Historic St. Anthony Catholic Church
258 Ohio, Wichita, Ks
2nd St. & Ohio
Two blocks east of Old Town
Sunday Mass at 1:oo
English/Latin missals provided. Join us for coffee and donuts after mass downstairs in the St. Clair/Sunshine room, south exterior basement entrance.
Pastor of St. Anthony Parish: Fr. Ben Nguyen
EFLR Celebrants: Fr. John Jirak, Fr Nicholas Voelker
Master of Ceremonies: Tony Strunk
Choir Director: Bernie Dette

Continuing News

+To submit an article or if you have comments contact me, Mark, at bumpy187@gmail.com.

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Did You Know

Mass Propers, the readings that change everyday, can be found in the red missalettes at the entrance of church?

Fr. Nicholas Voelker celebrates Low Mass Saturdays at 8:00 a.m., St. Mary's Catholic Church, 106 East 8th street, Newton. There is no mass this Saturday, January 30, 2016.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Post #124

Topics: Old YouTube Video: St. Anthony Marriage...Old YouTubeVideo: 8th Grade Graduation...Google Sketchup: Just for Fun


I have been informed that I posted something that was not suitable for this blog in the past edition of Venite Missa Est! Honestly, at that time I was still swamped with school and threw up what I thought might be interesting to readers, without reading it! How embarrassing! Accept my apologies if it troubled anyone...I was so embarrassed I didn't even go back to read it.  Thank you for the heads up Kansas Catholic and Annie C.

 I listen to podcasts of Catholic Answers (available on iTunes for free) while I mop floors and clean toilets (c'mon WSU class of  2012..........oh please hurry!!!). Let me first say that I actually learn alot from this radio show but  I am continously amazed  how the hosts of the show always applaud His Holiness Benedict XVI and his vision for the church toward orthodoxy but actually reflect a much more liberal view of Catholicism. 

A lady had called in with the question of why (at a cathedral she visited where the tabernacle was off in some side chapel) could the faithful take our Lord into their hands for communion, yet after mass the Eucharist was placed in a monstrance and carried with a "cloth" so as not to touch the consecrated host. She was quite puzzled at that (so am I). 

The hosts of the show danced  around the question for a while without any sort of concrete answer (and mentioned that a cope is used to carry the monstrance) and then assured her that she was mistaken, that in fact a separate benediction service had occurred that required a different protocol but offered no explanation of the differance.

I imagine it really would be hard to actually tell someone that they should not touch divine purity with grubby, filthy paws.....

Father Jackson's 25 ordination mass at St. Anthony was a wonderful affair. I do not personally know Father Jackson but everyone who mentions him always has glowing words of praise for this dear priest.
Oh yeah, it was so good to see Fr. Lies.


As always feel free to leave comment below or email me at bumpy187@gmail.com with your hearts desire.

...and now the Necessaries

Please note: St. Anthony Catholic Church is one of two local churches celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass (EFLR) in the Wichita area. Though this blog is loosely centered around this parish and it's members, Venite Missa Est! is by no means, in any way an official voice of, or for, St. Anthony Parish or the Diocese of Wichita. Venite Missa Est! is strictly a private layman's endeavor.


YouTube Video: The Wedding of Ray and Kathleen McCorgary
Submitted by Luke Headley

This video, available on YouTube, is entitled The Wedding of Ray and Kathleen McCorgary and could have been taken anywhere from the late 40's through the 50's. Are you still parishioners Mr. and Mrs. McGorgary? Does anyone know these folks? Is there anyone reading that may have been at this ceremony?

in this old footage take note of: the sanctus bells which look like the same ones we use today. The steam radiators, the plain wood floor of the altar, the communion rail gates amongs other intersting things. One part of the ceremony which has me stumped is the whole wedding party is in the sanctuary...I did not think this was allowed except for the bride and groom (?). Any liturgists out there care to comment?

It is nice to see the church as our fathers, uncles, aunts and grandparents once knew it. The Church and our Faith endures forever.


YouTube Video: Kathleen's 8th Grade Graduation ~ St. Anthony's 

Here is another YouTube video from way back in the day. Anyone know who Kathleen is? 
This video shows the front of the old school, the steps of the church, the old rectory and a framed house next door.


Google Sketchup: Just for Fun

If you ever want to waste a good hour or more, download SketchUp from Google. Sketchup is a free 3D modeling program that is just so easy and fun to play with that beginners can be modeling in 15 minutes! I only include this in Venite because I am designing my own personal altar for my private chapel I am having built in my backyard (I'm kidding).

