismatic” movement, we now have Masses featuring the charlatanism from those cults. Charismatics regularly organise “healing Masses” – which involve alleged speaking in “tongues” (aka gibberish), slaying in the “Spirit” (aka hypnosis), mindless jumping, whooping, clapping and dancing (a practice virtually identical to kundalini yoga, kundalini is described by yoga practitioners as a SERPENT force in the base of the spine! ), and of course on-demand “miracle healings” – is it any wonder Irish Catholics are confused when they see this going on in “their” Church. Add to that mixture, the fact that catechesis in Irish “Catholic” schools for the last 40 years has resulted in Irish schoolleavers knowing more about Buddhism than they do about the Real Presence” and you can can see that even without the shockwave of the sex abuse scandals, the Irish Church is collapsing.


  41. Mike

    Mr. Smith,

    While you do make some good points about participation and leaving Mass in a hurry (that on really annoys me), based on my understandings of your statements about the Mass, there are a few Saturday Evening Liturgies in Sun City that might suit you well. If these practices distract you from the Eucharist, and the Holy Spirit fine, don’t attend Mass at Churches with this kind of Liturgy. For many of us, however, Matt Maher, holding hands during the Lords Prayer e.t.c help us grow closer to the Lord. It is a big church!! The sacraments are central and unchangeable, but there are many ways to sing a hymn, we are still worshiping the Lord.


      1. Mike

        Matt Maher, Chris Muglia, whomever. The point is that I don’t see anything wrong with some parishes using a more charismatic style. The goal of these individuals is the same, to point us to the Lord, and to increase Him in us.


  42. Steven

    Wouldn’t it be more productive to bring these concerns to the pastor or the bishop? For a lot of us in the younger generations, these kind of practices at Mass are what we know. (Keep in mind, some of these are more preference than infractions.) We need someone with authority to step up and instruct us differently, preferably in homilies instead of daily mass and bulletin newsletters. The flock is more likely to follow its shepherds than a fellow sheep.

    And in the meantime, I encourage you to try to keep your focus and not what those around you are doing. I can hold hands during the Our Father and still focus on our Father. If all your focus is on me holding someone elses’ hand, you’re the one that is missing the point.


    1. Steven

      I’m sorry, that last part was a lot sharper than it should have been. I just meant that we have to try to keep focused on the Mass and not on other people.


  43. Roger LaPOINTE, Sr.

    Sorry….But we have alwasy brought our children to church, regardless of their age and have taught tham that this is God;s house and we really need toi respect this. You do not acty up in church, you do not eat in church, you do not go to the bathroom while in church. This is all done BEFORE yoiu go tho churchg. If you misbehave, then when we get home you are delt with. Parents who do not agree with this ARE JUST PLAIN TOO LAZY and want to take the easy way out. This is GOD’s house and NOT a play ground. A little respect is not too much to ask. If you disagree with this, then wait until your children are older to take them to church. ALSO, I have seen many adults act like children while in church. You do not need to turn around to see what is going on in back of the church. You are there to worship God, not the people behind you!! If yoiu disaagree withg this, then God Bless You and I still love you as a child of GOD!!!!


  44. Marsha

    Charles, I think you are right. I’m so sorry Elisabeth sees nothing but “smugness” in the Latin mass. My experience is that we have the space, the silence, the music and the time really to worship God there, and that’s about all my mind has room for… not much time for “ain’t I holy?” But we’ve been around that mulberry bush too many times for too many years, haven’t we?


    1. Charles Smith

      I don’t think that she sees nothing but smugness in the Latin Mass. I am certain she was teasing the poster, due to his “smug” comment. She tells me that she fears one day I shall only want to attend the Latin Mass, and while I admit I sometimes want to go down and visit Fr Terra, it’s not where I feel called to worship. No, I tell her, she has much more to fear that I may come home one day and tell her we’ve gone Byzantine, or if one appear, an Anglican Use mass.


