Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Poor Witness of St. Stephen's

Remember St. Stephen in the Acts of the Apostles? He was the first martyr (Greek for "witness"), stoned to death for confessing belief in the Faith. In the Twin Cities, a schism has recently taken place in a parish named for St. Stephen.

The ridiculous reason: St. Stephen's cannot possibly serve the poor and celebrate a proper Mass. That's according to the two hundred parishioners and the
Star Tribune newspaper, anyway.

Okay, let's back up for a moment. Heretics and schismatics are running about all the time - why post on this issue? Well it's personal. First off, I went to school there for a year in 1st grade. Second, a good priest friend of mine (Fr. Joseph Williams) was just assigned there. He is one of the holiest men I know. His homilies are beautiful - he is never afraid to tell the truth with love and patience. Thirdly, the newspaper article was so blatantly in favor of heresy and schism that I felt it merited a response. Lastly, I thought only a moron could argue that a parish could not support both social justice and the bishop!

To give you an example of what's going on there, here's what the (biased) paper had to say: Masses there include: "...lay people giving homilies, dancing in the aisles with people who have mental and physical disabilities, gay couples openly participating in worship, along with ex-priests, ex-nuns and sundry other spiritual wanderers." A friend of mine told me that when a priest couldn't make it for mass, a nun stood up and announced she'd go ahead and celebrate it herself!

The situation at St. Stephen's has been this way since the 1960s! You may be wondering why it was allowed to go on this way... While that's a great question, what's most important is that our new Archbishop is awesome (Pope Benedict appoints great bishops!) and will not tolerate these liturgical abuses. A letter was recently sent to St. Stephen's, telling them to clean up the Mass.

The result: Revolt! The newspaper reports: The mass was "so 1960s. The new [mass] is more like the 1860s" - hmm, if he only he knew what an 1860s mass was like... Oh yeah, the "1960s" mass was never the mass of the Catholic Church!

The true heart of the problem comes from subjectivism. The people in question have subjectivized truth, believing what they want to believe and rejecting the truths God Himself as revealed. The article talks about the use of "inclusive" language, changing the Our Father to keep it from being masculine. This is obviously an issue of the truth of God's nature. If they don't know who God is, how can they know how to live or how to worship? "'We are supposed to learn how to 'pray right' or go away,' [Mary] Peters says. 'Well, we are going to pray the way we think is right. And we are going to go away. With great sadness. But we will still pray.'" People can gather and pray in many different ways - but the mass is not about doing whatever we feel like, it's about worshipping God. It's also about finding rythm in repetition - like the seasons or a heartbeat. The mass is not about being entertained or rejecting authority, it's about humility, service, and adoration.

Still, it bothers me to say that a parish cannot serve both God and the poor. Jesus gave the apostles the authority to act and speak in His name. Since the bishops succeed the apostles, when people reject them and their teachings, the people reject Christ. I work for a parish that supports social justice and still maintains a good mass - there's no reason why St. Stephen's can't do the same.

Prayer request: Please say a Hail Mary for Fr. Williams as he begins his new assignment at St. Stephens...

No comments: