Monday, July 4, 2011

St. Paul's - Why I Did What I Did

My brother Tony (a seminarian for the Archdiocese) was talking with me yesterday about an interesting experience he had. Tony doesn't read my blog, and had not heard about any of the stuff going on here - so his story wasn't something he shared with me based on any of this - but I think it is related.

He is at a parish in southern Indiana this summer, and yesterday after one of the Masses he heard one of the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion talking about how she dropped a host during Mass, picked it up, put it in her pocket, and just threw it in the trash after Mass. My brother said she was also chewing gum during Mass when she received Communion and continued while she was distributing Communion as well. My brother said that, at that moment, in his mind he snapped and he had a revelation – “if we don't do the Mass the way the Church is asking us to do it, this stuff will only continue.” He said he wasn't even mad at the woman because she obviously didn't KNOW any of what she had done was wrong. This isn't some isolated incident, nor is it any commentary to that specific parish or priest - this type of thing is EVERYWHERE in the Church today everywhere I go. I don't mean that no one understands what is going on, but the percentage of those who do get it across our country just seems to be so small. What my brother has realized is what has been said by many for going on 45 years now - if we don't do what the Church asks - we're doomed.

This video of George Thoroughgood in Mass for me represents a lot. I don't ask people to understand my rage towards it, and I am fine with being called a mixture of any of the following
1) a liturgical nazi
2) orthodoxy police
3) Pharisee
4) scrupulous
5) angry
6) not differentiated
7) psychotic
8) a person who doesn't follow (insert Scripture passage here about charity)
9) a person causing rupture in the body of Christ

The point is this - I was ordained a priest and a FATHER. If people are subtly or not so subtly undermining the source of salvation for a father's children, we would expect a strong response. I (and the Church) see me as a FATHER in charge of souls (as Canon Law puts it) and I don't take that LIGHTLY. I don't expect people who don't have that responsibility laid at their feet to understand, but I am saying that is how I view myself, and that is how I approach things day to day. I constantly pray for and fast for the kids that I have been charged to care for at Ritter, and the kids who I've worked with throughout the Archdiocese through Confirmation programs and mission trips and so forth, and when I see them ending up at a place where the Mass as the Church has handed it on is subtly undermined - I'm coming with the grizzly paw. An analogy here - if porn came on the TV my dad would take the TV out into the backyard and smash it with a sledge hammer. I believe that people who are undermining the Mass (and also those who undermine the Church's core teachings on contraception/homosexuality/abortion/women's ordination/etc.) are doing far worse than people who put porn on our TV’s.

Some say I should have handled things with the individuals involved and not gone public with my displeasure. The problem is that the scandal caused by this video was PUBLICLY done. Put yourself in the position of a priest and now imagine that a reporter in the local paper writes an article trashing the Catholic Church. You as the priest would contact the individual reporter, but you’d also HAVE to address the issue in a public fashion because the scandal was public. Would you let this reporter potentially draw thousands of your parishioners away from your Church, and then say at the end of the day, “well, I contacted him in person, so my duty is done”? And yet the incident we’ve been dealing with here (and thousands like it) are scandalous, and not just from the standpoint of being offensive to “my personal taste or preference for things.”

Unorthodox liturgy is problematic for a couple of reasons.
a) it conveys an image to the modern person that what is going on is not really important. As that mentality starts to creep in, over the course of decades of being ground down by it, people start to actually believe (although they’d never say it) that the Mass isn’t really all that important. So we get the pandemic we have today where most Catholics don’t even go to Mass every Sunday (not to mention the roughly 2% parish turnout for most holy days). And pretty soon you start getting people chewing gum, wearing swimming trunks and basketball shorts, and throwing the Eucharist away in the trash – and not knowing any better. Again, when we jack with the liturgy and turn it into what it often is today, why would someone know that the Eucharist is special unless they heard a priest preach on it or they were taught at an early age?

b) free-for-all liturgies are also eroding away at the Body of Christ because people start seeing videos like the one we’ve been talking about and they say, “well, if there isn’t anything transcendent at Mass, that Mass rock song looks like fun, why can’t we do that at my parish – at least it would help the time pass a little easier.” Those who are trying to do what the Church asks are undermined by priests who tolerate or even encourage all the banality and all of the trash that passes for “liturgy” today.

And thus we come to my final beef – betrayal. Priests who tolerate this stuff and perpetuate dissent on core teachings of the faith and priests who tolerate and perpetuate a disintegration of the Mass ultimately are betraying their brothers who are trying to do what Christ has commanded and asked of ALL priests through the Church. It is much easier to undermine the mission of the Church from within than it is from without. I put my rear end on the line every day trying to explain the Church’s difficult teachings, trying to celebrate Mass in a way that removes me from center stage emceeing and instead puts Christ at the center – and none of this work is very popular. I hear all the time
a) you could be a lot more normal during Mass, what’s up with the hands, the chanting, the formality?
b) why don’t you just give us practical advice about how to live our lives? Why the dogma stuff sprinkled in?

Do you know how easy it would be to sell out and be a “COOL” priest – a guy who let anything go in the Mass and who avoided ever talking about anything substantive in homilies? People act like the orthodox priesthood is some kind of safe haven for those with personality defects when in fact it is hard and difficult and something that brings a lot of anger upon the priest. But I know, at the end of the day, that it would TOO easy to live that way as a priest, and ultimately I know, in the depth of my soul, that Christ is saying “shepherd my people, love them too much to let them stay where they are, just as I love you too much to let you stay where you are.” When my head hits the pillow at night, I rest well, and I love getting up in the morning. You can psychoanalyze my priesthood if you so choose, but the fact of the matter is that there is nothing I’d rather be doing. John Paul II once said, “They try to understand me from the outside, but you can only understand me from the inside.” Amen!

I have nothing more to say on this topic, and I will not be responding to any comments left on this entry or on the original post. Let’s pray for unity in the Church not throw watering everything down into nothing but through actually believing that Christ speaks through His Church, and treating the treasure that the Church offers us with the dignity it deserves!


  1. As a lay-person my feeling is this: the scandal caused by this type of liturgical nonsense does deep and lasting damage to the faithful; and, when the church sits by and says nothing, it becomes complicit in the scandal.

    Just look at the lasting effect pro-abortion politicians who present themselves at the communion rail has had on our society. When their bishop says nothing about the heresy, silent permission is granted to the faithful to 1) have an abortion and 2) vote for politicians who support abortion.

    This one thing, more than anything else, is responsible for abortion being legal in America today.

    Our best examples to follow are the early leaders of the church. Look at St. Stephen. When Saul's band of thugs started in on him he called them out! His words cut them so deeply they had to kill him for what he said!

    Same for St. Paul; after they beat him half to death (on numerous occasions), he walked right back out into the town square and started preaching again!

    No sitting back and saying nothing for either of these guys!

    Saying nothing to the scandal only serves to spread the error and allow Satan to pull more souls (wittingly or unwittingly) to the dark side.

    Speak the truth father, it is the only way we have chance to save it!

  2. The problem here is that you have not been appointed as judge and jury of a brother priest. You may feel justified because the video was posted publicly, but you are not in a position to judge others. You may feel as though that is part of your duty as a priest, but, in my opinion, you intimidate everyone in the process. I for one do not want to get to know you because i see you as a judgemental man who thinks he is better than others simply because God chose you to be a priest. God chose me to be a mother and a teacher and many other things, but that does not make me less worthy of His love. The collar does not make you judge and jury of all Catholics. Get over yourself. Lead the people, and try building them up rather than tearing them down...

  3. Well Father- you finally showed the error of your clearlly state that you have been choosen as "father" and placed in "charge" of people's souls.....
    You and no other priest ov even the Pope is in "charge" of people's souls. We and only we are responsible for our own soul's. The church cleanly teaches this. You can guide us and clarify things for us - but will never "be in charge" of our souls. It seems you are working on this being the case.....shame on you...shame on you for even thinking this really are into yourself aren't you. And - write what you want and firmly state that you will no longer participate in this blog dialoque.....that makes a lot of sense "Father"....I don't have a problem with much of what you are concerned about in the Liturgy - but you methods are less then Christian and you quote John P II - he was a gentle man, a loving man. I believe you are also, but you are not the font of otthodoxy. I wonder where you plan to go with all of burnings, imprisionment of those who don't look like us, or think like us....OR kowtow to your bullying. You are little more than a playground bully.... If a school student treated others like you are treating people - they would be given long detentions...or requied to seek counselling. You are self-righteous and full of yourself. May God forgive you for perverting His image.
    By the way Father.....The song "Bad to the Bone" - had been rewritten so the words were occasion appropriate. Yes, the melody was still there but obviously you didn't listen very well and filled in the nasty words (how did you know them?) I took the time to talk with the Parish and the pastor - that certainly cleaned it up for me - why couldn't you have done that.....?????? Instead you, as you did at the begining of this blog.....claim yourself as a martyr for the faith being called all sorts of names and you do it willingly for Christ. What a pity party father - laying on the guilt trip - should we begin your caninaztion process yet?

  4. Father- Thank you so much for your faithful and loving service to Christ and His Church. What you've posted is so true, and I thank you for putting yourself on the line to protect the Truth. You remain in my prayers.

  5. Thank God for you, Father Hollowell!! If you held the leadership at St. Malachy, we wouldn't have felt compelled to leave for a more conservative Catholic church. The truth MUST be told, and we appreciate that you feel the burden for our souls!!! You have to teach the truth as Jesus set forth for us!!! Don't ever let the negative comments get you down...they just don't "get it" yet. I pray they will. I was once in their position of ignorance and denial...May God bring them back!!!

  6. Father, I know you won't be commenting any further but I know you'll at least read these.

    The irony is that I think in a way you are a "cool" priest. That's the beauty of the Archbishop assigning you where he did. Youth and 20-somethings are drawn to your personality and are lifted up by your orthodoxy. The fact that you are at Ritter and St. Malachy is not an accident. You will are having a great impact on the youth of both the school and the parish you are involved in. Never tire in doing what is right for them both! There were many who couldn't handle what Jesus proclaimed and they walked away saying, "These saying are too hard." The same is true today. If people like Gary want to call you out for proclaiming the teachings of the Church, so be it. Your faithfulness to the Church is inspiring.

    Gary, John Paul II was indeed a loving man. But, do some more research. As a loving Father he did not hesitate to publicly rebuke a South American bishop regarding Liberation Theology which in opposition to the teaching of the Church. The world is not a touchy-feely place try as we might. Father John is clearly a loving man for anyone who has ever talked to him. It is better for him to firmly correct a person to guide them away from sin than to turn a blind eye and let them stay in their sin. The Church teaches us to "admonish the sinner." Don't shame a priest for teaching the truths of the Catholic faith. Shame yourself for not being willing to accept that the Mass is something sacred and should be regarded as such.

  7. While people may be in charge of their own souls, Gary, priest are responsible for shepherding those souls to God. By not following church doctrines/laws those priests guide those souls away from God.

    In the war of Good vs Evil, a lax priest is like a General sending his troops to battle with a water pistol.

  8. The problem here is that you have not been appointed as judge and jury of a brother priest. You may feel justified because the video was posted publicly, but you are not in a position to judge others

    There is a difference between judging a person and judging actions. The former is illegitimate, the latter salutary and just if all the facts are correct. Do you have an argument that the Fr. did the former and not the latter? If so, let's hear it.

    Scott W.

  9. Father thank you so much for loving and caring about people's souls! May God bless you. I am grateful and encouraged when I hear people speak the truth in love, even when it is not easy to do so. I encourage all the naysayers to commit to praying for our priests - when I began doing this God opened my eyes to what a blessing our faithful priests really are.

  10. Father, I am not in your Diocese, but I am in one that is in great need of prayer and a return to orthodoxy. When my husband and I moved to our current home we were shocked by the things we saw in the Church. Thankfully, Our Lord guided us to a church 30 minutes away that is true to the Faith (the priest is working on some liturgical abuses leftover from previous decades, but adheres to Church teaching). Thank you for standing up and following Christ's call no matter the backlash. The last 40+ years have caused major harm to souls and the Church. It is high time the leaders of the Faith bring the flock back to the Truth, not what is convenient and in line with secularism. May God continue to bless you.

  11. Keep up the good work of telling the truth.

  12. As I read many of the comments who urge you to preach the "Truthh" becomes obvious that truth becomes very "subjective" long as they agree with your actions it then becomes "The Truth"....I find much of what is called "truth" to be personal rather than objective. Can there be more than one truth in an instance? Can two people have elements of the truth but have different opinions? The Church for centeries has worked thru and embrced growth into a clearer understanding of the truth...a clearer understanding of God. God is Truth and we can never undderstand this truth in this simplly could not happen. We grow into that truth. One the other hand you and some of your supporters seem to claim the "Truth". I do believe that the Church guides us with the best possible road map to God....we may take some detours, that is our choice. We will not even come close to the "truth" unntil we go to our reward. Please give up your claim to "the Truth" as your own personal property and join the one "true" church as we journey together seeking the "truth"

  13. Since "Truth is subjective" is unilluminating self-contradictory nonsense and that this thread is getting pretty vague, let's bottom line it: George Thoroughgood music does not belong in a Catholic sanctury, period. Now, I can grant that those who did it had good intentions; but good intentions are like a certain southern-located body part--everybody's got them. Good intentions in service of a bad idea only mitigates culpability. But, as Robert Fripp (another person whose music doesn't belong in a sanctuary) put it, Mistakes are always forgiveable, rarely excuseable, and never acceptable.

  14. I’ve realized two things, Fr. John has missed the point, again. If a reporter took a shot at the Catholic Church and Fr. John responded he’d get called down to the Archdiocesan Communication Directors office and reminded that there are channels for this sort of thing. It’s not his job. Just as it’s not his job to correct priests. Fr. Steve Giannini is indeed the head of priest personnel and it’s his job to address this in whatever form is called for. Not Fr. John’s.
    The other thing is that this is not the place to try and convince Fr. John that he’s mistaken. If you’re truly upset with him contact Fr. Steve at the Archdiocese Office of Priest Personnel. I encourage you to join me in clearing your cache and stop following his blog. Allow the Church to address this in the proper manner. The website is

  15. Thank you Fr. Hollowell. You are doing the right thing and wear the name Father well.

    God's blessings. You and all other holy priests are in my prayers.

  16. The problem with anyone that states they are upholding orthodoxy should look and see that the Sanhedrin thought they were doing the very same. You Father your bigotry will be your undoing. All of your comments regarding this incident are being forwarded to the Archbishop and the USCCB.

  17. I know I said I would not comment anymore on this topic, but I believe I need to issue and apology to the Dominican's at St. Paul's in Bloomington. We are all one Catholic Church and there are multiple ways to live that faith not just one narrow interpretation.

  18. Please Father, remove the blog entries and comments. You made many valid points which can be discussed without insulting Dominican's and St. Paul's. It pains me to see comments insulting priests. We are all one Catholic Church.

  19. That comment at 10:46 is someone impersonating Fr. John., and I wouldn't be surprised if the last one is a case of sockpuppetry.

  20. Someone apparently hacked the account - so that's great to know - interesting that someone would choose this topic to pretend to be me. The comment at 10:46 was obviously not my own. Thanks.

  21. I don't think you were hacked. If someone actually used your login, your profile pic would have shown up. It seems someone just posted using the username "Father John Hollowell".

  22. I'm not going to get involved in this discussion, but a while back I had a blog that I've since deleted had people ghost commenting as me. I found that they were just posting as Username and URL. If you go to your blogs settings, then go to comments, a couple spots down is "Who Can Comment" you can then change it to Registered Users or Google Accounts, etc... Like most blogs on Blogger they are set as a default of Anyone. I hope this helps and prayers to all.

  23. I agree it's not a hack, just identity games by using Fr. John's name, and then likely responding to his own comment. As the saying goes: Obvious troll is obvious. The tip was the comment, "...there are multiple ways to live that faith not just one narrow interpretation." The real Fr. John wouldn't say something so mind-bendingly stupid. :)

    Earlier there was a comment about how all this has to be deferred to the archdiocesan office. Without any citation of source from Canon Law or diocesan directive, this is nonsense on stilts.

  24. Yeah, I realized that they just probably got a login with the name fr john hollowell. Pretty crazy stuff - and really amazing to me that someone would do that for this topic (or any other). Canon Law has something to say about the penalty involved with impersonating a priest - I'd be curious to hear how that has been understood to apply to cases on the internet. I'll probably run this by a canon lawyer. When I get the info, I'll share here.

  25. You can change your settings in comments so only registerd users or members of Blogger can post.

  26. Any updates on the meetings you had with your higher-ups?