Friday, July 27, 2012

A disobedient priest and an apprehensive archbishop

Release the hounds!
I'm putting my other blog entries on hold this week to address an issue on behalf of a couple living in Geelong (Victoria, AU) experiencing some problems they're having to deal with thanks to a particularly disobedient parish priest. The couple (let's call them "Jack and Jill") describe their problems this way:

"Our parish needs a lot of prayer -- what do you do about a disobedient (e.g. won't use the New Translation), disloyal priest (regularly criticises the Magisterium) when the Archbishop says he can't do anything otherwise the priest will leave, and we're already very short of priests?"

I have summarised Jack and Jill's scenario in the following way and made a few suggestions in between. Some details have been omitted:

Jack and Jill, it sounds like you have a nervous and apprehensive archbishop and this is unfortunate because I can't imagine parishioners being very pleased with the behaviour of your current priest.

If I was going to take a guess I'd say that some have left that parish already due to this priest's behaviour and disobedience. How can a parish grow and its people be nurtured with such a negative and dissident vibe?

A "shortage of priests" really is a weak excuse. In the short term, if your current priest was to leave, it would mean another priest from the nearest parish coming in and celebrating Mass for you until a new priest is found. Sure, there'd be no telling in how long it could take for a replacement to be found, but the priest leaving couldn't be anything but a good thing for your parish. As it says in scripture:

"A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit." - Matthew 7:18

For correcting our Christian brothers and sisters, we have an obligation to take them to the highest authority if they are doing wrong (your archbishop should be aware of this as it is also in Canon Law): 

"But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican." - Matthew 18:15-17

Canon 1373: "A person who publicly incites his or her subjects to hatred or animosity against the Apostolic See or the Ordinary because of some act of ecclesiastical authority or ministry, or who provokes the subjects to disobedience against them, is to be punished by interdict or other just penalties." - CIC, Book VI: SANCTIONS IN THE CHURCH

Your priest is holding your parish to a spiritual ransom and is destroying it from within. I would encourage you and your fellow parishioners to continue pushing your archbishop to take action. If the priest leaves, then this is the best thing for your parish.

At this point I asked a couple more questions of Jack and Jill and they told me this much more about the crisis at their parish:

"Your hunch is correct -- the PP (parish priest) said that about 50 'conservatives' have left. We decided to stay and be some sort of witness. Sadly, the bulk of the congregation think 'Father is wonderful -- the way he bravely criticised Pope JPII's pontificate in the [detail omitted] etc., etc.'.

The previous PP referred to was here for [detail omitted] years, so the people have been well and truly indoctrinated with the liberal agenda! Our new PP unfortunately is exactly the same. Our parish is [detail omitted], named after the 'eloquent defender of orthodoxy' as we reminded the PP once when he refused assurance that we would follow the GIRM [General Instruction of the Roman Missal] which was about to be introduced. In fact he continued to offer Mass 'his way' and offered his resignation when the bishop reminded him that 'Not even a priest can change the prayers in the Liturgy'.

I concluded correspondence with Jack and Jill here but not before what ever support and advice I could.

Clearly this is an issue of concern and the archbishop needs to do something about it: For 50 orthodox Catholics to leave a parish due to the behaviour of the parish priest and for this issue to be in effect dismissed, is scandalous and a travesty.

Hopefully the issue is noticed and a bit more pressure is placed on the archbishop to take action. There is a swing/movement towards a return to orthodox Catholicism and the days of "leftist" Catholicism are numbered, but good Catholics must help in the last few pushes against this perversion of our faith. The idea is to spread the word.

Fortunately there are some in our Church community that are not afraid to take action. While the following is a more high-profile scenario, it sets an encouraging precedent; the spiritual growth and development of congregants in a parish should not be held to ransom by a rogue, dissident priest.

Liberal priest censured by Vatican

Please keep Jack and Jill and their parish in your prayers.

Monday, July 16, 2012

"'Eucharist' isn't in the Bible!" ... Oh really?

Have you ever had a fundamentalist/anti-Catholic come up to you, a Catholic, and announce, "[Obviously Catholic thing] isn't in the Bible!"? And this really is the heart of Christian fundamentalism; "if it's not in the Bible, then it's not Christian!" but that's a topic for another blog entry. What I actually want to share with you this evening is something that was presented to me over Facebook a couple of days ago.

"You won't find the Eucharist anywhere in the Bible; it's a made up word for a man-made doctrine!" 

