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Friday, April 15, 2011


When we turn from the ends desired for Sunday Mass, which are listed in previous blogs, to the means, as shown in several categories below, some respondents had very specific items which they want included in Roman Catholic Masses. 

For many items there is likely to be broad agreement when stated generally, but there would be a great deal of disagreement based on tastes and interpretations. There would also be some questions regarding how relevant local circumstances and the composition of the immediate congregation were to defining quality, beauty, and other such generally accepted terms. 

Finally there are areas [shown in brackets below like these] where those interested in the wondrous and those focused on the communal would almost always disagree.


  • humility,
  • reverence,


  • architecture, art, vestments, music, language
    -of high quality,
    -connected to tradition, and
    -well done regardless of style
  • a sanctuary easily visible to the congregation.
  • a spotless church


  • periodic pauses significant enough to be felt,
    silence that punctuate each action, each reading, each prayer
  • allowing space for the congregation to take in the words and make the prayers their own
  • a nice long silence after communion
  • [everything takes a long time]
  • liturgy to be done by the books but done well and with care.
  • follows all the rules in a creative and energetic way,
  • the Mass to be prayed reverently, but naturally and without a lot of self consciousness
  • [no ad libbing]
  • naturalness in the liturgical action and a general lack of pomp and theatricality; the purposefulness and reverence balanced with a sense that the Mass is the most natural thing for the people of God to be doing rather than a theatrical performance.
  • continuity between congregation and ministers, so that everyone is part of the sacred action and feels that they are.
  • attentiveness from servers, musicians, lectors, communion ministers, clergy.


  • good posture and articulate movement
  • gestures which are large, slow, and deliberate.
  • processions take a long time
  • well blocked/choreographed
  • [no liturgical dancing.]


  • Scripture proclaimed from the heart
  • carefully prepared and vigorous but not dramatic proclamation of scripture
  • Scriptures easily audible.
  • a lector who proclaims the scriptures in a way that touches my heart.
  • readers who are well prepared and formed to proclaim the readings
  • readers who read expressively in a way that betrays their own personal encounter not just with the words but with The Word


  • cantillation (chanting)
  • everything to be sung, including the propers as well as hymns for the people
  • well sung: hearty, vigorous, with conscious meaning,
  • fine music
  • musicians who understand that music is truly the servant of the liturgy and so don’t seek to overpower the assembly and the ministers
  • a choir that doesn’t think of itself as leading the assembly in song but as part of the assembly itself
  • no one waving their hands or telling people they didn’t respond loud enough.


  • true welcome shown to every member of the assembly
  • sincere, warm welcome to those who come to church alone; the elderly, young single adults
  • active and heartfelt responses to greetings and invitations throughout the liturgy
  • audible, purposeful participation in song, prayer and dialogues
  • [concentration on the word of God in proclamation, eyes up, not in books]
  • people sitting near each other, in the same area, if the church is not full
  • active participation that is first internally contemplative and then vocal
  • attention to the word of God proclaimed and preached
  • joyful participation in hymns, aided by choir and instrumentalists (organist)
  • the people to sing/say the dialogues that pertain to them
  • worshipers who seem engaged through their posture, their visage, their singing & praying, their listening, their offering, and their partaking of Holy Communion.


  • priest reads the prayers as if he has prayed them himself
  • spoken prayers are read so sincerely that we all think they are the priest's own words.”
  • priest who is obviously directing prayer to God in a way that is personal (as opposed to formal or officious)
  • a priest who understands that presiding in persona Christi does not preclude him from being present to God and to the assembly as who he really is. I have always found the notion that priests must lay their “personalities” aside as bizarre.


  • homily easily audible.
  • inspired preaching
  • homilist who can make Jesus’ words come alive for me. Right here, right now.
  • homilies that are brief, but relevant and to the point
  • homilies that connect the scripture to the daily lives of regular people, to our fears and challenges, to the problems in our local community that we must deal with in a Christian way
  • thoughtful, Scriptural, challenging preaching.
  • Scripture explained with heart


  • servers at least age of 13
  • servers over 9
  • clean and crisp looking server garb
  • [altar servers wear the traditional black and white.]
  • [servers vested in clean and neat albs.]


  • fresh flowers
  • incense
  • [Gothic vestments and deacons in dalmatics. ]
  • [a Eucharistic minister who takes time to let me bow before receiving the Eucharist]
  • language in the Prayer of the Faithful that uses rich and poetic images for God.
  • well composed prayers of the faithful, with invitation for petitions or names from the congegation.
  • [priest faces the people. (Prayers are addressed up and out, to God). ]
  • [priest and people face the same direction like we are all in this together]
  • [“ad Deum/ad orientem” posture of the celebrant after receiving the offertory]
  • [the Ordinary Form is used]
  • [language in the liturgy which recognizes that both men and women are in attendance]
  • [bells, especially at the elevation]
  • [keep the sanctuary lights dim prior to Mass to encourage silence and prayer.]
  • [the significant presence of an altar crucifix]
  • [no distracting altar crucifix DURING MASS]
  • [Mass in Latin]
  • [Mass in the local language]
  • [the exchange of the peace as a critical moment of the liturgical action.]

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