Q: We have a college here and several college students regularly worship with our Parish at the Sunday mass.
I have noticed very recently some of the college students at the end of mass after the recessional hymn kneeling down and praying silently for quite an extended period of time.
I feel while prayer is good I would like to address this. It seems to draw undue attention to the students and historically when I talk to folks about the mass I talk to people about the beauty of going forth with intention to love and serve. I seems to create a bit of disunity in everyone going forth as they are united in their kneeling down.
I was wondering if any of your articles or columns has refereed to this.
I know different little traditions/prayer have sprung up recently and people hang these on the liturgy but I have never promoted this sort of thing. I remember your response to a question at that time when you said “just say no”.
Thanks for your ministry Paul.
A: This is a delicate matter. It’s hard to tell someone they shouldn’t kneel down to pray.
You are correct that Mass ends when the deacon or priest gives a command for people to go forth. The implication is that the people do just that. But the rubrics oddly never say that they do. They give instructions for the ministers to leave, but they are silent about the people. It’s probably an oversight, or a rubric felt unnecessary because people are going to leave.
Some leave early, which is a greater problem than those who stay late. Leaving right after receiving communion shows ingratitude for the eucharist, indifference to the community, and dismissiveness of the joint dismissal into the mission—all important themes of the concluding rites.
As you know, we’re in a period of Catholic liturgy when emphasis on the real presence tends to tip the balance away from the dynamic of sacrifice and communion. The Mass is not the same as adoration. Both have their place in Catholic piety, but those who turn the Mass into an extended exercise of adoration are missing its implications for sacrifice, communion and mission.
I gave a talk on the dismissal formulas at the Southwest Liturgical Conference in 2020. You can read it here: https://paulturner.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Meet-Yourself-web-site-copy.pdf.
I have a booklet on the Mass as sacrifice, which is inexpensive in bulk: My Sacrifice and Yours.
Unless this is causing uncharitable divisions within the community, I’d probably educate people on the purpose of the dismissal and then let them decide what to do.