Today I made my debut on Mass For You At Home. Actually, that’s not quite true. In my second year at the seminary, I was Fr Mark Withoos’ altar server for two MFYAH masses.
But today was my priestly debut, and I get to record another two masses next week. I enjoyed it, and I consider it a privilege to support the program. I don’t watch it myself (too early!!), but I know the program is highly valued by people unable to get to a parish mass.
I’d do it again next year, but it remains to be seen whether I’ll be asked back! I’m afraid I made a meal of one of this morning’s recordings when I “misspoke” the words of consecration. If a consecration occurs which was invalid, it behooves the priest to repeat the critical words and rubrics of consecration.
This is every priest’s nightmare. Well, it’s my nightmare, anyway. It has happened to me once before. On that occasion, I charged onward. The error was a minor one – a word of similar meaning substituting the correct word. “Shed for many,” I think I said, instead of “poured out for many.”
My intention was sound, and I judged that my error had not invalidated the sacrament. I found myself in a similar position today. As I held the chalice, my mind went blank and I lost the word, “covenant.” It didn’t seem to matter that the word was staring me in the face, in the missal right there in front of me. The word was dead to me.
At the conclusion of the Mysterium Fidei I halted filming and requested a retake. Perhaps it was pride, mollified as I was at the prospect of mispronouncing the words of consecration on national TV! Given my previous experience, it’s probable I would have proceeded without pause, if I’d been offering the mass in a parish setting. Hard to tell.
The crew decided not to film again. I imagine it costs time and money. It probably helped that another priest in the studio – older and wiser than me – said the mistake was minor and unnoticeable by the congregation.
I hadn’t considered that. I’ve only been a priest for 15 months, but how easy it is to forget the “pew’s eye view” of the Mass! At the sublime moment of consecration, people are contemplating the eucharistic mystery. Or making a spiritual communion. Or adoring the Lord.
Or – regretfully and occasionally (I’m speaking for myself now) – falling prey to some mundane distraction like planning Sunday lunch.
People are not hanging on every syllable the priest utters. We all know the formula. In situations like that, we tend to hear what we expect to hear, not what is said.
In any event, I was mortified by my error, and then mortified by the disruption I caused the TV production crew. “Choose mortifications that don’t mortify others,” St Josemaría famously advised. Better for me to have carried on without pause, indifferent to my embarrassment.
At least the other mass I filmed occurred without incident. I hope I can repeat that effort next week. As I said, it’s been a pleasure and a privilege.
The Magic of Television!
Fr John, Do you know something. I like your honesty. Many people are afraid to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation to confess their sins and you are open to your readers about your distraction during Mass. I sometimes get distracted when readers come to the Lecturn to read and they are dressed inappropriately. I then think to myself, ‘For Heaven’s sake can’t you dressed modestly. Anyway, Fr John, mistakes are allowed and when you make a mistake just continue with the Mass. God
is not a tyrant. He is loving and forgiving God and whether the priest makes a mistake or not the Sacrifice of the Mass continues because the Holy Spirit is at work. Right from the beginning of the Mass, I see Our Lady and Jesus Christ. I sometimes see Him bleeding on the Cross. Sometimes, I see the Host bleeding. I also see many angels around the altar and sometimes I do see the saints as well. So Fr John, I am sure though you made mistakes, Heaven came down because the Holy Spirit was at work. I guess you were nervous because you were being filmed. I hope and pray that when I am doing my program, I don’t go blank. When I am doing my first program, I will let you know so that you can pray for me. So, do not worry Fr John and thank your kind, experienced priest who stood up for you. I am sure you will be invited again next year. God bless you, Fr John and be happy. Any time you need my help, just yell for me and I will be there.