My schedule this past summer gave me the opportunity to attend daily Mass. Nearly every noon found me seated in the pews, garnering the gifts—fewer distractions, the bare-bones order of worship, the solace of quiet prayer—often missing on crowded Sundays. Those 40 minutes of reflection in the middle of a hectic day allowed me to recharge some spiritual batteries.
There were, of course, minor glitches in my attempts to focus on prayer and charge the engines of my soul. One of our priests read the Gospel in both Spanish and English, despite the fact that few or no Hispanics were present. The same priest several times lambasted bishops for holding to certain teachings and practices of the Church. Both good priests, I noticed, launched a homily against the legalists in our midst, traditional Catholics whom the priests regard as Pharisees, but neither priest has ever, to the best of my knowledge, spoken a word from the pulpit about Catholics who dissent from Church teaching.
Part of me was inclined to mark these practices as trifles. Like so many Americans, I am infected by the go-along get-along commandments now institutional in this country. Tolerance is king, with a sticky love of mankind for queen. I am certain you know what I mean, Your Excellency. Judging by what I read in your diocesan newspaper, you, like the rest of us, are adept in the...