Spotting liturgical abuses

Can someone here on CAF give me some tips on how to spot liturgical abuses while attending Mass?

Let me give you some advice…honestly. Don’t. I did this for a long time and it hampered my ability to pray at Mass. Your job at Mass is not to be a liturgical policeman and inform Father of everything he is doing that is wrong. Rather, go with an attitude of receptivity, and pray the Mass. Fully, consciously and actively participate as the Second Vatican Council calls you to.

I agree with buc fan. Don’t center on the abuses. Focus on Jesus. If you spend your time looking for all the wrong things you will miss the most important.

Well, I’m worried about souls that might be led astray by liturgical abuses.

In any case, if Michael Voris really wants the Novus Ordo Mass to be totally done away with and replaced by the Traditional Latin Mass all across the board, he should just flat out say it.

We should go to Mass to worship God not to catch out the priest. Don’t look out for abuses. It stops you praying well. If something happens that is obvious that’s different than checking everything is done by the book. I know people who think that things are too wrong at their church so they go somewhere else. That could be an option for you if you aren’t happy with your church.

Everyone here is right: don’t try on purpose to catch abuses. It’s not your responsibility, and it’s spiritually bad for you.

Even if that’s true, it’s not your responsibility. The Church knows better than to place such a burden on the laity. Seriously, inquisitorial abuse-hunting is the wrong spirit with which to pray the Mass, which is why it’s neither expected nor encouraged.

Read Redemptionis Sacramentum. While it is true, that it is not our job to be the “liturgy police”, there are some abuses that should be addressed whenever they are witnessed. These are few but are matters of such grave sacrilage that, if you are present, you need to tell someone. But again, very few things fall into this category - these are things like Mass being celebrated (or concelbrated) by someone without valid orders, direct sacrilage to the Holy Eucharist - big stuff.

For the rest, it depends on what you plan to do with the knowledge. If it will destroy your peace at Mass, just leave it alone. On the other hand, knowledge of the Mass can make you very appreciative when you attend a well-said Mass. And, of course, if you have a responsibilty to instruct others, such as training alter servers, being a cantor or a sponsor, you should know as much as you can about the Mass.

Sort of,

Note the end of Redemptionis Sacramentum

[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.

The entire document was addressed to the whole Church, so that all might know what the Church consideres to be grave abuses.

Those are the ones we are called to be aware of. Their might be others, of a more minor note. The Church does not expect the Laity, for example, to have all the prefaces for the Mass for the day memorized, to guard an abuse there, or in many other minor ways.

But there are grave abuses of which the Church has made known to everyone, of which we ARE to be aware, and would rightly note the error to the correct authority

Don’t go to Mass trying to find fault.

If you study and know the Catholic Mass in the first place then you’ll recognize an abuse when you see it without spending all your time at Mass looking for someone to screw something up.

Please forgive my ignorance, but as a non-catholic I have to ask are liturgical abuses simply errors like lighting candles in the wrong order or forgetting to kneel and cross yourself before entering a pew?
If so, it would seem a little nit-picky to get all worked up about it. Wouldn’t it be better to simply pull the person aside after mass and correct them in private? The first time I visited Catholic Church, I didn’t know about the Holy Water and crossing myself when I entered the sanctuary. Luckily the people with me were patient and gentle in correcting me.

I agree 100% with those above who have told you “don’t”, but let’s say you do, you might…

…want to begin with 4-6 years in seminary formation (assuming you already have a college degree) followed by ordination.

If you don’t want to do that, you could look for things like a woman celebrating Mass, Rye bread and soda for the Eucharist, or the Priest making little peanut butter sandwiches from the Hosts before giving them out.

If you don’t see any of the above, you could read RS, the CCC and the GIRM so that you are educated and then when you see something you don’t understand you will be able to respectfully discuss it with your Priest to see if it is an abuse or not.

It depends on how much you want to stick to the rubrics. I don’t even know if there’s a right order for lighting candles. Is there is and it gets down wrong that’s a minor issue. A liturgical abuse is more serious. For example sometimes a priest might let a sister from the local convent give the homily at Mass. That’s an abuse because the church says only bishops, priests and deacons can preach the homily.

Hi Travis and welcome to the forums. What we assume the OP is talking about are “big” violations of the rubrics which would render the Mass invalid or violate the instructions for how the Mass is to be celebrated (these are collected in the GIRM - General Instruction Roman Missal).

Things such as an invalid consecration or a homily preaching a personal opinion of the Priest that is in contradiction to a teaching of the Church.

The instructions are there so that the faithful know they will be at a Mass celebrated correctly and reverently anywhere in the world and that the Eucharist will be valid.

I see how that’s a bigger issue. Thank you both for clearing that up for me.

Part of the issue is also that the term “abuse” (especially as often used here by those who make it their business to spot and report on “abuses”) has come to mean anything from an accidental omission of, say, the ritual cleansing at the Offertory, to the over-use of Extraordinary Ministers, to wearing the stole outside the chasuble, to deliberately changIng the words of the Eucharistic Prayer - a broad spectrum of things of varying import. Everyone else is right: don’t make this a focus of your attendance at Mass.


Of course we have the right to lodge a complaint when we encounter liturgical abuse.

And of course I admit that we should speak up about it if we know we see one.

But - perhaps I should speak only for myself here - under no circumstances would I attempt to learn the rubrics with greater thoroughness and specificity in order that I may catch more abuses.

That’s just… death to the proper spirit in which to pray the Mass.

No, a liturgical abuse is an actual violation of the rubrics for the Liturgy, not just someone neglecting to follow pious customs during the Liturgy. :slight_smile:

Even so, abuse-hunting is just a bad idea spiritually. I wouldn’t do it. If I notice something, that’s a different matter, but no way I’ll go looking for trouble.

Jimmy Akin has a wonderful book called “Mass Revision” which discusses the liturgy and abuses, big and small. Most of the other posters are correct, you not go to Mass to look for for abuses. Jimmy’s book did point out some very glaring types of abuses but unless one is a liturgical expert and has studied and taken classes about the liturgy, it is best to go to Mass and leave this type of issue alone. This is especially true if one is visiting another parish. Most of the posts I’ve seen on CAF are questions about so called abuse based on a one time visit to another parish. That simply won’t cut it. I would read his book which answers this type of question and educated yourself about the liturgy in general.

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