Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lucia Do they not care for our souls?

I read with sadness and frustration the other day a post that Bosco Peters has on the rebellious Catholic priests in Austria who are demanding certain changes to the Church. I had seen news items on these priests before, but like with a lot of bad news, just tried to ignore it. However, if this problem of disobedient priests were just limited to Austria, it would be easy to ignore, but it's not just limited to Austria. For I can see a great deal of the things that the Austrian priests want changed are also being pushed for here in New Zealand.
The Call [to Disobedience] speaks of “the Roman refusal of a long-overdue Church reform and the inaction of bishops.” The priests agree
  • to pray for Church reform at every liturgy, since “in the presence of God there is freedom of speech”
  • not to deny the Holy Eucharist to “believers of good will,” including non-Catholic Christians and those who have remarried outside the Church
  • to avoid offering Mass more than once on Sundays and holy days and to avoid making use of visiting priests–instead holding a “self-designed” Liturgy of the Word
  • to describe such a Liturgy of the Word with the distribution of Holy Communion as a “priestless Eucharistic celebration”; “thus we fulfill the Sunday obligation in a time of priest shortage”
  • to “ignore” canonical norms that restrict the preaching of the homily to clergy
  • to oppose parish mergers, insisting instead that each parish have its own individual leader, “whether man or woman”
  • to “use every opportunity to speak out openly in favour of the admission of the married and of women to the priesthood”
The name of their initiative, Call to Disobedience shows what spirit is leading them, and let me tell you any priest who includes disobedience to his rightful authority as part of his mission is not lead by the Holy Spirit.  This does not of course immediately invalidate the changes they want as a good intention might be done through wrongful means, ie the ends justifies the means type of thinking, which is wrong.  The ends never justify the means, good should not be done in bad way.  But in this case, every one of the changes listed above (except for the first) wanted by this group of disobedient priests is wrong.

In this post, I really just want to talk about the Eucharist and the Mass rather than take on each point, one by one.  The Eucharist is Jesus Himself under the form of bread.  In order to receive Jesus without incurring eternal damnation, a person has to be in a state of grace, in other words, they cannot have committed a mortal sin that has not been forgiven in the Confessional.  This is a very, very, very important requirement of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion in a Catholic church.  So to say that they don't want to deny the Eucharist to "non-Catholic Christians and those who have remarried outside the Church" shows an incredible loss of understand by these priests as to what the Eucharist really is.  As Archbishop Fulton Sheen says
Scripture gives considerable evidence to prove that a priest begins to fail his priesthood when he fails in his love of the Eucharist. Too often it is assumed that Judas fell because he loved money. Avarice is very rarely the beginning of the lapse and the fall of the ambassador. The history of the Church proves there are many with money who stayed in it. The beginning of the fall of Judas and the end of Judas both revolved around the Eucharist. The first mention that Our Lord knew who it was who would betray him is at the end of the sixth chapter of John, which is the announcement of the Eucharist. The fall of Judas came the night Our Lord gave the Eucharist, the night of the Last Supper.

The Eucharist is so essential to our one-ness with Christ that as soon as Our Lord announced It in the Gospel, It began to be the test of the fidelity of His followers. First, He lost the masses, for it was too hard a saying and they no longer followed Him. Secondly, He lost some of His disciples: "They walked with Him no more." Third, it split His apostolic band, for Judas is here announced as the betrayer.
So Judas could not accept what Jesus said in John 6, and rather than leaving, stayed and betrayed the Lord.  And in Austria we have priests who don't leave because they no longer believe what is taught about the Eucharist, and like Jesus stay to betray the Lord. For what is accepting all and sundry to receive Him without proper belief and preparation except a betrayal?

Then to their desire to limit Mass to once per Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation and replace the Mass on other days with a "Liturgy of the Word", which really is just a set of prayers and the giving out of Holy Communion.  The Mass is primarily a sacrifice, in fact it is the Sacrifice of Jesus the Priest and Victim to His Father in Heaven in order to save us from our sins.  To want to limit the celebration of the Mass is another betrayal, for this Sacrifice was done on our behalf and is freely given to us.  To have it denied because those who were called to celebrate it don't feel like it doing shows they don't know what they are there for, nor do they know who they are as priests.  This is probably why they are calling for women to become priests, for if you don't know what you are, how can you know that a woman cannot become what you are?

