Q —Our pastor starts Mass with, ‘Good morning.’ Is the preferred response: ‘Good morning,’ Good morning, Father,’ or silence? There is no model for this greeting on the Roman Missal response card so people respond in different ways.
A — At one level, the answer to this question is very straightforward. The appropriate section of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal No. 49 reads thus: “When they reach the sanctuary, the priest, the deacon, and the ministers reverence the altar with a profound bow. As an expression of veneration, moreover, the priest and deacon then kiss the altar itself; as the occasion suggests, the priest also incenses the cross on the altar.” Then #No. 50 continues: “When the entrance chant is concluded, the priest stands at the chair and, together with the whole gathering, makes the Sign of the Cross. Then he signifies the presence of the Lord to the community gathered there by means of the greeting. By this greeting and the people’s response, the mystery of the Church gathered together is made manifest.”
Various greetings are offered in the Roman Missal. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” Or, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Or, “The Lord be with you.” As the General Instruction of the Roman Missal makes clear, both the priest’s greeting and people’s response are about recognizing and showing forth the presence of the Church, of the Body of Christ.
The priest should not say “Good morning” at the beginning of Mass. If he desires to meet people as they come into the church, that would be the point at which to offer such a greeting. Having said all of this, however, my own opinion is that the liturgy should never be a battle place, and, if the priest says “Good morning,” it would be discourteous not to respond. If one felt that the issue should be taken further, one should make an appointment to speak with the priest in a charitable and courteous fashion, and never in an accusatory or condemnatory way.