Thursday, April 24, 2008

when it's time to move on...

... I go back on forth almost daily on the decision to leave my parish for good. I go through spells where I won't go to my parish for months, then I always end up back there. There must be some reason, other then being a glutton for punishment.

The cost of gas keeps me from making the weekly trip to Belmont Abbey anymore and St. Basil's Ukrainian Catholic Church is also an hour away and only meets every three weeks.

So for practicality reasons, my only option is my current parish.

But I am going to be honest here, it's more then the practical commute that has me back there. It's the parish I converted in and received the sacraments, it's where my son was baptized, it's where I volunteered for many years. It is my home.

That is why I get so defensive about the liturgical terrorism that is currently taking place. That's why I feel like it is worth fighting for.

I have many friends at this parish and these friends hold the same view about the direction the church has taken that I hold. Some have left for good and some, like me, leave for periods of time and come back. When we get together we bemoan the horrible music and lack of leadership. They will say they have made several phone calls to father and then finally admit it's pointless. However, every Sunday we're back there again.

I can't speak for why my friends keep returning, but I can guess it's much for the same reasons I end up back in her pews. The other options in this diocese are just as abysmal and it's not practical to drive all over the city... and it's home.

I stay because I am also not of the "throw away" mindset this culture has adapted. If somethings broke, fix it. The parish is mine, my home, and I have pride in that... pride enough to want to stay and make her as beautiful as I know she can be.

You can also think of it a relationship, or a marriage. When things go wrong you stay and work them out, not leave and shack up with some newer hotter church down the road.

Finally, I stay because I am not a quitter and I am still young enough to have the appropriate amount of naivety to think one person can make a difference.

So if you've read this far you understand why I haven't made an official exit from said parish. Now let's weigh that with the reasons I think I should pack it up and move on.

The number reason I have for leaving would be my son. He is five and next year will begin CCD in preparation for the first Holy Communion. I know for a fact that there have been instances when a teacher will to tell a child having a tough time grasping transubstantiation that Communion is a SYMBOL. This is just evil and diabolical.

I also don't want my son to think that all the tradition the Church has to offer are these awful hand holding sing-a-longs. For the sake of his salvation he deserves to be properly formed in his faith.

Then, of course, there's my sanity at stake every time I walk into mass and see an acoustic guitar at the ambo and hear the caterwauling of the music director.

And lastly, Mary Alexander said it perfectly:
"Putting up with this embattlement isn't good for your Faith. You need all your energy to fight the world, the flesh and the devil. You can't illuminate people who delight persisting in their self interest and ignorance. This discussion with the music director isn't about the Mass, it's about her and how she feels, and how much attention she gets.

I can't engage these types of battles anymore. I'm too old, too busy and far too cynical. It's a good place to be."
She's right. This state of mind is not a good place to be. Every Sunday when I leave my church I am in a state of unrest that consumes me all week.

In fact, reading over some of the other posts under the "parish hall" label shows me the history of how on going these problems have been and how futile my efforts are. Only a fool doesn't learn from past mistakes. Maybe I am fool for staying and trying to make a difference. Maybe I suffer from delusions of sainthood. There is a reason there is no patron saint for quitters, but a heaven full of holy men and women who have fought and died defending what they love from heresy. If I follow the examples of the saints, I should stay at fight right?



Tom S. said...

The reason you keep going back is that it's "home". In a sense, that is. And home is a tough place to leave. Even when it sucks, its a tough place to leave. Especially when it is so convenient to stay.
Some 15 years ago, I got so distressed at my "home" church that I just quit going for mass - period. Then, we tried another parish and I rediscovered the faith. I have been a member of that parish ever since, and happily so. Yet, when I go to my old parish (which has improved drastically through the years) to pray - it still feels like home.

Are the other choices in Charlotte really that dismal? Or distant?

Journey of Truth said...

I feel for your situation. I'm in a military parish. It's had its ups and downs for a variety of reasons. It's never perfect and there's always someone else that wants to do this or that for the better or the worse; people move; people leave for all the same reasons you listed. My husband said we stay because the military chapel is our community. For now. It's not always bad. I think the only thing that would make me leave is irreverance for the Eucharist.

Like you said, it's hard to leave what feels like home. I'll keep you in my prayers.

Can you talk to the priest about forming your son for his First Holy Communion and Reconciliation and just meet with the priest now and again to check his "home schooling" progress? You can site the Catechism: you are your sons first teacher, after all, and the Church supports you in that 100%.

Again, I'll keep you in my prayers.

Donna said...

Tom S.

Yes, churches in this area are liturgical caterwauls. They're bad, and I suspect it's not unusual. I haven't seen liturgical "dancing." However, the music is terrible; liturgies are generic, uninspiring, uninspired, and even distracting. The city is spread out; Catholics are very much in a minority here, so there you have it. Cannonball's observations are correct.

Tom S. said...

"... churches in this area are liturgical caterwauls." LMAO
I have no doubt that that's sad but true, but still funny the way you put it.

Interesting that in Greensboro, just 1.5 hours away, we have 4 churches ranging from happy-clappy "in the round" to pretty orthodox Novus Ordo. Not that many Catholics here, either, though! Still too far for CC to drive though! Damn shame, too. We'd love to have her.

Adrienne said...

We'll be attending a Latin Mass in Spokane this Sunday. It's not being "advertised" just yet - we heard about it through the grapevine. I have nothing against the Ordinary Form but it would take a lot longer to find one that was properly done.

Both my husband and I are on the new Liturgical Committee and teach RCIA. I also teach the 7th - 12th graders and prepare the Confirmation kids.

We need to go somewhere where we can get some peace and sustenance (sp?) for the battle. It sure isn't at any Masses at our parish.

Sooner or later we have to choose the best option for our spiritual life. Since I am a drunk, the Serenity Prayer is an important tool for me in decision making.

Simple version:
1. can I accept it?
2. can I change it?
3. if not - it's time to leave

I know how you feel and my heart breaks for you.

Tim A. Troutman said...

I understand what you're saying.. except the wanting to stay at said parish part :P

I'm counting the days until St. Basil goes full time. I'm almost 100% sure I'm gonna switch rites now.

Mary Rose said...


My heart goes out to you. I know how difficult it can be when you're in a place that just doesn't seem to "get it."

While I was away from the Catholicism, I was heavily involved in another church and from the very beginning, involved with prayer. Specifically, intercessory prayer.

Have you and your friends, who feel the same way, prayed together about the situation? Sometimes my intercession would yield a beautiful grace and strength to keep quiet and accept the situation. Other times, I saw some miraculous changes of the heart. I didn't want to manipulate God, but neither did I want the enemy to gain a foothold. I always (and still do) asked for wisdom and discernment, for God to sift my heart and that I would pray His Will.

I'll be praying for your decision. You have very good points on both sides, which makes it tougher to know which way to go. Hang in there, sister. :-)

Charles said...

Dear CC,
This dilemma is a bit like an artichoke. So many layers of leaves, each of them prickly, each of them interconnected, and you have to make your way through each one and its sinews before you get to the heart!
I'd like to seriously know of the particulars of how liturgy is conducted at your parish.

WhollyRoamin'Catholic said...

From your keyboard to God's ears...

I could have typed this whole post myself.

I've considered running for the parish council in my home parish for a chance to influence the wandering liturgy. But inertia is hard to change, any my parish is an object at rest. We seem to end up with a new pastor every 6 or 8 years-- are you due for a switch any time soon?

Carolina Cannonball said...

TIm, I'll forward you Deacon Gus's email about Fr. Sean's promotion and when we can expect weekly Divine Liturgy... 2 years was his questimate.

Novalis said...

Simple solution. Get behind the efforts to promote the Traditional Mass. See you at St. Ann's May 21st!

Irenaeus said...

I've heard the Diocese of Charlotte is horrible (I'm in Joliet, IL), so I went to the diocesan website, and it actually seems like the bishop is a good guy. I noticed in 2005 he promulgated this letter regarding the Mass, and it seems really good, really orthodox. It forbids, expressly, in bold, liturgical dancers, for one. For another, it's pretty straight up about simply doing what the books say to do, period.

Is it just a matter of Fr. So-and-so at St. Such-and-where disregarding such explicit instructions? Could you go to the Bishop (or at least his office) and "pull rank"?

ignorant redneck said...

Send a registered letter to the Bishop, with your concerns. Send a copy to nuncio.

Talk to your friends--get them to go to your parishes liturgical comittee/comision meetings. Quote authoritative statements from the vatican and the ordinary.

Write letters to the diocesan newspaper.

Pray the rosary.

Chris said...

I just switched parishes for many of the same reasons.
In my town there are 6 Catholic parishes- all of them sporting the same modern/progressive/Mass of the Electric Guitar spirit (albeit some more than others).
One visit to St Agnes Parish in St Paul MN and I knew that was where I belonged. They celebrate the novus ordo in Latin, with full choir and orchestra, Gregorian chant, commuinion at the rail- you name it.
I drive 140 miles round-trip every weekend for "Mass done right". I even received a note from the pastor today and he said he'd pray for lower gas prices. ;)
For me it wasn't difficult as I didn't have "roots" in the parish I was in anyway- I didn't grow up here and had only been a member there a few years. It never eally felt like "home". It sounds like your situation is different. But for me, once I saw Mass the way it was meant to me- there was no question where I belong. :)

Jeffrey Smith said...

You should stay and not fight, not exactly. Stick to your guns, yes. Keep patiently ( I know, but as much as you can manage )and politely getting your point across. Something will happen, if not in your parish, then in one nearby.
I will say, however, that if someone in that position told your son the Eucharist is just symbolic, that calls for having a word with your bishop.
And don't forget that a lot of people probably like the music, as is their right.

Adrienne said...

Jeffrey - liking or not liking the music is beside the point. It is not the music that is called for in Mass. What is called for is obedience.

I'm very tired of those of us who wish things to be done according to the laws of Church to be labeled rad-trads, malcontents, or worse.

I never call other people names but will agree that there are folks on each end of this spectrum that do. They need to stop!

Ma Beck said...

I don't know the answer, but I totally understand.

My childhood parish is a wreck.

(Fortunately, the very first parish I chose in Chicago was capital-A Awesome. Of course, duh, that's why I chose it.)

Steve said...

It sounds like you're having a tough time finding peace in your current parish. Remember that Christ is indeed there -- in the Eucharist, and in you and your son, and also in the people with whom you share the pews (and in the music director whom you don't see eye to eye with). God manages to put frail, earthen vessels to good use. That's good news for all of us. (I'm speaking as a flawed vessel myself.)

Christ is greater than any of our preferences or tastes, and greater than any of us individually or collectively. But Christ is present in the Eucharist, and Christ is also present in those who gather sincerely to worship Him -- which I imagine is most (perhaps all) of the people who show up on a typical Sunday. I hope you do manage to find some peace in your current surroundings, or, failing that, that you are able to find another parish where you feel more connected to God and God's peace.


Adrienne said...

steve - Christ is greater than any of our preferences or tastes

This is NOT about preference or taste. This is about the parish doing what is correct. Period!

Carolina Cannonball said...

and to add to Adrienne's last comment...

This is also not about Christ at all (for the MD, at least) this is about her purposefully manipulating her authority so she can gain as much attention as possible before/during/after mass.

Its about a priest who could care less that his parish is run by the liaty.

Carolina Cannonball said...

novalis, I will support St. Anne 100% and you will indeed see me there the 21st.

Irenaeus said...

Again, can you get help from the Bishop?

Carolina Cannonball said...


The bishop is a good & holy man. But let me give you an example,
Jugis issued a letter to each parish informing them that only men may participate in the Holy Thursday foor washing ceremony. That year, our priest (not the current one) purposefully did not wash feet. That was his way of protesting.

Such is the atmosphere of the diocese.

I am sure our Bishop would be open to hearing about these things and offering his help. But there is a certain lack of disobediance within my parish.

My parish is also a Franciscan parish, run by the order. They do not answer to the bishop but the head of their order. See the problem?

John said...

Adrienne said, "We'll be attending a Latin Mass in Spokane this Sunday. It's not being "advertised" just yet - we heard about it through the grapevine. I have nothing against the Ordinary Form but it would take a lot longer to find one that was properly done."

