Applause during Mass & Saying ‘Good Morning’

APRIL 2011/JULY 2013

Applause during Mass & Saying ‘Good Morning’


“Not to oppose error is to approve it, and not to defend the truth is to suppress it” – Pope St. Felix III


Note: In this report I may occasionally use bold print, Italics, or word underlining for emphasis. This will be my personal emphasis and not that of the source that I am quoting. Any footnote preceded by a number in (parenthesis) is my personal library numbering system.



Some of our priests say a “good morning” and/or a “welcome to all for this Holy Mass” and the like, after making the Sign of the Cross, which, I understand, commences the liturgy. Is that correct procedure? Michael Prabhu, Chennai, India



“When the entrance chant (or song) is concluded, the priest stands at the chair and, together with the whole gathering, makes the Sign of the Cross. Then he signifies the presence of the Lord to the community gathered there by means of the greeting. By this greeting and the people’s response, the mystery of the Church gathered together is made manifest.”

He or some other qualified minister may give the faithful a very brief introduction to the Mass of the day.”

Other than this, neither The Sacramentary nor the General Instruction of the Roman Missal has any provision for the priest to say good morning or any other secular greeting.



What about applause during Mass? Sometimes the visiting celebrant is thanked by the parish priest, or a parishioner is felicitated, and this is greeted by applause. This happens after the Communion service.

Michael Prabhu, Chennai, India



Gestures of the celebrant and faithful during Holy Mass are regulated in several binding documents. The most important documents are The Sacramentary and the General Instruction of the Roman Missal. None of these documents either permit or infer that anyone may clap their hands at anytime during Holy Mass. Some clergy will erroneously advise you that since ‘this’ or ‘that’ is not mentioned in these documents that it can be done. This is simply not so! These documents are written in a style known as the positive-affirmative. This means that they state what is required or what is permitted as an option. For example, these documents do not say that you cannot lay on the floor or yell out ‘alleluia’ when you feel inspired or walk up and kiss the tabernacle after Communion during Mass! I think you get my point here. If clapping during Mass were permitted, Rome would regulate it in a binding disciplinary document. The Church does speak of adding things to the Mass, which would include clapping.

“The Second Vatican Council’s admonition in this (liturgy) must be remembered: No person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.”


Lastly, remember that their can be slight variations on rubrics in The Sacramentary from country-to-country. I would recommend that you have a cleric in your own country review this report to check for any variations. I do not have access to The Sacramentary used in India. If I can be of further assistance, please ask.


This report prepared on January 12, 2011 by Ronald Smith, 11701 Maplewood Road, Chardon, Ohio 44024-8482, E-mail: <>. Readers may copy and distribute this report as desired to anyone as long as the content is not altered and it is copied in its entirety. In this little ministry I do free Catholic and occult related research and answer your questions. Questions are answered in this format with detailed footnotes on all quotes. If you have a question(s), please submit it to this landmail or e-mail address. Answers are usually forthcoming within one week. PLEASE NOTIFY ME OF ANY ERRORS THAT YOU MAY OBSERVE!


Let us recover by penance what we have lost by sin



Excerpts from The Spirit of the Liturgy, pp 198-199, by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Also at

Liturgical Dancing

Dancing is not a form of expression for the Christian liturgy.
In about the third century, there was an attempt in certain Gnostic-Docetic circles to introduce it into the liturgy. For these people, the Crucifixion was only an appearance. Before the Passion, Christ had abandoned the body that in any case he had never really assumed. Dancing could take the place of the liturgy of the Cross, because, after all, the Cross was only an appearance. The cultic dances of the different religions have different purposes–incantation, imitative magic, mystical ecstasy–none of which is compatible with the essential purpose of the liturgy of the “reasonable sacrifice”.

It is totally absurd to try to make the liturgy “attractive” by introducing dancing pantomimes (wherever possible performed by professional dance troupes), which frequently (and rightly, from the professionals’ point of view) end with applause.

Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. Such attractiveness fades quickly–it cannot compete in the market of leisure pursuits, incorporating as it increasingly does various forms of religious titillation. I myself have experienced the replacing of the penitential rite by a dance performance, which, needless to say, received a round of applause.

Could there be anything farther removed from true penitence? Liturgy can only attract people when it looks, not at itself, but at God, when it allows him to enter and act. Then something truly unique happens, beyond competition, and people have a sense that more has taken place than a recreational activity. None of the Christian rites includes dancing.
(The Spirit of the Liturgy, pp 198-9)


[APPLAUSE DURING MASS] Liturgical dance perverts the meaning of the liturgy

Semper Fi Catholic –
Always Faithful To The Truth Who Is Christ

Posted by Denise, Site Administrator, December 16, 2010. EXTRACT

Pope Benedict XVI writes that it is inappropriate to spruce up the liturgy with “dancing pantomimes” whose performances frequently spark applause:
“Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of the liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment….
I myself have experienced the replacing of the penitential rite by a dance performance. Which, needless to say, received a round of applause. Could there be anything further removed from true penitence?”

These days, applause threatens to overrun the liturgy at every turn. One pastor at an Elk Grove, California, parish allowed liturgical dance, which caused predictable applause. He admonished the congregation for applauding, saying it was inappropriate for liturgy. He tried liturgical dance again, and the congregation again applauded. What was he thinking?

First Communion Masses easily turn into applause-fests. In Colusa and Angels Camp, Calif., every child is applauded for receiving First Communion, and so is every person who had the smallest part in training, teaching, and organizing the First Communion Mass. The focus of the Mass turns to what we have done, how we have acted, and how we should be rewarded. Worship, surrender, thanksgiving, and adoration before God becomes merely an afterthought, as then-Cardinal Ratzinger warns.
At a Pentecost celebration in the San Francisco East Bay several years ago, I experienced the epitome of the narcissistic applause-fest. In theory, on the liturgical calendar, we celebrated the gift of the Holy Spirit received by the disciples, the birth of the Church. But attention in the homily focused almost exclusively on Catholic Schools Week, and the teachers who were singled out at this Pentecost Mass with awards were showered with repeated applause. The Holy Spirit was overshadowed by human actors, the teachers, all of whom were feted and applauded. This was a
mockery of the liturgy of Pentecost, a liturgy of thanksgiving for the gift of God received.
At Funeral Masses, the sacred paschal mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ is often a footnote to secular eulogies that canonize the deceased and draw exuberant applause and laughter. The liturgy becomes simply a going-through-the-motions of an irrelevant spiritual ceremony with no bearing on people’s real lives, a prelude to the main, secular event that is this-worldly, “relevant,” and entertaining.

The virus of narcissism has spread even to the Hispanic community, a community of traditional piety and reverence. Cameras flash away at Baptisms and quinceañeras, the coming-of-age Masses for 15-year-old girls. The participants in the liturgy become the center of attention, simpering and preening for the camera.

[APPLAUSE DURING MASS] Liturgical Dance and Inculturation 

Most Rev. Peter John Elliott, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne, Australia EXTRACT

In Western society we should ask an initial question: What is liturgical dancing meant to convey? Our habit of watching someone dance, our ballet tradition, seems to cause problems once dancing enters worship. The liturgical dance becomes a spectacle. Is this meant to teach us, to inspire us or to entertain us? When it ends with applause it has obviously entertained us. It may have been done well, or, as I also recall, it may have involved the children of admiring mothers! But that applause shows that it is not liturgical. This presentation has become a form of religious ballet, a show, an item on the program. This dancing may find a legitimate place in religious theater, such as a medieval mystery play, but not within the action of holy Mass.



Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist, Papal liturgical ceremonies under review May 2006 EXTRACT

The Church Around the World

In June Pope Benedict XVI will receive the final proposal from the recent Synod of Bishops for the drafting of his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist. The commission of 12 cardinals and bishops from around the world, led by the secretary of the Synod of Bishops, Archbishop Nicola Eterovic, will meet in June to present the Holy Father with a final proposal based on the 50 propositions that were made at the conclusion of last October’s Synod.

According to a Vatican source, the commission will approve “a proposal and a plan for liturgical reform”, to be made public in the Apostolic Exhortation the Holy Father will tentatively issue in October 2006.

The Vatican source said the exhortation would include an invitation to greater use of Latin in the daily prayer of the Church and in the Mass – with the exception of the Liturgy of the Word – as well as in large public and international Masses.

The document would also encourage a greater use of Gregorian chant and classical polyphonic music; the gradual elimination of the use of songs whose music or lyrics are secular in origin, as well as the elimination of instruments that are “inadequate for liturgical use,” such as the electric guitar or drums, although it is not likely that specific instruments will be mentioned.

Lastly, the Pope is expected to call for “more decorum and liturgical sobriety in the celebration of the Eucharist,
excluding dance
and, as much as possible, applause.



What’s Behind Liturgical Abuses? Interview with Leader of Traditional Mass Community

By Alexandre Ribeiro EXTRACT
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, April 9, 2008 ( The bishop of a Brazilian community that celebrates the Mass according to the 1962 missal contends that abuses in the liturgy can be attributed to the lack of a serious spirituality. Bishop Fernando Arêas Rifan, apostolic administrator of the St. John Maria Vianney Personal Apostolic Administration in Brazil, spoke with ZENIT about the richness of the extraordinary form of the Mass. Q: What indications do you give for avoiding scarce attention and respect for the liturgy?
Bishop Rifan: Speaking of the abuses following the liturgical reform, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger lamented that the liturgy degenerated into a show, in which they seek to make religion interesting with the help of stylish elements, with momentary successes in the group of the liturgical “manufacturers” [in the] introduction to the book “La Réforme Liturgique” by Monsignor Klaus Gamber, page 6 and 8.
Cardinal Edouard Gagnon was of the same opinion. “It cannot be ignored that the [liturgical] reform has given rise to many abuses and have led in a certain degree to the disappearance of respect for the sacred. This fact should be unfortunately admitted and it excuses a good number of those people who have distanced themselves from our Church and their former parish communities [in] “Fundamentalism and Conservatism,” interview with Cardinal Gagnon, “Zitung — Römisches,” November-December 1993, page 35.
I think that the central point of the abuses was indicated by Cardinal Ratzinger himself: the door left open to a false creativity on the part of the celebrants [in an] interview in “L’homme Nouveau,” October 2001.
Behind this is the lack of a serious spirituality, [the idea that] to attract the people, novelties should be invented. Holy Mass is attractive in itself, because of its sacredness and mystery. Deep down, we’re dealing with the diminishment of faith in the Eucharistic mysteries and an attempt to replace it with novelties and creativity. When the celebrant wants to become the protagonist of the liturgical action, abuses begin. It is forgotten that the center of the Mass is Jesus Christ.
The current secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Bishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith, laments: “Holy Mass is a sacrifice, gift, mystery, independently of the priest who celebrates it.

