Parish Shopping

Monday, June 21, AD 2010

As my wife and I are expecting in November, we’ve started to consider where we’re going to baptize the baby. Most churches that we’ve seen want you to be a parishioner before they baptize you. This has brought up the question of what parish we really belong to. We’ve found that that’s not an easy question.

Over the weekend, Tito had a post that inquired about the existence of good parishes in Las Vegas for his family. Some of the things he looks for are an orthodox priest faithful to the Magisterium, a beautiful Church, and a liturgy that aspires to beauty and lacks some of the folksy elements of post-Vatican II as well as the more scandalous aspects of the “spirit of Vatican II” like liturgical dancers.

None of those desires are unreasonable. In fact, those things are the rights of the faithful.

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24 Responses to Parish Shopping

  • I wonder if obedience is the least popular of all virtues. Sure, some other virtues get beaten up in our society, but obedience is equally resented by the nonreligious, the casually religious, and the devout.

    For quite a few years, a sleep disorder prevented me from attending early Mass. I got in the habit of attending 5 p.m. Mass at the next parish up the road. Now that I could make it to my local parish at noon, I still go up the road, because my local parish is really ugly and everyone talks through Mass.

    Before the sleep problems, I attended the Latin Mass at another parish, and it’s there that I’m registered.

    Anyway, I guess my excuse is that I’m not shopping around, and I’ve settled at a parish that’s not 100% to my liking. But it’s still not the one I actually reside in.

  • I think you have to find a good, solid church, recognize its faults, and get involved in valid ways to make it strong in those areas. We chose our parish 10 miles from home (when there are parishes 1 mile and 3 miles away) because we liked the setting, the physical church, and we interviewed, and liked the priest. But the parish is weak in spirituality, so when there was an opening for musical director, we helped find qualified people to interview. We have worked to bring in good evangelist-type preachers (we’re having Fr. Wade Menezes of the Fathers of Mercy in a few months). My point is, select a place you can live with, then do what the Holy Spirit asks you to do to make the parish better.

  • Very good article Michael.

    I feel if I were to stay active in my geographical correct parish, I would have been driven out due to my orthodoxy.

    Fortunately, I do not have that problem (Deo gratis).

    I’m all for being change agents. The question is to ask God for the courage to stay in an unCatholic parish.

  • I believe that there are many ways of living our faith as Catholics. While I am fairly conservative, I also know that is not the only path. There is always going to be some cognitive dissonence. The question is how much you can stand.

    My parish has had three different pastors in the last nine years, each with a different personal style and a different management style, as well as three deacons and I can’t even count how many assistant pastors/priest in residence. But the parishioners are the church. I feel comfortable and welcome with them, in contrast to my previous parish, where, after 25 years, I still hardly knew anyone’s name. Involvement really wasn’t welcome at my previous parish. It was the same group of people who “did things.” Quite the contrary where I am now. Ours is a very large parish. We need 18 people, per Mass, to distribute Communion. That involvement is good for the parishioners and it is also good for the community of the parish. I really think that you need to go where you feel part of the community, even if you have to drive past some other parishes to get there.

  • Tito Edwards says: I feel if I were to stay active in my geographical correct parish, I would have been driven out due to my orthodoxy.

    That happened to me. I’ll give the Reader’s Digest version. I was out of the Church for 25 years (the Prodigal Son). When I returned I was SHOCKED at all the “changes” that had taken place and I totally felt like a fish out of water.

    I was having marital problems and approached my pastor for counseling. I told him that I would like to go to confession and he replied “what makes you think you have to go to confession?”

    My wife went through the RCIA program and since I was her sponsor I was subjected to a whole years of “The best of Fr. McBrien” by the “Church Lady” that ran the program. It was a watered down mess. I sponsored another individual the following year and got into battles with the Church Lady over the lack of content in “her” program.

    I approached the parish council once to try to start a Family Rosary program using the materials from the Apostolate of Family Consecration. I mentioned at the meeting that it had the blessing of Pope John Paul II and the Associate Pastor rolled his eyes and sighed out loud.

    I was ostracized by the priests, and criticized by them to my wife for teaching then such heretical things as communion on the tongue. My wife & I eventually ended up divorcing and she left the Church and moved in with her BF. I went “parish shopping” where I found a marvelous orthodox parish that had five priests, DAILY confession, Divine Mercy & 40 hrs devotions etc.

    IMHO it’s WELL beyond “judging” – in some locations it’s become a matter of survival.

  • I think at times it is prudent to go to another parish. The parish I belonged to geographically in one city was quite unusual in its practices. Went to Mass there only once. The priest and nun processed down the aisle together with the nun wearing a dress with the exact same color of the priest’s vestments. They alternated saying the Introductory prayers of the Mass and sat in a pew together leaving the altar area empty. There were several same-sex “couples” in the congregation all beaming proudly at the homily that spoke of the equality of all “life choices.”

    Left at that point as I thought the Mass ultimately could be invalid. Never returned.

  • If there is a Latin Mass parish in your area perhaps you and your wife should consider there?

    If you raise your child in a novus ordo parish you will constantly have to explain to the child how inapprppriare the plethora of liturgical abuses are, and how the liturgy is theologically deficient, that Holy Mass is not the time where we celebrate ourselves but is the representation of Christ on the Cross in an unbloodied way. The mass is a sacrificial offering, not a fiesta.

