Cullman is the home of the St. Bernard Abbey
and the world-famous Ave Maria Grotto
. The Grotto was a life project of a German monk. He made reproductions of famous churches, shrines and holy landmarks out of shells, marbles and bicycle reflectors. The miniature wonderland is charming in both its piety and tackiness.
But before touring the Grotto, we went to mass with the monks. Churches in abbeys tend to attract a fairly conservative crowd. All the songs were chanted in Latin. For the first time in my life I saw little girls wearing veils during mass. This went out of American Catholic fashion before I was born. I have previously only seen the veils on ancient Italian dowagers and Muslims.
Surprisingly, this mass was quite a humdinger. The Abbot spoke his homily and predicted that a third Vatican council will be called sometime after the death of our current pope and the new pope has settled in. Then he said he believed the bishops should discuss the ordination of women as priests. At this point a man stood up. He exclaimed the abbot was not teaching Catholicism. He said a woman's only role is as a mother. A couple people clapped. The man escorted his veil-covered wife and daughters out of the church. About ten more people followed.
What peeved me, is that the abbot then claimed he was only saying the matter must be discussed, and he was not trying to provoke controversy. Sitting in that hard wooden pew, I realized something. Adequacy has taught me something! If you are going to be controversial, do it! Controversy is not a crime. Do not apologize for it.