Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Saint Vincent de Paul Parish in Baldwinville and silence before Mass

Those who are bent on making their own unauthorized changes to the liturgy or who otherwise promote or tolerate various liturgical abuses often fail to appreciate how such an endeavor can constitute grave sin.  I know this because some have accused me of making a mountain out of a molehill for my opposition to various liturgical abuses.  Dr. Germain Grisez explains: "There are many reasons why it is wrong for priests intentionally to make unauthorized liturgical changes.  Two are especially important.  First, such changes sometimes embody or imply deviations from Catholic faith; even when they do not, they often omit (see here for example) or obscure something of the liturgy's expression of faith.  Thus, the Church teaches: 'The law of prayer is the law of faith: the Church believes as she prays.  Liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition' (cf. DV 8).  For this reason no sacramental rite may be modified or manipulated at the will of the minister or the communityEven the supreme authority in the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in the obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy.' (CCC, 1124-1125).

Dr. Grisez continues, "..in the Eucharist, a priest acts in the person of Christ, who joins humankind to the Father; but in making unauthorized changes, a priest obscures Jesus' action, focuses attention on himself, and becomes an obstacle to the relationship between God and His People that priests are ordained to serve...Priests are agents ordained to deliver God's gifts to His People.  If they deliver some substitute for what Jesus has entrusted to them, they interpose themselves between - and defraud - both God and His People...

There are five additional reasons why unauthorized changes should not be made in the liturgy.  First, the liturgy is the worship of the Church as a body, and those who are ordained act as Church officials in performing liturgical roles.  So, insofar as a priest makes unauthorized changes, he misrepresents as the Church's what is in fact only his or some limited group's.  Even if this misrepresentation deceives no one and is intended for some good end, it is at odds with the reverence necessary for true worship.  Second, this essential irreverence and the obvious arbitrariness of intentional unauthorized changes strongly suggest that the Eucharist is not sacred, and this suggestion tends to undermine not only faith in Jesus' bodily presence in the consecrated elements, but faith that the Eucharist is Jesus' sacrifice made present for the faithful to share in.  Third, a priest who makes intentional, unauthorized changes acts with deplorable clericalism by imposing his personal preferences on the laity and violating the rights of those who quite reasonably wish only to participate in the Church's worship.  Fourth, intentionally making unauthorized changes sets a bad example of serious disobedience to the Church's norms, and this bad example is likely to encourage some people to think and do as they please not only in liturgical and canonical matters, but in matters of faith and morals.  Fifth...unauthorized liturgical changes often become a needless, divisive issue for the faithful, thus impeding the charity that the Eucharist should express and foster."

Still think that liturgical abuse is a small matter of little significance?  If so, this reflects on your own immaturity and not the objective truth that liturgical abuse constitutes grave matter.  How grave?  Again, Dr. Grisez:

"The reasons why priests should not make unauthorized liturgical changes also make it clear..that a priest's intentionally doing so is of itself matter of grave sin.  Of course, many changes are in themselves very minor, and a few perhaps even are real improvements.  But though this kind of sin admits  parvity, such small changes also are scandalous, not only because they give the faithful a bad example of disobedience but because they contribute to a clerical culture in which liturgical abuse is widely tolerated and sometimes even expected, so that some are encouraged to engage in far graver abuses.  Now, even a sin venial in itself becomes grave scandal when one foresees that it is likely to lead others to commit grave sin; thus, the element of scandal makes grave matter of even minor liturgical abuses likely to encourage more serious abuses by other priestsDue to widespread confusion and negligence of some bishops, many priests undoubtedly lack sufficient reflection regarding this sin."

This past Sunday and the previous Sunday at Saint Vincent de Paul Parish in Baldwinville, Massachusetts, devout Catholics attempting to prepare for Holy Mass through prayer (including myself - I was attempting to pray my Rosary) were subjected to loud conversation and riotous laughter from a group of women who were taking part in some sort of support group.  The group sat in church - in front of the tabernacle no less - and engaged in inappropriate socializing without any regard for Jesus truly present in the Eucharist within the tabernacle Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

And this with the blessing of the "pastor" Father Francis Roberge.  At every Vigil Mass on Saturday afternoons, the choir and band will rehearse without any regard for the faithful who are trying to prepare for Mass.

