Priest: People Deserve Better Liturgy
For all the reasons we can muster to explain why people stop coming to Mass, “There comes a point when we have to stop and ask ourselves an important question: what is the quality of our liturgical service or pastoral care?” according to Fr Russell Pollitt SJ, director of the Jesuit Institute.
“In the last few weeks I have been to at least three parishes incognito. Two of the three would fail a quality test if one took the Sunday Eucharistic celebration and ‘measured’ it against the liturgy documents of the Church and its local implementation,” Fr Pollitt wrote in an article, “Liturgy: the bar is low, sadly”, on the Jesuit Institute website (www.jesuitinstitute.org.za).
“A number of things are inflicted upon Massgoers: Christmas carols sung like funeral dirges—or songs and hymns irrelevant to the liturgical season; endless words — ‘mini-sermons’ — outside often long-rambling, out-of-touch-with-reality homilies; and in some parishes the insertion of private devotions at different points that are not proper to the liturgy,” Fr Pollitt said.
“There were also badly prepared proclaimers of the Word and, embarrassingly, presiders who had clearly not looked at the Eucharistic Prayer (especially the first Eucharistic Prayer) and so landed up butchering it,” he noted.
“One gets the feeling that in many parishes little time is spent on liturgy preparation. In some places choirs are well prepared, but the rest of the liturgical ministries are poor.
“Often people (especially presiders) are quick to jam all sorts of irrelevant extras into the liturgy, but the very basics are done badly,” he wrote, adding: “The quality bar, sadly, is very low.”
Fr Pollitt noted that at a time when the notion of Sunday Mass as an obligation is waning and other Churches offer alternative spiritual food, “Bad liturgy does not inspire.”
“For the most part, the quality of preaching in Catholic pulpits is abysmal,” he said.
“Sadly, for many young people, the fact that the Catholic Church has the Eucharist does not keep them coming back when everything else is done half-heartedly,” Fr Pollitt noted.
“The Church has a beautiful liturgical tradition which, if done accordingly, is full of symbol and wisdom which conveys simply and beautifully the Good News of salvation.
“Why, in so many places, do we ignore the books, and think that DIY liturgy is more meaningful?” Fr Pollitt asked.
He also questioned why we jam all sorts of things not proper to the celebration of the Mass into the Sunday liturgy.
“If we just did what the liturgical books prescribe, we might immediately up the bar and raise the quality of our services,”Fr Pollitt said.