It is important, I would say fundamental, that the priest draws back: The protagonist of the Mass is Christ. I don’t understand, therefore, the Eucharistic celebrations transformed into shows with dances, songs or applause, as lamentably happens many times with the Novus Ordo.”
The solution to the abuse is in the norms given by the Magisterium, above all in the document “Redemptionis Sacramentum” of March 25, 2004, which asks that “everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favoritism” — No. 183.
But, as Bishop Ranjith says, “there are a lot of documents [against these abuses] that unfortunately have remained a dead letter, forgotten in libraries full of dust, or even worse, thrown into the waste basket.”



Rome, November 5, 2007 ( – In an interview with the Italian Petrus web site, Archbishop Albert Ranjith Patabendige, the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, acknowledged that the papal document, Summorum Pontificum, has been met in some dioceses with criticism and resistance. In some cases, the Sri Lankan prelate said, the hostility amounts to “rebellion against the Pope.”
Reminding the interviewer, Albert Bruno, that every bishop swears allegiance to the Roman Pontiff, Archbishop Ranjith said that “everyone, and particular every pastor, is called to obey the Pope, who is the successor to Peter.” He called bishops to follow the papal directive faithfully, “setting aside all pride and prejudice.”
Archbishop Ranjith complained that in some dioceses, bishops and their representatives have set out policies “inexplicably” limiting the scope of the Pope’s motu proprio. He charged that the resistance to the Pope’s policy has been driven by “on the one hand, ideological prejudices, and on the other hand pride– one of the deadliest sins.”
Early in October, in an address to the Latin Liturgy Association in the Netherlands, Archbishop Ranjith had delivered an equally blunt assessment of the response to Summorum Pontificum, saying that bishops were being “disobedient” to the Pope, and stifling the impact of the motu proprio by their policies. Diocesan bishops “do not have this right,” he said, and bishops who defy the Pope’s authority are allowing themselves “to be used as instruments of the devil.”

COMMENTS by CWNews Editor:
It’s unusual for a top Vatican official to release public criticism of other bishops. It’s even more unusual when the criticism comes from the second-ranking official in a Vatican dicastery.
The #2 man in the Congregation for Divine Worship, Archbishop Ranjith, has now issued two stinging rebukes to bishops who are blocking implementation of Summorum Pontificum. His very blunt statements are even more remarkable in light of the fact that Cardinal Arinze, his immediate superior as prefect of the Congregation, has been very quiet– in fact utterly silent, conspicuously silent– about the motu proprio.
Is Archbishop Ranjith speaking out on his own initiative? If so, he’s endangering his future at the Vatican. But what if he’s not speaking on his own? What if he’s been encouraged to take such a strong stand? There’s only one person in Rome whose encouragement would be enough to push this mild-mannered prelate out onto the front lines. – Phil Lawler (

From an interview granted by the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige, to Bruno Volpe, of the papal news website Petrus:
BRUNO VOLPE: Your Excellency, how has Benedict XVI’s motu proprio which liberalized the Holy Mass according to the Tridentine Rite been received? Some, in the bosom of the Church itself, have turned their noses…
ARCHBISHOP RANJITH: “There have been positive reactions and, it is useless to deny it, criticisms and opposition, even from theologians, liturgists, priests, Bishops, and even Cardinals. I frankly do not understand these rifts, and, why not [say it], rebellion towards the Pope. I invite all, particularly the Shepherds, to obey the Pope, who is the Successor of Peter. The Bishops, in particular, have sworn fidelity to the Pontiff: may they be coherent and faithful to their commitment.”
BRUNO VOLPE: In your opinion, what causes these displays against the Motu Proprio?
ARCHBISHOP RANJITH: “You know that there have been, by some dioceses, even interpretative documents which inexplainably intend to limit the Pope’s Motu Proprio. These actions mask behind them, on one hand, prejudices of an ideological kind and, on the other, pride, one of the gravest sins. I repeat: I invite all to obey the Pope. If the Holy Father decided to promulgate the Motu Proprio, he had his reasons, which I fully share.”

BRUNO VOLPE: Benedict XVI’s decision to liberalize the Tridentine Rite seems as a just remedy to the so many liturgical abuses sadly registered after the Second Vatican Council with the ‘Novus Ordo’…
ARCHBISHOP RANJITH: “See, I do not wish to criticize the ‘Novus Ordo’. But I laugh when I hear it said, even by friends, that in a [certain] parish, a priest is ‘a Saint’ due to his homily or to how he speaks. The Holy Mass is sacrifice, gift, mystery, independently of the celebrating priest. It is important, fundamental even, that the priest be put aside: the protagonist of the Mass is Christ. I do not understand, thus, the Eucharistic celebrations transformed in shows with dances, songs, and applause, as it frequently happens with the Novus Ordo.
BRUNO VOLPE: Monsignor Patabendige, your Congregation has repeatedly denounced these liturgical abuses…
ARCHBISHOP RANJITH: “True. There are so many documents, which have nonetheless painfully remained dead letter, [which] have ended up on dusty shelves or, even worse, in wastebaskets.”

[APPLAUSE DURING MASS] Applause at Homilies

ROME, January 20, 2009 ( Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: The parishioners in our church used to be spontaneous in their reactions to excellent homilies that the priests deliver. The parishioners, sometimes, respectfully applaud after the homily, either to communicate that they are in agreement with the priest, or to offer their appreciation. However, when a newly ordained priest came, and this happened after a homily he gave, he gravely scolded the people for the impropriety of their action and reminded them that they are attending a Mass and not a performance. From then on, people’s spontaneity is gone; occasionally, applause would be heard, but one can sadly sense the hesitation. Could you enlighten us on the propriety of people applauding after the homily? D.B., Denver, Colorado
A: First of all, it is a very hopeful sign of overall improvement in the quality of homilies that the faithful consider them worthy of applause.
That said, the young priest was correct in stating that, in general, applause is to be discouraged during Mass. It is not an absolute rule, however; the Pope’s homilies usually conclude with applause and are even sometimes interrupted by enthusiastic ovations. In the ancient world, great sermons, such as those of a St. Augustine, were occasionally interspersed with appreciative accolades on the part of the people.
There are also some cultures where applause or hand-clapping is a spontaneous sign of respect and even veneration. For example, some African peoples even clap their hands during the consecration, because this was the traditional gesture observed when their kings were present and it seemed natural to carry it over to greet the presence of the King of kings.
Therefore, while respecting cultural differences and not excluding an occasional spontaneous applause for a particularly inspired and inspiring homily, I would agree that the practice should not be encouraged or regular in Western parish settings.
First of all, the Roman liturgical tradition is usually sober in its external manifestations. This holds true even in those Catholic cultures that are exuberant in the demonstrations of popular piety such as the processions of Latin America, the Iberian Peninsula and southern Italy where applause, cheers and the like are regular features. After the homily, the liturgy recommends a moment of silence in order to reflect upon and assimilate the message. Applause easily breaks the concentration and makes it harder to gather one’s thoughts and bring them to bear on the essential questions of living the Gospel.
When applause is neither common nor expected a priest can prepare the homily with greater freedom, both regarding the doctrine he wishes to transmit and the best means of delivery. In other words, although he should always strive to prepare an excellent homily from the rhetorical point of view, not having to worry about applause makes him less subject to the temptation of striving more to please than to instruct and exhort toward sanctity.
Not being expected to applaud also frees both priests and parishioners from the danger of making subtle and not-so-subtle comparisons among priests. Father X’s homily received timed respect; Father Y got a standing ovation, while Father Z’s preaching on Christian morals got the silent treatment. I am exaggerating, of course, but the point is that any element that might induce disharmony should be avoided.
The best reaction to a well-thought and delivered homily is a decision to move forward and grow as a Christian. If this is lacking, then all external applause is just so much fluff.
In his book “The Spirit of the Liturgy” the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote: “Whenever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment” (Page 198).
The context of the present Pope’s remarks was regarding applause after so-called liturgical dancing; it did not directly address our present case of applause as a sign of respect and agreement to the message of the homily. The principle involved, however, of not applauding the merely human achievement of one of the liturgical actors could be a good rule of thumb for deciding when applause is appropriate or not.


Applause at Homilies

ROME, February 3, 2009 ( Related to our January 20 piece on applause during homilies, a few readers had inquired about the propriety of some rhetorical devices.
One Canadian reader asked: “In our parish, our pastor usually begins his homily with a joke. There is no connection between the joke and the homily that follows. While many at Mass seem to enjoy his jokes — judging by the laughter after the punch line — some of us find this irreverent. I have a difficult time making the transition from the comedian priest to the priest who is in persona Christi, and is about to help the Catholic faithful better understand the Gospel and the readings. Are there any guidelines for homilies that would indicate whether this is appropriate or not?”
Another, a deacon, inquired, “I have a simple question about greeting the people during the homily. Is it all right to say good morning? Last Monday I opened the homily with this greeting and moved on to a reflection on the Gospel. The celebrant priest was of the opinion that to say good morning is superfluous, since I had already said, ‘The Lord be with you.’ I had just noticed the people looked a little tired after a long weekend, and to get another response from them would help their attention and participation.”
While there is no official teaching on how to start a homily, many great preachers have reflected on the art of preaching, for example, St. John Chrysostom and St. Augustine in his De Doctrina Christiana. There are myriad modern books and Internet sites on preaching effective homilies, many of which offer useful indications.
Although I believe that the preacher should greet the faithful at the beginning of the homily, I am not convinced that “Good morning” is the most appropriate line. The liturgical salutation “The Lord be with you” is a preparation for hearing God’s word in the Gospel and is not a personal greeting as such. However, a greeting that provokes a natural response from the congregation such as “You’re welcome” is more likely to break the flow between Gospel and homily than a “My dear brothers and sisters” or words to that effect.
Something similar could be said about jokes, especially if unrelated to the content of the homily. While this method is a legitimate opener in some cases, it becomes trying if applied week after week.
All the same, I would not wish to be hidebound regarding either point. There can be circumstances when evoking an immediate response is necessary in order to connect with the congregation. Likewise, preachers of the caliber of Fulton Sheen wielded the amusing introductory anecdote with masterful effect.
The first lines of a homily often determine whether the faithful sit up and take notice or settle into a wakeful slumber. Therefore it is salient that the preacher does not placidly repeat the bland, but rather strives to engage his listeners from the first moment in order to bring them closer to Christ.


[APPLAUSE DURING MASS] Holding hands during the Our Father

Catholic Answers Forum. June 23, 2010 EXTRACT:

Wherever applause
breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.” (Spirit of the Liturgy p. 198) Pope Benedict XVI estesbob

I hate it when that happens. In some churches they applaud the choir. The mass is for the glory of God not for anything or anyone else CatholicFireman


[SAYING “GOOD MORNING”] Leeds priests stop Good Morning during Mass

April 19, 2009

LEEDS: Some Leeds priests have stopped saying ‘good morning’ to their congregations after a diocesan meeting on the work of the International Commission of English in the Liturgy expressed concerns that services had become too informal. The UK Telegraph reports that priests at the meeting, held in the Diocese of Leeds, were told to question whether it was appropriate to say ‘good morning’ once the priest was on the altar and had made the sign of the Cross.
Following the meeting, some priests in the diocese told their congregations that they would no longer greet them in an informal manner at the start of services. A spokesman for the diocese said: “The review of the liturgy is looking at whether there are elements of the service that have become a bit too distracting. People might argue that if you go in to a house, you say ‘hi’, but the priest is not going in to a house. He is going in to a sacred service. We need to emphasize that the priest is president of the community and is presiding at the service. It is a debate that has been going on in the Church for a long time, are we doing a cabaret or are we actually celebrating the Eucharist? The fear is that if some guidance is not given and general decisions are not put down, the interpretation of the liturgy leads to unsuitable things, like strobe lights and girls in hot pants. The aim of the new translation is to bring more dignity to the service.”



digest no. 1409 April 20, 2009

It looks strange, some of the clergy doing this strange thing from the altar, greeting people in this way. Thank God some sense has happened. I always felt strange when someone greeting from the altar ‘saying good morning or good evening’. Jesus would always tell us that he was with us not the weather or the sun. Hope people in our country would object to such innovations, I have told the persons or priests who used such greetings. All the best in the divine word, Fr. Juze Vaz svd



By John Thavis Catholic News Service February 10, 2006 VATICAN CITY (CNS) EXTRACT

Cardinal Francis Arinze, the Nigerian who heads the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments … spoke about the direction of the new papacy in an interview with Catholic News Service in early February. …

Cardinal Arinze said the main challenge facing his congregation is to encourage a spirit of prayer, which must grow out of faith. He said bringing people to Mass regularly is essential, and it hinges largely on two factors: catechesis and high-quality, faith-filled liturgies. Celebrating Mass well involves lay ministers, but primarily the priest, who sets a tone through every word and gesture, the cardinal said. “Suppose a priest comes at the beginning of Mass and says: ‘Good
morning, everybody, did your team win last night?’ That’s not a liturgical greeting. If you can find it in any liturgical book, I’ll give you a turkey,” the Cardinal said.


digest no. 1969 July 31, 2009

The Liturgical instruction – Redemptionis Sacramentum, no. 14 says, “The regulation of the Sacred Liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, which rests specifically with the Apostolic See and, according to the norms of law, with the Bishop.”
Further, no.17 says, “The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments attends to those matters that pertain to the Apostolic See as regards the regulation and promotion of the Sacred Liturgy, and especially the Sacraments….., It fosters and enforces sacramental discipline, especially as regards their validity and their licit celebration. Finally, it carefully seeks to ensure that the liturgical regulations are observed with precision, and that abuses are prevented or eliminated whenever they are detected.”
In the no.18, it further says, “Christ’s faithful have the right that ecclesiastical authority should fully and efficaciously regulate the Sacred Liturgy lest it should ever seem to be anyone’s private property, whether of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated.”
And finally, the same document says in no. 59, ” The reprobated practice by which Priests, Deacons or the faithful here and there alter or vary at will the texts of the Sacred Liturgy that they are charged to pronounce, must cease. For in doing thus, they render the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy unstable, and not infrequently distort the authentic meaning of the Liturgy.” …
The Holy mass is not a private property of any particular priest or any particular group. Therefore, a priest or a lay faithful can never alter, add or delete anything that is duly approved by the congregation for divine worship and the discipline of the sacraments, unless it is specifically mentioned. Many a times it is sad to notice, as you observed, that liturgy is altered according to the whims and fancies of a particular group or a person. If one does so he/she goes against the mind of the church.
Many times instead of the Trinitarian greeting we hear the priest greet us with Good morning, good evening, or slokas from Hindu Scriptures
, etc. It is not the mind of the church. It is painful to notice that we are losing the real meaning of the Sacred Liturgy because of all these abuses. One needs to stick on to the mind of the church and not to one’s whims and fancies. Fr. Anthony Dias, Rome


[SAYING “GOOD MORNING”] Introductory Rites Unite Priest and Congregation Both Turn Attention to the Sacred Celebration of the Mass

By Father Paul Gunter, OSB EXTRACT

ROME, January 15, 2010 ( At this early stage of the Mass, the rites seem to speak for themselves. We have neither arrived at the Liturgy of the Word, which proclaims the sacred Scriptures, nor have we prepared the altar for the sacrifice of the Mass. However, a sense in which we have done both of these things is in the inner disposition of the priest…
The ordinary form begins by emphasising the presence of the people assembled before mentioning the procession of the priest and ministers to the altar, which is accompanied by the singing of the Introit.

The substitution of hymns for the Introit and the Communion Antiphon has effectively implied the loss of these proper texts of the Mass. Though they have been translated into the vernacular alongside other texts, it is rare indeed that one hears these texts sung, particularly in parishes.
Nonetheless, the liturgy begins with song during which the priest may incense the altar. The opening words of the Mass are the same in both of its forms: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Led by the celebrant, priest and people make the gesture together and bridge the time that has passed between the historical death of Christ on the cross and the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary that is made present on the altar each time the Mass is celebrated. As Father Jeremy Driscoll writes, “Our own bodies will be drawn into the body that hung on the cross, and this sharing in the death of Christ is the revelation of the Trinitarian mystery.”[13]
“In the name” suggests that we entrust the celebration into the name of the Trinity. It is by baptism that we are immersed and entrusted into the name of God. As in baptism we are buried and rise with Christ, so in making the Sign of the Cross we actively renew our faith in the Trinitarian name of God. The Sign of the Cross is not only the traditional way with which Catholics begin prayer, but the obvious and strongest way of doing so. The Amen is the solemn assent of those who answer.
The Apostolic Greeting welcomes the people. It is so called because it is inspired by the letters of St Paul. Maybe the priest will use “Dominus Vobiscum.” Otherwise he will choose another option. All the same, he does not trivialise the greeting by saying “Good Morning.” The greeting is formalized because the priest greets the people in his specifically sacramental role where, “in persona Christi capitis,”[14] he is greeting the assembly called together by God. The congregation does not respond “Good Morning Father,” but, “and with your spirit.” As Driscoll continues; “The people are addressing the ‘spirit’ of the priest; that is, that deepest interior part of his being where he has been ordained precisely to lead the people in this sacred action.”[15]
[13] J. Driscoll, OSB, “What happens at Mass,” Gracewing Publishing, Leominster 2005, 21.
[14] “In the person of Christ the Head”
[15] J. Driscoll, OSB, “What happens at Mass,” 25.
Benedictine Father Paul Gunter is a professor of the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy Rome and Consulter to the Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.


[CRACKING JOKES] Drop the comic altar ego, clergy told

Linda Morris June 9, 2009 Sydney Morning Herald

Laughter may be the best medicine, but God is no joke, according to an Anglican bishop who has chided Christian church leaders who think of themselves as stand-up comedians and resort to making jokes during sermons. The Bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth, says there is nothing funny in “lame-fisted attempts” to crack jokes and be funny during services and church meetings. Humour has its place, but God and church, he says, is no laughing matter.

“I am frankly sick of ‘leaders’ ruining the atmosphere of the meeting/service and disrupting the focus on God with half-baked comic lines,” he wrote for a Sydney Anglican online ministry resource guide. “Or they detract from my reflection upon some important point made in the sermon with smart cracks or attempts to make funny comments about the preacher or the sermon.”

This, he said, interfered with the congregation’s relationship with God.

Bishop Forsyth came to public prominence as the minister who wittily crossed words with the publican Arthur Elliot across from St Barnabas Anglican Church in Broadway. While humour was a good tool to connect with a congregation, it should not compromise the message of salvation, he said.

Sydney’s Catholic Auxiliary Bishop, Bishop Julian Porteous, agreed with the sentiment, saying that Mass was not the venue for the priest to indulge his own personality.

“A religious ceremony, for Catholics a Mass, is a sacred event, and therefore the whole context of celebration should be one that engenders respect, appreciation of the divine and a whole sense of reverence for holy things – that is always got to be the ground in which a priest approaches his duties.

“There has been a tendency for people to feel a joke at the end of the Mass is something to leave people with a smile, but I personally don’t think it is appropriate.”

Preserving the dignity of the occasion should be uppermost in the mind of a priest. “There can be place for a comment which may be a truth or insight into the foibles of humanity, but jokes, if they are corny and self-serving, are inappropriate.”

Howard Langmead, the Anglican minister of St John’s in West Brunswick, Melbourne, whose other job is as a stand-up comedian, says humour when well done is an effective communication tool, can unite a congregation and demonstrate the vulnerability of the preacher. His catchphrase is “God created comedy. And it was good.” But he can see the dangers of a poorly executed joke.

“Humour is a fantastic communication tool but when badly used it’s painful, but that applies to all types of communication. You have to understand your audience, and the humour should be related to the context and content. You can have humour that refers to the topic of the sermon, and when a group of people laugh there is a sense of togetherness; the fences are down.”


No jokes at Mass: Bishop Porteous

June 10, 2009

Jokes at the end of Mass are not appropriate, Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Julian Porteous says. Bishop Porteous told the Sydney Morning Herald that Mass was not the venue for the priest to indulge his own personality.

“A religious ceremony, for Catholics a Mass, is a sacred event, and therefore the whole context of celebration should be one that engenders respect, appreciation of the divine and a whole sense of reverence for holy things, that is always got to be the ground in which a priest approaches his duties. There has been a tendency for people to feel a joke at the end of the Mass is something to leave people with a smile, but I personally don’t think it is appropriate.”

Preserving the dignity of the occasion should be uppermost in the mind of a priest.

“There can be place for a comment which may be a truth or insight into the foibles of humanity, but jokes, if they are corny and self serving, are inappropriate,” Bishop Porteous said.

Bishop Porteous was agreeing with similar sentiments expressed by the Anglican Bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth. There is nothing funny in “lame fisted attempts” to crack jokes and be funny during services and church meetings, Bishop Forsth said. Humour has its place, but God and Church, he says, is no laughing matter.

But Howard Langmead, the Anglican minister of St John’s in West Brunswick, Melbourne, whose other job is as a stand up comedian, disagreed. Humour when well done is an effective communication tool, can unite a congregation and demonstrate the vulnerability of the preacher, he said.

SOURCE Drop the comic altar ego, clergy told (Sydney Morning Herald)


I applaud Bishop Porteous’ comment that jokes at the end of Mass are inappropriate. I hope that this might also extend to comments on football and the like. Posted By: Pastór de Lasala

Here come the Ritual Police… the last supper was a Jewish Passover meal, a dinner party full of people. Ever been to a Passover meal bishop? It’s all too serious isn’t it? I suppose that is where your input and relevance end. Posted By: TJ Lawson

Our good Bishops need to spend a few days in the pews, and mulling on eternity, on the splendour of the infinite God expanding this indescribable universe, on the misery of millions on earth and on the abuse of religious power, to think about how laughable it is to take exception to jokes in Church. They are contributing to the growing opinion that the biggest joke around IS the Church. Posted By: Sister Susan Connelly

Ditto for comments about the weekend football! Our former parish priest would comment on the football at every Mass – he has been gone a year and it has been so refreshing to have no mention of football – until last Sunday’s visiting priest who felt obliged to inform us of his team’s fortunes, but at least he confined himself to after Mass instead of introductory prayers and homily as was the custom of the previous incumbent.-cas

Lighten up mate, otherwise church numbers will fall even more! Posted By: John

I couldn’t agree more with Bishop Porteous. If we really understood what we have been doing at Mass, jokes, and stupid football observations would not even enter our minds. Priests should be leading their people into silence, reverence and awareness of their spiritual treasure, and their banal remarks are usually a pathetic attempt at gaining popularity. It doesn’t work with me. Posted By: Ro Ro

Since when is Julian Porteous the arbiter on what is humorous? Humour does not detract from the sacred but rather enhances it, in my mind! I think this Bishop, together with many of his brother Bishops, should encourage rather than demoralise us! Posted By: Peter Murphy

How I wish Bishop Porteous was in my parish – every Sunday I have to listen to this, and some Sundays I’ve had to hang my head! Posted By: Lora

Bishop Porteous and jokes!!! What is the problem if people leave the church with a smile? Posted By: Paul Foley

What rubbish… A joke at the end of Mass does not detract from the celebration of God’s presence or from the Eucharist. Posted By: Jeff Kevin

The God I worship has a sense of humour. I’m sure He’s laughing at this statement. Posted By: Denis

Leaving Mass with a smile? I need to leave Mass with a glow in my heart and my soul on fire having just reached out and touched the face of God. Trouble is, too many times I have left with a tear in my eye and a heavy heart because the priest and his antics got in the way. Full marks to Bishop Porteous.-Phillip Turnbull

It is disappointing that so many people choose to engage in a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to the bishop’s remarks rather than give some more thought to the nature of the issue which he is addressing and perhaps ask him for further elucidation on the subject. Assuming that those priests who make jokes or talk about the footy at the beginning or end of Mass are well-intentioned, they are also somewhat mistaken about the nature of their role. There has been a tendency since the last Council for some priests to take ‘centre stage’ as it were, forgetting the words of the Baptist – ‘He must increase and I must decrease’. It is through the priest that Christ offers the one and only sacrifice of our redemption, an offering in which we participate. The priest should be a kind of ‘icon’ through which we can ‘see’ the Lord. Jokes and personal comments tend to render the icon more opaque.
Essentially, contra TJ Lawson, the Eucharist is not a meal (notwithstanding the consumption of the sacred species), but a sacrifice. It is not a Passover Meal. The Agape meal, or ‘love feast’ associated with its early celebration was quickly dropped. What the early Christians came to understand by ‘do this in memory of me’ was the offering of the bread and wine by Christ, not the rest of the meal in which it took place. The Eucharist bears a much greater resemblance to a ‘toda’ sacrifice – a sacrifice in which unleavened bread and wine were offered in thanksgiving (Eucharist) for deliverance from a great evil. It is interesting to note that ancient rabbinical teaching held that in the time of the Messiah all sacrifices, except the ‘toda’ sacrifice, would cease!
At Mass we worship the Father with Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit through participating in Christ’s self-offering to the Father. The question of the suitability of jokes should be seen in the context of how one worships the Father in spirit and in truth, how one can lift up and keep one’s heart with the Lord, and how one can be sent out to bring the Good News to the world. Posted By: Matthew Dewar

It’s sad how some Christians – even bishops – seem to forget the origins of our sacred gatherings. The Mass has its origins in the Last Supper, a sacred yet human gathering of friends hosted by Jesus, fully God & fully man. It would be surprising if there were not a few jokes told around the table!
Bishop Porteous’ comment that ‘Mass was not the venue for the priest to indulge his own personality’ is a gratuitous remark. Each person’s personality is, to me, very sacred and should be expressed. The diversity of God’s creation in people, flora & fauna is to be celebrated. And, please keep some humour in our sacred celebrations. Posted By: Jim

Sister Susan Connelly’s comment is the typical red herring.
Most Christians are weighed down by uncertainties and economic, moral and financial problems. So they congregate in order to relieve themselves of these problems. So a joke after Mass gladdens the heart of the people. So I feel we should have time for that since it does not take away the essence of the mass from the people. By: Bangura Foday

Listen to all of you who disagree with Bishop Porteous. If you want a laugh why don’t you go home, put Steptoe and Son or whatever you happen to have and you can laugh all day. Or maybe, try to find out what the Mass is really about. No wonder the Mass has become a noisy “marketplace”. No wonder the standards have dropped so much that Bishops are ridiculed when they do their duty. Save the jokes for other occasions, but not before or at the end of Mass. Also show some respect for the ordained. Posted By: M.M.

The picture at the top of this news piece (showing a smiling Bishop Porteous) is nothing short of an outrage.
Bishop Porteous is definitely out of touch with God’s people. Mass is supposed to be the happiest event of the week. It is always uplifting to see priests who are enthusiastic about their church and can give a smile to people who are about to re-enter the world Posted By: Steve White

You have to be joking, Bishop. Posted By: Garry McDonald

If priests cannot tell a joke and share a story with their parishioners, then the pews will only be filled with the Pharisees and the righteous. Posted By: Peter

The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath! A sense of humour is necessary for the mature life of faith, twinned with reverence for the Eucharist and one another.
Here is Fr James Martin: “Most people think Christianity is like that year-round. Humourless. Depressing. Boring. Christianity is seen as a path of deadly seriousness, when it’s supposed to be one of life-giving joy. Part of this is due to the inability to see the value of humour in the spiritual life. Unfortunately, many religious people tend to take themselves way too seriously. You know, the “frozen chosen.” That’s one reason why humour — especially self-deprecating humour — is important.” (
And here on Cardinal Dulles’ humour:
It’s all about balance. St Irenaeus said “the glory of God is man fully alive!” If the main parish gathering is the mass, surely humour, as a key part of our humanity, is to be treasured! God says to Man: Get Over Yourself! Posted By: James

I’m glad TJ Lawson with his ‘theological’ competence isn’t on a liturgy committee in a parish. Come to think of it, though, with the banality of some liturgical celebrations, perhaps he is.
It’s a sorry state of affairs if people are seeking entertainment from the priest at Mass. Posted By: Rachel

A good Liturgy is when everyone has felt to be part of it, and journeying through the various moods, invitations and responses from beginning to end. Sometimes the Liturgy can be so touching that people do shed some tears, others come away from the community celebration of the Eucharist with smiles on their faces. A good Presider is one who can lead, guide and enable the community to pray. Sometimes, like the good old Mission Fathers of old, they would have us splitting our sides during a Homily or Mission Sermon…but, I might add it was not for entertainment, it was very clever and helped to break the ice, so that people could better hear the breaking open of God’s Word. Laughing in Mass is not something new! Dramatics in Mass are not new. I think that if more priests were more approachable and down to earth in their Homilies and presence with the people, it would go a long way in enabling the people to feel that their shepherd walks the same ground as the people do. Come on, I have seen so many so called Liturgists displaying such Cathedral faces while presiding at Mass, that is supposed to speak of reverence, they look as though they are in pain. Come on Julian, wearing a mitre should not hinder you from being human, and sharing a tasteful joke during the Homily or at the end of Mass. Smile Julian, you are on Candid Camera. Posted By: Joseph Vincent Walsh

Can you imagine the Blessed Virgin, St. John and the other followers of Jesus telling jokes at the foot of the Cross? After all isn’t that what the Mass is? Posted By: Steve

I agree with the Bishop. We seem to have forgotten what we just did a few minutes before the end of Mass. We have taken into ourselves the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ and that deserves some time of reflection, and respect. As someone who loves to joke and laugh, who comes from a family of laughers, who tries to see the humour in all things in life, I realise there is a time and a place, and this is not the time or place. This is a time of reverence for our Lord and our becoming one with Him in the Eucharist. We should be able to give the Lord that much for a while after Mass, after all He gave to us. The rest of the hours of the week can be spent in joking and laughing all we want. Posted By: PMG

Is there a more humourless lot than those attacking Bishop Porteous? Posted By: Jimmy

Holy Mass perpetually replicates Christ’s death on Calvary–it should never be an occasion for frivolity. Those who do not understand this have been seriously deprived of sound Christian formation. The Bishop is spot on. Posted By: William

Thank you Bishop Porteous and Bishop Forsyth. It would be good if we could pray before Mass too, but the frivolity going on often makes it very challenging. I would welcome a sign which reads “Silence please. This is the Lord’s house of prayer.” Posted By: Michael J

I am disappointed that a religious sister (Sr Susan Connelly) would write such disparaging comments about our bishops. Why does she feel that it is her role to lecture bishops? Why does she relish in creating division rather than unity? By the way, the faithful think it is a joke that some liberal “nuns” run around in lay clothes, have their own apartments, credit cards, and bank accounts and make money by delivering angry presentations in which they criticize and attack the pope, the bishops and the Church. They have abandoned authentic religious life and have made a mockery of true consecrated life. Their liberal congregations will die out, since no young women want to join something like that. Posted By: Teresa

Thank you, Bishop Porteous, for your efforts to return the sacredness to the Mass. I long for the days of Sacred Silence in the church in honour of the presence of the Lord in the Tabernacle. People these days get up from the pews after receiving Jesus and act as if they were in a public auditorium. How few remain to give thanks for the enormity of the gifts they have just received. Posted By: Marita Wojdak

Thank you Father; I totally agree, even jokes at the beginning of Mass. It is not necessary to put us in a good mood for a very solemn occasion, we should all be praying in adoration of the coming of our Lord. I also don’t like acknowledgements requiring clapping and such. Our minds should be on the gift of the body and blood of Christ. Also too much talking and greeting while some of us are praying the rosary. Posted By: Joyce Curtis

If one assists the priest at mass and then cannot remember who the priest was, the priest has said mass correctly. Posted By: Fr Bill

Thank you Bishop Porteous for speaking up about jokes after Mass. I have also just recently experienced this in a parish here in Perth. There are also other unorthodox things happening at Mass these days in some of our parishes. Perhaps a survey by Bishops in all states in Australia would be helpful to correct the situation urgently, and in bringing back the reverence which is and has always been due to Jesus in our Catholic Church. Posted By: merle penheiro

I totally agree. I have been to a Mass when the priest has told jokes at the beginning of Mass and I felt that it was very inappropriate. Mass is a very sacred place to be – it is not a stage. God Bless Posted By: Maureen

After spending the most unsettling time at Mass in my life a few weeks ago, because of the self-serving wisecracks by the priest throughout, I can only wish Bishop Porteous was in our diocese. Whatever happened to the belief that the Mass is a Holy Sacrifice, not entertainment? Posted By: Betty

I totally agree with the bishop. The Mass is the reason we are present. I wish bishops and priests in Canada would read this. A local priest says he introduces his homily to “loosen up” the people. I have heard good speakers also begin with a joke.

