JULY 28, 2015
10 things you might be doing wrong at Mass
By David Rummelhoff, July 24, 2015
Maybe it’s because we’ve just adopted these habits, maybe we’re just lazy…let’s take a bit of a tongue-in-cheek look at some common practices that may need correction during the Holy Mass.
Here are 10 things you might be doing wrong at mass.
1. Changing posture early
Seriously, what’s the deal? Why can’t we just wait ’til we actually finish the Sanctus before kneeling? Do you love kneeling that much? Do you think being the first person to sit will get you a prize? “Hey Bill, what’s that medal for?” “Well, I sat the fastest after the collect at a mass back in ’85”. Yeah, not gonna happen.
Let’s make a point to do things together next time. Cool? Cool.
2. Leaving before the Mass is over
AKA the “Judas Shuffle”. I’m sorry, did you think Mass was over as soon as you received the Eucharist? It’s as though some people think the proper response when receiving Holy Communion isn’t “Amen”, but “Goodbye”.
We should observe proper decorum for Mass: depart after the celebrant.
3. Genuflecting toward the altar
I see this constantly! Genuflecting is the most pronounced gesture we employ at Mass, so it is reserved for the highest good — the Eucharist Himself.
Where’s the Eucharist? In the Tabernacle. Some might be in this habit because the tabernacle is often directly behind the altar. Before getting in your pew, if and only IF the Tabernacle is visible, genuflect toward it. If it’s not in view, bow toward the altar. Now you know. And this applies outside of Mass too.
Speaking of bowing…
4. Nodding your head instead of a proper bow
Wherever bowing is called for in the Mass (when the congregation is incensed by the thurifer, in the middle of the Creed, etc.) it is always a “profound bow”, which just means that you bow from the waist.
The only time that we are told to bow our head only is “when the three Divine Persons are named together, and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the saint in whose honor Mass is being celebrated”.
5. Standing in the Orans position during the Our Father
No. Just no. You’ll see priests assume the Orans position (hands extended to the side) a few times; it is a posture that indicates that he is praying on our behalf, but not in the way that I pray for you. He’s praying on our behalf in persona Christi capitas.
This is why the rubrics don’t allow for deacons to adopt the Orans posture, and it’s the main reason we shouldn’t either.
6. Walking around at the Sign of Peace
What is this, social hour? Not only is this obnoxious (my opinion), but it’s illicit. The rubrics tell us that it is “appropriate that each person offer the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober manner”.
We all love you, but stay where you are.
7. Not saying “Amen” before receiving Communion
I can hardly believe this needs to be said, but it does.
When the priest, deacon, or EMHC elevates the host or chalice and says, “The Body/Blood of Christ”, you had better not be silent. It is imperative that those who receive can affirm belief in the Real Presence, so do what the Church asks. Say “Amen”. Amen? Amen!
8. Not singing
Admittedly, this might not be crucial, but neither the congregation nor the choir is singing for your amusement. Hymns, which are representative of the antiphons, are a response of the faithful as part of the Mass; making them a part of the prescribed “full, conscious, and active” participation in the Mass.
“Religious singing by the people is to be intelligently fostered so that in devotions and sacred exercises, as also during liturgical services, the voices of the faithful may ring out…” (118)
RING. OUT. Skill is not a prerequisite. Just, please, sing to the Lord.
9. Not saying the responses
Now, this one is more important than carrying a tune. How does somebody think that active participation in the liturgy is going to be accomplished without actively participating in the liturgy? Yes, it is primarily about interior disposition, but habitually refraining from the responses is a pretty solid sign of a poor disposition. Again, we worship together.
10. Arriving late
I know what the problem is, somebody told you that if you arrived by X and left after X, then you “officially” went to Mass and fulfilled your obligation.
Sed contra, my friend! There are no such limits. Our obligation is to attend a Sunday Mass, and that Mass begins and ends with the introductory rites and the concluding rites. If you happen to be late because of circumstances beyond your control, if you made an honest effort to be there on time, but you walked in at the Psalm, so be it; you’re fine. But if you had to catch the last 7 minutes of a game, and that’s why you’re late, then stop reading this and re-prioritize. (Confession might even be required.)
We’ll be looking at more of these liturgical no-no’s in future posts. The rubrics for the mass can be found in the General Instruction for the Roman Missal (GIRM). Check it out
About the author:
David Rummelhoff is a stay-at-home dad whose three little girls have him on a short leash since he finished his MA in theology. He pretends to have time to read and write, but he really spends his days incessantly preparing food for children with insatiable appetites and dangerous minds. He is the founder of Peter’s Mark.
So many people have missed the point of this article. “Church policing”? No. Judging others? No!
One of the reasons I wrote this was due to my own error. I attended my first EF Mass some months back, and I said, “Amen”, immediately before receiving Communion. It was an error, as some commenters have pointed out. But I didn’t know any better going in there. I had only received instruction concerning OF Masses — something true for almost everyone who entered the Church in the past half century. I wish that I had read an article like this beforehand, because I wouldn’t have been completely unfamiliar, and it would have made for a more fruitful experience for me.
These are guidelines; some serious, some not so much. This is intended to be catechetical and comical, and it’s unfortunate that many people have missed that.
Thankfully, a great many more people have enjoyed the article and were happy to receive instruction. Some were pleased to be confirmed in their practices, and others were pleased to learn something new.
I have not received or encountered a single negative statement from a deacon or priest (even though probability says there are some). And the issue of the Orans position, the one that is actually the most serious, is the one issue that priests and deacons have been quickest to point out as correct. It is the matter that parishioners are asking their priests about, and the priests are confirming that this is what the Church says.
I hope nobody who reads the article shows up at Mass ready to cast judgement on those who mistakenly employ the wrong gesture. I err too. Some people attending Ordinary Form Masses make mistakes because they are accustomed to attending EF Masses. Other people received poor catechesis, and they can hardly be blamed for doing as previously instructed.
Without gainsaying any of that, errors are errors. It’s not on me or you to judge or presume that someone is culpable or disrespectful, but we can objectively identify errors. -David Rummelhoff
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Categories: Liturgical Abuses