See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Epiphany Sunday Mass - redux


I'm not commenting on the Mass.
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Nope.  The calendar has been tampered with. ;) 
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But anyway.  At my parish Father likes to catechise before the canon - he kind of makes up his own prayer focusing the attention of the assembly upon the offertory prayer - what it means etc.  Like, "So, we gather our offerings, our prayers, our desires and join them to the offering of the bread and wine that will become the soul and divinity...  Blessed are you Lord, etc."  Something like that.  I find it distracting, especially when he messes it up.  You see, lately he neglects to include "body and blood" - he used to say it all of the time - but now it's gone.  So I wonder - does he think "body and blood" is too gross so he just says, "soul and divinity"?  As catholics we should know the Eucharist really and truly is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ - not just the "soul and divinity".  Anyway - I felt Father was not just creating a distraction - it was bad catechetics.
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Sometimes I just don't get it.  For instance, last week a very good priest in the U.K. was worried about Orthodox theology regarding the composition of an icon in a Roman Catholic church, and today my parish priest can't seem to get his Eucharistic theology together. 
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Why should I let it bother me?  I don't know - probably because I blog.  And last evening I was cranky I suppose, a bit frustrated you might say, when I wrote about it, I apologise.  I wrote the following:
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"Priests - please don't add to the liturgy - say the black - do the red - just as Fr. Z says.  I know - but he is right about that." I suggested priests should do as they are trained to do - just like the rest of us are supposed to do what we are told.  That was inappropriate and inconsiderate, and definitely disrespectful.  I'm so sorry.  Thankfully Adoro came along and corrected me, explaining that the GIRM most certainly allows for the celebrant to catechise and/or explain things during the celebration of Mass.  I searched and found the text she was referring to:
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31. It is also up to the priest, in the exercise of his office of presiding over the gathered assembly, to offer certain explanations that are foreseen in the rite itself. Where it is indicated in the rubrics, the celebrant is permitted to adapt them somewhat in order that they respond to the understanding of those participating. However, he should always take care to keep to the sense of the text given in the Missal and to express them succinctly. The presiding priest is also to direct the word of God and to impart the final blessing. In addition, he may give the faithful a very brief introduction to the Mass of the day (after the initial Greeting and before the Act of Penitence), to the Liturgy of the Word (before the readings), and to the Eucharistic Prayer (before the Preface), though never during the Eucharistic Prayer itself; he may also make concluding comments to the entire sacred action before the dismissal. - GIRM

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I stand corrected.  Unfortunately, I had included a couple of other complaints in the post; in defense of Saturday vigil Masses and Communion in the hand - things approved by the USCCB - proving I was in a mood and lacked meekness and humility.  Again, I apologize.  Seriously, I am just thankful to be able to attend Mass, make my confession, receive Communion, and so on - I'm grateful for our priests and will redouble my prayers for all.
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Misinterpretations, errors, misunderstandings, misinformed...
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That said - the post became an occasion for me to reflect upon blogs and blogging - Catholic ones in particular - mine as well as others.  In the past I have often warned against depending upon blogs for Catholic doctrine and teaching.  We must be careful, just as much as one is careful about authors, books, speakers, teachers, and some priests.  In various diocese the local ordinary has the right to allow or disallow speakers or teachers to come into their diocese and conduct seminars or speaking engagements in Catholic parishes or institutions for Catholics.  Nevertheless, they have no such control over public forums such as the blogosphere.  Nor do we who propose to speak as Catholics about Catholic subjects.
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If I was wrong about my priest's right to catechise at certain points within the Mass, what else might I be wrong about?  If I misinterpreted Fr. Z's famous saying, "Say the black, do the red" as meaning a priest ought not to include a teaching moment within the celebration of Liturgy, how much more can what we say as Catholics be misconstrued by non-Catholics or new Catholics?
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I recall how a few years ago one blogger wrote, "Gossip is a mortal sin".  (Wow!  I freaked!)  But you see, that is not true.  There are different forms and degrees of gossip, and there is pretty strict criteria for committing a mortal sin.  Three things are necessary for a sin to be mortal: a) Serious, or grave matter; b) full knowledge or conviction the act is seriously wrong before commission of the act; c) Full consent of the will.  All three conditions must exist simultaneously for a sin to be mortal.
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Recently one blogger wrote extensively, albeit mistakenly, concerning her understanding of an area of mystical theology, defending her position as being in accord with what she had been taught in her theology classes by her professor who happened to be a priest.  As we know from my post just 2 or 3 days ago, errors can be taught - and often are - even in the most prestigious Catholic Universities.  (I'm referring to the De Cock endorsement of homosexual love in his thesis at Louvain in Belgium.)
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So what do we do?  I'm just saying, be careful who you read, what you read, check facts - especially if you intend to write about Catholic teaching, faith and morals, and so on.  There is only one Magisterium and it isn't the blogosphere.
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I will continue to be very careful and not such a know-it-all in the future, and I hope you readers will be discerning too.  Please correct me any time - "If a good man reproves me, it is kindness!" - Psalm 141

16 comments:

  1. Terry ~ You might not be aware of it, but there ARE certain places where a priest may give instruction, and this is provided for in the GIRM. I don't have it in front of me so can't recall exactly what those times are, and right now I don't feel like looking it up.

    But all should know that a priest MAY give catechesis at allowed times during the Mass, and it must be a short, reasonable thing. Offhand I think it's right at the beginning, before the Creed, and maybe before beginning the Liturgy of the Eucharist....but don't quote me. Look it up in the GIRM.

    That way you can tell if your priest is off or not without assuming he is doing something wrong.

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  2. Thanks Adoro - see what I don't know. I bet it is okay to do what he does then. I wish he'd get the theology right however.

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  3. Adoro - I found it:

    75. The bread and wine are placed on the altar by the priest to the accompaniment of the prescribed formulas. The priest may incense the gifts placed upon the altar and then incense the cross and the altar itself, so as to signify the Church's offering and prayer rising like incense in the sight of God. Next, the priest, because of his sacred ministry, and the people, by reason of their baptismal dignity, may be incensed by the deacon or another minister.

    76. The priest then washes his hands at the side of the altar, a rite that is an expression of his desire for interior purification.

    The Prayer over the Offerings

    77. Once the offerings have been placed on the altar and the accompanying rites completed, the invitation to pray with the priest and the prayer over the offerings conclude the preparation of the gifts and prepare for the Eucharistic Prayer.

    In the Mass, only one Prayer over the Offerings is said, and it ends with the shorter conclusion: Per Christum Dominum nostrum. If, however, the Son is mentioned at the end of this prayer, the conclusion is, Qui vivit et regnat in saecula saeculorum.

    The people, uniting themselves to this entreaty, make the prayer their own with the acclamation, Amen. - GIRM

    Father goes a bit beyond this however.

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  4. Oops - Adoro - This is the section you must have had in mind:

    31. It is also up to the priest, in the exercise of his office of presiding over the gathered assembly, to offer certain explanations that are foreseen in the rite itself. Where it is indicated in the rubrics, the celebrant is permitted to adapt them somewhat in order that they respond to the understanding of those participating. However, he should always take care to keep to the sense of the text given in the Missal and to express them succinctly. The presiding priest is also to direct the word of God and to impart the final blessing. In addition, he may give the faithful a very brief introduction to the Mass of the day (after the initial Greeting and before the Act of Penitence), to the Liturgy of the Word (before the readings), and to the Eucharistic Prayer (before the Preface), though never during the Eucharistic Prayer itself; he may also make concluding comments to the entire sacred action before the dismissal. - GIRM

    I stand corrected! :)

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  5. Not that I'm a complainer, but do you think that our bishops might catch on to the fact that every time that they make the liturgy a little more convenient for the congregation, attendance at Mass drops.

    When did Epiphany move from January 6? How was it announced?

    Keeping the regulations of the church has become so easy that it's importance in the minds of parishioners decreases with each new "convenience."

    Penances are getting ridiculously light. I'm not bragging about sanctity here, but someone gave me "one Hail Mary" once. Another priest gave me "one Our Father" once, but he told me to say it real slowly. That actually works pretty well.

    As often as not I get "fasting" and "pilgrimages on my knees" from one traditional priest who keeps changing boxes so I get him when I seek to avoid him.

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  6. Terry, I must be honest.
    Your original post, in my humble estimation, was a commentary on the present "state of affairs" in the way Mass is celebrated in some (many?) places. And, I thought you were correct in your observation (even though the GIRM may "allow" for certain times of "instruction").
    With that being said, you are very humble to go back to the source (the GIRM) and admit that you did not know this was allowed.
    However.
    Even if this is allowed, I find that these "moments of instruction" became "mini-homilies" and sometimes, even, times of self-promotion on the part of the celebrant. I say that as a priest (God forgive me if I'm being judgmental).
    The point I am reading here, and I absolutely agree, is the the Sacred Liturgy is GOD'S; through the mediation of the Church we RECEIVE the Sacred Liturgy, and not 'vice versa'; we do not and cannot "create" the Liturgy. Pope Benedict has made this very clear, over and over.
    Anyway; for what it's worth, don't beat yourself up too much...yeah, gossip or "rash judgment" are sinful; but commentary about what you think is not.
    I didn't take it that way...maybe I need to go to confession!
    Happy Epiphany!

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  7. I support Nazareth Priest! Yes, brief moments of catechisis may be allowed in the GIRM and maybe I should just shut up about it..but, why is it that these brief moments of "catechesis" and "explanation" often are dissenting rants or moments of illumination about how Father plans to spend his night off?

    Yes, moving Epiphany makes me cranky. In fact, in one of those moments of "catechesis" allowed for during Holy Mass Father revealed that he does not think much of the move from 12 Days of Christmas to 9. I agree with him, but, technically, wouldn't his comments be a form of dissent since he's, in essence, griping about the official calender change?

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  8. Oh, and you are fabulous, Ter! When can we dance again?

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  9. Lots of good comments - I learned something!

    As for changing Epiphany - we are becoming more and more like the protestants. I heard of some churches that don't even have services on Christmas Eve OR Christmas Day because it's "family time." Hmph!

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  10. Angela M, isn't "family time" supposed to take place in the pews?

    Ray, you haven't been to the Cathedral for Confession lately, have you? I love that you're a Goldilocks penitent; "this penance is too little, this penance is too much, this penance is juuust right!"

    If I'm there on Saturday I go to the side with the shorter line; I get a kick out of those who walk around looking at the nameplates and wonder if they're avoiding a priest or looking for a particular priest. I figure the source of absolution is the same so don't worry about particular priests.

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  11. Maria3:38 PM

    Terry, I agree with Naz Priest. You are merciless in your self-criticism. Needlessly so. You've such a humble heart. I don't even know what you are talking about. So you know I am a dunce about such matters. But I will say, I was stunned to realize the degree to which I was misled by so many Jesuits in my youth. You make an impt point.

    But I am with Cathy. I have been hopelessly confused about the Epiphany. I thought I was the only one: when DID they move it? It is like when they started changing all the Federal Holidays-George Washington -Presidents Day. What is it? Is is Friday or Monday ? And by the way what exactly IS the Holiday for?

    RAY " As often as not I get "fasting" and "pilgrimages on my knees" from one traditional priest who keeps changing boxes so I get him when I seek to avoid him ". You are HYSTERICAL. What an image. I am LOL.

    You know, I only started reading Catholic Blogs a while back. What I keep thinking is: Keep It Simple. Sometimes I think the less you know the better. I am so vulnerbale to the sin of intellectual pride. I have to be careful; so much so, I've started to wonder if an over-preoccupation w/blogs is a near occasion of sin. Interestingly I don't worry about that with your blog, Terry.

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  12. Maria3:49 PM

    Until I was called out of darkness, as it were, I did not even know that you could be misled by a priest. Isn't that amazing?

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  13. By the way, Terry, I was recently introduced to "Father Ted" (your photo for this post) by "The Digital Hairshirt"...hysterical, so Irish, so pathetic!! I love looking at those "outtakes"!

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  14. Nan - of course family time is supposed to take place in the pews - maybe we need to tell the Prots that.

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  15. Father Ted was one of the funniest shows ever. The first episode almost made me wet my pants.

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  16. Right day or not, Father totally nailed it; his homily was about the importance of the Magi's gifts not being about what the Holy Family needed...Gold for his kingship, Frankincense for his priesthood, Myrrh for his death and that they left emptyhanded so they could receive his gift, where Herod was too interested in holding on to his stuff to be able to receive the gift that Christ brought. He tied it together with our gifts to others which are to mark their importance to us by deriving enjoyment out of giving something they'll enjoy...but that the true gift, is, like the Magi, to have the ability to let go of worldly things and come to Christ emptyhanded so we, too, may receive his gift.

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