Thursday, December 03, 2015

Sacrilege: oh dear, how sad, never mind!

Is this the reaction to the Pamplona desecration of the Blessed Sacrament?

There was a time when priests were expected to inform the local Ordinary about any act of profanation of the Holy Eucharist, there were even Rites to be performed if a host was accidentally dropped on the floor. Now they have become so commonplace that we simply mentally note them, possibly with air of sadness, and move on. At the beginning of this year the Bishop of Ars ordered that the Blessed Sacrament be removed from every tabernacle in his diocese because of a wave sacrilege. There was a time when priests were killed to rescue the Blessed Sacrament from profanation, or even fire..

I am glad that the Bishop of Pamplona, with a number of his priests offered a Mass of Reparation but I wonder if the reparation was addressed to Christ for the offence to His Body or for to those of the faithful who found this action offensive, in the sense of a politician who apologises 'if you found an action offensive'. The answer of course is clearly answered by whether His Excellency introduced measures to ensure that never, ever again in his diocese was it possible that such profanation should ever happen again.

One of our recently retired Bishops spent over a quarter of century ensuring that no where in his diocese was the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the apex of any church. It was the diocese of Brentwood, and I am not entirely against this move - but read on, please. I have always wondered what impact was made on a individual or a community's spirituality if for living memory the Blessed Sacrament was at centre of the Church and genuflected to on entering the Church and then was suddenly replaced by a bunch of flowers or a piece of furniture, the priest's chair perhaps. I just don't think we can tell people, and keep a straight face, that our practice might have changed but theology remains exactly the same. Obviously if the practice has changed so has the thinking, the theology, behind it. It is a fiction that what we do can be disassociated from what we do. Lex orandi, Lex credendi, Lex vivendi.

I celebrated Mass for my 25th Anniversary of ordination in the Extraordinary Form. one priest said, "I loved the music, what I found so alien was all that bobbing up and down". If the liturgy is the touchstone of what we believe, then although the words are important so too are the liturgical actions that accompany it. 'The bobbing up and down' in the Old Rite, the different postures, that are adopted -in the Roman Rite the joining of the fingers, in most of its derivative Rites the adoption of the 'crucis stance' mark a change in that which is on the altar.

Though I hate those videos of that picture the Old Rite as something glorious and the New as something trivial, there is a difference between Old and New Rite which is important, it is that the minimalisation of the change of Substance that occurs according to Trent and from St Thomas onwards at the moment of Consecration. Where Mass is offered 'ad Orienten' which according to Missal, and at least the last four Prefect's of the CDF have stressed, is normative, perhaps the difference is only noted by the priest.

In places where Mass is offered 'ad Populum', where this involves a deliberate turning of one's back to the reserved Blessed Sacrament by the celebrant, a strange 'anti-sign' is brought into play. What does it mean to encourage people to treat as God something to which at Mass everyone on the sanctuary turns their back on, it is a nonsense sign! and what does it say to the priest himself, more on the subconscious level than on the concious level? Hence I have a certain sympathy with the former Bishop of Brentwood. If the priest is going top turn his back on the reserved Eucharist when celebrating Mass, isn't it better it is reserved elsewhere? In the Old Rite if the Bishop was to sat before the tabernacle, even below the altar steps, the Eucharist was removed to a side chapel, hence it being the usual practice in Cathedrals. Let me not get onto concerts in Churches where the Lord is reserved.

I agree with Cardinal Sarah, "the great crisis in the Church is a crisis of faith", the greatest crisis of faith is crisis of belief is in the Eucharist. I find it difficult to draw a distinction between the sacrilege in Pamplona and the sacrilege of giving Holy Communion to a politician who is plainly working against the Catholic Church's moral teaching, or a couple living in a relationship that opposes Christ's clear teaching on the permanence of marriage. Then of course I am reactionary enough to consider it a sacrilege for a sinful or obviously heretical bishop or priest to celebrate Mass at all.

follow on Twitter: @raylblake


Rick said...

God bless you Fr. Blake. I am so grateful for your commentaries, as I am for fresh air to breathe.

EnfieldTLM Admin said...

