This is Gay Pride Weekend in many cities across the US and the granddaddy of them all is right here in New York City. This is where it all started at Stonewall in 1969, and the Gay community is out in force this weekend.
For the past few weeks, St. Francis of Assisi Church in midtown Manhattan has been advertising a "Pre Pride Mass" scheduled for the Saturday night before the Gay Pride Parade. Traditional Catholic blogs and websites have been slamming them for this. These Traditionalists specifically used the "Pre Pride Mass" to show the difference between the good and loyal Traditional Catholics of Holy Innocents who are being persecuted by Cardinal Dolan and the "sodomy infested" parishes such as St. Francis of Assisi, who seem to receive Cardinal Dolan's full approval.
A typical example is from "Restore DC Catholicism" from a post entitled, "By His Draconian Treatment Of Father Justin Wylie, Has Cardinal Dolan Shown His True Colors?" [HERE]
Father Justin Wylie, a priest of the Archdiocese of Johannesburg, South Africa was on assignment to New York City as he worked for the Holy See at the United Nations. He was a popular priest at Holy Innocents and greatly championed the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. On May 18th, his sermon included an exhortation for the Archdiocese of New York to send sympathetic priests to shepherd those who had devotion to the Extraordinary Form. For that, not only were his faculties in the Archdiocese of New York revoked, but the Dolan crew saw fit to complain to the Holy See and to the Archdiocese of Johannesburg. I suspect that if Father Wylie had been incardinated in the Archdiocese of New York, he might have found himself laicized.
Renew America, in addition to linking to Father Wylie's sermon, mentions that the Archdiocese plans to have Holy Innocents subsumed into St Francis of Assisi parish. Notice what's on the main page of St Francis of Assisi's website; they are touting their (drums and trumpets, please!) PRE-PRIDE MASS! It doesn't take much imagination to surmise that this is not much more than a pep rally for the Gay Pride orgy that will occur in NYC soon thereafter. The parish has a "gay and lesbian ministry". Odd - I cannot seem to locate their pro-life ministry!
So Cardinal Dolan thinks that Holy Innocent Church should be absorbed into that progressive hornets' nest known as St Francis of Assisi Church? Perhaps this plan sheds some light on the question asked in this post's title.The ultra right wing group, America Needs Fatima, even started an online petition to try to stop the Mass. That petition has now disappeared from the Internet.
|St. Francis of Assisi Church, Manhattan|
When I got there, I saw a Traditionalist whom I personally know standing outside and handing out flyers warning about the Pre Pride Mass and the terrible sin of sodomy. I told him I was going in because I wanted to see for myself. I asked him to do the same. He said he wanted no part of it, for after all, what else could "pride" mean other than that they were celebrating homosexuality? I said that St. Francis did a lot of good things, and we should give them the benefit of the doubt until we know better. He made some comment about Novus Ordo Masses, and I got the feeling that he was afraid he would catch some sort of disease if he went in.
So I went in the Church. There was a Mass being celebrated at the time, and the Church was completely packed. I got there a good hour before the 5:15 Pre Pride Mass, so I thought it would be especially interesting to see if the "regular" Mass was celebrated any differently than the "Pre Pride Mass." I got there just as the priest was giving his sermon. The sermon seemed tailor made to answer all of those blogs and websites that have been condemning the "Pre Pride Mass" for the past month.
This Sunday is the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, and the sermon concerned the passage in the Gospels in which Our Lord asks St. Peter three times, "Do you love me? Then feed my sheep."
From the sermon:
Sheep are docile, dimwitted and dirty. And my dear friends, so are we. This is why I love the sheep metaphor. It actually describes us well. Sheep stink! Sheep have all sorts of grubby little things clinging to them. And sheep routinely lose their way. On their own they wander off, they get lost, and eventually they fall victim to some predator. Outside of the sheepfold, their future is bleak. Alone, they will not survive long. Like them, in order for us to thrive, we need to be part of a community. If we're excluded from the community, we will not do well. And more importantly and sadly, if we are pushed away from the sheepfold, it would appear that the shepherds are not doing a very good job.
Perhaps Jesus was asking Peter, "do you love me more than you love what is comfortable and familiar to you?" Peter had been given a chance, a new beginning, a rebirth. It is very likely that Peter knew that he was both sheep and shepherd. He knew that he had been cared for and therefore he had the duty to care for others. In other words, Peter would have better understood the question than we do. Perhaps 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, his life as a fisherman, the tools of his trade, perhaps even his ideas.Fifteen minutes after this Mass ended, the "Pre Pride Mass" began. The Church was as completely packed for this Mass as it had been for the previous Mass. And this Mass was exactly the same as the previous Mass - the same priest, same prayers, same hymns, and even the same sermon, almost word for word. The only difference was that at the beginning of the Mass, Father thanked the people for coming to the "Pre Pride Mass." There were no rainbow flags, no celebrations of the homosexual lifestyle, no flouting in any way of the Church teaching on homosexuality. In fact, homosexuality was not even mentioned. It was a very orthodox, reverent Mass with absolutely nothing offensive in it to anyone.
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?"
This "Pre Pride Mass" was not in any sense of the word a "pep rally for the Gay Pride orgy that will occur in NYC soon thereafter" as claimed by DC Restore or any of the other Trad websites and blogs. It was just as the Church of St. Francis of Assisi said it was: a call to salvation in Jesus Christ, or as they put it on their website as pictured above, "God loves all people and calls us all into His family!"
Our culture and almost the whole world have come to view homosexuality as a completely normal and acceptable way of life. It was not as necessary in past generations for large ministries to homosexuals because society did a lot of our work for us in that homosexuality was condemned. But now that this lifestyle is accepted in our culture, the Church must respond to this and do so with true Christian charity. Yelling at people and telling them they're all rotten sinners headed to hell will only turn them away and drive them deeper into their sin. The Church must be a warm embracing family, always rejecting the sin, but never the sinner, just as Our Lord showed us in the love He showed towards all people.
As Pope Francis told us, the Church is a hospital. When the wounded come to us, we must first treat their wounds, and then when they are stronger, we can get to the cause of those wounds, which is the sin in their lives. This is what the "Pre Pride Mass" was all about at St. Francis of Assisi.
|Friars from St. Francis of Assisi Church handing out|
food to the homeless
St. Francis of Assisi in Manhattan is a physically beautiful church, having undergone a costly renovation just a few years ago. They offer daily confessions, several Masses each day, daily adoration, many and varied classes and outreach programs, including feeding the hundreds of homeless people in their area.
I truly wish my Traditional Catholic friend had come into the church with me and experienced the love and warmth that was so present there. Thank you, St. Francis of Assisi Church, for opening your doors to those who are so in need of the saving message of the Gospel.
To all those who prejudged and condemned this event, I will repeat Father's words to you: