Thursday, October 02, 2014

Eucharistic Elephant


Just a passing thought: there is a gulf between pastoral practice and Church teaching. There always has been; remember St Augustine commenting on people reverencing the sun before entering the Church? He was willing to tolerate it, believing that it was his responsibility to persuade them to turn to Christ.

Well I suppose, I suspect I do not know, that many of those who come to Holy Communion are receiving unworthily, it is priests and the Christian community's responsibility to change behaviour, to 'sell' holiness to those disinclined to it. "I teach men to be good but still they are bad", is an ageless cry of any pedagogue. In most parishes men and women are receiving Holy Communion who are contracepting, or living in civil partnerships, concubinage, committing acts of sodomy, oppressing the poor, stealing from their employers, ignoring or mistreating their aging parents, addicted to pornography, dealing or using drugs, leaving their neighbour bleeding and beaten by the roadside, or simply denying Christ.

The big difference between our age and that of St Augustine is that most people receive Holy Communion without any thought, bishops and priests celebrate as if it is merely part of the job, some of us even dare to offer it daily or even more often, whether we are in state of Grace or not, unknown of until the modern era! And all really because of the personal Eucharistic piety of Popes since Pius X and since the Council we have lost the sense of conversion, and frankly of calling a spade a spade, a sin a sin.

One of things that makes me anxious about the Synod is that some might be inclined to reduce the gap between practice and teaching, and attempt to square the circle, without addressing the huge elephant in the room which is the Eucharist itself.

31 comments:

Paul Hellyer said...

The difference between our age and the age of St Augustine is that we have a synthectic Mass which is not rooted in the Catholic people. Therefore we get all these symptoms of lack of faith in the Holy Eucharist. Thats it.

Ma Tucker said...

It seems quite plain to me this synod has something else in its crosshairs - the natural law. As regards frequent communion I would agree with Paul above.

Sadie Vacantist said...

95% of pastoral issues would be resolved if we returned to a more rigorous approach to the Holy Eucharist in terms of fasting and preparation in general. Bishop Hopes has touched upon this also. We communicate too often and once a year at most should be enough.

Jacobi said...

Father,

Something must be done about this habit of routine and universal reception of Holy Communion on each and every occasion, by all and sundry.

It now constitutes, in my humble opinion, probably the greatest scandal in the Church at present. It amounts to a de facto rejection of the Real Presence.

Not easy I agree. Stand up in the pulpit and explain in simple words the need of a state of grace and they will either wonder what you are talking about, or just carry on thinking about what to have for Sunday lunch, or fly off into a rage and report you to your bishop.

Well that latter can’t be too bad. He won’t sack you after all. But he might banish you to one of the remoter parishes in darkest West Sussex, West Wittering, or somewhere. Did I get that right? I’m not familiar with those distant parts, but I'm told it's quite nice around there.

But something, something must be done!

bobbrookes said...

The whole issue is the lack of belief that Holy Communion is literally Our Lord Jesus Christ in person, God made Man, coming to us as the Bread of Life. His true flesh and blood under the appearances of bread and wine.
This is a vicious circle. We don't believe so we don't express our belief - We don't express our belief so we don't believe.
I go to a parish Mass where the Priest manages to complete the Holy Mass without a single genuflection - Not even at the Consecration. The church seems to have become a general meeting place for chit chat - The presence of Christ in the Tabernacle is generally ignored.
So people receive Holy Communion as a piece of bread to remember Christ and don't see why they should think twice about it.

William Tighe said...

This article from The Spectator is worth reading in the context of the present discussion:

http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9330022/faith-sin-and-divorce/

I find it hard to envisage how a believing Catholic could willingly remain indefinitely in such a situation, however.

Christopher said...

"some of us even dare to offer it daily or even more often, whether we are in state of Grace or not, unknown of until the modern era!"

Right, as if no priest during the middle ages ever dared do such a thing. Give me a break. Plenty of them were shacked up with their concubines, if not worse, and yet continued to say Mass in their parishes all through pre-modern times.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Christopher,
What was unknown was a priest saying Mass daily, not sinful priests, sorry I confused you.
What I am trying to say is our modern piety aggravates the problem.

Jeremiah Methuselah said...

I think practising Catholics are right to be very concerned about the unusual forthcoming Synod, especially the line taken beforehand by Cardinal Kasper, a cardinal who has long been of concern about his dedication and commitment to the One, True, Holy Roman Catholic Church.

OTOH, it has been immensely reassuring to note, with thanks to almighty God, the fierce reaction of many of his brother cardinals, who remind him at each turn of what Catholicism truly is. Praise be to them.

Liam Ronan said...

Well expressed, Father. Your anxieties are shared not only by myself, but many other Catholics who by the Grace of God have had a solid grounding in the doctrinal teachings of the Church.

