Impressions of a local OF
Friends  >:(,

Must vent and expose a little bit of the spirit of the NO I served at last night. That parish is staffed by those wondrous sentimentalists, Franciscans, and thus has all the peasant-like atmosphere that pertains to their Order. One can't blame them for their obsession with being 'little', 'humble', 'minor', and so on, but when it begins to affect the Mass, it seems unjustified. Here are a few problems I encountered:

1. The priest said "peace be with you" after the Sign of the Cross. The opinion around the Franciscans is that he "is bishop material" or "he's a bishop at heart", or "he'd make a good bishop". I objected and said "but he isn't a bishop", and they say it's what's in the heart that matters.

2. The ambo/lectern from which the readings are proclaimed is half-way between the freestanding altar and the quasi-hidden tabernacle. The tabernacle is off to the side in a depressed niche which is visible from the "audience", but not from the sanctuary. It looks like this:

|    Seats    |  Tab.|
|      Altar  ambo  |
|        Pews          |

(The demarcation point between sanctuary and pews is naturally not an altar rail, but some carpeted steps)

Naturally, the priest is in the middle of the three seats, which are positioned against the painfully-empty wall that probably used to house the high altar (now painted garish green). We all face inward to the table-like altar.

3. Anyone standing at the ambo facing the congregation basically has half his back to our Lord, and half his back to the priest. God, really-present, is totally ignored by the readers who come up from the pews (all Sisters). This scandalised me more than anything. Our Lord is basically in His own little world. If the servers didn't come back up to the sanctuary via the right-side aisle after Mass, to genuflect, there would be no recognition of our Lord. If the priest ever wants to gesticulate to our Lord and talk about Him, he points at the processional crucifix (which is placed next to the ambo), not the tabernacle.

4. Since there were only two servers (surprise, the parish is at least 70% old liberals), I was the crucifer and the Master of Ceremonies came up empty-handed behind me. No incense, of course (this may be due to the average age and health of the parishioners). I moved forward from my comfy altar-stage seat to say the Bidding Prayers before the Offertory. Now, the parish seems to have only two candles, about 3-feet in length with the holder. There being no acolytes, the candles are lit before Mass at the ambo and they stay at the ambo until the Offertory, at which point I move from the ambo with the two candles and place them beside the altar. From the Confiteor to the Offertory, the altar has no candles. I have heard this is against Canon Law.

5. Having felt extremely awkward with my back to the tabernacle while praying, I decided to end the Bidding Prayers by turning around and bowing as reverently as possible without disrupting the infernal, unyielding, uncharitable flow of the NO "gotta be over quickly or people will lose interest" Mass. I then turned around, took the candles from the ambo, and placed one on the closer side of the altar, then crossed in front of the altar with the second candle and bowed (!!!) to the altar, and placed the second candle on the far side of the altar. The offertory progressed traditionally, with me handing the bread and wine from the credence table, next to the sacristy door, to the M.C. at the altar.

6. Apparently it is not good to bow to the tabernacle or the altar. After Mass, my dear friend and innocent childlike Franciscan (who cannot possibly get mad at anyone for any reason) told me confidentially that I should only bow to anything at one point during Mass: to the priest, after the lavabo. No genuflecting to our Lord. No bowing when you pass the altar. Don't slow things up. His reasoning was that servers must be invisible, and to do any of those things takes attention away from the Mass/action/priest and puts it on the server. I was half-convinced by this, but I'm also convinced by the argument that the altar is a consecrated figure of Christ, the tabernacle holds Christ HIMSELF, and that we must affirm this not only in the silence of our hearts but with our bodies.

No one reproved me but this server. The priest didn't say anything, but I get the impression he probably doesn't care. Ironically, we have a beautiful traditional crucifix and very orthodox sermons coming from his very mouth! I get the sense, though, that the Mass is more focused on the people being led by the priest, rather than the priest carefully approaching God. I can't understand why I'm supposed to bow to the altar when I pass it outside Mass, but during Mass I have to zip past it as if it's a picnic table. :( Ironically if they want the servers to be "invisible", shouldn't our seats be moved off to the side of the sanctuary, rather than on an equal level with the priest in the most visible area of the entire church? Shouldn't the army of EMsHC just stay seated?

I feel seriously awkward serving at so expedient a Mass, but last week I said I want to serve while they're short. It'd be uncharitable to go back on an expressed wish. This is bothersome... I don't want to be disobedient to my elder, friend, and brother, but he is seriously contradicting my entire sense of what Mass is supposed to be: an approach to the unspeakably holy sanctuary of Heaven! Given his admonitions, you'd think the servers are supposed to be butlers at a restaurant.

Sorry to go on and on, but I don't trust the Catholics of this archdiocese enough to rant at them. :) Thanks for allowing me the opportunity.
A couple questions:

Are you really surprised?

Why are you telling us what is, in essence, the expository similitude to "don't walk through a cactus garden on the way to geriatric day at the beach."? 
(11-14-2011, 08:38 PM)Heinrich Wrote: A couple questions:

Are you really surprised?

Why are you telling us what is, in essence, the expository similitude to "don't walk through a cactus garden on the way to geriatric day at the beach."? 

I'm surprised that a priest who doesn't speak nonsense at the ambo would celebrate the liturgy in so silly a fashion!

I'm telling you to let some steam off. That's all. :) Also, is there any little way to insert "traditionalisms" into the whole thing? Would such a priest allow the chairs to be moved off to the side? How can I go about asking without being chucked out? Trads have to actually try to change the situation, not sit in forums and moan.

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