Reader's Comments w/ my notes:
A lay faculty member of a college seminary, comments on my seminary reflections:
When you wrote that some of the priests that you encountered were holy men and others seemed to believe in very little, I have to say that I encountered many more of the latter than the former. In 28 years of teaching at a seminary, outside of one priest faculty member, I can not recall a meaningful discussion of the faith with a priest there. I know that some of my lay colleagues
approached priests there about personal spiritual matters and were pretty quickly dispatched to the shrink for help.
I don't know what your views of the lay faculty are, but very few of them were what I would call believing Catholics. In fact, several, as with many of the monks, were downright hostile to the Church. An English professor, for example, hated it outright. What amazes me in retrospect is that the mere suggestion to the powers-that-be that a seminary ought to have lay men and women
faculty who were comfortable with their faith, would mark you as some type of rightwing fanatic. A majority of the lay faculty lived in the hope that the college would cease to be a seminary, so that it could become merely a liberal arts college.
A different perspective, but one that does not surprise me.
A Catholic priest wrote in response to my post about lay people speaking out:
I find it wonderful when people offer me very constructive criticism. It has been very helpful to me. My heart goes out to the people who carry around the idea for days and then say, "But you are a priest, Father! Who am I to say those things to you?" We end up having very good talks as a result.
The people that sicken me are the ones who bring no complaint to me, write a letter to the bishop (who sends it directly to the pastor
without his own response), and don't even send me a CC. That has happened only once albeit from a parishioner whose letters are shredded by many diocesan officials upon reception.
That in itself shows a problem. There are so many chronic complainers out there (Thank you, Mother Angelica, for the call-in-and-accuse phone line) that pastors, VFs, and bishops are often very weary to answer legitimate complaints from good-hearted people. I hope that everyone softens up so if there truly is a problem, it will be discussed.
He's right about chronic complainers and sneaky complainers. Go to the person you have a problem with first.
A reader writes in response to my comment about that Vatican II "set in motion a reform which radically changed (one might say recovered) the role of the laity in the Church":
I think your use of the word "recovered" is neither accurate nor appropriate. "Changed" is about as correct as you can get. The laity was "vibrant", which is a word no one would have used then.....but later we were taught a new and "relevant" vocabulary. With all it's local warts and pimples, Catholicism was a way of living. Home, work, school.....it's what we lived and there was not much time for the deep introspection which is the vogue today. The laity was embroiled in a world war. Money was scarce; children were not. Everyone worked to get the grits on the table. Faith was incorporated into our lives. WWII had to be handled. The poor (poorer than we were) had to be fed. Starving children "overseas" were the responsibility of even the youngest of us.....Jesus said so.
Men performed manual labor for Church and neighbors....women cleaned and cooked and did fund raising for them. Everyone met at church and made novenas for all peoples injured by war.
NO laity are more dedicated and resoureful than Catholics, especially the poor ones. It was always done for the love of God and God help the person who forgot that fact. They were "taken down a peg or two".
So, one may say "recovered", but one might be ignorant of the real role of the laity during THOSE turbulant times.
P.S. I DO like your writing........you just hit a hot button.
I agree, if I can without going against what I originally said. Vatican II, because of the great strides the laity had made before it recaptured the "theology" of the role of the laity. Unfortunately, the implementation has almost squelched the flame that was burning so brightly before it.
A light shining in the darkness writes:
Okay, so I'm a college student, and Catholic Campus Ministries here does all the usual annoying things... a list follows.
1. Standing through the Consecration. At a "Catholicism 101" discussion group, our pastor, Rev. (not Fr. according to the bulletin) John Doe said that standing through the Consecration was the tradition of the Early Church, since we say "We thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence" in the Eucharistic Prayer... that sort of thing.
I inteject a line here, only to mention that Rev. John Doe is correct, which is not to say that his reasons for wanting to restore the practice may be less than pure and it might also be added that many things were done in the early church that no one seems to be arguing we return to (like doing baptisms in a separate room--because they involved nudity).
2. Changing the words of the Mass. Constantly. You know the "Lord, you said to your apostles, 'Peace be with you'" part? He kind of throws in a second homily there.
3. Then, all the peripheral issues. Plenty of Pax Christi and Passionist pamphlets available (no Catholic Answers, of course), Richard McBrien's Catholicism on the main shelf in the CCM house (and no Catechism), a Chinese wall between CCM and the college chapter of Knights of Columbus, non-priest homilies, the occasional self-celebratory folk song ("Voices that Challenge")... shrug.
I could go on for a while, if you can't tell. I'm sure I'm just a nit-picking Pharisee, stuck in the 16th century. But, there's a chance
that I'm not, so anyway. You said to speak out. I assume this means more than complaining to my girlfriend and my parents over the phone (and to you over e-mail). So, how should I go about it? Who can I contact for help?
The task here, as I see it anyway, is to figure out what are the real abuses (if any) and which are just preferences. The Roman Rite does allow for the priest to ad lib at some points in the liturgy (not to turn these ad libs into 10 minute homilies, mind you) and what material is allowed, if it is not contrary to the faith is a matter of opinion. I would recommend sitting down with a group of like minded students and forming a Catholic study group to learn what is allowed and what isn't. Invite Father John Doe to this group and question him, ask him for help in understanding what is detrimental and what is good. If this leaves you feeling that what you are receiving is heretical or illicit, go to the next level. Just don't let your faith in Christ suffer, suffering is something that Jesus has promised his followers and has told them that they are "blessed" when it happens to them for his sake.