Tuesday, August 28, 2018

MY BULLETIN LETTER FOR THIS LABOR DAY WEEKEND



Dear parishioners,

I have been praying for all of you these difficult and historic days for the Catholic Church throughout the world. It seems like  bombshell after bombshell and even nuclear explosions. 

It is a test of our Catholic Faith and I clearly understand that so many are angry and disillusioned by it all. So am I!
But by God, I’m not going to let the devil or any unfaithful Catholic, be they the pope, the cardinals and other bishops, priests or deacons, nuns or monks or the laity destroy my faith in the Most Holy Trinity or in the Church Jesus founded.  

By God’s grace, IT—AIN’T—GONNA--HAPPEN!

I pray that you feel the same way as I do. 

But with that said, how do we let go of anger and rage and the disillusionment and loss of faith that this can bring to us?
Ever since I have been ordained a priest I have seen so many Catholics, be they clergy or laity, who have lost their Catholic identity. Part of it has to do with the manner in which Vatican II’s changes were shoved down our throats in the 1960’s. Good, faithful Catholics formed in the pre-Vatican II Church were shocked by the disintegration of Catholic identity in the 1960’s and 70’s. Even Pope Paul VI lamented shortly after the changes began and went out of control that the smoke of Satan had entered the sanctuary of the Church. 

Yes, the smoke of Satan entered the Church to bring havoc and  to ruin Catholic identity, the Church’s Liturgy, primarily the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and much, much more. And as things spiraled out of control prior to Pope St. John Paul’s election as pope in 1978, the smoke of Satan entered compromised bishops, priests, nuns and monks and we are paying the price today. 

The biggest problem (apart from the meltdown we are experiencing) is that the Church after Vatican II put “man” at the center of the Church and pushed God to the periphery. The cult of the personality of the pope, bishops and priests went on steroids.  And a popular pope, bishop or priest, with a charismatic personality who had deep seated psychological problems could use his position in the Church to destroy people’s lives because no one would believe that a pope, bishop or priest could do evil as we have seen. This is called clericalism, automatic trust and respect given to the individual bishops and priests who then manipulate this trust to suit their perverted desires and get away with it. 

But the priest is only a sacramental image of Jesus the High Priest. It is the priesthood that we honor because Jesus is the High Priest but each priest must earn his own personal trust and respect and he can lose it too. No one should be treated as though they are God! Only God is God.

This is controversial, but I pray that a future Pope will mandate that we return to celebrating the Mass in a more uniform manner as it was prior to Vatican II and that the priest at the altar faces the same direction as the laity, what some wrongly call the priest having his back to the people. 

By doing this, the emphasis is taken off of the particular priest celebrating Mass, his personality, his pious looks (or lack thereof) and his hospitality and creativity. It returns the focus to God and makes God the center, not the priest or the congregation. This is radical for many Catholics my age and older and perhaps for some of our younger Catholics, but I pray that a change in direction will occur before the good Lord calls me to retirement or the afterlife with its personal judgment. 

Give me Jesus and help me to know, love and serve Him in this life in order to be happy with Him in heaven forever! Is that too much to ask????? God bless you in these historic, faith-challenging times!

Your pastor,
Fr. Allan J. McDonald

48 comments:

Joseph Johnson said...

I couldn't agree more!

TJM said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

WOW! So well said and with the deep personal passion required for this message to be heard. Thank you, Father. Praying...

Henry said...

My hat's off to you, Fr. McDonald. Ultimately, the restoration of Faith and Liturgy lies not up there somewhere in the stratosphere, but down here in the trenches with pastors like you.

MHT Dissenter said...

Bravo, Father! I sure miss your weekly letters in the MHT bulletin. They all had great spiritual truth and insight. I wish we could put this letter on the front page of the Southern Cross or on the diocesan website.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

That the NO, facing the congregation, is not celebrated well is not an indication - and certainly not "proof" - that the NO is somehow to blame.

A poor performance of Handel's Messiah is not an indication that that oratorio isn't a great work.

If a Catholic's identity is founded on which direction the priest faces, which language is used at mass, or which style of music is sung/chanted at mass, then that identity is, I would suggest, on a weak foundation.

Aside from an occasional small child who says on leaving mass, "Bye God!" no one has ever treated me as if I were God. This is a red herring argument. Certainly no adult has ever thought of me as God, even in passing.

It may be a "radical" idea, but it is, more to the point, an unnecessary idea.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

FRMJK, ad orientem phobia? Don't knock it till you try it and when they ask you why did you turn your back on us, you'll know why we should do it and you'll happily answer because it isn't about me.

TJM said...

Kavanaugh,

The Novus Ordo is a flop. If it weren't, we'd be packing them in!!! You are invested in failure, I get it.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Allan, no, I do not have any phobias - at least none that I am aware of at this point!

I don't face the congregation because "it is all about me." I have never thought that the celebration of the mass was all about me.



Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

FRMJK, try it it will be good for your congregation and for generations to come that they know the Mass isn't about you or any priest now or in the future, but about God. The priest joining the laity in the same direction is less clerical. And we all know the abuse scandal is about clericalism, so I am told.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Allan, I join the laity every time I celebrate mass. They are quite aware that the mass is not about me, or any priest now or in the future. I don't think you give the People of God enough credit.

There is no "clericalism" in facing the congregation. I have never assumed that, because I am ordained, that I am "God's gift" to the people I serve and, somehow, better than they in God's eyes or in any other way.

There are many here better able to manage finances, there are many here more committed to caring directly for the poor, there are many here who are better at raising money, better at coordinating the youth ministries, better at long-range planning, and certainly many better at fixing broken toilets, burned wiring, and leaky roofs.

A priest who suffers from clericalism thinks that, simply because he is ordained, he stands at the top of the pecking order in these and many other things.

One hopes that he learns quickly but gently that ordination does not transform him into the Bee's Knees or the Gnat's Elbow or the Monkey's Eyebrows.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

I think the abuse scandal is about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) which becomes "clericalism" in the ordained, and, as importantly, the failure of Bishops and others who knew that men with NPD were acting out to intervene as they should have done.

NPD is something that can't be effectively treated or changed via therapy. A person with NPD exhibits 1) No Empathy, 2) No Remorse, 3) A Sense of Entitlement, 4) Deceptiveness, 5) Emotional Dependence, 6) Dr.Jekyll/Mr. Hyde [they appear to be what they are not], and 7) Use of Battering [violence in a variety of forms] for Control.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I will repeat, it will be good for your parish and every parish to have the priest join the congregation in facing the same direction and this will have a beneficial effect on the Church for generations to come, that the priest isn't the presider over an assembly but joins the congregation in offering the Mass as he faces with them the same direction.It really isn't complicated and it will help to overcome clericalism that is the source of the sex abuse scandal and cover-ups.

And when a parishioner says to you that she or he didn't recognize the priest at the altar today because he or she couldn't see it face, you can respond, at the homily you did and they will say we fell asleep.

But who was that priest, we didn't recognize him from just the back of his head. and you can say, that is good that you can't tell one priest from another but stay awake during the homily.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Of course, I did attend Mass in Charleston with you recently and Archbishop Gregory was the celebrant. I could not see him at the chair or the altar, but I did see him at the ambo preaching. I heard him too.

The altar was too low and this might be a good solution too, hide the altar and let the priest face the people because they can't see him anyway.

My experience at the Mass was like listening to it on radio with the congregation with me and of course I did not have to to the altar for Holy Communion as I went to a station at the rear exit. I though I might leave as soon as I received, but then I though better, I might see Archbishop Gregory outside after Mass, since I didn't see him inside.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"But who was that priest, we didn't recognize him from just the back of his head."

As I said, you don't give the people of God much credit.

From where I was sitting in St. Patrick Church in Charleston I could see Archbishop Gregory at the chair as well as most of the other bishops in attendance at their seats.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

@3:18 PM, absolutely correct. But apart from actual pedophilia, there are cases where an immature homosexual priest actually falls in love with a teenager. The homosexual priest misreads the affection the teenager might be showing him, because, after all the teenager loves priests because they represent God and if the priest is nice to him all the better.

I suspect many of the cases of teenagers being abused are one time events, not all of course and what the AT or Penn uncovered shows exactly what you are speaking about.

All the more reason that these personalities who slip into the priesthood say Mass with their "back" to the people. It will humble them maybe. And those, like you, who don't like ad orientem can offer it up in reparation for the clericalism of those you describe.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, you were one of the many in front of me acting as an iconostasis preventing me from seeing the face of Archbishop Gregory. Perhaps I should thank you.

TJM said...

Kavanaugh,

I don't want to look at your kisser. Please face ad orientem and we will all be much happier!

The scandals are overwhelmingly about gay sex, period, not pedophilia. But the political left LOVES gays so they obfuscate

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"The homosexual priest misreads the affection the teenager..."

I don't think misreading the affections of teenagers is limited to homosexuals. A man, gay or straight, who has a significant immaturity in terms of his sexual nature is likely going to struggle with affections no matter who they come from.

I don't see celebrating mass ad orientem as much of a curative for immaturity in terms of sexuality.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Father McD: Courageous and bold letter! Thank you for sharing it, and thank you for being a true shepherd to the flock God has assigned to you. They are lucky to have you. WE are lucky to have you!

It seems the battle lines are being drawn. I hope your bishop is of a like mind as you, so that you are not censured or silenced.

What should matter most though, is what God thinks of us and what He will say to us when we leave this earthly plane and stand before Him. I pray you will hear those beautiful words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

God bless.
Bee


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

I was sitting four or five pews from the back of the church. As I was not concelebrating, I was kneeling during most of the time that Archbishop Gregory was invisible to you at the altar, so how I functioned as an iconostasis is puzzling.

Were you possibly sleeping on the pew?

Henry said...

In a half century of OF Masses, I've seen a few priests who were able to celebrate a versus populum Mass well and properly--without falling into any of the traps Fr. M has mentioned--but many more who were not able to avoid them. Versus populum brings out the weaknesses (if any) in a priest's ars celebranda, while ad orientem celebration hides them. So if the goal is to improve the celebration of Mass generally, isn't the first step pretty obvious?

Victor said...

Fr K:

"If a Catholic's identity is founded on which direction the priest faces, which language is used at mass, or which style of music is sung/chanted at mass, then that identity is, I would suggest, on a weak foundation."

But is seems to me, you have it reversed. There should be a "not also" after the first "is":
"If a Catholic's identity is not also founded on which direction the priest faces, which language is used at Mass, or which style of music is sung/chanted at mass, then that identity is, I would suggest, on a weak foundation."

Agnes said...

I attend Mass ad orientem every week and I never feel like anything is missing. However, when I do attend Mass where the priest faces the people, it can be a shock to the system, as it is very obvious that the priest is more at the center of our attention. Sometimes we just don't notice the adverse effect something can have on us until we walk away from it and then come back.

Having the priest and the people face the same direction allows for the priest to become a window instead of a mirror.

Paul McCarthy said...
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TJM said...

Agnes,

I went to an English language Mass not too long ago which was celebrated ad orientem and I was awestruck how the Mass seemed so much more sacral and God centered rather than man centered. For a minute, I was imagining I was at an EF because the Canon was recited sotto voce. HUGE improvement over the banal Liturgy we are forced to endure from time to time

Michael A said...

It would be helpful for me as a lay person to know why the Church required ad orientem for centuries. It certainly reduces the problem of showmanship, but I think if I were a priest I would argue more convincingly for the reform by clearly stating why the Church had it wrong for so long. Father Kavanaugh, are you able to offer both sides accurately and describe how you arrive at the conclusion that versus populum is the more reverential method of celebrating Mass?

Pater Ignotus Was My Pastor said...

Pater Ignotus, regarding your comment at 3:18 pm this afternoon, were you looking in the mirror when you wrote it? When you were my pastor, do you remember the white binder you put together for your successor with the listing of the problem children (faithful Catholics) of the parish. Shades of NPD, clericalism, and maybe even Nixon’s enemies list.

Regarding ad orientum celebration of the liturgy....try it you might like it, just ask Eastern-Rite Catholics or your ecumenical friends, the Orthodox.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

PIWMY -

No, I was not looking in the mirror.

I did not put together a white binder listing the "problem children" of the parish.

Your accusations are baseless.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Pater Ignotus Was My Pastor,
I don’t know who you are, of course, but thanks for this post. That time period was an Armageddon for MHT and still suffering the effects. Thankfully an incredibly benevolent parishioner recently paid off the horrendous financial debt in as benefactor in his/her will; a debt the parish could never have settled.
The residual effects of that horrible year still remain, there was zero financial transparency, and I don’t believe the Bishop involved (now retired) ever cared for the souls wounded. Nor have financial contributions to the annual Bishop’s Fund been anywhere near the level as prior to 2008. About 200 parishioners left...a few have trickled back due to their deep, longstanding love for MHT that predated the pastor involved by decades.
And nobody cared...

Seeker said...

Thank you Father. What i needed to see. Miss hearing your "call to arms" for our absent Catholic identity. We need it more than ever now. Semper Fi.

Anonymous said...

BTW, I DO agree with FRMJK about something he posted above:

“I think the abuse scandal is about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) which becomes "clericalism" in the ordained, and, as importantly, the failure of Bishops and others who knew that men with NPD were acting out to intervene as they should have done.

NPD is something that can't be effectively treated or changed via therapy. A person with NPD exhibits 1) No Empathy, 2) No Remorse, 3) A Sense of Entitlement, 4) Deceptiveness, 5) Emotional Dependence, 6) Dr.Jekyll/Mr. Hyde [they appear to be what they are not], and 7) Use of Battering [violence in a variety of forms] for Control.”

Perhaps Father has had personal experience with this, as he seems to understand it well?
Anon 8:25

Vernon Knight said...

Very well said!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - A number of people have personal experience with people with NPD, although it is relatively rare. If you look to the current holder of the Oval Office, you will find one of the most obvious examples to come down the pike in generations.

TJM said...

Anonymous Kavanaugh,

I see a proud member of the Abortion Party just had to take a swipe at President Trump - I think you could find a better example in Obama, the Abortion King.

Barry S. said...

Anonymous at High Noon: You can also say with a clear conscience that the holder of the Oval Office prior to the current one (a.k.a. POTUS#44) is the NPD poster child.

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Anonymous said...

How the he-doublehockeysticks did this thread become about secular politics??
Anon 8:25

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, the post isn't about politics and I have deleted them that have nothing to do with this post.

TJM said...

Kavanaugh started it under his "anonymous" nom de plume

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Father.

Anonymous said...

Censorship is a fascist tactic. CLERICALISM RUN AMOK! Talk about someone "Pulling Rank." Harumph.