Poll for Catholics: changes in Mass

I’ve been wondering about this for a while, but since yesterday was another reminder I figured I’d finally ask.

I’ve not been much of a church-goer as an adult (which is half my life now). Ever since my parents moved out to Long Island to live with my sister’s family, though, I’m usually around on holiday weekends at Christmas and Easter, and so wind up trekking to Mass with everyone else. I’ve noticed some changes since I was a regular attendee (through the 70s and early 80s), and I have mixed feelings about them. I was just wondering if your local churches do similar things, and about how long they’ve been doing it.

First of all, altar girls - I’d always heard as a kid that there had been altar girls in other churches/before my time, as one of the outcomes of Vatican II, but my parish church never had them (nor were the girls ever even told that they could serve). My sister’s parish does have them now, and I think that’s great - equal opportunity and all that.

Next is this “raising of the hands” thing (sometimes turned into joined hands held shoulder-height) that I see members of the congregation doing during the recitation of the Our Father. I had never seen this anywhere but my sister’s church; we never did this when I was younger. To be honest, it rubs me the wrong way - it’s something IMHO that only the priest should do. Everyone else just looks like they’re trying to show off somehow. What was wrong with bowing your head and folding your hands?

Lastly, because my nephews are young (9 and 5), we end up at the children’s Masses a lot, and they try to make the service kid-friendly. I’m fine with that (although I wish they would hire someone to actually teach the children’s choir how to sing! :wink: ). But the Christmas service the last couple of years has included a guest appearance by Santa Claus (one of the parish priests dressed up), who gives a little speech about Jesus and the spirit of giving. I don’t know… personally, I think that having a little Christmas pageant as part of the Mass should be enough to get kids engaged, and leave the non-religious stuff out of it. Or maybe I’m just turning into an old fogey. :stuck_out_tongue:

So how about the rest of you - are there things done differently now in your churches than say, 10 or 15 years ago? Do you like the changes?

I’m also bemused by the raising of the hands thing during the Our Father. I don’t remember ever being instructed in this, and I don’t know how it got started. Some churches do it, others don’t. Mine does. I don’t think it’s a ‘sanctioned’ activity; neither is holding hands during the Our Father. This has been done for years, though–and half the time I’m already holding hands with my children, so it’s sort of moot with me.

Some real changes that have been instituted lately include bowing before Receiving communion, bowing during the “by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man” part during the Creed and the lector saying “The Word of the Lord” rather than THIS IS the word of the lord. Hm, I’m sure there are others. These all are to inspire reverence I believe. Probably tomndebb can come by with a better explanation.

I’m not very excited about Santa Claus at Mass. We’ve never that that before. Thanks be to God there was no Easter Bunny yesterday. :wink:

And the “Gay Priests” ad just really needs to go away. :mad:

The holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer and/or holding the palms up seems quite pretensious to me. I don’t do it and if I don’t know you very well, I don’t particularly want to hold your hand (unless Brooke Shields should show up for mass).

Altar girls are long overdue and don’t bother me a bit.

Both of these seem to have come into play in the past few years. I haven’t noticed the “Word of the Lord” bit. Bowing before the communion and during part of the Nicene Creed has only been in the past year or two. None of the officially sanctioned changes have bothered me, it’s the showoffy raising of hands that seems a bit much for my taste.

I’m only twenty, so I don’t have quite the range for comparison that others may, but here’s my take anyways.

At my home parish, we have altar servers of both genders. I think it’s pretty cool. I don’t remember paying attention to whether they were boys or girls when I was younger, but I don’t get the impression that this is a recent change, so they’ve probably been coed as long as I’ve been around. Currently, I go to on-campus Mass at my college more often than not. The altar servers are whoever we can get to volunteer. Considering that we have about seventy people in attendance weekly and less than ten of them are male, I’ll let you guess the gender of most of our altar servers. I like the idea of anyone being allowed to serve. I’ve done it and I always feel very humbled when I pour the water over the priest’s hands so the Lord can “cleanse him of his inequities”.

At just about every church I’ve been to, for the Our Father everyone in the congregation holds hands at waist level. At the very end, during the, “for the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever,” everybody raises their arms, hands still joined, to shoulder level. We didn’t always do it like this though and I remember thinking it was really odd the first couple of times it happened. The weird thing is, there wasn’t any announcement saying, “Hey, lift up your arms during this part of this prayer!” It just sort of happened. I just go with the flow though. I’ve never gotten the impressiong that it was showing off in any way.

