Sunday, August 21, 2005

Sources of Information

By Mitchell

Somebody asked me about the priests I quote from time to time in my posts. Who are they, what do I know about them, do I endorse everything they say.

Well, the only priests I can talk about with confidence are those at our home parish, St. Agnes. I've used this space in the past to talk about Fr. Welzbacher, Fr. Altier, Msgr. Schuler, and Fr. Zuhlsdorf. I quote from them with confidence and humility, because without exception they are learned, spiritual men. They way they say the Mass, they way they preach the homily, the way they tend to the flock - it's both intellectually and spiritually challenging, and almost always I leave knowing more than I did before.

During the week I usually go to the 7:00 Mass at St. Olaf, the downtown Catholic church in Minneapolis. It's about a 15 minute walk from our condo, on the way to work, and gets me to my job on time. Now, I have my issues with St. Olaf - the monthly African mass, the contemporary choir, the former (very liberal) pastor - but the 7:00 is usually a pretty good, no frills Mass. Fr. Tiffany, the current pastor at St. Olaf (whom I've quoted from time to time), I know only from his Masses and homilies, which have both been pretty good. I like the Masses of Fr. Pavlik, the associate pastor, but I don't know much about him except that a co-worker of mine is taking marriage instruction from him (and likes him very much), and Judie works with his aunt. But all in all, St. Olaf is no better nor no worse than most Catholic churches today. Jesus is present in the Eucharist, which is the end-all and be-all of the Mass, and everything else is more or less unremarkable.

Case in point is Fr. DeBruycker, the Friday morning celebrant at St. Olaf. The Curt Jester (via Bill Cork) reports that Fr. DeBruycker has been appointed the new pastor of the notorious St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis. This doesn't come as a particular surprise to me; I've always had the suspicion that Fr. DeBruycker wouldn't be what you'd call a good fit at a church like St. Agnes; as a matter of fact, I've been known to attend the noon Mass on Friday rather than his 7:00. However, I've thought that his homilies the last couple of weeks made some striking points, and I've cited both of them in posts. Perhaps I wind up taking his themes in a different direction than he had intended, but there has been intellectual food for thought in what he's said.

And that's the point I'm trying to make here; just as we don't endorse every website that we link to here, I also don't subscribe to everything that a particular person may believe in simply because I quote them. Even Caiphus fulfilled the prophesies through his words and actions, although I don't think that was his intent. So I look at everyone as a potential source of truth, even though some may be unwitting sources. (Frankly, every time I'm right about something I tend to look at it as stumbling onto the truth on my part.)

We prove ourselves narrow-minded if we shut ourselves off from things that may give us access to greater insight. By the same token, we open ourselves to error and scandal (and worse) by plunging headlong into something new without being educated or properly prepared for it. Which shows why knowledge, which has been given to us by Jesus Christ through the teachings of his Church (thanks to Fr. Welzbacher for this point from today's homily) is the final and reliable authority for what we believe. And to paraphrase Fr. Welzbacher, for this knowledge and the insight it gives us into our lives, we humbly pray.

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