Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What Really Happened at St. Francis of Assisi

Friars from St. Francis of Assisi Church, Manhattan
I have already done a short post on the Vortex episode in which Michael Voris describes what he saw and experienced at the St. Francis of Assisi "Pre Pride Mass" in Manhattan.  I was also at that Mass, so I think I can contribute something here.

As I said in my post, Voris starts out with complete misrepresentations of what was said right at the beginning of the Mass.  Voris claims:
The Mass began with an announcement that the Mass was for the homosexual Pride celebrations going on all over the city all weekend. It was being held in conjunction with that.
As I mentioned in my first post, that is a completely untrue.  No such thing was ever said.  The exact words used at the Mass were:
Know that everyone is welcome here at St. Francis, especially this evening as we celebrate this pre-pride liturgy. If you are here for the first time, we are delighted to have you and if you are always here with us, I don't know what we would do without you.
Absolutely nothing was said about any of the "homosexual Pride celebrations going on all over the city all weekend" or that "it was being held in conjunction with that." That is just not true. Voris is supposedly a reporter by trade. He has flunked big time on that one.

Voris then says:
It proceeded without any great display of debauchery or the like. In fact it was somewhat tame as far as the billing before hand.
Notice the kind of language Voris uses: "without any great display of debauchery", "somewhat tame." Oh please. It wasn't just "no great display of debauchery." There was NO "display of debauchery" of any kind.  It wasn't just "somewhat tame."  It was done completely as a Catholic Mass should be done, no deviating from the rubrics in any way whatsoever, following the GIRM exactly.

But according to Voris, the fact that the Mass was completely orthodox is "just the point":
But that’s just the point. See – there is no need for raucous Masses and gay flags hanging from the rafters and so forth because in many Catholic parishes all around the country, the world for that fact, active homosexuality has become normalized and its just accepted that sodomy is nothing more than just one more item on a long list of things that the Church needs to dump
According to Voris, the fact that St. Francis celebrated a truly orthodox Mass is nothing more than a ruse to push their "pro homosexual agenda."  How can that be?
It’s just no big deal for the people sitting in the pews. They just discard the Church’s teaching and move on with their lives – as the Vatican ITSELF has reported in the run up to the October Synod.
So orthodox, beautifully celebrated Masses, according to Voris, are just as dangerous as "raucous Masses and gay flags hanging from the rafters and so forth" because the people sitting in the pews "discard the Church's teaching and move on with their lives."

It seems there is just no winning with Voris.  Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Voris then interviews one attendee of the Mass, and gets ambiguous answers as to Church teaching, and uses this one person - out of at least 300 hundred who attended the Mass - to show that everyone else there does not follow Church teaching.

Not too many pollsters would accept this kind of finding.

Also, from this one interview, Voris makes a judgment on the entire Church worldwide:
So there is this deliberate confusion being sewn about the Church’s teaching. Priests and bishops who either support this or don’t fight it by setting the record straight with CLEAR teaching are aware of this.

They know the vast majority of Catholics simply don’t give a hoot about the teachings and leaders let them remain in their stubbornness of heart or willful ignorance – take your pick.

Because many priests are aware that most people in the pews reject many Church teachings, they can phrase themselves and parse their words in such a way as to give a green light to the heretical state of heart, without actually coming out and saying it point blank.
Voris uses one interview with one person to show that the entire Church worldwide is basically apostate, and that priests and bishops "either support this or don’t fight it by setting the record straight with CLEAR teaching."

Wow. I sure hope our Lord doesn't use this standard when it comes to judging us individually.

Then Voris finally mentions the sermon given that day. However, he takes one quote from it, which is actually the last words spoken in the sermon:
“Jesus was not asking Peter whether he loved Jesus more than other Christians, but if he loved Jesus AND all the other, more than those things that for so long had made Peter feel secure .. perhaps even his ideas.
And what if these things applied to us? Include things such as preconceptions, hardheartedness, and prejudice. If it includes these things, and then Jesus turns to us and asks a simple question: do you love Me more than these?"
Voris is giving only a partial quote, and even more importantly, he does not tell us anything of what was said before this which obscures and hides the true meaning of these words.  Following are the exact words that were spoken by Father:
Perhaps Jesus was not asking Peter whether he loved Jesus more than other Christians, but if he loved Jesus AND all others more than those things that for so long made Peter feel secure: his life as a fisherman, the tools of his trade, perhaps even his ideas.

