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« The Resistance | Main | A Hard Situation To Be In »

September 13, 2006

Comments

bill912

"...someone higher up (his bishop, the CDW) should explain it to him."

A 2x4 upside his head might send the proper message.

SDG

We once had a pastor in NJ who brought his dog into church -- once a year on Christmas Eve.

He would call all the kids up to the front of the church, sit in a chair with the dog (a Jack Russell terrier, IIRC) on his lap, read the kids a Christmas-themed story, and give a short message before sending the kids back to their pews.

He was definitely a dog person. More so than a people person.

Chris Molter

As it was pointed out on Shea's blog, originally we had livestock and other animals running around in sanctuaries, with the altar rail there to keep them away from the altar area. Why not allow animals back in and use it as an excuse to restore the altar rails? ;)

LarryD

Not only does that priest have dogs in the sanctuary, but he probably has bats in his belfry too!

Tim J.

Your opposition to Fr. Scurti just proves that you hate dogs!

;-)

LarryD

Wasn't there an animated film back in the late 80's or 90's called "All Dogs Go To Heaven"? Well, they have to get there somehow....by going to Mass! ;-)

Kevin


Harkening back to the other post....

Perhaps put the dogs outside at the doors and train them to bark at those who are immodestly dressed....

JonathanR.

Heh, reminds me of those Filipino cock-fighting aficionados who palm communion wafers and feed them to their roosters.

SDG

Heh, reminds me of those Filipino cock-fighting aficionados who palm communion wafers and feed them to their roosters.

...I so did not need to know that.

John

My daughter was bitten badly by a dog a few years back, and is deathly afraid of dogs now...

My point is, dogs may be great to some, but a major distraction to others...if my daughter had attended mass there, and had unavoidably spent more time concerning herself with the dogs and her safety around them than participating as she should in the mass, then an avoidable disservice would have been done to her.

I've also know folks who were very allergic to animals, although I'm not sure if dogs were a part of that group...still, the priest should have had the sense to consider the distraction and health concerns that bringing his dogs might have caused, and used better common sense. A bit like a priest being sure he doesn't sneeze into the cup containing the Blood of Christ before it's served to a parishoner. It's simple pragmatics really...while at mass (particularly while at mass)...do no harm!

As to the sanctity of bringing dogs to Mass, I don't think our Lord would be at all offended at the act of bringing animals he created to Mass, other than the creation of an unnecessary distraction and health risk keeping the mass attendee from fully experienceing our Lord. With five young kids myself, it's difficult enough to keep them relatively calm and focused at Mass without "doggies" to distract them.

John

Mark

At the risk of inciting the lunatic fringe let me ask a related question about a prudential judgement of decorum. My pastor occasionally invites the kids to come up and sit in the sanctuary around the altar during "children's mass". I've never heard any complaints about this and personally I find it adds to the richness of the celebration. Anyone care to offer a reasoned disagreement?

JohnD

Mark,

Where in the rubrics of the Mass is this action prescribed? Do you only deem the rubrics worthy of being followed when someone does something that you personally dislike?

Ed Peters

Anyone care to offer a reasoned disagreement?

sure, mark. 1, they aren't ministers in a leadership role, so stay out of spots needed for same. 2, one 'older' kid once remarked, "i don't want to go up with the little kids. it (being around the altar, mind you) is for babies." what a lesson that now has to be unlearned, thx to some with-it priest.

RyanHerr

What a shock to see a priest I know on jimmyakin.org! I currently live in central Illinois, where I was born and raised, but I spent the fall semester of my junior year (2003) at William Patterson University as a participant in National Student Exchange. (And why would I go to New Jersey, when most people went to Hawaii? I was taking banjo lessons from Tony Trischka, Bela Fleck's original teacher. And I had a spiritual epiphany out there, but it didn't have anything to do with Fr. Scurti ... but I digress.)

Yeah, I never liked the dogs, and it didn't seem right, although I confess that I wasn't as bothered by it as some of the commenters here. The dogs weren't always in the sanctuary, and if one was, he was usually lying down still near the back, so often I didn't notice them. But if they were moving around, then yes they could be quite distracting. The far bigger problem I had with the WPU Newman Center was that they were much more of a parish ... there were probably no more than 20 students total that attended Mass on a given Sunday. WPU is a huge commuter school (75%), so a Newman Center isn't as essential. But, coming from a large and active Newman Center at Illinois State University, it was kinda depressing. I will say that Fr. Scurti seemed to be a very nice guy, compassionate, good listener, really energetic. But that, of course, doesn't make it okay for him to bring his dogs to Mass.

Mark

JohnD,

I don't think the question is "where is this prescribed" but rather "where is this proscribed". Is it prohibited? Are you a robot who needs a prescription to act?


Jimmy cited Can. 1220 §1. "... whatever is inappropriate to the holiness of the place is excluded.". Dogs are an easy call; of course they are an unnecessary distration. But are children an unnecessary distration at a "children's mass".

Ed, I'm sorry your child had such a traumatic experience while witnessing the miracle of transubstation. Maybe a few years of therapy will straighten him out (sheeech!).

Tim J.

"Fr. Scurti seemed to be a very nice guy, compassionate, good listener, really energetic"

I'm not saying that this is what Ryan meant to do with his comment, but so often these kinds of qualities in a priest are highlighted in order to "balance out" said priest's egregious heterodoxy.

He might be filling the homilies with synchretistic nonsense, cheap New Age philosophy and every kind of rank heresy, but "the kids love him"...

Uggh.

If I had been taking lessons from Bela Fleck's teacher, I would probably have stuck around, too. I'd love to hear you play, Ryan. Do you have any sound files you could e-mail me?

Tim J.

Ryan -

Never mind the sound file request. I just found some at your old blog address.

Ed Peters

I am sorry Mark. I thought yours was genuine question, not a pretext to duel with people who took you at your word. And it was not my child.

JohnD

Mark,

Vatican II declared that no one, not even a priest, may change anything in the liturgy on his own initiative (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, n. 22)

("Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.")

The process for changing the liturgy is already contemplated in liturgical law. This process entails a two-thirds majority vote in the bishops' conference and the go-ahead from the Holy See before any change may take effect.

You still haven't answered my original question:
Do you only deem the rubrics worthy of being followed when someone does something that you personally dislike?

Mark

Ed wrote: "what a lesson that now has to be unlearned, thx to some with-it priest."

My pastor is not "some with-it priest". He's an enthusiastic, compassionate man who is trying to communicate a love for the mystery of the mass to children. Kind of like the "crocodile man" believed in inviting people up-close and personal to witness the power and beauty of the animal world. You can argue he is misguided, but give me a decent argument, not just an ad hominem.

John D: where in the rubrics does it say that children may not be allowed in the sanctuary? Our Baptismal Font is also in the Sanctuary -- are you saying that the parents and sponsor and baptismal candidate are prohibited from approaching the Altar?

Since you are a rubrically minded guy, the relevant canon says: "whatever is inappropriate to the holiness of the place is excluded." So I ask you, are children inappropriate to the holiness of the place?

JohnD

Mark,

I've see you've glossed over and ignored nearly all of my response, but I will reply to your last question:

The issue is not with the intrinsic character of children, but rather with the sin of willfully disregarding legitimate church authority.

Chris

I love my dog too, but I would never even think about bringing him to church.

Brian John Schuettler

It started out fine... but with some of the comments being rather uncharitable, I would say that this particular post has gone to the dogs!

Mark

JohnD,

Here's your question: "Do you only deem the rubrics worthy of being followed when someone does something that you personally dislike?"

I'm definately in favor of following the rubrics (not just the ones I like)! I'm not one of those "trendy" Catholics! The GIRM says, "The faithful and the choir should have a place that facilitates their active participation." Did we break one?

Laura

I am a guide dog user and yes, both my priest and the other parishoners love it when I bring him to Mass. I rarely do though because he is not only a huge distraction to other people there, he is a huge distraction to me as I'm attempting to pay attention. Occasionally I will bring him, for example when we're out and have to go to a late afternoon or evening Mass but I find it most times too distracting. Now, my dog knows to sit still and be quiet but most pet owners don't have dogs who know that, however, judging from the commenter who actually attended Mass at this parish, the two dogs seem relatively well behaved. Still, I'd find it way too distracting and concerning.

JohnD

Mark,

To frame your question better: Does the priest in question add something to the liturgy by instructing the children to come up and sit around the altar?

Clearly the answer is "yes", since there is no rubric where it says, "the presider then invites children to proceed to the altar and sit".

Now since he's doing this on his own authority, it clearly violates the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, n. 22:

"Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority."

