Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Liturgical sanity: Part II
Or: Father has discovered some things.

Wow. I was shocked when I returned from one of my missions today to see the explosion of comments on my original post. In 24 hours the comments almost doubled, I think. I can't possibly remember or respond to the many points of view and opinions offered in the comments box, but I do have some additional remarks.

(1) Certainly, I appreciate comments of differing view points. I will admit surprise at how volatile was the expression of some of those points. One person claiming to be a priest left comments which I think are fairly classified as wild accusations. Oh well.

(2) Another commenter reminded us that it was I who was present at the Mass. With all due respect to the many suggestions offered as explanation for why no one initially moved to serve as lector, I certainly would not have been angry if those explanations were truly in the mix. For example, if I knew that none of the 60 people present were comfortable reading or that none of them could read, I certainly wouldn't have used my time to tell you all I was furious about that. That would have been silly. There were people present who can and could have read. As I have said time and again, I was angry because even after I asked for help, no one moved. That's what got me angry.

(3) I have been surprised at the comments that express shock that a priest gets angry. It seems to me that if you are not surprised at other human emotions/reactions from a priest, then you ought not be surprised with anger. Furthermore, anger was something the Lord experienced. If your image of Jesus is just a warm, nice guy who never got angry and let people walk over him all the time, you don't have the complete picture of the Savior who is God-made-man. Now, might I have dealt with, or expressed my anger differently, even a more appropriate way? I suppose so. I am a man and a work in progress on the holiness meter. Of course I need to grow in charity. No doubt, if I were more charitable, I may not have reacted quite so strongly as I did. While I won't pretend that my anger found the best expression (neither during Mass or afterwards in recounting it to you), I still hold that anger is a justified response when no one moved to help, though there were plenty of qualified people present. And by the way, though I admitted being angry during Mass, many comments seemed to make an ENORMOUS leap in assuming that I became some sort of ferocious, drooling dog, staring out angrily at the people with searing eyes even as I held the Body of the Lord in my hands. Come on now.

(4) I have learned some new information that helps me understand how the original problem happened to begin with. The parish has not been accustomed to organization and planning. I however expect it and the transition to my expectations is going to take time. After ranting on the blog and reading many comments, I started doing some homework and discovered, to my surprise, that in fact the parish does not have a schedule of lay ministers for the Spanish Masses. We do for the English, but not the Spanish. Knowing that we had "a schedule" I had presumed that meant a schedule for every Mass. I was unaware of the deficiency. Remember I am only two months here as pastor. I suppose what normally happens is that missing ministers is not usually a problem because our Mexican Sisters find people to fulfill the various roles before I even arrive for Mass (remember I am on the road returning from a mission parish one hour away). However, now the Sisters are back in Mexico for two months and so, guess what? Things are falling through the cracks. So, to those who leveled bizarre accusations presuming my presence as pastor for TWO MONTHS has already had such negative effects as dwindling numbers and absent lay ministers,... please! Now, with more information about some of the practices I have inherited here, I can move forward and try to make some positive changes.

(5) I take responsibility that my ranting elicited some equally strong reactions. But given the information I had at the time and the brief time I have been here as pastor, I think my reaction was reasonable, if not perfect. With the new discoveries I have now made, were I to rant about the same matter again, I would be out of line and guilty of SOME of the things mentioned in the comments box.

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