View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Disappointed by OLV Daily Mass

I was unable to get to daily Mass at my parish this morning, so I figured I'd check out Our Lady of Victory's noon Mass. I'd been there for a couple of Masses for pro-life events, but not for daily Mass with Father Antinarelli.

I know there are folks who tout the parish and Father Antinarelli, but to be honest, the last pro-life Mass and today's Mass left me feeling, well, disappointed.

When I have heard him preach, Father Antinarelli has not impressed me as a gifted speaker - though I have certainly heard worse. At the pro-life Mass, he jumbled information about St. Anthony of Padua. And at today's daily Mass he did not even preach a homily. I don't recall the last time I've been to a daily Mass at which the priest didn't at least say a few words about the readings.

At the last two Masses I've attended with Father as the celebrant he may have been following all the rubrics and doing everything as they should be done, but I got no sense that he was "celebrating" Mass. It all seemed so rote.

Maybe these were just off days for him. Maybe he is a wonder on Sundays. Maybe he was in a hurry today because of some pressing issue. But so far I've seen nothing that would make me want to leave my parish.

Nothing against Father, by the way. He may be a good and holy man. But when I have been there he has not distinguished himself, certainly not in any way that warrants the praise I've seen written about him - other than that he says Mass by the rules, unlike some other priests I've encountered.

Let me be clear, though: I don't go to Mass to be entertained. I go to praise God, to be spiritually nourished, to hear God's word proclaimed, to celebrate God's gift of salvation and sacrificial love, to be be part of the worshipping Catholic community.

I'll probably give it another shot at OLV at some point this summer, but if it's not better next time I'll look for a different alternative Mass when I can't make it to daily Mass at St. Theodore's.

(ADDED LATER: One big positive - Father heard confessions before daily Mass. Every time I've been there he's heard confessions before Mass. I think that's wonderful - I wish more parishes would do that.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well gee, Lee, I'm sorry Fr. Antinarelli didn't invite your Rock of Faith band to play during the Mass.

Maybe you don't realize this, but Fr. Antinarelli takes his role as priest very seriously, and celebrates the Mass not like its a party or rock concert, but as reverent worship of the Lord God.

I'm sorry it didn't meet your "high standards." We all know how "reverent" those Masses at St. Theodore are with their hand-clapping, Communion in the hand, and (at times) standing during the consecration. Maybe if he allowed a layperson to preach like your wonderful pastor at St. Theodore did which led you to report him to the diocese?

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And at today's daily Mass he did not even preach a homily."

Also, did you bother to think that this may be because OLV serves the downtown workers who may be attending Mass during limited time such as a lunch break? Perhaps that is the reason.

7:11 PM  
Anonymous Ted said...

Two of your best buddies, Bishop Clark and Jim Callan, are TERRIBLE preachers. I have no idea what you're talking about.

7:34 PM  
Blogger Ben Anderson said...

Father Antinarelli is not going to win any awards for presentation and style. He is straight up, honest, and tells it like it is in his nasally voice. In my short experience with this diocese "following all the rubrics" is huge. As Fr. Z says "do the red and say the black." Just the comfort of knowing that I don't have to worry that what he says is against church teaching is worth the drive to the city. AND I'm not gonna get scolded for not being progressive enough.

8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Priests aren't required to deliver a homily on weekdays, plus most of the people who go there on weekdays (ok, many) are on their lunch hour.

Paid for by Fr. Antinarelli for Bishop of Rochester.

8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am surprised you were disappointed. You should hear him preach on Hell.. He is a straight shooter no nonesense type person. He doesn't smile much but he is very kind. It took me a few times to GET HIM..but I do now. I know he has stood up for what is right when confronted by the DOR.I think he is misunderstood. He really is kind of shy. Teenagers and young college age students find him very approchable. I wish his bullentines were on line, he is a very good writer and you can see his devotion to our Lord,Our Lady and his people. I think he is the only priest who hears confessions every day mon-sat.

9:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're quick to criticize Fr. A, but you're quick to defend Bishop Clark.

Shows your true leanings.

9:09 PM  
Blogger Rich Leonardi said...


