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Liturgical Errors 

A number of significant liturgical errors associated with the holy Mass have gained wide acceptance in many Catholic parishes. These errors are not due to any intrinsic problem with the Mass itself; holy Mass is a fitting way to praise and worship God.

1. Replacement of the Psalm reading with a song.

The book of Psalms is an important part of God's infallible Sacred Scripture. The liturgy of the Word usually contains two or three readings from the Old Testament and one or two readings from the New Testament. A reading from the Psalms should be a part of every holy Mass. The reading from the Psalms can also be sung.

Many parishes have been replacing the reading or singing of a Psalm with a popular hymn. The Psalms are not merely poetry or song, but are part of infallible Divine Revelation. Popular hymns are not Sacred Scripture, are not the Divine Word of God, are not infallible Divine Revelation. Although many hymns are based on Scripture, and even on the Psalms, this basis is not sufficient to make them infallible Sacred Scripture. Even if a particular hymn were nothing other than a particular Psalm set to music, such hymn would only be suitable for use at a Mass if that particular Psalm was called for in the readings.

Replacing the Psalms with a popular hymn has the effect of deleting the book of Psalms, an important part of Sacred Scripture, from use during the holy Mass. Shall we next replace the other readings from Scripture with readings from popular works? Then the liturgy of the Word would be merely a liturgy of words. Would you accept a Bible which lacked the book of Psalms or which replaced the book of Psalms with a collection of popular hymns? If not, then why do so many parishes accept the replacement of the Psalm with a hymn?

The deletion of the reading or singing of a Psalm from holy Mass is a serious and widespread liturgical error.

2. Adding to, subtracting from, or changing Sacred Scripture

“I warn every one who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if any one adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if any one takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Rev 22:18-19)

The human author of the book of Revelation intended these words to apply to the book of Revelation. But the Divine author of the book of Revelation intends these words to apply to the entire Book of Divine Revelation, the Bible. God forbids adding to, subtracting from, or changing the Word of God because God is unchanging Divine Perfection. The Word of God is a reflection of the Divine perfection of God.

Some of the readings from Scripture during the liturgy of the Word contain alterations in Sacred Scripture. In many missalettes, the reading from the Epistles of the New Testament has an introductory address added to the reading. The quote from the Epistle is not in quotation marks, but is in block quotation style, so that the quoted words from Scripture are set off from the rest of the text. But added to this block quotation, as if it were a part of the quote from Scripture, is an address, such as: “Brothers and sisters:” or “Beloved:” These words are not found in the particular passage being quoted. Yet these words are printed and read as if they were a part of Sacred Scripture. Adding to Sacred Scripture is forbidden.

Some of the Scripture readings have been changed to conform to the gender norms of the current age. The Epistles frequently use the address “brothers” or “brethren” to refer to various men who are leaders in the Church in different locations and to the members they lead. Often this single word from Sacred Scripture is changed to the three word expression: “brothers and sisters.” No translator, lacking an axe to grind, would translate “brothers” into “brothers and sisters,” no matter which languages he was translating to or from. This change is the result of the influence of certain false teachings of our society, in particular the idea that men and women are meant to have the same roles and that women are meant to be leaders with men. Other such changes have been made to Sacred Scripture, along the same lines. Sacred Scripture was written by God, and for that reason, if for no other reason, Sacred Scripture should not be changed to conform to whatever is the current social norm of secular society.

“Blest too are the peacemakers; they shall be called sons of God,” has been changed into “for they will be called children of God.” (Mt. 5:9). The expression “sons of God” indicates that the peacemakers are imitating Christ, the only Son of God. The expression “sons of God” indicates that the peacemakers are not making peace by their own ability, but only by means of grace from the Son of God. The change to “children of God” obscures this connection to Christ.

“For the just man falls seven times and rises again,” (Proverbs 24:16), does not have the same meaning when changed to “the just person,” because the passage refers first and foremost to the Just Man Jesus Christ, Who makes all other men just, not merely to just persons in general.

“Brothers,” or “brethren,” is an appropriate way to address the Church, or a portion of the Church, because the Church is the Body of the man Jesus Christ, and because God intends the Church to be led by men: by the Pope, the Bishops, and the priests. The term “brothers” or “brethren” includes the leaders and all those whom they lead-men, women, and children. This term also contains the understanding that God intends men to have the role of leadership in the Church. Changing that term to “brothers and sisters” offends God by altering Sacred Scripture, offends God by treating the Church as if it were not the Body of the man Jesus Christ, offends God by abandoning God's plan that men should lead the Church, offends God by treating women as if they were the same as men, and offends God by separating the Church by gender.

“Brethren” is a somewhat better term than “brothers,” because the archaic version of the word indicates a theological meaning beyond the usual secular dictionary definition. Brethren refers to the community of believers-men, women, and children-led by men who are imitating the Man Jesus Christ. Brethren refers to the Body of the Man Jesus Christ. The term “brethren” indicates that men are meant to have different roles in the Church than women; whereas the term “brothers and sisters” lacks any understanding of a difference in roles, especially the role of leadership.

3. Improper roles given to women

Women should not have the role of Lector, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, or Usher, during any Mass or liturgical service in which adult men participate. Women should not give a sermon, nor take any role which approaches the role of a priest.

Society and culture have a profound effect on all of us. We live our entire lives immersed in our society and culture. We eat, drink, breathe, and sleep our culture. When our culture teaches something incorrect, and teaches it constantly and thoroughly, it is difficult for us to even consider a different idea. When our culture teaches something incorrect, and we stumble across the truth, the truth will seem foreign and awkward to us. The truth will not “feel right,” whenever the truth contradicts the culture in which we are immersed. That is why many Catholics have rejected certain teachings of the Church-because those teachings contradict the teachings of the society and culture around us.

Our society and culture teaches that men and women should have much the same roles in their lives. Modern secular culture treats men and women as if they were meant to be interchangeable parts in society. Men and women are given nearly the same roles in our society today. There are even laws making it illegal to give certain jobs only to men. Women have become political leaders, religious leaders, heads of corporations and other organizations, even soldiers and law enforcement officers. Such is the teaching of our culture. But it is not the teaching of Christ.

“Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent.” (1 Tim 2:11-12)

God did not give women the role, in the Church, the family, or society, of teaching men or having authority over men. Thus, certain roles in the Divine Liturgy are not appropriate to women. A woman who acts as Lector is teaching men from Sacred Scripture and leading them; but women should not have the role of teaching or leading men. A woman who gives a sermon (or any similar talk during Mass) is teaching and leading men; but Sacred Scripture forbids women to have such a role.

The above quote from Sacred Scripture is often misinterpreted. All manner of convoluted and implausible interpretations have been given, the effect of which is to nullify the meaning of this passage. If any interpretation of a passage from Sacred Scripture has the effect of making any part of Scripture null and void, that interpretation is null and void, for “Scripture cannot be broken” (Jn 10:35). The aim of these mistaken interpretations is to try to make the passage fit the teachings of modern secular society, or to make some type of compromise between the teachings of Scripture and those of society.

Sacred Scripture clearly teaches that God gives men and women different roles in the Church, the family, and society. Men are intended by God to be teachers and leaders in the Church, the family, and society. Women should not have any kind of teaching role over adult men. Women should not have any kind of leadership role over adult men.

Women may teach and lead children, both boys and girls (even into the teenage years). God gave women the ability to become pregnant, to carry and give birth to children. In this way, God gave women also the primary role in teaching and leading children. Women may teach and lead other women. An older and wiser woman may be a leader and teacher over other women, especially if they are younger or less knowledgeable than she. But it is not right for a young woman to take a role teaching or leading much older women, (unless those older women are mentally-disabled).

“Wives, be submissive to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” (Ephesians 5:22)

A woman, who acts as a Lector, or Eucharistic Minister, or Usher, or who takes any similar role during holy Mass or any liturgical service, is taking a role above her husband and the husbands of her family members and neighbors. But Sacred Scripture teaches that women should be submissive to their husbands. A woman cannot claim that she is submissive to her husband and to Scripture, if she takes a role of teaching, leadership, or authority over men. Any woman who takes such a role during a liturgical service, when that service includes adult men, is acting in opposition to Sacred Scripture and to Christ.

“As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. . . . what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord.” (1 Cor 14:33-35, 37)

Women should not be Lectors at holy Mass. Women should not read the Scriptures aloud to the faithful at Mass. Women should not distribute holy Communion at Mass. Women should not pass the basket to collect donations. Women should not speak during the time of the homily, not even to describe some worthy work of mercy in which they are involved. It is shameful in God's eyes for a woman to have any such role of leadership or teaching during holy Mass, or any other liturgical service, and at any time in the Sanctuary.

When women are Lectors, and the passage to be read from Sacred Scripture says, “women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak…” or other similar verses, what does the woman Lector do? Does she refuse to read certain passages from Scripture-those passages which contradict her own behavior? Or does she read the very passage which says that she should not be reading at all? If the members of a parish had understanding, they would burst out laughing at any woman Lector who read one of the passages indicating that women should not be speaking in the churches.

Moreover, women should certainly not be in charge of leading or administering a parish, even one which lacks a pastor. Women should not be on the parish council, for this is a leadership role which assists the pastor, much as the Twelve Apostles assisted Christ. When a woman acts as pastor or leader over a parish or diocese, this is an abomination in God's eyes.

In some parishes, a woman (often a nun) leads a Communion service instead of daily Mass. She convinces the pastor that he is too old or too tired or too busy to say daily Mass every day. God is greatly offended when the holy Mass, led by a priest, is replaced by a Communion service, led by a woman. A woman should never be allowed to lead a Communion service, not even within a community of religious women.

Most Catholic women reject the above teaching of Sacred Scripture and of Christ. They have been taught by two teachers, by Christ to some degree and also by secular society. They choose which teacher's answer they will listen to for each particular question. But they refuse to accept or even consider the plain words of Sacred Scripture which say that they cannot have the same roles as men. This lack of understanding is one of the greatest problems within the Church today. And it adversely affects the Divine Liturgy.

4. Improper roles given to children

Just as men and women are meant to have different roles in the Church, so also are children meant to have different roles in the Church. Children should not be pushed by adults into adult roles. At Mass, improper roles are often given to children during a “children's Mass.” Holding a Mass especially for families with young children is appropriate and fitting. However, sometimes the adults in charge of the liturgy inappropriately put children in adult roles during that Mass. Examples of adult liturgical roles, which should not be given to children, include: extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, lector, and usher.

Children should not be given the task of passing the basket to collect donations during Mass. This role is only appropriate to adults. Adults are in charge of financial concerns in the Church, the family, and society. Should parents tell their 10-year-old child to balance their checkbook or fill out their tax returns? Should parents be given an allowance from their 12-year-old after they complete their chores? Neither should the adults in charge of a liturgy give children the role of collecting donations during Mass.

Even during a Children's Liturgy, children should not be given the role of lector. The lector presents Sacred Scripture to a group which includes many adult men and women. This role is a leadership role in the parish. Children should not have a role of leadership or authority over adults. In the family, the children do not lead the family or have authority over their parents. Likewise, in the parish family, children should not lead the parish, make parish decisions, or have any kind of role of leadership or authority over adults.

During some Children's Liturgies, the children separate from the rest of the worshippers to have the Liturgy of the Word presented to them in a way they can better understand. Even if a lector is to read Sacred Scripture to a group of children, the lector should be an adult. Children need to learn from adults. Children need to be led by adults. Children need to understand that adults can and will teach them and lead them. Allowing a child to lead and to read Sacred Scripture during a Liturgy of the Word teaches the wrong lesson to those children.

Children should never be given the role of distributing the Eucharist, not even to other children. When Christ distributed the bread and fish, at the two miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, Christ gave the food to the adult Apostles and disciples, who distributed them to the men, who then gave them to their families.

Did Christ appoint women or children to be Apostles? No. Even John the son of Zebedee was a young adult when he became an Apostle. When Peter and the Apostles chose Bishops to lead the faithful in various places, did they ordain women or children? No. Even today, following the example of Christ, women and children cannot be ordained as priests or Bishops. But some persons have gone astray by following the example of the sinful society around us, in contradiction to the holy example of Christ and the Apostles.

The Son of God, our Savior, did not begin His teaching Ministry until he was well into His adult years. He did not teach or lead adults when He was Himself a child. At the age of twelve, when Christ was asked by the teachers and leaders of Israel to do so, He answered the questions they asked of Him. His answers were instructive because He is the Son of God. But Christ did not take a leadership or teaching role over adults until He Himself was an adult.

Within the holy family, Joseph was a sinner and merely human, Mary was sinless and merely human, and the Christ-Child was sinless and both human and Divine. Yet Joseph led the holy family, Mary was humble and obedient, and the Christ-Child obeyed both His parents (cf. Lk 2:51). Even though the Christ-Child was the Son of God, He did not teach or lead adults, nor did He exercise any authority over adults. Therefore, in the Church, the family, and society, men are meant to be leaders and teachers over women and children, and adults are meant to be leaders and teachers over children. Whoever teaches otherwise ignores the holy family and the Christ.

Modern society has a tendency to adultify children, that is, to push or draw children into adult roles and behaviors. This adultification of children has been criticized, even by secular childcare experts. Yet this error has crept into some liturgical services, wherein children are given adult liturgical roles.

5. Conclusion

There are any number of minor liturgical errors which occur at various times at Mass, but only some of the most serious errors are described above. These errors are not the result of a problem with the Divine Liturgy itself, but only with the particular expression of that liturgy in some parishes. The root cause of the problem is found in the excessive influence which modern social and cultural ideas have upon the members of the Body of Christ. We should be led only by Christ, but at times we are led by the society in which we are immersed.

-- by Ronald L. Conte Jr.

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