Friday, 7 July 2006

School Mass

What is it about school Masses? I just celebrated a ‘Mass of Achievement’ for a year group at one of our local schools (at which we also remembered the victims of the 7/7 bombings). I only found out about it at the last minute and so I could only check the Order of Service a few minutes before the beginning of Mass.

I’m willing to be flexible as far as possible at such a late stage – thus I tolerated the opening hymn, a version of the Gloria. Far from ideal, but the Gloria is at least not required today in its usual place. The closing hymn was also fairly ‘happy-clappy’ – but the point is that most teenagers are not ‘in the mood’ for this at 9.50 in the morning, so they either stand there in silence or laugh while the teachers try to force them to sing (starting, of course, on the wrong note).

What I really objected to was the substitute for the Responsorial Psalm – an extract from Nelson Mandela’s 1994 inaugural speech. Lucky I spotted it. They might be inspiring words but, sorry, it ain’t Scripture. Even a reading from Pope Benedict or Aquinas wouldn’t be appropriate. When I protested, one of the teachers called me a ‘liturgical purist’! Anyway, in the end the passage was removed from the Liturgy of the Word and read as a 'reflection' right at the end of the Mass.

Why can’t they just follow what’s in the Missal and Lectionary? It’s what the Church requires and what our young people want.



Anonymous Animadversor said...

I am curious to know how you responded to the accusation of "liturgical purity."

4:26 pm  
Blogger Fr Nicholas said...

Well, the Mass was about to begin so there was no time for a long discussion. I responded by saying I was just being Catholic and following the basic norms of the Church - and it doesn't get much more basic than using Sacred Scripture for the Liturgy of the Word! The teacher suggested that God was speaking through Mandela but he luckily agreed to remove the passage.

5:02 pm  
Blogger Mary Jane said...

Fr. Jeffrey Keyes in California, USA was similarly exasperated by a school graduation Mass in June. You can find his postings in Refugio San Gaspar ( My guess (as a choir director) is that many teachers were formed in the "anything goes" period of liturgy and no one bothered to tell them it's over. They also sometimes believe that they are the only people who understand the under-21 set.

10:27 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmm I suffered the same sort of thing in my early days, but I don't any more.

Beginning to remove the chasuble usually gets the message across and forces a backtrack and they either behave properly next time you are in for Mass (they might even consult you well in advance and ask your advice), or you find that you are not asked to go into the school again to celebrate Mass and then discover that they have been importing priests from outside the area who will pander to their ways.

I just don't give in, it is either the Church's way or they can have an assembly in the absence of a priest!

10:47 pm  
Anonymous Emma said...

'It's not what our young people want'

Amen to that!
New age, happy clappy alterations are oft carried out in the belief that it will engage young's just not the case!

It's great to see fight to end this nonsense!

11:05 pm  

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