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Part of something bigger

For those who went to Mass this weekend (and I do hope all my Catholic readers went to Mass!) we recited the Nicene Creed and said, "I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church." Catholicism is not ours to design and shape to our individual preferences. The Mass is not ours to personalize. As members of this Mystical Body of Christ, we humbly submit our own will to God's will as revealed through this one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. That is why Bishop Braxton, of Bellville, IL had to fire a priest:

For 18 years, the Rev. William Rowe has done a little improvising while celebrating Mass on Sunday mornings at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Mount Carmel, Ill.
Now those deviations have led to his resignation in an incident that may be tied to global changes to the Catholic liturgy.
Last Sunday, instead of saying "Lord our God that we may honor you with all our mind and love everyone in truth of heart," during the opening prayer, he altered the phrasing to better reflect the day's Gospel message, in which Jesus heals a man with a troubled spirit.
"We thank you, God, for giving us Jesus who helped us to be healed in mind and heart and proclaim his love to others," the 72-year-old priest prayed instead.
Three days later, Rowe received a letter from Bishop Edward Braxton accepting his resignation.
This priest endeared himself to many parishioners. Many are heartbroken to see him go. The bishop is being portrayed as an ogre for not tolerating a little tinkering with the Mass. However, the Mass does not belong to the priest, to the choir, or even to the people in the pew. It belongs to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. The universality of the words at Mass reflect the universality of the Church. Allowing each individual priest to tailor the wording to his own whim puts the individual priest above the Magisterium.  It fosters a cult of personality. The Mass is about the presentation on the altar of the sacrifice of Christ. How the priest feels, how the choir feels, and how the congregation feels are all irrelevant to the Mass. If this priest felt the words as written in the Mass needed clarification, he is certainly free to do so in his homily. But he does not have the right to deprive the people in the pews of the words prescribed by the Roman Missal. When this priest was ordained, he pledged humble obedience. Proclaiming that his personalized prayers are superior to those of the Roman Missal is an affront to this pledge and Bishop Braxton was right to remove him from the parish. It should be a lesson to us all that as members of the Catholic Church we are part of something much bigger than ourselves.


Ms. Mary said…
I went to Mass this weekend. I actually talked with a priest and told him about Fr. Bill's forced resignation. When I told him why, his answer was that he ad libbed all of the time.
Fr. Bill is a good person, a man of great character. He does not harm others.
It is time we the people of the Church stand up for what is right. Fr. Bill has done no wrong. Those who see fault with how he makes Mass understandable to his parish as well as his school children need to examine their own conscience.
Denise said…
Ms. Mary, I appreciate your support for Fr. Rowe. However, he does not have the authority to change the words of the Mass. This is not just the opinion of Bishop Braxton. It is the law from Rome.He is free to make the Mass more understandable during his homilies and that would be a good thing. It would also be advisable for him to support adult education programs or recommend published material if he felt his parishioners needed more instruction on the Mass. To set himself above the direction of the Church is arrogant and a poor example for his parish.

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