Church Shopping

The last post condemning church shopping seems to have put the cat among the pigeons. Let me clarify my comments. By comparing traddy church shopping and trendy church shopping I am not suggesting that traddy worship is just as entertainment oriented as trendy worship. If I had to say that one was ‘better’ than the other, then obviously traddy worship comes out on top.

I am not comparing the two types of worship. I’m commenting on the “I know best” attitude of the church shopper. What I’m criticizing is the self righteous know it all attitude that so often prevails, and this attitude is prevelent on both sides. I hear people tell me how they have left a traditional parish in order to attend the local AmChurch parish because it has a good youth work and “We really don’t like all that gloomy music Father has brought in.” So much for the misconception amongst the traddies that “If the faithful only get a taste of real reverence and beauty in worship they will all flock to the traditional styles of church.” No they won’t. 85% of American Catholics actually want banal hymns, carpeted churches, guitars, hip hop sermons and feel good liturgies. Likewise, we all know of folks who emigrate to a particular parish for the traddy worship that makes them feel good.

What I’m criticizing is not traddy worship, but the mentality that we seem to have sucked up from the culture that the reason for this type of worship or that type of worship is that it is what will draw the crowds, and the accompanying action in our tootling off to whatever parish we want to go to because we like that liturgy better or that priest better.

I say this as one who likes trad worship. I think it is the best. I think it is the most honoring and I have good reasons for the argument, however, I have learned more through sticking with a parish with a sloppy liturgy and awful music. I have learned through the difficulty some lessons in stability, some lessons in ecclesial obedience, some lessons in perseverence, some lessons in where to find the lessons.

What I’m trying to say is that maybe, just maybe God is wanting to do something far greater and more profound in your life than just allowing you to choose what you think is best for yourself spiritually. In fact I’d say that that is the one area of my life where I most certainly do not know what is best for me spiritually. Therefore, to submit oneself to one’s parish, one’s priest, one’s diocese, one’s church…geesh, there’s so much there to be learned and gained and so much spiritual advancement to be made that you lose when you march off in a huff to a parish you think you like better.

That being said. Sometimes you just got to go, but when you do you’d better agonize and pray over the decision, and when you find that new parish. You’d better stay put and learn stability. I know it will sound like heresy to some folks, but there is more to the spiritual life than fine liturgy. It’s called humility. Humility is very very hard.

Humility is endless.

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p00d83451ced869e2 Ryan Ellis

    you seem to be assuming a basic level of orthodoxy at every Catholic parish, making church-hopping merely a matter of good to better for the hopper.this is criminally-naive on your part. there are many, many heterodox Catholic parishes. I live in one. That's why I take my children to an orthodox Catholic parish.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12218771096085701665 Tito Edwards

    Thank you Father for the clarification.Please, again, accept my apology for my terse comment in your prior posting.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01562944653624224107 Adrienne

    My husband and I left our parish for another church in our tri-church parish because it was becoming a danger to our spiritual life. We didn't make our decision lightly or out of some misplaced desire to be "entertained" somewhere else.We attend a NO Mass down the road and occasionally attend the FSSP parish. You saw a lot less of this sort of thing before Vat II because all the Catholic Churches were pretty much the same. Not anymore…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06026250467888418526 Father Maurer

    This touches on a subject that I also often think about – with a new light now that I am on the other side of the altar.I mention this first because I want to make it clear how much I empathize and sympathize with people who just want the sacraments, and done well.But it is a also constant frustration to see how many people go 'shopping' for a parish that fits their particular preferences. Very often, they can be the worst kind of parishioner – they show up sporadically, don't support any of the parishes they attend and are many times are overtly critical of both the parishes they choose to attend and the ones they are avoiding.This is not true of every person, group or family that goes church shopping, but its far more common than the orthodox Catholic who indulges in the practice cares to think about – or perhaps admit.I know because I've been there. And I am sympathetic.But at the end of the day, what is the basic level of orthodoxy that is needed for a person to stay at a parish as a parishioner? None.Truly. The parish you're a member of doesn't need to be orthodox for us to remain a member of it.But lets be real: go to the nearest parish that celebrates liturgies validly if your parish doesn't. That is, if Mass isn't valid, not if the music, the homily, the liceity (or lack thereof) or whatever else is bothersome is present. If it isn't valid.And on Monday get on the horn to your pastor of your parish. Make an appointment and start (politely) working for change. If that doesn't work, (politely) go for the chancery. Then the bishop, then the CDF.It is a distinctly Protestant idea to separate from one's community each time one doesn't like something about it. The purpose of the parish isn't only to be edifying – it is also to help us grow as a member of the Body of Christ. And to help those around us grow.Which eventually has to include the parishes that we don't like – the choirs that sing banal music, the altar servers who barely reverence the Sacrifice of the Mass, the priest who preaches from his own frustrations and misconceptions.It isn't just the pastor's job to make those work – its the parishioners too. And who better than those parishioners who truly know what the Church teaches. Sounds like the perfect parishioner for a parish in need of reform. I would love to have those parishioners stick around.Respectfully,Fr. Maurer

  • http://arturovasquez.wordpress.com/ arturovasquez

    Father, it may surprise you, but I defend you on this one. And I speak as one who is a "church shopper", but I only go about ten minutes out of the way to go to the traditional Mass. I think of my grandmother who used to walk two miles to church on a Sunday, even the family worked in the fields all week. What must have those walks been like? And Mass was probably still in Latin, and a Low Mass, so she didn't understand any of it. You talk about humility, and when you wrote that, I thought of her. She most definitely did not church-shop.Nevertheless, I don't think you drew out well enough the implications of "trad" and "conservative" church shopping. The implication is that the churches that these people take over become "more like them". That is, they acquire a special uniform, a special way of speaking, the same mandatory reading lists, and the same ways of looking at the world outside of their own little church. In other words, they become an enclave: an enclave where it is easy to look at other Catholics as "those people". And traditional and conservative priests, even in spite of their best intentions, often fall into the trap of literally preaching to the choir. "Our issues" become all important. "Our liturgy" is the best. I've been in the SSPX, and of course they were the worst, but a close second was an all-Latin Mass using the Pauline missal that just felt like a cult. It was church shopping par excellence.A large chunk of the Church in this country is immigrant and Latino. I wonder how many of the right-of-center church shoppers would rub shoulders with people like my family: a large chunk of their brothers and sisters. I don't know. To their credit, I know a lot of good priests, including my current pastor, who are not enclosed in an enclave, and most of the people I go to church with aren't the typical "trads" (7 in the morning on a Sunday keeps even those people away.) But I know the danger is always there.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16642995184098509461 Palmetto Papist

    We choose a parish for the sake of our children. I can't imagine it to be a good idea to expose them to irreverence, irrelevance, and disobedience as normative experiences of Catholic life. I use as my guide not my own preferences, of which I am diligently suspicious, but those of the Church.My motto is, "If I like it, it can't possibly be good for me."

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06026250467888418526 Father Maurer

    Palmetto,I like your motto! Its a good reminder that not everything pleasant is pleasing to God.A lot of parents have the same reason for moving from parish to parish. Though they don't encompass the whole issue, a few questions come immediately to mind:How much can anyone (even the pastor) control the experiences of life – Catholic or otherwise?What is taught to children, parents and those around us when picking a parish based on those experiences is the normative experience?And more on target with what I think Fr. Longenecker's original point: wouldn't it be most beneficial in human and spiritual formation to teach (and learn) how to respond to these experiences, rather than trying to control or avoid them?This is the fatal flaw of changing parishes: we lose our ability and willingness to not only 'stick it out', but to grow and help others grow. We need good experiences, but the bad ones can be turned into great goods too.Respectfully,Fr. Maurer

