has been making unauthorized additions and changes to the Sacramentary during
Mass. Some things are small and subtle (for example, saying
“unnecessary” anxiety in the embolism to the Lord’s Prayer,
or saying “friends” instead of disciples in the Eucharistic
prayers), and other things are more serious, such as making up his own
Penitential Rite and Dismissal. When I told him about this, he looked really
angry and said that God is a loving God who doesn’t send us to hell
if we don’t do every little thing “right.” The next day he
gave a homily attacking people who were judgmental, calling them proud and
arrogant. What do you make of this? Was I wrong?
ell, it’s true that God won’t
condemn that priest just for saying the
“wrong” words. God is a loving God, and He doesn’t send anyone
to hell for any reason. But that’s not the whole story. The full truth
is that there is a hell, and that many individuals send
themselves to hell by their own unrepentant
Pride and Arrogance
That priest, therefore, is guilty
of his own pride and arrogance—the very pride and arrogance that leads
him into disobedience and causes him to disregard
the rubrics. For what else is it but pride that causes someone to set his
own will against the will of the Church?
Whenever we perform
a liturgical action, our virtue is not in the details of the action itself
but in our willing to be good servants who do only what they are supposed
to do (see Luke 17:710). Following the rubrics with precision is an
act of loving service to God; to ignore the rubrics, or, even worse, to disobey
them, is an act of pride by which we serve our own will, not God’s will.
It doesn’t matter what we think about the rubrics; all that matters
is that we surrender ourselves to carrying them out with loving precision.
Carelessness walks the same path as disobedience, a path that takes you right
into the service of the devil and his motto: “Do what thou
Sadly, that priest is
blind to his own psychology. He thinks he is
serving God, but unconsciously he is really
under the influence of demons. He thinks he loves God, but
unconsciously he really hates God. The anger you saw in him only proves the
If you call a
man a liar and he really isn’t a liar, he will just look at you with
a puzzled expression and say, “What are you talking about?” But
if he really is a liar, he will glare at you and say, “Take that
In other words, it’s human
psychology to attack others for reminding us of our own
Therefore, consider the psychological
faults that this priest may be unconsciously hiding when he disregards the
Is he so angry that
his parents constantly threatened him with hell for being a “bad boy”
that he finds it repugnant to be reminded of his grievous sins? Thus he words
the Penitential Rite to create the belief that sin doesn’t exist, that
our personal failures are nothing more than social
and that everyone will go to heaven.
Does he so resent
the hypocritical authority held over him by his parents that he detests the
idea that Christ instituted an awesome divine mystery? Thus he reduces the
divine hierarchy to mutual friendship.
Is he so aware of
the lack of confidence and anxiety that he felt as a child, and so aware
that he is still anxious because he really does not trust God completely,
that he needs to believe that some anxiety is “necessary” in life
and that real trust in God is not only impossible but
Is he so afraid of
his inability to follow Christ’s commands that he tries to reduce the
profound obligations of a Christian life to easy acts of social friendship?
Thus, rather than having the spiritual confidence to dismiss the people with a
them to be friends.
Consequently, when that priest
disregards the rubrics and pushes away the truth of his own faults, he attacks
God with sins of pride and arrogance—and those sins, unless
repented, will condemn him before God on
the day of his judgment.
Warning, not Judgment
Note, however, that your warning
others of their faults is not an attack; nor is it
judgmental. In fact, as is made clear in the
book of Ezekiel, God expects us to warn others of their sins—at a prudent and
appropriate time—and He will hold us accountable if we fail in this
Furthermore, when someone spurns
your warning, it will break your heart, but at
least you will be in good company: you will be on the
Cross with Christ Himself.
1. Although this is natural behavior—that
is, the result of our fallen nature—Christ calls
us to overcome our natural behavior with humble
surrender to divine service. Accepting correction gracefully and peacefully
is a fundamental aspect of Christian life. Sadly, as is evidenced by their
behavior (rather than what they say), all too
many priests and deacons in the Church today are
afraid to live a Christian life.
2. For example, ignoring the three approved options
for the Penitential Rite and making up something of one’s own, such
as, “For the times we have been inconsiderate of others, Lord have mercy
. . . ” Following this logic, why not say, “For the times we have
forgotten to take out the garbage, Lord have mercy . . . ”?
3. “Ite missa est!” is a command. So
are the approved English equivalents: “Go in the peace of
Christ.” or “The Mass is ended, go in peace.” or
“Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”
4. As in saying, “Let us go . . .
” instead of “Go . . .”