Saturday, September 24, 2011

"Let them eat cake!"

Ah, the trials and tribulations of those who would like to have the extraordinary form of the Mass offered in our diocese...sigh.

Over the last six months, while giving lip service to his "support" of the EF Mass, our stand-in bishop (known as our Apostolic Administrator) has effectively removed the only priests willing and able to say that Mass in Bend. This is important because the Society of St. Gregory the Great (I serve on the Board of Directors) has been sponsoring a monthly EF Mass at the old St. Francis church since 2008. People come. People want the Mass.

First, the AA took away our primary celebrant by simply restricting him to saying Mass in one single location in the whole diocese. This was not a punitive action; this was not a suspension of faculties. It was a capricious, ill-conceived notion instigated by a vindictive and power-hungry person in the chancery office. The AA went along with it, even though it's pretty clear that it was a bad decision. Other priests do not support it, and at least one priest knowledgeable about canon law has told the AA that he is violating some important rules. So be it. We await a new bishop, or a decision from Rome, whichever comes first. Or maybe both, depending on who we get for a bishop.

Back to our story: Two different priests from the far reaches of the diocese then traveled lots of miles for lots of hours to celebrate that Mass for us, as a stop-gap measure.

Then a newly-ordained priest became available to say the Mass for us in the Bend parish. It even appeared that there would soon be a weekly, rather than monthly, EF Mass available at the historic St. Francis church.

Then...gosh darn it! That priest just HAD to be moved to a different parish - about as far away from Bend as you could get and still be in this diocese - due to circumstances beyond anyone's control (yeah, right). I'm sure the AA is really very sorry about all this. Not.

Now it comes to light that the powers that be in the chancery office think that maybe it would be a good idea to have that pesky EF Mass at the one location where the first priest is allowed to say it. This location is "only" an hour's drive from Bend. Yes! "Let them eat cake!" (I have an even better idea! Road trip to Rome, folks! I'm sure we can find a good EF Mass there!)

So let's get this straight: it somehow makes sense for 30 or so people to make a 2-hour round trip drive to attend Mass in a chapel that (un)comfortably seats a maximum of twelve congregants, rather than to allow the priest in question to simply say the Mass at the church in Bend. Let the mountain come to Mohammed, I guess.

I would like to see the same suggestion made to people who prefer the ordinary form of the Mass: "This week, we are having the EF Mass at 10am in the parish church. Those of you who prefer the Novus Ordo may attend at X church, an hour's drive from here." Get ready for a lynching.

This situation is ridiculous. Either the AA is stupid (which I doubt), or has it in for the EF Mass (hmmm), or is very deficient in administrative skills (evidence mounts from other decisions he's made), or simply doesn't care. Or some combination thereof. I wish I could be charitable enough to believe he really does care about the people who want the EF Mass, and who would really like to have it on a weekly basis. But, having had a personal conversation with the man, I'm 99.9% sure he doesn't.

Pray for a new bishop. A good bishop. A bishop who supports liturgical integrity, reverence, and beauty. Who will shepherd the people and be a father to his priests. Oh...pray for our AA, too. He is accountable to God for whatever ill effect his actions have on the faithful under his care.

Pray. Fast. Pray and fast.

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