Tuesday, March 21, 2017

There Are Reasons People Hate Clowns

I don't know how many of the three or four people who read this blog are priests; but if you are a priest or bishop, and you think you are there to entertain your congregation at Mass, this post is addressed to you.

Some of you priest celebrants at Mass cannot resist doing a clown act on the altar.  Some of you confine this nonsense to your sermons, which is bad enough.  Others of you pepper the liturgy with stupid jokes; or you constantly halt the liturgy in order to try to warm up the crowd with "humorous" asides.  The nervous, raised-eyebrow tittering of your congregation suggests nothing to you.

You need to cut this crap out right now.

First of all, you are living, breathing proof of what a rotten idea it was (a) to turn the priest around to face the people during Mass; (b) to give him a microphone; and (c) to cobble up a liturgy where every part of the Mass has numerous different options for how it can be done, all entirely at the discretion of the priest-celebrant.  (The new Mass has so many options to it, in fact, it is next to impossible for us in the pews to follow in the missal and know whether you are using a legitimate option or just making up your own.)  No wonder you think it's all about you.  No wonder that after decades of this kind of stuff, you are now convinced that you are supposed to be the center of everything.  And having had your ego thus stoked all these years, no wonder you fight tooth and nail to resist the traditional Mass at your parishes, no matter how much your people might want it.  You have weakened and fattened your flock up for the wolves on a steady diet of liturgical junk food, until the ones who still actually believe in the content of the Catholic faith are reduced to gritting their teeth and telling themselves that at least they are getting the Eucharist.

Somewhere along the line, you clown priests convinced yourselves that you need to spice up the Mass with your own peculiar (and I do mean peculiar) brand of humor in order to be "pastoral."  Well, let me give you the perspective from the receiving end.

You have no idea who all in your congregation is dealing with what -- not even those of you who bother to find out who your parishioners are (and not all of you do).  That man sitting way in the back, in a corner, behind a pillar, has been away from the Church and the Sacraments for years and years, and is in shock over his realization that he has been leading a bad life.  That miserable-looking, unfriendly woman who doesn't want to engage in pre-Mass ice-breakers or the sign of peace has just suffered a major bereavement.  That couple off to the side with haunted expressions on their faces have no idea where their child is or whether they will ever see her again.  Those teenagers who aren't singing along with the offertory hymn have just been told that their mother has terminal cancer.  That stony-faced father with three little kids has just lost his job.

And here you come, administering blows on top of bruises with your "pastoral" method.

In the first place, you are not cheering these people up.  You are trivializing and adding to their pain.  Proverbs 25:20: He who sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on a wound.

In the second place, what these people most need, in the midst of these awful changes in their lives, is something that does not change.  At one time, and until very recently, that was the liturgy, which opened up a window onto the supernatural.  But your people can't see through that window, because you are in their face, dancing around in front of them while they are trying to look at something greater and more important than yourself.  You have no idea how jarring your "improvements" to the Mass are.  You have no idea, because you never listen.  After all, you are the priest, and therefore, you know better.  Nobody can tell you anything, so they eventually give up trying.

Since so many of the changes in the liturgy over the last 60 years or so have purported to be about going back to the "purity" of the early Church, maybe we should bring back the ancient practice of the laity rioting anytime they heard changes in the wording of the Gospel.  The time has not yet passed out of living memory when it was considered a mortal sin for a priest to make changes to the liturgy sua sponte; that's another idea whose time has come again.  It has not been considered so during this extended period of experimentation; but it's time we seriously asked ourselves whether it is possible that the objective sinful character of such acts can really have changed.  The answer surely lies in the rotten fruits of experimentation, and the real pain it has caused us in the pews.

Priests, you have got to stop playing the fool at Mass.  You are driving your flocks, and yourselves, away from the True Shepherd, and you are going to have to answer for every one.  The Bread of Life is Jesus Christ, not you.  Stop giving us stones when we come to you for the Bread.


  1. Good grief, Anita - beautiful rant and so spot on. We had a priest who would flick water in the face of the altar boy (or girl) at the washing of the hands. Are you freaking kidding me??? He's been suspended for some sexual indiscretion or another.

    I grew up with the Latin Mass, and as many young people was away from the Church for a period of time. When I returned it was just as they started the NO Mass. You can imagine my utter shock. Not only was I bewildered, just about everyone in attendance was too. No one had a clue what was going on. It was awful. Suffice to say I didn't go back for another 10 years or so, and (unfortunately) ended up at SSPX.

    My old NO parish has a sign of peace that would rival any cocktail lounge for being slap happy.

  2. I've seen that water-splashing crap. A clear indicator that the priest in question does not have the slightest clue who he is or what he is doing.

    We got the vernacular Mass, allegedly because people couldn't understand the Mass. But it seems, after decades of the Mass in the vernacular, both priests and laity understand it less now than ever.

  3. I've mentioned this one and off for a couple years... the US provincial for a local men's religious order often changes the words to the Agnus Dei. In fact, the phrase, "lamb of God" does not get a mention during the... Lamb of God. OTH, on more than one occassion, during a week day Mass, he'll say the Agnus Die in latin rather than english. I've asked him about this once and he basically saw nothing wrong with it. Just one of the many reasons I don't attend Mass anymore.

  4. newguy40: you need to (a) get yourself to confession, and (b) pick up that cross of lousily-celebrated Masses and carry it, just like the rest of us. If you won't carry it now, all you're doing is trading it in for an even heavier one later.

  5. We have a new priest of the Charismatic type. Wonderful fellow, but he has made too many changes too fast- this is his first parish as a newly ordained priest. Adding words to the Mass, installing a white screen in the sanctuary with"inspirational" pictures, even using it for a power point presentation during his homily.... one time with photos of Nelson Mandela... Please. If I wanted to watch a screen during Mass I'd just turn on EWTN for Mass and stay home.

  6. Shirley, the sooner you figure out it's all about HIM, the happier you will be.