Liturgical horrors
  • ViolaViola
    Posts: 321
    I didn't think I was easily shocked, but today a friend told me what's happening in her parish for the Easter Vigil.They are only having four of the readings, fair enough, lots of parishes do that. But the thing that made my hair stand on end was when she told me the liturgy committee led by the parish priest has decided to dispense with the psalms that follow the readings and instead substitute a little ditty called 'Father, we adore you'. That's after the first reading, 'Jesus, we adore you' after the next, which will be the riders and horses one, then 'Spirit we adore you' after what is in reality no. 5. The thing can be sung as a round, and there is the possibility that the congregation may be split into groups to do this. Not sure what they will do after the last reading.
    How can they get away with this? Does anything like this happen anywhere else?
  • 1. By just doing it.
    2. Yes
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,816
    Ditto.

    Add to this the not uncommon practice in retirement locales in Florida (and perhaps elsewhere) of having the Vigil at the usual hour of the Saturday afternoon Mass. (I recall I've even heard of ditching the Vigil entirely and instead just celebrating an anticipated Easter Sunday Mass. This was such a stunning possibility I don't think it's a figment of my faulty memory. Which leads to the false choice: which is worse, skipping the Vigil or butchering it?)
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,899
    The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says: "Songs or hymns may not be used in place of the Responsorial Psalm." (end of paragraph 61) So what the parish priest proposes to do is not correct. The old edition of the GIRM didn't say this explicitly, so the parish priest might not know.

    Assuming that this is in your diocese, you have the option to write to the bishop. Of course, you don't have to tell him the rule. I'd just describe what the parish is planning to do, and ask if it's permitted.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    It's stupid, infantile and idiotic. You can and perhaps should write the bishop, as per your rights in Redemptionis Sacramentum (just plainly explain what will happen, don't cite the law at him). But chances are, unless the bishop has a real spine matters liturgical (and let's be honest, many...I almost would say most don't), it'll probably go on anyways exactly as planned.
  • We do that song as a round with the choir on Trinity Sunday. Can't imagine it taking the place of the psalm.
    Thanked by 2Adam Wood kenstb
  • Holy Week question marks in my parish:
    1. Live donkey for Palm Sunday procession (a "tradition" dating back to the '80s or possibly before that; being resurrected this year),
    2. Easter Sunday procession at our "children's Mass" during Alleluia when children are led down the center aisle by balloons. After Mass, balloons are given out to children in attendance. This is a long-standing active custom that goes back for years (my guess is that it originated in the '70s).
    I may be leaving the parish in a few weeks.
  • ...in a few weeks....

    That long from now???
  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    OK, here's the picture: Gorgeous, large 1917 church building with a polychrome baldacchino and marble high altar. Ornate marble sanctuary floor. Windows rivaling
    anything from Europe. For the reformed liturgy, a massive marble table from a bank was brought in as the new freestanding altar. (New freestanding because the old high altar under the baldacchino is also freestanding.) This was one of those carved marble monstrosities that banks used to install in order to command the respect of us peons.

    Anyway, the scene is Easter Vigil 1977 or so. The word came down from the high (perhaps in more than one sense) that, during the Abraham reading, the sacrifice of Isaac would be reenacted in the sanctuary. Accordingly, scantily clad dancers wafted to and fro as Isaac was laid out on the bank table where he was menaced by Abraham. Toga clad undergraduates played the parts. Luckily for salvation history, timely divine intervention saved Isaac once again.

    Unluckily for this church, many congregants were seen leaving the premises during this
    debacle. The legend is that they never returned.

    I did not see this myself as I was hired as DM there a few years later after a purely musical debacle. However, I heard it from eyewitnesses and you can trust them!
  • I have been wanting to leave for some time; hopefully this week I can solidify a new position at a different parish that opens up in a few weeks.
  • Godspeed!!!
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,410
    Along with ribbons on tall sticks (which were to represent fire or the Holy Spirit I think) dancing down the isles during the procession, the Gospel for the Feast of Pentecost was simultaneously read in three different languages by three lectors.