    Since his/her very soul hangs in the balance, consider, should s/he go to a parish offering the Mass of the Great Saints of the last 400 years, or the mass where bishops of very questionable orientation give Holy Communion to the Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence dressed in drag, the mass loved by those seeking to destroy Christ’s Church?

    When one considers the tremendous cost of choosing wrong, I think the only right choice readily becomes clear. Extraordinary Form from Baptism onward. The child will truly be blessed to be spared all the tremendous abuses, false teaching, sacrileges, and all the confusion that comes from such things.

    If you wish for the child to grow into a practicing catholic as an adult, the novus ordo must be fled from before it can corrupt the child and destroy his/her faith as it has done to millions over the last 40 years.

  • It’s not about ‘novus ordo’ versus TLM, but the concept of obedience to the Church Christ founded vs. disobedience. ‘Novus ordo’ done correctly is obedient to the Magisterium. That said, there are lots of incorrect novus ordo masses. Any mass using a Gather Hymnal could make the mass incorrect. But If you can teach your children to obey, to respect, and to be humble, they will be horrified in what they see, and be good humans and good Catholics. I would start with a daily reading of the Beatitudes, and homilies by Fr. Corapi and Fr. Pablo Straub, and Fr. Wade Menezes, or any Fathers of Mercy.

  • So if one raises a child correctly one will be subjecting them every Sunday to an experience that horrifies them?

    That is surely the way to build a love for the Mass, by weekly subjecting them to the horrific novus ordo.

    Thank you for bolstering my point concerning TLM. It seems that even a surface analysis reveals that it is an issue of content and which missal is used, since the novus ordo is fundamentally different from TLM in it’s theology. One is about the sacrifice, the other is about fiesta time and the “church of aren’t we fabulous.”

    The novus ordo is a lot like socialism. Lefties keep declaring “we just haven’t done it the right way yet! It will work this time! Really!”. But when clear thinking prevails it becomes clear that the problem is the novus ordo itself, and no variation of Catholicism-watered-down-with-Protestantism-liturgy is going to work.

    Taking such radical risks with the soul of a child is unfathomable to me. For the child’s own sake, an EF parish is objectively the optimal choice. Since a parent always wants what is best for their child, and an EF parish would be best for the child, the conclusion is inescapable.

  • Jim:

    That’s horrible. I think your story really brings out something I mentioned: your own spiritual condition. If you’re just trying to come back into the Church and fix your marriage, I would find the best possible parish with the best priest. You would have been right to ditch that parish, I think.

    Philip:

    I think you have a clear case of leaving. That Mass probably wasn’t valid.

    Ezekiel:

    Well, by the time my child is old enough to understand the Mass we’ll have moved (hopefully) out of Baton Rouge to either New Orleans or Lafayette.

    That said, I don’t think an EF parish is necessary. The novus ordo is a valid mass, and there are many parishes that provide the ordinary form in a way that it is still beautiful and faithful to the church (which is true in part b/c the church has said the novus ordo is acceptable, and being faithful entails acceptance of the validity of the novus ordo, even if the EF is personally preferred).

    That does get me thinking on another point: how much should one consider the local parish when buying a house? I tend to know Lafayette & New Orleans fairly well, and I think I would consider the orthodoxy of the local parish when making my decision. I don’t think that’s bad, though it may encourage parishes to become more like factions. I’ll have to think about that. Anyone else have thoughts on that angle?

  • Maybe I’ve just been fortunate, but I really don’t see what is so “horrific” about the Novus Ordo Mass as long as it is done reverently. I have been “subjected” to it from my earliest memory, as has my daughter, and we’re still completely faithful, practicing Catholics.

    Yes, I have been to TLM Masses and I’m all for keeping that tradition alive; yes, I like to hear Latin and real Gregorian chant (there is a parish in my area that does that), and yes, I think the new translation coming next year (hopefully) will go a long way toward restoring a sense of mystery and sacredness. However, I have seen many NO Masses done beautifully and reverently so it is not impossible.

    Of course this may be because I have had the good fortune to live in parishes that never went off some of the deeper ends of liturgical experimentation, and have never been subjected to any of the grosser liturgical abuses apparently common in some dioceses (e.g. liturgical dance, lay persons giving homilies, invalid Eucharistic matter, etc.) The worst liturgical “abuse” I have seen in the last 10 years or so is the use of some theologically questionable hymns (like “Ashes” and “City of God”), but other than that, I really can’t complain.

  • As far as your C.S. Lewis analogy.

    He was referring to the denominations of his day where people went to where they felt “comfortable”.

    Plus C.S. Lewis was a Protestant, not a Catholic.

    We aren’t “judging”, but asking for the faith Christ left us, not some invention from a 60s leftover.

  • As a matter of clarity to my previous posts; I fully agree and believe that the novus ordo (with proper form and matter as required, that is a valid priest, valid bread/wine, etc) is a valid mass.

    If my posted suggested otherwise, such an error is entirely my own and I regret any confusion.

    It is my assertation that the EF is not simply superior as a matter of personal preference, but
    is an objectively superior form of worship.

  • Also, as per the matter of church shopping, the law clearly does not require one to be enrolled at one’s geographic parish. Parishes are erected to ensure the faithful have access to what is their right, not to bind the faithful to access what is their right only in a particular place.

