Tickling their ears

Tickling their ears

One of the reasons given by parishioners at St. Thomas parish in Salem not to close them is their popular Children’s Liturgy on Sunday. The Boston Globe provides a glimpse at what this “great” Mass is all about:

Picking at his guitar, Tony ‘‘Full of Baloney” Bellerose leads children at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Salem through a foot-stomping exercise he affectionately calls, ‘‘God Robics.” ‘‘Are we ready?” Bellerose asks in a friendly, folksy voice. He breaks into ‘‘If You Believe in the Father,” a song that lets kids act up in church. ‘‘If you believe in the father ... Clap your hands ... Stomp your feet ... Shout ‘Amen’ ... Stand up tall ... Turn around ... Whistle now ... Hug someone ... Do it all!” Bellerose sings, over the giggles and squeals of parents and children racing to complete the faithful challenge.

This is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? Sounds like an abomination. This kind of display is more suited to some saccharine show featuring an obnoxious purple dinosaur and not the celebration of the Sacrifice of Calvary and the Last Supper.

  • Mr. Bettinelli, 

    While I hear what your saying, I am going to politely disagree on this one.  Yes appealing only to the lowest common denominator of entertainment value is a detriment to the sacrament.  However I think there are some shades of grey between boring and abomination.  When I working within the parishes here, I would teach the students how to plan a liturgy properly.  I would teach them about the liturgy of the word and the liturgy of the eucharist, what songs need to be deemed liturgical and where you can use nonliturgical songs appropriately.  The article quotes only one foot stompin song (apparently its a popular one at St Thomas)  What if it was used in the prelude?  ( I have been accused several times of being naive) 

    I had a four tier plan in my ministry days.  Invitation, outreach, catechism and discipleship.  Invitation and outreach were usually more entertaining then content.  I would characterize the use of interactive songs for 5 year olds in one of these categories.  Its certainly conceiveable that the goal is to eventually (when they are old enough to understand) give them a better understanding of the Mass. 

    At any rate, even if the song was being used at an innappropriate point in the Mass, it wouldn’t invalidate it.  As I said, it its being used to engage the kids with the eventuality that they will better grasp the Mass, I don’t think its a horible thing. 

    Now if you were saying that those clowns that do the Passion during the homily were an abomination…. well I couldn’t agree more!!! 

  • When I say clowns, I am being literal.  White face..red nose.. that kind of thing. It wasn’t a pejorative statement. 

    Oh and apparently my spelling of horible can be construed as horrible

  • Jaime,  when do the kids make the transition?  When they do, if they do, how do they think of the grownups who sat through it?  Children don’t always absorb what adults think they are teaching them.  If you take children to different churches for years in a hunt for a good sermon, they don’t learn to appreciate good sermons; they learn to hunt for a church they like.  The outward action always speaks louder than your inward thoughts.  I speak as a mother of four.

  • Jane

    As a mother of four you certainly have more expertise than I in raising children.  I can only speak from my experience working with children and teens.  Every week I would take kids to Mass.  My personal prayer was that they would understand the difference between just being there and fully participating in the Mass.  And yes for a few of them, their first Mass experience was at a less than traditional service at a TEC. (Maybe a little foot stompin) I watched some of them make that transition and the Mass became a deeply personal experience for them. 

    Kids make tons of transitions.  In Kindergarten and preschool, they fight against nap time.  In high school, they miss it. 

    Oh and Jane, I couldn’t agree more with the statement that outward action always speaks louder than your inward thoughts. 

    Mass is a celebration as well.  We have several parishes that celebrate a polka Mass. Many folks who love it, grouse about guitars at the regular Mass.  I’m just saying that there can be reverence with joy and not have it be “just for entertainment”.  Are there parishes that go strictly for the entertainment value?  You bet.  I hate going to Mass there. 


    Jaime, the outward action does not speak louder than the inward thoughts.

    You wrongly assume that participatio actuosa and participatio activa are the same thing.  They are not.  While they both have an important place in the liturgy, but there is something more inherently good in the internal active participation of the Mass, due to the Sacramental aspect.

    While we are most certainly called to participate actively in the Mass (partipatio activa), we are called more rightly to fully participate in the Mass (particpatio actuosa), through our baptism and reception of Holy Communion.

    There is a fantastic article by Mons. Richard Schuler (my mentor, BTW). 


    In it, he rightly asserts, “Granting then the absolute necessity of baptism, it still is imperative for the Christian to take part in the liturgy actively by a variety of actions. This means that the internal actuosa participatio, which the baptismal mark empowers, must be aided by those external actions that he is capable of. He should do those things that the Church sets out for him according to his role in the liturgy and the various conditions that age, social position and cultural background dictate. He must join participatio activa to his participatio actuosa which he exercises as a baptismal person.”