To insist on a joke means the speaker has an inferiority complex and also considers the listeners to be so dumb as to need to be “loosened up”. People are not as dumb as the speakers may think.-Ken Harris

Our Lady and St. John did not laugh at the foot of the cross and the disciples did not laugh when Our Lord told them to spread the Gospel. Of course we should have a sense of humour, just look at St. Philip Neri. However, a joke during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is never justified. Those who believe it is OK do not understand what the Mass is. St. John Vianney, pray for us, we’ve lost all reverence for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Posted By: Michael

TJ Lawson said: “Here come the Ritual Police… the last supper was a Jewish Passover meal…Ever been to a Passover meal, bishop?”
There is a tremendous difference between a modern Jewish Passover meal and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Mass is more than a re-enactment of the Last Supper. It makes Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary present to us. It’s when ordinary bread and wine become His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. As for the Bishop’s “relevance”, it IS his responsibility to ensure that Church teaching is properly adhered to. Don’t like it? Then don’t be a Catholic. Not a Catholic? Then why do you care? Posted By: Phil

Bravo Sr. Susan Connelly, you have hit the nail on the head with your comments. It seems that the biggest speed humps in our way forward in the church comes from some of our Bishops. How hard it is from the down-to-earth and future-thinking Bishops to move a way forward with so many gloomy-faced, conservative, back-in-the-Ark kind of Confreres. It seems that the way forward will be made possible by Christ’s faithful, not the so-called House of Dunhill, all-male Bishops’ Club. Posted By: Joseph Vincent Walsh

Isn’t that funny? I always had this image of “Mother Church” delighting with her children and playfully smiling them into life. Guess I was wrong. Thanks for this reminder Bishop Porteous. Perhaps I need to find another “Mother” who loves humanity and like Sarah in the Hebrew Scriptures has a giggle at the works of God which continue to astound us. Posted By: Tony Robertson

Bishop Julian is entitled to his opinion and CathNews can waste space reporting it, but in the scheme of things is such an issue of any importance at all? I’d prefer that Bishops should speak out about significant matters – if they did, instead of commenting on such insignificant issues, more people might listen and take note of them. Posted By: P. Carroll

I agree with the Bishop. We watch enough of TV for our entertainment. I do think that we could manage to give 1 hour to God without having the need to be entertained. I do think mass should be sacred; there is no need of jokes, clapping, comments on football. Posted By: Connie

I agree wholeheartedly with the Bishop. I have NEVER appreciated jokes told at Mass during or after. I also don’t feel comfortable clapping during Mass. Thank you Bishop Porteous for speaking out. The Church in America has taken a lot of the beauty of the Mass away from us but expects us to go along with everything they promote. I have a hard time with this also. Posted By: Joan Johnson

Thanks Bishop for your words. TJ Lawson – Have YOU been to a Jewish Passover meal? It is NOT a dinner “party” full of people. Rather, it is a very solemn occasion. The events that follow Passover might be celebratory, but the Passover itself, they’re remembering their liberation and trials in exile. It is not a dinner “party”. To the rest who are saying the bishop is wrong, he may or may not be. All I know is, even as a young person, I love attending Latin masses, or solemn high masses. They definitely have the substance, sense of sacredness that many other masses have come to lack. With the sense of mystery gone, we might as well attend some Shamanism show. After all, where has bringing in jokes, Hillsongesque bands and songs to our masses achieved? Booming mass attendances? Full seminaries? No. Quite the contrary. I am from a diocese where everyone is striving to be like Hillsong…and the Church here is flagging!!
But I go to such solemn masses in Sydney archdiocese and I am surprised at how many young people are at such supposedly “boring” masses. It is here, where things are too “conservative” or “traditional”, that are producing more priests and devout young believers than anywhere else. Why? What people need now is the sense of calm and sacredness missing in other aspects of the world. Not another entertainment. Posted By: Joey

Peter Murphy, “Since when is Julian Porteous the arbiter on what is humorous?”
Bishop Porteous isn’t the arbiter on what is humorous. He isn’t telling the Comedy Channel or Rove Live to cut down on jokes and humour. He isn’t telling the comedians at Melbourne Comedy Festival to stop joking around! He is talking about humour at mass, which, whether people on this like it or not…is his field of passion and concern!!
There are places for humour and there aren’t. Suffice to say you’re having an intimate moment with your loved one, and he/she just cracks jokes, or just talks about footy. How would you feel? Or when you’re training a trainee, he just jokes around, and when you get serious, he just says, “Lighten up boss. Just a bit of humour!” Or if the speaker at a citizenship ceremony were to just to crack a joke. Or what about in the parliament house? Or a judge in a courthouse cracks a witty joke? Or someone at a press conference?
There are times for solemnity and there are times for humour and fun. And as if we’re running “any” short on humour and fun with all the entertainment around us anyway!
Bishop Porteous should be supported for trying to restoring what has been lost and not trying to win the popularity by putting a clown hat on. Posted By: Joey

You have got to be joking! Laughter is good for the soul. We are getting so far away from the 1st expression of Eucharist where Jesus sat down with his friends for a meal – the church is killing the spirit of this ‘remembrance’ through its need to control and dictate this celebration, yes celebration, of the Eucharist. Posted By: AM Tray

And thanks Phillip Turnbull. A “smile” from a joke will fade as quickly as it came. Chances are no one will remember the joke anyway, NOR would people come to that parish because the priest has a reputation for telling good jokes.
Either way, young people have been over-stimulated by the media, and however good the joke is, they will think the mass and the priest are still lame.
But, even the most “unchurched” youth would not be able to ignore the deep sense of mystery in solemn masses. There, one is filled and leaves the mass with “glow” after such solemn masses, with a sense of having been filled. Then, smile just comes naturally for one has experienced something that is profound, good, and joyful. And this smile will last for a very long time. Posted By: Joey

John and TJ, I guess I have to disagree with both of you here. We attend Mass not to be entertained but to adore God. Posted By: Domingo

Life’s a joke. That’s the bottom line. Seriousness is something lost in our generation exposed to the abuses of Vatican II. Mass is just entertainment like the late night comedy talk shows right? Handshakes, hugs, clapping, holding hands, etc. Maybe kneel during Consecration. When the solemnity and sacrality of the Mass breaks down, one sees the kind of reaction of those lambasting Bishop Porteous. This way of being, mentality and manner of thinking weren’t formed overnight. It is a result of years, even decades of self-demolition inside the Church. Posted By: Joe

This age seems to have no concept of appropriateness. Everyone touching everyone, kissing and hugging extends into the realm of the sacred where priests are more comfortable walking in the gutter than pulling their flock from the gutter. It seems to me that mankind is slipping backwards several hundred years and shares more with the basest folks in the Globe Theatre than with anyone who might be considered cultured. Posted By: Priscilla Taylor


I agree that we should not foster the cult of personality in the Church (as in Father is there to entertain us and be popular) but I don’t think it is contradicting the Bishop to say that adding humour or a religious joke, that has a relevant lesson in it, during the homily would be inappropriate as long as it supported the Gospel truths being taught. However the only priest that I know that ended every Mass with a joke ended up leaving the priesthood (and he was a well liked competent Pastor). So I think the best way to leave Mass with a smile is to listen attentively to the Word of God, pray from the heart, receive the Holy Eucharist with a clear conscience and join in wholeheartedly praising the Holy Trinity before processing out! (And then enjoy fellowship with your fellow parishioners outside). Posted By: S.P.

People should not leave Mass with a smile because the priest cracks a joke. The Mass is not about the priest, it’s about Jesus Christ. We should leave the Mass with the peace of Christ and the joy of salvation – not in a human gathering, but in a supernatural event that brings a deeper union with the LIVING GOD. The Holy Mass is the public worship of God and not of self. When a community becomes closed in on itself, through their own “creative” Liturgy, it is no longer God they worship but themselves. Shame on you Sr. Susan Connelly, you attack the leaders of the Church for exercising their rightful ministry; I guess you reject Vatican II, but that is another topic! Posted By: Fr. F

I take it that very few of those who ‘enjoy the joke’ at the end of mass, would kneel after mass and say thank you i.e. pray in thanksgiving to Our Lord and/or to Blessed Virgin Mary for what we have just received. Instead, we don’t wait to get out of church to discuss our day. Loud voices and laughter are not unusual. Can we not wait till we reach outside the church also respecting those who remain after mass to pray? Posted By: mark

Thank you, Bishop Porteous for speaking out about this. You are truly a voice crying out in the desert for these times. Sadly, God gets little if no respect anymore, and this is another sign of our becoming too attached to the ways of this world. I don’t go to Mass to be entertained, but to empty myself before the Lord, praying that I may truly be worthy to receive Him in the Eucharist. The loss of silence in the Church, and the lack of wonder and awe expressed at Mass these days is very, very sad. Posted By: Irene

Teresa, Susan Connelly can say anything she likes and wants, as a fellow human being, a Catholic and a citizen of this world- she has all the rights to do so. And may I say, she not only said it because she has the rights, but rightly said too! Posted By: TJ Lawson

The Bishop is correct in this situation. If we truly believe that Jesus is Present in the Eucharist and this is Sacred then no jokes, football, or even clapping should be allowed in the Church. If this continues it waters down the true faith and the belief in the Eucharist that sits behind the priest in the tabernacle. Honour our Lord. Posted By: John Preiss

