Standing around the altar?


#1

So today at mass, Fr. had everyone come up and stand in a circle around the altar during the Consecration.
I find this concerning, but don't want to mistakenly think that Fr. did something wrong if this is acceptable.

There was also a (not assistance) dog... which was brought up to circle the altar with everyone else. I'm like 99.999999% sure THAT is not okay, but if it is, please correct me.


#2

We don't need to worry about such things at the EF Mass. :)


#3

[quote="waanju, post:1, topic:307253"]
So today at mass, Fr. had everyone come up and stand in a circle around the altar during the Consecration.
I find this concerning, but don't want to mistakenly think that Fr. did something wrong if this is acceptable.

There was also a (not assistance) dog... which was brought up to circle the altar with everyone else. I'm like 99.999999% sure THAT is not okay, but if it is, please correct me.

[/quote]

"Circling the altar" was something I saw sometimes growing up at St. Brigid's Church in Detroit.

I've learned in the years since that it is NOT allowed.


#4

It has nothing to do with the form of the Mass. Monastic communities do this all the time.

When I went on vocations retreat at the monastery, I was invited to acompany the monks as they entered the sanctuary and stood around the altar during consecration. It comes from the idea of the monastic enclosure, and the monastic community as family. It was a great honor and privilege for me to be able to do so, stand around the altar with the Brothers, priests and non-priests. It is something I will never forget.

It is an ancient practice in Benedictine monastic communities, and it is more than just a precedent set by monastics. Christians in the early Church in Rome celebrated the Eucharist gathered around the ossuary (bone box) of the saints with the ossuary itself as an altar. The practice goes back to the earliest Christian communities.

The customs and rules of the Church may have changed, but standing around the altar/not standing around the altar is not revealed truth. I wouldn't expect to see the practice in a normal US parish but the custom is practiced to this day in parts of the Church, and is not without history. No one can say "The Church forbids it" as that is not true universally.

-Tim-


#5

[quote="TimothyH, post:4, topic:307253"]
It has nothing to do with the form of the Mass. Monastic communities do this all the time.

When I went on vocations retreat at the monastery, I was invited to acompany the monks as they entered the sanctuary and stood around the altar during consecration. It comes from the idea of the monastic enclosure, and the monastic community as family. It was a great honor and privilege for me to be able to do so, stand around the altar with the Brothers, priests and non-priests. It is something I will never forget.

It is an ancient practice in Benedictine monastic communities, and it is more than just a precedent set by monastics. Christians in the early Church in Rome celebrated the Eucharist gathered around the ossuary (bone box) of the saints with the ossuary itself as an altar. The practice goes back to the earliest Christian communities.

-Tim-

[/quote]

While it may very well be the tradition in various religious orders it is not now and never has been a tradition of the Latin Rite or in the rubrics of the Latin Rite So if we are to follow the rubrics we are not to do it except in those specific locations The Priest lacks the authority to insert it

Simple


#6

Was the dog a Catholic?

On a more serious note, I am sure that the answer is that, generally speaking, the laity should not encircle the altar. Churches are constructed with an altar separate from the nave for good liturgical reasons.


#7

[quote="Mike30, post:5, topic:307253"]
While it may very well be the tradition in various religious orders it is not now and never has been a tradition of the Latin Rite or in the rubrics of the Latin Rite So if we are to follow the rubrics we are not to do it except in those specific locations The Priest lacks the authority to insert it

Simple

[/quote]

If it was a Roman Catholic parish run by a Benedictine monk, then I'm reasonably sure that it would be allowed. The parish is required to adapt to the customs and liturgy of the religious who run the parish.

I'm not saying it would be prudent, just allowed.

I'm open to correction.

-Tim-


#8

[quote="TimothyH, post:7, topic:307253"]
If it was a Roman Catholic parish run by a Benedictine monk, then I'm reasonably sure that it would be allowed. The parish is required to adapt to the customs and liturgy of the religious who run the parish.

I'm not saying it would be prudent, just allowed.

I'm open to correction.

-Tim-

[/quote]

It was in a spare room in a campus student center with a Marist priest. There were only six people, so I suppose he thought it would be nice? I


#9

[quote="corsair, post:2, topic:307253"]
We don't need to worry about such things at the EF Mass. :)

[/quote]

You're very lucky to have access to one. I attended one once two summers ago, and they were lovely. As it is, I'm lucky to have ANY mass (due to shortage of priests in the area, Fr. has to leave us with just the liturgy of the word some weeks). Otherwise, I would be attending an actual parish, with confession and daily mass and such.
That's why I want to be sure before thinking Fr is wrong- we're very lucky to have a priest at all in my area. (There is another parish several miles away that I attend confession at, but it takes little over an hour to walk there and they have POWERPOINTS about the parish budget- during the homily!)


#10

As a general rule, this is a very grave liturgical abuse. If the intention was to have the laity "co-consecrate" the Eucharist with the priest I am confident this even invalidates the Mass altogether.


#11

[quote="sw85, post:10, topic:307253"]
As a general rule, this is a very grave liturgical abuse. If the intention was to have the laity "co-consecrate" the Eucharist with the priest I am confident this even invalidates the Mass altogether.

[/quote]

We didn't say the liturgical prayer though, he did. Could that still possibly be INVALID? I know most of his masses have liturgical abuses, but they're all I've got access to.

Also, related question. If you receive "communion" at an invalid mass, then you're acting like something that is actually just bread and wine is Jesus. That would be gravely wrong. Is it okay to assume validity?


#12

[quote="waanju, post:11, topic:307253"]
We didn't say the liturgical prayer though, he did. Could that still possibly be INVALID? I know most of his masses have liturgical abuses, but they're all I've got access to.

Also, related question. If you receive "communion" at an invalid mass, then you're acting like something that is actually just bread and wine is Jesus. That would be gravely wrong. Is it okay to assume validity?

[/quote]

Then probably that was not the intention and the Mass was valid.

The presumption should generally be that a Mass is valid unless you have positive reason to believe it isn't. If he omits the words of consecration, or alters them to the point of being unrecognizable, or performs some other sort of abuse, then yes, I would excuse myself from the building, since whatever is going on is not Mass.

If abuses of this sort are regular (and there is not good reason, e.g., as TimothyH pointed out, the priest is on loan from an order where this practice is normative), you should consider contacting your diocesan chancery. You have a right to Masses celebrated according to the rubrics.


#13

There is no reason for this, especially the dog. But no, there should remain a division between sanctuary (symbolism for heaven) and the nave.


#14

[quote="waanju, post:11, topic:307253"]
We didn't say the liturgical prayer though, he did. Could that still possibly be INVALID? I know most of his masses have liturgical abuses, but they're all I've got access to.

Also, related question. If you receive "communion" at an invalid mass, then you're acting like something that is actually just bread and wine is Jesus. That would be gravely wrong. Is it okay to assume validity?

[/quote]

Very few actions actually invalidate the Mass. And the Church says that as laity we should presume the Mass is valid. If later we discover it wasn't, no blame (sin) is assigned to us. That isn't something within our control.

Since this priest is the only one around, than you have no choice. Since, as you say, only six people were there, he may have been thinking it would be an experience similar to what Tim described. Since he didn't try to have you "co-consecrate", I chalk it up as weird, but not invalid.

The dog is just a strange thing though. What was the dog doing there in the first place? If it is the priest's dog, it may just have wanted to be closer to him. If one of the students brought it, that is just plan strange.

Perhaps you can try and organize a group to say Vespers together. Then you can continue even if there isn't a priest available.


#15

[quote="waanju, post:1, topic:307253"]
So today at mass, Fr. had everyone come up and stand in a circle around the altar during the Consecration.
I find this concerning, but don't want to mistakenly think that Fr. did something wrong if this is acceptable.

There was also a (not assistance) dog... which was brought up to circle the altar with everyone else. I'm like 99.999999% sure THAT is not okay, but if it is, please correct me.

[/quote]

Yeah, that's a place you shouldn't go to mass. You need to find another parish.


#16

[quote="TimothyH, post:7, topic:307253"]
I'm not saying it would be prudent, just allowed.

[/quote]

Ay, there's the rub, Timothy. :)

This mostly-absymally catechized generation of Catholics interprets standing around the altar in a very different way than you and your Benedictine friends interpreted it. In the typical modern parish (not a monastery Mass open to the publc), it is one more gesture of informality. It is one more gesture of apology, on the part of some misguided priests, for a distinction between the ministerial priesthood and the royal priesthood of believers. It is one more imprudent and embarrassing attempt to import secular notions of "participation," "opportunity" :rolleyes:, and "equalty" into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, with its completely non-secular and apolitical paradigm.

During the times I myself have seen this done (the "invitation," the "welcoming" people forward), it is accompanied by a casual air on the part of the priest and a corresponding casual behavior on the part of those who come to the altar, whose body language mirrors what has just been modeled for them.

Look, if a priest feels apologetic for being a priest, he should never have sought ordination, and I guess he should never hear confessions or perform the other sacraments either After all, that would be setting up a "distinction" between him and his flock. (Yeah, no kidding.)


#17

[quote="Mrs_Sally, post:14, topic:307253"]
Very few actions actually invalidate the Mass. And the Church says that as laity we should presume the Mass is valid. If later we discover it wasn't, no blame (sin) is assigned to us. That isn't something within our control.

Since this priest is the only one around, than you have no choice. Since, as you say, only six people were there, he may have been thinking it would be an experience similar to what Tim described. Since he didn't try to have you "co-consecrate", I chalk it up as weird, but not invalid.

The dog is just a strange thing though. What was the dog doing there in the first place? If it is the priest's dog, it may just have wanted to be closer to him. If one of the students brought it, that is just plan strange.

Perhaps you can try and organize a group to say Vespers together. Then you can continue even if there isn't a priest available.

[/quote]

The dog belonged to one of the congregation. Also, even though it was a mass at a campus center, I was the only student there. The other five people were elderly people who live in town. Since this is the only mass available nearby, they come to all the masses. On Sundays when we have the priest, this hasn't happened before, but there are usually about 15-20 people (students come on Sundays). It's near finals, so I supposes people didn't want to take off a half hour for tuesday mass (a rarity we only have during advent).

Also, thanks for the vespers suggestion. I don't know that I can get a group together, but I'm going to try.


#18

He did mention the word “participation” quite a bit… and his homily was “Do any of you have insights into the Gospel we just heard?”

I’m used to sort of sloppy Sunday mass, but this was FAR worse. I think I’m just going to stay in and read the Bible a bit longer as Advent preparation next Tuesday.


#19

Oh, brother. :rolleyes:

Earth to Priest: Insights into the Gospel is your job and your training. Remember? :banghead:


#20

[quote="iloveangels, post:15, topic:307253"]
Yeah, that's a place you shouldn't go to mass. You need to find another parish.

[/quote]

The nearest parish is a little over an hour's walk away, and they're not much better (parish council presenting budget powerpoints during the homily, that sort of thing), so this isn't really an option. The town (in Los Angeles diocese) I live in, which I won't name except by nickname ("The town of trees, PhD's, and retirees") has maybe 100 Catholic families (it's a fairly large town) and two priests (one at the parish and one at the student center for the seven colleges) The priest at the student center often gets called away to help at some priestless parish somewhere and leaves the students (and many elderly people from the town that attend mass with us) with a "distribution of communion without a priest" service. By the time we figure out that THAT is going on, the only mass left at the other parish (they have two- 7am and 5:30 pm, with & am mass in spanish) is at 5:30. The only problem with this is that it's rather dark walking back and much of the route does not have streetlights or sidewalks, plus it goes through a rather unsavory area where last week, a student walking back from the store was robbed at gunpoint. Basically, now that it's getting darker earlier, it's nearly impossible to safely attend mass at the other parish.

Given the situation where this is almost mission territory, I'm grateful for any mass at all. The only reason I've been asking questions about specific liturgical abuses is because I want to know what's correct, I don't want to falsely accuse Fr. of something if what he's doing is okay and just something I'm not used to, and because I know that each moment of the Mass is full of symbolism and meaning and that knowing what the proper way is is the only way to understand that meaning.


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