Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bishop's Orders about Deacons Preaching: My Take

A bishop has ordered that deacons not preach at Mass - not regularly, anyway.
"...Deacons should preach the homily at Mass 'for some identifiable advantage for the faithful in the congregation, but not on a regular basis,' the bishop wrote...."
Lately, I've been adding a guest post to this blog each month:
Each of those "reflections" is what a deacon preached at the parish church, down the street here in Sauk Centre, Minnesota.

Which is exactly what a bishop said deacons mustn't do.

Does this mean that
  • I go to a heretic church?
    • Defying the authority of Rome?
    • And being pretty much wrong-headed?
  • The Catholic Church is in utter disarray?
    • Shattered by
      • Chaos?
      • Dissension?
    • Doomed!
  • All is lost
    • "...the center cannot hold;
      mere anarchy is loosed upon the world....


That's partly because I know a little about what kind of authority is behind the Catholic Church - and how the Church is organized.

Authority, being Catholic, and Getting a Grip

Some folks, understandably upset by 'in the spirit of Vatican II' weirdness, apparently decided that
  • The Pope had gone crazy
  • The Cardinals were plotting to destroy the Real True Catholic Church
    • Which was their little circle of friends and neighbors
  • And - again apparently - believed that the Holy Spirit had
    • Left Rome
    • Moved to their area
    • Was on speaking terms with somebody who agreed with them
      • And nobody else
Okay: 'traditional' Catholics who want everything the way they think it was in the 'Good Old Days' aren't always quite as wackadoo parochial as that.

And they're not just in America. I ran into this a couple of months ago, describing someone's run-in with a British Catholic blogger:
"...He and others of his mindset describe themselves as 'traditional Roman Catholics' who, as one put it recently without any apparent recognition of the irony, believe in being 'loyally obedient to the Pope's authority when that authority is exercised in conformity with the Faith.'..." (Austen Ivereigh1) [emphasis mine]
I'm a practicing Catholic, by the way - so I have to take Tradition seriously. That's Tradition with a capital "T." I've discussed Tradition, the Magisterium, and authority before. (October 2, 2008) Fairly often, actually, judging by what I got by clicking "authority" in the label cloud.

Speaking of authority, I've got the full teaching authority of "some guy with a blog." I don't speak for the Church.

Hundreds of Popes - Some Good, Some Not So Much

The Catholic Church has had hundreds of popes since my Lord appointed Peter. (Matthew 16:17-19) (June 15, 2011)

A big reason I converted to Catholicism is that I knew Church history: and what lousy leaders the Church has had from time to time. It just didn't seem reasonable that a human institution - no matter how well-organized - could have endured that sort of mismanagement.

I also learned just what 'papal infallibility' was.2 Applying Occam's Razor, the simplest explanation was that what the Catholic Church has been saying for about two millennia is true: the Holy Spirit is behind it.

With backing like that, I figured it made sense to sign up. Join. Convert. Whatever.

Where was I? Authority. The Catholic Church. Right.

Obedience, Hierarchy, and Other Counter-Cultural Stuff

I think quite a few Americans have trouble with the idea of obedience to authority, and being part of a hierarchical structure. It's probably a cultural thing.

I'm not all that enthusiastic about taking orders from somebody else - although my wife pointed out that it's not authority I have trouble with. It's pompous nitwits who think they speak with authority. (March 30, 2011)

When it comes to the Catholic Church, I don't have a problem - like I said, I know Who is backing it, and where the authority comes from. God, I can respect.

Being part of a hierarchy - pretty much at the opposite end from the Pope - has taken a little getting used to, and that's another topic.

Sauk Centre and Marquette: Same Church, Same Country; Different Dioceses

The Bishop of Marquette, Michigan, gave that order about deacons preaching. the Diocese of Marquette is in - of course - Michigan. Sauk Centre is in the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota. We're not even in the same region as Michigan dioceses.

We're all Catholics - but Bishop Alexander Sample's authority is, as far as I know, only over the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan. Not Minnesota dioceses. If Bishop John F. Kinney, of St. Cloud, Minnesota, orders priests in this diocese to stop asking their deacons to preach at somewhat-predictable intervals - we're Catholics, and we follow orders.

With some spectacular exceptions - and that's yet another topic.

Universal Church, Local Awareness

Just how many dioceses are there?
"...The Roman Catholic Church in its entirety contains more than 3,000 ecclesiastical jurisdictions, including over 600 archdioceses as well as military ordinariates, apostolic administrations, apostolic prefectures, apostolic vicariates, territorial and personal prelatures, and missions sui juris around the world...."
"List of Roman Catholic dioceses (structured view)," Wikipedia)
As I've said before, the Catholic Church is huge, and - literally - universal.

Having thousands of dioceses helps bishops deal with local cultures and circumstances. Liturgical dance, for example, is forbidden - and encouraged - by the Catholic Church. It depends on where you are.

Obedience and Me

Bishop Sample explained why he'd given the order - and it makes sense. There's more at the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan's website, www.dioceseofmarquette.org.

If Bishop Kinney decides to follow Bishop Sample's example - well, I'll miss the deacon's reflections, and getting those guest posts. But like I said: we're Catholics, and we follow orders.

But not blindly. And that's yet again another topic.

Sort-of-related posts:
1 News and views:


Brigid said...

Where's footnote number 2?

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Footnote #2 is now where it should be - and I found a part of the Background section that had dropped out of sight. I had a surprising amount of trouble with that part of the post.


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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.