Aberrations, errors and other problems in the Liturgies of the Sunday Holy Masses at the National Shrine of St. Thomas


February 04, 2013


Most Rev. George Antonysamy

Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore


Dear Archbishop George Antonysamy,

SUBJECT: Aberrations, errors and other problems in the Liturgies of the Sunday Holy Masses at the National Shrine of St. Thomas


My wife and I have been attending the Sunday Eucharistic services in English regularly for about 15 years.

We have always been concerned by a few issues, but since the last few years, and more especially over the last few months, attending Sunday Mass prayerfully and reverently has become almost impossible for the few people like me who are more keenly aware of what is actually going on at Holy Mass vis-à-vis what is correct.


We have followed protocol and met with the parish priest, Fr. Kanickai Raj, all his assistants at one time or another, the other priests on the campus, visiting priests from St. Bede’s and Sathya Nilayam, deacons like Bro. Charles, etc., and voiced our concerns, with two responses. Fr. Kanickaraj, laughingly replies that the “people like it/want it” and the others dismissively suggest that I discuss my problem with the parish priest.

Some of the problems are not the fault of the celebrant but that of the lectors, choir, etc. but it is still the responsibility of the parish priest to ensure that the rubrics are strictly adhered to, and those who ignorantly do otherwise be educated correctly.


During the terms of the previous two Archbishops, it was never possible to get a response to my emails or an appointment with their Secretaries, though you may find that impossible to believe. The last attempt was made by us about three months ago. The Father Secretary said he would confirm an appointment for me with His Grace, but if he did call back, I did not receive his call.


Since we heard the good news of your appointment, we have waited with new hope, for you to settle down before we wrote to you. I will try and list as briefly as possible a few of the “problems” that we have observed.


1. The celebrant greets the assembly with “Good morning” after making the Sign of the Cross, and the people respond with “Good morning, Father.” One priest then adds “Welcome for [sic] this Holy Mass.”

2. The lectors unfailingly introduce the two readings thus, “The first reading”, and “The second reading”.

It is not required for them to do so.

3. The Responsorial Psalm is NEVER recited or sung. It is ALWAYS replaced by a hymn which has no connection whatsoever with the Psalm of the Sunday.

4. After each reading, the lector incorrectly says, “THIS IS the Word of the Lord”.

5. At the conclusion of the Second Reading, the lectors incorrectly say, “Please stand FOR THE [GOSPEL] ACCLAMATION”.

6. A common aberration is proclaiming the readings using the St. Pauls Sunday Liturgy leaflets. Last Sunday, at the 7:15 am Mass, a person read from the Lectionary, then carried it away to the choir section. The next reader brought it back, placed it on the altar and then read from the leaflet in her hands. The great majority of lectors display unfamiliarity with the Scripture passages, READ instead of PROCLAIMING the Word, have poor diction and accentuation, and one finds people in the congregation themselves reading from the leaflets instead of LISTENING to the Word that is being PROCLAIMED.

7. The priests who come from Sathya Nilayam use inclusive language in their greetings and during the prayers. One priests always addresses us as “My dear sisters and brothers” and God as “God, Our Father and Mother”.

8. Now and then, we have noted some priests departing from the rubrics and ad-libbing the prescribed prayers.

9. There is no time for silence [deep prayer] after we have received Jesus into our hearts at Holy Communion. Since the Masses are scheduled back to back with inherent vehicle parking problems, one cannot come early or stay late and pray. Till not long ago, the choir would start a second Communion hymn — almost as if it were their duty to keep us entertained — if it was observed that the minister and the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion were still engaged. Since of late, the second song has been replaced with a Prayer, which however again translates into no time given, not even two little minutes, for total silence in the Church after Communion.


10. Some of the hymns sung by the choir are not liturgically compatible, especially for Holy Communion. If carefully examined, the “theology” of others, like “Amazing Grace” for instance, is Protestant.

11. If one takes a seat in the nave near to or opposite of the choir, even a casual observer cannot fail to see the almost continuous consultation and smiles that are exchanged. This is disrespectful to God and to the other attendees, and can be very distracting to someone who appreciates what the Sacrifice of the Mass signifies.

