Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Why are these People so Crazy?

Here is a group that you would think would be exemplary in their outlook but when you hear what they have to say about others you begin to see how they are more a "cult" than faithful followers of Jesus Christ. It is sad and perhaps a good example of what happens when people exhalt themselves against the Church.

I grew up just a few miles from where they are located. They weren't there when I lived there over twenty-five years ago, but even when I was living there the area was a refuge for hippie communes and other seeking to flea the city. Granted, the Boston Globe probably was fishing for just such quotes but sadly it looks like they got more than there share.

For the full story go to the Boston Globe, here is a snipet of the more sane part of the story:

In Richmond, a small town south of Keene, those traditions are immediately on display, ideas and rituals so powerful that people are willing to live at odds with their own church hierarchy to preserve them.

On Sunday mornings, 200 to 300 people gather in a hilltop chapel, a low-ceilinged basement with wooden pews. The families are huge, some with as many as 11 children, displaying, a community leader says, "their noncontraceptive glory."

Before the Mass, they recite the rosary aloud, in unison, a chorus of Our Fathers and Hail Marys, as one man walks, praying, along the Stations of the Cross. Women wear black veils. A group of celibate women in black habits with white wimples sing Gregorian chant.

The priest faces a high altar, not the assembly, as he celebrates the pre-Vatican II Tridentine Rite Mass. He distributes Communion over a rail to communicants kneeling as they receive the Eucharist in their mouths.

"We're Catholic, and to be Catholic means to be traditional," said Sister Marie Therese, 35, the prioress and the principal of the community's school, which has 37 students. "It can't be something new."

The St. Benedict Center, a 200-acre complex featuring a few church buildings and land that is being sold to sympathetic families, is headed by a Catholic priest and is home to five celibate brothers and six celibate sisters, who are part of a religious order called the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Worship services attract between 200 and 300 each Sunday. Since 1989, about 20 to 30 families have moved to the area to be near the church.

This community, like others around the country, is out of step with the official Catholic Church. The residents are so-called Feeneyites, followers of the Rev. Leonard J. Feeney, a Boston priest who was silenced by Cardinal Richard J. Cushing in 1949 and dismissed from the Jesuit order because of his insistence that there is no salvation outside the church, a doctrine that runs contrary to current church teaching that anyone, even non-Christians, can get to heaven. Feeney died in 1978.