Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Temptation of Donatism

After enduring a most pestilent priest as Mass-sayer on Monday, to-day a most pleasant surprise: a visiting priest from Melbourne (he told me afterward his name is Fr Ian Waters) who, by his devotion and tone of voice at Mass gave ample testimony that he was truly believing and praying the words thereof, rather than just going through the motions at maximum speed.

This making of comparisons between "nice Father and his devout Mass" and "nasty Father and his crap preaching and worse", of course, is a temptation toward Donatism – the heresy that the validity of the sacraments depends on the holiness of the minister.  Undoubtedly it is less disturbing to the faithful to depend on the ministrations of a priest who not only "does the red and says the black" but exemplifies devotion and belief, rather than endure some fellow who seems to think a quick Mass is a good Mass (he being partially correct, in that the faithful have the consolation of "Thank God that's over" all the sooner), and preaches in a manner offensive to pious ears – but of course Our Lord nonetheless becomes present in the Sacrament and Sacrifice of His love in both cases.

The crime here is that the unworthy celebrant, whether secretly (if in occult mortal sin) or openly (if irreverent, for – as Trent teaches – such is inseparable from impiety), fails to handle the holy and the sacred with due worship, and commits sacrilege; naturally, such sacrilege is either revolting to the faithful, or, worse still, perverts the belief of the faithful, corrupting them and sundering them from true piety, even from our holy religion: as was done by that unhappy apostate priest, the renegade Kennedy, who has dragged so many souls from the Faith.


Blackfriar said...

Fr Ian is a delightful man, a fine priest and an excellent canonist, too. But he is so BUSY! How he found time to visit thr Carmel in Launceston I cannot imagine. I occasionally supplied for him at St Roch's in Melbourne when I was in Camberwell.

Joshua said...

Indeed! Hence the all too obvious comparison with that other priest.

There are, after all, two sorts of priest - those who work, and those who don't.