Theories on why liturgical abuse occurs

I can understand why some priests make some changes (as misguided an as inappropriate as they may be) to the mass, but it is the little things that bother me the most. I would like to hear what you all think as to why some changes are made

For example:
*]saying “good news” rather than “Gospel”
*]pouring the blood after the consecration
*]saying the silent prayers outloud
*]various little changes in wording
*]“sisters and brothers” over “friends” or “bretheren”
*]giving the homily before the mass begins, when everyone, including the elderly, is standing up!

For example:

*]saying “good news” rather than “Gospel”

Jesus said to spread the “good news.”

*]pouring the blood after the consecration

The priest isn’t sure he’ll have ministers of the cup?

*]saying the silent prayers outloud


What silent prayers?

various little changes in wording

In various points, of the Mass, except for the words of the consecration, it is alloud. At least it say so in the misselette I follow at my parish.

*]“sisters and brothers” over “friends” or “bretheren”

Means the same thing, and its one of the allowances as I mentioned above.

*]giving the homily before the mass begins, when everyone, including the elderly, is standing up!

First time I’ve heard of this.


I always use the misselette, this way I can see whether the priest is actually making abuses, and just not my ideas of what constitutes abuse.


I’m not sure there are reason behind each and every little abuse, but I do think there is a constant theme behind them.

Pre-Vatican II there was a very legalistic view of the Church to the point of a fault. Every thing had to be just right and exactly the same. Even the congregation had strict rules to live by. Dress codes, banned book lists, stick fast and abstinence laws etc…

Vatican II laid out some good changes for the Church but really did not change much. The rubber band that was being pulled too tight snapped back.

After years and years of no change, we were flooded in it and it went to the opposite extreme. Massive changes to the Mass, rampant abuse gused as “The Spirit of Vatican II”, the nominalization of the priesthood. For the laity you had non-committal stance on Contraception, no real fasts, no real abstinence, supremacy of personal conscience, do what every you want because “we’re all going to heaven in a love mist”, don’t worry about all these “man made” rules.

I think over time this to will pass eventually. We just have to take these lesson along with the lessons of the past and live with it.

I would be with Jim on most of this one as most of those are not really abuses except for pouring the Blood.

That is disrepectful and not necessary at all. No priest should ever do this and has permission to do this.

The reason why it is done can be many…

If I look at Romans, at the end of Chapter 1, St Paul attributes rebellion to God to sexual immorality, and homosexual practices, which darken the intellect and encourage rebellion of God.

So some Priests abuse the Liturgy because of their own darkened souls which encourage rebellion to authority.
They feel that rigidness is wrong and they should be able to express themselves during Mass.

Or it is a statement of a different belief such as a rejection of the Presence of God in the Eucharist and a replacement with the Presence of God in ourselves. Reject one for the other.

Some just want to make people comfortable so they seek ways to make people feel good. They think comfort will make people happy and make the parish grow.

God Bless

All of these matters I mentioned are liturgical abuses. The priest is not allowed to deliberately change set prayers except in very limited circumstances (eg. “bretheren” and “Friends” is allowed, but not "sisters and brothers). That is not something that changed after Vatican II. V2 is just as strict on that as the Church ever was. And with good reason-it creates confusion, and it at times makes the mass unintelligible, and sometimes heretical. For example, the priest at mass yesterday said, “May the Lord always be yours” (?). Then the response “And also with you” makes no sense. I have seen some priests go all the way as to writing their own prayers, then the congretation gets confused on when they should respond, and it makes the whole ordeal a mess! There is absolutely nothing pastoral about this.

There was a priest at a local parish that used to say anything but " The Body of Christ" as he was distributing communion. One of them I will never forget. “Taste and see the Goodness of the Lord Transended in to food.”

I think that in many instances it comes down to vanity. The priest thinks that he can “do it better”, make it more interesting, inclusive, exciting, etc. For the life of me, I can’t understand the allure of going against the grain. As catholics who supposedly understand the meaning of the mass, the Eucharist should be enough, and more priests should educate their congregations as to the the point of the mass.

If this is all you can dig up at your parish under the topic “liturgical abuse” you are living in paradise compared to what many parishes with dissenting pastors, liturgists and choir directors must contend with. Down on your knees and give me 10–prayers of thanksgiving, that is.

a liturgical abuse is an action by the priest which invalidates the Eucharist or makes the celebration of the Mass illicit. I really don’t think, given the grave real abuses we must fight, we have time for the nonessentials like this, and still less do we have time to debate personal preference and comfort level.

You missed the point of my question.

but it is the little things that bother me the most.

