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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children.

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Irish Elk
Friday, January 24, 2003  
The Church of TQ

TQ and his flock, Feast of St. Francis, Church of the Holy Family, Virginia Beach, Va. See also here.

"We do not have souls.

"Transubstantiation is not a teaching of the Catholic Church.

"Every baptized Christian is a priest."

All this according to the Rev. Thomas J. Quinlan, pastor of the Church of the Holy Family in Virginia Beach, Va., in a letter of response to a visitor from Texas who had complained of "heresy" in one of the pastor's sermons.

If I thought you were a heretic, I would recommend that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Texas tie you to a cactus and burn you on the prairie, Fr. Quinlan writes his critic in the June 21, 2002, letter, cc'ed to the Richmond bishop and the apostolic pronuncio, and reprinted in the parish bulletin.

But have no fear. You’re just too out of it!

May the Holy Spirit within you prompt you to overcome your ignorance and aid you in vanquishing your arrogance.

Arrogance is a quality with which Fr. Quinlan – "TQ" to his parishioners – is familiar.

He gives a breathtaking display of it in this parish-bulletin essay instructing Mass-goers in proper comportment:

1. Everyone in this parish should receive a piece of the consecrated Bread, and drink from the common cup. Jesus (not the Church) instituted the Mass in ratione coenae (in the nature of a meal), not in the form of a snack. Nine hundred years of host ("What’s that?" Jesus would say.) history does not excuse us from the twofold facet of communing as Jesus intended and the Bible handed on.

2. People who enter the building, which their presence in Faith will make into a church, should reach into the Baptismal Font and bless themselves, educating their children to do the same. This applies to the innumerable latecomers. Incidentally, if you are ten minutes late (look at your watch in the parking lot), go to another Mass. Missing the three Bible readings manifests your misunderstanding of what Mass is: Word and Meal.

3. Do not leave early. The priest should always be the first one out of the church. If you have prescheduled appointments, reschedule your Mass. Last week I confronted three people leaving early. And one of them, to add insult to injury, had blessed herself on the way out–a meaningless, pietistic gesture.

4. Do not bring any games, toys, Cheerios, etc., to the church building. Little children belong in the nursery, and younger children at the Liturgy of the Word. If you have uncontrollable children, consult psychiatrist listings, or arrange with your life-sharing spouse to go to separate Liturgies until control is restored in the family (which is usually the problem). There are a few exceptions–autistic children, et similia, who are more than welcome.

5. When the cantor introduces the service, answer the "Good Morning" or "Good Evening". That’s the cue to stop conversation. In our parish, the older people seem to be the chief offenders. When the cantor leads the singing, or the lector is reading, they are presiding at that part of the Mass. Look at them and pay attention to them. The overall presider is the presbyter (Priest), but not the only one. Notice that when the cantor is leading the Hallelujah how the priest turns and faces him/her, an acknowledgement of presidency.

6. When there is a lull, it is not a signal to start chattering. I have noticed it before the first reading, at the presentation of gifts, and even during Holy Communion! However, the chattering, laughing, howling, and conversation before the cantor signals the beginning of the service is highly encouraged.

7. When it is time to sing, everyone sing. When it is time to be silent, everyone should be quiet. The Mass has ups and downs built into it. You should have ups and downs in your moods, singing, and actions.

8. Do not be a hostgrabber. Put both hands out for the Eucharistic minister (ordained or not) to place in your hand. Say "amen" loudly so all around you can hear. Look at the Body and Blood as you receive it. No looking at the priest, or closing your eyes, and certainly not making the sign of the Cross, genuflecting, or other meaningless actions. You blessed yourself in the Baptismal Font at the beginning of Mass, and before the opening Prayer–that's enough.

Be sure to visit the accompanying discussion forum to read the comments.

Meantime, what in the Sam Hill is going on at the parish children's Mass? Is it a raid? Are the tykes being rousted? Or imploring the deity to send rain?

(Via Bill Cork)


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