Monday, June 8, 2015

Why I do what I do

My first Mass of Thanksgiving
I was recently alerted to a psychology article that dealt with narcissism in the priesthood, specifically the way priestly narcissism shows itself in the liturgy. The article is long-ish but very much worth the read. So go ahead and read it before reading further.

Do it, here's the link again...

Ok, we're back. I think this article is several years old, and I think I've read it before. For those of you in my parish, this article helps to explain a lot of why I do what I do in the Mass: not that I'm narcissistic (I'm sure that shows itself in other ways in my life), but that I specifically try to avoid doing anything in Mass that draws attention to myself. I think many Catholics, weary of the unpredictability of wondering what Father is going to do this week, appreciate my approach. But sometimes a well-meaning person will tell me that they like how Fr. So-and-So does some particular, unique thing in liturgy; and that's exactly what I'm trying to avoid.

I've felt the temptation (every priest probably has) to do something cool and unique during Mass, just a little tweak, because I think it'll enhance the people's experience of the Mass. No, Hess! Bad priest! As soon as I start changing or adjusting bits out of accord with the rubrics, I'm shoving Jesus out of the Mass in order to assert myself. It shows I want the people to have an experience of me, not of Jesus. The Mass should not be a guessing game for the lay faithful, who remain faithful despite the whiplash they can experience from one priest to the next. If I have any "approach" to the Mass, it's that I would want the great saints of old to recognize in my "approach" the reverence that moved them to love God more deeply.

When I start adding things to the Mass, the intention may be good, but the source and starting point of such an addition is bad because anything I add of my own accord, without working in union with the Church, the Bride of Christ, can only find its source and starting point in me. Anything I add is fundamentally about me and not about Jesus Christ.We need to let the Mass just be the Mass without creative additions. As Bishop Etienne says, we want "JTM," Just The Mass.

So if you come to Mass with me and what stands out for you is that absolutely nothing different or abnormal happened, then good! That's what I'm going for.

1 comment:

  1. But your sermons do stand out and that is a good thing! Thanks for your teaching approach we appreciate the nuggets of info that put the readings into context... and how you relate them to life!