As Father Peter M.J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.L., says in his book The Catholic Answer, Book 2: "Socializing is inappropriate in the body of the Church; that is for the vestibule and parish hall." (p. 195).  Monsignor Peter J. Elliott, in his book entitled Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite, has this to say: "The Church should be open well before the liturgy for those who wish to pray privately.  Silence is the best preparation for the celebration of the liturgy.  Apart from suitable music, no intrusion on the people's right to tranquility before the Eucharist should be tolerated, for example, musical or choral rehearsals, announcements which could be given later, or distractions in the sanctuary or elsewhere.  People may meet and talk before Mass, but in an area set well apart from the place where the liturgy is about to be celebrated." (Ceremonies of the Modern Roman Rite, No. 233, p. 87).

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal has this to say: "Sacred silence also, as part of the celebration, is to be observed at the designated times....Its purpose, however, depends on the time it occurs in each part of the celebration. Thus within the Act of Penitence and again after the invitation to pray, all recollect themselves; but at the conclusion of a reading or the homily, all meditate briefly on what they have heard; then after Communion, they praise and pray to God in their hearts. Even before the celebration itself, it is commendable that silence be observed in the church, in the sacristy, in the vesting room, and in adjacent areas, so that all may dispose themselves to carry out the sacred action in a devout and fitting manner."  (GIRM, No. 45).  

Silence should also be observed after Mass until one is outside the Church building, both for respect toward the Blessed Sacrament, and toward those members of the faithful who wish to prolong their thanksgiving after Mass.

When I politely informed the women who were engaging in inappropriate and loud conversation and laughter of this and that perhaps they could meet downstairs in the parish hall, I was told there was no room there.  I was also subjected to hate-filled glares and angry commentary from a small group of unhappy souls who obviously have a problem with the Church's teaching and liturgical rubrics.

As Father Vincent Miceli, S.J., reminded us some years back, "Rampant immorality is [an] obstacle opposing the work of evangelization.  Since conduct follows from convictions, once Catholics cancel their creed from their lives, their conduct inevitably becomes depraved....The decay on all sides of Christian morals makes it not only difficult to bring in those outside the Church, but even to stay in themselves and hold their fellow Catholics within the Church." (Essay entitled The Evangelization of the United States).

Small wonder parishes are not thriving.  Indeed many are in crisis as the pews continue to empty.  Conduct flows from convictions.  What then shall we make of the conduct of Catholics who disrespect Jesus' Presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament while keeping other Catholics from their prayer?  What shall we make of a "pastor" who permits such a situation?

At no time have I witnessed either the "pastor" of St. Vincent de Paul Parish or its deacon preparing for Mass through prayer.  I have witnessed both of them engaging in conversation and running to and fro in the church.  But I have not witnessed a spirit of prayer.

What a shame!

Because I tell the truth about the dissent and liturgical abuse which has been part and parcel of the Worcester Diocese, I will, no doubt, continue to be ostracized.  But I will be in good company:  See here: http://protectthepope.com/?p=10315


Fr. Francis Roberge said...

You are absolutely right...you will be ostracized! You were not polite to those ladies, but angry and forceful. The ladies were actually fearful for their safety which crosses a line. Not only is it offensive but it seems according to the law it is also illegal. You are a large man not known to our community and you were frightening to those women. Why have you not spoken to me...I have always welcomed you and been kind and supportive to you and your mother but here you are on familiar ground creating tension and division again! I would have loved to have you and your mother as a part of this community since you both have so much to offer us. You are both always welcome here but if you wish to move on...find a place that has you have not already alienated. God Bless and Happy Easter
Fr. Francis A Roberge

Cleghornboy said...

I sincerely hope and pray that this is not really Father Francis Roberge. If it is you Father, you are in dire need of a psychological evaluation. At no time was I rude to anyone. On the contrary, the women in question were the ones being rude as I explained in my post. Their behavior is not consistent with Catholic teaching or sound liturgical rubrics.

