Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lenten news

Ash Wednesday is next week. It is the day which begins a cold and rainy season of moral introspection and penitence; it is one of the two High Holy Days for A&P (ashes and palms) Catholics, when the missing millions come back to church to score a freebie; and is is the kick-off of an important season of ecumenical silliness for Catholic clergy, when they will pray with Jews for the coming of the Messiah, and invite Protestant sects into our churches to teach us what the Gospel really says. The following paragraphs detail some of the Ash Wednesday events that have been advertised in the Advance. Some seem worthwhile; some seem outrageous. Judge for yourselves. But one note to my Cultural Catholic readers- remember to get your ashes as late in the day as possible, so as to avoid the embarrassment of publicly acknowledging your allegiance to Christ and membership in His Church.

  • Father Benedict Groeschel will come to St. Francis seminary (sorry- St. Francis Center for Spirituality, guffaw) on Ash Wednesday. Starting at 6:30, Confession will be heard, followed by a Mass and distribution of ashes. The article says that Mass will be followed by a "conference" on the subject of "The Call of the Gospel". A free-will offering is requested.
  • The disobedient, and apparently entrepreneurial, Jesuits of Mt. Manresa are also sponsoring an Ash Wednesday event. Entitled "An Ash Wednesday Evening of Reflection", for a mere $30 per person, you will get dinner, Mass, Confession and they'll throw in some ashes for free. By contrast, Alberto's on Bay St. is only charging $29.95 for 2 entrees, a bottle of wine and dessert for two. You can also purchase a $50 gift certificate there for only $25. Wow!
  • The disobedient Jesuits at Mt. Manresa are also sponsoring Taize prayer programs every Friday during Lent. Taize was the French "ecumenical" monastery founded by a Protestant, Roger Schutz, in 1940. While Taize is currently headed by a Roman Catholic layman, and "Brother" Roger did receive Communion from the hands of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, he never did renounce Protestant theology or formally join the Catholic Church. He apparently wanted Taize to be a bridge between the Catholic and Protestant worlds, sort of how the Anglican church sees itself to be. So, while there may be nothing overtly offensive in a Taize prayer program, surely the disobedient Jesuits at Mt. Manresa could have found something indisputably and genuinely Catholic to offer during Lent. Perhaps the Spiritual Exercises by the Dead White Male who founded their order?
  • Our Lady of Mount Carmel - St. Benedicta R. C. Church will be hosting an ecumenical prayer service every Thursday evening during Lent. Four Protestant ministers and one disobedient Jesuit from Mt. Manresa are scheduled to speak. 
  • A confusing article here, from the usually incomprehensible SI Advance. St. John's Episcopal and St. Mary's Catholic church (whose school is being closed down) are cooperating on ecumenical events this Lenten season. I think it says they will be having a joint Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner, Ash Wednesday distribution of ashes, and Bible studies. Can ecumenism save a dying parish? Is the answer to declining membership more doctrinal compromise?
  • St. Rita's is kicking off the Lenten season with an opera performance of Verdi's Requiem. I suppose that one could make a tenuous connection between the Requiem and a Catholic memento mori, but surely there could have been something better to do. I'm sure most people will come simply to hear the beautiful music.
  • For a free-will offering, you can attend a Lectio Divina on March 16th, at the St. Francis Center for Spirituality, which will include Confession, Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, prayer and Scripture reading. 
  • Also, Melissa Lanza, author of the book "In His Presence," will speak on Tuesday and also March 22 and 29 at Mother Franciska House of Prayer . The suggested donation is $10. I could buy the book on for $12.29.

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