12. You may find this again difficult to believe, but there have been many Sunday Masses when we have not seen the priest for much of the service. We used to occupy the second or third row in the nave of the church to the priest’s right side and found the elaborate flower arrangements completely obstructing our view of him.

13. From being silent observers at Holy Mass, as in my youth, the faithful have regressed so far as to imitating the celebrant. It took a long time to bring an end to the congregation’s joining in the final Doxology. Today, a majority of them lift their hands in the Orans position, of course with the best of intentions, which is the posture ordained for the celebrant alone. The priests are responsible for that inasmuch as they do not correct the faithful.

14. Applause during Holy Mass has become standard procedure. Obviously, it is always invited by the celebrant. The reasons vary from a priest’s birthday to an appreciation of someone [like, say, the choir]. Recently, applause has been a standard feature of EVERY Sunday Mass that we attended.

Things get worse, if that is possible.

15. The 9:30 am Mass has degenerated into a theater show. I have approached the person directly responsible for that, Deacon Charles, and met with hostility and rudeness. Characters dressed in costumes, role-playing accompanied by information over the microphone, etc. have been incorporated either with the homily or at the offertory procession. In addition to that, the celebrant unfailingly solicits applause from the faithful in appreciation of the Deacon and his helpers. One such show was put up by the Santhome Communications Centre people whom I found laughing and chatting outside the sacristy with the Deacon immediately after their role play and while Mass was still going on. At other Masses during the following weeks, two families per week have been inducted into the arrangements and they are applauded during every service.

16. At one Mass a few months ago, Fr. Jerry Rosario SJ was the celebrant. During the homily, he attempted to initiate a dialogue with the congregation failing which he left the altar and came right down the main aisle going up to people and asking them questions. I immediately went to Fr Kanickaraj and apprised him of what was going on, and that was when he asked me what was so wrong about that when the people “liked it” and “want it”.


There are several more liturgical issues that concern us but we would like to end that topic here.

Before we end, there are a couple of related matters that we would like to include.

One of them is people strolling in late, the same people on a regular basis. The four side doors are so placed that many in the Congregation can see the late-comers entering. One family of four which includes children in their twenties, lives nearby and owns a car has NEVER been on time for Mass. Last Sunday they seated themselves behind the priest near the high altar where all could see them take their place during the homily. There is a senior prayer group leader and his wife who also have NEVER been on time [up to 30 minutes late] for Mass, NOT EVEN ONCE in all the 15 years I have been here. I have eventually had to admonish both parties, but to no avail.

Lest I be construed as judging others or generalizing, I assure you that this is not so. As a trained Catholic apologist whose work has appeared in magazines and web sites in India and overseas, I am distressed by the liturgical ignorance of the faithful which is only sustained and enhanced by the deacons and priests who should be fraternally correcting them or teaching them what the Church says.

As parents and grandparents, we have inculcated in our progeny the Fear of the Lord and a love and fidelity to the Church and all Her teachings. The last range from the grave sinfulness of contraception to regular Confessions and from never being late for Mass to never receiving Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin. It is very difficult for us to answer their frequent questions as to why everybody else in our congregation appears to think and behave differently than us, and the priests have nothing to say at all about any of this.

To be fair, Fr. Kanickaraj is the only priest we have heard reminding people to make their Confessions. But, as to the accessibility of the priests — including Fr. Kanickai Raj — for confession, the less said by me the better. My family members will readily testify to the humiliation and difficulties that we have been put through and finally drive down to other parishes to find priests more disposed and available to us.


We repose our confidence in Your Grace who has no local affiliations and who, we believe, Rome has selected as our Archbishop confident that with your background as Nuncio in other countries you have the experience, the will and the pastoral heart to effect the transformation that our Archdiocese so badly needs in various areas, only one of which we have addressed in this letter to you.

Praying for you to be greatly blessed by our God to usher in a new Spirit-filled era in our Archdiocese,

We remain,

Yours obediently,

Sd. /-

Michael and Angela Prabhu

Printed without the masthead and mailed by Registered Post [RT118538795], Acknowledgement Due, on Feb. 5, 2013

The letter was delivered to the office at the Archbishop’s House on February 6, 2013 as per the postal receipt.

A reminder copy, personally given by me to Fr. Kiran, the archbishop’s secretary, on 9.3.2013, was not accepted by him.




