Fresco of the "Deeds of the Antichrist" (detail) by Luca Signorelli (c.1501) in the in Orvieto Cathedral, in Italy.
Fr. Martin Tran has been away from St. Mary's by the Sea in Huntington Beach on an extended trip to Vietnam. In his absence, other priests have been filling in at St. Mary's by the Sea, including Fr. Christian Mondor, O.F.M., of Sts. Simon & Jude Catholic Church, the parish nearest St. Mary's by the Sea. Sts. Simon & Jude parish in Huntington Beach is one of the most progressive parishes in the Diocese of Orange.
During Fr. Daniel Johnson's time as pastor of St. Mary's by the Sea, Fr. Johnson never criticized the priests or parishioners of Sts. Simon & Jude, and his employees were not allowed to be critical of that parish or any other parish in the Diocese of Orange. Fr. Johnson was extremely charitable about such things and strongly discouraged any attempt to denigrate Sts. Simon & Jude.
There was a lot to complain about. Sts. Simon & Jude Catholic Church does not have kneelers, and hasn't had any for more than thirty years. Aside from the lack of kneelers and the fact that the congregation remains standing through the entire Eucharistic Prayer (including the Consecration of the Sacred Species), the parish was (and still is) rife with liturgical innovations. Here is a litany of some of the things observed by faithful Catholics at Sts. Simon and Jude over the years: Sunday evening Mass on the lawn on the other side of the parking lot, changing the words of liturgical prayers formulated by the Church, substituting readings (not necessarily from Sacred Scripture), using non-approved texts for liturgical prayers and Mass readings, liturgical dance during the Mass, skits during Mass – some of which involved clowns, homilies or "reflections" by lay people in the place of a homily by a priest or deacon, rock music at Mass – even using the rock song "Gloria" by Them (written by Van Morrison) in the place of the traditional Gloria, and singing songs like Pray by M.C. Hammer, "Higher Love" by Steve Winwood, and "Imagine" by John Lennon all during the context of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, using Protestant praise music such as "Awesome God" by Rich Mullins (with elaborate hand gestures made by the entire congregation during the song), and using illicit (and possibly invalid) matter for the Hosts during Mass (including leavened bread, and bread that included sweeteners such as honey and flavorings, such as cinnamon).
Parishioners at Sts. Simon & Jude parish have (in the past, when the concept was a liturgical fad among heterodox liturgists) been discouraged from kneeling in prayer after receiving Holy Communion. They were told to return to their pews and stand and "face the community".
Catholics have also heard erroneous teaching from the priests at Sts. Simon & Jude, from the pulpit and in the bulletin. I have personally heard Fr. Christian Mondor say, during a homily, that Scriture indicates that Jesus did not know all things because of the passage where Jesus speaks of the end of the world and the General Judgment, saying, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." (Matthew 24:36). Fr. Alex Manville, O.F.M. the former pastor once wrote in the parish bulletin that a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary without Jesus is "bad theology"). I personally witnessed Fr. Gus Krumm, O.F.M. throw an unconsecrated, large host on the floor during one of his homilies for shock value and to prove a point. I saw another priest put a bag of garbage on the altar during his homily for shock value and to prove a point.
The Nicene Creed was frequently omitted, and when I asked Fr. Gus Krumm why this happened, he told me that if you eat corn flakes for breakfast every day, it gets old and stale real fast.
So, upon reading all of these things (and I could have mentioned many, many more), I will share with you the wisdom imparted by Fr. Christian Mondor during a recent homily at St. Mary's by the Sea.
Fr. Christian sought to illustrate why Catholics who continue to kneel during certain parts of the Mass are in error.
The sections below were sent to me by a parishioner of St. Mary's by the Sea and are essentially recollections of what was said, but not a transcription:
1. The reason why the Church is moving in the direction of standing instead of kneeling is to show our identification with the people of God - this has been what Vatican II has brought to our Church. 2. We do this in obedience to our pastors and bishops.
3. Of course the church does not prevent those who kneel from doing so; while the church is moving toward standing [he never differentiated about WHEN during Mass the standing was that he was talking about].
4. Some time back when Temple [I forgot their name] outgrew their temple, and were searching for a place to hold their service, we said that since we didn't have anything on Saturday evening, other than afternoon weddings, they could use our church. They were so grateful. So we cover up our statues and the cross on Saturday evening for their service. When I went to one of their services I noticed that they mostly stood at their service - it was so good to see that we [the Catholic Church] have borrowed so many liturgical practices from Jewish customs - - such as standing.
5. All this was supposed to relate to Luke's gospel reading today about Jesus being accused of healing the woman in the synagogue on the sabbath. "When I think of this reading I'm reminded of the people at Temple [so-and-so] and the fact that they outgrew their small temple . . ." This is the context in which he brought up kneeling versus standing.
Rather than write a lengthy criticism of Fr. Christian Mondor, who is a very nice priest (and a surfer) in his late seventies or early eighties, I will link the section on kneeling in Pope Benedict XVI's book, The Spirit of the Liturgy: The Theology of Kneeling