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Monday, October 13, 2003

You want some arsenic with that?

The conundrum of the day: should I take communion in the Diocese of Saginaw, or engage its officials in ecumenical dialogue?

I am beginning to learn the exact jurisdictional boundaries for the state of Michigan. Why? Well, there appears to be no place (I would love to be corrected) where you are safe from wrenching stupidity in the eleven counties that comprise the demesne of Bishop Untener.

It started off pretty well, too. We were up for our college homecoming, and decided to attend the hometown's Catholic parish for Sunday.

I tuned out the usual I've come to expect from Saginaw liturgy ("Rubrics? We don't need no stinkin' rubrics!")--you know, kneeling is medieval, the treacly affirmations from the God Is Privileged To Know Us Hymnal, the assured results of modern criticism (muted this time), etc. If I didn't let a lot of it slide, I'd never make it through. The surprise for me was that, despite the influx for homecoming, and the fact this was the only Sunday Mass for a big stretch of the county, the parish was half-empty.

For whatever reason (law of averages?), things weren't that bad. At the end of Mass, Fr. even emphasized the recent letter of the Michigan Catholic Conference regarding the passage of the Legal Birth Definition Act, and twice gave out the Governor's phone number to urge her to sign.

Feelings of warm fellowship surged--bravo! I don't have to head to Lansing!

[Insert Qualifier Here]

Being Saginaw, of course, things couldn't go off without a big ol' hitch. A fat, heretical spanner heaved into the works. No, of course not.

He then asked for anniversaries, birthdays, etc, in order to give the "community blessing." A couple announced they were celebrating their 36th wedding anniversary. My guard down from being fifty miles away from St. Joan Chittister, the different name of the blessing and my glowy fellowship, I forgot my previous encounter with the dread "Saginaw Blessing."

The congregants began to sing:

May the Lord bless and keep you/
May He let His face His shine upon you/
And be gracious to you/
And give you His peace.


Uh, oh. This sounds disturbingly familiar. Too late, I went to DefCon2.

May our God bless and keep you/
May she let her face shine upon you/
And be gracious to you/
And give you her peace.


I got lockjaw right after the first verse, as I finally realized what was going on.

Who taught them this crap? It seems pretty systematic, since I've heard it at two unrelated parishes an hour apart. A liturgical workshop sponsored by the powers that be? Naaaaaaah.....

I've noted for future reference that the nearest parish in the Diocese of Lansing is approximately 35 minutes away.

Following this, the too little, too late department met--plans for a Spanish language mass. Despite the fact there is a sizeable and growing Mexican-American community in the county, this particular parish is lily-white. Oddly enough, seven blocks away there is a burgeoning Pentecostal church headed by a Latino pastor.

A coincidence, I'm sure.

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