By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK
School’s out for the summer. This good news for many of our young people also brings with it another phenomenon of pastoral concern for priests everywhere: absence from Mass of many families with young children for long periods not explained away by vacations.
Yes, some families do spend weekends away from home in the summer and it is not these that are of concern, as we certainly hope that they are attending Mass wherever they are. My family was rarely at our home parish on summer weekends. As sail-boaters we often attended Holy Mass in Annapolis, Md., or in other little towns around the Chesapeake Bay, our habitual cruising territory in season, or sometimes further afield, as far north as Canada and as far south as Florida. Amazingly, we faithfully found and attended Masses before the advent of cell phones and the Internet.
Though families now have more resources to aid them in finding a Catholic Mass on the Lord’s Day while away from home, there is still a tendency for some to connect practice of the faith with the school season. Coupling of parish participation with the school term often leads to a weakness of dropping out of connection with the parish during the same period that school is out of session. My concern, besides the obvious disobedience in regard to the Commandments which results in mortal sin, is the great possibility that parental indifference to the Lord’s Day may be a factor leading to loss of faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist for many of our young people.
If true, this factor may help to explain some of the high numbers of young people who drop out of parish life so quickly after Confirmation.
During my young adulthood away from home for the first time, it was my fundamental concept of Christ’s Eucharistic Presence at Catholic churches everywhere that compelled my faithfulness to Sunday Mass. We must continue to speak with clear and transparent words to our parents about the Commandments, one of which presumes their own Godly behavior for the benefit of our children: “Honor your Father and your Mother.”
As well, we must make clear that indifference is the opposite of love.
Pope Francis hosted members of the Franciscans of the Immaculate (FI) at the Casa Santa Marta on June 10. He addressed in more detail the Vatican intervention in the life of the order which has entailed more oversight in the formation of novices after closure of the FI’s own theologate and curtailment of public celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in the order’s apostolates.
The most significant comment of the Pope, which serves to shed greater clarity on the controversy which has unfortunately generated more heat than light, is that the FI use of the old rite is “an element that did not constitute part of the founding charisma of the institution.”
The Holy Father touches here on a matter of freedom for all members of the FI religious family. If the order was not founded clearly and plainly upon the charism of the use of the Traditional Latin Mass it seems that for the Pope this matter must be addressed before the order can move forward with respect for the freedom of all of the members of the institute. Unity within religious life is not optional and unity must be founded upon and realized in liturgy.
But, even more, the Pope wants both rites to be celebrated in authentic freedom made possible by rejection of any use of the old rite as an “ideological banner.”
I can certainly understand that Pope Francis feels the necessity to intervene where unity within a religious family has been fractured on his watch and under his personal authority.
I do, however, have reservations where it is not made clear that the Mass of Paul VI has been throughout the years frequently also used as an ideological banner of a very dangerous kind and in many cases still is so. Ideology in every case is always a danger to pastoral care in any instance.
As the Church at large adjusts to the reality of Summorum Pontificum, perhaps new orders founded after 2007, the year in which SP was promulgated, will have the advantage of avoiding this matter of the two rites which has become a “fly in the ointment” for the FI, resulting in bewilderment on the part of 40 members who have asked to be released from the religious family.
Perhaps FI founder Fr. Stephano Manelli will start a new branch and specify use of both rites within the order so that potential members will have full disclosure, something which Pope Francis seems to think was necessary and lacking the first time around. That one member at least has exited the order based upon a rejection of Vatican II reveals an aspect of concern for Pope Francis. He acknowledges the difficulties with Vatican II of a pastoral nature that exist on the part of some Catholics, including members of the FI. He stated that he follows the line of Benedict XVI, however, in which instead of outright rejection of the Second Vatican Council, one moves forward by reading the documents in continuity with the tradition because of the doctrinal elements which are treated by the council.
He advocates this hermeneutic as also developed also by Archbishop Agostino Marchetti, The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: A Counterpoint for the History of the Council, whose writing he has recommended by name.
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