See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Correcting the corrector.


Chapter chat.
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Fr. Mark has an excellent post on Controllers, Castigators and Bitchy Religious People - LOL!  That isn't exactly his title of course, but it works for me.  Father weaves his post out of a meditation on Chapter 70 of the Rule of St. Benedict.  His reflection especially appealed to me today since I had been bothered about something at my parish and wrote about it here.  Interestingly enough, while at adoration and before reading Fr. Mark's post this evening, I concluded my concern is nothing but a distraction in that I have no duty or obligation to interfere with how things are done at church.  I ought to clarify that even though I refer to the church as 'my parish' I am not even a registered member - although they treat me as such.  Anyway, I solved my problem by leaving adoration before the prayers of benediction were recited, and left it up to the woman formally in charge to take care of reposing the Blessed Sacrament.  It's not my problem.
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Fr. Mark wrote:
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In Chapter 70 of the Holy Rule, Saint Benedict treats of those monks who, deceived by their own pride, appoint themselves to control, correct, and castigate their brethren. Anyone with a certain experience of community life in a monastery has probably come up against this sort of fellow. Censorious, condescending, brittle, hypercritical, and never content, he is ever on the lookout for the speck in his brother's eye and unaware of the log in his own. He is infected with what Saint Benedict will call in Chapter 72 an evil zeal of bitterness. - Vultus Christi
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"The grace to make corrections gracefully is given to those duly constituted in authority over others."
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Fr. Mark states it very well.  I believe it is something all of us - none more than myself - must guard against.  I try - but often fail -  to ignore many of the things that appear to violate the General Instruction for the Roman Missal (GIRM) so as to keep myself in peace in order to pray and worship.  Once a priest challenged me about such passivity in view of certain abuses or inappropriate musical choices, suggesting I ought to be offended by such irregularities.  Others might say I ought to speak to the pastor, but since I'm just an ordinary layman unattached to the parish, I'm not at all convinced it is my place to offer any suggestions, especially to an ordained priest.  Of course, on occasion I do blog about some things - but usually because they are funny - like the blessing of feet for Earth Day, or a busty, lightly-clad female cantor waving her arms in the air like she's Pam Anderson running down the beach on Bay Watch.  Instead, I'm trying very hard to avoid the critical spirit.
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"They lurk in sacristies, piously fussing about..."
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I should know better anyway - I've known so many serial-correction-officers-of-the-Eucharist before the invention of blogs, it is not funny.  For instance I knew a young nun who constantly complained about her convents chaplain.  Father J. was rather liberal and often neglected sections of the Mass such as the Gloria or Creed on Sundays and Solemnities, changed the wording of the Penitential rite to exclude any mention of sin.  Inserted exaggerated inclusive language, blessed religious objects with a wave but no prayer of blessing, etc..  The sister got to the point she wanted to contact the Vatican about him, but the superior forbid her to complain any further saying, "Chaplains are few and far between, I have seen worse - you have no idea - just be grateful we have someone to say Mass."  The poor sister obeyed and made it through to final vows - and the priest died.  I'm told the sister remains rather vigilant concerning liturgical abuses however.  I suppose there is no polite way to say this, but I always found her attitude a bit imperious and censorious.
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"In their eyes, nothing is ever rubrically correct." 
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I also knew a monk whose monastery wasn't governed very well and the liturgy suffered for it.  The poor monk couldn't abide the lax attitude of the monastery and became dissatisfied by the fact his fellow monks would not follow his musical and liturgical direction, especially since that was his 'obedience' and field of expertise.  He lamented his predicament to friends and family, but unfortunately the situation never improved.  He gradually withdrew from community and as is frequently the case when that happens - he finally left.  He remained a religious however and soon found a monastic community he could abide.
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St. Therese to Celine.
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I'm happy to have quieted my concern, recalling the words of Therese to Celine:  "You have no responsibility in the guidance of souls, so to set about instructing others, even when truth is on your side, is exposing yourself to danger unnecessarily.  You are not called to be a Justice of the Peace.  This right belongs to God alone." - My Sister St. Therese, by Genevieve of the Holy Face
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I hope I've learned my lesson.  If not, I trust someone will correct me.  ;)

8 comments:

  1. Austringer8:26 PM

    OUCH!!!

    Yikes, I needed this post...thanks, Terry.

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  2. What a timely post after last night's parish council meeting!

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  3. Thank Fr. Mark - he nailed it.

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  4. Thanks for sharing, this helps me.

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  5. I rely on the Serenity Prayer.

    Accept it, change it, or move on. When Mass at a certain church became a "distraction", we simply moved on. We couldn't "accept it" and didn't feel like it was our place to "change it." Only one option left.

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  6. ...and I leave it mostly for God to deal with.

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  7. michael r.7:16 AM

    "You are not called to be a Justice of the Peace." I love this! The entire post is brilliant, Terry. I need to learn humility and to stop being so critical.

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  8. Adrienne - the Serenity prayer is filled with wisdom - thanks for the reminder.

    Michael - again - Fr. Mark is responsible for this post.

    I did think if I take this to heart I'll have nothing to blog about... Let's see... what should I do? Kidding.

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