    Several books on the matter that more than adequately speak to this are:

    Looking at the Liturgy, Adian Nichols, O.P.
    Recovery of the Sacred, James Hitchcock
    The Reform of the Roman Liturgy: Its Problems and Background, Mgr. Klaus Gamber
    A New Song for the Lord: Faith in Christ and Liturgy Today, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger


  • Camilam

    I believe that we are talking about two different things here.  It is my understanding that Jane was referring to the actions of parents or adults have more of an impact than their words or intentions. Mons. Shuler is referring to the actions and intentions of the person participating in Mass. 

    But to refute your claim, I have seen many clown ministry performances of the Passion where the clown playing Jesus openly wept.  Clearly he had joined his participatio activa with his participatio actuosa.  Unfortunately his participatio activa messed up his clown white make up and caused his red nose to fall off.

    If as your mentor states that age is a factor in the participation of Mass, would you be in agreement that maybe a little foot stompin of five year olds isn’t completely out of line?

  • Personally, I think there’s been too much activa and not enough actuosa in most American liturgies.  I long for more silencia.

  • The church is closing.  God has spoken.  What more is there to say?

    Thank you God.

  • Pardon Isabel

    Are you saying that God wanted the church to close because five year olds were clapping their hands and stomping their feet?

  • Ok let me see if I can get my mind around this one. 

    Parishes are slated to close in the Boston area for financial difficulties. 

    God didn’t like five year olds answering the call, “If you believe in the Father” by clapping their hands and stomping their feet during Mass. 

    So God caused financial difficulties in the parish of St Thomas?

  • Isabel,

    Without claiming to know the Almighty’s mind, I have difficulty believing God is closing this parish because of the active involvement of five year olds.  Must care be taken in planning liturgical music?  Absolutely.  Are there better and worse ways of involving children in the liturgy?  Quite.  But the Son of God invited the children to come to him, and I don’t recall any caveats requiring them to be dutifully silent and perfectly behaved.  In other words, I find your statement to be a bit over the top . . . of Mt. Everest. 

  • Whoa!!!!!!!!!!!

    You’re telling me that the reason that St. Thomas is going to close is because of illicit liturgy?  I think not.

    St. Thomas is going to close because of financial difficulty, not because there are liturgical abuses going on…….who needs to get real now?

    The reasons for the parish closing are declining vocations (we need to pray more people), declining memberships, and lack of funding for repairs of the structures…..That is the reason……NOT, I repeat NOT the actions of a few 5 year olds.

    Don’t be so coy and hurtful to the innocent….sheesh!!!!!!


  • You can’t imagine that God’s will regarding this particular parish could be expressed through the archbishop’s decision and that God might be offended by disrespectful liturgies? The Almighty struck down a guy just for touching the Ark of the Covenant to prevent it from falling to the ground.

  • Of course I believe that God’s will can be expressed through the Archbishop.  My firm quibble is with Isabel’s idea that this closing is somehow a result of God taking offense at the actions of children. 

  • I believe I indicated earlier, with astoundingly obvious honesty, that I did not know the mind of God.  However, I take exception to what Isabel said because she indicates that she in fact does know the mind of God, to wit, that God is offended by these children and is thus shutting down their parish.  I’m simply indicating that Isabel’s take on the situation need not be the correct one. 

  • Nor might your take be the correct one, Thumper.

    Perhaps the parish wasn’t well attended.  I understand that was one of the criteria for closure.  Am I not right, Domenico?

  • The un-Godly power of 5 year olds is running rampant in Boston, therefore we must close parishes.

    Great philosophical argument.

    I think that it is a bit more than that don’t you?  I think that it has to do with my above statements, which are in agreement with Mr. Bettinelli.

    Where does he say that 5 year olds are the reason for parishes closing? I think I missed that reason.


  • “Nor might your take be the correct one, Thumper. “

    But it was Amen to Isabelle and “You don’t know the mind of God” to Thumper. 

    Also the article states that the children’s Mass was well attended.  So while the parish may not be well attended, apparently it cannot be blamed on the five year olds stompin their feet because they believe in the Father.

  • Well, there was something wrong with it, Jaime, it’s closed.

    I don’t know the parish but it is possible that’s the only group that was really showing up and they had scared everyone else off.  I’d like to see the total numbers…attendance was one of the criteria for deciding closings in Boston, if I’m not mistaken.

  • “Well, there was something wrong with it, Jaime, itontent>

    Interesting. Do you know why it closed, then?

  • Not exactly.  Sometimes, there are spiritual causes behind suffering.

    Our greatest sins against faith come from a lack of respect for Jesus Christ, substantially present in our Churches. It is our responsibility to pass on to our children by instruction and the force of our example, the knowledge of proper reverence and worship for Almighty God as taught and permitted by the Church. 
    By the way these children are being taught to pray and to adore their Savior, no one would suspect the True presence of Jesus Christ in their Sanctuary.  Here, the child is the center of attention!  The parents and congregation focus their hearts and minds on them and on their antics rather than on Christ crucified. The parents encourage the childrens ego and lack of reverence for Almighty God, Truly present.  This is not worship but self centeredness!

    Have you ever seen a saint enter a Church?  They enter in absolute silence and pay no attention to anyone already there.  They consentrate on Our Lord alone and forget everything else.  Were these children given this as their instruction or example?

    When the worldly minded witness this behavior in our churches, even by our children, they will at least be forced to say there is something great here!.  That is why this respect is a solomn profession of our faith and at the same time a grace of piety and fervor.  That is also why,  God punishes irreverences committed in his sanctuary with a weakening of faith and a withdrawl of graces and devotion.

    I suspect this parish did not have a children’s holy hour of reparation or even perpetual adoration for families and adults.  I suspect none of the parishes that are closing, participated in Adoration of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament on even a weekly or monthly basis.  I suspect, these children and their parents are ignorant of what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is.

    Yes!  The Church is closing because Jesus Christ was not honored, not adored, not loved more than the world, in this parish.  Remember, Jesus cursed the tree that bore no fruit.

    The remedy for these parishes is proper catechesis and perpetual Adoration.  I wonder if you could get that many people to devote one hour to our Savior once a week.  If they spent this much time adoring Jesus instead of protesting and complaining,  they might have a chance.  After all, God did spare the fig tree for the sake of the gardener who pleaded and worked for it’s life.

    God Bless,


  • I’m not going to argue with you there, Isabel.  That’s the usual underlying reason whether anyone wants to admit it or not these days.

    I just was asking what the official functional reason was given as===attendance or financial or location or ???

  • Isabel,

    Perhaps part of what I disagree with you about is what constitues proper reverence.  King David danced before the Ark of the Covenant:  “David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets” (2 Samuel 6: 14-15). 

    We are called upon to be joyous in our thanksgiving to God.  This thanksgiving should certainly not be one of mindless frivolity or self-centeredness; however, neither should we be disdainful of true joy in others.  Without knowing more of the situation of this particular parish I can’t comment on the frivolity to joy ratio.  Yet I wish to be careful about dismissive about the idea that these children may well have been expressing true—and holy—joy. 

  • The Catholic Church in the United States forbids dancing in our churches.  Therefore dancing in church is a sin.  Someone is leading these little children to sin.  Is there anything else you need to know?

  • Technically the children weren’t dancing.  But clearly that is splitting hair. 

    I have a tremendous amount of respect for your sincere reverence Isabel.  I join you in the assertion that there should be more reverence shown in Church. 

    Is it possible that St Thomas was closed due to lack of reverence?  Certainly.  Where I respectfully disagree is that this lack of reverence was exemplified in the expression of the children. 

  • Jamie, I think you are missing the thrust of the argument. It is not so much what the children are doing, it’s what the adults are doing. My problem with children’s mass is that it sets the mass apart as being for one group of people. The mass should be universal. I think there is definitely a time and a place for children to dance and sing as part of their worship, just not during the sacrifice of the mass. When we make a mass that is focused on the worship of five year olds that ignores the worship of the adults in the congregation that’ s a problem. To suggest that children cannot be taught to appreciate the beauty of the mass for what it is, to approach Christ in the form that has been handed down by the Church is to underestimate both the children and the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

  • Jaime,

    This lack of reverence was most certainly exemplified in the expression of the children who were being formally instructed and led to such actions by Tony “full of bologney” with the permission of the Pastor.

    ‘‘If you believe in the father . . . Clap your hands . . . Stomp your feet . . . Shout ‘Amen’ . . . Stand up tall . . . Turn around . . . Whistle now . . . Hug someone . . . Do it all!” Bellerose sings, over the giggles and squeals of parents and children racing to complete the faithful challenge.”

    ‘‘At their age,” Bellerose, 38, said of the youngsters gathered near him on the altar for the Sunday Children’s Liturgy, ‘‘they want to be entertained, or at least feel happy to be here.”

    These children are not attending Mass to worship God but to be entertained,  to play games and to have fun. Some them are not five but eight.  I teach CCD to children this age and hold them responsible for knowing how to behave in church and during Mass.  They have a natural reverence which should be encouraged by formal instruction and good example because even little children have a right to worship God in spirit and in truth.

    Also, I noticed the article mentioned the children being around the Altar in the Sanctuary during Mass.  This is a grave liturgical abuse and whoever led these little children to believe this is proper should go to confession before their guardian angles reach the Father.