  • Tito:

    No, Lewis was not talking about different denominations, but different presentations of the liturgy within the Anglican Church (High and Low Church). Yes, he was Anglican but Anglicans have parishes too. While one clearly has to make an analogy between Lewis’s situation and what we as Catholics face today, I think the analogy is helpful.

    And as I said, the laity do have a right to the faith. I just want people to be careful before they bolt their parish.

    Ezekiel:

    The canon law I quoted suggests that it is at least preferable for all the people to enroll in their local parish (unless there are differences of rite, nationality, etc.). Whether or not i is just merely preferable or actually binding in law is something a canon lawyer would have to interpret.

    I tend to agree with you about the superiority of the EF, though I have seen EFs done poorly such that the best NOs are superior to them. I have a feeling if Novus Ordo Masses were done right, people wouldn’t be having this discussion nearly as much.

  • Ezekiel says: Also, as per the matter of church shopping, the law clearly does not require one to be enrolled at one’s geographic parish.

    Actually, I don’t think you’ve read that right. As a Catholic, you are *automatically* a member of the parish you reside in. You no longer have to register though.

    See here:
    http://catholicexchange.com/2008/04/11/111841/

    Note that:

    On a regular basis, when it comes to weekly Mass attendance and routine reception of the sacraments, we are not obliged to attend any one church in particular. Canon 1247 asserts that on Sundays and holydays, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Mass, but does not specify that we must attend Mass in any specific place. Similarly, we may receive the sacrament of confession from any priest who is lawfuly able to administer it (c. 991), without regard to the location where this takes place.

    Therefore, there is no legal reason why one cannot routinely attend Mass and receive the sacraments at a parish church other than the one to which we technically belong — although this is hardly an ideal situation. But on major occasions, such a child’s first reception of the sacraments, we have seen here that it is the norm that these be celebrated in one’s own parish church. And when it comes to marriage, as discussed above, the law is even more serious, for the validity of a marriage depends in part on whether it is celebrated in the parish of one of the spouses.

    I believe that many churches that have the EF are set up as personal parishes, and you may join those although your “mother” parish will still be the one you reside in.

  • Just remember that you are always the exception, and you will do well in life. 😉

    As a former parish shopper, I recognized that my need to be an exception was a poor reflection on me. In retrospect, I was quite silly in those days. For most folks, their involvement in a parish is one hour per week. If you are looking for more than that – and there is nothing wrong with desiring more – there are para-church organizations that are better equipped to help you.

  • I think there are certainly spiritual dangers to parish shopping — some of which we’re seeing on display. However, there are also times when it is important to move out of an environment where you family is not being spiritually nourished.

    Also, it seems to me it’s fairly important to be withing reasonable distance of your parish, since if you’re to be active there you’ll be going down there frequently.

    If you’re just entering an area or just coming back to the Church, I see no problem with looking around at the parishes within reasonable striking distance of your house before deciding which one to register in. However, once you’re settled on a parish it seems to me that the motivation for leaving would have to be something fairly major.

  • I agree with those who don’t believe the NO Mass, done correctly, is horrific. It’s simply not. I’d much rather have a priest enunciating the prayer in English reverently and properly than to have him stumbling over the Latin, butchering it so it’s undecipherable. Either mass, done properly, is beautiful. Remember, there is only one Mass. No, I don’t want tamborines, guitars, drums and piano, clapping during the Gloria, etc. But the lectionary for the NO mass is definitely superior, and gives a greater sense of the entire Bible. Well done Latin in the TLM is superior to the vernacular in the NO. But I’ve been to Hanceville and seen a NO mass using Latin, and it was truly amazing. I’ve been to TLMs that have also been amazing. I’ve been to both where I felt the content was lacking, even though Jesus was present (thereby providing a valid mass).

  • Hard to believe, when I was a pre Vatican 2 kid, all the Masses at all the churches around my very Catholic town were essentially interchangeable. Therefore people simply belonged to the closest church’s parish.

  • What an interesting perspective on “Parish Shopping.” I really liked the point that you made that if all of the orthodox parishoners leave, then the parish has little hope of changing, even if they do get a good orthodox priest. When I was still attending the parish I grew up in, I did try to respectfully approach our priest with certain problems I was having in our parish. One being that I felt that other parishoners were not respecting the presence of the Blessed Sacrament by talking and visiting after Mass instead of observing sacred silence. The priest basically blew me off. After several incidents with this priest, I left the parish and joined a more traditional parish downtown, St. Agnes. I hope that you find a good parish to belong to, and bring your baby into the Church!

  • I agree with the general tenor here. It’s a balancing act, making sure that you receive necessary spiritual support without becoming what Lewis called a “connoisseur of churches”. Smart thread.

  • Yep, sometimes times I think this “spirit of Vatican II” is really one spirit with dual personalties. I’ll call it the “spirit of the world I”…

    I say this because among many of the same spirits that had collected upon my once sick soul, (in which the true Spirit was cleansing me by fire), were to be found also hanging about the philosophies of the parish our entire family converted within.

    For over a year I didn’t realize that every wednesday evening I was (as a convert in waiting for baptism)involved with a Call To Action prayer group.. But, Our Lady gave me a strong heart for unity with the Chair of Peter during this time… On a terrestrial level, I’m sure she realized how much I had offended God previously in life, and would not bring before the Heart of the Most Holy Trinity any triump of Her Immaculate Heart that would not now or in the future remain obedient to Christ speaking through His Church.

