Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Failures To Communicate Arise When People Deny They Are Acting From "FEELINGS"

Here's one of those 'silly felt banners' guaranteed to make a trad cringe.  I personally like the sentiments of this one.

One of the stories I meant to get to last week was the one about the Boy Scouts of America rejecting gay boys, scout leaders, and atheists.  This decision didn't shock me at all because the Boys Scouts have skewed way to the right since it's head quarters was moved to Texas and the LDS Church and Catholic KofC became the principle funding sources.  I wrote awhile back about the American Heritage Girls and their sudden rise to prominence and their designation as the girls group recognized by the Boys Scouts.  I see this as a blatant attempt by conservative right wing political groups to set the 'agenda' for the indoctrination of American children in mainstream children's organizations.  The Girl Scouts couldn't be bought and so they were circumvented with a new start up group, hence the AHG.  The NCR covered this story and in the comments section was a very interesting exchange between  a couple of orthodox folks and a handful of progressives.  The following two comments from a traditional conservative are hugely instructive concerning the impasse in communication with in Catholicism and why it is so difficult for liberals to deal with conservatives and vice versa.  It is difficult indeed to explain Vatican II concepts to people who don't value community or can admit their valued version of religious expression is all about their feelings and not just the presumed orthodoxy of the celebration.

This first comment is one of the clearest explanations I have ever read from a conservative which freely admits their worship and religious practice is exclusively about them--even to the point that it doesn't matter if anyone else is in attendance.

.... I do not attend Mass based on the congregation; indeed, it doesn't matter to me who is in the congregation at Mass, or even if there is a congregation. I do not attend Mass to shoot the breeze with neighbors, nor to hold hands in some false sense of togetherness at the Our Father. I attend Mass for the purpose of worshiping God, offering my prayers of thanksgiving, adoration, supplication and repentance, and being nourished by the Most Holy Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ my Savior and Lord. The presence of absence of a congregation, of other people, is entirely immaterial to me.....

In this next comment, the same person adamantly castigates the 'feel good' Vatican II Mass while utterly ignoring he uses the same language about his own experience of his beloved traditional Mass. One of the things that drives me crazy is the refusal of traditionalists to admit they have an experiential relationship with their version of the Mass.  They like it because it makes them feel good. 

I feel exactly the same way about Liberals...they pick and choose the teachings of the Church that they will accept, ignoring defined and definitive teachings that are to be held by all, and embracing prudential teachings that are left up to the individual conscience. Then they presume to judge others whose consciences do not accept those prudential teachings, or do not choose to implement them in the same way. (Liberals are hardly alone in the judgment arena.)
I choose the parish I attend based on the priest, to be frank. If the priest is orthodox and celebrates Mass in accord with the Church's customs and traditions; if the priest's homilies are consistent with Church teaching and dogma; if the priest is faithful to the Magisterium and faithfully hands on those teachings, then I am at home. I am not terribly interested in the make-up of the congregation; though, it has been my experience that orthodox and faithful people follow orthodox and dynamically faithful pastors. This is true of my parish; no silliness is allowed, retreats are faithful and are presented by orthodox priests, no silly felt banners to mar the sanctuary, no "feel good" songs, no guitars or bongos. Rather, perpetual adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, daily praying of the Rosary before each Mass, Tuesday evening devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, First Friday and First Saturday devotions. The parish has a strong Ladies' Sodality, Holy Name Society, and Knights of Columbus council (to which I belong as a proud Fourth Degree Knight). There is regular confession offered (1 hour before each Mass), monthly Mass of reparation for abortion (with a very active Pro-Life committee) and a very active parish school and CCD program.
No, I do not join hands at the Pater Noster; that action has been repeatedly condemned by the Church, even no less a Liberal as Cardinal Mahoney, the retired Archbishop of Los Angeles, stated categorically that holding hands was an inappropriate gesture at the Pater. Nevertheless, many ignore this for the simple reason that they "feel" good about it (as if feelings somehow mattered in the grand scheme of things).

Thankfully, the parish I regularly attend does not engage in this liturgical abuse; neither does this parish have an army of lay extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (Communion under both kinds is only offered on solemnities and important feasts) nor does it allow the liturgical practice of girl servers. Happily, Father has put an end to these and so many other abuses since his arrival in the parish a couple of years ago. 

I drive past four different Catholic parishes to attend this one and I am glad to be a part of this parish. Granted, we have our liberal parishioners as well (thankfully, they are few and far between; most attend Saturday evening Mass) and they occasionally raise an issue -- this year some objected to the multi-parish Corpus Christi procession (how anyone could object to a procession honoring Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament is beyond me, but oh well) -- but they are generally listened to and then dismissed by Father. It's good for them to appreciate how the orthodox and conservative Catholics were treated for nearly three decades after the Council.
I take great joy from the fact that the Church is returning to her roots and her tradition, that the liberal experiment in anarchy and silliness so rampant following the Council is happily coming to an end. I am pleased that in little more than 2 years, Father has purged the parish, and now it is growing dynamically. Even the parish school, which, when Father arrived was in serious danger of closing, is now thriving.
It is merely further evidence of the work of Holy Spirit alive and well in this thriving city parish.

It's not going to be easy to find common ground when conservatives are in denial about the role of emotional response in their faith journey. Especially when so much of the emotion is tied up in feelings of personal security as a bulwark against fear.  I suspect the leadership of the LCWR will run into this same kind of denial in their dialogue with bishops.  I have no doubt there will be allusions to the women being 'touchy feely' of the silly felt banners and 'feel good' music Catholic-lite school of things, while the men will be all about rationality, logic and the self defined righteousness of the defenders of Truth.


  1. It's all about the commenter! The commenter denies this, of course.

  2. ".... I do not attend Mass based on the congregation; indeed, it doesn't matter to me who is in the congregation at Mass, or even if there is a congregation. I do not attend Mass to shoot the breeze with neighbors, nor to hold hands in some false sense of togetherness at the Our Father. I attend Mass for the purpose of worshiping God, offering my prayers of thanksgiving, adoration, supplication and repentance, and being nourished by the Most Holy Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ my Savior and Lord. The presence of absence of a congregation, of other people, is entirely immaterial to me..... "

    You say this points to a selfish or egocentric intention, but the focus in this quote you've used to support the assertion is not the self, but God, and the areas where the 'self' is mentioned are in fact doctrinally sound.
    The Sacrament of Holy Communion does help us, strengthen us, nourish us, the Mass is a gift for us, even though the orientation is toward God rather than to the congregation itself.

    1. Jesus did not die on the cross to give us another opportunity for self navel gazing and reveling in our individual worship of the transcendent God. He died so that we might have life, and life in abundance, and we get more of that abundant life when we share it with others.

      It may be doctrinally correct but it's spiritual garbage. End of rant.

    2. The life we receive from the Blessed Sacrament is not diminished or enhanced by the number of people on either side of us. Nor is reverent reception of the Blessed Sacrament "navel gazing" or "spiritual garbage".

    3. Invictus,

      What ever happened to the Body of Christ? I am the Vine, you are the Branches. Do you not think that all groups in the church are what make up this body. Do you not think that it is one body of people and that if some ore discriminated against or are suffering that it affects all of us? I think that the numbers of people receiving Christ his word and his Body enhances all of us as a people and as a culture. After all Christ did say that to offer his Body it took two or more. I think you are wrong Invictus, while the body of Christ invigorates each one of us individually, it also invigorates us as a congregation and as a society. The idea that this sacrament is meant for one person seems to me ludicrous. It was meant to invigorate all of the body of Christ even the naval gazers. Spiritual garbage to you is the LIfe of Christ for us all!
      R. Dennis Porch, MD

    4. :-) Good post.

      Yes, all the groups in the Church make up the whole.
      Yes, the Blessed Sacrament and the Mass enrich us as a congregation and as a society rather than solely individually.
      Good points. All I was resisting was the view that the life we receive from the Blessed Sacrament is enhanced or diminished by the number of people on either side (and implicitly, whether or not they hold hands during the Our Father, etc).

    5. Invictus,

      The more who receive Him, the more we as humanity are indeed enriched. Holding hands at least is neutral and at most signifies a unity of congregation-- the whole of Christ's Body. There are those that are imunologically chalanged and can not hold hands or share the cup, but for most of us it is a blessing.

    6. The more who receive Him, the more are enriched by Him.
      As opposed to; The more who receive Him, the more one is enriched by Him.
      Crucial difference!

    7. The more who receive Him, the more society and community as a whole are enriched by HIM. Therefore numbers may indeed help us all. dennis

    8. For sure, but that's not the formulation I was countering. We agree here.

  3. You can find that kind of nonsense, and even worse!, on a daily basis here (with time off on Saturday and Sunday): http://cal-catholic.com/wordpress/

    1. I can't take Cal-Cath. The comments can get really really vicious. I

    2. Perhaps Invictus would feel more at home at Cal-Cath. :)

  4. One cannot have discipleship with out community. The first thing a church is IS community. Mass isn't celebrated as a reparation for sin, a burnt offering to God in the Temple for blessings. It is the breaking of bread in community (binding us to one another) and the constant offering by God the Exodus (salvific love) to His people.

    In either practice, VII or Trad, one needs to remember the beams of the cross go both ways: community and Transcendence.

    Another thing: scrupulosity is an impediment to a healthy relationship to God.

    1. I have always liked that description of the cross, and it's that symbolism which has made the cross a cross cultural phenomenon. Pun intended.

    2. I believe that it was Monsignor Ronald Knox who said that the Cross is the letter "I" crossed out, that when we come to its foot all that we want, or like, or dislike is left behind us, washed away by that perfect love and that ultimate sacrifice. The individual has no place there in the love that died that all men might have life, we are never more part of a greater whole than at that moment.

