Thursday, July 10, 2014

WHEN PRIDE, DISTRACTIONS AND RIGIDITY GET INTO THE WAY OF GOD'S GRACE




We all have our pride, tastes and preconceived notions of what we like and don't like. Unfortunately many apply this to the Mass. Someone once told me that they left a Sunday Mass because the music which they felt was flamboyant and self serving of the musicians front and center.

Others are driven to distraction by sloppiness, banality and the looks and personality of the priest. Still others are so critical of the OF Mass and it's built-in options that they will go to an illicit but valid SSPSX Mass and bitterly complain about the OF Mass.

All of these examples while not necessarily mortal sin act on the soul as mortal sins do, these block the graces of the Mass to the recipient because the recipient is not open to the graces because of those things that have become distractions.

In the wisdom of pre-Vatican II theology and practice, we were taught that even if the priest was the most corrupt, immoral and despicable man in town and when he celebrated Mass he did so sloppily and raced through the Latin at slurred breakneck speed, as long as the Mass was valid, all the graces of  the Holy Sacrifice of Calvary are present.

What the faithful lay Catholic had to do was to ask the Holy Spirit to open our heart to overlook and deny the distractions in order to receive and appropriate those graces abundant in full that flow from the "unbloody" sacrifice at which one is present no matter how abysmally presented.

In other word the onus was on the person in the pew to ask God to help him overcome the distractions that lead to a prideful closed heart and mind.

Perhaps God like He did for the people of Israel has led some of us, but certainly not all, into the desert to test our Faith. Are we like the grumbling unfaithful Israelites who fashioned a molten calf and worshipped at the altar of the false god of pride and distraction.

46 comments:

JBS said...

The problem is that too many Western Catholics demand Paradise on Earth, and so rather than offering up the sufferings they endure in reparation for their own sins, instead they cast stones and declare God's grace impotent in the ministry of troublesome priests.

We should pray for eternal life, and thank God we have sufferings to offer up to Him while we're still here in this world.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with what you have said, not all of us are strong enough to stick with a parish like you describe. My wife and I had to leave our local parish because many things there became near occasions of sin. When Mass becomes something to endure and a cause of anger it is time to move on. Allow me to list the sources of anger: new hideous church building where the choir is front and center, the tabernacle sits between the new and old churches and is ignored, confession after the Saturday Mass, pro-gay sermons, persecution of our archbishop, heretical sermons by the Tuesday morning retired priest, passive-aggressive treatment of orthodox parishioners, and the director of music/liturgy is openly gay and " married" to his male lover. Oh, I forgot this one, the priest brings his dog to Mass and it has free range of the place and has been known to gobble up the Eucharist when it is dropped from the altar. What would Jesus do?
Vianney1100

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

What you are describing needs the bishop's intervention. I see no problem finding another parish in this regard.

Henry said...

"What you are describing needs the bishop's intervention."

But what if the bishop's the problem, not the solution. Not that I claim first-hand experience with any such situation. Just wondering.

JBS said...

Anonymous,

Please follow Fr. McDonald's advice. The sacrilege involving the dog could lead to the priest's excommunication. You should never step foot in that place again until this is resolved.

JBS said...

Henry,

You write to the Vatican.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Cross to bear and release holy souls from purgatory . Takes an exceptionally holy person to carry this cross with reverence, piety and dignity.

Wipo of mainz said...

Canis, qui secundum Thomam de Aquina animam habet etsi non rationis particepem, sit forsan melior Catholicus.

Woof! Woof!

Marc said...

The principle error of this post, indeed of many such posts on this blog, is the incorrect assumption that taste or preference regarding aesthetic sensibilities is primary in liturgical discussion. The assumption is that the Novus Ordo and the Traditional Mass are equal, but there are some with a preference for the aesthetics of the latter. So, the thinking goes, if the aesthetics of the Traditional Mass are carried over to the Novus Ordo, the problems are solved.

This error informs the accusations of pridefulness, heresy, and schism directed against those who have determined not to attend the Novus Ordo. If this discussion were about aesthetics, one could say correctly that failure to attend such a Mass because one dislikes the music or vestments is a very serious sin.

But since the decision not to attend the Novus Ordo is not one made due to aesthetics, the arguments that flow from that erroneous assumption are baseless.

Richard M. Sawicki said...

Father I know exactly what you're talking about, and it goes both ways...to the "positive" and the "negative"

Examples: Someone effusively gushes to me that they just went to an "exceptionally beautiful Mass" because of x, y, z. I respond, "ALL Masses are beautiful because Our Lord Jesus Christ becomes physically present to us in the Eucharist and we have the opportunity to worship Him and receive Him".

Or, "I can't go to Mass in THAT church...it's so ugly!" I respond, "No place where our Lord Jesus Christ physically reposes in the Blessed Sacrament can be 'ugly'. He beautifies it by His presence! ("How lovely is thy dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts!")".

Gaudete in Domino Semper!

Steven Surrency said...

I needed this Father.

Pater Ignotus said...

The error of Marc's 11:00 a.m. post is that he assumes that he, and not the Church, is the final authority on the matter of the validity of the mass.

It is the same error of all sede vacantists, all the Protestant Reformers, and all who, while calling themselves "Catholic," reject the legitimate authority of the Pope and the Bishops on this or that issue.

It is the same error of Adam and Eve who thought themselves to be superior to God's commands.

It is called Pride.

While Marc may be "content" to live in such error, that doesn't in any way change the fact of the error.

JBS said...

Mr. Mainz,

I've encountered several flies and gnats that gave an impression of determined Eucharistic piety exceeding that of some Catholics. For such winged creatures, the chalice pall serves as a kind of excommunication.

Gene said...

If a naughty dog gobbles up a consecrated Host, will he stop growling at the mail man, chasing the cat, and peeing on the sofa?

Templar said...

Ahhh, the old "we must all obey lest we be heretics" canard. The defense that worked so well at Nuremberg.

Son: Dad, did God give us Free Will?

Dad: Yes he did Son. But you can't us it in Church, it's like chewing gum and needs to be left outside, or in a pinch at least stuck under the pew.

The same Priests who did NOTHING that B16 asked of them, now want to respect the legitimate authority of Francis the One and Only. The hypocrisy just drips.

George said...

"Perhaps God like He did for the people of Israel has led some of us, but certainly not all, into the desert to test our Faith. Are we like the grumbling unfaithful Israelites who fashioned a molten calf and worshipped at the altar of the false god of pride and distraction."

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass can be seen as the Paschal Meal of the New Covenant which commemorates our deliverance from the bondage of sin by the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.Unlike the Paschal meal of the Old Covenant which commemorated something that happened in the past, the Paschal meal we celebrate today makes present to us Christ’s Sacrifice in our own time.The same sacrifice at Calvary is re-presented in an unbloody manner by God’s representative the priest who acts in the person of Christ as at the Last Supper. The flesh and blood of the Pascal Lamb (Christ), under the appearance of bread and wine is consumed by the faithful at Holy Mass. In this way, if we receive worthily and hold fast to God’s laws, we will one day enter into a new Promised Land- the Promise Land of Eternal Heaven.

George said...


If a Mass is being celebrated by a validly ordained priest (even if he does so poorly) and he recites the proper and correct words of consecration, then Christ becomes present and only the appearance of the Bread and Wine remain. This is the pre-eminent characteristic of our liturgical service that differentiates us from our protestant bretheren.

Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist in the way He did because God is to not one to leave us wondering or guessing if He is really present or not. He is not one to let us spiritually stumble about like a blind squirrel who occasionally by chance finds an acorn. Why would He, Who is Love, Mercy and Generosity itself, treat us this way? His Generosity is such that He is present in the consecrated bread even when no one is around. He is there in the Adoration chapel or reposed in the church tabernacle waiting for us. God is Love and loves each one of us and like anyone who loves another, He will do anything necessary to bring us to Himself. We must have trust and faith in His words in Holy scripture.At the words of the priest at consecration, Christ comes down and becomes present to us in the Sacrificial and Eucharistic meal, fully and completely, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity .
It is important for us to reflect on and prepare our interior disposition so that we more effectively correspond to His supernatural grace.




Marc said...

Templar, don't you know how prideful St. Athanasius was when he stood against the whole Arian world and said, "They have the buildings, we have the Faith"? Haven't you heard of that prideful man St. Thomas More who dared to keep the Faith rather than become a Protestant even though all the bishops save one abandoned the Faith? Can't you just pinch a little incense and compromise instead of letting your pride keep you from grace? Surely you know it is our pride that compels us to keep to the traditions handed to us from our Catholic forebears.

Gene said...

I think everyone on the blog understands, theologically, that God's grace is efficacious even through minimalist and degraded Masses and Sacraments. God's grace and the freedom of the Holy Spirit have never been predicated upon or dependent upon man's initiatives or rituals. But, that is hardly the point, is it?
The question does arise as to whether God is judging the Church through her decline and her compromising with the cultural norms and values of the day. These poorly performed and obligatory Masses may convey Graces to the faithful because of their devotion, but they reflect poorly upon the Church and her call to give glory and majesty to God. And, at what point would we know that God had abandoned the Church or led the faithful to another manifestation of the Church? The Church is not always and necessarily God's Church just because a Pope or a council says so. That may sound protestant, but it isn't…Christ will protect and preserve His Bride, but possibly in Catholic forms we do not yet know. I believe we are at a point where these kinds of questions need to be asked. I, and others expressing sentiments here, are appalled at just what so-called Catholics are willing to accept and rationalize in terms of a valid Mass and Liturgy. Just because God once spoke through the mouth of an ass does not mean that Priests, Bishops, and Popes should seek to emulate that particular animal.

Templar said...

LMAO. I hear you Marc. Yup, it's my pride keeping me from Grace. Not the almost completely vacuous state of orthodoxy in this Diocese.

Anonymous said...

Maybe John Nolan has something...

rcg said...

Th difference is that any of us Catholics temp God by assuming that since He is happy with a small gift that a small gift is good enough. We were in a parish once where an addled old lady would occasionally begin skipping around and singing. Her gift to God was pleasing. If I had done it should rightfully have been tossed out. Similarly I have attended some pretty humble and maybe less than stellar Masses, but they were perfect because they were complete as the people in those places could make them. It is when are sloppy on purpose to show our solidarity with the poor that we mock them and God's sacrifice in our laziness.

I love dogs but I would have thrown it physically from the Church and made sure people saw me do it.

Nathanael said...

Would it really be that much trouble to give the faithful a Low Mass very early or very late Sunday afternoon in good, reasonable driving distance for the entire diocese (within an hour or your local parish).

Even if this is might happen once-a-month or every-other-Sunday. Let’s say those same faithful would help fund this Mass so as not to take away from the other vital ministries of the local parish and ensure its time would not offend the majority. Would it not be the job of the parish priest to work within his parish community (and maybe call another parish who might have the same situation) to help a small minority of the faithful express their belief in Jesus Christ in a way they feel deepens their reverence to Christ in his Eucharistic form. Would it not further the missionary spirit of the diocese itself?

But let’s be honest – only certain people, with certain problems get that sort of consideration.

Why? We all know why. Because the only reason “we” like the EF of the Mass is it is in a funny and musical language with pretty vestments and maybe polyphony thrown in for those who can afford it. And “we” just want to cause trouble and appear holier-than-thou to our brothers and sisters. Our small little minds are stuck in 1965 – or worse yet, in the reign of Pius XII. And, of course, we secretly harbor (and give money that should go to our parish and our diocese) to that mean-old archbishop’s club that cannot get with the spirit-of-the-times.

The good PI is correct – it is much easier to submit and obey; smiling through another grand chorus of “Table of Plenty.” ;) I think we all have our tempers and vanities. For example, I really am not pleased with the Holy Father moving Paul VI ahead of someone else (and we all know who he is). After all, not having a clear miracle (or two) kept the other one from being canonized, right? Never mind – submit and obey; love it or else you are uncharitable and are not a part of a vital and dynamic faith community, etc.

George said...

I would agree with Fr McDonald and others that the situation Anonymous describes above definitely requires the intervention of the bishop and perhaps even Rome. In other cases where the Mass is not as abused or as abhorrent as this, perhaps one can be the spark that ignites a fire of change and brings about a reform in one of these parishs. How the Mass is celebrated is certainly of great importance because it comes down to showing the the respect and due reverence that we owe to God. Even at a poorly celebrated liturgy, there are those in attendance who are there with the proper disposition and a willingness to correspondent to the Holy Spirit and God appreciates that and will not deny them His grace. If the celebration of the liturgy is done poorly, without a necessary degree of reverence and piety, then it reflects a lack of respect for God. If there happen to be any non-Catholics in attendance, it would not leave them with a good impression, not to speak of those young children present who are still being formed in the Faith.
I read somewhere (it was in one of the biographies on her) that St Bernadette converted others just in the way she made the Sign of the Cross. So these externals acts and actions do matter.

Anonymous said...

"Rigidity" "Rigid"

It seems to me that these words are relatively new in the Catholic lexicon. They are almost (dare I say it? ) "postconciliar". It would be very interesting to see how often these words were used by the Church fathers and in what context if used at all.

Sort of like that other new word for an intolerable, unforgivable sin: "Judgmental"

Future generations of Catholics will laugh at us mercilessly. And from where I stand, we deserve it.

Joe Potillor said...

PI, I don't think Marc is questioning the validity of the NO, but getting to the heart that aestetics are not the base reason for going ot the TLM, which he's absolutely right on, there are objective differences between the theologies of the NO and the TLM....Remember the reformers succeeded in changing the faith (lowercased on purpose) by the change in the missal.

Templar is absolutely right the priests who ignored Benedict XVI are absolutely in love with Francis.

John said...

The problem I see in attending NO liturgies where abuse in many forms is always present is that the participants in time will be desensitized to the abuses and their faith will be deformed without they even realizing it.

The way you pray is the way you will believe is not an empty cliche.

JBS said...

Joe Potillor, like Henry, tends to put things in clear perspective without deliberately insulting anyone. I think it's the highly logical nature of their minds and professions that helps them do so.

JBS said...

I've just finished a Low Mass, served by an ICKSP seminarian. Now, I'm on my way to an OF Mass. I admit to being more focused on God in the EF Mass, but I also recognize that most Western Catholics prefer to encounter God in the OF. It is regular celebration of the EF that informs my attitude at OF Masses, so that my practical experience of the two forms is truly that of one, single Roman rite of Mass.

Henry said...

Fr. JBS: "It is regular celebration of the EF that informs my attitude at OF Masses, so that my practical experience of the two forms is truly that of one, single Roman rite of Mass."

This is one of the most illuminating and perspicacious single sentences I recall reading here at southern orders. Among the priests I know who celebrate both forms, each observes the OF norms as carefully as he obeys the EF rubrics. But it is plainly visible in his manner of celebration of the OF that the EF has informed him better what it means for a priest to offer propitiatory sacrifice.

This surely must have been a primary intent--and what he meant by "reconciliation at the heart of the Church"--of Pope Benedict in promulgating Summorum Pontificum. In a sense, the proliferation of faithful young priests celebrating both forms is benefiting the OF at least as much as the EF.

Anon friend said...

Fr. JBS,
I absolutely agree with your assessment of Joe's postings; do you find it interesting that he is an Eastern Catholic nowadays (perhaps always, I don't know). No liturgy wars going on over there!

Templar said...

Precisely Henry, and JBS! B16 wanted the Clergy to experience the TLM so it would influence the way they said the NO, but the legions of Clergy refused to even try. Bishops and Pastors alike, in untold numbers stall, obfuscate, and flat out lie about why they can't say the EF. They Fear it as a Demon fears the Cross. Yet almost without fail, a Priest who says the EF admits it has a positive influence on him, and his parish.

By their fruit you will recognize them.

George said...


Marc:
"St. Athanasius was when he stood against the whole Arian world and said, "They have the buildings, we have the Faith"? Haven't you heard of that prideful man St. Thomas More who dared to keep the Faith rather than become a Protestant even though all the bishops save one abandoned the Faith?"

In each of the cases above, the axis of cohesian, the "center that held" was Rome. People within in the Church can succumb to or promote heresy, groups can end up in schism, but either one believes Christ's promise that the "gates of hell" will not prevail against her or one doesn't. No one has ever given me a valid reason not to attend the NO at St Joseph's. I attend both the EF and OF. I do try to understand those who have reservations about the NO though. Certainly in the case of the Mass that Anonymous describes above one can understand how that situation can outrage anyone who embraces the True Faith.

There have been many times and places where the Church has been persecuted and many had to suffer much-even death. These are difficult times both inside and outside the Church. It is up to us as faithful Catholics to persevere and endure, to pray and sacrifice, to live the Faith we profess.

(2 Timothy 4:7-8):
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

George said...

JBS:
"Joe Potillor, like Henry, tends to put things in clear perspective without deliberately insulting anyone"

JBS,One can characterize your responses in the same way.

As far as for myself, if I have not been clear in what I post, I apologize. Some are better at clarity than others. As far as deliberately insulting anyone, I definitely did not intend to do that.

George said...


Has anyone thought about how Christ could be fully and completely in each consecrated Host? It does not matter how many there are, if there are 10 Hosts or 10,000 Hosts or more, or if you take a single Host and break it into a thousand pieces,Christ’s Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity is fully and completely in each and every one. Some might wonder how can this be. I would ask how can it be that millions of people in different places watch the same television show fully and completely. If you open a web page on the Intranet, do you and many others who are opening the same web page not see it fully and completely? Whether it is ten or ten thousand or more viewing that same page? In times long ago, people would have considered these things beyond belief and a miracle. Yet for us today it is accepted as something quite ordinary. God possesses the Power to do the things He does and it is a power beyond our comprehension. Yet He Who is Power itself, defers His Power to the free will of His creatures.

Marc said...

George, I appreciate your response, but I might disagree with your history to some extent. Popes can fall into heresy just like anyone else. Their doing so doesn't mean that the gates of hell have prevailed over the Church. As you rightly say, it is up to the faithful to keep the faith even if the pope and every bishop abandons it.

The difference with the current crisis is its very nature. It is unlike the other heresies because the current heresy attacks language itself (Modernism is a "meta-linguistic" heresy as someone else has noted).

In that light, I think we each have to deal with the crisis in the most prudent way, which will probably be slightly different for different people. What you say is right in a general sense though: "It is up to us as faithful Catholics to persevere and endure, to pray and sacrifice, to live the Faith we profess."

Anonymous 2 said...

Thank you for that analogy, George. Although I need to ponder it some more, it is very helpful and illuminating. I would be interested to know what our priests on the Blog think about it.

Gene said...

You working on a homily, George?

Joe Potillor said...

Fr JBS, thank you for your kind comments.

Anon friend, although I'm canonically still Roman (probably not for much longer), I have been assisting at the Byzantine Catholic (Ruthenian) Liturgies for the past 2 years plus, doing so has definitely helped me to "see the bigger picture"...One thing I have not had to do is fight over the Liturgy which has left me free to adore, love and serve God. The liturgy wars are very taxing and downright damaging to the soul, in particular they were damaging me to near the point of despair. And the thoughts of a priestly vocation have come up in my head again...we'll see where they lead...if everyone could please pray for me that'd be awesome.

Now back to the topic at hand

The EF and OF are lawfully equal, Objectively equal (Jesus is there Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity), yet objectively distinct (different theologies, different prayers). The same mystery is being conveyed with different emphasis each have their advantages, each has their disadvantages. It becomes a form of idolatry when we place ourselves above what is received, when aesthetics become the substance reason for going to the EF, most certainly we need to guard ourselves from these sometimes all too real human tendencies....As it's often said, we can't base things upon emotions...It works both ways, priests can't veil the mysteries by doing abuses to the Mass, and the laity can't get caught in "trappings" and just view things in terms of the externals, but truly they should be praying, breathing and living the Liturgy as given to us. Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, everywhere present and filling all things, Treasury of blessings, and Giver of Life, come and dwell within us, cleanse us of all stain, and save our souls O Gracious One.

George said...

Joe Potillor:

That Prayer to the Holy Spirit you quoted at the end of your post, is that ever recited as part of the Byzantine liturgy?

Marc:
Dr Warren H. Carroll has written a multi-volume history of Christendom, "The Building Of Christendom" Here is what he said in a in piece he wrote which is on the EWTN web site:
"I deny that any Pope was ever a heretic, have researched each case where that is claimed, and will be glad to answer and refute any claim that any Pope ever committed himself or called upon the faithful to hold any heretical belief."

Gene:
Homily? No. Isn't there some kind of requirement that one must study homelitics first? If that is the case, then no. I'm afraid also that any I do would suffer in the delivery. At any rate I couldn't do it without the express permission of the bishop who I would say would not be making a wise decision to give it.

Anon friend said...

Yes, Joe I will surely pray for you!! Thanks for sharing that info.
I, too, became so affected by the "Roman" liturgy wars (and a parish war of a different matter that involved three new priestly assignments in five years) that I began attending a local Byzantine Catholic rite. There is no TLM available within 100 miles of my home. What blessed peace -- a liturgy totally focused on worship of God, ad orientam of course. I was desperate and knew my eternal soul was at risk. I didn't and don't think I had any other choice. God made it for me. I, like you, am non-canonical at this point.
I have so appreciated your comments here and know that you are a true seeker on a path to personal holiness. I feel the same is true of Henry and George. May God bless His beloved sons.

Anon friend said...

BTW, George, that prayer George quoted begins the Trisagion prayers that are recited at Orthros, Vespers, and other times as well. Not technically part of the Divine Liturgy, but recited daily.

Joe Potillor said...

George, the hymn I quoted at the end is the Hymn for Pentecost in the Byzantine Liturgy, it is sung often at the Beginning of the Liturgy and usually before the Homily

George said...

Joe Pollitor:
Thanks for the info. I'm not that familiar with the Byzantine rite. There is a church up in the Atlanta area( Roswell,Ga.
My other question: Are all Byzantine churches in communion with Rome?
As far as your "thoughts of a priestly vocation". You are still relatively young so I say, go for it.You have the aptitude for the studies and it seems the proper attitude and also from your posts, an inclination in that direction.

Joe Potillor said...

George, any Byzantine Catholic Church is in communion with Rome...the Byzantine Orthodox are not though.

Anon friend said...

"I used to care, but things have changed.."
Look it up.
I'm done. John Nolan got it right.
May God have mercy on us all..