Pagan Ceremony incorporated in Mass


#1

Hello everyone. Still struggling with some things. I volunteer at an inner city church that helps feed, cloth and fellowship with homeless individuals (a.k.a. street people).

I live in Western Canada. Statistically, “Native American” or “First Nations” people make up a big portion - at least where I volunteer. The church is along “skid row” which coincidentally has numerous churches.

When an “inner city” person dies of “First Nation” heritage, the Catholic Church down the street always (as far as I am aware) handles the funeral service, regardless if they were members or not ot attended.

One thing that bothers me is in the Mass a “First Nation’s” ceremony is incorporated into the Mass. It is called a “sweet grass ceremony” (or something like that - if someone knows for sure, please correct me). It involves the burning of some sort of grass and is intended to create smoke or something. This has roots in their heritage (rain dancing, etc. to the gods)

Can anyone explain this, and if it bothers anyone? I am confused over the whole thing and find it kind of creepy - and I mean that with all Charity. Do Masses throughout the world incorporate heritage type things? (I had heard in Bahamas or Barbados that allot of “voodoo” stuff happens but I am sure these are blatant misrepresentations).

Thanks to all those who respond.

:slight_smile:


#2

The Church allows for the cultures of certain areas to be expressed in liturgy. If we “Westernize” everything, not doubt we would be more comfortable, but then we lose the very nature of the Catholic (meaning universal) Church. Other cultures are more symbolic. I find it disgusting, but I don’t go, so I have no real complaints.


#3

malachi_a_serva

Cultural adaptations are allowed, but must be approved.


#4

the Church allows some leeway for popular customs to be incorporated in liturgy, especially for weddings and funerals, but their use actually within the Mass must be very carefully done. For instance, here weddings often include the lasso, coins, presentation of Bible and several other things I don’t know the name of, and each little ceremony involves other relatives or friends, apparently to honor them or include them. different, but in no way detracts from the sacramental character. Personally I would leave these things to the wisdom of the priests who minister to various groups.

someone who retains customs of their own ethnic group is not necessarily promoting a pagan practice. Many of our own customs and rituals are “baptized”, such as appropriating former pagan feastdays and giving people feasts of the church to celebrate instead. As long as nothing is added or changed that affects the matter and form of the sacraments, I would leave it to the discretion and sensitivity of the priest. For instance, in a culture where corn or rice is the staple grain, it would be an abuse to exchange the wheat bread for communion with these items and would render the Eucharist invalid.


#5

It should be kept in mind that through the centuries the Church has moved into pagan lands, found pagan practices, and "baptized’ them by turning the pagan symbol or action into a Ctholic symbol or action.

So, to ask the question - is there really that much difference between buring grass which gives off smoke, and buring incense, which gives off smoke?

And before you get too far down the road about incense being Catholic, I seem to recall that one of the issues the Catholics had with the Romans early on was the insistence of the Romans that the Catholics burn incense to the Roman gods… which was obviously a pagan practice.


#6

So, to ask the question - is there really that much difference between buring grass which gives off smoke, and buring incense, which gives off smoke?

I was just about to say that.


#7

Malaichi:

In JPII’s encyclical Fides et Ratio, towards the end, he explains that as local cultures accept the Catholic faith, that the church may and should retain the aspects of the culture that can be ennobled by liturgy…so to speak, as the culture gets baptized, the personality of the culture is also Christianized…not in a smothering way but in an organic way…of course the qualification that the dogma, proper reverence not be sacrificed. Furthermore, this adds to the universal character of the Church.

On a Chestertonian take: the indegenous cultures and their rituals at the core are the natural manifestations of man looking for God…all the ‘paganistic’ rituals that we may find weird are the various expressions of this search for communion with the Creator…so when the church takes in a particular culture’s personality, it takes that primordial expression and brings it to its fulfillment, it is not only respected but brought up to its true fulfillment. I find this perspective really cool.

Thanks.

in XT.


#8

Cultural innovations are allowed…but why??? It actually makes me sick…you should be able to witness the same exact Catholic Mass in India, that you would witness in Russia or America…that is what makes us Universal…and when I hear of nonsense like this…it really irks me.


#9

[quote=dumspirospero]Cultural innovations are allowed…but why??? It actually makes me sick…you should be able to witness the same exact Catholic Mass in India, that you would witness in Russia or America…that is what makes us Universal…and when I hear of nonsense like this…it really irks me.
[/quote]

If we must all witness the same mass, then it should be said in catacombs and sure as heck shouldn’t be spoken in English. Who gets to decide that every mass should be molded to fit the whims of Western culture. Some of the practices disgust me as well, but I don’t question their right to have the practices. We don’t come from the same culture they do, so they mean different things to them than they do to us. Reread Aquinas’ response, as it explains everything quite well.


#10

As others have said, many thing we have today as “Catholics” are actually traditions that have been “baptised” and brought into the Church. One of the most notable, since we’re talking about Catholic services, is the exchange and wearing of wedding rings. True blue, 100% pagan in origin. Wedding rings have less connection to anything Catholic than the grass burning described above has relation to the burning of incense.

I for one have absolutely no problem with different cultures respectfully incorporating some practices into their Catholic worship, so long as it retains a purely cultural meaning and doesn’t serve a non-Christian religious purpose. Such has been the Christian tradition and practice since the beginning; we even “baptised” the writings of Pagan philosophers and used them for Catholic theology!

Peace and God bless!


#11

[quote=dumspirospero]Cultural innovations are allowed…but why??? It actually makes me sick…you should be able to witness the same exact Catholic Mass in India, that you would witness in Russia or America…that is what makes us Universal…and when I hear of nonsense like this…it really irks me.
[/quote]

Why? This seems nothing but bizarre cultural imperialism to me. One of the reasons I’m not a Catholic is that even though the Catholic Church is trying to renounce your arrogant and small-minded attitude, too much of it remains.

Why, why, why should Western European culture be identified with Christian orthodoxy?

Why should the Mass be identical all over the world?

Edwin


#12

[quote=otm]It should be kept in mind that through the centuries the Church has moved into pagan lands, found pagan practices, and "baptized’ them by turning the pagan symbol or action into a Ctholic symbol or action.

So, to ask the question - is there really that much difference between buring grass which gives off smoke, and buring incense, which gives off smoke?

And before you get too far down the road about incense being Catholic, I seem to recall that one of the issues the Catholics had with the Romans early on was the insistence of the Romans that the Catholics burn incense to the Roman gods… which was obviously a pagan practice.
[/quote]

This is a point of contention between Catholics and many other Christians. Even Jews and Muslims have a hard time with this. Claiming that pagan influences in the church are sanctified flies in the face of what sanctification means. Im not going to say much more because then Ill be labeled an antiCatholic and banned from this site other to say the pagan influences run deep.


#13

[quote=SolaChristo]This is a point of contention between Catholics and many other Christians. Even Jews and Muslims have a hard time with this. Claiming that pagan influences in the church are sanctified flies in the face of what sanctification means. Im not going to say much more because then Ill be labeled an antiCatholic and banned from this site other to say the pagan influences run deep.
[/quote]

God can turn all things to His purpose. You don’t think God is powerful enough to sanctify pagan traditions and symbols and turn them to His use? My God certainly is.

The fish symbol, even the cross symbol have been used in pagan cultures, yet they are generally perceived as the most Christian of symbols.


#14

All this because they used a Native American incense? :rolleyes: About Sweetgrass

“Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata) is grown for its use in Native American and other rituals, as an incense. It can be smoked but the healthfulness of this is very dubious. It has a soft sweet scent, and need not be burned to be enjoyed. Live plants can be grown around the house, as living incense.”

The Catholic Church has long used incense in its liturgy and there is nothing wrong with this practice.

While M_A_S & SC are concerned about it, I then have to wonder why they don’y condemn St. Paul for what he did in Acts 17:15-34 ?

15 After Paul’s escorts had taken him to Athens, they came away with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.
16 3 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he grew exasperated at the sight of the city full of idols.
17 So he debated in the synagogue with the Jews and with the worshipers, and daily in the public square with whoever happened to be there.
18 Even some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers 4 engaged him in discussion. Some asked, “What is this scavenger trying to say?” Others said, “He sounds like a promoter of foreign deities,” because he was preaching about ‘Jesus’ and 'Resurrection.'
19 They took him and led him to the Areopagus 5 and said, "May we learn what this new teaching is that you speak of?
20 For you bring some strange notions to our ears; we should like to know what these things mean."
21 Now all the Athenians as well as the foreigners residing there used their time for nothing else but telling or hearing something new.
22 Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said: 6 "You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious.
23 For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’ 7 What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you.

How is the ceremony that Malachi saw different in nature form what Paul did in Athens?


#15

[quote=dumspirospero]Cultural innovations are allowed…but why??? It actually makes me sick…you should be able to witness the same exact Catholic Mass in India, that you would witness in Russia or America…that is what makes us Universal…and when I hear of nonsense like this…it really irks me.
[/quote]

TYhe Catholic Church is just that: catholic, meaning universal. It would behoove you to go to an Eastern rite liturgy; they are just as catholic and Catholic as you are, but their liturgy is going to look quite different.

If you are ill, you should see a physician. If what has occured throught the late 20 centurries makes you ill, then perhpas a better education in your faith is what would help. If someone taught you that the Mass looks the same now as it did 300 years ago (and I am now referring to the TLM), then they didn’t exactly lie, but they didn’t tell the whole truth. and if they told you that the Mass (again, the TLM) is just the same now as it was 1500 or 2000 years ago, then in a certain sense they told the truth (we had a Liturgy of the Word and a Liturgy of the Eucharist), and in a certain sense they lied, as by the time it camne to Trent, there were numerous liturgies around. Some of which looked different from others.

The Church doesn’t have a problem with it, and neither should you. And neither should you go about imposing Western, and particularly American, viewpoints and expressions of faith on others.


#16

[quote=SolaChristo]This is a point of contention between Catholics and many other Christians. Even Jews and Muslims have a hard time with this. Claiming that pagan influences in the church are sanctified flies in the face of what sanctification means. Im not going to say much more because then Ill be labeled an antiCatholic and banned from this site other to say the pagan influences run deep.
[/quote]

People who get off on a tangent about practices of the Catholic Church are ususally lacking in any understanding of either the early Church or Judaism.

One needs to be extremely careful when throwing stones if one lives in a glass house. Many of the things you do may also have parallels in ancient pagan practices.

And it helps to keep in mind that Abraham was not a Jew, and his practice of offering sacrifice of animals to God was a practice that his pagan neighbors also did.


#17

God’s Word is clear. What God uses God makes clean. When a sinner is forgiven of their sins by God are they still a sinner? If a pagan temple is taken over by Christians and used for God is the building evil and those in it too?

God said He can clean things. When God uses something it becomes clean.

Pagans used paper before we had Bibles does that make the Bible bad?

God cleanses what is filthy.

There is a web site that talks about this issue of local customs in mass. I do not recall the site but it gave facts, not speculation. I was upset about local customs in mass till I read that site I learned how God uses our local customs to bring souls to Him, He cleanses the dirty just like He cleanses us.

If anyone knows that link please post it. I lost it in my PC CRASH! I lost so many good links.

Respect for other people and their customs is Christian. We don’t have to believe it but we still have to respect others as we expect to be respected.

There are rules for what is allowed in mass. Just check out the GIRM for the American (US) Church. Don’t know where the Canadian one is EH!:wink:

How’s the brewski up there eh?:thumbsup:


#18

[quote=malachi_a_serva]Hello everyone. Still struggling with some things. I volunteer at an inner city church that helps feed, cloth and fellowship with homeless individuals (a.k.a. street people).

[/quote]

Keep volunteering on such things. the more you do of such things, the less you will struggle with other things.

Peace

Jim


#19

[quote=dumspirospero]Cultural innovations are allowed…but why??? It actually makes me sick…you should be able to witness the same exact Catholic Mass in India, that you would witness in Russia or America…that is what makes us Universal…and when I hear of nonsense like this…it really irks me.
[/quote]

Even in the 1600s, the pope gave permission for the Chinese missions to celebrate the Mass in the vernacular. I suppose that would have “irked” you too, hmmm?


#20

[list=1]
*]What is a Chronology of the Chinese Missions? And of the Jesuits’ Condemnation?
*]FLUCTUATING “PERPETUITY”
*]Nicholas IV {189th P.} (22 Feb. 1288 - 04 Apr. 1292) - the first Franciscan to become pope.
He earned the title of missionary pope by sending (1289) Giovanni di Monte Corvino, a Franciscan friar, to the court of the great Kublai Khan (1260-94); this mission led to the first establishment of the Catholic church in China, where previously only Nestorians had been influential.
*]Clement V {193rd P.} in 1307, appointed Giovanni first archbishop of Peking.
*]Paul V {231st P.} (16 May 1605 - 28 Jan 1621) encouraged the missions, approving (June 27, 1615) the use of the vernacular in the liturgy in China.
*]Innocent X {234th P.} took a stand in the keen debate on the propriety of adapting certain traditional Chinese rituals in the mission field, approving a decree of the Propaganda (Sept. 12, 1645) condemning the practice.
*]Alexander VII {235th P.} (7 Apr. 1655 - 22 May 1667)[list=1]
*]By a decree of Mar. 23, 1656 he accepted the viewpoint of Jesuit missionaries in China, permitting the performance of certain indigenous rites as being effectively civil ceremonies, and (Sept. 9, 1659) relieved native Chinese clergy of the duty of reading the office in Latin.
*]Alexander VII {235th P.} (7 Apr. 1655 - 22 May 1667)[list=1]
*]and Bl. Innocent XI {238th P.} both condemned 110 of the Jesuit casuists’ propositions after Blaise Pascal’s Provincial Letters.
*]became involved in the controversy over “Probabilism”, ie. the theory (supported by the Jesuits) that, where the propriety of an action is in doubt, it is lawful to follow a solidly probable opinion favouring it even when the case against it is more probable.
*]he did not condemn Probabilism as such but, notwithstanding his partiality for Jesuits, formally condemned forty-five propositions savouring of laxity (Sept. 24, 1665 and Mar. 18, 1666)
[/list]
[/list]
*]Bl. Innocent XI {238th P.} With his moral earnestness, he had Jansenist leanings and was critical of the Jesuits; on Mar. 2, 1679, without naming the Probabilism prevalent in Jesuit circles, he condemned sixty-five laxist propositions savouring of it. Innocent endorsed “probabiliorism”, ie. the view that in cases of doubt about the licitness of an action the opinion which seems more probable should be followed.
*]Clement XI {241st P.}

[list=1]
*]1704, Nov. 20: approving a sentence of the Holy Office, he ruled against the use by missionaries of Chinese rites, especially the cult of Confucius and ancestors.
*]1715, Mar. 19: he reiterated the ruling in the constitution Ex Illa Die putting an effective end to the Chinese Mission.
*]These prohibitions led to the persecution of Chinese Christians and the closure of the missions; the prohibitions were finally lifted by Pius XII in 1939.
[/list]
*]Innocent XIII {242nd P.} having had a deep aversion to the Jesuits was minded to suppress the order when he learned that its missionaries were not complying with Clement XI’s ban on the Chinese rites. Instead he forbade it to receive novices unless within 3 years he had satisfactory proof of its obedience.
*]Clement XII {244th P.} (12 July 1730 - 8 Feb. 1740) renewed (Sept. 26, 1735) Clement XI’s prohibition of Chinese rites and started a fresh inquiry into the whole issue.
*]Benedict XIV {245th P.}

[list=1]
*]published in 1741 a Bull in which he described the Jesuits as “disobedient, contumacious, crafty, and reprobate men.”
*]by the Bull Ex quo singulari (July 11, 1742) he finally suppressed the Chinese rites - following it with the Bull Omnium sollicitudinum (Sept. 12, 1744) extending the ban, in milder terms, to Malabar rites in India.
*]Ex quo singulari: “…we condemn and detest their practice as superstitious…we revoke, annul, abrogate and wish to be deprived of all force and effect, all and each of those permissions, and say and announce that they must be considered for ever to be annulled, null, invalid and without any force or power.”
[/list]
*]Clement XIII {246th P.} defended the Jesuits, reaffirming the position of the Society in his Bull Apostolicum pascendi of Jan. 7, 1765: “…using the plenitude of the Apostolic power…whose effect shall be perpetual…”, but it had no effect; the following states expelled the Jesuits:

[list=1]
*]Portugal in 1759;
*]France in 1762;
*]Spain, Naples, Sicily and from the Republics of Genoa and Venice in 1767;
*]Malta, the Duchy of Parma, and the Kingdom of Naples in 1768;
*]Paraguay 1769.
[/list]
[/list]


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