What Many Priests No Longer Believe

Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. Loosely translated: “The norm of prayer governs the norm of belief; the norm of belief governs the norm of living.” Many priests nowadays (including myself) are asking, “What if there’s deficient lex in the orandi? Won’t that diminish the credendi and vivendi?”

I’ll summarize here the very many conversations I’ve had with numerous priests from across the country. These are faithful priests with a zeal for souls. Precisely because they are good shepherds, they’ve found themselves becoming increasingly bewildered and heartsick. Their pain now follows a predictable pattern. Their anguish and discouragement spikes on weekends, when they must offer Masses with their congregations. Why?

Let me offer some snapshots of the occasions for their grief, with the understanding that what I’m presenting here is a composite. It’s not a depiction of any one parish or of all parishes. To varying degrees, you may recognize in parishes you’ve seen what I’m about to describe. What’s most important is to move from the collected observations, gathered here under the heading of the fictional “Saint Typical’s,” and then onward to the proper conclusions. We’ll start with Saturday, the time of the Vigil Mass. The legal fiction behind this practice is rooted in passing reference to the ancient practice of the observance of sabbath starting at sunset. But what can this mean for people who have no practical observation of the sabbath in mind?

As many have admitted to me, Sunday has become “Get-Ready-for-Monday Day.” Wittingly or not, this view facilitates treating the Vigil Mass as the “Let’s-Just-Get-This-Over-With Mass.” Pastors in sunny climes and with many transplanted retirees tell me that their congregations demand that the Vigil Mass begin at 3:30 PM so that they can get an early start on cocktails and dinner. Sundays are reserved for golf, you see.

Sundays start with the early morning Mass, which is a variant of Saturday’s “Let’s-Just-Get-This-Over-With Mass.” Saturday evening Mass-goers (customers?) like to have music so that it “feels like a Sunday Mass.” The early Sunday morning crowd shares the “Let’s-Just-Get-This-Over-With” commitment of their Saturday counterparts, but they concede to Mass on Sunday so that it “feels like a Sunday Mass.” But these people have things to do (“That’s why we’re up early, Father!”) and so they ask for no music, or at least music kept to a minimum.

Masses throughout the rest of Sunday morning, over time, take on their own characteristics and patterns. A mid-morning Mass, I hear from many priests, often experiences the “Miraculous Multiplication of the Opening Hymn.” On this account, the congregation doubles in size from the starting notes of the hymn to its final verse. At these Masses, people are not actually late — but they’re not on time and they’re certainly not early. Assuredly, they’re not starting Mass composed, recollected, and prepared for contemplation or any form of “full, active and conscious participation” which we have long been assured constitute the indispensable and sufficient measure of all worship.

Later morning Masses are known among parish priests as the “Sleep-In-But-Not-Really Mass.” Attendees of these Masses are not early risers, but they also don’t plan to sleep in all day. After all, these people have things to do — Monday’s almost here! But they do want to sleep in, at least a little, so they come to the later morning Masses. At these Masses, the size of the congregation may grow as much as 80% between the last verse of the opening hymn and the end of the homily. Some folks try to be discreet about their tardy arrival, sneaking into the “Cry Room” off to the side, even though they have no small children with them. Perhaps they think that Father goes blind when he’s in the sanctuary and doesn’t notice that the Cry Room has become the venue for late arrivals and early departures? (Maybe these folks don’t know enough Latin to know what versus populum means?)

The early afternoon Mass, parish priests tell me, is for the “Other-Language Mass.” Most often this is Spanish, but, depending on the location, the language could be, say, Creole, Vietnamese, or Chinese. These Masses tend to be very well attended, compared with the English Masses. Per capita, however, the collections tend to be lower than average, thereby precluding the Other-Language Mass from being moved to a “prime” slot.

Then there’s the Sunday evening Mass, also known as the “Last-Chance Mass” or the “Oh-Look-at-the-Time! Where-Did-the-Day-Go? Mass,” usually offered at 5:30 or 7 PM. On college campuses, these Masses are variously known as the “Hangover Mass” or the “Sleeping-It-Off-All-Day Mass.” These Masses could begin as late as 9:30 or even 11 PM.

Based upon the “war stories” I’ve collected, I can assemble a synthetic yet accurate account of what my long-suffering brother priests have been experiencing every weekend for years. Father gets vested in the sacristy and heads towards the front vestibule, waiting for the first notes of the opening hymn. Very few people are in the pews, preparing to pray and worship. Instead, there is a stream of people rushing in to take a seat at the last possible moment, looking like high school kids trying to avoid being marked late for algebra class.

Watching the people come in, Father’s heart begins to sink. He sees people of all ages walking from the parking lot to the church, manically swiping on their phones as they get to the front door. Do they think (or, more likely, feel) that they need one last hit of dopamine in order to get through the Mass? “Did they turn off their phones before they got to the pew?” he wonders. He expects (rightly) that before Mass ends, he will know who did not.

Father wonders whether and how to raise the thorny problem of how people dress at Mass. He winces as he remembers all the straw man objections he was pelted with the last time he tried to address the issue. His wince tightens to a grimace as he recalls that his replies to the objections were met with sullen silence. A sampling:

Obj. 1: The Mass isn’t a fashion show, Father!

ad 1: Correct. It is not a fashion show, but it is a character show. Our principles, values and priorities can be revealed by the outward signs we give to convey our reverence for God and consideration towards our neighbor by the way we dress at Mass. Coming to Mass in a way that says to God, “I can do better, but prefer to give you merely this — on my terms alone” gives God the offering of Cain and not the sacrifice of Abel. At the same time, dressing in a manner that is neither distracting nor scandalous, but instead indicates a sense of occasion, is an opportunity for charity and edification on behalf of neighbor, as well as a visible acknowledgment of the presence of the divine.

Obj. 2: What? Are you saying that you want to go back to the bad old days when Sister Mary Exactica stood outside of the church with a ruler, measuring necklines and hemlines?

ad 2: If those times ever existed, I did not live through them; I doubt that anyone younger than me did either. And, if Sister Mary Exactica really did exist, she is almost certainly dead and begot no posterity. In any case, surely there must be some standards that we can all agree upon. How about this? “At the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, it benefits no one to know the color of the gemstone in your navel.” Could we at least agree on that?

Obj 3: You can’t have a rule for everything, Father!

ad 3: No, you can’t have a rule for everything — and I wouldn’t want to. In better times perhaps we could count on the virtue of prudence to guide the members of the congregation. Chesterton said, in effect, “If you don’t have a few big rules, you’re going to need a lot of little ones.” Based on the observations I’ve gathered from priests nationwide, could we at least agree to the following stipulations?

  • No adult should come to Mass wearing a SpongeBob SquarePants t-shirt.
  • No one at any age should come to Mass wearing a t-shirt celebrating the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, or Black Sabbath.
  • No one at any age (but especially an adult) should come to Mass wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with: GIVE ‘EM THE FINGER!
  • No one, having attained the age of reason, should come to Mass wearing costume rabbit ears on his head.
  • Regarding footwear: If alternatives to flip-flops or shoes common to pole dancers are available, these are to be preferred.

