Category Archives: Church Stuff

A lay Catholic man watches “The Sisterhood”

There are some spoilers in this review.

I’m a lay, single Catholic man, which is probably not the target audience of “The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns,” now airing on Lifetime, a network I don’t watch (I don’t even have cable). Still, my journalist instincts tell me I should watch this; it is an important show for Catholics for multiple reasons:

  1. It’s a mainstream reality show set in the Catholic world, and it appears there will be at least an effort to treat the subjects with respect.
  2. There are a lot of ways this could go wrong.
  3. There aren’t a lot of positive portrayals of Catholicism in the media, period, these days.
  4. The female religious life is struggling in the U.S. and could use a boost, especially in young women, as most orders are aging. Now, how many young nuns do you know? I know one (the lovely Sister Alicia Torres, ministering on the West Side of Chicago, where I really should pay her a visit). Most of you probably know zero. How many older nuns do you know? You may know a few. Some nuns who taught me in grade school are still alive, so there’s that.

So I [ugh] got the Lifetime channel added on my Roku (it doesn’t stream live, only offers on-demand episodes), and watched the first episode the day after it aired, then again after I said goodbye to my Thanksgiving visitors. Here are my thoughts — a note that one of the cast members, Claire, is a friend of one of my sisters and I’ve met her a couple times.

(Photo credit: Lifetime.)

(Photo credit: Lifetime.)

 

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Visting a very secular wedding

I may be Catholic, but many of my associates from work and college are not. Nonetheless, they still get married, believe it or not. And as such, I get invited to these weddings.

It’s not what I am used to, of course. There is something to be said for the Catholic rite, which eliminates a ton (though not all) of the stupidity you find in much modern wedding ceremonies. So really, I am unaccustomed to non-Catholic weddings, and even less so to weddings that don’t mention God at all.

That was the case here; he’s an atheist and she (the coworker) more or less sorta is. On many important issues, we disagree. But we acknowledge the goodwill of the other; Pope Francis would, I hope, be proud.

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Their paranoia, our pain in the rear

I understand, of course, why the Church is kind of paranoid about bad news in regards to sex abuse. We all get that. But I am beginning to wonder whether some of their safeguards are designed more for CYA than actually being effective at preventing abuse.

Let me give you a personal example.

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My first Extraordinary Form experiences

I blew it the first time.

At the CMAA colloquium, we had virtually everything we needed to follow along at the two Latin Masses during the week. The problem is that it was spread out throughout the 250-page book.

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Be nice to seminarians

One of the things that I think important, but rarely get to carry out, is encouraging seminarians in their vocations, even if they don’t end up becoming priests. We all should, of course; the problem is that I actually don’t know any seminarians. The fiance of the younger of my two sisters was in the seminary for four years, but that doesn’t count. (Note: he met my sister after he left the seminary.)

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Considering Communion on the tongue

The CMAA Colloquium is encouraging everyone attending to receive Communion on the tongue (at the Extraordinary Form, of course, it’s the norm), and at least at the first OF Mass they did, they made it very difficult to receive in any other fashion. (I’m not sure that’s OK, but I’m not a liturgical expert. If anyone out there can enlighten me, that would be appreciated.)

So, OK, I’m here this week to learn new things and try new things, and I don’t think I had ever received Communion on the tongue.

So I knelt at a gap in the communion rail (because of course there was a gap). A couple things I noticed from the experience:

Communion went pretty quick. Makes sense. It’s faster to have one person moving and a bunch of people waiting in position.

Receiving the Eucharist did seem more intimate at the Communion rail. That much I liked.

And really, I actually kind of liked the experience. Considering that and the practical consideration of speed, I wouldn’t object to the reinstitution of Communion on the tongue, nor to the use of the Communion rail, in a parish I work at.

For the people of Holy Cross, Batavia

Hang in there.

The news you got is less than happy, of course. (For those who don’t know, their pastor, Msgr. Aaron Brodeski, was arrested for indecent exposure.) It’s been a long time since I played there, at least a decade. But I knew a few people who went there, and I’ve chatted with one of the parochial vicars a couple times at confirmation (where he was master of ceremonies), and I’m a nearby Catholic, so I feel very bad and send my sympathies. A few related thoughts:

Don’t presume he’s guilty, but be prepared for it. We don’t know how the legal process will work out. It is possible that he’s innocent, but, of course, there’s the other possible result.

Surround everyone with prayer.  That includes Msgr. Brodeski, your parish, and the victims. If he’s guilty, Msgr. Brodeski likely will need plenty of treatment and counseling if he’s ever to resume ministry, which is probably not a given. The parish is in flux. The victims are potentially traumatized. That’s a lot of pain, and everyone needs support.

See to the other priests. They have lived with Msgr. Brodeski and probably consider him a friend. And they’re baby priests, who need encouragement and care anyway.

Remember that the faith isn’t dependent on us fallible men. Remember the crucifixion? The apostles were all screwups. We’ve had bad priests, bad bishops, and bad popes.  Our faith isn’t in men, but in God.

Remember that priests are human. And they have a terribly challenging job, one where Satan is cheerily after them. It’s high-stress work. with a zillion demands and everyone dumping their problems on them and expecting them to solve them. If the stress gets to them and they don’t have a proper release, it can manifest in destructive ways.

Hang in there, friends. You’re in my thoughts and prayers. May God bless you and help you work through this very difficult time.