August 6, 2011

A Model For Liturgical Abusers

There are very few areas in which I would present myself as a model for imitation, but this at least is one: when I commit a liturgical abuse, I beg forgiveness.

This morning was a good example. I offered the Mass of the Transfiguration for the locals and visitors staying here at the friary. During the first reading I realized that I had forgotten the Gloria. So at the end of Mass, at the customary place for announcements between the Prayer after Communion and the blessing and dismissal, I asked,

"Brothers, in my negligence I forget the Gloria, didn't I? So I ask your forgiveness for denying you a complete Mass."

We priests should realize that we owe a complete and properly celebrated liturgy to the people on whose behalf we celebrate. The people, for their part, have a right to expect and demand the same. When, on account of our negligence, distraction, confused conscience, or voluntary ignorance we fail to celebrate the liturgy completely or in the way that the Church asks, we ought to apologize to the people for our sin against them.


Anonymous said...

This is the first time I've ever heard of this being done. May Jesus Christ be praised on your account!

A. J. S. said...

It's my understanding that the De defectibus of the old Roman Missal used to actually define such omissions as being grave sins. I can see pros and cons to that mentality. The pro is that you're absolutely right, Father Charles, the priest owes the people a full Mass. Furthermore, the priest owes God a full Mass. On the other hand, you used to hear stories about newly-ordained priests who were so nervous that they might sin gravely by omitting something in their celebration of the Mass that they would vomit in the sacristy. (Then again, I'm not sure that that amount of trepidation isn't desirable when it comes to doing something as fearful and wonderful holding the Body and Blood of Christ in your hands.)

Lee Gilbert said...

If only this kind of public repentance were recommended to seminarians in their liturgical formation!

Often I read at Mass and though I prepare diligently it sometimes happens that I read a word or a phrase badly. For the most part it would be worse to go back and re-do it, for that would further interrupt the flow of the passage. At the same time, I wish that it were possible afterwards to make a brief gesture of repentance and reparation before returning to my place, but no such custom exists in the parish.

In religious life, at least in the Cistercians or Carthusians, one would make a brief prostration.

Paul A. Zalonski said...

Good for you; thanks for the good example. Humility before that which is given is the only posture needed!


Jeanne said...

That's a very kind thing to do. But what do we, the laity, say when our celebrant willingly chooses to say "ad lib" the gloria, or substitute something else that's not licit? We have one priest who makes me feel like I'm on a liturgical roller coaster. I'm never sure what he's going to do next. Fortunately, he's retired, so we're not often faced with this, but what's the charitable and kind way to handle this?

Anonymous said...

You asked for forgiveness : This reader, though not present at the Mass,and not able to do so at a sacramental level,personally grants it. Forgiveness of transgressions is always a good thing.This illustrates the value of confession.

Anonymous said...

Not sure what is meant by "full" Mass or "complete" Mass. Seems like a kind of 'over-the-top' response to a simple, non-intended slip-up.

Father Richard said...

"full Mass" sounds like some thing from an NFL play book. I understand your desire to say mass well, but let's remember that to error is human, to love divine.

Not sure if this is the case, but it always good to keep an eye out for spiritual pride - especially when it is dressed up as humility.

Brother Charles said...

All right, let me try to take this suggestion of pride, which has come both here in public and in private, with some seriousness.

Am I proud that I try to pray the liturgy in a way that is faithful and precise? Yes, I am. Do I thank God that I have been found worthy, at times, to suffer insults on account of it? For sure. (By this I don't mean comments on the current post, but incidents in the past.)

For that 'pride' I don't make any apology.

But is there sometimes something that looks similar to this on the outside but is really a sinful pride? Yes. I admit it. There are still resentments lying around in my heart from times in my own journey when I was subjected to liturgical abuses and encouraged to imitate them. Sometimes these resentments can come out in the obstinate pride that can pretend to be humility in such matters.

Liberated people must always be careful that they not make their liberation an excuse to oppress someone else. That's the devil's agenda.

Thanks be to God, and more and more all the time, I can feel the difference in enough time to not to risk hurting anyone

Brother Charles said...

Bishop Coyne's post about his experience assisting at Mass on the feast of the Transfiguration is also related to this question

Father Richard said...

Brother, don't get me wrong, I am on your side, and I am one who has been labeled as a perfectionist when it comes to the liturgy. I just don't think we need to announce every misstep we make.

Enjoy your retreat.

Brother Charles said...

I shall do my best!