Saturday, March 16, 2013

Choosing Not to Receive

I have a post over at the Catholic Stand blog (it was posted 2 weeks ago) – it’s basically a re-post of one I had here (“What Do We Do Now? Suffer with Him”).

There have been a number of comments, and some are pretty interesting. Many reacted to the notion that one may choose not to receive Holy Communion at a Mass that seems offensive. To them, it seems unthinkable to not receive Holy Communion because of the liturgical abuses one sees. Even a priest suggested that one should never skip Holy Communion, adding, “That would be madness. Even if the priest is dressed in a clown suit.” Hmmm.

Another commenter said:

Please don't ever get so upset with the presentation of the liturgy that you abstain from the Eucharist… If we're honest, criticism over modern vs. traditional Mass are very similar to criticism from those who say they don't attend Mass because they "don't get anything out of it". Both instances miss the point by setting the criteria of a successful liturgy with OUR satisfaction over God's.

No, I’m not talking about setting my own criteria of a “successful liturgy”. I explained in a comment of my own that it’s not a matter of liturgical “style”; it’s a matter of liturgical abuse. I am sure that Our Lord weeps over the abuses He is forced to view on a daily basis.  It’s not about my satisfaction with the liturgy; it is always about God’s. The Novus Ordo can be celebrated reverently, but often it is not. When I am scandalized by liturgical abuse, I prefer not to receive Holy Communion in that situation, especially if the priest is doing or has done something egregiously out of order.

But the commenter objected again:

I truly believe that whenever we worship God with sincere and grateful hearts He is pleased. I don't believe there can be such a thing as "sloppy liturgy". It may be presumptuous on my part, but I don't think God gets upset with an occasional change in the "rubrics" which were established by the Church, because the Church itself is comprised of creative human beings.

Well, we may be creative human beings, but we are not allowed to create the liturgy spontaneously, as we did in the Assembly of God church I once attended! And when people think that we are free to tamper with the liturgy, we end up with abominations like the ones in the video I've embedded below. If this isn’t “sloppy liturgy”, I don’t know what is! Even if some of these folks are attending with "sincere and grateful hearts"...this "liturgy" is just plain wrong.


  1. Would these folks make the same kind of comments if there was a change in the words of consecration?

    Say Fr. Groovy says, "This represents my body"? or "This, we believe, is His body"? or some other nonsensical ad-libbing.

    What then? Would they still go and receive?

    If one *ever* encounters this abuse at (what is supposed to be *Holy*) Mass - they should never receive because it is *not* our Blessed Lord on the Altar.

    If there is any change in those four words - "This is my body" or "This is my blood" - then there is *no* consecration, thus *no* Eucharist!

    Would these same people who are critiquing you, Dr. Jay, still go receive?

    I pray not.


  2. I think one-half of the issue may be that catholics don't understand what constitutes sacrilege. A sacrilege is the violation or irreverent treatment of some person (the body of Christ), or thing (the Sacred Liturgy and the Sacrifice of the Mass), or place (the Church) that is consecrated or set aside for the service of God.

    Dr Boyd, some of the things you've described that you've seen at Novus Ordo (NO) Masses are not just personal offenses against one's personal sensibilities. They are sacrilegious! A violation of God's first commandment -- a grave sin.

    I think the other half of the issue is that catholics don't understand how being an accessory to the sin of sacrilege means that they are guilt of the sin just as much as the one actually committing the sacrilegious act. People should not deceive themselves into thinking that they are receiving any grace from a sacrament when they have allowed themselves to become accessories to the grave sin of sacrilege occuring during that sacrament. On the contrary, the have but their souls in mortal danger.

