Monday, December 31, 2007

"Good Morning"

Recently I was at Mass and after the procession, the hymn ended and the priest began with "ho ho ho." Then everyone laughed and he smiled and the Mass began "in the name of the Father..." like Mass always begins. It reminded me of an e-mail I sent to a friend a while back on this subject. I wanted to share it now.

I wanted to explain more thoroughly the view which ____, ______, _______, and I hold that a priest should not begin with "Good morning" or "good afternoon" and should not end Mass with "have a nice day."

This is articulated very well in the book Why Catholics Can't Sing and also implied at in our Holy Father's masterpiece The Spirit of the Liturgy. I would add that I also don't approve of "Let us begin in the name of the Father...." instead of simply "in the name of the Father."

Let me state to begin with that a priest who does such is not a bad priest, he isn't doing anything that is not allowed, it's just something we all don't like. This is not what defines for us if a priest is a good priest or a Mass is a reverent Mass. One of the most flippant priests I know never begins this way and one of the most reverent ones I know always does. I argue would also argue that it is allowed for them to do this because it's before the sign of the cross and therefore before Mass and after the final blessing and therefore technically after Mass. Therefore, this is simply our preference, but one which I think is justified.

Mass is a very sacred event. Many times the sacredness of Mass is lost. When we enter into Mass, we begin with either a piece of sacred music such as a hymn or a chant or the entrance verse. The priest is wearing robes and he processes in. A train of altar servers lead him. A book of the Gospels may be held in the procession. A thurifer incenses as he walks. All of this says something is different here. And then he begins, "Good morning, everybody." It seems such a contradiction to the act. The sacred atmosphere dies a little Similarly, when I kneel down to pray I don't begin, "let me begin with..." but just simply, "in the name of the Father..." It's minor things like these that help to build the sacred atmosphere at which the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass can be offered reverently and with the most amount of beauty.

I hope this is helpful.

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