Liturgical anomalies in parish

On the weekend I visited a neighboring parish as I was unable to attend my own at the usual time. Some things seemed odd to me, though I don’t know if my suspicions are valid or if they are even worth worrying about. The parish priest is very popular with the congregation as I have heard about him on a few occasions.

Firstly, the priest mentioned at least 8 or 9 different names at several stages of the mass, people who had recent birthdays, anniversaries, recently deceased etc. to such a degree that it affected the flow of the mass and the prayers.

It was a Sunday but there was no homily.

The priest dipped the Body of Christ in the chalice rather than drinking from it, then one of the EMHCs drank from the chalice straight from the altar without the priest handing it to her.

During the sign of peace the priest literally shook everyone’s hand in the first three rows, and walked down to the back of the church down the aisles, saluting the crowd like the Pope would in a public appearance. People walked from pew to pew hugging/shaking hands etc. The sign of peace took about 3 minutes to complete, without any exaggeration… all the while there was an awkward silence. It seemed most unusual.

There were about 10 prayers of the faithful, read from a piece of paper that was passed from person to person in the congregation.

Finally, and perhaps it is allowed (though I wouldn’t know), several standard prayers in the mass were changed slightly, e.g. the final blessing was something like: May almighty God bless you, your families, and all your loved ones, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit (probably harmless?)

Is it OK for a particular parish to be taking these sorts of liberties with the Sunday liturgy? Or are some of these serious enough that they should be corrected? Part of me feels like I should mind my own business since it’s not my parish. But when you consider what happened in St Mary’s at South Brisbane (news.com.au/couriermail/story/0,23739,25024429-952,00.html) it makes you wonder whether things should be corrected early rather than letting things fester for decades. Best to keep things in order before it gets out of hand in my opinion.

Can you please offer your advice/thoughts.

All of these, with the exception of the priest’s opting to intinct rather than drink directly from the chalice, are in fact liturgical abuses.

Addressing the abuses and precipitating change, however, is going to be very difficult for you, a visitor, seeing as how you do not have the “standing” at this parish that a regular parishioner would.

I can really only think of a few places it would be appropriate to mention such things: 1) a brief message at the beginning of the Mass stating the “intention” of the Mass, 2) the homily, 3) the prayer of the faithful, and 4) announcements after the prayer after Communion.

That’s quite wrong. Sundays must have homilies. (GIRM 66)

The priest received Communion via intinction, which I think is permitted for celebrants. Intinction is rarely practiced, but it is a legal method of administering Holy Communion. But it is NOT permitted for anyone other than a celebrant or concelebrant (priests) to “take” Communion on their own. (GIRM 160) An EMHC must be given the chalice. (GIRM 162)

Inappropriate. The priest should not leave the sanctuary except on special occasions, and a three-minute glad-handing is not at all what the Sign of Peace is for. (GIRM 154)

The Prayer of the Faithful should be read by a single person, and usually from the ambo, not from in the midst of the congregation. (GIRM 71)

These prayer should not be changed. There are some things the priest has some leeway in, but the prayers of the Mass are not to be altered or tailored on a whim like this. Look… if the priest is allowed to mess with the words of the prayers, why shouldn’t you be allowed to mess with the words of your responses? It’s a short trip towards liturgical anarchy and loss of unity.

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