Saturday, October 12, 2013

Humble and inclusive liturgy - in the spirit of St Francis

I am so fortunate to live in Hong Kong to be able to worship at a church where they have an unusually humble and inclusive form of liturgy at Mass.  There has been a lot of talk recently about humility and how important this for the Church - how priests in particular should be more humble.

The form of worship at the Mass I attend is not only in the spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi but is actually a form of worship that he would recognise when he served as a deacon so many hundreds of years ago.

When I attend Mass, the priest will genuflect upon approaching the altar indicating that its about Christ not himself.  Our priest will bow down low as he personally confesses his sins to God - specifically asking for prayers of the angels, saints and the people around him.

In this truly humble liturgy the priest shows his oneness with the People of God by facing the same direction as them - in doing so he doesn't draw attention to himself but towards Christ, the crucifix and Eucharist.  He will bow his head at the name of Jesus and the Trinity and will genuflect in adoration every time he passes the tabernacle too.

In the creed he will use a term for 'human beings' rather than 'man' - which is a wonderful example of encompassing all.  The Mass I prefer to attend uses extremely inclusive language - in fact the congregation of Chinese, French, English, Spanish and Tagalog speakers all feel able to worship together with one voice and unlike the vast majority of other Masses I have been to - the diverse congregation joins in!

This focus on God rather than the person of the priest throughout the Mass continues in a number of gestures. A wonderful example is that during the Eucharistic Prayer he will fall to his knees in adoration the moment the words of consecration have been uttered - both before and after he has shown the Body of Christ and the chalice to the people.

This humble and inclusive way of worshipping isn't just available in Hong Kong - just google "Tridentine Mass" and you too might find one in your town or city too.

The Latin Mass: A humble and inclusive form of worship


  1. But is it really helpful to have a liturgy in which nobody understands what the priest is saying? Now where's my tambourine?
    Kum Ba Yah m'Lord! Kum Ba Yah M'Lord! Ooooh Looooord! Kum Ba Yah!

  2. Peter, I completely agree with you. If there were to be words such as "Kum ba ya" at the Mass I attend there'd be a booklet nearby translating such unknown words into both English and Chinese.

  3. Does Kum ba Yah actually mean something? Well, you live and learn!

  4. Mater mari, apparently, although no one has ever satisfactorily told me what it means.

    Peter, incidentally, my wife and I shall have our son baptised in Latin. The baby won't understand English - but the devil knows Latin.

  5. "Come by here, My Lord."

  6. Thank you for the explanation Ohio.

    When I was younger the arch-conservative church I attended would use words like Kum Ba Ya without explaining the words to mere laypeople. Thank goodness there is somewhere as radical and inclusive as the Tridentine Liturgy Community where I live that ensures that all people have the option of reading prayers in their own language - as well as being able to pray silently during so many of the prayers.