  45. Deacon Ed

    Your problem with “EM’s” I assume you are talking about Eucharistic Ministers. There are only 2 Eucharistic Ministers – Priest and Bishops. The laity who help distribute Holy Communion are Extraordinary Ministers of Communion. Deacons – permanent or transitional – are Ordinary Ministers of Communion. Just to keep things straight – Yes most EMC’s need a great deal of training.


    1. Charles Smith

      You would of course be correct, I am referring to Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Thank you for the clarification.


  46. jtd7

    While I think I have a different point of view, much of this piece touched me. May I respond to two points you raise?

    Disruptive conversation before and after Mass: this is also a difficulty for me because I feel a real need for quiet to pray to Our Lord. Equally distracting to me is a group recitation of the Rosary before or after Mass. Some days I can ignore it and focus, but other days I have had to leave the church, sit in my car and pray. I regret not being in Our Lord’s Presence.

    The Sign of Peace: I hope I am not one of your annoying “glad-handers” but I am willing to reach across a pew (one pew!) or walk to the other end of the pew to offer a respectful (I hope) Sign of Peace. This seemed necessary to me at the church near my workplace where I hear weekday Mass. The congregation is sparse enough that no one is within reach. But more and more people waved me off, which was hurtful to me, and the Sign of Peace at this parish devolved into a vague wave from several pews away. From my point of view, this is one short step from nothing. I’m sorry to say that I have taken that step. Now, when the priest invites us to “offer one another a Sign of Peace,” I remain motionless with my eyes focused on the altar.


    1. Charles Smith

      I guess I am of two minds on your first issue. When our parish had regular daily mass in the late afternoon, the Divine Mercy Chaplet would be said about 15 minutes before mass. This gave enough time for the completion of the chaplet, and to reflect before mass began. I enjoyed it, and frequently would arrive in enough time to participate. I found that it helped me to be properly disposed. But my issue is just with ordinary conversation, talking about the football/baseball/basketball game, what do you want for lunch/dinner converations, those sorts of things. Again, I have my own issues to work on, and perhaps this better helps me understand my own actions in mass, and to do as I say.

      The Sign of Peace is a tough one. I agree, reaching across one pew is fine, and even necessary most of the time. But when the church is full, and people are stretching two, three rows, crossing the aisle, and carrying on after the priest begins the Agnus Dei, it’s disruptive.
      I prefer to keep it close, but that’s my preference, in line with wanting to stay focused on Christ.


  47. Holier than thou

    Your unique perspective from four stairs up is not completely congruent. You seem to have missed a couple of things;

    The sacristan bow off; this is when one sacristan notices the other sacristan getting just a bit lower and attempts to go lower on the next bow.

    The sacristan power bow off; this is when the sacristans compete at the quickest downward movement of the bow (I’ve noticed you generally lose this one).

    The sacristan thought he was gonna say Jesus and bowed by mistake. Always entertaining!

    To swing or not to swing; “should I swing the thurible large or should I swing the thurible small”. To make matters worse they swing a couple large and then a couple small and so on, until I’m nauseated.

    How about the sacristans incessant need to correct the Altar Servers… from the opposite side of the Altar. Head flicks, hand waves, nasty eyes and lipping “stand up”.

    For me, my distractions (you) are easy to deal with; I close my eyes. In order to help you my brother to deal with your distractions (me) and because closing your eyes could make the sacristan power bow a danger to others, I recommend the following read; Matthew 7:1-5

    K.I.S.S.: Germs are for Doctors and experts you and I should stick to the beginner’s guide ;)


  48. Charles Smith

    Well, I guess it’s good that you know me, though I’m not certain who you might be, but thank you for bringing these things to my attention!

    The sacristan bow-off! That’s hilarious, I will have to share this with my “partner in crime” as I serve mostly with the one person all the time. I wasn’t aware of a competition to see who could bow lower. He probably wins all the time, because I have something that gets in the way all the time!

    I think we both have times where we think the priest is going to say “Jesus” and bow, and then feel goofy because he didn’t. I find myself bowing early during the Creed. Oops!

    Since mostly I do the incense at 11am , you are certainly referring to me. Didn’t realize it looked that bad, will keep the swings uniform, depending on the priest (one likes to use more incense than the other, and we like to share the smoke with all!)

    And, I’m likely the one who’s correcting the servers with the head flicks and what nots. You have no idea how often they are not paying attention. If they were paying attention, these wouldn’t be necessary. They are serving at the altar of God, more is expected of them. As far as telling them to stand up, how can they expect to serve if they are not standing when we need them standing? I think if we had more frequent training, we could correct these issues. But this really isn’t the place for that discussion.

    Thanks for the Scripture passage, I will do my best to not be a hypocrite.



  49. Holier than thou

    I’m glad you got the point, you did get it right? And of course I know you, I was present when you came into the Church, I was present when your child came into the Church, I was even present when your wife came into the Church. Stop guessing, it’s irrelevant besides I already told you, I am your brother.

    I would never question your love for the Church or the liturgy. I do however question your understanding of your Baptismal Sacrament, your understanding of the “Common Priesthood of the Faithful”. You are not Charles Barkley; you are Charles Smith, Catholic Christian role model and servant to God, now start acting like it!

    Your post is divisive, offensive and otherwise unnecessary regardless of the tongue (finger) in-cheek nature, albeit true. Hardly in line with our call to be priestly or to be a saint.

    I’ll finish with two quotes that I recite regularly;

    Never pass up a good opportunity to be quite. (Author unknown)
    Jeremiah 23: 1-6

    Peace be with you.


  50. Marsha

    Brother-of-Charles, I Corinthians 11:19
    Objections to abuses are offensive to those who like abuses and wish them to continue.


    1. Holier than thou

      MARsha-MARsha-MARsha (my best Jan voice there),

      You will need to bear the responsibility of your assumption alone, please leave “me” out. Please re-read the entire post, the word abuse is from you and you alone.

      Charles rambling on about the community and my subsequent complaints of sacristans are certainly not liturgical abuse; are they?

      I Corinthians 11:19

      Tell me; when Paul spoke of heresy was he referring to spit up Cheerios, hand grabbing, gesticulating or may be just Matt Maher and noisy people in general?

      My concern is to help my brother Charles get to Heaven by seeing Christ in everyone and treating them accordingly, even if it means he has less to blog about.


      1. Holier than thou

        Forgot the scripture exchange ;)

        Since you like Corinthians I suggest you start at the beginning.

        I Corinthians 11:1


  51. Marsha

    Charles’ article was about abuses; hardly any of you took up his actual subject. He said, as I understood it, “These actions are not respectful of Almighty God in our midst.” The responses have been, almost to a man, ad hominem attacks on Charles: how DARE he say I should be more respectful of God?? HE is “divisive, offensive, unnecessary, arrogant”, wanting a “Church of Charles”. HE should “be quiet”. Brother-of-Charles reminded him of HIS perceived failings during mass. When Charles says, “God is here. This behavior doesn’t look like we are aware of that, and looks disrespectful,” the nearly universal response is “Kill the messenger!”

    Oh yes… my name really is a silly one. I’ll agree with you on that.


  52. Jennifer

    Oh, wow! My personal pet peeve is the clapping for the choir thing… we didn’t do this when I was growing up, and somehow, they kept coming back the next week anyway! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it… I also detest people pushing past me to leave when I’m trying to sing the WHOLE recession hymn. Sigh.


  53. Jenny

    So typical…a rant of all that you hate in a mass. How can we possibly take your obsessive hate mongering seriously as Catholics? Unlike you, some of us are actually thinking about Christ during the service. We don’t care what others are doing. We don’t care WHY others are doing…we really are focusing on the reason we’re there. For shame. Sitting in judgment and condemnation, paying so much attention to others lack of perfectness in your eyes…I can’t imagine that you have time to actually pray.


  54. Yan

    Hi Charles, you seem to be copping a real sledging here! I loved your piece – I assumed it was equal parts “tongue-in-cheek” and equal parts “stuff that has been driving you mad for years”. I say “Bravo! and keep it coming!” (I have a strong streak of Pharisee in me, which I happily acknowledge, but really do people get that when they are in church they are in the presence of God? Could they keep it down a little? Could they show a little respect? Could they demonstrate reverence, so the young folk learn how its done? etc. etc. ad infinitum …)


  55. Willow

    I wasn’t there when you, your wife and baby were received into the Church, Charles, but I rejoice with the Church and all ‘the cloud of witnesses.’ Thanks be to God, dear Brother, that we have people who love the Faith, enough to raise healthy dialogue in the expectation that we are all pilgrims, attempting to journey home. Thanks for being man enough to take the flack and to all who write in charity, well done, ‘O Good and Faithful Servants.’


  56. Leila

    Charles, you have been charitable and good-natured through this whole thread. I couldn’t read through it all, but I do appreciate how well you have take the personal slings and arrows, and even accusations that you are a “hater” (oh my, seriously?). Last I heard, we still had free speech as Catholics, and pleading for more reverence during the mass or more conformity to the rubrics does not seem to warrant an accusation of hatred. But that’s just me.

    Thanks for all you great service to the Church. I know how much time and love you give.


  57. Theresa Rezac

    Wow. If you are spending all of your Mass time looking around at everyone else’s failings, it does not leave you much time to actually participate in the mass. Seriously, none of us is perfect and most us had poor catechism (post Vatican II), but we love God and His imperfect Church, and we do the best we can. Show a little charity toward your fellow Christian and be grateful we live in a country that allows us to even attend Mass, however imperfect we are. I will pray that God opens your heart and that you stop focusing on others during Mass and focus on HIM.


    1. Charles Smith

      Thank you for your response. I would note a few things however, that seem to have gotten lost in the mangled mess this post has become.

      1. I never said that this was in my own parish, though admittedly some of it I have seen occur.

      2. It was meant to be tongue in cheek, a little snarky, and a bit fun. In many ways it stopped being fun long ago.

      3. I do my best to stay focused on God during mass. Perhaps one of my points in this posting is that such things cause me to be distracted. My fault though, not anyone else’s. I should be focused on the Mass, and not those around me. I get it. Nor in any of this did I say all of this happens at every mass, though much of it does. Failure to stay focused is a product of my fallen nature, and my ADD. Guess I will tell the doc to up my dosage next month.

      4. I thought about making this point first, but perhaps this is the more appropriate place for it, but does it matter? This is where I am making the statement. At no point during anything that I have written have I said that I was better than anyone else going to mass. And yes, I’m glad anyone that makes their way through the door makes. But once you are there, please remember what you are there for, that is what I was trying to say.

      5. At no point have I suggested that people that don’t think or act the way that I do are not worthy of receiving the sacraments. I learned from a good friend of mine that we should always err on the side of grace in regards to the reception of the sacraments, and therefore, that should be left to the priests and bishops of the Church, and to Christ himself.

      6. Recently, our pastor gave a homily in which he said that actions of certain persons made them like Catholic Pharisees. Much of what he said hit me hard, and made me think about what I’ve posted here on Catholic Phoenix, on my own blog, and said in public to others. I’ve tried to be more cautious since then, so as to not give the impression to anyone, least of all God, that I thought I was better than anyone because of my own devotions and/or lack of them. For my part, I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong, but to err on the side of caution, I chose to respond today that it might not be said that in time of challenge, I acted as if I did not know the name of Our Lord. I’ve turned my cheek when slapped, and when I fell, I stopped at my knee, and begged for mercy and humility.

      I am sorry for anyone I’ve offended with this, but my fervent hope is that it has caused some to think about focusing on worshipping God, and not Man, when they come to mass. I know that’s what I’ve taken from this experience.

      Pax Christi,


    1. Charles Smith


      It was my esteemed pleasure to write this and participate in the discussion. As I said in my previous posting, it is my hope that some might be drawn more closely to focusing on the worship of God in the Mass. Perhaps it is enough that this was accomplished in me.


