19 January 2009

St. Martin Luther King?

In the traditional calendar, January 18 marked the Feast of St. Peter's Chair in Rome, with a commemoration of the Feast of St. Prisca.  St. Peter's Chair in Rome of course commemorates the foundational See of Christendom, and the principle of true christian unity.

St. Prisca was a 13-year old virgin and martyr for the faith.  Instead of worshiping idols and rejecting the Christ she loved so dearly, she endured being imprisoned, starved, racked, tortured with boiling fat, having her flesh torn with hooks, and ultimately suffering beheading. In fact, this remarkable saint miraculously survived being thrown to the lions and being burned alive on a pyre before her beheading.

Because yesterday was a Sunday, the traditional calendar marked the Second Sunday after the Epiphany.  The Gospel for this Sunday relates the third manifestation, or Epiphany, of the Christ at the wedding feast in Cana.

In the new calendar, Sunday marked the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.  The Gospel for this Sunday relates the the testimony given Christ by St. John the Baptist and the call of the first Apostles.


Can someone please explain to me, therefore, why on Sunday the Archdiocese of St. Louis sponsored and celebrated its annual Mass in commemoration of non-Catholic, Baptist preacher and political activist Martin Luther King, Jr.?

At the risk of being smeared, someone has to say something about this.  It doesn't matter that King accomplished much good in his life.  Does he deserve our respect?  Yes.  Does he deserve credit?  Yes.  Does he deserve remembrance from a grateful nation?  Yes.

But all this does not change the fact that he lived and died a non-Catholic, and as such should not be "raised to the altar" in a local liturgy.  Perhaps we should take a vote on the next such Mass.  Ronald Reagan, anyone?  How about other leaders from other religions, like Gandhi? When will a Mass for the great Obama follow?

I remember, on a trip to London, visiting the ("borrowed" by Henry VIII) Westminster Abbey and blinking hard to make sure that I actually saw a bas-relief of Martin Luther King, Jr. beaming down amongst the assembled saints over the portico.  I remember thinking that I was glad that at least we didn't have such nonsense in the Catholic Church.  I spoke too soon.

Forgive me, but I can't help but think that a Mass in honor of St. Prisca might have been more fitting.  That brave little girl, by offering herself for the faith, accomplished more in her short life and glorious death than any political activist, however revered.

The Mass is not the private property of anyone, neither of the celebrant, nor the community, as John Paul II reminded us in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #52.  Well-meaning social activism cheapens the celebration of the Mass.  Enough.


Anonymous said...

Bravo Tm!

This lunacy has to stop if we are ever going to be truly 'united' in Faith. Monsignor Schmitz hit the nail on the head in his homily yesterday.

It's unfortunate that while Monsignor was enlightening us on the truth of 'ecumenism' and teaching us about true unity, our own Archdiocese was undermining the very points he was making by promoting this feel-good exercise in relativism.

This amounts to pandering in the name of race. Like it's parent in error; false ecumenism, we will never truly overcome our racial divides as long as our society engages in these charades. LOVE of our neighbor is like love of our children. Sometimes it difficult because harsh Truths have to be exposed, however when fortified by True love, those Truths unite each other and strengthens their bond to each other.

Mark S.
New Haven, MO

KC said...

Well said. Your original question was why was this done. Political correctness. A lame attempt at relevance to the culture by the usual subjects.

Ken said...

These MLK Masses are common in almost every cathedral today, and officials are often too politically correct to ask the hard questions. And the Masses will often have the same liturgical abuses seen at many of the parishes that have become falsely "inculturated" according to some academic's idea of generic African culture.

Mr. Basso said...

unfortunately at the Cathedral of SS Peter & Paul in Indianapolis features a large (maybe 10' tall) pseudo-icon of Dr. King with a halo during the month of January.
very similar to this image (if not the exact one)

Anonymous said...

January 17 was Ben Franklin's birthday. Feel free to take a three day weekend in his honor!

veiledwife said...

If I'm not mistaken, wasn't MLK Jr. an adulterer? Oh - shhhhhhhh - we should not say such things about such a "saintly man". Give me a break.

The Mass is NOT someone's personal playground to make our friends think we are cool.

Archbishop Burke goes to Rome and the places starts to go to pieces.....

thetimman said...


I don't know much about his personal life.

As for the Mass, this is the 33rd anniversary of it, so I can't fault new management unduly...

Anonymous said...

We were at the Mo History Museum today--Art Musee closed on Mondays. [I missed that on their web site!]

I almost felt like I should wish some holy day acknowledgment to the black people we saw.

I also observed 2 phases of American history: (1) slavery and struggle for freedom; and (2) struggle for civil rights [of blacks, women, laborers, and of course the sexually confused.]
Forget the rest of it. Sigh.

Elizabeth said...

MLK also denied the divinity of Christ, which would seem to rule out his being a saint! See, for example, http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/kingpapers/article/volume_i_29_november_1949_to_15_february_1950/, in which he writes:
The orthodox attempt to explain the divinity of Jesus in terms of an inherent metaphysical substance within him seems to me quite inadaquate. To say that the Christ, whose example of living we are bid to follow, is divine in an ontological sense is actually harmful and detrimental. To invest this Christ with such supernatural qualities makes the rejoinder: "Oh, well, he had a better chance for that kind of life than we can possible have." In other words, one could easily use this as a means to hide behind behind his failures. So that the orthodox view of the divinity of Christ is in my mind quite readily denied. The true significance of the divinity of Christ lies in the fact that his achievement is prophetic and promissory for every other true son of man who is willing to submit his will to the will and spirit og God. Christ was to be only the prototype of one among many brothers.

Anonymous said...

Does he deserve our respect? Yes. Does he deserve credit? Yes. Does he deserve remembrance from a grateful nation? Yes.

Excuse me??? The recipient of the Margaret Sanger Award?????

I think NOT!!


Anonymous said...

While I understand your point, I take serious issue with your statement, "Perhaps we should take a vote on the next such Mass."

The Church is not a democracy, it is the presence of Christ's Kingdom on earth. There is not vote involved.

I agree that the Church should not over-secularize herself. However, if the Cathedral Basilica, the center of the local Church, approves such a celebration, we have to be obedient to that.

I find your post to be nothing more than hypocritical ranting. Most of the posts on this blog site talk about obedience to the Church and unity with/ support of the local bishop. Yet, when something happens that is not to your liking, it seems fair game for you to publicly criticize the Church's decision.

I do not know how you can justify your actions.

I will pray for your full conversion to total obedience to Holy Mother Church.

Cato said...

Not only was MLKJr a notorious womanizer, as supported by substantial academic research as well as the biography of the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, but he also plagiarized his doctoral dissertaion at BU. Had I done the same thing, the school would have pulled my degree immediately but, in King's case, it would have been politically incorrect. So glad that we honour such a fine Christian man of the cloth in our churches.

Anonymous said...

St. Prisca is gettin dissed by the Dr.

thetimman said...

"I find your post to be nothing more than hypocritical ranting. "

Gee, um... thanks?

Latinmassgirl said...

Anonymous Jan 19,

TImman is not being a hypocrite! He is simply disagreeing with the raising of a non-catholic to a level usually reserved for saints.

I don't see how disagreeing has anything to do with disobedience to the church. While we all love our church there may be local small issues we disagree with.

You certainly must see something in this blog or you wouldn't be reading it, eh?

WhollyRoamin'Catholic said...

I hope this link works to a icon of St. Martin of Georgia.


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