Thursday, October 15, 2009

extra ecclesiam nulla salus?

'I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me."
Deuteronomy 5:6-7

"I am the way, the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father but through me."
John 14:6

Most Catholic schools, and especially Jesuit high schools and universities, celebrate the Mass of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of every school year.It is a tradition almost as old as the Society of Jesus itself, going backto the first Jesuit school in Messina, Sicily in 1548.

In the Preface for the Mass of the Holy Spirit, we pray in thanksgiving to God who gives us “gifts of grace for every time and season” as God “guides the Church in the marvelous ways of [God’s] providence.” God’s gifts of grace, which St. Paul refers to as the fruits of the Spirit in the Letter to the Galatians, are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. As we begin the school year, we pray that the Holy Spirit continue to fill our hearts with the fire of God’slove.

St.Ignatius College Preparatory - Mass of the Holy Spirit

A UDM student reportedly stole four medallions depicting various world religions in an attempt to deny their recognition in the Sept. 24 Celebrate Spirit service, the university's opening liturgy.

"No criminal charges have been filed yet, but the student could potentially be charged with a hate crime, officials said."

I saw this on the great blog Good Jesuit, Bad Jesuit: False Gods And Relativism At The University Of Detroit Mercy.

Now I feel as though I am as ecumenical as the next guy... and I wouldn't expect a crucifix in a Muslim mosque, or a cross in a Hindu Temple. But why are we carrying banners/medallions of other religions in the procession for the Mass of the Holy Spirit at a Catholic, Jesuit school?

And to charge him with a "hate crime"? For taking action in defense of the faith by removing pagan symbolism at a Catholic Mass? This wasn't an ecumenical prayer service -- it was the Mass. Hate crime? Nominate him for the Shield of Loyola Award. He seems to be the only one out there who is canonically correct.

I don't get 'it' -- someone enlighten me please.

Mass of the Holy Spirit

Celebrate Spirit!, the official welcome to the new school year for UDM faculty, staff and students, is part of a long tradition dating from the founding of the great European universities in the Middle Ages. These institutions would celebrate the Mass of the Holy Spirit at the start of a new school year. Following this tradition we call on God's Spirit for inspiration as we begin a new academic year. This festive event gathers the entire University community together to rededicate ourselves to UDM's mission, to renew friendships, and to welcome new members.

Eucharistic Liturgy (the Mass)

Every Mass follows the same general form, and the Mass of the Holy Spirit is no exception. We gather to listen to some portion of the sacred story handed on in the gospels and other sacred writings. Then we bring forward bread and wine, symbols of our gifts received and shared with all in need. The priest, an ordained representative of the entire church community, prays over and shares those gifts in a holy communion with God and with one another. In the "missa," or "sending," at the end of the mass, the people disperse to their ordinary lives strengthened for the task of carrying what they have heard and shared to the rest of the world.


A procession is symbolic movement through time and space. Our processional banners carry medallions of major world religions:

The Star of David (Judaism), the cross (Christianity), and the Star and Crescent (Islam) represent the three sister-communities who trace the origins of their faith to Abraham.
The Yin-yang symbol (Confucianism), the Dharma Wheel (Buddhism), and the Om (Hinduism) represent the great religions of the East.


  1. Hmm... "red flag"... Communists?!!?

    Or perhaps a Catholic jealous for the sanctity of the Mass?

    How sad that the nun turned the Catholic student over to security. And how sad that he could be hit with a "hate crime" charge for removing some worthless (and idolatrous) medallions from Sister's banners.

  2. 44,

    I think that the student in question has done much good by shaking up this blindness. I hope the college student in question will make a statement. I am sure there is more to the story.



  3. Tom,
    At St. Michael's there are no flags in any procession, only the Eucharist and the Rosary, which are the essence of the One, True Religion. I sense that there are silly nuns at work here.
    Jack Lammers

  4. Tom:

    I have appreciated all the good work you do with SJHAWK44, which I read faithfully, but I would have to say that I strongly disagree with your comments on the procession at Detroit Mercy. Having seen such a procession at the Inauguration Mass there a few years ago, I would argue it is very Catholic (and moving) to respect and honor our sister religions, especially at a university with a very diverse student body. My understanding of Catholicism is that all are welcome, just as the many nations were part of the Pentecost story. I would argue that the young protester may not need to be punished, but should be educated concerning the importance of interreligious dialogue as a way of enriching our Catholic faith.

    Perhaps when you get to DC, we might chat about this, because I very much appreciate your inclusion of so much more than basketball in your pages.


  5. Dear 44,

    There is a difference, between interreligous dialogue and proper Catholic liturgy. Including pagan symbols in the Mass can not be found in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, The Gospel account of the Last Supper or the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. The Pentecost story was about religious conversion and the foundation of the Catholic Church.