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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, January 9, 2016
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There are things, acts and occasions which are sacred and must be observed with a high sense of solemnity. The way we dress, talk, move and gesture are outward expressions of inner disposition. What is sacred should not be profaned or belittled. There is time and place for everything.

A priest who rode the hover board while celebrating the Holy Eucharist was removed for violating the sacredness of the Divine Worship. It was the right thing for his bishop to do because the liturgy of the Mass has prescribed rubrics and should not be turned into an opportunity for a show-off, regardless of the motive.

The defenders of the priest have points to ponder upon. One is that the Mass is so boring that some sleep during the celebration. Thus some priests try gimmicks to make the celebration entertaining.

This is not a rare observation. Indeed there are priests who celebrated the Mass but do not inspire or arouse the spirituality of the congregation. In this situation some people felt the Mass is an agonizing wait for its termination.

It is not rare to hear people complain about priests who deliver monotonous and uninspiring homilies indicating to the listeners a lack of study and depth of understanding of the message of the Gospel.

These complaints are valid, but they are more on the part of the listener than on the homilist, of course granting that the sound system or means of delivery are in order. There is always a gem or two in every homily but how many of the faithful really take an effort to listen and discern?

Learning, as we have experienced in a classroom, requires an effort, a desire to know. Without this disposition every lecture, homily or talk even in ordinary conversation, is boring, useless and wasteful.

The Holy Mass is not an entertainment. It is worship to God, the duty of every person who believes in Him. It is therefore incumbent for the worshipper to be attentive, to be focused and to develop a deportment that is fitting in an act of adoration of his Creator and Provider.

The priests are also doing their best to make worship as pleasing as possible, but I believe that this is not the duty of the priest but the imperative for the worshiper. The role of the priest is to offer the Holy Sacrifice, not to please. There is the liturgy, the prescribed mode of celebrating the Holy Eucharist to which the faithful must be attentive to and join. The celebrant is not a celebrity in need of public adulation.

A friend told me that many Catholics have joined some groups because their mode of worship is enjoyable with singing, clapping and dancing. Indeed that is humanly appealing and probably their way of worship. Let us grant that to them, but the Catholic form of worship, the summit of its worship, is the Holy Eucharist, a sacred act.

For those who truly join in the celebration, there is nothing more sacred, more sublime and more satisfying spiritually than the Holy Eucharist. Catholics who realize and are certain of this truth cannot find any other form that can match the Mass.

Perhaps we can also blame some of our pastors for the way they celebrate the Mass, not just in delivering the homily. Some seem to be in a hurry that we cannot follow them in prayer. Some say the Mass perfunctorily, without outwardly showing solemnity and sacredness in their acts that have divine implications and in fact divinely instituted. Some say Mass in jeans and sandals with the chasuble just worn over their T-shirt. In a word, they are not attired as to impress on the faithful the sacredness of the act they are to perform.

One irritant at Mass are those who cannot wait to talk about the latest teleserye. The advent of the cellphone has added to the irritant. Even with the notices that those attending Mass should put their phones on silent mode, few comply. How many people tinker with their phones during Mass?

Most priests do try their best to make the Mass interesting, informative and fulfilling; some even make the faithful laugh rather than be solemn - each to his own devices.I wonder whether entertaining the faithful is a substitute for solid preaching, solemnity and sacredness of the Mass. However, in most instances, we make things as we want them to be.*



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