Dear Father Blake
You stated "I celebrated Mass for my 25th Anniversary of ordination in the Extraordinary"
I thank God for this wonderful news.
I thank you for your service to God
I thank God for the Grace to see the beauty in your 25th anniversary.
Deo Gratias

Immaculate Conception: Pray for us

Pelerin said...

Beautifully and clearly put Father and so true.

I have no idea what the Bishop of Pamplona has done to prevent further sacrilege but I have read that the artist concerned with the original exhibition has since acquired over 30 more Hosts by getting his friends to steal them at Communion time presumably from churches in the same diocese. The danger is ever present.

johnf said...

Dear Fr Blake
I endorse what the other posters have said. Your blogs, and those of Fr Z and Fr Hunwicke keep me sane in these troubled times. Thank God for priests like you and for the Internet.

Regarding this bobbing up and down in the EF - I am very surprised. The Novus Ordo requires the faithful to be up and down like a jack in the box during Mass. I personally felt this keenly in 2013 when I was very ill. Standing, kneeling and sitting was extraordinarily difficult. I never found this to be an issue with the EF, though I would acknowledge that there is often confusion amongst the congregation as when to stand at High Mass or Missa Cantata. (Some stand then the rest of the congregation drag themselves up - a bit like the Hallelujah Chorus in Messiah). In low Mass there is no problem - except for the Creed and the Gospel we used to kneel for the whole of the Mass.

Frank Karwatowicz said...

Father Ray this is another gem. I agree with your statement that "Then of course I am reactionary enough to consider it a sacrilege for a sinful or obviously heretical bishop or priest to celebrate Mass at all." but it is the "sinful" word that bothers me because we are all sinful and imho it is the bishop or priest who is not in a state of grace who should not celebrate Mass. I believe that one of the standards of our faith is the act of contrition at confession, hence if he is absolved of his sins by his confessor than what other standard do we go by? The heresy part is self evident because he then represents a different religion.

Highland Cathedral said...

Much prefer the 'bobbing up and down' (what an ungracious way to describe genuflecting) to all the tiny nods of the head we get from Readers, Extraordinary Ministers, etc at OF Masses.

vetusta ecclesia said...

You will be glad to know that at Chelmsford, in the Brentwood diocese, the Premonstratensians have restored the tabernacle to the apex in the parish church of OLI and made their priory chapel ad orientem.

JARay said...

I too wish to add my congratulations on the occasion of your 25th celebration of Ordination to the Priesthood. I too value your blog and the contributions that you make to sense and stability within the Church.
John Rayner

Fr Ray Blake said...

JARay, that was 6 years ago - but thank you

Guardian said...

Father Blake, thank you for a wonderful post that exemplifies, from the clerical POV, what a lot of us laypeople are saying on our blogs, our social media accounts, and to any other Catholic we come into contact with.

I have been writing for a bit now about the desecration of the Eucharist during most Novus Ordo masses and by the clear lack of supernatural faith that many Catholics have.

Thank you also for letting us know that there are still members of the clergy who believe and act like we always hope priests act and believe like.

My blog:

viterbo said...

Man, all the reparation that should be done for those genuine priests who became heresiarchs. Has any reparation been done for the plastic bags of hosts biffed around and about St Peter's at JPII'S extravaganzas (and much more besides?) There is grateful hope that the Novus Ordo rite is indeed doubtful to invalidity, and therefore no sacrilege occured. But for Paul VI and his experimental glass jar and wicker bowl -blood and body 'Woodstocks'! Shame, shame, shame on the perpetrators.

Jacobi said...

There is much quoting of lex orandi lex credendi. It is sometimes good to turn expressions round. If we start with lex credendi and observe Catholics as they lounge about chattering after Mass, ignoring the Tabernacle, one might suspect what their credendi is.

As for sacrilege Father, it has always been there, starting with the Crucifixion. And in every Church that has been sacked as in the last three/four years in the Biblical Lands where Christianity has been annihilated in some areas by the recent upsurge of Islam.

And there is the ongoing, lets call it abuse. The endless 100% trooping up, all, in good order to receive Holy Communion - regardless!

Lynda said...

Sacrilege is institutionalised in the Novus Ordo Missae. And the destruction of the Faith that it has caused - the resulting horror is everywhere. Pope Francis refuses to genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament, even at moment of consecration. He has no problem kneeling in heretical gatherings though. Lord, save us. Reparation!

Fr Ray Blake said...

In what sense?

Jacobi said...


In fairness, the Pope, like many of us, is getting on a bit. I watched the video of the C.A.R. visit to the Martyrs. He was on a kneeler. To get up he used both arms, pushed hard and just managed. He was looking old and tired.

Palincor IG said...

Well St.Paul observed Christians spiritually dying or falling asleep owing to their lack of reverence. A lack of supernatural faith is always on display towards the Eucharist during masses there a conclusion to be drawn ?

Lynda said...

Fr Blake, In the casual, irreverent, dismissive manner that the Blessed Sacrament is treated from the consecration to the return to the Tabernacle (often by an unordained person).

Fr Ray Blake said...

Is that the Rite, or the faulty interpretation of the Rite?
"Sacrilege is institutionalised in the Novus Ordo Missae", those things are not part of the Rite are they?

Pelerin said...

Jacobi has pointed out the noticeable difficulty Pope Francis had getting up from the kneeler at the Ugandan Martyrs Shrine. We should be praising him for wishing to kneel in homage there and stop criticising him as some do for not being able to kneel during Mass. Surely it is not a case of 'refusing to kneel' as mentioned above but a case of no longer being able to kneel? (Actually for those of us getting on a bit it is not the kneeling which is the most difficult - gravity helps with that - but it is the getting up afterwards that can be tricky.

I also noticed that Mgr Marini and another priest helped him up the flights of steps leading up to the altars there too. I seem to remember at one of his International Masses broadcast he almost stumbled going up the steps so he is now helped by an arm either side. During one of the African Masses Mgr Marini often seemed to glance worryingly at Pope Francis from time to time.

He is obviously no longer agile - he is after all nearly 80 years old - and we should be thankful that he is still able to walk and not criticise him when he is unable to kneel.

Charlesdawson said...

I have to agree with those defending the Pope here. I have arthritis, which is also a very common condition of the elderly, and I have the greatest difficulty in kneeling and genuflecting. In fact, unless I can grab hold of something, I can't get up - it's not the pain, it's the weakness, leading to loss of balance, and doesn't look at all decorous. So, usually, I sit for the kneeling and bow for genuflecting. I should be sorry to think that I was being judged adversely for this.

Can anyone explain to me how abusive priests could go from attacking children to making bad confessions to celebrating Mass? How could they bear to act so?

Frank Karwatowicz said...

I think the pope if he has a "disabled person" license plate on his car, could be excused from criticism, no?

Konstantin said...

Another problem with the "art show" in Pamplona was the failure of priests to act early on. They should have simply picked up the Sacred Hosts spread out on the floor. This is what I found most outrageous. At some point, a layman took a couple of hosts that had been put on a plate and took them to a nearby parish, but nowhere did I read that any priests would make similar moves. It seemed as if the priests didn't really know what there job was. If that is the case, read the "de defectibus" in the rubrics of the Traditional Mass...

geneticallycatholic said...

Jacobi, Pelerin, Charlesdawson: your comments are fair and charitable with regard to the Holy Father's inability to kneel in reverence toward the Eucharist. And while I will try to subscribe to your charitable opinions on this, it is difficult for me, however, to erase the image from my mind of Pope Francis kneeling, during his First Holy Thursday as Pope, and washing and kissing the feet of a woman- a Muslim one- if I recall correctly. And yet, he does not kneel in front of the Eucharist. ...and has not done so, in his role as the Holy Father. Please correct me if I am wrong- about his kneeling in front of the Eucharist. I would so love to be wrong.

In three days time, the new annulment process will go into effect. This, among the many things the Holy Father has done, ...will also contribute to further sacrilege of the Eucharist; (his advice to the Lutheran woman about following her conscience in her desire to take Holy Communion, his support of Holy Communion to the divorced and remarried.. are other examples).

If declarations of nullity become easy to get, without the underlying truth being discerned correctly as to whether the marriage is valid or not, then there is further room for sacrilege when people who remarry after an annulment [that should not have been granted], participate in Holy Communion - all with the connivance of the Holy Father.

