Poll for Catholics: changes in Mass

Depends on the parish-some still wear the fancy ones, some just wear plain white monastic style robes. My sister was one of the first altar girls at our parish and she just wore the plain robes.

We always held hands during the Our Father, from what I can remember. Or at least, my mother always made us when we were kids.

clairobscur - I don’t like to be touched, even by my family. I have no desire to hold the hands of people who just happen to be sitting next to me. It doesn’t mean that I hate them, that I look down on them, or that I think I’m better than they are. And as yBeayF says, it isn’t called for in the rubrics of the Mass. This isn’t an “official” act, it’s a touchy-feely attempt at forced fellowship.


Our diocese was until very recently one of two in the country that absolutely did not permit female altar servers. That has changed now; it’s up to the pastor to decide the issue.

To the extent that the rationale for the altar server program is to inspire the participants to consider whether or not they have a vocation to the priesthood… obviously it makes no sense to include girls.

But if you picture the program as simply a chance to get youth involved in the celebration of Mass… then it makes perfect sense to include girls.

As someone who shows up at Mass mostly when someone marries or dies, at some point I noticed that the Ofertory prayer (“Blessed are you Lord God of the Universe for this bread, fruit of the Earth and of the work of man…”) stopped being said out loud – apparently it’s up to the local authority to include it or not. Somehow the whole production seems to me to be missing something without it.

Agreed. When I first encountered it I thought to myself, maybe next I’ll stand on one foot through it, and see how long it takes for it to catch on with others. Luckily for the Archdiocese of San Juan, as mentioned before I only show up for the wed and the dead…

Hmm, from what I recall in growing up in the Philippines in the 80’s, we always raised our hands up during the Lord’s Prayer (or the Ama Namin in our local lingo :slight_smile: ). No hand-holding though, but I’m not bothered by it. Then again, our Apostle’s Creed was considerably shorter–I was thrown off the first time I went to Mass here in the US by the Nicene creed.

Not sure if other things have changed over there. I’ll find out soon enough.

Heh. That’s a return to the more ancient practice – the Tridentine mass had the entire offertory silent.

The offertory, though, is actually one of the major beefs us traditionalists have with the new mass. Make the thing in English, say the offertory and canon out loud – that’s all innovative, but it can be made to work. But the offertory in the old rite consisted of multiple, long, beautiful prayers. The new rite has 2 short sentences, and the sacrificial aspect of the offertory has been completely removed. It’s one thing to make the liturgy more accessible to the laity, but it’s another to strip away huge amounts of venerable and important prayers in the name of aggiornamento.

Re holding up the hands (not handholding) at the Lord’s Prayer, some traditionalists like to scream about that, but there’s really nothing wrong with it. It’s still the gesture used by Christians in the Middle East when praying the Our Father – rather than an innovation, it’s something that dropped out everywhere else.

While I never opposed allowing girls to be altar servers, I made a prediction at the time it was introduced: allow altar girls now, and in a few years, there will be ONLY altar girls.

My predictions aren’t always on the mark, but in this case, I was right on. Altar boys are now a rarity, in no small part because being an altar server is now perceived as a girly job.

This would be the “orans posture,” correct? That doesn’t bother me much, either. The handholding, however, is another issue, and in some parishes they go way overboard with it. At a couple of churches, I’ve seen every row linking hands, and looping around the corners to every other row, and even stretching across entire aisles–it’s as though the whole congregation has to form some kind of buddy chain, and it looks ridiculous (as well as disruptive and distracting).

In my experience, the degree of handholding varies from one parish to the next. In most churches I’ve been to, I’d say that 60% of family and friend groups will hold hands, but they remain as little clusters instead of the daisy chain effect. By the way, my experience is limited mainly to the southeastern U.S.

I’ve also noticed individuals who perform reciprocal hand gestures throughout the mass–for instance, whenever the priest says “The Lord be with you” with his arms outstretched, some worshippers will not only respond with “And also with you,” but will also stretch their arms out, palms up, in the priest’s direction. I don’t quite understand this practice.

I haven’t seen bowing during the Creed, other than that done by the priest, although for a long time I’ve noticed it included as a direction in the missalette’s text. This would seem to be a sort of return to an old tradition, actually–in the Tridentine rite, everyone has to kneel during that line of the Creed. Of course, there was a lot more kneeling in a Tridentine Latin mass, far more than what you do in the contemporary, Novo Ordo mass. By the way, I’ve only seen altar boys wearing surplices at Tridentine masses–surplices seem to have gone the way of other pre-Vatican II vestments, like the priest’s biretta and those beautifully embrodiered chasubles (much more elaborate than those found in contemporary vestments).

While I have to admit to a fondness for more traditional liturgical practices (“bells and smells”), I have no problems with altar girls. Or, for that matter, with women priests. Or gay priests. Indeed, when it comes to most social and gender issues, I clearly part paths with my “rad-trad” colleagues.

But I can’t stand Santa Claus appearances (I once saw this at “children’s” masses for a Christmas Eve vigil–admittedly, they did it for the kids, but it bugged me). And would it really kill altar servers to put on some nice shoes? I hate to see sneakers poking out at the hem of their habits. This goes for those young, “hip” priests, too–the ones who wear jeans and sneakers beneath their vestments. If I had my way, of course, no one, layperson or server, should ever show up at mass wearing shorts or t-shirts. Dressing up a little bit never hurt anyone, people.

Is it really? We have plenty of altar boys in our parish. It’s probably 50/50 from what I can tell. My son, who is looking forward to becoming an altar server in a few years, doesn’t think it’s a girly job. Nor do any of his friends that I am aware of. What makes people think it’s now a girly job. Just because some girls do it?

Holding hands during the Our Father is an abomination started by touchy-feely types in the early 80s. I see no reason to play ring-around-the-rosey or Red Rover during Mass. On the other hand, the raising of the hands in prayer at that time does not bother me in the least as it is an ancient attitude of prayer (and gives me an excuse to ignore any hand-holders who wander into the parish).

Permitting girls to serve at Mass was made “legal” in the mid 80s when the church reorganized the “orders” leading to priesthood so that acolyte was no longer an official step in the process. The permission was granted grudgingly (and about 15 years after the practice had already begun in some parishes). My memory is that we are still not supposed to use the word acolyte when girls serve at Mass, but there are only about a dozen of us who remember the word, anyway.

There’s certainly no lack of altar servers now that girls are in the club. My son is on a crew of 4, and there are 5-person crews. When I was an altar boy, except for special occasions, there were two boys assigned to a mass. If one didn’t show up, you served by yourself, no big deal. There’s a lot of choreography going on these days with all the kids up there, at least in my parish.

I mostly attend mass at a parish staffed by priests from one of the newer religious orders whose priests exclusively use the pre-Vatican II liturgical books. So everything is in Latin. Having been brought up with the Novus Ordo and then discovered the Traditional Latin mass as an adult, I think the older liturgical forms are far superior, both spiritually and doctrinally.

Perhaps the rationale for holding hands during the “Our Father” is to emphasize the “our”, as in “we are praying together as a community, each of us equal before God”. Whatever.

When I was an altar boy around 1960, at my parish the altar boys were required to have white tennis shoes to be used only during services. This was for uniformity and probably to reduce wear on the marble floor of the sanctuary. The shoes were kept in a cabinet in the sacristy. And these were simple tennis shoes, not sports sneakers or hyped-up shoes.

IIRC we did have to wear a white button-down-the-front shirt - no polo shirts or t-shirts. I can’t remember if we had to wear ties or not. And also IIRC dress pants or casual slacks were required - jeans and cords were not allowed.

I hadn’t attended Mass for a few years but returned to regular attendance just over a year ago. Some people in our Parish do this but it’s quite a new thing around here. I don’t feel comfortable with it.

When I attended Mass regularly in the past, it was the custom of just about everyone to genuflect before receiving Holy Communion. Now, no one does it. I wonder when it changed?

I have a Missal I’ve owned for about 20 years which directs the congregation to kneel at this point in the Creed. It was never done, though and it’s not something I see nowadays.

Yeah, when did this change come about? And why? Our printed Parish bulletins with the readings and notices still has “This is the Word of the Lord” at the end of the readings but the lectors don’t say it.

And whatever happened to the Confiteor? I’ve been going to Mass again for about 54 Sundays and it’s never been part of the liturgy.

The following changes were all (supposed to be) introduced in the U.S. at the beginning of the 2005 liturgical year (December, 2004). (They were actually promulgated earlier, but different national churches spent some time tailoring them to local custom and then had to get the changes approved by the Vatican):

“The Word of the Lord” replaced “This is the Word of the Lord” at the end of the non-Gospel readings. (The newer format is actually a better translation of the phrase from the official Latin, which is Dei Verbum not Hoc est Dei Verbum.)

Bowing one’s head before receiving Communion.

