QUAERITUR: Walking out of church because of the sermon.

From a reader:

Today, the priest gave an overtly political homily that I have no doubt you would have found highly inappropriate. Think Fr. Michael Pfelger of Chicago. I sat through it in stunned disbelief but some got up and left. Is it ever appropriate to leave Mass in protest?

I suppose it depends on what was said.  I can imagine situations in which I would walk out.

Yes, I can imagine something so bad that I would walk out.  It would be easier to do so were the topic overtly political or heretical.  If, however, the sermon is simply stupid, well… there’s always the Rosary.

On the other hand, there are sermons which make us uncomfortable because they should make us feel uncomfortable.

Sermons shouldn’t just instruct, leave us up in our skulls.  If our priests and bishops don’t get under our skin sometimes, they are not preaching well.

 

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108 Responses to QUAERITUR: Walking out of church because of the sermon.

  1. John F. Kennedy says:

    Sometimes you have to leave if heresy is being preached. Here is a recent example. Names have been provided so you can avoid him. (BTW, our parish priest and Archbishop agreed with me.)

    Last year, on the Feast of the Holy Trinity, we had a guest priest at our 9:30 am Mass, a Fr. William Verbryke, SJ, the Superior of the Jesuit Community at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He said some odd things during the course of his homily which upset me greatly (and probably others) and caused confusion and scandal for others.

    Fr. Verbryke started out making a joke that we shouldn’t expect to have any clearer understanding of the Trinity after today’s homily. He proceeded to tell a series of little stories that seemed unrelated but were in fact laying a foundation for his position/view.

    He first related a story of when he was a student at St. Xavier High School (a Jesuit high school). For his school service work he was assigned a “little brother,” a poor inner city kid, one of five in a family, all of different fathers. None of them knew their father. He was warned that using the prayer, “Our Father” would be “difficult” since they didn’t really know any fathers, only their mother. It would seem to me that it might be more difficult, but the revealing of God to be a good, loving Father would be very important to people who don’t have a good father.

    Next Fr. Verbryke spoke about his experiences at the Milford Retreat Center and their teaching of the “Prodigal Daughter” story. He stated that one girl had never really heard it before and changing characters in the story helper her to relate to it for the first time. Again, is seems to me that Christ told the story in the manner that he did and that people CAN identify with the characters as Christ described them. Additionally, changing the sexual identity of the characters will cause confusion regarding God’s (the Father in the story) person.

    He then started to describe the Trinity in ways that we’ve heard before, such as a shamrock. He also said the Trinity is like a woman being a Mother, a Daughter and a Wife all at the same time, i.e. different relationships with different people, but the same person. This was the third non male reference to God and it seemed to be a bit close to Sabellianism or modalism.

    Lastly he started to talk about how we can relate to God and the different ways we can make God relevant to us. It was “acceptable to think of God as “God the Mother” if that means we can related to God better.” Paraphrasing, “God doesn’t have a gender so we can think of God this way.” I had enough. I stood up and left. He said variations of it several times on my way out. (Who knows what was taught after I left.) I did not return until Mass was over. I was quite upset.

    Fr. Verbryke’s homily had three stories about how the maleness of God the Father is too problematic for some people and that we can re-invent God into our own image so he/she/it is more relatable. I had several problems with his homily.
    - Jesus does have a gender. Jesus referred to his Father. (Does he doubt Jesus?)
    - Jesus had a mother, Mary. (He didn’t have two mothers.)
    - “God the Mother” would be a “fourth person of the Trinity.”

  2. Supertradmum says:

    Many years ago, people walked out on Easter Sunday at the Basilica at Notre Dame because McBrien preached that it did not matter if Christ was bodily resurrected from the dead, that is was not a theological issue, but only as a spiritual reality for us. I did not walk, as I could not get to another Mass that day, although I had been at the Vigil Mass the night before. However, one man stood up and declared it was heresy and asked if this meant the Eucharist would be invalid. Some walked. There were about 600 plus people at the Mass.

    You can imagine what his sermons were like. I think when raising children it is of the utmost importance not to attend a church where the homilies are heretical.

    In fact, I had to invent a game to play in the car on the way home called “heresy watch” when we lived in places where we could not get away from such bad sermons. I would ask my son what the priest said which was heretical and why this was so. Sadly, he learned his apologetics at Mass.

  3. frjim4321 says:

    Since I’m rarely a member of the assembly this would not be an issue for me ordinarily. However if the homily was extremely offensive I would probably walk out and return when it was over.

    For example a priest I know was bragging on FB about what he said in his homily about the Zimmerman verdict. To begin with, it annoys me when the weekend homily is a commentary on the main story of the past 24-hour news cycle. Doesn’t homily prep beginning sooner than that?

    Then, who really cares about the priest’s opinion in the Zimmerman case? It’s certainly not fodder for the homily.

    Anyway, most homilies I hear are fair, good or excellent, a few are poor, and I can’t remember a recent one that I’d walk out on. I did walk out during my niece’s graduation several years ago during the address which was by Ken Blackwell, but that was more because of the person than because of the content.

  4. I don’t think anyone has ever gotten up and left during one of my sermons but some may have fallen asleep or ‘wandered off’. I have had conversations afterwards in person and by phone where people queried what I said or what they thought I said. Some had good points to make, others had serious difficulties with the faith while others had not properly heard me and objected to what they thought I said rather than to what was actually said. This is a good reason for priests to record their sermons! I got a reaction to a comment on my sermon on Saturday (we preach at all Masses in our church here) where, in referring to the current abortion law passing through our Government, I mentioned that those infants who die without baptism cannot see God but enjoy an eternity of natural joys free of pain and suffering- limbo in other words. This is, of course, a painful topic for many women who have lost children through miscarriage and I should have taken more time and care to be clear. Still it was only a passing part of my argument, an explanation that for us Catholics abortion is a double crime – the deprivation of natural life and of the possibility of the Beatific Vision.

    After all these years of preaching I am still learning that people take away only fragments of what is said and the preacher’s art is to determine which fragments he wishes them to take!

    John F. Kennedy – Yes if your account of the preacher is accurate then he is flirting with heresy. His point would seem to be that the terms ‘Father’, ‘Son’ and ‘Holy Spirit’ are mere projections of human categories onto the Godhead and that they don’t work for everyone. It follows that other categories could be found and used for those that need them.

    It also assumes, I think, that it is not only the Divine Nature that remains unknowable but the Divine Person(s) too. I put the ‘s’ in brackets because if God in God’s Self is utterly unknowable then surely God cannot be known as anything other than ‘One’.

    It is determinative that our Lord chose to reveal that the Holy Trinity is Father, Son and Holy Spirit and it implies that there is in the relationship between father and son an ‘icon’ of the relationship between the First and Second Persons of the Holy Trinity. Likewise the union of man and woman in marriage is an icon of the relationship between Christ and the Church. It suffices that the Lord chose to use these and only these terms to reveal the inner life of God – He would know wouldn’t He? Any other images are therefore inadequate and liable to lead one astray. I am not sure if one can argue that because Jesus was male therefore the Son (and therefore the Father) is ‘male’ or even ‘masculine’. I am not sure if those categories can apply to the inner life of the Trinity. I expect those last few lines might get a discussion going!

  5. future_sister says:

    I know at the TLM parish I go to more and more NO people have been coming lately which is totally awesome…. until the homily hits, then they all walk out. Father lost about half the congregation around the time of the march for life because he explained why contraception and abortion are wrong and grave sins during his homily. I’ve heard homilies on divorce, satan, the heresy of Protestantism. Well basically he’s a good priest, too bad people walk out during the homilies. So if you are ever in CT check out St. Martha’s in Enfield low Mass every morning before the NO and a low Mass every Sunday at noon, high Mass on occasion when they can scrape the choir together.

  6. WaywardSailor says:

    For years, I attended Mass at a parish where a certain senior priest in residence was fond of substituting his own, incomplete version of the Easter Promises in place of the Creed at every Sunday Mass, delivering bizarre, heterodox homilies, writing questionable essays for publication in the parish bulletin, as well as orchestrating (with the pastor’s apparent permission) a campaign to petition Rome for the ordination of women. My spiritual life suffered greatly, and I tried to avoid any Mass “presided over” by this particular priest.

    As luck would have it, one year I found myself stuck with him on the Feast of the Epiphany, where he proceeded to proclaim that “we look forward to the day when our daughters can be priests, we have equality of marriage, and the immigrant is welcomed.” And then he launched into his “Creed”. I quietly stepped out of the pew, genuflected toward the Tabernacle, and left the church, steam coming out my ears, wondering where I could go to fulfill my obligation, this being the last Mass of the morning at this parish. By the grace of God, I remembered a parish about a half hour away that advertised an early afternoon Extraordinary Form Mass (I had heard of this parish when I was an adult leader working with scouts on religious emblem awards and introducing them to the EF as a way of fulfilling a requirement to attend Mass in a language other than their own). The welcome I received at this church was unlike anything I had ever experienced, completely dispelling the notion of unfriendly radtrads. The Mass was reverent, the preaching was outstanding and, happy to say, it has been my refuge for the last three years. So, walking out of Mass was a blessing for me that continues to bear fruit!

  7. Fern says:

    Ok, would anyone walk out because the sermon was given by a woman “minister” of another faith group? Reason given later was that the lady was a member of the family. It was a funeral Mass. How far does being “pastoral” go?
    Fern

  8. Elizabeth D says:

    I would take pictures and/or video to send to the bishop, not taking any particular care to be discreet, and then quietly walk out, Fern.

  9. e.e. says:

    I never have actually walked out on a homily because I have a great talent of “zoning out” when things get weird… But I have to say, I did consider walking out when a visiting religious sister gave the homily at our parish. Father read the Gospel, sat down, and sister gave the homily. It was really bizarre.

  10. mamajen says:

    I would definitely get up and leave if it was heretical, probably never to return if there was a suitable alternative. I hope the priest, and fellow parishioners, would notice. I would also write to the bishop.

    That’s what I’d like to think I’d do now. As a college student I just suffered through some really atrocious stuff. One Sunday a priest used his sermon to belittle a woman who had written a letter to the editor decrying the priest’s support for women’s ordination. I thought about writing to the bishop in that case, but didn’t believe it would make a difference (nor did I want to be fodder for another sermon). I regret that I didn’t act.

  11. Wouldn’t this be a case of a sermon that detracts from rather than supports the Holy
    Sacrifice of the Mass. If so, wouldn’t it be better to have no sermon at all? Why have a sermon that’s a distracting interruption to the liturgy, or one that detracts from subsequent prayerful participation in the sacred rites?

