Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pope Francis to Celebrate Holy Thursday Mass in Prison

Pope Francis continues to shake things up.

Fr. Z expresses worries that I think are a bit overblown.  On the technical matter, St. John Lateran is not yet "officially" the Pope's Cathedral, so he wouldn't celebrate Mass there.  Of course that could change, but meh, I can't find myself worked up about it.

The fear that the changes will be received in the wrong way is a real one.  A lot of Pope Paul VI's moves, while fully orthodox, were done without much thinking to the long game in view, and caused pain which is still be worked out almost 50 years later.  Yet forgive me for being a snide kid, but really?  He isn't changing clerical celibacy, introducing a new practice in the liturgy (let's hope not), etc.  He is choosing to instead celebrate Mass in a prison, providing the liturgy to the downtrodden.

I also agree with my good friend Diane (I have a feeling we will be discussing things like this a lot after Church socials!) that we should remember Holy Thursday is about the inauguration of the priesthood. and celebrate that fact.  Yet I'm not sure that the Holy Father celebrating Mass in a prison undermines this or sends a different message.  What does a priest do?  A priest offers sacrifice.  What does a Catholic priest of the order of Melchizedek do?  That priest offers the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  One could celebrate the inauguration of the priesthood by immediately going out doing the work of the priest, in this case performing several corporal/spiritual works of mercy in visiting people in prison.  (Though I suppose if we were looking for symbolism, even better to do it on Holy Saturday, though I fear others not named Diane would engage in serious concern trolling then as well.)  Maybe the Holy Father could make this point specifically.

All this being said, there is one thing I worry about, and that is the washing of feet of women.  I understand why some people advocate doing this.  It isn't just washing the feet of the priests, but an act of service towards all.  As things currently stand, that just isn't what the rite is described as.  The rite is meant to be an act of solidarity between Christ and the priesthood, with lay men filling in when you don't have 12 extra priests whose feet one priest can wash.  People can argue if we should change it.  (I think we shouldn't.)  Yet in the end, things are what they currently are, and if the Pope does otherwise (as he had done in the past as a priest and bishop) it could only lead to further confusion.  Of course, the foot washing ceremony is completely optional, so maybe he will omit it.  (Though I doubt it.)

So if he does otherwise, am I going to like it?  No I won't.  It probably won't have too much of an impact on change if he does it.  Yet if one asks me, I hope he doesn't, because in the future, we very well could reach that point Fr. Z fears.


  1. Dear Mr. Tiernay. Those quick to defend the Bishop or Rome celebrating Mass in a prison would have been slow to have their Marriage or First Communion take place in their local prison.

    That is to say, it'd be mo'better that The Holy Thursday Holy Sacrifice of The Mass be offered on a High Altar inside a consecrated Catholic Church

  2. Well, it's Tierney. :)

    Those in prisons need Christ to. Christ himself ministered to Spirits in the prison of Sheol. So on that front, this is nothing but pure concern trolling.

    Do I think every priest should do it? No. do I think it should be done all the time? No. Am I going to explode in outrageous outrage because of it? Again, nope. It is what it is. I really don't feel that strongly about it one way or the other.

  3. Dear Mr. Tierney. Jesus did not offer Mass in prison but His Vicar will.

    Of course everyone needs Christ; men in prison, Whores in Brothels, Black Jack Dealers in Vegas; Homosexual men in Gay Bath Houses.

    You ok with a Bishop of Rome choosing a Brothel, Gambling Joint, or a Gay Bath House for the Holy Sacrifice of The Mass?

    Really, this is not just a matter of personal taste and our new Bishop of Rome has a totalitarian idea of humility and to which all Tradition and Papal Precedence must surrender; that is, the Papacy will not change him, he will change the Papacy.

    He occupies the most important office ever created because the office of The Papacy is Divinely-Designed but he will drag it down into the streets and that will be the new tradition.

    He refuses to live in the Apostolic Palace and he will in the building created to house the Cardinals in Rome for a Conclave (and no more calling them Princes seeing as how we no longer have a Papal Monarch but a Bishop; no Monarch, no Princes)

    Frankly, that is a building the poor living in the slums of Buenos Aires could never aspire to so a true act of humility would be for Pope Francis to resign and go back to his home or, failing that, at least just pitch a tent in the middle of Saint Peter's Square and roast rodents over raccoon dung.

  4. There's a HUGE difference between a brothel and a prison. A brothel is where people fall prey to their lusts in debauchery. A prison is where people are punished for crimes, with part of the hope being that when they leave, they are healed (or at least afraid of screwing up!) so they will not continue in crime.

    Who cares in what his residence is? Some of the greatest Kings and Emperors lived amongst their men. Nobody doubted they held regal power.

    When Theodosius put on sackloth and ashes as a sign of penance, you would be one of those claiming he was ruining the royal dignity of Caesar.

    So go ahead and don't like things this Pope does. I sure don't on several. But at least try to argue within the context of real tradition, to say nothing of coherence in doing so.

    I do thank you for proving the liberals right. Some have gotten so attached to the externals, they no longer see the internal things the externals were meant to force.

  5. Dear Mr. Tierney. There is a huge difference twixt a Prison and a consecrated Catholic Church.

    As to who cares where his residence is, he does; he will not live in anything called a palace for he is not a monarch; and if after all that he has done in so short of a time you think he holds regal power you are, how should I put this gently, right 'roun the bend....

    And I thank you for shedding your faux traditional disguise. Some are so convinced of the correctness of their own personal opinions that they think them normative for all soi disant traditionalists; that is, it is ok with you that the Bishop of Rome forswears ecclesiastical tradition but woe betide that man who disagrees with Mr. Tierney for in doing so he will be proving liberals right that he is to attached to externals.

    God Himself (exodus) was not unconcerned about externals and He commanded his priests to vest in splendor but the previous Bishop of Rome was right, we have made our peace with the French Revolution and our new democratic church don't need no steekin dignity or vestments or solemnity.

    I think this is a grand time to part ways. Thanks for the brief opportunity to have an exchange of ideas.

    Good Bye.

  6. Either way this is a lovely chance for people to see a difference between authentic tradition, and those who make an idol out of tradition.

    The papal residence is not an ecclesiastical tradition. The things involved in the liturgy are ecclesiastical traditions. The residence of the Roman Pontiff does not in any way relate to the essence of his authority. Moral Reprobates lived in splendid palaces, and great pontiffs lived in incredibly humble existence, even during times of growth for the Church.

    Now if the Pope were saying he didn't want to intervene where a Bishop was clearly a spiritual danger to his flock, not denying the right to do so but saying he wouldn't want to emphasize the wrong message, that would be a case worthy of criticism, and the saints have done such throughout the ages. Or if they decided to leave Rome in an attempt to curry favor with secular governments, as they did during the Avignon Papacy.

    That's the problem with some of my brethren. They make an idol out of tradition (where like the worst of the Eastern Orthodox they follow perceived antiquity simply for antiquities sake), just as many "conservatives" make an idol out of the status quo, and progressives make an idol out of novelty.

    I don't think you prove the liberals right because you disagree with me. I think you prove the liberals right, and then I go on to show why, because you make the job of loyal faithful traditionalists all the more difficult.

    As always, people are free to come here and express their opinions, but if they are wrong, they will not go unchallenged.

  7. And not to pile on.... but look at the photos of the "shanty" Pope Francis is living in.

    Simple fact: This apartment is nicer than most rich men have for houses.


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