Rev. Carmine J. Sacco, S.J.

We learned at Mass today that our parish priest, Rev. Carmine Sacco, S.J. is retiring some time this year.

We also learned that the Jesuits have appointed Rev. Gene Delmore, S.J. to succeed him. A quick search revealed that Fr. Delmore is currently serving as associate pastor of Saint Joseph’s in Yakima, and that he is scheduled to leave there in July.

I pray that Fr. Delmore is a good man and a faithful priest.

Being a pastor is one of the most difficult jobs in the world, I think. The responsibility of shepherding souls must be a great weight, though God provides graces to all priests to persevere in their vocation. I try not to stress pastors any more than they already are – I really only expect two things from any priest, never mind a pastor.

I expect that they will be faithful to the Magisterium – the teaching authority of the Church – and I expect them to show reverence to the sacred liturgy – to “say the black and do the red”.

Rev. Eugene P. Delmore, S.J.

These two things are foundational; it would seem to me that they flow naturally from a great love of God and His Church.

Father Sacco exhibits both of these qualities, to which the grace of God has added other gifts as well – a pastoral heart, a genuine love for those he shepherds, and no apparent fear of preaching the Truth. He’s a pastoral workaholic and a holy man. Saint Rita’s has been unaccountably blessed to have him, and to have him for thirty years.

His kind is all too rare in this age.

I’m no theologian, but sometimes a priest preaching heresy or disobedience from the ambo is so blatant that no one can mistake it. I have heard both heresy and disobedience preached in this archdiocese. In fact, the pastor of Saint James Cathedral in Seattle is rather famous for trying to organize widespread disobedience to the new liturgical norms.

I pray that our new pastor is faithful to the teaching of the Church and obedient to Her bishops.

As for liturgical abuses – in my experience, they are so widespread that a priest who actually follows the Missal and the GIRM is a rare thing.

Commonplace violations include the use of glass vessels, instrumental music and removal of holy water from fonts during Lent, skipping the Confiteor, arbitrarily changing the words of the prayers, over-reliance on extraordinary ministers, and so forth. Some might argue that even taken together, these aren’t heart-stoppingly serious.

But I’ve also experienced priests who insisted on changing every line of every prayer, priests who paraphrased their “reading” of the Gospel, priests who have changed the order of the rites during the Mass, and those who have skipped huge sections of rites or prayers, presumably for time.

I’ve been at Masses where the congregation was so confused with what was going on that they didn’t respond at all when they should have. So much for “active participation”.

And don’t get me started on the homilies I’ve heard! I’ve seen everything from lay people delivering homilies reflections at Mass to priests preaching on the texts of country and western songs instead of Holy Scripture.

Where do you draw the line? There are Masses I’ve attended where I’m sure the consecration was invalid.

Why, O why can the priests not just follow the instructions and read the texts as written? Do they think they’re smarter and more holy than the combined weight of 2,000 years of liturgical development? Is it pride? What is it?

Am I just being unreasonable here? I don’t think so. The Church has repeatedly affirmed that the faithful have a right to liturgy done by the book. Why is it so very rare?

We are very fortunate at Saint Rita’s in regards to the liturgy. Oh, it might not be always exacting, but you’re not really going to get perfection in anything this side of heaven.

Our liturgy is reverent, and even if I don’t like the music sometimes, it is nearly always at least appropriate – we can argue about matters of taste, but we shouldn’t have to argue about the texts and rubrics.

I pray that our new pastor will just “say the black and do the red”.

Prayer for Priests
St. Thérèse of of Lisieux

O Holy Father, may the torrents of love flowing from the sacred wounds of your divine Son bring forth priests like unto the beloved disciple John who stood at the foot of the cross; priests, who as a pledge of your own most tender love will lovingly give your divine Son to the souls of men.

May your priests be faithful guardians of your Church, as John was of Mary, whom he received into his house. Taught by this loving Mother who suffered so much on Calvary, may they display a mother’s care and thoughtfulness towards your children. May they teach souls to enter into close union with you through Mary who, as the Gate of Heaven, is specially the guardian of the treasures of your divine Heart.

Give us priests who are on fire, and who are true children of Mary, priests who will give Jesus to souls with the same tenderness and care with which Mary carried the Little Child of Bethlehem.

Mother of sorrows and of love, out of compassion for your beloved Son, open in our hearts deep wells of love, so that we may console Him and give Him a generation of priests formed in your school and having all the tender thoughtfulness of your own spotless love.