Monday, July 21, 2014


Yesterday I reported that the new bishop of Rocheshter has eliminated lay preaching in his diocese which had become common there since the 1970's. This caused me to reflect on things that I have tried to suppress from the 1970's when I was in the seminary.

Don't get me wrong. I actually loved the 1970's and the seminary that I attended which was St. Mary's in Baltimore. As a 22 year old, I thought the academics there had an inside track on what would be the Church of the future. I thought they actually were clairvoyant and that was exciting for this clairvoyant.

They taught us that they were clairvoyant indirectly of course. They knew better than the bishops of the Church and the Magisterium (sounds like the ultr-conservatives today, doesn't it?) In fact the academic theologians of the 1970's thought and taught that they were a part of the Magisterium and that their loyal opposition to the bishops was the plan of God. Some would call their loyal opposition dissent, heterodoxy and heresy, but let's not split hairs.

But the lay preachers in Rocheshter, implemented in the inglorious 1970's reminds me of the direction that these aging hippies hoped the Church would take, but failed to realize that their road was but a detour that most Catholics left after Pope Saint John Paul II was elected to the papacy in 1978.

Those of us stuck in the 1970's promoted an ideology that was all part of what is called the clericalization of the laity and thw laizing of the clergy that was in full swing in the 1970's. This is how this ideology developed with an overall plan to replace the ordained priesthood with a corps of laity that would be chosen to celebrate Mass and the other sacraments without the need for ordination.

It started with lay lectors. At first this was a benign decision to allow laity to enter the sanctuary and perform a litugical function of those preparing for the clerical state. This seem logical as boys who are laity would function as "lay" acolytes, altar boys.

Then to facilitate a speedier distribution of Holy Communion (but the real motive, to truly clericalize the laity) extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion came about). But along the way to EMHC's there was the experimentation with the laity simply helping themselves to Holy Communion, both the paten and chalice on the altar without any minister the point being if priests self-communicated why not the laity, but this was short lived and the EMHC's won out in the end.

Then by the mid 1970's when I was in the seminary, the phenomenon of lay preachers was reaching its zenith. Our rector even invited laity from outside the seminary to preach at Mass. They weren't half bad and I liked the novelty at the time and wondered how it would work in the Diocese of Savannah when I would implement it after I was ordained.

Then of course gender neutral language was implemented paving the way for female ordination and same sex marriage and of course the Church as mother or bride was not allowed to be used as a methaphor as it was sexist.

But ultimately the Dutch (and to this day too, like the lay preachers in Rochester) were paving the way to a lay priesthood which would celebrate Mass and the other sacraments. All that was needed is the ability to preside well and be a good president of the assembly. They would simply be chosen ad hoc, prepared like we prepare lectors, altar servers and EMHC's and then scheduled to celebrate this or that Mass.

To pave the way for this, priests would only enter the sanctuary to do their functioin and then sit with the laity in the congregation at other times.

That's the way we hoped we would be and some my age and older still think it can be that way. Time will tell, but I don't think so.


Anonymous said...

Kibosh, not cabash.

Anonymous said...

"That's the way we hoped we would be and some my age and older still think it can be that way."

Good, that's a great way to complete the plan to empty churches completely.

And while you are at it why don't you get a job, support yourself like lay people do. Pay your own rent and your own medical bills and pay for your own meals. And actually cook them yourself. Novel idea I know.

And sadly the yearly multiple trips to Europe will have to end. You see Father, lay people can't afford to take months off at a time and vacation in Europe every year or every few months. Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. And those silly ultra traditionalists thinking the total destruction of the Faith is calculated by modernists and silly neo cons.

Anonymous said...

Time will tell??? Those not terminally stuck in the 1970s know that time has long since told--that all this was was not merely arrant nonsense, but the faith-killing work of an evil and pernicious spirit (as those with any spiritual maturity knew at the time).

Rood Screen said...

Fr. McDonald,

Thank you very much for this revealing post. I always appreciate hearing personal accounts about that era, especially from those who were "in the know", such as seminarians.

Having joined the Catholic Church as a teenager in a mostly Mexican parish in the Eighties, it took me a while to understand what was going on in the Church. I came to see things clearly only after I went to the seminary in the late Eighties. Perhaps things had improved since your time, but they were still very bad, very bad indeed.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

If any Catholic does not think that being a priest isn 't a job then that Catholic needs his head examined. The married with children pastor of First Baptist in Augusta earns, earns, almost $200,000 annually plus a housing and car allowance and his congregation gladly hires him for the job of pastor and gladly pays him his earned salary and benefits. I don 't think any in the congregation stick their nose into the management of his hard earned money and how he spends it and what vacations he takes or what lingere he purchases for his wife from Victoria's Secret because it is none of their business even if they can't live as high on the hog as their pastor. I suspect Baptist laity ateore mature in this sense !

Anonymous said...

Fr. JBS: "especially from those who were 'in the know', such as seminarians."

I have never ceased to wonder (in all seriousness) how and why so many 1970s seminarians swallowed hook line and sinker what was so manifestly a mess of pottage. Whereas many if not most of the presumably out-of-it ordinary pew Catholics of my personal acquaintance then saw this mess for what it plainly was.

Obviously you, Fr. JBS, did not fall for this stuff, but I wonder what proportion of your late 1980s fellow seminarians did?

Rood Screen said...


I think the natural inclination of those with "progressive" personalities is to accept calls to revolution, while the inclination of "conservatives" is to trust persons in authority. Sadly, the revolutionaries were the authorities then, so both sides followed them.

By my time it was becoming clearer that the decrees of the 2nd VC were being misrepresented and were otherwise not being applied faithfully.

Rood Screen said...


I should also note that the seminary takes control of your whole life, so that the seminarian studies, prays, eats, socializes and sleeps all within the formational controls of those in authority. Eight-plus years of this wears down any resistance, and certainly prohibits any overt resistance.

Rood Screen said...

"Cook them yourself", "take months off at a time", "get a job": what priest doesn't cook for himself or work 60 hours a week, and what priest takes months off?

rcg said...

Anon, reading is harder than it looks, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

What amazes me is that (probably almost) everyone in the clergy and religious life "knew" this was the plan, and here are the poor dumb cluck laity in the pews (meaning me) looking and hoping for an authentic experience of the sacred (like I commonly had as a kid) to counteract the tsunami of sin found in the society all around, only to find "Father" and "Sister" are working for the enemy.
It explains a lot, especially the patronizing looks from everyone from the pastor to Directors of Religious Education, who smugly smiled or turned their heads and rolled their eyes when any desire for an authentic spirituality was expressed.
It also explains why good people with solid pre-Vatican II formation were inexplicably chased out of leadership (CCD, Holy Name Society, Knights of Columbus) in the parish.
There must be a God, because there's no other explanation for some of us surviving such a time of destruction and desecration.

George said...

St Lawrence of Brindisi( Feast day today July 21)

Languages he had complete reading and speaking ability in:
Italian, Latin, Hebrew, Greek, German, Bohemian, Spanish and French.
He completed his studies of philosophy and theology at the University of Padua.
At the request of Pope Clement VIII, he spent much time preaching to the Jews in Italy. So excellent was his knowledge of Hebrew, the rabbis felt sure he was a Jew who had become a Christian.
In 1956 the Capuchins completed a 15-volume edition of his writings. Eleven of these 15 contain his sermons, each of which relies chiefly on scriptural quotations to illustrate his teaching.
He had the combination of brilliance, human compassion and administrative skill.

qwikness said...

It seems like the Church was trying to give all the priest's responsibility away. Why would anyone want to be a one?

Jen said...

Read this excellent synopsis of progressivism: