My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Wonderful Holy Week at Spiritus Christi Church

Dear Blog Visitors:

I hope all of you had a wonderful Passover and Easter week. While the two celebrations don’t intersect each year, it is always a blessed event when they do, especially in consideration of the fact that one of the highlights of the Easter Vigil liturgy is the powerful Exodus reading that depicts the liberation of the Jews from their bondage in Egypt.

If you have followed my blog postings the past few months, you are aware that I am in what can perhaps be described as a state of limbo, in reference to my parish membership. While on paper, I continue to be registered as a parishioner at Blessed Sacrament Church in Rochester, New York, I am not allowed to receive Communion there, due to my recent ordination as a married priest. To recap, although I have heard nothing official from either the Rochester Diocese or the Vatican concerning my official status in the Roman Catholic Church, there have been statements from a few canon lawyers and bishops to the effect that by my actions, 1.) I have excommunicated myself; 2.) my ordination is valid, but illicit.

I still consider myself to be a Roman Catholic, although not in agreement with Rome on the issue of clerical celibacy. When I became ordained on December 10 by a married archbishop, I was not challenging any of the doctrines of the church. However, I did violate a long-standing policy – namely, celibacy. Since celibacy was not willed by Christ, and in consideration of the fact that the Apostles were married, if I am guilty of anything, it is my being guilty of a violation of a man-made rule.

Under current circumstances, I have four choices: 1.) continue to be a member of Blessed Sacrament Church and not receive Communion; 2.) go to other diocesan parishes, where I am not known, whenever I wish to receive Communion; 3.) renounce my ordination, which would allow me to have full sacramental access; 4.) join Spiritus Christi Church, which is independent of Vatican authority.

During Holy Week, I attended liturgies on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday at Spiritus Christi Church in Rochester. Since Spiritus Christi did not have an Easter Vigil liturgy, I attended this particular celebration at my long-time parish (Blessed Sacrament), although I did not receive Eucharist.

It is highly possible that I will become a member of Spiritus Christi Church. It is not simply the fact that I can receive Eucharist at Spiritus Christi that appeals to me. I found that during their liturgies the past week, I felt as though a weight was lifted from my shoulders – the weight being the outdated, heavy-handed policies of the Vatican.

On Holy Thursday, I heard a wonderful, inclusive homily by Reverend Mary Ramerman. I thought to myself that it is a tragedy indeed that the powers-that-be (Vatican) will not recognize the wonderful spiritual and pastoral gifts of this remarkable priest. During her homily and during the breaking-of-the-bread, I was struck by the inclusivity and compassion Mary reflected.

On Good Friday, Reverend Denise Donato gave a wonderful homily – a homily I will never forget. She spoke eloquently about what was ‘good’ about Good Friday. The homily was two-dimensional in this regard. The ‘good’ of Good Friday is that the Crucifixion, as tragic as it was, was nevertheless not the end of the story. It is the Resurrection that continues to give us hope. Denise then went on to tell a wonderful story about a woman she was counseling. (The woman had been going through some difficult circumstances.) When Denise asked her to think of a time God was present to her, the woman thought about the deaths of her grandparents, and how the sight and sound of a singing bird after both deaths gave her a sense that her grandparents were O.K. and that the promise of the Resurrection was indeed real. (Just as in the case of Mary Ramerman, Denise Donato is also a priest with just the right amount of spiritual and pastoral skills.)

Easter Sunday at Spiritus Christi was just what I needed that day: great music, an inclusive environment, a wonderful homily and a genuine invitation to the Lord’s table. In brief, I felt this was a liturgy that represented all that Christ willed to us. I was especially struck by Mary Ramerman’s statement that “this is not a Catholic table or a Protestant table; it is the Lord’s Table.” I was also inspired by Rev. Jim Callan’s homily, in which he drew parallels between Jesus and Martin Luther King. Jim emphasized that just as the mission of Jesus was not over with the Crucifixion, the work of Martin Luther King continues as well.

Concerning the Easter Vigil at Blessed Sacrament Church, it too was a wonderful event. The pastor, Rev. Robert Kennedy, has a reputation of being the best liturgist in the Rochester Diocese. So, everything was in place for a meaningful vigil. However, although this was an inspiring evening for me, sadness nevertheless engulfed me when it came time for Communion. (I sat in my pew as everyone else assembled received.)

I continue to be grateful to Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo for ordaining me as a married priest. Although I am excluded from the Eucharistic Table at Blessed Sacrament Church, I am grateful that this exclusion is not in place at Spiritus Christi Church. There is much the Roman Catholic hierarchy can learn from Spiritus Christi. Perhaps most important is the fact that Jesus did not exclude anyone from the table. Our bishops and cardinals will have a lot of explaining to do, if they have to give an account to Jesus in the next world concerning their heavy-handed tactics.

I like to think that if Jesus were to gaze down at the Eucharistic Tables of Roman Catholic parishes and Spiritus Christi Church, it is the Table of Spiritus Church that Jesus would find most appealing. Jesus preached inclusivity, as opposed to exclusion.

1 Comments:

Blogger BJ said...

Hi! I thought you and your readers might be interested in some post-Easter news about Pope Benedict XVI...
The Pope's car is being auctioned off to raise money for Habitat for Humanity:
www.buyacarvideos.com/popecar.htm
The bidding is already more than $200,000! Personally, I think this is a really fun and creative way to raise
money. The auction goes until April 14th if you and your readers want to check it out.

10:32 PM  

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