I'm not sure what you mean when you suggest that I was "creating tension and division again." Such an accusation is slanderous and would indicate a profound lack of charity on your part. I am not the one whose behavior is divisive or distracting. That would be your domain. I am the one quietly praying the Rosary and Mercy Chaplet - or at least attempting to do so - while being so rudely interrupted with inappropriate behavior.

You say that I am welcome at Saint Vincent de Paul parish but that is not really true. If I were, then you would follow the Church's rubrics and allow me (and other Catholics who actually possess a prayer life) to pray without being subjected to the violence of inappropriate behavior in the House of God.

Again, I hope this comment isn't really from Father Roberge. But if this comment is legitimately from him, then the Bishop needs to address it. For it indicates a mind-set which is hardly Catholic and which is sorely lacking in pastoral charity.

Michael Cole said...

I too hope that it's not a priest. Because the comment comes across as sociopathic. First the writer accuses you falsely of being a large man who is "frightening" and who causes "tension and division." Then he/she says, "You are always welcome here."

Such a comment is disturbing since it demonstrates a propensity to engage in falsehood in an effort to silence fraternal correction.


William said...

Leave it to a Worcester Diocese priest to make excuses for liturgical violence, wreckovation and bad theology....Things are growing more dire by the day here. Tragic!!!

Rita Jeannine Melanson said...

I was at the Mass in question with my son. He very politely requested the women who were talking loudly and laughing before the tabernacle to keep in mind that the Church emphasizes the need for silence and prayer before Holy Mass. At no time did he ever leave his seat (which was in the back of the Church) and at no time did Paul ever raise his voice in anger. Although such a response would have been justified in light of the offensive behavior and irreverence towards Christ exhibited by the women in question.

I am disappointed by Father Roberge's response. All the more so since he was talking with these women in an animated way prior to Mass. In other words, his behavior was every bit as offensive and disedifying as theirs.

St. Alphonsus De Liguori, a Doctor of the Church and a moral theologian, explains that, "The Lord ordained in Leviticus that for the sin of a single priest a calf should be offered, as well as for the sins of the entire people. From this Innocent III concludes that the sin of a priest is as grievous as the sins of the whole people. The reason is, says the Pontiff, that by his sin the priest leads the entire people into sin ('Unde conjicitur quod peccatum Sacerdotis totius multitudinis peccato coaequatur, quia Sacerdos in suo peccato totam fecit delinquere multitudinem' - In Consecr. Pont. s. I.) And, long before, the Lord himself said the same: 'If the priest that is anointed shall sin, he maketh the people to offend.' Hence, St. Augustine, addressing priests, says, 'Do not close heaven: but this you do if you give to others a bad example to lead a wicked life.' Our Lord said one day to St. Bridget, that when sinners see the bad example of the priest, they are encouraged to commit sin, and even begin to glory in the vices of which they were before ashamed. Hence our Lord added that worse maledictions shall fall on the priest than on others, because by his sinful life he brings himself and others to perdition.'...says St. John Chrysostom, the life of the priest is the root from which the people, who are the branches, receive nutriment. St. Ambrose also says that priests are the head from which virtue flows to the members, that is, to seculars. The whole head is sick, says the Prophet Isaias;...from the sole of the foot unto the top of the head there is no soundness therein. St. Isidore explains this passage in the following words: 'This languishing head is the priest that commits sin, and that communicates his sin to the whole body.' St. Leo weeps over this evil, saying, 'How can health be found in the body if the head be not sound?' Who, says St. Bernard, shall seek in a sink the limpid water of the spring? Shall I, adds the saint, seek counsel from the man that knows not how to give counsel to himself? Speaking of the bad example of princes, Plutarch says, that it poisons not a single cup, but the public fountain; and thus, because all draw from the fountain, all are poisoned. This may be said with greater truth of the bad example of priests; hence Eugene III has said that bad Superiors are the principal causes of the sins of inferiors...St. Bernardine of Sienna writes that many, seeing the bad example of the scandalous ecclesiastic, begin even to waver in faith, and thus abandon themselves to vice, despising the sacraments, hell, and heaven." (St. Alphonsus De Liguori, Dignity and Duties of the Priest, pp. 142-144, 149).

