Cleansing Fire

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I Think Calling This “Illicit” Is Being Too Kind…

December 27th, 2010, Promulgated by Dr. K

The Diocese of Rochester has witnessed far too many liturgical abuses during the tumultuous tenure of Bishop Matthew Clark. These abuses have ranged from the less serious, such as priests omitting “for us men” from the Creed or inviting a lay person to sprinkle holy water during the Aspereges ritual, to the more serious, such as lay people hearing Confessions and donning priestly vestments during Masses at Corpus Christi. The latest liturgical buffoonery to take place in our backward diocese I would most certainly rate in the “more serious” category.

St. Monica church in the city Southwest had a special children’s Christmas pageant that was scheduled to take place before their Christmas Eve Mass. Surely there is nothing wrong with that idea, though I personally would much prefer performances to be held in the parish hall rather than the church proper. “My house shall be a house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13). It’s what happened after this pageant that is completely mind-boggling. As captured in a series of images seen below, children who took part in the pageant then proceeded to perform the various hand gestures reserved for the ordained priest during the consecration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ at the Christmas Eve Mass. I don’t know how better to describe this unexplainable action than to show you the images below. More can be found on the parish’s Facebook page. [Update 12/30- The album has been taken down by the parish]

I first thought that perhaps it was just a child or two duplicating the actions of the priest in admiration, but then I saw the other images where every child participated in the same mimicking of priestly gestures. Then I thought, perhaps this is sign language because St. Monica is home to the diocese’s deaf community. But then I thought, why would the people need to participate in sign language for the consecration, since we don’t recite the consecration and extend our hands over the gifts in non-signed Masses.

Simply put, there is no acceptable explanation for what is seen in these images. How is what is seen above any different than when Mary Ramerman of the excommunicated Spiritus Christi church (then worshiping at Corpus Christi) used to play priest and extend her hands over the gifts and elevate the chalice? The same kind of mimicking of actions reserved for the priest is going on in these pictures above, and the children appear to have been invited to perform a sort of pseudo-concelebration with the celebrant.

My friends, for anybody to participate in the consecration aside from an ordained priest is a blatant liturgical abuse, and perhaps one of the most serious abuses when one considers that the consecration is the highest point of our Catholic Mass. I encourage you to write to our bishop in order to seek answers about this, and to see that it does not happen again in this parish or any other. Please do not leave threatening phone calls or write threatening letters to the priest, as reportedly happened when some complained about the “Passion Mime,” but do try to civilly report this incident to our shepherd so as to put a stop to these illicit and highly inappropriate activities.

The bishop can be reached here:

Bishop Matthew Clark

Pastoral Center

Diocese of Rochester

1150 Buffalo Road

Rochester, New York 14624

I hope that people will write so that we can avoid another one of these in this diocese:

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17 Responses to “I Think Calling This “Illicit” Is Being Too Kind…”

  1. avatar Anonymous says:

    U can bet: There will be no comment from the Road of Buffalo’s

  2. avatar Matt says:

    Fr. Callan wants company.

  3. avatar Anonymous says:

    How long will this continue in Rochester, Oh Lord?

  4. avatar Scott says:

    This priest is Fr. Ray Fleming. My wife and I experienced the decent of this man first hand when we were involved in a program for troubled marriages in this diocese. As he did then, he continues to blur the lines between the ministerial and royal priesthood. He was actually happy that a fellow staff member had left the Church and found Christ in his new protestant church. Another loose cannon in the glorious DOR!

  5. avatar benanderson says:

    that’s what happens when you let the quarterback call his own plays instead of sticking with the playbook. Is it the playoffs yet?

  6. avatar Monk says:

    Isn’t this the abuse of innocent children to promote the priest’s personal agenda? This priest should be ashamed of himself and the Bishop should put an end to this liturgical AND child abuse immediately.

  7. avatar Bill B. says:

    Scott — Is it possible that Fr. Flemming can be happy that the individual became happy in a Protestant church if the individual had problems in his / her life that were not helped by our church? Sometimes peoples problems cloud their thinking and they do things we think don’t fit; however, making change that eliminates a real problem (with the person) may be a good solution for them. When I was in High School, my friend left the church because of the personality of the pastor during a family problem. She is enraptured in her Jehovah Witness faith for the past fifty years. I don’t think we should be judgemental here at all. The mind is a terrible thing to mess up. If there is a real problem that cannot satisfy, let them go and be as faithfully happy as possible.

  8. avatar Bernie says:

    We witnessed the same abuse at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Henrietta many years ago. It was a regular children’s Mass. At Communion the kids passed the Body of the Lord -from one to the other- to the kids in the back of the crowd. That was the last time we went to Good Shepherd! That was so long ago I would have thought the practice would have been long banned by the diocese; apparently not.

    (You can probably figure out why Fr. Fleming is not wearing a chasuble at the Mass.)

    The kids in this picture, sadly, will be lost to the Church sooner and more permanently than if they had participated from the pews and fulfilled the roles proper to the laity. You can’t tell Father and his liturgy committee that, though. They know more than the accumulated wisdom of 2,000 years of Church tradition.

  9. avatar Anonymous says:

    Is Fr. Fleming trying to promote the priesthood? “See boys and GIRLS, when you all become priests or priestesses in the DOR, this is how you perform the consecration of our Lord. Besides, it’s just a symbol right?” That’s my interpretation of what’s going on at St. Monica’s.

  10. avatar Nerina says:

    First, I am sick and tired of people using children to advance certain agendas. The children don’t know any better, but the adults do and saying “it’s all for the children so they can be involved,” actually does a disservice to both the liturgy and the kids. I simply would not allow my children to participate in this type of Mass.

    Scott, my local priest feels the same as Fr. Fleming. He really sees no problem with people leaving the Catholic church if they find fulfillment elsewhere. Bill B. sees no problem with this approach. I have to vehemently disagree. Why should anyone be happy to see a fellow Catholic abandon the one, true Church for an imitation (as in the JWs) or incomplete presentation of the Truth as in other protestant churches? It is like giving patients a placebo all the while keeping the proven cure to oneself.

    I’m not saying that people can’t “feel” like they are more happy at other churches. As Catholics, though, intellectually and spiritually we know that it is through the Church and Her Sacraments that we receive the fullness of Christ’s grace. It breaks my heart to know that people who have received Christ in the Eucharist or His healing mercy in Confession have left Him for better music or better preaching or more hospitality in non-Catholic churches. I don’t care how “on fire” they appear at a different church, I always pray for their return.

  11. avatar A Catholic says:

    The worst part is that the average Rochester-area Catholic wouldn’t even know that what went on at that Mass was wrong. I have a family member who years ago went to the “Thursday night Mass” at Corpus Christi where a lot of similar nonsense went on (gathering around the altar and confusing ministerial roles). Now this family member has completely left the Church and believes in reincarnation. I think that the seeds of this person losing the faith were planted at Corpus Christi. No wonder our churches in this diocese are emptying. Thank you for making us aware of this.

  12. avatar Snowshoes says:

    Dr K, you’re correct, this is a serious liturgical abuse, and Nerina and Monk, this is child abuse of the absolute worst kind: spiritual child abuse. Not to detract an iota from the horror of child sexual abuse, which must never happen again, but this is a mortal sin, committed by the Priest during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and committed ON the children with the intention of seducing them away from the Mystical Body through mimicking mortally sinful behavior. Yes, we must pray and do penance, and appeal to the Bishop. Let us pray to the Holy Innocents, for the protection of all the children. After all, Herod only killed the mortal bodies of the Holy Innocents, Satan is after the immortal souls of our children.

  13. avatar Scott says:

    Bill B. Your argument is fallacious because the best chance for the salvation of this individual is to be found within the Catholic Church. Why would anyone, especially a Catholic priest, encourage someone to find happiness outside of the only Church through which salvation is accomplished. This is not a heresy but can be found in the magisterium’s document Dominus Iesus. It is clear that the “possibility” of salvation exists outside of the fold, although all these graces flow through Christ’s Church, the obstacles are far greater to overcome than with the benefit of the sacraments. Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t even Christian and you are excited for your friend when her salvation is in greater jeopardy than every before.

  14. avatar Bill B. says:

    Perhaps I did not come to a point. When a priest works with someone with problems, there comes a point where the person either believes the cleric or is nowhere to be near consoled in whatever solution offered. They walk away. What is a priest to do when they are not believed or the verbal help does not convince?

  15. avatar Scott says:

    Bill, there certainly are times in life when we all question not only who we are and the purpose of the trials we face and that of why we suffer. The answer to that question can only be found in uniting these sufferings with Christ’s on the Cross. When St. Paul speaks of what is lacking in Christ’s sufferings he is referring too our participation in these for our own purification. Putting the question to God about the meaning of our suffering is a way of being faithful to His will. God allows this because He intends to bring a greater good out of it. It is unfortunate that someone would leave the Church as a result of an experience with one or two individuals. It seems to be the scourge of our current time but the Church is so much more vast than your local priest or nun who descents from Her teachings. Let us prayer for the quick return of all those who find themselves separated from Holy Mother Church.

  16. avatar Louis E. says:

    Who can sincerely believe anything to be the eternal truth and not believe that everyone should believe likewise?(I’m saying this as a non-Christian who sincerely believes that no one should believe the defining claims of Christianity,but I expect every sincere Catholic to believe that everyone should be Catholic,every sincere Protestant to believe that everyone should be a Protestant,etc…or they are not sincere).


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