    I'm not sure anything is going to rival MBW's story. Wow.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,224
    The weirdest I’ve seen is liturgical dance and reading the readings multiple times in various languages on Pentecost at a Minneapolis parish that Scott Turkington will tell you he thought was cool as a kid but, well...he directs chant now!! Simultaneous reading would drive me crazy, and nothing tops MBW's story. That actually is not only infantile, but really, really messed up. They did it on the altar of the Mass, and they failed to realize there is no need to act it out, since the Mass is the sacrifice of Christ which is the antitype of Abraham’s sacrifice.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,816
    "the Gospel for the Feast of Pentecost was simultaneously read in three different languages by three lectors."

    The Gospel? I've certainly heard the *first* reading offered in three languages: not simultaneously, but in reiterated sections. Then the Our Father in simultaneous mother tongues in the congregation with the celebrant (and some congregants) praying in the Roman church's mother tongue, Latin (that I do like).
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,087
    My favorite liturgical horror:

    I taught a class on the Holy Week rituals in a better left unnamed diocese. I discussed the symbolism of the candle being put into the baptismal waters. The imagery being noted by those in attendance

    A wonderful but a little crazy old priest stood up to say that," Whenever I did that I did not want the candle to get wet so I always put a plastic bag over the end of the candle when I dipped it into the water."

    Needless to say, most people quickly figured out the imagery. Yep...liturgical condoms. :)
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,410
    It was over fifteen years ago while I was visiting another city, I remember it being the Gospel, but perhaps it was the first after looking at it again. I remember it being odd regardless, but you are right Liam, having lectors read the Gospel would be a far greater error. mea culpa.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,746
    Not Class A "horrors," but noteworthy--the "church musician" who entertains with hotel-bar arrangements of "Danny Boy" and "Au Claire de Lune" as warm-up music before Mass.

    And the priest/celebrant who does the 'Sprinkling Ritual' while the choir sings the Glory to God (I mean, who has TIME for all that extra ceremonial??)
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,582
    I've been victimized by the gospel-in-3-simultaneous-languages. Boomers thought it was profound. I, as a young teenager, thought, "What just happened? This church is a circus."

    Liturgical innovations drive youth away from the church.
  • Most memorable Holy Week liturgical horror: Our new priest, when asked at the beginning of Lent if he would be chanting the Vigil's Exsultet, or would he rather the cantor do it (as cantor was prepared, experienced, & always chanted it as it is written) replied, "Yes, I will do it."

    "Okay, Father, how about a run-through next week, just to make sure we're on the same page?" Whereupon he starts chanting the first three lines, every word correct, every note on pitch, tempo perfecto.

    The MD is pleasantly surprised."Well, that was great, Father, bravo! But it would be good to rehearse it fully at least once before the Vigil. I'll be in touch." During Lent the MD attempted several times to meet with him, but his six-parish schedule was continually over-booked & so the rehearsal never took place.

    Fast fwd: The Easter Vigil begins. At the appointed time Father proceeds to the ambo & begins chanting. All is a beautiful repeat...at least for those first three lines (remember those?). Then everything goes to you-know-where in a hand basket. MD nearly falls off the organ bench, fights the urge to scream, "No, no, a thousand times, NO!"

    With the exception of the responses he was all over the map. After Mass the MD was heard to say, "Well, Father, I must say that was quite a surprise. Guess we should've practiced, eh?" wink, wink.

    He solemnly replied, "Chester can do it from now on." (Thank you, Jesus!!)
  • I was just chatting with a Canon lawyer who said that it is well known that liturgical abuses are taking place all over our diocese, but that there is not a good mechanism for enforcement even if the bishop is inclined to do so. Most bishops who might be so inclined just don't have the stomach for it.

    On the bright side, I also spoke to my pastor who said that our bishop is trying to take a proactive approach by requiring diocesan priests to attend continuing education programs intended for renewal (i.e. correction) of our liturgies. We'll see if that has any effect.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,297
    the NO is an abberation and I pray for the day it is abrogated. IMHO it will always be the culprit of liturgical abuse no matter how much training or education is attempted
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,099
    The EF can be abused just as badly if no one is in charge and no effort is made to see that it is done correctly. What folks forget is that the bad old Holy Office is toothless and most of the enforcement mechanisms are gone. Granted, the people might walk if abuses were present. Unless the local bishop is willing to act, not much could be done to stop abuses.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,816
    If tomorrow the OF were abrogated, the EF would be subject to as much mischief.
  • G
    Posts: 1,387
    not uncommon practice in retirement locales in Florida (and perhaps elsewhere) of having the Vigil at the usual hour of the Saturday afternoon Mass.

    Yes.
    One parish had "anticipated" Easter Masses, then went to three vigils, two before sundown, one after.
    The first two were something beyond SOR, even the parking lot was filled with people packed in like sardines. The final one was pretty much empty, and the music ministry did not "help," thereby upping the solemnity quotient. (My vague recollection was that they left out most of the psalms,3 OT readings, 1 psalm.)
    The bishop quietly put a stop to the multiples, and made a deal about the correct timing so now it is a single vigil - but still in broad daylight, which, I suppose, is not an entirely bad thing, because with the size of the crowd and the amount of traffic, and the fire and all, it would be scary dangerous.

    So it's safe.
    It's not Catholic, but it's safe.
    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,816
    Saturday evening Masses: Holy Grandmother Church at prayer.

    (Full disclosure: for many years, my late elderly mother could only get to Mass late in the afternoon because it took her 6 hours to get herself ready - many dozens of things to be done - and her medication schedule was such that she couldn't attend in the morning. A reminded that many people have no idea what other people do in order to get to church in the first place. Being able allows people such blessed ignorance.)
  • G
    Posts: 1,387
    for many years, my late elderly mother could only get to Mass late in the afternoon because it took her 6 hours to get herself ready - many dozens of things to be done - and her medication schedule was such that she couldn't attend in the morning. A reminded that many people have no idea what other people do in order to get to church in the first place. Being able allows people such blessed ignorance.
    This.
    You're right, and I should have just left it at, "It's safe."
    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • the symbolism of the candle being put into the baptismal waters.

    For a not-yet-converted Wiccan seeing this for the first time, no discussion was necessary.
  • CGM
    Posts: 454
    For a not-yet-converted Wiccan seeing this for the first time, no discussion was necessary.


    A great opening line for a short story.
  • Here's a good one:

    One parish I worked for, part-time while finishing my DMA, did a very strange thing at the conclusion of the Holy Thursday liturgy. After the altar was stripped, the deacon came forward from the rear of the church and hurled a handful of silver coins at the altar and walked out.
    Since the altar and sanctuary were all hard surfaces, the noise was quite startling, and the coins rolled and spun away in all directions.

    I later asked what this was supposed to mean and was told that it represented Judas returning his blood money to the Temple priests.
    Thanked by 3MBW Jahaza SarahJ
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,615
    the deacon came forward from the rear of the church and hurled a handful of silver coins at the altar


    This is a mental image I won't soon forget.
  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    Back in the days when sheep were brought up in the offertory procession along with whatever else the enlightened staff thought relevant, I remember a classic:

    A family brought up a TV Guide. When I asked why, I was told that the TV Guide was a symbol of family togetherness. I suppose in their minds sitting surrounded by the great wasteland (especially since this was in about 1977) constituted quality family time. Sheesh!
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    I later asked what this was supposed to mean and was told that it represented Judas returning his blood money to the Temple priests.


    Well, obviously. But I'm still confused.
    Thanked by 2JL CCooze
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,099
    No, give the money to the musicians who probably need it much more than the temple priests. ;-)
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,899
    That's what i was wondering: some genuine silver coins, left for the musicians to clean up, would add authenticity.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CHGiffen
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,816
    Bringing to mind the notorious incident in the early 1980s, when Peter Sellars was semi-staging a performance of Handel’s "Saul" by the Cantata Singers of Boston: he asked the members of the Chorus of Israelites to writhe on the floor chasing loose change, and the singers refused . . . .
  • Which again begs the eternal question - which Peter is more ridiculous, Sellers with an "E" or Sellars with an "A"? (At least the former's rendition of "My Fair Lady" by a Brahmin doctor was amusing . . .)
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • oops, from the previous comment i thought they were the same person. And was thinking what did you expect asking a comic actor to stage a performance of Handel?
    Thanked by 1Spriggo
  • I will, with a bald face, add to this list of liturgical horrors the not very uncommon practice of singing three cute little hoopty-doo alleluyas at mass instead of the correct one alleluya on a nice melody and sporting its characteristic and inalienable jubilus. This is a liturgical horror. (Some will recall that I have given this practice its due excoriation on other threads, but it is especially apt on this one dedicated to liturgical horrors.)
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,615
    Go to an average Suburban parish and have some nice old lady choir sing the Gregorian Alleluia and then you'll hear a true liturgical horror.

    But let's all write to Rome and tell them to remove the Graduale Simplex from all future liturgical documents because it is a liturgical horror.
    Thanked by 3ryand Spriggo Adam Wood
  • MBWMBW
    Posts: 175
    Every year on the Solemnity of the Epiphany, one of the associate pastors gave the same homily. He started by saying that "Epiphany is all about gift giving" and then proceed to do a show and tell of his Christmas presents. This was always enough to make your teeth hurt. He peaked one year when, instead of showing off his recently opened chocolate golf balls, he displayed some sort of novelty underwear - in the box, of course! Later his boss said of him "He never gave a bad homily."
  • ...because it is a liturgical horror.

    Well, (do I or do I not perceive sarcasm here?) in this respect at least, it may well be a liturgical horror, so let us indeed complain of it to Rome. But why? Rome has proven to be no bastion against liturgical horrors - it even sometimes (as would be exampled here) is complicit in them.

    There are many kinds of horrors other than priests dressing up like clowns or rising up from a casket before the altar as from the dead on Easter Day. Such idiocy will run its course and, ultimately, receive its due shame. Other horrors may be less glaring, less offensive, less sick. They may be, actually, pleasant. These are the worse ones, for they worm their way into common practice until they are seen as legitimate and 'traditional', and, after all, Rome didn't stamp them out; why, Rome even put out a little book that features them. Rome is of a feather with the worst of Anglicanism in publishing stuff and making pronouncements that say one thing and mean another, or leave everyone guessing what they mean, have been cleverly couched so that they mean different things to different interpreters, or don't mean anything at all that Rome actually cares about - really and seriously cares about. But the horror is a horror just the same. And, we are all the losers; we have lost riches of tradition, meaning, symbolism, spirituality, literature, music, art, paths to holiness, theological awareness, intellectual perception and grasp, and more else than one could list here, and this matter of the alleluya at mass is one of them. And every time we lose something we just forget about it and resent anyone bringing it up. (After all, maybe the nasty old Vatican II council didn't actually 'get rid of it', we our very selves just abandoned it and couldn't care less.) Simplex! That says it all.

    Thanked by 1JacobFlaherty
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,582
    Some will recall that I have given this practice its due excoriation on other threads


    And some really wish that you would just move on already.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfect_is_the_enemy_of_good
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,816
    Also known as: getting in one's own way.
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 373
    When it's the triple Celtic Alleluia and everyone, including the priest does the little hand twirling thing, it is truly horrible.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,816
    I am trying to figure what hand twirling thing goes with Ah-ha-lay-hey-loo-(hoo-)hoo-yah! thrice.....
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,574
    2015 mar 29 @ 1145 am
    The choir has finished singing the Palm Sunday Gospel in chant and polyphony.
    [expect priest to say or chant] The Gospel of the Lord.
    [got instead] That was great! Lets clap for them!

    And the pewsitters did as commanded.
    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,224
    eft, I would have cried.