This is not to say we do not sin ( sometimes grievously) but through the Mercy of God have a conscience sufficiently formed that we are able nonetheless to 'call a sin'.

I believe that the problem of reception of the Holy Eucharist by those grievously unworthy (given the present disarray in the Church) must be tackled through increased prayer for our brethren's enlightenment through God's Grace and orthodox catechises by informed Catholics whenever the occasional opportune moment presents itself.

I suspect God has allowed the present matters to reach such a pass as just punishment for our sins and so that we might know that for all our human effort and planning He and He alone will set things aright.

Saul. Saul. Why persecutest thou Me?

Paul Milligan said...

Dear Fr. Ray, my understanding was that daily mass, for the priest, became common practice after the crusades as so many peropetual mass stipends were left for masses to be said for the fallen that priests had to say mass daily to get through all of them.
Dominic Savio attended daily mass at the age of 5 in 1847.
Imagine if we had to tell all our parishioners that we couldn't do months minds or aniversaries for departed lost ones.

John Vasc said...

Amen, Father.
I think the problem is perhaps not an actual general disbelief in the Real Presence, but rather the demise of a sense of personal unworthiness.
These days, anyone who expresses an awareness of being a sinner would probably be referred to a therapist for 'issues around self-worth'. :-)

Fr Ray Blake said...

Paul,
I think most people attended Mass daily but received annually. As for priests, many waited several weeks, often months to celebrate a first Mass, Martin Luther is a well documented example, even Popes are recorded as saying Mass rarely until well after the Renaissance.
Eccentric and ancient parish priests in the 1940s often said they 'had not be brought up to say Mass daily'. In England, America and Ireland I think it was a practice introduced by French Ultramontanes.

Lepanto said...

I am not SSPX but do read their site occasionally because they seem to have very good contacts within the Vatican and elsewhere. There is a claim on their site that a German priest informed them that, when an anonymous questionnaire was issued to priests in one German diocese, it included a question as to whether or not the priest believed in the Real Presence, over 60% of priests said that they did not. These priest presumably are indifferent to the spiritual state of those receiving and the situation is presumably not limited to only one country.

George said...

It's ironic that Pope St. Pius X (the hammer of the modernists) is the pope most responsible for today's habit of frequent, daily communion.

On another note, it was a very traditional priest who enlightened me to the fact that one should *not* necessarily correct every sinner. I address this to you Jacobi. For the sake of their souls, some sinners you do not correct and leave in ignorance.

The particular cases I'd leave to the direction of a priest like Fr. Ray.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Great article and mature comments. The upcoming synod is a misnomer and should be about the Mass and the Holy Eucharist. How the Church used "to be" is looking more and more pastorally relevant. Yet "tradition" and its praxis is often presented as being of a bygone age rather something pastorally dynamic and relevant to our times. A mention was made to sun worshippers and St. Augustine. Well, has anyone ever been to Mass in a holiday resort in the Canaries?

Lynda said...

Every Catholic ought to have copies of Bishop Athanasius Schneider's books on the necessity of the utmost reverence and care for and about the Blessed Sacrament for the good of the individual soul and the life of the Church. Give copies to seminarians and priests. And lay people who have never known the truth about the Blessed Sacrament.

Jacobi said...

Interesting point George

I shall try to answer not as a theologian, which thank God, I am not, but as someone with I trust some commonsense and experience of life.

To leave people in ignorance is wrong. If we accept that then we might as well all jack it in and go down to the pub with our pals and forget about evangelisation, new or otherwise.

This discussion is, unfortunately, centring round the divorced and remarried, but these arguments apply to anyone committing a mortal sin according to the judgement of the Church. As well as “lust” in its various forms there are another six deadly sins, plus those crying out to Heaven for vengeance and a few others besides. We are after all Fallen Creatures.

My RE teachers told us at school, circa 1951/52 that we boys had the privilege of a good Catholic education and therefore a duty to defend the teaching (don’t think the word evangelise was popular then) of the Magisterium. Some few years later I tend to agree with them, although I grant you lot of Catholics obviously don’t.

Oddly enough Lumen Gentium, 37 would however appear to agree with them,

“By reason of the knowledge, competence, or outstanding ability in which they may be strong, they have the ability, and at times even the obligation, to express their opinion on those things which concern the good of the Church.”

No you do no one a favour by keeping them in ignorance, although maybe, it’s better to be “nice” about correcting them?

The real problem nowadays is the absence of Catholic teaching by the clergy, the embarrassed silence*. That is why the vacuum is being filled by laity, when we all should be down at the pub enjoying our declining years.

*ps. I have already said there are exceptions and Father Blake is certainly one!

pps. I have said several times that StPius X must be tuirning in his grave at the misinterpretation of hid words.

Gungarius said...

Lepanto - lets face it. Priests, Bishops Bishops and Laity not believing in the real presence is the root of the problem.

If you believe in the real presence everything else flows from that. If you don't, you spend your time innovating alternatives to try and give some point to being in the church.

Jacobi said...

Lepanto, Gungarius,

Forgive me for repeating myself if I do, because I have mentioned this somewhere recently, but I would call attention to the recent video by Voris in which a researcher carrying out a survey at a Catholic University, yes that’s right, a Catholic University in America could not find one student who believed in the Real Presence.

Now I agree, not a properly conducted scientific survey and no doubt the margin of error is +/- 3% or whatever, but this should be sending the Hierarchy in the US of A and in the Vatican into a flat spin.

But no, silence!

Embarrassment, fear, indifference, complicity, Voris is just a trouble maker, he’s not a bishop or priest, he’s putting people in a position of “bad conscience” and should shut up (George, the point your traditional priest raised?), who knows?

As I think I ended my previous comment, it make you think doesn’t it?

Radical Catholic said...

Have we not, Father, also lost the sense of mystery? In the early days, while all were permitted to the "Mass of the Catechumens", those who had not yet undergone the two requisite rites of Christian initiation, i.e. Baptism and Confirmation, as well as those from among the laity who were not in a state of grace, were forbidden to attend the "Mass of the Faithful", during which the Miracle of Transubstantiation takes place. Even given this separation among the people, early churches and even some cathedrals also had great screens before the altar - some of which can still be seen today. In Eastern Rite Churches, it is still common. In the Latin Rite, the remnant of this screen is the wide and typically beautifully decorated chasuble of the priest. Such screening or veiling of holy things was much more common in the old days, and seemed to have helped preserved a healthy sense of mystery, reverence and awe. When they were torn away, the holy things of the Sanctuary seemed to become almost profane. (The fact that women rejected the chapel veil just as they began poisoning their wombs with deadly chemicals is, in my opinion, no coincidence.) We used to guard the Living Presence of Our Lord very carefully; now, we put Him on display to anyone and everyone, regardless of the state of their soul, regardless of their adherence to the Faith, regardless of their submission to the will of God. Gone are the days when people would tremble with holy fear before entering the Sanctuary of the Lord. Now, they stroll up in jeans and a t-shirt, chewing gum and texting on their phones. Sure, the two cannot be purely coincidental.

gemoftheocean said...

Oh, please radical Catholic. So it's All the wimmin's fault. I can prove from the rubrics of the high Mass that even the church knows that head covering business propagated by Paul is all hooey. If you're going to buy into what Paul said regards women being worms and needing to cover their heads, then you must buy into what he said about men NOT covering their heads when praying, because it wasn't masculine, according to his lights. What happens at the high Mass? Why at some point during the Gloria and the Creed, the priests are seated with birettas on their heads. So you'd have to argue if they are obeying dear Paul that they are sitting there NOT praying, thinking "not praying, not praying, oh no, not me, just thinking about lunch now...except RIGHT HERE where I take my biretta off to acknowledge the holy name..." which means they darn well WERE praying, and ergo THEY know that Paul was full of it, on this point. So stop with the veil thing. Do you REALLY think Paul had some lacy frippery in mind for women's head coverings? Get real. Go stick a kleenex on your head, sit in church for an hour and tell me you DON'T feel like a flaming moron. Remember, that's what worm women were expected to do if they found themselves in church without a head covering. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid practice. NEVER again. To equate lack of veil with favoring abortion is just ridiculous, and you should know better.

JARay said...

Each time I see that children are receiving their first Holy Communion I see a large number at church that I have never seen before and rather expect never to see again. The same pattern exists when it is time for Confirmation. In most cases I see these events as merely "rights of passage" such as are to be found in primitive societies.
It all makes me very sad indeed.

Lynda said...

Jacobi. Thank you for your stalwart witness to the Faith, to the absolute Truth. Your zeal becomes you. We are all called to be zealous in the Faith.

TLM said...

Lepanto hit the nail on the head....if a majority of our Priests don't buy into the 'real presence', what's the big deal (to them) of giving mass murderers communion? To them it's only a symbolic meal, so what difference does it make?

Fr Ray Blake said...

George,
Was that Youtube clip pornography or heresy?

Gary Yates said...

"gem"oftheocean, your rant here against St Paul is blasphemous - 2Pt.3:16 and see Fr. Geo Haydock's commentary.

Radical Catholic said...

Gem, what are you talking about? I make a comment that a veiled woman is an allusion to the veiled tabernacle - which was so secondary to my point that I put it in parentheses - and you take that as an offense to the dignity of women?

George said...

I'm sorry, Father. I didn't think it was either. Just an attempt at addressing the "[St]Paul is full of it" tripe .

Sue Sims said...

Gem - you must have a slightly different translation from my Bible. Where does St Paul say that woman is a worm?

George said...

Vatican Council II, Dei Verbum:

"For holy mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles (see John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-20, 3:15-16), holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself.

"Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation."