A cry from the heart from a Jesuit brother: Priests celebrating mass, don’t improvise!

In America Magazine, words to the wise:

O priests, who improv prayers at Mass! Who give opening monologues to start the show! Who deliver closing arguments before the dismissal! Who make meaningful statements in between the “Lord have mercy’s”! (Lord, when we are not our best selves, when others do not receive the totality of all that we could be…. Lord have mercy.)

O priests who feel the need to make Mass personal or interesting or more spiritual than it appears on the surface to be. Who suddenly put the sign of peace at a different part of the Mass or change up in some fashion the standing and kneeling and sitting. Who do not want to appear as cold, officious church functionaries just rattling off words handed to them by a hyper-literal worship committee in some cold cellar of the Vatican. O priests, trust yourselves!

Trust that you are interesting and personal and spiritual as you are. Trust that the energy you exude, your presence, your physicality, your posture, your voice is spiritual enough. Trust that, and just say the words! Do the gestures! They are enough! It is like the old actor’s maxim: “Don’t just do something, stand there!”

Brother Joe Hoover, SJ, America’s poetry editor, goes on and on, analyzing the dramatic and gently skewing the offenders. Read the whole thing.

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