Wednesday, May 24, 2006
All of them witches...
Detail: Last Judgment, Giotto, Scrovegni Chapel.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - excerpts from "Northland Catholic Roundtable"
"Archbishop Flynn Presided Today at Father Egan’s Service at St Joan of Arc in Minneapolis.
It has been 20 years since I had been back.
St Joan’s bulletin called today’s event “A Mass in Celebration” and a “Contemporary Eucharistic Liturgy in Memory of Father Harvey Francis Egan.” Father Egan, who came to St Joan’s in 1968 was the originator of its famous and controversial “gym Mass.” He retired in 1986 and died last Saturday.
Because Father Egan was cremated, there was no casket and funeral service as such. I don’t know what the Catholic procedures call for in the case of cremations. There was no urn blessing either.
The “gym service” there is unlike most “Catholic” services you have ever seen. Just like the big mega-churches, they provide comfort and entertainment in terms of music. They are very friendly and welcoming to visitors, unlike most Catholic parishes, unfortunately. They also have a strong “social Gospel” ministry that appeals to the ex-hippies and war protesters and others that make up the older core of their membership.
Most of you no doubt will be upset by what follows. I was. It wasn’t this bad back in the “olden days.”
They pretty well butchered the Mass by re-writing many of the words of the Roman Missal to make it more relevant to their philosophy. Of course, like with all liberal parishes, the words “He”, “His”, “Him”, etc. get changed to “God” or “God’s” or even “She” or “Her” to make the liturgy more acceptable to those whose primary goal in life is to have women ordained as priests. That would pretty much be the whole parish there, I would wager.
There is no tabernacle or sanctuary light in sight. A former parishioner told me that the tabernacle is in a nearby closet. Behind the plain altar stood a seven or eight piece musical group. There are no religious statues, paintings, icons or stained glass windows in the gym. Some currently fashionable wide colored ribbons hang at various points from the ceiling.
In today’s service for Father Egan, they skipped the Penitential Rite and the first and second readings; they did read the “There is a time to love, Time to die” verses from Ecclesiastes; and then for the Gospel they took the Sermon on the Mount and rewrote it to reflect Father Egan’s political “issues.” Apparently Jesus’ words weren’t good enough. They used pita bread for the host at the consecration, “crystal” vessels were used on the altar and they used what I surmise was the usual contingent of Extraordinary Ministers for Holy Communion while a dozen or so priests from the archdiocese, properly vested, just stood off to the side.
The eulogy was given by a Father John Brandes, an elderly priest, I believe a friend of Father Egan, followed by two couples who regaled the congregation with some of Father Egan’s pithy aphorisms from over the years and then some of his more recent serious thoughts.
The crowning hurt was that Archbishop Harry Flynn himself celebrated the Mass and his auxiliary, Bishop Richard Pates, concelebrated with five other priests. There was no entrance or exit procession for the archbishop. He just walked up to and off of the altar, like someone bringing up the gifts. They did wear their miters, so that’s how I knew they were there. I suppose it is traditional for a bishop to attend the funeral of one of his priests, but I would bet that some bishops get stomach aches now and then, too.
The Archbishop has done a lot of good things here, but when he cracks down, it is always on the more conservative people in the diocese, and places like St Joan of Arc, known nationally as being listed among the most liberal parishes in the country, generally go their own way.
He changed pastors at St Joan’s last Fall and made them cease having laypeople give the Homily. I’ve been told a secular message is now given before the service begins.
The new pastor, Father Jim DeBruycker, was there today and at the conclusion of the service, he thanked the archbishop for granting permission for the service, wondered whether the archbishop thought he was in control of his new parish (much to the laughter of the congregation) and then somewhat boldly invited the archbishop to give a “rebuttal” at the end, which except for the eulogy, was apparently a typical SJA service. I wouldn’t call today’s service a Mass.
In his final words, not taking the bait, the Archbishop joked a bit about really “not having a choice when it came to giving permission” and commented humorously about “too many homilists” and said he was going to restrict it in the future. But at least twenty priests witnessed that performance. And you better believe that they are probably all on the phone or emailing right now.
Wouldn’t the average priest have concluded that the service led by Archbishop Flynn today was in fact a verbal and visual imprimatur that will tell the rest of the priests of this archdiocese that he approves of the way the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is celebrated at St Joan of Arc parish and that they can experiment with the liturgy as much as they want, no matter what Rome says?"
Well that was a rather informative report wasn't it? Don't bother writing in protest to Flynn - it does no good - he is above reproach. He's done stuff like this before - there had been a notorious gay priest in our Archdiocese who died and the Archbishop officiated at his funeral as well. He definitely cares about his priests...
Archbishop Brianchaninov, a Russian Orthodox Bishop who died at the end of the 19th century wrote a book for monastics entitled "The Arena" - I treasure some of his criticisms of his contemporary Church and often apply them to our situation today. Once I wrote Flynn protesting something to do with St. Joan of Arc and for my header I wrote; "Save me O Lord for there is no saint left; for truths have dwindled from the sons of men. Empty follies they speak one to another, with lying lips they speak evil with a double heart." -Psalm 11:2 The Archbishop wrote me a scathing letter in response informing me that I had insulted the successor of the Apostles.
What can be said about places like St. Joan of Arc and clergy that support and tolerates it? Here's a couple of passages from "The Arena" to think about:
"Faith in Truth saves. Faith in a lie and diabolic delusion is ruinous, according to the teaching of the Apostle. 'They refused to love the truth that would save them,' he says of those voluntarily perishing. 'Therefore, God will send them' (permit them to suffer) 'a strong delusion, so that they will believe a lie, that all may be condemned who do not believe the Truth but delight in falsehood.'"
"In our time the majority of people, proud of their progress and claiming to be Christian who do a lot of good, have been striving for the righteousness of fallen nature and have turned their backs with scorn on the righteousness of the Gospel. Let them hear what the Lord says: 'This people honors me with their lips, they draw near to me with their mouth, but their heart is far from me. So they worship me in vain, while teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'
"The man who practices human righteousness is full of self-opinion, arrogance, and deceit. He preaches and blows his own trumpet about his good deeds without paying heed to what our Lord forbids. He repays with hatred and revenge those who oppose him."
I cannot adequately express how disappointed I am with this Archdiocese.