Have You Ever Been Truly Instrumental in Effecting True Liturgical Reform?

I am curious as to how many of us have been truly instrumental in effecting true liturgical reform at our respective parishes?

Have you ever brought a liturgical irregularity or abuse to the attention of your pastor that he was not aware of? Something that was actually fixed after you gave him the missing information?[/LIST]

After working with your pastor have you ever effected true liturgical reform by elevating the issue(s) to your bishop?[/LIST]

After working with your pastor and bishop have you ever effected true liturgical reform by elevating the issue(s) to the Holy See (or anywhere else for that matter)?[/LIST]

Have you ever had the strong feeling that a liturgical irregularity or abuse came to a end in your parish because your fervent prayers were answered?[/LIST]

Have you ever been truly instrumental in effecting true liturgical reform at your parish by getting hands-on as a liturgical volunteer? Ex. altar server coordinator, sacristan, music directors, reader, etc?[/LIST]

Have you ever been a tireless member of your parish’s liturgical committee?[/LIST]

Have you ever been a tireless member of your parish’s financial council or parish advisory committee?[/LIST]

I don’t mean to sound egotistical, but this thread asks us if we, personally, have effected liturgical reform. In my many years as an organist for several parishes, I worked to improve the quality of music used at Mass. I taught the people hymns which were both theologically sound and singable, and I made sure that other unsuitable songs were never sung again.

This may not seem like a liturgical abuse on a par with clown Masses, but it makes a difference in making the Mass more reverent. In our brand new church, we replaced the paper-card hymn boards brought from the old church with electronic displays. These are black when off and show 6" tall red numbers just before the hymn is to be sung. These are very common in European churches but relatively unknown in America. I was able to slip them in with the building costs, and even the skeptics are now quite fond of them.

How is this an advantage, you ask? Because now we no longer announce hymn numbers, especially that annoying “Let us greet our celebrant, Fr. X, with hymn number 245.” Certain announcements are still made before Mass, but there is also a period of silence or quiet prelude music. Two minutes before Mass, the numbers light up silently. When Mass is to start, the server pulls a wall-mounted sacristy bell (my donation), everyone stands, and the procession begins. When the hymn is over, the boards go dark and are unobtrusive. We actually get better response than with the old hymn boards because the numbers are much easier to read.

Not really. But I did manage to prevent the “building committee” from moving the tabernacle off into hidden exile.

This isn’t liturgy, but maybe it sort of counts. My son in law took serious objection to some religion books the school was directed to use by the diocesan education office. They really were bad, written by a priest who advocates ordination of women and such, and with parents’ and teachers’ handbooks that were just this side of obscene, and maybe not on this side of it.

School couldn’t do anything. Director of education wouldn’t. Couldn’t even get an appointment with the bishop. (new one now, thank God) so he went to the K of C. K of C was appalled by what he showed them, and wrote a letter to the bishop saying if the books were not withdrawn, they would picket the chancery in full regalia with signs saying why they were picketing.

The books were withdrawn in a week.

Those signaling boards sound awesome

Some people will knee-jerk and go off on a diatribe about how computers/screens/signaling boards, etc. – any electronics have no place in the Mass. It’s clear they are wrong, particularly in applications like the one you are speaking of…

Whoa! That KC group has resolve! I cannot imagine my chapter doing that.

Here is what it looks like from the manufacturer’s website. They are not computer screens, only LED displays. They can only show numbers and do not flash.


You never know. I wouldn’t have imagined it either until it happened. Most K of C guys are pretty seriously religious guys. This series really was awful. Some of the K of C people had kids or grandkids in that school and, once they knew what the series contained, they didn’t want those kids exposed to it either.

It wouldn’t happen that way around here anyway. A heavy-hitting KofCer would talk to the pastor or call the bishop if it came down to that. There would be no adversarial picketing because it just wouldn’t come to that.

Did anyone get canned over those books?

My father was able to get some significant issues resolved after two years of communicating back and forth with the CDWDS on a delicate matter.

The OP seems to either trying to incite something polemical or is engaged in misplaced sarcasm. Sometimes, it takes one person to get the ball rolling in stopping something. Sometimes, it takes a collaborative effort on the part of the petitioner, others who have filed the same concern and the CDWDS (if the local bishop has been unresponsive).

