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“Reckless and harmful.” Who me?

“I want to tell you something. What is it that I expect as a consequence of World Youth Day? I want a mess. We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses! I want to see the church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools or structures. Because these need to get out!” — Pope Francis said at World Youth Day, ending his talk with an off-the-cuff-remark reported by AP, “Don’t forget: make trouble.”

And so I am. Consider it tough love. Really, that above quote, and perhaps the reminder that Jesus himself turned over tables in the temple, are all I need to continue saying what I’m saying without fear and without doubt.

I won’t give the blog post below the dignity of a response other to say that this isn’t me “blowing a fuse.” Trust me, you’ll know when I blow a spiritual fuse, and this isn’t me calling my Church to do better out of “boredom.” This is a faithful daughter of the Church fighting for the institution I love because people are leaving, and I know why they’re leaving and it’s about time I said so.

But, really, you need to read this post because if this is why people give to the Church and why people stay in the Church, then we’ve got bigger problems than I thought. It’s titled, “Avoid Mary DeTurris Poust’s Bad Advice.” Enjoy:

Time constraints prevent my giving Mary DeTurris Poust’s column “Losing my religion” (22 Sep 2013) the attention it deserves, likewise her reiteration of her position in “Words matter” ( 23 Sep 2013), so let me get right to it: Canon 1247 and the First Precept of the Church (CCC 2042) bind Catholics to participate in Mass on Sundays and holy days (irrespective of how crummy the homilies might be) and Canon 222 § 1 and the Fifth Precept of the Church (CCC 2043) bind Catholics to contribute to the materials needs of the Church (irrespective of how ‘welcome’ one feels at the parish).

Neither canon law nor catechetical precept admits of dispensation-by-blog, especially not blogs by folks who should know better than to sit down at a key board while blowing a fuse. Catholics who walk out on Mass because the homilies bore them or who withhold support for the Church because they don’t feel welcome in the parish fail in their duty to render due worship to God and in their duty to share their time and treasure with others. In short, Catholics (including those feeling every bit as frustrated as Poust feels) who follow Poust’s bad advice do so at spiritual peril to themselves.

If Poust would like to add her voice to the chorus of Catholics who have asked for better preaching, and join the throngs of faithful who would like to see the Church more vigorously engaged in the world, fine, but for her to suggest, in the meantime, that quitting Mass and/or cutting off support to the Church is the way to pursue those goals—not to mention her invoking Pope Francis as the inspiration for such a tactic!—is reckless and harmful to others.

With respect, what is “reckless and harmful to others” is watching my Church whither on the vine because I don’t have the courage to speak the truth. While I know the letter of the law, I live by the heart of the law, as Jesus taught.


17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Stef Hoina #

    Sorry, but the only thing reckless and harmful here would be to avoid Mrs. Poust’s advice……there is more to spirituality than attending mass and contributing to the church….those actions must be based on something deeper, must be driven by something more real, in order for them to have true meaning, true value to the soul. I’m sorry but I can’t help but liken it to the Pharisees who thought they were holier than thou….I believe Jesus set them straight…..and Mrs. Poust is doing the same. A brave effort to save her Church. She should be commended not demeaned. If you can’t see what’s at the heart of her message you are blind to the core of your faith.

    September 24, 2013
  2. What an interesting reaction… This person must have felt quite threatened…
    When I read something like this, I go back to my copy of James W. Fowler’s Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning.
    This person could be a Stage 2: Mythic-Literal Faith… “Beliefs are appropriated with literal interpretations, as are moral rules and attitudes. Symbols are taken as one-dimensional and literal in meaning, etc etc etc.”
    We all are at a different place on the spectrum. I like where you are, even though it must be quite a painful place. I don’t think it is possible to try and be a follower of Christ, and not feel spiritual and psychological pain…
    We run into cognitive dissonance at every corner…

    September 24, 2013
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #


      September 24, 2013
  3. He is acting just the way Pope Francis said he shouldn’t act in the interview. Oh my.