March 11, 2013


Most Rev. George Antonysamy

Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore


Dear Archbishop George Antonysamy,

SUBJECT: 1. Aberrations, errors and other problems in the Liturgies of the Sunday Holy Masses at the National Shrine of St. Thomas

The Convenor of the “Forum for CATHOLIC Unity” is NOT a Catholic


On February 6, 2013, as per the Acknowledgement Due postal receipt, my first referred letter dated February 4 was delivered at the Archbishop’s House.

The second referred letter in the form of a report dated March 9, 2013, was delivered personally by me to Fr. Kiran, your secretary, at the Archbishop’s House on March 9, 2013*.


Since the communication sent by me to you regarding the liturgical errors and aberrations at Holy Mass on Sundays, the drama and theatrics have ceased, but my letter coincided with the hospitalisation (due to an accident) of the organiser, Deacon Charles. However the status quo of the other issues continues without any change.


In connection with my first letter, I must inform you that at 9:25 am on Sunday, March 10, I was accosted in the church by one Mr. Richard Xavier, a parishioner, who informed me that he had seen my letter to you and he would be sending me his response to it. To put it mildly, I was shocked. I wonder how many other parishioners have seen the letter even before I have received your response, considering that five weeks have elapsed since my letter reached you.


I do not want my letters to be subjective, or to be complaints against parishioners, but Mr. Richard Xavier is an individual that many would like to give a wide berth; I must say a few words about him because he exemplifies laity who like to serve the Church but have little or no formation — as I had stated in my earlier letter. He has an excellent singing voice but his proclamation of the readings is accentuated in all the wrong places and he cannot correctly pronounce many biblical terms.

He determinedly joins in prayers like the Lord’s Prayer, and in responses, but his loud voice always lags a second or two behind the congregation, creating discordance. He cannot be unconscious of that. His hands are always lifted high in the Orans position which is prescribed only for priests. He would obviously take personal objection to my letter to you.

Another example of discordance is when a prayer such as the one for the Year of Faith is prayed. The entire choir joins in.

Different people, led by two male voices with opposing accents use separate microphones, and with the cacophony of sounds that ensues, the prayer is entirely lost on the faithful. I have never understood till today what the prayer says.

I am constrained to share with you all of this because Fr Kanickai Raj will not entertain any suggestions or discussions.

The Sunday immediately following my letter to you was, if I recall correctly, the parish priest’s birthday. I was informed by a cousin of mine that the priest was felicitated and applauded during the Mass.

On October 4, 2009, the mid-day [12 noon] English service accommodated a number of animals during the celebration of Holy Mass; Fr. Jerry Rosario SJ, the celebrant, and Fr. Kanickai Raj permitted a non-Catholic lay man “to walk up to the altar with his pet dog … and share his thoughts with the packed congregation” [a newspaper reports] in lieu of the homily.


A priest is expected to enunciate his words clearly. Fr. Kanickai Raj is quite unintelligible when he speaks. Other priests have smothered smiles when I mentioned that one can understand only a couple of his words at the end of every sentence.

The homilies of almost all the priests, barring a few exceptions such as Fr. Bosco SDB from St. Bede’s, are lackluster and do not challenge the average Catholic who gets to hear the word of God only that once in a week. This week we had a visiting priest who preached on Luke 15 [the Prodigal Son] at the 7:15 am Mass. The preaching was lucid and powerful. Why does the congregation have to be subjected to listening to poor homilies week after week after week?

Parishioners of St. Louis Church, Adyar, have informed me that Fr. Savio uses terms like “bloody” and “bastard” during his sermons and at least one person has taken issue with him on this. Liturgical abuses have been informed to me from St. Teresa’s Church, Nungambakkam, and St. Francis Xavier’s church, Broadway, where slides and videos are used at Mass.

It is my humble suggestion that you attend different Masses incognito to verify for yourself the truth of what I write to you.


There is one other issue that I wish to bring to your notice. There is an acupressure-cum-reflexology clinic run in the church premises by one Mr. Colin D’Souza. A 2003 Vatican Document lists these alternative therapies as New Age. The two systems are based on esoteric/occult pre-Christian philosophies. At the outset, I had talked to Mr. D’Souza as well as the priests about the spiritual dangers of these practices and given them some Catholic literature, but the clinic is still open.