    And that’s the whole crux of the problem, as I see it.
    These same dual spirits want desperately to confuse us all on the reality and required doctrines of Love, including the obedience Christ exemplifies in doing the will and works of the Father–still today through His Church.

    I’m on board with the notion of the orthodox remaining…

    I think that in a hidden way Our Lady uses us to destroy all manner of errors. I now look back on that time whimsically reflecting on my overly zealous self insisting to that same Call To Action group that they sit patiently through my readings of the Marian Movement of Priests book, followed by the Holy Rosary. Now I understand their discomfort a bit better. Facts are facts though:

    That group has now disbanded.

    God bless you all…

    jme
    http://www.fratres.wordpress.com

  • I agree that a well done N.O. can be very reverent. I have been fortunate in that I have not experienced too many cringe-inducing Masses, except for the occasional folksy or otherwise less than inspiring hymns (seem to get at least one each Mass).

    But, I do think a solid case can be made that the TLM, in its structure, is an objectively superior form of Catholic worship. Cardinal Ottaviani (sp?) pointed out the main differences, and over time, it seems the NO form has somewhat deteriorated – that is, it has allowed for more innovation (kind of hard to ad lib in Latin, after all, even though, ironically, “ad lib” is Latin. Go figure). Of course YMMV with individual priests, but the TLM form itself has more Catholic elements, and it is hard to argue against the claim that the NO is more Protestantized. The NO is still valid of course, and can be reverent, but the form itself seems to have purposefully changed certain elements that are not just trivial, and not necessarily for the better.

Attention Las Vegas Catholics

Sunday, June 20, AD 2010

This is a request for assistance from our readers to suggest a good parish inside the Diocese of Las Vegas for my family.

What I am asking in particular is a parish that has an orthodox priest that celebrates the Mass reverently.  That is not asking much.  Preferably a holy and charitable priest.

To be more specific, though this isn’t necessary, it would be nice if the architecture of the church did not resemble a Brady Bunch-1970s style of a building.  Again, preferably, a church with pre-Vatican II type of architecture.

What do I mean by reverently?

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24 Responses to Attention Las Vegas Catholics

  • Not a recommendation, but a question: At my parish, priests are rotated in and out every few years. So, if that’s true in Las Vegas and today you pick a parish with priests to your liking, isn’t the lineup just going to change before long?

  • Spambot, yes, but where are these good priests presently? I know there are good parishes in Las Vegas, just where are they is my question.

  • What do I mean by orthodox?

    If we want to get technical in our orthdoxy and tradition, then the proper parish is the one whose territorial boundaries encompass your home. THAT is the proper parish according to canon law and consistent with the teachings of the Magisterium.

    The practice of parish shopping, while widespread post-Vatican II, is one contrary to tradition, which has long followed the idea of the neighborhood parish. This is also more consistent with the truth that we are One Church, not an alliance of separate churchs and congregations, and that the Lord Himself is present, Body and Blood, at each of these parishes.

    We may not particularly like the members of our family — but they are family. We may not like their music, we may not like their architecture, we may not like their wishy-washy homilies, but they are family.

  • I’m sure Jesus wouldn’t mind if my family were to attend a different parish rather from the one that has led many into apathy.

    But your argument is a straw man.

    I’d like to know a good parish to recommend to my parents.

    I’d rather not debate your issues with canon law.

  • I’ve also been persuaded by orthodoxy (read: right opinion on this particular issue. Catholics should attend a church within their parish, that is near the physical land on which they live. Jesus is in every Catholic Church, even the ugly ones. And perhaps the ugly churches (physically or spiritually ugly) need orthodox Catholics more than anywhere else. We are all called to evangelize, and sometimes evangelization happens at our own parish! Orthodox Catholics cannot sequester themselves off from the rest of the Church at parishes with good priests and good liturgy.

    Also this is a great way for Catholics to recover a sense of place, something that has been totally lost in hyper-mobile 21st century America.

    We do not pick and choose our Churches as Catholics. It’s a protestant attitude and bad practice for members of a universal Church.

  • Zach,

    Thank you for continuing to distract from my post.

    How can certain family members be evangelized if they are receiving incorrect teachings?

    Keep up the distraction.

    //sarcasm end

  • As far as I can find in Las Vegas there are only 2 pre Vatican II style church buildings. One is St. Joan of Arch in the downtown area. I have been there a couple of times for evening non-Sunday mass. I did not find any major problems.

    The second is St. Joseph, Husband of Mary. It is a rather new building but it is beautifuly done inside and out. An intresting mix of old and new on the inside. I have not attended mass there. It is on Saharra Av.between Rainbow Bl. and Buffalo.

    Another choice is a new styled church is St. Bridget on 14th street just west of downtown. For a modern building it OK. The Tabernacle is smack in the middle of the sancatuary. The 9:30 am Sunday mass is a Hybred Latin and English Mass. Very well said by Fr. Leo the congreation is very reserved and reverant.

    I have been to this mass on several occasions.

    St. Bridget aslo hosts the only Authorized TLM in southern Nevada. It is only on the first Friday of the Month. I was there for this mass in June 2010.

    Do not be fooled by “St.Joseph Catholic Church” on the east side of downtown Las Vegas it is “Old Catholic” and not in union with Rome.

    If you want to broaden your catholic expierence. Las Vegas has four Eastern Rite Catholic parishes, all in union with Rome.

    Our Lady of Wisdom Italo-Byzantine, Lindell and O’bannon. My home parish when I am in residence in Las Vegas.

    St. Barbara Chaldean Parish Near the Meadows Mall. This is quite a diffrent expierence very reverant.
    Upon entry via the center aisle the priest bow at 3 diffrent places before entering the sancatuary, prostrates himself before the eucharist. The liturgy is mostly in Chaldean or Arabic. A good Expierence.

    St.Sharbel Maronite several miles south of downtown and about a mile east of the South Point Hotel. Somewhat like the Novus Ordo in its presentation but with more prayers and added rituals to the Liturgy.
    another good expeirence. They have an English Mass and an Arabic Mass.

    St. Gabriel the Archangel Ruthenian-Byzantine,2250 Maule ave., just south of McCarren airport. I have not been there. I have attended other Ruthenian Parishes. Another good venture. the Liturug is in English.

    I hope these selections help you out.

  • I was once told, by a priest knowledgeable about canon law, that nothing in Church law forbids a person from holding membership in more than one parish. You can hold membership in your territorial neighborhood parish AND also enroll in another parish if there is good reason to do so — for example, if that parish has a school in which you want to enroll your children, if it has priests who speak your native language, or if it has liturgies of a different rite (including TLM) that are not available at your “home” parish. If you belong to more than one parish, of course, you have a certain obligation to support both, financially and by your attendance.

  • John R.,

    It doesn’t necessarily have to be pre-Vatican II type of architecture.

    What’s important is a good and holy priest.

    And thanks for the recommendations.

    The eastern rites are awesome.

    Saint Joseph, Husband of Mary, was my old parish. It has since gone off the deep end and are heretical.

    Part of the reason for this posting.

    Thanks for all the suggestions!

  • I’m a 19 year old who lives in Spokane, WA. But I use to live in Las Vegas when I was a kid for about 10 years. From my experience, I would recommand St. Joseph, Husband of Mary.
    As John Rondina posted, “It is a rather new building but it is beautifuly done inside and out. An intresting mix of old and new on the inside.”
    All the priests that I use to know when I attended to that Church were simple, orthodox Catholics who always pledged their obedience to the decrees of the Apostolic See. However, I do not know what the new priests are like now.
    But I say give it a try with my beloved Church. I do miss going there every Sunday.
    Also, I ask many of you to please pray for me as I will be entering the Seminary soon. I pray that I will be studying under the guidance and leader of His Excellency, Bishop Robert Vasa from the Diocese of Baker, Oregon.
    May our Heavenly Father continue to bless all of you and the U.S. Constitution

  • Andrew R.,

    Sadly that church isn’t what it used to be.

  • Tito:

    I tend to agree with the ones who questioned whether or not this was a good idea. Parish-shopping isn’t a great thing, especially when you’re picking churches in part based on architecture. Screwtape #16 has a lot to say on this-

    I had more typed, but I decided this would make a good post to kick off the week with. 😉

  • To Tito Edwards:
    It breaks my heart that many Catholic Americans are drifting away from the teachings of the Catholic Church, especially from the decrees of the Holy See.

    Praying the Rosary always facilitates the situations that any Catholic faces in life. Hopefully our Blessed Mother will guide us to Her Son and comfort us when we need to be comforted.

    I look forward to your response, Tito. God Bless

  • Michael D.,

    Apparently you chose to ignore what I have, and others, previously posted.

    The sheep need to be fed, not to be talked down to like you and your cohorts have done.

  • Ypu might got To Francis Beckwith’s place (Return to ROme) and ask him in the comments. He is from Vegas and of course still has family there.

  • I highly recommend St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish in the Summerlin area of Las Vegas. I have also heard good things about St. Francis in Henderson, Nevada, which is the largest city adjacent to Las Vegas. The latter can be found here: http://www.sfahdnv.org/ The former here: http://www.parishesonline.com/scripts/hostedsites/Org.asp?ID=6911

    Whenever we are in Vegas–which is often–my wife and I attend the 4 pm Saturday Vigil mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. We do so because it has a solid pastor and it is literally across the street from my sister-in-law’s home, where we stay when we are in Vegas.

  • Francis,

    Thank you for those recommendations.

    I truly appreciate the suggestions and will be visiting all of them when I visit my family and bring them along.

    In a nutshell, if the pastor is solid, then the parish will follow.

  • Tito, I do not understand my comment to be a distraction. I think it’s a direct response to what you are talking about here.

    I don’t appreciate your sarcasm or you ignoring it, though.

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  • Regarding St Joseph Husband of Mary – you may be able to avoid liturgical abuse there, but you are not getting any chant! Fr Marc is not a fan of it. You get a lot of Protestant hymns. Bleh!

    Your best bet for a reverently celebrated Mass is St Bridgets 9:30am Mass. Even though they dont have a choir (which is by choice – my chant group offered and were turned down) the congregation chants. Communion has a recording of chant.

    St Francis used to be pretty solid. But is no longer, ever since Fr Greg left.

    Dont personally know about St Elizabeth Ann Seton but I have heard good things.

    A decent parish is hard to find. Half the churches here qualify as protestant. Sad. Stay away from Christ the King Parish – they have liturgical dance! I still do not understand why the Bishop refuses to crack down on them!

  • Forgot to mention St Brigets 9:30 Mass is Novus Ordo in Latin

  • Tito,

    It’s ironic to me that you would indicate that you are interested in finding a parish in Las Vegas that has a good and holy priest at a parish that adheres to the Magisterium; yet you seem to discourage a 19-year-old (Andrew Ridgley) who tells you that he will be entering the seminary. Instead of offering encouragement for his holy vocation (especialy during this time of a shortage of priests), you tell him that the church isn’t what it used to be. To add insult to injury, you don’t even reply to him when he says that he is looking forward to hearing back from you. Honestly, I don’t get your thinking.

    My family has lived in Las Vegas for many years. I don’t live there now, but I go back to visit regularly. Growing up there, I attended Catholic elementary and high schools. When I began reading your post, I understood your reason for asking for input from others. However, I have to say that you lost me after I read your response to Andrew. Thanks be to God, Andrew sounds like someone who will not be easily dissuaded. I will pray for him, and others like him.

  • I think you misread what I said.

Does It Matter How You Tithe?

Sunday, April 25, AD 2010

Our parish is deploying “e-giving”, and asking people to strongly consider setting up a weekly or monthly electronic donation rather than getting envelopes. (If you sign up for the e-giving, they stop mailing you envelopes.)

The benefits for the parish are pretty obvious: the expense of sending out envelopes to nearly a thousand families are pretty high, this regularizes their income and makes it smoother and more predictable, etc. In my case, there’s actually an additional incentive to give electronically — if I have the money deducted directly from my paycheck through my company’s charitable giving campaign, they’ll match my donations, doubling the amount.

I have a certain amount from each paycheck set up to be sent to the parish through the corporate matching program, but up till now I’ve been hesitant to do all our tithing that way. There are two reasons for this:

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15 Responses to Does It Matter How You Tithe?

  • I think your last paragraph analysis is pretty much right. I’d give little weight at all to the first concern. Payroll deduction actually means you are paying your tithe first, which demonstrates proper priorities. The second concern is legitimate, but can be easily addressed by family discussions. Indeed, not paying via basket teaches your children that they should not be motivated by what other parishioners might think, but only by actually fulfilling their obligation. This can be done as part of a family discussion about the importance of a child’s weekly contribution.

  • In many parish schools, one of the conditions for accepting children is that the parents must commit to practice of the faith, including regular Mass attendance. The argument is: Catholic instruction at school must be reinforced by a commitment at home. They are told that collection envelopes may be used to demonstrate this; if unable to contribute, drop an empty envelope in the basket.

    And, of course, every so often someone complains to a newspaper reporter that the school has told them they should withdraw their children because they don’t go to Mass.

  • I would think there’s some value in teaching kids about automatic deductions.

  • Well, DC, I agree with you and Mike P. above, as I seriously doubt that parish envelopes as such will even be used any longer by the time your kids are adults and ready to tithe. Technology may be a bane in many ways, but it leaves behind any and all who don’t adjust to its existence in the long run. I think one way to remind the children is to continue asking them to contribute to the collection basket with their own money, and reminding them each time that mom and dad do it electronically because they don’t get paid an allowance in cash each week like the kids do. Kids are bright, and the lesson won’t be lost on them! 🙂

  • I heard a priest say somewhere, “if you do not feel a slight pit in your stomach after the collection plate comes along, you probably aren’t giving enough.” I agree with this priest, and I think that parish-pay type schemes do make this self-giving almost without challenge. If it’s automatic, you’re not thinking about it. If you’re not thinking about it, it’s probably not that difficult for you.

  • My church now gets a monthly withdrawal from my checking account. I might not feel the pinch when the collection plate comes around, but I definitely feel it when I divvy up the money each month and there isn’t much for frills or entertainment.

    I think I might also start tithing my monthly surplus–the money I have left after all the expenses are paid, either because I spent less or earned more.

  • If your biggest giver gives five dollars in cash, you give five dollars in cash when the basket comes around.

    That balances the good of doubling the funds while still giving an example– make sure the kids know about the auto, too!

    You might even want to talk to them about this, when they’re old enough.

  • While the church I currently belong to does not offer direct withdrawal, the church I grew up in had the option. They still sent envelopes to everyone and you could just check a box that said “automatic withdrawal.” My parents explained it when I was old enough to understand it, and I never thought much of it.

    I wish our parish would get automatic withdrawal, though. We have a lot of parishioners who church-hop between neighboring parishes, and I think this would net us more in the collection overall.

  • “if you do not feel a slight pit in your stomach after the collection plate comes along, you probably aren’t giving enough.”

    I confess to a certain irritation hearing this type of remark from priests who normally have the basics of life provided for them, who do not have offspring to send to college and who do not compete in the market place. From some of the comments I have heard over the years I get the distinct impression that in the view of some priests money simply magically appears and that one can effortlessly contribute large sums from this mystical benefice to the Church. I personally believe that most people, including myself, do not contribute enough. However I also think that too many priests shortchange the effort necessary to produce the money that is contributed, and the sacrifices that such contributions entail for families that do make an effort to do their share.

  • The tithe (tenth) belongs to God and having it automatically withdrawn seems convenient and even beneficial when you have a corporate matching program. However, an additional offering is where the real show of love and sacrifice comes in. I very much believe in the value of showing children the importance of giving each week. Perhaps that can be done by giving an offering (above and beyond the tithe) through the standard envelope. The value is that it allows you to give as you feel led and demonstrate to your children the importance of giving. You can still explain that you tithe electronically.