  12. pmullane says:

    Its a difficult choice, and made with a heavy heart. I have only walked out of Mass once. This was on Palm Sunday, and Fr began with the gospel, read by everyone but him, then a very theologically dodgy ‘homily’. We left because there was another Mass that we could make if we left there and then, or else we would likely have stayed. That being said, there have been many times where I have had to ‘tune out’ certain homilies, or use the rosary to help me stay focused on Mass. Interestingly the two places where there has been the worst problems with homilists have been Cathedral Churches.

    I would suggest that there are sever considerations to be made before one should walk out of Mass. Firstly, are you fulfulling an obligation by being at Mass (either divine, ie Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation; or human, wedding or funeral Mass etc). Secondly, can you attend elsewhere? I would feel much more comfortable leaving Mass if I knew I was able to go elsewhere. Thirdly, what effect will I have remaining at Mass Vs Walking out? Will the damage done to the souls of (for example) my wife and children be worse staying and listening to the heterodox/political/idiot priest or by me leaving. To use a related example, some people do, for good reason, leave Mass after communion time (mabye say a doctor on call). But does that person leaving give the impression that ‘its ok’ to leave Mass after communion? Does it cause impressionable people to leave after communion, thinking that everything after is optional? Does it lessen the importance and dignity of the Mass? If someone sees me leaving Mass because the priest is saying something stupid, will it cause them to leave when the priest is saying something that they dont want to hear, but need to hear? On the other hand, will remaining be an occasion of sin? Will I just sit and fume and consider what tortures I wish to put the offending priest through for the rest of Mass? Will I go out and gossip and blacken his name to all that will listen? Will I hold a grudge?

    Also, can I use this as an oppertunity? Can I have a discussion with my family about why what Fr said was wrong? With my friends? Can I use it as an example of the crisis in the Church, of the priests who have gone sour? We had a priest visit our parish once when our solid, bold and couragous preacher of the truth was away. ‘There are no good theological reasons why a woman cant be a priest’ he said. He nearly caused a riot, people in the pews were enraged.

    Finally, what am I willing to do about it afterwards? If it is so serious that I have to abandon the Lord, then surely I cant just let it go and get over it. Would it be best to, rather, than walk out, perhaps take a recording of the homily on my phone, and then forward the evidence on to the Parish Priest, Bishop, or CDF? This would be more valuable than the hearsay of a parishoner who never even heard the whole thing before storming out.

    I would suggest there are good reasons to leave during Mass (and they make it all the more important to carefully select what Mass and Parish you attend), but its not a decision to be taken lightly.

  13. Jim in VT says:

    I sat through a homily a year or so ago in which the priest told us that the multiplication of loaves and fishes was not a miracle by Christ. Rather it was an example of how Christ inspired the people to share what they had brought with those around them. I nearly walked out a few times during that one.

  14. I’ve walked out on a couple over the years. One during a homily at St. Peter’s in New Brunswick NJ about 10 seconds after the associate pastor introduced the 8th grade girls ‘liturgical dance’ troupe who were going to ‘interpret the that morning’s Gospel through interpretive modern dance’, right out the center aisle (what good is making a point if no one sees you doing it, especially the perpetrator) and the second was your typical dissident whining by a pant-suited nun who was introduced, because Father could assign the homily at Mass for ‘pastoral reasons’ to someone not a priest or deacon, about the Bad Old Hierarchy and the need to ignore the information about the CCHD and make a sacrificial offering to ‘show the Bishops’ that ‘we won’t stand for their interference’.

    Strong letters followed right up the chain with CC to the respective pastors. Associate in incident 1 disappeared about a month later to a retreat center to ‘refocus on his vocation’, second elicited an abject apology written and verbal at each Mass, and removal of the CCHD envelopes from the narthex and cancelling of the second collection.

    Point being…if the lazy butts in the pew do nothing, they WILL run roughshod over you. Stop being sheeple. We have to hold our clergy to the same standard we hold ourselves…and exercise a little backbone if we expect them to do the same.

  15. Glen M says:

    If a homily is bad enough to walk out of in that heresy is being preached then the Ordinary needs to know about it. Walking out and/or complaining on the Internet won’t solve the problem. Heresy threatens salvation. If the Ordinary doesn’t want to do anything about it then let the nuncio and CDW know what’s going on.

  16. jhayes says:

    John F. Kennedy, sounds as if Fr. Verbryke was preaching on No. 239 of the Catechism:

    239 By calling God “Father”, the language of faith indicates two main things: that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God’s parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasizes God’s immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. the language of faith thus draws on the human experience of parents, who are in a way the first representatives of God for man. But this experience also tells us that human parents are fallible and can disfigure the face of fatherhood and motherhood. We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard: no one is father as God is Father.

  17. The Sicilian Woman says:

    If the homily preached heresy, yes, I would walk out.

    We had a priest from Priest for Life visit a few months ago, and he said the homily. An older woman left in the middle of it. I know that parishioners have complained to our priest about his political (in line with Church teaching, not Obama-friendly) homilies, but he doesn’t waiver, yay!

  18. acardnal says:

    jhayes, you didn’t bold the last eight words of CCC #239 you quoted.

    Jesus called God “Father” and told us to pray to him as “Our Father”. Seems pretty clear.

  19. Imrahil says:

    If one is under no obligation to hear Mass (and that includes the Sunday, if there’s yet another Mass to go to), one is free to walk out.

    If it is the only possible way one can or wants to fulfil the Sunday obligation… then it’s an interesting question to the moral theologian.

    In fact, it might be a good way to combat liturgical abuse and heretical preaching if the legislator simply passed a law that whoever witnesses such things, is free to walk out and not obliged to visit yet another Mass.

    That said, often a half-loudly said “no” or “that would be wrong” suffices. I’d never hesitate to do that. Frankly, I did so once as an altar server (collecting the collect) in a First Communion preparation Mass, when the pastoral-assistant managed gave “explanations” which, in their natural meaning, led away from Real Presence if they perhaps did not outrightly deny it; another once, when I was waiting for Confession (during Mass [HT to our reverend host]) and overheard a sermon on Faust II with the sentences: “Whoever strivingly endeavors, him We can save… Let us not hesitate to be modern men. Let’s not hesitate to pray God to leave absolute truth in His right hand, while we are content with the free searching and inquiry He holds in his left.” I’m no modern man, at least not where modernity is no fun, thank you kindly, and in addition, I’m selfish, and I want truth, and not any searching, least of all a pointless one, thank you kindly

  20. pmullane says:

    Glen M:

    “Heresy threatens salvation.”

    Aye indeed. If we were as concerned about souls as we were about other things, all Sunday homilies would be recorded and held by the parish. If someone complained about the content to a bishop, then the bishop could ask for the audio to be forwarded, listen to it first hand for himself, and respond, either to the priest if he is wrong, or to the complainant, who may have misunderstood. In fact, same goes for the whole Mass, they should be recorded and kept on Audio File. Priest messes about with the words of consecration? Send me the Audio file (can be done instantly by email), listen to it, respond appropriately.
    Priests can get stuff wrong, priests can be malformed, or can say things that can be misinterpreted. A good spiritual father, the bishop, should be able to speak to his priest as a father, and make sure that he is better formed. A good son shouldnt have to worry about that. Other priests are obstinate, or boneheaded, and they should get their tails kicked appropriately. When you think of the rigmarole and expense that goes into child protection procedures, which I’m not saying is a bad thing, this would be a peice of cake.

  21. Therese says:

    Feeling very grateful. Posts like these are helpful to me, if only as a reminder of what is working in our diocese. I have heard very few political sermons (and those inspired embarrassment for the poor dupe) but I can see how this sort of thing could interfere with the necessary disposition of heart and soul at Mass. If I felt myself on the losing end of this wrestling match, I’d go to another Mass (provided there was one), and try to do better next time.

    Children are another matter; good company helps them grow up in the Faith–if you’re stuck with a politicking pastor, you have to step up, as supertradmum and pmullane have suggested.

  22. alexandra88 says:

    If the content of the sermon is downright heresy or pure rebellion (denying the divinity of Christ, calling for women to the priesthood, ext), I would personally standup and leave. Vote with your feet.
    I have never had to walk out during mass in that context, and God willing, I will never have to. However, I once heard during improvised lay bidding prayers during mass (spare us O Lord!) a petition sincerely calling for the Church to reconsider her stance on contraception and possibly abortion too, if my memory serves me right. There were quite a few swift glances and raised eyebrows in that congregation!

  23. jacobi says:

    I have read above examples of priests preaching or allowing heresy in the sermon.

    Sadly a large number of Catholics now simply don’t know their Faith. The recent polls showing that 80% do not know of or believe in the Real Presence is the most obvious example. Sermons are usually utterly banal, as in my church last Sunday when the priest just repeated the Gospel he had read almost word for word, without analysis or any attempt to explain its application to the relevant Catholic doctrine and teaching.

    Since the sermon is effectively the only form of adult education available to ignorant adults, we need priests to state clearly when appropriate, that abortion, foeticide, sex outside of Church-valid marriage, missing Sunday Mass without good reason, and any other deadly sin, are mortal sins, endangering souls and preventing those guilty from receiving Holy Communion on pain of sacrilege.

    If that causes more walks-outs well remember that Christ did not call back the young man who went sadly away.

  24. Chiara says:

    Hi Fr. Z -

    I have walked out of a sermon, and it did not make me happy.

    Our parish administrator, who has since been reassigned, had just read the Gospel of the loaves and fishes. Now to me, a poorly catechized laywoman, this particular Gospel just screams for preaching on the Eucharist. Instead, our administrator decided to speak on how we must be accepting and supportive of Universal Healthcare (this took place 4 years ago).

    Father was barely 30 seconds into his sermon/political speech when this happened. I got up, knelt, and left the church. My husband was the lector that day and was seated to the side of the altar, and could not leave. I was so upset I do not remember this, but he tells me that when I got up out of my pew and knelt, Father stopped speaking and stared me down until I left the church.

    This is the same priest who would routinely change the words of the Gloria, etc. to make them politically correct. Once I approached him about his changing the words of the Gloria to “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people (instead of His people) on earth”. I told him it was distracting to me and I couldn’t understand why he would do that. He went into a long discourse about how the nature of God is both male and female, etc. When he stopped for air, I mentioned that I thought Jesus told us to call God our father, and that Jesus knew Him better than all of us. That made Father mad, and he told me that Jesus had to talk down to his audience and he had to assume a macho attitude because they were 1st Century Jews.

    You can imagine I was very relieved when our good Bishop Lennon sent us a terrific pastor in his place. Thanks for letting me vent!

  25. Perhaps no one has mentioned the alternatives to walking out of Mass to avoid distraction from worship by a sermon that is either heretical or merely stifling. Need such a situation rise to the level a question about one’s obligation to hear Mass on Sunday?

    Why not just slip quietly out the pew and repair to somewhere else in the church for private prayer or meditation, or just “time out” for a visit to the restrooms, and return in time for the continuation of the liturgy at the conclusion of the sermon?

  26. Brother Juniper says:

    I’ve never walked out on a sermon because then you miss receiving the Eucharist. Through years of careful study and practice, however, I have acquired the ability to tune out all sermons. Usually, I just pray during sermon time, but I will admit that sometimes the mind wanders to what will be on the grill that night or whether I am in the mood for a martini or a single malt before dinner (all important considerations that show gratitude for the wonders of creation). Once sermon is over I am always ready to receive My Lord unperturbed by a priest proclaiming a watered-down version of Christ. Since we have good music in our parish, my Mass experience is always wonderful.

  27. Suburbanbanshee says:

    There’s a place for images of God as mother-like, but telling people to call God “Mother” and think of all the Persons of the Trinity as female or feminine is a different kettle of fish.

    Basically, it’s healthy to remember “As a hen draws her chicks under her wings,” “the kingdom of heaven is like a woman who loses one coin” or “who had a measure of yeast,” and “If a mother forgets her baby, I will not forget you.” Heck, you can even do the thing where you compare Jesus’ wounds to a mother’s milk, and His wounded side to a womb. Certainly you can always call good Christian women Christ-like.

    But. If God wants us primarily to think of Him as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then it’s fairly important to keep the images of father and son in mind. Jesus chose to use those images most often in His parables and His teaching, and He knew what He was doing.

    I know it’s unfashionable with some to care about author intent, but He is Our Author, so yeah, we have to pay attention. Kinda mandatory. Not real survival-oriented if we don’t.

  28. James Joseph says:

    I have heard some whoppers come out of our Italian American ethnic parish.

    One of the more memorable whoppers is: Anybody who thinks that the most important part of the Mass is the Eucharist are obviously wrong because it is the readings that make the Mass; the readings are most important.

    Bonus whopper: In order to fulfill our Sunday obligation you have to attend a Mass with the readings designated for that particular Sunday. It does not matter if you go to 3 weddings and funeral. It is the readings that qualify the Mass not simply devotion attendance at any Mass on Sunday.

    Extra-bonus (not a homily) whopper from our Cathedral: “We cannot have Mass today because there is less than six people here.”

  29. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Henry Edwards — Public heresy usually calls for a public response. The only time I wouldn’t think so is if Father doesn’t know any better, or if Father just made a minor technical error with implications of heresy.

    As has been recalled elsewhere recently, the early Christians often feared to stay in the same bathhouse or building as a heretic, for fear that God would strike him down and they’d be caught in the wreckage, or just so that nobody would think he was a good Christian or they supported heresy. Heck, St. John notoriously was supposed to have fled the vicinity of one heretic at a run, and this was a guy who was also said to have sought out murderous bandit gangs just to find one of his students gone astray.

  30. John of Chicago says:

    According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Chapter 2:

    “The Homily

    65. The Homily is part of the Liturgy and is highly recommended,[62] for it is necessary for the nurturing of the Christian life. It should be an explanation of some aspect of the readings from Sacred Scripture or of another text from the Ordinary or the Proper of the Mass of the day and should take into account both the mystery being celebrated and the particular needs of
    the listeners.[63]

    66. The Homily should ordinarily be given by the Priest Celebrant himself or be entrusted by him to a concelebrating Priest, or from time to time and, if appropriate, to the Deacon, but never to a lay person.[64] In particular cases and for a just cause, the Homily may even be given by a Bishop or a Priest who is present at the celebration but cannot concelebrate.

    On Sundays and Holydays of Obligation there is to be a Homily at every Mass that is celebrated with the people attending, and it may not be omitted without a grave reason. On other days it is recommended, especially on the weekdays of Advent, Lent, and Easter Time, as well as on other festive days and occasions when the people come to church in greater numbers.[65]

    It is appropriate for a brief period of silence to be observed after the homily.”

    In other words, the homily must be based on the theme of that day’s Scripture readings or Mass text. Regardless of how pious or devout/impious or irreligious, if the homily is not rooted in that specific day’s liturgy it is inappropriate. This is ignored by “the good, the bad and the ugly” way, way too often.

  31. Joy says:

    I have considered walking out a time or two; once very recently when something bordering strongly on blasephmy was being preached – had my younger son been with me, we would have left for the remainder of the homily. With my older son, we routinely do something similar to what Supertradmum has suggested: I ask him if he heard anything theologically suspect, and why it was so, and then we discuss what is correct. Since without considerable travel (8 plus hours total) we cannot participate in the Mass elsewhere, and he is old enough to have an intelligent discussion, this has been in many ways a blessing – though an annoying one. Now that my younger son is getting old enough to listen and hear what is being said, I may have to re-think my decision to continue attending this Parish.

  32. Gail F says:

    Interesting discussion! I walked out of Mass once when I was young and returning to the Church — I was traveling and I don’t remember what the priest said but I was so angry that I couldn’t stay in the pews anymore. I am not proud of this as I doubt he said anything wrong, it was my problem.

    That said… since then I have left my seat at least twice until after the homily was over since then, both at my parish, both because of borderline heretical things. I have sat in my pew and stewed, or simply been amazed, many other times. I don’t know whether I was right any of those times. The last time I left, I simply couldn’t take it when we had a Sister do the homily. I did speak to the pastor about this and it hasn’t happened since, although I don’t know whether what I said had anything to do with it or not. The last time I wanted to leave the pastor asked everyone to sign a letter “in support of the sisters” while they “discerned what to do” during last year’s Fortnight for Freedom. I stayed but we went to some other parishes for a while after that, and I spoke to the Parish Council president (the letter was from Parish Council) but that didn’t go anywhere because the president said he didn’t know whose idea it was or why they were doing it or what we were supposed to be “supporting.” Right. He suggested I talk to the pastor after he got back from vacation and in the end I decided there was no point. That is still our parish church and we still go there some of the time (for various reasons) but we cut most of our financial support and give it to charities instead.

    I don’t know what lay people are supposed to do in these situations, and we must always remember that liberalish people also get up and leave when their understanding of the faith — which is not necessarily wrong — is violated. Is it right for them to do so, or only my wonderful self? I accept the role of the priest, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the obligation to attend Mass. I accept that if the priest doesn’t mess up the Mass then it’s valid, no matter what nutty thing he says. I know priests I don’t agree with who are good and holy men I can only hope to be like. It’s an interesting question…

  33. The Masked Chicken says:

    There have been times when I should have walked out of Mass and didn’t. When I was in graduate school, the Newman Center I attended used a wrong Trinity formula for the blessing, omitted the Creed, had nuns and laity give the ,”sermon,” had liturgical dancers during Mass, held hands at the Our Father, used questionable matter for the Eucharist, had a clown Mass, etc. Eventually, I left the Center for a traditional (as in normal) church, but I had no idea that anything was amiss, since I was a fairly trusting individual as far as priests are concerned. I assumed that they took the same care about their job that I did about mine. I was in music at the time and you simply don’t do your own thing. I assumed that priests were also so trained. As I finally began reading the modern apologetics literature (by God’s grace), I finally saw what was going on and fled. These abuses, plus the use of cake-like bread for Communion that was almost indistinguishable from the cookies that they gave little kids to eat during Mass (they vacuumed the floor during the week, so who knows what they were vacumming off of the carpet – cookie or, “Eucharist (if it were, such)) led me to leave. Of course, knowing what I know, now, I would never go near the place and I cannot see how college students do not place their salvation in jeopardy by attending it, if it hasn’t changed. Sadly, there is a very orthodox real church about two block away. Many student are morally stupid.

    As for leaving an heretical homily, since you know that it is heretical, ironically, your soul is probably not in danger. It is those who don’t whose soul is in jeopardy. If the Mass is valid, it is valid, otherwise. Since few would know the reason for your leaving (nor should they presume) leaving, likewise, would not cause scandal. Since you cannot make a comment during Mass, leaving or staying because of a bad homily is simply a prudential decision,nothing more

    If, however, the words of consecration are clearly invalid, then, by all means, shake the dusk from your feet and leave and leave loudly. Everyone should be made aware that they are attending an invalid and possibly sacrilegious Mass. Who cares if the pastor yells. You are doing him an act of charity. What can he do? Complain to the bishop? Good luck with that.

    As for leaving Mass early, there should be no scandal, because no one should be making presumptions. It is the same with people not going up for communion. Who knows? Maybe they have an upset stomach or maybe they have celiac disease and there are no low glutten hosts. Some people may have to leave Mass because they are diabetic and need insulin.

    The Chicken

  34. jhayes says:

    There’s a place for images of God as mother-like,

    Yes, the first footnote to No. 239 refers to Isaiah 66

    For thus says the Lord…
    As a mother comforts her child,
    so I will comfort you;
    you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

    Of course, we pray “Our Father…” And we baptize “In the name (not names) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit…” But, as No. 239 says, “God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman”

  35. CharlesG says:

    If it is for Sunday obligation, you might as well sit it out during an iffy homily. We’re not Donatists, so likely the Sacrament will still be confected. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard outright heresy from the pulpit. I’ve heard some borderline stuff that I have tried charitably to interpret in an orthodox way. For example, with regard to some favorable comments about homosexuals from the pulpit, it was never actually inconsistent with Catholic teaching, and could perhaps be justified under a love the sinner, hate the sin approach (although the hating the sin part was not mentioned). I’ve heard a priest at Epiphany state categorically that the three wise men were mythical. I don’t know if that’s heresy, but it annoyed me. If he wanted to be all hip and historical critical, he could at least have been a little humble or tentative about it and proclaim agnosticism on the three wise men’s existence, but point out their symbolic value regardless. Although not relating to heresy, I did hear another homily that peeved me as well. It was a homily condemning abortion — not a bad thing in and of itself — but at the Easter Vigil! It just seemed the wrong time. The Easter Vigil is for focusing on the Resurrection, the central mystery of our faith, or at least the Harrowing of Hell. I usually am quite pumped up spiritually during the Easter Vigil, and the homily about abortion was just a complete downer to me and didn’t seem right.

  36. The Masked Chicken says:

    “But, as No. 239 says, “God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman”

    Note that, carefully. In fact, it is not right to refer to God as either man nor woman, so the whole notion is off the mark and the argument about referring to God as Mother or Father is ludicrous. In reality, God tells us that he wants to be called Father, but that he also has similar attributes to a mother, as well. This does not mean that God wants to be called mother, nor did he give anyone permission to do so. In reality, fatherhood or motherhood is an attribute cluster by analogy, only. God is not a super-father or a super-mother. He is God. If some of his divine attributes can be represented to us, analogously, as being comparable to those of a father or mother, then, that is for our benefit, not his, but really, God tells us what we should call him. We do not get to make up our own ideas. This is an implicit form of blasphemy.

