Today is the feast day of one of my favorite saints, St. Monica. This is my favorite rendering of St. Monica, as I imagine that someone who lived a life of worry might have looked like this by the end of it. But St. Monica actually wasn't a sad person. She was patient and steadfast. And unstoppable.
Her parents married their Christian daughter off to a pagan with a hot temper. He wasn't the worst fellow but he did yell at her and tease her about her Christian fasting and charity work. Her mother in law was nasty to her and lived with them.
But Monica soldiered on and they both converted. Her husband was baptized a week before his death. Monica's super famous son, Augustine was 17 when his father died. Augustine was a wild child, even by today's standards and Monica followed him everywhere, much to his chagrine. He finally snuck out of town to Rome. She followed him there, not an easy thing to do back in those days, all on her own. When she finally arrived in Rome, she found he had gone to Milan. So off she went. We all know how Augustine turned out. He is once of the greatest saints and scholars the Church has ever know.
Thanks mom! Her story is pertinent to today's question from a reader:
A year ago we got a new priest at our parish. Over the year he has done numerous things to cause resentment in some of our congregation. I won't go into details, but I walked out of mass crying after his last "homily" wondering what he was doing being a Catholic priest. I wrote our Archbishop about some of the things he said and hoped that it would bring to light the need our area has for a conservative priest. I have never done anything like that before. I mean, we don't need a Latin priest, we at least need a priest who isn't so wishy washy on Catholic teaching. One that will uphold the faith, not denounce it from the pulpit. The churches in our area are fairly liberal as well. Lots of hand holding and drums. So what is a Catholic to do in this situation? It makes me ache that I can either go to a mass that feels more like a '60's sit-in or go to a mass where the priest says he can't defend or teach.
I wish you had gone into details, because it's actually impossible to address your question without them.
I think it was a good idea to write to the Archbishop about your concerns. He can tell you if the priest is way off base or not. I can't take your word for it, quite. I'm not saying you're wrong. I just have no way of knowing if you're right.
Because Jesus was not, by any means, a conservative person. His message was and remains a radical departure from normal human emotions and reactions. "Turn the other cheek?" Seriously? Who does that? "Take no shoes, take no purse?" He must mean that kind of symbolically, right? He must have just meant, "travel light".
But when we read everything He said, we come to understand, often with a rather sinking feeling, that He was dead serious. I've known people who have turned away from the Church because they just feel they can't possibly live up to what Jesus asked of them.
So I'd like to know more about what the priest is saying up there. Maybe he's just giving everyone that sinking feeling.
|This is a 60's sit in. No bongos. Just cheek turning.|
As far as going to a Mass that feels like a 60's sit in, take a tip from St. Monica. When she moved from her home to Rome and then to Milan, she felt completely at sea because the customs of all three places were differently. She was accustomed to fasting on Saturday. They didn't fast on Saturday in Milan.
I don't know why she couldn't just fast on her own on Saturday. Fasting is not exactly something you do with other people. I would understand it better if she was used to going to a Rosary circle on Saturday and the people of Milan did that on Tuesdays.
Maybe Monica understood the power of all manner of prayer when it is done with others, even if there are bongos involved.
She also went to the Archbishop, St. Ambrose, to ask how to proceed. This was his famous reply:
“When I am here, I do not fast on Saturday, but I fast when I am in Rome; do the same and always follow the custom and discipline of the Church as it is observed in the particular locality in which you find yourself.”
Yes, it was St. Ambrose who gave us the line, "When in Rome do as the Romans do." He didn't say it quite that way, much the way Humphrey Bogart actually never said, "Play it again, Sam." Nonetheless, that famous quote is from St. Ambrose to help St. Monica with exactly the type of problem you are having.
I think St. Ambrose is trying to help you now.