October 12, 2007

Xtreme Breast Beating

Who knew there were so many male Catholic rap fans around who are frustrated human beatboxes? Remember, the rap groups of the 1980s almost always had to have one member who used his whole body to lay down the beat? He slapped himself, clapped, stomped. The human beatbox for the Fat Boys died young. Not sure if it was his weight or if he got too carried away beating himself.

There are some men in this town (and you probably know who they are if you hang out at the local trad parishes) who beat themselves so bad during the Agnus Dei that it sounds like soemone is banging on the walls of the Confessional in the back trying to get out. Thump, thump! Honestly, I fear for them. I pray there are a lot of Catholic cardiologists around. I also pray none of these breast beaters have implants.

I'm all about being penitential. But, is there a point where the line between being penitential and being a show-off is crossed? Is there some contest going on that I don't know about? The Last Sinner Standing? Are their prizes for this display of macho prowess?

What's next? Men squatting in the ashes from their Weber grills in the vestibules before Mass? Sackcloth design contests?

Save your chest and just go to Confession for crying out loud!


Blogger ignorant redneck said...

Wow! I hadn't thought of that! Grilling my no meat friday meals so I can sit in the ashes and sew my sack cloth shirt for sunday. That way my beating the tar outta me will be really cool.

Seriously, we are supposed to strike our breast during the "I confess", and the Missa Typica has the Mea Culpa repeated three times. A lot of guys strike their breast, as opposed to touching it just a little, because they are reminding them selves of their sin, not so much punishing themselves. Guys, at least manly guys, are not very subtle, and an outright strike as opposed to a stylized strike helps them more with participating "actuosa" than a lady like tap.

Of course, our chests aren't as sensitive as womens, so it might not translate from guy thing into galspeak too well.

October 12, 2007 3:03 PM  
Blogger swissmiss said...

As long as this doesn't become a male version of pious one-upmanship, then pound away fellas. Just try to keep a beat, would ya. And no grunting.

October 12, 2007 3:12 PM  
Blogger Ma Beck said...

I enjoy seeing it also.

October 12, 2007 3:16 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

I've always thought that I was being overly "traddy" when I mimed a little breast beating at the Confiteor and at the Consecration.

I guess I haven't been watching my neighbors in the pews. I'll have to step up the action a bit and let 'em know how we used to do it in the olden days.

But I'll keep the grunting down, SwissMiss! Thumps only.

Cathy must go to two Masses each Sunday; one for worship and the other for reporting.

October 12, 2007 5:48 PM  
Blogger Adoro te Devote said...

So....why, exactly, are you NOTICING what others are doing when your attention SHOULD be on the altar?


~ Distracted Mass-goer ~

October 12, 2007 9:06 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

swismiss: no grunting!

Adoro: I don't have to look you can hear it!

All: I tap my breast but don't beat it-thank you.

October 13, 2007 9:32 AM  
Blogger Serviam! said...

Have to agree with cathy here. The "If a little of a good thing is good, a lot of it must be great" reasoning doesn't always hold. While praying the "Our Father" at Mass is good, I don't think praying it four times louder than everyone else isn't great.

If tapping my breast reminds me of my sin a little, and pounding more so, then in my case shattering a two-by-four across my chest may be most appropriate.

Our actions at Mass should consistent not only in kind, but degree.

October 13, 2007 10:51 AM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

St. Jerome used to hit his chest with a rock - or so he is depicted in art. I usually tear my shirt open like the Jewish High Priest used rend his garments. I like the drama.

October 13, 2007 12:14 PM  
Blogger Adoro te Devote said...

I usually just scream and fall to my knees in agony. Then I take the sack of ashes from my grill and dump it on my head.

For the life of me, I can't figure out why people won't sit next to me.

October 13, 2007 12:38 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...


October 13, 2007 4:08 PM  
Blogger Fr. Charles Ledderer said...

Interesting! I am reminded of those people in the Gospels Jesus was always chiding for performing religious acts in order to be seen. What were they called? Hmmmm. I think it was pharisees or something like that.

Same as the breast-beaters are those who insist on kneeling on the floor instead of on the kneeler. Seems to me it is just a means to draw attention to oneself.

Remember satan is capable of using everything, even religion, in order to trip us up. The whole "I'm holier than you" mentality that seems to be rampant among the ultraconservative crowd cries out PHARISEE nice and loud I think.

October 14, 2007 2:20 PM  
Blogger Kasia said...


I seem to recall hearing something about penitents being overenthusiastic with the breast beating according to one of the early Church Fathers. So it isn't a new problem. I would say it comes down to one's intent. Not having witnessed the act, much less been a participant, I can't speak to that.

But for what it's worth, Father, I often kneel on the floor because our parish has those annoying pews that get longer as you get further back, which means that the people on the ends have no kneelers. (Also some of the chairs at the very back have no kneelers.) I often choose to sit in an end seat so that someone else can have the kneeler, since I'm still pretty young and don't have knee or back problems to speak of. I think of it as a mild form of penance and a way to help the older or less physically healthy members of the parish. Is that bad?

October 14, 2007 5:56 PM  
Blogger ignorant redneck said...

Hey, Are you the Fr. Ledderer that Cavey found was posing as a priest on his blog.

I read about it. He didn't find you in any diocesan lists, and you're posting from a location not the Dakotas?

Or am I all fouled up again?

Sorry Cathy, just noticed him and put two and two together.

October 15, 2007 11:21 PM  
Anonymous Alfalfa said...

Ignorant Redneck,

I don't know if his name is real, but the photo he uses certainly isn't. You can find it via Google Image Search when searching on the word "priest," (currently at the results 181-200 area) though I wouldn't click on the link if I was you. I was also unable to find his name in the lists of any Dakota dioceses.

October 15, 2007 11:45 PM  
Blogger Adoro te Devote said...

I still like his blog. Interesting points being made.

October 16, 2007 7:50 AM  
Blogger uncle jim said...

hypocritical pharisees v regular run-of-the-mill everyday variety i think were the objects of Jesus' derision, no? or are you suggesting he thinks they were all hypocrites? i don't understand it that way, but what do i know.

October 16, 2007 8:05 AM  
Blogger Our Word said...


You're right; I seem to recall it was St. Augustine who said something about excessive breast-beating (couldn't find a reference to it, although one of the commentaries mentioned that the sound of breast-beating was audible during one of Augustine's sermons on it) Not to say that the gesture isn't important, just that one should be measured in it, as opposed to self-flagellation.

Interesting though, that I do recall reading someone (I think at EWTN) stating that it was important that the breast be beaten with a fist, as opposed to the more gentle "hand over the heart" gesture - we are talking about sin, after all, in which case a more decisive gesture (as per the rubrics) is required.


October 16, 2007 8:17 AM  

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