Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dissent from the Pulpit: What Should Happen Next?

UPDATE 2 (4/27/07): I've noticed that someone from Boise with a Velocitus account keeps coming back to this page. It's been three months since I posted this message, and frankly, I've moved on, and I hope others from the parish have as well. If you simply want to read what I'm posting, I'm happy that you've dropped by. You can see my most recent posts by going here. If you're looking for some new complaint or offense, well, I certainly hope not to offer it, but I would encourage you to move on, too. We have more important things to do than dwell on past errors. There's a world that needs to know Christ, and we should be focusing on that.

Pax Christi.


I've been reading some of the comments on Dominican Idaho, and I'm surprised at a few of the posts. I guess I shouldn't be. Even some of the people I know who understand the problems with what the deacon said weren't quite sure they heard him correctly.

The problem here is that about half of the people at the 10:00 AM Mass understood him one way. The other half didn't hear it that way. So at very least, the deacon's message was misundersood by half of the people. If nothing else, we should get some clarification about his meaning in a public manner—not in a private session between on parishioner and the deacon. I don't think the deacon has time to meet with half of the members of the parish. If he was misunderstood by those of us who took offense, he needs to explain what he did and did not mean, preferably during the announcements and not as a second follow-up homily.

That's if we really misunderstood him. But I don't think we misunderstood him at all.

The first part of the homily seemed okay, but I knew it was taking a bad turn when he said of the extraordinary ministers* that they can, "wash the dishes, but they can't purify the vessels."

You see, he was equating these two items. Cleansing the remaining Precious Blood of Christ from the chalice is equal to washing the dishes. Did he say this explicitly? No. And maybe that's not how he meant it. I can give him the benefit of the doubt.

But he went on. He called it a slap in the face of the Laity. Most of the Laity were not aware they'd been "offended" until this point. But by this the Laity were offended in one of two ways: either they took the action of the Church (in Its role as the legislator and arbiter of liturgical practice) as a true personal offence, or they were offended that the deacon would make such a claim.

Then he said, "But let's see it through the other lense."

I thought, "Okay, maybe he'll turn this around."

But that's not what happened. He mentioned the subtle changes that had been talking place, the requirement for extraordinary ministers to wait to come up to the altar, and a few other changes I can't recall. He asked how many more changes supposedly prompted by Vatican II would be rolled back (the sign of peace, altar girls, lay lectors, and who knows what else). He indicated that we needed to educate ourselves about our faith (which, in itself, is a great suggestion, given the correct resources). He said we need to speak up make our voices heard and to challenge such decisions.

What we in the 10:00 Mass did not get to hear was the opinion he voiced concerning the reform of the reform. Here's Mark's recollection:

His final words; more members of the congregation agree with him than me (and that deserves a boast?), and that if the reform of the reform continues, there will be another "Reformation!"

UPDATE: I apparently was not clear about this incident. Apparently, this statement transpired during the conversation after the 8:00 AM Mass. I apologize for the error.

I think the people at coffee and donuts after Mass might've disabused the deacon of that notion, and if you tak a look around the blogosphere, I think that claim is a bit outlandish. But even if it is, we have from him the claim that

- the people's voices should dictate liturgical practice, not the Holy See

- the people of the Church should "challenge" the proper authority of the Holy See

- the people will walk if they don't get their way

There is nothing in that message that reflects on the readings, that expounds on the teaching of the Church, or that in any way elucidates the meaning of Lumen Gentium (as he suggested).

He voiced his opinion, not Catholic teaching. And he encouraged us to challenge legitimate authority.

When one in power over another challenges someone's decision, that is an act befitting the role. When a subject challenges the decisions of his or her ruler, that is an act of disobedience.

What echoes in my ear when I hear such things is an ancient utterance.

Non serviat! "I will not serve!"

And I cannot accept such words from an ordained minister of the Church.

Then came the last dramatic gesture—genuflecting to the people. One person left this comment:

The Deacon at mass had been talking about our call to be "Priest, Prophet and King", and genuflected to the congregation in an act of reverence due all who worship our Lord.

Actually, we are not priest, prophet, and king. Christ is. We are called to share in His office, not to usurp it.

As Mark pointed out very clearly, it is a reserved action. Using it to glorify people is simply wrong. Glorifying people for what they can only do through Christ is wrong. We cannot be Holy in unless we are Holy in Christ.

One last point about Christian charity.

I believe that many of the people defending the deacon are doing so, not because they believe his message to be correct, but because they love the deacon. Well, here's a news flash. We do, too. We might not know him well enough to love him in his individuality, but we love him as a member of the Church, as a member of our community, and as a member of the human race. Some of us are probably not voicing that love very well. In that, we need to repent.

However, what the deacon needs to do is explain to us what he meant. And if he meant what we think he meant, he needs to recant, as it clearly constitutes disobedience to proper authority. I will keep praying that he does so.

*Note I use the term extraordinary ministers rather than Eucharistic ministers. That's because extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist are extra-ordinary—out of the ordinary, to be used in extraordinary circumstances. The fact that they've become so ordinary is part of the problem that is being corrected by the Holy See.

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