    The Chicken

  37. akp1 says:

    I considered walking out when at a church in the NW of England, when the Parish Priest used his homily as a complete attack on Pope Benedict (just after issuing UE a couple of years ago). I didn’t because my nephew was in the children’s liturgy (I’d taken him to Mass) and thinking quickly there wasn’t another Mass I could go to in the area that Sunday. I was horrified and would’ve spoken to the PP but he left very quickly after Mass. I now never go to that Church when in the area, there are a few oddities added amongst all the usual ‘non-conforming’ priest’s celebration of the Mass. My mother has told me he has done it again not that long ago, and she now goes elsewhere.

  38. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    To begin with, it annoys me when the weekend homily is a commentary on the main story of the past 24-hour news cycle.

    Completely agree.

  39. Mark H. says:

    John F. Kennedy,

    As others noted above, the adaptation of imagery is not as much a concern in order to connect others in certain circumstances to God.
    The real problem is that your guest priest was teaching a form of Modalism/Sabellianism (you say a bit close, it really just is that), which teaches that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are merely 3 modes of the believer’s experiencing the one Being and Person of God, as opposed to Trinitarianism where there are 3 Persons and 1 Substance/Being. This was condemned at the First and Third Councils of Constantinople, so that is flatly heresy. Easily made mistake today, but nevertheless it is heresy to proclaim that the God is like one person who is in 3 different modes (this priest’s example was of a woman being a mother, daughter, and wife at the same time). God is 3 Persons (distinct and co-eternal) and One in Being/Substance.

    So, yeah, it wasn’t just close, it just was Sabellianism/Modalism. Bad to see that being taught on Trinity Sunday.

  40. Phil_NL says:

    I’ve walked out once the past 10 years, and had to make a serious effort not to on several other occasions. The sad fact is that the student pastor that celebrates our masses once a month is an unreconstructed socialist.Whenever he talks about any subject that relates to politics, and economic policy in particular, he has my blood boiling within a minute. After I walked out on him, I had an email conversation with him, but that didn’t go anywhere – it ended being more about his distress sseing someone walk out on him than anything else. Worst part is, the man means well, but is simply insufferable on this topic (and not much better on others, Schillebeeckx is a hero of his).

    The short version of it is simply that every time he preaches, there’s a substantial chance I’ll be unable to focus on the Mass at all, let alone receive. At that point I firmly believe walking out is in fact the lesser evil. But making a habit of that is frustrating as well, so now I simply try to avoid his Masses as best as I can. I reckon our parish priest – who is cut out of an altogether different mold – suffers in silence, and the bishop can rejoice in increased collections at the Cathedral parish one week a month… (which in itself is sadly not an incentive for the bishop to look for another solution.)

  41. jhayes says:

    In reality, fatherhood or motherhood is an attribute cluster by analogy, only.

    Exactly.

    We don’t baptize “in the name of he Mother, the Daughter and the Holy Spirit…” And we don’t pray “our Mother, who art in heaven…”

    But as 239 says, the analogy is to “parenthood”, not specifically male parenthood

    “239. By calling God “Father”, the language of faith indicates two main things: [1] that God is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and [2] that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God’s parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood”

  42. Mark H. says:

    And also, more relevant to the question above, I almost walked out of a “sermon” at a “church” (one of these off-shoot groups that follows the “teachings of Jesus” but not historic Christianity) that was denying all manner of orthodox teachings (divine inspiration of Scripture, divinity of Christ, the Trinity, homosexual activity being wrong, “love the sinner, hate the sin” being a cop out to allow us to continue hating the sinner).
    The only reason I did not was that I was with my grandparents and so I did not want to show utter disrespect towards them, though I came close to walking out. But I was also not in danger of being harmed, since I was just rigidly sitting there thinking about actually orthodox things and mentally breaking down the things the “pastor” was saying, unlike most of those present. I tend to go by a rule of showing appropriate respect to the situation. Had I been by myself in the situation, I would have gotten up and left.

  43. Bob B. says:

    How about a Jesuit high school where: the priest apologized for the Gospel reading and most of the non-Catholic laity made faces? Or the in-service where one of the administrators belittled Catholic views on birth control in front of 40 or so? I couldn’t walk out but I did complain to the head of the school, which led to unfortunate consequences (the non-Catholics remain while the Catholic(s) depart).
    How about a priest and deacon having a Holy Water fight on the altar or a priest conducting what seemed more like a Baptist healing service (say “Amen” – he said that a lot, too)?

  44. bmccoy says:

    I think in cases of actual heresy it may be merited, but perhaps often people are too quick to resort to walking out. For example, this weekend at the TLM at my parish, Father preached about out duty out our fellow man. He then proceeded to say “one example of this is immigration” and an entire family got up and left. He did not endorse any political ideology or anything of the sort but merely suggested that it was a real issue. Furthermore he only reason he even dared to bring it up is because the priests in the diocese were asked to do so by the bishop as part of “immigration sunday.” It really all just seems odd to me, especially considering that the priest who delivered it is one of the most orthodox and indeed traditional priests that I know. Perhaps we as faithful become skittish about certain things or take what we have for granted. To have the TLM in the area at all is really a blessing. I just hope that those who left considered the possibility of grave sin as that was the last parish Mass of the day.

  45. ASD says:

    I’m tempted to go further.

    1. I can’t remember the last time I attended OF Mass that did not include some homemade “improvement.” Put the other way around, every single time I attend OF, Father demonstrates, shows by example, to all present that he thinks (a) the Mass basically belongs to him and he can do with it as he pleases; and (b) Catholics can obey what they want and ignore what they want.
    2. I know I’m gonna get scolded for saying so, but I just can’t help but think we would have to endure a lot less of that if we, well, shouted him down. (I’m speaking in a human way. It’s a temptation.)
    3. When he says “Pray sisters and brothers that our sacrifice…,” we could shout, “my sacrifice and yours”; when he says, “together with Francis our Pope, N our Bishop and all who serve you,” we could shout, “all the clergy”; etc.

  46. eben says:

    When confronted with difficult questions such as these, I typically channel my Grandmother who raised me in the faith. We were once, many years ago, confronted with such a situation. She led me in retreat to a side chapel where she handed me one of her many rosaries and suggested we pray for the Priest. Once the homily was over, we returned in silence, and stayed for the remainder of the mass.

    I noted that many got up and left altogether. But based upon the “troubled” look we received from the Priest after mass, I got the impression he was somehow more concerned by what my Grandmother had done than by the reaction of those that left.

  47. Clinton says:

    Eben, God bless your grandmother. IMHO, hers was the perfect response.

  48. oldCatholigirl says:

    I like eben’s grandmother’s response, too, although many churches do not have side chapels–too small, or pre-empted by the piano and microphone. :) I also resonate to Henry Edward’s comments. Surely, one doesn’t fail to fulfill his Sunday obligation if he misses part of the sermon! Or does he? I seem to remember having read or been told a long time ago that the sermon is an integral part of the OF, although it is not considered so in the EF. What is the truth?

  49. Phil_NL says:

    bmccoy

    I agree that walking out on a sermon that merely mentions a topic is a bit much, but on the other hand I do understand the feeling behind it. Quite frankly, it’s impossible for a bishop to have a “immigration sunday” without it having a political context, and that context doesn’t have to come from the sermon. The issue itself, and the udnerlying ideas or assumptions by the bishop, can be quite enough. And then I can very well see that someone who – for example – would have to opinion that all immigration should cease (which is within the realm of prudential judgement) would be just a hair from exploding for being force-fed even more immigration-is-great -gobledigook, especially in church. A camel’s back can take only so many straws…

    I’ve said it before, and I say it again: the bishops should leave politics that are within the realm of prudential judgement well alone. Do not use it to polish up your ‘social face’, you have no idea how much many parishioners detest it.

  50. keithp says:

    Yes. I’ve walked out during a sermon. A visitng Dominican father allowed a Dominican “sister” to give the homily… or, as he called it after the Mass when I asked about it… the “reflection”.
    Another time I walked out was when a non ordained man ~6 mos away from his diaconate started giving the “reflection” in place of the homily.

  51. jeffreyquick says:

    Let’s remember that walking cuts both ways. Several weeks ago, friends of my wife reported that they had almost walked on their priest for preaching the teaching of the Church in the wake of the SC gay marriage decision. That particular priest is a great guy, but not the boldest, so I was more surprised that he’d actually preached that than that they were offended. Actually, this suggests a great idea: a game of Musical Parishes. Some priests should preach what the Church teaches. (yes, they ALL should, but…) and others their own stuff. The other side can have recruiters outside each church to invite the walkers to a church that’s more their style. That way, everyone can be happy…at least until they die.

  52. HyacinthClare says:

    I’ve walked out once. The priest said that anybody who took communion was going to heaven so take communion even if you’re in mortal sin because it fixes it. I wrote the priest and the bishop and the bishop’s secretary said the priest told him he’d correct it in the bulletin, which he never did. Soon the elderly gentleman we were transporting to that parish got to a health status where he could no longer attend. BLESS GOD. Even driving past that parish now creeps me out.

  53. Simon_GNR says:

    I’ve never walked out during a sermon, and I’ve never felt inclined to do so. I’ve never heard heresy in a sermon (or “homily”), so I think I’ve been fortunate compared with many of the posters on this blog.
    I did nearly once anwer back when the priest said “This is the Gospel of the Lord” after he had read the Beatitudes (the “Happitudes”) from the terrible Jerusalem Bible translation (“Happy the merciful,… Happy the peacemakers, Happy this, Happy that etc). I almost blurted out “No it damned well isn’t!” but stopped myself just in time. Every other English translation of the New Testament I’ve read has “Blessed” for the translation of “????????”. In the Mass for All Saints’ Day, we have “Happy the pure in heart” (Matt.5.8) in the Gospel but “Blessed are the clean of heart” (Matt 5.8) in the Communion Antiphon. The Church has now got an accurate translation of the texts of the Ordinary and Propers of the Mass but not of the readings. When will we have a good translation of the readings, such as the Catholic edition of the Revised Standard Version?

  54. Ellen says:

    I walked out of a Good Friday service once. The priest and the altar servers walked up the aisle and then sat in the front pew. The rest of the service (at least all I could stand to sit through) was conducted by the choir and assorted readers. There was much miming, mood lighting and sound effects. I slipped out when I couldn’t stand one more minute.

  55. GAK says:

    I walked out of daily mass. It was after Pope Benedict has invited Maciel to live a life of prayer and penance. It was after Maciel’s children had stepped forward, with their claims of abuse by Maciel, not to mention the claims of many seminarians/priests over the years that Maciel had abused them when they were young.

    The priest, in his sermon, referred to the uncharitable gossip about Maciel. His sermon came across as a reprimand. He also stated (categorically stated, not speculated) that Maciel had simply had consensual homosexual relations with those who were old enough to give consent.

    It was a tiny chapel. I genuflected on my way out. The End.

  56. Ben Kenobi says:

    Haven’t walked out. One parish I attended for about 3 months (as at the time I lacked a car, and had to walk to mass), had a priest who liked to have his ‘special lady’ give the homily every week and distribute the eucharist when father was away. I wish I were kidding.

    He had a meeting with folks after and I walked into that meeting once and gave a list of all the ecclesiastical rules that he had wilfully broken over the course of my three months of going. He ended up firing back with a little pamphlet (which I kept and sent to the bishop!), about why what he was doing was ok. The trigger for me to leave? When my old anglican pastor attended there (as he was no longer welcome in his old anglican parish! He said he felt very at home there….

    I ended up having to visit my parents every weekend jus so I could get a decent mass!

  57. acardnal says:

    God is spirit. Neither male nor female. Yet, Jesus referred to him as “Father” and told us to refer to him as “Our Father.”

    Does the Holy Trinity have feminine attributes such as “tenderness”? Of course. But God is not a Mother. He did not ask us to call Him “mother”. As The Chicken said above, Jesus Christ, Our Lord, asked us to call the first Person of the Holy Trinity “Father”. That is clear.

    What Fr. Verbryke apparently said according to the first hand report of “John F. Kennedy” was not Catholic teaching. I contend that CCC #239 does not pertain to what he said. As both The Chicken and “Mark H.” have commented above, what Fr. Verbryke reportedly said is heresy and/or blasphemy.

    The Chicken:
    “If some of his divine attributes can be represented to us, analogously, as being comparable to those of a father or mother, then, that is for our benefit, not his, but really, God tells us what we should call him. We do not get to make up our own ideas. This is an implicit form of blasphemy.”

    Mark H.:
    “The real problem is that your guest priest was teaching a form of Modalism/Sabellianism . . . This was condemned at the First and Third Councils of Constantinople, so that is flatly heresy. Easily made mistake today, but nevertheless it is heresy to proclaim that the God is like one person who is in 3 different modes (this priest’s example was of a woman being a mother, daughter, and wife at the same time). God is 3 Persons (distinct and co-eternal) and One in Being/Substance.”

  58. mlmc says:

    Worst i have heard was a priest giving a sermon in which he stated he hoped the church would allow women priests at a mass on a college campus- I found it disconcerting that he would say so from the pulpit. I find the Christian formation teachers to be a bigger problem- some seem to see their mission to be the spreading of their socio-political views among the children rather than catechesis. I found much in the Just Faith program to be problematic. I read the material provide to the confirmation class & it consistently portrayed the Church’s hierarchy badly & almost all of the people it held out as examples were not Catholic. The facilitators were if any thing worse. Pacificism was the only approved tact (they knew nothing of Just War), redistribution the only moral option etc.

  59. John F. Kennedy says:

    Well, I see I’ve struck a nerve this morning.

    Mark H, I knew indeed that it was Modalism/Sabellianism rearing it’s ancient head. I was trying to be charitable in my description. Some people don’t like it when you sure of yourself and want to give people the benefit of doubt.

    One more thing to consider on the question of leaving during a Mass due to heresy or liturgical abuse. I’ve found that I tend to know my faith better than others. I know a problem when I see or hear it. Others do not. I thought that my standing up and crawling over others to leave the pew and walking out was actually standing up for what the Church and Christ himself taught. By my actions, maybe others might then realize that something was wrong. Maybe this was something that I would have to answer for if I did not act.

    I could not participate in the Mass anymore and waited outside. After Mass I approached him and introduced myself and tried to engage him about my concerns. He angrily refused to discuss the matter which caused me to get further upset. He said “I won’t discuss this with you.” His response and the manner in which it was delivered came too quickly and appeared to be a “standard” response from him. I tried to press for a response and he again said, “I won’t discuss this with you. If you have a problem with what I said, take it up with the pastor.” I said I will and with the Archbishop too. He said, “You do that.” and walked away from me back into the Church.

    This priest knew what he was doing and did not like being questioned about it. As I stated earlier both our pastor and Archbishop Dennis Schnurr both agreed with my position on his homily about the Trinity.

    I tried to pray for him daily for several months. He probably still needs our prayers.

  60. Imrahil says:

    Dear @ASD,

    that reminds me of the fact that some priests are wont to say, “the Lord is with you”. I always give the, imho, correct answer which is in this case, “and He be with your spirit.”

    And… theoretically speaking…. I see nothing in morality which forbids us to fraternally correct a priest when he is wrong and we know he is, with the appropriate loudness so that he can actually hear us (vulgo: shout him down). Only of course as a practical matter, it would not be the whole congregation, but only some very singular people who would only damage their own reputation and help little. Even so, though, nothing forbids us to privately mutter “that should have been, etc.”

  61. shalhal says:

    NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) Sunday last week. I am very noise sensitive and after communion was horrified to realise that, no, it was not a fleet of trucks approaching, nor a lavatory with exceptional acoustics but a VERY loud ‘hymn’ from a CD with didgeridoo accompaniment. I stayed, but I had to put my hands over my ears and got some funny looks.

  62. sunbreak says:

    There are two Masses that I wanted to walk out of but didn’t.
    The first one for a homily I call the “Hershey Chocolate” homily. The priest was talking about the Trinity. He actually had a table in front of the altar on which was a glass, a spoon, some milk and some Hershey Chocolate syrup. He proceeded to illustrate the Trinity by mixing the syrup into the milk with the spoon – like somehow the 3 elements of syrup, milk and spoon stirring combining to make chocolate milk how the Trinity worked. Yuk.
    The second Mass I really really should have walked out on since it wasn’t a Sunday and so I had no requirement to attend Mass that day. It was a Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life group meeting at the local Jesuit parish. We were supposed to attend Mass at a group. The group was all called up around the altar for the consecration. Then, for communion, the priest passed a plate of hosts to one person who then turned around and passed it to the next person around the circle. It was like passing around food at a cocktail party. This was only about 10 years ago, so way past the 60s silliness stuff.

  63. jhayes says:

    I got a reaction to a comment on my sermon on Saturday (we preach at all Masses in our church here) where, in referring to the current abortion law passing through our Government, I mentioned that those infants who die without baptism cannot see God but enjoy an eternity of natural joys free of pain and suffering- limbo in other words. This is, of course, a painful topic for many women who have lost children through miscarriage and I should have taken more time and care to be clear. Still it was only a passing part of my argument, an explanation that for us Catholics abortion is a double crime – the deprivation of natural life and of the possibility of the Beatific Vision.

    It’s certainly desirable that children be baptized, but it’s not a church teaching that we know that unbaptized children are denied the Beatific Vision or that Limbo exists.

    As the Catechism says:

    1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,” allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

    In 2007, Pope Benedict autjorized publication of a report by the International Theolgical Commission which goes into this question in great detail and says:

    “79. It must be clearly acknowledged that the church does not have sure knowledge about the salvation of unbaptized infants who die. She knows and celebrates the glory of the Holy Innocents, but the destiny of the generality of infants who die without baptism has not been revealed to us, and the church teaches and judges only with regard to what has been revealed. What we do positively know of God, Christ and the church gives us grounds to hope for their salvation, as must now be explained.”

    And

    “With respect for the wisdom and fidelity of those who have investigated this difficult matter before but also with a keen awareness that the magisterium of the church has specifically and perhaps providentially opted at key moments in the history of doctrine not to define that these infants are deprived of the beatific vision but to keep the question open, we have considered how the Spirit may be guiding the church at this point in history to reflect anew on this exceptionally delicate issue (cf. Dei Verbum, 8).

    http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=7529&CFID=69985281&CFTOKEN=85352228

  64. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Then, for communion, the priest passed a plate of hosts to one person who then turned around and passed it to the next person around the circle. It was like passing around food at a cocktail party.”

    This happened to me in graduate school, as well.

    I am convinced that the single greatest problem in the Church, today, is simple, old-fashioned ignorance. If everybody understood the liturgical laws, more or less, and everybody had at least a passing acquaintance with the Catechism and Church history, few of these problems would exist. Simply put, it would then be a questions of accept the Faith or leave. I am sorry to say, but it should be as simple as that. If you refuse to give up contraception, then leave the Church; if you want same-sex marriages, leave the Church; if you want your way, apart from the leeway granted by the Church in certain instances, then leave the Church. It is simple.

    Let me make a point that is not often made, but the next time you are in a situation with an off-the-deep-end MyChurch individual, you might take the time to explain it to them: the Catholic Church is NOT a welcoming Church, contrary to what the sign might read outside of many cathedrals. It is a discerning Church. It discerns the call of the Lord; it discerns the calls of individuals; it discerns the Truth; it discerns right from wrong and it will not welcome the wrong into a discussion of equals; it distinguishes visions and revelations (and we are the only Church that does it, rightly); it will not present a person to the Holy-of-Holies (for that is what communion is), until it discerns that they are ready (if not even close to being worthy).

    We discern. We do not welcome. We welcome sinners because we discern that they might, someday, be saints, be we do not welcome the sin they profess. We discern the man and dismiss the sin.

    Too many people think that it is the mission of the Church to not only welcome the sinner, but welcome their sin, as well. They, somehow, want the Church to own their sin as they do and, yet, it is the mission of the Church to say no. At some point and at some times, the Church must say. no. The word, “no,” is not used nearly enough in the Church, today. It is the sharpest edge of the sword and reveals the discernments of the Church as no other term.

    The MyChurch crowd seems to forget that Christ came not to bring peace, but a sword [Matt 10:34]. A sword divides, it cuts, it DISCERNS, but the one thing it does not do is welcome. They do not seem to understand that peace is the tranquility that flows from God”s will – God’s will, not theirs. Christ came to cut away every other kind of peace and, yet, they refuse to give up their own ideas of what they peace should be.

    Idolatry. St. Paul explained the connection to the temptation to MyChurch people back in the first-century [1Cor 10:1-24]:

    “I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same supernatural food and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

    Nevertheless with most of them God was not pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things are warnings for us, not to desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to dance.” We must not indulge in immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put the Lord to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents; nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.

    Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

    Therefore, my beloved, shun the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible men; judge for yourselves what I say. he cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

    Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?”

    These poor, misguided people want to make the Church a partner with Demons, for, by worshiping themselves and their own opinions, that is what they are doing. It is the Church who is pure and they would make Her unclean, just to get their own, idolatrous way.

    Most of this is due to ignorance. The number in the pews who really understand what they are doing is very small. The ignorant idolaters do so because of fear, which is the root of all idolatry. It is in the commitment to Truth – the discernment of the Church – that this fear may be banished and they may finally find the welcome in Christ’s peace they so desire.

    Tell them. Tell them.

    The Chicken

  65. Gail F says:

    bmccoy: That’s what I meant! I do not want to walk out of homilies that I simply disagree with. If people did that regularly, imagine the effect — someone would be getting up and leaving no matter what the poor priest said.

    At this point, I think blasphemy is the only reason I would actually get up and leave the church. But if one is fuming and/or very angry, I don’t see any problem with discreetly leaving the pew and then going back after the homily is over.

  66. Lin says:

    Until our parish was assigned a new pastor last fall, I can honestly say I had never had to deal with protestant sermons or protestant additions to the mass. The worst statement he ever made in one of his sermons is that Mary (Blessed Mother) was an unwed mother! He also said JPII and Benedict XVI set the Church back decades. He says the rubrics of the mass are only guidelines, has background music during the Eucharistic Prayer, uses his own typed notebook from which to say the Mass, adds Swiss Synod acclaimations, fails to wash hands during daily masses, leaves the sanctuary to shake hands with everyone on the aisle during the sign of peace, uses Protestant phrases like “let the church say amen,” etc, etc. Once when I respectfully disagreed, he literally screamed at me in rage. Without a word, I put on my coat and walked out. I have written twice to the second in command in the diocese with no response. Having never dealt with this before, I hesitate to write to the bishop. I wish our Pope would deal with these issues and less with what kind of cars priests drive. I do like the idea of taping every mass for the bishops review as required.

  67. acardnal says:

    Well said, Chicken.

    Next question, WHY are today’s “catholics” so ignorant of Catholic teaching? Malformed priests? Deficient seminaries? Weak bishops? Priests ordained who have lost the faith? The “smoke of Satan” entering the Church? Divorce and broken families? Television? The internet? Hollywood? The “crazy sixties….the pill, sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll”? Probably all of the above.

  68. Lin says:

    Lack of catechism and Satan.

  69. jhayes says:

    What Fr. Verbryke apparently said according to the first hand report of “John F. Kennedy” was not Catholic teaching. I contend that CCC #239 does not pertain to what he said. As both The Chicken and “Mark H.” have commented above, what Fr. Verbryke reportedly said is heresy and/or blasphemy.

    Fr. Verbryke is a real person. Here is his bio with his qualifications. I realize that you disagree with what you have been told he said, but are you really sure you want to escalate your disagreement to the level of characterizing his statements as heresy and/or blasphemy?

    http://www.thinkjesuit.org/jesuits/fr-bill-verbryke-sj/

  70. Lynn Diane says:

    When I asked a dear priest what to do if the sermon was heretical, he calmly pointed out that it is not uncommon for people to nap or to leave (most often to smoke) during a sermon. People return to their places when the priest returns to the altar so as not to miss Mass. The organist confirmed this observation. Another priest told me to imagine I was the sole person present at a Mass celebrated by the Desert Fathers. I have a good imagination so the latter piece of advice has been very helpful altho’ awful reality does intrude from time to time. I like Grandma’s solution too.

  71. Charlotte Allen says:

    I just endure it all–because if I walk out, then I have to find some other place to go for Sunday Mass. Besides, I’ll have some humorous material with which to entertain my Prot husband afterwards. As Nora Ephron once wrote, everything is copy.

  72. Gaz says:

    I once walked out of Mass on the feast of Sts Peter and Paul. “Tu es Petrus” was the Gospel reading but the priest then preached a homily on the rock being wavy rather than solid. I planned to shout “and apostolic” at the top of my voice during the creed but when I was thwarted with its omission, I stormed out.

  73. St. Epaphras says:

    Many, many “required” visits to the restroom during the homily before I finally left my old parish. What I often WANTED to do, I won’t mention.

  74. SimonDodd says:

    I don’t think that I can agree that it’s ever appropriate to walk out because the homily is problematic. Removing one’s children? Maybe. But remember, if the problem is heresy, the problem is not that you’re being exposed to it, it’s that the congregation is being exposed to it—you, as the one smart enough to recognize that it’s heresy, need to stay, take careful notes, and, after the dismissal,

    DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!!!

    Just imagine the conversation with the bishop! “You excellency, Father Dumbkopf visited our parish and preached a terrible homily the other day!” “Oh really? What did he say?” “Um… Well… You know, I don’t know, I got up and left after the first paragraph, I was just so angry.” Leaving during a problematic homily is a smaller-scale version of the larger-scale problem of people abandoning problematic parishes. It’s a self-involved decision that makes it harder for the rest of us to fix a problem, and it doesn’t actually help the Church root out these problems.

    And if the problem isn’t heresy but rather “Father’s saying something I disagree with”—well, just imagine if that was the criterion. You’re entitled to get up and leave if you don’t agree with the homily? Think about how that one plays out!

  75. JeniP says:

    Bryan D. Boyle – You’ll be happy to know that St. Peter’s Parish in New Brunswick, NJ is a vibrant, orthodox community now. The priests currently there are members of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. Fr. Tom, Fr. Peter, Fr. Kevin and Fr. Jeff are all great, warm, and pastoral priests. The music at St. Peter’s is beautiful, the parish members are diverse culturally and there are many young families. It really is a wonderful parish:) I just wanted to throw that out there so people wouldn’t be “scared off” from visiting.

  76. acardnal says:

    “I realize that you disagree with what you have been told he said, but are you really sure you want to escalate your disagreement to the level of characterizing his statements as heresy and/or blasphemy?”

    Yes.

  77. acardnal says:

    The late, great Servant of God, Fr. John A. Hardon – a Jesuit by the way – once said he didn’t care how many letters (adv. degrees) were behind a person’s name (of which he had a few himself). If they taught heresy, it should be identified as such.

    Fr. Hardon’s books are in print and I highly recommend them.

  78. acardnal says:

    One can also find Fr. Hardon’s teaching on YouTube.

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=fr.+john+a.+hardon

  79. TMKent says:

    I have never walked out on a priest but I came very close this past weekend.
    A few of the many facepalm statements that I heard a priest say in a talk given to older women:
    • I’m not into religion, it’s really about spirituality.
    • I don’t argue religion with people anymore (he’d lose, I’m sure)
    • Be happy if your children are attending a non-Catholic/Christian church – it’s a good thing
    • You don’t need to be Catholic-Atheists are often very good people and will go to heaven
    • People who want Latin are just crazy (later he said angry) and don’t want change
    • The Gospel trumps the Church
    • People caught up in rules are all about ego/themselves instead of God
    • I can’t say mass in Latin without my Bishop’s permission (no distinction of NO/EF)
    • Too many rules/ discipline/school uniforms/etc are driving young people away
    • We need to do things to appeal to the young people (like big nondenom. w/ rock bands)
    • I don’t dare say these things at mass – there’s not enough time to explain
    • Adults don’t need to study Catholicism – they need to approach it simply like children
    • The Church needs to be accepting of everyone as they are because we are all sinners. Angry people (read: those concerned with profanation of the Eucharist) are wrong and just want to exclude.
    I have noticed that this same priest NEVER blesses himself when saying a prayer extemporaneously and only the context a required written text. His masses are just by-the-book and bland enough to keep him off the Bishop’s radar but his homilies if you listen, are not even close to Church teaching.

  80. SimonDodd says:

    TMKent says: ” I heard a priest say … [that p]eople who want Latin are just crazy (later he said angry) and don’t want change.” I might have had this conversation with him:

    Me: “Father, I notice that you say Mass in English; is that normal?”
    Father McBland: “Why yes, Mass is normally celebrated in English.”
    Me: “It isn’t normally celebrated in Latin?”
    McBland: “No. It’s celebrated in English. Maybe spanish or something like that.
    Me: “Ah. So a Mass celebrated in Latin would be different from the normal situation?”
    McBland: “Duh.”
    Me: “Isn’t the word ‘change’ typically used to denote physical or or figurative movement from a previously-normal situation to a different situation?”
    McBland: “Well, yes—but I’m not objecting to it because it’s change, I’m objecting to it for other reasons.”
    Me: “Fancy that.”
    I love it when people in the autumn of life insist that we “need to do things to appeal to the young people,” which typically means doing things that appealed to the person, ordinarily because it would have appealed to them when they were young, and which never means diong things that appeal to the young, least of all if what the young want is traditional Catholicism.

  81. Lynn Diane says:

    About reporting liturgical abuses to the bishop. My experience in the past has been that the bishop thinks the abuses are just fine, and that I am the problem. At my father’s funeral, for example, the abuses were so flagrant that I fumed at their outrageousness instead of grieving for my father. The pastor told me that it was forbidden to use Latin any more but, thank God, he did use unleavened bread for the consecration, contrary to his usual practice. The cantor I hired, who was supposed to chant and was forbidden by the celebrant to do so, told me urgently to move the funeral to another parish as the pastor was ruining everything. The bishop was completely unconcerned and that pastor is still there.

  82. robtbrown says:

    1. No. 239 refers to the One God, not the Trinity. Referring to the One God as Father is
    not the same as referring to the First Person of the Trinity. Maternal characteristics are rightly attributed to the One God (cf Psalms)–the Trinity is another matter.

    2. Re the Jesuit’s comments:

    —-A. He entered the SJ’s in 1973, so he was thoroughly Rahnerized. Karl Rahner,
    influenced by Heidegger, was well known for being more concerned with consciousness
    than Truth. Rahner would not want to distinguish analogy from metaphor.

    —-B. The first person of the Trinity is called “Father” because of Christ’s own Words.

    —-C. There are two distinct processions in God: Generation and Spiration. The second is why
    St Thomas says there is not a proper name for the Third Person–unlike the First Two Persons of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit cannot be portrayed as a Human Person.