So, while I am willing to cut our Holy Father some slack on his physical disability, I am not willing to cut him any slack whatsoever on his sacrilege towards one of the most beautiful treasures of our One, Holy and Apostolic Church, the Eucharist. And lastly, I beg to disagree with the Holy Father: This One, holy and Apostolic Church is NOT the Holy Father's Church. Therein lies the problem: that he thinks that the Church is his.

geneticallycatholic said...

My apologies, Father. I thought I had proof-read my comment before hitting the Publish button. But I missed an obvious error: In the two instances of my comment, it should be" One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

Jacobi said...


Separate issues here. The conscience of all is subject to the Teaching of the One True Church, not of the Protestant heresy. The divorced and re-married are objectively speaking in a state of mortal sin and may not receive Holy Communion. Nullity is a separate issue. It can be subject to abuse, in which case it is not valid, i.e., the couple must be presumed still to be married. People in their late 70s with only one lung or even less than 50% capacity, have difficulty in getting up from the kneeling position.

All quite simple really.

JARay said...

With the above comments about the Pope's ability (or disability) to kneel I have a question that one or other of those who comment here might know the answer to.
It is this:-
I have a valid driving licence here in Australia and I know that such a licence is valid for me to drive in the UK (for a time). Now I also have a valid disability card which, when I display it on my car's dashboard, entitles me to park in those spaces set apart for drivers with a disability. My question is therefore, am I similarily entitled to park in those places if I am driving in the UK?
Do any of you know?
I would of course bring my disability card with me!
You may guess also that I am one who no longer kneels or genuflects when at Mass.

Kneeling Catholic said...

I think GeneticallyC's logic is, sadly, inescapable. The Holy Father can kneel when he is really motivated to do so. GC is kind of like those insurance fraud private i's who follow 'disabled' people around to see if they really are as bad off as their lawyers claim.

Regardless, Father's post reminded me (forgive me if I have already recollected this anecdote but it just seems to fit!). A few years back I was talking to an elderly Chaldean lady who became quite scandalized and exercised when I explained to her that we have hand Communion in our churches. She assured me that they would never do such a thing in HER church. Then she pounded her point home by telling me how, once when she witnessed a Host dropped on the floor, her priest got down on all fours and licked it up!

Maybe there is something I am missing....I just don't see how people who handle the Eucharist so differently (i.e. her priest vs priests who treat It like they are handing out cookies at recess time) can still be sharing the exact=same belief about what the Eucharist is.

Nicolas Bellord said...

In my experience it is not only arthritis that causes the problem but a relative weakness in one's legs that make getting up from a kneeling position very difficult. However if one has something to lean on or pull one up with one's hands then there is no problem in getting up. The muscles of one's arms do not to have the same problem. Thus in the pews one is okay. However it should be mandatory to have altar rails in all churches as a matter of health and safety. Stop this discrimination against the elderly!

Charlesdawson said...

@JARay: we have a similar scheme in the UK, called the Blue Badge scheme, administered by local authorities. If you are only visiting for a short time it wouldn't be worth your trying to join, but there is a charity at which could advise you better.

I would not assume that your existing badge would be recognised as valid; the procedure is invariably to issue a parking fine and then the onus is on the innocent party to appeal, which can take ages.

Be warned: many local authorities which used to permit free parking to disabled badge holders in designated parking bays, have now responded to austerity calls by removing this concession. You could get hit with whacking fines!

Sadie Vacantist said...

I was treated to an aggressive pre-match sermon on the merits of regular communion this weekend. We were urged to repent now to any impediment to the receipt of communion. This is bonkers. We are reduced to 30 mins confession time a week and no more than two or three partake of the sacrament. How can the penitential rite replace the sacrament of confession in this parish as a means to remove serious impediments?

Sixupman said...

I was at Mass last night and the Celebrant, Post Communion and prior top the Blessing, knelt in silence before the Blessed Sacrament to make his Thanksgiving. Never experienced that before. In Malta recently, in a church where the Blessed Sacrament was reserved behind the altar, I was heartened, after Mass, to find the Celebrant on his knees before the Blessed Sacrament again making his Thanksgiving.

geneticallycatholic said...