Praying the Our Father with hands extended upward. (As noted earlier, holding hands as though one were playing Red Rover was a “spontaneous” gesture that crept in during the 1980s that has no basis in liturgical theory.)

In addition, it is suggested that each community periodically use the Apostle’s Creed in place of the Nicene Creed, from time to time, to ensure that the community is aware of both traditions, although I have not encountered any parishes that routinely pray the Apostle’s Creed at Mass.

The Confiteor remains a legitimate alternative prayer for the penitential rite at the beginning of Mass, but in many parishes, it has simply fallen out of use. I could not say why–I have never heard anyone argue against the prayer, it simply seems to be never chosen (sort of like Eucharistic Prayer I).

Interesting reponses, folks. Thanks.

So, some of what I’m seeing at my sister’s parish is pretty recent. I guess I’m like Götterfunken - I’m not traditional re social issues, but if I’m going to attend Mass I really do prefer a more traditional liturgy. (“Bells and smells,” I like it. :wink: ) I wish I had that option out in my sister’s town, but I get the feeling that all the churches in that area are pretty similar.

Just a few random comments of my own:

Like some of the other posters, for me it’s not about not touching a stranger (which I do for the sign of peace, by shaking hands). It’s more about the sense that the display is inappropriate (since there is no long-standing tradition of it here). Matthew 6:5-6 comes to mind when I see the hand-holding.

At my sister’s church, the servers wear albs too, with an overtunic of some sort; on Sunday it was pink for the all-girl crew. It would be fine if only someone gave the girls some hints how to dress though - they just throw them on over their own clothes without any thought as to how the alb bunches up, and it looks really sloppy. (Now I really feel like I’m channeling my mother! :p)

At my grandmother’s funeral yesterday morning, back in my old parish, I was pleased to see the altar boys were wearing the old-style cassock and surplice (a somewhat fancier version than the ones in Walloon’s link, more like the Florentine surplice here).

Given that the boys in my parish (at one time one of the largest in the Archdiocese of New York, with over 10,000 registered families) seemed to become altar servers because their parents pushed them into it (with the bonus points that it allowed them to cut class occasionally to serve at a funeral), the concept of participants considering a vocation to the priesthood must have fallen by the wayside among the common peoples a while ago. Do you happen to have any figures as to how often being an altar boy has inspired a priestly vocation in recent decades?

By the way, I caught a bit of God or the Girl? the other day… interesting in that the three guys considering a vocation seemed to be doing so as young adults after living “regular” lives otherwise (having girlfriends, careers, etc.). I wonder if this isn’t the more common way these days.

Actually, I never remember doing this, although I do remember kneeling in front of the railing to receive Communion, and I recall when we were given the option of receiving the Host in our hands. Maybe this is another regional difference?

As I mentioned, our pastor is relatively traditional and the Confetior and Kyrie are included every time. He also chooses Prayer I pretty often at Christmas and Easter–we probably heard it three times during Holy Week (and includes all the optional saints’ names. If I ever had twin boys I think they would be Cosmas and Damien.) It seems like 2 and 3 are the most common; I just looked up 4 and it didn’t seem familiar at all.

Your church gives the kid a choice? Wow. I grew up in a small, rural parish (we didn’t have a resident pastor, which was just as well, as they never built a rectory when they built the new church in the 60’s). If you were a male in the 8th grade CCD class, you became a server (optional for girls at the time, now mandatory, as well). Your name was just put in the rotation, and you either showed up, or if not, the priest would go out 5 minutes before mass and collar another junior high/high school guy.

We wore plain white albs, which were probably a lot cooler on hot summer Saturday afternoons than a cassock and surplice. Especially if you were wearing shorts.

One thing that was (and is) done in my church, that I’ve seen nowhere else, is that, at the end of the mass, after the recessional is over and priest and servers are gone, everyone (EVERYONE) kneels for about 30 seconds. I always just thought that this was the way it was done, and was always surprised, at other churches, when they didn’t do this. Visiting priests would always comment on it. I think that it was started when the priest who built the current church asked the congregation to do so, so that he could have time to take off his vestments before going to stand at the front door to greet everyone (he was a large man, and at the time, they would have been the really heavy type of vestments. To this day, all the priests assigned have learned to like it, and you almost never see one wearing the vestments at the front door, just the alb.

Lambo - I like the idea of kneeling after Mass. I usually want some wuiet time for prayer and reflection after the Mass, but people seem to stand around chatting loudly which I find obtrusive.


It’s rather the opposite for me, I cannot recall using the Nicene Creed, just the Apostle’s Creed.