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    AmP Countdown: Time left to demand that Congress make health care reform pro-life: 2009-11-07 18:00:00 GMT-05:00

    Saturday, January 31, 2009

    Text: My observations of Fr. Alvaro's Feb. 8th Mass

    February 10th, 2009

    {scroll down for bullet points of what Fr. Alvaro said}

    Please post your comments here. You may read a Regnum Christi member's observations here.

    This Sunday I was invited to attend a local Mass of healing celebrated by Fr. Alvaro Corcuera at a Catholic parish (it counted for Sunday Mass). Fr. Alvaro, it is my understanding, has been conducting these types of events for local Regnum Christi members – I do not know how many more he has planned. The Legion speaks of itself as a family, and in the interest of truth and justice, I publish these thoughts with a hope that the promises he has made within the family, he will abide by outside the family as well.

    First some general observations: the Mass was attended by many families, and many young girls (the Legionaries must have a school for young women in the area). A few girls had crafted a home-made poster with notes of encouragement for Fr. Alvaro. It was very quiet before Mass began (late by about 15 minutes). Fr. Alvaro is obviously a person of great charisma. He shook hands and exchanged muted smiles during both the procession and recession, taking upwards of five minutes each way. He met with people individually in a receiving line after Mass. Several times during the Mass a young woman walked up to the ambo and explained the spirituality of the Mass part about to begin (“this is the responsorial psalm …” etc. I have not seen this in a Catholic liturgy before.

    There were about a dozen Legionary priests concelebrating, one of whom acted as a translator for the majority of Fr. Alvaro’s homily (which lasted almost 40 minutes). Fr. Alvaro never moved quickly. During his homily he cracked several jokes, which received a great deal of reaction (I would suspect because they released the tension of the occasion). At times he was animated, at other times he was convicted, sometimes searching for words, and at other times making apologies for his poor English skills.

    Before and during the Mass, I saw many people with worried, drawn faces. I saw several women on the verge of tears and with tissue. During important points of the homily, one of the priests appeared to have his mouth open in disbelief, transfixed. I have to say I felt very much an outsider during the Mass. Perhaps people recognized me and knew I was not in the movement.

    Here is what Fr. Alvaro said. I do not always recall where in the homily he made each of these various points, so I will list them in a bullet format, roughly chronologically (the early ones are of less interest than the middle ones – he built up slowly):

    The most interesting comments are in bold.

    {scroll down farther for my summary conclusions}

    • At the beginning of the homily, he said the night previous he awoke at 2am and took a walk outside in the snow. In prayer, he asked Jesus to take all the sufferings of Regnum Christi and the Legionaries of Christ and put them on himself (actually, he added that he asked Jesus to split them 50/50 between himself and the translator. This is an example of the humorous interjections he made.)
    • He asked people to forgive him, if he has been a cause of some of their pain. He said he has only tried to have the mind of Christ in all this
    • He said it was appropriate to meet in front of the Eucharist, for the answer to all our problems can be found in It
    • He said times such as these make one appreciate the Mercy of God more
    • He said one must look at these things from the perspective of love and prayer
    • He said in all this he has been searching for the best answer, even though people will come to different answers, he made no apology for the answer he came to (as regarding how to address the Maciel revelations)
    • He said God wants all things to bring us closer to heaven, and that he has a plan for this too
    • He spoke about the time surrounding when the Holy See made its announcement inviting Maciel to a life of penitence and prayer. He said at that time he went to the Virgin Mary asking her to look over her family (i.e., the Legion)
    • He related his experience of being at the deathbed of Maciel, and of giving him the last rites. Before Maciel died, he said, Maciel told him that the Legion is of Christ, and it does not belong to any one person. Fr. Alvaro said that at that moment “we” realized it was up to us to lead the movement forward
    • On the topic of abuse, Fr. Alvaro said that he does not have any specific access to information, and one cannot know what is true and isn’t (here, and at other points I will note, the exact content of his meaning wasn’t always clear – I was listening very carefully for what would be admitted, etc., but coming away it’s still hazy to me exactly what was said. Things were said, but often not in a definitive way.)
    • He said he and all the movement must always ask what Christ would do; he said he has operated as he believes Christ would have him act
    • He re-iterated what other Legionary priests have said publicly about being personally unable to deny the good things the Founder transmitted to him, saying “I received Christ [from Maciel]. I received the Church. And the Church is my life.”
    • Regarding the daughter (again, this was said in a circumlocution, but the basic gist was): We don’t deny there is a daughter. We cannot deny it.
    • There was mention of two changes being made to the Legion: removing Maciel’s pictures from public places and removing some feast days (it appears that Legionaries have been celebrating at least the dates in March of Maciel’s birthday and baptism day – during Lent).
    • He gave a general impression that the Legionary was 100% compliant with what the Vatican wanted to see happen. Fr. Alvaro claimed that his individual visitation of Regnum Christi Chapters was approved by the Holy See: “Go tell your family.” He mentioned that before the Mass he met with each one of the present priests individually. He said he did not want members of the Family to hear the news from the Internet or on a phone call.
      The motivation for making these internal changes is to “safeguard this great charism we have received.” A charism, Fr. Alvaro said, that is of the Church (and the Legion is “nothing without the Church.”)
    • He said, at various times, that if anyone had been hurt (he did not say by whom) that they should come forward and be received with open arms. He said that if there was any question someone needed answered to help their suffering he would give it (an odd promise, I thought, because the superior of an order ought to be privy to at least some information that he holds privately. Still, he made the offer.)
    • He related a strange tale of his first meeting with Pope Benedict a year and a half ago. He said the Pope could tell at that meeting that Fr. Alvaro was “hurting” (he did not explain why he was hurting). He said the Holy Father told him to “come closer” (here, in this story, Fr. Alvaro spoke in his broken English directly, without the use of the priest translator). The general impression (again, general because it’s hard to recall exactly what Fr. Alvaro was meaning), was that Pope Benedict was very concerned the challenges facing the Legion would cause them to lose heart and cease practicing their charism.
    • A second strange tale: Fr. Alvaro mentioned that during a recent meeting with Cardinal Rode, Rode said to him, in effect, that if the Legion stopped practicing its charism, Rode would “kill him.” This drew laughter. Frankly, I didn’t get the humor. At this point he came back to his story of waking up the night before (or that night, it was unclear) and taking a 2am walk where he implored Jesus to help him discover the right answer. Jesus evidently told Fr. Alvaro to continue with the charism. Fr. Alvaro specified that this was not a “private revelation” so he could share it with the family. He said this with a sort of wry grin so I don’t know to what degree he expected his audience to understand this personal locution to be a mystical experience, or a spiritual anecdote, or what have you.
    • Ultimately, the interaction between the Vatican and the Legionaries’ own investigations remain a complete mystery to me. No specific dates were given (except ones already publicly known). I could not conclude if the substantiation of these sexual abuse allegations and the revelation of a daughter and mistress were the result of Vatican action, Legionary action, a combination of the both, etc. At times it appeared the Vatican was telling the Legionary things (typically regarding the sexual abuse). At others it appeared the reverse (perhaps more with regards to the child). At the same time, he implied the Vatican could not tell him everything (that he was, in essence, in the dark), while Fr. Alvaro never mentioned which people in the Vatican had been informed about what the Legion had discovered.

    While I’ve written a great deal, you can see that, in the end, Fr. Alvaro gave practically no information beyond what is already generally known.

    The additional content could briefly be summarized as follows:

    • We’re very sorry for this pain. We tried our best to avoid it, but it’s impossible. This is an opportunity to grow in faith
    • The Pope, Cardinal Rode, and “the Vatican” are eager to see us heal, move beyond this, and continue to practice our charism
    • We’ve done everything we can by the Vatican (inform them, ask them what to do) and by the victims (if anyone has been hurt, we’ll take care of you) and now by you (we came to you personally to tell you and celebrate this Mass of healing)
    • Long excurses on the Christian Life, Christ, virtues, etc. But nothing especial to the Legion. Simply Catholic teaching, always generally applicable.

    And yet, at the end of Mass, the entire congregation knelt and recited together three memorized prayers: a prayer for the pope, a prayer for the general director (Fr. Alvaro), and a prayer for their own fidelity. This last prayer contains the following paragraphs, I have highlighted parts of it in bold, but they recited the entire prayer:

    “ Lord Jesus, you have entrusted to us the mission of furthering the Legion and Regnum Christi … This mission comes to us as an utterly free, unforeseen, mysterious reality, out of all proportion to our abilities.

    Since the Legion and the Movement will be vigorous and will flourish as long as the spirit of our founder is present and active in our lives and behavior, we ask you to open our eyes to the urgency of learning, assimilating and passing on the doctrine, spirit, apostolic methods, genuine traditions, discipline and lifestyle of the Legion and Regnum Christi, just as our founder has made them known to us, since this is our responsibility.

    Lord, help us to adhere totally to the charism you inspired in our

    … we ask from you what you ask of us: faith, great faith in your work, love for it, trust in its mission, docility, loyal collaboration, humility,a sense of responsibility, and fidelity. Amen.

    And they finished this prayer, the congregation applauded Fr. Alvaro for some time.

    For what it was worth, after the Mass, a vague acquaintance of mine walked up to me and asked how I had heard about the Mass. I told the individual, truthfully, that I was invited by a friend. The acquaintance asked pointedly which friend. I responded again, simply, “a friend”, and they walked away. It was an unflattering postscript to the experience.

    This is what I saw and heard.

    Please post your comments here.