I assume that you're talking about the Mass at Mary Queen parish. It beautiful. I think it's the Mass as envisioned by Vatican II. Except for the readings, it's in Latin, Fr. Vivek faces ad orientem, there's a whole different feeling. We've driven up from Pomeroy, but unless we can come up with an additional reason to be in Spokane, the 4.5 hour round trip is hard to fit in.

It's so sad that our bishop is so opposed to Mass in Latin and especially the Extraordinary Form. Yet there are two separate groups of schismatic/separatist "Catholics" within 15 miles of the Cathedral.

One brick at a time.


Pax&Bonum said...

Dear Carolina- You have eloquently expressed both "stay and fight" and "cut and run" arguments (I will skip "change Rites", since I think that involves different spiritual considerations). So, if you are going to remain a Roman Catholic, I think you can see that although there can be real comfort in attending a distant parish that offers authentically Catholic sacraments, liturgy and catechesis, there is a real aspect of retreat and surrender in this choice. Are you really prepared to surrender YOUR parish to the heterodox, the self-aggrandizing, and the aging hippies? What sort of example would that set for your friends and your son?

A major piece of the puzzle falls into place when you say your parish is operated by Franciscan religious. My username shows I have a personal affinity for St. Francis, but my affinity is rooted in the life of Francis himself and examples of heroic virtue of many specific Franciscans over the centuries, not for any specific Franciscan sub-order. Most modern Franciscan orders are extremely liberal (at least in the U.S.) and are full of aging hippie priests and religious, as your own photos and comments often show; the age of heroic virtue for them is long past.

When Jesus spoke to Francis from the crucifix in the little chapel of San Damiano, he said "Francis, rebuild my Church, which you clearly see is falling into ruins"... Francis initially understood him to mean the little chapel itself, which he did set about rebuilding, but later Francis came to understand that Christ had really meant the entire Universal Church. Francis' life and preaching were NOT primarily about "Mother Sun, Sister Moon", preaching to the birds, the wounded wolf of Gubbio, which have been reduced to a "warm fuzzy", happy-clappy mythology which is the common modern image of Franciscan spirituality. In fact, Francis preached radical repentance, conversion/reversion, and personal poverty as a stinging rebuke to the clergy and laity of his time, which had become worldly, materialistic, and heterodox- sound familiar? Francis' true significance in Church history is as a mystically inspired but active and forthright reformer, not a warm-fuzzy proto-hippy.

If you don't stay and work in patience and charity (not "fight")to correct the abuses at your parish- who will? Your fellow parishioners are also suffering, whether consciously or not, from the liturgical abuse and heterodox catechesis. Since a latter-day Francis has not yet come along to set things right, they need you to be that first lone voice "crying in the wilderness" of your parish, calmly but firmly, with humility and charity. Perhaps other like-minded parishioners will then join with you until a critical mass is reached that your pastor and his staff must finally respond to.

"Stay and fight", no. "Stay, and patiently bear witness to the Truth, and gently but firmly influence", yes! If not, you, who? If not now, when?

I'll close with a quote Karen Hall (at "Some Have Hats") deliberately keeps at the top of her sidebar-

St. Catherine of Siena:

"We've had enough of exhortations to be silent! Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues. I see that the world is rotten because of silence."


Jeffrey Smith said...

I'm sorry, but on the question of what's "appropriate", I'll say that, if the pastor apporoves and the bishop doesn't put a stop to it, no blogger is qualified to say it's not appropriate.
Hang in there ( To use a 70's phrase. )

Adrienne said...

John - I didn't know about Mary Queen. I was referring to St. Charles. Thanks for that piece of info:) Mary Queen is a bit closer. We'll be trying both.

Charlie said...

I'm in the same diocese; my parish is is just as bad -- probably worse. We're about an hour outside of Charlotte, and the next closest parish is in the Raleigh Diocese. Certainly greener pastures. You can probably find the best liturgy in the entire state in Laurinburg, NC.

I refuse to run away from my parish. I've seen countless friends leave because of the unorthodoxy. I understand their plight. But if we honestly believe Jesus is less loved in our own church's tabernacle, why would we look elsewhere? We should be consoling him.

I've stumbled because of this kind of problem many times; but we have to remain where we are. How else can anything change?

Maybe I'm just too much of an idealist.

Irenaeus said...