Could we at least agree on these? And if not, why not?

Father notices various patterns of order and posture as families enter the church. Older couples enter at the same time, usually with the man opening the door for his wife. Families with small kids enter in bunches, in a constantly shifting swirl of parental effort to maintain physical and visual contact with each child.

Families with teens are especially interesting. The families with the most reluctant and sullen teens are almost always without a father. Depending on the weather, the teen boy will don gym shorts and flip-flops or faded jeans and bright sneakers. These are most often topped with a Marvel comics or sportsball t-shirt. The posture is always the same — head down, hair uncombed, hands stuffed in pockets.

The teen girl enters the church with a look of smoldering exasperation and resentment. She’ll be wearing faded and shredded jeans or brightly colored yoga pants. Unlike her brother, she will give considerable attention to her hair. The more sophisticated girl will arrange her hair to hide the ear buds she placed in her ears behind her mother’s back just before entering the church. This arrangement blocks out ambient noise so well that she doesn’t hear Father speak about her earbuds during the homily.

Although not as effective as earbuds, our young teen can make use of her hair alone to preserve herself from the intrusion of the Mass, or at least the homily. Father notices that the young teen (whose mother always places her in the third row, in direct line of the pulpit, for some reason) begins examining her hair for split ends just as he begins to preach. So all-consuming does she find this endeavor that she does not hear him speak from the pulpit referring to teen congregants who are more inclined to play with their hair rather than listen to the Word of God. Sometimes, Mom makes the connection and starts elbowing the young lady while pointing towards the pulpit. More often, Mom just sits there, vacant and glassy-eyed, as oblivious to her surroundings as her daughter is. In that case, Father can reliably expect both mother and daughter to extend just one hand to receive Holy Communion. Both are equally impassive and uncomprehending when told, “Use both hands, please.”

Eventually, the bells begin to chime. Mass is about to begin. Cue the music! People with true expertise have already written more and better than I ever could about music at Mass. Here I will restrict myself to a few observations.

Parish Masses seem oriented towards a “customer-satisfaction” model. A few unstated principles seem to be at work, leading to a way of proceeding, which, if it were ever to be articulated, might run like this:

  1. You can’t please everyone.
  2. You should try to please as many people as possible, if for no other reason than to avoid complaints — and few goods are of greater value than avoiding customer complaints.
  3. With liturgical music, the best way to please as many people as possible is to offer “something for everyone.” If the parish has only one Mass, don’t be surprised if the music is played at various times by organ, piano, and guitar, even within the same Mass. If the parish has multiple Masses on a weekend, then various Masses might respectively become known for featuring one instrument to the near-exclusion of all others.
  4. No Mass should have “too much” music of any one kind — especially if that music tends towards “the traditional,” doubly so if the mode of music is chant or if the lyrics are in Latin. A Mass might have a fine organist and schola. These could begin the Mass with the proper antiphon chanted in Latin. But the Latin and the chant must be “balanced” (that is, “paid for”) by a vernacular penitential rite, Gloria, and Creed. The Sanctus and the Agnus Dei might be chanted in Latin, but these must be paid for by a vernacular rendition of the Lord’s Prayer, followed by an especially gustatory arrangement of “Table of Plenty” as a Communion hymn.

If there are enough Masses at the parish, the “something for everyone” paradigm can take a variety of forms. A guitarist might be confident that the congregation needs to believe in the Real Presence . . . of his guitar. Consequently, he strums his guitar with an intensity that could merit the admiration of Kirk Lee Hammett (lead guitarist of Metallica).

Tempered by the maxim, “not too much” of any one thing, the guitarist might “accompany” the organist in generating a unique version of the Gloria. The result is a kind of liturgical mash up, mixing elements of “Dueling Banjos” with “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better.” There’s less of a clash of wills and skills if the “something for everyone” paradigm takes form at a Mass with both organ and piano. Both are keyboard instruments, so that helps; often the same musician plays both, so we’re less likely to have clashing symbols.

Even so, the “diversity is our strength” axiom can be found in this hybrid form of the “something for everyone” paradigm. The first half of a hybrid Mass may have organ music that is dignified — religious even, if not quite sacred. The second half of the Mass is given over to piano music, all seemingly drawn from the same source: “Mass — the Effeminate High School Musical.” The songs (not hymns) are of the “Jesus-Is-My-Girlfriend” variety, with lyrics not unlike these:

Oh, oh, Jesus!


What would I do

Without YOO-HOO-HOO?

Throughout, Father notices little congregational singing, and, in his weaker moments, wonders whether there is any congregational praying either. Regardless of the style, paradigm, quality of music or abilities of musicians/singers at any given Mass, Father knows that all parish Masses have one thing in common. The congregation takes the recessional hymn as the musical cue that, “This thing is over with — let’s get outta here!” A non-trivial percentage of the congregation stampedes the exits at the first notes of the final hymn. They move with a sense of purpose and urgency that they did not evidence when they entered the church.

Father wonders, “Where are they going in such a hurry? How much time are they saving by not waiting out the hymn? Why do they continue to leave early even when I’ve repeatedly implored them from the pulpit not to? Maybe they’re all late for kidney dialysis? Unlikely. Are they all surgeons rushing off to save lives? Also unlikely. Are they all undercover law enforcement summoned to an emergent life-and-death situation? Doubtful, and surely not every week. Maybe I should ask them next time to take a moment to let me know where they are going and why? If they are facing regularly-scheduled crises, wouldn’t they want me to know so that I could pray for them?”

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s focus first on two elements of the typical parish weekend Masses. One I will treat briefly. The other I will treat in more detail because it is a great source of heartache for priests.

A significant problem area for typical parish Masses is silence. Most if not all congregations using the Novus Ordo rites have no idea that silence is called for in the authorized liturgical texts. (A search for the word “silence” in the latest edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal yields 22 instances — but to no avail.) In contrast, the rites of the Usus Antiquior seamlessly integrate silence, rather than treating it as an awkward disruption or a gratuitous and quite-dispensable option, but that is another story for another time.

Many great scholars have written about the vital role of silence in Catholic worship. I need not recapitulate their good work here. Rather I will summarize here the enforced absence of silence, or, perhaps better said, the program of non-silence typical of parish settings. Likewise, I will note the confused panic that ensues when silence is somehow wedged into the proceedings.

I’ve worked in radio for years and know that for broadcasters the unforgiveable sin is silence, also known as “dead air.” Many priests tell me that their experience of parish Masses, in terms of silence, is like broadcast radio. There must be either talking or music at all times, and there must not be silence. Even silence that is obviously fitting and explicitly called for in the rites receives an anxious and spasmodic response, as if someone in the junior high drama club missed his cue and failed to speak his line onstage.

Father says, “Brethren, to prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries, let us first call to mind our sins.” Now, get this — the priest then actually puts his head down and closes his eyes, and intends to call to mind his sins, just as he asked everyone else to do. Can you believe it? The deacon at Father’s right surely can’t believe it, for as soon as the priest falls silent, the deacon blurts: “YOU WERE SENT TO HEAL THE CONTRITE — LORD HAVE MERCY!”

After Mass, when Father explains to the deacon that he actually wants time (and silence) to do what the rite calls him and everyone else to do, something that just a moment before he’d asked everyone to join him in doing — the deacon seems mystified. He’s never heard of such a thing; he didn’t know that such a thing was possible. And he struggles to articulate his concern that taking time in silence might detract from the momentum of keeping things moving.

Other enforcers of the anti-silence come from two different sources, with two very different modes of operation, but contributing to the same net effect, namely, that at Mass one must expect and accept constant sound and one must not ever expect or desire silence. The greatest enforcer of the anti-silence is the parish Masses’ Army of Occupation, namely, the musicians. At most parish Masses, you can be sure that if no one is speaking, then a musician is thrumming an instrument, or a cantor is working the microphone.

Whereas a deacon responds to silence with an involuntary reflex to insert words immediately, priests nationwide tell me that parish musicians reject and resist silence as a matter of principle. Apparently, they see it as both a spiritual and a corporal work of mercy to “protect” congregations from any experience of silence.

The third force against silence are the parishioners’ cell phones. Whereas the musicians are the Army of Occupation against silence, cell phones are the irregular militia, the guerilla snipers enforcing the anti-silence. Unpredictable, erratic, yet capable of destruction out of all proportion to their numbers, cell phones are the great morale-crushers of those priests who wish for a decorous silence at Mass. And like guerilla warriors in armed conflict, the cell phone partisans are nearly impossible to eliminate.

Warning signs at each entry to the parish church, impassioned entreaties before Mass, homiletic exhortations, weekly reminders in the parish bulletin — all these are for naught. Even the brief silence of a pregnant pause during a homily is not safe from the anti-silence guerilla warfare of the cell phones.

Consider this: the deacon reflexively rather than deliberately steps on (and over) Father’s call for silence, but he does so with a sense of necessity and inevitability. The musicians take a principled (albeit erroneous) stand against silence. And the cell phone guerillas? Do they not care that an entire homily can be derailed by the jaunty little tune chirping from a phone? Are they unmoved when they see that Father has been interrupted so many times in so brief a span that he loses his place in the Eucharistic prayer and has to start over? I won’t say that they don’t care because I don’t know that. Experience shows that Father may and should reasonably infer that the cell phone guerillas do not think — which is indicative of a larger problem.

What if people did think beforehand about what is done at Mass and why it is done? What if people prepared for each Mass with prayer and study? What if they arranged their lives so that they could arrive at Mass early and stay late? Isn’t it more likely that such people would silence their phones before entering church? Isn’t it more likely that thoughtful people rather than thoughtless ones actually have the Faith and will therefore act accordingly?

Now let’s turn to the element of Mass that causes the greatest heartache for so many priests each weekend, namely, the way that people receive Holy Communion. Again, the literature on this topic is quite extensive. Even a cursory survey would be impossible. Instead, I will ask you to put yourself in Father’s place. Imagine that it’s Friday. The weekend is finally here! Time to celebrate! But not so for Father. Friday means that he must ready himself for another round of weekend Masses at Saint Typical’s. As he steels himself for the weekend, he recalls what he saw last week:

  1. The young man who put out just one hand to receive Holy Communion — because he held a 7-11 Big Gulp in the other.
  2. The gentleman who dropped a Host on the floor and, without missing a beat, said, “Oops! Can I get another one?”
  3. The smiling woman Father had never met before, who sticks out one hand to receive Holy Communion, while with the other hand she thrusts a pyx under his nose, saying, “I’ll take four please — it’s for my ministry!”
  4. And Father knows that after every Mass, he will have to get down on his hands and knees to look for consecrated Hosts under the pews and stuck between the pages of hymnals.

Despite every effort he has made, congregants give Father no reason to believe that this week will be better than last week.

Tying together the strands I’ve laid out here, I see that what many priests no longer believe is that most of their congregations have the Faith. Of the minor and diminishing percentage of the baptized who still come to Mass regularly, only the smallest sliver come to confession even once a year. Fewer still avail themselves of frequent confessions. How can the Faith grow in such soil?

Arriving late, leaving early, eschewing silence, indifferent or resistant to the Church’s musical treasures, dressed for the beach or the gym, thoughtless about silencing phones, receiving Holy Communion with the most casual indifference — this is how my brother priests describe the great majority of their congregants. Yes, these people do show up. Yes, they do drop an envelope in the basket. And there is surely a drive to get one’s Liturgical Participation Trophy before racing toward the exit. But this is not the Faith prayed, believed, and lived. What priests see instead is a lifeless routine unworthy of God and man, seemingly impervious to correction. Demographically and financially, this simulacrum of Catholic worship cannot be sustained. It has no future because it does not hand on the Faith, and therefore it deserves to have no future. We will make no progress unless we admit these painful truths.

Mark Twain once said, “Everyone complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” Rather than just complaining at the Masses at Saint Typical’s, can I offer any hopeful and helpful alternatives? Yes.

Let’s start with an awkward admission: The Masses at Saint Typical’s have been on autopilot for a very long time. No one is really in charge; no one thinks about what’s done there or why. Things just happen, and as long as the collection is taken up, Holy Communion is distributed, and it doesn’t take too long, no one really thinks about how Mass is conducted and how it ought to be conducted.

A few illustrations:

  • The lector removes the Lectionary from the stand so that the deacon can place the Book of the Gospels there — even when there is no Book of the Gospels and no deacon.
  • During Covid restrictions, when congregations in some states couldn’t exceed 40 persons, even though a priest and deacon were present, the parish secretary scheduled two Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. In effect, 10% of the people present would be distributing Holy Communion.
  • After encountering hostility to silence, Father downloads the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, and does a search for the word “silence.” He gets 22 hits. Showing the text to his staff they say, “But if we do it that way, we’d have to change everything!”

None of the horrors I described in this essay are actually called for by the GIRM. In each case, thoughtless practices crept in and sank roots. They persist because just about everyone at Saint Typical’s has allowed the Mass to be reduced to a thoughtless routine. When no one teaches the truth, no one learns the truth; when no one teaches right action, no one acts rightly.

At the outset, I spoke of Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. The only way forward that I can see is to restore the lex to the orandi. While it’s laudable that some stalwarts still come to Mass, letting them sleepwalk through the “Autopilot Ordo” I’ve described above doesn’t serve them well. Pastors can start with a close reading of the GIRM, followed by a profound examination of conscience. Then they need to walk their staff through the What, the How, and above all, the Why of the Mass. Faithful liturgy can’t be seen as one of Father’s “quirks.” Obedience to liturgical norms is not simply an “option.” Pastors will have to undergo conversion in order to lead others to conversion. Congregations need to be reformed, informed, and formed. This is going to take time, and lots of repetition. Souls are at stake, and the honor of God demands that we do this.

Meanwhile, please pray for these good priests I know, and others like them. They love Christ and have a zeal for souls. Sometimes their grief and discouragement threaten to drown them. Please pray too that they may find a faithful remnant who hunger to know, love and serve Christ, Who gives Himself in the Gospel and the sacraments.

Fr. Robert McTeigue About Fr. Robert McTeigue

Fr. Robert McTeigue, S.J., formerly a professor of philosophy and theology, is a broadcaster and author. He is host & producer of “The Catholic Current” via The Station of the Cross Media Network. His most recent book, Christendom Lost and Found: Meditations for a Post-Post Christian Era, is from Ignatius Press. His broadcast and written work can be found at heraldofthegospel.org.


  1. Avatar Delena Rhodes says:

    You are so right, Fr. McTeigue. For some time I have found that Mass is fast forwarded. I like to take my time to have a little talk with Jesus. At communion I do not quickly sit back in the pew. I remain on my knees letting Jesus bend down, loving me, forgiving me, cleansing me and teaching me. One time I even felt the warmth and weight of His arm on my shoulder. I love you, Jesus. Stay with me. Amen.

  2. Avatar Mark J. Vogel says:

    I appreciated Fr. McTeigue’s article and must candidly admit that I am guilty of some of the abuses that he notes. I was raised better (I am 75) and, in the past, I would never have dressed in jeans or have chosen the 5:00 PM Saturday Mass simply to “get it over with.” Nor would my parents have let me do so. Unfortunately, many parents today do not seem to care about these things. Moreover, I must also note that many priests today do not share Fr. McTeigue’s views. Rather, there is a “go along, get along” mentality that seems to pervade our Eucharistic celebrations. The tyranny of the music ministry is a clear example. Our music minister who is Jewish, never has our cantors sing the Psalms during the liturgy of the Word, and much of the music performance approach is geared to presenting the Mass as “entertainment.” I could say much more, but this is already too long. Much of the harm in my view is due to the “I’m OK, you’re OK” philosophy, and the almost complete absence of explication of sin on the one hand, and of the need for holiness on the other.

    • Avatar Harvey B says:

      I agree with most of your comment, Mark, except that the Psalms are actually meant to be sung (in a non-showy, reverential way). To have the Psalm be spoken is to somewhat downplay the original liturgical form of that part of the Mass.

  3. Avatar Walter Forney says:

    I was a Minor Seminary dropout. I was in the Navy and the Catholic Lay Leader on several Submarines. The USS Rickover in 1984 was the first Sub to have a Mass celebrated on board underway, submerged. Attendance was not great but men came.
    The Priest that I met in the Navy was not after numbers, attention, mindset or any other thing that may keep a person from perfect attendance. They were after feeding the soul God’s food.
    Since I have been retired, I have attended Mass in many places. The Priest I thought and think celebrate Mass correctly, are the ones who take the time to do the Mass in a sacred way. My present pastor seems to worry about people who attend Mass. Did Jesus question why the 5000 or 4000 were there. Not that I read in the Bible. He just fed them.
    In my life ministries especially in jail and prison, I can get judge mental. But I hear in my heart to be quiet and do what I came to do. Listen, Love and do what he wants me to do. God will do the rest.
    What happen to Vatican II? Ordain men are only men, called to do a certain part of the ministry. The Church is all the people that believe in Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Invite them to help correct perceived problems.

  4. Avatar P Thomas McGuire says:

    I have experienced everything you wrote about in Catholic Churches all over the U.S. What I find missing in Catholic liturgy is ars celebrandi, which — ” does not consist only in the perfect execution of the rites according to the books, but also and above all in the spirit of faith and adoration with which these are celebrated”. The norms are an absolute necessity, but priests who are extremely strict in following the norms, do not reflect ars celebrandi. Others who follow the norms closely, can and do engage the people of God in celebration of Eucharist. For example, even though people in the parish have not received instruction on the importance of silence. A priest in the parish, in his celebration of Eucharist, has moved the people, even children, to moments of deep silence, prayerful silence. For me, these were extraordinary moments of the experience of God’s presence.

  5. God bless you, Father.

    This is a deeper subject than any “here’s the solution” response – on this online venue – could actually tackle. I’ve gone over to the Byzantines, which would be similar to going to an ancient Orthodox Church, “ancient” in that they haven’t felt the pressing “need” to “fix” a non broken liturgy, allowing for the mess that you’ve just described. To those reading this: put away strawman, knee jerk responses about returning to the bad old days, when x, y, and z were the rule. Fact is, Americans and Westerners generally were – or they felt – SO restricted in the Old Rite, or its millieu, which is now so against their individualistic bent, that they (actually their hierarchs, much to “their” approval) threw out the baby with the bath water, the baby being the beauty, tranquility, patrimonial inheritance, seriousness, and sense of Sacrifice, a re-inactment of Calvary and the congregant being at the foot of the cross vs. a Protestant-ized view of every Mass being a “celebration.” Offertory.vs. “Table service” A sung Mass Propers Introit vs.”Gathering Song.” Modern man reaps what he has sown. Problem is most of the congregants are too young, and thus don’t have a real comparative experience, to know the difference or what has been lost. And YES, Father, spot on: lex orandi, lex credendi, AND lex vivendi. I’d say you’re correct, tough love is in order. This is a luke warm, squishy quagmire, and nobody – or very few – really LOVES this version of Church.

  6. Avatar Marsanne Reid says:

    You have made me more grateful than I already was for our wonderful masses at Ave Maria. They are almost the opposite of everything you wrote above. And it has gotten even better, especially since our new pastor came. I wish you had never left. Your homilies were compelling!

  7. I hope it’s not considered “needlessly combative and inflammatory” for me to say that these problems are seldom or never apparent at a celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. At the only parish allowed now in our city to celebrate the TLM, people arrive early at Sunday Mass–because the church fills up quickly–and are almost all appropriately dressed (almost all the women wear veils); even with a sung Mass there are many long periods of silence. The teenagers I see there, including several young men in the sanctuary serving at Mass, seem willing and happy to be there, but it is true that the many of the families attending have younger children and/or babes in arms. I know the Novus Ordo can be celebrated with all the reverence and devotion Father wants, but they seem built-in to the TLM.

  8. Mindless robots going through the motions. “Faith”? Laughable. One anecdote. “Peter, Paul and Mary, (who fancy themselves as local folk music icons) having entertained the pre mass early arrivals with atheist Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” during first Sunday in Lent, had to be stopped in mid verse of the Gloria by the priest for obvious reasons. You just can’t get it through their thick skulls.

