Can a priest customize the Mass to his own tastes?

I recently attended a Mass preceding a conference titled “Blessings of Age.” Most in attendance were in their 60’s or higher. The priest is retired and lives in the area. He volunteered to lead this conference. He came up the aisle chatting, hugging, greeting, and announcing to all “I talk in church.” He inserted his own language in various parts of the liturgy with a special preference for the phrase “Precious People of God.” He asked everybody to stand up and not kneel during the consecration. Instead of saying “Father look not upon our sins…”, he said “look not upon our faults and failings.” I asked him afterwards why he did not use the word sin and he said he likes the other phrase better. I asked him about not kneeling and he said that no one kneeled in the early church, that kneeling is penitential, and that we ought to stand as a sign of the resurrection. Can you comment on this?


Well, the Mass is not Father’s personal property to fashion according to his likes and dislikes. Age does not give him the authority to make such changes in the Mass. The rubrics are laws that govern the most sacred actions that take place on the face of the earth. They are to be humbly obeyed. Further, sin is a reality. Satan would like nothing better than for us to be in denial about sin. Those of us in our senior years need to be growing in honesty about our sinfulness; not softening such awareness.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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