Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Why would a priest not wish to celebrate Mass everyday?

I have been following James Preece's posts on how Liturgy of the Word type ceremonies appear to becoming a normal part of Catholic worship, even to the point of usurping the Mass. One comment posed the question: "What is going on at Arundel Cathedral on Mondays?" so, without further ado I had a peek to see exactly what was what down in leafy Sussex.
The real Liturgy of the Word made Flesh!

Sure enough, there are no Monday Masses, just the good old Liturgy of the Word as per the web details:-

'Mondays 10am : Liturgy of the Word and Holy Communion in the Cathedral'

I have never been to a Liturgy of the Word ermm....ritual?......service (sounds a bit garagey)......observance...convention...routine (thank you Roget!) so I don't really know what goes on but I can make a shrewd guess.

The issue really is, why would a Cathedral of all places, with three priests on site, have a day without Mass? Is it because they have celebrated a few over the weekend (Masses, I mean) and think that they can take a break on Mondays? Why would any priest worth his salt wish to give up an opportunity to say Mass; to be in such intimate contact with Christ?
It's beyond me. I decided to do an instant market research exercise to see how many other Cathedrals have gone down this road; I interrogated about 6 of their website before ennui set in.
Only one offered a LoW service and that was for children...to save the little dears from being isolated and distanced at Mass (yuk!)
Three guesses which Cathedral it was......South of England......name begins with P........Mr Inwood in residence.......yup, it was Portsmouth!

Here is how they try to justify what I believe is a grave and foolish error...

Why have a separate Liturgy of the Word with Children?
The Directory on Children’s Masses (1973) reminds us that we need to ensure that children at Mass ‘do not feel neglected because of their inability to participate or to understand what happens and what is proclaimed in the celebration’ (para17). The Directory therefore suggests the celebration of a separate Liturgy of the Word with the Children (LOWC) in another place so that children are enabled to listen and respond to the Word of God in a way which is appropriate for them.

Liturgy, not catechesis
LOWC is part of Mass, the Liturgy of the Word in simplified form. During it, children are given opportunities to hear and respond to the Word of God in ways which are suited to their age and ability. LOWC is a celebration of the Word of God, not a teaching session, sacramental preparation class or a crèche. ‘The final purpose of all liturgical and eucharistic formation must be a greater and greater conformity to the gospel in the daily life of the children’ (Directory for Masses with Children para 15).

What complete and utter tosh! I feel quite nauseous, so sorry to inflict it upon you, dear reader. I recall reading one of Mulier Fortis's posts from her recent pilgrimage to Lourdes. In it Mac recounted how Fr Tim Finigan gave a running commentary to children attending a 'catechetical' Mass whilst another priest celebrated it.
This seems so very sound and sensible. How on earth are children going to love the Mass if they are separated from it? How are adults going to for that matter?

And that is what the LoW does; it separates one from the truth; it makes the need to attend Mass less apparent...it is, in reality, quite a Protestant type of solution to a perceived 'problem', it ain't Catholic!


  1. In fairness to the priests at Arundel there are only two priests in residence, as the bishop lives some miles away in a village delighting in the name of Pease Pottage! Having said that, I too wonder how any priest could possibly wish to forego the privilege of saying Mass every day.

    A Hertfordshire priest of our acquaintance provided Mass each day whilst still managing a weekly break. He said Mass on Thursday mornings at 7.30, dealt with urgent matters and then took a day off which finished in time for him to say Mass at 12.15pm on Fridays.

    Our present parish priest says Mass every day, and as relative newcomers I'm not sure if he even takes a day off. There can be no doubt in the minds of his people that his priority is the Mass. We are blessed indeed.

  2. I heartily concur. Lately I have begun taking my children to evening Mass and doing the catechesis myself by simply pointing out to them what is going on and why. You're right that siphoning them off really is a Protestant solution which misunderstands the nature of the Sacraments as actions and experiences rather than intellectual exercises. Let's have fewer words, and more of the Word made Flesh!

    And let's get back to having Mass at least once every day in every Catholic church. Too many parish churches feel sadly abandoned during the week in my neck of the woods.

  3. I've never understood the reason to banish children from the Mass, except it provides more for female parish "ministers" to do and keeps children in the liturgical dark. It seems like a heavily watered down copy of the old Anglican Sunday School.
    Not off on a complete tangent, I lunched with a friend recently whose grandson was due to make his First Holy Communion. So he'd made his First Confession? No.
    Eh? Apparently, Confession is out. Penance? Reconciliation? No, a word that's easy for children to understand.
    But, I said, at that age, we understood what Confession meant.
    The conversation went round in circles as I tried to discover what this new name for the Sacrament might be. But my friend very quickly became defensive and I could see I was being perceived as too pushy. I never did learn the substitute name for Confession. It seemed prudent to move the conversation on.
    Does anyone know?