An Omaha pastor has ordered 250 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders frpm Nebraska’s largest Catholic grade school out of Mass because they weren’t singing loudly enough.Does this action help drive home the point of active participation? Perhaps. Does it help drive home the fact that such participation is first and foremost interior? Perhaps.
Incensed, the parents say they’re paying tuition so their kids can get Catholic instruction [technically, they're still getting "instruction;" it just isn't the sort they have in mind] — not for the kids to be denied Holy Communion during Lent, the World-Herald report.
Other parents, however, back the action of Father James Tiegs, pastor at St. Stephen the Martyr parish since 2004. They see him as a shepherd guiding the flock.
“If he thought that was necessary, my hat’s off for his courage,” said Bob Finger, who has a daughter in eighth grade at the southwest Omaha school.
However, an Omaha Archdiocese chancellor, Deacon Tim McNeil said that archdiocesan policy does not support the lesson.
“Trying to get children, or for that matter adults, to fully participate in the Mass is a 2,000-year-old issue in the church,” he said. “We would never suggest that 250 children be dismissed in the middle of Mass for not singing a song.”
This is not an action I would have done. Having been in similar situations, though, with a large congregation and all but no response from the people, I've been tempted to celebrate the Mass ad orientem from time to time. It wouldn't help the question of their lack of response, but I wouldn't see lifeless faces, either.