Aaron Brown’s Catholic Experience

April 26, 2004 | 11 comments
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Apparently, longtime T & S commenter and BCC contributor Aaron Brown has been doing something most members would never imagine — he’s been officiating (along with some LDS missionaries) at a Catholic Mass! He writes about this experience in his latest BCC post. An excerpt:

About a year ago, Father Hans approached me with an unusual request. Convinced that LDS missionaries are ‘angels,’ and that they obviously love and follow Christ more than anyone in his congregation could ever hope to, Hans wanted to organize a Catholic-Mormon ‘hybrid’ Mass. He proposed that my four full-time missionaries and I (the Ward Mission Leader) play an active role in his services. He would conduct as usual, waving the incense, reciting the liturgy and preaching a short sermon (complete with occasional Book of Mormon or D&C quotations – without attribution). We would stand on the stage with him as representatives of Christ, read excerpts from the Bible at key junctures and offer the closing prayer.

Since I’ve never quite had the chance to lead a Mass myself (perhaps my rusty Latin has something to do with it?), I found Aaron’s account very informative and thought-provoking — and I suggest is that T & S readers check out this fascinating story for themselves.

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11 Responses to Aaron Brown’s Catholic Experience

  1. Adam Greenwood on April 26, 2004 at 12:31 pm

    Could a person do this in good conscience? It seems like a bit of a fraud on the parishioners.

  2. john fowles on April 26, 2004 at 1:22 pm

    I agree with Adam. Besides, I can guess what the superiors of “Father Hans” would think of this activity. Maybe Father Hans should come clean and convert, taking his whole congregation with him? There is precedent for that type of thing, after all (such en masse conversions were instrumental in the early days of the Church). I understand that this comment might provoke accusations of not being “PC,” since it implies that a Catholic would actually need to convert to the restored Gospel–that perhaps membership in the Church can add to the truth that Catholics have (and to their eternal salvation). In this post-modern era, few statements could be more offensive, right?

  3. Kaimi on April 26, 2004 at 1:30 pm

    Adam, John,

    I’m not sure exactly how Hans’ heirarchical structure operates; in his lengthy post on the topic (which has much more detail than my quick excerpt) Aaron states that:

    Hans is an adherent of “Old Catholicism,” a schismatic movement that broke with the Roman church in 17th Century Holland.

  4. john fowles on April 26, 2004 at 2:16 pm

    That explains behavior that would be considered heretical of a real Catholic priest. Thanks.

  5. Aaron Brown on April 26, 2004 at 3:42 pm

    Adam,

    Say a little bit more about what you mean by “fraud.” Are you suggesting that “we” were committing a fraud, or that Father Hans was, or both? We may not have initiated the meeting with a long technical discourse on who we were, why we there, and the nature of Mormon vs. Catholic priesthood authority, but we were dressed as LDS (the missionaries all had there plaques on), and we did not pretend to validate the sacramental ordinances (i.e. we abstained).

    I don’t pretend that everything we did was unquestionably kosher. I’m not sure. My nagging questions about the services are what prompted my post to begin with.

    Aaron B

  6. Aaron Brown on April 26, 2004 at 3:53 pm

    John said:
    “Maybe Father Hans should come clean and convert, taking his whole congregation with him?”

    I highly doubt you need to worry that this sentiment will be too “un-PC” for a Mormon-themed blog. Anyway, you might be interested to know that I and the missionaries (and the members of “his LDS ward”) say this to him all the time. And he certainly wouldn’t mind if his whole congregation became Mormon (really). We actually have talked seriously about doing a Visitors’ Center trip with his entire congregation (which is pretty small), but we haven’t — only because it’s so hard for him to drum up attendance for his own services, he’s embarrassed to try to set up a “field trip,” so to speak, for fear that it will fail.

    “I can guess what the superiors of “Father Hans” would think of this activity.”

    No need to guess; I’ll tell you. The last “hybrid” Mass was timed to coincide with the arrival of his ecclesiastical superior — a Bishop from Germany (which shows how far flung his congregation is). Hans did this intentionally, as he felt that the Bishop was too worldly, and he wanted to expose him to “real Christ-like people.” I was naturally quite worried that this would cause offense, but Hans insisted that we should go forward. The Bishop was nice, a little disoriented, and agreed to take pictures with us after the Mass. I wish I could speak German, or he English — I would have loved to talk to him. Hans subsequently confirmed that the Bishop was a bit uncomfortable, but nothing explosive resulted.

    Aaron B

  7. john fowles on April 26, 2004 at 5:11 pm

    My comment was in the context of thinking that this was a mainstream Catholic congregation.

  8. Adam Greenwood on April 26, 2004 at 6:04 pm

    I re-read your post and commentary therein, and withdraw my remark. I’m as puzzled as you are.

  9. Matt Evans on April 26, 2004 at 9:36 pm

    Aaron,

    Will Father Hans guest-blog for us on Times & Seasons? I’m sure lots of people would be fascinated to read about the priest who distributes the Book of Mormon to his parishioners. And no, don’t go taking him to BCC.

    BTW, it’s fun to think of Aaron Brown being presented as the epitome of “real Christ-like people”.

  10. Aaron Brown on April 26, 2004 at 10:08 pm

    Matt,

    Yes, it is fun isn’t it! Although I’ve always known I’m “translation”-worthy material, I try to keep these qualities close to the vest, so as not to humiliate or create envy in the rest of you who don’t similarly excel in virtue and righteousness. :)

    I also thought of inviting Father Hans to blog, but I don’t really think it would work. First, he doesn’t have internet access. Second, although he is certainly verbose, I don’t know that “intellectual” ramblings are really his thing. Third, I don’t know if he writes well, or at all.

    Actually, now that I think about it — maybe my “second” point isn’t a good point at all. Maybe the change of pace he would provide would be very interesting.

    I’ll certainly ask him, but I suspect the logistical problems (no computer) will be prohibitive.

    Aaron B

  11. St Balthasar on April 27, 2004 at 12:41 pm

    I think Mormon Missionaries (clearly labeled) as Mormon Missionaries officiating in another Church’s services, with the consent of those in charge (on both sides) is wonderful; a true act of love. We don’t think of it this way, but participating in soup kitchens, etc. are all part of our stewardships – ways we can actually express our love; and if we are bearers of the priesthood then the acts take on an air of ordinance (for us); i.e., we are acting as God’s authorized agents. We easily see it as priesthood responsibility to minister as home-teachers (even with our wives, sometimes, whose responsibility Home Teaching isn’t).

    Let your light so shine – that’s what I say (but I’m not the author; only the repeater).

    When I was a youth I was in an interfaith youth choir in Reno and we went from Church to Church. I was sad that we could sing for Catholics, Baptists, Masons, Episcopalians, Lutherans and Nazarenes – but never for Mormons (we even did at least one Mormon hymn – Love at Home; or am I mistaken? maybe that’s not strictly a Mormon hymn).

    Once a Catholic friend’s cousin was getting baptized. At the service the priest asked for volunteers to read from the Bible. I volunteered. Afterwards the priest publically praised me and two other youth who had read for our wililngness to read. I privately told him, later, that I was a Mormon boy, because I wasn’t sure if he’d be so proud and I wasn’t sure if something horrible had just happened (i.e., in my teenager mind I though maybe my participation had possibly invalidated the ordinance, from the perspective of the Catholics). The priest didn’t hesitate in his answer; he smiled, winked, shook my hand and said, “we are ALL children of God.”

    Yeah, it’s like that.

    Just my two cents.

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