The right to a properly-celebrated liturgy - where does it begin, in your opinion?

I’m curious to know at what point people would begin the process of trying to correct liturgical abuses in their parish.

I think we can all agree that if the priest were to accidentally misspeak at any point during the Mass except the Consecration, that we would not be concerned and would let that go.

For the purpose of this discussion, let’s leave out anything pertaining to music. That’s just too huge and contentious a topic to include here.

So, what if the priest consistently added, subtracted or changed ONE word (not at the Consecration), the same word, every time he celebrated Mass? I once knew a priest who prayed that God would “protect us from all needless anxiety, as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” Suppose you asked him to stop doing that and he would not. Is this the point at which you would start writing to the bishop and the CDWDS?

Or would it take a certain number of instances before you would begin the process? Or would it have to be a certain type of change, such as inclusive language or something pertaining to the sacred vessels? Or would it have to be something that threatens to invalidate the Consecration before you’d act? Or would the seriousness of the violation determine how far you would take it? Would it matter if the priest were otherwise more or less orthodox?

Please let me be clear. I am not asking for advice here. I would like to know where each of you would place your personal “abuse threshhold.”

I am pretty tolerant of minor things because it’s not worth losing my focus on Christ during Mass. For instance, the Masses in my parish are pretty much by-the-book, but one of the priests has the habit of omitting the “men” in “For us men and our salvation”-he just says “For us and our salvation”. I don’t let that bother me because that is about the only thing out of order that he does, and the words “for us men” are pretty redundant anyway, even if they are correct. I’m not going to get my panties in a wad over that. However, if he started omitting things like the Agnus Dei, or the Creed, or started allowing laity preach the homily, or made up his own Eucharistic prayers or messed with the words of the Consecration–something major and repeated, not just an oversight, I would complain. But that has never happened, and I have never seen that happen in any Mass in a church around here that I’ve attended. Once they had too many EMHC’s show up and the Deacon did not distribute Communion, and I did mention that to him in a kindly manner. He didn’t have much to say, but it never happened again, and he did not get mad at me.

I have been to Mass in other places where a priest has added a few words of his own, nothing to invalidate the Mass, and all I can say is that I don’t belong to that parish, don’t know if it’s a regular habit, and it is not my place to bring it to anyone’s attention. I don’t see the point in making a stink about something that may be a rare occurence. The parishoners in that parish have that responsibility. Thankfully, I’ve never been to a Mass that had major abuses such as has been described by some members on this forum, even while traveling, except once out West, and it wasn’t at a mass in a church, it was at a conference and was in a hotel ballroom. They had nuns doing a liturgical dance with bowls of incense and waving flags. It was so ridiculous I just had to laugh. If that was at my parish, someone would hear about it.

So it has to be fairly major and repeated before I would complain (except for that time with the Deacon).

Praise God that I am blessed with orthodox priests who are committed to excellence and a reverent liturgy. I have been confronted before by troublesome changes to the liturgy and I was unaware of the rights and responsibilities of the faithful. When I discovered Redemptionis Sacramentum, I felt more justified in my yearnings for a reverent liturgy, as well as more empowered to speak up if I saw something out of place.

I would say that Redemptionis Sacramentum would be my guide for reporting. If something troubled me enough, I might talk to the priest about it. If it was not listed in paragraph 173, “Grave Matters,” I would not take it further. If it did meet the criteria for a grave matter, I would consider sending a letter to the bishop and further to the CDWDS. RS is a recent document, and is currently the gold standard for determining liturgical abuse, so I think following it is the best course of action.

I believe the congregation has a right to a well ordered mass free of any liturgical errors. I rather like to use the analogy of a surgeon who omits or changes certain procedures during the operation, the result of which is bad for the patient. I think all of us would have a problem with that surgeon. The same hold true for priest, deacons and the congregation. We are all called to obedience.

If by approaching the pastor to ask why he made the changes or allows for incorrect gestures or postures, fails to resolve anything, your best course of action is to write to the bishops office. Be sure you are familiar with all the church documents covering liturgy, the mass and the role of the laity. It’s likely you will know more then those in the office.

It’s easy to over look a mistake if it is truly a mistake, it’s another thing entirely over look constant abuses because soon we become used to them and see them as a normal part of the mass when in fact they are not.

Many churches have closed or merged here in North East Ohio and the many of us who are accustom to a properly ordered mass and have now been displaced into another/new parish may in fact be the eyes and ears of the bishop or the “police” needed to remind all of us what we should be doing. IMHO.

We have an elderly priest in our parish who, when he washes his hands after preparing the gifts, prays “Lord, wash away OUR iniquity and cleanse us from OUR sins.” I get the point he’s trying to make–that all of us are sinners–but we are not the ones who are consecrating the bread and wine… HE is. The prayer is for HIM. Is it possible he feels that the congregation also takes part in the consecration, or that he thinks we might feel “left out”? Whatever his reason, it does bother me, but because all the priests in our parish are quite elderly (and otherwise very orthodox and holy) I haven’t made an issue of it.

One priest (a much younger one) we had years ago was actively trying to stop communion on the tongue, going so far as to include his opinions in the homily and during the final annoucements. Even after Mass, when he stood outside greeting people, he either took the time to lecture those who continued to receive on the tongue or else barely gave them a cold nod. There, I believe, some parishioners did take it up with the bishop and not long afterwards he was transferred.

Aside from that, we’ve been quite fortunate.

Thank you for answering the question that was asked.

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.