  9. Avatar Gary Sarsok says:

    This is not a problem at our Parish. But then it is a traditional Tridentine parish in northern Chicagoland

  10. I speak with the greatest respect to the writer and offer just two reflections of my own. You cannot judge by outward appearance, the single mother with her teenage children most likely made a monumental effort to bring them to Mass. Secondly, as someone writing from Ireland, where the churches remained closed for almost two years, it is very difficult to accept that something so important was suddenly deemed nonessential at the behest of secular government.

  11. Avatar Nancy Proctor says:

    May Our Lord bless and strengthen you, Father. This essay is one of the most heartbreaking I’ve ever read. If you have an opportunity, visit a Latin Mass (while they still exist). You may find the tone refreshing. At our Latin Mass, the confession line forms 45 minutes before Mass begins and usually continues until the dismissal 2 1/2 hours later. Parishioners steadily fill the pews, beginning with the end of the previous English Mass, joining the “between the Masses” Rosary or kneeling to quietly pray. Most men are in suits; most women are veiled. Nearly everyone assists by following the prayers in the the missal. The homily receives rapt attention. The Holy Eucharist is received kneeling and on the tongue. After closing prayers, worshippers linger to offer Thanksgiving.
    Truly: Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.
    May Mary the Mother of Priests hold you close. Your devotion is surely known in Heaven.

  12. Avatar David Schmitt says:

    While I can empathize and have certainly fallen into this same sinful disdain of the congregation, these priests in despair must recognize that they are the leaders of their parish. The Church desperately needs her priests to take on the mantle of leadership and lead the congregation to renewal. A long look in the mirror is needed, acknowledging their responsibility to lead their parishioners, and any change begins and ends with them. No doubt this is a tall order; effective leadership is difficult and can be emotionally draining, and it’s my experience that few priests have been trained in effective leadership. But the path out of despair begins in part with actively seeking to improve their practical leadership ability. It requires intentional planning and action, developed through introspection, practice, and the discipline to endure the discomfort of working out of one’s comfort zone. I also hope and pray that they regularly take their despair to the confessional, because the sinful attitudes reflected here, though understandable, must be expunged and replaced with love.

    “Discipline your children, and they will bring you comfort,
    and give delight to your soul.
    Without a vision the people lose restraint;
    but happy is the one who follows instruction.”

    — Proverbs 29:17-18

  13. Avatar Christi Edwards says:

    I subtitled your article “What I learned by attending the TLM the last 3 years.” The priest did give occasional reminders about how he was required to give Holy Communion on the tongue only, but most of my context clues on right worship came unspokenly from the lay community: come early to prepare for Mass, dress modestly, slightly bow towards the priest as he proceeds out, prayer of thanksgiving after Mass (I never knew that was a thing), quietly leave the nave. High or low Mass, with music or without, my soul is at rest there.

  14. when you start saying the traditional Latin Mass a lot of the problems will go away. But these are the fruits of V2

  15. Avatar Jay Dunlap says:

    I fear Fr. M is a very sad man.

  16. Avatar Mary Schneider says:

    Wow, great article. In our big suburban parish, the organist dominates the Mass by singing loudly and at every opportunity that presents itself. She usually picks more modern hymns instead of more traditional ones. She sings before Mass and throughout the distribution of Communion, which makes it hard to pray at those times. But the congregation contributes its own failings to making the Mass less reverent. Many adults and children children dress too casually, arrive late, and leave right after receiving Communion. Some parents allow their small or not so small children to eat or play in the pews. The vigil Mass is less reverent than the Sunday morning Masses. We have a Sunday Mass at 5:00 but I haven’t worked up the courage to go because it features Christian rock music.

  17. From a fellow priest…. You are so on target.
    Thanks for spelling it out.

    Would love to converse with you Fr. Robert if you ever had the occasion.
    Kind regards and have a blessed Holy week.

    Fr. Lance

  18. This experience at the typical Novus Ordo parish is why my husband and I now attend the Traditional Latin Mass. However, it must be noted that often these practices have been instilled into the congregation by the clergy themselves. Some of the liberties taken with the Liturgy by priests have been scandalous. If Father is casual about the Mass, doesn’t it follow that his flock will also become casual? This has been going on for decades now and we are at the point where most Catholics don’t know proper behavior for Mass because they’ve never experienced it.

  19. This past year the priest in my parish told me that my Eucharistic devotion and praying the Divine Office daily before Him is “weird” and “disturbing.” He lied about me to other parishioners, and even the police in an effort to try and shoo me away. As a result of this behaviour, I have lost my faith and trust in the priesthood altogether. I no longer care what any of them think. Too many hirelings in the fold.

  20. Avatar Gary Castro says:

    Everything you describe is why I only want to attend the TLM. The demeanor at most parishes is way too casual and horizontal with any emphasis on the community instead of worship of the Almighty Triune God. It’s not even a personal encounter as at the Last Supper, let alone the Unbloody Sacrifice of Calvary. No silence before Mass

    The Saturday “vigil” always kind of felt like ‘cheating’ the Sunday obligation to me and how it’s distorted the conception of the Vigil in the Latin Rite being a penitential preparation the day before the greatest feasts. Where once Catholics fasted and solemnly prepared for the Nativity, Epiphany, Pentecost, etc now they’re ordinary days without any forethought in the reformed rites and the faithful definitely treat them as such.

    The worst part is the entire reformed liturgy seems to be severing larger relationships in the parishes, most notably with segmentation around language (Spanish vs English) and wildly different musical approaches. Latin and observation of the propers would go a long way to helping alleviate that, with the Latin options in the 2011 Missal for the Gloria, penitential rite, Our Father and Agnus Dei. Allowing the Ordinary of the Mass to be in Latin would be advisable, as well since regular Mass goers could learn Dominus Vobiscum / Et cum spiritui tuo, sursum corda, and even the suscipiat within a few Masses. The faithful learning to sing and say their parts of the Ordinary in Latin is mentioned explicitly in Sacrosanctum Concilium 54 as a desirable end goal.

  21. Avatar Susan Sherwin says:

    There’s no silence before my TLM either. Forced to say rosary and a bunch of prayers someone else thinks we should say, rather than prepare for HOLY SACRIFICE OF MASS.

    • Avatar David Brandt says:

      The loud, droning rosary + extra helpings of more loud prayers before Mass is the hallmark of the isolated TLM-fortress parish. On the one hand, we travel an hour or two or three and don’t see our fellow parishioners during the week, so let’s all pray loudly together for 45 minutes before Mass!

      On the other hand, after getting your van full of kids to the parish after a two or three hour feed/dress/load/drive ordeal, *why would anyone want ten or fifteen minutes of recollected silence before the tabernacle in order to settle and prepare his heart and soul for the sacred liturgy*?

      We arrive early, wife and kids go inside, I sit quietly in the car until about five minutes before Mass.