    I. By counsel (people are counceling you to go to a Mass with sacrilegious acts regularly happening)
    II. By command (a priest is essentially, by virtue of his authority as a priest, commanding it)
    III. By consent (they obviously are consenting to these sacrilegious acts themselves, by attending)
    IV. By provocation (aren't people provoking you by insinuating that you're sinning if you don't?)
    V. By praise or flattery
    VI. By concealment
    VII. By partaking (isn't this what you are doing by receiving communion? or even by your presence?)
    VIII. By silence
    IX. By defense of the ill done (too many defend their accessory to the sin of sacrilege)

    But there's one more misunderstanding I think catholics have regarding sin and the precepts of the Church (particularly the first precept -- To go to Mass and refrain from servile work on Sundays and holy days, and the third -- To receive the Eucharist at least once a year, during the Easter Season). That misunderstanding is that our Holy Mother Church cannot command the faithful to sin. She cannot command that we participate in sin and become accesories to sin. The salvation of souls, is always the supreme law of the Church, and commanding, or even recommending the faithful to partake in sacrilegous acts is contrary to that supreme law.

    Therefore, the question that needs to be asked, of yourself, and of any faithful Catholic who might find themselves in your situation is: Are the actions, abuses, I see at Mass simply offensive? Or are they actually sacrilegious, because they fit the definition of sacrilege? If the answer is sacrilegious, then you should not receive holy communion, you shouldn't even stay for the rest of Mass, and you shouldn't return to that parish until you've been assured that the sacrilegious acts have been corrected. Your soul is what's at stake.

    Finally, I want every casual commenter who may visit your blog and see my comment to note: I have not said here that the NO Mass is in and of itself sacrilegious. Again what I did say was: "some of the things you've described that you've seen at NO Masses are not just personal offenses against one's personal sensibilities. They are sacrilegious!"

  3. One is never obligated to receive at Mass anyways, we are just obligated to attend Mass. Of course it is to our benefit if we are well disposed. But if one has doubts about the validity of the Mass due to abuses, I likely would not. However, these predicaments can be easily avoided by knowing what Mass you are attending and knowing about the priest offering the Mass.

    No issues with this in attending a Tridentine Mass. :) If the priest is a heretic, at least he can't bring it into the structure of the Mass and scandalize the people (maybe in his homily, of course, but we don't attend Masses for the homily anyways). During the changes after Vatican II, my grandmother noticed the homilies becoming more dissident, and she would take the kids out during the homily and then return for remainder of the Mass.

  4. Wow! What great people you have reading and commenting on your blog!

    The comments above put "words" on "feelings" I have had at "sacrilegious Masses" where the best I could say was "I'm embarrassed for God here." At Masses where God seems to be mocked by what is supposed be worship, I agree with Creary (above) that there's a sense that we are accessories or accomplices to sacrilege if we do nothing in response.

    If I were invited to a special celebration honoring my wife and it became an evening of insults and mockery, I suspect I would be both embarrassed and angry and I certainly would not stay and enjoy the meal. I think I would find it difficult to continue to "fellowship" with those who were "accomplices" in this insult. Something a bit more important is taking place at Mass, right? So why would it be proper to receive Holy Communion at a sacrilegious Mass?

    Not to be too extreme, but isn't the horror of a "Black Mass" the reality that Our Lord's true Body and Blood are being desecrated? Would it be "okay" to receive Holy Communion there just because this is really the Body and Blood of Our Lord, "even if the priest is dressed in a clown suit"?

  5. So many good points made by all of you! Thank you for adding to the discussion.

    One time recently, there were offensive things done at the Mass I attended, but I had decided ahead of time that I really did want to receive. I was determined to do my best to ignore the offensive things. I was successful, but it was not easy. (I don't believe there was anything sacrilegious, though.) The priest was sincere and well-meaning, but he did some things that were outside the rubrics and just plain annoying. Like Terry, I find myself embarrassed for God at those times. Sometimes I can excuse the people, but it is always hard to understand how and why a priest doesn't "get it".

    There have been times when I asked for some irregularities to be corrected; so far there has been one priest who did comply with my request. One.

  6. Great posts.

    Went to our parish church for Mass this weekend and could not in all conscience receive. From the parade of the Gospel by laity to the mobbing of the altar by 'Eucharistic Ministers' at Holy Communion via the touchy feely use the congregation as a therapist homily. You don't get ANY of that with the EF. I can't recall the last OF Mass I assisted where there wasn't an abuse/abuses. You can't go off piste with the EF, which is just as well or I'd be permanently piste off.

  7. Annie, LOL. Of course, I had to first google "piste" (so I guess you now know I'm not a skier!).


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