How To Fail At Being A Good Catholic…

… It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of careful cultivation to turn a parish from Christ Centered to Congregation Centered. Years of self congratulatory applause during mass and spoon fed homilies appealing to our human desire to feel warm and fuzzy. What took years to create hopefully won’t take as equally long to undo. The priest charged with refocusing a Congregation Centered church faces the challenge of resistant parishioners. I’ll use a recent ugly exchange between myself and someone who belongs to a Congregation Centered church as an example at how to fail at being a Catholic.

To set the stage; a particular Congregation Centered church is getting two new priests, and as to be expected, there’s been much gnashing of teeth and wailing. I think the appropriate word is mutiny. No one likes change.

They’re losing a few members of the laity who function as directors of this or heads of that in protest over the changes these good priests are proposing. Changes like Latin hymns and chanted parts of the mass. The horror! It’s precisely those changes that sparked the argument between myself and this someone else who sings in the choir. The exchange went something like this…

Someone Else: Can you believe this priest is making us sing in Latin? No one knows Latin! You can’t sing along to Latin! How will people be able to sing along?!

Me: People don’t always have to sing along. They can just listen to the choir beautifully singing Latin. I know ya’ll sound wonderful. It’ll just take some practice – blah blah blah, other placating stuff.

Someone Else: Not being able to sing along takes away the congregations ability to actively participate! I mean, how dare he! He just went and made all these changes without consulting anyone.

Me: Well, actually he did consult the choir director or else he wouldn’t be leaving in protest. What you mean is “how dare the priest make changes without consulting YOU”. Which he doesn’t have to do. He’s in charge of the church now, not each individual congregant. He doesn’t need to get everyone’s approval first before making changes.

Someone Else: Yes he does! WE make up the Church. If it weren’t for the people in the pews there’d be no church!

Me: [Where I begin to fail as a Catholic] What!?! I hate to break it to you but you don’t show up for mass to do the priest a favor. He can celebrate mass without a single congregant in the pews. You not being there does not mean the Eucharist will not transubstantiate.

Someone Else: But.. but… this priest is just coming in and telling people how to worship. This is America! You can’t just tell people how to worship! [I swear this was actually said. Verbatim.]

Me: Are you freaking serious?! Of course you can be told how to worship. There’s a man in Rome with a big pointy hat who’d tell you otherwise and 2000+ years of rules, dogma, and tradition to back him up! If you don’t want to be told how to worship you sure as hell picked the wrong religion. May I suggest that nice Tongues of Fire Freewill Pentecostal Four-Square Community Church right around the corner. They have no apostolic succession, hierarchy or authority. You should fit in nicely.

Ugh. I sounded so smaller-more-pure-Church evil trad and felt guilty for days after. A good Catholic, more charitable than myself, would have suggested this Someone Else pray for their new priests and perhaps suggested they read the Catechism for clarity. A good Catholic would have appealed to this person sense of tolerance and fairness by asking them to be patient with their new padre. Alas, I took the easiest and less dignified route by suggested they leave the Church all together.

I’ve always firmly believed the Church is a Church for all; even for the confused, self absorbed Someone Else and the abysmally intolerant, arrogant Me.

About Katrina Fernandez

Mackerel Snapping Papist

  • Stephanie

    GREAT posting!

  • The Catholic Science Geek

    Don’t get too hung up over it. Sometimes, God works through us in very strange ways. Sometimes people need a shove more than they need a little nudge to get over themselves. In all cases, however, patience and timing are very important.

    • lethargic

      Kat, agreeing with the Geek here, sometimes people need a kick in the pants … I was involved with one situation where a person needed to be scolded to take an inconvenient, though potentially life-saving, medical action … I felt terrible for having ‘abused’ this sick person that way … but later learned it was my unkind input that moved them into action at last … so ya never know, God’s mysterious ways, and all that …

  • Christine Hebert

    I probably would have been just as bad a Catholic.  Our parish is instituting a “family Mass” in September.  My son is an altar server and has been for about 4 years.  We will be asking to NOT be scheduled for that Mass.  Our “Youth choir” is the pits…we regularly block our ears if we happen to be at the Mass they are “singing” (I use the term loosely here).  Unfortunately, every parish in our DIOCESE is full of abuses, and our is actually one of the least abusive (as long as you avoid the “Family Mass” and any Mass that the “Catholic” school is involved in).  There is not a single trad Mass within a half hour drive of our home and I believe God is calling me to stay where I am right now.   Prayers ascending!

    • CatholicMinnesotan

      You wouldn’t by any chance be talking about the St.Cloud Diocese, would you?

      • Jason56716

        St. Cloud Diocese has improved greatly since my youth. At least they don’t rely on the Benedictines from St.Johns anymore.

      • Christine Hebert

         Nope…Diocese of Springfield, MA

        • Ambrose

          Western MA is not known for its rampant traditionalism in general, but I think things are looking up. I know several seminarians studying for the Diocese of Springfield (although a couple decided to switch to the Archdiocese of Boston) and they are all very faithful and have no patience for liturgical abuses. The future is coming, and from what I’ve seen these abuses will sort themselves out as we get more priests like these and less who are performing them. One priest I know who has a good head on his shoulders and cleared up a LOT of misunderstandings about the Church and Her teachings when I was at UMass was Fr. Doug McGonagle. I had just come from a school where the church was run by Jesuits, and sadly the stereotypes held true for them and I was undereducated or told outright lies about the faith. Fr. Doug had to fight against these abuses at a very secular and liberal university where the entrenched laity had usurped the liturgy, but he was able to make great strides by the time he left. He’s currently at Our Lady of the Valley in Easthampton. He and a few other orthodox priests are staying strong in the face of all this “my Mass” nonsense, so don’t lose hope!

    • Foster62

      I totally agree with you!

  • Snupnjake

    I’m not exactly sure where you failed as a Catholic.  Even Jesus told the Apostles to get a clue.  

  • Hartponder

    We all have been there. Thank you for a reminder what it means to be Cathloic. I try to focus on two scriptures when I see or hear potentially discouraging things: 

    Romans 14:19 “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”  

    Hebrews 10:25 “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

    Through the magnifying glass of love, which covers a multitude of sins, compassion appears to all in Christ. Dear Souls, one and all!

    • seekyefirst

      I like to say the prayer from the Mass “May we who partake of the Body and Blood of Christ be brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit.”
      These are difficult days as this article describes. I do think priests are in such a difficult position because they absolutely cannot please everyone. We have to focus on being  joyful Catholics and pray for unity.

  • Ross S. Heckmann

    Yes, your attitude even where correct is pretty off-putting, and I am glad that you recognize you need to work on it.  Good for you, that’s a big step in the right direction.

    • Katrina Fernandez

      Unfortunately, I’m an expert at off-putting. 

  • Christian LeBlanc

    St. Paul wasn’t always charming and ameliorative either.

  • Jan

    Righteous annoyed-ness is sometimes justified, as was yours.

  • didobonaparte

    I totally empathise with you. Thank God you are showing support for the new priest. Believe me, he needs it. In these trying times, the priests that are trying to hold to what the Church authentically teaches and promotes get it in the neck so often from those who want the Church to be something other than what she is. Just remembering, as St Paul says: “All things work for the good for those who love God.” Even the most unpleasant things that we ha ve to endure. Also,”ubi Petrus, ubi Ecclesia (where there is Peter, there is the Church)

  • Craig

    You weren’t a nice Catholic but you were a good one. The modern world seems to equate nice with good when they are two very different things. Sure, it wasn’t nice of you to give this person a tap on the hand but it was good of you because they desperately needed it.

  • CatholicMinnesotan

    While you could have put it nicer, that is only half of what I would have done…  After I finished, they might just want to be as far away from anyone like me as possible…

    • tj.nelson

      This comment wasn’t me Kat.


      I wonder if the Mass could be celebrated in tongues?  Or at least the people’s responses?

  • tz1

    I don’t see what is different, assuming your leaving in a huff over the “Children’s Mass” was more than described and there were some actual serious liturgical abuses.  “How dare they have a children’s mass without consulting YOU”.  How dare the priest unilaterally decide to do that!

    And we wonder why there isn’t unity in the church.

    It is hard enough to point out deviating from the GIRM in charity when on the other side the demands are not far from what SSPX wants.

    I would point out that if there were actual abuses in the church you left, there is a procedure in canon law.  It requires patience, fortitude and perseverance to gently, and if necessary properly correct error – if it was error, virtues which have seem to have been lost these days.

    I keep hearing laments over the lack of community and church shopping.  My sunday obligation usually involves music which I can barely tolerate, yet I am called to look beyond that.

    Perhaps you should refer the person who doesn’t like the latin to the church with the Children’s mass.

    Perhaps we can have add a ratings, from touchy-feely to “the priest won’t let you in unless you are wearing what a lawyer would in court”.  Who cares about solidarity.  Shop till you drop as everyone has equal rites including the last.

    • Katrina Fernandez

      This person belongs to the parish I left, with the Children’s mass. I mentioned this in the 2nd paragraph. And a Children’s mass is an abuse – which is why I left.  

      • Foster62

        My new pastor is instituting a children’s mass.   I cannot stomach chilren’s or family masses.  Mass isn’t about us it’s about God!  Please direct me to a Church document on how the children’s mass is  abuse so that I can provide something concrete to my [astor- and we wonder why we are losing another generation to the contraceptive mentality.

      • Skorlan

        Children’s Mass is not an abuse. It’s allowed under certain conditions in order to help children to better understand the Mass. Look it up in the Sacramentary, and you will find it’s allowed.

    • Christine Hebert

       I am not leaving my parish.  I will simply not attend the Mass which will have the abuses.  And chances are really good that things like “liturgical dance” will creep in as they have in the school Masses.  Liturgical dance IS an abuse when used anytime during the Mass except procession in or recessional from the church after the closing prayer.  For the most part I like my parish and the pastor.  He is human and he is doing what he feels is appropriate for the young families in the parish.  He is a good administrator and has made many repairs to the infrastructure of the parish buildings to ensure that they are in good repair and here for the use of the parish for many year to come. 

  • AnneG

    Bless their hearts! ( I live in NC, too, so you know what that means.) I’ve been praying for that to happen at our parish. I really sympathisize. I would have been and have been much more blunt. Praying for you and for your new priests.

  • Paige

    I can see this happening in the near future at my parish. We are pretty Christ-centered, but our new priest, who is very conservative is visibly flabbergasted by the EMoHC’s. I can see him asking they not be scheduled for his masses. And I can see the EMoHC’s being really upset about it. 

    • Sandra

      EMoHC’s—What is that?

      • Barbara Bowman

         Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

        • DebraBrunsberg

          I would kiss the feet of any priest who got rid of EM’s.  Maybe if we had to stand in line for an hour to received the body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we might actually start remembering what Mass is all about.  I believe that allowing anyone other than an ordained Minister to touch the body of Christ will be, one day,  looked on as the biggest mistake and abuse ever, in the history of the Church. 

          • Maron

            At Mass tonight both priests went to the left side of the church and EMs to right, where I was sitting.  I was irked and felt I was not in the right frame to receive.  Still am mad…

          • Anne

            Look up to heaven and receive with charitable manners of the heart, so that the grace may flow.  After all, the Bishops have still approved of Extraordinary Ministers.  All in good time will distribution of the Eucharistic feast be put back into the hands of our priests.

          • Christine Hebert

             My children will “line hop” to receive from the priest and they receive on the tongue.  My daughter has been known to make a spiritual communion rather than receive from an EM.  As I am out side the fullness of Grace, I cannot receive at all.  I pray that in time this will change and then I may receive on my knees!  I do so miss the Lord in the Eucharist.

    • TeaPot562

      Flash back to the early 1970s, before EMoHC’s were authorized; our parish had three priests, and all were expected to be distributing Holy Communion at each Sunday Mass.  Our older son had been on a Scout weekend, so I took him to the 5:30 p.m. Sunday Mass.  Fr. Brilliantes, a Filipino by birth, presided.  For whatever reason, the other two priests never showed up – maybe on a sick call at a hospital or caught in traffic.  Fr. Brilliantes devoted over twenty-five minutes to going back and forth at the Communion rail until everyone had received.
      At the time, he was also the only member of the rectory staff that regularly attended Eucharistic Adoration on the parish’s assigned day.
      IMO the availability of the EMoHCs is a blessing, provided that they have been properly instructed.

      • Marie Noybn

        what exactly is wrong with a 25 minute wait for Holy Communion? When we put it in the scale of how long Christ suffered, i think a few more minutes on our knees might be a good thing indeed.

    • Jameshughes1947

      Great !!!

  • TotusTuusFamily

    This “smaller, purer” idea is attributed to our dear Holy Father. Here’s a then Cardinal Ratzinger-EWTN Raymond Arroyo interview… ‘Cardinal: As I do not exclude even this dancing hand-in-hand, but this is only one moment. And my idea is that really the springtime of the Church will not say that we will have in a near time buses of conversions, that all peoples of the world will be converted to Catholicism. This is not the way of God. The essential things in history begin always with the small, more convinced communities. So, the Church begins with the 12 Apostles. And even the Church of St. Paul diffused in the Mediterranean are little communities, but this community in itself is the future of the world, because we have the truth and the force of conviction. So, I think also today it should be an error to think now or in 10 years with the new springtime, all people will be Catholic. This is not our future, nor our expectation. But we will have really convinced communities with élan of the faith, no? This is springtime — a new life in very convinced persons with joy of the faith.Raymond: But, smaller numbers? In the macro?Cardinal: Smaller numbers, I think. But from these small numbers we will have a radiation of joy in the world. And so, it’s an attraction, as it was in the old Church. Even when Constantine made Christianity the public religion, there were a small number of percentage at this time; but it was clear, this is the future. So we can live in the future, just give us a way in a different future. And so, I would say, if we have young people really with the joy of the faith and this radiation of this joy of the faith, this will show to the world, “Even if I cannot share it, even if I cannot convert it at this moment, here is the way to live for tomorrow.”44 minutes ago · LikeEditDeleteAllison Girone Also found this, and this church will become

  • Fr. Peter Shaw

    As a young, newly ordained priest of the same diocese as you Katrina, I want to thank you for defending the pastor and the other priest in residence at the parish. They are men you are truly seeking to give glory and honor to Christ. Change is never easy, but they sincerely want what is best for the Church and the parish. If people give them a chance, say six months, they will see the great beauty and respect that they are attempting to instill in the parish, plus, they are both really kind & generous men. If nothing else, better it should happen now, ’cause the men getting ordained for the foreseeable future in our diocese are all of similar liturgical persuasion.

    • Jill Haltigan

      I love hearing songs in Latin (the old school Agnus Dei might be my most favorite piece of music ever) but I also love to sing along, especially one days when I don’t bring my best game to Mass and am having trouble focusing. It helps me at least raise my voice in prayer to God, even as I’m otherwise distracted. So hopefully middle ground can be found and yes, patience and a willingness to try new things on both sides is also helpful. 

      Priests have a difficult job, because it’s simply not a Burger King service and we all can’t have it our way. There are some traditions in parishes that need to be changed, not by an iron fist, but by explaining where they fall short and how they can be bettered. Faithful parishes will all still maintain some of their distinct flavor!

      Congratulations on your recent ordination Father Shaw and thank you for serving our Church! Pray for me as I am working out my own calling. Be assured of my prayers as well.

      • Szaner15

        It’s not that difficult to learn the hymns in Latin. Keeps the mind sharp!

    • Katrina Fernandez

      I’ve noticed that… all these fine young traditional men getting ordained in our diocese. Isn’t it fantastic?  

  • kendallpeak

    We should always try to work within our local parish. But that would also include accepting the silliness of the “children’s mass”.