  • I don’t know how old your kids are, or how much of a bad example it might be to them. But there are enough second collections, spaghetti dinners, poor boxes, rice bowls, and Christmas gift trees that they should be able to see you make contributions even if you’ve got direct payment.

  • THere is no more “first-fruits” than payroll deduction. IT avoids the temptation to “know better”, and you get accustomed to doing without that 10% (or whatever one tithes, though I guess the true definition of a tithe is 10% of gross). Just watching us dump bills into the collection plate doesn’t really teach our children the right thing, I don’t think. A kid has no conceptof the value of a check (or even what a check represents). And I am not sure that seeing your five dollar bill go in (I think it teaches them that $5.00 is a good amount to put into the basket, which is sadly wrong!).

    SO…for what it’s worth, I think Automatic Withdrawal is a great idea!

  • Wow…saw one of the follow-up comments (took too long to post this one!), and had to comment.

    PLee commented above that the contribution *above* the tenth was where the real sacrifice kicks in.

    How many people wouldn’t feel a sting when the Tenth was gone? Except for a few of the very rich in our church, I would submit that oe tenth of our gross income is a large sum to tithe, almost no matter how much one makes.

    Of course we cannopt outgive God… But why would we try to do so by tithing more than the first-fruits as commanded? God said one-tenth. Are we holier because we donate one eighth? Nope.

  • I like Darwin learned from my mom handing me the envelope to put in the collection. I don’t think family discussions are as powerful as the physical act/demonstration an I think it’s real important to if at all possible continue the physical act-not just for your children but also for others. While on the one hand you don’t want to be doing it for your pride (so others can see me), you want others to see that Catholics do give & tithe.

    I would see if you can do a little of both-e-give most of it, and have some left over to physically put in the collection. Of course, that assumes the your means allows you to do that but I think if you can do that balancing act it would be better.

  • GIRM 73:

    “It is well also that money or other gifts for the poor or for the Church, brought by the faithful or collected in the church, should be received. These are to be put in a suitable place but away from the eucharistic table.”

    Interesting that the second priorities are gifts for the Church and a collection and placed near the altar, which is usually how it is done.

    How many parishes offer the primary options here regularly? A collection for the poor, or an opportunity for people to bring these gifts (to that place away from the altar?

    I like the electronic format, but my daughter has participated in other collections our parishes have offered. And even though there’s direct deposit of charitable funds, that doesn’t prevent us from writing the occasional check for a special cause, or when a little extra income has come to us.

The Dangers of Hobby Catholicism

Thursday, July 2, AD 2009

More years ago than it would be legal for me to confess, I fell in love with beer brewing as a result of reading the charmingly entitled An Essay on Brewing, Vintage and Distillation, Together With Selected Remedies for Hangover Melancholia: Or, How to Make Boozeby John Festus Adams. Adams opens with an extended discussion of what sort of hobby book this will not be, recounting his experience with a book on growing mushrooms. Written by the Brit who Took Food Seriously, it eventually became clear to Adams while reading this book that the author did not actually expect him to be able to master this most occult of gardening hobbies. It took skill. It took patience. It took a ton of fresh horse manure which simply be be obtained fresh (preferably from a ladies’ riding academy) and in the quantity of about half a ton. And it must be composted for six months — no more and no less. It must be turned every four weeks — not three weeks and certainly not five. And if you weren’t prepared to do all these things Right, there was really no point in doing it at all, because your mushrooms, if they even grew, would be No Good At All.

This, Adams promised, was not the sort of book he was setting out to write. His book was a book about brewing for those who actually wanted to brew. And it was based on the theory that they would brew, and the resulting beer would be pretty good when they did.

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11 Responses to The Dangers of Hobby Catholicism

  • Thank you for the helpful reminder. It’s easy to fall into thinking our particular interpretation of Catholic doctrine is the One. True. Interpretation., but, of course, then we’ve generally established our own, much smaller, church in the process.

    I would only add that, even more than a belief, Catholicism is a relationship. I am frequently reminded of John 15, when Jesus says “I am the vine, you are the branches…apart from me you can do nothing.” Even belief and action, very good things in themselves, and very great gifts, are wasted without prayer.

  • 1 ¶ If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
    2 And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
    3 And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
    4 ¶ Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely, is not puffed up,
    5 Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil:
    6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth:
    7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

    1 Cor 13: 1-7 (DRV)

    Forgive me if I missed the cryptic vulgarity that might have actually been present in the Greek; after all, I’m not an Iafratist scriptural scholar but rather a biblical illiterate, no less; which apparently in Christ’s Kingdom means I’m consigned to the lowest dregs of Heaven’s heirachy or, even worse, destined to the lower bowels of Hell.

  • Hey, did you here? Kmiec gets Malta!

    http://www.lifenews.com/int1254.html

  • Oops, that should be “hear”.

  • I agree with you, e., but let’s leave that one on the thread where it came from.

    While this seemed apropos, I’d actualy had the post on the back burner for some weeks, and I like to think the point is generally applicable. 🙂

  • Oh, and Philip, I hadn’t heard. That’s interesting. I’m trying to think if that’s a slap or a prize or both.

  • Everyone I know who’s been to Malta has liked it. But it certainly ain’t Rome.

  • I meant it as no disrespect to Malta, but as diplomatic posts go, I can’t imagine its what one could persuade onself is important.

  • DarwinCatholic:

    Actually, your post seems very apropos to such a circumstance as that.

    It kinda reminds me of why St. Francis himself was initially opposed to the study of theology for those of his order; he thought that such knowledge would puff them up.

    It wasn’t until the great Anthony of Padua convinced him otherwise that he came to change his mind on the matter.

  • There’s nothing wrong with pursing Catholic doctrine or history as a “hobby” or “special interest” in the same way one might pursue history, literature, art, gardening, fishing, sports, etc. as a hobby or for enjoyment. I do this to some extent myself. I actually enjoy learning about stuff like bishops’ coats of arms, the different types of Monsignors, the “call letters” of different religious orders (OSB, CSC, OFM, etc.)

    But… the thing one has to watch out for is mistaking one’s “geeky” interest in all things Catholic for genuine holiness, or assuming that it makes one a “better” or wiser Catholic than others not so inclined. Just because I can name the last 10 or so popes or can identify the 20-some different rites of the Catholic Church doesn’t mean I’m any closer to God or any more holy than someone who doesn’t know or couldn’t care less about these things.

  • I just stumbled upon this site and as a traditional Roman Catholic (I detest having to define it so pointedly, but these days…) I am impressed with what appears to be lots of wisdom here,(as opposed to expertese)

    I fully recognize the danger, having too much knowledge of faith, rubs elbows with. The Church has seen plenty of doctrinal and biblical experts who no longer seemed able to locate their knees for bending in humility and prayer.
    I had the wonderful experience of dealing with the lofty only to finally recognize true faith in my simple Mother-in-law.One day as she was ironing shirts for her poor tenent from Poland, I, concerned she was being used by him, spoke up, only to be told, “If I don’t iron his shirts for him, who will?”
    I hung my head -having been taught a valuable life lesson by a Catholic woman who spent much of her life on her knees praying.
    This finally taught me how the simple folks have just as much chance for attaining heaven as do the brilliant theologians. I have since learned – maybe even a better chance. Intellegence, like beauty, can be a cross and/or an obstacle.

Staying Rooted in Parish Life

Friday, June 26, AD 2009

I suspect that my family was hardly unique among serious Catholics in the 80s in that my parents often found working around our parish to be key to bringing their children up with a strong appreciation of the Catholic faith. When I was in 2nd and 3rd grade my mother helped teach CCD for a while, until the point where a fiat was handed down from the DRE on lent: There will be no discussion of Christ’s suffering and death and crucifixes should not be on display in any classrooms for the younger kids — that would be too scary. (I believe this was the same DRE who gave an inspirational talk about how one of her deepest spiritual experiences was cutting shapes out of construction paper. Nice lady, but not what you’d call a deep thinker in matters of religion.)

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5 Responses to Staying Rooted in Parish Life

  • Good post. One of the things I’ve done in the past few years is to reset my filters, so to speak, so I do not end up finding the heretical where it just might not be. Our parish is solid but not ideal. However, the liturgy is not jimmied with and religious education is unmistakably Catholic. I agree that getting involved can make a big difference–more than I think a lot of the “burnt” realize.

  • Yes, very good post. This is something we struggle with constantly. When we moved nine years ago, we chose a house first, and a parish second, i.e., we did what most people do and joined the parish near our new home. I didn’t think enough about the importance of a healthy parish for the ongoing formation of my family. The “problem” now is that we have so many connections with the parish — friends, school, etc. — that it would be disruptive to uproot my family for a faithful place. (There is no reasonable prospect that things will improve for the foreseeable future.) So we stay connected with friends at the parish, send our kids to the parish school, and catechize them at home, but almost always worship elsewhere. Were I to do it over again, I’d choose the parish first and then find a house nearby.

  • One more thing. Getting involved with official functions of the parish will not help. There is a deeply entrenched culture of dissent at work there (as there is throughout the Archdiocese of Cincinnati), and the powers-that-be have spent several decades honing skills to marginalize committed Catholics.

  • One thing that I remember a Jesuit (not my parish priest) saying was “We all believe in slightly different ways.” I have no problem “parish shopping” rather than taking a strictly geographic approach. I have found that a number of the leading lay people at my parish don’t live anywhere close to the church property. They’ve tried other parishes and ended up with us. On the other hand, a friend who is very conservative goes to a very traditional parish across town.
    I went to a different parish for 25 years, until a new pastor made some changes in mass times that messed up my schedule. I went looking elsewhere and found a parish that had a better physical layout (basic fact: if you are short, don’t sit in the back) and, I found, had warm, friendly people, at least in my opinion.
    Coming from the other direction, as someone who does something at Mass most Sundays, I have recently been reminded that we need to include everyone, not just the familiar faces. A friend and his wife started coming to our parish recently, dissatisfied with the pastor at their former church. He and his wife were astonished when I asked them to bring up the gifts one Sunday. “That never would have happened at [his previous parish.] They only asked the inner circle.”

  • I certainly have no objection to choosing a parish which one is not geographically in. In fact, I’m not 100% sure if we’re geographically in our parish or not — we’re on the border. It just strikes me that if at all possible, one must after choose a parish “live in it” in the sense of participating in it as a Catholic community to the greatest extent reasonable. (Obviously, if the RE program or some such in your parish really is likely to damage your kids, then not, but one needs to think seriously whether you’re looking at “damage” or “be less than perfect”.