I’ll join my support with those in favour of the bishop’s statements. Those invoking a celebratory Last Supper in the vein of a modern Jewish Passover must not have read the Gospel. I suggest you do so and you will see that there was nothing laughable in it. To refresh your memory, Christ tells His apostles He is to be betrayed by one of them and ‘woe to the man’.-Not funny. Christ tells them all they will ‘be scandalized in me’.-Not funny. He reveals His coming crucifixion.-Definitely not funny. Then afterward, He goes to the garden of Gethsemane and there tells Peter, James, and John that “My soul is sorrowful even unto death.”-Really not funny… I seriously doubt that any of them were in a joke cracking mood. We are to live our lives joyfully, for Christ bought us our redemption, but the Holy Mass is a very solemn occasion. We are acknowledging that He died, horribly, for us. During Mass, look up at the Crucifix. Do you really think you should be laughing? Posted By: Pamela

People should not need jokes to make them smile when leaving church at the end of Mass. What should make them smile is the fact that they had an opportunity to have their venial sins forgiven, have listened to the Word of God and hopefully apply it to their lives that week, have offered themselves to the Father spiritually on the paten with the bread, have witnessed the Presence of Christ on the altar, have prayed with the worshipping community, have received the Body of Christ into their souls, and have been blessed by the priest at the end of the celebration. And that’s what it is – a celebration of the Eucharist. That’s what should make people smile when leaving church. Posted By: Sr. Mary Macri

My biggest peeve is clapping during the Mass…totally disrespectful Posted By: D McDonnell

I also agreed with the Bishop, but what about during the homily – there are times when a priest could crack a little joke. This would also be appropriate. Thank you and God bless you. Posted By: Mary Sumalinog

Oh dear… We have a universal God that is dead serious, needs and craves our adoration, punishes us and hates us when we have humour, he doesn’t care if we feel good, he only cares how we worship him in Latin and with utter seriousness; And not the least, he (man of course) the universal God only converses in Roman-Latin (European mainly), he loves sweet smoke, tinkling bells, and plenty of costumes and dressing up (some with hats too); and Jesus, he is not Jewish, he doesn’t speak Aramaic Hebrew, and he is obsessed with how his disciples are going to worship him over his bloody sacrifice, not remembering him and his teachings in the meals that they’ve shared with together, Jesus is completely egoistical about how people adore him?;
Isn’t he about bringing about peace with justice- not so much the bells, smoke, laces around the table and vestments, the golden-jeweled chalices and ciborium; forget about the poor, the hungry, the marginalised, the persecuted, the war-torn, the refugees… as long as you worship him, pray in Latin, do it seriously and only think of him in a one-dimensional hierarchical manner, then you are a good Catholic- is that is what the Eucharist is all about…? Pathetic aren’t we. Posted By: TJ Lawson

I do tell a joke at the end of every mass (on Sundays). I think that if there is a provision for announcements in the GIRM (which there is), I use that “announcement time” to wrap them up with a joke. I don’t find it inappropriate. But I do not tell a joke on the special solemnities. Posted By: Fr. G

It’s bad enough that we have goofy music; we don’t need to add goofy jokes by the priest. I suppose if the priest had a pre-clergy life as a stand up comic and that was his persona is one thing, I guess. I believe there is always some one in Mass that goes because there has been a personal tragedy, (divorce, a death, a job loss). Then you have to listen to a Jay Leno wannabe… Posted By: Juan Oskar

Wow, there are a lot of people aggrieved by the attempts at humour that some of our ‘dastardly’ priests are perpetrating on the people of God. Grumbles about this, grumbles about that…. I’m a pretty “straight down the line” Catholic, I like things done ‘right’ and reverently, but I don’t mind a clever quip or humorous aside during the homily. I understand Bishop Julian’s point of view… obviously the emphasis must be on the sacredness of the mass, but I don’t altogether agree that the ‘man’/priest who leads us, needs to exhibit no personality. Particularly in his homily… this is a time for this priest to allow the Holy Spirit to shine through him in the uniqueness of his character… some people are naturally humorous, and still able to deliver a powerful and inspiring message.
Finally, I would have to say that my greatest concern about mass is the ‘chosen frozen’ that sit in the pews and do not reach out to those around them… this is a far greater worry to Jesus, than a few ill timed jokes.
Dear ones, bless your priests… love them… encourage them… honour them… cheer them on!!! Posted By: c.d.

I agree with Bishop Porteous’ comment, and priests should truly set a good example in making the Holy Mass, truly holy. And may I add, one big complaint I have is, after the Holy Mass people start talking, forming groups inside the church, at times in front of the Blessed Tabernacle, thus making it like a market.

I wish that bishops and priests should address this matter. Also, some people during the Holy Mass are talking; some before and after Holy Communion, they continue talking and this is very distracting and upsetting to those who want to pray and the solemnity is lost. Jokes and talking inside the church, specially before, during and after the Holy Mass should indeed be avoided. We should all welcome the hour of silence in the church as we are bombarded with the noise outside and inside our own homes–the TV, the loud music, etc. Posted By: C. Robinson

One of the biggest laughing matters is the dreadful taste and choice of music in the Church. One group who constantly laugh at us are Protestants who work for us – on their way to the bank to deposit their salaries. This is no laughing matter however; it is a disgrace and injustice to Catholics with good taste and incredible talent who will not suffer foolishness. Posted By: Brent Egan

Bishop Julian, I agree that some jokes may be inappropriate but the God I believe in laughs, smiles and enjoys us immensely. Even in the Scriptures, there is evidence of Jesus’ humour and wit. I really can’t see what the fuss is about. The occasional humour at Mass is surely part of the broad range of human emotions and responses that we experience and celebrate. Eucharist must reflect the full spectrum of our human living. Priests are not disembodied robots when they preside at liturgy. Let’s lighten up a little! Surely God wants our happiness – in everything we do. Posted By: Marty

Well! The overwhelming vote, according to this blog page is for Bishop Porteous. I imagined myself to be one of only a few who deplore banality at Mass, but so many others yearn for a restoration of the sense of the sacred. It does my heart good. Bishop Porteous’ remark has brought forth also other issues which concern us Catholics – like dreadful kindergarten ditties which go under “music”, clapping, and talking before and after Mass. Some of us are being driven out of our Churches at the end of Mass by either conversations or – dare I say it – loud recitation of the Rosary. How we need to regain a sense of silence. Posted By: Ro Ro

Bishop Porteous lives in a bygone era. The Eucharistic celebration is about the community and life. When a good joke is told by the priest or bishop I have found it often draws the community together. To say a priest is indulging in his personality when he tells a joke at mass is insulting to me and to the priest. May good jokes continue to be shared in our gatherings. Posted By: Val Deakin

No wonder liberals gnash their teeth at Papa Benedetto’s deep reflections – they can’t even understand an Aussie bishop speaking plainly. Folks, – if you just read what Bishop Porteous has to say, you’ll see he’s NOT banishing humour which might occur incidentally and he’s NOT condemning jokes as such.
What he IS condemning is self-indulgence: the corny , the self-serving, and the lame-fisted – as exemplified by that coterie of nauseously egocentric priests one finds in every diocese who insist on a joke at the end of every Mass – usually more than they insist on the rubrics of the liturgy itself. The insistence of end of mass humour by a priest is directly proportional to his willingness to depart from the text and rubrics of the Missal.
At the traditional Mass I attend, there are often humorous or ironic remarks made – during the homily, appropriately – which in no way detract from the solemnity of the liturgy.
It’s particularly ironic to observe these liberals humourlessly assailing Bishop Porteous over his alleged attack on humour: these liberals, who pride themselves so on being “nuanced”, who whine endlessly about “fundamentalist” Catholics and their “proof text” theology, themselves excelling in simplistic distortions of the Bishop’s sensible, timely and – dare I utter the word – nuanced, remarks. Kudos to Matthew Dewar for his observations. Posted By: HH

“Seriousness is something lost in our generation exposed to the abuses of Vatican II.” (Joe) and
“Shame on you Sr. Susan Connelly … I guess you reject Vatican II” (Fr. F).
Spot the contradiction? Vatican II has caused the decay into humour, (Joe) and is also the upholder of seriousness (Fr. F). No wonder opinions are divided! Try this: “A priest should be bald, to show wisdom, be fat to show contentment, and have haemhorroids to preserve a gravely serious face”. I was told this joke in the seminary – but now I’m thinking it was no joke.- Boutros neru

Boutros, read my words carefully. I said “abuse” of Vatican II. Not Vatican II. Abuse as in how Vatican II has become an excuse for many who would rather see the Church turned into just another Hillsong concert.- Joey

It has been said: “Can you imagine the Blessed Virgin, St. John and the other followers of Jesus telling jokes at the foot of the Cross. After all isn’t that what the Mass is?” But can you imagine the apostles or Jesus’ disciples taking a collection at the foot of the Cross? Yet we have collections between 2-3 at Mass. If a joke is said by a priest, it is usually at the end after a final prayer and blessing. I don’t think it undermines the sacredness of the Word or Eucharist. I think the majority of priests are intelligent enough to know when a joke is appropriate. I doubt a joke would ever be used in the proclamation of the Word or Celebration of the Eucharist.
One of the most endearing Bishops, Bishop David Cremin, has the most wonderful sense of humour. This was often shared in his homilies or at the conclusion of Mass. In no way has Bishop Cremin EVER compromised the sacred liturgy of the Mass. And yet, Bishop Cremin’s sense of humour was one of his endearing qualities that inspired you to listen and be immersed in the Spirit. I feel Bishop Porteous’ comments are too generalised and undermine the intelligence and judgements of priests. Posted By: Concerned


One of my friends suggests that we should not
after the closing hymn. He says that the song should direct souls to the Lord. I find it unnatural if we don’t applaud.

The church is not a concert hall and the liturgy is not a performance. We are there to direct our attention to God—not to each other. There is a time and place for everything. The church is for prayer—not performances. If you want to convey your appreciation for the music, compliment the director after Mass.-Fr Vincent Serpa


When is it appropriate to applaud at Mass? To do so appears to reduce the Mass to the level of entertainment, but so many people do it nowadays that I’d like to know if the Church has any teaching about it.

There is no Church document specifying applause as an appropriate liturgical response to music, singing, homilies, or announcements of gratitude by the presider.
Although the Church does not explicitly state that applause is inappropriate at Mass, that may be because such a stricture used to be enforced by Western society. As a matter of traditional Western etiquette, it used to be severely frowned upon to applaud in church because church services are worship offered up to God and not entertainment to be critiqued by the assembly.
Now that society has generally lost the sense that applause is inappropriate in church, I suspect that the Church may soon have to speak on the matter before people take the idea to its logical conclusion and begin to boo when they are insufficiently entertained at Mass.-Michelle Arnold


“Good morning” no more

April 6, 2009 Some Leeds priests have stopped saying “good morning” to their congregations after a diocesan meeting on the work of the International Commission of English in the Liturgy expressed concerns that services had become too informal.

