Dec 152012

I was asked to repost this which I did back in 2007.


Have you ever been a Sunday morning quarterback during Mass where you critique and liturgical abuses or experimental oddities that you have observed. You just wish at times that somebody would step in and do something about what your are observing.Well we have some good news for you! Francis Cardinal Arinze the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has introduced a new program that will surely have an effect.

The recently created position of Liturgical Referee has been instituted to help to bring uniformity to the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Liturgical Referees will travel around the world randomly attending Masses. Liturgical Referees will stand, mostly quietly, to the side of the sanctuary during Mass and call out signals if he observes any liturgical penalties according to the GIRM and other liturgical documents. Only in the case of penalties that would make the Mass itself invalid will the Liturgical Referee blow his whistle and when necessary call for any replays to correct any mistake made. Penalty markers may be thrown during the Mass to alert the celebrant to any problems that might need immediate correction.

Liturgical Referee in action

After Mass any penalties will be reviewed with the celebrant and more serious penalties will be taken to the local ordinary for determination for any fines or whether the celebrant just needs to get back to the liturgical playbook (GIRM) and/or to review films of properly celebrated Masses. In the case of penalty free liturgies the Liturgical Referee will thank the celebrant and be given the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments seal of approval.

The Liturgical Referee’s has responsibility in enforcing the liturgical rules and maintaining the order of the liturgy. During the liturgy please do not yell out or insult the Liturgical Referee. We assure you he is not blind and is doing his job to the best of his abilities and whether you feel he has missed a liturgical abuse or that he is being too hard on your pastor we ask that you act charitably on his calls.

Applicants for Liturgical Referee should be well versed in Canon Law as applies to the liturgy, the GIRM and other liturgical documents, and a familiarity with any indults and permissions as set by the local bishop’s conference and the local ordinary. The applicant should also be physically fit so that he will be able to make all off the signals that might be required at a more experimental celebration of the liturgy. Applicants should be familiar with the following liturgical signals.

Example Liturgical Signals
No Crucifix in sanctuary.
Liturgical dance detected.
Member of laity giving homily – to be evicted from lectern.
Incomplete or no consecration. Occurs when illicit matter is used, wrong formula used, only one of the two elements of bread or wine is not properly consecrated, or no validly ordained male priest/bishop is present. In case where only one element is consecrated a replay is called for.
Illegal use of hands. Normally called when the celebrant has left the sanctuary to shake everybody’s hands.
Questionable or just downright heretical theology used in homily. When detected the Liturgical Ref pulls on his lips in a downward direction.
The “What the heck am my hearing” signal is one of the most common signals and indicates syrupy banal liturgical music or the inappropriate use of secular music such as show tunes and popular music (especially from the seventies).
Disregarding the prescribed text of the Order of Mass. This is another common liturgical penalty despite the fact that no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority. (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy)
Illicit Posture. Usually called when you are being asked to stand instead of kneel or any other poster adaptation not specified by the GIRM or set by your bishop’s conference or licitly specified by your local ordinary.
Illicit purification of sacred vessels. This is called when the purification of the sacred vessels is done by an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion despite the fact the the Pope revoked the indult in the U.S. for this permission.
Illicit Participation. Called when too many people are in the sanctuary. For example occurs when EMHC arrive before the fraction rite or when some members of the congregation are invited into the sanctuary to pray with the priest during the consecration.
Un-Christian Like Conduct. Can be called when elements of other religions contrary to Christianity are introduced such as new age beliefs. Un-Christian Like Conduct is also often called in the parking lot after Mass.
Illegal Pass. The celebrant is simply not allowed to make a pass at anybody.
Stole Infraction. Normally occurs when the celebrant wears his stole on top of the chasuble. Another penalty can be added if the celebrant does this and the stole is also horrendously ugly or has an seventies themes.
Illegal Receiver of Holy Communion. Those who are excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.
Clowns in the sanctuary – run for your life.
Excessive use of inclusive language. Penalty is thrown when grammatical awkwardness is detected in avoiding male pronouns and every other sentence begins brothers and sisters.

With the presence of the Liturgical Referee you can leave liturgical abuse spotting to the experts and spend your time instead trying to enter the Mass in prayer.

Update: Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP has some other liturgical hand signals not included in the examples above.

Update 2: Some have asked for a version of this they can easily print out. I have created a PDF version of this parody.

  9 Responses to “Liturgical Referees”

  1. If the gig pays, I’ll be the first to volunteer

  2. Of course Jeff, just like in 2007 when you last posted something like this, “IT” is all done simply for The Glory of GOD (Good Old Dad). Right?

    I hear ya! Go Figure? 🙂


  3. I’m not a Catholic, but I find these signals very helpful, and worth a grin.

  4. The web site links located beneath the quote are broken!

  5. Since there’s just one ref, we’re talkin’ the OF League, eh?
    The EF League has plenty of refs on the sidelines. 😉

  6. I wish this was true because I’d ask for a visit. The illegal use of hands, the excessive use of inclusive language and illicit purification are big problems in my parish.

  7. Don’t forget regular Communion from the tabernacle, and regularly denying the chalice to the faithful, two of the most prominent abuses (see GIRM #85).

  8. […] This re-post from the Curt Jester was brought to my attention and it is quite amusing.  Click the l… […]

  9. Ah! Just to be able to relax!!

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>