Tuesday, February 12, 2019

I don't LIKE incense

Some parishioners (whom I love) were recently telling me that I just have incense at Mass and chant and "ad orientem worship" and nice vestments because I like them.


I do not LIKE incense (outside of Mass).  I have never used incense outside of Mass.   Ever!  If I LIKED incense, wouldn't I use incense on my own?

I don't LIKE chant (outside of Mass).  I do not hardly ever listen to chant outside of Mass.  I listen to way more classic rock and way more blues and folk music than I do chant.  If I just happened to LIKE chant, wouldn't I listen to it all the time outside of Mass?

I do not LIKE nice vestments/clothing (outside of Mass). If I LIKED that stuff, I'd wear nice clothes outside of Mass.

And this is where I think a generation or two has REALLY failed the Church - the only way they can think is in terms of "what do I personally like?"  They think this way themselves, and when they see a priest celebrating Mass a particular way, they assume that if he's doing Mass a certain way it is because he's adding in the things he just happens to LIKE.


We have to start thinking non-selfishly and non-narcissistically again.  The ONLY proper question is "WHAT WORKS IN THE MASS FOR THE SALVATION OF SOULS?"...what attracts people?...and do those things...even if you don't happen to like it!!!!!

When the guys (that I really like) were complaining to me, I told them "Fellas, I love you, but when I came here there were 3 masses a weekend with 30 people at each one.  That means 90 people coming to Mass a weekend.  We gradually started doing Mass differently, and we now have 300 people coming.  Gentlemen, you and I are going to come to Mass in the middle of a cornfield without music, without vestments, etc...BUT YOU HAVE TO ASK: "WHAT WILL ATTRACT THE PERSON WHO IS CURRENTLY NOT HERE?"

The Church, in her 2,000 years of wisdom, KNOWS what works in terms of a celebration of the Mass that draws people in.  She has told us over and over and over again. 

But as with so many other things, we've started breaking from that body of wisdom simply for the fact that it isn't what we personally like. 


  1. So very true, the Mass is not the priests to celebrate as he chooses. In fact, one big reason we can see so few in the pews is due to fifty years of renegade priests and Bishops who decided to do as they wanted with the Mass.

    I happen to love incense and chant. I don't get that in my parish except maybe during Holy Week, but I do outside of the church.

    I am waiting for all Bishops to bring the Mass back to what it truly is, A Holy Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  2. Father John Hollowell, thank you for this posting. Unfortunately, too many priests come to the parish and change everything almost immediately. They do things "their" way rather than what works to bring in families for celebrating Mass. I love the smells and bells (incense and bells) but the incense does make me cough rather badly. During the times I know incense will be used, I bring a hanky with me to cover my nose and mouth during that particular ritual in order to lessen the effect on my lungs! A former priest used to have a special Mass in the Spring and the Fall for those needing the special oil for the sick. That is no longer being done by our current priest, nor does he recognize St. Blaise and do the blessing of the throat on Feb. 3rd. For that, you have to make a special appointment to have it done. Our attendance is down and I have heard lots of murmurings of discontent. Several families have chosen to attend different parishes where the Priest does step up and do the special blessings, etc. I think it should be mandatory for every Priest to read your statement. Mass should be for the masses and not just for the Priest alone. Thank you!