  83. future_sister says:

    I can say the parish I attend at my college is not the greatest, but the sad part… it’s a lot better than it used to be. There were Jesuit priests before I got there but they spent all their time getting arrested for doing stupid things (yes they actually did them, I can’t recall details and even if I could would not on here) so finally it’s back under diocesan control. On the bright side, the clown Masses have stopped… on the downside, the one priest’s homilies are about what he misses about Poland, and the pastor just rambles platitudes about God’s love and just be good and you’ll go to heaven type homilies. I’ve also seen him come and shake everyone’s hand during the sign of peace twice, and confession with him (face-to-face is the only option at school) he tries turning into a crying psychologist hug-fest (box of tissues and vase of flowers on table included)

    A good friend of mine was telling me about his priest who believes the same as someone earlier mentioned that the multiplication of the loaves and fish didn’t actually happen, that people were inspired to be generous. My friend wanted to walk out but since he was the only server he stayed. He told me that after Mass he tried discussing the matter with the priest but the priest in question wanted nothing to do with it. So my friend only stays there because it’s where his parents will drive him, and he can’t wait to get out and start seminary in the fall.

    and in response to wondering why Catholics know so little about their faith… look at the secular school system (at least in the US)… memorize what we have to teach you, don’t think and learn for yourselves…. because of that people have no desire to even think about learning about their faith. I studied so much that I went to speak to a priest about joining the Church, he looked at me in shock at my knowledge and told me I didn’t need RCIA (though I really wish I had it, I’m still learning so much that I wish I had known sooner) but many of my “cradle-Catholic” friends tell me I shock them everyday with things they didn’t know. I even shock FOCUS missionaries sometimes, and I was teaching my sponsor about the Church. It takes a will to learn that unfortunately many don’t have. They want to be spoon-fed platitudes about how good and special they are (for doing whatever they want, ignoring that fact that they couldn’t get any more special than being beautiful unique individuals and children of God who were created for His glory)

  84. Phil_NL says:

    SimonDodd:

    You said “And if the problem isn’t heresy but rather “Father’s saying something I disagree with”—well, just imagine if that was the criterion. You’re entitled to get up and leave if you don’t agree with the homily? Think about how that one plays out!”

    Well, I’ve been called a criminal from the pulpit, if not by name at least by category (and that’s a whole different ballpark than being called a sinner, and what Father was talking about was, at worst, a sin of omission), and while that’s not heresy, I definitely think that’s more than enough reason to get out.

    Heresy is but a subset of things priests can say during a sermon that are utterly unacceptable.

  85. Rick63 says:

    I sat through 10+ years of heresy capped with a sound rebuke of our Pope in 2008. I wish I would have walked out at that point and shown the other families the courage and leadership. I did move out later and found a better parish that allows me to keep my sanity in the next suburb. You can vote with your feet and your donations. We may be judged on how we react to flagrant heresy. If we just sit there week after week and do nothing, what will our Judge say?

  86. robtbrown says:

    future_sister says:

    I’ve also seen him come and shake everyone’s hand during the sign of peace twice,

    When I was in Rome, a Polish Archbishop visited the Convitto San Tommaso, where I lived. He was introduced just before we sat down to eat, and he proceeded to go around shaking everyone’s hand (about 50 people). That seemed a bit strange (a quick wave was the usual MO), but I thought that, well, he’s a politician. Then after differ he again went around shaking everyone’s hand. That was more than a bit much.

    Later, I heard he was barred from his own seminary by the rector for trolling for seminarians. Then in 2002 he resigned at the age of 67

  87. SimonDodd says:

    Phil_NL says: “[Simon], I’ve been called a criminal from the pulpit, if not by name at least by category …, and while that’s not heresy, I definitely think that’s more than enough reason to get out.” It isn’t. If the criterion for walking out on a homily is “it made me feel uncomfortable, I felt as though he was accusing me of doing something wrong,” imagine the fate of an average priest in an average parish who finds a good place in the lectionary to talk about contraception. Would you not applaud the priest for preaching such a homily? But you have licensed the contracepting parishioners to walk out. The homily will do no good, because the people who need to hear it have every right, supposedly, to walk out on a homily that makes them feel uncomfortable, a homily in which the priest accuses them, if not by name then by category, of doing something wrong.

    Oh, well, but I’m sure that the right to walk out on a homily only attaches when the priest is wrong. And that’s a strongly-confining principle, isn’t it!

  88. jhayes says:

    robtbrown wrote: “—-B. The first person of the Trinity is called “Father” because of Christ’s own Words.”

    Yes. Augustine wrote in “de Trinitate”:

    But if the Father, in that He is called the Father, were so called in relation to Himself, not to the Son; and the Son, in that He is called the Son, were so called in relation to Himself, not to the Father; then both the one would be called Father, and the other Son, according to substance. But because the Father is not called the Father except in that He has a Son, and the Son is not called Son except in that He has a Father, these things are not said according to substance; because each of them is not so called in relation to Himself, but the terms are used reciprocally and in relation each to the other; nor yet according to accident, because both the being called the Father, and the being called the Son, is eternal and unchangeable to them. Wherefore, although to be the Father and to be the Son is different, yet their substance is not different; because they are so called, not according to substance, but according to relation, which relation, however, is not accident, because it is not changeable.

    And robtbrown wrote: “1. No. 239 refers to the One God, not the Trinity. Referring to the One God as Father is not the same as referring to the First Person of the Trinity. Maternal characteristics are rightly attributed to the One God (cf Psalms)–the Trinity is another matter.”

    Yes. That’s the difference. If you are naming the three persons of the Trinity, there is “Father.” But the one God is neither male nor female, so can be described as loving us as our human parents do – both mother and father.

  89. Phil_NL says:

    SimonDodd,

    Read again. I have nothing against priests accusing (part of) the congregation of sin, that’s part of his job description.
    What I do strenously object against if a priest using terms from secular criminal law, and applying them without a shred of proof, nor with the same intention as secular criminal law, to people in the congregation who are perfectly innocent of such crimes. [yes, crimes. that's something else than sinning, and much more damaging to one's reputation. I don't mind being called a sinner, since I am one, as is human, but I do mind being called a criminal, as I'm none - and especially not by virtue of being slightly better off than average].

    This sermon could, in a different context and with the words spoken by a layman, have lead to prosecution in the courts. That’s the level I’m talking about. It’s not heresy, but it is certainly more than sufficient to walk out from, and that’s the point I set out to make.

    Maybe you haven’t witnessed a priest going off base in such a way, but it happens. Theological standards aren’t the only ones that apply when the sermon itself isn’t (just) theological.

  90. Rachel K says:

    The sermon I wish I had walked out on was one in which our parish priest explained that those who believe that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus at the moment of the words of consecration are heretics! Yes, you read that correctly. He was adamant and very clear in explaining that those of us who thought this was the case were really mistaken and that the bread and wine gradually become the Sacred Species during the Eucharistic prayer and this is completed by the Great Amen at the end of the prayer when the people assent to it all. You can imagine, I was so stunned by this that I really thought I had not heard correctly. Sometimes shock is a handy tactic, and they know it! I was present with my children and really hoped they had not paid attention to him, they were very young at the time. This priest often gave “wobbly” sermons in which it was not quite clear whether he meant this or that, they could be interpreted in either direction, but this one was the nail in the coffin and now we only attend there in necessity. Other priests often say Mass there too so we seldom hear his sermons now. After the Mass I felt very angry and wanted to ask the priest straight away why his sermon contradicted the Catechism, but was unsure of my ground, not being able to quote chapter and verse, so I went away. I wrote a letter to the Bishop which I didn’t send, he was old and ill at the time. But the Bishop has retired and we now have the wonderful Mark Davies; I still wonder whether to make him aware of this priest’s ignorance/ dissidence, whatever it is, as he is still preaching.

  91. acardnal says:

    Let’s refocus on what Fr. Verbryke reportedly said and why, at least, one person walked out of his sermon:

    “He was warned that using the prayer, “Our Father” would be “difficult” since they didn’t really know any fathers, only their mother.” So we should change what Jesus said to meet our desires?

    “Next Fr. Verbryke spoke about his experiences at the Milford Retreat Center and their teaching of the “Prodigal Daughter” story.” What “Prodigal Daughter” story?!? There is none in the Gospels. We cannot change Holy Scripture or create our own. Reminds me of certain liberals who don’t believe that Jesus performed an actual miracle when He multiplied the loaves and fishes. To the liberals, the so called miracle is that the crowd shared what they had with one another. Nonsense. That is NOT what the scripture says. Either one believes it is the inspired Word of God and that Jesus performed miracles or one does not.

    “He also said the Trinity is like a woman being a Mother, a Daughter and a Wife all at the same time, i.e. different relationships with different people, but the same person. ” Fr. V says “the Holy Trinity is . . . the same person”? Huh? The Trinity is three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That’s doctrine. He’s confused in his teaching .

    “It was “acceptable to think of God as “God the Mother” if that means we can related (sic) to God better.” Does God, a spiritual being, have some attributes or characteristics which can be described as feminine even tho’ He is not male or female? Yes. But Christ never referred to God as mother, daughter or wife. Again, Jesus referred to God as “Father” and, moreover, He told us, His followers, to call Him “Our Father” NOT our mother.

  92. jhayes says:

    After the Mass I felt very angry and wanted to ask the priest straight away why his sermon contradicted the Catechism

    I don’t think he should have said people who understood it differently were heretics, but perhaps he was talking about the need for the invocation of the Holy Spirit (Epiclesis). The Catechism says

    “1333 At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ’s Body and Blood.

    In he Roman Canon, the Epiclesis is before the Institution Narrative but in other Eucharistic Prayers there is a second Epiclesis after the Institution Narrative.

    In any case, the Eucharistic Prayer is not complete until the people’s “Amen” to the doxology, and that may be what he meant.

    The Eucharistic Prayer
    78. Now the center and high point of the entire celebration begins, namely, the Eucharistic Prayer itself, that is, the prayer of thanksgiving and sanctification. The Priest calls upon the people to lift up their hearts towards the Lord in prayer and thanksgiving; he associates the people with himself in the Prayer that he addresses in the name of the entire community to God the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the meaning of this Prayer is that the whole congregation of the faithful joins with Christ in confessing the great deeds of God and in the offering of Sacrifice. The Eucharistic Prayer requires that everybody listens to it with reverence and in silence.

    79. The main elements of which the Eucharistic Prayer consists may be distinguished from one another in this way:

    a) The thanksgiving (expressed especially in the Preface), in which the Priest, in the name of the whole of the holy people, glorifies God the Father and gives thanks to him for the whole work of salvation or for some particular aspect of it, according to the varying day, festivity, or time of year.

    b) The acclamation, by which the whole congregation, joining with the heavenly powers, sings the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy). This acclamation, which constitutes part of the Eucharistic Prayer itself, is pronounced by all the people with the Priest.

    c) The epiclesis, in which, by means of particular invocations, the Church implores the power of the Holy Spirit that the gifts offered by human hands be consecrated, that is, become Christ’s Body and Blood, and that the unblemished sacrificial Victim to be consumed in Communion may be for the salvation of those who will partake of it.

    d) The institution narrative and Consecration, by which, by means of the words and actions of Christ, that Sacrifice is effected which Christ himself instituted during the Last Supper, when he offered his Body and Blood under the species of bread and wine, gave them to the Apostles to eat and drink, and leaving with the latter the command to perpetuate this same mystery.

    e) The anamnesis, by which the Church, fulfilling the command that she received from Christ the Lord through the Apostles, celebrates the memorial of Christ, recalling especially his blessed Passion, glorious Resurrection, and Ascension into heaven.

    f) The oblation, by which, in this very memorial, the Church, in particular that gathered here and now, offers the unblemished sacrificial Victim in the Holy Spirit to the Father. The Church’s intention, indeed, is that the faithful not only offer this unblemished sacrificial Victim but also learn to offer their very selves,[70] and so day by day to be brought, through the mediation of Christ, into unity with God and with each other, so that God may at last be all in all.[71]

    g) The intercessions, by which expression is given to the fact that the Eucharist is celebrated in communion with the whole Church, of both heaven and of earth, and that the oblation is made for her and for all her members, living and dead, who are called to participate in the redemption and salvation purchased by the Body and Blood of Christ.

    h) The concluding doxology, by which the glorification of God is expressed and which is affirmed and concluded by the people’s acclamation Amen.

    http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/the-mass/general-instruction-of-the-roman-missal/girm-chapter-2.cfm

  93. jhayes says:

    acardnal. I’ve looked back at the original comment reporting on the homily. Regarding your first two paragraphs, I don’t see anything that says “we should change what Jesus said” or “change Holy Scripture or create our own” or anything at all about miracles.

    Regarding your third paragraph, I would be reluctant to judge anyone’s explanation of the Trinity without hearing it myself or seeing a transcript. The complaint in the original post is “This was the third non male reference to God and it seemed to be a bit close to Sabellianism or modalism.” Since the Catechism says “God’s parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood”, i don’t believe the first part of the complaint is justified.

    For the same reason, I don’t think the objection in your fourth paragraph to “It was “acceptable to think of God as “God the Mother” if that means we can related (sic) to God better.” Is justified.

  94. SimonDodd says:

    Phil_NL says: “SimonDodd, Read again. I have nothing against priests accusing (part of) the congregation of sin, that’s part of his job description. What I do strenously object against if a priest using terms from secular criminal law, and applying them without a shred of proof, nor with the same intention as secular criminal law, to people in the congregation who are perfectly innocent of such crimes.”

    Oh—terms like “murder,” perhaps? Murder is a term from secular law that we use to describe abortion, much to the consternation of pro-choicers, including soi-disant “pro-choice Catholics.” I think that it would be a good thing if more priests were willing to call abortion murder from the pulpit—don’t you? Well, I think that many “pro-choice Catholics” would be boiling under the collar if they had to sit through such a homily. They might be strongly-inclined to leave. And they shouldn’t, either. To be clear, I’m not defending the homily; I don’t know what was said. My point is about remedy: What does one do when confronted with a problematic homily? Unless there is a situation where one has wards (paradigmatically children), the answer is to stay put and take it up with the homilist after Mass. And as I noted above, one would have a darned difficult time doing that if one walked out halfway through.

    Unless children are involved, the bar for leaving during a homily is incredibly high. I can’t think of many circumstances in which it could be justified. And the bar in fact gets higher the worse the homily is, because the more of a problem it is, the more more important it is that you stay and absorb it so that you can confront him later and, if necessary, drag him before the bishop. Well, I suppose it’s fine to leave in this situation: If you know that there’s a pen and paper in the narthex, and you’ll be able to hear him just fine from there, by all means to to the narthex.

  95. Phil_NL says:

    Good heavens, a sermon about abortion? No of course not, it was economics all around – sharing resources and so on.

    And if you think dragging a priest before a bishop will do any good, by all means, but I have zero confidence in that. For heretical stuff, it might perhaps help, but for a run-of-the-mill case of defamation or slander? “No, he didn’t mean it like that, surely?”
    And the worst (or best, depedning on your perspective) part is, he probably indeed didn’t mean it the way it was received. In fact, I did take it up with him afterwards (after cooling down a bit, but I met with preciously little success), I got quite enough already.

    But all that doesn’t negate the fact I was fuming, and would have trouble keeping composed for the rest. Maybe you have an iron pokerface, but I’d say the bar for leaving actually gets lower and lower the more insulting and defective the homily is, just for the very reason that I’d rather leave there and then, as opposed to finally snapping when ‘friends’ is ad-libbed instead of ‘apostles’ during the Eucharistic Prayer.

    As a final word, I can sympathize with you defending the priest’s room for speaking truth in harsh terms when it comes to subjects where that’s needed (though I’d still say there is a big distinction between murder in the moral sense and the judicial. In the second case, lethal force would be called for to prevent it. And that’s no route we want to take when discussing abortion. Terms with a concrete meaning in secular law should be used with great caution).
    However, experiences in this neck of the wood are that using such language is never done on such crucial subjects. It regularly does happen on topics the priest has little or no business discussing to begin with. That adds tremendously to the levels of agitation, increasing the need to walk out, if only to prevent worse. It’s also one of the reasons I’m regularly calling in my comments for priests to be very careful on matters that are in the realm of prudential judgement.

  96. Phil_NL says:

    Apologies for once again maiming the italics tags, Father.

  97. acardnal says:

    Rachel K. wrote, “our parish priest explained that those who believe that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus at the moment of the words of consecration are heretics!” AND
    “He was adamant and very clear in explaining that those of us who thought this was the case were really mistaken and that the bread and wine gradually become the Sacred Species during the Eucharistic prayer . . . .”

    You were right to be concerned. What the priest said is not accurate or true.

  98. Elizium23 says:

    If I were in Mass and the priest preached that communion in the hand was a sacrilege, or that the Ordinary Form Mass is invalid, then yes, I would walk out.

  99. robtbrown says:

    jhayes said,

    And robtbrown wrote: “1. No. 239 refers to the One God, not the Trinity. Referring to the One God as Father is not the same as referring to the First Person of the Trinity. Maternal characteristics are rightly attributed to the One God (cf Psalms)–the Trinity is another matter.”

    Yes. That’s the difference. If you are naming the three persons of the Trinity, there is “Father.” But the one God is neither male nor female, so can be described as loving us as our human parents do – both mother and father.

    I’m sorry, but you didn’t understand what I said.

  100. robtbrown says:

    Rachel K says:

    The sermon I wish I had walked out on was one in which our parish priest explained that those who believe that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus at the moment of the words of consecration are heretics! Yes, you read that correctly. He was adamant and very clear in explaining that those of us who thought this was the case were really mistaken and that the bread and wine gradually become the Sacred Species during the Eucharistic prayer and this is completed by the Great Amen at the end of the prayer when the people assent to it all.

    1. Transubstantiation did not happen gradually at the Last Supper. Christ said This is My Body, so I take Him at His word.

    2. If change happens gradually, then there is at least one middle state. Did the priest say what that state between bread and Christ’s Body was? A Cinnamon roll? Supreme pizza? Apple Sauce?

    3. Acc to that priest, St Thomas Aquinas was a heretic.

    4. I’ve often heard another line, i.e., that after mass consecrated hosts cease being the Body of Christ. So when would that happen? After the Last Gospel in a TLM? Or when the microphone is turned off in a Novus Ordo?

  101. Lin says:

    The worst sermon I have ever heard was when the priest said Mary was an unwed mother. I was so shocked by that statement that I cannot even remember the rest of his sermon. And notifying the bishop’s office has not been effective to date.

  102. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Lin,

    while I might (or might not) disagree with the point the preacher was making or the emphasis on it (say, understanding of the dishonored members of society), I do not precisely understand your shock. Isn’t that quite simply a true statement?

  103. Lin says:

    No. She was betrothed to Joseph. Why dishonor the Blessed Mother no matter what point he was trying to make?!?

  104. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Lin, and we might, still, add that at the time of birth she was actually married. Nevertheless it’s legitimate to cut a thing short, and I do not consider it dishonoring Our Lady if one says that she was an unwed mother – or, in a rather more detailed sentence which I doubt you’d prefer – “was a pregnant woman who was, at the time of conception, not married, but only betrothed, and not to the child’s father”.

    It would be dishonoring Our Lady if one said that who did not believe in the Virgin birth, and scoffed at Christian faith attaching disreputable origins to Our Lord. In a preacher who does believe in the Virgin birth and preaches to an audience who does so, it is not dishonoring, but a friendly and orthodox jest, and a friendly jest is an honor, if perhaps a rather little one, to the one jested about.

    However, I might disagree with the point he was making. If, for instance, he goes to say that Our Lord humbled himself by not only becoming man, but also a man from a poor, outcast, etc. family, the tiny little problem is that according to my information, this would be factually incorrect. While Our Lord’s family was poor, his father still was a respected master-craftsmen in carpentry, and they were called “Son of David”, viz., Royal Highness.

  105. Lin says:

    Spoken as a true progressive. It is still dishonoring the Blessed Virgin Mother! One should not “jest” about the Mother Of GOD no matter what the circumstances. God bless you!

  106. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Lin, thanks for the blessing.

    If it is “progressive” not to follow as intrinsically binding morality what is, perhaps, an American custom regarding outward behavior (a note: I’m not American), then yes, I’m progressive.

    You know, I’d long – really – to be able to declare in the “conservative-progressive-paradigm” which side I’m on. I know it is not progressism, provovative speech aside. And you’ll find that, at least, to be un-progressive: Progressists, if they imagine they are in the middle, tend to be quite content with it. I’m not. I’d really long to declare for Conservatism.

    Only I find to my regret that I do not everywhere agree with the claims of Conservatives.

    I’d like to separate your claim into two claims that are, in my opinion, quite distinct: You say that
    1. it is dishonoring the Blessed Virgin.
    2. One should not “jest” about the Mother of God under whatever circumstances.

    The first I contest on logical grounds, which I presented above.

    Remains that, according to you, it is a principle of morality (or custom, see below for that) not to jest about (I guess I can extend that to:) holy things, period, honoring or not. Well, in natural law it is not; you’d have to claim a divine positive law therefore, and this does not exist. (The Second Commandment does not go beyond natural law, for that you must not abuse God’s name is clear; but it can be applied, here, only when you have proven jesting to be abusing, which I deny together with as great an apologist as G. K. Chesterton.)

    If you defend the not-jesting as a custom, you may have a point. Some theoreticists may then debate how much the custom is in force and what binding character it has, and so on. I may add that such a custom seems a strange one to me.

    Fwiw, it’s a Catholic code-sign around here to make good Catholic jokes.

    God bless you.

  107. Imrahil says:

    I was on the verge of telling a really good one here, but as you might not like it (though I presented my reasons why I think you are mistaken there) and also as it would be OT, I’ll skip that for a moment.

  108. Imrahil says:

    Dear @SimonDodd,

    Oh, well, but I’m sure that the right to walk out on a homily only attaches when the priest is wrong. And that’s a strongly-confining principle, isn’t it!

    Fwiw, and I mean that as a general statement without directly finding any application to the concrete case, I don’t think that we can replace the criterion of truth ultimately by the, admittedly easier, criterion of authority. (Unless, well, the authority is on matters of right and wrong and speaks infallible…)