My native place of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has its large share of loony dissent.  Some of it is so strange that you wonder if you are actually imagining it.

That said, I am not making this up.

From the Minneapolis Star Sickle comes this big puppet liturgical horror for Palm Sunday at the über-weird St. Joan of Arc parish, in the running for the weirdest parish in these USA.

Actors and musicians presented Palm Sunday Family Mass with In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre [apt mane] at Saint Joan of Arc Catholic Community in Minneapolis. Christians around the world celebrated Palm Sunday with the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, when the crowds waved palm branches.

“Celebrant”? in costume? Who knows.  It could be anyone.

Yep, at least the tabernacle is in the center of the … wildlife sanctuary!

It’s the raccoon that does it.  No?

I am pretty sure that the parts of the “liturgical” ministers were performed by the Guardians of the Galaxy.*

*Not to be confused with these guys.

By the way, not far from St. Joan of Arc there is another church where they worship rocks in American Indian rituals.  No kidding.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. iPadre says:

    Imagine the suffering of the poor priest that tries to clean up this mess some day. He will be hailed as the anti-Christa.

  2. Rich says:

    When liberals do things that scare the kids, it’s OK.

  3. It won’t be long now until the Lord returns. Oh God, please clean up the mess!

  4. St. Corbinian's Bear says:

    You’ll notice there is no Bear.

  5. These puppets I actually found disturbing…really creepy.

  6. With respect to scaring the children, my husband told me a story about the Bishop up in Lincoln, NE. The cathedral up there has great acoustics but it’s weird-looking on the inside. If I’m remembering the story right they had a strange crucifix that the Bishop replaced with a more traditional one, and when people protested the Bishop said, “It was scaring the children…and it scared me too.” :)

  7. APX says:


  8. CGPearson says:

    It looks like this is about par for the course when it comes to Palm Sunday at Joan of Arc. One of their pictures from a previous year was used in a Catholic Meme a while back.

  9. MarkJ says:

    If I had been the priest participating in this nightmarish sacrilege, I would have hidden behind a mask, too. Then again, he should have just said NO! Where is the bishop in all this? Reminds me of the Halloween Mass celebrated for several years in Orange County, CA, where the priest dressed up like Barney for the final blessing. What lunacy!

  10. OrthodoxChick says:

    Just checked out the SJA web page. Interesting. They have a, um, creative offering of parish ministries. Let’s see: there’s GLBT, EcoSpirits, Drum Circle…and a mental health ministry. I think I’d really need that last one if I belonged to that parish! I may need it now just to deal with the trauma from these puppet pics. I find myself suffering from PTSD – Puppets Trash the Sacred Disorder.

  11. OrthodoxChick says:

    Just checked out the SJA web page. Interesting. They have a, um, creative offering of parish ministries. Let’s see: there’s GLBT, EcoSpirits, Drum Circle…and a mental health ministry. I think I’d really need that last one if I belonged to that parish! I may need it now just to deal with the trauma from these puppet pics. I find myself suffering from PTSD – Puppets Trash the Sacred Disorder.

  12. Gregorius says:

    So does this technically make St. Agnes the odd parish for its orthodoxy and solid catechesis?

  13. Thankfully, the parish’s web site suggests that the puppet show took place before Mass, not during Mass. Still inane, but less sacrilegious at least.

  14. BLB Oregon says:

    How can that be endured? It is an unmitigated desecration.

  15. pappy says:

    No, I offer up Holy Family, in St. Louis Park. Fr. Johnson is great ! It is the sponsoring
    parish for the Chesterton Academy, and sometime home for Fr. Welzbacher.

  16. Doug R says:

    Makes me glad that when we were up there a few Sundays ago, we stumbled into the Basilica of St. Mary for the 7:30AM Latin Mass.

  17. catholictrad says:

    And why does the good Bishop permit such blasphemy? The bishop is the ordinary teacher, so if he ignores this, he must approve of it, no?

  18. Sonshine135 says:

    What is the deal with the animals? That really screams of some sort of Pagan ritual, yet including what I take to be a representation of the last supper. That would make this ritually satanic and quite profane. I cannot imagine that this was done unintentionally.

    Most Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit- I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifferences whereby He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners.

  19. ASPM Sem says:

    The prayer of every seminarian is not to be assigned there….

    At Mass at the University of St. Thomas Chapel, the Gospel was chanted/sung. Very beautiful.

  20. Robbie says:

    Where’s the Bishop in all of this?

  21. haskovez says:

    There are some “interesting” things that go on in Minneapolis. When I was a student at the University of MN I would attend Mass at the Newman Center. (This was in 1995). They got way out there and at some point a year or 2 later, the Bishop shut down the Newman Center and the students had to go to St. Lawrence. I am surprised the Bishop doesn’t intervene in this parish.

  22. Mike says:

    One does not, I trust, have to be a “rad-trad” to wonder to what extreme of outrage and sacrilege a parish’s abuse of the Novus Ordo would have to go for a diocesan Ordinary to forbid its use there.

  23. tcreek says:

    It may help overcome the distress at these antics if you reflect on the life of the Saint and not the parish. I have read much about St. Joan and she is a great corrective to the wimpish goings on in today’s culture. Some quotes:

    This from an unknown source. Maybe St Joan had in mind a certain future parish who took her name.
    “.. are you unaware that God opposes your unlawful efforts and will not permit you to remain in darkness and error? So that the more you indulge yourselves in crime and sacrilege, the more He will prepare great punishments and anguish for you. As far as I am concerned, to tell you frankly, if I wasn’t occupied in the English wars I would have come to see you a long time ago.”

    “Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years.” — Winston Churchill

    “…next to the Christ, the highest spiritual being of whom we have any exact record upon this earth is the girl Jeanne.” “… her love and charity were so broad, that they could only be matched by Him who prayed for His murderers.” — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    “She was perhaps the only entirely unselfish person whose name has a place in profane history.”…
    “Whatever thing men call great, look for it in Joan of Arc, and there you will find it.”…
    “Love, Mercy, Charity, Fortitude, War, Peace, Poetry, Music–these may be symbolized as any shall prefer: by figures of either sex and of any age; but a slender girl in her first young bloom, with the martyr’s crown upon her head, and in her hand the sword that severed her country’s bonds–shall not this, and no other, stand for PATRIOTISM through all the ages until time shall end.”— Mark Twain

    “She was the consummation and ideal of two noble human efforts towards perfection. The peasant’s daughter was the Flower of Chivalry, brave, gentle, merciful, courteous, kind, and loyal….She was the most perfect daughter of her Church….her conscience, by frequent confession, was kept fair and pure as the lilies of Paradise.” — Andrew Lang-19th Century Writer and Historian

    “Joan of Arc was not stuck at the cross-roads, either by rejecting all the paths like Tolstoy, or by accepting them all like Nietzsche. She chose a path, and went down it like a thunderbolt. … It was impossible that the thought should not cross my mind that she and her faith had perhaps some secret of moral unity and utility that has been lost.” — G. K. Chesterton

    “Today I would like to speak to you about Joan of Arc, a young saint from the end of the Middle Ages, who died at age 19, in 1431. This French saint, quoted many times in the Catechism of the Catholic Church … with her luminous testimony, St. Joan of Arc invites us to a lofty level of Christian life … to have full confidence in fulfilling the will of God, whatever it is … having, as she had, in the love of Jesus, a profound love for the Church.” — Pope Benedict XVI General Audience, January 26, 2011.

  24. benedetta says:

    If we are as the animals arrayed around the altar as congregation here, then why is it ok according to this narrative of Catholicism that we permit torture and slaughter of them in the womb? If we aren’t to bully our gay brothers and sisters, why is it alright according to this iteration of a Catholic congregation to offer our children in the tens of millions in this country up for slaughter? These puppets aren’t as radical as their pretense after all.

  25. BLB Oregon says:

    There is nothing wrong with putting on puppet shows for children, and there is nothing necessarily wrong with using animal characters in such a production, even in the re-enactment of stories from the Gospels. (I would not have liked to see huge rabbits or foxes or people made to look like those forbidding statues on Easter Island when I was a child, but perhaps that is neither here nor there.)

    To use the very altar itself and to even approximate the Mass itself in such a production, however, is nothing other than a sacrilege, even when irreverence is not intended. There should never be anything but the greatest reverence for the altar, even when the church is empty, but especially when there innocent children there to soak up our every move. Under no circumstances should the altar be used for anything whatsoever, excepting its intended use. If they’re going to do this sort of thing, they need to find a theatre space appropriate for it. Period. This is not hard to understand.

  26. Elizium23 says:

    I get exceedingly tired of this meme that is used to mock liturgical abuse when people drag out the “huge puppets” example. Few of these spoilsports realize that there is an authentic secular tradition of using giant puppets in processions and parades, and it is concentrated in Spain. Given Spain’s long and illustrious Catholic history, it is safe to say that this tradition is thoroughly Catholic. Unfortunately these liberals have tainted it by twisting the custom into a liturgical travesty that looks silly to people who are not steeped in Spanish culture.

    I have some very nice photos from Barcelona’s Gràcia district of giant heads of parade figures, it’s really quite interesting if you can swallow your revulsion and stop thinking of Nuns on the Bus for a while.

  27. St. Corbinian's Bear says:

    Giant puppets have an even bigger role in Bolshevik agitprop and Pink Floyd concerts.

    On an (even) lighter note, when I posted this on my blog one person remarked on how the celebrant looked just like Fr. Corapi! Perhaps they are not as liberal as everyone thinks!

  28. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    Yes, what they do at St. Joan’s is awful. Even Ray Charles could see that. But at least there’s a certain truth in advertising. Like Deacon Sandy’s parish, you know what you’re getting into.
    What’s worse to my mind are t parishes that purport to be Catholic and are, to outward observance, but inwardly are dissident, where “the hierarchy” is sneered at and any expression of traditional devotion treated as a sign of incipient mental illness.

  29. Kerry says:

    Father Corapi…? No, that’s Issac Hayes.

  30. StJude says:

    Wait. What?

    OrthodoxChick: “Let’s see: there’s GLBT, EcoSpirits, Drum Circle…and a mental health ministry.” ………………Where is the Bishop in all this nonsense?

  31. Phil_NL says:

    May I suggest that every parish that calls itself “catholic community” instead of “parish” be summarily closed, its priest be sent to inner Africa, and the master of ceremonies (and all ushers, while we’re at it) be excommunicated?

    OF course there will be a few good men who’ll have to suffer along with the bad that way, but man, it would reduce the sacrelige and silliness…

  32. CGPearson says:

    Gregorius and Pappy: I would also list Church of All Saints in NE Minneapolis (the new apostolate of the FSSP)

  33. James says:

    This reminds me of something out of the film The Wicker Man.

  34. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Spanish parade/procession puppets are pretty an outside-the-church, in-the-streets game. (Just like French and English traditional dragons and giants in parades.) Usually they represent giants, dragons, or other monsters conquered by the local saint; there’s also a strand of “giant versions of the local people wearing local dress.”

    OTOH, floats carried by humans often get to come inside church to get blessed, and/or to have the saints’ and Jesus’ statues installed on them for the procession, or removed again once they reach their procession destination.

  35. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Anyway… even if you really wanted reverent giant puppets in church for some quirky reason, you wouldn’t dress them up as the celebrant or as Jesus, they wouldn’t walk around on the altar, they wouldn’t use the altar as part of their play, they’d be kneeling a lot more, you’d make them look friendlier….

  36. BLB Oregon says:

    Elizium23–yes, a parade would be the exact right place for that kind of costuming! The height, size, and the nature of the artwork would be just right. Rather than finding these figures scary, the children would like that they could see the performers clearly, even from the vantage point of sitting on shoulders a few rows back in a crowd. In that setting, they could be really delightful.

  37. OrthodoxChick says:


    Have the people in Africa offended you in some way? Why would you want to impose the whackadoo clerics in our ranks upon them??

  38. Mike says:

    OrthodoxChick asks: “Phil_NL, / Have the people in Africa offended you in some way? Why would you want to impose the whackadoo clerics in our ranks upon them??”

    Irony notwithstanding, from what little I’ve seen and heard about the practice of the Faith in Africa, that continent’s orthodox Catholics could refute any number of misconceptions under which our Western adventurers now labor. One prays that our African brethren would be granted the grace patiently to shoulder that particular burden of the New Evangelization.

  39. Deirdre Mundy says:

    Sometimes “Catholic Community” means ‘we combined these 4 parishes into one, and the St. Jerome folks and the St. Ambrose folks are still insisting that they’re separate parishes that just happen to share a priest, DRE, and janitor with St. Augustine.’

    Less about ‘liberal’ in many cases, and more about ‘ we can’t be one parish until the old people who cling to old basketball rivalries from long-shuttered schools die off.’

