Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Affronts to Our Rites

Fr. Z had this interesting rant a few days ago (thanks, Tantamergo, for reminding me; follow the link to read his additional comments, too). Fr. Z’s comments made me think about several related things as well. Fr. Z was talking about those instances where Protestants allow the use of their churches for “ordinations” of “Catholic” women to the diaconate or priesthood. He says:

…[W]e have to react strongly when ecumenical ideals are so grossly violated by Protestants who invite or permit these “women priest” ceremonies in their churches.

Fr. Z points out that the “women-priests” and their supporters are committing sacrilege in simulating Mass and Orders; the Protestants who host such events are making a mockery of our Mass and of the priesthood. Protestants are well aware that the Catholic Church does not ordain women, but by allowing these women to stage a fake ordination, the Protestant hosts are “accepting the premise that what the women are doing in there actually is a Catholic ordination and Mass”.

And that should make us angry because, Fr. Z reminds us,

The most sacred rites of the Catholic Church are Holy Mass and ordination to Holy Orders. These are sine quibus non for our Catholic identity and the continuance of Holy Church Herself. They are of divine origin. They are for us most sacred. To treat sacred things with lack of due respect or reverence is the sin of sacrilege.

But the Church’s reaction is so mild! We sigh and say it’s not a good thing…and does the local ordinary ever say anything? Well, sometimes, but not usually, and not usually very much as far as I’m aware. Fr. Z recommends something a little stronger:

Given that we are talking about the most sacred rites we have, a proportionate response would have to be something like a special service in [Fr. Z’s fictitious example of] the Cathedral of Black Duck. There would be a prayer of reparation for the sacrilege at [fictitious] St. Swithan-by-the Slough, a sermon about the theological errors of their sect, and prayers for the mercy of God on their souls lest they go to Hell. There would be handouts about the true teaching of the Church on Holy Mass and Holy Orders and, also, true ecumenism, articles in the local diocesan newspaper describing the errors of the sect and that they are not a true Church in the sense recognized by the Catholic Church. There would be weeks of sermons in every pulpit of the Diocese of Black Duck…. Get the drift? That’s proportionate.

I had not really thought about this before, but Fr. Z makes a lot of sense here. Our reaction to these shenanigans perpetrated by “womyn-priests” and their Protestant enablers should be at the level of Jesus overturning the tables of the money-changers.

And here’s what I think: we should have a similar reaction whenever we see lay extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion handling the Host. We should have a similar reaction when we see the faithful receiving Holy Communion in the hand.


Because that’s the BODY OF CHRIST.

If we really truly believe that, then we should act like it’s something special. We should act as if we believe that a man is ordained a priest for a reason, that his hands are anointed for a reason, and that we actually have priests in the first place for a reason.

Instead, we watch as a smiling lay minister hands a consecrated Host to each parishioner, and sometimes gives a “blessing”, even touching the person…as if the extraordinary minister had the same power and authority as a priest.

And while I’m on the topic of outrages committed against the Blessed Sacrament and the Mass and even just plain liturgical common sense…I think we ought to be AGHAST at the sight of an unvested lay minister entering the sanctuary during Mass for any reason.  

Acolytes and altar servers wear vestments befitting their function; the use of some parishes of a lay minister to serve at the altar without the appropriate vestments is disrespectful of the Real Presence, and bespeaks a lack of understanding of the sanctuary, the symbolic value of vestments.

But maybe that’s just me…

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