I've dealt with in the past how scriptural the sacrament of the Eucharist is (you can find those blog entries linked below), but I want to demonstrate to you how I addressed that assertion that was given to me (above). Here's what I said: 

Are you aware that the word "Eucharist" is indeed found in scripture? Take the Gospel of Luke, for example, which was written first in Greek (St. Luke was a Greek physician and therefore wrote his account of the Gospel in Greek). St. Luke writes about the Last Supper this way (Luke 22:19): 

"και λαβων αρτον ευχαριστησας εκλασεν και εδωκεν αυτοις λεγων τουτο εστιν το σωμα μου το υπερ υμων διδομενον τουτο ποιειτε εις την εμην αναμνησιν" (Source:

Which in English reads: "And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.'" 

The Greek word "ευχαριστησας" is "eukaristos" (or "eucharistēsas") which means "to give thanks", and as you can see very clearly "Eucharist" is not a made-up word and is found in the Bible. This is where the Church that Jesus Christ himself founded, the Catholic Church, derived the name it gave to its most profound and intimate sacrament: the Eucharist.

More on the Eucharist:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Is it a Mortal Sin to miss Mass?

I received a question on my Facebook page a little while ago, and while I answered it there I thought it would be good for the rest of you to know the answer to it too.

The question was: "Is it a Mortal sin to miss Mass?"

Speaking personally for a moment, I always knew growing up that I had to go to Mass every Sunday. At first it was out of obligation because Mum always made myself and my brothers go as despite our stubbornness (Mum had a way of winning), but as I got older I had to stop myself from thinking that I was going to Mass because I "had to". Of course I "have to" go to Mass, but I wanted to make sure that at that stage of my life, I was going because I genuinely wanted to, and I made sure of that first. If I ever felt that I was going to Mass because I "had to", I prayed and recalled why the Mass is there in the first place: to make Christ the very centre of my life and to go out into the world after the Mass and bring Christ to others.

Before I give the answer to whether it is a Mortal Sin to miss Mass, one or two very things must be noted:

- deliberately missing Mass is not the same as unintentionally missing Mass;
- there are some very good reasons why a person may intentionally Mass and this would not be the same as refusing to fulfil your Sunday obligation

I'll explain those in a bit more detail in a little bit (you'll see what I mean when you read the reference from the Catechism of the Catholic Church), but now what the official Church teaching is on missing Mass intentionally (bolded for emphasis):

"The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin." - Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 2181

In short: yes, it is a Mortal Sin ("grave sin") to miss Mass deliberately.

What is meant, though, by "deliberately"? In this context, "deliberately" is understood to mean a conscious decision to not attend Mass not due to circumstances that would otherwise prevent or make it difficult for a person to make it to Mass. For example:

- Making a conscious decision not to go to Mass due to being ill, incapacitated, caring an infant or an invalid would not be considered deliberately failing to meet the Sunday obligation due to being constrained by circumstances (if of course the individuals intentions would be to otherwise attend Mass) and therefore not a Mortal Sin;
- Making a conscious decision not to go to Mass out of disobedience or refusal to uphold the Sunday obligation and tenet of the Church would constitute Mortal Sin, i.e. the individual says in some manner of form, "I don't want to go!"

I remember being on holidays in England as a teenager with my mother and brothers, and we had arrived in England on a Saturday afternoon. As a young devout Catholic with a devout Catholic mother, I was fully expecting my mother to take us along to Mass on the Sunday morning. Now I figured that Mass was on in the morning and that Mum was going to take us regardless. That morning, however, Mum wasn't feeling up to it and I was the only one wanting to go to Mass. As an 18 year old I could have gone alone, but being a foreigner making his own way to a place I didn't really know how to get to, I didn't feel safe or comfortable with the idea. I opted to stay home and prayed that God would forgive me for this. Though by definition I was not committing a grave sin, I confessed this to my priest as early as I could on our return home.

The experience made me think of the the capital vice ("deadly sin(s)") of sloth. The sense of laziness in itself is not sinful but is an inclination to act sinfully. In the instance of going to Mass, I'm sure we've all felt like we don't want to go to Mass and that the thought of giving yourself one more hour of leisure or rest, but there's an old adage that comes to mind: "Evil triumphs when the good men of the world do nothing" and how true does this ring for us as Christians? Consider the good we miss out on in ignoring the Eucharist, the source and summit of Christian life (CCC, par. 1324). If every Catholic truly knew and understood the Eucharist, why the heck would you want to miss out on it? Furthermore, if every Christian knew and understood the Eucharist, they'd be flocking in the thousands to get in on some of that... Catholic stuff (*wink*).