What’s a “faith community”?

What’s a “faith community”?

  • Many parishes are desperate to cover their weekend Masses, and some have resorted to communion services because of a legitimate shortage.  This diocese does not have a legitimate shortage, but Bishop Martino wants to behave as though they did.

    Is there something that is intended to come out of a manufactured priest shortage? 

  • I’m a priest who gladly celebrates Mass once on Saturday afternoon and three times on Sunday mornings.  On most weekends, I have no priest to help me so I am repsonsible for the whole schedule.  An elderly, retired priest celebrates Mass on Saturday mornings.  Often enough, a funeral or wedding, or a funeral AND a wedding are scheduled for a Saturday. That means that within 24 hours (Saturday morning to Sunday morning) I might celebrate Mass 6 times.  My diocese still has a priest in every parish, but not too many to spare.

    Genello’s comments are silly.  Maintenance and choir rehearsals should not be a pastor’s responsibilities, but there are many other tasks that demand his presence, preparation and time.  Of course, the celebration of Mass is the unique and highest gift a pastor offers to and for his parish, but he has other legitimate responsibilities,too, and a certain balance needs to be achieved.

    Finally, as one who lives these issues, I can tell you that there is wisdom in the canon cited.  Celebrating Masses, one after another, can easily have a negative impact on the pastor’s spirituality and his capacity to celebrate the liturgy reverently.

  • A seminary prof recommended that we should go to using the multiple wedding ceremony in one Mass, which is becoming the norm in some Latin American countries.  What I am trying to say is that one wedding would have six couples instead of just one.  I am very open to that idea.  I know the brides and their mothers would scream bloody murder, but I think this would be a good change in our silly American wedding culture.

    Here is a picture of the Diocese of Fall River’s Honduran mission’s multiple wedding day (7 couples).

  • Another option for weddings is that they be celebrated within a parish Mass, preferably right on Sunday, with the community that the couple is part of (or at least one of them belongs to). One of my fellow teachers celebrated her nuptials this way.

    This would be similar to the increasingly common practice of baptisms being celebrated during the Sunday Mass instead of in a private ceremony. And would help emphasize that marriage is not just a private affair or a family affair but is involves the whole community.

    A priest who is celebrating 3 or 5 or more Masses a day is also likely a priest who is not offering much time for confession, who is not leading benediction, and who is not celebrating the Office with his people (if he is even praying it privately). Mass is the most important prayer of the day, but it’s not the only important prayer.

  • Unbelievable…but typical.

    {{{{ – Mt 23:1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,

    2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:

    3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

    4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.   – }}}

    I could say much much more, but reading the Pharisees quibbling over the Catholic Talmudic jots and tittles in the Canon Law[s]…just would bring out the worst in me.

  • I agree with the the Bishop of Scranton on this one, but this should be only a first step in fixing the problems in his diocese.

    First some background…

    I grew up in the Diocese of Scranton and know that the hard-working priests of the diocese are strectched very thin. The number of masses they pray in a weekend was and is pushing them over the limit and resulted in poor liturgies and forgetable, ill-prepared homilies.

    The number of masses will not increase until more men are able to discern a call to the priesthood in the diocese. Good candidates are inspired by the Holy Spirit working through good liturgy, solid preaching, and strong male role models found in heterosexual priests. All three are in short supply in the diocese.

    The Diocese of Scranton has had virtually no vocations for decades and recently closed their seminary (St. Pius X in Dalton, PA) which was built at the Catholic high-tide in America of the early 1960s.  Terrible liturgy abounds and the majority of priests I encountered in my parish growing up were homosexuals.  I have been back for a number of weddings in the diocese and found liturgical abuse of every kind and altar boys have virtually disappeared (big surprise!) in favor of little girls in pig tails helping a lavender clergy.

    Bishop Martino knows he has big problems and his recent edict is a good start to calling attention to the shortage and trying to refocus his priests on carfully preparing for Mass.  I hope this is just the first step he is taking to restore his diocese in Christ.   

  • According to a parish priest in the Camden diocese, the rule here is that the parish schedule 1 less weekday mass than the number of priests assigned to the parish. If the parish has 2 priests, that’s 1 daily Mass. The idea is to have room for a funeral or wedding and so the priests aren’t binating or trinating on a regular basis.

  • Wedding during a Sunday Mass. Now that’s an interesting suggestion, although I’m not sure the rest of the congregation would want to go to the longer Mass.

    But this is the kind of option that should be explored and offered. I understand and agree with Bishop Martino’s point that we don’t want priests to operating a Eucharistic assembly line, but we also have to deal with the situation as it stands now.

    Fine, priests can’t celebrate more than two Masses in a day. So how do they concretely deal with the need for more? That’s what I don’t see.

  • Maybe if the couples are so interested in the Mass the Bishop will require that they attend daily mass for one year before their wedding – I bet there is room in the pews every morning.

    This is silly in a way – but the demand for massive church weddings is a unique opportunity to evangelize so something like this would be very effective.

  • I’d venture a guess that many folks at Catholic weddings who get in line to receive are really not properly disposed to receive the sacrament, including the parties to be wed.

    So, perhaps it’s not that bad a thing.

    My own pastor complains that very few avail themselves of the sacrament of confession when it is offered prior to the nuptial Mass.

  • While working on restoration of a Catholic Chapel here in Chicago (we were sealing windows that were open to snow) a priest commented, “I don’t know why we should have beautiful chapels, It will just make more people want to get married in the church”.

    Dom’s post and my experiences have lead me to believe that our crop of priests are aggressively trying to deny sacraments to the faithful. 


  • “So how do they concretely deal with the need for more? “

    In the parish around the corner from my house, daily Mass is at 9 am, and is celebrated in the chapel at the convent. If there is a funeral, the Mass is in the Church and the daily Mass goers are at the funeral Mass, with members of the community serving as lectors, Extraodinary Minsisters, and singers.  I think this is a good solution.

    (Not that I think that every parish in Brockton having their daily Mass at the exact same time is a good idea, especially since 9 am limits daily Mass to the retired and the unemployed, but that’s a different problem.)

    There has been a tendency in the past to have big sacramental events be private ceremonies. But really, burying the dead, marrying the betrothed, baptizing candidates, etc., are better done during the community’s ususal celebration of the Liturgy (I think). This is not, of course, just for show, but the appeal can & should be made to parishioners to do their part in holding these fellow members up in prayer and supporting them in their times of joy and times of sorrow.

  • Excellent point Steve,

    Of the 379 Parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago, only 1 Parish has 5pm Mass.  Then I hear the litany of

    1) There are not enough priests to go around

    2) No one goes to daily mass

    3) It is dangerous to unlock your Church

    Maybe if the Clergy could try 2 afternoon masses among 3 Million Catholics, they would get more attendance.


  • Sorry, Dom, but I can’t see what the problem is.  Seems to me that the only Catholics who would miss out on a nuptial Mass are the ones who insist on Saturday, and I wonder if the reception has become the determining factor – sure Saturday is the most convenient day for that – but y’know, there’s nothing in stone that says the wedding and reception have to be on the same day. (I suppose the editors of Bride will be down on me for that one, eh? <hee>)

    It can be done, though.  If people really want to invite the King of kings in His Real Presence to witness their taking vows, they’ll figure out a way to get Him there.

  • Father Ethan brings up an interesting point about our “silly American wedding culture.”

    I have attended a many of weddings where I wondered if the bride & groom and families appreciated the sacrament itself or were more concerned with the production and the event.

    Sadly, I am seeing a “silly” culture effect rear its head with first communion too, with families putting out for a production with all the nice trappings.

    If this is what we want as the faithful, then perhaps we should not be surprised when our bishops and priests are caught up in appeasing worldly opinions.

  • I would say the Bishop Martino is doing a good thing: explaining what the obligation of his priests are so that people might understand. I have often found myself in the position of being asked to celebrate a Mass when I knew that it would violate the canon as to number. In many cases priests bypass the canon so as not to disappoint the people. It appears to me that the Bishop is being a good shepherd here and trying to take some presuure off his priests.

    It is odd that some seem to insist on priests being very obedient to all the canons unless it might be one they do not see as necessary. Then the priest should disobey.

    I also agree with the comments concerning the wedding culture being distorted in the west. If the Mass is the most important thing then certainly any couple could still be married within the Mass, mainly the daily Mass. Baptisms have been done this way in many places for some time.

    If, however, the most important thing is to be the center of their own celebration then that can happen also, but possibly not within the context of the Eucharist.

  • I don’t see anyone here suggesting priests violate the law. But I see a lack of explanation of how this will work practically and a lack of recognition that this will also discourage use of the sacrament.

  • I have dealt with this pastorally for a many years and it takes some care and consideration. One parish I was in routinely celebrated 4 to 6 wedings each weekend. The priest would schedule weddings according to type so that he either had two wedding masses and no daily mass or one daily mass and one wedding mass.We would schedule any number of weddings outside of mass. Even with this heavy wedding schedule we were able to accomodate most people. Occasionaly, because a couple insisted upon one specific date they would be told that a mass was not possible.

    I really believe that Bishop Martino is trying to explain this pastorally. Again it is hard for some priests to say no when demands are made on them that really go beyond what they are permitted to do.

    The Eucharist was never meant to be a private celebration among family and friends but an act of worship by the community. I understand that culturally we find ourselves within an understanding of the Eucharist that has expectations different from the ideal. Yet we have to maintain certain universal limits in what will be permitted.

    Bishop Martino has made an effort to explain one of those limits and to remind priests of their serious obligation to follow universal law. This is what bishops are for, afterall. I pray that once this is thought through that most people will be accomodated and that those who might find themselves no so will be understanding.

    As to keeping persons from the sacraments I would hope that couples being married attend Eucharist regularly (something I always insist upon in wedding preparations) and that those of the faithful who attend weddings are doing the same. If they are not then they shouldn’t be receiving the sacrament at a wedding anyway.

  • Dom brings up an interesting point: “Wedding during a Sunday Mass. Now that that the wedding tends to pale in comparison to the reception, both in outlay of cash and in preparation time.  It pales in length of time devoted to it as well, even with a wedding Mass.  What is being proposed will diminish the significance of the ceremony even further.  Do we really want to do that?

    If a wedding Mass is no longer available, will those of moderate faith decide that one short exchange of wedding vows is the equivalent of any other short exchange of vows?  Will there no longer appear to be a need to hold the wedding in church?  If the bride wants to get married in the backyard or near the waterfall in the park, or on the beach, or wherever, will she believe there is no reason not to use a non-Catholic minister for the exchange of vows?  We do teach that the bride and groom marry each other and the priest is just a witness.  The Mass makes the priest essential, but with no Mass a minister might look like a good idea especially in a Catholic-Protestant couple.

    I seriously doubt that you can convince an American bride to be part of a group wedding.  And even if you can, this will make the ceremony even less significant than the culture is already making it because the elaborate reception will still be a private affair and will take on greater significance if the wedding itself is no longer private. 

    Having the wedding during Sunday Mass will cause scheduling problems because the ceremony will cause the wedding Mass to bump into the next scheduled Mass, especially if the traditional pictures are going to be taken near the altar.  Add to that the fact that the congregation will probably be annoyed, especially if the wedding couple is on the altar for the Mass which is customary now.  And of course removing them from the altar will once again diminish the significance of the sacrament at a time in Catholic history when we can ill afford to diminish any sacrament in any way.

    It might be possible to include a wedding in the Saturday vigil Mass, placing the exchange of vows at the end of Mass so as not to upset the congregation, and having the bride and groom walk in the entrance procession.  Where they would be during the Mass would take some serious consideration, though.

  • Thanks. I will pass on Fr. Rob’s words in my parish. It was so good to hear someone question the meaning of this silly phrase.

    Will make many copies.

    God Bless,


  • Parish vs. Faith Community

    Fr. Rob wrote:

    “The phrase ‘Faith Community’ is meant to place the emphasis on the ‘horizontal’, subjective relationships between parishioners…”

    How so? And how does the word “parish” imply something different?

    “It is part of the tendency in ‘progressive’ catholicism to see the church as ‘the actualized community celebrating itself’.”

    How so? And how does the word “parish” imply something different?

    “Using a phrase like ‘Faith Community’ also helps to de-emphasize the fact that we are part of a larger entity, the Church, which is, of course, spread throughout space and time.”

    How so? And how does the word “parish” imply something different?

    “Such a term helps people to think of their faith as a merely subjective local, privatistic matter.”

    How so? And how does the word “parish” imply something different?

    “It helps aging hippies forget about that mean old official ‘Church’ (made up of the Pope, the Vatican, etc.) which so obstinately refuses to enact their adolescent fantasies.’ 

    How so? And how does the word “parish” imply something different?  (And: are validly baptized Catholic aging hippies not part of the “official church?”)

    Fr. Rob can posit anything he wants in reference to the phrase “faith community” (vs. parish) but he will need to demonstrate how that phrase is so contrary to what the Church intends about the local parish.

    In my own parish, I use the terms interchangeably, mostly to avoid using the same term over and over again in preaching or writing.  I believe that I and the people I serve understand the two to refer to the same reality.

    The derivation of the word parish is instructive: Middle English, from Old French parroche, from Late Latin parochia, diocese, alteration of paroecia, from Late Greek paroika from Greek, a sojourning, from paroikos, neighboring, neighbor, sojourner : para-, near; see parang that Renew (which I’ve never been part of or experienced) “invented” the phrase faith community?

    Brian: I’m not sure of the point of your question, but…  If circumstances warrant a priest celebrating Mass alone, of course there is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  Priests are only allowed to do this, however, in circumstances where at least one other person cannot be present.  Can you help me understand the intent of your question?

  • Father Ethan,

    With all due respect,

    You seem to be cheering for a nitpicky way to do less work.  I believe it is truly important that Priests particpate in the sacraments.  Bishop Martino is sounding like a Union Steward here, rather than a leader of his flock. 

    What is wrong with working hard when you are doing the Lord’s work?


  • Yes.  I never heard it before Renew 2000 came to my parish church.

    “Small Faith communities” and faith community were the phrases they used in their program.

  • Mass really is a once-a-day affair, twice at the most.  If we ended the practice of private wedding and funeral Masses, and each priest said a public Mass once a day, many parishes in Boston would have two daily Masses instead of the one or fewer they have now. 

    Frankly, I’m more upset at the lack of availability of Confession, the Sacrament for which Fr. Vianney was apparently canonized for offering so liberally. 

  • John Powers:  With all due respect, you seem to have missed completely Fr. Ethan’s intent.

    I say this in charity, because I can’t imagine that you really mean what you said, since Fr. Ethan also proposes longer Masses.

    The ‘problem’ with weddings in the Church today is that VERY few of the couples (and just as few of those attending) have any active faith life at all.  Sure, they may superficially “believe in God,” but they have no sense of obligation to Him or to His people.  The reason that most of them are getting married in a Church building is because of tradition—or for the pictures—or because “I’ve been dreaming of walking down a long aisle up to a beautiful altar since I was six years old.”  No joke.  I ask them, and I know whereof I speak.

    So a very real question is, while everyone has a right to matrimony, does that also mean we have to have a sham Mass as well?  In fact, isn’t in the best interests of all concerned (priest, couple and attendees) NOT to offer them an occasion of sin (i.e. the temptation to approach Holy Communion when they are in no wise disposed to receive it)?

    What does it mean to be part of the Catholic Church?  I know that question’s not going to be answered here on this board, since we’ve been wrestling with it since the time of St. Athanasius (at least!)

    It seems to me that the Pope is wrestling with that question too—that is, with limited resources, how do we do the work of the Lord best?

    It’s a legitimate question, and to ask it is not to “cheer for a nitpicky way to do less work.”

  • <with all due respect>
    So Fr. Jim,

    Can you think of a better way to get people into the Chruch than weddings?  The vast majority of converts come from people of different faiths marrying a Catholic.  Among my age group (those with young children) I see a huge increase in churchgoing upon marriage and having kids. 

    I can think of no other Sacrament that has this effect on people, and to deny it based on “Union Rules” strikes me as the ultimate lack of charity (and a marketing strategy from hell).


  • Fr. Ethan,

    1621: In the Latin Rite the celebration of marriage between two Catholic faithful normally takes place during Holy Mass, because of the connection of all the sacraments with the Paschal mystery of Christ (Sacrosactum Concilium 61).  In the Eucharist the memorial of the New Covenant is realized, the New Covenant in which Christ has united himself for ever to the Church, his beloved bride for whom he gave himself up (Lumen Gentium 6).  It is therefore fitting that the spouses should seal their consent to give themselves to each other through the offering of their own lives by uniting it to the offering of Christ for his Church made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice, and by receiving the Eucharist so that, communicating in the same Body and the same Blood of Christ, they may form but “one body” in Christ (1 Cor. 10:17).

  • “The Mass makes the priest essential, but with no Mass a minister might look like a good idea especially in a Catholic-Protestant couple. “

    Actually, it is a pretty bad idea for a wedding to be held during a Mass in a mixed marriage. Except in very limited circumstances, which require a bishop’s approval, non-Catholics are not allowed to receive communion. So in a mixed marriage, only one spouse would be allowed to receive communion, along with perhaps a large number of the guests. This would introduce a sign of disunity right in the midst of the wedding. In such a situation, far better to have the ceremony with the nuptial blessing outside of Mass.

    “Having the wedding during Sunday Mass will cause scheduling problems because the ceremony will cause the wedding Mass to bump into the next scheduled Mass, especially if the traditional pictures are going to be taken near the altar.”  Pictures can be taken before, even the day before. I’m sorry to seem curmudgeonly, but I just don’t see that as the least bit important.  The basic problem is that too many think the Church should bow before cultural wishes (ask any organist!). Instead, the couple needs to be formed so that they see the ceremony as far less important than the marriage. After all, marriage is the sacrament, not the wedding ceremony.

  • There seems to be a couple of different objections to my comments.

    The first objection is to the comment that my solution is only to give priests a breather from working hard.  I work hard, often giving up my days off, such as this coming week when I am staying at the parish to do wedding rehearsals.  I work hard, go to night school twice a week, and I do this because I love the people God sent me to serve.

    The second objection is to the comment that I don’t think that weddings should be celebrated within the Mass.  I do.  The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life and there is no better place for a couple to start their domestic church than at a Mass.  But are the people getting married and having children offering their sons and daughters to the Church?  Where are the vocations from all of those families that began at Mass?  Why aren’t our convents, monasteries, seminaries full?

    There is something wrong here.  Like Father Jim says, the solution will not be found in these posts.  But I will say this, if the Mass is the memorial of Christ’s suffering and death on the Cross, and we eat His Body and Blood, and we are called to imitate the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, where are all of the vocations?

  • Faith community usually equals weirdness but not always. We have a parish that calls itself a faith community in my town. It’s a mixed place. The people in their 40s and 50s are very granola crunchy sorts who who let their daughters come to Mass wearing lower rider jeans and crop tops. The other half is elderly and young and very serious. The two groups don’t mix. If you go to the 8 AM Mass it’s very reverent, dignified and lovely. If you got the 12 PM Mass it’s like something out of the 1970s. For years I wouldn’t go near the place but it now has 4 young priests and a remarkable group of fiesty converts and it’s changing.

  • I keep wondering on this blog, why solutions will not be found in these posts?  Why not? 

    If holding Mass in the afternoon gets more people in the pews, why not hold mass in the afternoons?  If three marriages on a Saturday packs the Church, why not hold three Masses on Saturday?

    I think the solutions are here on this blog.


  • I agree with Fr Ethan.

    A Mass is not a private affair, it is community worship. In our parish we have daily Mass, and if that Mass is a funeral then we as the community attend. Our Baptisms are held straight after Sunday Mass once a month.

    When my husband and I married we weren’t Catholic, but when my husband was Baptised (I had converted the year previous), we had our marriage solemnised straight afterwards, all as part of the Easter Vigil Mass with the church full of our whole parish community and non Catholic friends.

    I like this way of doing things, for a start it is a concrete expression that we are all family in Christ, it displays that we are not merely private individuals but are part of wider community who are with us to share our joy and sadness.

    Second it makes the Sacraments inclusive. Father’s right, birth creates new people, people marry, make babies, some marry, some take holy orders, the Church grows, more babies, eventually funerals…

  • Oh and here in our diocese in New Zealand – Christchurch. The priests will only marry a couple after they have had six months of marriage preparation, held by long-married Catholic couples.

    So part of getting married here is the spiritual formation of the couple and how they understand their vocation and their relationship.

  • the couple needs to be formed so that they see the ceremony as far less important than the marriage. After all, marriage is the sacrament, not the wedding ceremony.

    All true, but that doesn’t speak to the concern that the wedding will become less important than the reception if it is reduced to the bare bones of an exchange of vows during a regular weekend Mass or a private exchange of vows without a Mass or priest.

  • I have no way of knowing when the phrase “faith community” came into our vocabulary, but certainly it and “small faith communities” have been around for a decade or two, or more.  My parish is called a parish in its title, and I and my people use that word all the time.  We sometimes also use “faith community.”  (We don’t say “small” because we’re not!)  They may be some “faith communities” that are “weird” but there are some parishes that are “weird” too.  I simply don’t see that the use of the term automatically or systematically means that the parish is strange, nor that folks who use the term do so to distance themselves from parish experience.

  • Now that I’ve read the article (it wasn’t working for me the other day), it makes more sense. I like several of the ideas suggested here.
    One thing that has *not* been mentioned is the issue of daily communion.  Yes, daily communion is a great blessing, and it’s a great devotion, but it’s not required.  Some Catholics treat daily Mass as if it’s equal to Sundays in import, so they *must* have at least a Communion Service on weekdays.

    As I understand it, Saturday evening counts towards Sunday, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

    There are no less “vows” in a “just marriage” ceremony than in a full nuptial Mass.  The only difference is the lack of Liturgy of the Eucharist.  And I agree with those who have recommended this for mixed marriages. 
    In addition to the awkwardness of Communion in a mixed marriages, most Protestants are used to “vows only” weddings and complain about “Catholic weddings” being too long.
    Ironically, it would be a gesture of ecumenism.

    And brides could use a little humility, that this is *not* “their day,” but a sacrament into which the bride and groom enter as equals.
    Why do you think grooms get notoriously drunk before and/or after weddings?  The groom gets treated like the posterboard stand-in for some big theatrical production. 
    A friend of my wife’s married a guy who attends indult TLM, and they had a Tridentine wedding.  At first, it crushed her “lifelong dreams” of “planning her wedding,” but in retrospect she said could have planned no better wedding.

    What about all the Catholic couples who make pilgrimages to Rome to get married by the Pope?

    I, personally, would have loved to have been married on Friday, but for the family’s insistence on accomodating the guests. 
    On the evening of our wedding, we went ot one of the small mission churches my dad was playing at for our “Sunday obligation.”  The priest was surprised we even *came* for Sunday Mass (we had a morning wedding).

    My parents brought the leftover wedding cake (we had a $30 sheet cake from Wal-Mart) and the people got together and shared the cake in the parish hall after Mass.  We had more fun then than at our reception!

    So I think the idea of “parish weddings” is the best suggestion: the bride and groom can have their guests, nad they can even select the music, but anyone in the parish can come to attend Mass.

    Personally, one of the things I can’t stand about weddings is how they detract from the Mass (including the above-mentioned issue of *everybody* going to Communion).  I hate entering a Catholic Church and having some usher walk up to me and telling me where to sit.

  • I think part of the problem here is that there is an assumption that names don’t change things. A parish is a faith community is a parish. It is a pity people don’t have more of a sense of history. Changing names does affect how we think about things. We are members of THE Church not A church or worse still just church. Take the “the” away and you create a relativistic sense of faith in which each community has its particular faith. It should also be pointed out the Christ established His Church .. we as humans are irrelevant in that sense. He calls us to belong to His Church we do not make Him present by coming together. We are not church, we are members of Christ’s Church, The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. As the 20th Century has shown, and as George Orwell made patently clear, it is not trivial to insist on clarity and right meaning. Thousands have died because people refused to pay attention to insignificant changes in the use of words.

  • Well, to some extent I agree with your argument against the prevailing culture, GodsGadfly, but not entirely.

    When I got married, I wanted the smallest possible wedding with only parents and two witnesses present.  My to be husband vetoed that idea.

    I wanted to get married on Wednesday.  Both families disagreed with that one.

    I wanted a street length velvet dress.  My mother had a fit and I ended up in floor length satin that I made myself.

    I wanted a certain black choir member to sing a solo at my wedding.  My to be husband said he would not be present if I went through with that idea.

    I wanted first my Godfather (who refused) and then a good family friend (who also refused) to walk me down the aisle (my father was no longer living). 

    My mother was upset about walking down the aisle alone before the wedding began (because I had one attendant and the best man would be with the groom—thus no ushers).  I ended up having her walk me down the aisle to keep her happy.

    I did get one thing I wanted on my wedding day—snow.  And that at the expense of a major argument with my future husband who wanted a May wedding so his brother would be home from Viet Nam.  I only got the February wedding by saying February or forget it.

    I have only taken out the wedding album to look at it once since the wedding which took place in 1970.

    So I have a certain sympathy with the bride who thinks it should be her day.

    I tend to think the ceremony should not be so short that if you blink, you miss it.  Like a Protestant wedding.  It should take enough time to make a lifetime commitment that you can actually catch your breath and take it in before it’s over and you move on to the reception.

    As for the pilgrimmages to Rome, well, if a couple goes through all of the expense, time and trouble to go to Rome for the ceremony, they have more than accomplished what I am talking about.

    The day after our wedding my husband and I flew to Jamaica.  I can still remember the cab ride from the airport to the church to make the Sunday evening Mass.  I was so tired that I fell asleep in the cab, and I think I fell asleep a time or two during Mass, but we were there.  Back in 1970 we wouldn’t have thought of missing Sunday Mass.  Today he is so disillusioned with the changes in the Church that he often skips it.

  • I think we should do everything to give those who ask, the Mass in an intimate family setting.  It is beautiful and right and glorious, especially in the celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. 

    I hope this is never changed.

    We are not impoverished but rich beyond measure. 


  • Maybe…the perception of a “shortage” of Masses will help the faithful to value the Mass more…to value the priesthood more…to encourage their sons to discern whether they have a vocation to the priesthood…and thereby increase the number of good, holy priests in our country…Maybe.


  • I would value it much more if the perception of shortage matched the reality.  I am an adult.  I do not need con games. 

    If the hierarchy wants to market (and they should) how about a “5 O’clock” mission, of weekday masses? How about opening the Churches for Eucharistic Adoration on the weekdays?  How about using the abandoned pipe organs for organ practice for neighborhood children?

    I don’t think I am alone in wanting the Priesthood to bring people to their ministry, rather than shutting people out of the sacrament of marriage through some trumped up shortage.


  • I’d like to echo DYMPHNA’s comments above … this is exactly what I see.

    Ultimately, I see the use of this “Faith Community” thingy as a declaration of seperateness from the Roman Catholic Church, its dioceses and its parishes.

    I have made this observation known to the priest at my local parish when he called for comments on the “mission statement” for the “faith community.”

    My mission statement would be this: A parish of The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Any Questions?

    Ultimately, I know this will put me in a position to find an authentic and self-declared Roman Catholic parish (again.)

  • I”ve been a parish priest for more than three decades and have often heard and used the phrase “faith community” to describe or refer to a Roman Catholic parish.  While some parishes may use that phrase to establish some seperation from the diocese or universal church, I know of none in my diocese.  I believe most pastors and parishioners use “faith community” as simply another way to refer to the parish. 

    I just haven’t known or experienced all the things folks assert here to be connected with the use of a harmless, accurate, descriptive phrase.

  • But when Fr. Rob says, lman?  Don’t take us for fools. 

    We know what we have heard and when we have heard it.

    Language has been used to attempt to change the church.  Admit it. 

    No matter.  Language cannot change the church, ultimately.  The church is not some little political convention or plaything of a certain class of theological smartass. 

    Sorry but it’s the truth.  This will pass.  It’s passing fast now.  People are onto this crap.

  • Some here state that the wedding ceremony is a community event.


    There were about 200 members of the ‘community’ present for our wedding and Mass, on a Saturday.  That’s more than most Masses attract these days on Sundays in many urban parishes, you know…

    While it is true that some weddings are simply overdone, it is ALSO true that most are not—especially when you consider that large Catholic families have a lot of built-in attendants and groomsmen—or have all of you forgotten there ARE such things as ‘large Catholic families?’

    All in all, I find Dom’s concern to be persuasive—especially since I’ve seen it played out here in “Union-Priest” Heaven, Milwaukee—and I need not remind you of the utterly abysmal Episcopal leadership in this town going back WELL over 30 years.

    This is analogous to the other ‘problem:’  our Bishops create a priest-difficulty, and the Laity pay for it.

    What’s new?

  • JBP wrote:
    “I don.com/blog/images/smileys/smile.gif” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” /> 

    In our archdiocese, a study was done which indicated the biggest roadblock was parental attitude toward the priesthood.  They found many young men wanting to consider it and their parents shooting it down:  “Oh, no, that’s not for you.  You’re going to med school.”  That kind of thing.

    We have to change this.  How?  I don’t know but I have two sons and I’d be elated if they both wanted to be priests!     

  • JPB:

    Our churches are usually open all day. This may be because they mostly have schools attached and as such are just part of the school environment which always has people floating around. And in our parish, if you go in after school you hear the secondry school boys practicing on the organ, which is wonderful for prayer.

    May I ask why the churches are closed in Chicago?

  • Hi Tess,
    The general story goes something like:

    1) People will steal things from the Churches if they are open.

    2) Homeless people will set up housekeeping inside the church.

    3) No one goes to Daily Mass, so why have it?

    The reality is that the few Churches that are open are not being robbed, and minister to the homeless rather than lock them out.  I have been to a daily mass at St. John Cantius where 750 people showed up, so there must be some interest in daily service.

    Nothing keeps people from the Church like a locked door.  My wife and I have been in touch with the Open Churches Trust in London to see how they keep Churches open, and have tried to apply this to churches we support in Chicago. 

    What seems obvious, an active ministry keeps Churches busy.  Now convincing the clergy of this…..


  • My parish church is always locked except for when services are taking place.  In the viscinity of the church a few years back several churches had been robbed, and that is when the locking policy was put in place.  This is not an inner city church, either.

  • “Language has been used to attempt to change the church.  Admit it.”

    I haven’t denied it.

    Above, I acknowledged that the accuracy of the comment on the vocab change from celebrant to presider as a shift in speech that is also a shift in meaning.  I understand the point, I just don’t believe it generally applies to “faith community.”

    We refer to Benedict XVI as the Pontiff, the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome and the Servant of the Servants of God.  Each is different, each has a particular emphasis but all describe the same reality, without prejudice.  I believe parish and faith community can function in the same way.  We disagree.  So be it.

  • So, define “faith community.”  Tell us stupid laypeople, pray tell, what might be the difference between the terms “faith community” and “parish,” in your opinion.

    Then explain why:
    1) if they don’t mean the same thing, why one might be preferred over another, such that this new term appeared when it did, OR
    2) if they mean the same thing, why we need to bother, basically, with the generic, bland and clumsy term “faith community.”

  • And BTW, don’t give me your “we disagree, so be it.”  It implies that your truth is sufficient for you and mine for me.  It may be facile for you—an attempt to repel criticism perhaps—but it doesn’t work.

    Words do have meanings. 

    And we know what we have heard and seen. 


  • I don’t take you (or anyone here) for fools.

    I don’t think anyone is a “stupid lay person.”

    Parish is a term which refers to a canonically constituted entity, part of a diocese, and usually in the care of a pastor assigned by the bishop.

    The above is also a faith community.  I use both terms. 

    I have no problem with the word parish – I use it 50+ times a day!  Sometimes I use the phrase faith community to describe the same entity I call parish.  I’m quite sure I use parish more often than faith community because my faith community is named St.SoAndSo Parish.  I do not prefer one to the other, nor do I find either one “generic, bland or clumsy.” 

    Give it a rest.  I’m going to.

  • Your analogy of synonyms doesn’t work precisely because of two things.

    1) Fr. Rob has laid out the reason why “faith community” is constantly thrust in our faces like a dirty diaper we can’t get rid of—because it has a meaning that parish doesn’t have.  It why we can’t seem to get certain people to shut up about it—its constant reiteration is used in an attempt to change the understanding of the local PARISH.  Mode of operation?  Say it enough and people start to believe it.

    2) “Faith community” is a nonsensical phrase.  A community doesn’t have a human faculty—like a soul or an intellect.  So a community cannot have faith in the way a human soul can.  Rather, a group of people (each having a soul and each being capable of faith) can belong to a parish, properly constituted by the Church.

    So why is this important?  Belonging to a community isn’t enough.  Anyone can belong to a community of some sort.  So what?  The church is not a mere club.  Belonging, prima facie, doesn’t confer faith.  Fact.

  • Michigancatholic wrote:

    “‘Faith community’ is a nonsensical phrase.  A community doesn?URL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.vatican.va%2Farchive%2FENG1104%2F_P38.HTM%2377″>Canon 905, §2, which says: “If there is a shortage of priests, the local ordinary can allow priests to celebrate twice a day for a just cause, or if pastoral necessity requires it, even three times on Sundays and holy days of obligation.” And thus, since Saturday is a weekday not Sunday, and priests are often covering two parishes that’s the two Masses. Except isn’t the Saturday evening Mass a Sunday anticipatory Mass and thus count as a Sunday Mass?

    Regardless, it seems like a step backward to tell people, sorry, you’re better off having a ceremony without a Mass. Or you could have your wedding on Thursday or Friday night… unless there’s a funeral that day. Then you’re out of luck.


    2005-10-13 20:17:29
    2005-10-14 00:17:29


    2005-10-13 22:03:21
    2005-10-14 02:03:21
    I first heard of this rule reading one of the Pope’s memoirs.  Why are priests only permitted to say so few Masses?  I don’t understand the point.

  • Why not just have a roster of parish people to keep watch on the open church if you’re worried about theft?

    A kind of “open door” apostolate. You could even combine it with adoration and morning and evening prayer and of course, recitation of the rosary. These are things that can be kept running by lay people, so hopefully this isn’t over stressing the priests.

    It’s always nice to enter a church and be able to light a candle by a statue of Our Lady. There’s nothing more beautiful than a darkened church with flickering candle light making the tabernacle glow and the slight scent of incence. Sigh…

    I mean, no one can come if the door is locked, right?

  • Yes Tess,

    This is the reason for these organizations (Open Churches Trust, Bricks and Mortar Foundation etc) to exist.

    The complex part is convincing the keyholders that it is a good thing to have devotions, rosary’s, votive candles, adoration, daily masses, organ practices, weddings (see above) and other “archaic trappings of the church”. 

    I know the laity want these things.  Now how to get the keys…..?


  • I really see nothing wrong with group weddings…and the reception for all of the newly married couples together, in the parish hall-or some bigger place if too many people are expected. With food provided by people in the parish, as after funerals. Nobody needs a catered reception and DJ’s and all that.  It is to my mind shamefully wasteful to spend thousands of dollars on weddings and receptions. And why wouldn’t one want one’s fellow Catholics and parishioners to celebrate with one?

    This way a parish could have a group wedding once a month, or once every two months for a small parish, and the priest wouldn’t be so stretched.

    And the brides would have to stop this silliness of thinking about nothing but their clothes and their bridesmaids clothes and all such, and realize that what was happening was a marriage, the founding of a new family within the Catholic community. 

    If they really had the money in the first place for renting a hall and hiring a DJ and having caterers, they can use it for a down payment on their home, save it to send their kids to Catholic school, or make a charitable donation from the new Mr. and Mrs. X. to a cause they both believe in. 

    Susan F.Peterson

  • So Susan,

    What gives you the right to declare “Nobody needs a catered reception”?  How do you know? 

    In your mind it may be wasteful, in the mind of the wedding party it may be a grand celebration.

    For the life of me, on matters like this, I cannot figure out why people demand others do their bidding, rather than letting them use their own free will to do what they think is best. 

    Isn’t it a far greater vanity to claim knowledge and power over others than to have a catered meal?


  • I’m sorry Susan, but I think I have to disagree. Melanie and I had 100 guests, most of them family and friends from out of town. And ours was a smallish wedding. Multiply 100 by the number of couples in this group wedding, say five as a middle of the road estimate.

    Who’s providing the food for 500 people, if not a caterer? Who’s paying for all this food?

    Melanie and I had a very simple wedding by modern standards, finding a very inexpensive caterer, very inexpensive photographer, doing away with a lot of the extra things people have (videographer, DJ, and so on), and our wedding was still several thousand dollars.

    No, multi-tens of thousands of dollars extravaganzas are not necessary, but even a basic party for 100 people is going to cost a bit of money. Doing for 500 or more is going to cost even more.

  • Well people living at a far simpler standard of living than Americans do manage to get married and even to have parties afterwards, without hiring caterers.  But maybe the fact that I come from a small and not very close family affected my visualization of the event.  When I was married in 1970 (before I became a Catholic) the only people there were my parents and my sister, his parents, two brothers and one sister, and one couple who were the witnesses.  Afterwards, we went to a Japanese restaurant. I don’t say this is ideal, but it did result in a marriage which has lasted 35 years. My parents were married in a minister’s study with even fewer people present, with my mother wearing, she told me, a cranberry colored suit which was her best outfit, in 1946, and they stayed married until my mother died last year.
    Even now, if we were to have a new ceremony, I can’t think of 100 people I could invite. Stretching it a lot I can only get to about 30 and I know at least 5 of them wouldn’t come. If most people would really have 100 people to invite, I can see that 500 would not fit in the average church hall.  I think parishes do often feed 100 or 150 at after funeral meals, but 500 does sound a bit overwhelming.

    However if being married at a mass is important and their aren’t enough priests to say all those masses, then group weddings would seem to be the only way.  And I think making it a community celebration would be a positive thing.  Maybe there could also be a separate family celebration in a different place for those who wanted it.

    I do have a prejudice about the whole expensive wedding business. I hear people talking about wedding plans and fussing about matching bridesmaid dresses and they sound totally preoccupied with trivialities. Priests have also told me how much trouble they have getting these people to talk about the real meaning of marriage.  I am sure there is a way to be moderate about this, and different solutions for different folks. I just wanted to oppose the idea that the whole “this is her special day” thing was a necessary part of getting married. Or that we have to accept it because it is part of the culture.

    Susan Peterson

  • Susan,

    You may be against a high volume wedding, but I am against you deciding how people celebrate their own marriage. 

    Seems perfectly legitimate to spend some money on catering, matching costumes etc.  It also sounds perfectly legit to have a short ceremony and donate the gifts to charity. 

    What doesn’t sound legit is declaring your vast superiority in decision making to the couple involved.