Thursday, June 5, 2008

Traditional parish turned upside down by new pastor...

News of this makes me fear for all that we have come to love in the liturgy as we enjoy it at Assumption Grotto, should it be suddently taken away.

When Msgr. Sawher retired, it was Cardinal Maida who personally contacted Fr. Perrone to tell him he was wanted as pastor of Assumption Grotto. Our Cardinal had the decency and charity to provide us with a pastor who would maintain continuity of the traditionalist environment that was already built. Fr. Perrone has been careful to make changes ever so gradually and with catechesis. Pope Benedict has encouraged much of what we do, such as ad orientem celebrated Masses, with Latin, chant and sacred polyphony. Father made those changes after studying writings on the liturgy by people such as the former Cardinal Ratzinger. Not many outside of Grotto understand our culture, but those who do come, find it is a real liturgical oasis - something you just don't find unless you are willing to commute, sometimes long distances.

But, what would happen if our pastor were reassigned and in his place someone was assigned who would make abrupt changes without any due respect for the desires of the people who have grown attached to the very kinds of things Pope Benedict has been advocating?

I predict, that as beautiful as the place is, that many, if not most would abandon Assumption Grotto for another parish where the pastor has a better understanding of liturgy than one who promotes "relevant", "happy-clappy", folksy Masses. Those commuting long distances can get this in many parishes much closer to home.

There is a developing story at a Grotto-like parish in the UK. There are some signs that deeper changes are coming with the kind of people taking sudden leave.

St. Etheldreda's, Ely Place, London
What will happen at St Etheldreda’s, where a parish with a long standing traditionalist culture is undergoing changes with a newly appointed pastor? It will be interesting to follow this story, especially now with the spotlight on it - in Catholic blogs with very high traffic.

Whenever a traditional parish gets a new pastor the usual questions run through the minds of the faithful..... Is he a progressivist who will try to make Mass more relevant? Will the music become more folksy, or will the classical repertoire and choir remain? Will sermons go from solid orthodox, to ambiguous namby-pamby. Most traditional parishes are known for catechetical sermons covering the fullness of the faith, as opposed to sermons that avoid hard topics that some priests think might adversely affect the collection.

You could argue that the people in this parish need to be humble and accept the changes. True enough, provided those changes are fully aligned with liturgical norms as intended by the Holy See and not simply "in the spirit of" (code for liturgical abuse). But the two opening paragraphs in the linked articles, seem to indicate "trendy changes in the first week".

But, there is also the matter of showing charity to people who have demonstrated a long-standing attachment to a traditional style of worship. It would have been most charitable (to people and pastor) to appoint a priest who would have worked with the traditional culture in the same way Cardinal Maida did when he assigned Fr. Perrone to Assumption Grotto.

From all that I've seen, St. Agnes in Minnesota, a diocesan parish similar to Assumption Grotto, was also blessed with a new pastor who understood the traditional culture and worked with it, rather than against it.

We can only pray that Cardinal Maida's successor will do the same when our current pastor's reign ends, which hopefully is a long way off. It's the most charitable thing an Ordinary can do in such cases, especially since there are so few traditional parishes to begin with.

Let's pray for the priest and parishioners involved in the matter at Etheldreda.

Go read the entire story on the blog of Fr. Z which has many comments.

Go read the entire story at the blog of Damian Thompson - the originator who also has many comments to read through.

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