I have avoided posting on the current state of affairs over at St. Cronan, the parish that produced the would-be womenpriests and that is currently “co-pastored” by Sr. Louise Lears, herself already the subject of a canonical admonition.  As that parish contemplates its response to the pastoral initiatives of Archbishop Burke, I didn’t want to stir the pot unless something newsworthy or issue-substantive presented itself.

The parish’s bulletin for Low Sunday presents one such important issue.  It contains two items that fit hand-in-glove, highlighting an important reality for Catholic parishes–namely, that the orthodoxy of the leadership and catechetical materials of a parish have a direct impact on the orthodoxy of the parishioners.

The first item cites a recent study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life:

Parishioners’ Politics A small study by the Pew Forum on Religion 

and Public Life found huge differences in the types of political 

messages being emphasized from one parish to another, which may 

come as no surprise to anyone. But whichever subjects their priests 

address, said author Gregory Smith, people clearly are being 

influenced in their political thinking by what they hear from the pulpit 

and read in their parish bulletins. For instance, parishioners were more 

likely to have strict standards “for what it takes to be a ‘true Catholic” 

if they were in parishes where the priest regularly emphasized 

abortion and stem-cell research but rarely brought up messages such 

as poverty or the environment. In addition, there was a very close 

match between the information conveyed in the bulletins and the 

response from priests about what they said they emphasized.


Think about this excerpt for a moment.  I wonder if the readers–or the writers– of this bulletin grasp what this means.  The flip side of a parish where the parishioners were more likely to have “strict standards” for what it takes to be a ‘true Catholic’ (where the priest regularly emphasized abortion and stem-cell research but rarely brought up messages such as poverty or the environment) is a parish where the parishioners were more likely to have “lax standards” for what it takes to be a ‘true Catholic’ (where the priest doesn’t emphasize abortion and stem-cell research but does bring up messages such as poverty or the environment).

And the “close match” between the information conveyed in the bulletins and what the priests said they emphasized?  As if on cue, enter the so-called “Pastor’s Peace” section of the bulletin.  I put quotes around the title because the Pastor, Fr. Kleba, is not always the author of this article.  This week the reflection appears to have been written by Sr. Louise O. Lears (denoted by the “lol” appellation at then end of the piece).  An excerpt (emphases mine):

 

Last week, we heard how most of the disciples fled in fear as the 

end drew near for Jesus; only the women remained with Jesus at 

the foot of the cross. Yet, in our first reading from Acts this 

weekend, Jesus’ disciples are devoting themselves to hearing the 

Word, sharing their goods with one another, breaking bread in 

their homes and, as we will see later in Acts, feeding the hungry, 

curing the sick, and proclaiming the good news to the world. 

Though the narrative in Acts might be a romanticized and 

embellished description of the early church, something had clearly 

changed.  

 

Indeed, everything had changed. Jesus had risen from the dead, 

appeared to his followers and breathed the Spirit on them. Note 

that this change, both in the individual disciples and in the faith 

community, didn’t start with guidelines from a catechism or 

dogmas pronounced by church leaders. What came first for the 

early followers and what still comes first for us, is our relationship 

with the Risen Christ, who returned to give us his abiding, 

guiding, and strengthening Spirit. That is the foundation of our 

faith…


The foregoing excerpt surely tends to prove the truthfulness of the first piece, above.  This article begins with a factual inaccuracy, moves on to expressing a doubt about the historical veracity of the New Testament, then minimizes the importance of the catechism and dogmas declared by the Church, and finishes by saying that all that matters is our “relationship” with the Risen Christ.  This, in a nutshell, is an example of the modernist heresy.  


Pope St. Pius X analyzed this type of religious expression very well.  For the modernist, the dogmas of the Church are irrelevant; all that matters is the interior experience of the believer. The modernist employs a historical-critical method of interpreting scripture, beginning with a fundamental distrust of the accuracy of the text and a discounting of the miraculous or otherwise supernatural elements of the scriptures.  Thus, the modernist reasons backwards, and outwards– backwards from the time period of today, superimposing modern experience upon an ancient time and place, and outwards, imposing his interior, subjective experience onto the written account of the persons in the scriptural account.


Let’s analyze the excerpt from the bulletin with this in mind.  First, it is simply not true that only the women remained at the foot of the cross.  St. John was there, and Jesus entrusted His Mother to him, and the disciple to His Mother.  This is historical reality, and a beautiful symbol of the Motherhood of Mary in relation to the Church and to the faithful Catholic.  To say that only the women remained (if there isn’t merely a typographical error) is deceptive, either intentionally or unintentionally.


Secondly, the writer opines that St. Luke may have related an embellished and romanticized description of the early Church.  Of course, there is no foundation laid for this insinuation– an insinuation that ought to be considered scandalous but which in these days is merely a yawn-inducing repetition of what so many other “progressives” say.  Of course, she says, changes occurred in the Church.  Here’s the rub:  according to the reasoning of the writer, we cannot be sure of exactly what the change was, but we can be sure that it didn’t occur because of any dogmas declared by Church leaders or any “catechism”.  Really?  How can we know anything, if the scriptural account is unreliable, embellished and romanticized?


The above excerpt, reinforced by the rest of the “Pastor’s Peace” article, serves as a type of apology for the rejection of infallible Church teaching against the possibility of women’s ordination and of the response thought proper to the admonitions of the Archbishop concerning this issue.  


You see, only the women remained faithful to the real Christ at the foot of the cross!  They experienced the Risen Christ, not some narrow, imposed-from-without dogma or catechism! The unreliable, embellished, interpreted-to-reinforce-the-male-hierarchy scripture must be reinterpreted to fit the feminist model or else be disregarded!


Very instructive.  The bulletin begs two questions:  what kind of faith does it reflect, and what kind of faith does it impart?