The “Spirit of Vatican II” Parody Mass

Matthew Christoff

Most are familiar with parody. Parody is “an imitation of the style of a particular genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect” or “an imitation or a version of something that falls short of the real thing; a travesty”. Parody comes from the Greek parōidia, meaning “burlesque poem”. Parody is mockery.

We live in an age of mockery; and the parody is an entertainment staple.  Examples are found in movies (e.g. Airplane, The Naked Gun, Scary Movie, Young Frankenstein, etc.) and on TV (e.g. the cynical faux-news shows The Daily Show and The Colbert Report).

While it is debatable if the examples above are funny, parodies are supposed to make us laugh.  But parodies performed in the wrong place are, at best, boring, and at worst, anger-inducing or even sorrowful.  Such is the case when parody is brought into the Mass.

The Catholic “Man-Crisis” and the Mass

We are living in a time of catechetical crisis where the majority of Catholic men don’t know the faith.  One key indicator of the crisis is the fact that 50+% of men are “bored in the Mass” and “don’t get anything out of the Mass”: if a man understands the Mass, boredom is not really possible.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers a rich description of the astounding power of the Mass (pars. 1324-1332). The Eucharist is, inter alia, “the source and summit of the Christian life”;  a supernaturally nourishing encounter with the Almighty King in a place of refuge from the spiritual battle with Satan; God’s direct and miraculous action occurring where heaven and earth meet; the penultimate act of thanksgiving; a connection to historical sacrifice from the time of Moses, transformed into the Lord’s Supper by Jesus Christ in which a man can partake in the actual Body and Blood of the Almighty King with fellow Catholics; it is the miracle and the power of God entering bread and wine, a power greater than that of the Big Bang.

Men become bored by the Mass when the Mass is celebrated as a parody. Parody Masses are perhaps why the most prevalent reason Catholic men give for leaving the Church is that they “simply drifted away”. Parody Masses are boring.

Interestingly, the term “Parody Mass” is not a new term. There was liturgical style in the 16th and 17th centuries that was called “Parody Mass”. These Masses were called “parodies” not because of their farcical or comical approach, but because of the types of melodic material and the use of polyphony in the music. The Council of Trent found the Parody Masses objectionable and sought to banish the “lascivious or impure” which distracted from the reverence and sanctity due to God.  I shudder to think what those who were at Trent might think of the modern Parody Mass.

Example of a “Parody Mass”

I recently attended a modern-day Parody Mass.  Here are some observations:

  • The Vigil Mass started at 4:30pm on Saturday afternoon, with the sun still high overhead.  While a Vigil Mass is allowed by the Church and starts on the evening before the Sabbath or a Holy Day, 4:30pm is certainly a stretch in terms of calling it “evening”.  The parody began early.
  • A Crucifix was nailed to the back wall, apparently carved by a disciple of Grandma Moses in the primitive style, distorting our handsome Lord to look like some Nordic sacrifice on a log.  Our Lord is not ugly, but caricatures of Him certainly can be. There was a tabernacle that could be seen if one was prepared to squint.  Nothing special. Nothing dignified.  Nothing that would suggest that the Greatest Power that Could Ever Be resided there.
  • Above the altar on the left was an absolutely beautiful statue of Our Lady, the only thing in the parish that most could call beautiful.  It was as if Our Lady stood as a testament to what her Son deserved, perhaps praying for the day when a priest with a love for her Son would offer Him an altar worthy of Him.  On the right side of the altar, on a pedestal of equal size and position of Our Lady, was a huge fake potted plant with an autumn arrangement.  Perhaps that pedestal was where a statue of St. Joseph once stood, before some confused soul — “in the spirit of Vatican II” — “feminized” the parish. St. Joseph, pray for us.
  • Entering the parish, there was a very high “shirts with lettering on them” ratio on for the men;  at least 20% of the men wore t-shirts or sweatshirts with sports team’s names/logos. Other men wore plaid flannel or causal shirts. No man wore a suit or tie. Women were dressed only slightly better (though there were more than a few wearing jerseys); however, none wore dresses. These people drove nice cars and certainly had clothes more appropriate for their meeting with the King of the Universe. They simply didn’t care to present themselves to Him in a respectful way.
  • Right before the Mass, large numbers of people streamed in, perhaps anxious to get a seat; the place was very full. The last-minute crowd were dressed as if they were attending a Saturday matinee at the local multiplex, as opposed to the re-presentation of the greatest and bloodiest sacrifice in human history. The parish was filled with noisy chatter making it difficult for those few who attempted to pray.
  • An elderly priest walked around the aisles, carrying the processional Cross, repeatedly pounding it on the floor, evidently to draw attention to himself as he laughed and spoke to people in his “audience”.  It was sad to see a priest in vestments act like a buffoon before the Holy Mass. May Christ have mercy on him.
  • The piano music began, with a well-meaning, but not well-rehearsed, man singing a syrupy “warm up” show-tune with vaguely religious themes.  Like the man playing the piano (who played quite well), the “cantor” was dressed down, wearing a nice sweatshirt. The music throughout the Mass was syrupy with strings of scriptural clichés, dumbed down to the level of the profane.  It was highly infantilized, like music that pre-schoolers might sing; it was not beautiful, sacred or inspiring in any sense. Only a few men sang; the rest were either too embarrassed or bored to sing.
  • The priest was in his 70’s  and had longish white hair and wore “hipster” glasses; he was a priest who had come to his vocation during the early post-Vatican II period. Despite his age, the priest had the vigor to conduct the Liturgy at a full-on gallop.  He “speed-talked” his way through his parts, and rushed the audience through the Confession of Faith, the Creed and the Our Father. Rather than imparting some inspiration for holiness, the priest played for laughs; there were a few during his 4-minute homily.
  • Reception of the Eucharist was like a forced march, moving so quickly as to fatigue and distract. The people hurriedly cued up and trotted up to receive the Body of Christ, the Eternal King as if they were grabbing a potato chip from the buffet line. Few bowed before receiving the Eucharist in their hands. The lack of recognition of, and reverence for, the miracle they were participating in was heart-breaking.
  • The parish was completely cleared of some 400 people by 5:13pm, less than three quarters of an hour after it began.  Remarkably, the priest made at least one comment about how proud he was that the Mass was done rapidly, much faster (and better) than one of the nearby parishes.

These types of “Parody Masses” are sadly common, blown in by evil spirits who seek to diminish or distract from the True Presence of Our Lord. But despite how much a sacrilegious priest’s actions and words might distract the flock from the uncompromising dignity of Christ, the Grace in the Eucharist remains for those who are prepared to receive it in a worthy and grateful manner.

Catholic men of good will, let us get on our knees and pray for every bishop, every priest, and for the whole people of God, that they might approach the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist with the greatest reverence and awe possible.  Pray, do penance, begging Christ to forgive all of us, and especially those who profane His Eucharist.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us.

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44 thoughts on “The “Spirit of Vatican II” Parody Mass”

  1. I am coming late to this good discussion, but may I just add one reference, to the book ‘Work of Human Hands’ by Anthony Cekada. This book compares the collects of the new mass and the old, and it will be a wake-up call to those who want to hold on to the belief that the new mass when conducted with reverence is fully consistent with Catholic teaching. I won’t go into the particulars, how many of the prayers were changed (almost all), or in what way. Cekada has drawn a conclusion in his own life regarding the authority of the popes elected since the Council, which is an error based on a common misunderstanding of papal authority, but his work on this topic is outstanding, and bears little argument when he lays out the old collects and the new. You will see the pattern, how it unfolds to Francis. Vatican II changed the mass in accordance with its doctrinal adjustments. The collects give away the scaffolding of all the rest.

  2. You bring up some good points but do so in such a judgmental way. It saddens me that people would be so critical and harsh towards those they do not even know who might be strong Catholics. We need to remember the core of Catholicism instead of slamming others for not abiding by our perfectionist views. Once again, I respect many of your points but hope that we can learn to support one another instead of just criticize those we do not understand.

    1. I don’t know that it was all that “judgmental.” It is hardly judgmental to ask “if Mass is x, then why are we doing y?”

      We need to remember the core of Catholicism instead of slamming others for not abiding by our perfectionist views.

      The problem is when we don’t allow Mass to be itself. And when we don’t do that, we don’t exactly let Jesus be Himself, either.

      That would be a way of “forgetting the core of Catholicism.”

    2. You are quite right, Anna Rose!! The “core of Catholicism” is revealed in the first Mass, the Last Supper, the Passover Seder in a upper room of a house. The Christ with his apostles sat for a meal. A meal with people is central to the NT, the feast at Cana, the feast upon the return of the Prodigal son, the multiplication of loaves and fishes, etc. In first century Jewish culture a meal with friends and family was a paramount event and still is today. The NT must be read in context, “a text without a context is a pretext to have a passage say anything you want it to.” So the Christ had a simple meal with his friends and left them with an instruction…love one another. The event on Nissan 14 or 15 (depending on which scholar your read) was a meal, a very special and sacred meal. The Christ gave a simple instruction: Do THIS in remembrance of me.” Have a meal with fellow believers in loving one another; sit around and talk; partake of my body and blood. He never said created rituals, costumes, songs, rubrics, etc. He said do THIS in remembrance of me….the rest is a vestige of clericalism. Form is often too highly valued over substance. Substance is simply do THIS in remembrance of me. THIS does not divide Catholics; it is the form which divides….silly?

  3. The real question here, Matthew, is what motivates these slipshod Catholics in the first place.
    Certainly, they are above the many lapsed and fallen away who don’t even bother. What is it
    about these uncouth remnants of yesteryear’s refined that gathers them together ? I’d be
    interested in your take on that.

    1. I didn’t read this OP as against Vatican II. The Novis Ordo is as beautiful as any Extraordinary Mass if celebrated properly.

    2. Kevin,

      Exactly. What is at issue here is an irreverent attitude to the Mass…which is insults Our Lord and leaves many people to become bored/confused and disillusioned.

      Vatican II is not the issue…it is the hijacking of Vatican II (e.g. “in the spirit of Vatican II”) to radically change the faith that is at the core of the evangelical/catechetical crisis in the Church.

      My research ( suggests that the de-sacramentalization of the Mass (e.g. the kinds of buffoonery/casualness noted above) and the lack of understanding about the Mass is at the core of why so many men drift away from the Church.

      One priority: helping men understand what is happening in the Mass (will be posting on this at a later date)


    3. ” … and the lack of understanding about the Mass is at the core of why so many men drift away …”

      And, the reason why many women don’t drift away is …?

    4. Actually, I did drift away for many of the reasons you mention in this piece. And I’m female. I didn’t like to sing much at Mass until now, and I didn’t appreciate what Mass was until the Traditional Latin Mass helped me love and pray BOTH forms of the Mass, and has therefore helped me appreciate Vatican II. I had to learn all that stuff for myself, and it’s actually being deeply rooted enough in the EF that allows me to tune a heck of a lot out and not let it bother me.

      But acquiring the ability to tune out certain things and not grumble about them too much– especially not at Mass– does not mean that they’re not problematic.

    5. I think men drift away because the new liturgy lacks the linear, silent-before-God nature of the old liturgy. Instead, it was intentionally made to turn people toward each other, toward the community. So the priest has his back to the tabernacle, and the people have to look at each other in the stadium seating, and chat and shake hands right after the consecration, and look at the people doing the music. In the old liturgy, the singers are behind the faithful, out of sight. Everything is focused on the Eucharist. These things are structural to the new liturgy.

    6. You may have something there don, on men’s preference for solemnity – however, the reason most are missing is very complicated in-so-far as
      if you right something – ?? – all the players are
      going to return to their seats. What changed is the attitude towards religion in general. Picture
      a bunch of guys watching their favorite team on
      TV. If they are having a very bad season even
      loyal fans will switch channels watch another team that has their stuff together.

    7. I took a priest friend to the EF with me once, and he noted that it was very restful, very contemplative. And very masculine.

    8. A note of irony on the subject is the famous illustrator, Norman Rockwell, whose
      1959 ‘ Easter Morning ‘ shows the dad slumped in his chair reading the paper as his wife and two daughters (all aloof) and son (envious) pass behind on their way to church.

    9. LOL, W. As if it didn’t apply today. Was one of his most famous depictions 8 years earlier in 1951 -‘Saying Grace’ – less applicable ? And on the
      latter, what does it say if most likely they are non Catholics ?

    10. Precisely. It’s masculine. That’s the reason men are drifting away, I think, because the new liturgy is much more feminine. And from a purely pragmatic stand-point, that’s terrible strategy. Because men like when things are masculine, and so do women. But men, unlike women, don’t like when things are feminine. So you make a heavily feminine liturgy, well, women are more likely to stay, and men are more likely to leave. And when men leave, everyone leaves, because they take the next generation with them. Just like in the Garden of Eden, Man is primary and woman is secondary.

    11. It’s rather important to remember that Jesus is meek and humble of heart. But that doesn’t mean that He’s not masculine. There’s a problem with effeminizing Christ, because Jesus Christ is not just the Lamb of God, but also the Lion of Judah. Perhaps the iconography of the Eastern Church tends to depict that mystical combination and gentle toughness far better than much of what we see in the West– especially when it comes to the more romanticized depictions of the Good Shepherd with all the cute, fluffy sheep, or (now, alas) the likes of Buddy Christ.

      I suspect that the issue isn’t that Mass is now “feminine.” I think it’s because it’s become sentimentalized. Yes, I think that sentimentalism, not masculine/feminine per se, is key. In the Spirit of the Liturgy, Ratzinger doesn’t say that a “feminized” liturgy is the problem; he argues that the trouble starts when we make Mass anthropocentric– human centered.

      Come to think of it, I’m not sure whether my drifting away was because Mass was “feminine.” It was because I was badly catechized, and the way the Novus Ordo was often celebrated seemed dumbed-down and lacking in substance– the crying shame about celebrating the Novus Ordo that way and dumbing Catholicism down is that the Catholic tradition is anything but, and this is a liturgically rooted tradition that is intellectually viable because it is spiritually viable, and vice versa.

      The “norm” didn’t strike me as “feminine” per se; just mostly blah and even ugly. Plus, I’m not sure that Marian piety makes a man a sissy or effeminate; just look at St. John Paul II. Mary herself is gentler than any mere woman, and yet also tougher than any mere man. The problem is that the substance is still there in the Novus Ordo, but one doesn’t see it if one isn’t taught what to look for. Moreover, I’m not sure that what drew me to the TLM is its masculinity, per se. It was the observation of my friend, not me, that it was “very masculine”– the only thing I really noticed about the TLM until he said that was how beautiful and profound it was, and how “welcome” and “at home” I felt in it almost from the start.

    12. I think woman are naturally more human-centered than men, so that feminine in a way means anthropocentric and masculine means reaching out or looking up. Like GK Chesterton said, “Women are the only realists. They’re whole object in life is to pit their realism against the extravagant, excessive, occasionally drunken idealism of men.” Women being “realists” vs. men being “idealists.” Which I personally think is part of why Jesus put men in charge of the Church, so they would be constantly straining toward their ideal, whereas women would be striving to be reasonable and realistic about their goals.

      I don’t know if JPII was a sissy or effeminate. I’ve been asking here and there for a little while on Catholic blogs and articles if anyone knows of anywhere JPII enumerated the rights of the husband/father and the duties of the wife toward him. Nobody ever answers. I think because he never did discuss that, that’s what I suspect anyway. Which is strange for the so-called “Pope of the Family” that he never discussed the rights of the husband/father which is pretty essential to the family. But he did go into great depth and detail on the rights of the wife/mother. And he actively worked against the old liturgy up until Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated the bishops, then within days he gave the FSSP permission to say the old liturgy. That’s off-topic but in my mind its all connected. So my perception of him isn’t as a great leader or especially manly, but I have mainly only read his encyclicals and letters on women and the family.

      I think masculinity means beautiful and profound because of male idealism when it’s incorporated into family. And it was men with a lot less female influence who developed the traditional liturgy vs. the new liturgy and it’s implementation.

    13. I have very little use for either Lassie and the Andy Griffith Show on the one hand or Sex and the City and Miley Cyrus twerking.

    14. God created men and women both in the image of Himself. One is not secondary to the other. I encourage you to really delve into Genesis 1 and the rest of the Bible as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church for a great understanding of that fact. Plus, as a woman, I am not drawn to masculine things necessarily. There are also plenty of men I know who appreciate the feminine. Both are important, not one more so than the other.

    15. Who is the head of whom in marriage, according to the Bible? Who is called to obedience in marriage throughout Scripture? Who is recorded as being created first in Genesis and who came second as his helpmate? Man is primary, woman is ancillary. These facts are uncomfortable to feminist and feminist-influenced women, who wrongly believe that men and women are equal. I encourage you to read Casti Connubii to learn that men and women aren’t equal. It’s a lie that has ruined a lot of women’s lives. Whether or not you’re personally drawn to masculine things isn’t relevant. Plus, I’ve seen a lot of women willing to obscure the truth about themselves to avoid offending the herd. They desire conformity above all, so I’m unconcerned one way or the other if you are drawn to masculinity, which you are but whatever, or whether you know men who claim to want the Church to be feminized. For the survival of Church and civilization, men are more important than women. Men are primary, women are ancillary.

    16. This is not in keeping with Scripture or Church teaching or common sense for that matter.

      Consider that men and women are both created in the Image of God. In the Trinity, for example, the Son submits to the Father, and yet both are equally God.

      Consider that God made men and women in the same way: man is the head of woman, true, but not both have equal value before God as made in the image of God.

      Please study complementarianism – the idea that men and women are equal but different and with different roles to play.

      Also listen carefully to what you have said: “For the Survival of the Church and civilization, men are more important than women.” This is beyond odd thinking –both types of humans are necessary — how to you think we got here? The line of thinking is actually impossible to the point of being ridiculous.


      Bless you.

    17. Men and women are obviously not equal in the natural order. It’s ridiculous to say they are, but it’s been repeated so many times that people believe it without thinking about it. Men and women are obviously obviously obviously not equal. They are different and not equal.

      The human race survived for a long time before Church and civilization appeared. I didn’t say for the survival of the human race men are more important than women. In that sense, women are probably more important, since they grow the babies and look after them when very young and men mainly just get women pregnant and hang out, helping out if they feel like it. What I said was that for the survival of Church and civilization, men are more important than women, and they are. Men, not women, built both. You don’t understand this because you believe–I won’t say stupidly because you’re deluded or hyper credulous and unthinking–but you believe that the sexes are equal, which is retarded if you think about it for half a second with PC blinders off.

      In other words, you’ve fallen for the rhetorical ploy JPII pulls in everything he wrote about the sexes, that because humans have human dignity, the sexes are equal. Which is an obvious lie.

    18. The mass should be a work of art in whichever rite is celebrated. The art includes, first of all, that the place of worship be inspiring through the art of architecture, stained glass, statuary etc. Art in music is a required component. Unfortunately, few of the hymns in the current hymnal, even if done well, seem to capture the reverence appropriate in mass. Chant should be included but not necessarily exclusively. Finally, art in the form of preaching is the most important element. Preaching that inspires or makes one reflect will captivate an audience and will not be forgotten as soon as the mass is over.
      One thing i wish more churches would have is an education/social hour between masses. That way people would not feel the need to do their visiting during the mass hour. Priests or others should have a presentation in a casual manner at this time. A social hour has become a victim of mega parishes where there are too many people and no time between masses.
      Anyway, these are just my thoughts.

    19. Nonsense.The old liturgy: You go in, everyone is kneeling, you read some psalms, the bell rings, everyone stands, the first part you get a little contemplative feeling, then you get a break for the homily, then you’re straight back into it working deeper toward the consecration, then after the consecration there is no chit chat signs of peace, and you slowly come back up to the ite missa est and the Hail Marys and prayer to St. Michael the archangel. Point is the whole thing is linear, profound and reasonably demanding. Compared to the new mass which is disjointed, casual, herky jerky and impossible to sink into in contemplation or contemplativeness if that’s the technical wrong use of “contemplation.” There’s always someone talking at you to announce a song or shake your hand or something. I think these attitudes are “built-in” to the respective liturgies.

    20. There is nothing in the Novis Ordo which calls for any of those things you deplore. They are abuses that are not part of the Mass.

    21. What about the “sign of peace” thing right after the consecration? In the old liturgy this is the most profound moment that everything has been building to. In the new liturgy, you’re trying to enter spiritual communion with Christ–no everybody jump up and mill around with big smiles and greetings–no now jump back into contemplative communion…
      And it does to me seem intrinsically disjointed and herky jerky, sort of like watching the Lord of the Rings movies when you’re familiar with the books. It feels like it lurches from scene to scene and leaves out a lot.

    22. The rubrics at the kiss of peace do not call for people to “jump up and mill around.” What about the fact there is a kiss of peace in the Extraordinary Form?

    23. Not that I’ve ever experienced or noticed in the missal. It’s possible I’ve overlooked it in the missal. I don’t see it here in either, actually:
      But whether that’s true or not, you’re wrong to the point of absurdity to think the new liturgy communicates as much beauty and reverence as the old liturgy. You can even feel it looking at the rubrics side by side.

    24. Do a little more research. You can even look up the Pax-Brede.

      As far as being “wrong to the point of absurdity” you are not expressing a truth but an opinion. I respect your preference for the EF. It is a question of prudence whether the EF or the NO, properly celebrated, is preferable for the Catholic faithful. I personally prefer the NO, but I don’t consider people who don’t share this preference “wrong to the point of absurdity.”

    25. You’re wrong. It’s plainly true. You’re not expressing truth but prevarication. Beauty isn’t in the eye of the beholder, but does actually exist objectively. Which is why you’re careful not to say the new liturgy is more beautiful than the old liturgy. It obviously isn’t.

    26. Friend, if I were wrong (but I’m not) you could easily correct me by simply stating that the new liturgy is intrinsically more beautiful than the old liturgy. But that would be an absurd claim, which is why no one makes it. Instead, they talk about preferences and proper celebration and reverent attitudes. All that to avoid saying the simple truth that the old liturgy is way more beautiful. If that doesn’t amount to prevarication I don’t know what does. I honestly think it may be driven by pride, because we don’t want to let go of Vatican II and the spirit of Vatican II. “The TRUE council has yet to be implemented!” etc etc etc

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