      I'm sure Monsignor Knox said it a lot better though :)

  5. The very term Eucharist means Thanksgiving which implies relationship. In the scriptures, St. Paul describes the Church as The Body of Christ - many parts, one body in Christ. The very nature of the Church as the Body of Christ implies Relationship. God as the Trinity - A Triune Relationship. Wherever two or more are gathered, there am I; again, Relationship. Even at the height of Tridentine minimalism when priests offered private mass there was to be a server present to represent what? - The Body of Christ: the Relationship that Is the Church. During the Eucharistic prayer, the bread and wine do not become the body and blood of Christ when the priest waves his hand over them but at the end of the prayer when all those assembled pronounce the three fold Amen - thus affirming in faith the mystical reality of Transubstantiation. No community = no Church. The Congregation better matter!

  6. Colleen, I admire you for being able to make sense out of the practically senseless. I'm laughng at the indoctrinated silly and befuddled gibberish of the trad, such as this:

    "This is true of my parish; no silliness is allowed, retreats are faithful and are presented by orthodox priests, no silly felt banners to mar the sanctuary, no "feel good" songs, no guitars or bongos."

    Oh, we must not "mar the sanctuary" with any art that is in felt. Suppose we ask the Bishops to fork over some silk and gold thread ! Maybe that would coax this trad to see the beauty of it and if perhaps he knew in his heart about St. Francis he might awaken from his slumber in the sanctuary.

    Oh, we must not have feel good songs, so I guess we should have feel bad songs instead!! No guitars though! That might make one feel too good. Nothing so common for this trad. And for God's sake, no bongos!! We can't have any of that. LOL!!

    Traddy must not be disturbed by the real world and give in to any sense of community, or have any comprehension that God is within each one of us. His/her indoctrination includes the inability to think for oneself. There will be no creativity in that trad Church. There will only be condemnation.

    We each matter to God. We each are the Church. We each are part of the Body of Christ. Oh, never mind about you having God in you, trad might say. Doctrine is more important to obey than God to a trad. Trads don't really need God because their priest thinks he is God. The trad doesn't think.

    Oh, yea, sign me up for the "unfaithful" seminars, whatever they are that trad is trashing. Those unfaithful thinkers. How dare they think or ask questions. We'll have none of that in my trad Church.


    Fran Schultz

  7. I feel so sorry for the person that wrote this article.
    There is so much wrong with what was written, how does this person justify calling himself a "christian"?
    This person obviously attends church, but does he/she listen to the words of Jesus/God?
    It is not the conservative thoughts and feelings that disturb me, it is the condescending,dismissive attitude and the sentiment as long as I get what I want, the h--l with the rest of you attitude that saddens me.

  8. The whole attitude about silliness at Mass seems skewed to me also. There was certainly eras when liturgical levity was not unheard of i.e. Boy Bishops, the Feast of the Ass and Feast of Fools . These things long predate Vatican II and even Trent for that matter. One tradition in Italy involved bringing in an ox into the Sanctuary to participate in Mass , IIRC, on Pentecost Sunday. If the ox defecated during Mass, the parish would rejoice seeing it as a sign from God that a plentiful harvest was coming for the year. Talk about marring a sanctuary! Trent began reining some of these practices back in and that trend continued until Vatican II. It just seems to me , for all of the criticisms leveled at post Vatican II liturgical reforms as being novel, irreverent , contrived etc. , I've found that some of the Traditionalist branch is a little contrived as well. As I pointed out above the Mass as always a serious ceremony is not something medievel Church shared. A parish heehawing the responsorial Psalms during the Feast of Balaam's Ass sounds like quité a hoot. I don't understand the haughtiness of some Trads that they are upholding fullness of the One True Faith, they are not, just parts of it. While trad parishes may not allow such modernist silliness as allowing women on the altar , they still allow men and women to congregate together in the pews, a practice that only gained in the last two centuries.

    John Fremont

    1. Thanks for pointing out some of ritual fun of the past. I didn't know a thing about the Ox tradition in Italy and found that one fascinating on a number of levels. It's kind of like reading entrails for signs of the future. :)

      There's a lot of fun stuff in Hispanic Catholicism as well. Even though it can often be more formal, there is still great joy in the celebration. I've often wondered how these Anglo trads are going to adopt in an Hispanic Church.

    2. I finally found the source of the ox custom from a post on a now inactive blog:

      Another thing about Hispanic Catholicism is that it has a bit more of anti-clericalism in it. They almost expect some of the clergy will stumble, especially with vows of celibacy. It also seems common that there are long traditions of Faith healers , local saints , shrines etc. that don't show up as much in the US due to the fact that most Catholics here assimilted to the predominant WASP culture. The only traditions similar may be found in the communities of Native American and African American Catholics.

      John Fremont

    3. Hispanic, Native American, and African spiritual experiences have a great deal in common. In New Mexico there was a lot synchronicity in ritual expression. It would be the same thing only slightly different in Native American and Hispanic folk ritual. In any event they were both very powerful in their ability to change reality for individuals. Really impressive healings were common in both traditions.