Zeal

This weekend the gospel readings used one of those words that you don’t hear a lot in modern society. “Zeal”

John 2 Verse 15 “His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for thy house will consume me.”

Being a writer I find word origin completely fascinating. Zeal comes from the Greek root word zêlos. This also happens to be the root word for jealous. If you think about it kind of makes sense, zeal or zealous and jealous, are kind of two sides of the same coin. Zeal and jealousy both stem from love. Unfortunately that is where the similarities end. Because where zeal is a form of authentic love, jealousy is a form of twisted love, if you can call it love at all, and tends to lead to anger and even hate.

But zeal is more than that. It is a love so powerful that you will stand up for what you believe in. It means you are committed, it means that you would be willing to be called a zealot with all it’s negative connotations, because you love what you are supporting so much.

Up to this point, a lot of what I have said was taken right from our priest’s Homily this week. So Thank you Father for putting it so clearly. But at this point I am going to diverge from what he said and get a bit more personal.

For a number of years I have felt like there was something missing from my life. Something that I was supposed to be doing that I was not. I have never really been able to put what it is into words, but in the last year or so it has started to at least become clearer. I have sort of a vague outline of what it is that I am meant to be doing. This weekend sitting in the pew, was like putting a pair of glasses on. Maybe not my glasses because I don’t know for sure what it is that I am to but let’s just say I think it has a lot to do with the idea of zeal. In particular the idea of so called “missionary zeal.”

To my wife and one else who I am sure is a little worried about that statement, that does not mean I plan to run off to Africa or anywhere else and be a missionary, it just means having that kind of a force guiding my life.

Two phrases that have I heard echoing in my head in the last two years have been “Thy will be done” Obviously from the Our Father, and “I am the hand maiden of the Lord” From Mary’s encounter with the Angel Gabriel. They are both saying the same thing, I put my life in Your hands. I don’t know what God had planned for me, but I think I now might at least have a path to follow.

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Saying Goodbye to our Parish

Saint Peter the Apostle
A week or so ago I talked about writing a letter to the Bishop. I decided that I would not post that letter, instead I decided I would post the letter that we wrote to our priest and the pastoral administrator about our decision to leave the parish.

Dear Father ######### and Mrs. ######## (pastoral administrator),

Yesterday, we officially pulled our names from the roster of parishioners at St Columba St Patrick’s parish. I wanted to write to you one more time and let you know why.

As we have discussed, we were not happy with some of the changes happening within the parish. Most notably Mrs. ######### giving the homily. Call it what like but that is really what is going on.

As you suggested I have contacted Bishop Clark. I have not heard anything back, but honestly I didn’t suspect I would. This is his policy that is allowing this to happen. I will note that even he says in his book Forward in Hope, that the changes he has made to the Rochester Diocese are not allowed by Church teachings. (if you would like to see what I am talking about read the section about the role of lay administrators starting on page 84.) Nor is it his place to make those changes.

With that in mind we have decided that it is better not to allow our children to be exposed to things like this. And it is better for us not to make coming to Mass a near occasion of sin. When I am so worried about, is Mrs. ####### going to give the homily today. What if she says something wrong? How to I cover the ears of all the kids? How do I explain to the kids after Mass that what they saw shouldn’t be happening? How do I explain to them why no one else in the pews has a problem with this? Instead of paying attention to the Mass and the miracle that is happening right in front of us. At that point going to Mass has become a near occasion of sin, if not actually a sin itself.

Respect of authority is a virtue but how can we teach that in an environment like this?

With all of that in mind, we have decided to leave the parish. Believe me this is not a decision that we take lightly. After a lot of prayer, and discussion with other people we are taking it. We are both deeply saddened by this choice because we felt like St Columba St Patrick had become our home.

Thank you and goodbye.

Back on the Wagon (not that wagon)

The day I started this site the goal was that I would post everyday, even if they were only really short updates. The three days passed before I posted the first post. So I am not doing so great with that. I got on a roll last week, and then I got utterly knocked down due to illness. I am still working on it. So Let me give you a quick update of what is going on in my life

The family and I are on the road to recovery. My wife is still sick, and several of the kids are not on antibiotics, but I think that we are finally on the mend.