Yours obediently,

Michael Prabhu, 12 Dawn Apartments, II Floor, 22 Leith Castle South Street, Chennai 600 028. Tel: 2461 1606

*NB. It would help if your secretary verifies our copies of letters hand-delivered at your office, but he declines to do so.





May 20, 2013


Most Rev. George Antonysamy

Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore [Acknowledgement receipt dated May 24, 2013 received by me]


Dear Archbishop George Antonysamy,

Liturgical errors/abuses/aberrations at the 9:30 am Holy Mass, Pentecost Sunday, May 19, 2013, at the National Shrine of St. Thomas


Permit me to recall to you my first letter of February 04, 2013 succeeded by a follow-up letter on March 11, 2013, after which you acknowledged receipt of them vide yours of March 15, 2013. It is now almost 15 weeks since my first communication to you, but I find that little has changed in respect of the issues that I brought to your attention.


My wife and I attended the Sunday 9:30 am Mass on May 19, 2013. I do not know who the celebrant was, but he was assisted by Deacon Charles. After the opening prayer, an “Introduction” to the liturgy was made by a lay person, one of the dozen or so “animators” used by Deacon Charles at all Masses wherein he assists. The celebrant invited the congregation to shout three times “Praise the Lord, Hallelujah”. The Responsorial Psalm — suited for Pentecost — was substituted with an unconnected hymn by the choir. The Second Reading was taken from I Corinthians 12. My Missal says that it should have been Romans 8: 8-17. There was the usual “Please stand for the Gospel Acclamation”. The Deacon’s homily contained no reference to the Second Reading or the Gospel of the day. In developing on the First Reading, he spoke negatively about those Catholics who attend prayer meetings, advising us several times to understand that the Holy Mass is the supreme sacrament of the Church. There was no need for him to group the two distinct situations together. It came off as a veiled criticism of charismatics since he failed to use the occasion to warn the congregation about the real danger which comes from the Pentecostals. Some time after the homily, a group of “animators” gathered below the altar rails with lit candles. On “Vacation Bible School” [VBS] Sunday, May 5, the VBS students were the “animators”. Some time after the Holy Communion service was over, Deacon Charles got fully into his element. Reminding us that it was the birthday of the Church, he announced that a cake would be cut and invited children [“You’ll get a cake if you come”] to come up and receive their share. While the cake was cut in what I understand to be the sanctuary, cake was fed to the mouths of some children while others walked away from the altar eating of pieces of cake held in their fingers, to the accompaniment [“Let’s all sing together ‘Happy Birthday’ for our Church”] of “Happy Birthday Mother Church” — or so it sounded to us — from the choir. The congregation was then invited to “clap your hands”, and everyone – well, almost — complied happily as the Deacon thanked them. Next, the “animators” were named and thanked by the Deacon and the audience [I now find it difficult to regard us as a congregation] when he once again called for applause, which he got in full measure.

Finally, the Deacon invited potential animators [for future Sunday Masses] to give their names to “Mrs. Joan”.

I have avoided including in this letter the continuance of other errors, etc. that I wrote about in my first two letters.


Apparently, my letters to you have not gone down well with the Parish Priest*
and the Deacon. I was one of only three laity who attended the sessions for VBS teachers at the DPC. Deacon Charles was given my contact information by the others, but he still did not contact me. I turned up to take the VBS classes after making my own enquiries.