      It would be lovely to have ten whole minutes of Nobody Needing To Fill That Awkward Silence With Extra Rosary Prayers Before Mass especially at a TLM.

  22. Yep. Saw all this when I converted to Catholicism 30 years ago. When I received my call to the priesthood I knew there was no way I could be a diocesan priest in a parish. I’d never make it. For example, If a tabernacle at my new parish assignment wasn’t in the sanctuary, I’d move it myself. If the bishop or some lame diocesan committee told me to move it back, I wouldn’t. So, yeah, I’d last a week in a parish. Priests who can do it are heroes to me. And I know many of them. Good men, but greatly suffering. I’m actually working on a book that deals with many of these issues. I’m all about a Eucharistic Revival, but if we don’t return to reverence, silence, and put the tabernacles back in the sanctuary, the so-called Eucharistic Revival is all talk and will have very little lasting fruit.

    • Avatar RippleEffect says:

      Right on, right on, RIGHT ON Fr Calloway! We have a young ex-military priest who says both TLM and NOMass. He made the parish more traditional and some people left, but MANY people came! And another thing I don’t think was mentioned, we him Father Last -Name, not Father Joe. He’s not our friend, he is more than that, he is a dependable father.

  23. Avatar Russell says:

    I go to the vigil Mass because it is quiet. There is no band in the Sanctuary. I’m not the only oddball kneeling for Communion on the tongue. Confession is offered for two hours beforehand. There are usually enough consecrated hands to feed me. I must admit, now that my children are teens and have left the Church as most do, I do enjoy sleeping in and not mailing in my Sunday obligation.

  24. Avatar charles weiser says:

    I find the attitudes of the priests portrayed here unfortunate and unhelpful”. many of the issues raised are simply common behaviors in our culture and even one of the basic realities of human development- the the tendency of adolescents to be annoying. if these priests do indeed nourish these attitudes , we know that they will likely be picked up by those present. these priests would be projecting disappointment with their people. this will lead to resentment and resistance on the part of members of the congregation. the priest makes his work as a leader tougher and with some impossible.
    the characterization of mass attenders is superficial and sloppy. one finds out what parishioners attitudes are by speaking with them. sometimes one’s prejudice will be confirmed. more often ,not.

    there is an asceticism which comes with the role of pastor. part of this is testing of one’s own thinking. another is making opportunities to listen patiently and often to parishioners , seeking to draw out what their experience of praying at mass is. they are usually at a loss to get started. no one has given them the language to do this.

    I can identify with these unhelpful and not really very accurate indeed rash judgements from very early in the ministry. the congregation of astute adults and very savvy college students were indeed picking it up and confronted me mostly in a gentle way. what turned things around for me was no great insight but a change in schedule. I took Mondays off. So on Sunday I was tired and cranky. I worked to free up my time from after lunch Thursday till Saturday lunch. Well rested and relaxed I welcomed the weekend schedule and my thinking became clearer and mood brighter.

    I worked at learning what were the obstacles congregants faced within themselves and in their environment to attending Mass. I respected their effort to come.

    we priests need to remember that for decades the catholic people have been complaining about our preaching .that situation has not changed. that is on us. that is our job. we can not change human nature and changing fashions, we can change the quality of preaching. we are not in the position to throw stones at those who regularly come to church

  25. Father, you’re too generous when you refer to a cell interruption as a “jaunty little tune chirping from a phone”.

    When occurring during Mass, I’ve always referred to it as “polyphonic flatulence”.

  26. Avatar Kathryn Kirby says:

    I wonder if identifying the several in the parish who DO come earlier to prepare and pray or stay after Mass for thanksgiving and then inviting them to specifically pray before Our Lord in the Eucharist and fast for a revival of faith in Our Lord in the Eucharist would lead to change. The pastor could expose Our Lord at regular times for them- and his staff and musicians. Those faithful few are likely as heartsick as the pastor and love the parish enough to have stuck around and persevered. Their offerings might be particular efficacious. Christ started with a small group. It seems too simple but then so was Naaman’s seven plunges into the Jordan, or St Peter lowering his nets.

  27. Avatar Lucas Boddicker says:

    It seems like a fair compromise for the Church would be to at least allow us to do the Traditional Latin Mass for the Saturday Vigil. Please, pretty please.

  28. Avatar Zippy I-O says:

    For the gift and blessing of all of our fine, faithful Priests…May the most precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ save us and the whole world.
    We are promised Satan will not overcome the Church of Jesus Christ and in this is hope, and
    faith necessary to carry us through this time of darkness where NOTHING IS SEEMINGLY
    SACRED. Praying for all of our Holy Faithful Priests…Especially, THOSE CANCELLED FOR PRACTICING FAITHFULLY, THE FAITH LEADING SOULS TO OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. For all of the discouraged Priests suffering through the thoughtlessness, lack of manners and self-respect as well as irreverence of many towards Mass…Hang-In There. It could be worse…Thank God for the COVERING OF THE PROTECTION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ALLOWING YOU TO CONTINUE ON IN PRACTICE OF YOUR VOCATION.

  29. Avatar Fred Galvez says:

    This is an interesting article and I comment on it from my personal background I’m 76 years old now and have had a wealth of experience within my Catholic faith practice beginning in the 1950s as a Latin altar boy then through the second Vatican Council years, and became a Eucharistic Minister CCD teacher Lector and parish council president in the seventies went through the charismatic renewal Cursillo and many Marian apparitions in the seventies and eighties , and became active in apologetics and evangelization continuing with all of the above through to this current day. I occasionally attend tridentine masses and enjoy the sacredness all and mystery of that Rite but find I prefer the novus ordo due to its open inviting spirit and it’s being more easily understood by the Buddhist Hindus New Agers and atheists I occasionally introduce to Catholicism there. I also find the Ad orientum Rite more available and understandable for newbies. I have seen that many seekers are attracted to various Protestant denominations because of its conviviality it’s friendliness and open inviting Come As You are – no prerequisites required worship format mostly simply emphasizing the Bible and scripture alone.. sidestepping some bewildering ( to the uninitiated ) Catholic practices – vestments incense, candles, hats genuflections, latin, novenas, rosaries, litanies, prayers to Mary and the Saints , Etc.. all of which are good but can be distracting and tangential to the essence of the gospel and the Eucharist . Catholicism and our Catholic Mass would be more successful in spreading the good news if it reflected such an inviting simple spirit within its services. I believe the grace received from the mass is more determined by the condition of the heart and attitude set by the attendee then by the Rite of the mass being heard. May all Christians join Jesus in his prayer that we all become one so that the world will come to believe +

  30. Avatar ginny kearney allen says:

    WOW !!! FANTASTIC !!!

  31. Avatar Brad Wintzell says:

    I have been part of a Christian music group on and off for over 40 years, writing songs and performing traditional songs with the hope of keeping the younger congregation coming to church. We were recently asked to stand down to allow the parish to return to the traditional mass. We were all saddened to know after all the years to be set aside. I for one may never darken a physical church again I find TV mass to be very fulfilling.
    I may never write another Christian song again all the while our group sill gets together once a week to “Sing Praise To The Lord”.
    I am 72 yrs old and while my generation may find the TLM the Real Mass… I’m not to sure about the new generation….

  32. Avatar James Stagg says:

    “View From the Pew”

    The word for today is “reverence”, defined as “deep respect, high esteem”.

    Many, many moons ago, there used to be a few sheets of note paper in the book slot of each pew, with the heading “View from the Pew”. One could make complimentary and not-so-complimentary remarks and deposit the note somewhere in the church, where, presumably, it was retrieved and read. I think we could use this anonymous feature today.

    When you get as old as I, it is sometimes easy to get riled up over idiocies and aberrations observed at church, especially during the Mass. “View from the Pew” notes would allow some comment, but would hardly meet the need, in my estimation.

    I am noted for a lack of patience and my arrogance level is usually quite high. So God (once again) tested me at a recent Mass I attended on Corpus Christi.

    Since I had attended this parish before, I was well prepared for the limpid acoustics, the “responsorial” psalm Gloria heisted from long-ago Life Teen, the desire by the ushers to seat everyone whenever they arrive, including in the middle of the Readings, the untrained “lectors”, the interminable General Intercessions, the (now) mandatory collection from the kiddies who scurry from their Cheerios, drinks and toys in the pew to place a few cents in the massive collection basket held by the celebrant, the now regular second collection, the lack of assembly responses during the Offertory prayers (the orchestra is still playing and the chorus is still singing the seventh verse of Amazing Grace), the now “amazing” gestures that accompany the responses that introduce the Preface, the “Hosanna in the Highest” that never ends, the speedy short Canon of the Mass, including minimal time for the Consecration, the Amen to the Doxology that (also) never ends, the circus that now surrounds the Pater Noster and exchange of peace, the plethora of “Extra”ordinary Ministers serving Holy Communion, the lengthy trip to the Tabernacle, the ten Communion cups and saucers which must be meticulously cleaned by the deacon or acolyte before the celebrant can say the Closing Prayer, and the lengthy recessional hymn, which a pastor once pointed out to me is NOT part of the General Instructions for the Mass.

    All these minor, regular distractions I am prepared for each time I visit this parish.

    But, this particular Sunday, the specific celebration of the Body and Blood of the Christ, I had reminders of how little reverence we seem to show to God…..you know, the ALMIGHTY ONE.

    My first jolt was a family, I presume consisting of the father, his daughter and her husband, and their three small boys, perhaps ages five to nine. Though the men and boys were dressed…..say, adequately…..the woman wore short shorts and flip-flops. Yes, I mean SHORT. They were late-comers, and perhaps the ushers took pity on her just because she showed up for Mass. And then to walk up to Holy Communion dressed like that! Yes, I know the old Father Bausch story of the two monks crossing a stream; this was a true test of attention to Mass, even for an old man.

    Does anyone care how people dress to attend the Mass? Have you ever heard homily remarks about the guest thrown out from the wedding feast?

    All during the Mass, the three boys misbehaved egregiously. Not just occasional horseplay, but continuous rough-housing, talking, hitting, all of which was either ignored by the adults, or who joined in frequently, especially the woman. Again, it would seem necessary that the priest or deacon TEACH respect to God and company. Since these folks came late and left after Communion time, the only contact could be from an usher. Since the deacon is far away, serving at the altar, may I suggest ushers be trained to do his called duty: to maintain order. Reverence cannot be imposed; responsibility, however, can be suggested. There is a responsibility to others to allow reverence, if not actively to pursue it oneself.

    The grand dining room at the Jekyll Island Club on Jekyll Island in coastal Georgia had a requirement that for dinner, men were to wear coats (ties were optional). To ensure this requirement, the entrance to the dining room had a coat rack of various sizes. If a man showed up minus a coat, the maitre-d, rather than refusing service, fitted the “gentleman” with a coat, that he might dine in the company of other “gentlemen”. I thought of that service, as it might be performed for the lady of scant attire. Perhaps a lady usher would always be scheduled for each Mass. When presented with halters, spaghetti strap tops and strapless wear (all observed by this old man), the lady usher might take the person aside, to a wardrobe, where lightweight scarves could be selected for the Mass attendee. In the case of short shorts and very short dresses, the lady usher might offer some type of long(er) wrap-around skirt to cover exposed flesh.

    I would expect we should treat men with tank tops the same; maybe even stock cargo pants in the case of a short-shorts emergency.

    As has been pointed out to me many times, these are not the Forties and Fifties, and even the Sixties, when people dressed up in “good” clothes to go to Mass, even to ride on an airplane or eat at a nice restaurant. But this attitude today really means a lack of reverence for ourselves, that we treat all special events in our lives as “nothing special”. With that belief, we have lost respect for ourselves and those around us. Not just the loss of reverence, but respect. Our children notice. So do our grandchildren.

    Then we come to a favorite subject, reverence for the Eucharist. On a regular basis, this parish is similar to others in that the “extra” ministers scatter, once they deposit their particular sacred vessel on the credence table, since the cleaning must be done by the priest, deacon or instituted acolyte. In all the movement, the Blessed Sacrament remains on the altar, while the priest collects all Sacred Hosts into one ciborium. No one pays attention while he does this, nor when he makes the trip to the remote Tabernacle, genuflects, and closes the open door. The altar servers remain kneeling on the bottom step in the Sanctuary. The deacon/acolyte is busy, busy at the credence table, the “extra” ministers are back in their pews. It is almost like the priest-celebrant makes the lonely trip all by himself.

    In a small parish in Illinois where I attended Mass and sometimes helped as one of two Eucharistic ministers of the cup (the piest, alone, distributed the Sacred Hosts) , there was a very precise procedure the Pastor had implemented: When serving Holy Communion was completed, the altar servers, the single lector for the Mass, and the two Eucharistic ministers stood back a short distance from the altar, as the priest closed the ciborium and purified the chalice/cup and paten. He then took the ciborium to the (old) man altar Tabernacle and as he genuflected, we all bowed to the stored Eucharist before he locked the door and returned to the (front) altar. He then dismissed us with a bow and we returned to our seats, at which point the priest, servers, ministers and congregation all sat down for a short time of reflection.
    It is a powerful sign of reverence to not only the Eucharist, but to the celebrant of the Mass. The reverence is not lost on the congregation.

    And we wonder why so few Catholics still believe in the real Presence. As Pogo the possum once observed, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

    At the parish I attended on Corpus Christi, the deacon announced there would be adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for fifteen minutes after Mass. I was reminded of the Lord’s question to Peter in Gethsemane garden, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?”

