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Concelebrating From The 15th Pew

Everywhere I go lay Catholics are concelebrating at Sunday Mass.I've noticed it for years now. I notice it more in the summer when, for various reasons, we're often at a different parish and/or in a different part of the country. By now I've noticed it in so many different kinds of parishes---large, medium, small; urban, suburban, rural; affluent, middle-class, working-class, poor; across a wide range of ethnicities, racial identities and liturgical styles---it's become something I look for when I'm in a new (to me) parish: who's concelebrating Mass here?Almost always the answer is---somebody. Usually (but not always) elderly. Usually (but not always) female. When the priest prays over the bread and wine, she'll have a hand slightly extended, palm up, towards the altar, and she'll be quietly reciting the prayer of consecration with the priest.Or at least that's what it looks like to me. Generally it's the kind of thing that's done so quietly and unobtrusively that you wouldn't notice if you weren't looking for it. (You also wouldn't notice if you were praying more intently yourself, but that's a different story.)Anyway, has anyone else noticed this? How long has it been going on? What (if anything) does it mean?

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I do it. I also open my hands in the start of an embrace at what we used to call the Per ipsum but have now confused to a fare-thee-well. It isn't concelebrating, it's focusing. I try to be unobtrusive, but if you were looking, you'd catch me. Holding hands at the Our Father probably was the original license for it. That is a guess. I must have seen someone else doing it, tried it and liked it. Like ringing bells, which our parish has been very spotty about through the years, it interrupts any daydreaming or distraction.Coincidentally, Sacred Space, in its "something to think about" section last week made the point that we pray with our whole body, not just the mind.

Pope Pius X: "The Holy Mass is a prayer itself, even the highest prayer that exists. It is the Sacrifice, dedicated by our Redeemer at the Cross, and repeated every day on the altar. If you wish to hear Mass as it should be heard, you must follow with eye, heart and mouth all that happens at the altar. Further, you must pray with the priest the holy words said by him in the Name of Christ and which Christ says by him. You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in these words and in this manner you ought to follow all that happens at the altar. When acting in this way, you have prayed Holy Mass."

We do it our parish routinely and with great reverence. There is also the murmur of the consecratory prayer. What's it mean? we all take part... Is it a denigration of the sacramental priesthood? I don't think so...

The very idea of 'concelebrating from the pews' is, to me, a reaffirmation of the teaching of the Vatican II in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy that "the whole community" gathered for Eucharist "celebrates" ... the priest is the presider, leading the assembly in prayer, but the entire community "celebrates" the Eucharist. Up until Vatican II, our theology emphasized the priest's role: he was "celebrating Mass" and the people in the pews were "assisting at Mass". The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy used the word "presbyter" (presider) not "sacrerdos" (priest) to describe the role of the presider. I was ordained a presbyter 39 years ago, withdrew from active ministry 19 years ago in order to marry ... and I am one of those you will notice extending his open right hand slightly for the "words of institution", because I concelebrate every Eucharist I participate in. I believe it an encouraging sign if more and more "people in the pews" are "concelebrating" the Eucharist.In the First Letter of Peter, verse 9, it is written: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."

I will play the role of fussy rubricist. First of all, I think Claire is spot on: the prayer of thanksgiving is a prayer in which we all participate. The priest is saying the words aloud and performing the prescribed movements, not just for himself, but on behalf of all of us. We are all called to participate wholeheartedly in the Eucharistic prayer. And I think Tom is spot on: I'd assume that those folks are trying to participate as best as they possibly can. Of course, who knows why people do what they do at mass or anywhere else, unless they happen to tell us? But that seems like the right default assumption - that they're being attentive.Here is where the fussiness comes in: it's a liturgical ideal that each of us should do all of but only the things we're supposed to do. If a particular gesture or movement is assigned to the priest - then he should do it. The rest of us shouldn't. Is that because he's a better person than the rest of us, or because he's saved and we're not? Of course not. It's that he has his role to play, and the rest of us - people, servers, instrumentalist, cantor, deacon, etc. - have our assigned roles, too, and we should do those ones. There is something that is appropriate and beautiful and fulfilling about having an essential part to play and playing that part to the very best of one's ability.The liturgical books call for unity of gesture and posture among the people. That's not because church authorities are overly eager to impose a restrictive uniformity on everyone. It's because unity of gesture and posture is a sign, as is so much in liturgy - in this case, a sign of our incorporation into the Body of Christ. I'd say that there is a tendency in our modern culture to be hyper-individualistic - to brand ourselves, promote ourselves, glorify ourselves, often enough to the detriment of our responsibilities to others - our spouses, children, neighbors, community, and especially those in need. The unity to which the liturgy calls us stands as a challenge to that hyper individuality. Heeding and responding to that challenge in a positive way can have spiritual value that shouldn't be underestimated. Just my views.

I looked for a reference for the quote I gave above but could not find anything. It's attributed to Pius X but I don't know if that's true. It appears on many traditional-leaning web sites, although I'm not sure what's so specifically traditional about it. No matter who first came up with it, Pius X or anyone else, I like it. Good practical advice as far as I'm concerned.Mouthing the words at the same time as the priest helps keep one's attention focused. I suppose that making the same gestures might also help, although I wouldn't know.

"Here is where the fussiness comes in: its a liturgical ideal that each of us should do all of but only the things were supposed to do."Jim P. --Doing what one is "supposed to do" is one thing, a bare minimum. Doing more is literally another thing -- it is gratuitous, as is all charity. Considered this way, forming the words with the priest is a gesture. It adds to the Mass, to the great prayer. In no way does it minimize the actions of the priest.Mass attendance is supposed to be more than doing just what we're supposed to do. Now there's a paradox for you.

I would like to respond to you on two points, Jim. (1) The purpose of rubrics is to provide some order for liturgical celebrations; rubrics are basically 'stage directions' for public liturgical celebrations. I don't believe, for one moment, that someone "in the pews" unobtrusively opening his/her right hand and whispering inaudibly the words of Jesus is disturbing or obstructing the public celebration of liturgy. (2) For me--and I suspect for others who do this--the intention is not be 'hyper-individualistic' but rather to enter more deeply into the Mystery that is being celebrated. Let's not be too quick to judge the motivations of others.

and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me."No limits placed by Jesus. Why would anyone else presume to placed limits?

He also said, "Take this all of you, and eat of it." Keeping one's hands fully folded at that invitation may imply something I don't want to imply.

Jim Pauwels explanation is what i have undertood too:

147. Then the Priest begins the Eucharistic Prayer. In accordance with the rubrics (cf. no. 365), he selects a Eucharistic Prayer from those found in the Roman Missal or approved by the Apostolic See. By its very nature, the Eucharistic Prayer requires that only the Priest say it, in virtue of his Ordination. The people, for their part, should associate themselves with the Priest in faith and in silence, as well as by means of their interventions as prescribed in the course of the Eucharistic Prayer: namely, the responses in the Preface dialogue, the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy), the acclamation after the Consecration, the acclamation Amen after the concluding doxology, as well as other acclamations approved by the Conference of Bishops with the recognitio of the Holy See.General instruction of the Roman Missalhttp://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/roman-missal/general-instruction...

Rubrical fussiness: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, has forgotten her/his place in the hierarchy.

#147 doesn't prescribe a posture for the laity. Where I worship, we have a large Hispanic community, and some members of that insist on remaining standing for the entire canon, as they did at home.(We also have problems with northeasterners who won't change anything they "did at home." Catholics!) We used to thank God that we could "stand" in his presence when we were plainly kneeling. That has been changed in the latest ukase to "be" but I'll bet a maniple, if I can find one, that the Latin is "stand."

Tom Blacburn -it depends on which country you are in. This is for the US (also from the GIRM):

Gestures and Bodily Posture42. The gestures and bodily posture of both the Priest, the Deacon, and the ministers, and also of the people, must be conducive to making the entire celebration resplendent with beauty and noble simplicity, to making clear the true and full meaning of its different parts, and to fostering the participation of all.[52] Attention must therefore be paid to what is determined by this General Instruction and by the traditional practice of the Roman Rite and to what serves the common spiritual good of the People of God, rather than private inclination or arbitrary choice.A common bodily posture, to be observed by all those taking part, is a sign of the unity of the members of the Christian community gathered together for the Sacred Liturgy, for it expresses the intentions and spiritual attitude of the participants and also fosters them.43. The faithful should stand from the beginning of the Entrance Chant, or while the Priest approaches the altar, until the end of the Collect; for the Alleluia Chant before the Gospel; while the Gospel itself is proclaimed; during the Profession of Faith and the Universal Prayer; and from the invitation, Orate, fratres (Pray, brethren), before the Prayer over the Offerings until the end of Mass, except at the places indicated here below.The faithful should sit, on the other hand, during the readings before the Gospel and the Responsorial Psalm and for the Homily and during the Preparation of the Gifts at the Offertory; and, if appropriate, they may sit or kneel during the period of sacred silence after Communion.In the Dioceses of the United States of America, they should kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer, except when prevented on occasion by ill health, or for reasons of lack of space, of the large number of people present, or for another reasonable cause. However, those who do not kneel ought to make a profound bow when the Priest genuflects after the Consecration. The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.[53]For the sake of uniformity in gestures and bodily postures during one and the same celebration, the faithful should follow the instructions which the Deacon, a lay minister, or the Priest gives, according to what is laid down in the Missal.

