Friday, September 23, 2011

You Go, Bishop Olmsted!

Good news!

This seems to me to be a bishop who talks the talk AND walks the walk. In the Diocese of Phoenix, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted has now limited reception of Holy Communion to the host alone, in most cases. Naturally, the “it’s my right” crowd is crying foul. But the Diocese of Phoenix has issued a nice statement and Q&A page that addresses the issue.

I think it is of prime importance that they mention the fact that widespread offering of the chalice inevitably leads to overuse of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. I’m all for limiting that. Mass is not about how many of the laity can be utilized in one capacity or another around the altar and sanctuary. We do not "actively participate" (and that translation should be more along the lines of "actual" participation) in Mass through physical actions like ushering, passing the collection plate, "bringing up the gifts", serving as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, singing in the choir, or serving as a reader. We particpate in Mass and we "assist" at Mass through prayer.

That's not the only good news coming out of this diocese: last August the news was that the Cathedral of that diocese will now use only male altar servers. What a breath of fresh air that should be! That one is not a diocesan-wide decision, and not one made by the bishop, apparently. The Rev. John Lankeit, rector of the Cathedral, said he made the decision on his own, in hopes of promoting the priesthood for males and other religious vocations, such as becoming a nun, for females. Either way, he surely has the bishop’s approval.

To me, the most significant thing about these developments in Phoenix is that we can see a bishop who is following the GIRM, which is an instruction, after all, and not a suggestion. It seems he is aware of the importance of the liturgy for the salvation of souls.

He handled that whole deal about the abortion at a Catholic hospital very well, too.

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