Sunday, January 14, 2007

Striking a deacon

This morning for mass we were treated not to a homily, but to a diatribe against the Church; the occasion being the ending of an indult allowing laity to purify sacred vessels. it was an overt call to disobedience; the Church is wrong, I'm right, ad nauseum.

I have suffered much grief in the last few years, and this has been difficult, but this man was displaying such incredible ignorance, capped with an arrogance that was insufferable. He insulted my Mother, the Church!

At the consecration, the priest, no beacon of orthodoxy, chanted it beautifully, such that it brought tears to my eyes. After communion, with a heavy heart praying for our priests and deacons, the theme of obedience, what the homily should have been about, brought me the sense of the necessity to remind the deacon of his confirmation by a repeat of the bishop's slap.

But Lord, I cannot do such a thing! So after mass I went to the tabernacle and read the Divine Office; if you've read it today, it is Ignatius of Antioch on holy obedience! So I sang the Salve Regina and went downstairs.

Where I found the deacon...

I approached him and said that I was sorry that he found it such a hardship to serve the faithful, asked if he remembered his confirmation, and smacked him on the cheek; not gently, but I haven't the strength for a serious blow (flies walk away from the swatter after I hit them). The discussion got heated, he accused me of not reading or knowing scripture, not following Jesus, not this, not that, blah blah blah. For someone who doesn't even know me, I found that rather presumptuous, but missed the opportunity to call him judgemental.

I for my part said I could give a tinkers twiddle what his opinions were, they had no place on the altar. His errors were so profound, and his pride so profound, I realized that there was a reason yesterday Anita quoted me the scripture that says "a single word of reproof is sufficient for a wise man, but a fool doesn't learn from a hundred beatings."

This deacon thinks we should genuflect to each other, but not to Jesus in the tabernacle! This he did at the end of his "homily," genuflected to the congregation! We're Jesus, don't you know? (some people laughed).

His final words; more members of the congregation agree with him than me (and that deserves a boast?), and that if the reform of the reform continues, there will be another "Reformation!"

Amazing. absolutely amazing.

Lord, where are the shepherds?
St. Turibius, pray for us.


  1. He did a repeat "performance" at 10:00. Quite a few people applauded (although it was far from unanimous), but a few people vocally disagreed with him, including one woman who said, "When do we hear from the Holy Father's point of view?" A number of us applauded that comment.

    My wife indicated that quite a number of people coming through the line were notably angered by his diatribe. I suspect that many of the people who applauded didn't quite understand his point.

    Let's pray for wisdom for our priests and deacons, particularly for this one. Let's write a letter to our pastor and bishop. Let's stand firm and defend our faith from dissenters.

    And let's make it clear to our deacon that we will not tolerate his intolerance.

  2. We were as saddened and shocked when we heard this political diatribe as you describe yourself to be. When he genuflected to the congregation I felt the violation against our Lord.

    Maybe this incident can serve as an opportunity to educate those who didn't fully comprehend what he was asking us to do. Maybe this was a call to action.

    We must pray and continue to fight against this type of dissent, as long as our arguments are firmly based on solid doctrine and as long as we proceed according to our Father's wishes.

    God bless you, Mark.

  3. I think the genuflection was objectively blasphemous. When I told some people in line in front of me downstairs that it was blasphemous, they reacted with stunned silence, then expressed their disagreement. I still say it was blasphemous. It was denigrating the honor due to God by according it instead to human beings. It was the most shocking feature of the whole affair.

    This whole episode angered me so much I felt it physically. For this deacon to beat us over the head with a political screed during the homily was a flagrant abuse of his preaching authority; to choose a forum where no appropriate response was possible (and at a time when the rector is out of town) was an act of cowardice. It's tough to remember, when you're so angry, that God prefers the repentance of sinners to their deaths, and that we need to pray for wayward shepherds. But prayer is the only hope for such men, because whenever they encounter human opposition, they merely take that as confirmation of their heroism.

    God, have mercy on unfaithful men in Holy Orders who abuse the privileges and authority that You have entrusted to them.

  4. This man is obviously a heretic. And if he wants a 'Reformation', I say, "Don't let the door hit you on the way out."

    My suggestion is that a letter should be written to the Rector with a copy to the bishop. Describe exactly what he said and did. If there is no proper response, write to the Nuncio.

  5. I just sent an email to our rector. I will post the text of the email on my blog.

  6. Wow, Mark, I thought you went to a CATHOLIC church. This is very sad, and most deninitely heretical. Why are these people allowed to continue misleading the faithful?

  7. Paramedicgirl, we have varying degrees of orthodoxy in our diocese. Some of our priests are excellent. Some are not to much. As much as I'd sometimes like to bail and find a chapel that met my demands, I also have to remember that I have a role to play here. Our fellow parishioners won't know what's wrong or what could be unless we stay and attempt to set things right. Mark is one of my personal beacons of hope because he continues to attend even when these kinds of problems occur (and, thankfully, events of this magnitude not all that common).

    Please pray for us, and pray for our diocese. We need it. We haven't gone so far as the Land O' Mahoney, but we're uphill and on a slippery slope.

  8. Bill,

    I neglected to mention in my post that when "discussing" with the deacon, he at one point said "Cardinal Mahoney says..."

    There are times when the words come, and there are times when I am struck like Ezechiel was promised by God: the words literally stick to the roof of my mouth in the presence of such manifest and manifold infidelity.

  9. A footnote to the event begs to be made known. The deacon rests his ideology on a wee mindset. (And, I don't mean theology). This mindset is imprudent and arrogant and is exceeded only by its mediocrity. This is the type of mediocrity that leaves a imprudent and unintelligent mind unchallenged and stiff-necked. Very sad.

    Remain constant in pray for this deacon. Pray also for those poor inflicted souls who wearily listen to this mediocre maven.

  10. Sorry, I meant, "this maven of mediocrity." Also, this fella is not a Dominican.

  11. The faith our Lord gave us asks nothing that cannot be achieved by a simple minded child, and contains more than enough to confound an Aquinas. In both cases it is the humility of heart which melts the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

    I must be becoming profoundly slow; For deacon called the ending of the indult a "slap in the face of the laity" by the Vatican (it is not); when rather it was by him a slap in the face of the faithful; I guess I returned the favor...

  12. How very Christian of you to physically stike a man. Jesus would be very proud. I wonder, what was the Deacon's response? Did he strike you in return? Or did he turn the other cheek?

  13. I feel I must agree with the previous post. What gives you the right to physically assault another person? Would Jesus approve? And what was the Deacon's response? Did he strike you in return? Did he attempt to defend himself? Did he call the police and file assault charges? Or did he simply walk away? As a matter of fact, according to Canon Law, when someone physically assaults a member of the clergy, the clergyman has the right to ask the Church to charge the offender with a delict, which gives the Church the right to reprimand the offender in the form of a just punishment. Although Deacon Henning could have done any of these things, he elected instead to follow the example of Christ.

    I attended the 10am mass on that day, and I still don't know what the Deacon said that was against Church teaching. Canonically, he didn't say anything incorrect. Maybe he didn't choose the proper forum to express his opinion…But he did not say anything to encourage dissent or disobedience. The Church tells us that as Roman Catholics, we have a responsibility to learn as much as we can about Church doctrine and the teachings of the Holy Father. In his homily, the Deacon attempted to remind us of this responsibility and simply encouraged us to educate ourselves so that we may become better informed.

    Lastly, as I stated earlier, I was in attendance at the 10am mass. There were several things in your post regarding the Deacon's homily that stood out for me, however I will not question them because after consulting with others, I have come to the decision that they were obviously a matter of your misinterpretation. But I do wish to ask for some clarification. Someone who was standing behind you when you assaulted the Deacon said that after you hit him, he asked you how you could do such a thing only 15 minutes after receiving the precious gift of Holy Communion. Apparently you stated that it had been 15 minutes, and that Jesus had been digested and was gone… I would really appreciate an explanation or clarification of your statement. And where is this found in Church teaching so I may educate myself?

  14. Mark,

    I too was at 10:00 mass and I am deeply disheartened by your reaction towards Deacon Henning’s homily. Where do you get off striking a member of our clergy (or anyone for that matter)? You are not a Bishop and this was not his Confirmation. Your choice of action dishonors our church, our clergy, and our parishioners. Your actions were that of a coward, striking someone who can not defend themselves. And then you come here and boast about your cowardly assault, looking for some sort of affirmation of your cowardice. You are a prime example of “They have ears, but do not hear, eyes but do not see”.

    Choices, we all have them. Given your disagreement with the Deacon Henning's homily, you had many options available for you to choose. You could have chose to sit down with him and discussed your concerns at coffee and donuts. You could have also asked him for a copy of his homily, and then scheduled a meeting with him to discuss your concerns. You could have called and asked to meet with him at a later date. You could have complained to Fr. Henry or Bishop Mike (which I’m sure you’ve already done). You could have chalked it up to agreeing to disagree, or even considered the possibility that you might have misheard, or misinterpreted Dick’s message.

    You owe Deacon Henning and the parishioners of St. John's, and our church and apology. An apology for your cowardly assault on a member of our clergy, an apology for dishonoring our parishioners by presuming to represent us in that assault, and an apology for physically assaulting a clergy in the house of God.

    I’ll be waiting, and praying...

  15. Dear Anonymous,

    you wrote:

    How very Christian of you to physically stike a man. Jesus would be very proud.

    Clearly you do not know me. I suggest you read and meditate on Jn 2:17.

    I wonder, what was the Deacon's response? Did he strike you in return? Or did he turn the other cheek?

    He neither turned the other cheek nor asked, if I speak the truth, why do you strike me?, but instead made several comments attacking my faith, the practice thereof, and things about which he had no knowledge; a very odd response. He also told another person who was trying to mediate, to "shut up."

    I did not impugn his character, or the practice of his faith.

  16. Dear Claire,

    Thank you for taking the time to write. You ask several questions, and that is why I posted this in the first place; I did not want to run and hide, but provide this public forum.

    If you knew me, you would know that the event that transpired was completely out of character for me, the likes of which I have never done before. I am still struggling with understanding that, and I felt quite horrible.

    I realize that the court system and our culture has become so broken, that assault charges are filed against chilren who shoot spitwads at each other; or wet their pants at school. What took place, according to such thinking, could be called an "assault," but that whould be an abuse against truth. There was neither malice nor anger, and under canon law (which I asked someone to look into as well), the offense is based on a rejection of the very Holy Orders themselves.

    Claire, you asked "what gives me the right..." which I find a baffling comment; rights have nothing to do with it. I will point out that I went to considerable effort to avoid the Deacon after mass. Poster David calls me a coward for "striking someone who cannot strike back." beleive me, he did, and it hurt. But my cowardice was not, as a cripple, to strike a healthy man, but to try and hide and not do what I believed Jesus had asked me to do. I was unsure, and did accept it. During the mass, I prayed for him with tears; I love our clergy, all of them, with a profound love. I wish I could convey the anguish this has caused me. How could I do such a thing? And yet, there is Jn 2:14-17.

    What you have heard regarding "15 minutes" seems to have come to you distorted. The brief discussion had to do with the presence of the Most Holy Eucharist after communion. Jesus remains substantially present, body, blood, soul, and divinity, as long as the species of bread exists. The normal digestive process breaks this down rather quickly, and 10-15 minutes is the time frame usually cited. I thought all Catholics knew this.

    Thank you for writing.
    God bless,

  17. David,

    Thank you for writing.

    May I remind you that you have made assumptions and drawn conclusion based on gossip.

    I am truly sorry that you have taken offense, for myself I am horrified by what transpired.

    you made several comments which I will address in a new post.

    God bless,

  18. I seriously have to wonder what homily these others were hearing. The deacon made it very clear that we should challenge decisions to roll back changes to the practices in which we're currently engaging. Well, these changes that are being rolled back aren't in the GIRM. For the deacon to characterize this as a slap in the face is ludicrous. It was a just reordering of the the liturgy based on existing norms. What's more, this decision was enforced by the bishop, which make the act of disobedience rather immediate.

    A challenge issued by the subject to the ruler is dissent plain and simple. Disobedience and dissent are not acceptable messages to send to parishoners. Mark may have erred in his action. But the deacon made a very public error, and he needs to retract it.

  19. Genuflection is an act of adoration. As such, it is reserved for God alone. To genuflect to the congregation is, most certainly, an act of blasphemy.

  20. genuflection only reserved for God?
    but why then, if we cannot genuflect to our congregation, does it say in the OT that people fell even onto their faces when meeting beloved relatives?
    They then seemed servants.. and a deacon, a priest and even the Pope are the servants of all.. is it not so. And we also fall on our knees when praying to the saints.. the holy ones.. do not Paul call the brothers the holy ones... I would not like to genuflect to people either but I think there are some weirds logics in your claims Mark.

    I think this whole case is absurd. For someone to go and strike someone else (whether this person stands above him in the church hierarchy or not).. it just not right (if I ever heard such a testimony from a protestant brother I would not be that surprised because of the element of anarchy..). You can even see the fruits of it yourself.. Nothing good comes from such a behaviour. Even the dry protestant Kant made a universal maxime saying: the actions which are not good are those which do not let themselves be universalised..
    Let me ask you whether you think your individual choice to strike someone with whom you dissagree can be made a universally acceptable behaviour?
    Any kind of violence is against the teachings of Jesus Christ. Brother, you are seriously wrong when you take such measures instead of using the double edged Sword which is the Word of Truth.

    Dane <><

  21. genuflection only reserved for God?

    Yes. Read the Canon Law; it is clear and unequivocable.

    but why then, if we cannot genuflect to our congregation, does it say in the OT that people fell even onto their faces when meeting beloved relatives?

    This was not worship of God but of profound respect for the person; have you ever done such a thing? What did the angel say to St. John? He forbade it.

    I would not like to genuflect to people either but I think there are some weirds logics in your claims Mark.

    would you give the worship due to God alone, to man? nothing wierd about that at all.

    Let me ask you whether you think your individual choice to strike someone with whom you dissagree can be made a universally acceptable behaviour?

    I hope you have read the rest of the comment chain on this topic. It wasn't my choice at all, and had nothing to do with someone disagreeing with me. What transpired was what every Catholic above a given age received in the sacrament of confirmation.

    Any kind of violence is against the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    and there you err profoundly; from the money changers in the temple, to St. Paul informing you that the civil authority wields the sword for your benefit.

    As of this Sunday, I was able to witness outstanding good fruit, thanks be to God; it became clearer why this was asked of me. May the Light of Truth ever open our hearts and minds to our gracious Lord Jesus Christ.

    Thanks for taking the time to consider this, I appreciate the input.

    God bless,

  22. When I speak about genuflection I of course do speak about showing profound respect. I am sure that is what the deacon did when he genuflected He did not worship these people but showed respect, perhaps also due to the fact that they had the Lord Christ within them.

    It was not your choice at all? The man stood in your way suddenly perhaps?.. come on Mark.. you cannot actually think that striking another person is done under the leading of God.. I rather think it was a temptation of pride.
    Luckily, in my preparation for receiving confirmation as an adult no one told me it was now okay to hit a deacon. Had they said that, I would not have become Catholic.

    I said: Any kind of violence is against the teachings of Jesus Christ.
    You answer: and there you err profoundly; from the money changers in the temple, to St. Paul informing you that the civil authority wields the sword for your benefit.

    Yes.. Jesus had just wrath against the ones defiling His Father's House. But luckily He laid hand on no man but only on their tables.. Because He is Jesus and Jesus is our perfect Role Model... Yes.. try to measure yourself on Him instead of on secular civil authority. You see, you should be in the world and not off the world.

    Whatever you say, I do not believe the Lord asked you to strike the deacon. I may be wrong, but unless the Lord tells me something else, I think you need to go to confession brother, better sooner than later..

    In Christ Jesus our Lord. To Him alone belongs all honour.

    Dane <><

  23. here is what the General Instruction of the Roman Missal says about Genuflection:

    Genuflections and Bows

    274. A genuflection, made by bending the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and therefore it is reserved for the Most Blessed Sacrament, as well as for the Holy Cross from the solemn adoration during the liturgical celebration on Good Friday until the beginning of the Easter Vigil.

    Remember, this was at mass, and the blessed sacrament had not yet been distributed in communion. Had he wanted to show respect, the GIRM says:

    275. A bow signifies reverence and honor shown to the persons themselves or to the signs that represent them.

    Vatican II constitution on the Liturgy says that no one has the authority to change these things, not even a bishop. Objectively, the deacon offered the reverence due to God, to the seated congregation. That is an objective fact; the possibility of his intention being otherwise (it wasn't by his own profession), is irrelevant.

    Dear brother in the Lord Jesus, you will no doubt recall the hesitation of the poor shoemaker who was told to go to Saul; yet he trusted and did so. You say that you doubt that it was Jesus who told me to do as I did, and perhaps you are right; for all the reasons you state, believe me, I hesitated and doubted. What came to pass seems to clearly have been meant to be, and yet was so profoundly disturbing that I did go immediately to confession.

    If violence alone was always a sin, consider the confession lines after a Judo match;

    Those who abuse the Liturgy commit a profound injustice against the faithful. That those abused do not object, or even welcome and encourage abuse, is to be reprobated, not celebrated.

  24. Mark,
    I feel compelled to respond after a friend refered me to your blog site.

    I can't believe that you would engage in the accuisation of blaming God for your actions! I have never in my life ever once heard of God encouraging someone to attack or strike another person, especially a member of the clergy. (Excpet of course in a Biblical sense, like Joan of Arc, etc. but we both know you're no Joan of Arc)

    As a new Catholic, I was reflecting on several of the things that persuaded me to investigate the Catholic faith and eventually convert to the Catholic faith. One of the strongest and most compelling examples came from my earliest memories of the Pope, in my case, Pope John Paul II. Where he would repeatedly urge nations and leaders of nations to engage in peace and to stop wars, battles and violence. I was equally as impressed when Pope Benedict has repeatedly sent the same message to all the nations currently involved in the middle east wars.

    So, my thought and perhaps my question is, what would lead you to believe that it's okay to strike someone? That would seem to go against the urgings of our Papal Father, the leader of our Mother church on earth...??

    Lastly, I have to comment about Deacon Dick's response. I think he acted with incredible restraint. I know that as a Christian, we are called to constantly strive to be like Jesus, which for me is one of the hardest commandments to do. Had I been the Deacon, I would have smacked you back so hard you'd left bleeding and picking up your teeth with broken fingers.

    Bravo to Deacon Henning!! He preached what he believed, he believes what he practices and he clearly practiced what he preached.......he turned the other cheek.

    I find your entire blog a disgusting diatribe to a cowardice action, and the sad part is as a Christian I'm supposed to forgive you!! That's gonna take me some time, but I will try.

    Lastly, I have no doubt that in your blog response to me, you will find some lame excuse to defend your actions, which is truly the sad part. Clearly you haven't forgiven yourself, nor taken full responsibility for your actions. I think at the least, you owe the good Deacon an apology. On the outset, I think you owe the parishioners of St. John's Cathedral and apology as well.

  25. Anonymous,

    I can't forgive myself, only God can do that.

  26. Mark,
    What a crock of CR* know as well as I do, that part of the forgiveness process and the repentence process involves forgiving yourself, it just reiterates my point. YOU'RE NOT SORRY OR REMORSEFUL FOR WHAT YOU DID!!! As a matter of fact, this entire blog is a testament to your proud actions of striking a deacon. In the religion I used to belong to, before I joined the Catholic church, you'd be excommunicated for your actions. I wish the Catholic church did the deserve it!!

    I cannot believe you call yourself Catholic, or better yet a Dominican. I urge you again to apologize to the deacon and put this matter behind you.

    I can't visit this site any further as you absolutely disgust me to the very core of my being. You self centered ego-meniacal coward!!

  27. Maybe if the Deacon (who, by the way, had not been named up to now) had any idea of the caliber of his supporters, as evidenced by Anonymous above, he'd be moved to re-evaluate his whole strategy and world view.

    By the way, Anonymous, talk about the pot calling the kettle black: why don't you have the guts to identify yourself?

  28. Anonymous,

    when I posted:

    I can't forgive myself, only God can do that.

    I was quoting Fr. John Koelsch of this diocese.

    Otherwise, based on your two posts, I wish you'd been at St. John's and heard Fr. Legerski's homily on this subject. Although he erred in fact because he spoke based on hearsay, he did point out that the reaction in his heart, so much like yours, was a surprise and an indication that he did not possess the degree peace and that he thought he had. This was a remarkable admission to make in public, and I was impressed that he would be so moved to publicly say so.

    I bring this up, because we are called to live the spirit of the beatitudes; and as Jesus explained, it is not just our exterior acts, but the disposition of our hearts which is subject to the judgement. while you have dismissed my testimony and judged my heart, you have also displayed yours by your testimony, and to hold such in one's heart is the same as doing so. I think Fr. Legerski understood this, and that is why he spoke about it, God bless him.

    Scripture says "be angry, but don't let the sun go down on your anger."

    If this causes suffering for you, embrace your cross, look at Jesus, and decide which thief to imitate.

    BTW, we as Catholics have confession for sin, and excommunication for disobedience. You should know that.