Joseph Bottum, over at First Things, has written the following about the St. Mary's by the Sea situation:
May 30, 2006
Joseph Bottum writes:
Out in Orange County, they’re preaching fire and brimstone. “Rebellion, grave disobedience, and mortal sin,” the pastor of St. Mary’s by the Sea in Huntington Beach, California, thundered to his congregation in the church bulletin.
Now, ever since Jonathan Edwards preached “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” American pastors have known that, every once in a while, you have to pitch it hot to stop the backsliding of your parishioners. And backsliding the people have been in Orange County—to the point where many of them openly kneel during Mass.
What are they doing out there in California? We’ve got an abortion industry slaughtering millions of babies, we have two generations of churchgoers so badly catechized they can’t tell the Bible from The Da Vinci Code, and an Orange County parish is squabbling about kneeling during Mass?
The ironies are almost irresistible. The people who roiled the Catholic liturgy into some disastrous mixture of the language of Entertainment Weekly and the solemnity of P.T. Barnum are badly placed to object to the diversity of some parishioners kneeling, and it’s a little late in the day for the folks who brought us liturgical dance to be invoking the language of “rebellion, grave disobedience, and mortal sin.”
Still, it is a scandal, in the literal sense. The divisions in the parish have been reported in the Los Angeles Times, and the Church is made a laughingstock. I imagine there were some parishioners who weren’t just kneeling; they were kneeling with intent—to shame and embarrass their pastor and other parishioners. And I’ll bet there were some parishioners who standing in the same way—to be noticed by others, to make a comment, when the Blessed Sacrament itself is exposed on the altar, demanding everyone’s reverence and attention.
Bah. Various reports suggest that the diocesan bureaucrats in Orange County are as iconic 1970s-style-reform Catholics as the world still contains: Diversity is the highest good, they proclaim, as long as it’s our kind of diversity. But let’s not forget the reality of a parish so embittered that nobody seems to be watching the Mass. A good pastor would never have let it reach this point, and a good bishop would certainly have solved the problem of a bad pastor long before it made the pages of the Los Angeles Times.
"For every knee shall be bowed to Me" (Isaiah 45:24)
"Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil 2:9-11).
"It's hard to understand why any bishop would prohibit his people from expressing reverence in the way they have done for centuries," said Helen Hull Hitchcock, a founder of the conservative Adoremus Society for the Renewal of Sacred Liturgy in St. Louis.
At the center of the controversy is the church's concept of Christ, said Jesuit Father Lawrence J. Madden, director of the Georgetown Center for Liturgy at Georgetown University in Washington. It's a question raised in the bestselling book "The Da Vinci Code."
Because the earliest Christians viewed Jesus as God and man, Madden said, they generally stood during worship services to show reverence and equality. About the 7th century, however, Catholic theologians put more emphasis on Christ's divinity and introduced kneeling as the only appropriate posture at points in the Mass when God was believed to be present.
Quick, someone get Fr. Madden a Bible! The Acts of the Apostles tells us how Saint Peter (9:40), Saint Paul (20:36), and the whole Christian community (21:5) pray on their knees.
And what is implied by referring to "when God was believed to be present"?
"If anyone says that in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist the only-begotten Son of God is not to be adored even outwardly with the worship of latria (the act of adoration), ...and that the adorers of it are idolaters; let him be anathema." (Enchiridion Symbolorum, Denzinger, 30th edition, Number 888, p. 271).
"It was in the flesh that Christ walked among us and it is His flesh that He has given us to eat for our salvation. But,’ he added: ‘no one eats of this flesh without having first adored it . . . and not only do we not sin in thus adoring it, but we would be sinning if we did not do so!” (St. Augustine, On the Psalms, 98:9, in Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei , No. 55, p. 323)
Pope Pius XII's encyclical on the Sacred Liturgy, Mediator Dei, tells us that:
"Outward acts of religion... serve to foster piety, to kindle the flame of charity, to increase our faith and deepen our devotion." "They make it possible to tell genuine Christians from their false or heretical counterparts." Furthermore, Pope Pius XII said, "It is therefore the keen desire of the Church that all of the faithful kneel at the feet of the Redeemer to tell Him how much they venerate and love Him."
Pope Benedict XVI on kneeling:
"Here the bodily gesture attains the status of a confession of faith in Christ: words could not replace such a confession." (Pope Benedict XVI, The Feast of Faith, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986, pp. 74-75).
“There are groups, of no small influence, who are trying to talk us out of kneeling" (Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 184).
In the same book, Pope Benedict XVI utilizes Sacred Scripture and, specifically, the example of Christ himself in the Garden of Gethsemane, to demonstrate that any attempts to promote the absence of kneeling in worship is not in keeping with tradition.
"Kneeling does not come from any culture - it comes from the Bible and its knowledge of God" (p. 185).
More from the same work on kneeling:
"There is much more that we might add. For example, there is the touching story told by Eusebius in his history of the Church as a tradition going back to Hegesippus in the second century. Apparently, Saint James, the "brother of the Lord", the first bishop of Jerusalem and "head" of the Jewish Christian Church, had a kind of callous on his knees, because he was always on his knees worshipping God and begging forgiveness for his people (2, 23, 6). Again, there is a story that comes from the sayings of the Desert Fathers, according to which the devil was compelled by God to show himself to a certain Abba Apollo. He looked black and ugly, with frighteningly thin limbs, but most strikingly, he had no knees. The inability to kneel is seen as the very essence of the diabolical."
Pope John Paul II was often photographed kneeling:
According to the story linked above, students at Charlotte Amalie High School in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, made a digital video recording of two students performing a sex act in a classroom, with classmates present, using cell phones to transmit and receive the video.
The video is being transmitted among the students via their cell phones.
Because the students are minors, possession of the video is considered a felony.
Thomas Sowell is a prominent American economist, political writer, and conservative/libertarian commentator. He is presently a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. In 1990, he won the prestigious Francis Boyer Award, presented by the American Enterprise Institute. In 2002 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal for prolific scholarship melding history, economics, and political science.
The man is a genius.
He has recently written three excellent articles on immigration that I link below:
This Washington Times article, entitled, "New Priests Show Promise", offers hope to Catholics for the future of the Church.
The article says:
Earlier this month, the Catholic News Service reported that although the number of new priests nationwide remains steady, the ordination class of 2006 is better-educated, older and more likely to be foreign-born than their colleagues of years past.
According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, a Catholic research organization based at Georgetown University, 80 percent of the men scheduled for ordination this year obtained bachelor's degrees before entering the seminary and 30 percent of them earned graduate degrees -- at schools such as Princeton University, University of Chicago, Loyola College, University of California at Berkeley, Xavier University, University of Notre Dame, Catholic University and University of Dallas.
About 75 percent of the candidates reported having full-time work experience before studying for the priesthood, with the most common field being education.
It is wonderful that these men have such good educations, but will they lead other to holiness? Will they tell Catholics that everyone is called to be a saint? Will they be faithful to the constant teachings of the Church? Will they properly instruct the faithful?
Any Jesuit can generally boast about their educational pedigree, but how many Jesuits are unswervingly faithful to the Magisterium?
The fact is, many priests are actually still poorly schooled in terms of having a proper grasp of philosophy, theology, Sacred Scripture, traditional spirituality and the like, and are instead trained as social workers with little sense of the supernatural. It is true that many seminaries are far better than what they once were, it is equally true that most seminaries are far from what they ought to be.
With such poor formation, the liberal ideas of society quickly invade and take root in the mind, which the often well-intentioned priest or seminarian re-interprets as the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Hence, rather than discussions of personal sin, eternal salvation or damnation, grace, original sin, etc., the priest is only able to talk about the standard social "sins" of the day: racism, sexism, so-called "homophobia", pollution, etc.
True to the maxim that one cannot give what he does not have, these poorly trained priests may sincerely want to help their parishioners, but are ill equipped to do so. They deliver fluffy homilies devoid of content; sometimes offer appallingly bad advice in the confessional, particularly in the area of sexual morality; wonder, sometimes publicly, when the Church is going to give up Her medieval views and become more in touch with the needs of 21st century Catholics; spend countless hours watching television, going to movies and indulging in other entertainments without making an effort to grow in personal holiness, thus being little different than anyone else in society; and are reduced to little more than professional nice guys who make little or no impact on the lives of their parishioners.
Lacking a sense of purpose and mission, and never trained to maintain intense prayer lives, they can fall victim to a variety of personal sins and end up unhappy and disillusioned. While this is certainly not universally true among diocesan priests, for some are self-taught and provide excellent role models despite the corrupted system, it is a widespread problem among the priesthood.
While it may be inconceivable for many to imagine America treating churches that oppose gay marriage the same as racists who opposed interracial marriage in the 1960s, just consider the fate of the Boy Scouts. The Scouts have paid dearly for asserting their 1st Amendment right not to be forced to accept gay scoutmasters. In retaliation, the Scouts have been denied access to public parks and boat slips, charitable donation campaigns and other government benefits. The endgame of gay activists is to strip the Boy Scouts (and by extension, any other organization that morally opposes gay marriage) of its tax-exempt status under both federal and state law.
Although some contend that we shouldn't tinker with the Constitution over every little thing (as if that is actually happening or ever going to happen), I now believe that a Constitutional amendment recognizing marriage as a union between one man and one woman is necessary.
I believe that it is in keeping with Catholic teaching to support such an amendment, and, more pointedly, I believe that arguments against it, no matter how well-intentioned, are really just intellectualized excuses designed to encourage good people not to support doing the right thing.
The fact is: Constitutional amendments are difficult to pass. The founding fathers intended that when they designed the Constitution. While I would be reticent to make radical changes to the Constitution in many areas, I do believe that the document is, in some ways, flawed; especially when it comes to recognizing the right to life. Making changes, where they are needed, to uphold the moral law and the common good is the right thing to do.
For those who would, or will, argue that gay marriage is good, please read this article in its entirety before posting: Gay Marriage
According to the article, the teacher, a former seminarian, had a MySpace Page and wrote on his Web site that he was gay and looking for "straight-acting single men."
Teenagers are addicted to MySpace, so it is likely one or more of his students discovered the page.
This teacher deserved to be terminated and wil have absolutely no chance of claiming discrimination, as his contract cited "maintaining, by word or action, a position contrary to the ordinary teaching of the Catholic Church" as grounds for dismissal.
If only every Catholic school teacher who dissented from Church teaching was sent packing. That would open up a lot of positions for orthodox Catholic teachers!