Wednesday, April 29, 2009

CLARION CALL: Nuns 'Restricted' by Canon Law

KENAI, AK - Today's issue of the Peninsula Clarion revealed that Sister Joyce Ross, R.S.M., and Sister Joan Barina, M.M.S., were "Restricted by Canon Law" during their 30 year tenure at Our Lady of the Angels parish in Kenai.

This comes as a surprise to just about everyone, including the sisters themselves.

Here's the quote, from an article written by Phil Hermanek:

Restricted by Canon Law in which official duties they can perform, the sisters were allowed to baptize, perform marriages, conduct funeral services and conduct eucharistic services.

No mention was made as to which authority "allows" the sisters to baptize, perform marriages, conduct funerals, and eucharistic services.

An equally startling epiphany was that which Sr. Joyce believed to be her most outstanding achievement in 30 years:

...the fact that we were able to meet and associate with the people in all the Christian communities.  We got so much more from them than we gave.

No mention of the Church, sacraments, catechesis, or any other distinctively Catholic traits was made by either nun.

Please pray for Sr. Joan and Sr. Joyce and the parishioners they have influenced - for good or ill - at Our Lady of the Angels.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

BREAKING: More Liturgical Abuse in Kenai

KENAI, AK - Rev. Joe Dowling, O.M.I. neglected to give a homily today, instead permitting Sr. Joyce Ross, R.S.M. to preach during the 10:00 AM First Communion Mass at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Kenai.

This is directly disobedient to Canon 767, which states that only ordained ministers - priests and deacons - should deliver the homily.  Here are the pertinent sections of the aforementioned Canon:

can. 767, §1: Among the forms of preaching, THE HOMILY, WHICH IS PART OF THE LITURGY ITSELF AND IS RESERVED TO THE PRIEST OR DEACON, IS PREEMINENT; in the homily the mysteries of the faith and the norms of Christian life are to be explained from the sacred text during the course of the liturgical year.

can. 767, §4: It is for the pastor or rector of a church to take care that THESE PRESCRIPTS ARE OBSERVED CONSCIENTIOUSLY. (caps my emphases)

This is yet another instance of  liturgical abuse by Sr. Joyce reported by this blog; you can find earlier abuses here.

With the retirement announcement of Sr. Joyce, more abuses have been planned: this parish bulletin states that she will preside at communion services May 23rd and 24th at Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Soldotna.  This is a grave abuse that would deprive OLPH parishioners of the right to fulfill the mandate of Canon 1247, which states that the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass on all Sundays and holy days.

Please pray for Our Lady of the Angels and Our Lady of Perpetual Help parishes, and especially for Sr. Joyce.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

UPDATE: Bishop D'Arcy Applies the Crozier

FORT WAYNE, IN - Bishop John D'Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend has publicly corrected Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., President of the University of Notre Dame.

Exercising his role as priest, shepherd, and minister, and standing in the place of the apostles (Vatican II, LG ¶20), Bishop D'Arcy cited canon law, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the USCCB's letter Catholics in Political Life (2004), and Fr. Jenkins' own statement in his judicious reprimand.  In particular, Bishop D'Arcy stresses that the authoritative teacher and legislator of the USCCB's letter should be himself:

The failure to consult the local bishop who, whatever his unworthiness, is the teacher and lawgiver in the diocese, is a serious mistake.  Proper consultation could have prevented an action, which has caused painful division between Notre Dame and many bishops - and a large number of the faithful.

In addition, Bishop D'Arcy cited the nationwide petitions, letters, emails, phone calls, et al, as evidence that Fr. Jenkins' decision "...has, in fact, scandalized many Catholics and other people of goodwill."

Please pray that Bishop D'Arcy, Archbishop Schwietz, and all of our U.S. bishops may judiciously and courageously exercise their holy mandate as successors of the apostles.

Monday, April 20, 2009

CATECHISM BREAKTHROUGH: Purgatory is a Doctrine

SOLDOTNA, AK - The Catechism of the Catholic Church, recently published in 1992, has asserted that purgatory is a doctrine.