As Michael Brown would say: Our sad time!

BaldwinvilleCatholic said...

Sure looks like this Fr. Roberge doesn't give a damn about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and is mentally unhinged - if that comment is indeed his. Why not pass our beer and peanuts too Father? Maybe roll a tv onto the sanctuary while you're at it? Maybe you could have liturgical dancers parade around scantily clad while the band plays some Bruce Springsteen?


robert.c said...

get some people to either pray the divine mercy or the rosary , if you fail take along a pocket radio , so when the talking starts , turn your radio on, when they stop , turn it off , they may get the message , a football game or a horse race is the best to use .

Rita Jeannine Melanson said...

Father Roberge should be ashamed of himself. Rather than commending my son for defending his faith and Church teaching, he has decided to calumniate him and to cater to a group of women who have treated a church consecrated to God in an unworthy manner.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (which Father Roberge apparently doesn't spend time with) says that, "Sacrilege consists in profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions, as well as persons, things, or places consecrated to God (such as a church, my note). Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when committed against the Eucharist, for in this sacrament the true Body of Christ is made substantially present for us." (2120).

As for Father's asinine implication that my son Paul is somehow "threatening" because he is a tall man, this speaks for itself. Being a man and looking and acting like one is no sin. If Father Roberge believes otherwise, what might this suggest about him?

Jonathan said...

Why would Fr. Roberge want to discourage your devotion to the Rosary by encouraging this support group to serve as a distraction? St. Louis de Montfort has an answer:

"It is very wicked indeed and unfair to other souls to hinder the progress of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. Almighty God has severely punished many of those who have been so benighted as to scorn the Confraternity and who have sought to destroy it.

Even though God has set His seal of approval on the Holy Rosary by many miracles, and in spite of the Papal Bulls that have been written approving it, there are only too many people who are against the Holy Rosary today. These freethinkers and those who scorn religion either condemn the Rosary or try to turn others away from it.

It is easy to see that they have absorbed the poison of hell and that they are inspired by the devil - for nobody can condemn devotion to the Holy Rosary without condemning all that is most holy in the Catholic Faith, such as the Lord's Prayer, the Angelic Salutation and the mysteries of the life, death, and glory of Jesus Christ and of His Holy Mother.

These freethinkers who cannot bear others to say the Rosary often fall into a really heretical state of mind without even realizing it and some to hate the Rosary and its holy mysteries.

To have a loathing for confraternities is to fall away from God and true piety, for Our Lord Himself has told us that He is always in the midst of those who are gathered together in His name. No good Catholic should forget the many great indulgences which Holy Mother Church has granted to Confraternities. Finally, to dissuade others from joining the Rosary Confraternity is to be an enemy of souls because the Rosary is a sure means of curing oneself of sin and of embracing a Christian Life.

Saint Bonaventure said (in his Psalter) that whoever neglected Our Lady would perish in his sins and would be damned: "He who neglects her will die in his sins." If such is the penalty for neglecting her, what must be the punishment in store for those who actually turn others away from their devotions!" (The Secret of the Rosary, Ninth Rose).

Anonymous said...

In too many churches silence before Mass is almost unheard of! Forget about arriving early to pray. You have to deal with more and more chatter, cell phones, and folks talking and texting. Sadly, too many parents, if they even come to Mass, fail to train their children about silence and proper respect in church, etc.

Melissa said...

Obviously Father Fran judges people based upon their physical characteristics. You are "large" and therefore "threatening." How does he feel about African-Americans and Hispanics?

Does he consider a black man to be a risk when it comes to the collection basket? Does he stereotype Hispanics?

I would really like to know.

Brenda G. said...

For a priest to tell a faithful devout Catholic loyal to the Magisterium that he will be ostracized is just demonic. In my opinion, this priest may suffer from demonic activity in his life. What a hateful thing to say!

Roger said...

The parish is in a state of serious decline. Like much of the Worcester diocese.

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