And what if these things applied to us. Include things such as preconception, hardheartedness, and prejudice. If it includes these things, and then Jesus turns to us, and asks a simple question: do you love me more than these?
Voris gives us his interpretation of what these words mean:
Considering that this was a pre-Pride Mass, that the parish has a deserved reputation for “welcoming” active homosexuals without ever counseling them that the lifestyle is sinful and they shouldn’t receive Holy Communion until they have turned from the sin – considering all these things and others – it is quite clear what the priest meant in his homily.

Those who oppose the sin of homosexuality are suffering under preconceptions, are hardhearted and prejudice. We could never tolerate such things as Catholics.
Since it is almost a sure bet that no one in Voris' audience had a chance to attend this Mass (and most would probably shun it like the plague, anyway), I will tell you what came before the last words in the sermon quoted by Voris. If you are interested in reading the entire sermon, I posted a complete transcript of it HERE.

The text of the sermon was from John 21:15-19, wherein Jesus asks Peter three times if Peter loves Him. When Peter says yes, Jesus responds by telling Peter to feed His sheep.

In the sermon, the priest discussed the meaning of Christ's question to Peter, "Do you love me more than these" which Father said could have two possible meanings: "(1) Do you love me more than you love these other disciples? Or (2) do you, Peter, love me more than you love these tools of your trade, your life as a fisherman, what has become familiar and comfortable to you?"

It is important to remember who this sermon was directed to. This was a "pre-pride Mass", meaning these were questions for everyone there, of course, but specifically directed towards the homosexual community who were present.

At one point, Father started talking about sheep and how we, as human beings resemble them, and this is why he loves the metaphor of sheep and why he loves to talk about this:
This is why I love this metaphor of sheep. It actually describes us well. Sheep stink. Sheep have all sorts of grubby things that cling to them. Sheep routinely lose their way. On their own, they will wander off, get lost and eventually they'll fall victim, perhaps, to some predator. Outside of the sheepfold, their future is very bleak. They will not survive long.

In order for us to survive, we need to be a part of a community. If we are excluded from that community, we will not do well. More importantly, if we are pushed away from the sheepfold, it would seem that the shepherds are not doing a very good job.
 
Think again of who was invited to this Mass:  the Gay community who have lost their way and are no longer a part of the Church.  He was telling them that, like sheep separated from the fold, they won't survive if they are not part of the community.  "Outside of the sheepfold, their future is very bleak. They will not survive long."  This is a subtle but clear call for those who have left the Church to come back to us, that they need us as much as we need them.  And the priest was reminding us that no one should ever be pushed away, that "if we are pushed away from the sheepfold, it would seem that the shepherds are not doing a very good job."

Now we come to the final words of the sermon, which Voris sort of quoted:
Perhaps Jesus was not asking Peter whether he loved Jesus more than other Christians, but if he loved Jesus AND all others more than those things that for so long made Peter feel secure: his life as a fisherman, the tools of his trade, perhaps even his ideas.

And what if these things applied to us. Include things such as preconception, hardheartedness, and prejudice. If it includes these things, and then Jesus turns to us, and asks a simple question: do you love me more than these?
Voris interprets these words as "Those who oppose the sin of homosexuality are suffering under preconceptions, are hardhearted and prejudice. We could never tolerate such things as Catholics." Voris says this is the only interpretation because it is a "Pre Pride Mass."

Actually Voris' interpretation is totally wrong for the very reason he cited - it was a "Pre Pride Mass." Once again, who was the priest directing his comments to? Who was invited to this Mass? It wasn't straight people who have a prejudice against homosexuals. As I pointed out in my very first post on this subject, I couldn't even get a friend to come into the Mass because the word "pride" was used.