LarryD

IMHO, regarding having children gather at the altar, along with JohnD's comments from Church documents, there are other considerations. 1) having the children gather at the altar removes them from the rest of the congregation and separates the worshippers. While this may seem just a minor thing, the physical location of the congregation - those who are worshipping - is an important consideration. You need to remember where we are at the Mass - as Fr Corapi has said - we are at Calvary. So, is it appropriate to have anyone approach the foot of the cross just to get a better view? Also, the priest, as an altus Christus, is the Head, and we as the congregation are the Body. I believe it is important that the distinction remain by keeping the congregation in the pews and the priest alone (with deacons, or con-celebrants) at the altar. The Mass is not so much like a meal where the Dad invites a child to the head of the table to watch him carve the Thanksgiving turkey, for instance. At my son's 1st communion, the priest had the communicants stand around the altar to watch - and subsequently, for most of the congregation, the action was not on worshipping Christ, but on seeing how cute Timmy and Tammy looked on the altar, or worrying if they were going to misbehave. It can be a great distraction for many, and I think the practice takes away from focusing on Christ and directing it to the children. Christ did say, let the children come to me, but there is a time and a place, and during the liturgy of the Eucharist ought not to be one of those times.

2) I called an apologist on this issue last Spring, and a point he raised was this - when innovations are introduced to the liturgy outside of the GIRM or the rubrics, there is disharmony created on a spiritual level, and thus the liturgy is no longer in union with the rest of the Church. I'm probably not explaining this as well as I ought, but basically.... in an effort to foster laity participation, or deeper involvement, or a beautiful moment for the children, the priest has casued a break with the Universal Church on the spiritual level. So, in an effort to bring about unity in his parish, or during the liturgy, what results is the opposite. When there's a break from the Universal Church, there is an impediment to the grace from the Holy Spirit - the sacrament still occurs, the transubstantiation still takes place, but there is a weakening in the spititual bond between that church and the Universal Church. I'm sure the apologist's answer was clearer and more precise in its terminology, so I'm sorry if I didn't get that point across very well.

3) I don't have a third point, except to say I apologize for the length of this post.

J.R. Stoodley

I was attacked by a dog as a child, and also my pet cat was chased and eventually killed by the dogs which the neighbors just let roam free in my area. I am still not 100% ok with them. This is a terrible abuse, to have dogs in the sanctuary or anywhere in the Church.

I don't have much to add about Mark's "question" after LarryD's excelent post. I would just add that it seems clear to me the practice also ruins the sense of mystery for the both the childeren and the rest of the congregation, not to mention teaching that liturgical innovation is fine and dandy.

It is sad that many Catholics today do not react with instant disgust at these sorts of abuses.

Paul

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

Mark

JohnD,

Thanks for framing my question better (than I did). You say the issue is that the celebrant is "add(ing) something to the liturgy by instructing the children to come up and sit around the altar". OK, what if we have the children sit in the sanctuary BEFORE the liturgy begins. Voila! No harm to the rubrics!

Monica

Mark, it doesn't alter the fact that it is distracting! Who's minding them? Not to mention that it probably breaks some local fire code.

Paula

it doesn't alter the fact that it is distracting! Who's minding them?

Whoever finds it distracting is minding them.

Mark

LarryD,

Here are the points you make in your "excellent post":

1. Having the children sit in the sanctuary "separates the worshippers". You say this is an "important consideration".

In my Church, the Choir sits on the balcony. Do you think this is an abuse? I don't. You're entitled to your opinion, but it hasn't made it into the GIRM yet.

2. You say, "I believe it is important that the distinction remain by keeping the congregation in the pews and the priest alone (with deacons, or con-celebrants) at the altar." This is interesting because in #1 you say you don't like distinctiohs, now you say they are "important".

Other people think it is important that we all share in the priesthood of believers. If you were my pastor you would emphasize your "distinction". However, I fail to see how your opinion rises to the level of a Universal Norm.

I would add to this that my pastor has the care of souls in my parish so his judgment of the pastoral situation counts for a lot more than yours. I believe he is well within his rights and you have failed to demonstrate otherwise.

3. You cite the authority of an apologist who says that "when innovations are introduced to the liturgy outside of the GIRM or the rubrics, there is disharmony created on a spiritual level". That's an interesting point, however, see my reponse to JohnD above; the children can be seated without any departure from the rubrics.

Matt McDonald

OK, what if we have the children sit in the sanctuary BEFORE the liturgy begins. Voila! No harm to the rubrics!

Mark,

It appears you're really not concerned about the rubrics and what is permissable in the mass, but only seek to find a way to excuse what you desire.

There are other rubrics that describe the place of everyone in the mass. Who is to be in the sanctuary is listed, and spectators of any age, are not among them. If there is such a need to have the children up there, they should be trained as altar boys, vested, and partipate as such. If they're too young to do so then they're too young to be in the sanctuary during the mass, end of story. I suspect there is little interest in this idea, because it is so "Catholic" to have a lot of altar boys vested and reverently assisting at mass.