Fr. Antinarelli's preaching style on Sundays is objective -- what some call "dry" -- but impactful. He delivers a well-prepared homily that includes frequent references to Church teaching, history, and the saints. As to his ars celebrandi, it's dignified and reverent. You can discern that he is at pains not to make himself the center of the liturgical action. I don't know him personally, but I've had brief, friendly exchanges with him after Mass. He is not "chummy," but that's okay; he's a pastor not a pal.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Ted - neither Bishop Clark nor Father Callan are my buddies. I quit Father Callan's parish years before he broke with the diocese - and I remember confronting him one time when he stated something that was factually wrong in a homily before I left.

I've noted before that Bishop Clark is not a very good preacher.

10:09 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Now anonymous 7:06, that's silly. I oppose lay preaching, as you pointed out. How would that make a difference?

10:12 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Rich - I don't mind dry homilies. I've sat through many of them. I do like them to be accurate, though.

But even more important is what I referred to as "celebrating" the Mass - a real sense that the priest was truly engaged in it, not simply reading the words before him and going through the motions. I've seen some priest who are not gifted preachers, but who give you a sense trhat they are fully engaged in what they are doing.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

In the past, I have been to lunchtime Masses and morning Masses - Masses attended by workers who have to get to work or back to work. I don't recall ever going to a such Mass at which the priest did not offer at least a few words of reflection on the readings.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Anonymous 9:00 - as I noted, maybe I've only heard him on off days. He might well deliver thought-provoking homilies at other times. The few times I have heard him, however, that has not been the case.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Anonymous 9:09 - I do show my true feelings, so I'm not sure what you mean.

I have praised and criticized the same people depending on their actions or what others are doing to them. I have defended Bishop Clark, for example, when he has been attacked personally or unfairly, but I have also criticized some of his actions.

10:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But even more important is what I referred to as "celebrating" the Mass - a real sense that the priest was truly engaged in it, not simply reading the words before him and going through the motions."

Well then Lee, you wouldn't like the Tridentine Mass, because you're going to see the same thing at each and every Traditional Latin Mass. The priest is not there to entertain. He's not there to make a lot of hand gestures to keep the parishioners interested. He's not there to go up and down the aisles and shake the hands of children. He's there to do his duty, to consecrate the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus. Maybe it's been a long time since you've seen a real priest in action that you've forgotten that all the pretend Vatican II silliness is just that -- silliness.

Father's homilies are spot on, doctrinally sound, and catered to the people to whom he is preaching. I go there all the time, Lee, I know what I'm talking about. I'm sorry that your visits have not been entertaining. There's always St. Theodore for you and their hand-clappy B.S.


10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don't criticize one of the few good priests we have in Rochester. You're doing all of us a disservice. There are so many terrible things going on in the diocese. I'm surprised you'd make such a fuss over this when people promoting a female priesthood are running parishes, giving homilies, and mistreating parishioners.

10:41 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Todd - I've seen lots of priests in action - from all ends of spectrum. I'm not talking about silliness - holding hands, shaking hands, going up and down the aisles, hand clapping, etc. I'm not into that stuff.

By the way, did you see in my post where I specifically said the point of Mass is not to "entertain"?

I'm talking about what goes on at the altar as the priest says the prayers and consecrates the bread and wine. I've seen priests who are "dull", who are soft-spoken, who have accents or even speech impediments, but you know they mean it. It's not a matter of saying the words in a dramatic way with hand gestures or sonorous voice. It's a matter of saying the words as if you really care about what you are saying. It's a matter being focussed on the body and blood of Christ before you and not looking as if you are going through the motions.

The kind of "celebrating the Msss" I'm talking about is what I've seen in some priests. I've seen that same sort of celebrating in film clips of Padre Pio saying Mass - even though I did not understand his words, I knew he meant them. Or in broadcasts of Pope John Paul II saying Mass.

And please, I am not saying Father Antinarelli does not mean the words. But the times I have seen him say Mass I have not witnessed that same sense of being fully engaged.

10:48 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

anonymous 10:41 - I have spoken out about lay people giving homilies, and tryign to get around the rules by havign a priest or deacon say a few words, then letting the lay person preach.

10:52 PM  
Blogger Rich Leonardi said...


The priest should display the spirit of celebration appropriate to Calvary; that's where he's standing. FWIW, I've always thought that Fr. Antinarelli's ars celebrandi resembles that of Pope Benedict.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's a matter being focussed [sic] on the body and blood of Christ before you and not looking as if you are going through the motions."

What about the five minutes he offers to purifying the sacred vessels after Communion to make sure not a speck of the Body and Blood of our Lord risks contamination. That's focus right there.

Also, Fr. A is doing exactly what he should do at consecration. Lean forward and slowly but carefully recite the words of consecration. The priest is not supposed to be holding the host way up above his head and turning it from one side or the other. This promotes the mystery of the sacrament, and this is the point when the Lord descends upon the bread and wine for it to become his own flesh and blood. It is a mystery and secret, not part of a magic show that requires dramatic poses, stupid smirks from the priest, or what have you. Fr. A approaches this great mystery as a man who is humble and unworthy, just as all priests should.

Fr. A is doing it right, and he is doing it from the heart. Don't forget, Father is a traditional priest, and this is how all priests performed the consecration (with regard to demeanor) prior to the Council reforms.

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do all Secular Franciscans talk about priests like this? He's a servant of God, be happy you have priests at all.

9:10 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Anonymous 9:10. You are being silly.

I critiqued a couple of things about the way he celebrated Mass - particularly in light of all the praise of Masses at the parish I'd read elsewhere. And even then, I did not say it was a terrible Mass, and I noted that I'd heard worse preachers. I also praised the fact that he heard confessions before Mass, and wished other parishes would do that.

I said I was disappointed with the Mass - not hated it, was angered by it, was repulsed by it.

And note that it was disappointed by the Mass - not him.

I did not criticize him personally. I did not say he was a lousy priest, a wicked man, blasphemous, etc. I said nothing against him as a person.

Let's say that someone came to a Mass at which I was a musician because they'd heard the music was good at St. Theodore's, and afterwards said that it did not live up to what they'd heard, that my musicianship or singing was not exceptional, but that they had heard worse. Is that a condemnation of me? Are they saying I'm a lousy person? A lousy musician? A sinner? (Though I am.) No, they were merely not impressed by my musicianship.

Oh, and to head off the complaint, I am not equating being an amateur musician with the being a priest. They are not comparable.

6:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our priests do not need this abuse. They need kindness and support.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Mary Kay said...

Lee, almost by definition, "disappointment" is preceded by "expectation."

What you've written has nothing to do with Fr. Antinarelli and everything to do with your expectation of Mass. Given that you made some specific complaints about Fr. A, it easy to see how your post generated more heat than light.

While you don't go to Mass to be entertained, it sounds like you do have an expectation of what the celebration of Mass should look like. The "should" is the expectation.

Two thoughts occur to me. One is that you might want to look at your expectation of Mass. Mostly you talk about the homily. Although I've lent out my copy of GIRM, if I recall correctly, a homily is simply for a fulller explanation or understanding of the readings. But the "main course" is the Scripture reading itself and you heard the reading. You can always read at home the book that weekday readings are from.

EWTN has a calendar with the daily readings. For the next couple of weeks, the weekday readings are from Genesis 12 to 50. Good stories in there - so sit under a tree in this hot weather and have a great read. The Gospels are someplace around Matthew 7 and 8.

Your other comment was about it seemingly rote. That's one way priest get themselves out of the way so the parishioners can focus on the presence of Jesus. Think of John the Baptist's, "I must decrease so that He can increase." At least I think it's John the Baptist; I didn't look it up.

My second thought is perhaps you could go to Mass with no expectations other and see what the Lord has prepard for you. That may take some practice, but definitely worth it.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

"Our priests do not need this abuse. They need kindness and support."

First, I did not abuse Father Antinarelli.

Second, I agree - perhaps you should post this insight on some of the sites that target Father Holland, Bishop Clark, Father Hart and others!

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Mary Kay said...

should've proofed: complaints should read criticisms.

And yes, Lee, re-read your post and you'll see them.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Mary Kay - you are right. I went with an expectation - a hope really - built up by people who keep touting the parish as one of the lone bastions of orthodoxy, with Mass celebrated the way it should be celebrated, etc. I have been to Masses that were not as well done, but I had no expectations of more when I went to them. They did not disappoint me.

Sorry if I gave the impression that the main thing that bothered me was the homily - and this past week, the lack of one. That is not the case. I've been to Masses at which the preachers are not gifted, and that does not bother me if it clearly is not a case of laziness or sloppiness on theri part. Our parish deacon is not a gifted speaker, but I enjoy his homilies. His words ring as real, and they always spark some insight.

What I'm more concerned about is how a Mass is celebrated. "Rote" to me means just sounding like you are saying the words, that they have no meaning. That is not saying they have no meaning, or even that they do not mean something to the speaker, but just that the impression given is that they are just words being said.

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe if Father had a deacon or a Sr. Joan you wouldn't have been so mortally offended.

You obviously have never been there on a Sunday.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Bernie said...

Father's manner of celebrating the Mass in the Roman Rite is in line with the traditional discipline instilled in priests prior to V2. It is formal, reserved, referent and objective. Personal traits and characteristics and personal expression are to be minimized. Prayers are usually recited rather fast and without nuance. I find the same feeling/tone when I attend Eastern Orthodox liturgies. The prayers are sung rather fast; prayer and response almost stepping on each other. It's a different interpretation of 'celebration'. I've been with the new Mass for so long that I think I know what you, Lee, are referring to. Which is better? I don't really know but I'm liking the old way more and more. I am reminded of what someone once said (referring to the position of the priest facing in the same direction as the congregation): "In the 'old days' if the priest was a jerk it didn't show during the Mass. Today, everyone sees the jerk." Most priests serving today have been trained to 'preside' and somehow be personally responsible for how the congregation feels during Mass. I think most priests today would agree that that is how they were trained. Father's manner strikes us as strange, unemotional, cold, uninvolved but I think it's because we have become used to jerkiness. He doesn't exhibit any jerkiness. Turn all the priests around and the jerkiness of the others would soon disappear as well. Which is better? Which better expresses what the Roman Rite is supposed to accomplish? What is the Roman Rite supposed to accomplish?

5:45 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Hey anonymous 5:26 - Who said I was mortally offended? I think if you consult a dictionary you will find "disappointed" means something else. Please don't put words in my mouth (or blog post). All too often people fabricatre what others say, then attack them for what they did not say.

What does this have to do with permanent deacons, a recognized vocation in the Church? Surely you are not disparaging deacons and questioning the Vatican's decision to reinstate it?

Sr. Joan. Why do people keep on dragging her in when I don't attend her parish, have nothing to do with her, and have not even written about her?? What is she, the universal boogieman to be thrown at everyone with whom one might disagree, even if it makes no sense?

5:55 PM  
Blogger Ben Anderson said...

Let me first say that I believe you are well w/in your rights to offer your opinion in the way that you did. It seems many people think you either have to take a position on the far left or you have to be a traditionalist to the core. And I agree w/ you that you didn't attack Fr. Antinarelli, but just gave an honest opinion. However, I'm not sure you're right to lash out at other blogs and claim that they attack individuals. I have certainly read some unloving comments in the blogs, but haven't seen anything in the blog posts themselves that have gone over the line. I believe it is the ideas and policies that people are attacking (not the individuals). It is kind of a borderline thing (somewhat based on interpretation), but when people tie themselves so closely with progressive ideals, they start to become synonymous. Do you have any specific examples of a blogger attacking Fr. Holland or Bishop Clark?

8:12 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Ben - I was referring more to the comments people make - often anonymously - on other sites, and not to the posts themselves.

Here's a couple:

"Just because a priest has been called be God doesn't mean he'll turn his back on him later in life (which Bishop Clark has done since becoming Bishop of Rochester)."

"DOR Catholic Mike reports that Rochester's malcontent in a miter chimed in on the homosexual marriage bill on the cusp of passage in New York state" – NOTE _MIKE DID NOT SAY THIS, THE COMMENT POSTER DID.

"Does Bishop Clark believe anything that the Church teaches???"

"This sounds just like the Father Clifford I've come to know and loathe. Please excuse my boldness but his arrogance (IMHO) is unbearable at times."

"One heretic showing love for another. Pulls at the ol' heart strings, doesn't it?" (About Father Holland praising Bishop Clark.)

"This guy is on drugs. There is no other explanation. Has he been witnessing the Diocese of Rochester become rubble all around him, or is he too busy smoking the reefer to see the damage being done?" (Said of Father Holland)

Anyway, that should give you an idea.

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Ben Anderson said...

We all certainly need to remember to be charitable at all times. If we're not then we've got a big plank in our eye. I agree that many comments go over the line in these blogs, which actually hurts our case for orthodoxy in the DOR. But besides the loathing comment you listed, I'm not sure I think any of those comments are over the line. But hey - that's just my opinion.

5:28 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Ben - you don't think saying Bishop Clark turned his back on God is not crossing over the line? That's not just criticizing actions, it's making a judgment on his spiritual state.

5:43 AM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Now perhaps there are different rules governing daily Masses, but according to the Cathechism of the Catholic Church:

1346: The liturgy of the Eucharist unfolds according to a fundamental structure which has been preserved throughout the centuries down to our own day. It displays two great parts that form a fundamental unity:
- the gathering, the liturgy of the Word, with readings, homily and general intercessions; ...

and 1349: The Liturgy of the Word includes "the writings of the prophets," that is, the Old Testament, and "the memoirs of the apostles" (their letters and the Gospels). After the homily, which is an exhortation to accept this Word as what it truly is, the Word of God,175 and to put it into practice, come the intercessions for all men, according to the Apostle's words: "I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings, and all who are in high positions."

Those suggest to me that a homily is part of the fundamental structure of the Mass. Are there guidelines for daily Mass that allow the priest not to give a homily? Hopefully some knowledgable person can cite such a document - otherwise Father may not have celebrated Mass according to the norms!

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Dr. K - Thanks for the info!

12:40 PM  
Blogger Ben Anderson said...

When I was working in the city, I went to daily mass on and off for a few months. I believe Fr. gave a homily more times than not, but I could be mistaken. I admit, that I too, was taken a back when he skipped it. Then a few days later I heard someone ask the question to Jimmy Akin and sure enough as Dr. K referenced - it isn't required.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Ben Anderson said...

It's probably not language I would use ("turned his back"), however I really don't see the harm. The word "turn" in this sense is a verb. So by definition the criticism is against an action. We all turn our back to God from time to time. Now a specific action wasn't specified, so I think you could speculate the original author was implying that Bishop Clark is "one who turns against God". So I guess I could see it either way. We're really splitting hairs at this point. Let's agree that we should be very careful w/ what we say because it's a very slippery slope and we certainly don't want to speak judgment against ourselves. At the same time, we shouldn't be too sensitive when people do cross the line. Again, I think the firing squad against this blog post was unjustified. Those (like myself) who disagree should defend Fr. Antinarelli not attack you for sharing your opinion.

7:44 PM  
Blogger Nerina said...

Thanks to Dr. K. and Bernie for excellent posts on this subject.

Lee, I've been to OLV 3 times and I think I understand what you are saying about Fr. A's style. But, as Bernie pointed out, maybe his style appears "less engaged" when compared to the style we have become accustomed.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Sister Emily said...

I happen to know for a fact Father Antinarelli walks on water. ( I've seen him do it) I also know he is one of the most Reverend Priests we have in Rochester. However Lee has a right to his opinion. Maybe Father didn't have an off day maybe it was Lee.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Sister Emily said - "I happen to know for a fact Father Antinarelli walks on water. ( I've seen him do it)"

Hmm. Are you saying he's Jesus come back? Not sure how he'd respond to that one! And you've seen it? Why am I suddenly reminded of the trial scene in "My Cousin Vinny" :-)

As for me having an off day. Nah. It was a good day. Unless my natural state is "off." (Some might suggest that that is indeed the case!)

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Sister Emily,

He didn't get it!

9:42 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Emily - if you had left it at the walking on water part, it would have worked. The other parts are too close to what some people really do say! Hence my response was tongue in cheek, just in case I was dealing with someone who, well, you know! :-)

5:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

look...people can make observations about the good father ron without everyone getting their knickers in a knot....lighten up people...father ron is only human and so what if someone noticed the obvious...father ron does not speak to the readings most times but to historical roots of the church in his homilies most is an evolution for all of us....peace

10:29 PM  

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