No, my former parish had greater abuses than this. But, as I said, I am curious about why in the world such minor changes are made. When I went to the Palm Sunday mass, I understood why the priest cut out the second reading (to save time before the next mass-though it was still unnecessary) and I even understood his reason for having the Gospel acted out during the reason (though this, too, is wrong-but I understand why he would have it done!) But what I do not understand is why, when you have three people reading the Gospel-one of whom is a deacon-, you do not have the deacon speak as Jesus and the other two readers speak the other parts, rather than having each alternate every few verses! It’s those little things like that that do not make sense. And, yes, there are some big things I don’t understand either, such as why that parish has cake-like bread for the Eucharist. But, again, my post was about the little things.

In my personal experience with liturgical abuse, the vast majority of it happens at the hands of priests in their 50’s and 60’s, the “baby boomer” generation, who went to seminary in the late 60’s through the early 80’s. Most of these seminaries, particularly in America and Canada, were teaching everything from situational ethics and relativistic notions of truth to a democratic questioning of Roman authority and creative liturgical practice. This was founded not on the theology of Aquinas or Augustine (who were rejected as irrelevant to modern society), but on dissenting modern theologians and philosophers. There was a great deal of trust in priests and in the seminary system, so many who entered simply accepted whatever they heard – the same blind trust can be found today among many university students. Some seminarians were given the false hope that married clergy was just around the corner. Still others entered the seminary to avoid Vietnam. In that period, the liturgy was in a constant state of flux and some bishops encouraged experimentation, resulting in clown Masses, consecrating cookies and Coke, etc. Many of those priests today honestly believe that their errant theology would work if only more people were educated in it. We must remember, however, that there are very many good men who amazingly survived their seminary training and became holy and orthodox priests.

Good point. I think another reason that so many liturgical abuses occur is that many of the faithful have a very poor understanding of the teachings of the Church. When a priest starts doing some of these odd things, there are many in the church who don’t even realize they shouldn’t be done. Others will see the changes as “progressive.” I honestly didn’t realize for a long time that some of the things at my parish were incorrect, mostly because I didn’t have a firm enough understanding and knowledge.

In my experience, I’d have to take a guess at the “vanity” suggestion.

The most blantant liturgical abuses that I’ve experienced happened in parishes where the pastor was very charismatic, almost flamboyant. They were never the quiet, soft spoken priests. They were always the ones who were quite theatrical.

As particular as I am with the liturgy, I can easily roll with minor liturgical abuses from priests who are older, but somewhat soft spoken in their celebration of Mass. We have a lovely Phillipino Monsignor visiting at our parish right now who does vary on the wording of the Mass in a few small ways, but his reverance and obvious love for God and the Mass is overwhelming. I guess you could call his changes abuses, but I’d be hard pressed to call him on them.

I will take what Katie suggested and look at it a slightly different way. I think that the faithful and religious can be ignorant of Catholic teaching - what we do and why we do it. The words or gestures begin to seem rote or outdated because certain folks have forgotten what is behind it. They have forgotten that there is something, Someone, bigger than them behind the prayers, rituals and gestures.

But because they’ve lost a connection to what is behind the gesture or ritual they decide to invent/introduce something “relevant” or something meaningful to them. Usually something that is edifiying to them personally, instead of leading them closer to God and heaven.

I second that notion!

I didn’t get to be so a*al about liturgical abuses until I studied the Mass top to bottom and realized the significance, both spiritually and historically of each and every part and prayer contained within.

Our parish has held classes about the history of the Mass periodically in order to educate those who so seek the knowledge and understanding. I just wish more than 30-40 people that sign up for the classes out of the 10,000 registered in our parish would receive the info.

no I did not miss the point of your question, talking about the “little things” indeed, things so picayune you need a microscope to detect them. Fact is, your title says “liturgical abuse” but your OP demonstrates you have not the least appreciation for what constitutes liturgical abuse. Change the title of your thread to “little things about Mass that bother me personally” if that is what you wish to discuss.

I feel so close to you right now :smiley:

like it or not, what the examples i gave are examples of abuse. and yes, the little things matter, not only because they add up when there are numerous “little things” - but also because they give way to the larger abuses. - and some might consider pouring the blood after the consecration a major abuse.

I’m feeling a little bit confused here. Is it true that anything that is a liturgical abuse “invalidates the Eucharist or makes the celebration of the Mass illicit”? I have seen some things that people say are liturgical abuses happen at my parish. One of the priests always breaks the host at consecration, which I had read is a liturgical abuse. Does this mean that when he does that, and we receive communion, that we are not really receiving the Body of Christ?

An abuse may make the mass either illicit or invalid. Illict means that it is not in accord with canon law, but that does not necessarily mean it is invalid. It takes a lot for the mass to be invalid-such as no prayer of consecration or improper matter used for eucharist

OK, thanks for the distinction. I feel slightly better. I’ve only been a Catholic for six years, so I’m still learning.

I know that I have heard both of the priests in my parish complain about people addressing liturgical abuses, and I have even seen one get into a full-fledged argument in the parking lot about the issue. I really don’t understand though why priests would want to be defiant about something as important as Mass.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit