I attended a workshop recently led by a Benedictine priest, a great writer and speaker. His message was good, and there was much to take away. Just one thing bothered me: He complained loudly about the Church.

Let me put it in context. He’s a priest. That is, he is ordained, consecrated to the service of Holy Mother Church and dedicated to the people of God. But rather than helping to build the Body of Christ, he tears it down by criticizing and belittling and griping about something so small as a pronoun. You see, he doesn’t like the idea of a “new translation” [sigh]. “Here’s an example,” he says, “of what we have to look forward to. Instead of saying ‘We believe’ in the Creed, as we do now, we’ll have to say ‘I believe.’

“That’s it?” I wondered. “That’s the issue that’s so important that you need to cast a pall over this gathering, undercut your own message, show us that Pride is victorious over Obedience?”

Actually, being as old as the hills, I remember having to change when it went the other way—when, shortly after Mass was offered in the vernacular, it was decided that we should all in unison express our shared faith by saying “We.” It was hard to remember for a while, but more than that, it absolved us in a way from the need to take personal responsibility for our faith—to stand ALONE and aver, ‘I BELIEVE.’

But who am I to criticize? I am a Catholic, and my Church says it will be so, and so it will be. We are a family, and like my own little earthly family, we are stronger when we sing with one voice. Heaven knows, we have so many enemies from without– why can’t we all get along here on the inside? I’m not saying that we should tolerate sin; but criminy! Don’t sweat the small stuff! All the whining about the bishops and the USCCB and the translation and the kneelers/no kneelers/communion on the tongue/not on the tongue/Latin vs. English—Get over it! Whatever you prefer, this is what we’re doing now, so let’s join together in praise and thanksgiving before the God Who made us, and Who gave us this Church to aid in our sanctification.

That, dear Father, is what I was thinking about today.

  • Jim Stenberg

    I think if something bothers someone, there should be some way they can complain about it. Obviously you think so, too, since you are blogging about what bothers you!

    But why can’t the priest complain about something that bothers him, something that is important to him and touches directly on his ministry? There is a time and a place for everything, of course, but I don’t see why a workshop is an inappropriate place for expressing concerns. Or a blog!

  • Kevin Orlin Johnson

    He’s wrong, anyway, which of course is worse; it can only be through ignorance or disobedience–there is no third possibility.

  • Dennis Embo

    So far at our parish and from what I can tell in the Diocese of Raleigh, the people responsible for implementing the liturgical revisions have maintained a very positive attitude about it. I don’t think someone with this Benedictine’s attitude would be allowed to put on a liturgical workshop at any parish around here.

  • Friar Don

    In that he is “management” (so to say) as a Priest, I do not think he should be saying such things to the Lay People, it is a “management” issue for him, and he should not be going “down” with his issues, but up. That said, until about the mid 60s or there abouts, it was “I believe” before it was “We believe”. We have gone back to a more direct translation of the Latin than we have had for the last several years. We go back closer to what was said when the Creed was written..

    In Christ,
    Friar Don, OBR

  • Christian

    It is grossly inappropriate for one of the Church’s authorized agents to express disagreement with Church in a workshop. I’m a mere catechist, don’t take a vow of obedience, and even I know better than that.

  • Kevin Orlin Johnson

    Luke 16:10, kids. Clearly this priest doesn’t qualify as trustworthy in little things. But it’s the little things that clue in the Faithful about bigger things that are wrong; and it’s our duty to confront those who do wrong in little things–especially the liturgy, which is the most important and sacred act that human beings can perform. Far from “not sweating the small stuff” the faithful Catholic will investigate, learn–and then call the miscreant to correction. A priest who does not observe liturgical laws is breaking his vows; he is in public and flagrant disobedience; he is committing sacrilege and with it the sin of scandal. A priest who does not observe the liturgical laws is in full and public schism from the Catholic Church and deserves correction. Sweat the small stuff! By no means: there is no excuse for that kind of laxity. None. He who is not with us is against us; and we all have an absolute responsibility for maintaining and protecting the Church and especially Christ in the Eucharist. Remember, the clergy cannot correct itself: the gift of prophecy resides in the laity. It is our duty to exercise that corrective office. We are the Church. So, yeah, sweat the small stuff. You must.