The following comes from a June 18 story in Crisis Magazine.

A new generation of celebrants is moving past the politicized agendas of the past toward embracing the true spirit of the liturgy. Maybe it hasn’t happened in your parish but the trend is clear: better music, better vestments, better postures and rubrics.

And yet, we all know that things are not what they should be…. I here list the top five ways in which the presentation of the liturgy can ruin the liturgical experience.

1. Improvisation of the Liturgical Texts
The problem of celebrants who make up their own words on the spot, in hopes of making the liturgy more chatty and familiar, continues to be a serious annoyance. It is obviously illicit to do so. Celebrants are permitted to break to explain parts of the Mass or provide other special instructions. But they are not permitted to replace liturgical texts with something that they dreamed up on the spot.

….The older Missal translation dating from 1970 and onward was so casual, chatty, and plain that it encouraged the priest to enter into this world of casual communication. The formality just wasn’t there to encourage a more sober, careful, and accurate presentation. Also, many improvisers just had a sense that the text needed fixing of some sort….

2. Politicized and Newsy Prayer of the Faithful
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says of the prayer of the faithful: “The intentions announced should be sober, be composed with a wise liberty and in few words, and they should be expressive of the prayer of the entire community.”

“Wise liberty” seems to be in short supply however. Sometimes these prayers seem like last month’s newspaper, calling to mind events that left the 48-hour news cycle long ago….

3. Extended and Chatty Sign of the Peace
The rite of peace has a long tradition in the Roman Rite dating to the earliest centuries. It was mostly restricted to the clergy….

The Missal plainly says that the extension to the congregation is optional. The requirement of the rite is fulfilled in the sanctuary alone. Therefore, if there is an invitation to have the people offer a sign of peace, it should be short. The General Instruction says: “it is appropriate that each person, in a sober manner, offer the sign of peace only to those who are nearest….”

4. Replacing Sung Propers with Something Else
Since the earliest centuries, the liturgy assigned particular scriptural texts to particular liturgical days. This happens at the entrance, the music between readings, the offertory, and the communion. The instructions are very clear: the assigned chant is to be sung. If something else was sung, the words were still said by the priest. And so it was in most countries from the 7th century until quite recently.

Today, the Mass propers are mostly replaced by something else, usually a hymn with words made up by some lyricist. Quite often the results have nothing to do with the liturgy at all. It’s actually remarkable when you think about it. Choirs busy themselves with replacing crucial parts of the liturgy. They just drop them completely. Mostly they do this with no awareness of what they are doing….

5. Percussion
In the first millennium, instruments were not part of the sung Mass, but as time went on, the organ was gradually admitted. By the 17th and 18th centuries, whole orchestras were used in certain locations. Even today you can find places where orchestral Masses are used that include tympani and other percussion instruments.

Most likely, that is not the context in which percussion instruments are used in your parish.

Today we hear conga drums, trap sets, bongos, and other drums played not in the style of Monteverdi processions, or Masses by Haydn or Mozart. Instead we hear them just as we would hear them in a bar or dance hall….

To read the entire article, click here.