St.Paul/Mpls: dust up at St. Stephen’s

In the ultra-liberal Star Tribune of Minneapolis, there is an interesting though hyper-liberal article by one of their über-liberal columnists.  The piece is about a supremely progressivist parish in Minneapolis, St. Stephen’s.  St. Stephen’s has been a pretty wierd place for as long as i can remember, though I will give the folks there one thing: they have had a pretty solid outreach to the impoverished of the area.  That is to be lauded.  However, as Pope Benedict XVI describes in Deus caritas est, help for the poor isn’t everything.  It is important, but there are other important things too, including proper worship and adherence to Church doctrine.  However wonderful helping the poor is, for that help to be true Christian charity there must be certain other critical components integrated.

 

So much for preliminary comments.   Let’s have a look at this article, with my emphases and comments.

 

The push for conformity shoves away parishioners
By NICK COLEMAN, Star Tribune
Last update: March 1, 2008 – 9:35 PM
 
For 40 years, St. Stephen’s Catholic Church in Minneapolis has been a font of Christian compassion, service to the suffering and help to the poor.

Those good works will continue.
[Take careful note of this point.] But many of the good people who contributed their time, talents and resources to the $3 million-a-year social outreach of a historic, 119-year-old inner-city parish will not.

They will be without their worship home at St. Stephen’s.  [No.  As you read on, you will find this is simply untrue.]

Exiles in their own parish, [No, they aren't.] 100 or more members of the St. Stephen’s community plan to march this morning from the church to a new home five blocks away, where they hope to continue the informal and spiritually arousing service that drew them to St. Stephen’s in the first place. [In other words, they are leaving the parish.  They are not "exiles".]

You know the kind of service: with guitars, lay people giving homilies, dancing in the aisles with people who have mental and physical disabilities, gay couples openly participating in worship, along with ex-priests, ex-nuns and sundry other spiritual wanderers.  [Hell must be like that.]

It’s all so 1960s. The new church is more like the 1860s.

The 9 a.m. English-language pray- er service, believed to have begun in 1968, has been shut down by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, which has moved in recent years to bring all of its 219 parishes into conformity.  [So... the Archdiocese has said: Catholics pray a certain way.  Let's all pray the way Catholics pray.]

"They all have to play with the same playbook," says Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the archdiocese. "They’ve had plenty of warnings to get their act together."  [More elevated oratory from an archdiocesan spokesman.]

The "playbook" is the GIRM – "General Instructions of the Roman Missal" — which spells out the rubrics for worship services. [Notice hereafter how the author starts using the word "rubrics".  It's fun.] After the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council in the early 1960s, the orthodoxies loosened [Yah...because that is really what Vatican II was about, right?] and churches, especially ones in needy neighborhoods like St. Stephen’s, put more emphasis on carrying out the message of the Gospels than following the rubrics.  [This is a sublimely stupid statement.  The idea is that before the Council, the Church was more interested in rubrics than it was in the poor.  Must we once again read the litany of religious orders which for centuries cared for the poor around the world... the truly poor in places that make S. Minnapolis look like the Montecarlo?  How about all the hospitals and schools and orphanages?  Okay... you get my point.  But note how he uses the word "rubrics".]

 

The 9 a.m. service in the school gym (there’s also a 9 a.m. Spanish-language mass in the church sanctuary) became a place where all were welcomed, the wording of prayers was changed to make them inclusive ("Our Father and Mother, Who Art in Heaven," for example), women had leadership roles in services, and simple ceramics were used instead of chalices of precious metal, as called for in the rubrics.  [i.e., good taste and authentic Catholic worship were tossed out the door.] The parish is getting a new pastor next month (it has had only part-time clergy), and McGrath says the archdiocese wanted to get things "straightened out" before the Rev. Joseph Williams arrives.  [And there came a new pharaoh, who explained the situation.]

But similar changes are taking place across the archdiocese, which is getting new, conservative leadership from Co-adjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt, who will shortly succeed Archbishop Harry Flynn.

The changes have caused pain [boo hoo] in St. Stephen’s, at 2211 Clinton Av. S. in the Whittier neighborhood, near the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

"How can it have been OK for 40 years — even been encouraged because of the work we do — and not be OK anymore?" asks Eileen Smith, [But it wasn't "okay" Eileen, really, it wasn't.  And I am sorry you were deceived for so long by those who were supposed to give you the right stuff.] a parishioner from St. Louis Park, who has been active in fundraising for St. Stephen’s and thinks of the prayer service as her spiritual home. "They should hold us up as a model of service. Instead, they are giving us the boot."  [Again, Ms. Smith, no one is being criticized for helping the poor.  The problem is the prayer service, which had nothing to do with Catholic worship.  Thanks for what you have done to help the poor, but perhaps you would find greater spiritual depth by worshiping as the Church desires, rather than merely indulging in self-expression.]

"It’s incredibly sad," says Mary Condon Peters of Golden Valley, who has belonged to St. Stephen’s for 16 years and served on its parish council. "All these years, there was room in the big old Catholic tent for all of us. And now there isn’t. And they gave us three weeks’ notice."  [Three weeks?  That is more than I might have been tempted to give.  It strikes me that the group was treated pretty well.  And, by the way, the "big tent" is still there.  But if you choose to leave the tent, that's not the Church's fault.] It was on Feb. 5 that Flynn met with parish representatives [See how badly they have been treated?   The ARCHBISHOP, who certainly doesn't have much to do, met with them himself.] and instructed them [...precisely part of his job description...] that the 9 a.m. prayer service must end. McGrath says that "nothing of substance" will change, and that the parish outreach to the poor, the homeless and the Hispanic community will go on.  [See?]

 

So will support of those ministries by the St. Stephen’s members who will march to a new prayer home today.  [See how this liberal columnist has blown this up into a tempest?  But this is about the Church's prayer.  The same thing happened with coverage of the Good Friday Prayers for Jews.  If they know little else about Catholicism they understand immediately that how Catholics pray is vastly important for the entire world.  Save the Liturgy - Save the World.]

The last service was held last Sunday. About 200 people attended, many crying throughout the service, which ended with a tear-stained but joyful singing of "We Are Marching in the Light of God."

Today, they will march again. This time, to Park Avenue.

After gathering at the usual time at the school gym, many parishioners who considered the 9 a.m. prayer service the center of a rich faith experience will say a last prayer on the steps and then head five blocks east, exiles in the desert, to 2120 Park Av., where they plan to continue the Sunday prayer meetings that brought them together.
"We are supposed to learn how to ‘pray right’ or go away," Peters says. "Well, we are going to pray the way we think is right. And we are going to go away. With great sadness. But we will still pray."  [I am sure they have been told repeatedly that they are welcome at St. Stephen's.]

I am reminded of the scene in John 6, after Jesus gave the the low down on eating His flesh and drinking His blood in order to have life.   Many left Him, because His teaching was "too hard".  

Perhaps they found their way to 2120 Park Avenue.

I am encouraged by this article, however.  I sounds like steps are being taken to correct liturgical abuses.  Obviously this is going to create some pain and hard feelings.  It sounds to me as if a rather gentle approach is being employed, however. 

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49 Responses to St.Paul/Mpls: dust up at St. Stephen’s

  1. TNCath says:

    HOORAY! However, what makes matters worse is how long the archbishop waited until they did something about this place. Why did it take 40 years for somebody to finally intervene? In the people’s defense, after all this time, somebody is now just getting around to tell them that what they were doing was wrong. Although I am very happy that somebody finally did something, waiting all this time only made the situation worse. Even though St. Stephen’s is an extreme example, there are many parishes out there that are engaged in similar liturgical abuses and nothing is being done about it. While I realize that the Universal Church thinks in terms of centuries, does this mean that the local Church should? This is frustrating for those of us in the pew or who hold minor roles in the Church and know better and wait, wait, wait.

  2. Garrett says:

    “‘How can it have been OK for 40 years—even been encouraged because of the work we do—and not be OK anymore?’ asks Eileen Smith.”

    One almost feels bad for her. And she does have a certain point. THIS is the sort of confusion that bad bishops allow to fester in their dioceses by allowing this stuff in the first place. They think they are helping and being all-inclusive and turning a blind eye, when really they are only deluding people who will eventually leave the Church when, later on, a better shepherd comes along and has to snap them out of their fantasy world.

  3. Fabrizio says:

    “How can it have been OK for 40 years—even been encouraged because of the work we do—and not be OK anymore?”

    Always so melodramatic. How could Traditional Latin Mass – and the treasures of holiness, arts and culture AND authentic care for the poor it generated – to be OK for a bit longer than 40 years and suddenly not be OK anymore due to a fantasy reading of a Council supposedly superseding the preceding 20 ones which had been ok for centuries as well and were also forgotten overnight?

    Answer that as you move to the “desert” of 2120 Park Av. I am sure the people of Sahel would never exchange their mud-huts for such a terrible place!

  4. I, also, am made happy by the corrections. Your “indulging in self-expression” is spot-on. Moving down the street in a huff is not the stuff of exiles.

    In contrast, these words move me to no end and seem to the point. Hilaiire Belloc writing to an Anglican friend, speaking of the Church’s declarations, he says: “That claim we of the Faith accept. The consequences of that acceptation are innumerable, satisfactory, and complete. We are at home. No one else of the human race is at home.” And a bit earlier, the wonderful line, “to that which is the sole solution of our riddles and therefore the salvation of mankind: the only House.”

    We really need to get over our cheap selves.

  5. I used to live in the Twin Cities. What is located at 2120 Park Ave.?

  6. Brian Mershon says:

    These people, wrong as they are, were deceived by their bishop and priests in authority, therefore by the official Church hierarchy, for more than 40 years. The Church bears a large brunt of the blame.

    Why was the abuse tolerated for so long? Why were priests like this allowed to continue to mislead the faithful?

    The Church is responsible. Saying “sorry” is nice, but this type of scenario is/will be playing out all across the country as new, young priests and bishops take the helm.

    Ultimately, it more the Church’s fault (starting with Pope Paul VI and his minions) than it is the lay people.

    Why did it used to be “OK” and now it is not? I’m not defending them, just redirecting the ire and the wrath that modernists so often endure on these types of forums. The bishops and the priests caused this–as well as at least one pope, if not two.

  7. Paul says:

    I was seriously rolling on the floor at the description of the liturgy (the one that must be what hell’s like :P). I could swear this is satire.

  8. TNCath says:

    Brian,

    I’ll go along with everything you’ve said except for the Popes. While so many abuses took place under Paul VI’s watch, I truly believe that he was naively deceived by his top advisers. In time, Paul VI himself realized that the “smoke of Satan” had entered the Church. As for Pope John Paul II, despite folks like Archbishop Marini and others who hijacked papal liturgies, he was nevertheless the one who promulgated Ecclesia Dei and allowed the Indult for the celebration of the Mass of Blessed John XXIII. I’d be more inclined to blame the local apostles (i.e. the bishops) and local pastors before I’d start blaming Popes for this.

  9. Derik Castillo says:

    The Bishop is doing a great job by trying to straighten
    up the liturgy in his diocese. I applaud the Bishop for
    his love of good liturgy and wish him well on the situation
    with St. Stephen’s prodigal sons and daughters.

  10. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Well, it’s true that St. Stephen Church is the church of the 1960s. The problem is that the church of the 1860s–or th3 1260s, for that matter–is the church of all time, and therefore the Church of the 21st century, of the future.

    This is the problem with this liberals. *They* are the nostalgics, not traditionalists. They yearn for that blip in history, that sad and unfortunate decade of decadence, the time of the Beatles, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, and Fidel Castro. Now it is dawning on people that the most talented Beatle was Beetle Baily, Trudeau is dead, and Fidel might as well be.

    P.K.T.P.

  11. Virgil says:

    The Park Avenue address is the Minneapolis Community Action Center, it seems. Probably a better and more appropriate place for the sort of “paraliturgy” that the Nine-o-Clockers” celebrate.

    I’ve been to the 9:00 hug-fest at St Stevens, back in the time when I apent a lot of time in the Twin Cities. As the article notes, they are pretty flakey, and also very very sincere.

    I am in pretty strong disagreement with the actions of Archbishop Flynn, though. The more attention that is brought to places like this, the more they thrive.

    A better course of action? Encourage imitations of the uber-parishes in the archdiocese, like our own Fr Z’s Saint Agnes. As more and more good liturgy happens, the bad liturgy looks sillier and sillier. Eventually, the good thrives and the bad dies.

  12. Virgil says:

    The Park Avenue address is the Minneapolis Community Action Center, it seems. Probably a better and more appropriate place for the sort of “paraliturgy” that the Nine-o-Clockers” celebrate.

    I’ve been to the 9:00 hug-fest at St Stevens, back in the time when I apent a lot of time in the Twin Cities. As the article notes, they are pretty flakey, and also very very sincere.

    I am in pretty strong disagreement with the actions of Archbishop Flynn, though. The more attention that is brought to places like this, the more they thrive.

    A better course of action? Encourage imitations of the uber-parishes in the archdiocese, like our own Fr Z’s Saint Agnes. As more and more good liturgy happens, the bad liturgy looks sillier and sillier. Eventually, the good thrives and the bad dies.

  13. Tinytin says:

    “You know the kind of service: with guitars, lay people giving homilies, dancing in the aisles with people who have mental and physical disabilities, gay couples openly participating in worship, along with ex-priests, ex-nuns and sundry other spiritual wanderers.”

    Would this behaviour be appropriate at historical foot of the Cross 2000 years ago? Why would it be appropriate at the renewed foot of the Cross?

  14. Greg Hessel in Arlington Diocese says:

    Fr Z,

    What took Archbishop Flynn so long? Did he ignore this Church for all these years? I assume he must have visited this parish at some point or other in his tenure.

  15. Brian Mershon says:

    TNCath,

    An often-repeated refrain. No disrespect intended at all, but please ask yourself the following question.

    Who appointed the modernist bishops? In my eyes, it is very easy to point just as much blame to the Popes of the era (Pope John XXIII and even Pius XII, who begin giving in to Bugnini, share some of the blame also).

    If a Fortune 500 company tanks, the President and CEO shares the blame by losing his job. The Popes of the era cannot be without fault. They refused to govern and enforce discipline–for whatever the reason.

  16. jacobus says:

    I’m confused; what would be the problem with these people having a lay-’inclusive’ prayer service hootenanny outside of mass? If they wanted to meet in the gym on Tuesday evening with their guitars and dancing, should the rest of us really be concerned? The church is catholic: there should be room for happy-fun times if people want them as well as proper liturgy. Is the problem that they would have to go to a proper liturgy in addition to rather than instead of their ‘me, me, me’ service?

  17. RBrown says:

    I’ll go along with everything you’ve said except for the Popes. While so many abuses took place under Paul VI’s watch, I truly believe that he was naively deceived by his top advisers.

    Who appointed those advisors?

    As I’ve said before, he appointed liberals thinking that their activities would be limited by the organic discipline of the Church (e.g., Latin). But the libs began to disassemble that discipline, and Paul VI didn’t know what to do except cry.

    In time, Paul VI himself realized that the “smoke of Satan” had entered the Church. As for Pope John Paul II, despite folks like Archbishop Marini and others who hijacked papal liturgies, he was nevertheless the one who promulgated Ecclesia Dei and allowed the Indult for the celebration of the Mass of Blessed John XXIII. I’d be more inclined to blame the local apostles (i.e. the bishops) and local pastors before I’d start blaming Popes for this.
    Comment by TNCath

    The pope is the visible head of the Church. Paul VI finally realized that a mess had been created during his papacy, then he preceded to blame everyone else for his own incompetence.

    And Abp Marini did what JPII wanted.

  18. Chironomo says:

    This seems to have been a truly bizarre situation. The question posed “Why was it OK for 40 years…” will be THE hallmark question of the coming next few years. “Why were these readings OK for 40 years…” “Why was this music OK for 40 years…” “Why were female altar servers OK for 40 years…” “Why was communion in the hand OK for 25 years…” “Why was it OK to ban Latin for 40 years….” and these questions will just keep coming. The point made in response was the answer to all of them: IT WAS NOT OK… EVER… IT WAS SIMPLY DONE AND IGNORED. That you were allowed to continue in error for 40 years is indeed unfortunate. It seems that the “prayer service” will be allowed to continue, however not at a Catholic Church where it might be MISTAKEN for a Catholic liturgy. Such services are more appropriate at the Ecumnical Center or store-front church where they will no doubt be heading.

  19. Matt says:

    This is great news. Real Roman Catholic worship conquering the darkness and evil of Satan.

    I hope this is the first step of a journey that will end at Most Holy Redeemer in San Francisco. I just hope soon. (Of course, I could personally added a few more stops to the parade.)

    Matt
    South Kent

  20. Dob says:

    Yes, gentleness is required. These are the lambs that have been poisoned by those who should have known better for the last 40yrs. It would not be right to expect them to be able to see or hear when their eyes have been blinded and their ears deafened.

  21. TNCath says:

    Obviously, the Popes appointed these advisers and bishops. However, that doesn’t mean that Popes can’t be fooled or deceived. Moreover, there’s only so much one man can do. Look at our present Holy Father. He has delegated many of his tasks to his top advisers such as Cardinal Bertone. It seems to be all in whom you pick to advise you.

    In Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus Finch tells his daughter Scout, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” Personally, I’d never have wanted to be in Pius XII’s, Paul VI’s, John Paul I’s, or John Paul II’s skin. They were elected during the most turbulent times in Western civilization. We’ll never fully know what Paul VI or John Paul II really knew or thought. Rightly or wrongly, I think both were truly doing what they thought was best for the Church, and, as limited as we are in one form or fashion, it’s up to us to now correct the abuses and wrongs of the past.

    As much as Pope Benedict is doing to rebuild the Church, we’ll never hear him criticize the mistakes of his predecessors. Perhaps, in a spirit of filial respect, we should follow his example.

  22. Peter Nelson says:

    The parishioners at St. Stephen’s are very fortunate to be given such a fine pastor as Fr. Joseph Williams. Fr. Williams heard my first confession upon converting to Catholicism. Like Don Corleone in Godfather III, I felt like I had been in the presence of a “true priest.” As one friend of mine put it, “I wished I had more to confess, just so I could hear what advice he had to give.” Fr. Williams seems very committed to traditional Catholic devotions. The people of St. Matthias are going to miss him, and the people of St. Stephen’s had better appreciate what they’re getting. God bless them, and God bless Fr. Williams.

  23. ALL: Please try to exercise some restraint and do a little “self editing” if you are going to post a comment. I don’t put entries on the blog so that you can gripe about the Church’s pastors, who like all of our fallen race are flawed. I thought this article was a) instructive, because it gives not only information but also b) interesting insofar as it gives a glimpse into the progressivist mindset. Also, keep mind that even though progress has been rather slow for some kinds of changes in the Archd. of StPMpls, positive change there has been. New religious orders have been welcomed and fostered. Vocations have climbed now the the bad trend of awful vocations directors has been changed. The seminary has improved enormously. Parishes with perpetual adoration have greatly multiplied. These are good things. Brick by brick, people. Sometimes it is nice to think about making huge and dramatic changes. How to do that without hurting people more than will be inevitable? Please exercise a little care when posting. Try to drill into this interesting situation without dwelling on the facile.

  24. TerryC says:

    In some ways while this will make it easier for the new pastor it is a shame that he will not have a chance to properly catechize these poor people. They seem to have no real idea of what the Liturgy is. They have been allowed to drift into apostasy over the past 40 years through neglect by the clergy and members of the laity who knew better. Now most will almost certainly break completely with the Church. Woe unto the shepherds responsible to the Lord for the care of their souls.
    Fr Williams will be in my prayers. I am sure not all of the recalcitrant parishioners have left and he will need many prayers if he is to lead those who are remain back to full communion with the Church.

  25. cheyan says:

    This article really made me feel sick at heart.

    What can you say to someone who was in college during Vatican II, who was told by her pastors then that the Church was “finally moving out of the Dark Ages”, who still believes it, and who perceives gentle correction as hatred? One of my family members is in that situation. She’s literally counting down the days until her parish’s associate pastor is reassigned, because he’s “obsessed with power” – he always says Mass the exact same way with no deviations, he wears a cassock even around “normal people”, he gives homilies about things Catholics must believe, just like the priests of the “bad old days” used to do. I could see her as one of the people sadly feeling exiled from her parish, like the folks in this article.

  26. Three points –

    1) I second everything that Peter Nelson said about Fr. Joseph Williams. Fr. Williams is also the one who heard my first confession upon my return to the Church. :)

    He and his brother (Fr. Peter Williams) are two of the best and brightest that the next generation of ArchSPM priests has. Both of them are faithful servants with a quiet yet firm approach – some friends and I once described Fr. Joseph as having the grace of “confident humility”. It is truly a gift that St. Stephen’s is being given in him, but we all need to pray pray PRAY for him as their pastor, that the Holy Spirit may truly guide him in guiding the flock back.

    2) Don’t be so sure about these people actually, finally, going into formal schism instead of simply actual schism. On the Wild Reed blog, our neighborhood Dignity mouthpiece claims that they are not leaving St. Stephen’s – that they all got together and decided to hold their 9am service “off campus” but that they still consider themselves parishioners and intend to be actively involved at all levels in the parish. I’m not sure what added or lessened difficulty this will bring to Fr. Joseph’s job.

    3) Fr. Joseph Williams’ first weekend is Divine Mercy Sunday. A group of us local to the area are planning to go to 11:15am Mass there (and NOT say the Eucharistic Prayer with Fr…!) to show our support for Fr. Joseph and to try to get to know some St. Stephen’s parishioners. Unfortunately, too many of us have fled from parishes like St. Stephen’s and avoided all contact, and so many in those parishes have an impression of the orthodox neighbors as being stodgy, old nasty types. We want to show them the young (and young-at-heart), joyful, happy, in-love-with-Christ-and-His-Church face of the true FUTURE CHURCH. Come join us!

  27. Three points –

    1) I second everything that Peter Nelson said about Fr. Joseph Williams. Fr. Williams is also the one who heard my first confession upon my return to the Church. :)

    He and his brother (Fr. Peter Williams) are two of the best and brightest that the next generation of ArchSPM priests has. Both of them are faithful servants with a quiet yet firm approach – some friends and I once described Fr. Joseph as having the grace of “confident humility”. It is truly a gift that St. Stephen’s is being given in him, but we all need to pray pray PRAY for him as their pastor, that the Holy Spirit may truly guide him in guiding the flock back.

    2) Don’t be so sure about these people actually, finally, going into formal schism instead of simply actual schism. On the Wild Reed blog, our neighborhood Dignity mouthpiece claims that they are not leaving St. Stephen’s – that they all got together and decided to hold their 9am service “off campus” but that they still consider themselves parishioners and intend to be actively involved at all levels in the parish. I’m not sure what added or lessened difficulty this will bring to Fr. Joseph’s job.

    3) Fr. Joseph Williams’ first weekend is Divine Mercy Sunday. A group of us local to the area are planning to go to 11:15am Mass there (and NOT say the Eucharistic Prayer with Fr…!) to show our support for Fr. Joseph and to try to get to know some St. Stephen’s parishioners. Unfortunately, too many of us have fled from parishes like St. Stephen’s and avoided all contact, and so many in those parishes have an impression of the orthodox neighbors as being stodgy, old nasty types. We want to show them the young (and young-at-heart), joyful, happy, in-love-with-Christ-and-His-Church face of the true FUTURE CHURCH. Come join us!

  28. Dido on father Joseph Williams. ZOINKS, BATMAN! To clean up the place, and then send in Fr. Williams the older. I know him personally. Big on orthodoxy, big on charism. Big on everything, and the ultimate JPII priest. If anyone can handle the situation, it be he. Gentle as a lamb, but PH balanced for a lion!

    GOD BE PRAISED NOW AND FOREVER!!!

  29. Eileen says:

    I still can’t figure out what was going on in the gym at 9 am. Was it a Mass? Was it a prayer service? Was it a prayer service pretending to be a Mass? Someone, please clue me in.

  30. Brian Kiernan says:

    Jacobus,
    As you know, Pope Benedict recently ordered publication of an “authentic doctrinal declaration” that “using non-biblical designations of the Divine Persons” . . . which “arise from so-called feminist theology,\” in an attempt \”to avoid using the words Father and Son which are held to be chauvinistic . . . undermine faith in the Trinity.\”

    Given this powerful clarity from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it will be difficult for bishops to accept people having such “inclusive prayer services.”

  31. david andrew says:

    The straw dog suggesting that well-placed intentions and service to the poor trumps faithful adherence to the teachings of the Church is one that needs to be put in it’s proper place. What difference is there between the secular humanists who shell out thousands of dollars a year to charitable organizations while engaging in behaviors deemed sinful by Holy Mother Church, and these folk who seem so at ease checking their fidelity to Magisterial teaching at the door in exchange for their “good work”?

    ISTM that this is part and parcel of modernism, which was denounced as a form of the Palegian heresy by Pius X, correct?

    And while the whole wandering in the desert image is on the table, I seem to remember reading that the Jews wanted to be liberated from Pharoah so that they could worship God the way God instructed them through Moses, not according to their own whims. When they strayed from fidelity to God’s laws, they lost much . . . their land, their liberty, their lives. Is there a moral caution in this for those folks who are leaving to “pray the way we think is right”?

  32. o.h. says:

    I am so tired of the “carrying out the Gospel because we’re free of those shackling rubrics” straw man. Our parish strives for orthodoxy, has very reverent N.O. Masses as well as the Traditional Mass each Sunday, and overflows in good works: service to the poor, to the homeless, to victims of natural disaster. The homeless are welcomed at our Masses, and at our meals, and they come to both. The “social justice types” are beginning to come to the Latin Mass; the loudest voices for more orthodox and challenging CCD classes are the first to write big checks for St. Vincent de Paul when Sister says funds are getting low.

    How dare these people in Minneapolis falsely divide God’s work and insist we choose one pigeon-hole or the other.

  33. I remember Fr. Joseph in seminary. Pretty much a saint, as well as his brother Peter. The people are in good hands. Holy hands.

  34. Jonathan Bennett says:

    According to a letter found on the website for this parish, it seems this is the type of priest they want:

    “We need a servant leader, not one who does all the work because much of that is our responsibility. We need a leader who empowers people to use the graces they’ve been given by God (not just for stacking chairs, working at church suppers and raising money.) We need a humble person who is secure enough to trust others to take responsibility and who can buy into our spirit of ‘All People are Welcome.’ We need a leader who respects us and who challenges us. DO NOT have a person who: is egocentric and needs to be the center of whatever is going on, someone who is not willing to share ministry when it is appropriate. Do not have a person who does not relate well with women or with those marginalized by the church. Do not have a person who is unfriendly and unwilling to negotiate conflicts.”

    In other words, a priest who is going to sit back and let them do whatever they please. I sincerely hope this does not happen.

  35. Jill Christensen says:

    I am so happy to hear of this! I am a graduate of the Minneapolis Collage of Art and Design (2001), and when I went looking for a local parish St. Stephen was right around the corner. I went to the 9 am “prayer service” for a month. When I (politely) asked the pastor if there was a more conventional Mass to attend, I was told point blank “this is the way we do things here.” I got the distinct impression my question wasn’t as welcome as the goddess worshippers who added their two cents during the prayers of the faithful.

    Happily, as a result of this I joined St. Olaf’s downtown which was wonderful. I went through the RCIA there, and did a six week workshop reading the documents of Vatican II. It’s unbelievable what people will try to pass off as “in the Spirit of Vatican II.”

    I’m back in my native So. Cal now, but I’m glad to know MCAD students can find a sound Catholic church a short walk away.

  36. Bill Costello says:

    Wow…I feel like a rookie after reading all these comments, but here goes. I’ll keep it short. Why not try to bring some of these folks back into the fold. At least from the newspaper article, they are certainly generous in spirit i.e. outreach to the poor. Somewhere in the comments above me was the suggestion the the Church shares some of the responsibility for letting the 9 am Mass “get out of hand” (my emphasis). I tend to agree with this. Surely, none of the liturgical abuses happening here is new news to anyone in the Archdiocese. There is spirit there, but isn’t it possible that some education is also in order? Let’s help them see what true, meaningful, Catholic worship is all about. Again, welcome them back into the fold. Don’t just run them off. Just thinking out loud here. Don’t be too harsh on me.

  37. KK says:

    Just a quick aside for future reference… Is there a numerical scale or ranking that one can apply to “ultra-liberal”, “hyper-liberal” and “uber-liberal”? I mean, are two ultra-liberals worse than a single hyper-liberal or is there an exponential componant? And does an uber-liberal trump either of them? Is there something beyond? Warp-liberal or tera-liberal? Who might receive the yotta-liberal award?

  38. Melania says:

    After reading this, I have only a couple of things to say…I believe that if Christ were here He would be marching right along with all His brothers and sisters to 2120 Park Ave. He wasn’t aout regid laws and regulations. He wasn’t about the “Shoulds” and the “Have to’s”. He wasn’t about lip service, He was about prayer from the Heart. He was about reaching to the poor, who will always be with us.

    So, where is Christ in all of what you are saying? Was He about criticizing? This is all I’m hearing in your remarks about these people. They are free enough to choose to be different, by not having to go along with what “others” expect of them. Shaking the dust off their shoes and moving forward. This is Christ.

  39. Jordan Potter says:

    Melania said: I believe that if Christ were here He would be marching right along with all His brothers and sisters to 2120 Park Ave.

    Christ IS here — and He’s not putting on an ostentatious show of defying and thumbing His nose at His Bride the Catholic Church.

  40. david andrew says:

    Melania,

    All I can say is the folks marching off are welcome to pray in any way they see fit, but not call themselves Catholic while doing it. Holy Mother Church has the right to establish and safeguard her traditions of prayer and doctrine. Those who level criticism of the Church are entitled to do so, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Catholic Church universally prays in a particular way, regardless what others may have to say about it. I’m always fascinated when people play the trump card of “What would Jesus do?” as a means of justifying defiant behavior.

    I suspect from your choice of words you aren’t Catholic, and so it would be beyond the scope of this thread to try and evangelize or catechize you on the subtleties of the topic at hand.

    If you are Catholic, however, somewhere along the line the teachings of the Church with respect to fidelity were absent from your formation, which is sad. It is an unfortunate consequence of the reform movement that people have been led to believe that Catholicism is anything you want it to be. They’ve been taught to reject the Magisterium, just as the secular world taught people to question authority, or anything they view as limiting their sense of “self-expression.”

    Remember, Christ instructed the disciples to go to the town border and knock the sand from their sandals in testimony against those who would not accept the apostle’s teaching, as they were leaving. These poor souls (for whom we have a Christ-mandated obligation to pray) seem bent on rejecting the apostle’s teaching as we Catholics believe has been passed down through the centuries via the popes (and from him to the bishops). The people who have chosen to leave St. Stephen’s are metaphorically knocking the sand off their shoes in defiance, not testimony.

    The Church teaches the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy (among them to instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, feed the hungry, clothe the naked) with no less vigor and with no more expectation of fidelity than they teach the Faithful how to pray. Therefore, we have an obligation to be obedient to the teachings of the Church in both the way we serve others and in the way we pray.

  41. Melody says:

    Melania, one of the works of mercy is “admonish sinners” because Jesus said, “If you love me, then keep my commandments.” Liturgy is not a power trip, it is not about you, or me, or the priest. It’s about offering praise to God and the Re-Presentation of Christ’s original sacrifice. The reason the Church gives us rubrics is that the mass belongs to no one but the Lord, who deigns to be Present in His Body and Blood.

  42. EnglishCatholic says:

    “Well, we are going to pray the way we think is right.”
    I feel sorry for them, and earnestly hope that they come back to the church.
    But the quoted comment perfectly summarizes everything that is wrong with these types of people, who have done so much to empty churches across the world.
    Pure pride and narcissism. Very sad.

