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Thursday 24 May 2012

When does one leave a parish? A contentious subject...

A contentious subject....I am traveling today, so this is a strange day for posting. At this moment, I am standing in a friend's kitchen, having a quick cuppa before I catch yet another train to go into the heart of London.

I am thinking of a friend who has traveled throughout Africa with a stick, and I feel a bit like that today, except I have no stick.

One of the things I have discussing with Novus Ordo friends is when to stop being upset about all the abuses and/or attitudes of the laity and move to another parish in order to be peaceful.

This is something my parents never had to face, as all the Masses were the same. Perhaps Father, Mulligan might have been hard to get along with and talked too much about money, or perhaps Father John was too fuzzy in his sermons, but we knew that they were good men, and they said the Mass perfectly, with no interesting or surprising deviations.

The largest problem for my friends, with whom I had this conversation, were the laity, who, in this particular parish, did not get involved in anything, and I mean anything, not even coffee mornings, and the fact that when they did get involved, it was in the manner of talking in Church before and after Sunday Mass, very loudly.

Now, one cannot find the perfect parish this side of heaven, but when one starts making a list of things which need to be changed, and are not being changed, and will not be changed, it is time to move. This is a radical way of thinking for most of us who grew up in geographical parishes. We have an inbred reaction which states, "I must stay here", which is sometimes not the right decision.

However, to be part of a community is no longer an automatic response to merely going to Mass in one's parish. And, what is at stake is our immortal souls. I do not want to sound like a drama queen, but we cannot, as some of my friends have done to the detriment of their souls, become complainers and negative about all the things which may be wrong. I am not a believer in putting up and shutting up.
But, I am a strong believer in choosing one's battles. For example, in a parish where I was attending Mass, the priest was not saying all the proper bits of the new translation, seven months or so now into the change. I pointed this out twice, in letters, and finally, going to the assistant priest, I pointed out it was time I wrote to the bishop, and he took care of the situation. Some people in the pew were not happy, as they wanted to continue to use their old missals. Amazing. But, to me that was an important enough issue to address. The abuse has stopped and the Mass is now being said in the correct way. However, years ago, I had to leave a parish, after being involved in both RCIA and Adult Faith Formation, as the liberal laity involved took over the catechetical ministries and those of us who were "orthodox" could not hold onto our positions of either paid or volunteer work. That the priest chose these liberals, who were, actually heretical in their thinking on many issues, including contraception and marriage, did not help the situation. Some of us resigned because of the fact that we could not change the culture in that parish. So, we left the parish and went elsewhere. Sad, but true that sometimes factions occur which cannot be healed or changed. The priest did not want to deal with any doctrinal problems, such as the promulgation of the idea of women priests in faith formation classes and the denial of mortal or serious sin, or the use of contraceptives, etc. The priest may have been changed.

However, I would not move back into that parish, as the list of problems with the liturgy is still too long and as the deanery is covered by a religious order which is lax and liberal, I know what to expect . For my friends who are members of a similar, parish, this is a frustrating situation. I have suggested they find another spiritual home.

I find personally that the TLMs are without abuse. If one can move into a TLM community, that is always my advice, but this is geographically not always possible, even in Britain, where the distances are not like those in the States. I think of my friend, now deceased, who traveled for years to Chicago and back, almost four hours one way, to get to the Traditional Latin Mass. She would bundle her family into the van and go weekly. I would not have been able to afford that, but I am sure she is a saint for her efforts and zeal. Her husband was converted after years of stubborn resistance by her life.

Please God, let me find a regular TLM
One must go where one is fed. And, if the list of serious or irritating abuses becomes a hindrance to peace, Do not sweat the small stuff, but if the big, serious issues get to you, move.