The UK Telegraph reports that priests at the meeting, held in the Diocese of Leeds, were told to question whether it was appropriate to say “good morning” once the priest was on the altar and had made the sign of the cross.

Following the meeting, some priests in the diocese told their congregations that they would no longer greet them in an informal manner at the start of services.

A spokesman for the diocese said: “The review of the liturgy is looking at whether there are elements of the service that have become a bit too distracting. People might argue that if you go in to a house, you say ‘hi’, but the priest is not going in to a house. He is going in to a sacred service. We need to emphasise that the priest is president of the community and is presiding at the service. It is a debate that has been going on in the Church for a long time, are we doing a cabaret or are we actually celebrating the Eucharist? The fear is that if some guidance is not given and general decisions are not put down, the interpretation of the liturgy leads to unsuitable things, like strobe lights and girls in hot pants. The aim of the new translation is to bring more dignity to the service.”

SOURCE Priests stop saying ‘good morning’ to their congregations (UK Telegraph)

International Commission of English in the Liturgy


I think saying “Good Morning” to a congregation is a sign of welcome and respect. We may not be going to a house for a party but we are coming together as a family and the normal way of greeting one another is with a sign of recognition. Posted By: Liz

I know a former PP who used to say “thank you” after we in the pews said our responses of “And also with you”. This table manners nonsense shows that the stupidity of ‘Mass as meal’ is not yet dead.-Michael Webb

I think it is a longstanding outrage, a desecration that we the catholic faithful have had to endure a “good morning” at mass. In fact it is disgraceful that we have to endure the mass in the vernacular (English), in fact it is disgraceful that we should even hear the mass, it should be whispered while we kneel grateful in the knowledge that the priest is communicating with God on our behalf of course we should not forget to contribute as much as possible in the collection plate. The creed should state we should “pray, pay and obey” (whatever the rendition of this is in Latin). Posted By: Elias Nasser

What is worse is when we have to endure the priests commenting on football matches and the like in the messages prior to the final blessing. Posted By: Pastór de Lasala

The ongoing imposition on liturgy by those who don’t seem to appreciate Eucharist in its fullest sense and should know better Posted By: Des Welladsen

I’ve always hated that ‘good morning’ after the greeting at Mass. Not because it’s too casual and we should be more pompous, nor because it’s a bad thing to greet people in a way that means something. The problem is that that warm “good morning” also says “what I have just finished saying to you was not really a greeting so I had better say ‘good morning’ just so you know we’re really here together.” When you have just wished people something as profound as that the grace of the Lord Jesus and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit might be with them, what’s the point of saying ‘good morning’? The important thing is to say that as though you mean it, and say it to the people, not to the book! Posted By: Dan Madigan

This is a reflection of the worrying return of Vatican interference in micro-managing every aspect of Catholic Life. Already too many masses are like requiems rather than celebrations of Eucharist. Posted By: Paul W

Elias, I find your comments extreme. Your assumption seems to be that the Holy Spirit had nothing to do with the major changes in the Mass including the use of the vernacular. The bishops voted for all those changes (I am not referring to any inappropriate exaggerations in this or that community). So, if you are speaking as a Catholic why this desire to usher God’s church into some silent corner in which you would feel comfortable, it seems, but which, if you believe God is guiding His church, God does not want? Posted By: Mike Yates

‘Stupidity of ‘Mass as meal’ – If the Last Supper was not a meal could someone explain what it actually was?

Posted By: Peter

Peter, the Last Supper may have been a meal, but it is not the Mass, i.e. we as Catholics have never equated the Mass simply with the Last Supper, another reason why such informalities have no place at Mass. Recall the Catechism, n. 1382 “The Mass is at the same time, and inseparably, the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord’s body and blood. But the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice is wholly directed toward the intimate union of the faithful with Christ through communion. To receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us- Fr B

The results of the Leeds diocesan meeting are banal, in the extreme. Will the “distraction” of babies crying, coins jingling and sirens wailing cause further strictures on how ‘communion’ is exercised? I fear a movement exists within the Catholic Church which will not be satisfied until the celebration of the Eucharist is a secret society, accessed only by invitation and conducted in a language unknown to all the participants.- Chris C

It’s great to know how busy they are at the Vatican – so many big issues to deal with. What a pity they aren’t being dealt with. Posted By: Janet Godsell

Quote: “and general decisions are not put down, the interpretation of the liturgy leads to unsuitable things, like strobe lights and girls in hot pants.” I have been to dozens of Catholic Churches all over Australia in my travels, and I must say, I have personally not witnessed any strobe lighting etc. after the priest welcoming us.
I have to say that Churches that are big on “welcoming the stranger” seem to have a much more Christian attitude and larger congregations. I too believe that the Eucharist is a celebration of the Last Supper. Any way that is what I was taught at school and in Homilies. Posted By: Chris

This has got me wondering about how formal was the Last Supper. Posted By: Kathleen Cudmore

Mike Yates, thanks for your concern about me. It was very much a tongue in cheek contribution, actually.
The real outrage is that there are people around (liturgical extremists) who do want to micromanage the way everything is done in the liturgy. It is as if the liturgy is an end in itself: it is clearly not; it is a prayer by which we should orient our lives in terms of practical living.

Those for whom the extraordinary rite is the “purest expression of the liturgy” are having themselves on: they know nothing about the evolution of the roman liturgy in history. So please don’t fret about me Mike, I’m about as “liberal” as you can get when it comes to things Catholic. Posted By: Elias Nasser

I’m not a stakeholder here, as I’m a Latin mass exclusivist white male above and to the right of Genghis Khan. But I can dimly remember the days when I went to the Novus Ordo and cringed at beginning and end of liturgies with this guff going on. It’s a minor reason why I fled the whole scene. The change in Leeds is a baby step but in the right direction. A bigger step is the appointment of Fr Wadsworth as head of ICEL. A holy and brilliant priest – and the best sermoniser I have ever heard. Since we’re between Septuagesima Sunday and Easter, I can’t shout ‘h……a’ from the rooftops, but shall do so immediately after Saturday’s vigil finishes.-Hugh

I think some people need to take a step back and realise that polarising the issue ain’t gonna help. We need to realise that there’s a big difference between the priest saying “Good Morning/Evening” at the beginning of the Mass and… cabaret with strobe lights and hot pants? Really? Posted By: Alex Knight

Bravo to these priests in attempting to put a gap between the sacred and the profane. It’s time here in Australia, too, for non-sacred language and actions to be taken out of mass, in a kind, gentle fashion, by our priests. Casual greetings, announcing who’s doing the readings or taking up the gifts, and then thanking them for performing these tasks, chatting in front of the blessed sacrament before, during and after mass, and applauding people instead of praying for them or thanking God for their service. All these things belong in social clubs and work meetings. Our churches are for God, not for us. That’s why they’re called places of worship, not community halls. In fact, that’s why we build parish halls!

Informality blurs the lines between what is sacred and what is ordinary, helping to make a church just another place to get together and affirm our relationship with each other, not a place where our entire focus , even if for only one hour a week, is on our Lord and Saviour. The ultimate result of this blurring, of course, is that all too often the church becomes just another place to get together. “Well, we can do that anywhere.” think of the masses of people who don’t bother to come to Mass anymore. Posted By: Paul Keen

Whilst I have no problem in theory with a celebrant greeting the assembly at the commencement of a liturgy, Mass or otherwise, I think it works best after the sign of the cross but before the opening prayer. However, I often wonder if this might best be done at the commencement of the homily?
But the problem is that when a celebrant says good morning, a response must then be made by the assembly, and frankly, for a church full of people to reply,” Good morning Father, or Peter, or Jack” en masse, reminds me somewhat of primary school where the teacher says “Good morning children”… and the response “Good morning Sister, or Miss or Sir, God bless shoo”! Can’t we Catholics traditional or liberal grow up? There is plenty of opportunity for us all to greet each other prior to or after a liturgy, as well as at the sign of peace.
If it is important for a celebrant to greet the assembly at the beginning of a liturgy, then it probably best works where a response is not elicited. For example:
“I bid you good morning and welcome to St. Peter’s, St. Mary’s etc, for our celebration of the liturgy…etc. etc.. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” or which ever greeting is used.
This way the assembly does not have to respond but has been greeted and knows that it is welcome.
We Catholics have a lot to do to drag our liturgy out of mediocrity and into something that assumes intelligence on the part of the assembly, and presents prayer and ritual that makes sense for 21st century, by and large, educated society. We could take a few tips from the Anglicans and Protestants in this regard. After all, they have had centuries to get it right! Posted By: Thomas Amory

I think, Mr. Nasser, that most EF-ers I know (and that is quite a few) could easily give you a large handicap and win any reasonable quiz on the history of the liturgy, some of them not merely the current Roman Rite, but also on several eastern and western rites. Go read Dr. Alcuin Reid’s masterly Organic Development of the Liturgy, or Dom Beauduin’s A Short History of the Western Liturgy, or the several books of Fortescue’s on the Eastern and Western Liturgies, before challenging other people’s knowledge of history.
Would you be so kind as to inform me, where the “good morning” in the liturgy has its precedence, or of shaking hands at the sign of peace? Also, I think I would much prefer the priest to be praying to God than uttering meaningless niceties to me. The liturgy is not an end in itself: Nobody seriously thinks that. But neither, as most moderns have it, am I the point of everything that happens. Rather, the liturgy is the ultimate prayer of the Church that most tangibly leads us to God. Posted By: Adeodatus

Dear God preserve us from those who would impose their will on every aspect of our relationships with God and with each other as members of faith communities. Girls in hot pants is a red herring to have ‘us’ peasants in the pews believe we are going to be saved by ‘them’ in Rome who seem not to recognise anyone outside their immediate control as contributing to the ‘Body of Christ’. Perhaps ‘they’ should experience the dignity of the Eucharist celebrated on a farm house verandah once a quarter with people travelling long distances to be a part of the life-giving experience of the Eucharistic Meal. Posted By: Kevin and Jan Rowland

Surely the words ‘Do this in Memory of Me’ go to the essence of why we celebrate mass today.-Peter

I’ve just spent the last two weeks teaching years 7-12 that “good’ actually equates with God in our English language. “Goodbye” is actually ‘God be with ye’. The problem we have in using English in the Liturgy is that some would say that everyday English is not good enough – “Good Morning” obviously means more a greeting that God is with you than The Lord be with you-and also with your spirit language.
Hopefully, over time, people may come round to knowing the Godly meaning of our everyday words and we can use such beautiful greetings “The Lord be with you” without thinking it’s some Vatican plot to take our rights away. We are childish at times!!!!! Posted By: Fr Mick Mac Andrew

Any liturgical practice or ‘omission’ that may assist the congregation in the Eucharist preparation (i.e. respect, dignity, adoration) is worthy of consideration. We wouldn’t dress in “hot pants” to see the Queen of England. What honour then, is due in the house of the King of heaven and earth?
A ‘good morning’ does set a casual tone, one of which is used in ordinary daily dialogue between friends, acquaintances, relatives etc. The Mass is sacred, let’s treat it so! Posted By: CN

I worked with a lovely PP in North Queensland last year. At weekday Masses he would welcome us with a greeting BEFORE making the Sign of the Cross. Sunday with a procession up the nave, he did not do so as it would have been out of place in the ceremony. I have known many PPs including in my present parish who also greet the congregation before the Sign of the Cross. I am stunned by this latest bit of “political correctness”. Sure the Mass is a solemn rite and deserves respect, but it is nice to feel welcomed as a worshipping Community by the Presider. By the way in both Parishes we are invited by the Commentator to exchange greetings. Is that going to be taboo too? By: Gavin O’Brien

Hooray for old Leeds. Don’t you hate that banal greeting, following the beautiful “The Lord be with you” and the others? And I hate just as fervently the chaos which arises once the Priest says: “Let us offer one another a sign of peace”. We’ve lost so much in terms of respect, reverence and awe before the wondrous mystery of Christ in the Eucharist. So, to my once familiar diocese of Leeds: Well done! Posted By: Ro Ro

Beyond belief! No wonder people are staying away from the liturgy. Young people feel alienated enough already; a warm welcome sets an atmosphere for a prayerful participation in the liturgy.-Carmel Spratt

The problem with saying ‘Good Morning’ after beginning Mass with the sign of the cross and ‘The Lord be with you’ is that having begun something that is liturgical and places us in a sacred sphere, the priest immediately removes himself and the congregation from that special sphere back to the mundane. In one Australian cathedral, one of the priests would begin the Mass, and having greeted the people with The Lord be with you, he would then say: “In other words – Good Morning.” I always hoped he would go back to the seminary and study Liturgy again. So few priests and so few of the laity seem to understand what these sacred words mean.
When the revised liturgy is introduced, I pray that there will be a broad education offered to the laity to help them understand what they are saying, so that we can all worship with heart and mind. But before this can occur, I feel quite a number of our priests need to be re-introduced to the meaning of liturgical texts and rituals. many seem totally ignorant of their deeper meanings. That’s why we have the mess we do in some places. Posted By: Phillip Turnbull

Why does it take a diocesan meeting of clergy to arrive at the conclusion that ‘Good morning’ is not part of the liturgy and therefore is not to be said? Why does this ‘revelation’ of the diocesan priests of Leeds make headline news in the Catholic World? Posted By: Becket

Right on Phillip! “The Lord be with you” is the welcome. It is significantly more appropriate (not political) in the opening of a prayer to assist the elevation of the mind, heart and soul (for both Priest and parishioners) to God.
It certainly is not about being “politically” correct (that’s funny, since when is the Church politically correct?) but rather it relates to acting as one must in a place of worship.
Everybody has fitting practices in the work place, at home, at a wedding etc … why is it so hard for people to understand why customs are in place at a Mass – where God manifests Himself far more intimately then any other place on earth? Good morning is a nice greeting! It is used every day by billions of people around the world. No one said there is anything wrong with saying Good Morning! In the context of the Mass however it is highly unsuitable. I mean, the greatest mystery in the world is about to take place! Why would a priest say Good Morning to people when the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is about to come?! Posted By: CN

Sorry KH and Fr Mac, whilst it’s true that “Goodbye” is a contraction of “God be with ye”, “good” does NOT mean or equate with “God” in English or any other related language. The two words are quite unrelated. See Posted By: Ronk

Ronk, does not Jesus say that “only God is good”…..therefore, goodness belongs to God. God is good. God is love. Praise Ya! Posted By: Francis

God is indeed the essence of goodness. But “God” is not and never has been the same word as “good”. And some even call a morning spent sinning, a “good” morning. Posted By: Ronk



Konkani Catholics Digest No. 1967 dated July 30, 2009.
During the daily Mass which we attend (thanks to spare time that we get due to children’s summer vacation!) I was a bit confused about the proceedings.
1. During the Trinitarian Blessing, normally priest says, “The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
2. In Concluding Rite, during dismissal, the priest says “The Mass is ended. Let us go in peace to love and serve the Lord”
But on many occasions, these prayers are replaced by spontaneous prayers by the priests. Can you please explain if it is mandatory to recite the same or the celebrant can use his own words similar to the prayers? Yvonne

The two texts that you are referring to are the Greeting in the Introductory Rites and the Dismissal in the Concluding Rite. For each of these, three optional formulas are given in the Roman Missal printed in India. The option or choice is only between what is given, and not to substitute them with a self-composed formula.
The new General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM 2002) makes this very clear:
“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.”
The words “Where it is indicated in the rubrics” show that unless the rubrics of the Mass provide the celebrant with the option to use his own words, he may not use his own words. The rubrics concerning the introductory Greetings and Dismissal do not indicate any option to use one’s own words. Hence the celebrant must only choose between the various formulas for Greeting and Dismissal given in the Missal.
Though this is very clear, the confusion is caused by the fact that even the recent Roman Missal published in India uses an older version and translation of the GIRM which justified such changes basing itself on an older (1973) Circular:
“It is also up to the priest in the exercise of his office of presiding over the assembly to pronounce the instructions and words of INTRODUCTION and CONCLUSION that are provided in the rites themselves. By their very nature these introductions do not need to be expressed verbatim in the form in which they are given in the Missal; at least in certain cases it will be advisable to adapt them somewhat to the concrete situation of the community” (GIRM No. 11, Pg xxi, The Roman Missal, Second Revised Edition 1986, Third Reprint 2006, (c) NBCLC, Bangalore)
That’s what caused the confusion. But now that doesn’t hold. The latest GIRM which I quoted earlier makes that amply clear. But in practice, it will be a while before priests notice that change. My guess is that this is not likely to happen till the New English Missal comes. Austine Crasta, moderator
[See comment of Fr. Dias on page 7.]


Benedict’s Previous Writing May Portend Change in Mass and Bishops Conferences

April 25, 2005

If he adheres to positions he took as a cardinal, Pope Benedict XVI could prove to be a pontiff who clamps down on liturgical abuse (especially the freelancing of priests during Holy Mass) and strips bishops’ committees of at least some of their power.

Speaking of bishops, Benedict XVI, in a book called The Ratzinger Report,  said he never tired of warning that the Church “needs saints more than functionaries” — an apparent allusion to the worldliness in the lifestyle of many clerics — and pointed out that the role of bishops, who were to be given a more decisive role in the wake of Vatican II,  was being “restrained” or even “smothered” by what he described as “the insertion of bishops into episcopal conferences that are ever more organized, often with burdensome bureaucratic structures. “We must not forget that the episcopal conferences have no theological basis, they do not belong to the structure of the Church, as willed by Christ, that cannot be eliminated; they have only a practical, concrete function,” he said in the book, which was first published in 1985 and may be the most telling volume by the current Pope, with opinions that, it appears, stand to this day.

What such views may portend — if they indeed still stand — for conferences such as the powerful United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is not yet clear. As prefect for the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Pope Benedict warned that such conferences produced a herd-like mentality, reducing the individuality of bishops and piling on yet another layer of bureaucracy. The Pope’s own Congregation functioned with 30 people — far less than the number employed by most diocesan offices.

Some of the new Pope’s strongest statements were reserved for the Mass itself.

In a book called Das Fest des Glaubens, or “The Feast of Faith,” which is discussed in The Ratzinger Report, Pope Benedict worried about which liturgical reforms would be “real improvements” and which would be “trivializations” in the wake of the Vatican Council.

“It follows that we must be far more resolute than heretofore in opposing rationalistic relativism, confusing claptrap and pastoral infantilism,” he said pointedly, and presciently. “These things degrade the liturgy to the level of a parish tea party and the intelligibility of the popular newspaper. With this in mind we shall also have to examine the reforms already carried out, particularly in the area of the Rituale.They were biting words and indicate that beneath the pontifical veneer may remain the ironclad warrior of orthodoxy.

Pope Benedict said that many liturgical treasures, as he had warned in Das Fest des Glaubens, indeed had been “squandered away.”
“One shudders at the lackluster face of the post-conciliar liturgy as it has become, or one is simply bored with its hankering after banality and its lack of artistic standards,” he said in the follow-up book. It would be easy to show, he said, how “the surrender of the beautiful” has resulted in a “pastoral defeat.”

Although Pope Benedict saw great merit in bringing vernacular to the liturgy and instituting the Novus Ordo Mass, he lamented about the way Latin had been stripped from religion when the Council, he said, clearly pointed out that “the use of the Latin language, with due respect to particular law, is to be preserved in the Latin rites” and that “care must be taken to ensure that the faithful may also be able to say or sing in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.” “The liturgy is not a show, a spectacle,
requiring brilliant producers and talented actors,” said Benedict. “The life of the liturgy does not consist in ‘pleasant’ surprises and attractive ‘ideas’ but in solemn repetitions.”

As regards clapping, singing, and shaking hands, Cardinal Ratzinger, while not disapproving them as part of the congregation’s involvement, said that “it was forgotten that the Council also included silence under actuoso participatio, for silence facilitates a really deep, personal participating, allowing us to listen inwardly to the Lord’s Word. Many liturgies now lack all traces of silence.”


Inclusion of jokes in the homily

October 19, 2009

Every Sunday our priest begins his homily with one or two jokes. He also adds another joke during the middle of the homily, and, at times, at the close of his homily.

Is the telling of a joke or jokes, during the Homily, according to the G.I.R.M. permitted?
The congregation does not appear to object. In fact they seem to enjoy the laughter it brings. However, that laughter, in my opinion, could distract them from the truth of Christ’s message.
I, personally, do not appreciate them. I do not feel that they are appropriate during the Homily of Sunday Mass.
Please advice me. If I am wrong I will learn to accept them. –Vincent

Actually the Church doesn’t give specific guidelines about what may or not be said/done in a homily.  Of course there are the general guidelines that the homilist must explain the readings, nurture the Christian life, etc.

I don’t see a problem with having jokes in the homily as long as they have something to do with the readings of the day or pertain in some way to the lesson of the homily which normally should be taken from the Gospel.

Any joke that doesn’t have anything to do at all with the aid of religious instruction has no place during Mass, because the Church is not a standup comedy club.  However if the homilist is able to use the joke in some way to explain the Gospel, even if the joke itself has nothing to do with the Gospel, then I don’t see a problem. –Jacob Slavek

Categories: Liturgical Abuses

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