    So, while the deacon is still cleaning the sacred vessels,
    The celebrant deposits the ciborium in the Tabernacle, removes the luna, carries it (unnoticed by almost everyone including the deacon) back to the altar and inserts it into the monstrance (I did not see where it came from). He then placed the monstrance in the middle of the altar, genuflects, and goes to the presider’s chair. The altar servers, in turn, all step up on the altar level and also go to sit down. The deacon continues his purification duties.

    All while the Blessed Sacrament is exposed on the altar. No “O, Salutaris”, no prayers, silence until the deacon is done, sits, and then all rise for the Closing Prayer of the Mass.

    And we wonder why so few Catholics still believe in the real Presence.

    Reverence not practiced is lost forever.

    And we wonder why so few Catholics still believe in the real Presence.


  33. It saddens me to read of the apparent distaste with which this shepherd views his sheep. The motives attributed to each behavior are always negative, not allowing room for a charitable interpretation. Just to start with, the Mass times. One could look at those attending the vigil Mass and see how even those who are so busy on Sunday that they can’t easily get to Mass are still making the effort to attend Mass and fulfill their obligation. The early Sunday morning Mass might be filled with those who have to work on Sunday but still find time to attend Mass, or those who are most alert early in the morning and want to give God their best. Still others might value the quiet, contemplative nature of that Mass or have children with sensory disorders who get overwhelmed with music so then get you early to attend this Mass. The midday Mass, with families coming in at a different time every Sunday? Every Sunday they have to get everyone bathed, dressed, fed, and through the door and every Sunday, they do, because Mass is important. (Some of them have to leave early if their kids are having an exceptionally bad day.) The foreign language Mass with its lower contributions is a wonderful witness to the universality of the Church and the fact that the Church does not only serve the wealthy and influential but serves all of Christ’s Mystical Body. And the Sunday evening Mass – the people attending that one have for whatever reason not been able to attend any of the other Masses, and it would be easy for them to say they weren’t able to attend this one either. But they still do! This is the one my family attends, because it is the most sparsely attended and I have four autistic children that are very anxious in crowds.

  34. Thank you for your assessment of our Church today. I see the problem as one that stems from misdirected priorities, the condition of 21st century America. Something not earned is something not fully appreciated. In our country we take many things for granted, even our ability to worship as we wish. As the Executive Director of a Catholic apostolate,  I have experienced Catholicism in many different countries. I have witnessed the zeal for the Faith in places where the Communists suppressed it for many years. As persecution is showing its face now in this country perhaps those who remain faithful will once again attend Mass with the reverence that it is due.

    David M. Carollo 
    Executive Director 
    World Apostolate of Fatima USA 

  35. Avatar Anthony Seemiller says:

    Great article!

  36. Avatar Judith Echaniz says:

    In years of being an active Church musician, of course I am familiar with your magazine. Since we moved South from the northeast seven years ago, I have finally realized that I must simply wait until I die to find again lovely Masses of sixty years ago at Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood and find my friends. God truly mattered! May I suggest trying to catch the daily EWTN Masses–Novus Ordo under control–when you can, to restore your sense of the Mass as prayer and often with lovely music well presented. God bless Derek and his singers! I am now old and at least greet Jesus before not minding if I fall asleep during liturgies you described. We do receive; it is the ONLY way to receive the Blessed Sacrament. But God will NOT be humiliated in the Heavenly Liturgy. We must always look forward! (I do dread the rotten Gloria that will return with Easter.)

  37. Avatar Anthony Rawlins says:

    Thank you again…..for sharing the document. As a Catechist, and as a person in the charismatic movement – it required deeper thought and prayer before answering. I also came to Catholicism via RCIA and so could not help but think that the observations so wonderfully exposed and linked while they are true and could be identified in all parishes, I found they were all negative and judgemental. While it is true it may run through our minds as we are human – it is but a distraction and the guidance of evil to make these trials want us to stop trying (to transform and be more holy. Too often we miss the fact that church is “the hospital for the sinner”and those fallen short of God’s expectations. ALL the points raised are just that…..but the fact is AT LEAST IN CHURCH there is a chance that the community through the Holy Spirit bring about transformation OF AT LEAST ONE this week…..then the next, then the next etc. I shudder to think of the “reasons” voiced by the priest(s) as valid for not wanting to go on with the mass – considering if it made sense. This is exactly the story of Jonah and Nineveh – who Jonah had written off as unchangeable despite God’s asking him to go prophesy to them! I shudder to think that Jesus “Fully Man” would have acted upon his own will – given the examples and facts that he witnessed and the betrayal despite all his best efforts to bring God’s Love, Peace, Joy and Healing in his ministry to the world. If he threw up his hands in disgust and a feeling of defeat and for what purpose am I doing this………Salvation? Where oh where would we find you???!!! AS priests we understand that they too are human and so too prone to temptation(s) – however, their love of God and the prayers we give up to all those ordained are to sustain them along with the teachings, retreats, fellow-shipping and the vows that they have taken are to strengthen them at such times. On the surface the response would be to give into these challenges – but it is to these challenges the priests are called to shepherd and go after the one who is wayward. The article prompts me to pray more for the priests, Pope and church, and also to find a way in the ministries that I am active in – to help raise and make persons aware of the importance of Mass, the roles we play, importance of the ordained persons to ensure we have discernment and continuity in our church. This is not a job for the priest(s) alone! Your thoughts on the response were many similar?

  38. Avatar ANNE MARIE BRANDT says:

    Thank you, dear Father! Great article and I’m so sorry it is so true. I, for one, am appalled at how a lot of people act, dress and not participate during Mass. I believe, that most people don’t believe, that the Host IS the real Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We need to bring back Altar rails and receiving on the tongue and NOT into dirty hands. God bless you for writing this article. And, I’m so sorry for all our dear, good priests and most of all to my God, for putting up with us losers!


  1. […] Read the essay at Homiletic & Pastoral Review Magazine. […]

  2. […] Faithful priests with a zeal for souls are good shepherds but find they’ve becoming increasingly bewildered and heartsick. Their pain now follows a predictable pattern. Their anguish and discouragement spikes on weekends when they must offer Masses with their congregations. Why?  […]

  3. […] “Saint Typical’s” – Many priests nowadays (including myself) are asking, “What if there’s deficient lex in the orandi? Won’t that diminish the credendi and vivendi?” What Many Priests No Longer Believe (Homiletic and Pastoral Review) […]

  4. […] “Saint Typical’s” – Many monks these days (together with myself) are asking, “What if there’s poor lex within the orandi? Gained’t that diminish the credendi and vivendi?” What Many Clergymen No Longer Consider (Homiletic and Pastoral Assessment) […]

  5. […] Note: Due to the high interest and lively discussion prompted by Fr. Robert McTeigue’s recent article, “What Many Priests No Longer Believe,” the following two responses have been published to offer additional viewpoints on the challenging […]

  6. […] unten angeführt Text ist hier im Original nachzulesen. Unsere Kommentare werden in Blau […]

  7. […] unten angeführte Text ist hier im Original nachzulesen. Unsere Kommentare werden in Blau […]