The Way In Which Mass is Celebrated DOES Make a Difference!

I had an experience today that I want to share. I went to early Mass this Sunday morning. We had a visiting priest (he is visiting some family locally) who was really something. He chanted almost the entire Mass (Ordinary Form) including the proclamation of the Gospel.

One of our regular parish lectors chanted the first and second readings plus the Responsorial Psalm. He did a great job. Who knew he could chant? My parish’s best cantor did a great job as well. The three altar servers today are by far the best my parish has – three young men who go to college locally.

Our very rarely used pipe organ was played to perfection by a local professional organist (she’s Protestant and plays about one Mass a month for us) and the hymn choices were excellent. Probably best of all, the priest gave an outstanding homily and he used the Roman Canon. There is no question that the celebration of Mass was elevated in my parish this morning. Each person in the sanctuary seemed to be feeding off of one another. Some would say the Holy Spirit was really at work. Others would say “everything just came together.”

After Mass I found myself belting out “God We Praise You” (the recessional) while shopping for groceries. The Mass stayed on my mind all day today and it was a very full day. I wanted more so I went to Mass for a second time tonight.

The celebrant was our parochial vicar. The music was provided by our combination cantor and guitar player who periodically turned his guitar during Mass. The servers were young and poorly trained (not their fault – the person in charge of training them was putting on a real show “directing” them during the Mass.) The Mass was certainly valid and licit. It was also celebrated in what I can only describe as a perfunctory manner.

While I’m aware the grace that suffuses from any valid celebration of the Mass is identical, that fact cannot be used to discount how important it is to celebrate the Mass in the most solemn and reverent manner possible. The beauty of the early morning Mass made me want to return. The homily, chanting and music from this morning have been on my mind all day and thus God has been on my mind all day. My experience tonight in comparison felt like routine “ticket-punching.”

I wonder if most “liturgists” are even aware of this? I am going to email this visiting priest and thank him. I’m also going to ask if he coordinated the Mass or if someone else did? Quite a day.

I had a similar experience only a few weeks ago. Under the lecture schedule, it was my turn to read at the Saturday Vigil mass (mass has relatively few people). We had a visiting priest say the mass and while he didn’t chant the readings, he chanted the Preface and used the Roman Canon. The visiting priest and the one college aged server ran the mass perfectly: eloquent bows, you could see the reverence by the way the stood and responded, etc…
A regular Saturday vigil mass lasts about 35 minutes because of the small attendance. When he celebrated, it lasted an hour. The homily took a little longer but it was beautiful. Something that I’ve never seen before: some people moved their seats closer to the altar to be closer to the mass. When the recessional took place, people didn’t run for the exit, but they remained standing and singing the closing hymn.
So a regular quick vigil mass turned into a beautiful solemn mass with chanting and signing as well as a moment of silence after the homily and communion. When I went to mass on Sunday, the experience was not the same. I was no longer as evaluated spiritually when I left that Sunday as I was when I left the evening before.

I totally agreed that the way in which mass is celebrated does make a difference. I wish more parishes would take this into consideration, what a mass with chanting, with experienced servers and a good and powerful homily makes. With the Easter Triduum coming up, I couldn’t agree more how the liturgies celebrated on those days can make all the difference in commemorating Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection.

Thank you for your wonderful comment. It’s comforting to know that others feel the same way. I will never be one of those Catholics that becomes excited when the priest wears a fiddleback chasuble with a lace alb or enjoys discussing the legality and the pros/cons of a priest wearing a maniple during the celebration of the Ordinary Form of the Mass.

But when it comes to great preaching, great Mass serving, great chanting and music, etc. I really do become interested. More so after today I think. I think discussions of this topic are often derailed because these so-called “externals” don’t for the most part impact the validity of the Mass. As long as the Mass is valid, the grace is the same, etc. I suspect those that actually do overemphasize the “externals” also play a part in why what we’re talking about is often ignore.

Yet it’s what you and I experienced that makes one want to continue to go to Mass. It makes me want to bring others to Mass to experience what I did. It keeps the Mass on my mind. It’s so wrong to discount how important it is to celebrate the Mass in as solemn a way as possible – at least for those that are nourished by solemn Masses.

I was out of town for the weekend so I attended Mass in a church where I’ve never set foot before. They sang and chanted so much even though this was the service without a choir or music team! Even The Lord’s Prayer was sung. The cantor was a splendid soprano who sang so beautifully and purely. I was completely moved and I haven’t stopped thinking about that Mass.

Lol, what a coincidence. I was literally humming “Sing a New Church” while reading this because the melody was catchy and stuck in my mind. I was wondering why a new, somewhat progressive song such as this would have such a traditional melody. I had a slight hunch it was probably an older melody.

When you said you were belting out “God We Praise You,” I looked it up and literally what I was humming started playing.

I agree with a topic title. Sacramentally, yes, it’s all there in any mass, and certainly when we talk about the way a mass is celebrated, we can’t mean only the form, but also the joy and reverence it is celebrated with.

You can have as beautiful a mass in a poor parish as a rich, but that doesn’t mean the richer parish should therefore skimp on art and beauty and music. It’s not the art itself that makes a mass beautiful, of course. It does nothing of itself. But it reflects the parish’s enthusiasm and helps build that enthusiasm and reverence. Church’s should be designed according to a parish’s ability.

I’m not sure I’m being clear. The joy and the glory being given to God should reflect the parish’s means in the worship space and the mass itself. If that is done, then I don’t think it matters whether it’s a poorer parish or a richer one. Just because you can have as valid and beautiful a mass in a poorer parish doesn’t mean a richer parish can emulate that by making their own worship space vacant and bare.

This is all intended as norms and generalities, not as a prescription for every Church.

I hope this isn’t entirely incoherent. :shrug:

Honestly, when I saw the title of your post, I thought, “oh, boy, here’s another post criticizing a particular celebration.” Not that there aren’t times when such criticisms are merited, but it’s nice to see someone post something positive!

Yes, I often wonder why priests don’t chant more. Whenever I hear a priest chant the Mass, I comment and thank him for chanting the Mass. They usually seem surprised, and seem to think I am complimenting them for their vocal quality. That’s not it - - - I don’t care if a priest has a great, bad, or mediocre voice - - the chanting is so beautiful and reverent! I wish all priests would chant more often.
Thanks for your post - - good to know that people are having great experiences at Mass!

While I agree with your point about liking to see a positive comment concerning a particularly wonderful Mass, I have an issue that’s been bothering me lately.
Our Parish had a wonderful Pastor for many years, until he was reassigned to a neighboring parish recently. His Masses were always well attended and usually overflowing with people from other parishes as well. His homilies were short and concise, and very easy to understand, which may have been part of his popularity. His Masses were very meaningful and spiritual to us.

However, his replacement has been less than stellar. He comes across as pompous and judgemental in his sermons as well as in his actions during Confessions. He chants every Mass, which I know is okay to do, but does it have to be every Mass?? In any event, my wife and I find ourselves being annoyed during his Masses, and we don’t like being so distracted during the Mass. We still generously support our Parish, but we find ourselves attending the neighboring Parish quite often to avoid our new priest. I don’t like feeling this way, and I’m not really judging this man, but I just don’t like him. I feel guilty, but I don’t know what else to do.

Well, drbreit, I think a lot of people occasionally feel this way about a particular priest. We got a priest at our parish who isn’t exactly a favorite, but he insists that if our kids are in the parish school, then we should attend Mass there also. So, every now and then, we go to Mass somewhere else, but for the most part, we’re in the same boat as you. I think a lot of parishioners get priests they don’t like, but they know the priest will only be there for a few years, then he’ll be moved around again.

Identical? Are we sure this is true?

I hear you and can empathize – as I said above, sometimes criticism is merited, and it can be difficult to know how to deal with it.

