Summer Sunset in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Showing posts with label Father Christopher Smith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Father Christopher Smith. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Traditional Liturgy Flourishing in the Bible Belt

A South Carolina parish demonstrates that reverent, beautiful liturgies—in the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms—are possible in a modern American parish.
Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Taylors, South Carolina

This September marked the sixth anniversary of the implementation of Summorum Pontificum, the motu proprio of Pope Benedict XVI that provided juridical recourse to Catholic laymen interested in receiving regular access to the traditional Latin Mass and the sacraments. Since the document went into effect, what results can be seen in the United States and Canada in terms of the availability of Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form? 

The Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei keeps a comprehensive list of locations in which the traditional Latin Mass is available. At last count, in the 191 dioceses in North America, there are about 485 parishes that offer Mass in the Extraordinary Form with some frequency (monthly, twice-per-month, or weekly), with 335 parish locations offering it weekly. 

In North America there are 75 parish locations that offer daily access to the Extraordinary Form. Of those locations, 38 are in the care of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and 13 are provided for by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. That leaves 24 locations run by dioceses or religious communities (such as the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius in Chicago) where the Mass in the Extraordinary Form is offered daily. 

One such parish is thriving in what may seem to some to be the least likely of places—what is often referred to as “the buckle of the Bible Belt,” Greenville, South Carolina. Prince of Peace Catholic Church, located in Taylors, SC, is a diocesan parish with nearly 2,000 families and an evangelical liturgical approach that is beginning to draw national and international attention. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Father Christopher Smith: Refashioned or True Religion?

In New York, Virginia, New Jersey and South Carolina, I have been extraordinarily blessed in my pastors.  They could not be more different in their personalities, yet each one is an alter Christus, carrying out the Church's salvific mission, building the Kingdom and serving all that is good, true and beautiful.  The following is the weekly parish bulletin letter written by my current pastor, Father Christopher Smith, Ph.D, S.T.D.

Father Smith
As a young theology student, I once stated that the Church is divided, because there are so many different denominations.  Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the new Prefect of the Congregation for the New Evangelization, corrected me:  "The Church is one.  It is Christians who are divided."  Every Sunday we say, I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.  For Catholics, we know that means us, the Church founded by Jesus Christ.  But there are millions of other Christians who say the same Creed every Sunday, yet are not Catholic.  And there are countless more who say no Creed at all when they come to worship.

The Catholic Church has remained one, the original Christians since the beginning.  We "do" Church as it were together.  But from time to time individuals convince themselves that they can "do" it better.  So while there is 1 Catholic Church, there are over 33,000 different groups of Christians protesting our claim to hand on the apostolic faith.  And because the only thing they all agree on is that they are not Catholic, they divide on and on.  There used to be denominations, like the Anglicans or the Presbyterians or the Lutherans, but they too have split into all sorts of splinter groups.  And many Christians are just opting out entirely of denominations, opening shop in a coffee shop or a house or a warehouse.  Some of these grow into megachurches and others never go very far, and many of those megachurches implode and divide too.

I find it interesting that the vast majority of these sects are found in the USA or funded by American missionaries.  There is something about our culture which is very individualistic and entrepreneurial.  And here, the customer is always right.  I am always coming across people who say, "I haven't found  a Church home yet."  What they mean is they haven't found a Church that reflects their own image and likeness.  That consumerist mentality is not just something Protestant, though.  Once upon a time, people went to the Catholic parish closest to them.  Now, people shop around for what they think will fulfill them, for the image of the Church they like.  Parishes are pressured to market themselves to cater to what people like.

There is one place where all of this comes from: Pride.  And it created division among Christians.  It hampers our efforts at evangelization, apologetics and ecumenism.  The consumer mentality has a way of filling up churches for a little while, whose members then float away and cease to practice the faith when they don't get the high they have been expecting.

We have a motive for rejoicing today though on this Gaudete Sunday.  There are Catholic Christians who seek to serve God and His Truth and not themselves.  They resist the attempt to remake the Church and the Gospel in their own image and likeness.  Our task is to be faithful to the Church handed down from Jesus to the Apostles down to our own day.  It is time to repent from the pride which leads us to make up our own religions or refashion the true religion as we see fit.  GK Chesterton once asked, "Do you want a Church that is moved by the world, or a Church that moves the world?"  I know which one I've got, and I am blessed and highly favoured to have it right here in my Catholic Church and our Prince of Peace family.