Skip to comments.A Traditional Catholic Teen Looks At His Modern Parish
Posted on 12/30/2003 5:28:56 PM PST by Land of the Irish
Ryan Mulvey, a 15-year-old parishioner at Saint Gregory the Great in Scripps Ranch, first contacted News Notes with a subscription request. He also requested that the "Roamin' Catholic" pay a visit to Saint Gregory the Great parish and report on the liturgical conditions there. Mulvey had quite a bit to relate about his experience dealing with liturgical problems in the parish. The following interview was done by email.
Ryan, would you tell us about your family, and their role in the formation of your faith?
From a very young age I remember that my Polish grandmother was most instrumental in forming my faith. She was a very devout Roman Catholic. After my grandmother's death I went through her old library. Among the hundreds of books in her tiny New York apartment, I found many old Catholic textbooks, prayer books, and missals. I was only eight or nine. I remember looking at the photographs of the priests saying the old Mass.
Describe your religious education.
I have been in public school my entire scholastic career. But I was enrolled in catechism classes at Saint Gregory's from as early as I remember until eighth grade when I entered the Confirmation program. However, I would say that the bulk of my religious education has come from independent reading and correspondence. In addition to my own reading, I have taken an active part in Marian societies and organizations that have supplemented my "religious" education. I am a member of the Militia Immaculata and am considering consecration according to Saint Louis de Montfort. I am a supporter of the American Society for Tradition, Family and Property and their America Needs Fatima campaign.
Have you considered giving your life to God and Our Lady as a priest?
Yes, I have. I truly want to serve God as a priest. I have wanted to serve God as a priest since kindergarten. Ever since then, my grandparents and even my kindergarten teacher, who was an Irish Catholic, have been there to reinforce my vocation. I still have not yet determined whether I would want to be a diocesan priest or religious. I have researched and inquired to several orders, including the Fraternity of Saint Peter and Institute of Christ the King. The fear I have of entering the diocesan priesthood is of having to endure a blizzard of anti-Catholic teaching in the seminary. I have read of many things that go on at Saint Francis Seminary.
What do you recall about Saint Gregory church before moving into the new building?
I believe I was about four or five years old when we moved to Scripps Ranch. Until then we had attended Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, where I was baptized, and Blessed Sacrament, where my sister was baptized. From what I remember, both these churches were magnificent structures and gigantic to me when I was a child. When we moved to Saint Gregory it was a shock to go to Mass beneath a Jack in the Box administrative office and a Geico Insurance building. Mass was held in an old office building with folding chairs and no kneelers. Now that I look back, it was perhaps a perfect example of what traditional Catholics criticize. There were no kneelers, an altar that I believe a parishioner had made, a band with guitars and bongo drums, and lay eucharistic ministers. The baptismal font was a wooden structure at the office building doors. Our Tabernacle was in what would have been a storage closet that was painted a dark color and had a smaller kneeler and veil for confession. Though I didn't approve of liturgical practices, I can't deny that the small and growing parish was very spiritual and sincere. The altar cloth used at the dedication of our new church building was woven by us, the parishioners, in the office building where all could see it being completed.
What is your own perception of the new parish church?
I remember being a young kid when the architectural model of the new church building was put on display at the old parish. I remember thinking that the model does not even look like a Catholic church. The original design even had a moat, if I remember correctly, running around the main church building. Many people call Saint Gregory's beautiful. I won't disagree. But it's not the type of building I envision as a Catholic church. There is only one statue of Mary! When the Church was still under construction I stopped by with my father to see the installation of the pews. I was amazed to find that the cross next to the altar had no corpus on it. I figured that this was just temporary until the corpus was installed at a later date. My grandfather and I would joke about it being a Protestant cross, which in my mind it is. Father Jim, our pastor, was in the church that day, and I ran into him and asked him about it. The excuse given was that there would be an icon in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. And that Chapel is another poor feature of our church. The Real Body of Our Lord is housed in a bird feeder, as you said in "Roamin' Catholic." It's a pedestal with a glass box on top in an empty room. No reverence is shown for the Blessed Sacrament. There are no statues, no confessional boxes, no crucifixes, no stained glass windows. The church is even built in the round; why...? To me, Saint Gregory's is a beautiful place with architecture suitable for a concert hall or meeting room. But to me, Saint Gregory's architecture is a poor representation of the traditions and history of the Roman Catholic Church.
What things do you see as problematic in the liturgical celebrations you attend?
There are so many liturgical abuses prevalent in the Masses at Saint Gregory. In general, most of the abuses are not from Father Jim, but from visiting priests such as Father John [Gubbins]. There are no acolytes, but there are family servers. Entire families are allowed to serve the Masses. Many times I sit in the pew wondering why does God allow such disrespect. Many of the servers are not dressed properly at all and some of the much younger servers are inadequate and are not properly trained or mature enough to serve at the altar of God. Grown women and young girls are both allowed to be active servers, even though canon law and decrees by the American bishops allow such practices only if there aren't enough men or boys. Many of the songs that we sing have bongo drums or electric guitars accompanying the congregation. Rarely is the organ used at the 11:00 o'clock Mass that I attend. During the creed, few people bow or genuflect at: "...He was born of the Virgin Mary...." And many of the people who receive communion do so in the hand and show grave disrespect for Christ in the Eucharist. I think it's a shame when I go to church, hoping for a more traditional priest, like Father Ed, another naval chaplain who recently celebrated his Golden Jubilee, and am disappointed to find Father John. Father John is a very nice man, but from what I have seen he does not represent the priesthood as it should be.
