Wednesday, July 22, 2009

At the Mount

Many moons ago, the Jesuits here in the Oregon Province used to do their philosophy at what is commonly called “The Mount,” or Mt. St. Michaels. A number of our older men had lived there and certainly have their fair share of stories of the place (and some are quite content never to go back). Although we sold the land some time ago, we still own the cemetery there. Fr. John, whom I recently wrote about a couple of weeks ago, was the latest one to be buried at the Mount.

Two Scholastics, two of our older Jesuits (one of them is the oldest Jesuit in our province at 97 yrs. old and going strong), and I took a little afternoon trip out there. For the younger generation, it was a trip back to our historical roots. For the older, it was a trip down memory lane. The site is actually a historic landmark in Spokane, and the picture comes from this website.

The Oregon Province seems to have historically sold off our land to interesting groups of people. Our former novitiate in Sheridan, OR is currently owned by the Scientologists. The Mount is currently owned by a group of nuns and priests who have separated themselves from the rest of the Roman Catholic world. Or, as they see it, they have retained the true Catholic faith that became heretical after Vatican II (in my opinion, they don’t consider Church history dating past the 19th century, but one could probably write books about this schism. As such, I won't elaborate). As a result, they do not recognize any popes from Vatican II onward. A few years ago, a number of those nuns decided to leave the Mount and rejoin the post-Vatican II Church. Fr. Bob Spitzer, the outgoing president of Gonzaga University, played an instrumental role in their return.

Despite this schism, many Jesuits still find themselves welcome to take a tour of the place. We had a very pleasant tour by one of the staff members there, and the people there were very kind and hospitable to us. They also give a pretty good history of the mount on their website here.

I would wager that many Catholics in my generation have no clue what Vatican II is and don't realize that the current form of Mass celebrated all over the world has only been around for about 40-50 yrs. Or the controversies surrounding it. When you consider how long we've been doing this, it hasn't been that long.

As one of the Scholastics shared with me, part of what Vatican II tried to accomplish was to recapture the spirit of the early church (this is why religious orders were asked to consider their original charism, to go back to the spirit of their roots, and why the Jesuit order went through a major shift during this time). The response of the people at the Mount, then, is a little ironic to me.

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