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Monday, April 11, 2016

A Tale of Two Churches

Hello dear readers. I hope your Sunday has been going well.

While I'd planned on going to our Latin Mass church today, we overslept (it's a little hard to wake up early and get to church when Mass is at 10AM) and went to our favorite Carmelite church instead. In a way, I'm glad we went there instead of our Latin Mass church. For one, there was a class that had been preparing for First Communion and today they got to participate in the Sacrament for the first time. Due to the occasion, the parking lot was overflowing and we had to park in the lot of an auto shop across the street and run through the rain to get inside and find a seat. It was lovely to see all the boys and girls wearing their white suits and fancy dresses to mark their first step towards full participation in the Church. It makes me look forward to when my daughter will be old enough to have her First Communion too. If I can't afford to buy her a fancy white dress for her First Communion, then I will compromise by getting her the nicest white dress I can afford and giving her lots of mendhi instead.

Our homeboy padre distributes First Communion


After the Mass, our homeboy padre then invested the First Communion kids with their Brown Scapular. This is a common Catholic tradition that originated from the Carmelites in which a necklace of brown string with small brown flaps made from a Carmelite wool habit is ritually placed on someone's neck. It stems from a vision in which the Virgin Mary gave the scapular to San Juan de la Cruz with the instruction that anyone who wears it (and says the proscribed prayers daily) until death will not burn in hell (the wearer must also make a serious attempt to live their life in accordance with the Church's teachings and participate in the Sacraments as well). Contrary to what some might think, a Brown Scapular is not a good luck charm. As our homeboy padre instructed us in one of his sermons, the Brown Scapular is more like an insurance policy-if you want to be protected from something bad (eternal damnation), you have to make your monthly (daily) payments.

Our homeboy padre invests the Brown Scapular on the First Communion recipients

Unfortunately, these were the only two clear images I could get of the ceremony. Every time I turned the flash off, the pictures would come out horribly blurry, no matter how still I held the camera


Once we got home and had lunch, I turned on my computer to relax and see what was new in the world while the baby took her nap. Just last night, I'd visited a "Traditional" Catholic website (which I refuse to link to and give them more traffic than they already get) and read their predictable freakout reaction to Pope Francis' latest papal work, Amoris Laetitia. Normally, I don't bother commenting on this particular website because I feel my IQ lower by a few points every time I visit (they occasionally post some good stuff, but for every one good article there are one hundred articles of pure paleo-conservative puddery. Also, playing the game "find the logical fallacies" with every article I read really makes me question the intelligence of their writers ), but I felt compelled to respond because the writer included a video of a South Indian Jesuit priest who dances bharatanatyam as part of his ministry, calling his performance feminine and heretical. As someone who is a longtime lover of India and has diligently, independently studied its many cultures, traditions, and religions over the last thirteen years, I pointed out to the writer what the priest was doing, some background on the dance, and that the priest had simply modified a traditional South Indian religious temple dance to be a tool of evangelizing Catholicism. India, as the priest pointed out in the video, has a long established tradition of dance as a part of worship unlike in the West where dance is viewed more or less as a secular activity. Needless to say, my attempt at educating the readers about something outside of the realm of the White Anglo-Saxon/northern Europe/'Murica did not go over well. So much for instructing the ignorant...

This exchange served to highlight something that has bugged me ever since my hubby and I reestablished regular attendance at the Latin Mass church. I've become more and more aware of an attitude among both the parishioners attending the church and Traditional Latin Mass-promoting writers/websites online who view the Latin Mass as an exclusive club. If you belong to a certain socio-economic strata (middle/upper-class), live in the "right" areas (the suburbs or suburban areas within city limits) and have the "right" political views (right-wing conservative/fascist), then you are welcome to come. In other words, if you are a Catholic WASP, you are preferred company and all Others need not darken the door. There also appears to be a racial element to this elitism, as anyone (or anything) that is not western European or sufficiently "White" is bad. It's not just the example of the bharatanatyam-dancing Jesuit, but closer to home, our Latin Mass parish is overwhelmingly ethnically White. There are some Mexicans and a Chinese, but I have observed that just about all of them are married to White families and have adopted the bourgeois attitudes that come with being a middle-class White person in America. The one old-school Mexican is relegated to being the usher because he's as brown as the parish will tolerate; they have him collecting the money and making sure the door to the kiddie ghetto isn't locked during Mass.

Wise words from Matthew. Pic found here


This kind of pharisaic attitude bugs the shit out of me because I love the Latin Mass. I wish it were made more available so that others like my pious Mexican neighbors and friends might know and benefit from the graces that come from this particular aspect of the Body of Christ. But, with assholes like the Latin Mass outfits I've encountered in life and online, I can see why many Catholics never hear of the Latin Mass and if they do, they perceive it as being snobby or otherwise unavailable to them. I'm not convinced, but I'm seriously beginning to wonder if the Latin Mass is being used as a front for unsavory elements to invade and split the Church. My husband believes it to be so, based on an encounter he had about seven years ago.

My hubby told me of a man he met in late 2008 who attended the 8AM morning Mass at the Latin Mass church every day. Eventually, this man quit coming to the Latin Mass church and at his last attendance, he told my husband that this church was full of freemasons. My husband didn't believe this man and continued to attend Mass at the Latin Mass church for a few more years until I came into his life. Now, he is sure the man he met all those years ago was right. My husband had his suspicions, but it took our marriage to blow the cover on everything. Our marriage, exile and return, as well as the presidential elections have combined and created a perfect storm to unveil something sinister lurking at the Latin Mass church where we first met and baptized our child. The inmates have, quite literally, taken over the asylum and driven away all but a few who have intelligence and aren't barking fascists.

So now, to save our souls and sanity, we must step back from the Latin Mass church once more. We will still continue to visit, but not as often as we did before. We will continue to attend our Carmelite church as per our usual arrangement, but now we've added the church where my hubby and I got married to our rotation. Our daughter's godmother goes there, Mass is at a reasonable time, and the priest who married us is the rector. It's painful to have to break up again with the Latin Mass church, but a big part of belonging to a church is what kind of people you go to church with. It's one thing to go to Mass, but there is a major social aspect to being a part of a parish. I could never understand why people just say "I'm just here for Mass" because by not getting to know who is a part of your faith community, you're missing out on a crucial part of being Catholic! It's good to be around people who can help you to grow in faith and provide support when needed.

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1 comment:

  1. Cdl. Burke's argument against Amoris Lætitia was quite weak. He said Amoris Lætitia isn't magisterial because Francis apparently said it wasn't.

    A much better argument would be:

    1. Nothing of Magisterium can lead the faithful into error.
    2. Amoris Lætitia leads the faithful into error.*
    3. ∴, Amoris Lætitia is not of the Magisterium.

    *(esp. ch. 8's abuse of St. Thomas to normalize mortal sin)

    {I think people get confused with the fact that not all Magisterial pronouncements are infallible (or "irreformable," as one First Vatican Council father preferred to call it). What this means is that not every magisterial pronouncement is set in stone; however, no magisterial pronouncement can lead the faithful into error, even if the pronouncement is provisional / speculative / tentative.}

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