My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
I greet you with the Love, Joy, and Peace of the Living Lord Whom we trust totally in for all things.
Today I would like to follow up in our epiphany I shared last week about finding a new parish. It isn't as easy as just 'signing up' and leaving behind friends we have made. We are no strangers to moving, but this is the third time we will be moving to another parish since relocating in Southern California four years ago. Our first parish was a good one and the long-time pastor Monsignor Thomas Healy was an orthodox, holy man who was taken from us on May 14, 1998. As time went on changes began to occur and, because of Mike's illness we realized we needed to be closer to home. Despite these physical setbacks, Mike became active in our present parish, feeling the best way to affect others was through example. Now, after two years at this parish, we are still left empty and wanting. As I related last week, it's time to move on, to return to our first parish which we have rediscovered.
There must be a transition period before we become parishioners at St. Francis since Mike is involved in our present parish as Eucharistic Minister and with the Knights of Columbus, but he can still tend to those duties when necessary while we seek to satisfy our spiritual thirst in the same parish where we had our marriage blessed well over a decade ago. It's like going home again.
In a way there is sadness though in what might have been. It is a shame that our home parish, which right now is basically a store-front church and so close to our home, couldn't edify us. In fact, had it not been for the Franciscan friar who assists and whose homilies are truly inspirational, we would have abandoned our parish long before. He has been our confessor and is a good priest who truly cares for the flock. But he, too, must go along with the liturgical norms visited upon this parish that require all to stand throughout the Consecration and during Holy Communion, one that sings every verse of every song and not always in key, one that insists on a focus question from the Gospel before the Sunday Mass.
That in itself is a good thing, to focus on how the Gospel applies to some aspect in our life. The lector reads it and asks all to contemplate. It is a nice way to prepare for the Mass in total silence as each is called to meditate. Yes, you could even hear a pin drop. But then, the lector is required to say: "Now share with someone you DON'T know what you have thought about." I'm not kidding, that is what they do at this parish and, with that directive, all pandemonium breaks out as everyone begins talking just before Mass. I would venture to guess that after ten seconds 95% are talking about something else and it becomes one big social fest. Then the lector has to "bang the gavel" so to speak, to quiet the "crowd" down so they can begin the Mass.
I don't know about you but quiet time is precious and I look forward to coming early so I can spend time with Jesus and settle my mind and heart so I will be properly prepared for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, a time when angels flood the sanctuary with praises and hosannahs during this most august Sacrament of the altar. I know when I meditate, I need silence and I also know that what I meditate on is between God and me. Oh, I may share some with Mike as husband and wife are urged to do and I do, but not with a total stranger or a parish aquaintance. Yes, they are all family in the sense of parish and the Mystical Body of Christ. But you don't share your most intimate thoughts with someone you don't know truly well and trust.
We've personally talked with the pastor about all this. It has been no use. He has his mind made up. We've asked him if it wouldn't be better if the lector offered the question before Mass where we would all meditate in silence leading up to the entrance of the celebrant. Then, after the final blessing, the lector could remind all that after Mass outside if we wanted to share our intimate thoughts, then that is our choice. The pastor politely nodded and said, no, that's the way it's going to be. As far as we know, thank God, it's the only parish that conducts this aberration presently. Hopefully it will be isolated to this parish and hopefully, eventually, the parishioners will say "enough."
But we doubt few will because, as Mike wrote in yesterday's commentary, the great majority are sheep who will go along with anything and if you don't agree, even if you're right, you're considered a rabble rouser. Nobody wants to rock the boat; yet they don't realize that the ship is not secure, that it's slowly drifting away from what Rome wants and improvising to accommodate the congregation, floating closer and closer to a Protestant-like service where the Protestant-influenced hymns greatly outnumber traditional Catholic ones.
The parish is about to move into a brand new building that will become an all-purpose hall and, because of that, there will be no kneelers. Because of costs, we're told the church itself won't be built for years. Instead of using the millions to build the church first with a smaller hall, they've built a massive hall that will basically be a gymnasium. On top of that the chapel, which in the present small building is just off to the side of the altar, will now be downstairs while the Mass will be conducted upstairs. That right there is an indication to us that Jesus is further being diminished and it's time for us to just leave quietly and go where He is welcome and visited.
If you are struggling in your own parish against the abuses of Vatican Council II, if you are spiritually starved, wondering why things have gotten so bad, then I can assure you that through prayer, the Holy Spirit will direct you to that place, that parish where the Holy Spirit is very much at work. Do not think you are alone if you are confused, confounded, and alone in your struggle to find the depth and breadth and width that was once present in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is not easy to struggle alone in this situation, but the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, will direct each of us to that parish or chapel where the reverence and true spirit of Vatican Council II exists so that you will know the Mercy and Love of God, who will never abandon His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
I am praying for you and I thank you for your prayers for us. We are united in our faith, in the Mystical Body of Christ. Our Lord is with us, so let us go forward professing our faith with joy and awe, for nothing is impossible with God.
Your very little sister in Christ,