I’m going to take a side trip from my Biblical journey and wander about in the tall weeds to talk about my Mass pet peeves. These are not necessarily in order from least to most peevish; some you’ll may go “Right on Shaft!” and others you may go “Get a grip bro.” But keep in mind these are my peeves, not necessarily those of your Archbishop, although Pope Francis has probably said something in the back of a plane about them.
“Turn and greet and introduce yourself to those around you.” Not the stuff of which great human problems are made, but a Protestant-flavored attempt before the opening hymn to make everyone feel “welcome”. The Mass is a recreation of Christ’s Paschal sacrifice, where heaven meets earth, not a social event. And I don’t necessarily relish shaking hands with little Billy right after he wiped his nose with his right hand during cold and flu season.
“Take a moment of silent prayer to prepare our hearts and minds for holy Mass.” This is one particular to my parish – which I love in so many ways – but it takes more than 5 seconds to prepare one’s heart and mind for holy Mass. Get your butt in the pew at least 10 minutes before Mass begins to do some serious praying and prepping. Families with young children are excused: I laud you for getting there on time or close to it (I’ve been there).
Most of the hymns written after Vatican II, especially those written by Marty Haugen. “Gather Us In” (the lame and the stinky?) and “All Are Welcome” (Nazi Satanists too?) are Haugen classics of tonal and lyrical insipidity. Somehow blissful marijuana-fueled hippie-dom took over Catholic music. I want songs of spiritual struggle, where you shoot Satan with a .44 and the like. But that’s just me.
Priests who think they are Bob Hope or David Letterman. This takes the form of post-Communion stand-up where vacation slides of the parochial vicar laying on the beach are shown while the pastor does an engaging (he thinks) monologue. Father, in your spare time head out to open mike-night at the comedy club, but spare us at Mass.
Applause. I guess clapping for Bob and Sally after their two-minute post-announcements pitch for the WEDS ministry is OK – took a little courage to get up there. But clapping for musical performance – like a post-Communion Flugelhorn solo of “Ave Marie” – is never appropriate. It’s Mass, not a concert. Any music performed is not for human praise, but for the glory of God.
Showing words to songs and parts of the Mass people should know by heart like the Creed on the back wall of the sanctuary using a projector. I’m sorry, but I was taken to Shakey’s Pizza as a child several times, where they had guys in old timey dress playing the piano and the words to songs like “Down By the Old Mill Stream” projected on the wall so you could sing along. Blame this on Shakey’s Pizza. My parish years later still has idiot cards in the pews: c’mon people, make some kind of minimal effort to learn the prayers.
Irreverent/casual communicants. Dudes and dudettes: you are about to take the body and blood, soul and divinity of the Creator of the Universe into your corpus. Don’t act like you are getting a flu shot or in line at the DMV. Especially don’t wave at your friends or exchange pleasant banter as you process by their pew.
Recorded music. I experienced this recently at a Mass in Ohio during Communion. Creepy, and a violation of canon law. Made me feel like I was at Applebee’s or something.
Homilists who require audience participation. (How many of you say grace AFTER meals? Put your hands up!) Also homilists you just repeat the readings to you. (We see that Abramafter being told by God to go to a distant land, does so without question.) Dude, try to make some kind of connection with living life today, try to make me have a “V-8 moment”. Deacons are especially egregious in this regard, probably because the diocese keeps them on a tight rein. Occasionally one goes rogue elephant, snaps his tether and kills a coolie, and that’s always a pleasure.
Special appearances by Santa at Christmas Masses. One time the priest processed in dressed like Santa going “Ho! Ho! Ho!” I love priests, but keep in mind Father what Jesus said about scandalizing little ones and that millstone necktie.
Actually I have many more, but these are undoubtedly more reflective of my sinful shortcomings than the shortcomings of others. I long to be present purified at the heavenly worship described in Revelation 4 and 5. But that’s just me. God shower His grace on us all!