A good deal of the time, the petitioner is faced with ridicule (as the tone of the OP seems to imply), sarcasm and adversity. There is ridicule even here, in these forms, from some individuals who have the same attitude as that of the OP. It is not an easy battle, considering that one will sometimes have to face the wrath of an unwielding pastor (who insists on doing it his way, as opposed to the Church’s) and an unresponsive bishop. However, if the petitioner addresses a priest who genuninely wants to do what the Church wants, the challenge is a welcome one and the priest moves right away to correct the questionable activity. I challenged my best friend, who is a prelate, about using an EMHC during daily Mass when the need was not justified and when only Holy Communion under one species was offered. I wrote him a letter, devoid of any emotion, citing the relevent section of the GIRM and RS. He was upset and did not speak to me for nearly a month, but, the next day, he stopped it. By the way, we are still friends and he asks me to research liturgical rubrics for him from time to time. Interestingly enough, even my pastor does not use an EMHC during daily Mass. If anything, the whole matter has now gotten our parish into reading the authoritative documents of the Church.

Unfortunately, it is hard to eradicate liturgical abuse, especially if the questionable practices have spread like wildfire. It is probably easier to exterminate the infernal cockroach than it is to get read of major abuses. It is a slow and painful process, but, it can be done.

I’m glad people want to solve problems and get issues resolved.

It is very important that none of us are couch potatoes in our Religion,
or in our duties as an American citizen.

Review your “Cathecism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” first printed in US in March 2000 to make certain that you are correct regarding Faith and Morals.

When all else fails and you know you are correct, remember that the Pope’s staff gets emails. :slight_smile:
Document the problem.

I’m glad Kof C has the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” on their web site.
Am disappointed in the KofC since they refused to chastise politican members who publically state they are in favor of abortion. Sad.
Not all Kof C’s encouraged their Parishes to pray the Novena for the Pope either. Sad.

I knew that Redemptionis Sacramentum was due to be promulgated and I was watching the Vatican website. The day it was released I printed it and passed a copy to my pastor. Consecrating the wine in the carafe ended immediately. He started purifying the vessels himself. He even started rinsing the purificators and corporals himself.

The carafe is gone forever; unfortunately the next pastor categorically refused to purify the vessels so it has again been the EMHC’s duty for the last 5.5 years. If he won’t purify the vessels imagine what his response was to “are you going to rinse the linens?”

I started the Liturgy Committee in my parish and was on it until I was ordered by the pastor to teach the EMHCs to do something they were not supposed to be doing. When I protested that what they were proposing went against 4 separate Vatican documents one priest stood up, wagged his finger in my face and screamed “We have never listened to Rome on this topic and we’re not about to start now!” After praying on it for a week I handed in my resignation, saying that I couldn’t in good conscience stay and teach things that were forbidden.

I’m presently on the Finance Council.

Hurrah! :smiley:

At a previous parish, I brought up liturgical abuses twice (over a period of 4 years).

The first time, I emailed my pastor to let him know that certain visiting priests had a habit of pouring the Precious Blood from the primary chalice into another chalice, after having received it (and distributed it to the EMHCs). I mentioned Redemptionis Sacramentum, and suggested a couple of ways the priests could avoid it (the most reasonable of which seemed to me to be consecrating only enough in the primary chalice for himself, and then using the other chalices for distributing to the EMHCs). The reply email mentioned “liturgical police”. I don’t have a copy of the email conversation anymore, but I have a feeling my tone was not what it could or should have been. :frowning: The problem mostly went away over time, although occasionally one of the visiting priests would still do it.

The second time, I emailed one of the members of the parish liturgical board whom I knew quite well. At the previous year’s Holy Thursday Mass, we had six priests present… and among them, only the pastor of the parish distributed Holy Communion. The other five priests sat down after having received, and seven other EMHCs came up to help. The following Lent, I emailed that liturgical board member to bring up the matter with her. Looking over the email thread, I wish I had adopted a different tone of voice:
At Mass on the Holy Thursday, we usually have a few visiting priests concelebrating the Mass. I think the past two or three years I’ve attended Holy Thursday Mass, these concelebrants haven’t actually distributed Communion, but rather just come up to the altar during the Eucharistic Prayer and then go back to their pew once they’ve consumed the Eucharist; in their place are seven EMHCs. I think it is more appropriate for the priests who are concelebrating or otherwise present at Mass to assist the celebrant in the distribution of Communion (unless, like some of the particularly aged priests, they are unable to do so). So this is basically just a request to schedule only as many EMHCs as will be necessary to assist our pastor and whichever other priests will be there.
I would rather have used language like “affirm their priesthood” or something like that. But the good thing is that the practice did, in fact, change!