    God Bless,


  • Melanie

    I understand where you are coming from.  Should the Mass be focused on the 5 year old? Absolutely not.  Not ever.  On that we completely agree.  However, we have a litany of things that are incorporated into the Mass all the time.  Weddings, babtisms, funerals, anniversaries, etc.  All of these events are in full union with the Mass.  All adhere to the strict principle that no matter what the additional event is, the Liturgy of the Eucharist is still the focal point of the Mass. 

    If you mean by “during the sacrifice of the Mass” you refer to the liturgy of the Eucharist, again, I agree with you.  But while the Liturgy of the Eucharist is the central part of the Mass, it is not the entire Mass.  This is why at other celebrations, (i.e. weddings and funerals) secular readings and songs can be used in certain places.  The priest can focus his homily on the wedding couple or departed.  Things of that nature.  Clearly all of these things need to be tasteful and appropriate.  But they do not have to be liturgical. 

    If teen and children’s Masses were the cornerstone of any parish, I would agree that there is something seriously wrong with it.  If however these are only there to supplement the spiritual life of the parish, then I would clap my hands (not during the Liturgy of the Eucharist). 

    But from a liturgical standpoint, there are points of the Mass celebration where a non-liturgical song that includes standing tall and clapping can be used. 

  • Teaching young children that the mass is entertainment is outrageous. Then, for some to give cover to such garbage only shows how far from the truth we have fallen.

    It is no wonder so many think the mass is their own private property. It starts by indoctrination of little kids into error. Turning the mass into a circus is no service to those children and no service to Christ.

  • But Dom … soap operas ARE boring. This is in Guy Manual, Rule 432, Section 1 (a), paragraph 4:

    “Any dramatic series on daytime television where all the advertisements are for dishwasher detergents, hand cream, hair coloring, and cures for that not-so-fresh feeling is to be definitively held as boring, except as delineated in paragraph 5 below on the definition of a ‘game show’. Whosoever preaches otherwise, let him be anathema.”

    I detect a hint of unhealthy female influence upon our host. Within a year his “somewhat martial” movie tastes will be a memory and he’ll be extolling the virtues of BEACHES. Mark my words.

  • Jaime,

    There’s a fallacy in your example. A wedding Mass, a funeral Mass, and baptism during Mass are not accretions added on by someone planning the Mass, they are integral to the Mass as provided by the Church. They are SACRAMENTS in themselves. Focus on them for the particular Masses is liturgical by definition. Foot-stomping child play is not. And I’m not sure where you think non-scriptural readings are appropriate in a wedding ceremony. I can’t think of any. And secular music is just as bad. All music and readings for a wedding or funeral should be liturgical or they are not appropriate.

    Melanie wasn’t just referring to the Liturgy of the Eucharist when she says “sacrifice of the Mass.” The whole Mass, including the Liturgy of the Word, is the Sacrifice of Calvary, not just the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

    As I said in my post, the Mass is the celebration of the community. Regular children’s Masses, teen Masses, old folks’ Masses, and so on are exclusionary.

    And, as Melanie said, the point of this hootenany foot-stomping isn’t the kids, it’s so the parents can have an “Aw Gee” moment and, as they admit, to entertain the wee ones. What it does is sell kids short and sell the Mass short. Children can and do have an appreciation for Mass that is celebrated with reverence and dignity, if the Mass is done well and they are properly formed and taught.

    I said “some people” find them interesting. I never said I found them anything other than boring. Next thing you know, you’ll be claiming I watch “Queer Eye for the Idiot Guy” or whatever the homo/metrosexual show is called. smile

  • Victor, I resent the insinuation of “unhealthy female influence”. I’ll have you know I’ve never even seen the movie Beaches.
    And I was just as shocked over his having never seen The Godfather as I was at Casablanca.
    I’m not a John Wayne fan, but I don’t mind a good war movie smile

  • Victor: Just FYI – Men who complain about “unhealthy” female influences in the lives of other men always seem a bit jealous that they have not been fortunate enough to be so unhealthfully influenced!

    And “Beaches” was a good movie.

  • Jaime,

    “However, we have a litany of things that are incorporated into the Mass all the time.  Weddings, babtisms, funerals, anniversaries, etc.  All of these events are in full union with the Mass.  All adhere to the strict principle that no matter what the additional event is, the Liturgy of the Eucharist is still the focal point of the Mass.”

    I have to agree with Mr. Bettinelli on this one.  If you look to the Pontificale Romanum, (Rite of the Bishops) and the Missale Romanum (Sacramentary) you’ll see that the funeral rite is a part of the Mass, not simply an addition or a thing that is added.  The same holds true for weddings, baptisms, and other sacraments.  (ie. Confirmation, Holy Orders, Extreme Unction, otherwise known as a healing Mass.)

    I point you to Sacrosanctum Concilium.  “The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.”  http://www.christusrex.org/www1/CDHN/v8.html

    “the Liturgy of the Eucharist is still the focal point of the Mass.” 