As with any 3D program, whatever you build you can move, rotate it, flip it, look at it from any angle and generally manipulate it in space....and SketchUp is easy!!! 

Anyway, here is my altar...waddya think? It is basic in shape without texture or color (which you can add later) but was so fun to play with.

Download SketchUp from Google and play around building your own altar, monastery, church or doghouse. It's good clean fun!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Post #123

Topics: Fr. Jackson: Returns To St. Anthony to Celebrate 25th Ordination Anniversary....Comedy Central:  Developing Jesus Christ Cartoon....Vatican Talks: Difficult With Splinter Group...Mother Teresa Stamp: Dedication Sept. 5


...and now the Necessaries

Please note: St. Anthony Catholic Church is one of two local churches celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass (EFLR) in the Wichita area. Though this blog is loosely centered around this parish and it's members, Venite Missa Est! is by no means, in any way an official voice of, or for, St. Anthony Parish or the Diocese of Wichita. Venite Missa Est! is strictly a private layman's endeavor.


Father James Jackson
25th Anniversary of Priesthood
Submitted by Larry Bethel

Father James Jackson is celebrating his 25th anniversary of priesthood on May the 18th, this Tuesday, at St Anthony Catholic Church, 2nd and Ohio, Wichita, Ks. at 4 pm.

His desire is to celebrate his anniversary in Wichita. He has received permission from Bishop Jackels and Fr. Pham, the pastor of St. Anthony's to celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite.
After the Mass there will be a pot luck.


Comedy Central Developing Jesus Christ Cartoon 

Comedy Central might censor every image of the Prophet Muhammad on "South Park," yet the network is developing a whole animated series around Jesus Christ.

Jesus-south-park As part of the network's upfront presentation to advertisers (full slate here), the network is set to announce "JC," a half-hour show about Christ wanting to escape the shadow of his "powerful but apathetic father" and live a regular life in New York City.

In the show, God is preoccupied with playing video games while Christ, "the ultimate fish out of water," tries to adjust to life in the big city.

"In general, comedy in purist form always makes some people uncomfortable," said Comedy Central's head of original programming Kent Alterman.

When asked if the show might draw some fire, especially coming on the heels of the network's decision to censor the Muslim faith's religious figure on "South Park," Alterman said its too early in the show's development to be concerned about such matters.

"We don't even know what the show is yet," he said.

Like all Comedy Central executives, Alterman declined to address the recent controversy over "South Park," where the network aired a heavily redacted episode after the show's creators were threatened by an extremist Islamic Web site.

"JC" is produced by Reveille ("The Office"), Henrik Basin, Brian Boyle ("American Dad"), Jonathan Sjoberg and Andreas Ohman.


Vatican Talks with Splinter Group Difficult-Cardinal 
Thu May 6, 2010 3:09am IST 
By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor 

PARIS (Reuters) - Vatican talks with a controversial splinter group have been difficult and the ultra-traditionalist Catholics will have to make concessions if an accord is to be reached, a senior Vatican cardinal said on Wednesday.

The Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), whose four bishops were readmitted to the Church last year after a ban of 21 years, cannot conduct the doctrinal discussions on their terms, but only on those of the Vatican, Cardinal Walter Kasper said.

The closed-door talks are a key issue for the Catholic Church because, although the SSPX is small, its return to the fold has been so stormy. One readmitted bishop, Richard Williamson, is a Holocaust denier convicted and fined for hate speech in Germany.

Pope Benedict's eagerness to rehabilitate the SSPX, despite its rejection of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) reforms, troubles Catholic critics who see them as anti-Semites who want to turn back the clock on 40 years of dialogue among religions.

"Dialogue with them is not easy," Kasper, who heads the Vatican department for relations with other Christian churches and with Jews, told a news conference during a visit to Paris.

"The main problem with them is not the Mass in Latin," he said, referring to the SSPX's insistence on the pre-Council liturgy, "but the concept of tradition. Do we want a living tradition or a petrified one?"

"I'm for a dialogue, but on our conditions, not on the traditionalists' conditions," he added. The SSPX had to accept the Council reforms, the "sine qua non" of any accord.

Without an accord, the group will have no official status and its clergy will not be recognised as Catholic priests or allowed to exercise their ministry.

Benedict, who has promoted a return to Catholic tradition and identity during his five-year papacy, said in January that the talks among three theologians from each side were held up over "doctrinal problems" he did not specify.
The SSPX, numbering several hundred thousand members, insists it represents the true faith and the Vatican and the vast majority of the Church went off the rails at the Council.


Even while its theologians meet Vatican experts every other week to seek a common understanding of the Council, its leaders have been criticising key doctrines of that historic event.

SSPX head Bishop Bernard Fellay said in March the Vatican theologians "wish the Church well but also want to save the Second Vatican Council -- that's like squaring a circle."

Williamson, ignoring a gag order Fellay imposed on him after his interview denying the Holocaust, dismissed the Vatican talks in January as a futile bid to harmonise irreconcilable views.

"Either the SSPX becomes a traitor, or Rome converts, or it's a dialogue of the deaf," he said.

In recent months, the SSPX head in Germany has criticised Benedict for visiting the Rome synagogue and the French district head said dialogue with other faiths was ruining the Church.

A former colleague, German theologian Wolfgang Beinert, told Der Spiegel magazine last month that the pope had told him the SSPX issue "robs him of his sleep." He did not think Benedict would compromise at any cost with the ultra-traditionalists.
Kasper, the second-highest German at the Vatican after Benedict, said the SSPX has staunchly opposed the dialogue with other Christian churches for which he is responsible.

"They've attacked me as a heretic," he said with a smile.

Asked why the ultra-traditionalists opposed ecumenical dialogue so strongly, he said: "Some people feel threatened in their Catholic identity when we speak with Protestants.

"We need to have a Catholic identity," he said. "But we need an open and mature identity, not a closed one. That's not a mature identity."
I hope you can come.


Dedication of Mother Teresa Stamp to be Sept. 5
California Catholic Daily

Postmaster General to dedicate Mother Teresa stamp in Sept. 5 ceremony at Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News) -- The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has announced that the Postmaster General will dedicate its new stamp honoring Mother Teresa on Sept. 5 at a ceremony at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Post Office looks forward to a “very dignified and successful” ceremony, a spokesman said.

In a May 10 phone call, Roy Betts, a community relations manager with the USPS Stamps department, talked with CNA about the dedication of the stamp.
He reported that the ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. and that Postmaster General Jack Potter has been confirmed as the dedicating official.

Betts said did not know what Catholic officials were planning for the ceremony.

CNA asked about previously raised concerns over whether the stamp involves constitutional issues such as the separation of church and state.

Betts acknowledged there had been “a little activity, a little noise” about the issue when the stamp was first announced, but any controversy has since faded.

“In the past month or so, I've not received a single call or e-mail or anything about the concerns that others have raised,” he reported.

Initial complaints about the stamp were raised by the Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation. People supportive of the Mother Teresa stamp sent a petition with more than 70,000 signatures to the Postmaster General this past February.

“The stamp program recognizes Mother Teresa for her work as a humanitarian,” said Betts. “She was a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, she was an honorary U.S. citizen. Her work on behalf of the poor is being recognized. And this honor is being bestowed on her, and it is well deserved.”

According to Betts, the U.S. Postal Service is not violating its own policy on the issue, which forbids singling out a religious organization for honors.
“This is recognition of a humanitarian who is world-renowned,” he explained.

Betts listed several religious figures have been honored by the USPS, such as a 1961Mahatma Ghandi stamp and a 1979 stamp honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Catholic figures on stamps included a 1982 edition of a St. Francis of Assisi stamp and a 1986 stamp honoring Fr. Edward J. Flanagan, founder of the Boys Town orphanage.

Religious buildings featured on stamps have included the Episcopalian Washington National Cathedral and the Baltimore Cathedral.

We’re just honored and proud to honor, to recognize Mother Teresa,” Betts said.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Post #121

 Topics: Stephanie Mann: Son Rise Morning Show Tuesday, May 4...A Nun's View: Women in the Catholic Church...May 1st: Feast of Saint Joseph, the Worker


Alas I lament another week that I cannot actually write anything original for this blog. I am hurdling headlong, sometimes heels over head into finals week...please keep me in your prayers. Going back to school as an adult has been challenging to say the least but I am halfway through!!

If anyone would like to write for this blog or actually take it over please contact me.

...and now the Necessaries

Please note: St. Anthony Catholic Church is one of two local churches celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass (EFLR) in the Wichita area. Though this blog is loosely centered around this parish and it's members, Venite Missa Est! is by no means, in any way an official voice of, or for, St. Anthony Parish or the Diocese of Wichita. Venite Missa Est! is strictly a private layman's endeavor.