Personally, I get a little disappointed when I feel like the Mass is being rushed. For example, we haven’t said the longer form of the Penitential Rite (“I confess to Almighty God …”) at Mass in months. I miss it, as I think it’s a beautiful prayer. But I also get annoyed when I feel like someone is trying to make the Mass about them rather than God. For example, a long time ago the choir director at a Mass I would attend would always choose exclusively songs that required an extensive vocal range to sing and that sometimes weren’t in the hymnal, and so really only the choir was able to sing them, and I would find myself wanting to shout, “The Mass is NOT ABOUT YOU!” (Okay, these were not grace-filled moments on my part either.)

As far as Confession goes, I can only say that I don’t envy the job of priests. There have been times when I’ve needed a good kick in the butt and have received it. Then there have been times when I’ve needed a reminder that God still loves me and have received that. But, I’ve also gone to confession and had priests who came across as attacking, while others came across as not being too convinced of the Church’s moral teachings, and still others seemed to just want to get through the line as quickly as possible and weren’t even listening. When I have a really great Confession experience, I praise God for it, and when I don’t, I praise God that I have received absolution, and ask for the wisdom to find whatever value might be found in the priest’s response, difficult as it might be to see.

These days I am trying (not always successfully) to keep in mind that, whatever form the Mass or Confession take, to just be grateful for the gifts of the Eucharist and Absolution, and to focus on the fact that these gifts are infinitely valuable in and of themselves.

You shouldn’t conflate the two. The fact that your new pastor is pompous and judgemental is not a product of him chanting the Mass.

Also, still quite a few in my parish that place brevity above all other qualities when it comes to the Mass. This derives from the days when the EF Mass was celebrated at each Mass, few people understood it and brevity became a prized quality. It really shouldn’t be.

Absolutely. The sacramental gift is identical. It might however be more corrected to say “effuse” rather than “suffuse” though… :smiley:

Thank you for sharing this. It is an amazing when the Mass can invoke that sort of feeling.

LOL! That’s very cool. “God We Praise You” derives from the all-time Latin classic, the “Te Deum.” A quick Youtube search yielded this rendition in a modest church with pipe organ and it too sounds great!

Be careful! This hymn gets in your head and won’t leave! :thumbsup:

I heard a priest, maybe Father Ripperger, say the available grace for all Masses is infinite, however, the amount is “metered” according to the holiness of the priest and the faithfulness of the congregation.

The Mass is our work to create a union between our actions and those in heaven. The mass is ordered to raise us up. The more closely the liturgy matches the Mass in heaven, the more grace we can receive.

I don’t know about the “holiness of the priest” part. But I do believe that a superbly celebrated Mass does help us to absorb that magnificent gift.

Years ago many of us survived hideous Masses. As long as they were valid, the grace effused was identical to a papal Mass as far as I understand. However I for one used to be so disgusted at these Masses that I’m not really sure how open I was to God’s grace.

I go to mass to receive the Eucharist, the body blood soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. As long as the words of consecration are said, I am okay. We have a priest in his eighties and sometimes I am on edge during the consecration because I am afraid he will get it wrong but he always comes through. There are times I get more out of mass than others, but sometimes that is my distractable self or things that annoy me because they are not what I prefer. I have learned over the years to focus on the marvelous gift of the Eucharist and to accept the fact that people will disagree on what makes a great mass, and that human beings screw up The mother of a young person serving for the first time may find that mass to be a blessing while I see every mistake the little one makes, for example.

That’s all quite wonderful. I’ve heard of many stories, including the celebration of Masses on the hoods of Jeeps using coffee cups in wartime as attempts it seems, to reject the fact that “the way in which the Mass is celebrated DOES make a difference.”

We should always endeavor to celebrate the Mass in the most solemn and reverent way possible – be it on the hood of a Jeep or inside of a beautiful church.

God’s great gift to us does not negate this truth. It anything it underscores it.

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