    To separate the Liturgy of the Word from the Liturgy of the Eucharist somehow implies that the Word of God is less than the Blessed Sacrament.  It is not.  These aspects of the Mass are not only “married” to one another, but the Word of God is, in fact Jesus, Himself.  We can look to John 1:1 for proof of that.

    While the Word of God is not in and of itself a Sacrament.  The life of the Church is no less dependent on the Word.  Again, we can look to Jesus for this, Matthew 4:4.  I would assert that while one still fulfills one’s Sunday obligation by coming late to Mass; after the Gospel and before the Offetory; there is an obvious loss of grace by missing the Liturgy of the Word.

    What do I mean?  CCC 2183 states, “If becauseof lack of a sacred minister or for other grave cause participation in the celebration of the Eucharist is impossible, it is specifically recommended that the faithful take part in the Liturgy of the Word if it is celebrated in the parish church….”

    So, as the Church rightly teaches, the Liturgy of the Word is just as important as the Liturgy of the Eucharist. 


  • Uh, oh.

    I think that last note may have earned me the antipathy of She Who Must Be Obeyed. Still, good on ya for making Dom watch CASABLANCA. Just don’t try to impose NOW, VOYAGER or DARK VICTORY or PEYTON PLACE or anything on the Lifetime Channel starring Valerie Bertinelli

  • =) victor.  Mr. no-chick-flicks.

    This issue is just turning into a big mess.  The church is closed.  Would ya decommission it and get one with making it a condo, already?

    Those kids will now need to find another parish to attend.  Here’s hoping they all spread out and go to different parishes and learn how to behave in church.  Then maybe they’ll find themselves in a congregation that won’t go away.

  • Victor, ick, ick and double ick! smile you did it again. I’d rather shoot my foot off than watch anything on Lifetime! Why do people always assume all women have bad taste? smile

  • Camilam,

    You’re straying away from the subject.  The topic of this thread is gay marriage!!  Ok just havin some fun.. 

    “… somehow implies that the Word of God is less than the Blessed Sacrament” 

    Pshaw Camilam (can I call you Cammy? I feel as if we’ve bonded)  I’ve never ever said that nor inferred that. If there are any variations in the Mass, It occurs outside of the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  Readings can change (check USCCB for the list) for weddings, babtisms or funerals and the Mass is still licit.  Secular music can be used at the lighting of the unity candle or post communion meditation.  (I’m still looking up the rules on this but after a hundred or so weddings,  nobody has ever suggested that I made the mass illicit) 

    As far as Mr. Bettinelli’s (can I call you Cammy as well? J/K) statement that Mass is a community event and children’s Masses are exclusive.  You are right… to a degree.  Private Masses occur all the time!! Renewal of vows, family Masses, I even had Mass in an airport in Germany with a group of tourists!!  Are these exclusive?  To a small degree that there is intentionality added to the Mass.  Also to add to the argument, priests say Mass alone all the time!  These are licit and valid.  And if any Mass could be construed as exclusionary, that would be the best example.  However, no one would be prevented from joining the celebration. 

    Yes I am in total agreement with both of you that entertainment can never be the priority over the Mystery.  But to recognize a group (i.e. children) and tailor the Mass to the group, does not attenuate the Mass.  It does not have to make it illicit.  It certainly cannot invalidate it. 

    Until I do some more research, this is coming from experience and opinion. 

  • Oops sorry for the double up

    Baptism not babtism.  Work travel makes for poor spelling

  • Jaime,

    “Readings can change (check USCCB for the list) for weddings, babtisms or funerals and the Mass is still licit.”

    Provide a link for me.  I have googled and searched MSN and can’t find your source.

    “Secular music can be used at the lighting of the unity candle or post communion meditation.  (Irmation, Holy Orders, Extreme Unction, otherwise known as a healing Mass.)”

    “…the Liturgy of the Eucharist is still the focal point of the Mass.”

    And what is the Liturgy of the Word?  That is my question.  IF the Liturgy of the Eucharist is the focal point, where does the Liturgy of the Word fit in?  In the background?  The point of having the Liturgy of the Word first, is that we are “fed” by the Word of God.  Then we are fed by Liturgy of the Eucharist.


  • “Secular music can be used at the lighting of the unity candle or post communion meditation.”

    Since when is a unity candle part of a Catholic wedding mass? I know it has become a “custom”, but as far as I know it is not officially sanctioned. Also, where is a citation that secualr music may ever be used in any mass?

    Thank you. 

  • Cammy

    I will be happy to direct you to the USCCB website and where it states that readings can be changed but I am off to a meeting. 

    However in the meantime, please indulge yourself in the writings of the Holy Father

    ” The role of guidance is not to express everything or prescribe everything, it will respect a certain spiritual freedom for each person in his relationship with the word of God and with the sacramental signs. “

    This excerpt was taken from http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/current/jp2.htm  Entitled Pope John Paul II on Liturgical reform.  While I wil acquiesce to the point that the Holy Father does not mention “foot stompin” directly, He does help make my argument that Masses are not etched in stone. 

