Disposable missalettes distract congregations and limit priests in their choices for Sunday Mass, liturgy experts have warned, urging parishes to get rid of the weekly missalettes.
“Commercially produced missalettes that include the texts of the readings and the full text of the Eucharistic Prayer are not true aids to the Sunday celebration,” Fr Danny Murphy of the National Centre for Liturgy told The Irish Catholic.
Speaking in a personal capacity, Fr Tom Whelan CSSp of the Church’s Council for Liturgy said he would “ban” missalettes if he could, maintaining that the leaflets give publishers too much power in dictating what Eucharistic prayers are used and also can limit parishes in the choice of readings, citing how one missalette this year only offered three of the seven possible Old Testament readings for the Easter Vigil Mass.
Priests in such situations often feel they have to follow “what’s in people’s hands” although “a parish should be able to choose how many readings and what these are, not a publisher,” he said.
“The issues are pastoral, people, rather fumbling around with a thing in front of them, which actually dictates what a liturgy is in a parish.”
Stressing that parishes serious about celebrating the Mass should use published worship aids, the St Patrick’s College, Maynooth-based liturgist said these should be for seasonal use, containing texts for readings, responses, and hymns.
He also expressed concerns about missalettes including parish notices, which are not part of the Mass and can be distracting for massgoers.
Julie Kavanagh of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin and a fellow member of the Council for Liturgy echoed these concerns about restricting priests and parishes in their choices, and pointed out that there is also an environmental aspect to the use of disposable missalettes.
“There is a huge concern I think with regard to the environment and the disposability every week of the leaflet,” she told this newspaper, saying that it can be helpful for parishes to publish readings in advance on their website and to have more permanent worship aids available in church.
Publishers of missalettes have, however, defended the use of the leaflets, with Fr Brendan McConvery CSsR saying that missalettes such as Redemptorist Publications’ Soul Space and Sunday Message – which between them sell roughly five million copies annually – clearly have a future in Irish parishes.
“Priests keep ordering it, and keep getting it from year to year.
“Sometimes they come to us looking for a good missalette – they have seen our stuff and they liked what they saw,” he said.
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