Saturday, January 9, 2010

This priest is all about himself, not Christ's sacrifice in the Mass

This is just enough to make me grind my teeth, there are times I see more of this happening up here and it really starts to bug me. I sure would appreciate the people leaving the Church quietly after mass so that maybe we can reclaim some semblance of the idea of "sacred space", A time for private prayer after mass instead of group visits during the mad rush for the door, take it outside, we used to.

This priest needs his ass kicked up over his non existent biretta.

The Egyptian

The Talk-Show Mass

I had kinda hoped this wasn't going to come up so soon in the new year, but alas, it has.

Today's Mass was as close to a talk-show as I had ever experienced. The liturgy was processing fine until after the Gospel. Then Father Limelight asked for the children to come to the altar and gather near the nativity scene (the Three Wise Men were conspicuously absent...perhaps they knew what was going to happen and skedaddled outta there?). After repeating several times "Come on up, kids. All the children, come to the nativity scene!", only five victims children came forward, and then he led them in a verse of "O Come All Ye Faithful", accompanied by some of the congregants. Then he blessed them, sent them back to the pews and said "Let's give them a hand!" Some polite clapping ensued.

Then Fr Limelight returned to the pulpit and said "I'd like someone, anyone, to come up and say a few words about what Christmas hope means to them - speak a bit about how they celebrated Christmas, and I'm just going to sit down. Anyone? No one? Come on, children, take your father or mother by the hand and lead them here. Anyone? Just one person...anybody?" Finally, a man seated near the front rose and stepped up to the podium, while Father sat down. The guy gave a one-to-two minute description of how he celebrated Christmas with his family. When he went back to his seat, Father jumped back up and started a round of applause.

"Beautiful, beautiful," he said. "And now we need one of the ladies to come up. C'mon, I can't stand up here and speak for any of the women here. Any mom or grandma want to come up and talk about their Christmas dreams and wishes? Anybody? Any kid want to bring their mom up here? I can't go on with the Mass until one of you ladies comes up. Any of you? Anyone?"

After Father Limelight subjected us to a full minute of excruciating begging, an elderly woman stood up, came to the pulpit and gave her two minute spiel. Another round of applause led by Father.

Then he started his homily. By now Mass had become an occasion of sin for me as my anger was reaching the tipping point. My sons noticed - I have a habit of clenching my jaw and bouncing one leg when I'm suppressing anger - and Younger Son was pressing down on my leg to make it stop. He even whispered to me: "Dad - it's like he's a talk-show host!"

I had briefly considered standing up when Father first asked for volunteers to go up and make a fool of themselves - but I would have taken my opportunity to tell Father that it's his business to deliver the homily and not ours, and that we have the right to expect the Mass to be done according to the rubrics. But I didn't - he was embarrassing himself enough, at least in my mind he was, and adding to it would not have accomplished anything positive.

Fast forward to the end of Mass. Before the final blessing, Father went back to the pulpit.

"Well, Happy New Year to all of you - and hey, let's congratulate the kids to came up to the nativity scene." *clap clap* "Oh, and the music group did great today too. *clap clap clap* "And since this is Christmas time, I'm going to do what I do every year and sing you my favorite carol."


"Too bad I don't have my guitar with me, but I can probably manage at the piano."


So Father Limelight walks over to the music group, excuses the pianist and begins playing some obscure Christmas carol that has to with Mary and Joseph and Bethlehem and such, singing as he plays (his playing was fine, but the singing was less than to be desired) for about FIVE MINUTES and when he finishes, guess what? More stinkin' applause!! Heck, this wasn't a talk-show but a Variety Hour! Six times of applause during the Mass.

So he finishes, gives the final blessing, and then the recessional begins. As he walks down the main aisle, he stops and shakes hands with every person sitting at the end of the pew, on both sides.

Father Limelight is a visiting priest at the church where we attended Mass today - in fact, we go there quite often and the Mass is normally holy and intentionally accurate - but today's exhibition was beyond the pale. It's nearly gotten to the point where my options for Mass are drying up - for example, at my home parish, the pastor allowed the Pastoral Associate to give the homily during the early morning Mass last Sunday. When you no longer know what to expect at any given Mass, and attendance descends into an occasion of sin, it's time to make a change.

I just didn't think it was going to happen so early in 2010.

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