HORRIFIED Catholics are bandying about words such as ” heresy”, “sacrilege”, “apostasy” and “paganism” beneath a YouTube video of a recent Mass at Queen of Angels Church in Riverside, California.
Intended to be a celebration by the Diocese of San Bernardino of California’s “rich cultural diversity,” and a welcome to those on the “periphery” of the Church, the service instead produced a tsunami of fury, not least because one of two drummers positioned at the foot of the steps leading to the altar wore a jaguar costume, which some associated with the Aztec jaguar-demon Texcatilpoca.
To cap it all, traditional Mexican Indian dancers, called matachines, wearing bells on their clothing and tall, feathered headdresses, filed in front of the altar. After a final blessing, interspersed with loud drum beats, they processed out of the church, dancing.
“Paganism in full bloom,” read one comment on YouTube.
This is an absolute disgrace to God and His Holy Church.
A third wrote:
Are you kidding me, right off the bat a shaman around the altar!!! Then dancing! Such disregard for Our Lord and his sacrifice. This type of thing has no business in a mass! Abomination! I would have walked out right then!
A fourth stated:
This is a disgusting spectacle. A circus, not worship of God. Penance, penance, penance. May Almighty God have mercy on us. Where did they hide the tabernacle?
A fifth asked:
What do you expect considering the Pope had clowns dancing around during mass in Argentina?
And on Facebook someone wrote:
Hide your kids …
Bishop Alberto Rojas was the main celebrant of the Mass, which lasted about two hours. A lay minister who works at a nearby Indian reservation led the procession into the sanctuary, waving a large bird feather with one hand while carrying a basket in the other, to the accompaniment of beating drums.
After circling the altar and arriving at the lectern, Michael Madrigal, who the diocese identified as a lay minister at St. Joseph Mission Catholic Church on the Soboba Indian Reservation, removed a wooden rattle from the basket and shook it while chanting in a Native American language.
Then, in English, he recited the “Native American Prayer of the Four Directions.”
Contacted by the Catholic News Agency, a spokesperson for the diocese explained in an email that the prayer’s significance was two-fold. First, the prayer was meant to:
Reflect the multicultural character of the Diocese and to give voice to Catholic expressions that could be considered on the periphery.
This prayer, by its nature, helps the faithful reflect on the entire web of life that God has created – a central idea in Pope Francis’s [encyclical] Laudato Si.
I couldn’t resist adding this comment to YouTube and Facebook:
The fabulous costumes and the drummers were the only interesting things in this otherwise long, tedious and nonsensical Mass.