Mass and displays of ?excessive piety

While one occasionally is witness to disruptive and even dysfunctional behavior during mass, does anyone have any thoughts of instances where the laity present engage in demeanors which one might consider to be excessively pious, i.e. sign oneself repeatedly during mass outside of the rubrics or bow profoundly when one is kneeling?

We had a couple like that in my parish. They would come to daily mass and sit on opposite sides of the same pew and do these really weird things during the Mass. Nothing of what they were doing was part of the Mass or even part of the EF Mass. The man would come up to communion walking on his knees. The woman, after having foot surgery, once threw herself out of the wheelchair duing the consecration and the priest totally lost his consecration and stopped to compose himself once he saw that she was not hurt but did it on purpose. After mass he came out and stated, in public, that displays like this had to stop as they were terribly distracting to him, the other priests and to the rest of the assembly (which was true). They never came back to mass at our parish…

Please let me be clear: this question is NOT intended to be inflammatory in any way. Quite frankly, I admire people who are especially reverent outside of the rubrics. Hence, the question mark before the word excessive. Thanks.

That’s not piety.

It’s self-aggrandizement.

It’s just as wrong when people do it in “traditional” ways as it is when the charismatics do it. It has no place in the Mass.

Your question seems not to address the disruptive and dysfunctional, upon which we can all agree, I suppose, but upon what would seem to be private demeanors. It wouldn’t be my style, but as long as they were indeed private (and non-disruptive) I would consider it between the person and God. We don’t know what motivates them – perhaps deep grief for sin, maybe the equivalent of “wearing a hairshirt” (experiencing physical discomfort), of mortification of the flesh, being offered up for a special intention. Again, not my style, not my cultural tradition – but not mine to judge, either.

There used to be a man who would place himself at the front pew. When it was time to kneel, he would kneel in the aisle outside the pew and bow with his head almost touching the floor. He impressed me with his devoutness, yet I found it distracting.

I admire someone else who does a full genuflect before she receives communion. I find that inspiring and I wish I could physically make my one knee touch the floor and then get up without fear of toppling over. :eek: As it is, I now do a partial genuflect, following her example. It increases my reverence for the moment of receiving communion.

My dear friend in Christ,

I fear that you might be highly confused?

There is so Little Piety in most Catholic Church’s these day’s that a “making of a sign of the cross” with Holy water might appear as “excessive?”

Please, please share with me what you consider to be “**excessively pious” **in the very presence of the God that created you and me?

Ordinary minister of the Eucharist, Communion in the hands, laity flooding the Sanctuary, talking in Church as if it really were a “gathering Space” and not God’s house of Worship… When’s the last time you saw someone genuflect in the presence of the Reservation tabernacle?

I’m missing your point my friend. Please feel free to enlighten me:blush:

God bless you and welcome to the Catholic Forum.

PJM m.c.

I don’t think the poster meant that simply blessing yourself with holy water was excessive. I think s/he meant something like the people I see crossing themselves five times in a row when they start their prayers/bless themselves with holy water. There is this one woman who did that at one of the churches I frequent, and she also used to splash the holy water out of the font when she used it. Literally. Projectile splashes that would spatter anyone within a three to five foot radius. I was kneeling at the altar rail praying the rosary, and there was a font attached to a pillar close by me. Next thing I know, I’m getting splatted with holy water as she repeatedly dipped her hand into the font, scooped up some water and proceded to bless herself. Five times in a row. I thought I was going to need an umbrella.

In many cultures, my own included, crossing ones self multiple times is the norm rather than the exception. It also used to be quite common in New Orleans where I grew up. I fail to see or comprehend how it could remotely bother anyone,:confused:

I see it objections to these harmless actions as just another example of the pettiness that seems to infect so many in the Church these days. You know it is actually kind of humorous in a way. In the old days the Priests and Altar Boys were very well structured and had to do things a certain specific way. The laity on the other hand were allowed great latitude in how they behaved at Mass. Now the Priests and Altar Servers are much less regimented but the postures of the laity is rigid and seemingly many are on the lookout for any behavior that deviates even remotely from what the laity is supposed to do…

Let’s keep in mind that the question itself was about:
“disruptive and even dysfunctional behavior”

That was the question. It wasn’t about quiet, private acts of piety, it was about disruptive and dysfunctional behavior.

Probably a cultural thing: I’m in Massachusetts. It just looks a bit OCD-ish to me.

My parish is in a very large city where we tend to have people who seem to be a bit over the edge in terms of sanity and come to the parish either during the week or on Sundays. It is an expected and normal thing for us there. Unless the person is threatening to others or to anything in the chapel or cathedral, we let them keep to themselves and worship the way they need to. There was one pastor who wasn’t as nice to these people and would kick them out every time they’d be in the cathedral, but the other pastors are more welcoming and nice. Basically, the thought there is that although we think that they may be a little insane or seem to be on the point of insanity, who are we to assume that they actually might be experiencing something we can’t see? OR they really might just be a bit crazy, but they are harmless and are still children of God who wants to worship God.

We used to have one woman who would be totally wrapped up in scarves, coats, etc. during all seasons, would carry a statue of the Blessed Mother surrounded with a rosary with her and would visit the parish every day. She was harmless. She would bow profusely about 5 times in front of every statue, especially in front of the Blessed Mother and the crucifix. It never bothered the regulars there at the cathedral, although I’m sure that a visitor who is not used to seeing things like this in their suburban parish or country parish may have been a little weirded out. But the cathedral is so large and she would be well-behaved at mass, that I doubt that there was any real disturbance.

At the same time, in my parish and at a number of parishes in my area, seeing lone people or small groups of people holding hands and raising them up at mass can sometimes be viewed as very strange and/or disruptive to some people. So, I guess that depends on the parish.

You may witness a non-Latin Rite Catholic sign oneself with some frequency during the Mass, because they are accustomed to signing themselves pretty much at every mention of the trinity in the Divine Liturgy. It would be very easy for me to see this act carry over into attendance in the Latin Rite (of either Form) just as habit.

I have no problem with acts of “excessive piety” as long as the acts do not affect me. Generally, I am either paying attention to what’s being said during Mass, trying to keep my children quiet or being reflective and prayerful. For me, there’s no room in the course of the mass to count how many times another person crosses themselves.

I have seen some “acts of piety” that I would consider excessive. For example, I have been to vernacular, Novus Ordo Masses where people insist on saying the responses (loudly) in Latin. That doesn’t sound “pious” or “reverent” to me- I felt that the person just wanted to draw attention to themselves.

OK… question for you all about acts of (excessive) piety.

When I’m the accompanist at Mass, what do I do in between the Sanctus and the Memorial Acclamation? Do I get up from the piano bench and kneel, or do I remain seated at the piano?

I have no idea what you do, I’ve never seen you (that I know of)…

So, am I to get up from the piano and kneel down, or do I remain seated during the Consecration? I’m asking seriously because there are some who think I should kneel and some who think that when I do I’m being excessively pious. I want to know what the CAF folks think I should do.

I think you should kneel (I’ve seen organists and choir members do this). After the consecration, go back to the piano and play the accompaniment for the memorial acclamation. You may want to let the priest know beforehand, so he can give you a few seconds to sit on the piano bench again.

Our choir director and the pianist would go up to the altar kneeler. The new pianist stays put in his seat. The choir (of which I am a member) normally does not kneel (very little room and cold, hard marble) except on Good Fridays and when the monstrance is present. Then we scoot the chairs out of the way to make room and hit the marble floor (except for an 81 year old lady).

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