Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Catholic Infighting

How many of my fellow bloggers have visited sites and found arguments (note that I did not use the word debates) going on about the Novus Ordo Mass and the Traditional Latin Mass?  I keep accidentally stumbling upon blogs that bicker about this subject quite frequently. Why all this Catholic infighting? I do not know but I will say this:

Read the Nicene Creed and particularly note the words, We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

This Catholic infighting, especially when it becomes disrespectful, causes disunity in the Church and at times harms the faith of others. To make matters worst, it surely grieves the Holy Spirit who is constantly at work bringing us to union with one another in Christ. Some sites go as far as to suggest that the Novus Ordo Mass is invalid. In all honesty, those who insinuate such a thing are walking on very thin ice indeed - for at that very Mass that you mock .... the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ is offered and it is no small thing to call this ultimate Sacrifice invalid. I would go so far as to say that you should bow your head in shame for even suggesting such a thing.

I don't get angry easily, but this Catholic infighting not only angers me, I am actually horrified by it.  It doesn't bother me that people may prefer one Mass over the other - both are beautiful because of their intrinsic value. My Parish celebrates both the Novus Ordo Mass and the Traditional Latin Mass. While I may personally feel that one is more reverential than the other, I would never even THINK to suggest to anyone that either Mass is not valid.

This infighting brings me to ask this question:

Have people forgotten the law of love? Fighting doesn't solve anything. Those who argue over this issue are unwittingly being used as tools of the evil one to bring disharmony in Christ's beloved Church. Better to focus on the love your neighbor has for the Mass than to stand there and tell him what is wrong with the Mass he is attending! With so few going to Church these days we should be applauding every person who goes,  not criticising them for what Mass they attend. It's also good to keep in mind the way the devil thinks - if he can keep Catholics busy bickering with one another there is less of a chance they'll draw others to Christ.

In 2 Timothy 2:14-16, St. Paul warns about these useless disputes. Jesus, himself, had strong words for the Pharisees and scribes (see Mt 23: 4-27 and Mt. 15: 1-20) but the words that strike me the most when it comes to Catholic infighting are these ....

"You shall love your neighbor as yourself."          Mt. 22:39


  1. The fighting is playing right into the devil's hands.

  2. Excellent post Mary! Thank you.

  3. Thank you for this charitable admonishment. I agree, it is much needed in today's cyberspace and in-person conversations, as well.
    Those who claim the Norvus Ordo to be invalid would not think they are shaming themselves as they most likely do not feel that we are receiving the True Christ for if the Mass is invalid then there is no Sacrament. I don't agree with them, I'm just clarifying that they would not agree that they are being shameful.

    I thank you for reminding us that we are ONE in Christ and must be mindful of LOVE when we enter into discussions with fellow Catholics.

  4. Karin,
    Yes, it is. I know they don't realize what they are doing but satan is laughing with glee.

  5. Thanks, DG! This has been bothering me for a while. Today I visited a site which gave a long list of reasons why the Novus Ordo Mass is not valid and I could only shake my head and think of how harmful words like these are to the Body of Christ here on earth.

  6. Judy,
    No, I realize this :) I was making an emphatic point here that they do not have the right to make such a claim - they are not God and I would bow my head in shame if I ever said such a thing about the Eucharist unless God himself came down and said the Mass wasn't valid. During earlier councils they used even stronger words for those who suggested that changes make a Mass invalid - "Let them be anathema!" Also, if you read some of these sites you realize that many DO have good knowledge of their faith so they cannot claim ignorance. So why do they feel they have the right to make claims such as this? You are correct in that they would not consider bowing their heads in shame - perhaps I should have phrased it "bow their heads in repentance". We are speaking about folks who believe in the real Presence at the Latin Mass and yet some dare to presume that they can call the Eucharist circus bread and various other names in the New Mass. In truth, I bow my own head in shame for them. They do not follow the Magisterium of the Church. This is their right as humans with free will but it begs the question:
    Why be Catholic then if they don't believe what the Church teaches?

  7. Well said Mary, both the post and the comments. Remember the Rodney King incident in California so many years ago? He said, "Can't we just all get along?" Ditto.

