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by Catherine Frakas 10 Oct 2001

What do I do now? QUESTION from Don Ross January 8, 2000
My wife and I moved to her home town (Washington, PA) for a few reasons, one of which was that the parish was pretty orthodox. Well, we just got a new priest who: 1) comes down to the pews and asks everyone to hold hands at the Our Father; 2) left out the penitential rite and Creed last Sunday; 3) thinks that priests should receive communion last; 4) hands out the host to the EME's standing behind him before he raises the Host for the last time - so they're all consuming at the same time with the priest; 5) changes the words to EVERY prayer; 6) started putting up those silly felt banners with bright stick figures and hearts; 7) combines the prayers over the gifts - we have this bread and wine to offer...; 8) thinks that Barney is great for kids (OK, so this isn't liturgical, but since I find Barney offensive on so many levels, it unnerved me when he said this!). I spoke to him about this, but nothing changed. So then I went to the pastor. What he told me shocked me even more than the changes to the Liturgy. He said: 1) the rubrics were directives so they were not to be followed exactly; 2) that the document from Rome on the collaboration of the lay faithful was a joke and that no one followed it; 3) that the Church would have modernized quicker in our area if it wasn't for the backward ways of the NotherEast when it came to worship; 4) that anyone who holds to a more orthodox manner of worship is behind the times and not in accord with what Vatican II was all about; 5) that he could not come up with a change to the liturgy that went too far - when I asked for an example of something that was too extreme, he just shrugged; 6) that he would have made more changes like the new priest, but he personally was not comfortable with too many changes; 7) that anyone who does not go along with these changes was totally out of touch with the modern Church; 8) that no matter what rubric I brought up to him, it was merely a suggestion. So, what do I do now? Are the rubrics just suggestions? Are documents from Rome just more junk mail (he intimated that a recent document from our Bishop was just that)? We know of another nearby Church with a very holy and devout priest. Should we jump ship? Thanks and God bless (sorry for being so wordy) Don ANSWER by Mr. John Miskell on January 12, 2000
Dear Don, More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, [Romans 5:3 ] The rubrics are not mere suggestions, they carry the force of law. Any priest can make mistakes during the Mass but the intentional, pre-meditated disregard of the law is scandalous. Regarding the importance of obeying the rubrics, Pope John Paul II said; Since liturgical celebrations are not private acts but celebrations of the Church, the 'sacrament of unity,' their regulation is dependent solely upon the hierarchical authority of the Church. The liturgy belongs to the whole body of the Church. It is for this reason that it is not permitted to anyone, even a priest, or any group to add, subtract or change anything whatsoever on their own initiative. Fidelity to the rites and to the authentic texts of the liturgy is a requirement of the lex orandi (law of praying), which must always be in conformity with the lex credendi (law of believing). A lack of fidelity on this point may even affect the very validity of the sacraments. Pope John Paul II also said; The faithful have a right to a true liturgy, which means the liturgy desired and laid down by the Church. Undue experimentation, changes and creativity bewilder the faithful. The Second Vatican Council's admonition in this regard must be remembered: 'No person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority'. That's pretty strong language. Your rights are being violated. Here's what I suggest you do. 1. Pray for the priests involved. If you can do it, make a nine day Eucharistic Novena just for them. Go to Confessions, then go to Mass and receive Communion for nine days. Offer this up for their spiritual well-being. 2. Write a letter to the priest asking him to address the situation. Be kind and stick to the issue. Send a copy of the letter to the pastor. 3. If this fails to produce a result, send a letter to the pastor. This coupled with the last letter puts him on notice that you mean business --- BUT BE KIND IN YOUR LETTER. Insist that the Mass be celebrated as per the wishes of the Church but don't digress into threats or name-calling. You're now creating a paper trail. In the future this will demonstrate that you're not a fanatic and that you've attempted to resolve the situation on the parish level. 4. If nothing changes, write a letter to the bishop. Include copies of your last two letters and the details of any conversations that you might have had with your parish priests. Respectfully ask him to intervene. 5. Cut your contributions to this parish. I did this in my own parish for the same reasons. I didn't quit the parish (that's what they would like to see) but I often attend another parish to be spiritually fed. I cut my financial contributions to the parish by 90% and use it to support the parish(es) where I'm spiritually fed. This will take time. I've been in the fray over Lifeteen in my parish for two years now. Much has changed in the direction of obedience which proves that the fight can be won, but they still persist in some abuses so the battle continues. Be patient and continue to pray. Ultimately you can take your complaint to the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington, D.C. Do not do this until all other avenues have been exhausted. By this time the paper trail is getting pretty big. You can also enlist the aid of the St. Joseph Foundation. This is a non-profit organization set up to help Catholics who have had their rights abused. Contact them at; St. Joseph Foundation 11107 Wurzbach, #404 San Antonio, Texas, 78230-2553 Tel. 210-697-0717 Hang in there, you're not alone. In Christ, John Miskell Back to Index Page

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