  40. norancor says:

    At least it isn’t valid. (manifest contrary intention)

  41. TWF says:

    I was recently in Minnesota for the first time on business. I attended the 10 am “solemn mass” at St. Paul’s Cathedral and was quite impressed. The mass was very solemn with appropriate use of incense, chant, etc, and the cathedral itself, of course, was stunning. My only complaint was the army EMHCs distributing the chalice. This struck me as odd. When I have attended parishes (including cathedrals) with more traditional liturgies in Vancouver or Toronto, I have found that the chalice is rarely if ever distributed and EMHCs kept to a minimum. It was an odd contrast. That being said, I assumed, based on the cathedral, the Archdiocese was fairly decent liturgy wise…I suppose I now know I need to be careful next time I head up there…

  42. Fr. Erik Richtsteig says:

    Looks like a cross between “Children of the Corn” and a bad acid trip.

  43. Bosco says:

    Reminds me of something out of the 1973 movie “The Wicker Man” that starred Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, and Britt Eckland. Perhaps one of them may be behind the mask. Awful just awful.

  44. Gail F says:

    Elizium23 — yes, Spanish giant puppets in parades are Catholic. our big Hispanic parish has some they use… in parades. But I think in the USA they are more associated with certain peace activists like Fr. Borgeois and the “ordination tambourine” lady. Or, these days, “The Lion King.” Neither of which have anything to do with Mass or pageants inside churches. I’ve got to admit I’m stumped by these, is there anyone who likes them?

  45. AnAmericanMother says:

    This is absolutely creepy – reminds me of the time I found myself at a LDS funeral. Not that they had any giant puppets there . . . but the same feeling of “whoa! this is completely, utterly wrong!”

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  47. The Cobbler says:

    But do the Spanish puppets look so horrifyingly tasteless? I could make better puppets at home with my no training and my above-average yet substandard ration of common sense.

    And similarly, do American Indians actually have rituals for worshipping rocks? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they all thought the earth was divine in some manner, but I’d be extraordinarily surprised to find out that whatever rock-worship some hippies today do in an allegedly Catholic church is really the same sort of thing the Indians did to worship their earthen gods. Heck, if the Indian gods were both real and non-demonic they’d probably be mighty offended by such nonsense as hippy rock-worshipping rituals.

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  49. Mary De Voe says:

    The puppet of Christ seems to have female hands. And the bread and wine are the “symbol” of the Real Presence. “If it is only a symbol, it can go to hell” Flannery O’Connor.

  50. Andrew D says:

    Disgraceful on so many levels. I have no idea if the consecration was said correctly here (wouldn’t surprise me if it wasn’t) but if it was, then Our Lord is being treated like a prop in a bad theatrical performance. The masks and puppets themselves are beyond creepy – they look sinister and remind me of some of the creatures from “The Shining”. Is there a Novena to St. John Vianney that we can say for the conversion of priests who allow things like this to happen?

  51. ocds says:

    And the poor parishioners at St. Joan of Arc still have Easter to look forward to. From their website:

    “Family Mass for Easter is at 9 am and 11 am in the Church. Join Farmer Rick and his baby animals as we celebrate new life!”

  52. coeyannie says:

    We have put up with this nonsense through 2 or 3 bishops, who do nothing. If they do anything, it is unnoticeable. It makes me nauseated. We thought when Nienstedt came to this Archdiocese, things would get cleaned up. No such luck. St. Frances Cabrini Church in Minneapolis is an example of another pastor who gets by with slamming the Archbishop every other week in his “pastors comments”. If the Archbishop is undaunted, fine, by the office of Archbishop should be respected, not degraded. But when this priest got transferred, he got TWO crazy parishes to influence further. I don’t get it. Go to Confession, you say? One has to be very careful where you go to Confession around here these days.

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  54. Andrew D says:

    If you go to the website of St. Joan of Arch in Minneapolis, here is what you’ll see if you download the most current bulletin…

    1. A Seder tomorrow (reservation required) at the church. No offense at all against our Jewish brothers and sisters but a Catholic Parish is supposed to be Catholic!

    2. A “gay and lesbian spring event” on April 26th. No mention of Project Courage anywhere so we’re led to believe this spring event is in total compliance with the gay and lesbian lifestyle.

    3. “EcoSpirits: Putting Yourself on the Line for Mother Earth. On Monday, April 28 at 7 pm in the Parish Center, join our SJA EcoSpirits and guest presenter Pastor Gwin Pratt of St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church. Gwin’s congregation has trained 60 people to respond with nonviolent civil disobedience if the Keystone pipeline is approved. Are you being called to this kind of witness? Join us and find out more!” Oh joy! just what we need… a woman “priest” from a presbyterian church lecturing CINOs about how important it is to protest the Keystone pipeline which would allow us to tap the natural resources God has given the U.S. and lessen our dependance on Islamofascist countries in OPEC.