I have made some progress on two of the stories that I am working on. One (part of the Cradle Universe more on that soon) I am just doing editing on, and the other one is a new story that I am trying to finish up for Every Photo Tells

Being sick the last week and a half means that now I have a backlog of slush to read for both Flying Island Press and The Mad Scientist Anthology. Honestly reading slush is one of my favorite parts of either of those jobs. So as much work as it is, it is not a bad thing.

Last week I finally sent my letter to the Bishop. I have thus far gotten exactly the response I expected from that letter, nothing. It has really only been a couple of days so I don’t really expect anything yet. I did send a copy to the priest at the parish in question, since he was the one who insisted that I contact the bishop in the first place. I have heard nothing from him either. I am debating sending a copy to the Pastoral administrator, just to see if I get a response. But then again that is not the point. The point is to make affect a change, not to get people angry.

So that is what I have been up to since last week.

A letter to the Bishop.

Saint Peter the Apostle
Well post #3 on my new blog and I am probably going to ruffle some feathers. That didn’t take long.

If you don’t know already I live within the Diocese of Rochester. We are a troubled Diocese. If you have any doubt of that you only need read a few of the posts on Cleansing Fire’s blog to see what I mean. For the first 5 years of living here I am afraid I was rather blind to the problems as our parish had one of the best priests within the diocese. That was not to last. He has since been sent to a parish that really does need him more than we do. Unfortunately, he is finding his work more than cut out for him, with a pastoral administrator who believes she is a priest, or at least believes she should be equal to a priest.

It is another pastoral administrator that is prompting the post. The administrator at our parish is a nice enough person. I say that up front because I don’t this to look like a personal vendetta against her. As a person, if I were to meet her on the street, I would probably like her. She is well versed in church teaching, even has a degree in theology to prove it. But that does not make her a priest, or ever give her the right to do things that are strictly against the teachings of the church.

It has gotten the the point that we (our family) has been parish hopping to avoid Mass becoming a near occasion of sin. Yes, I get angry when I see things like this, and I grumble about it. But not only that, but my children see is as well, and a good potion of them know better. Heck most of them know the parts of the Mass and who does what better than I do, especially the three older ones who are already alter servers.

I mean what am I supposed to tell my eldest daughter, who at one point wanted to be an altar sever when she was of the right age but was told that girls really aren’t supposed to be on the altar, and who wears a headscarf to Mass, when the lay pastoral administrator goes up on the altar and gives a homily (which by the way is NOT allowed Can. 767 §1. Among the forms of preaching, the homily, which is part of the liturgy itself and is reserved to a priest or deacon, is preeminent; in the homily the mysteries of faith and the norms of Christian life are to be explained from the sacred text during the course of the liturgical year.) that denounces the “archaic practice” of wearing headscarves and compares it to wearing a burka?

How am I supposed to stop the argument that I can see building between my two older children about the parts of the Mass and who can give the homily, when one of them uses the argument, “if the bishop says it is alright…”

Yes, that is right I said she is giving the Homily. Both she and the priest have denied that this is what she is doing, saying that instead she is reflecting on the Homily, but when the priest does not give a Homily there is nothing to reflect on. See again the problems at St Mary’s highlighted in this article. *side note we don’t attend St Mary’s but since there has already been an article about the specific problem there it is a good example.

We have written to both the priest and the pastoral administrator about the problem, on several occasions. The answer we got back was less than encouraging. Basically the answer was, we are following what the bishop has told us, and he knows more than you do, so why don’t you go talk to him.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this matter. I have prayed about it. A LOT. I have consulted with many lay people, other priests and deacons in and outside our diocese before and finally, today, sending the letter to Bishop Clark. I am not going to post the letter at this point (maybe soon) because I want to give Bishop Clark a chance to respond it in private. But considering his own writings on the matter I suspect that my letter will fall on deaf ears. I can only hope that is not the case.

** As a second side note, I started this post with the intent of posting the letter I sent to Bishop Clark, but as I said I want to give him a few days to respond before I do that.

I will say that there are good priests out there, even within out Diocese. They are probably even good priests out that are just afraid to stand up their pastoral administrators for fear of censure from the bishop. Please pray for them all.