  58. dgatwood

    As a liturgical musician, I’m going to have to disagree with you fairly strongly on your comments about instruments in the liturgy. The bible tells us to give praise with, among other things, the timbrel (tambourine), lute (guitar), and drum (drum) in dozens of places. Thus, your statement that these very same instruments are inappropriate in worship couldn’t be farther from the truth.

    What is inappropriate is using those instruments in a way that is not conducive to supporting the worship of the congregation, or worse, distracts from it. For example, a rhythm guitar adding to the richness of the musical texture of a reasonably sized choir makes a valid contribution to the worship. By contrast, a raucous electric guitar solo by some aspiring rock musician trying to show off is almost invariably in the unacceptable category (unless maybe it’s as a postlude to drive everybody out before the next mass starts in ten minutes). Guitar accompaniment to Gregorian chant is right out.

    I do agree with you about praise music during most masses (and for psalms in particular). In the right context (e.g. a recessional hymn), it’s probably okay as long as it isn’t over the top. However, it’s important to use more appropriate music in contexts where such styles would be distracting (like the psalm, any of the mass parts, offertory, a communion hymn, or anything else I’m forgetting after the processional and before the recessional).

    As an exception, however, in a mass intended for young people (e.g. a school mass), more modern music is not distracting to them at all because it is the music that they are used to. If anything, the more traditional music is more distracting to them because it is different, odd, and old. It is for precisely this reason that most churches have multiple masses to accommodate differing perspectives. I’d like to think that this practice will continue, as different people have widely varying musical tastes.

    More importantly, it *must* continue because in a hundred years, that music you’re horrified by will be considered classical music (of a sort, anyway), and something else will have taken its place as a modern style. Remember that Mozart was a child pop star of his day, and Palestrina and Bach went against the musical rubrics of their time, too, yet I doubt anyone would bat an eye about singing a work by any of those three composers in a Mass today (except perhaps to dismiss it as musically too challenging for their particular ensemble). Yet the same characteristics that make praise music distracting to you—the change from traditional musical forms, styles, and instrumentation—would have similarly made many of their works distracting during a mass in their day. Can you imagine if the pipe organ had never been introduced into the liturgy in the late 600s or early 700s? Yet when you read comments by theologians in the centuries prior to that, they quite literally said the same sorts of things you are saying about guitars today.

    This is why most churches have more than one mass. It allows the music of the church to evolve as modern music evolves, to take in and incorporate the best (hopefully) of the music that the world has to offer, and in so doing, use it to glorify God. This is not something that should be feared or restrained, but rather is the only way to avoid eventually becoming utterly musically inaccessible to its parishioners.

    Finally, don’t forget that not every church has access to the same instrumentation. Sure, it would be nice if every church had a good organist or pianist. In the absence of that skill set, however, guitars may be the only instruments available to step in and fill the gap. I’d much rather have music supported by pretty much any instrument (with the possible exception of the accordion) as opposed to a capella music unless we’re doing chant (and maybe even then). It takes a fairly exceptional group of singers to pull off a capella music without sounding heinous, and it’s nigh impossible to make a joyful noise if half the congregation is a half step lower than the other half.

    In any case, the important part is to make that joyful noise. If the music in a particular parish interferes with your sense of prayerfulness, consider that it might not be a flaw in the parish, but rather a sign that it is not the right parish for you, in much the same way that your parish might not be the right parish for someone who doesn’t “get” your preferred styles of music.



    1. Cathy J

      I have been hearinthe line “in a mass intended for young people (e.g. a school mass), more modern music is not distracting to them at all because it is the music that they are used to. If anything, the more traditional music is more distracting to them because it is different, odd, and old” since I was young.–And since I was born in 1963, you can bet that I have seen/participated in/ endured every single Mass innvoation since V2.
      I hate to tell you this but the present of of contemporary music makes No Difference to a teenager–it didn’t then and it doesn’t now. The only message I took from those Folk Masses was condescension with a strong dose of pandering and a real dislike of cheap music. I ended up going to the 7:00 am to avoid it all.

      Take the Mass seriously–explain why chant matters, why serious music matters, why is it not about the flavor of the moment—and maybe teens will take it seriously too.


    2. Colleen

      David, I had to laugh because I was just thinking this about the music when flipping through the hymnal on Sunday! I saw so many that were composed in 17-something and 18-something, so I wondered (1) how many people complained that these now-classic hymns were cheap, irreverant, and new-fangled, and (2) how many awful songs must have been composed and used at the same time that never make it into the hymnals today.

      My standard for a good hymn is whether it’s a prayer set to music. Yes? Then it’s fine. (Though I’ll admit this perspective sparks my annoyance with people who leave in the middle of the recessional hymn. I always want to say, “Hey, we’re praying here. Would you walk out in the middle of the Our Father?” But instead, everyone treats the recessional like the credits in a movie theater. Oh, well.)


  59. Lindsey

    If you’re focusing that much on what you don’t like about other peoples’ behavior during the mass, you’re neglecting Christ, and ultimately missing the whole point.


    1. Charles Smith

      You are right Lindsey, I should be focusing on Christ, and not all of the hullabaloo going on around me. I’m just not certain what holding someone’s hand during the Our Father has to do with worshiping God.

      I must say that I find it entertaining that 5 months after the initial post that there are some who find it necessary to do a “drive by” with ad nauseum and ad hominem commentary.

      You know, while were are bantying about, perhaps if one tenth of one percent of the men that were concerned with mimicking the priests gestures during the Mass would answer the call to the Priesthood, then we might not be experiencing the extreme shortage of priests today.


  60. Joe

    Lindsey – My 2cents – I love this article. There is a reason for all the postures and gestures – what we do – aslwell as what we say. If it is ignored, the Liturgy given to us by Christ and actuated by our actions is diminished. Yes, of itself, there are postgures and gestures dont mean diddly. But in this prayer experience, they speak volumes of the people who do them, and dont, as well as the respect as to why they are done. Catechesis is the answer.


  61. Lisa Marie, SFO

    I completely agree. It just breaks my heart that so few people find God’s house – GOD’S HOUSE! – sacred any longer.

    God bless you, Charles!


  62. George

    Know wonder Jesus didn’t invite you to the last supper, you are a real bummer!

    It is a celabration, least you forget. Bring the kids, hold the hands, sing, do what ever you need to help continue living the way God asked.

    It is religon, not a cult. We really don’t all have to follow blindly what Rome, or anyone else says. (Unless you realy like buring witches and plundering others in the name of God).


  63. Jenna

    This post fills me with sadness. I can’t help but feel we are missing the whole point. The first Masses in the homes of the faithful, I imagine, were reverent yet warm, welcoming, simple and human.


  64. Mary

    Personally in this anti-child age we live in we should all rejoice when we hear the whimpers and rustlings of the little ones because they are with us! it is a sign of new life and Christ always asked for the children to be brought to Him. As for holding hands at the Our Father, as a family we do it and it is a moment of unity because we are physical beings as well as spiritual and it does give us comfort since outside of mass we are faced with a culture which is so anti-Catholic and anti-family, that I appreciate that time of solace.
    Finally, the catacombs had images of women holding out their hands in prayer so why not the lay priesthood, if it is led to do so by the Holy Spirit, in union with the Priest. We are all raising hands up to our God. St, Dominic who saw praying with the body as a form of prayer, I think would approve. This is one time when I think you are being too consevative about things.


  65. JK

    This post is nearly a year old and still relevant. Could this post be viewed as pharisaic? Perhaps, but it could also be viewed as a charitable correction to external behavior that is not showing due respect to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    Paraphrasing Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, if the angels cover their heads and proclaim ‘holy, holy holy’ in the presence of the Lord, shouldn’t we, too, humble ourselves? Personal desires, disobedience, and ad hominem attacks point to the opposite action.

    Pray for our priests!


  66. Kmbold

    I certainly don’t stay after Father leaves. It would only encourage the choir. If you had just heard one Marty Haugen song after another, followed by loud chatter and applause after the last jarring note, you’d make a rush for the door too. I do stay when we sing real hymns.


  67. Scott

    I bring my children to Mass. Yes, at times with the younger ones we have to bring Cheerios or a sippy cup. We ALWAYS clean up after ourselves. We always do everything we can to keep them at a respectable noise level, but at times, they get loud. Our Pastor calls it the “voice of the angels.” In your perfect world, you’ll have complete silence. Don’t forget He who CREATED those voices you get so annoyed with. Instead of looking down on families for bringing their kids, even if they make noise (I know more than one family who stay away from Mass solely because of attitudes like that), offer encouragement to the families for making the Mass a part of their, and their children’s lives.

    As a Music Minister who loves to lift up praise each week at Mass, I couldn’t disagree with you more. I’ve searched and searched for anything in the Bible saying my Mass Band is not welcome to play the Liturgy. Other than a few people who just don’t like that kind of music, I haven’t found anything excluding my worship that I, and the others in the band, work so hard to make respectful, joyous and appropriate for the Mass. That includes 3 guitars (one of them…GASP… ELECTRIC – Faint…), bass, drums and keyboards. No complaints as of yet from the higher ups in our very large archdiocese (Boston). There is no reason these instruments cannot be used prayerfully in the Mass.

    So many people stay away because of sentiments like the ones you extol in your article. I’ve witnessed so many people AFRAID to worship, lest they get the clucking tongues of people like you.

    Oh, and, I hope you’re sitting down…. My children, wife and myself hold hands during the Our Father!! Are you okay? Did a lightning bolt come down? When I’m not with my family, my hands are palm down, lifting my prayer to Heaven. When I say “and with your Spirit,” My palms are facing the Priest/Deacon, sending my words to the Holy Spirit. I don’t think my worship is any less valid than yours, and I think folks are way too hung up on the asesthetics and less focused on the Eucharist.

    I do agree about people bolting at the end of Mass. It is disheartening sometimes when, as we finish our closing song, we close to an empty Church. Sometimes people stay and they (GASP) applaud!!!! Since the band is volunteering, you say they’re unworthy of that applause. Somehow I don’t picture Jesus shaking His finger at them for appreciating the ministers who are enhancing the prayers of His faithful.

    If you are this concerned about all of this, and I know you’ve denied it many times in your responses, you are taking your focus away from the Mass.

    You, and folks like you, are directly turning people away with your attitude. Keep your opinions. Go towards the music you enjoy more. Don’t hold hands. Don’t go to a Mass where there are kids. But don’t you DARE tell me, my fellow musicians, my fellow parents, and especially the children, that our worship is annoying to you. That is a very un-Catholic attitude that hampers our efforts at bringing more people to the Eucharist. Which is what Christ commanded us to do.

    God Bless.


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  69. David

    These are modern times we’re living. It’s a much more casual society than the straight laced, stern, prudish so-called values of many decades ago. I don’t mind children at mass have their little snacks with them, a quiet toy or whatever. Today’s logical minded parents apply psychology in rearing their children, rather than corporal punishment. It’s great that people can come to mass dressed casually, not sloppily, but to be comfortable. I don’t mind seeing people dressed in jeans or sandals in the summertime. If these articles of clothing and footwear are in presentable condition then what’s the issue? The days of suits and ties and all of that dressy bessy stuff died out in the mid 60s. I’m 66 years old and like change. I don’t live in the past and I live to see progression in society. If that means having a rock band play at mass then I’ll enjoy the thump of a bass guitar and a crash of the cymbals. The ancient pipe organ at my parish is just a gigantic dust bin. It hasn’t tooted a pipe in eons. Pipe organs are largely unwanted beasts. Too expensive to repair, too expensive to maintain and too expensive to remove. It was offered free to anyone who’d remove it; no takers of course! So it just sits up in the organ loft silenced as it should be. Those organs are way too archaic. The sound of a synth, guitars, bass and drums energizes the congregation. You don’t get that with a pipe organ or even a piano. Some people are steadfast traditionalists. I’m not. While I value some core values in life, I’m all for change. And most of the time change is for the better.