My wife and I attended the Good Friday service, entering at 2:30 pm under the wrong assumption that we were 30 minutes early but the Church was already packed. We managed to find two seats on the side by the Sacred Heart altar, in the fourth row. A member of the 7:15 am Sunday choir had “reserved” three seats in the pew behind us and she did not allow anyone to occupy them till almost 3:10 pm though by that time latecomers were seating themselves on the floor. She was finally obliged to remove the items with which she had blocked the seats. To my right, a senior charismatic couple had brought their 4-year old along with a crayon set and colouring book which were put to good use. The only time they intervened was to make him raise his hands in the Orans position for the Lord’s Prayer, emulating them, the priest and a majority of the faithful. A young woman in the front of us used her cellphone while a lady in the first pew, the sister-in-law of a Salesian priest, chatted incessantly — through many of the most solemn parts of the Good Friday service — with the ladies to her left and to her right, and another member of her group used the cellphone a few times before leaving midway. *The Parish Priest profusely thanked the choir, mentioning the choir master by name, and asked us why there should be objections from some people to publicly thanking the choir who have toiled so hard to provide excellent singing. He spent almost three minutes expanding on that message. But he did not mention the lectors and many others who serve at Mass. Deacon Charles does that in his unique way every Sunday. I do not cast any aspersions on the Deacon’s integrity, zeal and reverence which are outwardly most exemplary. But neither he nor the Parish Priest are masters or owners of the liturgy for them to innovate and manipulate it in any way. As its servants, they are obliged to restrict themselves to the rubrics.

The Deacon himself, in his Pentecost homily spoke of the supremacy of the Mass and took joy in the birth anniversary of the Church. He should therefore be the last person to undermine the sacredness of the proceedings during Mass and to flout the guidelines set for priests and deacons by the authorities of the universal Church. The entertainment approach of the clergy has contributed to the laxity and irreverence of the laity that I have recorded for you earlier in this paragraph.

Yours obediently,

Michael Prabhu, 12 Dawn Apartments, II Floor, 22 Leith Castle South Street, Chennai 600 028. Tel: 2461 1606

Printed without the masthead and mailed by Registered Post [RT151917117], Acknowledgement Due, on May 23.




June 25, 2013


Most Rev. George Antonysamy, Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore

Dear Archbishop George Antonysamy,

Liturgical errors/abuses/aberrations during the Sunday Masses at the National Shrine of St. Thomas [and elsewhere in the archdiocese] continue unabated


I have been writing to you for almost five months as summarised below and this will be my final personal appeal to you.

1. My letter of February 04, 2013, Registered Acknowledgement Due

2. Reminder to the above handed over by me to Fr. Kiran, your secretary on March 9, 2013

3. Report, “The Convenor of the ‘Forum for Catholic Unity’ is not a Catholic” dated March 9, 2013
personally delivered by me to Fr. Kiran, your secretary on March 9, 2013 [NO ACKNOWLEDGEMENT RECEIVED TILL DATE]

4. Follow-up letter to serial nos 1 and 3 dated March 11, 2013 handed in at your office’s reception desk the same day

Your response dated March 15, 2013, assuring me that

  1. my letters were “forwarded to the concerned person”

b) whatever I write “will be given due consideration”

5. My Registered Acknowledgement Due letter dated May 20, 2013 on abuses at the Good Friday and Pentecost services.

Over a month has past since my last letter to you, and virtually nothing has changed at the Sunday Masses.


I attended the 9:30 a.m. Masses on May 26, June 2, 9 and 23, 2013. Though I have maintained separate weekly records, I will provide you with just a few limited details in the form of a running list since they are mostly the same as earlier:

-The applause [clapping of hands] to “thank” the animators and others continues at every Mass, invited by Deacon Charles [“Let’s give them a big round of applause”]. I noted that he does the same at the Tamil language Masses.

-A hymn unrelated to the psalm for the Sunday continues to be sung by the choir instead of the Responsorial Psalm

-The flower arrangements continue to obstruct a view of the priest for some of the congregation

-Priests commence the Credo [I Believe…] before the Congregation is on its feet.

Since the Deacon is preparing the ‘animators’ before-hand why then do such problems and errors continue:

-Most readings continue to end with “THIS IS the Word of the Lord”

-After the second reading, most invitations ask us to “Please stand for the GOSPEL ACCLAMATION”

May 26, 2013: The First Reading [taken by a lady], chapter and verse not read out; the Deacon read the Gospel, concluded [correctly] with “The Word of the Lord”, and joined the congregation in responding with “Praise be to you O Lord Jesus Christ”. June 2, 2013: Little children were used to give the “introduction”, etc. Their voices were inaudible. Such reading defeats the purpose of having someone read. June 23, 2013: The first reading by a little girl was completely inaudible from first word to last. No one made a move to adjust her microphone. In a “good” service, lectors are properly schooled and are familiar with the Bible. The readings are to be proclaimed not read like from a school text book with poor punctuation, wrong emphases and important Biblical names including that of the book itself often mispronounced.


There are two aspects in my communications to you. One is the disregard of the rubrics of the Mass by the celebrant, and in this case, also by the Deacon, Charles. The other is the growing irreverence that is observed in the congregation to which I believe the clergy has contributed by commission as well as by omission [a lack of catechesis?]. People walk around venerating statues, even to the crucifix in the sanctuary at the left hand side of the priest during Mass, drinking water from bottles [before receiving Holy Communion] and using their mobile phones. On June 23, 2013, a youth in my row was checking his email! People entering late nod and smile at one another; some converse seriously during Mass. In my estimation 40 to 50% of the faithful enter after Mass has started, some of them are unabashed regulars; On June 23, a family of three entered when the Our Father was being recited. Young women are immodestly dressed with skin-tight jeans, and very short tops, often sleeveless. Young men have worn T-shirts with messages like “Evil Doer”, “Hell Rider” and “F**K”. Because I requested the youth to stop checking his email last Sunday, he and two others intimidated me for almost ten minutes after Mass saying he had his “priorities”. Deacon Charles himself, apparently aware of my letters to you but doing nothing to rectify what you wrongly referred to as my “complaint[s]”, has attempted to victimize me in subtle ways.


As I wrote in an earlier letter to you, there are problems, abuses and aberrations in other parishes. At Our Lady of Light Church [6:00 pm, June 16], the celebrant asked the faithful so many questions [“How many wives did King David have”, etc.] during his otherwise excellent homily, a member of the congregation might as well have preached it. Many priests, even during the Masses at the Cathedral, ask questions and elicit answers from the congregation. At the 12 noon English Mass in St. Teresa’s Church, Nungambakkam, a solo hymn in Malayalam is sung by a young woman as entertainment!

If the Eucharist really is the “Source and Summit of Life” [CCC 1324], shouldn’t you as our Bishop intervene and ensure that the greatest reverence and strict adherence to the rubrics are the hallmark of every single Mass in the archdiocese?


Yours obediently,

Michael Prabhu, 12 Dawn Apartments, II Floor, 22 Leith Castle South Street, Chennai 600 028. Tel: 2461 1606

Printed without the masthead and handed over personally at the Archbishop’s Office on June 26, 2013.

Categories: Liturgical Abuses

1 reply

  1. A great deal of the problems in the liturgy committed by the laity can be traced to a lack of knowledge and formation. Children are sent to Sunday School and it is not the priests or the nuns who teach them. For the most part they are lay persons, who dont have much formation themselves. It is not surprising therefore that the importance of the liturgy and the Holy Mass is lost on the majority of the congregation. I say this, because I myself have been guilty at one time or another of making the same mistakes. A lot of the laxity can be traced to the priests, some of whom I believe do not really have a vocation to the priesthood but have accepted it as a career considering some of the benefits that it has to offer, notably principalship of schools with its attendant position and honor. An easy way to sort this kind of thing would be to have candidates for the priesthood pay their way till they are ordained and then be reimbursed by the diocese.

    On reading the life of St. John Marie Vianney, patron of the diocesan priests we can learn a few things.
    1. He always taught Catechism on Sunday.
    2. He would wear torn or frayed clothes but he always had the best vestments for celebrating the Mass
    3. As we all know he spent many hours in the confessional.

    I pray to St. John Marie Vianney, that the Holy Church may get many more priests just like him

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land!

ephesians-511.net Testimonies

EPHESIANS-511.NET- A Roman Catholic Ministry Exposing Errors in the Indian Church Michael Prabhu, METAMORPHOSE, #12,Dawn Apartments, 22,Leith Castle South Street, Chennai – 600 028, Tamilnadu, India. Phone: +91 (44) 24611606 E-mail: michaelprabhu@vsnl.net, http://www.ephesians-511.net

EPHESIANS-511.NET- A Roman Catholic Ministry Exposing Errors in the Indian Church

Michael Prabhu, METAMORPHOSE, #12,Dawn Apartments, 22,Leith Castle South Street, Chennai - 600 028, Tamilnadu, India. Phone: +91 (44) 24611606 E-mail: michaelprabhu@ephesians-511.net, http://www.ephesians-511.net

%d bloggers like this: