The message of love in the Gospels (harsh, costly, electric, realistic and more generous that we can imagine) is distorted by this contagious, hapless condition. What forms does it take? Perhaps the most commonplace is its wish to make participants feel good. The Gospel becomes always, only and pre-eminently a consolation of a sugary kind. The examples are legion. One is so ubiquitous it is not seen: the equation of the Gospel with niceness. Christians who are not ‘nice’ like this are thought deficient even when they are loving and just. Liturgically, sentimentality finds various forms. I have observed the celebrant at the Eucharist, when presiding versus populum (facing the people), repeatedly eye-balling and scanning the faces of the people with a warm and soft expression rather like an ingratiating TV host, even when reciting the words of institution. On this theme I discovered an interesting article about priestly narcissism which points out that since the move from ad orientem to versus populum (the move from having the priest and people face east to having the priest and congregation face each other) the priest becomes, inevitably, the focus of the action and is obliged to become a ‘performer’.  This perspective seems significant and worthy of more thought yet I have never heard it taken up or discussed.
An apparently more harmless liturgical expression of this sentimentalisation of liturgy is illustrated by the postscript some clergy add to the blessing: …And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with you and those whom you love, now and forever. On the face of it this is good. Who could object? People like it. Those who attend only when they have to – baptisms, funerals - especially like it. It is inclusive and encouraging and human. All true, I suppose. But what is its unintentional effect? To make God a chum who likes the people we like. And what about that bastard down the road, or the registered sex offender, or the Colonel Gaddafi's of this world? I take the pronouncing of liturgical blessings seriously, and with the same intensity I recoil at those people who unctuously say Bless you! in conversation. I know, I know: I am first cousin to Victor Meldrew. Bless him! But I believe there is a serious point here. Perhaps it is that God is neither partial nor a feel-good god, one we must not trivialise.
 Messing with the Mass: The problem of priestly narcissism today. Paul Vitz & Daniel C. Vitz. Though written from a Roman Catholic perspective the insights apply elsewhere to liturgical activity. See also here in the blog A New Parson's Handbook