A corporal work of mercy.

A corporal work of mercy.
Click on photo for this corporal work of mercy!

Monday 28 April 2008

Getting Jesus off the floor - one person at a time and it begins with you!

An update of an old post of April 28, 2008

After work today, I attended St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto for the late afternoon Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I arrived early and was able to pray the Rosary during the exposition and adoration which occurs daily at the Cathedral from after the lunch hour Mass until the end of the day. This daily exposition and adoration has been going on for as far as I can remember. It is probably what has kept this wretched City from sinking even further into the abyss.

The Cathedral in Toronto is indeed a wonderful example of Gothic revival. Oh, I could make a few improvements such as restoring the High Altar and a Communion Rail; but other than that it is quite stunning. Its windows must be amongst the most beautiful in Canada. Through the St. Michael's Choir School they have kept alive at every Sunday and Holy Day liturgy, Gregorian chant and the sacred choral music of the Church's patrimony.

You probably think a "but" is coming; well gentle people, it is.

After I received the Eucharist (on the tongue) I had no sooner closed my mouth and the woman who preceded me let out a little gasp; there He lay dropped on the carpet, 5 cm from my right foot and my steel-toed construction boot. She dropped Him, she dropped Him from her hand and He bounced off the toe of that boot.

How is this possible that she dropped Him from her hand? I mean, did she just let go!

Everyone stopped, including me. I stood perfectly still with Our LORD lying there beside my foot. Father bent down slowly and picked Him up and held Him in his hand against the ciborium

If that were not enough, a few moments later as I was kneeling on the right aisle the last communicant approached. She took the Host and started to walk away without consuming. I put up my hands to gain Father's attention and was prepared to stop her (after all, I am a Knight of Columbus) if he could not. Fortunately, she got the message and consumed Our LORD. Perhaps, she was just lazy or sloppy, perhaps she meant no sacrilege.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta often opined that this change (an indult which is optional for the local Bishop to accept and can be removed by the Pope) was the worst problem in the world today; "Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand."

If you are in your mid to late 50's, you will have had a similar experience to myself. When I celebrated my First Communion I was on my knees at the communion rail. Together, with my other classmates we held a white linen cloth which was hung over the rail by the altar boys and which we held up under our chins. An altar boy accompanied the priest holding a brass plate called a paten and placed it under our chins. The priest approached and held up the Holy Eucharist and with it made the Sign of the Cross whilst saying; "Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam meam in vitam aeternam. Amen" which translates; May the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ bring you to eternal life. Amen.

A few years later I was told that I was "lucky" because I was part of the first class of altar boys that did not need to learn Latin. By this time, and in the new church building, there was no communion rail and nobody knelt any more for Holy Communion. People lined up and approached the priest in a similar fashion to what they did at McDonald's or now, Tim Hortons. We altar boys still held the paten and people received the Eucharist on their tongues. When the last person had communicated the altar boys would carefully carry their patens horizontally to the Altar and assist the priest with the ablution. I can clearly remember seeing little pepper sized particles of the Eucharist on the paten which the priest wiped off with his fingers into the chalice after which I rinsed his fingers over the chalice and he would consume the remains.

I don't need to describe how Our Blessed LORD is received today. So instead, let me pose a few questions:

Do you wash your hands before receiving his body?

Do you "make a throne with your left and receive Him in your right" and then bring your hands to your mouth to feed yourself? Or, do you take Him with your fingers and pop Him into your mouth like a cracker or a potato chip?

Do you purify your hands afterwards as was the actual practice in those days prior to the ninth century when the few laity that actually did receive the Eucharist received in their hands?

Have you ever noticed any particles left on your hands?

Do you think any particles would have fallen to the floor to be tramped under afoot, or mopped up and poured down a municipal drain or vacuumed up from the ubiquitous carpet?

Do you think someone did not consume the Sacred Species but instead stole Him so as to dishonour and defame Him in a black satanic ritual?

Did you ever find Him in a hymn book or under a pew or lying on the asphalt in the parking lot?

Something to think about isn't it?

There is an abbreviated Latin saying in the Church, Lex orendi, lex credendi. That is to say, the law of prayer becomes the law of belief. We are sensory beings and how we worship, how we pray, what we see and smell and hear affects how we think, how we believe and what we believe.

Receiving Holy Communion in the hand was an abuse that began in Holland and spread to Belgium and then to England before crossing the Atlantic. It was the late 1960's and it was wrong. Pope Paul VI, at worst, an ineffectual shepherd, was either incapable or unwilling to stop what was considered to be an abuse and abomination. He condemned it, regretted it and then with absurdity, legalised it!

Just because we can does not mean that we should.

Throughout history, it was often the laity, or one nun as in St Catherine of Sienna or a holy priest as with St. Philip Neri with the gifts of the Holy Spirit who helped to rescue the church from its corruption. Who says that it cannot be you and me, one person at a time. You can fix the problem, it really is very simple and you can begin the next time you attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

You can join Pope Benedict's plan which is becoming clearer.

I just didn't think it would be lead from Kazakhstan.

This situation today is a perfect time to send you to read here about the Archbishop of Lima in Peru. He has just banned Communion-in-the-Hand!

Here is a podcast by the ubiquitous Father Z on the subject.

Here is a lengthy and necessary read by Jude A. Huntz which appeared in the March 1997 issue of Homiletic and Pastoral Review.

This was just posted by Fr. Thomas Kocik on the New Liturgical Movement.

Be sure to read this essay by the Most Reverend Athanasius Schneider, Auxilary Bishop of Karaganda in Kazakhstan.

Thursday 17 April 2008

The Clarity of Benedict

Moving on from the mass mess of this morning...

Pope Benedict addressed Catholic educators and said;

...any appeal to the principle of academic freedom in order to justify positions that contradict the faith and the teaching of the Church would obstruct or even betray the university's identity and mission; a mission at the heart of the Church's munus docendi and not somehow autonomous or independent of it.

Later, he addressed representatives of other faiths Judaism, Mohammedism, Jainists, Buddhists, Hindus but no Sikh's because of their kirpans; nor were there Christian ecclesiastical communities. To them he said;

Confronted with these deeper questions concerning the origin and destiny of mankind, Christianity proposes Jesus of Nazareth. He, we believe, is the eternal Logos who became flesh in order to reconcile man to God and reveal the underlying reason of all things. It is he whom we bring to the forum of inter-religious dialogue. The ardent desire to follow in his footsteps spurs Christians to open their minds and hearts in dialogue.

Well, he told them...