  43. Virgil says:

    I answer Eileen’s question: “What was going on at the 9:00?” after speaking to a dear old friend who belongs to the group. It was a mass, but not according to the GIRM. Still a valid mass, in my opinion, just not done correctly. In this way, it was not that much different than most other masses going on in the US and around the world, just more extreme perhaps.

    Archbishop Flynn came to visit and told the group that he expected the liturgies at the parish to conform to the GIRM, and invited the folks at the “Nine O Clock Community” to make their choice.

    Most of the group decided to remain part of the parish, but to have their usual hug-fest at an off-site location. Without a new priest to support them, it will no longer be a mass, but a para-liturgy. After the para-liturgy they can go to the 11:15 at their old location, where mass will be according to the GIRM, and everyone’s happy.

    A smaller portion of the group are angry about it all. They are trying to “occupy” the old gym where the masses were held. It remains to be seen if it will calm down. My friend thinks they will quickly join the happy off-site bunch.

    Most interesting will be the new pastor’s ability to catechize while remaining able to keep this highly holy and highly active group as part of the parish.

  44. KK: Is there a numerical scale or ranking that one can apply to “ultra-liberal”, “hyper-liberal” and “uber-liberal”?

    Hmmm… I was just playing around with our wonderful English language when I did that. But this could be a fun project.

  45. Tim Ferguson says:

    I think applying “the biretta scale” is useful in determining what level of ecclesiastical liberal one is dealing with. (If a biretta cannot be found, the same effects can be noticed by using a maniple, saying more than a few words in Latin, displaying an image of the Infant of Prague, or mentioning indulgences)

    Upon seeing a priest wearing a biretta:

    A liberal will roll his eyes.

    An ultra-liberal roll his eyes and make a dismissive noise, like a “tsk” or a “sheesh.”

    A hyper-liberal skin will flush noticeably and veins may pop out on the side of his head.

    An uber-liberal will twist the parish bulletin in his hands and appear to be using great force to keep himself from ripping the biretta off the priest’s head and stomping it underfoot. In some cases, the uber-liberal actually loses control and does precisely this. That action, however, is more proper to the hyper-uber liberal.

  46. david andrew says:

    In response to Virgil:

    OK, their Masses were “valid and licit” although rife with liturgical abuse.

    Now that they’ve decided to take their toys and go play down the street, will the Mass continue to be valid and licit? Has the new location been properly sacralized for the purpose? This isn’t a one-shot provisional Mass being held at a convention center ballroom in connection with an “event” like an NPM convention. In a special case like that I assume there is provision for use of a “temporary” altar. This is a different situation. These folks are playing into the “wherever two or three are gathered” newchurch mindset that claims it’s their act of gathering together that makes the presence of Christ manifest. There’s no paschal mystery here. They’ve completely missed the boat on the concept of the Universal Church at prayer.

    Eventually, they’ll be participating in Masses that are neither valid nor licit, much to their spiritual detriment. ISTM that their good works to the poor would only be made all the more powerful by tapping into the mystery of the Eucharist, (as Benedict describes in Deus Caritas Est), rather than turning the Mass into a “pep rally.”

  47. G says:

    “Has the new location been properly sacralized for the purpose?”

    Didn’t you know?
    It is THEIR presence that makes a space holy. It’s only a house, walls and a roof until “it becomes a body that lives when we are gathered here and know our God is near.”

    It must be true because I read it in a Catholic hymnal.

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

  48. Miki Tracy says:

    You know, when Fr Joseph was the associate at the Cathedral (during his first two years in the priesthood) he regularly went to the lectern with the Catechism in hand and did his homilies from these readings in tandem with the Liturgical readings of the day. From what I know, he still does this today. He’s a great, faithful Marian priest with a beautiful habit of carrying the Divine Office with him everywhere. I don’t think they could have chosn a better, more appropriate priest to deal with the likes of St Stephen’s parish.

    As to the myriad issues with Archbishop Flynn, with all due respect, never has there been a more cowardly, paranoid and conflicted prelate in our midst. And after the crap he’s pulled with good priests like Fr Altier and Fr Eckhert, not to mention the harm he’s done to individual laity (myself included) over the past decade-plus, there will be no tears shed for his retirement! You can’t fire a Bishop, alas, but I am *so* unapologetically happy and relieved to see him *finally* ousted by age. A great lot of damage here must be repaired–St Stephen’s and Joan of Arc parishes aren’t even the tip of the iceberg….

    Please pray for us!

    In His Grace, miki tracy

  49. Clayton says:

    The dispute at St. Stephen’s is about more than opposing varieties of taste. It’s war against the teaching authority of the Church, with a view of reform that sees change/progress only happening through a revolution that tears down what has come before… it’s pure Hegelian dialectic, of which Marx would be proud: progress/reform comes only by opposition from without, never by conversion from within.

    More of my thoughts on this here.