I spent a week in an alpine setting recently with young friends who had just completed school and university exams. We attended the local Catholic church for Mass on the Tuesday. It was held in a chapel adjoining the presbytery.
The priest did not wear a chasuble. Instead of a chalice he used a wine glass. At the Offertory he poured almost as much water into the glass as wine and convoluted the operation by offering both bread and wine together. He modified the words of Canon and Consecration. And at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer he invited the congregation to join him in proclaiming "Through Him, with Him, in Him ...". Before the minor elevation and his own communion he handed the sacred hosts to each of the regular attenders. After communion he activated a tape recording of music.
Each of these items is a breach of the Church's liturgical laws.
In April 1980, with the approval of Pope John Paul II, the Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship issued an instruction on the liturgy, Inaestimabile Donum, to address the varied and frequent liturgical abuses being reported from different parts of the Catholic world.
In August 1997 the Vatican Congregations joined in an instruction approved by Pope John Paul II circumscribing the activities of lay people in the ministry of priests and, inter alia, reinforcing the duties of priests in respect of the sacred liturgy.
But a great many priests continue to be a law unto themselves and to modify the sacred liturgy in whatever way they choose.
The Catholic faithful have rights. The Code of Canon Law (c. 214) and Inaestimable Donum establish that the faithful are entitled to an authentic liturgy; that is, the liturgy laid down by the Church.
The Mass we attended was not licit. Had it been celebrated properly the three of us would have attended every day of our holiday. But we were not prepared to put up with the scandal of the failure to conform with the Church's laws nor the implication that what we were attending was the priest's liturgy and not that of the Catholic Church.
Such abuses are regrettably commonplace. But they need not be. It is time lay people took a stand and showed offending clergy that their failure to accord Catholics their right to an authentic liturgy will no longer be tolerated.
St Mary's, NSW