I usually follow along with my Novus Ordo missal, so I know that Father John changes and deletes words and entire prayers, and he adds words that aren't there. Father John used the Fourth Eucharistic Prayer for the Feast of Saint John Lateran and he changed the first few paragraphs about the creation of Man, his fall and the salvation brought to us by Christ Jesus. Father John made the entire section gender neutral, which came out as nonsense. Often during the Offertory, when Father should say: "Pray brethren...," it comes out "pray friends" or "pray my brothers and sisters." Even during the Nicene Creed "for us men and our salvation..." is changed. These seemingly harmless liturgical abuses grow more harmful as they add up and soon the Mass you attend is no longer Catholic.
What study have you done to qualify you to make judgments in this area?
I avidly read Scripture and books on the Church. I am very traditional, but I read books from all sides of the spectrum: the Pius X Society, Fraternity of Saint Peter, moderates, sedevacantists, liberals, even revolutionaries. By reading such material I can gain a better understanding of the political landscape of the modern church. There are reasons behind every movement and if I can dissect those reasons I can gain a better understanding of the real problems in the Church. I believe that even though I have no theological degree I can still look at what's happening around me and think: this is not right and is an abuse of Church law and teaching.
What have you done to bring these problems to the attention of your pastor, and what response have you received?
Though I rarely bring up other points, as I would just be ignored or made to feel bad, I do bring up the point of altar boys often. Some of my friends and myself have repeatedly asked Father Jim why we don't have altar boys and asked if we can have at least one Sunday Mass with traditional acolytes. For a few years, every few months we would ask him, and yet the answer would always be the same: No. The response has always been no, followed by comments along the lines of, "What would Jesus want? Would Jesus turn away females or adults who want to serve God? Shouldn't anybody be allowed to serve God?" One of my favorites was that "in the old days," altar boys were a problem because they stopped people from serving God when they wanted to and God probably didn't like that. It makes no sense to deny us, a group of boys from middle school to high school age, the right to serve at the altar of God, when it is our priority according to canon law. Why is a priest, who should be following canon law, denying some boys the privilege, of serving at the altar? This blatant disrespect for the codes that govern our Church makes me so confused.
What exactly do you want your pastor to do for you?
I would first want Father Jim to get rid of altar serving families. There is no historical or traditional justification; no canonical justification either. Point is: there are boys willing and they should not be denied and ignored. Second, I would like to see more traditional priests visiting and teaching real Catholic orthodoxy. I would also like Father Jim, Father Ed, and Father John to begin to talk about the real big things: abortion, premarital sex, euthanasia, Communism/Socialism, liberalism, Hell. No more "I love you, you love me, we're one happy ecumenical family." Finally, I would like to see more traditional music, fewer bongo drums. And perhaps a little more respect for the Real Presence.
Do your family and friends share your concerns? What have they done?
Some of my friends share my concerns, though I wouldn't say most of them are as interested in liturgical abuses as I am. I really would like to see change at Saint Gregory's. My father especially shares my views and would like to see change as well. Many Sundays, we discuss the liturgical abuses of the morning on the way home from church. My grandfather shares the same views as well, but is rarely here in San Diego. Unfortunately, my father, family, and friends have done little, though they have often thought of doing so.
If you are so concerned about the liturgical abuses you see, why do you and your family remain at Saint Gregory? Have you considered the traditional Latin rite Mass or an Eastern rite?
My father goes to the Indult Mass at Holy Cross Cemetery. Though we have been a few times, it is very inconvenient and unconventional for us to attend. I can tell you that when I went to Holy Cross Cemetery after 15 years of being a Novus Ordo-raised Catholic, it was like being on a different planet. I had studied those pictures and words in my grandmother's missal for so long, and now I was actually experiencing the Mass of All Time, the Mass that my parents were baptized with, my grandparents married in, my great-grandparents buried in; it was so exhilarating and awe-inspiring. I would not hesitate to say that it was the best Mass that I have ever attended. I look forward to attending again, perhaps for a Solemn High Pontifical Mass, when all the history and tradition of Christ's Church is present for a real sacrifice. As for an Eastern rite church, I plan on attending a Divine Liturgy some time in the future to experience the other side of Catholicism.
Are you willing to suffer all that God may send you as you carry out your efforts?
With God's help I am ready to persevere through anything thrown at me. With God and Mary, the Ever Virgin, I am not afraid of anything. Why should I be afraid when I know that God is there, when I know that the Catholic Church is the bride of Christ and will be there always. The Church Immortal will heal from the wounds of Vatican II. It may not be in my lifetime or in that of the posterity of my generation, but it will come. I hope that someday I can witness the glorious day of the recovery.
the Indult Mass at Holy Cross Cemetery
I read this on another forum and wasn't sure whether to believe it or not. This is confirmation. The first source I read stated that the Indult community originally had a parish but the SD bishop took it away and banished them to the mausoleum. He called it "a dead place for a dead liturgy." Those poor people are literally in the catacombs.
The scuttlebut is that the Curia was under tremendous pressure to send an LA bishop to Phoenix, effectively making the Phoenix diocese an adjunct to the LA diocese. Thank God that didn't happen.
This is a crack up.
The priest we got about 4 years ago is a real stickler! He was a convert from, I believe, the Baptist Church. His approach is somewhat different from other priests. People actually left the parish because of his "I'm a sinner, you're a sinner, except for the Grace of God and the Salvation of Christ" sermons. Didn't much like the candy coating removed.
He's very particular about showing the proper respect during Mass. A few weeks ago he began the Eucharistic Prayer and noticed someone was standing. He stopped and waited. The person remained standing. The priest went and sat down. Of course, if there is a medical condition that prevents kneeling, it's okay, but that was not the case on that Sunday.
His current soap box, if you will, is "just because society says it's okay, doesn't mean God thinks it is". People squirm. He's right though.
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