Archbishop Fulton Sheen, in his book The Life of Christ, in the Preface says:
The Western Post-Christian civilization has picked up the Christ without his Cross. But a Christ without a sacrifice that reconciles the world to God is a cheap, feminized, colourless, itinerant preacher who deserves to be popular for His great Sermon on the Mount, but also merits unpopularity for what He said about His Divinity on the one hand, and divorce, judgement, and hell on the other.  

This is why these priests want the remarried and every man and his dog (almost) to be able to receive the Eucharist.  They don't believe in what Jesus said about divorce, nor do they believe Hell exists and that is their job to save people from it.  Because Hell doesn't exist in their minds, then they do not risk the eternal damnation of the souls of the people that they give it to who are not in a state of grace, because none of that really matters.

Isn't it interesting that they want to give the Eucharist to all and sundry, yet they would deny all who earnestly wish to go to the Mass the ability to go every day?

This desire to equate the "Liturgy of the Word" with the Mass is something I have seen myself here in Wellington.  I have been told by a particular priest that he has noticed some people will walk out of the church when they see there is only a "Liturgy of the Word" on and go to another parish for a Mass, and that he didn't want them to do that.  This same priest has growled at me to use my hands when I received the Eucharist from him on the tongue.  I say growled, because that is what it sounded like.   This same priest has made it very difficult for those who work or go to school to go to Confession by changing the day of Confession from Saturday morning, to Friday morning. You can make an appointment, though, but how many people will do that? The Saturday morning Mass has gone.  The Monday Mass has gone, not even replaced by a "Liturgy of the Word", because it's priests' day off on Mondays.  On our recent Day of Obligation last week for the Assumption, both parishes this priest was the administrator for only had the one Mass in the morning, so that people working or at school would have had to take time off in order to attend.  The mentality that this priest has is very damaging to the faith, there's no notion that the priest is there for us, that he is concerned for the well being of our souls, that he cares if we end up in Heaven or Hell.

Which gets me to Marty's post at Being Frank on Dream Sequence where Marty points out that what the Bishops' Conference came up with as their vision for the Church in New Zealand is far from becoming a reality, in that steps to even make the vision real don't appear to have been taken. As if the vision is just a dream. He even lists the points in the vision, and they sound good. If the Church was on the way to that vision, none of my post here would even be necessary, except to point out the inanity of the position of the priest in Austria.

You know, it almost reads like a fictional creative writing excursus.

What practical measures have we seen in place to effect these far-reaching changes?

Have we seen anything?

What we have seen instead are steps taken to make sure the vision never actualises.

Last Sunday, a priest in Wellington said that we should not be denying people access to the Sacraments, just because of the laws of the Institution (ie, the Church). The vision will never actualise if priests here have separated the Church from the Institution as they are one and the same.

On Marty's post, Chris Sullivan advises that a lecture that is coming up in August next week in Auckland by Fr Michael Trainor. Another commenter, Bamac links to an article by Fr Trainor which shows that he is of the same spirit as those in Austria.

When I arrive on this particular Thursday and before the meeting, I join the pastoral team and other parishioners in the church for the Liturgy of the Word, led by one of our parishioners. This is the regular weekday Liturgy. Some of the parishioners are slowly warming to it though most would still prefer daily Mass.

Indeed they would, especially since a priest would have been available to them.  From Eucharist as Sacrifice - Sacrament you can see why.

The most serious challenge to the Catholic faith in the Eucharist was the claim that the Mass is not a real but merely a symbolic sacrifice. To defend this basic Eucharistic mystery, the Council of Trent made a series of definitions. Originally drafted as negative anathemas, they may be reduced to the following positive affirmation of faith.

  1. The Mass is a true and proper sacrifice which is offered to God.
  2. By the words, "Do this in commemoration of me" (Luke 22:19; I Corinthians 11:24), Christ made the apostles priests. Moreover, He decreed that they and other priests should offer His Body and Blood.
  3. The Sacrifice of the Mass is not merely an offering of praise and thanksgiving, or simply a memorial of the sacrifice on the Cross. It is a propitiatory sacrifice which is offered for the living and dead, for the remission of sins and punishment due to sin, as satisfaction for sin and for other necessities.
  4. The Sacrifice of the Mass in no way detracts from the sacrifice which Christ offered on the Cross (Council of Trent, Session XXII, September 17, 1562).

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