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The Use of Missals at Mass

downloadQuestion 271

Are we allowed to use missals at Mass?  Why am I asking? Our previous parish priest would tell people off in church if he found them with a missal at Mass. Usually it was the more senior parish members that used them. Prior to reading the Gospel, he even went so far as to stop and to demand an elderly man to put down his missal; otherwise, he said that the Mass would not continue. I felt bad for the old man. Our priest scolded him in front of everyone in church. Previous priests had never said anything about such a rule.  He was the first. I use a missal sometimes; especially when I find it hard to understand the reader. I have also used one when attending a Mass in another language.  So, is it wrong for us to use the missal?

Response

There is a school of thought that missals should be read prior to Mass and not during. Initially they were books that translated the Latin. However, some have trouble hearing and need the missals to follow the Scriptures. Others can better reflect upon the richness of prayers because of a book with written texts. The priest in question erred grievously in how he treated the elderly man at Mass. Congregants have every right to employ a missal. The priest should apologize to the man and seek his forgiveness. Indeed, if this reflects how he treats the people in the pews then recourse should be made to just authority for his “fraternal correction.”

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