Sunday, May 28, 2006

Kneeling at St. Mary's by the Sea - Diocese of Orange

Some of you may or may not know about the ongoing saga that St. Mary's by the Sea has been going through for some time now.

Diogenes at Catholic World News ( Gerald Augustinus at his blog, The Cafeteria is Closed have been following the story, along with other sources.

Here is a direct link to the LA Times article.

From the Adaptions of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM)

This adaptation will be inserted at number 43, paragraph 3:

In the dioceses of the United States of America, they should kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer, except when prevented on occasion by reasons of health, lack of space, the large number of people present, or some other good reason. Those who do not kneel ought to make a profound bow when the priest genuflects after the consecration. The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.

Obedience and Pastoral Charity

While the diocesan bishop certainly has the right to determine if people should kneel in adoration when Our Lord is presented, one has to wonder if forcing people to act against their heart's desire is pastoral in the first place. Sure we should obey pastoral directives - this is virtuous. We may wish to give Our Lord one thing, and may have to do another out of obedience, as exemplified by St. Faustina. But, I pray that all of our bishops will come to grasp that battles must be chosen wisely.

These parishioners have been kneeling for many years. First, the Tridentine - their way of worship for 15 years under the former pastor, was eliminated with his retirement. This had to be traumatic for these people to have such a sudden loss, especially during a time when the late Pope John Paul II asked that the Indult be made generously available. It's my understanding that at least one holy order offered to continue the Indult there, but got a "no thanks". Then, the local bishop makes a move to end a pious practice - kneeling during the "Ecce Angus Dei", and during reception of holy Communion - to the point of calling the actions of these people a "mortal sin" because they disobeyed his orders to stand. If people are kneeling to make a point - they are wrongly motivated. If they are kneeling in good conscience out of pure reverence for Our Lord, that is a different story and only the individual knows the truth.

What is the worst thing that could have happened if the people were allowed to at least continue kneeling?

They should stand to be common with other parishes in Orange?

It brings about "unity" how?

This is nothing more than surface unity because true unity subsists in truth, aligned with solid Catholic teaching - not in whether one stands or kneels. People are truly united with each other and the Church when they are in communion with teachings of Christ.

Disproportional Attention Given to the Wrong Things

With current abortion rates, TV programs and ads with sexual agendas ad nauseum, and low mass attendance, it's obvious we are in the height of war. It's ok for the captain to fuss over the wrinkle in a soldier's shirt in boot camp or in peace time, but in the midst of battle, it makes one wonder if he is fixing to lose the war.

In this era, we need bishops talking about the sin of extra- and pre-marital sex, or the sin of abortion and infanticide that takes place daily - which many Catholics support, if only indirectly. We need bishops who are willing to combat the heterodoxy that is plainly visible in some circles. Certainly the bishops know about the high numbers of Catholics whom are completely missing from the pews each week, many of whom don't even know it is sinful to skip Mass to go to the mall, or to sleep in, or to head off to a sporting event. They need to get into the mainstream headlines talking about these issues. The Catholic who really needs to hear from the bishop is the one reading the paper who doesn't come to Mass. So, what does this C & E Catholic read in his paper? Answer: It's not right to kneel when the bishop says to stand.

Of all the things to focus attention on and grab headlines - kneeling parishioners who most likely go to Mass weekly? There certainly may be some virtue issues tied into some of what is going on at St. Mary's by the Sea, but mortal sin for not obeying? As is likely the case in most dioceses in the US, there are probably a high percentage of Catholics in Orange whom haven't used the Sacrament of Penance in many years, but are in the communion line each week. How many Catholics hear this sacrament promoted with the same level of vigor as they are hearing about the need to obey a command to stand? As people "eat and drink their own condemnation", parishioners kneeling in adoration during Mass are lectured on their lack of morality? If only this much attention would be given to Catholics who support organizations like Planned Parenthood and other such groups which lead people to commit murder.

The bottom line is that we need our bishops to urge us vigorously to obey the commandments given to us by Almighty God, and then we will learn how obey preferential-based commands they give us. When they are heard addressing sins against the Ten Commandments on a regular basis - with simple forthright clarity, it will be much easier to follow them on pastoral isues. This doesn't advocate unvirtuous disobedience, but is it any wonder why Catholics are having a hard time obeying a command to stand these days?

What do we do?

It's time for all of us to get on our knees in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament to do reparation for all of the sins committed, not being addressed from so many pulpits today. And while we are at it, we need to spend time in adoration for all of our priests and bishops - that the Lord guides them to focus on the matters that are actually causing souls to drop into hell.

Perhaps if more Catholics spent time kneeling, there would be fewer Catholics supporting abortion, engaging in illicit sex, and realizing that we go to holy Mass to give God his due, not for our own gratification.

If you want to pray for a seminarian, priest or bishop, the sisters at Opus Angelorum would be glad to take your name and assign you one of your choice, or give you a priest from the many on their list. This is not just thinking about them once a day, it is about spending time each day praying for them. You will be provided with some guidance via mail and the website and the sisters are always there to answer questions through email. Keep in mind, that those who somehow offend us the most, need our prayers the most. Each cleric affected by our sacrifices and prayers affects thousands of people with whom they have contact.

EDIT: Amy Welborn has a good post on this issue, with lots of interesting comments from others too. I liked this one, in particular by Colleen on May 28:

It flashed in my mind (and I am not a Traditionalist by any means) that this case is a good case to bring back 'ad orientem' --- that way the priest would not be distracted by the posture of the people, as this priest obviously is.