Liturgically Abusive Husbands
On the Off the Record blog, Diogenes, as usual, had a great piece entitled "As perfect sacrifices go, Father, that was pretty bad." It's a further discussion of Fr. Vincent Capuano, S.J.'s recent article about liturgical abuse. One point of the article was to note that while priests can offer a Mass in private, one which they know to be valid and licit, while still attending the community's conventual Mass (which they may worry is neither valid nor licit), lay people have not this recourse. But further, certain lay people seem to be trapped in what Fr. Capuano describes as an abusive relationship. That is, these people know that what the priest is doing is wrong, they know that the Mass should be offered in a way very different from what they see, but yet they are unable to extricate themselves from the situation. And when I saw this passage from Fr. Capuano's article, I thought that it was a perfect description of the words and behavior I have seen in many students here at Cornell University. The passage from Fr. Capuano's article:
"The non-ordained don't have the option of celebrating a private Mass and many students and nuns suffer community Masses that are heterocultic. Many religious accept liturgical abuse in a manner similar to how a wife will often accept spousal abuse -- from a false sense of charity and tolerance. It is not that the perpetrator of abuse is completely evil, he often possesses many virtues and admirable qualities. The victim of liturgical abuse, like the victim of spousal abuse, wants to be forgiving, wants to practice tolerance, wants to be charitable. The abuser takes advantage of such desires and sentiments and continues to abuse."
Just the other night, Iacobus and I were talking with two friends, both of whom are pretty well set on the religious life: one in the CFR's and the other in the Legionnaries of Christ. They are also regular Mass attendants at the chaplaincy's Masses. One of them happened to bring up the fact that there would be no Mass on Tuesday, even though we have two priests here on campus, and they were both to be in town. After hearing this, the other friend thought that Iacobus or I had made some clucking sound of disapproval, and so snapped: "Oh, you never go anyway. What do you care?"
Which is true, of course, both of us never go, and we would gladly never attend another Novus Ordo, even one well done. So the four of us definitely have our differences, but the two of them had become party to the abusive relationship, so it seems to me, described by Fr. Capuano: my friend spoke in defense of the chaplains - he's probably heard me criticize them often enough - though he himself has a good idea why neither Iacobus nor I go. Importantly, he himself would wish things were much better at these Masses of the chaplaincy.
"It is not that the perpetrator of abuse is completely evil, he often possesses many virtues and admirable qualities."
Again, this line is a perfect description of our chaplains here at Cornell: by and large, such nice, friendly people, though dispossessed of a healthy sensus Catholicus while also being completely out of step with the Church of all time. In my interaction with the chaplains, they use their "virtues and admirable qualities" to great effect; they exude an aura of compromise and dialogue. The Church is big enough for many different views, many different styles of the Mass, they say. And in such an atmosphere, unless one is determined to see through the game, one can easily be lured into complacency and putting up with the status quo.
At the end of this academic year, most of the authors of this blog will leave Ithaca, NY for good (thank God!), this rotting little paradise of old hippies, middle aged lesbian women, and blinkered liberalism, and when we go, the chaplains will have one less thorn in their side. Fr. Capuano's analogy breaks down here, perhaps: in an abusive marriage, the end comes, and the wife separates herself from the source of danger; with these liturgically (and doctrinally) abusive priests, there's always a new woman to come along, especially on a college campus, the next class of Cornell students.
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