    Nice article, good writer, excellent pope. 



  • Himey,

    (I love calling you that)….

    “Hymns and sacred music have an essential role in reinforcing everyone’s communion, in a form very sensitive to the acceptance and assimilation of the word of God, through the unity of prayer,”  says the Holy Father.

    Sacred music, Himey, sacred music.  I point you to another Post-Vatican II Document that deals with this issue.  Musicam Sacram.  http://www.adoremus.org/MusSac.html

    “Even more generally than the hymn properly so-called, liturgical music has the evocative capacity to interweave theological meaning and a sense of formal beauty and poetic insight,” says JPII.

    Theological meaning, Himey, theological meaning; as well as beauty and poetic insight.  While I am sure that some may find ‘I Swear’ by John Michael Montgomery a beautiful and poetic song, it certainly has no theological meaning (in the proper context).  Now, Bruckner’s ‘Ave Maria,’ that probably fits.  We can even say that ‘We are Called,’ by our friend David Haas (I can’t believe I just used David Haas as an example, Rob will die!!!!!) is more appropriate than John Michael Montgomery.

    “In this way the earthly liturgy will be linked with that of heaven where … a single choir will be formed … to raise with one and the same voice a hymn of praise to the Father, through Jesus Christealous!!)

    World Youth Day Mass with the Holy Father.  Apparently I’m not alone in believing youth Masses are not exclusionary.  (Also I went to see the pictures from the Mass and…..THERE MAY HAVE BEEN SOME TEENS CLAPPING!!) 

  • Jaime,

    No one has said that Masses cannot be “geared” toward a particular group of people.  As a matter of fact, I would agree that Masses CAN be “geared” toward particular groups of people (ie. children, teens, religious, etc….)

    The issue is what goes on AT the Mass.  Ask youreself, is the Mass supposed to represent something sacred?  Is the Mass supposed to be something where the Eucharist is central or are the actions of people to be central? 

    When the actions of children, teens, or adults take away from the sacrality of the Mass, is that going to far?  So, the question is NOT is clapping, etc. allowed, but rather, is clapping, etc. appropriate?

    I would assert that it is not.  Using the document that you provided, the Holy Father says, ” Everyone’s attitude counts, for the liturgical assembly is the first image the Church gives of herself, invited to the Lord’s banquet.” 

    If there is an attitude of reverence, the Blessed Sacrament will be reverenced, if there is an attitude of informality, then the Mass will lose a sense of reverence, to a greater or lesser degree.  Which is too much of a loss for the only perfect thing on Earth.

    Redemptionis Sacramentum rightly states, “The constant teaching of the Church on the nature of the Eucharist not only as a meal, but also and pre-eminently as a Sacrifice, is therefore rightly understood to be one of the principal keys to the full participation of all the faithful in so great a Sacrament.  For when “stripped of its sacrificial meaning, the mystery is understood as if its meaning and importance were simply that of a fraternal banquet”.  (RS 38)

    “For promoting and elucidating active participation, the recent renewal of the liturgical books according to the mind of the Council fostered acclamations of the people, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and canticles, as well as actions or movements and gestures, and called for sacred silence to be maintained at the proper times, while providing rubrics for the parts of the faithful as well.”  (RS 39)

    Speaking directly of actions, movements, and gestures, it says that there are rubrics that not only guide the clergy, but also the faithful.

    Here are the rubrics, http://www.nccbuscc.org/liturgy/current/revmissalisromanien.htm

    Show me where the General Instruction of the Roman Missal says that it is ok to play “heads, shoulders, knees, and toes” or some other children’s game is allowable on the altar (actually, in the sanctuary, because it would have to be a REALLY big altar to fit all of those 5 year olds on it.)

    Finally, speaking to the changing of the prescribed readings…Redemptionis Sacramentum says, “It is also illicit to omit or to substitute the prescribed biblical readings on one’s own initiative, and especially “to substitute other, non-biblical texts for the readings and responsorial Psalm, which contain the word of God.”” (RS 62)


  • Just to bug you even more Camilam, At the World Youth Day Mass in Toronto….THERE WERE LITURGICAL GUITARISTS!!!

  • And there is some question of whether such activities at a Mass, even a papal Mass, are appropriate. The Pope’s own master of ceremonies has said that he tends toward the liberal. Plus we need to take into account cultural differences.

    All that said, let me assure you that a World Youth Day Mass with 4 million people should not be used as an example of good liturgy. You’re so far away from the altar that it’s hard to fell like you’re participating, people are laying on the ground, drinking water, sitting under tents, chatting with one another, eating, and all kinds of other things I wouldn’t suggest at Mass. Sorry, but you can’t use WYD to prove your point, because it proves mine.

