Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Feminization of the Roman Catholic Church

I recently went to First Communion for Joseph B., a friend of my son Campion, at the Parish of St. Pius X, here in Tulsa. (Not to be confused with the SSPX -- this is a regular diocesan parish.*) One thing that I've noticed from my Mass365 project is that the liturgy varies from parish to parish and that although the liturgy of the cathedral is pretty reliably solid, it can get pretty far afield out in the parishes.
One example was Joseph's First Communion. You would think -- I would've thought, anyway -- that a First Communion Mass would be a fairly formal affair and the rubrics of the Mass would be more or less observed. Well if this is what you would think, you would be wrong. What a mess!
Rumblings of misgiving occurred when a week before the actual event, the children being catechized were instructed by the (female) DRE that all were to receive Communion in the hand -- none of that Communion on the tongue stuff allowed.
That necessitated a trip to see the pastor, Fr. Michael Knipe, who informed Joe's dad that there was "some misunderstanding" -- that he didn't intend for this to be the case. ("There was no misunderstanding", his father told me.) A follow-up revealed that a former pastor had indeed instructed that none of the children were to receive on the tongue, but apparently the DRE or whatever, had never changed this directive. All of which begs the question: who is running the church?
The Mass itself was a liturgical train-wreck, with all of the children lining up to do the readings. (I hate this practice, by the way. My understanding is that there is an indult for allowing lay persons to read -- but only in extraordinary circumstances.) The kids stumbled and mumbled through it -- including one young girl who climbed up to the podium turned a few pages and hurried away without saying anything -- and eventually the painful experience passed. The music was even more insipid than usual -- something about butterflies and God's love -- as done by an electric combo with a bass guitar and electric keyboard. I told someone later that it was like going to Mass and a country music concert broke out.
When it came time for First Communion, the candidates lined up in the back of the Church with their mothers (!) and each processed down to receive the host. As each youngster received Communion, their mother stood by next to them, then processed away without so much as a nod to Our Lord. After Mass the priest had some telling remarks, taking time to thank by name those who had instructed the children for First Communion. Tellingly, all of the five or six names he publicly thanked were female.
The only bright spot in the entire affair was that when it came time for little Joe to receive Our Lord, he did so in the traditional manner, receiving on the tongue. (Good show, Joe!)
Today my wife was telling me about some other friends of ours who attend a parish out in the hinterlands, and whose DRE (again, female, it goes almost without saying) began a talk with "I don't believe all of what the Church teaches; here's what I believe." As I like to say, there's a word for someone who believes 98% of what the Catholic Church teaches: "Protestant".
Leon Podles wrote an entire book about the feminization of the Church about a decade or so ago. (http://tinyurl.com/podles -- I've never read it, though.) Podles' jeremiad has apparently fallen on deaf ears.
Now I'm not one to bitch and moan about the state of the Church -- I'm really not. It gets old fast. And in fact, I'm full of hope as I get to know more and more of the people responsible for running and administering the church here in Tulsa. But really, something needs to be done. I'm happy to do it, I just don't know what it is. Letters to pastors? Letters to the Eastern Oklahoma Catholic? What? Any suggestions?
Ben
*Sitting there at St. Pius X Church, examining the late-60's architecture (think "church in the round") I couldn't help but wonder what Pope St. Pius X must think about this monstrosity of modernism committed in his name.

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