Thursday, June 4, 2009

FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE: Bad Teaching Leads to Unfulfilled Obligations

KENAI, AK - For the second consecutive weekend, Sr. Joyce Ross, RSM conducted a paraliturgical communion service in place of a Mass at a Catholic Church on the Peninsula, this time at Our Lady of the Angels parish on Saturday, May 30th, and Sunday, May 31st.

According to the church bulletin, the previous weekend saw Sr. Joyce "preside at Eucharistic Service" at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in nearby Soldotna.  Fr. Tony Dummer, OMI and Fr. Andy Sensenig, OMI both made personal remarks that Sr. Joyce's presence was necessary because of the absence of Fr. Joe Dowling, OMI, a fact which the bulletin neglects to mention.

While neither conducting nor attending a paraliturgical communion service is proscribed by Canon Law, a communion service does not fulfill the Church's mandate that the faithful should  attend Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation as stated in canon 1247:

Cn. 1247 - On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass.

Canon 1248 does suggests that, in the absence of a priest, the faithful may participate in a paraliturgical service, viz.

Cn. 1248 §2 - If participation in the eucharistic celebration becomes impossible because of the absence of a sacred minister or for another grave cause, it is strongly recommended that the faithful take part in a liturgy of the word if such a liturgy is celebrated in a parish church or other sacred place according to the prescripts of the diocesan bishop...

However - and this is the crux of the argument - this "liturgy of the word" or "Eucharistic Service" are not "options" for fulfilling the Sunday obligation; rather, the obligation is void when it becomes impossible to fulfill.  So the first question one should ask himself when a priest is absent is not "Is it permissible for me to attend this Eucharistic Service at my church?", but "Is it possible for me to attend Mass elsewhere?"  This is, in fact, what the Congregation of Divine Worship stated in 1988:

¶18 - Whenever and wherever Mass cannot be celebrated on Sunday, the first thing to be ascertained is whether the faithful can go to a church in a place nearby to participate there in the eucharistic mystery.

Further on, this same letter warns of the abuse currently taught ex operatio in Kenai and Soldotna:

¶21 - It is imperative that the faithful be taught to see the substitutional character of these celebrations, which should not be regarded as the optimal solution to new difficulties nor as a surrender to mere convenience.

¶22 - Any confusion between this kind of assembly and a eucharistic celebration must be carefully avoided.

Now, in the past some have claimed that when Mass is celebrated in Kenai and not Soldotna, or vice versa, that the extra miles make fulfillment of the Sunday Mass obligation impossible.  However,  the distance between Our Lady of the Angels parish in Kenai and Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Soldotna is just over 12 miles one way - a long distance to walk, but a relatively short distance to drive by Alaskan standards.  Below are examples of longer and shorter commutes made by Catholics in the Archdiocese of Anchorage:

South Anchorage to Downtown Anchorage = 9 miles
Sterling to Soldotna = 11 miles
Sutton to Palmer = 13 miles
Eagle River to Downtown Anchorage = 15 miles
Anchor Point to Homer = 15 miles
Moose Pass to Seward = 28 miles
Wasilla/Palmer to Downtown Anchorage = 42 miles

As the table makes explicitly clear, many members of the Archdiocese travel about or more than 12 miles one way on a daily basis.  Thus, to ask these same members to travel an extra 12 miles once a week in order to fulfill their Sunday obligation by participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not only possible, but entirely reasonable.

VERDICT: The People of God on the Kenai Peninsula continue to be malformed regarding the fulfillment of the Sunday obligation to attend Mass as proclaimed by Holy Mother Church in her Canon Law and Congregation for Divine Worship.  In accord with the Second Vatican Council, which exhorted all bishops to promote and safeguard "the unity of the faith and the discipline common to the whole Church", it is the opinion of this blog that Archbishop Schwietz must correct and teach that unity and discipline which Our Lady of the Angels and Our Lady of Perpetual Help currently lack.

Please pray for Archbishop Schwietz, Sr. Joyce, and Frs. Tony, Andy, and Joe.


  1. Curious and ConcernedJune 5, 2009 at 10:01 AM

    I stumbled upon your blog last night, after searching for general info about these parishes. It concerns me of course, but at the same time not having attended there yet I am tempering my thoughts as much as possible.

    I am curious if you have contacted the bishop, which it appears is part of the problems, or anyone in the USCCB? I am also curious about the future plans to actually attach priests to these dioceses or if the Archdiocese has no plans to do so?

    I am moving to the area in a few months from a large city and am used to being able to go to EF Masses when I please. I don't expect the same abundance of liturgical opportunities in AK, but I was at least hoping to find some deeply devoted and reverent churches there. Would you be willing to email to converse about this more?

  2. Curious and Concerned,
    I do hope you will join us at Our Lady of Angels. Please come to see for yourself what a wonderful church we have here in Kenai and Soldotna. Sister Joyce, Sister Joan and Father Tony, Andy and Joe are wonderful people who have done wonderful things for this community and our church. Please do not take the word of a coward who does not have the courage to use his real name on a blog.
    What are you afraid of Peter the Sinner? Show yourself.

  3. What are you afraid of Peter the Sinner? Show yourself.

    Are you kidding me? I take it Anonymous isn't your real name. So...What are YOU afraid of? Perhaps it's the theme that "Peter the Sinner" has in his arguments? I mean, if your to much of a coward yourself to only attack he/she over his/her real name without addressing any of his arguments, it certainly gives him/her that much more merit. Perhaps calling people cowards is as far as you can intellectually go? If it is, the Church in the Kenai is in a bad state indeed.

    Your insistence to smoke the identity of “Peter the Sinner” out, while hiding your own real name, concerns me a great deal. And if you did know his/her real name? What then? How would you shut “Peter the Sinner” up? Certainly on logical merit, you’ve made that point clear.

  4. My intent was never to create division or controversy. So I do apologize. As a pre-emptive answer to why I am not using a name, it is because I am not *there* to speak and answer for myself in person.

    To my main point, it is difficult from afar to get a taste and sense of the true essence of the liturgical life on the Penninsula. I know that *remote* parishes not in the hands of pastors or parish priests have their limitations, but at the same time, the life of the Church is the liturgy.

    I also know that sometimes blogs, individuals, and fanaticism can be extreme in their views, desires, and expectations. I am trying not to make a definitive decision prior to my arrival, but instead, to have an idea of what I am heading into. I have been praying about this, and will continue to do so. What I do hope is that all of us can have adult discussions about this. Archbishop Chaput has recently spoke in Quebec where he said, "Religion, politics, and social justice are precisely the things we SHOULD be talking about. Nothing else really matters." He said this in response to the idea that there is a double life for many Catholics, between what they PURPORT to believe and with what they actually put into practice (in their religious and social life.)

    Even more to the point, our Pope has written extensively in his lifetime, but has focused mostly on the liturgy while pontiff. This exemplifies not only what he views as important in the Church, but as Pope, what he feels the world and Church on earth are in most need of concerning its direction. Therefore I think this discussion is very relevant and name calling is counterproductive. Not to defend Peter's argument in total, pertaining to his blog, but in reference to the comments, I too am concerned about identifying myself in the face of such anger and vulgarity. Which is odd, considering there have been a few distinct points in my life where I have argued the contrary, forwarding the position that any statement worth making is only so with the weight of your name and reputation behind it. Yet, on such a forum and in the face of such angst, it is difficult to do so when all things are not equal.

    So to be constructive, my main question originated around the mass. I am worried about alleged illicit practices which may or may not have occured during masses. I am also concerned that such things could plunge a mass into an invalid state. I am also concerned about the overall life and hierarchy within the diocese. Churches in our Faith follow the rubrics of God through Peter, in essence they descend down; in no way should they ever move in the opposite flow. There is little room let alone need for improvisation or innovation. The Mass is not about US, at least not because we think it is or feel it should be, but if at all only because God has given it to us.

    Therefore, this conversation should be about whether or not that is occuring not only in the Churches we are discussing, but everywhere and anywhere the liturgy occurs. The Eucharist and therefore the Mass is our physical and REAL PRESENCE connection to God, if that celebration is marred or offended by the decisions, actions or faults of man, we must confront this, not out of anger or hate, but in attempt to reform both the man and the celebration. Although we can never obtain perfection, we should strive for it, especially in our attempts to honor God, our humility demands this of our actions.

  5. It seems to me that you are going about this the wrong way. Instead of condeming Sister Joyce and Joan for doing extremely hard, worthwhile and holy work in a remote area and being able to survive to ensure the church flourishes with-out the help of a full time priest, you are choosing to condemn the sisters. My question is why now? Sister Joyce and Joan have been in the parish for 30 years. Keep in mind they were sent here by the Bishop, a high church official. So there must have been some very careful thought put into their assignment in Kenai. Where were you 30 years ago? I would guess not helping God’s children like the sisters have been. I have been a member of Our Lady of Angels for 12 years and because of the sisters I am a better person. As for me not using my real name, well I did not start the bog I am only trying to let someone know what a great parish we have. If you would like to discuss this further with me you can find me every Sunday sitting in church praying for all of you (not taking pictures). I do hope Peter the Sinner that you are asking yourself is your blog worth slandering 2 great women. It is very sad that people like you spend so much of their time trying to look good by making others look bad. I will pray for you.

  6. I have been reading this blog since its inception, which I believe was sometime around the week of Holy Week 2009. The points made are valid and tragically very real. The situation on the Peninsula is NOT unlike other places in the Catholic world where reform after Vatican II took on paths that were never forseen or intended by the church fathers. As our current Pope has stated we are living in a time when discontinuity with the past has been praised as if the new and improved church since Vatican II is completely disconnected from the traditions of the "pre-Vatican II" church. The same ideologies that took hold of members of the church in almost all parts of the world are here. There is also the church that is trying to stay grounded in the orthodox teachings of the church. Those aware of the abuses and want to address them each have their style of trying to deal with them. Some offend and are more challenging. How many of the Saints of old were accused of the same? The abuses and extreme theological bents that are here need to be addressed with the help of the Holy Spirit working in all. It is important to remember we are one church, all of us. We are not living up to that word "one", in spirit or in theology. This blog is the result of that struggle that has been going on for so long without any resolution or guidance. So yes, people are upset, they have voiced their concerns to the proper people and have been called touble makers, so they vent their anger in private. It is more difficult here on the Peninsula, in this readers opinion, because we are cut off from the main body of the Archdiocese. Under the previous Archbishop things were allowed to drift into extreme unorthodoxy. Patterns were established and authority structures were created. But this is the challenge here on the Peninsula. How to bring the Church back to center as the old regime slowly retires requires dilligence, patience and trust in the Holy Spirit, Who is in charge at all times. To the reader who is looking to come to Alaska, please don't let this stuggle agitate you. Come with your gifts and contribute to the renewal that Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI challenge us to create. Your Trust in Divine Providence will grow in ways you could never imagine.

  7. Just read the latest comments of the person who identifies themselves and a Kenai parish member for 12 years. I am sure the work of the sisters has in many ways been of service not only to the parish, but to the commmunity. You are probably a better person because of them, as you say. Yet that does not address unorthodox behaviors that were allowed by the "High Church Officials" because of the trend in the Church since Vatican II to try "new" things to see how they worked. It is not only here that it happened. Your feelings for the sisters needs to be seperate from the issues being discussed as to whether unorthodox things have been going on and how they present the Church to members who are being led to believe that these behaviors are really expressive of what the Church teaches. In former posts to this blog, the owner addresses the fact that people have been "malformed" in the faith. They have. It does not matter that this happened by this or that person. What matters is that people are malformed in the faith. One recent example would be religion class teachers telling childen that both men and women can now be ordained in the Church. Or prayers being offered for first communicants that the girls will one day be ordained priests. Are these correct teaching? Maybe if the issues could be seperated from, 'I really like the sisters and all their hard work' to 'are there issues with what has been presented as teachings of the church'. I respect the committment of the sisters over these many years of service. This does not change the other issue of what is being presented as Catholic teaching.

  8. Veritas (formerly Curious and Concerned)June 9, 2009 at 8:38 AM

    Couple things:

    First, having everyone post as ANONYMOUS gets confusing. I am going to use the handle Veritas from now on, seeing as that is my quest. (Curious and Concerned gave the wrong conotation.)

    Second, I think that most RECENT anonymous poster hit a nail on the head that really is a good place to go. It isn't that people are necessarily bad persons when they do something that goes against the rubrics or teachings of the church. Many of us, actually all of us have stumbled in our jobs before. We need correction. Isn't the saying that those that learn well are those that learn to take constructive criticism well.

    Third, only one place is paved with good intentions... it isn't Church and it isn't Heaven, therefore we should probably be careful taking that path.

    Finally, I am still a long way off from coming there. I plan to come, and I plan to have an open heart and open mind. I also plan to pray and work at my faith life. I am also very excited about coming to a small community, where I can actually dive into parish life and be involved. It has been a while since that was possible for me.

  9. First of all, congratulations to the Sister's for their years of service! Growing up in the Kenai parish, they were a constant in my life and will be missed. They have dedicated their lives to His service, and it has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.

    I grew up in a family that often made the trip to attend mass at OLPH instead of attending a communion service at OLA. It's no secret to anyone familiar with the last two decades at OLA that my family had a unique and occasionally precarious role within the parish--my mother was very active with liturgical music, my siblings and I often participated in the liturgy, and my father was a perennial, outspoken advocate for othodoxy and critic of liturgical "irregularities". (aside: he has never had the need for a pseudonym--so if he turned out to be our enigmatic "Peter" that would certainly come as a surprise to me, he has emphatically denied it).

    However, I have been out of the area for nearly 9 years now (which perhaps affords me the courage to use my actual name), and have lived everywhere from Washington DC, to Texas, Florida, and even Rome. I believe this gives me a unique perspective, and leads me to my point:



    That's not to denegrate the service of the sisters, the decisions of past or present bishops, or the education of the faithful. It's merely a fact. And I would imagine there is a reason for this.

    I can't quote the Catechism, so I'm not going to venture a moral judgment as to whether or not these "irregularities" are right or wrong (some are certainly stranger than others, "Liturgical Dance" comes to mind...) However, I think common sense dictates that when the worship service becomes a distraction, it takes away from the actual purpose: communion with the true presence of Christ. In my opinion, this would be a point well-taken by both sides, but especially the parish administration. When you disregard the specific teaching of the church, you will doubtless raise some eyebrows during worship, which takes the focus off the Scripture and Eucharist. Knowing this is the case (and the existence of this blog supports my assertion), would it not be in the best interest of the faithful to simply do things by the book? Seems simple enough to me...

    To "Peter":

    I think you will continue to face opposition simply because you are relying exclusively on reason to defend faith--which is by definition an irrational act. Whether or not the arguments you present are convincing (and they are), they are also limited in their reach. While rationality plays a large part in Catholic apologetics and education, it is all meaningless unless backed by an essentially irrational decision to believe in the basic tenets of the faith, i.e., the Resurrection, the Trinity, the True Presence, etc. The backlash, indignation, and irrational rants like those from our first Anonymous poster are in response to what I believe to be the flip side of the same error made by the "Kenai Katholics" (did I just coin a phrase?) that gave rise to this blog. It is faith AND reason that makes--and keeps--us Catholics. We cannot neglect one or the other.

    But, at the end of the day, my only dog in this fight is the spiritual well-being of the people I care about in my childhood home. To those of you worried that these liturgical are widespread and a terminal cancer within the Church, I say: leave the bubble, it's not as bad as you think. What's going on there is weird and unique. Granted, my experience may be anecdotal, but I offer it all the same

    In the meantime, God bless the Sisters, "Peter", my family and all of you back in Kenai! Enjoy the summer while I swelter here in the Lower 48.

  10. A point of clarification (these small text boxes for comments can make longer posts confusing):

    My comment to Peter regarding faith and reason should not be read as an admonition or a claim that reason has completely supplanted faith in his/her relationship with God. Rather, it's my belief that the irregularities in liturgy and teaching (and the rants by the supporters of these irregularities), since they are demonstrably opposed to accepted Church norms and dogma, are primarily (and almost exclusively) irrational.

    Ostensibly motivated primarily (and likewise almost exclusively) by reason, Peter's arguments will likely fall on deaf or indignant ears.

    Both the rational and irrational have an important part to play, in this Christian's opinion. I believe that much at least came out in my earlier post.


  11. This blog is a wealth of great information and you Peter the Sinner seem to be very knowledgeable about the Catholic Faith. My problem is how you are going about it. First calling the blog “Scandal in Kenai” and second posting pictures of the sisters (who by the way are NOT nuns) and innocent children alter serving. My other problem is you are also posting things about the priests. What do you want? The sisters are leaving and we have priests and still you are not happy. We all want to live in a perfect world but we don’t. Yes mistakes have been made and we can only learn from our mistakes. My challenge to you all is if you feel that here in Kenai the priests, sisters and lay people are not doing a good job you need to step up to the plate. A great place to start is Generations of Faith. They welcome everyone to get involved and VOICE any opinion or suggestion you may have. As an elder in the community I would love hearing your opinion and maybe learning something along the way. Just from reading your blog I know we could learn more about our Catholic Faith from you and others that have posted on this thread. Have you talked to the priests and voiced your opinions? I find all three of them to be open, honest and very easy to talk with.

    This blog is NOT something that Jesus would approve of. It is causing hurt feelings and turning a parish into a circus. Your blog should be an informative blog about our Catholic Faith and its teaching. Finger pointing is not the way to do it. Jesus is about love.

    I love my church, all the people in my church and all the things that go with it (good and bad). We can not change what happen in the past but we can move forward. We should work together not against each other.

    I pray I have not offend anyone. I want you all to know I respect what you are trying to do, but I DO NOT agree with how you are going about it. I also want to stress again you ARE hurting people and that is not Christian.

  12. I feel quite bad. I did not mean to start this bickering. My intent in my inquiry was never to create dissent or anger. So for a moment I thought that I should bow out and try and end this in any way that I could.

    Then I realized that we should NEVER ever hide from our beliefs. Again, I hate that I am behind a "NAME", but until I am present where I can talk about my ideas in person, my name doesnt really matter, but hopefully my ideas do. I just dont want to arrive one day if I end up attending this Church to have a target on my back or a preconceived notion as to who I am, what I think, or how I believe.

    This said, I have to take up a few more matters. One is the statement that this blog is NOT how Jesus would act. I dont necessarily believe that. We have this idea that Jesus was a pacifist, yet I seem to remember him coming into the temple and flipping over the tables, and using a whip to drive out the problems. Nowadays that would get you a few months in jail, so we are often lead to our devices.

    Based on the way some are reacting on here, on both sides, I dont know if anyone is willing to have this discussion the way that it is necessary to have it. I think this conversation is VERY important. I dont think it is about demeaning anyone or not saying that certain people havent done some wonderful things. Instead it is about the way things should be moving forward.

    A few other notes:

    I too have had the luxury of seeing orthodox Catholicism in action. I am lucky enough to be able to attend proper Masses every day if I choose, including the Extraordinary Form. This is the whole reason behind my inquiry, at least initialy, I am concerned for the spritual well-being of myself and more importantly my family.
    Also, I agree 100%, that this argument should NOT, I STRESS SHOULD NOT, be about who is right, wrong, more Catholic, or the problem in this situation. It should be about moving toward the RIGHT way of doing things. If the norms at OLPH or OLA are not within the HEART of the Church, well then they need to get there.

    As for Anonymous at 2:07pm, I think that you are missing the argument that this isnt about INDIVIDUALS. At least not in the way you are making it out to be. This should not be a concern for "Feelings" or "Emotions". We are dealing with MUCH more precious and valuable things, like our Souls, our Spirit, and the BRIDE OF CHRIST, the Church. We forget that. We forget that this is the case. EACH Mass is the WEDDING FEAST of the Lord. Would we ever go to someone elses Wedding, and say, "You know, I don't really think that I like how you have this planned, so lets just make a few more changes to make it more appealing to US the people." Of course we wouldnt.

    Yet, I do appeal to everyone, including myself. We should all pray before we discuss this. Whether we pray before we make a post, or if in general we just keep this issue at the top of our prayer list that we actually do it. We should not be on opposite sides in the end. We SHOULD ALL be striving for the same goal, and that goal should be having PROPER and correct Liturgical Masses according to the GIRM, the Roman Missal, the Rubrics of the Church, and the other traditions of the Church. Although feelings take a backseat here, we should never INTENTIONALLY try to make someone feel bad. We should not demonize or diminish what people have done or are trying to do. We should instead use each other to promote the Church and the proper way of doing things.

  13. A final note: Jesus is about love. Sometimes though we have to call each other to task. You are right in that it would be GREAT if this blog didn't need to exist. I am not a fan of blogs that ATTACK a certain situation or set of people, but sometimes they do bring things to light. In fact, it is serving some purpose by getting us all to talk about this. If Sisters are giving homilies, and this blog stops that and nothing else, well then it was worth it. If it stops illicit activity within the Mass, well then it was worth it. We must though take positive and Christian steps towards a more honorable Mass as our flag, and carry it high above any personal vendettas that we may have.

  14. Veritas said. "I feel quite bad. I did not mean to start this bickering. My intent in my inquiry was never to create dissent or anger. So for a moment I thought that I should bow out and try and end this in any way that I could".

    Are you kidding me.. If you felt so bad you would delete all of this. I agree with Anonymous. You are causing a circus and hurt feelings. I guess you got what you wanted. I also agree that if this about the sisters doing homilies then why post thing about the priests.

    I will pray for you.

  15. Anonymous:

    This is not my blog, I am the original commentor in this thread. My first post was as "Curious and Concerned."

    I was making reference to my original questions, not the blog itself, which is run by "peter."

    Just wanted to clear up that confusion.

  16. As a new commentator to this excellent exchange, permit me this: an "inclusive" church would not stiff-arm the faithful from participating in parish life, yet this is the legacy of the two sisters. It cannot be denied. It mattered not whether the people were meek and mild or outspoken and activist. All were marginalized. It is also the legacy of the past two archbishops. None of them can stand criticism. They have been "covered" by fluffy, shallow Catholics who gravitate towards whatever person is currently in charge, and automatically, loyally defend them, with no thought as to whether there is proper, lawful authority to permit the abuses, or what the consequences (temporal and eternal) might be. The new priests have followed lock-step into this pattern, create or cooperate with their own bizarre and illicit circumstances of abuse, which leads people to believe there is no end in sight. They stop their ears at complaints and instantly marginalize the petitioners. In the rare circumstances when a hearing is permitted, it goes into a "memory hole". They provide no response that might serve to demonstrate that it was the petitioner and not the administrator or priest that was erroneous. And they plow right ahead piling on new abuses.

    An earlier questioner asked: "Have you gone to the bishop?" Yes, and many times, with considerable numbers of petitioners, until he would no longer grant an audience and made his own sentiments clear by action or inaction. This leaves us with the Papal Nuncio as the next step. The problem is, with the two feminists leaving the parish, it makes many of the petitions to the Nuncio a "post facto" complaint --- unless it is seen as a pattern of behavior that indicates future problems. I would say that it certainly DOES. But Nuncio's are always giving time and the benefit of a doubt to the local Sees. Still, it would be worthwhile. And it will be forthcoming.

  17. I would like to give a plug to the priests, who have had to come into the area as missionaries with a model of serving, talking, communicating over a long period of time hoping to influence rather than being "pastors" that give a particular parish a vision to follow and help them to get there. I may not be explaining this well, but I believe this seems to be their charism.
    This may work over time, it just requires us to not have expectations of big change. I am sure this will bring on some big reactions, I just wanted to put the priests into the context that they believe is the charism of their order.
    In another vein,I wanted to comment about the ideas being presented that those on this blog site are "causing" pain. I wonder how we are doing this? My first response is to chuckle because I associate this with the idea of relativism. If I express an idea that comes from the perspective that there is an objective truth to someone who believes that any "opinion" I have has to be expressed as just that,how could I have any real conversation that would not end with someone feeling offended? I believe I will come across as "divisive" "oppressive" "rude", etc. The underlying issue in this example would be that one person believes they need to uncover a reality that is objective. Conversation would then have the goal of expressing ideas to examine the efficacy of those ideas and then move toward implimenting a better understanding of truth in ones life. Of course, that could not happen when someone comes at conversation from a relativists perspective because all opinions would be looked at from the angle of "does this fit into my perspective or not". If the opinions expressed do not make me feel right, or happy or whatever the criterion would be, then the conversation would end. The only angry comments I have heard in this blog thus far have come from those who say we should not be conversing in this fashion. How interesting. Conversation actually if quite difficult. It requires thinking about ideas, examining not only the "axioms" of the thoughts, but the consequences and then pulling thoughts together or apart depending on the veracity of the ideas. Now, this all will come to fruition, only IF, everyone is actually wanting to step outside "how does this make me feel" and look at the ideas and what is being said for the purpose of coming to a better understanding of what truth is and how we are living up to that truth.
    I think Jesus was very clear about this in some of his interactions with individuals. I think of the young rich man who came to Jesus wanting to know how to be perfect. The young rich man went away "sad" because .... you fill in the rest. Peter (the Apostle) in John's gospel, when the twelve watched the followers leave after Jesus explained that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood, states to Jesus, where else do we have to go, "you have the words of everlasting life". This was very difficult. Yet, Peter and the twelve knew something was different here and had to keep searching in the presence of Jesus. I wonder if I would have had the same courage. So my thought is this for those who are feeling anger or sadness because things are being disucssed, please reassess what is making you feel "bad". Thank you Peter "the sinner" for providing an opportunity to just talk and share ideas.

  18. Hey Quincy, Just one thought referencing your comments on faith and reason. Faith is not irrational, it is supported by reason. But is it is a leap beyond reason, as St. Augustine would say. Faith is never at odds with GOOD reason. Just thought I would comment. Kris

  19. WHY

    The weather has been so beautiful and I have been enjoying sitting outside. While there I became very aware of my new neighbors who moved in a few months ago from lower 48. Sunday two groups of people stopped. One offered to take the neighbors children so the parents could enjoy a little quiet time. The other was “just checking how you’re doing.” Another day someone came to take the mother shopping as her husband has the car during the week. These are all people from her church.
    Last Sunday in our church bulletin we asked for people to help with young mothers, who are followed our churches’ commands on birth control, with their little ones. No help was offered. Why? Why do people from other churches offer to help their community when we Catholics don’t? Don’t we have the same ticket to heaven given to us in Matthew 25:35 as they do? “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was…”
    This verse also continues, “I was in prison and you visited me.” There are about twenty volunteers who go into the prison for Bible Study. Not counting the Priests and Sisters, only 3 of them are Catholic. Why do so few of us have time to follow Jesus?
    Are we as Catholics so interested in how and what we do in the church building – do we bow, genuflect, say the exact words, know our religion – that we forget how to live as Christ told us? Are we become like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11-12?
    Why must we find fault with each other? Have we forgotten the two greatest commandments given to us by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40? “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” When we criticize each other does that mean we also criticize ourselves? Are we finding the sliver in our community’s eye and missing what is in our own eye?
    Each week I spend time reading the Gospels with the women and men prisoners. I have not found anywhere in the Gospel where Jesus uses any other name but His own when he speaks. Therefore, following his example, I shall write my own name to this comment.
    Margaret Menting

  20. Margaret,

    Some valid points. Yes, we often do miss the mark when it comes to Christ’s call to care for our neighbor. I myself will fully admit a deficiency when it comes to that. Just the other day a new parishioner greeted me at the gas station. Not recognizing him, a just kind of mumbled a hello. Only later did I realize who he was (He shaved some of his beard off). Immediately I regretted my meager response. How many times had I been on the other end of that encounter as a new convert, only to reflect later how cold and unwelcoming my fellow Catholics were? I could also go into how I wished more people, like yourself, could visit my own brother in prison…yet somehow can’t seem to find the time myself to visit someone else’s brother or sister in the same situation.

    I am a sinner, but I’m working on it.

    Despite some of your good points, I do have to point out a couple of things. First, how would you know that the writer of this blog, and some of the commenter’s, aren’t doing the good works we are called to do by our Lord? Is it possible to encourage piety at Mass while also doing good works outside of it? Of course it is! The argument that we have to stop being so worried about one in order to focus on the other is absurd, and quite frankly a poor excuse.

    Now, onto the point of this blog entry. Harsh? Sure it is. But a lie? I don’t think so. Of all the posts written in opposition about this blog entry, none have really tackled the validity of “Peter the Sinner’s” argument. Instead, there are people calling him a coward for not revealing his name, and others accusing him of bringing hurt feelings to many in the parish. I’ve already tackled the ridicules calls of “coward” aimed toward “Peter the Sinner” for not revealing his name by “anonymous” folks who I’m sure are wringing their hands in anticipation to find out the real identity of this trouble maker. The claim that he’s bringing hurt feelings to the Parish is about an idiotic statement as the first.

    It seems, to me at least, that the hurt feelings and the bitterness in the western Kenai Peninsula parishes were here far longer than after this blog entry was made. There’s no trust here, no fellowship. Could it be that a lack of piety in the liturgy, a disregard for dogma, and a lack of trust for Church teaching caused many to write off the intentions, no matter how good, of those wishing to promote Catholic social programs inside the area? Could be. I don’t really know. This problem of disunity was here far longer than I. But after reading some of the comments following this blog entry and talking with others, it is my hunch. No amount of eye rolling toward those who take the liturgy and Church teaching very seriously is ever going to fuse the rift in the Parish, or for that matter promote good Catholic social programs. As a matter of fact, I’ll bet you that if reverence is put back into the Mass, the participation for programs that promote social justice would more than double.

    As far as the question asking if we criticize part of our Church are we not criticizing the other. Sure, I guess you could put it that way. Didn’t St. Paul have to do the same? It’s a good thing he didn’t just say “Ah, those Galatians, let them be influenced by new teachers. I mean, gee, if I write them a letter urging them to only follow the teaching of the apostles…feelings might get hurt!” Maybe St. Athanasius should have left those Arians alone and not stood up for the Trinitarian beliefs of the Church? Should St. Ambrose not have stopped Theodosius from going to Mass? These saints, and others, didn’t correct others out of spite or disrespect. They corrected others out of love, not only for their fellow followers, but for their reverent love of Christ.

  21. Post 1 of 2 (For those who know me I have a lot to say and could not fit it all on one post)

    I have been reading this blog for about 2 months trying to understand it. I am not a computer person (as you can tell because my first post was on the wrong comment section:), have never even visited a blog before, and I have never studied Cannon Law. I have a simple, happy life as a military wife and mom who has had to move every 3 years for the last 14 years. I think of myself as a good Catholic person. I strive to be honest, forgiving and not judgmental. I am by no means perfect and yes, I am a sinner. I know I can NOT get into any debate with any one of you because half of what I am reading I do not understand, nor do I want to debate. I only want to say something nice about the sisters and maybe, just maybe, make you see things from a different point of view. I have, however, attended church every Sunday for 38 years, taught and attended several study groups and RCIA classes at every parish I have ever attended. I have only been here in the parish for 3 years. When I moved to the area the first thing I did was find the Catholic Church. We were greeted immediately by 2 little women who welcomed us with a hug and a smile. We have also found that the people in the church are every welcoming and kind. Once we became established in the parish, we became involved in RCIA, Generations of Faith and other church events and groups. The only negative we have found was that this church has a definite separation in it like NO other church we have attended (and we have attended several catholic churches from coast to coast).

    I do agree with Margaret that other churches have a different bond than Catholic churches do. I find this disturbing considering that the number of Catholics is dwindling. For those moving or visiting the area and Google OLA this blog is what comes up. Is this blog detouring people from coming into or back to the Catholic Church? I am sure it is not the only reason but I believe it is not helping. I agree with Anonymous who said we need to work together not against each other. I also agree your blog does have information that is very useful if put in a positive way. I also think the sisters are tough and can take whatever you or anyone else is saying. I know the sisters would not judge you or your blog, but embrace it, take the information and comments and find a way to use it to help others. THAT IS THE SISTERS I KNOW. The sisters are now gone and I pray you do take down certain information about them. It seems pointless to have things about the sisters considering they are not here anymore. I also agree we need to live the laws of the church, but we also need to do the right thing. I know you believe you are going the right thing, however point made. Let’s move forward not backwards.

    As you can tell in my short time here I have built a strong bond with the sisters and I believe some things are worth stepping-up and saying something. They are great STRONG women who I respect and love. I only pray my girls grow-up to be as strong as they are.

    No one will ever know ALL the sisters have done in the 30 years on the Peninsula, including me, but I just want them to know that I pray they have a wonderful retirement because they deserve it. Whatever the sisters have done, RIGHT OR WRONG, in their ministry here on the Peninsula only God can judge that. The sisters are wonderful women who have touched many. We miss you both already Sister Joyce and Sister Joan.

  22. I believe it is now the job of the priests to push the church in the direction it needs to go. I also believe they will do a great job and I have much respect and faith in Father Andy, Father Joe and Father Tony. I choose to live my life looking for the good in people. I choose not to say bad things about people or the church. I choose to have a positive attitude. I choose good not bad and I choose God. We can all know the law of the church, but if we choose not to live it than all of the great information you are posting is useless. God wants us to love, be kind, help those in need and not judge others. As simple as that may sound that is how I choose to live my life.

    A quick note on the whole knowing who Peter the Sinner is. I could care less who is writing this blog, but if you really believe what you are writing why not print your real name. I will not judge you. You are standing up and speaking for what you believe in as am I. A real Christian will not look at you or treat you different. I pray all of my friends, people on this blog and fellow church members will treat me with the same respect.
    I will sign my name because I am proud of what I believe and who I am. I also sign my name because I want everyone to know I am proud to have known and served with Sister Joyce and Sister Joan.

    God Bless you all,
    Christy Franklin

  23. I am Yelev, and my grandparents are from Ukraine. They instilled in my mother, as she did in me, a recognition that what distinguishes Catholics from others is not being friendly or strong or welcoming or cheerful or forgiving, but having faith and charity, humility and obedience. All of those qualities that people praise in the Kenai priests and sisters do not necessarily establish that these are holy people obedient to Holy Mother Church and the Holy Roman Pontiff. Obedience is better than sacrifices. It is idle sentimentality to look only at peoples' wonderful human qualities. Those are important, but I believe that this blogger and his supporters are more concerned about whether the liturgical laws of our Mother the Church are being followed. If they are not, then that is a legitimate overriding concern; to hell with how nice and welcoming and community-minded the rule violators might be. They need to acknowledge the authority of the pope and the liturgical laws.


  24. This is the beginning of the year of the priest. Our holy, Father Pope Benedict XVI, is asking us to focus this year and pray for the holiness and sanctification of our priests. In Soldotna, we are beginning a program we call, Adopt a Priest, which encourages parishioners to pick a particular priest here on the Peninsula and pray for their holiness and sanctification. I wonder if all the readers and contributors to this blog would like to venture into this program and become the prayer warriors that the priests need to accomplish their great task while being here on the Peninsula? I would encourage everyone to take this very positive, grace filled opportunity to bring the Holy Spirit into this situation through this very powerful effort. St. Don Bosco also was given a beautiful vision of how the two pillars of our faith can steady the bark of the Church as she struggles to safely bring her children home to heaven, Eucharistic
    Adortion and True devotion to Jesus through Mary. Maybe we could all join together in this effort and seek the assistance of Christ in the Eucharist and His Mother Mary in steadying things. Kris Viens

  25. Just read Daniel C. comments. Great comments. I would add my support in regards to the Rift that has existed in the parishes on the Peninsula, for the rifts are in all the parishes to some extent. In my opinion these rifts are caused by power struggles. There is someone in charge of the three parishes, they have a particular bent on theology and have in some fashion alienated those who do not agree with the prevailing theological direction that the parishes were being taken. I have been to all three parishes and have friends in all of them as well. The constant feelings expressed are of being rejected by the power brokers and being kept out of involvement in the parishes due to the differences in theology. Parishioners in Kenai are not allowed to have regular Adoration. Why? Yet some parishoners have wanted this for quite a long time. I have the answer to the question, but it would HURT those who claim that the sisters were always WELCOMING and LOVING. Of course, no one is ALWAYS anything, that would mean someone would have to be perfect. And I think we all know what the bible states about that. Daniel, I agree that using the claim that the sisters went to the prison, started a clothes closet, hugged people at the door, etc. is not sound reason to excuse deliberate attempts to keep people of "orthodox" leanings from having any position of influence in the parish. Keeping ones opponents being the strong locked doors, so to speak, is not welcoming. It is just controlling. One can really be genuinely nice as long as they are not opposed but then how is it nice to use the strong arm method of keeping pesky intruders out of sight, who might have a skeleton to bring out in public for all to see. The Church is full of differences, but we do have a central set of beliefs and ways of celebrating the most focal point of what we do, participate in the MASS and obey the command of Christ to DO this in Memory of ME. The tradional way of explaining our public worship is that we fulfill the command of Jesus, we worship with Christ in the ETERNAL SACRAFICE and then we take this grace which, if we are willing, will transform us into true christians and then we go forth (the dismissal prayer)to love and serve the Lord. (Social justice) Margaret, I believe this is a very difficult topic to address with you as the social behaviors seem to come first in the order of relation with Christ, not the public worship. There is a very different orientation and reason for social justice if it does not come forth from having worshipped God first. But I digress from the focus of my statement.
    So in my opinion, if the effort is now made by our priests, to help the parishes end the years long battle of keeping people of orthodox leanings OUT OF THE INFLUENCIAL ROLES in the parishes, maybe this rift will heal. People will be more willing to work together and respect differences when they are respected.

  26. All very interesting comments so far. I would go back to the original comment made by Peter the sinner and comment that the failure to correctly relate why communion services are held in our parishes IS scandalous. It is misleading, giving the impression that we Catholics generally just dismiss going to Mass in preference for a communion service when we want to have non-priests conduct the services. This is not the case at all. In fact, as Peter the sinner so properly relates, the mind of the Church is that communion services are only to be used when a priest is absolutely unable to say a Mass on Sunday in a parish. That is the standard. Why? Again, the Church clearly states in the Apostolic letter, The Church of the Eucharist, communion services are to be allowed only when it is clearly made impossible for a priest to be available. Now as the blog owner has stated, we on the Peninsula have become accustomed to using the communion service as a convenience. How many people drive back and forth from one point on the Peninsula each and every day just to go get a gallon of milk or buy a fising rod or go fishing at a favorite site? We travel for all sorts of reasons, but it is deemed too tedious to travel ten extra miles on Sunday morning to attend the Holy Sacrafice of the Mass because there is only one priest between the Kenai and Soldotna parishes.I find it hard to believe that any of us really believe it is for this reason alone that we continue to miss Mass simply because it is too far to drive to either one of the parishes. Now, it is not my desire to accuse anyone of making light of the need to go to Mass on Sunday. However, those in authority, have made this easy option the standard rather than the extraordinary need here on the Peninsula. This is the crux of the matter in the minds of many of the Catholics here. We are using it as an excuse to promote other agendas. What could those be? Well the most obvious trend is to get people comfortable with the idea of women on the altars as ministerial figures. This has been an unfortunate result of misguided feminist theology. The agenda to ease the idea of women priests into our general mindset is very real and certainly was and is promoted by many of our lay and religious leaders. A second reason communion services have become so convenient, I believe, is the falling away from the idea of a sacramental Church. We have had such poor catechesis in the Church for the last forty years that the understanding of the church as a sacramental church has been almost forgotten. We want to think of ourselves as a protestant community, only with rituals of sacraments. The empahsis on the primacy of the community has taken precedence. This takes the form of staying in the parish in order to support the community even if that means we dont go to Mass fifteen minutes away. The emphasis is on gathering as a community rather than participating in the covenant that is the Mass on Sunday.