This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Saturday 16 May 2020

The World Cup of Liturgical Abuses

Inspired by an offering from Patrick Coffin, I want to run a World Cup of Liturgical Abuses (either by the priest or the people). To make it interesting I only want people to vote for abuses that they have actually experienced (e.g. most of us have led sheltered lives, and missed out on clown masses), although it will be a lucky reader who has not come across any of the ones in my list.

So far we have the following contestants, but nominations of others are invited in the next week, either via the comments below or replying to @bruveccles on Twitter.

liturgical dancing


Liturgical dancing

Female altar-servers

Communion in the hand



Sign of peace
Dolan rejecting sign of peace

"Let's not!"

Holding hands in the Our Father

Orans position for the Our Father

Standing for the consecration

Bad hymns (Schutte, Haugen etc.)

Introducing ourselves to our neighbours
Brentwood idols



Reading out Vatican II documents

Changing words in the liturgy



Of course, you may actually like some/all of these, but that is not my problem.

The voting on Twitter will begin on Monday 25th May, once next week's exciting Laudato Si' celebrations (to be the subject of a future post?) have died down and everyone has sobered up again.

Incidentally, I think I have seen eight of the above. Can anyone beat that?


  1. Please include the following, Eccles:
    1 Priests using props during thier sermon. (In my case Fr. used a generous handful of stones/small rocks to drop on the marble floor around the lecturn to illustrate some point or other of his sermon. This, during his usually banal sermon caused a number of us, peacefully slumbering through his servings of Oprah/Chicken-Soup-For-The-Soul references to jump in startled and synchronised unison).

    2. Folk masses with that wooden-thingy held in the hand that sounds like someone scraping the inside of a barrel

    3. Priests that start a sermon with a lame joke to put us all at ease

    4. During thier sermon, priests that reference any miracle that has occured in the gospel as "If that indeed, actually happened...."

    5. Parishioners texting or reading thier phones at any time during mass,

    6. Priests on the altar spending awkward amounts of time fine tuning thier mics after mass has started,

    7. Priests using a prop and making a Grand Entrance/Exit i.e. arriving/leaving on a skateboard, tricycle, unicycle, penny-farthing, etc

    8. Untrained Altar servers (in my case, the lost soul wandered across the altar, mistimed his actions; sat when everyone else stood and stood when everyone sat).....

    1. Priests that do number 3 on your list are already abusing the liturgy by putting us to sleep with their dreadfully boring homilies.

  2. The sign of peace would be fine if it ended before the Agnus Dei started.

    1. The sign of peace would be better if it ended before the Mass started...!

  3. Priest coming down to sit next to his boyfriend during the readings.

  4. Too many to list. I'll just watch what everyone else has to say...

  5. Some of these are more serious than others and I would prefer to save my ire for those abuses which are not mandated by authority like changing the words, laity adopting the orans position, baloons etc.

  6. 11. But 4 or 5 of them happened in the early 80s. I look forward to a hard fought contest!

  7. 12, unless a nun in a leotard doing the liturgical dancing counts separately. Then it's 13.

  8. Ten. For bonus credit, I submit: fraction of the (unconsecrated) host at the start of the Institution Narrative.

  9. 10. Then I made a couple of attempts at listing practices even zanier than those of yours, Eccles, especially occurring during Children's Masses, and gave up in despair.

    But the practice of rewriting the liturgy to suit the priest's Whim of the Day, is the most pernicious IMHO, because the most insidiously misleading.

  10. Have experienced the following- I don't do tweeter:
    fem altar servers
    fem extra-curricular ministers
    comm in hand
    sign of peace
    holding hands
    bad hymns
    changing words

  11. The priest and the children actually blowing up red balloons during the Christmas Day Mass. This abuse was to show us that the nativity was a joyful event.

  12. Communion in the hand and no hymns, not even a capella.
    That was at my Anglican Mission. Not to mention, feast days celebrated on the wrong day.

  13. [Part 1]

    12 for me - and a few others (thankfully most are from years back when I was a yoof attending yoof Masses):

    1. Priests who forget to wear their vestments (I was at one Mass where the priest forgot to wear anything except a stole)*

    2. Mass with the priest and congregation remaining seated throughout (without standing for the Gospel or kneeling for the consecration) - apart from standing up to have a big kiss and cuddle before Communion. It's nice when everyone is sitting together in a circle for this.

    3. When no. 2 can't be done because the Church is too big, the priest shows his love for children by calling them up during the Canon (which is called Eucharistic Prayer no. 2 in churches where this happens) to stand around the altar with him.

    4. The use of a non Biblical reading (or even a document from a spirit-filled Council), because Paul's letter to the Romans is rather boring or misogynistic.

    5. Not just bad hymns but recordings of secular music that have no pretence to have anything sacred about them. Two such examples:

    a) Cilla Black's funeral (which I saw on TV as I didn't get an invite) where at Holy Communion she sang (well, she didn't sing it then - it was a recording) "Anyone who had a heart." I mentioned to a fellow Catholic that I thought this was terrible and she said that it enabled people to think of Jesus's heart and his love for us. I wasn't really convinced by this. **

    b) At a Yoof Mass I attended the Offertory "hymn" was a recording of Michael Jackson's "Ben", because recently someone had died called Ben and he had been spoken about during the homily (which if I recall correctly was not even given by a priest or deacon). Though well intentioned I suspect that the person responsible was not aware that the "Ben" in MJ's song is a rat (and obviously clueless about the music that should be played in Church).

    1. I'm not sure but your 5b beats my pastors use of Disney's "Color of the Wind" for all the music during one Mass. He had just come back from Disneyland so we got to hear about that during the pre Mass pre sermon as well as the sermon and post mass sermon dismissal thing-ee.

  14. [Part 2 - it wouldn't all fit in one comment]

    6. I've also been at a Mass where everyone present is invited to receive Holy Communion, even if they are not Catholic and with no suggestion that they should also be in a state of grace.

    7. Dramatisation of the Gospel (normally by children) because it is much cuter than hearing Fr Rigid read it.

    I haven't even started on horrors from funerals but I think that's enough for now.

    Surely, I win the prize?

    *Thankfully he was also wearing his civvies - jeans and shirt, plus socks and probably underpants.

    ** The lyrics of Cilla Black's song allegedly in honour of the Sacred Heart:

    Anyone who ever loved could look at me
    And know that I love you
    Anyone who ever dreamed could look at me
    And know I dream of you
    Knowing I love you so
    Anyone who had a heart
    Would take me in his arms and love me, too
    You couldn't really have a heart and hurt me
    Like you hurt me and be so untrue
    What am I to do
    Every time you go away, I always say
    This time it's goodbye, dear
    Loving you the way I do
    I take you back, without you I'd die dear
    Knowing I love you so
    Anyone who had a heart
    Would take me in his arms and love me, too
    You couldn't really have a heart and hurt me
    Like you hurt me and be so untrue
    What am I to do
    Knowing I love you so
    Anyone who had a heart
    Would take me in his arms and love me, too
    You couldn't really have a heart and hurt me
    Like you hurt me and be so untrue
    Anyone who had a heart would love me too
    Anyone who had a heart would take me
    In his arms and always love me too
    Why won't you
    Anyone who had a heart
    Would love me too, yeah
    Anyone who had a heart
    Would take me in his arms and always love me
    Why won't you, yes
    Anyone who had a heart
    Would love me too

    ***The offertory motet to Ben the Rat:

    Ben, the two of us need look no more
    We both found what we were looking for
    With a friend to call my own
    I'll never be alone
    And you my friend will see
    You've got a friend in me
    (You've got a friend in me)
    Ben, you're always running here and there
    (Here and there)
    You feel you're not wanted anywhere
    If you ever look behind
    And don't like what you find
    There's something you should know
    You've got a place to go
    (You've got a place to go)
    I used to say "I" and "me"
    Now it's "us", now it's "we"
    I used to say "I" and "me"
    Now it's "us", now it's "we"

  15. There are several abuses on your list that, to my inexpressible relief, I have never witnessed: clowns, puppets, idols, balloons, and introducing ourselves to our neighbours.

    I did, however, just once, have the misfortune to witness “liturgical dance.” It was about 25 years ago, in a Carmelite parish named after St. Therese of Lisieux. I wonder what she would have made of it.

  16. Off topic, if I may, for a moment, with Your Eminence’s kind permission. I’ve just being glancing through the list of your awards, which happened to be exactly aligned with my previous post in this thread. Congratulations! Those are all remarkable achievements, in particular this one:

    David Lammy trophy for religious knowledge.

    That one is as strikingly unforgettable as Frank Sinatra singing “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.”

  17. 12, and not that long ago! In those quite recent days I shudder to admit I took part in a lot of these sorts of things. Then I started to have withdrawal symptoms and eventually went into recovery at a wonderful Ordinariate parish, where peeps from the Anglican fraternity are also now recovering.) I have also suffered many of the other abuses suggested in the comments. Sigh.

  18. Laity joining in parts of the liturgy which should be said by the priest alone.

  19. At a Mass in Oregon, USA I heard the celebrant telling the man bringing up the gifts to "hurry up his buns."