St. Anthony Parishioner on Son Rise Morning Show Tuesday, May 4

Stephanie Mann, St. Anthony parishioner and author of  Supremacy and Survival (published in 2007 by Scepter Publishers, Inc., NY; http://www.blogger.com/www.scepterpublishers.org; ISBN 978-1-59417-079-9; softcover, 167 pages (5.5”X8.5”); $14.95) available at http://www.supremacyandsurvival.com/  ,has started a blog (Stephanie, you did not give us the address!...Venite Missa Est! will post and list the blog address as soon as we get it.)

Mrs. Mann states "I am posting a series leading up to the May 4th memorial in England of the English martyrs of the Reformation era--and I will be on the Son Rise Morning Show Tuesday, May 4 to discuss the feast and the Carthusians of the Charterhouse of London."

The Son Rise Morning Show is a production of Sacred Heart Radio, http://sonrisemorningshow.com/



Nun Sense: Women in the Catholic Church
National Review Online

A habited woman speaks.

In his New York Times column this month, Nicholas Kristof wrote about “A Church Mary Can Love.” If you didn’t read the column, you might not be shocked to learn its contents: He’s not that into the Vatican, and he doesn’t think the Blessed Virgin would be either. He’s more into a priest who reportedly told him that he “would build a condom factory in the Vatican to save lives.” However, Kristof also wrote something sensible: “I’ve come to believe that the very coolest people in the world today may be nuns.” Amen. And in the following interview with Sister Mary Prudence Allen, I think you’ll begin to see why. Sister Prudence is with the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Mich., an order with a special focus on health care. Sister Prudence is also a philosophy professor and a published author, having written the two-volume The Concept of Woman and contributed to The Foundations of Religious Life: Revisiting the Vision (a compilation from the other “nuns” in the health-care debate, the ones who stood by the bishops conference’s objection to the abortion provisions in the legislation — and by Catholic doctrine on the most innocent human life).

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: During the recent health-care debate, we heard a lot about some Catholic religious sisters — the Network — who supported the president’s health-care legislation, despite abortion-funding issues. Were they representative of the Catholic Church or Catholic religious sisters?

SISTER PRUDENCE ALLEN, R.S.M.: This question should be more fully answered by a theologian whose area of specialization is ecclesiology. However, as a Christian philosopher, I see two obvious contradictions that could be initially noted.

The first contradiction relates to the meaning of “Catholic.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#830-831) states, “The Church is catholic in a double sense:” First, because the whole Christ, head and body, subsists in her, and second because Christ sends the Church out on a mission to the whole human race.

By comparing the statements of the Network religious sisters on health care with the statements of Cardinal George and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on health care, it is clear that there are fundamental contradictions between them. Thus, the Network religious sisters have separated themselves from the head, and therefore cannot be included in the meaning of “catholic.” Therefore, they are not representative of the Catholic Church.

The second contradiction relates to claims about numbers of religious sisters. Network’s letter stated that “we represent 59,000 Catholic Sisters in the United States.” The director of media relations for the USCCB challenged them to do the math. The letter had “55 signatories, some individuals, some groups of three to five persons.” Since there are several hundred communities of women religious in the U.S., the most that could be claimed is that the Network sisters represent a much smaller portion of women religious sisters, more likely a few thousand.

Network’s claim that their position in favor of the health-care bill “is the REAL pro-life stance, and we as Catholic are all for it” needs to be assessed by Catholic physicians and health-care personnel to determine the truth of its claims.

LOPEZ: They were, by the way, referred to as “nuns.” That’s not technically correct, is it? You’re a Religious Sister of Mercy in full habit, but you are not a “nun,” are you?

SISTER PRUDENCE: You are right that it is wrong to refer to the Network religious sisters as “nuns.” The official meaning of “nun” is a religious woman who makes solemn vows and who lives in an enclosed convent, referred to as a papal cloister. None of the signers of the letter written by the Network religious sisters has made solemn vows or lives in an enclosed convent. Therefore, they are not properly called nuns.

Those of us who make simple vows, who live in a convent with an area that is established as an enclosure, and who engage in apostolic work outside of the convent are properly called “sisters.” As a Religious Sister of Mercy in full habit, I am a “sister,” since I was received into the religious institute, have made simple vows, and live in a convent with an enclosure within it.

LOPEZ: Why should that matter at all to the world?

SISTER PRUDENCE: To answer your question about “why it should matter,” we need to consider the deeper question of the relation of truth to language and the relation of reality to the human mind. According to a realistic philosophy, truth is the union of the mind with reality. There are two complementary pathways to the truth: reason and faith, which correspond to philosophy and theology.

For a Christian, language matters a lot. In Genesis 1:1-3, we learn that before God spoke and there was life, the earth was “without form and void.” From John 1:1, 1:4, and 1:14, we learn that the Eternal Word was with God and was God from the beginning, and that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” Jesus Christ, this Eternal Word made flesh, leads us to the Truth; He told us that He is the Truth. So, by faith, we believe that Truth and reality are important and that we are created with intelligent minds able to grasp truths.

We do this by apprehending different forms capable of being grasped. However, if reality is simply a void and is without form, truth is not possible for us to know or to live by.

Language is at the heart of Catholic philosophy. In the United States, where pragmatic theories of truth and postmodern approaches to knowledge abound, the relation between truth and reality is undermined. All becomes superficial, and imagination replaces the union of human mind to reality. So the answer to “Why should it matter at all to the world” is embedded in the deeper question of whether a person cares about truth or not, and how much he or she cares.

LOPEZ: There is an ongoing Vatican-ordered apostolic visitation evaluating women’s religious orders in the United States. Have you been a part of that at all? Is the average sister or nun?

SISTER PRUDENCE: The superior general or leader of each religious congregation is responsible for seeing that each sister in her congregation or institute participates. The extent to which this has occurred would likely vary.

In my own religious community of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, each sister and each local house has already participated in the apostolic visitation in two ways.

First: In each local house, we were invited to write responses to the Lineamenta (or preparatory document sent in to the visitation). This document asked a series of questions and provided Church documents for reference. We downloaded all these documents and considered them in relation to the questions asked and to our daily practices in living our religious life. The responses were typed up and sent to those preparing the report.

Second: After the report was written, drawing from all the suggestions of each local community, one of the members of the General Council came back to each local community sharing (with photocopies given to each sister) the actual documents sent in. In each house she provided opportunities for discussion of the report in whatever detail the sisters wanted.

A third way of participation will happen this spring: Since our institute has been chosen for an on-site visit by the visitation team this coming May, every sister has been invited to be interviewed if she would like, either in person, by Skype, by telephone, or by writing a letter. Every sister was invited to return a signed form directly to the office of Mother Millea by a certain date stating whether she would like to be interviewed and by what means.

This has been a wonderful process of self-review for us. The mother general initiated the very thorough participation of every sister, and the local superior is the one who makes sure that it is carried out in her convent. Since I am the local superior here in Denver (and for our extension in Edwards, Colo.), I have been very much a part of it.

LOPEZ: Does that represent a crackdown from the Vatican? Are some sisters liable to be punished, for instance, for taking issue with the bishops over the health-care bill?

SISTER PRUDENCE: Regular review is a common process for all businesses, professional associations, academic institutions, and governmental agencies such as police, firemen, etc., so it is improper to consider it a “crackdown.” Visitations have been a regular part of the life for centuries. It is prescribed in canon law not only for religious institutes (can. 628, 683), but also for seminaries (can. 259), parishes (can. 396, 535), and dioceses (can. 436). As in all reviews, when weaknesses, elements of corruption, or gaps between goals and practices are discovered, we are always encouraged to improve and grow in self-knowledge and integrity.

LOPEZ: What does your average day look like? How long do you pray?

SISTER PRUDENCE: My day during the week usually begins at 4:30, when we rise. Beginning at 5:30, we pray together, singing the Liturgy of Hours in our chapel in the convent where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. At 6:45, we have Mass celebrated in the convent chapel, usually with a priest who is associated with the seminary where four of us teach (philosophy, canon law, Scripture, and liturgy and sacraments). Then we share breakfast together and go out to our apostolic work. One of our sisters works for the office of the vicar of clergy here in Denver; and we have two sisters in the mountains near Vail — one is principal of a Catholic elementary school and the other a teacher of music and religion there.

At noon we return to the convent for lunch together, and then return to our various apostolic works. At 5:15, we return to the convent for a Holy Hour, which includes exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, a time of silent prayer, common prayers, chanting the Divine Office of evening prayer, and when possible, benediction. After that, we have a short choir practice for the music of the following day, a common dinner together, followed by various charges (dishes, walking the dog, setting up for Mass the next day, etc.) and then usually a time of recreation together. We complete our day at 8:00 with night prayer chanted together in the chapel. After that there is quiet time until 10:30, when lights must be out. Many sisters use this time at night, the early hours of the morning after rising (and before our official beginning of the Divine Office together), and brief moments during the day for sacred reading and private prayer.

Although it is difficult to tally up the time, it likely adds up to three or four hours of formal prayer together and variable times of informal individual prayer each day. On Sundays we add an extra individual hour of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament to that. We also get up a little later on weekends.

The schedule may have some slight variations, but the content of the daily schedule is basically the same. This is what we call our “horarium,” in which all time is made sacred for the Lord. It gives us much strength to be present to the Lord Jesus Christ in our convent chapels and to pray together this way. A fundamental part of our vocation is prayer and intercession for the Church and the world and its needs.

LOPEZ: You’ve got a Ph.D. Why would you ever take the vows you have, wear a heavy, colorless habit, and spend so much time praying?

SISTER PRUDENCE: The simple answer is that I received a call from Jesus Christ to follow Him, who was poor, chaste, and obedient, and who came to serve. The specific way of following was revealed over time not only to me but also to those in charge of the formation of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma. The vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and service we freely take bind us to Jesus Christ forever, in a spiritual marriage. We live a common life in a spirituality of communion with our sisters, who are formed in the specific charism of our foundress, Venerable Catherine McAuley. Our particular charism is expressed in works of mercy at the professional level. So we become educated, not for ourselves, but to give ourselves in service to the Church and the world. It is a joy to serve this way.

We wear a religious habit as a sign of our consecration. It represents the spousal bond with our Lord, as we belong totally to Him. It is an individual sign and a communal sign, as we wear the same habit. We sew them ourselves as a way of living the vow of poverty. It frees us to be who we are called to be for the Church and the world, witnesses of the Kingdom of Heaven, the final reality to which we are all called. In our case, they are not “colorless,” because they are blue or black. If you check our website or the website of over 100 religious communities, you will see that there are lots of variations in color and style. Our religious habit is also only heavy (wool) in the winter; in the summer — and for our sisters who are living in or working in education or medicine in warm climates, such as in Australia, Africa, India, or Haiti — it is a light-blue pinstripe material.

LOPEZ: And you did this of your own free will? Chose to be subservient in a patriarchal church?

SISTER PRUDENCE: The first part of this question is important. A simple answer is: “Yes.” I asked to be received into the Catholic Church while I was studying for my Ph.D. in philosophy, and later asked to enter the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma as a postulant, asked to be received as a novice, asked to make first vows, asked to renew my vows, and then asked to make perpetual vows — each request from the depths with which I was capable of exercising my own free will. The Catechism (#1733) has a wonderful description of how freedom increases within us: “The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes.” Through the years, I experience myself making devotional renewals of my vows (at Easter and after retreats) with an ever greater sense of freedom to give myself to the Lord and to my neighbor.

In religious life, we practice our vow of obedience in simple acts to one another, to our religious sisters who are either local superiors or our general superiors, and to the Holy Father, who is the superior general of all religious. These acts are always out of a reverence and obedience to Jesus Christ, who was obedient unto death to His Father. This is not the subservience of someone without a free will, but it consists in many free acts of self-gift. Through these repeated acts, we hope to become ever more capable of total, rather than partial, self-gift, so that at the moment of our death we will make the ultimate gift to Jesus Christ, whom we will then see face to face.

The second part of this question is framed within a feminist political ideology. As we say in Catholic philosophy, the mind receives according to the mode of the receiver. If the mode of the receiver is a political feminist ideology, then that is how he or she will perceive the Catholic Church. The word “subservient” as used in your question seems to imply serving in an inferior way, which is not what we do. We serve as Christ, who came “not to be served but to serve.”

The reality of the Church, however, is very different. The Church is the mystical Body of Christ. In the Second Vatican Council, in Lumen Gentium, the Church described itself from within: “The Church, in Christ, is in the nature of a sacrament — a sign and instrument of communion with God and of unity among all men.”

The Church is also a communio of three paradigm and complementary vocations, and others derived from them. If we consider the spousal mystery, then the ordained priestly vocation represents the place of the bridegroom, the lay married vocation represents the love between the bride and the bridegroom, and the religious vocation, the response of the bride to the love of the bridegroom. These are spiritual realities that permeate our faith from beginning to end. (See Foundations of Religious Life, Chapter 2, pp. 61-77.)

The difficulty is that, throughout history, there has been a struggle between basically three different positions about the relation between women and men: 1) traditional gender polarity, which viewed men as naturally superior to women, and its modern counterpart, reverse gender polarity, which views women as naturally superior to men; 2) unisex positions, which claim that there are no significant differences between women and men; and 3) complementary positions, which argue for the simultaneous fundamental equality and worth of women and men and their significant differentiation. Some complementary positions can be called “fractional,” because they claim that a man and a woman each provide some fraction of a characteristic, which when added up make one single person. Others — and this is the one that I defend — can be called “integral,” because they claim that a man or a woman is an integral or whole human person, and when together, they generate something more than two.

Over different periods in history, one of the paradigm vocations has assumed a de facto cultural superiority over the others. Thus, in medieval times, abbesses and abbots in the monastic religious vocation often were considered superior; in modern times, the clerical priestly vocation held a culturally superior position until the 20th century, when the lay vocation with its sacrament of marriage seemed to be considered culturally superior. As mentioned before, the Second Vatican Council laid the groundwork for a true communio of vocations in which each one is a gift of self to the others.

When a person is called into the Catholic Church and becomes specified in a particular vocation, he or she is always called to serve others in the Church and the world in complementary ways to others. This mutuality of self-gift in service in the Church fulfills the definition of “solidarity” in the Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et spes, #32): Jesus Christ founded the Church after His death and resurrection as an institution in which “everyone, as members one or the other, would render mutual service according to the different gifts bestowed on each. This solidarity must be constantly increased until that day on which it will be brought to perfection” at the end of time in Heaven. The goal of our vocation is mutual service in total self-gift. When this is practiced, the Church continues to spread throughout the world.

LOPEZ: In case you haven’t been watching MSNBC, as I have, you should know that the pope may resign and that he is akin to Richard Nixon, caught in crimes and cover-up. Aren’t you ashamed at all to be a part of an institution that has such a scandal-rich contemporary history, which it still hasn’t cleaned house over?

SISTER PRUDENCE: The statement in the first sentence reveals such a lack of knowledge and understanding of the Church and of our present Pope that it does not merit a response. The Church is not just another human institution, but one instituted by Jesus Christ.

Although off the mark, the second question is more approachable. You ask about shame and being ashamed to be a part of an institution. An analogy might be useful here. Consider other kinds of institution, such as we find in sports, academia, businesses, etc. If one person in that institution is accused of doing something wrong — an athlete, say, or a university president, or a businessman — should that imply shame on the part of all who participate in the sport, study at the university, or invest in the business? Rather, it would likely evoke the passion of sorrow for the one who has strayed and for the people who have been wounded by his or her straying. A further analogy can be drawn from these examples. Should a sport, university, or business be judged on the basis of one of its members who does something poorly or wrong? Shouldn’t we rather try to judge the sport, university, or business by the best examples associated with it? Thus, shouldn’t the Church be evaluated more by its saints, such as Mother Teresa, and the many others who through it have done so many works of charity through the years?

It might be useful to you to find out, diocese by diocese, how many men and women are entering the Catholic Church this Easter. Likely there are many thousands across the United States. These persons reveal by their acts how much the Church is loved, even when some persons in it commit terrible sins and crimes against those to whom they were entrusted.

Personally, I love the Church and I love our present Holy Father, Pope Benedict. I believe that he is a holy man and a wonderful leader in this new millennium. As you may be aware, many false statements and accusations are being made about him. The facts, however, seem to indicate that Pope Benedict has been at the forefront of reforming the procedures to confront scandalous behavior. John Allen’s “Keeping the record straight on Benedict and the crisis” begins the hard work of clarifying what is true and what is false, what is accurate and what is approaching slander and calumny. I pray that God will have mercy on those who promote and repeat false positions against people in an attempt to ruin their reputations.

LOPEZ: In the wake of the latest news stories, I’ve also heard, once again, that the Catholic Church simply must have more women involved, as priests and in the hierarchy. I’ve heard one prominent reporter simply declare that the Church needs more women. What is the role of women in the Church, and is that at the heart of the Church’s current problems?

SISTER PRUDENCE: Again, this question is wrongly framed within a political model of power struggles. Rather, the Church is a communion in which all the baptized are called to holiness through complementary vocations. In the apostolic letter “On the New Millennium,” John Paul II summarized it this way: “The unity of the Church is not uniformity, but an organic blending of legitimate diversities. It is the reality of many members joined in a single body, the one Body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 12:12). Therefore the Church of the Third Millennium will need to encourage all the baptized and confirmed to be aware of their active responsibility in the Church’s life” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, #46).

As mentioned before, integral complementarity of vocations holds an interior tension between the fundamental equality of dignity and worth of all vocations and the significant differentiation of vocations. When one part or another of this tension slides out, the result is either a unisex model of interchangeable roles (the sliding out of significant differentiation) or a rigid polarity model (the sliding out of fundamental equality of dignity). This sliding out can happen in relation to a particular vocation, such as marriage, or it can happen in relation to the interrelation of the vocations within a parish or particular Church.

In his essays on Genesis, Mulieris Dignitatem (9-11), and other documents such as The Gospel of Life (99), Pope John Paul II discussed the rupture in relations through the effects of sin. Simply put, for men this takes the form of a propensity towards domination of others, especially women, rather than the assumption of a properly held dominion in areas of responsibility; for women this takes the form of seeking to possess others, especially men, rather than fostering their personal growth.

The answer to the final part of your question is “Sin”; sin is at the heart of the problems in the Church. The different vocations (not roles) of women and men, giving themselves in service to one another for the good of the Church and the world, are not a problem. They are the solution to the problem.

For further reference to ways that Catholic women are being formed in their vocations, see the work of ENDOW (Educating on the Dignity and Vocation of Women).

LOPEZ: If I’m watching these news stories and wondering whom or what to believe, do you have any recommendations that are not about spin and not going to preach to a simple fact-seeker?

SISTER PRUDENCE: If you are seeking to understand and report the truth about something, you should read the original sources, interview trusted people, ponder what you find, develop a hypothesis, test it out, and reformulate it. Always seek greater accuracy, and always maintain gentleness (truth persuades by its own gentle power) and love for the good reputation of everyone.

— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online.


Readings for the Feast of Saint Joseph, the Worker
May 1

God, our Father,
Creator and ruler of the universe,
in every age You call man
to develop and use his gifts for the good of others.
With Saint Joseph as our example and guide,
help us to do the work you have asked
and come to the rewards you have promised.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.

First Reading - Genesis 1:26 - 2:3
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all His work which He had done in creation.

or Col 3:14-15, 17, 23-24

Gospel Reading - Matthew 13: 54-58
Coming to His own country Jesus taught them in the synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary? And are not His brethen James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all His sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?" And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house." And He did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

(Revised Standard Version - Catholic edition)

Prayers to Saint Joseph

To thee, O Blessed Joseph, we have recourse in our affliction, and having implored the help of thy most holy Spouse, we seek with confidence thy patronage also. By that affection wherewith thou wast united to the Immaculate Virgin, Mother of God; by the fatherly love with which thou didst embrace the Child Jesus, we humbly beseech thee to look down with gracious eye upon that inheritance which Jesus Christ purchased for us by His Blood, and to help us in our need by thy powerful intercession.

Defend, O thou most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, the chosen offspring of Jesus Christ. Keep from us, O most loving father, all blight of error and corruption. Aid us from on high, O thou our most valiant defender, in this conflict with the powers of darkness. And even as of old thou didst rescue the Child Jesus from the peril of His life, so now defend God's Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity. Shield us ever under thy patronage, so that imitating thy example and strengtheded by thy help, we may live a holy life, die a happy death, and attain to everlasting bliss in heaven. Amen.

Litany of Saint Joseph
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Joseph, pray for us.
Illustrious Son of David, pray for us.
Light of the Patriarchs, pray for us.
Spouse of the Mother of God, pray for us.
Chaste Guardian of the Virgin, pray for us.
Foster-Father of the Son of God, pray for us.
Faithful Protector of Christ, pray for us.
Head of the Holy Family, pray for us.
Joseph most just, pray for us.
Joseph most chaste, pray for us.
Joseph most prudent, pray for us.
Joseph most courageous, pray for us.
Joseph most obedient, pray for us.
Joseph most faithful, pray for us.
Mirror of patience, pray for us.
Lover of poverty, pray for us.
Model of working men, pray for us.
Ornament of the domestic life, pray for us.
Guardian of virgins, pray for us.
Pillar of the family, pray for us.
Consoler of the miserable, pray for us.
Hope of the sick, pray for us.
Patron of the dying, pray for us.
Terror of demons, pray for us.
Protector of the Holy Church, pray for us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
V. He hath made him master of His house.
R. And ruler of all His possessions.

Let us pray.
O God, who in Thy ineffable providence didst vouchsafe to choose blessed Joseph to be the Spouse of Thy most holy Mother: grant, we beseech Thee, that we may have him for our intercessor in Heaven, whom on earth we venerate as out most holy Protector. Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

Novena to Saint Joseph

O Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.

O Saint Joseph, assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

O Saint Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach whil He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath, Amen.

O Saint Joseph, hear my prayers and obtain my petitions. O Saint Joseph, pray for me. (mention your intention)

St. Joseph Novena

O good father Joseph! I beg you,  by all your sufferings, sorrows and joys, to obtain for me what I ask.

(Here name your petition).

Obtain for all those who have asked my prayers, everything that is useful to them in the plan of God. Be near to me in my last moments, that I may eternally sing the praises of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Amen.

(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be)