Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

getting along -2-

By Fr. Wilson ( articles ) | Mar 25, 2004

You know, Diogenes, one of the things that has struck me about these conversations about "Why are you folks so angry" is that they often don't do justice to what people are so upset about.

As a priest, I find it painful to hear from parents, for example, who find their own teaching and their children's understanding of the Faith to be undermined by goofy antics Father Bob indulges in during the Liturgy, and blatant heresies he chooses to preach. I don't blame parents for being angry about things like that. They want to impart the virtue of Religion to their children; they teach them reverence and respect for clergy. Then they have to unpack some false or inaccurate teaching Father chose to expound from the pulpit. It is bad enough when a priest does nothing but vague moralizing and catchy anecdotes in his sermons. But when he misleads and misstates Church teaching, a parent, there, feeling responsible for his child, will of course take umbrage at having to say, "Now, when Father Bob said this, he was wrong."

Then someone says, "Well, why are you so MAD about this?" Perhaps because the parent takes his parenthood seriously, more seriously than Father Bob takes his priesthood.

In my nine years of seminary, the liturgical abuses I had to put up with were innumerable. I have squatted with other seminarians in a circle like a heathen Indian while the priest prof confected the Eucharist on the coffee table in his living room. I have watched as priest celebrants made up, off the tops of their heads, the Eucharistic Prayer, and freely rewrote and ad-libbed the Mass prayers. I recall walking into the sacristy after the first Sunday Mass I attended in the seminary, to see the Precious Blood of Christ being poured down the sink. I remember asking one priest about the origin of the Eucharistic Prayer he was proposing to use at our Mass while we were on retreat. "Oh, it's approved," he said. "It was composed by some sisters. I have forty-five of them."

My Momma had an ugly baby, not a stupid one.

But, there you are; I survived, and was ordained. But I only had myself to worry about. If I were the father of a family, in danger of being misled by our priest, I'd be livid, and bitterly resentful. Especially if I knew that there was no reason to expect any help from the bishop.

It strikes right to the heart of our Faith to look on the sacred Liturgy not as a gift to be received from previous generations, but as a vehicle for my own self-expression; yet that lesson was very effectively taught forty years ago. Personally, I believe that the chaotic mess we see in the Church's life today can largely be attributed to the violent hands which were laid on the sacred Liturgy after the Second Vatican Council. The message went out far and wide: if something as sacred as the Liturgy can be treated this way, then EVERYTHING's up for grabs: Morality, Religious Life, Catechesis...

It never ceases to amaze me that there are Catholics who think they're following a virtuous path by floating in Olympian detachment above the concerns of such folk as find this offensive and burdensome. Especially when the people objecting are merely taking their obligations to those under their care seriously.

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