Thanks, CC -- I'm not Catholic (but considering it atrongly) so I don't necessarily get all the ins and outs of diocesan and parish politics. I had heard the diocese was horrible, so I was surprised to see the bishop (and the rest of the diocesan website) seemed so orthodox.

Dymphna said...

I don't know what to tell you. I'll pray for you.

Kit Brookside said... could ask the pastor if you can start a "reader's group" within the parish, let him see the proposed leading list, and you could lead discussions...starting with the CCC, the GIRM, encyclicals, and get people thinking and talking about these things so they see what is wrong from points of authority, and not "just another rad-trad's" perspective. He could hardly say NO, and if he did, you'd have grounds to start a conversation with the Bishop, yes?

David L Alexander said...

"My parish is also a Franciscan parish, run by the order. They do not answer to the bishop but the head of their order. See the problem?"

Actually, they DO answer to the bishop. But on a purely administrative level, intervening in a parish run by a religious order tends to be more complicated. This is the trade-off; you get the additional priests for your diocese, but they get away with misbehaving more easily.

As for Holy Thursday, the foot-washing has always been optional, even in the Traditional liturgy.

For myself, people would be surprised to learn that in the Garden of Orthodoxy that the Diocese of Arlington pretends to be, there are a few looney-tune parishes. I've belonged to one or two of them. Out of that experience, I made a list of the three "minimum requirements" for my parish:

1) The liturgy is celebrated with due reverence, if not with great artistry.

2) The teaching of the Catholic Church is proclaimed without reservation, albeit at times scaling new heights of mediocrity.

3) The clergy are reasonably well behaved in public conduct, and in the administration of pastoral care.

One parish here did not meet those requirements, and only after I could not get relief from Bozo the Clown in the rectory, did I get permission from another pastor to transfer to his place. I was not always happy where I moved, but until I bought a house across town, this was where I stayed.

There is no clear answer to your problem, Caroline. Some people's dislike of their parish is temporary; an intellectual cabal which has the ear of a sympathetic pastor, gets the run of the place until he leaves and is replaced by a REAL man. Some people's dislike of the liturgy is grounded in personal taste. The rubrics are followed, but there is no joy, and the "ars celebrandi" is reduced to a perfunctory act.

If you are lucky, there is a group of you of like mind, who can band together for moral or other support. There is solace, as well as safety, in numbers. Together you can bring your concerns to the bishop. If his edicts are ignored, then keep writing him. Eventually he will have to pay attention to you, if only to get some peace and quiet. Contact the Saint Joseph Foundation for guidance in building a case.

Most important, if you are looking for immediate relief, you won't get it. Period. The current status quo is digging in. They know their day is almost done. They also know what I have been telling the entire Catholic blogosphere for a long time now; that in the next five to ten years, the way in which Mass is celebrated in the average parish is going to change dramatically. This is due to a combination of things, including a revised English translation of the reformed liturgy, the continued influence of the Traditional liturgy on the Roman Rite as a whole, the passing of the "aging hippie" generation, and the coming of a new generation of faithful priests.

In the end, there is a list of three things to look at:

1) Decide what you want.

2) Determine what you are willing to do to get what you want.

3) Do it.

Many saints found inner peace in the midst of chaos. How they did it is beyond me, but they did. You could take a lesson from them.

Personally, I'm glad I don't have to. But when I go back to Ohio to visit my parents, I rarely set foot in the parish where I grew up. And when I do, and they all start holding hands for the Lord's Prayer, I take one look at the guy trying to grab my hand, and...

David L Alexander said...

Oh, and what Kit Brookside said at 6:49 today. THAT is what I call a plan!

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Or you can do what I do, leave the parish, but stick in the private eye and working with those who are there to get things on track.

thetimman said...

Good post, I was where you are. Don't feel guilty to leave-- your number one duty is the salvation of your own soul. Only then are you doing any good for anyone. Like they say on the airplane for emergencies: Put your own mask on first, and then assist others.

It is tough. But St. Francis de Sales made an absolute point that you are only effective in leading others in holiness to the extent that you grow in holiness, in personal sanctification. And you are not able to do this own your own. You need the sacraments, they are given you by God and as a Catholic you have a right to them.

Leaving the madness is itself a witness to the truth.

Then, work on bringing your friends.