I feel as though sometimes people pit the Missal (and the General Instruction on the Roman Missal) against their own personal piety as well as their own tastes. Truth be told, there is a great deal of flexibility in the Mass. All one has to do is read the Missal and the GIRM to see this. That is not to say that Mass is a free-for-all. Far from it. There is a proper form and proper matter to the Mass. Within these constructs there is freedom and choice. For example, there are several different Eucharistic Prayers that may be employed in a Mass. The Prayer of the Faithful is guided but not dictated. The music is not specified. There’s some room, folks.
So maybe you can feel me when I say that equating your choices and your likes with “the voice of God” is a dumb thing to do. I’ve never been to a Mass in which every single thing tickled my fancy. I don’t always like the music, or the lector’s pace, or the homily, or the choice of crucifix, or the type of kneeler. But you know what? I don’t come to Mass for any of those things. No, they are tools in the hands of the Lord to move me toward the source and summit which is the Eucharist. Christ is going to show up. He has promised us that. Even if someone intended to attempt invalidation, God still supplies the grace. It’s on their head, not yours or mine. I am here to receive Jesus. Keep your steel guitar.
Let’s talk about gestures, shall we? Do you bow your head at the name of Jesus or cross yourself at varied times during the Mass? There are some times that the faithful are instructed to do so (beginning and ending of Mass signs of the cross, bowing during the three lines in the Creed regarding the Incarnation) but there is no rule prohibiting you from crossing yourself at other times. In fact, I’m often baffled that folks at Mass seem to be more vigilent about crossing themselves before the Gospel (a sign prescribed for the Deacon/Priest/Bishop at that time) and holding hands during the our Father (not prescribed at all) than bowing for the Incarnation in the Creed, “…and by the power of the Holy Spirit, was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” which is prescribed. I say, be as pious as you wanna be, just so long as you keep the main thing the main thing.
If an extra crossing here and there and holding your neighbor’s hand helps you draw nearer to our Eucharistic Lord, then go for it. We all need to do all we can to prepare our hearts to receive Him. Don’t get bent out of shape, however, if your neighbor has his hands together in prayer during the Our Father, or that he chooses to kneel and pray after Mass. Let’s keep the main thing the main thing, alright?
On a side note, how did you do with your Easter Mass assignments? I hope you were able to be the welcoming and kind face that visitors to your parish need to see. May they be moved to return to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass next week and renew their faithful walk with Christ.