Skip to comments."They "Served" My Lord... Like An Appetizer:" Liturgical Abuse at Villanova U.
Posted on 06/02/2005 11:17:53 AM PDT by Pyro7480
On 21 May 2005, I attended the bacculareate Mass at Villanova University in southeastern Pennsylvania. My sister was graduating from this school, which was founded by Augustinian priests in the mid-19th century.
The Mass took place in the early evening at the university's stadium, and other than a brief shower, the liturgy started well. A choir sang Palestrina's Tu es Petrus prior to the beginning of the Mass. I was delighted to hear that particular piece of music. However, I should have a heeded a warning of sorts that was right in front of my eyes. There was a table close to the stage were the Mass was going to be offered, and sitting on top of the table were glass chalices, which obviously were going to be used during the Mass.
The atmosphere of the Mass shifted quickly as the processional hymn began. The line-up of the ministers began in a normal fashion. At the very beginning of the procession was a graduate in academic garb carrying a censor. However, not far behind were other graduates carrying multi-colored banners. They were the oddest things I had ever seen processed in during a Mass. It wasn't clear at all what their point was. The colors used weren't Villanova's colors. In fact, they used bright pastel colors. But they didn't have much to do with the Mass itself, so it was a forgiveable error.
The banners, however, was just the beginning of events that could be described as the results of lapses in judgement. The music during the Mass itself belonged to typical post-1970's composing, so that wasn't exactly unexpected either. But when the time for the offertory came, my heart began to sink. The hosts that were to be consecrated were brought in to the stage where the altar was in large wicker baskets. It wasn't immediately clear at that point but inside the larger wicker baskets were smaller wicker baskets, lined with white cloths of some sort, which actually contained the hosts. The wine that was going to be consecrated were brought in large glass/crystal containers.
Both the hosts and the wine were left in their containers during the entire Eucharistic prayer. When time came for communion, baskets containing consecrated hosts were brought to each side of the field. The smaller wicker baskets containing the hosts were taken out of the larger baskets, and most of the distribution of the Blessed Sacrament was taken care of by lay people, most of whom were college students.
When one of them came with the basket, the rest of my family went for Communion, but I decided not to go. I prefer to receive Our Lord's Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, from the hands of a priest or deacon. Anyway, at that point, I was feeling rather offended by the manner Communion was being distributed. They were treating Our Lord as if He were an appetizer that was being served at a restaurant. When my dad sat back down next to me after receiving Communion, I told him what was wrong about what was taking place.
As the distribution was winding-down, I noticed that some of the students who were distributing Communion were committing more abuses. I saw one of them self-communicate. Some of them stacked the baskets on top of each other, and it was probably the case that on top of the clothes, there still rested small fragments of the consecrated hosts.
After the Mass concluded, my family went to a nice Italian restaurant nearby. I brought up the issue of the Mass. My mom seemed to understand why I was feeling offended. My sister on the other hand, said in response to my complaint (in a rather sarcastic manner), "I'm sorry my liturgy offended you." She couldn't understand why it was wrong to serve the Blessed Sacrament in that manner.
My final thought on this issue: If it is possible for papal Masses to accomodate hundreds of thousands of people during Communion, and do it properly, then an American institute of higher learning which has Catholic roots can afford to do take the proper steps to accomodate a few thousand during a bacculareate Mass.
This picture was taken during the distribution of the Blessed Sacrament. You can see the large wicker baskets on top of and by the table. If you look carefully, you can see a priest, dressed in a white robe/alb, distributing communion from one of the smaller wicker baskets.
Your SISTER'S "liturgy"?
I know what she meant, but the Freudian slip is extremely revealing...
Good "on the scene" reporting Pyro, you should post this on AQ. Brian's got one of his there now.
Aplogies because I certainly don't know Pyro's sister, but I thought that was a strange comment also.
When it comes to offering communion, my brother's three-hour (I kid you not) catechumenate Mass was the nadir. The seminarians who were serving as deacons took the small baskets you described to each each pew and passed them around like collection baskets. Everyone was expected to self-communicate, and at least half weren't even Christian, never mind Catholic.
Thanks, I just did. The HTML didn't work though.
I would have flipped out.
Did the priest(s) ad-lib parts of the Mass too? Seems like the make up your own Mass texts nonsense would go hand-in-glove with all the other abuses you reported.
I think your decision to not go to Communion was probably the right one. If it had been me, I would have made the same decision. Not because it was invalid (in which case there is no cause for alarm), but because my interior dispositions would have been severely disrupted to properly receive Our Lord. I'm sure this was your reasoning as well.
Now, contrast this with the Mass we attended last Sunday! Among other great things, my favorite was when Fr. Jackson reiterated that no applause is to be done in church! And he said it in a straightfoward, non-obtrusive way...see, it's not that hard to accomplish proper reverence at Mass. On the other hand, it seems quite an exercise of the imagination to produce the abuses you observed.
You were exactly right in your take on things and in not receiving Communion at such a travesty. When I've traveled and been at "parishes" where similar conduct occurs, I do just as you did (and have the exact same feelings). If I see silliness , I stay to meet Sunday Obligation and that is all. Mother Angelica on a recent ETWN rerun of her classic shows put it well - "there was a time when you could go anywhere and what was taught and believed was the same and the Mass was conducted the same....but now......" Bravo to you for not participating in such a display. May God bless you!
Speaking of the Mass from Sunday, I should have my pictures from that soon too. I will post them.
Two thoughts -
Papal Masses were notorious for these kinds of abuses.
The real problem is the lack of faith which is displayed by the abuses at the Villanova Mass. They don't have a clue they are doing anything wrong. Two generations have been improperly catechized. That's the real scandal. Solve the root of the problem and the externals disappear.
Well, ultimately, I was thinking of papal Masses prior to 1965. But that is a good point, as well as your second point.
I'm looking forward to see the pictures you took of Fr. Magiera's Mass.
Back to your post...Is Villanova U in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia? Have you thought about sending your pictures along w/ a note of grievance to Cardinal Rigali?
I thought about doing that right after the Mass. Do you think he will do anything about it though?
I understand your hesitance. My wife prodded me about doing the same thing about a lot of the abuses we've seen in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Whether or not he actually does something is really out of our hands, but we have the responsibility to stand up for the truth. I think it helps to remember the saying, "The only way for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
I just wrote a letter two weeks ago to the priest who is in charge of liturgical directives here in Baltimore. I have yet to receive a reply, but I know this priest is one of the good guys (a sheep among the ravenous wolves of the chancery).
...no applause is to be done in church!
Oh, how I wish that were said in my parish. Just recently the congregation was asked -- by the priest! -- to applaud a kid who had just received his First Communion. It's appalling, and I refuse to do it.
....parents and relatives were encouraged to extend their hands in unison with the priest.
I have been subjected to such nonsense at my church.
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