(And the parish is going to have a deacon in June, and they’re making sure that the lectors and EMHCs know how the presence of a deacon affects their ministries, which implies that the deacon will be reading the Prayer of the Faithful and acting as a minister of Holy Communion.)

I was a member of my parish pastoral council for 2.5 years of a 3-year term… we moved several towns away in November (putting us in a whole other county and diocese).

So why feed the troll, if that’s how you feel?

BG, I disagree completely; this is a legitimate discussion. We read all the time on the CAF how we have an obligation to report this and report that, how we should write our bishops, or the Vatican, or somewhere inbetween, etc, etc.

I think it’s helpful to know if these sort of efforts by lay people to help reform liturgy actually have worked or are just an exercise in helping people feel better about themselves, like they’ve done ***something ***about a situation that frustrates them instead of just sitting around stewing about it.

As well, the thread is a subtle reminder, perhaps intended, perhaps not, not to boost our own ego (as Cavaille-Coll was careful not to in his post :thumbsup:). If we personally send a letter or place a call to whomever, we don’t know if they’ve perhaps received tens or hundreds of similar letters or phone calls, and it’s easy to perhaps place our own individual efforts…shall we say in a place of importance that might lead us into thinking we’re more important than we really are, or that we are the agent of change, rather than the Holy Spirit.

So while the OP might seem to be “baiting” or sarcastic to you, I think he’s asking a rather insightful question that’s helpful on a number of levels.

Nobody got canned. However, the “liberal” bishop who countenanced all of that until the very end, retired. The director of education at the Chancery retired. The new bishop is not at all like the previous one.

It’s difficult sometimes for people to realize how it can be with some bishops. If they actually favor something the “people in the pews” don’t want, it can be impossible to even get a hearing.

never, is not my job, man
the priest is the liturgist for the parish. I am laity, so I don’t order liturgy on demand

I have to disagree with this. According to the Church it is your job, and my job, and really everyone’s job to make sure that the rubrics of the Mass are followed. The Church tells us that we have a duty to do all that we can to end Liturgical Abuses:

**In an altogether particular manner, let 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 favouritism.

[Redemptionis Sacramentum 183](“http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20040423_redemptionis-sacramentum_en.html#Chapter VIII”)**

We have all seen the results of people burying their heads in the sand when they see priests committing liturgical abuses with the excuse that it is the job of the priest and not a mere layman to make sure the rubrics are followed. That type of thinking is what has gotten us into the mess that many parishes are in today. If anything what we need now is more people reminding their pastors and bishops that these abuses are unacceptable and need to stop.


Sorry, James, but I think you’re misunderstanding the part of RS that you quoted. It says “Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist”, not the entire mass i.e. the context is not inclusive of all liturgical abuses. This, rather, is directed specifically at the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Also see RS 184, which seems to clarify this:

[184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, ***has the right to lodge a complaint ***regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff.[290] It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.

(My emphasis) Note it does not say that any Catholic is obligated to lodge such a complaint.

What you seem to be suggesting is, in my opinion, an extreme interpretation. We are not the mass police. If one sees and feels like reporting a suspected abuse, fine. If such an abuse involves the Eucharist, then yes, we are under some obligation. Otherwise, the sensible position to take would be somewhere between “sticking our head in the sand” and being liturgical busybodies, questioning avery suspected irregularity at our own particular parishes.

my POV is my own spiritual health, and going to Mass with a clipboard and hidden video camer to document liturgical abuse is not my idea of the proper disposition to assist at Mass.

As you noted, if we know something is wrong, then, we do have an obligation to point it out (charitably, of course). Silence, more often than not, equals ascent.

It’s not so much that we are acting as busybodies if there are legitimate grounds for concern.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.