Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Judge not lest ye be judged

I really dislike the way Father X says Mass. It's all in a monotone, as fast as he can, except for the homily. Father X appears to believe that he, not God, is at the center of the Mass. The Eucharistic Prayer is done so disinterestedly, so gracelessly, that we all worry he'll carelessly knock over the chalice in his efforts to get through it all quickly. I can't avoid the feeling Father X thinks this is all a pageant.

And his homilies focus on all sorts of things: his grandfather was a great, unselfish man; he was a great baseball player as a kid until he developed myopia; war is bad and Frank Zappa can tell us why; the apostles were predominantly stupid and flawed. The subjects Father X never talks about? God, grace, miracles, the Eucharist, the Resurrection, faith, the Spirit, et cetera. His homilies are all along the lines of making ourselves nice people on our own strength. It's as if Father X thought he was called to be a great motivational speaker, and the prayers and Eucharist and all that stuff about some God just keep getting in his way.

So, why am I writing all this (besides my obvious joy in venting about bad liturgy)? Because, as much as this disturbs me, if I let it interfere with my experience of the Mass, then it is my sin and not that of Father X at stake. If I make the leap from "I wish he would say the Mass more reverently" to "what a failure of a priest" (as I may be guilty of doing), then I am setting myself up as judge and I am doing what I cannot. It may be right for me to ask Father Mike to find someone besides Father X to say Mass here. But it's a bad sign that I resent him as a priest and a person; this is not what Christ called me to do.

Saint Francis of Assisi was once asked what he would do if he knew that his parish priest was keeping three mistresses. He responded, "When it came time for Holy Communion I would go to receive the sacred body of my Lord from the priest's anointed hands." I aspire to his humility, but I have trouble with it. I know that the grievance I have against Father X is not much, not commensurate with some of the terrible things men in the Roman collar have committed. But I can't let it go when I see him saying Mass.

P.S. If you're wondering why I don't post more often about my personal life, go read my Disclaimer (from all the way back in June). I can only tell you that life is very good, and that Easter Vigil is a month from today.

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