ASK FATHER: The inevitable “Rite of Thanking” at the end of Mass

thankyou_languagesFrom a reader….


I’m curious about your reaction to a part of the Mass I’m calling the “Rite of Thanking”. While it seems that it is especially common with bishops at most liturgies they celebrate, it also happens at times with the pastor. On Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday (I wasn’t at the Easter Vigil), after the post-communion prayer, the bishop celebrating made it a special point to thank the laity who attended (why?), along with concelebrating priests, deacons, seminarians (serving as acolytes), altar servers from the parish, readers and of course, the cantor and choir. At least on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, the bishop did not induce applause which was vigorous on Easter Sunday. [Deo gratias.]

I of course understand why they might be doing this, but wonder about the appropriateness, [decorum!] especially due to the special solemnity of Holy Thursday and Good Friday. In my past liturgical service, where I was a reader, EMHC and member of the choir, this would actually cause me embarrassment since I was not there to receive public thanks from the bishop or priest, but to serve God as humbly and as well as I could in these roles.

I’m tempted to write the bishop in all charity to suggest that he poll some of the people performing these liturgical roles and ask them for their reaction to his thanking them for their service. My guess is that while some appreciate the acknowledgement and might be upset if it wasn’t done, many would have the same reaction I have. Perhaps you could test it in a poll with your readers.

I am reminded of…

We, as you, can understand why a bishop or priest would want to express gratitude to all the people who made something big happen.

Should this be liturgical?

I think not.  Especially because these rites of thanking can be both cringe worthy in awkwardness and soul-annihilating in length.

There’s nothing that kills a buzz from a beautiful Mass or other rite than the THUD that comes with these Post-Communion interjections.

I recall one bishop who was such a stickler about this thanking business that, when he was jocularly imitated (oh… yes, seminarians and priests do that), we fictitiously thanked every possible person down to the mothers of the people who folded the napkins, etc.

It can become ridiculous and painful, especially because, once you start, you have to get everyone in. But if you say that you can’t get everyone in, then… why not just stop there?

If the bishops are so grateful, they could occasionally send a note to the people involved. That would make a real impression.

A POLL you say? I’ll take a stab.

And I’ll thank everyone in advance NOT to write, “You left out X!”, or “You should have done Y!” Please. I have enough critics. Instead, just thank me, okay?

Choose your best answer and use the combox (if you are registered) to add your thoughtful 2 cents.

I need two polls to cover this properly.

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