Friday, April 15, 2011

The Mass: On Changing The Words...

Our new parish doesn't sing the Our Father and no one changes the words to the prayer (or should I say "lyrics..." Sigh...). Of the three priests that say the Saturday Vigil Mass there regularly, only one feels the need to "ad lib" parts of the liturgy by using his own words (which are always, more or less, the same meaning, with different words... Sigh... again...) rather than the words printed in the missal. There is a third parish (also more than an hour from our home), which is known for being rather charismatic (and while I have no problem with charismatics, I do know from past experience that I generally feel rather uncomfortable around them... I have a feeling that it's all that extroverted energy bouncing off the walls!) that is another option.

We do plan on staying where we are until we move. For some reason, while the changes in the words of the Mass (about half the time, I'll remind myself, in an attempt to look on the sunny side...) do bother me, they do not seem to constitute the same near occasion of sin that singing the re-written words to the Our Father did (in other words, I wince, but don't spend the rest of Mass attempting not to stew over the changes).

I've been thinking about this a bit and I think I know the reason I'm dealing with this a little better than I did last time.

When a priest changes the words to the Mass, particularly when he ads his own, stumbling words in place of the liturgy, there is a sort of jarring feeling, like missing a step when you're coming down the staircase. Your foot is falling through the air and you expect to feel the solidness of the next step soon, but you miss it, and when you finally reconnect with the ground it's always something of a shock that reverberates through your body. When the words of the liturgy are changed, it feels much the same to me (and why is it always around the consecration?!?!?!).

Maybe I'm less stressed about it, however, because I'm not being forced to say the "re-done" words along side the priest. I may grimace at the change, but at least I don't feel coerced into joining in. One of the things that bothered me about the changed words in the Our Father was, in moments of distraction (which is frequent when you're juggling a two and a half year old and a nine month old) I would find myself automatically singing the changed words. And that would escalate the situation past the point of "near occasion of sin" because I would be pretty furious about the whole situation.

Or maybe I'm just realizing how wide spread this problem is and am realizing that there's really nothing I can do, at this point, to escape it.

It has led me to another conclussion, however...

I don't have a problem with the Novus Ordo... I see beauty in it, just as I see beauty in the Latin Mass...

Still I am hopeful that we'll find a Latin Mass to attend at least once a week when we move. I cling to the hope that a priest saying that High Mass will be unlikely to make up his own words... I do plan on taking the girls to a Novus Ordo Mass at least once a week... and I dare to dream that we'll find a parish where no one feels the need to "improve" or inject their own personality into it...

Despite the fact that past experience makes me feel that this is against the odds, I am cautiously optimistic...


  1. I understand your sentiments, but I know there is little that can or will be done. It took me a very long time to accept the Eucharist in my hand- I was taught, very sternly I might add, that it was not to be touched by my unworthy hands under any circumstances. Then the church changed and eventually I did too. When there are prayers with a tweaked word or two said in my parish, I still hold out to the old version, but I am sure eventually I will change with the group- as soon as I realize that the word or two will not diminish my relationship with Christ.

  2. A word or two doesn't diminish the relationship with Christ, but why is there a need to attempt to glorify the self rather than Christ during the Mass, which is largely what is being done in these situations (I'm not directing that at you, but at the situation itself!).

    And receiving in hand is by indult... and an indult is by definition: "an exception from a particular norm of church law in an individual case."

    Is it allowed. Absolutely. Is it something that you have to do? Not at all.

    In this particular case it is not a word or two. It is entire sentences.

    I do disagree that there is little that will be done. Cardinal Burke has been speaking about this quite a bit lately and I do believe that there is a movement away from the self glorification and abuse that has been tolerated in recent years.

    Do these abuses take away from the Eucharist. No. Should they be tolerated, accepted or even embraced? No.

  3. This disobedience against the Council by the clergy is forcing many Catholics to become liturgy critics. They have to find a Mass that is licit enough so as not to distract them from the Holy Sacrifice, and yet still be open enough to be a good student where God wants them to be students.

    Believe me, I sympathize.

    God be with you in finding this good parish. You have a pleasant attitude about it. Better an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right, IMO.


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