    4. “Health Care Discussion: On Sunday, April 27, health care reform leader and former senator, Dave Durenberger is our guest speaker. Following the 11:00 Mass, our SJA Universal Health Care group invites you to learn more about activities in support of affordable, quality health care for all. Please join us.” Oh joy again! This time we have a pro-Obamacare forum where we can listen to propaganda about “affordable healthcare for all” without having to hear about taxpayer funds for abortion inducing drugs and how Obamacare is destroying jobs and thus, creating more poverty.

    5. “A milestone vigil for peace…. publically expressing our opposition to war and its weapons…” You want to protest against war and weapons? Get your butts out and protest against the war against women and babies taking place every day at the modern-day Auschwitz camps now known as Planned Parenthood clinics!

    Father Z. I apologize in advance if this is harsh but the best thing that could happen to a parish like this is for it to close. This is not Catholicism, it’s heresy and is bordering on evil. The longer gullible Catholics are subjected to this, the worse off the Church in Minnesota will be. It’s way past time for an intervention at renegade parishes like this.

  55. Benedict says:

    Father Z,

    I heard from a dear friend and fellow Catholic, state the priests who say Mass in his local, Catholic Church parish modify (they call it “personalization”) the Eucharistic prayer of consecration. I found a website quote a Vatican publication and also the General Instruction for the Roman Missal (GIRM) address this very matter:

    The Holy See’s 2004 disciplinary document, Redemptionis Sacramentum, states very emphatically:

    59. The reprobated practice by which priests, deacons or the faithful here and there alter or vary at will the texts of the Sacred Liturgy that they are charged to pronounce, must cease. For in doing thus, they render the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy unstable, and not infrequently distort the authentic meaning of the Liturgy.

    The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (2002) also says

    Nevertheless, the priest must remember that he is the servant of the Sacred Liturgy and that he himself is not permitted, on his own initiative, to add, to remove, or to change anything in the celebration of Mass. [GIRM§ 24]

    The GIRM is here quoting the Vatican II Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22.3:

    Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the Liturgy on his own authority.

    In addition, Redemptionis Sacramentum says:

    51. Only those Eucharistic Prayers are to be used which are found in the Roman Missal or are legitimately approved by the Apostolic See, and according to the manner and the terms set forth by it. “It is not to be tolerated that some priests take upon themselves the right to compose their own Eucharistic Prayers” [Pope John Paul II, Vicesimus quintus annus, n. 13] or to change the same texts approved by the Church, or to introduce others composed by private individuals [Instruction Inaestimabile donum, n. 5].

    Clearly, no priest is ever permitted to change any text in the Missal, and certainly he may not change the Eucharistic Prayer or the words of consecration.

    The priest’s omitting “it” is certainly illicit; though this omission alone would not automatically invalidate the consecration (it might have been an unintentional a slip of the tongue). In any case, it should be called to the priest’s attention so he can be sure to correct the error.

    Lay Catholics are not exempt from the responsibility to assure the proper celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, as Redemptionis Sacramentum clearly states, in a section on Complaints Regarding Abuses in Liturgical Matters

    183. In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favoritism.

    184. Any Catholic, whether priest or deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.

    My friend visited several Churches around where he lives and he found one priest who was complying with the Vatican. So, he addressed this matter of modifying Eucharistic Prayers and this priest defended his brother priests saying that they are “personalizing” the Eucharistic Prayers of Consecration. The following Sunday this priest began to modify these same prayers.

    My friend called a very orthodox Roman Catholic pastor and detailed exactly what was being done to the liturgy. This pastor said that it was a “grave matter” and he found it incredible almost to the point of calling my friend a liar. So my friend then concerned himself with if the Host was in fact consecrated. The validity of the consecration could still be nullified by defect of matter or ministerial intention.

    So my friend says if these priests can commit a mortal sin before the congregation and then receive Holy Communion not in a state of grace: “It is not hard to imagine they may not have the intention of consecrating the bread and wine.”

    One can see that these concerns are legitimate. But what about receiving Holy Communion by Desire? Also one can see one error can introduce doubt and confusion.

    We want to comply with the Church’s tenets but can a person even receive Holy Communion by Desire? I have heard of Baptism by Desire but never receiving Holy Communion by Desire.

    PS: You may shorten and make my post to make it clear.

  56. Frank_Bearer says:

    You just wait until the bishop hears about this! They say Old Niner is a conservative. I bet if he knew about this he would do something. You just wait. The new springtime is coming.


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