  • David Zacchetti

     Well, actually he did consult the choir director or else he wouldn’t be leaving in protest.

    You are wickedly funny.  :)

  • TomS

    I think the new priests are selfish and arrogant. To enter a parish making changes in areas important to the parish disrespects the former priests and the people. Building trust and getting to know the people has to be the first step; without this it will be difficult if not impossible to introduce changes, no matter how valid or necessary. The new priests need to apologize and begin building relationships. It might also be useful for the new guys to review the documents of Vatican II and the new Roman Missal before trying to implement the “right” way. They are not the saviors of the Church, they’re teachers and pastors.

    • Barbara Bowman

       The new priests are shepherds, and sometimes the need to use the shepherd’s crook.  You don’t know these guys, and you call them selfish and arrogant.  Kind of judgemental, yes?

    • Katrina Fernandez

      I’m not sure you personally know these priests, but even if you do disrespecting the position of the priesthood is pretty arrogant yourself. 

    • Anon

      Knowing the new priests personally, I can say that the pastor is entering gracefully, but that the priest in residence could be a bit more tactful.  It is generally not advisable to use the Roman Canon for the lunchtime Mass everyday (as people have to get to work. Cardinal Dolan is famous for his 22 minute morning Mass) and adding the Leonine prayers on at the end without even an explanation as to what they were (right after saying that his arrival on the Feast of St. Alphonsus was “serendipitous” because he was a moral theologian, like St. Alphonsus).

      He seems like a very holy priest, but he isn’t the best with first impressions.  The pastor is doing his best to calm the storm though. He has actually acknowledge the great work that the friars did, and that will go a LONG way. May St. Francis, St. Joseph, St. Padre Pio, and St. Clare protect our parish, and help the new priests.

      • Anon

        That being said, I really love the fact that he uses the Roman Canon during Sunday Mass, and his homily this Sunday was great. I think both will work out fine at the parish, I just wish there had been a bit more of a transition.  I am praying for them both, as they both seem to be holy men, who will do much to bring glory to Jesus Christ in the local Church!

        • Maureen O’Brien

           The Roman Canon takes maybe 30 seconds, maybe a minute longer than the shortest Eucharistic Prayers. If you really want to cut off a minute from Mass attendance time, sit close to the door and learn to racewalk to your car.

          • Anon

            What ever happened to charity?  I love the Roman Canon, I just think it is a bit long for a standard, non-feast day, weekday Mass.  I find that it adds 3-5 minutes to Mass, and that can affect people in getting to work from lunch, etc.  

            Cardinal Dolan is famous for his 22-minute weekday Mass at 6am in St. Patricks Cathedral.  His quote on it is something along the lines of  “Not every Mass has to be the Easter Vigil.” 

            I love the Roman Canon, and I appreciate it, I just think that it is a bit much for a lunchtime Mass everyday of the week.

          • Miss Doyle

            22 minutes is nothing. Go to Ireland and you get attend Mass for a grand total of 15 minutes.
            Did it help me that the Mass was so short? Not a chance. I need longer than that to stop being distracted. If a 30 min Mass is too long for you, don’t bother attending.

          • Marie Noybn

            I thought it was recommended that each Mass take at least an hour? Or is that only for Sundays and Holy Days? Forgive me im still learning…

    • Jameshughes

      arrant rubbish! Priests are there to LEAD the congregation and if things are as bad then who cares if the former pastor is hacked off. We go to mass to worship god and not so we can all feel ‘happy clappy’ and ‘nice’. More power to the new guys on the block . It’s time to take back our church and liturgy from the ‘spirit of vatican two ‘ crowd, who by the way only pick and choose the bits of vatican II that they like and conveniently ignore the stuff they don’t like. Keep up the good work. AMDG

    • Anon

       “The new priests need to apologize and begin building relationships.”

      You’ve GOT to be kidding me! Priests are supposed to shepherd the people. They are not somebodies with whom you go out on a date with.

    • Albinus1

      It might also be useful for the new guys to review the documents of Vatican II

      You mean like the part in Sacrosanctum Concilium that asserts that Latin and Gregorian Chant should always be favored in the Roman Rite?

  • Matt

    Thank you for your candor in not exempting yourself from your own criticism. While, of the two characters in this story, I identify more with you; I also think it’s good to work toward more unity, without compromising God’s truth. Suggesting people leave the Church is never a good idea. Rather, let’s invite our brothers and sisters to appreciate the Eucharist in a deeper way through greater reverence.

  • Ink

    Agreed with everyone who points out that defending the priests is the right thing to do here.  Also, there’s a helpful book called “The Parish Book of Chant (here: which explains Gregorian Chant notation as well as having at least two or three different settings of the Ordinary (so it also serves as a book-from-which-to-read-during-Mass).  Perhaps the priests, if they have enough knowledge to request the Latin chants, could hold an informational session for the parishioners… on an evening some time.  This way, they have the chance to feel as if they’re included, and they’ll be informed.

  • Anna

    I attend a Carmelite-led parish…we sang Panis Angelicus today in Latin, and no one keeled over from the shock or failed to be able to get through it just fine.  I think some people (like your friend) don’t give us average folk in the pews enough credit.

  • kellyreineke1

    It’s easy to get into a “I’m the new leader here, and we’re going to change all the things around here that are wrong.”  I’m not completely unsympathetic with that perspective, though some patience and friendly flexibility, along with a dash of salesmanship, might have been less traumatic for the parish.

  • Sacredcrocheter

    Kat-this is a great post! I belong to a mission parish that’s about 90% latino. When we got our shiny new priest from the diocese, he really did some wonderful things to bring our church back from the abyss. There was only one thing that I really struggled with. At times when the congregation felt great joy- they would spontaneously sing a Mexican song of praise ( in spanish).

    Even though I didn’t have a clue what the words meant-I always felt very moved. This didn’t happen regularly but our new Priest was very nice about explaining that he wanted Latin tradition to be followed-i.e. no more songs in spanish.

    I was a little heart broken and never understood why he did that- but now I do!  Thanks Kat-

  • Jason

    Yep – I hear you.  And I’ve failed the same way.  It’s hard to take all the ridiculous adolescent-type tantrum throwing of the “spirit of Vatican II” types.  Yuck. 

  • Anna Marie

    Great post, Kat!! I’m on your side…sure, maybe you weren’t able to come up with the most charitable way to make your point, but I am so glad that you made it! That person needed to hear it.

    Someone needs to find a meme that says “Mass – It’s not about you.”

  • Father Canu

    You are not the Pope, and neither am I. As long as the Pope allows children’s Masses or Masses in Latin, it is not for me or you or someone else to say that anyone is not a good Catholic because he does not share our personal preferences regarding them. Personally I prefer to pray the Our Father in Greek, but I do so only in private.

  • Gunterdj

    I’m in that parish. The new priests are great. They are both finishing degrees, one in canon law and the other in moral theology, so their homilies are somewhat academic. I told the pastor this morning that being a native of the state the parish is in means that I’m simple, but that I support him in his academic focus. Actually, it was like a refreshing drink of water. The friars were good bread and butter priests. These new padres are cut from different cloth, and I’m thrilled.

    • Katrina Fernandez

      Hey Donna. :)

      Yes the friars had a different charisma typical of their order – and I don’t mean that in a bad way. The were simple no frills men and this reflected in the liturgy. As someone pointed out in a private email, I still have respect for the parish – it is the one that formed after me all. 

  • Lindiez7

    I am always sad when I attend a progressive parish Liturgical Mass where the abuse is so severe I find myself shedding tears of anguish. Just when I think there is no way things can get worse, I see the church’s usher, a woman, ( and not even a teen who might be dismissed due to their youth), wearing a low cut snug fitting top with SHORTS directing the parishenors to communion during Holy Mass! My Lord! Please send us holy priests to restore reverence to your Mass! I want to see holiness and deep reverence by all in your holy temple before I die.

    • Marie Noybn

      You think shorts are bad? Several times in our parish i have had to look away when someone is bringing up the Gifts because i was afraid of what i might see when/if some of the girls/women bowed to the altar…::shudders:: the skirts could be better considered bandaids. Ive been chastised before because ive mentioned such things, told “well maybe thats the best they have” i dont think so. These are often worn with designer shoes, nice jewelery and name brand purses… somehow i dont think poverty forced them to bare their rears in Church. On the other hand, there IS a man who is often homeless who attends mass at our church, and tattered and stained it may be, he always wears a suit type jacket and slacks. HIS clothing i have NO problem with. Is it hard for a woman to find dresses and skirts of a decent length, yes, but not impossible. Ive had to convert several of my dresses by wearing a longer skirt underneath, plain black long skirts are actually in style right now and easy to find in most sizes, its not hard to change up the look by wearing a shorter dress as a tunic type thing over it. Maybe i look ridiculous and its just that no one has told me, but at least no one knows what color underwear im wearing.

  • MaryRoseM

    My parish has a Children’s Liturgy of the Word at the 9:30 AM Mass.  Children who have not made their First Holy Communion are dismissed for an age appropriate Liturgy of the Word. They return right after the homily.  It is always beautifully and reverently done. Liturgical abuse is perpetrated on both sides. I think I get more annoyed at the people on the so-called “right” because there seems to be a bigger issue with that at my  parish. Pride appears to be the issue whether “abuse” comes from the “right” or the “left”.  We are not in charge. The Church has been given to us as our mother by Christ. We are to obey the GIRM.  But the conviction to obey comes first from the Pastor and everything flows from him. 

    • Christine Hebert

       Our “family Mass” will not remove the children for an age appropriate word, rather the children will be called to the steps in front of the altar and the homily will be directed to them, usually as a question and answer period.  BTW, I am slow on the uptake this morning.  What does GIRM stand for?

      • MaryRoseM

        GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal).

      • Fr. Peter Shaw

        GIRM = General Instruction of the Roman Missal. It establishes the rubrics, or instructions, for the where, when, and how of offering Mass according to the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church.

  • Gail Finke

    “Are you freaking serious?” HA HA HA HA. What a great post. It is hard to be charitable all the time and sometimes exasperation wins! All we can do is try again next time. 

    I am glad for you and for your parish. I hope the kinks get smoothed out soon. Sometimes new priests (and experienced priests new to  a parish) make changes too fast, or in the wrong order,  for that particular group. It doesn’t mean they are wrong (and it doesn’t mean they are right either!). There is no priest in the world who will do things 100% perfectly every time. All priests, even saints, will rub people the wrong way from time to time and make an imprudent choice here and there as to what to start doing and when. The important thing is the long term, overall picture, and the care that priest has for his flock. My parish is very me-centered, and a priest brought in a while ago made people so angry that several hundred people left. He was right in many things but he wasn’t good with people. On the other hand, I don’t know that anyone in the world would have been able to keep some of those people happy when changing things. It didn’t work out well and he was replaced. I pray for priests who have to work with difficult people — and that means all of us, myself included!

    • Marie Noybn

      heh, you sound like a member of St. Ann’s.. anyway i made this reply just to say that Saintly Priests probably rub more people wrong than any other… since we are a Church of Sinners, the Holy will always rub us the wrong way, thats when we know they are doing something RIGHT! When i go home with tears running down my face and an urge for Confession, i know it was a good Homily. :) Least thats how *I* judge em :)

  • Silvie

    My parish went through this about two years ago. The new priests kicked it off with sermons that went something like this “Eucharistic Ministers? Sorry, that’s our job. Liturgy committee? Sorry, that’s our job. etc.” To the tremendous relief of some and the absolute horror of many others.
    The fuming and the fulminating and the drama lasted for maybe two months. Remember that the “innovative” wackiness is really only about 40 years old while our Holy Mother has 2000 years of tradition behind her.
    Make your confession, write your current priest a letter of encouragement, then relax and let time do its work.

    • Skorlan

      Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are approved by the Church. Some committees are required by the Church. Disobedience to the Church is no virtue, whatever the circumstances and no matter whether one is on the right or the left.

      • Fr. Cory Sticha

        Two caveats: EMHCs are *permitted* by the Church. It’s not disobedience to reduce or eliminate EMHCs.

        On the other hand, Liturgy Committees are not required or recommended, and may not even be necessary, depending on the parish. Abolishing one is not disobedience to the Church. The only committees that Canon Law mentions are the Parish and Finance Councils. All others are at pastor’s discretion.

      • Silvie

         We had EMHCs at weekday masses where there were maybe 30 people present. At times they appeared to outnumber the congregation. The new priests did not abolish the EMHC’s they just stopped using them when they really didn’t need to, they stopped having them on the altar with their hands raised during the consecration, and generally returned the focus of Mass to the Eucharist rather than the social club the EMHC thing had become.
        The lay committees were numerous and many of them were pointless and expensive. The previous priest spent a lot more time on the golf course than he did on the campus of the church/ school/ adoration chapel/ senior center etc.
        The new Pastor is a much more hands on administrator and has helped to get rid of the country club atmosphere that was prevalent.
        No disobedience to the Church is being fomented by the new guys, just a strong realignment of values.

      • Maureen O’Brien

         Yes, they’re approved. For “Extraordinary” circumstances. Like if a million people showed up without warning, or Father has trouble standing long enough to give Communion.

        A normal parish Mass isn’t an emergency.

  • phil

    WHOA!!!!! Catholic friend in CHRIST, WHOA!
    It would have been completely uncharitable if you had said anything less then  what you said to this lost brother(sister).  Our priest though only partially in communion with the Church(heretic) has been told by several in the congregation that he needs to stop the heresy.  We have done our part in private.  He takes his case to the lost congregation.  With no help from the bishop we are left to prayer and time to heal these schisms.  MAKE NO MISTAKE,  Pointing out scandal is not uncharitable.  Peace for the sake of Peace is a peaceful ride to perdition.

    • Marie Noybn

      Yikes, if your Priest is truly commiting heresies, you are bound, after you go to him, to go to your bishop!! And then to the Arch Bishop if necessary! I wont ask what heresies he is committing because it sounds too much like gossip but i will definitely urge you to speak out until it stops!

  • tj.nelson

    Excellent post Kat.  I found your article at New Advent – just a shout out to New Advent!  Yay New Advent!  Yay Patheos!  Yay Crescat!

  • WhiteJonD

    ” Can you believe this priest is making us sing in Latin?”  I can believe our current choir director makes us sing in Spanish!  LOL

  • Jeff

    Wow, I’ve just scanned through the comments.  I’m a protestant who has really come to appreciate the truth and beauty of the Catholic faith.  I’m glad to see that the same types of vital controversies that exist in Protestant churches exist in Catholic churches. 

    • Marie Noybn

      welcome Brother… a protestant who has stopped protesting is well on his way to becoming a Catholic ;) Made the change yet Jeff?

  • Skorlan

    I believe  it is important for the people to understand what is going on at Mass. There is an old saying that the only thing a priest should change for the first year after he gets a new parish is his underwear. Failing to do so in order to find out where the people are before making the necessary changes creates a lot more antagonism than there should be in any parish. Latin isn’t necessary in the liturgy, and insisting on it even when the choir director left because of the change simply says that the priests don’t give a rip about the congregation. A true shepherd takes his sheep with him. He doesn’t go alone or scatter his flock. That may mean a lot more patience is necessary on his part.

    The only exception to the above is in a case where the parish is doing something in direct violation of the GIRM. Such behaviour must be stopped immediately. But there is no requirement for Latin in it.

    • Thomas no Saint Aquinas

      The sooner changes are made the sooner people will adjust to them. 

    • Fr. Peter Shaw

      I understand the point you are trying to make, but I would like to also draw your attention to a few points from Sacrosanctum Concilium:

      36.1. … the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

      54. … Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.

