20 Jun 2011

The New Revised Mass: a personal perspective

I have posted this on my own blog, Autumn's Leaves, but thought it worth reproducing here too.

A conundrum.

As we all know, the new revised order of Mass will be upon us from the first week of Advent this year. This will be a challenge for Priests and parishioners alike, especially those who have memorised the Liturgy by rote after years of repetition. All of a sudden, the familiar words have changed, and will necessitate a slower, more thoughtful reading, which can't be a bad thing. But for a while, I would expect a fumbling through Missals, or printed Mass sheets for a while...

But no, our Priest has decided that a PowerPoint screen above the altar with the revised words on will do.
When he announced this at the end of Vigil Mass on Saturday, there was an audible gasp which rippled around the sanctuary. He assured us that it wouldn't "get in the way of the Sacrament" but that it was about time the Church "joined the modern world". My heart plummeted like a stone, and  I felt tears spring to my eyes, my reaction was so strong. The thought of having a PP screen hanging suspended above the altar, obscuring the view of the beautiful crucifix of the risen Christ, was just too much to bear. No consultation, no discussion, just a fait accompli. It will be fitted in anticipation of the changes this Tuesday.
I have examined my objections over the weekend, and just feel very strongly that there is another, better way. It is possible to buy laminated Pew Cards with the revised Liturgy on, for a the meagre cost of around £35 per 100. A screen would not only be distracting, but would detract from the visual imagery, symbolism and beauty of the Mass. PP screens may well work in protestant evangelical churches, but please, please not in the Catholic Church. My dismay just grows and grows.

There may be some who just don't *get* my objections, my sinking heart...but it is, in fact, just one more disappointment in a long line. I have struggled for 6 years to settle into my parish, which is not conducive to meditation or devotion due to the noise prior to Mass; I have tried to offer the distractions up, to be accepting and forgiving of those around me, to create a bubble around myself so that I can connect with God in the quiet of my heart before Mass. There have been times I've walked away only to be drawn back by my conscience and to persevere. I have thought often of dear, sweet, strong St. Therese offering up her fidgeting sisters, rattling their Rosary beads during Mass (oh if the only distractions I had to contend with were rattling Rosary beads!!) and given it another go. I have accepted the lack of spiritual formation, the infrequent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and the fact the when in need of forgiveness, you have to go and find the Priest who is never in the confessional at the allotted time. Perhaps I have accepted too much. But now...I honestly feel in my heart, I cannot attend Mass with a PP screen hanging above the altar. The pile has toppled over.

There is a small village RC Church a few miles down the road from me which I can easily get to on public transport (not being able to drive). I think it is about time I made a move. Of course, I shall let my Priest know my feelings, but I doubt it will make any difference.

If there are any Priests reading this, please, please don't go down this route. Please look at alternative methods of instructing the faithful. There are some, like me, who find all sorts of things a real distraction to worship, whether visual media, loud inappropriate music etc. We're not obstructive, or cranky. We just hope for an atmosphere which is conducive to entering into the Mystery of mysteries, the perpetual, unceasing sacrifice which is the Mass. I don't think it's too much to ask, do you?


  1. I heartily agree. I loathe the two screens either side of the Lord's Table in my church. Apart from everything else, they buzz.
    How disappointing for those who have converted with the Ordinariate if they visit your church. They will be thoroughly confused.
    I think we should express our feelings vigorously and stay put until the message gets through.

  2. I,m gobsmacked as they say..how can a PP screen blocking the crucifix be allowed? have you complained to the Dean or Bishop? sounds like you need to move anyway though..Hope you find what you need at your new church.

  3. I've never heard of such a thing being done in a Catholic Church. Pew cards sound like a much better idea (and far more reverential).

  4. Good Lord, screens at mass? Horrible. I can't even imagine it. I've never seen such a thing. Let's hope I never do.

  5. I've seen this in protestant churches. It's like watching the scoreboard at a ball game. Not good.

  6. Autumn, your post resonates with me. There is always a question whether to stay in one's parish or find another. For three years now I have been exploring the option of attending mass in a neighboring parish (my home parish does not have kneelers, there is applause after communion, much talk in the sanctuary before mass, etc), and to be honest I don't know what I will ultimately decide to do. We need to take it slow and pray quietly, peacefully about this, not act out of anger (words of advice to myself!), and submit ourselves to God's will. Just my 2 cents, I just want you to know I know what you are going through.

  7. Thanks for your replies!
    I agree Joan, I must becareful not to act out of anger, but tbh, I have been considering moving for such a long time, and I have struggled for 6 years over one thing or another. I don't want to have to struggle, or rather, I don't want the Mass to be the focus of struggle for me. I have a couple of week's grace as I am attending Mass at my Carmelite Group next weekend. When I have reflected carefully, I shall make my decision.
    Autumn xx

  8. Let me first state that I'm a lover of technology. I'm one plugged in gal ... but, I've blogged about the use of technology and faith on my own blog.

    I love that we would use technology to reach out, to teach, to connect. However, that being said, I am a lover of tradition. PowerPoint presentations and iPads have a place~ as well they should~ but not during Mass and at the Alter!

    This is one of the many changes that are coming our way. I feel for you and you situation. Is it possible that many are feeling the same way? Would your Priest be open to a survey of Parishioners on the topic? It might be worth a discussion.

    A new follower...


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