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03954832843414652616 Steve

    I really don't think the distinctions being drawn here made things any better. The idea that we should simply suffer through the excruciating banalities of the average Sunday liturgy as some sort of, "eat it anyway, if it tastes bad it's good for you" spirituality strikes me as nonsense – not to put too fine a point on it. There are pockets of orthodoxy in the mainstream, Novus Ordo Catholic Church, but they are just that: pockets…that are not, in my experience (and I've lived a lot of places) at all normative.I often go to confession at the local parish. It's very close to my house, and the priest gives valid absolution, though very little counsel. (Sometimes, I prefer that.) But inside, the place reminds me of a giant space ship. The tabernacle is in a side chapel, encased in glass (my wife refers to it as "the aquarium" or "the zoo" because you feel like you're on exhibit when you're in there) and even there, in that small space, the tabernacle is off to the side. The altar in the main church is made of some sort of rough looking driftwood, and as is so often the case, the priest's chair is front and center behind the altar. I don't want to go to Mass in a place like this. I don't want to go to Mass where people come in shorts and tank tops, treating it like (as Dr. Regis Martin used to say) "a bubble-gum chewing religion of suburban good cheer." I've spent too much of my life in these kinds of places, and I almost lost my faith there. I do a good enough job trying to lose my faith on my own, thanks very much.I think it betokens good sense on the part of any Catholic who seeks out a spiritually enriching environment for his and his family's Sunday worship. We do this because we don't want to be in the position of acting like theater critics when we attend liturgy. We spend our days in the trenches, battling secularism, working alongside atheists, confronted with lust-inspiring images, pelted with every conceivable irreverence. Mass should be a respite for us, where we recharge our spiritual batteries and take hope with us for the week ahead. And for those of us with small children, it's often hard enough for it to be that in a reverent parish, because we're too busy wrestling our seething brood into submission to ever hear Father's homily or be focused on the consecration.(cont'd…)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03954832843414652616 Steve

    Martin Mosebach's The Heresy of Formlessness always springs to mind when I see these discussions. Among my favorite passages in the book is this:"I have described my conviction that it is impossible to retain reverence and worship without their traditional forms. Of course there will always be people who are so filled with grace that they can pray even when the means of prayer have been ripped from their hands. Many people, too, concerned about these issues, will ask, “Isn’t it still possible to celebrate the new liturgy of Pope Paul VI worthily and reverently?” Naturally it is possible, but the very fact that it is possible is the weightiest argument against the new liturgy. It has been said that monarchy’s death knell sounds once it becomes necessary for a monarch to be competent: this is because the monarch, in the old sense, is legitimated by his birth, not his talent. This observation is even truer in the case of the liturgy: liturgy’s death knell is sounded once it requires a holy and good priest to perform it. The faithful must never regard the liturgy as something the priest does by his own efforts. It is not something that happens by good fortune or as the result of a personal charism or merit. While the liturgy is going on, time is suspended: liturgical time is different from the time that elapses outside the church’s walls. It is Golgotha time, the time of the hapax, the unique and sole Sacrifice; it is a time that contains all times and none. How can a man be made to see that he is leaving the present time behind if the space he enters is totally dominated by the presence of one particular individual? How wise the old liturgy was when it prescribed that the congregation should not see the priest’s face – his distractedness or coldness or (even more importantly) his devotion and emotion."

  • http://wbbritton.wordpress.com/ Brian

    Father,Your use of words like "traddy" can be construed as condescending and unbecoming a priest of God. Most of us who prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass simply prefer to be called Catholics. Steve has pretty much summed up my feelings on the matter.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12218771096085701665 Tito Edwards

    I defer to Steve's comments. What he wrote so eloquently reflects my thoughts exactly.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16699227938165106710 Little Black Sambo

    "If I like it, it can't possibly be good for me."Oh dear!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04446241126728692642 Paul Stilwell

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08383178253798427977 anthony

    heaven forfend'hip-hop' sermons… don't do it good padreeven though you would be very good at them… don't do itif you do I shall lose all faith in the efficacy of the Tridentine Rite to save all creation…now THAT IS 'TRENDY'

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10503510474554718305 Just another mad Catholic

    Steve says it all

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11081757519772226348 Lindsay