The Catholic Church is not a place of democracy, where all differences in order between people is blurred. The Church, is the Body of Christ, and as such it is hierarchical. It is a place of order, the priest is set apart from the people, as are the other liturgical ministers and assistants. Since Vatican II there has been a terrible blurring of these orders brought about by (among other things) the preponderance of non-instituted and non-vested extraordinary ministers, and non-instituted non-vested lay readers.

Laura,
God bless you for having such consideration for the reverence of the place that you avoid bringing your dog even though it must be a serious inconvenience and possibly a danger to you. I hope that it is not a serious risk that you're taking.

Matt McDonald

"Shea's blog, originally we had livestock and other animals running around in sanctuaries, with the altar rail there to keep them away from the altar area. "

I'd like to see a reference for this, it sounds like one of those typical urban myths that are used to excuse the removal of something traditional like altar rails. They have been ripped out of most churches despite the profoundly important role they play in the liturgy.

Some Day

I would defend the Church valiently and POWERFULY,
because then you would get thrown out of the protestant church and won't have to get brain-washed by a protestonto. It gave great pleasure to see that the person desires the Sacraments and feels the effects of their absence. I strongly suggest lots of Spiritual Communions, which can even sometimes have a greater "effect"than the Saramental Communion.
May God bless this person in this and give success to his desire.

Some Day

NO! sorry wrong thread!

Mark

Matt,

Now you sound like someone who can really help me out! You say, "There are other rubrics that describe the place of everyone in the mass. Who is to be in the sanctuary is listed, and spectators of any age, are not among them".

I'm glad to know the rubrics provide an exclusive list all of the people who are to be in the sanctuary. That makes things very nice and tidy! Would you please tell me where I can locate this list? I haven't been able to find it. I can't wait to read the part where it says "anyone who is not on this list should not be in the sanctuary".

Do you have "spectators" at your liturgies Matt? I thought we were all participants in the mass, as we offer our spiritual sacrifices in union with Christ. I find your notion of the Mass as a spectator sport to be quite deficient!

Some Day

OK now I got it right!

That is very severe, because if a priest is so, gee I'm at a lost of words...Then does he have the intention of consecrating the host? Does he believe in real presence? I would certainly take a look at how he purifies the vessels.
This can be a good indicater of the previous problems.
Secondly, if the situation warrants, and seems so, then recieve Holy Communion, but make the adoration and the act of thanksgiving conditional.

bill912

Mark: You might try the "General Instruction of the Roman Missal", or Jimmy's book, "Mass Confusion".

Some Day

Do you have "spectators" at your liturgies Matt? I thought we were all participants in the mass, as we offer our spiritual sacrifices in union with Christ. I find your notion of the Mass as a spectator sport to be quite deficient!

It seems that Matt misused the words there.
I think he meant to say that that it lists who is supposed to be there and that spectators are not on that list. I might be wrong. That is all I read on his post.

Tim J.

I was grateful to see the humility and obedience of the people at the national LifeTeen organization when they sent out letters to all their leaders indicating that there would be changes to the LifeTeen mass.

These changes included discontinuing the practice of calling the teens to come and stand around the altar during the consecration.

This practice needlessly divided the congregation into classes of people (teens and non-teens), was distracting, and also blurred the distinction between the priesthood and the laity, as well as between the common and the sacred.

The ministry of the altar belongs to the priesthood. The laity should not mimic the actions and gestures of the priest, or behave in a quasi-priestly fashion.

The teens all seemed to grasp the concept well enough. A priest certainly should.

Mark

Some Day,

There is no such list. If there were, JA could have settled the original matter by saying "dogs are not on the list". Instead he said the celebrant has to make a prudential judgement of "appropriateness". Clearly dogs are not appropriate. I think it's well within a pastor's prerogative to judge that children might be admitted into the sanctuary on a special basis.

A short quote from the USCCB's Directory for Masses with Children: "22. The principles of active and conscious participation are in a sense even more significant for Masses celebrated with children. Every effort should therefore be made to increase this participation and to make it more intense... 34. Among the actions that are considered under this heading, processions and other activities that involve physical participation deserve special mention."

Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B.

Why not invite a surgeon dressed for surgery to lie down near the altar?

How about Madonna in one of her old spike-pointed metal bras kneeling at Father's feet?

Let's have our next door neighbor who has an immense beer gut take off his shirt and sit down on the top step near the altar.

Ask the zoo if we can borrow one of their anacondas-- in a cage of course-- and set it in the sanctuary.

Invite Jerry Falwell to sit on the floor next to the priest's chair.

Can we have the Burger King guy prostrate on the floor at the foot of the crucifix during Mass?

They're all God's creatures.

In the end, it simply does not befit the liturgy.

Mark

Dear Fr. Stephanos,

You're equating a group of children learning "full, conscious and active participation" in the liturgy with "the Burger King guy prostrate on the floor at the foot of the crucifix during Mass"? As JA said in his initial post, this entire issue boils down to a common sense "judgment of appropriateness". Unfortunately, is seems common sense is not so common ...

LarryD

Mark

Where did I say I didn't like distinctions before saying distinctions are important (ick - sounds like John Kerry saying I voted for it before voting against it)? The distinction I was referring to that IS important is between the priest (the ministerial priesthood) and the laity (the common priesthood). Both have important roles to play - equal but not the same. Matt MacDonald and Tim J's replies are much better than mine in regards to that. Thanks, guys.

As to the placement of your choir in the balcony - our choir is situated behind the altar, set back about twenty-five feet. But unless your church's altar is in the balcony, the choir's not gathered around or at the foot of the altar, providing a cause of distraction for those of us who struggle with being easily distracted. And the choir is separate from the rest of the congregation in order to lead in song and prayer. So yes, I don't see that as an abuse.

As to your third point, my response is, why spearate the family during the Mass at all? Isn't a family worshipping together, not just in the same building, but in the same pew, better than having Dad and Mom in the pew while their children sit all by themselves in the sanctuary? When I'm with my sons, I help them read along with the readings, help them to find the responses to the prayers in the missal, or in their Magnifikids, we contribute to the collection as a family, go to Communion as a family, pray afterwards as a family, sing the hymns as a family. Having a front row seat at the consecration, as beautiful as it is, and while it may strengthen the relationship with Jesus for some of them, it turns the Mass into a kind of entertainment for them, like getting up close to the magician at a kid's birthday party.

For what it matters, I personally believe that sending out children during the liturgy of the Word is a bad practice too. They ought to hear the homily given by a priest, not a lay person off by themselves. It lays the foundation for future confusion.

While the GIRM may not explicitly say so, and I haven't read the rubrics so I'm deficient regarding those, I think on a practical and spiritual level, the practice of having kids at the altar during consecration is inappropriate.

LarryD

Another good reference, besides the two noted by bill912, is the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum. You can access that at the Vatican website. While it doesn't explicitly say who can or cannot be on the altar during the Mass, paragraphs 40 and 41 are fairly detailed as to the appropriate actions of the laity.

Francis DS

The question reminds me of a folk story:

Owner of dead dog: Father, would you perform a funeral service for my dog?

Rural Priest: Absolutely not! I'm sorry for your loss, but we don't perform funerals for dogs.

Owner: I'm happy to make a big donation

Priest: Well...why didn't you tell me your dog was Catholic?

(The story used to be funnier when we were kids).

Dear Fr. Stephanos,

Your comment pretty much outlines the reason it took me so long to come to the Catholic Faith. Any degree of piety, reverence, contemplativeness, etc. that you exude at mass whether real or contrived, will outright fail to substantially differentiate you from the examples you give (save perhaps for the anaconda example). Imagine Christ giving his sermon on the mount while you process yourself through the eucharistic line, and ask yourself would Christ's purpose be to turn Madonna, the Burger King guy, the guy with the beer gut, and the rest of your gang away because they dress or act weird or different or simply non-conformingly, or would he desperately, more desparately than you can even imagine, desire that group to approach and lie down at Christ's altar? You are right that they are all Gods creatures, but you and I can't come close to dressing well enough, or being contrite enough to deserve God's mercy, anymore than they can. All the things we do to please God at his altar are nice examples of our love for Christ, but these same things are really just what we do to make ourselves feel better about our own shortcomings before him. We should be begging and imploring Madonna and the rest of her crew to join us at Christ's altar, and suffering greatly along with Christ when some or all of these folk refuse Christs invitation. Remember, Christ CHOSE the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the lepers, the fishermen, carpenters, and other tradesmen, the poor, the midgets, the thieves, as his companions, and the well dressed, well educated, highly orthodox, uptight pharisees were the hippocrates, the empty vessels, the dry bones. Distraction at mass is one thing, but silly examples involving those who may need Christ the most, doesn't address JA's post. It only reveals your prejudices, and identifies where you place yourself among those you describe.

Food for thought

Diane

Pertaining to the anonymous poster above, addressing Fr. Stephanos:

Nothing prevents Madonna or anyone else from entering a Catholic Church. They choose to exclude themselves.

The sinners of Jesus' time, underwent interior changes, such as Mary Magdalene. She elected to submit her will, to that of the Father, in obedience to God's commands to not commit adultery and fornication. Jesus did not bend moral law in order to make her "feel" accepted.

People like Madonna know what they must do in order to re-enter the Church, and doing the things she does today, in no way help.

There is simply no comparison to the examples you cite in scripture, from those used by Fr. Stephanos. And, I think it was taken out of context. In the example given by Fr. Stephanos, I take it simply to mean that if we allow a dog to lay under the altar, why not any one who feels like it?

Nothing prevents Madonna or anyone else from entering a Catholic Church. They choose to exclude themselves.

The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. (Romans 8:7)

FFT

Diane,

"Nothing prevents Madonna or anyone else from entering a Catholic Church. They choose to exclude themselves."

At the risk of sounding mean, I'll say, how ignorant or naive on your part. A nearly infinite number of reasons contribute to why God's children deny our Lord and his Church, and fail to enter therein. God wants not just those who love him now, but those lost whom would come to love him.

Your comments suggests sinners separated from God generally know they are separated from God, yet choose to stand separate from him, so "oh, well" for them. Some do perhaps, but God reserves that judgment responsibility for himself. Your "oh, well" analysis seems to thwart the very Idea of evangelism. We should be CONSTANTLY reaching out to those whom we, in our own ignorance, think are lost or are making bad choices (because we ourselves may quite well be lost), as well as to those who have not heard the gospel or experienced the Holy Eucharist. To do otherwise is antithetical to Christ's many offerings on the topic. Remember when Christ protected the harlot, asking those without guilt to cast the first stone. Christ then turned to the woman and told her to sin no more. The woman had as you stated, "elected to submit her will, to that of the Father, in obedience to God's commands." You also correctly point out that "Jesus did not bend moral law in order to make her "feel" accepted." But he also did not tell her that he'd make allowances for her unacceptable appearance and/or behavior this time, but next time she'd need to consult the contemporary pharisetical dress and decorum code or he'd shun her. She laid herself on the altar of her Lord's feet, whorish garb, repitiore, and all, and he accepted her without blinking. You and I both know that he would have accepted her over, and over, and over again; sin after sin after sin. Do you actually believe when he said "sin no more," that he expected her, as you say, to have "submitted" herself to Christ's will so completely, that she would no longer sin? If Christ knew she had submitted herself, and that act had gotten her off the hook, then why waste his breath with "sin no more"? In fact that's why Christ died on the Cross and gave us the mass; so our failure, or better stated, our utter inability to submit and conform to his will, could be forgiven over and over and over again; and presenting ourselves on his altar in any configuration, to suit his purposes, I think is pleasing to God.

Again, if the presentation at the altar or anywhere for that matter during the mass is distracting or keeps others from experiencing Christ's fullness, then moderate the behavior. Christ kicked the money changers out of the temple for such reasons, but who wants to argue that Jerry Fallwell sitting politely near the altar of a Catholic church, wouldn't be a dramatic improvement ;)

FFT

Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B.

Mark, the "common sense" you might be referring would note that this post I am commenting on is about dogs permitted in the sanctuary, not about children.

----

To the anonymously "Posted by: | Sep 13, 2006 8:06:19 PM"

My point about unusual persons in the sanctuary was not about their worthiness. It was about the inappropriateness of a priest choosing to bring his dogs into the sanctuary, thereby treating the sanctuary of the Lord as his personal den, or his personal talk show set. The altar does not belong to the priest, and the liturgy does not belong to the priest. At ordination a priest makes a promise to the bishop to celebrate the Liturgy as it is handed on by the Church. The Church spells out what we are to have and bring into the sanctuary for Mass. For a priest to consciously presume otherwise, after having publicly promised to do what the Church tells him to do means the priest's word is no good.

Fr. Stephanos, O.S.B.

P.S.


. . . and Diane has had the simple clarity to grasp the point:
"In the example given by Fr. Stephanos, I take it simply to mean that if we allow a dog to lay under the altar, why not any one who feels like it?"

.

Ellen

Many years ago I knew a priest who had a pet dog named Angel. Whenever he said Mass, Angel would come too. She was a well behaved dog and would lie in the corner in the sacristy till Father had finished Mass and then they'd go home. That said, I love dogs and cats dearly, but I really don't think they belong at Mass.

bill912

Good comments, Father Stephanos.

Diane, As Father Stephanos posted, you exhibited clarity. ("Ignorant" and "naive", my eye!)

Diane

To the anonymous poster:

You said: "At the risk of sounding mean, I'll say, how ignorant or naive on your part. A nearly infinite number of reasons contribute to why God's children deny our Lord and his Church, and fail to enter therein. God wants not just those who love him now, but those lost whom would come to love him.

I would agree that there are many people, who through no fault of their own, do not know God and His church. For the most part, it is nothing more than invincible ignorance.

I can see where my statement could be misunderstood.

Let me clarify. I'm not speaking of non-Catholics and should not have used the expression (or anyone else). I was referring to Catholics who make a choice to not only reject the teachings of the faith, but to mock many things the Church considers sacred.

I, like many, pray for the conversion of people like Madonna. But all too often today, many would be willing to do whatever it takes to accomodate the desires of others to live as they choose. This has resulted in sermons becoming so banal that many priests refuse to defend life itself from the pulpit. They may reason: "We will make the sinner not feel welcome if we speak the truth".

Horse-hockey! Pope Benedict on the issue during the ad limina address to Austrian Bishops last year:

“As you well know, the confession of the faith is one of the bishop’s primary duties. ‘I did not draw back’, St. Paul says in Miletus to the pastors of the Church of Ephesus, ‘from the task of proclaiming to you the whole counsel of God’ (Acts 20:27). It is true that we bishops must act with discretion. Nevertheless, this prudence must not prevent us from presenting the Word of God in all its clarity, including those things that are heard less willingly or that consistently provoke reactions of protest and derision. You, dear brothers in the episcopacy, know this well: there are some topics relating to the truth of the faith, and above all to moral doctrine, which are not present in the catechesis and preaching of your dioceses to a sufficient extent, and which sometimes, for example in pastoral outreach to youth in the parishes or groups, are either not confronted at all or are not addressed in the clear sense understood by the Church. Thanks be to God, it is not like this everywhere. Perhaps those who are responsible for the proclamation [of the Gospel] are afraid that people may draw back if they speak too clearly. However, experience in general demonstrates that it is precisely the opposite that happens. Don’t deceive yourselves! Catholic teaching offered in an incomplete manner is a contradiction of itself and cannot be fruitful in the long term. The proclamation of the Kingdom of God goes hand in hand with the demand for conversion and with the love that encourages, that knows the way, that teaches that with the grace of God even that which seemed impossible becomes possible.

My point was that by bringing in dogs to Mass, we further give people the idea that at Mass we can have it both ways: Being comforted by dogs when we should be seeking comfort through the practice of giving of ourselves totally to God in our worship.

That having been said, I think you seriously misunderstood Fr. Stephanos and took this discussion way off track. I have many non-Catholic friends, some of whom are considering the Catholic faith and in no way do I fault them for the beliefs they were raised with. I find it very courageous for them to even explore the faith and to deal with the hardships they must when sharing it with friends and family who may severely object. It takes guts. Let's not spin further unnecessary confusion in this thread.

Father Stephanos,

I understand your point in addressing the appropriateness of certain "distractors" occupying the space of the altar, and I would agree generally that unnecessary distractions could ruin the experience of the real presence for some or perhaps many. Your choice of examples though, seemed to connect or make those examples into distractions because of what you appear to judge as their unworthiness. Madonna in her pointy bra thing, Jerry Falwell, beer gut guy; all these address your appropriateness or distraction concerns, but the examples themselves seem to display your judgmental biases as well. My discussion talked about that concern, and did admittedly take a bit of a turn. My discussion of Diane's response addressed the turned discussion that I may have caused, but is that strictly verboten in blogs? A lot of Jimmy's posts seem to head of in a number of interesting directions. I'll try to stay better on point next time if so.

Jeannette

Dogs, no, but children? Were they postioned...like so?

http://amywelborn.typepad.com/openbook/2006/09/andnow_vespers.html

Tim J.

Jeanette -

These kids don't appear to be in the sanctuary, around the altar.

Monica

As the story goes, and perhaps someone already made this observation (did not read every comment), I believe that Christ was born in a stable and there may have been animals present. I also think I read that JP2 and B16 both believe animals to be God's creatures. I may be wrong.

Some Day

God can humble Himself. We can't. That is a sin.

J.R. Stoodley

Some Day is right. God humbles himself about as much as possible in Jesus Christ, including in the Eucharist, masticated by us. It is our place though to lift God up, like the woman who annointed Jesus with precious ointment for instance.

Yes animals are God's creatures. All creatures are God's creatures. Even piles of dung. That does not mean that all creatures are appropriate for presence in the sanctuary or the liturgy. This is not to put down animals. I love animals. They just should not be up there during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Anonthistime

I know this is OT to the thread, but somebody above had some good reasons why children shouldn't be dismissed from the church for "children's church" in the middle of mass. I don't like this new practice either. Does anybody know if it's really allowed?