This contradicts the teaching of Rev. Tony Dummer, O.M.I., the current leader of the Pastoral Team at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Soldotna.  In the November 2, 2008 issue of the OLPH bulletin, Fr. Tony stated:

Purgatory is not a doctrine ---it is a reasonable explanation of the problems of restitution, rehabilitation, punishment and maybe even "cosmic-congruence".

In contrast, Canon 1031 of the Catechism reads:

 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.  The Church formulated her DOCTRINE OF FAITH ON PURGATORY especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. (caps my emphasis)

In his Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum, the late Pope John Paul II described the Catechism as "...a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic tradition, and the Church's Magisterium."

Allaying doubts of post-conciliar Catholics, John Paul also reassured that the Catechism is "...a very important contribution to that work of renewing the whole life of the Church, as desired and begun by the Second Vatican Council."

More to follow.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

COMING ATTRACTIONS: Anti-Papal Homosexual Advocate at APU

Dr. Vincent Smiles, an open critic of Pope Benedict XVI and the Church's teaching on homosexuality, will give a series of talks at the Midsummer's Light Bible Institute this June, hosted by Alaska Pacific University and sponsored by the Archdiocese of Anchorage.

Currently a professor of theology at the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, Dr. Smiles has written anti-papal articles on a blog attached to the magazine Commonweal.  An excerpt:

December 23rd, 2008

I find the Pope's stance on homosexuality SCANDALOUS IN THE FULL THEOLOGICAL SENSE OF THE TERM ("stumbling block" to faith)...the Vatican's use of the Bible is embarrassingly simplistic and fundamentalist.  We need to recover the resources of our tradition that enable an alternative view to that of Benedict XVI...The scandal of Benedict's stance is that he speaks as though faith provided a certainty that is simply not available, and in doing so HIS PRONOUNCEMENTS ARE CRUELLY MISLEADING AND UNJUST. (caps my emphases)

Dr. Smiles' unholy rebuke and his generally dissident demeanor contradict the teachings of Vatican II; to wit:

In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent of soul.  This religious submission of will and of mind must be shown in a special way to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra.  (Lumen Gentium, ¶25). 

Further, in a pro-homosexual union article written for the St. Cloud Times in 2005 (WARNING: posted here on a gay catholic blog), Dr. Smiles contends that "there is no basis for absolute certainty on this issue".  Again, this flies in the face of the CDF Letter on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons:

Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder. (Cardinal Ratzinger, 1986)

Finally, Dr. Smiles is on the record as defending Dan Maguire, a Marquette professor who was publicly corrected by the USCCB in 2007 regarding abortion and homosexuality.  You can read the USCCB's censure here.

As an impious denouncer of the Pope and Church doctrine, Dr. Smiles is wholly unfit to speak and teach the faith at a purportedly Catholic colloquium.  Please keep him in your prayers.

Dr. Smiles comes to Anchorage at the invitation of Dr. Regina Boisclair, the current Cardinal Newman Chair of Catholic Theology at APU.

Friday, April 17, 2009

UPDATE: More on LCWR and Gnosticism

Hat-tip to Amy Welborn's blog, as well as the Kansas City Catholic Key, for bringing the 2007 LCWR keynote address to light.

Given by a Sr. Laurie Brink, O.P., a Sinsinawa Dominican, the latent Gnosticism from the 2008 keynote is much more apparent here.  I've supplied some rebuttal commentary from the Gospel of John in order to highlight the strategic necessity of undermining the Gospel of John that "Post-Christian" theologians employ.

No bulwark stands firmer against Gnosticism than that Gospel written by the man who was illuminated by Christ's refulgence on Mt. Tabor, reclined upon Christ's breast at the Last Supper, slept through Christ's agony in Gethsemane, passed with Christ into the priestly courtyard for trial, walked with Mary along Christ's Via Dolorosa, heard Christ commend him to His mother, saw the blood and water flow from Christ's pierced side, and raced Peter to the empty tomb on the Resurrection morn.

The dynamic option for Religious Life, which I am calling, Sojourning, is much more difficult to discuss, since it involves moving beyond the Church, EVEN BEYOND JESUS. A sojourning congregation is no longer ecclesiastical. It has grown beyond the bounds of institutional religion. Its search for the Holy may have begun rooted in Jesus as the Christ, but deep reflection, study and prayer have opened it up to THE SPIRIT OF THE HOLY IN ALL CREATION. Religious titles, institutional limitations, ecclesiastical authorities no longer fit this congregation, which in most respects is Post-Christian.

This is heresy; cf: "Jesus said to him, 'I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by me'" (Jn 14:6).

When religious communities embraced the spirit of renewal in the 1970s, they took seriously that THE WORLD WAS NO LONGER THE ENEMY, that a sense of ecumenism required encountering the holy “other,” and that the God of Jesus might well be the God of Moses and the God of Mohammed. The works of Thomas Merton encouraged an exploration of the nexus between Eastern and Western religious practices. The emergence of the women’s movement with is concomitant critique of religion invited women everywhere to use a hermeneutical lens of suspicion when reading the androcentric Scriptures and the texts of the Tradition. With a new lens, women also began to see the divine within nature, the value and importance of the cosmos, and that the emerging new cosmology encouraged their spirituality and fed their souls.

The world is no longer the enemy? Cf: "And the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  I do not pray that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (Jn 17:14-16).

 As one sister described it, “I was rooted in the story of Jesus, and it remains at my core, but I’ve also moved beyond Jesus.” The Jesus narrative is not the only or the most important narrative for these women.  They still hold up and reverence the values of the Gospel, but they also recognize that these same values are not solely the property of Christianity. Buddhism, Native American spirituality, Judaism, Islam and others hold similar tenets for right behavior within the community, right relationship with the earth and right relationship with the Divine. With these insights come a shattering or freeing realization—depending on where you stand. JESUS IS NOT THE ONLY SON OF GOD. Salvation is not limited to Christians. Wisdom is found in the traditions of the Church as well as beyond it.

'Jesus is not the only Son of God', eh?  Cf: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father" (Jn 1:14).

 Sojourners have left the religious home of their fathers and mothers and are traveling in a foreign land, mapping their way as they go. They are courageous women among us. And very well may provide a glimpse into the new thing that God is bringing about in our midst. Who’s to say that the movement beyond Christ is not, in reality, a movement into the very heart of God? A movement the ecclesiastical system would not recognize. A wholly new way of being holy that is integrative, non-dominating, and inclusive. But a whole new way that is also not Catholic Religious Life. The Benedictine Women of Madison are the most current example I can name. Their commitment to ecumenism lead them beyond the exclusivity of the Catholic Church into a new inclusivity, where all manner of seeking God is welcomed. They are certainly religious women, but they are no longer women religious as it is defined by the Roman Catholic Church. They choose as a congregation to step outside the Church in order to step into a greater sense of holiness. Theirs was a choice of integrity, insight and courage. 

...and apostasy!  Sanctus Athanasius, ora pro nobis.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

RETRACTION: Archdiocesan Liturgical Policy

In an earlier post, this blog implied that the Archdiocese has not offered any statement on liturgical innovations.  This was a mistake.  Here are the Archdiocesan Sacramental Catechetical Guidelines as issued by Archbishop Roger Schwietz, O.M.I. last August.  Some salient excerpts:

Cultural sensitivity and adaptations through music and gesture in the celebrations of the sacraments IS ENCOURAGED.  In order to protect the integrity of the sacramental life of the Church and avoid abuses, the adaptations NEED THE APPROVAL OF THE ARCHBISHOP.  Requests for approval are to be made through the Office of the Archbishop.

Mass is to be celebrated with care and reverence in every parish of the Archdiocese ACCORDING TO THE CURRENT LITURGICAL BOOKS, CANONS, AND NORMS set out by the universal Church and the Archbishop in his role as moderator of the liturgy of the local Church. (caps my emphases)

Commentary and more to follow.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

UPDATE: Apostolic Visitation of LWCR

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), headed by William Joseph Cardinal Levada, continues to investigate the Leadership Conference of Women's Religious (LCWR) in America for doctrinal heresy.

In 2001, LCWR was instructed by the CDF - then helmed by the current pope, formerly Cardinal Ratzinger - to report on the promulgation of the above doctrines in their orders and provinces.  No report has been forthcoming, so the CDF has decreed an apostolic visitation as necessary.

How does this apply to Kenai and Alaska at large?

Sr. Joyce Ross, a Sister of Mercy, Sr. Charlotte Davenport, a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace and Chancellor of the Archdiocese, and any number of the Adrian Dominican Sisters who serve the Archdiocese of Anchorage are all members of the 100+ orders that LCWR represents.  As has already been noted on this blog, Sr. Joyce's involvement with liturgical abuse in Kenai demonstrates a prejudice against the Church's teaching on women's ordination; hence, this apostolic visitation may have a direct effect upon the frequency and character of the liturgical abuse described here.

For more on the particular type of theology that LCWR espouses, here are excerpts from the keynote address of their 2008 annual assembly:

Human thought and love, we are learning, are not something injected into the universe from without, but are the flowering, the concentration, in us of deeply cosmic energies. Matter, zesty with energy, evolves to life, then to consciousness, then to spirit.

Folks, claiming that matter evolves into spirit is heresy.  Here's what the catechism has to say on the creation of the soul:

The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God - it is not 'produced' by the parents - and also that it is immortal; it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection (CCC 366).

Please pray for the Pope, Cardinal Levada, and all the members of the LWCR.

More Pope Benedict on Sacred Music

When man comes into contact with God, mere speech is not enough.

In his essay Music and Liturgy (p. 185 of The Essential Pope Benedict, originally from his book The Spirit of the Liturgy), Pope Benedict XVI names the standard by which all sacred music should be measured: Logos, or the Word of God that is Jesus.  Some particular relationships exist between liturgical music and Logos:

1. WORDS - Christ sanctified human thought and speech by creating man in his image and likeness; as Aristotle puts it in the Politics, man is the only animal with the power of speech.  Hence Benedict:

Thus the relation of liturgical music to Logos means, first of all, simply its relation to words.  That is why singing in the liturgy has priority over instrumental music.

2. SOBER INEBRIATION - a term used first by St. Cyprian of Carthage, this is the opposite of drunkenness or intoxication from wine or, allegorically, worldly goods; rather, Cyprian is meditating on the cup of salvation from the Psalms, now revealed in Christian times as the Blood of Christ.  For Benedict, this sober inebriation applied to music means:

...Music that draws senses into the spirit and so brings man to wholeness.  It does not abolish the senses, but inserts them into the unity of this creature that is man...Not every kind of music can have a place in Christian worship.  It has its standards, and that standard is the Logos.

So what kind of music DOES NOT meet the standard of the Logos?

On the one hand, there is pop music, which is certainly no longer supported by the people in the ancient sense.  It is aimed at the phenomenon of the masses, is industrially produced, and ultimately has to be described as a CULT OF THE BANAL.  "Rock", on the other hand, is the expression of elemental passions, and at rock festivals it assumes a cultic character, A FORM OF WORSHIP, IN FACT, IN OPPOSITION TO CHRISTIAN WORSHIP.  People are, so to speak, released from themselves by the emotional shock of rhythm, noise, and special lighting effects.  However, in the ecstasy of having all their defenses torn down, the participants sink, as it were, beneath the elemental force of the universe.  The music of the Holy Spirit's SOBER INEBRIATION seems to have little chance when self has become a prison, the mind a shackle, and breaking out from both appears to be a true promise of redemption that can be tasted at least for a few moments. (caps my emphases)

Bluntly: pop and rock music are both inappropriate for Mass, pop music for its inherent banality, rock music for its inherent elementality, which presents an attack upon the dignity of the human person as a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Monday, April 13, 2009


SOLDOTNA, AK - Alternative Eucharistic species, a profane altar of repose, and a corpus-less veneration of the cross were liturgical aberrations committed by Reverend Tony Dummer, O.M.I. this past Triduum at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Soldotna, Alaska.

On Maundy or Holy Thursday, Fr. Tony consecrated loaves of homemade bread in lieu of the usual communion wafers. While this is not expressly forbidden, Canons 924 and 926 specify that the bread must be only wheat, recently made, and unleavened. Communicating parishioners reported that the bread tasted "mealy" and that they were unable to easily swallow the Eucharist and felt uneasy about the particles retained in their mouths.

Following the Thursday Mass, the consecrated species was then placed in a dish on a sacristy countertop, covered with a cloth, and left alone for the evening with a lit vigil candle. This contradicts the necessity of both tabernacle and ciborium outlined in the USCCB's guide to Holy Thursday liturgy.

At the Good Friday liturgy the next day, a plain cross without a sculpted Christ was venerated. Instead of the traditional procession to the foot of the altar, whereupon the crucifix is kissed or otherwise venerated by the faithful, Fr. Tony handed the cross over to the faithful in the pews, where it was passed from one to another until it had made the rounds of the entire congregation.

More details forthcoming.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


KENAI, AK - The Good Friday Liturgy at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Kenai, Alaska, was conducted by Sister Joyce Ross, R.C.M., while Reverend Andy Sensenig, O.M.I., played the cello. 

In the pictures above, Sr. Joyce venerates the altar while Fr. Andy plays the cello, then - garbed in an alb - she leads the congregation in prayer while Fr. Andy stands behind.

This is in direct disobedience to the rubrics for the Good Friday liturgy, as outlined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

More to follow.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Reader Response to Good Friday Liturgy, "Pastoral Team"

The following is an anonymous comment from a previous post regarding the in solidum/"Pastoral Team" method on the Kenai Peninsula.  Please pray for the priests, nuns, and administrators mentioned below, and offer what sacrifices you can for their conversion of heart.  Tenebrae facta sunt.

I would like to comment on the issue of the rotating priests. This system has been ineffective from the very first. The priests traveled to the three parishes on the Peninsula in succession, staying one Sunday, and in Homer's case, Friday through Wed morning. The effect was a situation very similar to what was in place when there was no permanent priests. The exclusive case was Fr. Tero, who being alone and covering the entire Peninsula, still managed to visit, come to our homes for dinner, become friends with us, more like a Pastor of old. Our three priests, although always attempting to be effective as priests, are not familiar to us. Fr. Tony is more familiar than Fr. Joe and Fr. Andy. But there is little more than chit chat that takes place between us. Numerous parishioners have commented that they wanted to get to know the priests better, spend time with them, but when asked to get together, there is never time. At Church after Mass, there is the usual greetings and smiles, then the running away to meetings. (No peaceful time to just be a pastor to us.)

One event that shocked many soon after our three new priests arrived was the announcement by Fr.Tony at Mass one Sunday that parishioners were not to come to the priests and ask questions. They were to go to the Parish Directors who would then tell the priests what parishioners needed. The impact was painful and reverberating. The abandonment felt by many of the parishioners was profound and yet there was to be no redress, until apparently, the Bishop stepped in and suggested there should be more contact between the priests and the parishioners. This situation seemed to be part and parcel with the desire to make sure the current structure, i.e. the parishes run by the parish councils and Directors, be reassured that their positions and authority would not be changed. Confusion remained as to what the new priests were here to accomplish.

Another situation that occured and that was equally shocking was the power struggle that took place at Our Lady of the Angels soon after the arrival of our new priests. Fr. Tony offered to say Mass Monday through Friday at 9:00 am. This occured for several weeks until one Sunday at Soldotna, the Parish Director announced after Sunday Mass that the new schedule for daily mass at Kenai would be Tuesday through Friday. Fr. Tony, was in the pews with the congregation, corrected her and said he would be saying it M-F. The Parish Administrator looked suprised yet did not refute this. However, that next week there was no Mass at Kenai on Monday and the schedule was and continues to be T-F.

The stories of how much control is parlayed between the current parish administrators goes on and on. One parishioner has taken communion to a home bound women who has asked on numerous occasions to have a priest visit her. But the administrators tell her she will be put on a waiting list and so another caring parishioners brings her communion. Again, when Fr. Tero was here, this women had regular visits from him and in the past year and a half this same women has had only two visits from the current priests.

There was a young man who died in the past year. When the grandmother attempted to talk to the priests about the funeral, she was told she would need to talk to the Parish Administrator of her parish. Another family in Homer sought the help of the priests to deal with a very sad family situation and the father wanted help bringing hope to the family. Yet the father was told there was no time for that. This person was very sad and felt abandoned once more.

In the ensuing time since our new priests have come, there does not seem to be any improvement in communication between priests and parishioners. I do not believe it is the non-desire of the priests, but the power struggles that are ever present here on the Peninsula. The priests are muted, kept in their place by the (dare I say it) feminists who fear they have no valid place unless they are in charge and telling the men what they can and cannot do. Control is the issue of the day. I must continually remind myself that we are living through the breakdown of the church that took place with what Pope Benedict calls the rupture of continuity. It will take time for the Holy Spirit to reclaim the hearts of the people. So we offer our sacrafices for the Church and our healing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Plenam, Consciam, Actuosam Participationem

Better known as "full, active, and conscious participation", this excerpt from the Vatican II constitution on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, is often quoted in order to bolster the idea that all the faithful should be singing at Mass.

However, Pope Benedict XVI has this to say from his Homily on the Regensburg Tradition and the Reform of the Liturgy (The Essential Pope Benedict XVI, Ed. Thornton & Varenne, Pub. HarperOne.):

Whenever an exaggerated concept of 'community' predominates, a concept that is...completely unrealistic precisely in a highly mobile society such as ours, there only the priest and the congregation can be acknowledged as legitimate executors or performers of liturgical song.

Today, practically everyone can see through the PRIMITIVE ACTIVISM and the INSIPID PEDAGOGIC RATIONALISM of such a position (emphasis mine), which is why it is now asserted so seldom.  The fact that the schola and the choir can also contribute to the whole picture is scarcely denied anymore, even among those who erroneously interpret the council's phrase about 'active participation' as meaning external activism.

In other words, where the focus of the liturgy shifts from God to the people - the exaggerated concept of 'community' - there we find the wrong interpretation of "full, active, and conscious participation"; namely, that the congregation must sing and pray audibly at all times.  What is the correct interpretation of participation qua the Mass?  Benedict goes on, using the Sanctus as his example:

Through the choir, a greater transparency toward the praise of angels is rendered possible, and therefore a MORE PROFOUND INTERIOR PARTICIPATION in the singing than would be possible in many places through one's own crying and singing (emphasis mine).

Would we not do well, before moving on into the center of the mysterium, to be gifted with a period of well-filled silence in which the choir recollects us interiorly and leads each individual into silent prayer and, precisely in that way, into a union that can take place only on the interior level?  Must we not relearn precisely this silent interior praying together and with the angels and saints, the living and the dead, with Christ himself, so that the words of the Canon do not become mere tired formulas, which we then try in vain to replace by constantly new and different word-montages in which we attempt to conceal the absence of any real inner experience of the liturgy, any movement beyond human talk into actual contact with the Eternal?


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Father Jenkins' Greatest Fear

Rev. Jenkins, President of Notre Dame, on why he became a priest:

My greatest fear was that I 'd do something - maybe be successful - but look back and think, "Well, what was that life about?  Why did it matter?  What did you stand for?  What was important?"

I hope Fr. Jenkins is still undergoing these scrutinies.  What will the Vagina Monologues and President Obama avail anyone at the Eternal Judgment seat?

She might help.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Response to Good Friday Liturgy, "Pastoral Team"

Here are some nuggets from the Hierarchical Constitution of the Church (Canons 515 - 544). 

Canon 517, §1 - When circumstances require it, the pastoral care of a parish or of different parishes together can be entrusted to several priests in solidum, with the requirement, however, that in exercising pastoral care ONE OF THEM MUST BE THE MODERATOR, NAMELY, THE ONE WHO IS TO DIRECT THE JOINT ACTION AND ANSWER FOR IT TO THE BISHOP (emphasis mine).

Comments - in solidum is, I would assume, the juridical equivalent of "Pastoral Team"; however, is Fr. Tony Dummer clearly and explicitly the "moderator"? Do parishioners know this? Again, I would stress that you are within your rights as the "People of God" (Lumen Gentium terminology, the Constitution of the Church from Vatican II) to know these things. Remember, hierarchy - i.e. the Kingdom of God - entails looking into one's own soul and being held accountable for one's own actions not just by his fellow men, but by the light of reason and Eternal Truth; it forces an encounter with God.

Canon 519 - The pastor (parochus) is the proper pastor (pastor) of the parish entrusted to him, exercising the pastoral care of the community committed to him under the authority of the diocesan bishop in whose ministry of Christ he has been called to share, so that for that same community he carries out the functions of teaching, sanctifying, and governing, also with the cooperation of other presbyters or deacons and with the assistance of lay members of the Christian faithful, according to the norm of law.

Comments - This outlines the functions of the pastor. Nothing incendiary, but it's good to know.

Canon 526, §1 - A PASTOR IS TO HAVE THE PAROCHIAL CARE OF ONLY ONE PARISH (emphasis mine); nevertheless, because of a lack of priests or other circumstances, the care of several neighboring parishes can be entrusted to the same pastor.

Comments - With regard to the three largest parishes on the Western Kenai Peninsula - Our Lady of the Angels in Kenai, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Soldotna, and St. John the Baptist in Homer - this Canon is being cheerily ignored; I would suppose that in solidum is the loophole that supposedly nullifies it. However, given the following Canons, it becomes clear why personal responsibility is inextricable with the life of a pastor and his parish.

Canon 526, §2 - In the same parish THERE IS TO BE ONLY ONE PASTOR OR MODERATOR in accord with the norm of can. 517, §1; ANY CONTRARY CUSTOM IS REPROBATED AND ANY CONTRARY PRIVILEGE WHATSOEVER IS REVOKED. (emphasis mine)

Comments - Very strong language with "ANY" - the reason is the Hierarchical Constitution of the Church. It is no coincidence that this entire part of Canon law is labeled as such! Canons 542-544 bolster the interpretation that the moderator is the de facto pastor with regards to juridical representation, possession of a parish, and personal accountability to the bishop.

Canon 528, §2 - The pastor is to see to it that the Most Holy Eucharist is the center of the parish assembly of the faithful. He is to work so that the Christian faithful are nourished through the devout celebration of the sacraments and, in a special way, that they frequently approach the sacraments of the Most Holy Eucharist and penance. He is also to endeavor that they are led to practice prayer even as families and take part consciously and actively in the sacred liturgy which, under the authority of the diocesan bishop, THE PASTOR MUST DIRECT IN HIS OWN PARISH AND IS BOUND TO WATCH OVER SO THAT NO ABUSES CREEP IN. (emphasis mine)

Comments - Seems to speak for itself. If the "moderator" of the parish is Fr. Tony, and his status as "moderator" is juridically equivalent to "pastor", then he's the one - not Fr. Andy or Sr. Joyce - that should be petitioned regarding this Good Friday abuse.

Canon 529, §1 - In order to fulfill his office diligently, a pastor is to strive to know the faithful entrusted to his care. Therefore he is to visit families, sharing especially in the cares, anxieties, and griefs of the faithful, strengthening them in the Lord, and prudently correcting them if they are failing in certain areas. With generous love he is to help the sick, particularly those close to death, by refreshing them solicitously with the sacraments and commending their souls to God; with particular diligence he is to seek out the poor, the afflicted, the lonely, those exiled from their country, and similarly those weighed down by special difficulties. He is to work so that spouses and parents are supported in fulfilling their proper duties and is to foster growth of Christian life in the family.

Comments - This is just sad. It seems to me that one of the joys of being a parish priest would be participating in the community life of a town, village, or city, and therefore being installed as a permanent fixture therein. Canon 522 implies as much, "A pastor must possess stability and therefore is to be appointed for an indefinite period of time". Having a rotating "Pastoral Team" - wherein no priest is at the same parish for more than 2 Sundays per month - is gravely opposed to Canon Law, common sense, and the Hierarchical Structure of the Church, not to mention the Word of God, "I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me" (Jn 10:14). In more practical terms, it implies that the permanently fixed Parish Director/Associate - Sr. Joyce, Marlys, or Sr. Carol in Homer - is more of a pastor than the pastor himself, although this is technically impossible according to Canon 521, §1,"To become a pastor validly, one must be in the sacred order of the presbyterate".

Canon 529, §2 - A pastor is to recognize and promote the proper part which the lay members of the Christian faithful have in the mission of the Church, by fostering their associations for the purposes of religion. He is to cooperate with his own bishop and the presbyterate of the diocese, also working SO THAT THE FAITHFUL HAVE CONCERN FOR PAROCHIAL COMMUNION, CONSIDER THEMSELVES MEMBERS OF THE DIOCESE AND OF THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH, AND PARTICIPATE IN AND SUSTAIN EFFORTS TO PROMOTE THIS SAME COMMUNION. (emphasis mine)

Comments - The next time a parish council claims that they, "...don't want a Latin Mass or any of that stuff down here!", you might gently remind them that by dint of their membership in the Universal Church, they are obliged to 'have concern for parochial communion'. More below...

Canon 536, §2 - A PASTORAL COUNCIL POSSESSES A CONSULTATIVE VOTE ONLY and is governed by the norms established by the diocesan bishop.

Comments - Most people - both members and non-members of parish councils - know this already. It's just nice to see it in writing.

Canon 539 - When a parish becomes vacant or when a pastor is prevented from exercising his pastoral function in the parish by reason of captivity, exile or banishment, incapacity or ill health, or some other cause, the diocesan bishop is to designate as soon as possible A PAROCHIAL ADMINISTRATOR, THAT IS, A PRIEST WHO TAKES THE PLACE OF THE PASTOR according to the norm of can. 540.

Comments - At times, I think Sister Joyce and Sister Carol were called "Parish Administrators"; now they are "Parish Directors". This Canon is likely the reason why. Just a footnote.

Priest Fiddles While Parishioners Burn

KENAI, AK - The Good Friday liturgy at Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Kenai will be presided over by Sister Joyce Ross, R.C.M., while Reverend Andy Sensenig, OMI, will play the cello.

The Good Friday liturgy, which is not a Mass but includes the reading of St. John's Passion, prolix General Intercessions, the Veneration of the Cross and Divine Reproaches, Communion, and then the Stripping of the Altar, must be presided over by a priest or deacon as per the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Roman missal (

This is but the latest liturgical experiment at Our Lady of the Angels, one of the most innovative parishes in the Archdiocese of Anchorage.  Past liturgies have included homilies given by nuns and lay women, a 'choral performance' of the seven readings at Easter Vigil, and dances by middle-aged women in full-body leotards.

Not all parishioners enjoy the creativity, however.  Numerous families will be forced to travel outside of the Kenai Peninsula - an area roughly the size of West Virginia - to find a priest or deacon interested in celebrating Mass according to the rubrics.

The Archdiocese of Anchorage has not yet released a statement concerning experimental liturgy.  However, the Second Vatican Council had this to say:

Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority. (Sacrosanctum Concilium, ¶22, §3)