  8. Anne,
    I really wish there wasn't so much division among Catholics. It wasn't until I started blogging that I became aware of just how deep some of these rift are and how bad the fighting goes against everything Jesus taught. Sad. The Traditional Latin Mass is very beautiful and reverent so I can understand why many people love it but what I don't understand is the spite and irreverence that some folks use in their speech when discussing the New Mass. Thanks for commenting :)

  9. Well said, Mary! I feel it all comes down to obedience. We can't pick and choose what we believe but must follow the Magisterium of the Church. It's not about personal preference. If the Pope allows and believes in the validity of the Novus Ordo Mass then we should accept it. (I personally believe any Mass is such a beautiful miracle and gift.)God bless!

  10. Great post Mary, I have stayed away from some Catholic blog sites for this very reason. I love my church, my faith and all the in fighting is just wrong......something I never knew growing up and have only really run into it in blogland.
    Fighting or arguing about anything is just wrong, doesn't solve a thing and especially does not help anyone. I honestly don't understand it, so glad you spoke about it Mary....:-)Hugs

  11. Sue,
    I'm in complete agreement with you! I, too, believe every Mass is a miracle and a gift and I have to say that it is offensive to me (and even more so to Christ present in the Eucharist) to doubt the validity of a Mass. It is not ever our place to judge this. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this :)

  12. Bernie,
    I usually stay away from them too! If I do end up on sites like these I never comment because it's like speaking to a brick wall. The lines are drawn and woe to those who dare step across them in defense of their faith :)
    Hugs to you too, Bernie!

  13. The Consecration has me in awe, everytime, regardless of the minister, or the music, or any lacking that i might otherwise find (usually in lack of scriptural, doctrinal, spiritual catechisis in the homily). A friend of mine was telling me that St. Augustine had the gift of seeing demons. He said he saw one on the road once and then he entered a church and saw many more preying on people, not unlike the fictional story The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. So in short I agree with you. There are reasons why I began and kept attending Byzantine Catholic Divine Liturgy for past 4 years, but it was never a lack of faith in the validity of the Sacrament! I have heard that before and even from members in my own family and that is much sadder than stumbling into it in blogville, but it is always sad. It is the devil at work and instead of humility and awe before the gift of Christ in the Eucharist, it seems like pride and self-importance.

  14. Mary, I wish I had the pull to get this post put up on New Advent or sent to the Pope or something. Since I started blogging last fall, I've been appalled at the vitriol on "catholic" blogs. Not all, of course, but much more than I ever suspected. Not just re: the Latin Mass but also about everything from speaking in tongues & Medjugorje to the bishops and waterboarding. Even the correct formula for blessing Holy Water. Geez.
    I understand that there's always room for healthy disagreement but there's nothing healthy about name calling etc. For what it's worth, I'm really with you on this. I guess being nasty draws more attention to your site but I know it can't be pleasing to God.

  15. Ever read the books by 'Anne, a lay apostle'? In particular 'Climbing the Mountain' This is what she would call the 'ring of defiance' ... a group of people stopping others reaching the mountain of holiness, to begin their climb, like bouncers at a club who won't let you in if you are wearing trainers, or unless your tie is silk. It amazes me, but doesn't surprise me that people can get seduced into an elitist form of Catholic 'faith' and not see the consequences or irrationality of it ... it is really a scandal to those that seek the heart and face of Christ. I suspect that such attitudes boil down to rejection issues, or some other psychological problem in earlier years, such that causes a transferring of rejection. It certainly does not present the One Christ to others.

  16. Ha ... Mary,

    You forget that arguing is what we Catholics do best. That, and having a second collection at church on Sunday.

    Mind you, it doesn't help when priests confuse things even more by introducing changes as they feel like it.

    Here's an example: The Bishops of England and Wales have decided that we Catholics shall NOT eat meat on Fridays from September 2011. (We can eat as much meat as we want now, I suppose).

    I asked my priest: Why just England and Wales? Can Catholics in Scotland eat meat on Fridays? How about those in the rest of Europe, USA, Canada and elsewhere?

    He said this was a decision by the Bishops in England and Wales only. They want to show that in a secular world we Catholics can be different. The other countries and their Bishops can join in if they want to. It is not an instruction from the Vatican for all Catholics to follow.

    Determined not to give up I asked him: What about a Catholic in England and Wales who eats meat on Fridays? Will it be a mortal sin, a venial one ... or perhaps a vegan one?

    He replied it will be no sin at all. The Bishops want us to give up meat and that's that. No sin. Just do it.

    I'm confused ... it's too far to travel to Scotland every Friday! Do you think Scottish Catholics will travel to England on Fridays so they can give up meat?

    Let's start another collection ...