  • No but it does illuminate the issue greatly. 

    If this is a matter of taste, then I will not add any more to this thread.  I have no problems with differences in taste. 

    But I’m supposed to rely on the Holy Father on all matters of faith and morals.  If he has blessed the youth Mass by celebrating it, that does go to my point that youth Masses are ok with the Church. 

  • There are some really weird things that have happened at papal masses.  Whole websites are made of pics of such events.  There’s dancing and gospel reading with boobs hanging out.  There’s even a pic with a buddha on the altar out there.

    Besides that there’s a whole lot of serenading and political pageantry that goes on.

    So don’t use papal goings-on as good models for parish masses. 

  • Domenico, a couple of questions:
    1) My experience as an ex-high school teacher tells me that, yes, kids are probably eating during mass and then going to Holy Communion.  Is this so at WYD masses?  And are the kids ever warned not to?
    2) What does it mean “faith & morals?”  Is that different from doctrine, I guess is what I am asking.  The Church has had numerous very corrupt popes—the Borgias, etc…  We certainly did not look to them for guidance in morals.  This doesn’t sound right at all, unless Catholics have been in denial for far longer than I thought!

  • Jaime,

    This is not a matter of taste, but rather a matter of sacrality.  Is what is going on a sacred act?  Or is what is going on something less?  If you look back to my posts, I have given several examples of what those who are authorities on the issue have said.

    I would contend that not only are some actions not sacred, but also some of the instruments that are used are not sacred either.

    This isn’t a matter of opionion, but rather a discussion on what is sacred and what is not.


  • Gee Michigancatholic, I’m the one who brought up faith and morals.  Why not pose the question to me?  Hurt.. i’m truly hurt

    Camilam, I would contend that English used to not be a language used during Mass.  Not allowable.  Now it is.  My point is that sacrality is not only defined by the Church but by the culture.  The Holy Father and the USCCB recognize that.  This is why Mass is different in different cultures.  Go to a Catholic Mass in Africa and see if anyone’s dancing there.  Head to Central America where the marimba is used. 

    Yes you have posted some great links. here is one for you http://www.davidhasselhoff.com/davidnews.html

    If nobody on this thread (which is down to four of us now) likes the WYD Mass, oh well.  The Holy Father is our living role model.  I certainly have every right to defer to his judgement. 

  • Jaime,

    “I would contend that English used to not be a language used during Mass.  Not allowable.”

    Sorry, but the readings were always done in English.  They would be read in Latin, then read in English.

    The culture is Catholic, not American.  That is the problem.  While we live “in the world,” we should not live “of the world.” 

    What exactly is the problem with Latin?  And do you have the same problem with the Uniate Byzantines who celebrate Mass in Greek or the Maronites who celebrate Mass in Lebanese, Arabic, Greek and Latin; while in the United States.  Following your logic, they should defer to the culture and celebrate Mass in English only as well, no?  Latin is part of our culture AND the Holy Father has stated oh, about a zillion times, that Latin has pride of place and is desirable.  By the way, show me where it says that Latin is not the normative language of the Mass and that the vernacular is?  Because I would contend that the EXCLUSIVE use of the vernacular is an abuse of the liturgists or our time. 

    Ever notice that at WYD Masses, or any Mass for that matter, with the possible exception of Poland, the Holy Father celebrates Mass in Latin.  Why is that?

    Language is a bad example.

    Benedicat vos omniopotens Deus,


  • “The culture is Catholic, not American”

    “Pastoral care will see that the liturgy is not isolated from the rest of Christian life”

    The first you know and the second is the Holy Father.  The rest of the letter talks about exactly what I am talking about.  The cultural effects on Liturgy. 

    And what Camilam is your problem with culture?  Why oh why would you infer that there can be no sacrality of culture?  Certainly there are things of culture that are sinful.  But there are a great many cultural things around the world that could only be inspired by the love of Christ. 

    And if the use of the vernacular is an abuse of the liturgists of our time (I’m assuming you meant of not or), then this is a global abuse found in every country.  Yet the priests, bishops and cardinals have allowed for it. 

    Also your examples listed SUPPORT MY POINT.  They are maintaining… wait for it… their cultural heritage!!

    Para bailar la bamba


  • Jaime,

    I absolutely stand by my statement of “The culture is Catholic, not American.”

    I ask you,  what do you consider yourself first, Catholic or American?  That will define what kind of culture should effect the Sacred Liturgy.

    “Why oh why would you infer that there can be no sacrality of culture?”

    Because Sacrality is not something that is man made. Sacrality is that made by God.  The cultures of the world were and are made by the people that live in those areas.  The culture of the Church is not made by man, but by Jesus Christ, working through men.  So, that is why there is no sacrality in culture.