@KneelingC: Ummm No. ... There's a huge difference between a Catholic,[who loves Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and who is trying to make sense of our Holy Father's consistently inconsistent words and actions] and an "insurance fraud private i's who follow 'disabled' people around to see if they really are as bad off as their lawyers claim". Unfortunately, you seem unable to tell the difference between the two from what I wrote. Oh dear, so sad, never mind.

@Jacobi: I do get that elderly people find it difficult/impossible to kneel. That is not the issue. What I was trying to express with actual examples, was the downward trajectory we seem to be on with respect to a reverence for the Blessed Sacrament in the context of, and perhaps even as a result of, the Holy Father's actions:

1) Pope Francis' inability to kneel in front of the Blessed Sacrament - though he can kneel in other circumstances; In my view, this does not promote reverence for the Blessed Sacrament by the Holy Father.
2) his promotion of a swift annulment process, which probably will lead to valid marriages being declared null, and therefore, a person, who remarries, in this circumstance, will partake of the Eucharist unworthily,... which again, in my view, is not reverence toward the Blessed Sacrament. [In fact, I know of one person who truly loves Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and who was planning to seek an annulment after over a decade of separation, but has now decided not to seek it, as he feels that he cannot have the assurance with the new annulment process that his marriage was in fact invalid. He wants to partake of the Eucharist worthily]
3) The other example of the divorced and remarried who as you say, cannot receive the Eucharist, but guess what, the recent Synod called by the Holy Father was all about them receiving the Eucharist after a suitable period of penance. No need to renounce the sin.

In summary, the common thread which links these "separate issues" is the apparent irreverence toward the Eucharist - irreverence to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament...which can easily lead to sacrilege, the topic of this post.

JARay said...

@ Charlesdawson. Many thanks for your information

Palincor IG said...

Maybe if we got rid of the Sunday obligation mass would only be attended by those who really want to be there. Then maybe greater reverence would come of it's own accord.

Nicolas Bellord said...

GeneticallyCatholic raises a good point about people who may wonder whether the annulment of their marriage was really valid. I suspect that is something of a minefield that could be made worse.

Jacobi said...

@Nicolas & GC,

Agreed. This must now be a major factor for Catholics of conscience.

See what happens when you start to bend the rules!

Catholic Mission said...

Latin Mass Societies' Mass is heretical

The present traditional Latin Mass is modernist

Catholic Mission said...

Latin Mass Societies' Mass is heretical

The present traditional Latin Mass is modernist

John Simlett said...

'Reverential paralysis' versus 'Arthritic paralysis'?

geneticallycatholic said...

@ John Simlett: Thank you for succinctly capturing what I meant and was trying to say in my two comments above. After the 'light'show at St. Peter's Basilica yesterday, I am now confirmed in my opinion that our Holy Father is suffering from "Reverential paralysis".In providing that debacle on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception -no less- ...the Holy Father continues to "surprise" me as to the extent of his reverential paralysis. The symptoms cannot be ignored.

Over at the Remnant Newspaper, they diagnosed 'reverential paralysis'[though not as succinctly and explicitly]- and suggest two remedies to the Holy Father . Their post entitled "The Year of Mercy Begins" is very informative as to the extent of this particular paralysis -which if it continues, may be contagious and may lay the Our Holy Mother Church low, - though given Our Lord's assurance, His bride will not succumb. Wish I could be as assured that many of her children won't succumb to the same paralysis, given the Holy Father's example.

Scott said...

As for the Holy Father and the Environment, Americans get uptight about it but if saving carrier bags or turning down the heating a tad saves the Maldives or stops a turtle from getting indigestion or keeps alive a coral reef, I'm up for it. I'm with Paschal and his wager on this one

The problem is that these little acts are like a pinch of incense tossed to an ersatz religion which is in the final opposed to the true faith. This tawdry religion can't even answer the simplest questions like "what is the average temperature of the earth supposed to be?", have no idea what impact their subsidiarity-violating policies will actually have, and no contingencies for reversing those policies when it turns out they are ineffective. It's little different than pagans tossing virgins down a well to get good weather. The only difference is the priests wear white lab coats.