    For me, it wasn't the awful music that was the final straw. I even humbled myself as a cantor to be the one to LEAD such music. It wasn't even when the deacon giving the homily encourage the entire congregation to clap for the preteen cantor who was a Hannah Montana wannabe (though, that was close). It was when I was handed a questionnaire given to all the cantors/lectors/EMEs/etc… asking which illicit (if not invalidating) additions to the liturgy we found to be the most inspiring (like multiple lectors reading the scripture in dialog form). I was completely appalled that it was like VOTING and all based on our preferences. After sticking it out and sticking it out and being involved and speaking to the pastor and trying our best to be a good, faithful parishioner, we started attending the TLM.And now, I suffer through singing with a much more miserable choir, some banal "traddy" hymns when I would prefer real chant, and a few real cranks so that my children can learn reverence and be included in a community with, gasp, OTHER CHILDREN. I'm glad you sought to make a distinction with this post, truly. It just feels as though you painted with a pretty broad brush. Its not as if those attending the TLM aren't given ample opportunity at their mass for learning humility. If I've learned anything from you, Fr. L, its that no where is perfect and how to keep my human tendencies for Utopianism in check when dealing with any group of people.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09674281914540496859 Arturo Vasquez

    I think there is a bit of romaticization going on concerning the traditional liturgy, one that is symptomatic of a clericalism that is a uniquely American phenomenon. The whole idea of the Mass as a “spiritual oasis in one’s week” has some precedents in the past, but it was by no means how Catholics lived their lives historically day in and day out. In reality, the rituals of the hearth and the community in general are what sustained regular Catholics in their sense of faith. Ask anyone who comes from a traditionally Catholic society, and they will tell you that what most formed them was not clerical ritual, but rather the processions, the home altars, and other road side shrines that sacralized society and the cosmos that surrounded them.We don’t have that here, and it is dying elsewhere, but to think we can replace that by an hour to an hour and a half ritual on a Sunday without some bizarre repercussions is something that I think Fr. Longnecker’s argument is getting at. You don’t feel fulfilled at the charismatic Mass, the Gospel Mass, and so forth. That’s fine. I don’t either. But one should be aware that whereas our ancestors went to these traditional liturgies because that was all there was, our attendance of the same rituals will no doubt lead to some rather unfortunate distortions. The Mass of our ancestors was often a rushed mumbled affair, similar to Zen ritual because it was done regardless of if people knew the meaning of it or not. The liturgies of today’s conservative liturgical hobbyists often are over-the-top spectacles where people argue about minutiae that our ancestors didn’t even know about. (Kissing of birettas, folded chasubles, how long to hold a punctum mora, etc.)Many people say that all of this is for God, but I remain unconvinced. I go to the traditional Mass in spite of the above reservations because I find that the typical Mass in the Catholic Church has too much blather in it. (I only want one sermon, thank you very much.) But as to what pleases God, I leave that to God and the interpretation of His representatives on earth. I try to assume that everyone is doing the very best that they possibly can.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08906131174326742939 Patricius

    While I have every sympathy with people who find themselves in an uncongenial parish I am often minded of Cardinal Newman's reflection beginning, I think, with "God has put me here to do Him some definite service…". While God surely doesn't mind where we attend mass,the Church is, nevertheless, organised in parishes – which include our fellow parishioners- and which may be where we, and our God-given talents are needed.

  • http://impoguemahone.wordpress.com/ impoguemahone

    I personally think we go to Mass to worship GOD and not to be entertained,and I wish they'd bring the traditional Latin Tridentine Mass back, in fact!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01469622835449220113 Dymphna

    So Fr. are you saying that I have to stay in a parish that I hate when a decent one is just a few miles up the road?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16642995184098509461 Palmetto Papist

    Sambo:I try to use a little hyperbole for effect.Arturo:Agreed. The Sunday mass is not meant to substitute for a Catholic culture. Perhaps the well-intentioned liturgical reformers went wrong in response to its decline in the West.Fr. Maurer:Our children have attended the same parish for 8 years. They have witnessed the good and the bad, including a dispute with the pastor over a baptism in Lent. So, I wouldn't say that we are church hoppers, but our parish is not the closest to us physically.What we do have is the liturgy celebrated reverently and orthodox homilies preached, though I have my criticisms of them at times. I cannot be expected, given the dearth of Catholic culture Arturo points out, to make up for irreverence and irrelevance. My children are not mature enough yet to make informed judgments! That takes time. Should I give my 7 year-old the keys to the car and expect him to "respond to his experiences"? Of course not, because he does not have the maturity (or height) to drive a car yet.I do not view it primarily my responsibility to correct the priest, to make sure that the rubrics are followed, etc. That is the bishop's duty. My duty is toward my children, whose view of God is shaped, in part, by how the liturgy is celebrated. If they do not know what is normal, if they do not know what is best, how will they be able to make a judgment later on? If I read only Tom Clancy books, how could I judge Dostoevsky? Clancy must be judged by the standard of Dostoevsky, not vice versa. (Pace to Clancy fans.)It is not as though the child who experiences a reverent liturgy is being denied something! They can experience the discord and disharmony in human life after mass, on their soccer teams, in their choirs, and above all, at home.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p00d83451ced869e2 Ryan Ellis

    there's a very simple solution to sll this: erect more personal parishes.back when the mass was like mcdonalds (basically the same everywhere, maybe the restaurant looks different), you could organize regionally. it really didn't matter where one went.now, our territorial parishes have become de facto personal parishes (the latino parish, the traddie parish, the socialist parish, etc.) this is part novus ordo, and part american shopping instincts, imho.so roll with it. the geographic model no longer makes sense. the parishes aren't similar enough, and people are used to being able to customize. so give the people what they need.every catholic should have an fssp-staffed personal parish within an hour of their home. that can't be done in the next year, but it can be done substantially in the next decade. ditto for anglo-catholics, etc.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06026250467888418526 Father Maurer

    Palmetto,I don't think your 7-year-old should drive either. Bad enough with teenagers on the road!I also agree that anyone experiencing the Mass (or other liturgies) celebrated correctly and well are denied anything. We don't seek out discord or disharmony, we look for good.But the Mass isn't just for my, your or another's own edification. It is for all of us. If there is something wrong with the Mass, or the community (or the music, homily, servers, et cetera), it needs to be fixed for the good of all.I think you've hit it on the head in bringing up responsibility – and it is everyone's responsibility.Its unreasonable to say that the bishop is solely/primarily/only responsible for the correction of a priest, or a community. In many (most?) dioceses, that means one man has to have eyes everywhere, in every parish. Thats not just difficult, its impossible.If this was my family, with relatives I knew and loved from my childhood, there'd be no question of my own commitment to work towards making things right. Sure, it might be my brother's job to take care of his kids, or my grandmother's job to take care of hers, but that doesn't let me off the hook for speaking up when they're doing something off-kilter. I share in the responsibility because I am part of the family. And because I love them, I'm going to say something when they're hurting themselves (or others) by doing something wrong.It may sound campy, but isn't the Body of Christ more, not less, unified than a family? If we follow the implications of our membership by baptism, leaving a parish is no more an option than leaving our family.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13955573460484576394 Dave

    Fr. Longenecker, we are considering moving to the Charlotte area (or maybe even Greenville). Can you give us an idea of where the Catholic hotspots are…we'd like to live near an orthodox, dynamic parish if possible. (I work from home, so location is wide open)Yes, I know that this request semi-contradicts the point of your post. :-

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10991998863011146344 Kathy

    Moved to NC Diocese of Raleigh from NY, Diocese of Rockville Centre two years ago. I was a letter writer/phone caller there, but was a loyal and active member, as was my whole family, but since coming to the South, I feel like I didn't know how lucky I was to be in NY. What to do when priests do and say things which are disturbing? EM's in scandalously short skirts, shorts, wrinkled tee shirts, priests who say things, as happened recently when one said on the altar before beginning the Mass on the feast of the Assumption, about how he loves it when Fox News makes a mistake…why, Father? Are you a left wing liberal Obama supporter, and as a result a supporter of abortion???…which caused me to look very differently at this priest, and distrubed my thoughts during Mass. The other nearby parish has a pastor who projects every single baptism, which take place at every Sunday Mass, onto the ceiling of the Church, then takes each baby in his hands and lifts them in the air, while parading up and down the center aisle and along the front of the Church, as the choir sings the Celtic Alleluia, and the congregation stands and applauds, and now we've lost our focus, and have to get back to what….oh, yeah the Liturgy of the Eucharist. One Sunday did we not only have the baptisms projected on the ceiling, but also the film about the capital campaign to expand the school. A man sitting next to me, who who said he was a vistor from Florida, but originally from Long Island, asked me with a little sarcastic grin, "where do I get the popcorn"? The other parish has a pastor who whined about having to put the tabernacle only the altar, and was irked, and was very clear about it, that he now had to instruct the faithful as to the proper protocol with the Blessed Sacrament now present in the Church. That in and of itself speaks volumes about the failure of many within the Church to preach and instruct. If you were born before 1960, you pretty much knew like you knew your own name, how to conduct yourself in Church, and in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Gum chewing EM's, some over-forty year old women going onto the altar in shorts, jeans, and skirts so short that, as my father used to say, you could see all the way to Asbury Park, to serve as EM's, lectors, and cantors. What's a parishioner to do? I am perservering at the latter, since they seem to have a handle on discouraging adolescents and teenagers from leaving their pews during Mass for numerous trips to the restroom, which the other parish hasn't got a clue how to curtail, which is a constant, never ending steam of kids going and coming, believe it or not and there and we don't have the continual movie happening every Sunday. Although on Good Friday, the priest there had us sit for the reading of the Passion, saying he knew how hard it was for us to stand through the entire thing. Whaaaa? Sometimes you just know that people, and places are hindering you on the journey, and disturb your peace so much that you must "shake the dust from your sandals and move on". It's an unhappy predicament for some of us.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04555354586251657108 Gregory

    Humility is endless? Just read what St Benedict has to say. Have you ever Read St Benedict on the 12 degrees of humility? Go ahead, read Chapter Seven. HJere is the link, it seems endless to me…..http://www.ccel.org/ccel/benedict/rule2/files/rule2.html#ch7

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr Longenecker

    Dave, moving to the South, drop me a line by email. Use the contact page of my website.'Humility is endless' is a quote from TS Eliot's Four Quartets

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10991998863011146344 Kathy

    By way of clarification, and in fairness to the pastor of the parish which I attend at present, I am staying there, because despite my complaint about how he handled the placing of the tabernacle in the Sanctuary, he gives very good homilies,and seems at the heart of it to be a genuinely good priest. I should have stated that clearly. This is why I was so suprised and disappointed by his reaction to moving the tabernacle. The other things are incidental annoyances and distractions, but as Fr. L. puts it, we need to find something and stick with it. I do think the pastor at the other parish should have gone into another line of work, perhaps having a little repertory company. And as we have just completed a year of praying particularly for our priests, we, as faithful Roman Catholics, must continue those prayers, without ceasing, and as mentioned by a few posters here, we must maintain a spirit of humility ourselves, and in my own particular case, a more charitable attitude.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05205862627682998184 Christine

    Fr. Longenecker,You make valid points about church shopping. It should never be driven merely by personal preference, because Mass is never about personal preference–it is about growing in holiness by communing with the Divine. You seem to think it is because of parishioners' consumerist attitude that the priest feels pressured to start innovating during the liturgy. It seems more that the opposite is the case. 35 years ago, Mass was essentially the same in any Western Catholic church: same language, same liturgy, same chant. There was very little deviation from parish to parish. The 70s, as we all know, saw the explosion of revolutionary changes in the liturgy: the introduction of popular songs and various instruments, in some cases liturgical dance, along with new instructions for priests on how to "connect" with parishioners and keep them engaged and what sort of facial expressions the priest–who is now facing versus populum–should have (see Fr. Hovda), and the explicit permission in the Novus Ordo Missae to improvise at certain parts of the Mass. Tabernacles were moved, high altars demolished, churches whitewashed or razed to make way for minimalist designs. Soon it became the case that one parish could differ remarkably from another–physically, morally, even spiritually–based on this new spirit of innovation and change that had swept through the Church. Thirty years of this have passed, and uniformity in Catholic parishes is no longer taken for granted. Can we really blame the laity for coming to believe that Mass is more about personal taste than about the Holy Sacrifice?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16142633311407145793 Wine in the Water

    Bravo Father Maurer!!You bring up something that I feel has been sorely lacking in this conversation. If your parish is ailing, it is your responsibility as a member of the Body of Christ to do what you can to heal it. That is what it means to be a priestly people. It is our responsibility to correct our priests .. at least to communicate with those who can correct him. It is our responsibility to get involved, to play a role.If it is just too bad and you have to leave .. well ok. But as Fr. has said, you better do it with much prayer and anguish, because it is to admit defeat. Worried about your children? You are their primary catechists and should have far more influence than a 1-1.5 hour liturgy of the mass. If the mass is the only Catholic ritual they are getting (or even the majority of it) then you are already failing them. If the catechism classes are their primary exposure to the faith and not just filling in the gaps, then you are already failing them. Need to be "fed"? Do as another poster does, attend your parish and then go to that one that "feeds" you. But even here, admit that you are giving into to a consumerist mindset. The primary food of the mass is the Eucharist and that is either there or it is not. If you need more, then you are thinking more about the getting than the giving, and that is not a very good way to be Catholic.So get involved! I've lived in the Sacramento diocese and seen things in those parishes that would make +Mahoney squirm. You'd be amazed what the involvement of the orthodox can do in a parish. Remember, when you leave that parish, you are abandoning it. And the fact that you can see that there is something wrong means that you are one of the people that it needs the most.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01306017321460701751 Paul

    Well, Fr Bruce – if nothing else – you seem to have aggravated the crypto-Protestantism very much alive and well in the Church with your trilogy! :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00518427385991447434 Dr. Eric

    Arturo wrote: I wonder how many of the right-of-center church shoppers would rub shoulders with people like my family: a large chunk of their brothers and sisters. I don't know.Arturo, my family and I would rub shoulders with people like your family any day. You come to St. Francis de Sales in St. Louis we will welcome you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07327013707393086096 Christopher Lake

    Father Longenecker, Father Maurer, and Wine in the Water,As a recent "revert" to the Church who foolishly left for Protestantism many years ago, (largely because of theologically liberal priests), I am very sympathetic to your points. Now that I have returned to the Church, my *desire* is for reverent liturgies and orthodox homilies– and thus, I do not attend the parish closest to my house, but another one, about five minutes away. However, when I began attending this parish, I decided that I would stick with it, even if things became quite difficult (casual liturgies, wishy-washy homilies, immodestly clothed parishioners. To do otherwise would seem like a sort of proto-Protestantism within the Catholic Church.However, I do empathize with the comments of other people here. What *is* a Catholic to do, if he/she is regularly hearing heresy from the pulpit? Not-so-great homilies are one thing. What about flat-out heresy?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01306017321460701751 Paul

    Coincidentally, in Listen my Son: St Benedict for Fathers, the readings for the past couple of days have covered this topic in '4 types of monk'.I'd highly recommend this book of daily reflections by Fr Dwight "Bruce" Longenecker, if you like this blog…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16142633311407145793 Wine in the Water

    Christopher,If you are hearing heresy, then you should make note of what exactly the priest is saying and report it concisely to his bishop. If you don't get at least a response, don't be afraid to be insistent.On top of that, a good tactic is to approach the priest, not a confrontation, but a discussion. Engage him in a discussion about the points. Don't make it an inquisition, but a dialogue meant to go deeper. Delve deeper into the what he said and then about how that relates to elements of authentic Catholic teaching. The person may have heard heresy when none was spoken. The priest may have chosen words poorly. The conversation may lead the orthodox priest to choose his words more carefully because he has been misunderstood or the heretical priest to keep his heresies to himself because someone is paying attention.But honestly, I have lived in a lot of places and have attended literally hundreds of parishes and the only heresy that I have ever heard from the pulpit was at an SSPX parish. This is even at the parishes where I knew that the priest held wildly heretical ideas. Quite frankly, most homilies are too vague and vapid to rise to the level of heresy .. perhaps it is the quiet mercy of the state of homiletics in the Church today.I think the key is to recognize that our place is in our parish. We must do what we can to fulfill our vocation as a priestly people and as members of the Body of Christ. If it gets so bad that we cannot stay, then we should be honest about the tragedy of it. We certainly should not accept parish hopping as an acceptable norm.


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