Father was asking the homosexual community these questions. They were the ones being asked, "And what if these things applied to us? Include things such as preconception, hardheartedness, and prejudice. If it includes these things, and then Jesus turns to us, and asks a simple question: do you love me more than these?"

The priest was gently and subtly asking the Gay people at this Mass, "Will you give up your preconceptions, hardheartedness and prejudice? Will you love Jesus more than these?" Gay people assume that the Catholic Church hates them and condemns them. That is their prejudice, their preconceptions, their hardheartedness. But like lost sheep, they need to come home or they will not survive.

This sermon was a beautiful call to the Gay people there to come home. How could it be anything else? They were the ones to whom this sermon was directed.

Those listening to Voris will never really know what happened at this Mass. They will only get his slanted and deceptive view of it.

I can only tell you what I saw that day. I saw a packed Church participating in a beautifully celebrated Mass and given an outstanding sermon about how important it is to be part of the church.

Many have complained to me that there was no talk about how sinful and destructive homosexuality is, that they were not told their eternal souls are at stake, that they need to come out of homosexuality NOW. It doesn't matter what else was said if these things were not said.

We live in a world that is basically a spiritual concentration camp. Unless we put a lot of effort into fighting it, we are pretty much cut off from the things of God and the essential spiritual food we need to survive. We are like the victims of concentration camps who have been surviving on bits and pieces of food and are spiritual walking skeletons.

When the Nazi concentration camps were liberated, it was very important to let the prisoners eat only small portions of food at a time. Their stomachs had shrunk so much from lack of food that if they ate too much too quickly, they would die because their digestive systems couldn't handle the food.

Those who have been away from the Church, who are spiritually starved, cannot handle a lot of Church teaching all at once. They need to be brought slowly into the Church. The first thing they need to know is that they are loved and welcomed. This is what we always saw with Our Lord. He never turned anyone away. He also didn't start out by telling them they were dirty rotten sinners headed to hell. He healed them, both physically and spiritually, and only then did He say to them "Go and sin no more."

Those in the homosexual community have a superficial idea of what it means to be loved and accepted. Society has condoned their lifestyle and told them they are okay. However, anyone who is caught in a sinful lifestyle knows deep down inside that there is something missing. Homosexuals tend to be very promiscuous, having hundreds and even thousands of sexual encounters. This is because they are searching, trying to fill that spiritual void inside of themselves. By accepting them, society has actually made it worse. In the past, they could say the reason they were so miserable is because they were ostracized and persecuted by society. Now even that excuse has been taken away from them. They can't hide behind that anymore and it has actually made the pain worse.

St. Francis of Assisi Church, by having a "Pre Pride Mass" during one of the most shameful weekends of the year in New York City, performed a great service. They were giving these people a chance to break free, for an hour or so, and spend some time in the presence of Jesus Christ. Terry Nelson of Abbey Roads, whom I love dearly, has chastised me saying that whenever the word "pride" and the rainbow flag are used, that means support for Gay Rights. Terry, I was at the Mass. That Mass was all about bringing people back to Christ. Yes, they used the symbols of the Gay community to draw them in, but how else would you have them do it? Don't we have to speak the language that people understand?

I do wish Michael Voris had listened more closely to the sermon. He was blinded by his "preconceptions, hardheartedness and prejudice." He came there with his mind already made up that this was an apostate Mass led by heretics. His mind was not open at all to the fact that this could actually be a way of trying to draw Gay Catholics back into the Church. He was completely closed to the fact that a Catholic Church could actually reach out in love and mercy to those souls who are in desperate need of the saving grace of the Gospel.

And he has now spread his blindness and preconceptions to who knows how many thousands who are listening to him.

We need to reach out with love and compassion to our Gay brothers and sisters. We need to do whatever we can to bring them back home. Yes, there are church communities who have gone over the line and are, in effect, endorsing the Gay lifestyle. But that is not what I saw at St. Francis of Assisi.

I suppose I'm going to be blasted on this post just as I have been for all my recent posts. I will delete any hateful, bigoted comments. The rest of you, go ahead. I will not be answering you for the most part.

11 comments:

  1. It is so important to remember that it is not what is preached that matters, but what is heard.
    The Mass was advertised as "Pre-Pride Mass" with a rainbow background.
    That is a fact that cannot be escaped. "Pride" had a definite meaning as well as the rainbow. At least, the use was somewhat deceptive in trying to draw in those supporting homosexual activity.
    That said, you are correct to give a charitable understanding to the priest's sermon, which incidentally was based on the Gospel required for the Vigil Mass. (There was a different Gospel required at the Sunday Mass.) Perhaps he was challenging the pro-gay worshippers to challenge their own prejudices.
    But, as you also noted that the priest gave the same homily at the Mass before the "Pre-Pride Mass." So, to whom was he addressing those words?
    As is well know, it is the homosexual activists who accuse Catholics and others of being “prejudiced” because we do not accept sexual activity outside marriage as good.
    Father may have not intended it, but his homosexual activist hearers, being welcomed to a “Pre-Pride Mass” may have felt validated. Moreover, since he did not point out the different words for love in Greek, he missed a chance to show that love is not about carnal self-satisfaction but about self-sacrifice for God.
    The fact that Voris may have misunderstood Father is significant. It means Father’s sermon in context could be taken in more than one meaning. There is no reason to disbelieve Voris that an usher tried to send him away. (Although it is not clear that that usher was acting on orders.) But, Voris’ interpretation of the homily is just as valid as yours because of the deceptive context of the advertisement and opening welcome to “Pre-Pride Mass.” Perhaps in the future, the Franciscans will avoid making Mass for particular groups and just advertise “Holy Mass.”
    -Bruce T.

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  2. First comment makes a good point about the homily. Your interpretation of it is an interpretation of a faithful Catholic who accepts Church's teaching and who is educated in Faith. However, those gay people (great majority of them) are not faithful Catholics and don't accept the Church's teaching. Their interpretation is certainly different (closer to the interpretation Voris suggested). So why did the priest have such an ambiguous homily which can be interpreted in different ways at a Mass that was already too ambiguous without that? Why didn't he mention and uphold the Church's teaching at least in some way?

    But that's not the biggest problem here. In your attempt to defend this parish and to prove Voris was wrong, you are missing the whole point - it is not only about that particular homily or that particular mass, it's about the whole situation in that and other similar "gay friendly" parishes. The parishioners openly reject the teaching of the Church and the clergy practically supports that! They say nothing to their parishioners to turn them away from sin! Nothing! They have a LGBT-ministry and that ministry is all about "tolerance" and "gay spirituality" and garbage like that. Church's teaching is nowhere to be found. Do you really belive that clergy at those parishes totally accepts the Church's teaching on homosexuality? If they really do (which I highly doubt), then they are doing a terrible job preaching on it.

    Souls are at stake and they do nothing to save them. By promoting false tolerance and by tolerating or even supporting open dissent to Church, they are not doing a favor to those people. I can understand that some people (inside the Church) want to undermine the Church and her teaching on this matter, but I really can't understand faithful Catholics like you who are turning a blind eye to these scandals.


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    1. My only question is, how do you support Voris lying about what was said at the Mass?

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    2. Michael Voris is not important in this story! Even if he had maliciously and intentionally lied, the disturbing situation in those "gay friendly" parishes is still what is more important! You constantly turn the subject to Voris in order to avoid giving answers to concrete questions.

      You refuse to see blatant facts about this scandal, and that is your main problem. To you, Michael Voris and his "lies" are bigger concern than catholic parishes which, more or less openly, reject Church's teaching. I don't doubt that you are faithful and well-intentioned catholic, but that is one more reason why I really can't understand your viewpoint and your striving to downplay something that is a huge problem in the Church and that has a great potential to become even bigger in the future (just see what's going on in Austria, for example).

      I have no will to give you more arguments because you will ignore them, just like you ignored them in my previous posts.

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    3. Emir, I ask you sincerely to forgive me. I have not given your comments the attention they deserve, and I apologize. I understand your concern, and you are absolutely right that homosexuality is a big problem in the Church. Voris is right in one thing when he says that homosexuality is the basis for the sex abuse scandal. There can be no doubt of that.

      Homosexuality has become and probably will become an even bigger problem because society no longer views it as deviant behavior. As I have mentioned, in the past homosexuals could blame the pain in their lives on society because they were persecuted and ostracized. Now that this is no longer true, they have to find someone else to blame for their pain. There is only one group of people who still believe that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered, and that is the Catholic Church. Despite those who want that teaching to be changed, you and I know it cannot and never will be changed. This now makes the Catholic Church the number one enemy of homosexuals.

      The more we condemn them with our words and actions, the more excuse they will have to attack us. I thought the Mass at St. Francis was very beautiful because it was such a subtle and gentle call for gays to put aside their prejudices and come home. No, there were no words of condemnation, no reminders that they are living sinful, deviant lives. The only purpose that would have served would be to turn them away. It was a beautiful message and reminder of Christ's great love for us and that we should never put anything else before that love.

      The reason I am so upset with Voris is because his misrepresentations and lies completely obscure this message of true Christian love. Michael Voris, and many others, feel that the only way to save people is to point out their sin and tell them that if they don't change, they will go to hell. Our Lord's message was "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

      This is the message we have to give to the world. You are probably not a big fan of Cardinal Dolan, but he made what I feel is a very profound statement and an excellent reflection of the role of the Church in today's world, where sin is no longer recognized:

      “And so Francis is reminding us, look, if we come across as some crabby, nay saying shrill, we’re not gonna win anybody. If we come across as a loving, embracing holy mother church who says, “Come on in. We love you. We need you. We want you. And once you get to know us, then maybe we can invite you to the conversion of heart that is at the core of the gospel. And then maybe we can talk about changing behavior. That’s a very effective pedagogy.”

      This is what I saw last week at St. Francis of Assisi Church. I think that what they did was just what Our Lord would do if He was walking the earth today. That is why the lies that Michael Voris told upset me so much.

      Emir, I do hope you will continue to read my blog and give me your feedback. Your comments do help me to clarify my thoughts.

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  3. Catholic in Brooklyn. You can spend hours upon hours attempting to "catch" Voris in distortions, but it's irrelevant.
    The implication that saint Francis of Assisi is gay friendly is totally true.
    Nothing Voris reported is untrue.
    The fact their own website has "LGBT" groups, social justice groups, yet nada for pro-life ministry says a lot.
    Their "pre pride mass" is an abomination.
    Michael Voris, being blocked at the door by an usher told it all.
    Your archdiocese is infested with the homosexual agenda, both laity and unfortunately I have a feeling your priests also.
    Your continued desperate attempts to smear mr Voris instead of taking on the problem is very "Sheaesque"'
    Please work on fixing the homosexual apostate problem in your archdiocese, instead of attacking those that live the Church to bring these previously "hush hush" secrets into the open.
    Who knows, maybe one person may repent of their evil homosexual ways, which I bet would make Mr Voris feel all of the attacks and smears were worth it.

    Good bless Michael Voris!

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    1. By the way, how did I know that either "Catholic in Brooklyn" themselves go to this den of sodomites (I'm saying this by looking at their website, NOT what Voris reports) or if not a regular parishioner, I bet you have "freinds" going there?

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    2. Thank you for your comments. They are very enlightening.

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  4. We are not, in being an object of sexual desire/orientation, nor has God ordered us to live our lives in relationship according to sexual desire/orientation, as that would be in direct violation of God's own commandment regarding lust and the sin of adultery. We are sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers...called to be chaste in our thoughts, in our words and in our deeds. God desires that we overcome our disordered inclinations, whatever they may be, so that we are not led into temptation, but become transformed through Salvational Love, God's Gift of Grace and Mercy. It is scandalous that so many refuse to tell the truth; that all persons have the inherent right to authentic Love, a Love that respects the inherent Dignity of all persons, in private and in public; any act, including any sexual act that does not respect our inherent Dignity as a son or daughter, is not an act of Love.

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    1. I understand your concern that people be told the truth about the sinfulness of their actions. The problem is, we must approach them in a way that they will accept. Just directly condemning sin no longer works in our world. They just turn a deaf ear to that.

      So what do we do to reach them?

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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