    “And if the use of the vernacular is an abuse of the liturgists of our time (I; a challenge!?!?!?  Nooooo and its with a CAPITAL C!!!!! (shaking and quivering)

    Oh wait…

    2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

    Just a sampling from the Vatican http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19631204_sacrosanctum-concilium_en.html

    Normative?  Criminy I’d be using my whole day off looking around for that!!  Allowable?  Not an abuse?  Visit and read Cammy. 

    Oh and the music…  Gregorian chants are the legitimate birth of all western music.  So (and this one may give you a bit of a headache) all western music comes from Sacrality.  Does that mean all western music is sacred?  Nope.  But it all shares its roots from there. 

    Now my fine unmusical friend.  My challenge to you.  Find me one of sacred music (Well past the Gregorians please. They were busy coming up with the octave.  And BTW THANKS FOR THE OCTAVE GREGORIANS!! It rules)  That the composer was not influenced by his culture in writing it.  I will look for ones who were influenced by their culture.  To quote a frequent visitor to this blog

    “I daresay that while I can find you about 100 or so, you wonr, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used. Its decrees have to be approved, that is, confirmed by the Apostolic See.”

    In observing these norms exactly, one will therefore employ that form of participation which best matches the capabilities of each congregation.

    Pastors of souls should take care that besides the vernacular “the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.” (MS 47)

    What has pride of place and what is normative?  And what MAY be used?  Not should be used. And incidentally how much of the vernacular abuses are approved by the Holy See?  I will give you a great example.  While at our beloved UST, they read the readings from the NRSV Bible.  That is not an approved text.  This is clearly an abuse of the above statement.  But that is all too common.

    I will address music in the next post.


  • Jaime,

    “Find me one of sacred music ……That the composer was not influenced by his culture in writing it.  I will look for ones who were influenced by their culture.”

    Musicam Sacram also says, “In sung liturgical services celebrated in Latin:

    (a) Gregorian chant, as proper to the Roman liturgy, should be given pride of place, other things being equal. Its melodies, contained in the “typical” editions, should be used, to the extent that this is possible.
    (b) “It is also desirable that an edition be prepared containing simpler melodies, for use in smaller churches.”
    (c) Other musical settings, written for one or more voices, be they taken from the traditional heritage or from new works, should be held in honor, encouraged and used as the occasion demands.” (MS 50)

    The traditional heritage is not based on secular culture, it is based on the traditional heritage of the Church.

    Musicam Sacram says, “Musicians will enter on this new work with the desire to continue that tradition which has furnished the Church, in her divine worship, with a truly abundant heritage. Let them examine the works of the past, their types and characteristics, but let them also pay careful attention to the new laws and requirements of the Liturgy, so that “new forms may in some way grow organically from forms that already exist,” and the new work will form a new part in the musical heritage of the Church, not unworthy of its past.” (MS 59)

    Does this call for growth from tradition or from secular culture?

    And of instruments, Musicam Sacram says this: 63. In permitting and using musical instruments, the culture and traditions of individual peoples must be taken into account. However, those instruments which are, by common opinion and use, suitable for secular music only, are to be altogether prohibited from every liturgical celebration and from popular devotions. (MS 63)

    “Musical instruments can be very useful in sacred celebrations, whether they accompany the singing or whether they are played as solo instruments.

    “The pipe organ is to be held in high esteem in the Latin Church, since it is its traditional instrument, the sound of which can add a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lift up men’s minds to God and higher things.””  (MS 62)

    Oh yeah, I almost forgot, “The faithful fulfil their liturgical role by making that full, conscious and active participation which is demanded by the nature of the Liturgy itself and which is, by reason of baptism, the right and duty of the Christian people.  This participation:  Should be above all internal, in the sense that by it the faithful join their mind to what they pronounce or hear, and cooperate with heavenly grace….” (MS 15 p. a)


  • I will acquiesce to you on your point about latin my friend.  Your point on the vernacular being used exclusively is a sound one. 

    As far as music is concerned, I will stand by my point.  Your point of MS 59 concurs with me.  The organic growth of liturgical music will always be influenced by the culture of the liturgical composer.  It is impossible for it to be otherwise. 

    Also for the record, I’ve never ripped on the pipe organ.  I have no problems with it at all.  Hold it in high esteem I do.  However, 90% of churches around the world can’t afford one.  And while it is held in high esteem, nowhere does it say, “If you can’t have a pipe organ, you can’t have any instruments.” 

    Oh yeah, again, if the Holy Father has no problem celebrating Mass with a few guitarists, then its ok by me.  I firmly believe that the leader of our Church would not participate in the Sacrament if it was not being done properly. 

    But we can continue this debate at another time.  We are the last two contributing to this thread. 

    You go girl!!

    Illegitamus non-carborundum est