      So it would seem that the use of Latin is integral to the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church. Also, the vernacular language was intended to be used chiefly for the parts of the Mass which change from day to day, but the rest of the Mass is allowed to be in the vernacular according to the discretion of the bishops. Just wanted to offer a small “catechesis”. God bless you and “Oremus Pro Invicem!” (Let us pray for one another!)

  • Susan

    I am a convert from atheism.  
    I know I have ZERO business even being here, but God has called me out of nothingness and into His glorious light.  I lean traditional, but I am in love with the Church in all it’s ‘messiness,’ from teen mass with drums and clapping, to Latin chant mass.  I pray for priests everyday.  Usually I just pray the Rosary and DM Chaplet for priests, but sometimes I add an intention: I pray that I would be worthy to be the smallest jewel in the crown of my least favorite priest.  My husband and I give much time to our parish – he being on the staff in two position as liturgist and DRE. 
    We just had a new (trad.) priest begin and a former (contemporary) priest leave.   This new priest may be an answer to my prayer, but he doesn’t seem to trust us based upon what he said our former priest said to him about my husband questioning things and ‘wanting to do things his way,’ even though I believe he has been very cooperative and accommodating to our former priest.  He has often worked many overtime hours to make sure things went according to Father’s plan, and always assisted him in love and generosity.  So it is frustrating and humbling, and a bit uncertain.  Please pray for us.

    • sacredrocheter

      God bless you and your husband. I’m a recent convert from basically nothing (my previous religious views were non-existant). I’m still in that honeymoon phase where I love the Church so much, nothing really gets to me because it is just so wonderful to be a Catholic! I will pray for you.

    • Maureen O’Brien

       Praying! But you were called, and you came, so you have every right to be here.

      • Marie Noybn

        Amen, and it is SO beautiful to me when i see things like this… i mean i was probably pretty close to atheist myself, i was one of those “God, if you’re up there, i could use some help with xyz” type of people, probably agnostic or something, but never straight up “there is no god” so its a double blessing to me when people convert from atheism, especially when im so sadly confronted with the opposite.. poorly catechised Catholics converting to atheism.. i say poorly catechised because i firmly believe that no one who fully knows and understands the beauty of the Catholic Church and the Reality of the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, could EVER leave Her. God bless you all and your families!!

  • Mendezjb

    I love hearing the old excuse about no one understanding Latin. I’ll bet they have no problem learning the latest Apple operatin system or Facebook features

    • sacredrocheter

      Absolutely! I’m old and when I went to public H.S. (1961-64)  all students were required to take 2 years of Latin in order to graduate.  I’m really bad with languages but Latin wasn’t that difficult. Maybe they should eliminate some of the Sex-Ed classes and go back to the traditional curiculums that teach you something valuable.

  • James H, London

    “People don’t always have to sing along. They can just listen to the choir beautifully singing Latin.”

    Except, most parishes don’t have a choir capable of doing this, or not enough people capable of pulling it off. So, we go from mediocre singing of cheerful hymns in English, to mediocre singing of dreary 19th-cent. German/protestant hymns, in English. C’est la vie. So I go to the Sunday evening Mass these days. There’s no music there, so I don’t have to grit my teeth anymore.

  • Leo

    These “congregational catholic (little c) churches (another little c), are one of my worst nightmares. I too have seen this type of nonsense. Not long ago, maybe about four or five months ago, my wife and I were at Mass in Reston, VA, and lo and behold, we just happened to be there for the ‘hoot and holler mass!” (that’s what I called it, it actually DID have a specific name, so we noted to never come to Mass at that time, again). 
    Anyway, AFTER Mass, the choir comes down in the aisles and starts clapping, dancing, and raising their hands while singing a typical what I call, protestant song, and asking the parishioners to join them in the aisles! Are you freaking kidding me???? My wife and I QUICKLY made our exit. I tell you what, if only all Catholics would embrace the beauty and solemnity of our Holy Church.

    • Sen Claghorn

      My wife and I live in Reston, VA; we assist at Mass at St. John the Beloved in McLean (about 30 minutes’ drive) to avoid what you describe above.  Next time you’re in town, you might wish to do the same!

      • TotusTuusFamily

        I have been to that Church, when visiting my brother and his family who live in McLean. Despite it not having a traditional look, but rather that theatre in the round effect, they manage to create a lovely, traditional Mass.  Justice Scalia’s son is the Pastor there, too, I believe. I’d recommend it, as well.

        • Sen Claghorn

          Right – it’s not much to look at, but the priests are wonderful, as is the music (especially for the noon TLM).

  • Andrea

    The telling statement at the root of “Someone Else’s” ire: “actively participate.”  Parishes get all screwy when people forget that their participation in the Mass is their full surrender (mind, soul and body) to the sacrifice of Christ and has nothing whatsoever to do with singing, or dancing, or holding hands.  If you need to “feel more involved” in the Mass, stop singing along and pray more.

  • Innocentinsider

    May I add something which might change the nature of this discussion?  While these comments are most amusing, if at times quixotic, they are predicated upon a misunderstanding. The resident priest in question did nothing of the sort with respect to music.  In fact, in a meeting in which he was asked to organize the installation Mass of the pastor, he was asked by the music director if he wanted all Latin and chant.  The priest simply said no.  When pushed by the music director  to have Latin and chant (probably to fulfill his prophecies to the choir) he refused.  I now know this priest and I can say that he certainly would desire this (by the way, read the GIRM, not having Latin is against the GIRM), he is no fool nor insensitive to the confusion which would be created by such actions given the present liturgical state of the parish (a parish of which I am not a member).  In fact, the idea that the director is leaving because of these new priests is simply not true.  So what is the truth?  It seems that the music director actually went and asked the previous pastor (long before these two priests were coming) and asked for more money.  The pastor refused and the director went to the highest bidder (enjoy St Gabriel’s), but not before attempting to sabotage the new priests.  While he works for the Church, it seems he is more suited for Broadway, not only because of his musical preferences, but also because of his incessant appetite for drama.  If I want to watch Cats, I buy tickets.  If I want to worship God, I want solid priests.

    • Katrina Fernandez

      I wanted to let you know that I know of what you speak and you are 100% correct in your ‘dramatic’ conclusions. However, for the sake of causing scandal I removed the post. Please don’t take offense that it was removed. I just felt some of the info might be a tad too personal.    

  • Catholic Defender

    I simply love this article. Thank you!

  • Stefanie

    Geez, Kat, you hit the nail on the head here — and thank you for the reminder. 
    Most of my confessed sins during the Sacrament of Reconciliation are about similar uncharitable remarks to my Catholic family.  When one shakes out of the lethargy of having a Catholic education from the 1960′s onward, it is very hard NOT to tell everyone of what you have now discovered.  Just like a born-again Christian or a lifelong smoker who has just quit the ciggies.
    That’s where the Holy Spirit guides — all the fruits of the Holy Spirit are within the realm of the ‘still small sound’ that Elijah experienced on Mount Horeb.  Not in the earthquake, not in the fire, not in a heavy wind, not in crushing rocks.  Stillness and calm will always win the day.
    For an example, just look to our beloved PapaB — if he can do it, so can we!

    About behavior at Mass — starting in September, our Family RCIA will be attending a regular Mass as part of their ‘sacramental training.’  They have all been given a dress code for Mass, they have all been given a children’s Missal.  They are to arrive 30 minutes before Mass in order to learn ‘how to behave and what to look for and how to participate by their attention.’  Together, we will pray the ‘preparing for Mass’ prayers in the small chapel before our beautiful new tabernacle.  I strongly believe that the only way you can change behavior is to model a different one.  We’ve never done this before — so I am in much prayer that all will go well! 

    • Marie Noybn

      This sounds beautiful, and is an excellent way to model “remove the log from your own eye first” (i was never an evangelical protestant so i dont know the numbers or books lol, its the words and meanings in the Bible that stick with me :) )i need to do more of that and less trying not to notice all the problems in the mass.. ::sigh:: girl altar servers and multiple EMoHC at a Mass of less than 200 people will always irk me, but then again im spoiled by the reception of the Blood of Christ as well, which some would see as an abuse, and which requires (in the absense of a deacon, which, hey we need to promote the idea of permanant deacons more often!) an EMoHC. so i have no room to whine. ah well.

  • Dominic

    “man with a pointy hat in Rome” has turned around a very, VERY long and rough night. God keep you.

  • English Person

    I’m an Anglican who wants to cross the Tiber. The quality of modern liturgical music was definitely not one of the reasons why. I would love to see the more traditional forms reinstated.

    But please, don’t let these conflicts become a stumbling block between you and your fellow Christians. I have Catholic friends who love modern worship, but that does not make them any less reverent of God or weaken their faith. At heart of the Mass is the Eucharist, whether it was in a church, on a hilltop as in early Christian times, or underground during days of persecution. And that does not change, regardless of the quality of music or worship.:)

    • Marie Noybn

      Oh im so happy for you! Love hearing conversion stories, and you are so right, but at the same time, what she was talking about was a woman protesting the changes, so i guess obedience was the point to me. :) Sometimes that is the hardest thing, especially since we must obey our bishop, even when the bishop may or may not be obeying the Pope (im lucky, i believe our Bishop to be a holy man :) and we are also very lucky in our Priest) I hope you have made the leap, if you are indeed English, i cant imagine if there are still any difficulties there for Catholics or not? I know it isnt as hard as say, China, where you might be killed for being a true Catholic, but is the stigma still there? Either way i will be praying for you!

  • Barb

    Sorry, but is worship better if it is hard?  Some of us don’t like the Latin Mass, some of us are not good at learning other languages.  Some of us just want to go to Mass, and pray earnestly in our native language.  Does that mean you are better than we are? 

    • Katrina Fernandez

      Did I imply I was? 

    • Jared Clark

       You could make the argument that harder worship demands more effort and, therefore, better.  But I’d personally just stick to “Gregorian Chant is AWESOME!”

  • Louis Gonzales

    I only wish that I could be good, yet habits prevent me from that. Hopefully, through increased discernment and rejection of temptation, I can achieve my goal of being Christ-like in being/”good”. 

  • Presbyter

    You have hit upon what I think increasingly is THE issue in the Catholic Church today in the US at least: the long-awaited “Counter Reformation”. In our Diocese and in my parish the biggest and most hostile reactions to the type of liturgical and managerial “changes” come from the very same people ( clerical and lay) who were all for the “changges” and derided those “old priests and laity” who couldn’t adapt to the “new Mass”.

    • Marie Noybn

      Thanks be to GOD!

  • Jackie Vick

    I believe you took the shorter route, and I doubt she has a Catechism.