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Blackburn

On our tendency to be hyper-individualistic (a less polite word might be "solipsistic"): this is precisely my objection to the way the Creed, which we recite out loud together, as a congregation or community of belief, has replaced "We believe" with "I believe." I wrote my diocese asking about this; should I be surprised that I never had an answer? (I also suggested, in the interests of consistency, that we replace all the plural pronouns in the Our Father with their proper singular versions).Perhaps the fathers of the diocese thought I was making fun of the new translation.

Our parish always stood at the canon and when A/B Levada presided we were all still standing at the beginning of the Eucharistic prayer. Levada stopped. Our pastor two steps behind him signaled for all to kneel. We obliged our pastor and wondered if Levada would have made an uproar if we had refused to kneel. We concluded his way or we would have had uproar at Mass. so much for Trad. concerns.

For the sake of uniformity in gestures and bodily postures during one and the same celebration, the faithful should follow the instructions which the Deacon, a lay minister, or the Priest gives, according to what is laid down in the Missal. -----------(Why do they capitalize "Deacon" and "Priest" but not "lay minister" and "faithful"?)

Our congregation stands thrughout the Eucharistic prayer and bows at appropriate times.

In Vermont, until a few years ago, we all knelt at the start of the canon, and then stood after the elevation. I remember reading a piece in the diocesan paper some time back answering the question why this state is (or was) different from all other states. Local custom, as I remember. Then, however, word came down from on high (or at least fairly high, if not actually On High) that we were to stop our traditional ways and conform to the practices of others. No local option, in other words.

John, not to be difficult, but the GIRMans failed to specify when standing whether one leg or two is optional, or leaning against the pew in front of one, etc. Furthermore, the position of the arms and hands -- akimbo, folded, at one's sides, in one's pockets, one hand holding the rosary and the other holding a "worship aid" -- is not specified, either. And if folded, whether fingers must be straight or entwined or whether the "Bishops' fold" of one hand holding the other is allowed to the lower case laity. I am sure this is oversight which will be corrected in the fullness of time. Meantime, I will continue to do what I've been doing, as other contributions to this discussion indicate everybody else is doing, whatever the GIRM says.

(Why do they capitalize Deacon and Priest but not lay minister and faithful?)Gerelyn: after all these years do you REALLY have to ask such a question? Really ???One of the attributes of power is that it gives those who have it the ability to define reality and the power to make others believe their definition. William Sloan CoffinOr, if I really want to be nasty ...."Power is nothing more than the intemperate protrusion of the egomaniacal heart. Since all egomaniacs are insecure to their frightened cores, they thus wield power so the world will not find them out." Dennis Lehane, The Given Day.

Let me take fussiness to another level and ask when people go back to sitting after communion. When do they stop standing or kneeling? My dad (and I, following his example) sits down exactly when the remaining hosts are taken away. The people in my former US parish sit down exactly when the presider sits back down. My take: in the first case, standing or kneeling is directed to the presence of the host, and indicates reverence; in the second case, it is directed to the priest, and indicates clericalism. (How is that for over-interpretation?)Has anyone else noticed this?

Hi, Jim. After all these years, I still remember Sister telling us how to place our hands in our laps for the First Communion picture. Palms up for the girls, palms down for the boys. (I look so miserable in the picture, squinting in the sun, palms up.)

John Hayes, or Jim Pauwels, can you explain how people are to "associate themselves with the priest" (GIRM 147)? Is there some reason to read this as "not doing the same gestures as the priest"?My reaction is that associating one self with someone often means doing something in common with them, so the natural way of reading this passage would be the opposite of what you have proposed. Posture is spelled out, but gesture is not.I would not regard these gestures as concelebrating, but as celebrating with, as associating myself with the one who celebrates. Of course, it is Christ who celebrates.

In following traditionlist blogs, recurring issues that people there get really worked up about are shaking hands as the sign of peace, holding hands during the Our Father or praying the Our Father with upraised hands, using the priest's "orans" position. Here's a poll on Fr. Z's blog on the question of giving the sign of peace at Mass: 41%. I tolerate it34%. i dread it as it approaches and try o think of ways to avoid it.p12%. I am happy to do it8%. I do't care one way or the other5%. I hate it so much i won't go to Mass where iti is done. Here's what Rome says about the sign of peace:

[72.] It is appropriate that each one give the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober manner. The Priest may give the sign of peace to the ministers but always remains within the sanctuary, so as not to disturb the celebration. He does likewise if for a just reason he wishes to extend the sign of peace to some few of the faithful. As regards the sign to be exchanged, the manner is to be established by the Conference of Bishops in accordance with the dispositions and customs of the people, and their acts are subject to the recognitio of the Apostolic See.http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_c...

The USCCB says the sign of peace is usually a handshake and the priest can come out of the sanctuary to give the sign to some of he faithful at a wedding or funeral or if a government official is present.

"I would not regard these gestures as concelebrating, but as celebrating with, as associating myself with the one who celebrates. Of course, it is Christ who celebrates."I really don't want to come across as the liturgy cop around here. These things don't bother me too much. Besides, what would parish mass be without a few assorted strange people in the pews? Not to mention people like me who just goof up from time to time.But I do think there are liturgical ideals, and they're worth pursuing. And I guess my view is that one of those ideals is that the presider should do gestures that are assigned to the presider and the people shouldn't. They have their own things to do.We learn liturgy primarily by doing it; the rubrics are there to guide us on what we do, not micromanage every little tic. But the rubrics are pretty clear that, for example, "he [the priest] shows the consecrated host to the people, places it again on the paten, and genuflects in adoration." The plainest meaning of those words is that the priest does those things and the people don't do them. If someone in the pews is mimicking those gestures, then that person either learned that behavior (was taught to do it by someone else) or decided on his/her own to do it. I'd think a glance around at neighbors in the pews would reinforce that that mimicry is not, in fact, what a person in the pews is supposed to do at that point. I don't have a missalette handy right now, but I'm pretty sure that rubric is printed in them, too. I think your question about how to associate with the priest is a great question. But I'd suggest it doesn't extend to the people doing things that pretty clearly belong to the presider and not the people.

Maybe I am getting defensive, but what Luke Hill described and what I do (and have seen others do) does not mimic or copy the gestures of the priest. As Luke described it, the gesture is holding out a hand (or two; I use both) palm up. The priest is holding the Host at that time. I am not saying the words of Consecration with him. What I say (mentally --some of my Spanish friends whisper it in Spanish) is the great quote of my patron saint, which some have called the Church's first creed..

I'm often amused by the mannered papal wave that some people feel compelled to give at the sign of peace. They turn to all sides of the church so that not the least of the brethren is slighted when they bestow their blessings. Do they think they are in a Vatican loggia?

Almost like Vatican II did not happen. For sure there ahould always be reverence. But the Eucharist is the expression of all the people offering the whole of their lives together to God our friend and lover. The presider is merely the conveyer of that offering. The less he is noticed, the better. We could really write our own words into the Eucharist as long as we know we are celebrating the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as one body in God. The presider must decrease while Jesus must increase.

God forbid anyone should "minimize" the actions of the priest! Maximizing their specialness should be what priesthood is all about, eh? I have been seeing this for years...I hated it whan I was an arch-conservative, of course, and actually asked a woman I had seen do it what it was about. Her answer: she was called to ministry and this was the only way she could participate at this juncture in the church's life. I hated that reply too, of course. Now it doesn't bother me a bit. The Mass is a narrative in its structure and everyone is in the story. The ordained tells the story to God on our behalf, but not as if we are not there and fully present, and not more worthily. For me, the "new" translation is entirely tiresome and vexing, so I only mouth the "old" words when needed to overcome the weretchedness of what's there. I guess we should all be glad that some people are paying enough attention to want to say any of the words that are not rotely "theirs."

Jim,Luke's description includes "Generally its the kind of thing thats done so quietly and unobtrusively that you wouldnt notice if you werent looking for it." That excludes a change in posture, like genuflecting, though bowing one's head might be an appropriate way to join with the priest's devotion.When I do this, I am conscious of it as a response to the priest, praying as Christ prayed and offering as Christ offered in expectation of receiving from God through the ministry of the priest. If I were a deacon on the altar, I would not do it. As a person in a pew, I have no problem with associating myself with the priest in this way. Obviously it can be misunderstood, but so can these words.The Roman Missal had no instructions for the laity until 1970. Praying the rosary, or even walking through the Stations, were not uncommon. Something like this, which reflects increased attention rather than distraction, does not seem like the same kind of thing. If it were to become a distraction, I would certainly stop doing it.

Claire,The end of the Communion procession is the proper moment to stop kneeling or standing and to sit for whatever postcommunion reflection exists. Looking to the presider for a signal of the end, rather than having each person watch all the stations, seems like the way to go. But since it is not spelled out in the rubrics, either of the actions you describe seems ok IMO, though people should do in unity with others.

Jim McK - I don't want to push my point too hard or too far. I don't think it's the biggest issue in contemporary liturgy.

Didn't you guys use to kiss each other? What happened? Cooties?

Abe, I am guessing from your name that you are of Jewish origin, but if I may ask, aren't you Catholic? If not, then it is great that you are reading Commonweal, but aren't these threads pretty uninteresting? Even in the interest of learning about another religion, I couldn't imagine myself spending much time on a Jewish website with people discussing the fifty shades of kosher...

"Id say that there is a tendency in our modern culture to be hyper-individualistic to brand ourselves, promote ourselves, glorify ourselves, often enough to the detriment of our responsibilities to others our spouses, children, neighbors, community, and especially those in need. The unity to which the liturgy calls us stands as a challenge to that hyper individuality. Heeding and responding to that challenge in a positive way can have spiritual value that shouldnt be underestimated. Just my views."I think this is a lucid call for uniformity in worship. I sometimes go back to our old Episcopal Church, which, during the olden days after the prayers of the people, there was a period of silence during which it was appropriate to say a name or word of intention. Some charismatic worshipers now use this time to pray loud and long for their special intentions a la: "Please pray for Mike whose hearing is coming up Tuesday. He is trying to keep his spirits up during his incarceration, but he really REALLY needs to know we are all behind him [I have NO idea who Mike is] and his family is becoming worried that this latest hearing will not have the outcome they hope for." Our former deacon used to step forward and give weekly updates on his wife's illness (the poor woman finally died of cancer) just before the dismissal. I do not know why Father allowed this. I knew three or four other families who were dealing with a dying relative, and they were not given special mention or allowed to stand up and give their updates.I dislike the peace and hand-holding at Mass because people do it grudingly. I sit in the back with the old farmers who don't do either. Many of them don't go up for communion, either, so I feel less conspicuous there.

In charismatic settings and other expressive prayer groups people uniformly join hands at the Our Father and join in more with the celebrant and extemporaneously mention people or needs at the Prayer of the Faithful etc. When out of the group and in a regular parish setting some want to continue this. Some pastors teach this so there is the unity and all those who don't like this and that are the strange ones. The liturgy is a lot better than pre-vatican II. Most people really connect now more than in the sacred Latin days. When it approaches the intimacy of a family setting it will be what it should be.

There is no need for uniformity in worship so long as there is unity in worship. Unity usually happens among equals, not in an imposed hierarchical ladder.What do you think whitebread middle class US Catholics would think if they attended Dave Brueck's Jazz Mass? Misa Criolla? Misa Flamenca? Misa Luba? Santa Sabina in Chicago? (http://www.saintsabina.org/worship-services.html) A polka mass (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUipR31yB_o)? A mariachi mass (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5ScbPuawpQ)?The unity is there but there certainly is not uniformity!

On uniformity versus unity: Vatican II Constitution on the sacred liturgy37. Even in the liturgy, the Church has no wish to impose a rigid uniformity in matters which do not implicate the faith or the good of the whole community; rather does she respect and foster the genius and talents of the various races and peoples. Anything in these peoples' way of life which is not indissolubly bound up with superstition and error she studies with sympathy and, if possible, preserves intact. Sometimes in fact she admits such things into the liturgy itself, so long as they harmonize with its true and authentic spirit.38. Provisions shall also be made, when revising the liturgical books, for legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups, regions, and peoples, especially in mission lands, provided that the substantial unity of the Roman rite is preserved; and this should be borne in mind when drawing up the rites and devising rubrics.

Thanks, Claire."Sometimes in fact she admits such things into the liturgy itself, so long as they harmonize with its true and authentic spirit."This is exactly why I find hand-holding at the Our Father and passing the peace disruptive; it is done with such reluctance that it seems at odds with the message of love and redemption in the Mass.

I first observed the passing of the peace ritual in a Maronite Church circa 1967. The altar server took the peace from the hands of the priest and brought it to the parishioners. About three years later the handshake of peace was introduced into the Roman Mass. Pease correct me if my memory or conceptualization is faulty. It was certainly not disruptive to the service.Shaking hands and wishing each other peace as well as holding hands during the Our Father are very welcoming gestures to strangers and otherwise lonely people. It is widely done in the Archdiocese in which I live. I am all for it. Those who wish a more hermit type of worship should sit separately. As for concelebrating with the Presider, if it makes people feel more closely related to God, then I cannot see any harm in it. Everyone knows that the Priest is the leader of the assembled worshipers. It does not take away from his role.

My problem with the peace is that it is utter bedlam.Today: Several people were pushing past others (whom they didn't peace) to get to friends and relatives across the aisle whom they did want to peace. A couple of young mothers were using the "breaK' to threaten small children in strangled tones. A couple of marrieds were playing kissy-face and didn't bother to peace anyone else (possibly coming off one of those marriage encounter weekends). A clutch of middle-aged women was was admiring a very cute grandbaby and peace-ing no one. The farmers I sit with give you a nod and clasp right hand over left wrist in front of their abdomens to indicate they're not touching you with a 10 foot pole and are going to just endure the mess until Father calls the liturgy back to order. Which gives us non-peace-ers a sense of cameraderie hardly intended by the practice, I'm sure.

Yes, Jean, what you describe does sound like bedlam. I do think that every community develops traditions which answer its own needs. A couple of years ago a couple I know visited relatives in Las Vegas. After being shocked to find out that they were the only practicing Catholics in the group, they were shocked by the conduct of the Mass itself which included liturgical dancers dressing the altar and a liltany of people shouting out their personal sins to the community response of "Kyrie Eleison."

Hmm, shouting out their personal sins. I'm afraid I would have a hard time not making a mental tally in which I matched up the shouter and the sin and kept some sort of score from week to week. Visiting 50 parishes in a year and writing up the various liturgical freaks and idiosyncracies would be fun, but for that I have "The Mystery Worshipper" over at ShipofFools.com, where nothing is sacred.http://ship-of-fools.com/mystery/index.html

During the Our Father, I usually will only hold hands with either my wife or my son mainly because my wife likes to do so. If I am attending mass alone, I do not hold hands during that time; I save the glad-handing for the sign of peace.I picked this up from the Spanish mass; prior to offering the sign of peace to those around me, I bless myself with sign of the cross, then I kiss my wife and son, and then I shake hands with those around me.I am also not a big clapper or hands-extended type not much of a Holy Roller I guess. My idea of participating at mass means singing the songs, listening to the readings and rituals, and saying the responses.I see some people like to wave their arms around and so forth - some like to imitae the priest it seems. I pay little attention to it and it does not bother me; everyone has their own style I guess.

And yes Jim, as a middle class "whitebreaad" type you mention, I wonder if I will ever get over the Polka Mass I was unfortunate enough to stumble upon several years ago - Ufda!

The upshot of all this is that some people need or simply want to feel special, and if the extra gestures help them somehow, as long as they do not distract others, it is probably Ok.

My parish has 3 weekend masses. 2 of them are for God's "frozen chosen" who (1) don't like to sing, (2) don't like to pass the peace except with an insipid nod or barely-touching handshake, and (3) don't hold hands during the Lord's Prayer. Wonder bread for all.The Really Big Show, however, is for people who like exotic breads and aren't afraid to smile, embrace, greet friends, hold hands and even hold their hands in the air when the Spirit moves them. It is the best attended of the 3 masses.Downright evangelical at times. Then- Abp of SF Levada (who presided twice @ the parish before being raised to the Office of Holy Inquisition) seemed to get into things, and is alleged to have told the pastor at the time that our liturgies were the best in the Archdiocese!

Ken: if wanting to express your Christian Catholic love to others is wanting to "feel special," more Catholics need to want to feel special.

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