The Santa Claus in church thing would seriously bother me. I remember when I was about five or six seeing our priest dressed up like Santa at a church social. Being the smart kid I was, I knew he wasn’t the “Real Santa”. I also thought it was dumb that he was at church. At church, Christmas was about baby Jesus; at school it was about Santa. We switched churches about a year later. At that church, during the five o’clock Christmas Eve Mass, the priest calls the children of the parish up to the front of the church for the homily. He talks to them about Jesus and what the birth of Jesus means to them. It’s neat. It’s like story time. Being that it’s considered the family Mass and that he also incoorporates what he’s saying to the little kids into a message for the big kids (“grownups”, if you will), everybody seems to like it. I remember really loving it when I was still young enough to go up.

One diocesan wide change that I do not like is kneeling when the Eucharist is exposed. Growing up, we stood before we recieved it and knelt afterwards in prayer until it was put away. The idea was that if Jesus Christ entered the room, you would stand to show respect. Other churches in the diocese said that you should kneel to show respect, so that’s what they did before the Eucharist was recieved. Now, I personally think both rationals are dumb. If Jesus entered the room in human form, I would either be to dumbstruck to do anything, or would be lying prostrate on the floor kissing his sandals. Even that doesn’t seem like it would be showing enough reverence. My diocese recently got a new Bishop who decided we needed to be uniform throughout the diocese and told us all to kneel. Theologically, I don’t really mind this mandate, but physically it is painful. I have yet to find a church with comfortable kneelers. At on-campus Mass, we don’t even have kneelers, we have very thin carpet. Kneeling is a load of suck.

I’m also really against the new no-gay-priests rule from the Vatican, but that’s probably more of a topic for GD.

I don’t like the holding hands/raising hands during the Lord’s Prayer. If I can gracefully get out of it, I do. Altar girls/women lectors I’m very comfortable with - I’ve been a lector since elementary school. Parishes do have some leeway, but I was totally turned off by the interpretive dancers at one Mass I attended in Oakland California. That was just wrong. My mother and her husband love Fr. Seamus, the Irish priest there, but I’m too conservative.


No hand holding and raising for me either. It somehow feels like kindergarten and the Hokey Pokey. I stopped going to one church after we were asked to turn to the person next to us and put our hands on each others’ shoulders in a joyful expression of affirmation.

Altar girls – they had girls at my parish growing up, so that doesn’t seem odd or new to me.

The joined/raised hands thing – the first time I saw this in action was when we moved to a new parish in 2000. A neat thing (IMHO) about this church is that most of the population it serves are of a different culture/ethnicity than I am. There are a few things about church services that reflect the cultural background of this group. For example, often some of the music selections are in French. I always enjoyed this, because it felt to me like a nice celebration of the diversity, yet universality, of the world-wide church. For some reason, I assumed that the joined/raised hands thing was another example of a tradition from this culture. And I liked it well enough.

Then, someone filled me in on the fact that the joined/raised hands is part of the new touchy-feely program, or whatever. I know I sound like a 7th grader when I say “It used to be cool, and now it’s lame!” when the thing itself never changed, only my impression of it … but I do feel like that in a sheepish way. The thing I don’t like about it is that you mess things up for your entire pew if you would rather not. With the standing/kneeling issue, you can simply stand or kneel as you see fit and it doesn’t impact anyone else. With the joined hands … I feel more like a tool if I leave someone stranded without a hand.

Altar girls?! Who knew! It’s about time I got updated. I was born too early to have gotten a chance at being an altar girl, maybe I would have stayed with the Church…

So do they wear the same black cassocks? Like Sophia Loren in When I was in Catholic school, the altar boys wore the plain black cassocks but never ever wore those lacy white surplices. In those days it had become inconceivable that any Ohio boy could wear anything so girly. Not when he faced getting stomped into the asphalt in the parking lot playground at recess by the gender vigilantes. So when altar girls came along, did they go for the surplices, or had surplices already become completely obsolete by then?

The last time I really checked in was circa 1979, sorry I’m so out of date.

Sorry, to complete the unfinished sentence above, the title of the movie where Sophia Loren wore a cassock (and made it look good, no surprise there) was La Moglie del Prete (The Priest’s Wife).

At our parish I’ve noticed the hands holding thing during the Our Father. However, it seems to be just among family members. No one seems to expect strangers or even people you know but aren’t related to you to hold hands. This is good because I don’t care if others do it, but I don’t want to do it myself.

Alter girl and women as lectors and eucharistic ministers are fine with me. I’ve actually been thinking about looking into becoming a lector. I have a good reading voice, or so I’ve been told many times. I’d like to use it for good.

I’m not sure how I feel about litugical dancers. I only saw one once in a Presbyterian church. It was an Easter years ago and I thought it was fine for the special occasion, but I don’t think I’d like it every week.

No need for Santa Claus during Christmas Mass. St. Nicholas shows up at the end of the parish school’s Christmas pageant, take of his hat and kneels briefly in prayer at the manger where the baby Jesus is and the leaves again. I think that’s fine. Short and to the point.

Altar servers, male and female, at my hometown parish wear what look like monks robes (“albs”), with rope belts. Not like the cassocks and surplices we altar boys wore in the '70s.

All the latest altar server fashions.

Ours (both boys and girls) wear ther “Altar Server Roman Cassocks” in red. About halfway down the page. I just wish whoever is in charge of them would make sure they have, at the very least, neutral colored shoes on. Bright pink and black checked vans just don’t cut it.

I am very conservative and wary of change! I am almost always by myself so I don’t have to hold anyone’s hand or raise my hands. We have boy and girl servers who wear the red and white. I haven’t seen liturgical dance since Mass in the high school gym and I haven’t missed it at all.

Luckily we have a relatively traditional pastor; the only complaint I have is his inclusive language. He changed the Exultet to say “oh happy fault, oh necessary sin of Adam and Eve” which is just ugh. It’s a lovely poem, leave it alone! And don’t change "Father’ to “life-giving God” when it is referring to the Father, the first person of the Trinity, and a name Jesus told us to use.

I grew up in the 70’s and we had female altar servers. That’s not new to me. What I’d found new was when my mother’s church had had a nun in residence and she’d be on the homily rotation, with the priest, and the deacon.

I’m not really into the holding hands during the Our Father, but I view it as one of those little things I can do at small cost to make others happier - so I’ll do it.

Our church, which was built in 1995, has a Eucharistic Chapel, I think it’s called, outside the vestibule. The tabernacle is in the back of church, not behind the altar. It was explained to me that this is to place the emphasis on the congregation during Mass. (Plus, they also call the vestibule the “gathering area.”)

I don’t like any of this. Well, number one I don’t like our modern church, which looks like it was built on the cheap anyway. I grew up in a traditional looking gothic type church and I miss it! :frowning: But anyway, I like it that the people are included, but to me it looks like the pendulum has swung too far the other way and we’ve stuck God out in the hall.

I’ve been to Mass recently in Hendersonville, NC, where there is a brand-new church and it’s GORGEOUS. So it’s not just the new church. It’s where the emphasis is placed.

Altar girls, I have no problem with. I was one in the early 90’s when I went to church.

Raising/holding hands I haven’t seen. It does seem a little weird to me, I’d rather bow my head and fold my hands.

Santa at the church… yeah I don’t like that one much. Santa is Santa and doesn’t belong as a part of mass IMO, even a children’s mass.

My strange change is mass is the singing of Awesome God as the recessional the last time I went to mass, maybe 6 months ago. I know the song, I learned it at summer camp and have sung it at other denom churches over the years (can’t think which ones, but I’ve been to quite a few when I was younger), but it just seemed so out of place in a Catholic church.

Wow…flashback-inducing blast-from-the-past. There’s a picture of me, taken circa 1966, where I look just like the kid in the “youth server cassock & surplice” (black & white, on the left).

Introibo ad altere dei…ad deum qui laetificat, juventutem meam.

I find the reluctance of several posters to simply hold the hands of strangers quite distasteful for members of a religion that emphazises brotherhood amongst all men.

There are several arguments against handholding during the Our Father. One of them is that the gesture is simply not called for in the rubrics, and never received official sanction.

Another, more profound (I think) objection, is that the Our Father is a “vertically” oriented prayer, addressed not even to Christ but to the ineffable, invisible Father, the source of the Trinity, rather than a “horizontal” prayer that focuses on our fellow man. Handholding directs our attention to those surrounding us, when, at that moment in the liturgy, our focus should be only on our Father in Heaven. There are other points in the service – litanies, the kiss of peace, the Creed, the Orate Fratres – when a focus on the community present is more appropriate.