Monday, January 18, 2016

GRASSROOTS ECUMENISM ALIVE AND WELL IN MACON, GEORGIA: THIS ISN'T YOUR ACADEMIC TEA AND CRUMPETS KIND OF ECUMENISM DISCUSSED FROM IVORY TOWERS AND FOR THE BENEFIT OF THOSE DISCUSSING IT!

MY COMMENTS BELOW THE MACON TELEGRAPH'S FRONT PAGE STORY IN MONDAY MORNING'S NEWSPAPER:

January 17, 2016 7:54 PM

Church flowers on display cast out winter doldrums at annual festival


Read more here: http://www.macon.com/news/local/article55200635.html#storylink=cpy
Photos by BEAU CABELL of the Macon Telegraph:


 

Read more here: http://www.macon.com/news/local/article55200635.html#storylink=cpy

MY ASTUTE COMMENTS:

Five years ago, two of my parishioners who are responsible for the flowers and decorations of our church each week, Elaine Schmitt and Steve Gonzer, approached me with an idea. They wanted to do an annual flower show and invite the Protestant churches in town to contribute to the decoration of the church and invite the entire city to come and see the beautiful floral arrangements.

I was skeptical. I declared to them: "you're telling me that the other denominations are going to come here and donate talent, work and money for flowers that will decorate our Catholic Church? Go ahead and try, but I don't know if you can pull it off!"

The next thing I know, my parishioners invited flower representatives from about 15 other churches to a meeting in our social hall to discuss the project. I was invited to welcome them and open with a prayer. I was stunned at the excitement and enthusiasm of this group.  And the rest is history.

At the first "Old City Flower Festival" at St. Joseph Church that lasted several days, several thousand people came through to see the floral arrangements. I was stunned. The media covered the story.

For the next three years, the Old City Flower Festival traveled to other churches and successfully so. For the 5th Anniversary it returned to St. Joseph Church beginning on Saturday.

Yesterday, Sunday, the Macon Chapter of the American Guild of Organists had an ecumenical Hymn Sing at 3 PM in our Church. It was a great success and I hope we can make this an annual event too.

The Flower Festival is timed to coincide with the International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which actually begins today and lasts through January 25, the Solemnity of St. Paul the Apostle.

What I like so much about our Macon ecumenical event is that is truly a grassroots event and laity driven! It is the most successful ecumenical event that I have ever witnessed and miles apart from the silly tea and crumpet events of the academics who travel every year to exotic locations to discuss and share their silly academic qualifications and musings.


26 comments:

Anonymous said...

People roaming around the sanctuary to look at pretty flowers isn't something to be proud of. Did you at least remove the Blessed Sacrament first?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Are you a heretic for the sake of piety. Your logic would remove the Glorified Risen Lord from the two on the Road to Emaeous and condemned them for not acknowledging Him! You are silly!

Anonymous said...

How in god's name does having a problem with people roaming around the sanctuary make me a heretic. You really really are not very bright. You talk about the lack of charity in everybody else you are a disgrace. What the hell kind of priest are you. When someone disagrees with you you feel threatened and attack. What priest does that. Something is wrong with you. Have you read the Gospels?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Bla bla! Answer my question about the Glorified and Risen Lord with two people who did not recognize Him as such! Should He have been removed from that place???

Anonymous said...

I take it from your response the answer is No, you didn't remover the Blessed Sacrament. Did it even enter you mind to do so?

And a little bird tells me that all those flowers weren't primarily for the glory of God but for the personal gratification of someone else.

And would Pope Francis approve of spending all that money on flowers. Have you gone out and visited the sick recently? How about feeding the poor and clothing the naked? I don't mean being head of a committee that sends lay people out to do those things. But do you do those things with as much gusto as your decorating skills illustrate.

And again when you can't answer questions what is your response....blah blah blah. Amazing. And everyone wonders why the Church is in total collapse. Your not exactly Bishop Sheen.

gob said...

When I started reading this, I thought that some of the "Super Catholics" might not approve.

Congratulations Fr. McD. Keep up the good work. Christ welcomed everybody....

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

So you are a heretic, The Glorified and Risen Lord should have been removed from the two who did not recognize Him! No I intentionally left the Risen Lord's Glorified Body disguised because He looks like Bread and hidden behind a Goldeb door, from which he sends committees two by two ti proclaim the kingdom , feed and cloth the poor, and visit the sick, not to mention bury the dead! You really have a problem with our Risen Lord in the midst of those who don't recognize Him!

Ryan Ellis said...

I'm a pretty hardcore guy, but I think it's silly that some people's first reaction to this positive story is to wonder if the Blessed Sacrament had been removed. While it's worth thinking about doing, it should not be the first thing that comes to mind. Here's another perspective: if the Blessed Sacrament remains reposed in the tabernacle, and the Prots see Catholics genuflecting every time they cross in front the sanctuary, it's a witness to the Real Presence for them. Did you ever think of that, you dark cloud Pharisees?

Gene said...

Wow, this is a tough one. I, too, prefer that the Sanctuary be sacred and off limits to just anyone...not because I think that Christ's presence should be removed from those who do not know Him, rather because they should become aware of the awe and reverence with which we believers approach the Creator and of the Holiness of Christ's Sacrifice. On the other hand, this effort at "ecumenicism" is the kind I like...allowing other denominations to enter and share the Catholic Church passively so that they may begin to feel at home there. We should, though, instill a sense of awe and "fear and trembling" before God. I was really disappointed the first time I visited St. Patrick's in NY...the public was all over the place yacking, snapping pics, touching stuff, leaving coffee cups and wrappers around, even smoking. There was no sense of reverence at all...just another tourist attraction.

RE: Fr. McDonald...he has visited me when I had surgery and spent much time talking with me and pastoring me. There may be pastors as good as he, but I doubt many that are better. I know of many others whom he has visited and spent much time with. I sometimes wish he was what I call a "meaner" Christian, and he and I do not always agree, but do not doubt his belief, his devotion, or his compassion. I forgive his ambivalence about liturgy and his mix and match efforts at reform because I understand the tough spot he is in. All devout Catholics are in a tough spot right now.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

There's no reason to remove the Blessed Sacrament for such an event. Would the Lord have to be removed if the Terminix guy, an atheist, is spraying in the church, or if the window sash repair men, all Baptists, are working in the church?

I am saddened, Good Father, by your denigration of the ecumenical work done by your former Bishop, The Most Rev'd Raymond Lessard. If anyone was among the people you refer to as "silly" academics who travelled to exotic locations to do the demanding theological work of ecumenism that you are not part of. His body has been in the ground less than a week...

That you can "report" on what happens at academic ecumenical gatherings without ever have attended one is pretty much a bombshell. Get hoisted with your own petard much?

Anonymous said...

Father, have you considered that, instead of being in a position where you have to call people names when they point out your obvious errors, you might just stop blogging and parading your errors in front of the world? Or maybe just turning off the comments?

Anonymous said...

My goodness Father. Are you having a problem today. You might want to stop blogging for awhile and reflect a little bit. Shouldn't this be an part of your ministry. Your responses are unbecoming of a priest. If you were on TV in a collar speaking what you write on this blog it would be horrifying. By the way, someone caring about respect for the MBS is a legitimate concern.

Anonymous said...

Wrong! People should not be WONDERING around the sanctuary Father, you are wrong, just like you still have "altar girls" running around instead of BOYS only!!! Have a spine and tell your congregation you will only have BOYS not girls, this has ALWAYS been the way to foster vocations to the Holy Priesthood. But I know you are afraid of people leaving your church should you decided to mandate BOYS only serving at the altar!!!! Stop pretending to be Traditional if you were you would 86 the girls and the Novus Ordo disaster.

Anonymous said...

Father,

Since you are discussing the interior of your church, you might be interested to know that a well-read Catholic website in California has posted a photo of the interior of St. Joseph's with an article on the liturgy. You can find it here:

http://cal-catholic.com/?p=22105

I would have just emailed this to you, but you post no email on your site.

Anon Friend said...

So, Anonymous, your belief is that Jesus would not want to welcome the stranger in His midst personally or be present in a group who might not "know" Him? I don't think you've paid attention to Scripture at all.
When I was 15 years old and a member of the Methodist Children's Choir, a good friend invited me to see the local RC church because we had a sleepover with other friends that night after the football game, but she had to stop by her church with her Mom to deliver flowers for the altar guild. I will never forget what happened. I didn't have a clue how to behave but was curious to see inside; there were cleaning ladies doing all kinds of noisy things, vacuuming and such, but I noticed that there were a few people coming in who genuflected (didn't know that word then of course), crossed themselves and stared at that locked box on the altar while silently moving their lips. I knew something special was "up there". I was drawn despite all the secular goings-on, and started asking questions. The rest of the story...within a year I was receiving instruction. Did Jesus call my name from that locked box and welcome me to His Church in the midst of secular stuff? I absolutely believe He did, and will be forever grateful.
Anonymous, you are not in charge of His arm reaching out-- God is.

Anonymous said...

"So, Anonymous, your belief is that Jesus would not want to welcome the stranger in His midst ....."

They aren't there "for" Jesus. They are there for flowers, ignoring the Blessed Sacrament while they are doing it. You are trying to rationalize disrespect for the Eucharist. If you really believe in the Real Presence, that it is God Himself present....you don't ignore him while praising flower arrangements.

Gene said...

hey, Kavanaugh, I can report what happens at academic ecumenical gatherings...and it has nothing to do with true ecumenicism, theology, or the Gospel.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Hey, Gene. Those are very different from the ecumenical gatherings I attend. You got a bum steer.

Michael (Quicumque Vult) said...

Father McDonald, if I may contribute my opinion to this...

For the reasons you cite, I don't see a problem with the Blessed Sacrament remaining in the sanctuary. The Lord gives His presence to everyone, "making the sun to shine on the just and the unjust alike." I'm sure He's just fine remaining there.

However, I would ask this question for consideration: what is the nature of the sanctuary (that is, the area past the altar rail)? It is the area specially reserved for the offering of the Mass. It is - with certain exceptions - the exclusive domain of priests and the ministers of the Mass. Allowing just any layperson into the sanctuary space must involve good reason, but allowing non-Catholics *right into the most sacred, set apart, and distinguished* section of the church interior should give us pause - in my humble opinion. They're not their to advocate for some good cause, they're there to look at flowers. And I would say that could be done outside the altar rail.

That said, I wouldn't presume to make my opinion in this area too dogmatic. You're a priest, and you know better than I do about these things.

Dialogue said...

My gut feeling is that this ought not to have occurred. However, I can see the ecumenical advantages, which are commendable. As for removing the Blessed Sacrament, perhaps that would have been a good idea, but surely our Father and the Holy Ghost, too, are present in a consecrated church. Should they all be removed for particular events? At the same time, it must be admitted that we all have the Holy Ghost living within us after Confirmation, so would we need to remove ourselves from a flower show? I just don't know, but Father McDonald is in charge there, and so we should trust his judgement.

Anonymous said...

"You're a priest so you know better than I do". "Father is in charge so we have to trust his judgement". Really? Do we dial "M" for 0'Malley also? You are living in a dream world. Just because a man is able to navigate a seminary and get ordained does not mean he is holy or smarter than a lay person. It means he can administer certain sacraments and confect the Eicharist. That's a great thing but it does not mean blind obedience. Have you forgotten the phedophilla scandal? Do you not realize that every, EVERY, heresy in the Church was because of a priest. Trust me there is a difference between enhancing the sanctuary for the glory of God with tasteful flowers and just buying large amounts of flowers and dumping them in great big large piles with gold lame swags hanging off altars.

gob said...

Most of this discussion sounds as if it is among a group of third graders. No...second graders...

Jan said...

Like Gene says, it is a tough one because while, normally, yes the sanctuary should be restricted to priests only, in this instance looking at the photos, some being up close to the Blessed Sacrament and to the picture of Divine Mercy, could have an influence on some. I am sure that the majority did not come to see the flowers alone - no doubt some had a desire to see inside a Catholic Church and miracles do happen. Just read the on the spot conversion of the atheist writer, Andre Frossard (son of Louis-Oscar Frossardan, one of the founders of the French Communist Party). He had been waiting for his friend who was in confession. He stepped inside the church to look at the architecture only to meet God face-to-face and received an instant conversion to the Catholic Faith, where he says he was given the truths of the Faith in an instant, which he recounted in God Exists. I Have Met Him, written in 1969 and copies can be found online.

Yes, I don't think there should be altar girls but, because altar girls have been approved by the Church, this puts Fr McDonald in a difficult position. The majority in the Church have not been catechised for 50 years and so change has to be brought about incrementally. Like Gene, I don't agree with everything that Fr McDonald says but it has to be recognised that Fr McDonald is doing a lot - much more than most priests - to bring about a sense of the sacred in what he is doing and that is praiseworthy indeed.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

There are now two forms of the one Latin Rite as Pope Benedict stated and each of them has its general instruction and rubrics.

The OF allows for lay lectors of either gender. It allows for extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion of either gender and it allows for altar servers of either gender.

This is not the case with the EF Mass.

Thus, I do what I do in obedience to what is allowed and try not to impose my idiosyncrasies on either form of the one Latin Rite as though I know better.

Perhaps most commenting here have never traveled to Europe or other places where tourists or visitors frequent cathedrals and churches. Saint Peter's is a prime example of people all over the place and ignoring the Blessed Sacrament because they do not know any better, or they intend no disrespect. I saw someone in the 1980's smoking near the papal altar as he toured. He was an ignoramus, but I doubt he intended to show contempt or disrespect given the nature of smoking in Europe at the time.

The people coming to St.Joseph for the most part for the flower festival are devout Protestants who are bring their Protestant sensibilities or insensibility to our church building. They intended no disrespect and in fact were quite reverent in their own way.

Dialogue said...

Anonymous,

Every heresy was combated by priests. Priests are ministers not only of the sacraments, but also of the word. No one here has suggested blind obedience to priests, but as long as heresy and immorality are not issues, it's best to follow the lead of one's duly-appointed parish priest.

John Nolan said...

Westminster Cathedral has put on spectacular flower festivals, accompanied by musical items. Past visitors have included HM the Queen and Diana, Princess of Wales. Nottingham Cathedral (near where I used to live) has done the same. Since these are cathedrals the Blessed Sacrament has its own chapel. Where it is reserved on or near the high altar it would seem prudent to repose it at a side chapel/altar, not least so that these who want to pray quietly may do so.

Father McDonald, you need to bone up on modern 'gender theory'. To refer to 'either gender' is offensive to 'trans' people, who may appear to be female but whose possession of a Y chromosome makes them inescapably male; similarly there is the guy with impressive whiskers and a deep voice but who has ovaries, a uterus and two X chromosomes. Would the first be qualified to serve at the EF? Undoubtedly if s/he were pre-op; in the case of a post-op transgendered person it would be more problematic since a eunuch cannot be ordained and so presumably cannot substitute for a cleric. The second, despite outward appearances, would not be allowed in the sanctuary during an EF Mass.

In the OF lay readers may be of either sex; lectors are instituted ministers and must be male. EMHC may be of either sex but their use at Mass is only permitted in exceptional circumstances and their role in taking Communion to the sick is compromised since they cannot confer the sacrament of Penance. To exclude females from service at the altar is not a personal idiosyncrasy; it is to be in tune with the mind of the Church on this matter (read the actual text which gave the permission, and note the absence of altar girls in St Peter's). In more traditional parishes which offer both forms, it's usually boys and men only, so the girls are not given what amounts to second-class status. Also, cassock and cotta are clerical choir dress and not in the least appropriate for women. And teenage girls can't sit still for five minutes without fiddling with their hair!

I've met women vicars who are admirable people, but as soon as they start dressing up as priests (and now bishops), complete with jewellery and make-up, they look ridiculous.