    September 24, 2013
  4. I thought that the point of your original post was that you didn’t walk out, although it did cross your mind. I certainly didn’t see it as a call to quit Mass or to cut off support for the Church, but as a call to wake up and strengthen the things that remain (to quote Dylan and St. John the Evangelist).

    September 24, 2013
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      THANK YOU, BRIAN!!!! Would you mind taking out a neon billboard with that message? 😉
      Exactly. I didn’t leave church that day. I’m not telling others to leave The Church. I am telling others to expect more, to want more, to not settle for what they’re getting in many places. I want to build up the Church, but it’s not going to happen by sitting quietly through slow spiritual death and saying, As long as I have the Eucharist I shouldn’t expect anything else from Church.

      Thank you for actually reading what I said and hearing me without any spin.

      September 24, 2013
      • Just to reiterate from a comment I made on another post, and in brief: while it is a Precept of the Faith to contribute monetarily to the support of the Church – the Church universal – that does not necessarily mean one has to support your particular parish, although most moral theologians will advise you have to give at least some nominal support. But if there are many problems, especially any possibility that your money will be transferred to or otherwise spent on any morally dubious projects/efforts/institutions, one can and, in conscience, may have to transfer that monetary support to other, more licit options within the Church.

        Unfortunately, if one digs even moderately deeply, you will find that the vast majority of diocesan parishes support at least some organization or group that is problematic – to put it lightly – from a Catholic moral standpoint.

        September 24, 2013
        • As someone who works in a church, let me say that your comment is not only incorrect, it has the tinge of being immoral.

          But of course, as Pope Francis would say, who am I to judge? Enough with the judgement, my observation is enough.

          September 25, 2013
      • Frank #

        Well, yes … but you did explicitly say you thought Catholics should start walking out of particular liturgies in certain circumstances. I understood you to mean that this would be a tactic for improving those liturgies.

        While I agree that walking out is often the right thing to do, I’m skeptical whether good Fr. Snoozebar would care.

        Yes, I’m cynical.

        September 26, 2013
        • Frank #

          I just realized I’m telling you what you said — and I did it right after I read you don’t like commenters doing that. My apologies.

          September 26, 2013
          • Mary DeTurris Poust #

            No problem. You were just repeating what I said, not trying to create a new storyline by stating something I never said. That’s where I’ve had some problems. Commenters trying to create a new reality for me by making me “for” or “against” various things. I appreciate your comments!

            September 27, 2013
  5. Michael #

    Dear Mary,

    I have followed your articles expressing your discontent and your desire to run from the Catholic faith. Thankfully, you chose not to because of the Real Presence of Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist. I also read that what put you over the edge, as it were, was the poor homily and the lack of a “communal feel.”

    Given that, you seem to have a vision of the ideal Church and what would constitute a beautiful Mass, one, in fact, that, as you note, would prevent countless Catholics from running out the door. A problem, incidentally, that priests have been wrestling with for over 50 years. However, from what I can tell, you haven’t really clarified what that vision might be.

    So, perhaps, maybe in an effort to help those countless priests that might not be connecting with the faithful, would you mind sharing that vision with all of us?

    September 25, 2013
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      Dear Michael,
      Yes, I’d like to talk more about this bit by bit in the coming weeks, months. I don’t think there are any easy answers. I wish I had a nice neat plan. But maybe if we start talking about this we can come up with some ideas together.

      September 27, 2013
  6. mike cliffson #

    Dear Mary:
    Enemedia cherrypicked soundbites badlytranslated at that, are only to be expected. But I think the Holy father deserves better from the faithful. Going from the worlds number two international language to its number one should be no harder than from Latin or Italian to English, unless texmex street conversations with a Latin King are one’s standard.
    I don’t quite know what you’re doing, but your quotes above are a little off.
    “lio ” CAN mean “mess”, amongst a great many : “lio” IS very often more like “hassle.”
    Any given meaning of lio CAN be more precisely expressed in Spanish by a more specific word : some examples a “complicacion” (easy one), or an ” alboroto “(lots of people moving around, frequently riotously and noisily, and so forth, words for “mess ” will vary.
    But a lio can perfectly organized and dignified.
    So WHAT is LIO as a basic concept?
    LIO is a very useful word for the OPPOSITE to something rather alien to the anglosphere and protestant Northern Europe: often called laziness, but latins can work like beavers, 20/24,7/7,365/365, if inspired or obliged or firedup – rather LIO is the opposite of the idea, or ideal, “dolce far niente ” in Italian, of doing NOTHING whatsoever, or even , more subtly ,sticking to routine, rejecting any new idea outof hand, and then relaxing completely.It is “lio” to take a plane, tho all arrangements work like clockwork. It is a lio (believe you me ) to adjust to a new Parish priest, aka Pastor.
    I used the word to defend FR Ray in the UK , under vicious, lying, media attack:
    Fr Ray BTW, who I only know at secondhand , is an example of lio from the language use point of view:
    He could still be a good orthodox holy priest without doing what nobody is asking him to, tho God may! viz and to wit:
    -rebeautifying the parish church . A lot more lio than whitewashing it again .
    -Saying a lot of latin (‘n tridentine?) masses. No mess certainly, more lio.
    -organizing 50% of Brighton’s soup runs.lio all the time
    – dealing with thoise of Brighton’s poor that noone else wilL : lio
    -Blogging.more lio

    Do you anyone for whom s,ay,working for the good counsel network , or outside abortion clinics, or taking the time and trouble to help, hands on, getting yourhands dirty, in thousands of ways, is not” lio”?

    Has the Pope said we’re doing too much,doingit right, or not enough, too NGOly?

    The Holy father , moreover , said this in Rio, albeit publicly, in Panish, not Portugese, specifically and separately TO a gathering of his young pilgrim Argentinian countrymen ,who are from exactly his local version of Hispanic culture and language use.
    He contrasted there “LIO” with three things :
    one :comidadad/es , reasonably translated, comfort and creature comforts, your comfort zone, etc. There is a resonance with “acomodado”.
    two “clericalismo”, remove the “o”, right? we’re home and dry,,no problem, hey he’s after the ultramontanes n’ traddies.? Er, no, probably not: elsewhere in Rio , and I presume in BA before, his description of clericalismo is postVII (nuchurch, if I may make so bold) .: a clericalized coterie of LAYpeople running a magic circle at each mass, each parish , and beyond.( I would quote D.Sayers:Those indespensable people with whom everyone else would happily dispense.)
    Thrdly, the other phenomenon/temptation in the (in the first instance, Argentinian) church to which he opposed “lio” was “instalado”.
    I saw this misleadingly, if partially acurately , translated as “static.” A literal translation would perhaps be better, howsoever unfamiliar: “installed??”; the concept covers: fixed, jobforlife, everything in place, runs like clockwork, arrived respected, made it (as in made it inNY,) at home in this world, utterly at home, settled in, part of the furniture: if not of its essence, a usual concomitant of being “instalado” is being in bed with some political or social movement,party or group, or the powers thatbe, or money, or the townhall, or the university groupthinkers , it’s not a leftorright thing.

    I feel” Get off your a**s more” is closer than” make a mess /trouble” For you to “Hacer un lio ” implies hassle , trouble, discomfort,cost, time,dirty hands, and uncertainty, for YOU, and it MAY be a noise, riot , mess , upsetting to others, or , as the case may be, NOT.
    God bless!

    September 25, 2013
  7. Regina #

    Oh, dear, I think Mary needs a time out. And no cookies and milk today.

    September 26, 2013
  8. Mary DeTurris Poust #

    While my policy is to allow all comments — other than true spam — onto the blog, I have had to make one new stipulation. I will not allow comments through that attempt to define what I think or say. “What Mary wants…” “What Mary is looking for…” What Mary means….” I will tell you what I mean, trust me. So please tell me what YOU want, what you mean, what you think, but don’t put words in my mouth. Thank you!

    September 26, 2013

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