MissJean

I remember when it first hit me what an abject condition it was when Jesus was born in a stable. I was playing on a neighbour's farm and started noting all the creatures in a barn. It was full of animals bedded down for the night, some lying on their own dung for warmth. The animals would also draw flies and parasites, and as happens, there might be maggots in the offal. And of course, spiders were everywhere in the beams, ready to catch an insect or to drop down to bite a sleeping animal. It was not at all a fitting place for God to be born.

So the idea of all God's creatures being welcome around the altar is rather disturbing to me. Then again, I still consider it a criticism when someone asks, "Where you raised in a barn?"

Catholic Vet Tech

While I agree that dogs don't need to be involved in the mass (aside from saaaay the Blessing of the Animals,) I completely disagree with your description of canine intellect as stated here:


"After all, dogs are irrational creatures that cannot appreciate the sacred and therefore do not belong in sacred places."

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/irrational

Irrational -

a. Not endowed with reason.

b. Affected by loss of usual or normal mental clarity; incoherent, as from shock.

c. Marked by a lack of accord with reason or sound judgment

OK, as a Catholic who has been a Vet Tech, a dog trainer, and a (now former) wolf and wolfdog handler for the past 5 years, I have to say that the discription you gave is incorrect. Dogs are certainly not "irrational," which is clearly demonstrated in their behavior, both taught and learned. They are predators, thus are quite capable of problem solving, as well as anticipating future actions. Here are some examples:

I taught my dog to sit on command. I did not teach my dog to nudge me when she needs to go out and tinkle, but she's done it consistantly in the past 10 years. Both demonstrate cognitive reflexes, response to human sounds, as well as problem solving.

How is that irrational?

I'll give you another example,this time the wolf. I personally witnessed a wolf (named Arizona) lift the clasp of an unlocked catch-cage gate with his muzzle, then open the gate with his paw. No one taught him to do that because no one wanted him to do that, and we subsiquently had a heck of a time convincing him to get back into the enclosure in order to lock the gate. He problem solved in order to get what he wanted.

How is that irrational?


With regards to their (supposed) "lack of appreciation of sacred things," I'll remind you of St. Francis, and even more specifically, the Wolf of Gubbio.


"Our Lord may have been making a point about humans when he said it, but the foundation of the metaphor in the animal kingdom makes the same point with even more force:

"Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot" (Matt. 7:6)."


I'm sorry, but I really feel you're being a bit disigenuous here by using it to demonstrate your stance, but not explaining the text further. Throughout history mankind seems to have a tendency to transpose uniquly human vices onto/through animals instead of, well - telling it like it is. The irony is that humans HAVE TO use human descriptions of human behavior in order to bestow it upon other animals.

What the text actually means as explained by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:


4 [6] Dogs and swine were Jewish terms of contempt for Gentiles. This saying may originally have derived from a Jewish Christian community opposed to preaching the gospel (what is holy, pearls) to Gentiles. In the light of Matthew 28:19 that can hardly be Matthew's meaning. He may have taken the saying as applying to a Christian dealing with an obstinately impenitent fellow Christian (Matthew 18:17).

http://www.nccbuscc.org/nab/bible/matthew/matthew7.htm#foot4


Do dogs belong in Church?

I agree with you here - no.

Do dogs deserve to be unjustly characterized, described, and otherwise villified because of what a human has chosen to do which involves them?

Certainly not.


“All praise to you, Oh Lord, for all these brother and sister creatures.”

St. Francis of Assisi

http://www.americancatholic.org/features/francis/blessing.asp

J.R. Stoodley

Few people love animals more than me, but the simple fact is that they are not endowed with spiritual souls and thus are not, theologically speaking, rational. This does not mean they can not learn or solve simple problems, it means they do not have a human/angel-type intellect and will.

I do not pretend to know exactly what this means but it is clear from Catholic teaching (the Catechism I believe is an example of this). I think this shows yet again the danger in using a secular dictionary to define a word that is being used in a theological sense.

Larry Stone

Dogs don't have souls? Prove it.

Using archaic rules originally designed to maintain the status quo power structure to claim what Fr. Scurti is doing is wrong just plain stupid.

SDG

Dogs don't have souls? Prove it.

Who said dogs don't have souls? Of course they do. Animal souls. Just as plants have vegetative souls. Somebody hasn't read his Aquinas.

Now, if you want me to prove that animals don't have rational or spiritual souls, well, first you prove that human beings do have spiritual souls, and then I'll see what I can do.

As Catholics, our views on animal souls are ultimately rooted in our beliefs about the historical person of Jesus Christ, the nature of the Church, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the authority of sacred tradition. So, we would have to talk about all of that.

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