Tuesday, July 13, 2010
And shepherds who don't love animals.
A couple of weeks ago some parishioners organized a celebration for priests marking the conclusion of the Year of the Priest at my parish. It was the only event scheduled for the year long commemoration, and it occurred a week or two after the Holy Year officially closed. I mention the timing since any concern or interest in the plenary indulgence attached to such observances seems to have been overlooked.
The organizers invited former pastors and priests who grew up in the parish to concelebrate Mass and treated to a formal dinner afterwards. Ten active priests showed up to concelebrate. It seemed to me that what I saw on the altar was ten representations of priest - ten versions of post-Vatican II Catholic priests. One priest in particular, a rather progressive former pastor - who happened to be the reason I stopped going to Mass in the parish in the first place - stood out amongst the group. He seemed especially obvious as the Eucharistic prayer began, as he watched the congregation kneel in unison. (When he had been pastor, the assembly stood throughout the Eucharistic prayer and the consecration - at daily Mass, they gathered around the altar.) Father's eyes widened in mock surprise, tilted his head back somewhat, and laughed - silently of course, but demonstrably, kind of heaving his chest slightly as he did so, emulating a sort of belly laugh. As pastor he literally frowned upon those who wished to kneel, pushing for a more democratic celebration of the communal banquet instead, in fact he was always the last person to receive communion, and then from the hands of a layman. (Yes, that is a liturgical abuse.)
This particular former pastor had a reputation for being arrogant and pompous, despite his liberal ideas, which probably should have caused him to be ever so approachable and amenable to the spiritual needs of his flock. However, giving him the benefit of the doubt, considering what appeared to be pomposity more as an acquired sense of dignity and decorum, I put aside my prejudice for this event. Until he reacted to the congregation kneeling at the Eucharistic prayer. He appeared once again as his old, condescending self.
I interpreted his laugh to be one of scorn... in essence mocking the sheep.