    God bless.

  17. It's important to remember that we're all on the same side, isn't it? The enemy isn't other Christians, no matter how much we may disagree with them. Personally, I agree that as long as the Holy Father validates the Mass, it's all about joy. God bless you, Mary!:)

  18. Colleen,
    Loved The Screwtape Letters! Very interesting comment about St. Augustine seeing demons IN a church. Another saint has spoken about this also but I can't remember who ... St. John Vianney perhaps? It makes sense that demons particularly try to attack Christians because if they can keep them busy fighting amongst themselves they sure won't be out converting others and certainly not by the example they set! I loved your last sentence. I think you nailed it - pride and self-importance instead of awe at the incredible gift we've been given. Thanks for the comment!

  19. Therese,
    It's crazy, isn't it? And to think that before blogging I had no idea all this was going on in my Church! You've made some good points here because it is true that some Catholics bicker about almost everything under the sun. I've read many sites that are totally against any apparitions at all. Once I left a comment on someone's site about Medjugorje and got blasted :) The thing is - God can do anything and He can certainly allow Mother Mary to appear to these visionaries if He so chooses. No one has to believe it and no one is forced to believe it, but WHY speak so strongly against the place when millions of conversions come out of it? You'd think people would be thrilled that so many have turned to our Lord. Just doesn't make sense to me. As for people speaking in tongues - I've noticed that "Charismatic Catholics" are often attacked on blogs, too. I use the term "Charismatic Catholics" but the truth is we are all just Catholics who happen to have charisms. And everyone has them. John Paul II had tremendous gifts of these sort, I recognized them and I'm sure we will hear a lot more about this "mystical" side of Blessed Pope John Paul II. Thanks for your very interesting comment, Therese!

  20. Pip,
    No, I haven't read the book you mentioned - sounds interesting though! I loved your analogy here! And you're right on target - they DO remind me of bouncers at a club! (I had a bit of a laugh over that one!) You may be right about the rejection issues - I never thought about it from that angle.
    What strikes me the most on a few of these sites is the lack of humility and Christian charity.
    I love my Faith and pray for the healing of these breaches in our Church. Jesus wouldn't want this.

  21. JBR,
    You are no stranger to Catholic infighting, are you? Lol! I'm thinking you've witnessed this many times. Hugs to you too, my friend :)

  22. Victor,
    You're so funny! I guess you'll have to eat soy burgers on Friday come September ;) Have you ever tried one of those things? I guarantee that if you eat one and offer it up you'll make a number of souls in purgatory very happy indeed! Lol!
    By the way, you know what's worse than a second collection? It's when you are about to cheer once a long sermon is over only to have the priest introduce a guest missionary to speak about their work but you cannot hear her over the snores of the elderly man in front of you and the bored screaming kids behind you :) AHHH! How I love my faith!
    Thanks for the great laugh, Victor!

  23. Vicky,
    Definitely! At least we SHOULD be all on the same side :) I can understand when discussions on theological issues get a bit out of hand but I cannot understand when it turns poisonous and turns into attacks. Suppose someone searching for the Lord stumbled across one of these sites? What would they think? Especially if they've read the Bible and have seen the passage, "God is love and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God."
    God bless you too, Vicky :)

  24. Hi Mary,

    Glad I made you smile. The sad thing though is that the Bishops here in England and Wales are serious about the non-eating meat on Fridays request. Although I personally don't eat meat on Fridays anyway, I think it adds to overall confusion when church rules are restricted to certain geographical locations only.

    I know what you mean about long sermons followed by a visiting missionary or speaker who goes on and on. I usually check my pulse several times when he's speaking to check I'm still alive.

    At least if I were to die I'd avoid the missionary's second collection on the way out after Mass.

    (Thinks) My sense of humour is getting worse.

    God bless.

  25. This is a good post, Mary. I have been involved in the Ecclesia Dei (now Summorum Pontificum) movement since 1999. The condemnation of the Novus Ordo by some comes from principally two areas: (1) the massive liturgical abuse in the Novus Ordo and the refusal by bishops to end it, thus offending the spiritual sensitivities of those who just want the priest (and bishop) to "say the black and do the red"; and (2) the active and vicious persecution by bishops, priests, cardinals and fellow laity of those who justly wanted access to the Traditional Latin Mass.

    I don't engage in the silly "My Mass is better than your Mass" stuff, nor will I comment on any sites that foment division. Pope Benedict xvi clarified for the entire Church the value of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in both the Extraordinary Form and the Ordinary Form when he wrote Summorum Pontificum. That should be enough for everyone.

    I know for a fact that politics and a desire to hold on to power over people is behind a lot of the discord. Also, some bishops are still playing games with people who want the Traditional Latin Mass, making access difficult. The recent issuance of Universae Ecclesiae now makes bishops subject to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei under the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. If they don't like the Commissions rulings, they can appeal to Cardinal Burke, a well known supporter and peace maker regarding the Extraordinary Form.

    The discord is indeed the work of the devil, and, in fact, leads to very Protestant behavior by Catholics - the individual interpretation of laws, etc. The lesson in all of this is that sometimes we will suffer from our fellow Catholics in pursuance of a good. We can't let other people's accusations be an excuse for departing from charity. I have been called a heretic and a schismatic for seeking the restoration of the Traditional Mass in our diocese. It was a sign of fear on the part of those who really hate this sacred liturgy.

    I was also slandered by the bishop and his minions. I had to stand up to him with respect and send everything in writing to Rome. It was all very difficult, but the war was with the heresy of Modernism and the refusal to honor Pope John Paul II's request that bishops make the Traditional Mass available, and not any one person. Focus can be easily lost in these situations.

    Father Zuhlsdorf calls Pope Benedict the "Pope of Christian Unity". We should pray for that unity within the Church. And Colleen, if I had access to the Divine Liturgy of our eastern Churches, I would surely attend it, too, in light of my present circumstances. Unfortunately we only have a small Russian Orthodox congregation in our area and that won't do.

    Mary, I linked to your post on the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit because I think it is so important.

  26. Victor,
    I really snickered over this one! Soooo, what do you eat on Fridays - scones, perhaps? With a dash of marmalade? Sorry, can't resist needling you! I don't think anybody eats marmalade over here. Scones, on the other hand are rather tasty - you folks over in the UK may be on to something there. Mutton on the other hand....

    Dying at church doesn't seem to be such a bad thing at all :)

    Your sense of humor is awesome and always has been!

    As for the bishops and their words about not eating meat on Fridays - though it may be confusing to some, many Catholics already do this and at one time ALL Catholics did this, unless they cheated, of course :)

  27. Barb,
    Yes, I understand that the infighting goes both ways and that there are many Catholics who sincerely love the Latin Mass and do not have the opportunity to attend because of the refusal of some bishops to incorporate it into their diocese. As far as I know, my parish is the only one in this city which has the Latin Mass and this could very well be because of our pastor's great love of this language - he is a former Latin teacher. Plus, what I love about him is that he is an extemely reverent priest and he would never allow liturgical abuses in our church. Sadly, he is very ill and in the hospital right now so all the Latin Masses have been cancelled for the summer. My mother sings in the choir for both the New Mass and the Latin Mass so she is a bit disappointed.

    Barb, you are right in saying there have been terrible liturgical abuses of the New Mass over the years and perhaps this is one of the reasons why some of the proponents of the Latin Mass are so angry, and rightfully so. Having said that: this still does not give them the authority to make a mockery of all Novus Ordo Masses and when they claim that these Masses are invalid they have stepped WAY over the boundaries of their rights as Catholics and have stepped into the realm of heresy. These are the folks I am speaking about in my post and we all know that these sites are out there.

    You are far more knowledgeable than I in this area as I can see from your comment above :) I DO pray for unity among Catholics and my prayer is that people will use DIALOGUE rather than the sword of their tongues to overcome the problems within our Church. Thanks for sharing your story concerning liturgical abuses in the New Mass and your desire to seek the restoration of the Latin Mass.

    Thank you, also, for linking up my post on Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Many people must be concerned about this unforgivable sin because I've had a phenomenal amount of visitors the last few days and it started on the day I posted about this sin. God Bless!

  28. "Having said that: this still does not give them the authority to make a mockery of all Novus Ordo Masses and when they claim that these Masses are invalid they have stepped WAY over the boundaries of their rights as Catholics and have stepped into the realm of heresy. These are the folks I am speaking about in my post and we all know that these sites are out there."

    Exactly, Mary. The claimants are merely a symptom of a far greater problem, though, and don't realize they are pawns being played by Church politicians. They believe they are dealing with spiritual and salvation issues and don't see they are being used. When those in power in the Church - of whatever stripe - abuse their power, unless we are very careful, their lack of charity can lead us into sin. I believe this is what has happened at the sites you are talking about.

    Whenever I see the kind of ugliness you are talking about I ask, "Who benefits?" It is not those who are carrying the water for the politicians. I can't visit those sites or read that stuff because it upsets me so much.

    Pope Benedict gave us Summorum Pontificum and now Universae Ecclesiae. He has affirmed the hermeneutic of continuity with those documents. With that, we have won the terrible battle against those inside the Church who have been working so hard to tear her apart and destroy authentic Catholic teaching. We no longer have to fight for legitimacy. It has been acknowledged as the truth by the Pope.

    Now we need to focus on building strong, holy Catholic communities with a visible and definable Catholic identity. Continuing a fight that has already been won locks us in the past and makes us agents of the devil. I just wish people would give up their anger against past injustice and help the Holy Father.

  29. Well. I have been behind in my blog reading this week and had no idea of what I was missing! :)
    There was a discussion on one blog about whether or not to receive the Eucharist in the hand or on the tongue. The insults toward those who receive in the hand was so hurtful and uncharitable, I have not returned to that blog since.
    We Catholics seem to be exceedingly hard on each other and I find that distressful. Even if we disagree, we need to do so with love. Not with such harsh criticism.
    Thanks for this post.

  30. Thanks for your comment, Barb. I spent 20 minutes writing out a response to it over at your blog and the blog monster thieved it! It was partly my fault because I entered an incorrect captcha code and when I hit back it was gone :)
    You are right in saying that we need focus on building up the the Church and helping the Holy Father. He has worked very hard to promote unity and doesn't need to deal with all these factions within the Church.

  31. Colleen,
    I have read about the hand versus tongue arguments, also, and have been appalled by the vicious remarks in the comment sections. There are a number of blogs that I have stopped reading because of this. It would help those who only receive on the tongue if they would understand that most younger people were TAUGHT to receive in the hand only. When my daughter made her first Communion I taught her both so that she would feel comfortable either way. Anyway, the truth is that though folks may think it is more reverent to receive on the tongue the point that they are missing is that true reverence lies in the heart. They have no way of knowing what is in the heart of people who take Communion in the hand and should not judge them. Thanks for commenting!

  32. Hi Mary, Just wanted you to know I tweeted this post again because you did a good job of elucidating the fact that the bottom line is not "my Mass vs. your Mass", the bottom line is always the Bible tells us over & over again! Whatever Mass we choose to attend, if we use it as a club to hit folks over the head with, we're clanging cymbals, like 1 Cor.13 says!

  33. Thank you, Therese (I know this isn't your real name but I am still using it out of respect for your privacy :) I think a lot of Catholics are getting fed up with the endless bickering that goes on and would like to see folks focussing on the building up of our Church not tearing it down. As you refer to here - it's all about love!

  34. Does this post not qualify as "infighting"? I don't particularly engage in the debate you are referring to, but I don't think there's anything wrong with debate in the Church.

  35. Lisa,
    Perhaps to some folks it may, I considered this. The problem being encountered among many bloggers is the fact that this Catholic infighting goes far beyond the word debate and enters into the realm of uncharity to the nth degree. I actually considered not touching the subject for the very reason that you mention above until I came upon a couple of sites where I was repulsed to such a degree by the poisonous comments that I felt to keep my mouth shut at that point would border on sinfulness. I deeply love my Catholic faith and pray for unity all the time. In particular, I couldn't let the remarks about the invalidity of the Blessed Sacrament pass by - this is Jesus Himself that they mock. Bowing my head in shame for comments like this was not a joke. I offered reparation for these remarks.

    After looking at your comment, I again went over the post and comments, questioning myself and asking the Lord for guidance on this issue. To be honest with you, I think it needed to be brought up. I sincerely tried to write the post firmly but charitably with the exception of the comment of "bow their heads in shame". I considered removing it but left it because I feel it's a sin and shameful, indeed.

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. I don't think there's anything wrong with debate within the Church either but the posts I am speaking of here do not qualify for the term debate.

  36. For what it's worth, I think the nastiness is much worse online than it is in reality. People are much more civil when they're face to face.

    Not that it excuses anything, but I have to cling to the hope that it's not as bad as the online world can make it appear.

  37. Kathleen,
    I agree with you. The anonymity of writing online where nobody REALLY knows anyone else makes it a lot easier to be nasty. I rarely run into this infighting in my every day life. What a relief :)