"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The ObamaCare Awakening

Americans are losing their coverage by political design.
Oct. 29, 2013 7:35 p.m. ET

For all of the Affordable Care Act's technical problems, at least one part is working on schedule. The law is systematically dismantling the individual insurance market, as its architects intended from the start.

The millions of Americans who are receiving termination notices because their current coverage does not conform to Health and Human Services Department rules may not realize this is by design. Maybe they trusted President Obama's repeated falsehood that people who liked their health plans could keep them. But Americans should understand that this month's mass cancellation wave has been the President's political goal since 2008. Liberals believe they must destroy the market in order to save it.

Until this month, consumers who weren't insured through their jobs were allowed to buy insurance that provides the best value based on their own needs. One of every 10 private policies is sold through the individual market, covering about 7% of the U.S. population under age 65.

Some states have ruined this market through regulation and price controls, and in others costs can be high. But the individual market works well for millions of people, who can choose from many plans—from Cadillac coverage to cheaper protection against catastrophic illness.

The political problem for the White House is that these choices are a threat toObamaCare. If too many people keep these policies instead of joining the government exchanges, ObamaCare could fail. HHS has thus reviewed the decisions of people in the individual market and found them wanting. HHS believes as a matter of political philosophy that everyone should have the same kind of insurance, and in the name of equity it wrote rules dictating the benefits that all plans must cover and how they must be financed.

In most cases these mandates are more comprehensive and thus more expensive than the status quo, but the ObamaCare refugees aren't merely facing higher costs. The plans they want and are willing to pay for have been intentionally outlawed. Ponder that one.

Liberals claim the new insurance should cost more because it's better, at least as defined by liberal paternalism. But the real reason they want policies to cost more is to drive as many people as possible out of this market and into the subsidized ObamaCare exchanges.

The exchanges need these customers to finance ObamaCare's balance sheet and stabilize its risk pools. On the exchanges, individuals earning more than $46,000 or a family of four above $94,000 don't qualify for subsidies and must buy overpriced insurance. If these middle-class ObamaCare losers can be forced into the exchanges, they become financiers of the new pay-as-you-go entitlement.

Best of the Web Today columnist James Taranto on The White House's admittance that health care plans won't be unaffected by ObamaCare. Photo: Getty Images

The political press corps is reporting this as a shocking discovery, and we suppose it is if you believed Mr. Obama's promises. NBC News even reports as a "scoop" that the White House knew all along that millions would lose their policies. But HHS's trail of purpose has been there for anyone willing to look.

The text of the Affordable Care Act said that none of its language "shall be construed to require that an individual terminate coverage" that existed as of March 23, 2010, or the date the law was enacted. But as early as June 2010 HHS published a regulation reinterpreting this "Preservation of Right to Maintain Existing Coverage" to obviate that promise.

Even minor policy changes, such as increasing a copay by as little as $5, means that a plan cannot be renewed without rewriting it to obey all of ObamaCare's regulations. In HHS's "regulatory impact analysis" published in the Federal Register, the department estimated that between 40% and 67% wouldn't qualify as a permitted plan, and this was the point—to prevent such policies "from being bought and sold as a commodity in commercial transactions." HHS knew that lightly regulated policies might be popular, especially compared to the restricted choices in the exchanges.

Next, HHS applied very prescriptive mandates to all plans, including those sold outside the exchanges. The law's 10 very broad categories of statutory benefits like hospitalization, prescription drugs or maternity care were construed so that 79.6% of current individual plans didn't meet the targets, according to HHS's own analysis. The rule even put floors under cost-sharing to prevent consumers from paying out of pocket.

HHS wrote that the purpose was to offer merely "a small number of meaningful choices." Letting people make tradeoffs for themselves "would have allowed extremely wide variation across plans in the benefits offered" and "would not have assured consumers that they would have coverage for basic benefits." Forced equity again trumped individual choice.

Hard to believe, but at the time liberals complained that this HHS "essential health benefits" rule wasn't restrictive enough. Pediatric services stop being required at age 19, not 21, and what about speech therapy, medical foods or lactation services?

Liberals needn't have worried. Once customers are herded into the exchanges, HHS has the power to further standardize benefits, further limit choices by barring certain insurers from selling through selective contracting, and generally police the insurers to behave like the government franchises they now are. The state-run exchanges in Vermont and the District of Columbia have already barred individual coverage outside their exchanges.

None of this is an accident. It is the deliberate result of the liberal demand that everyone have essentially the same coverage and that government must dictate what that coverage is and how much it costs. Such political control is the central nervous system of theAffordable Care Act, and it is why so many people can't keep the insurance they like.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Interview with HE Bishop Athanasius Schneider priest

logo Polonia Christiana

Before His Majesty the angels hide face

Date updated: 2013-10-14 4:11:00 p.m.
Before His Majesty the angels hide face
Fig. www.krasaliturgie.cz
A childhood spent in the Soviet Union learned in his youth a deep reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, a liturgical abuse scandal, the role of women in the Church of the Holy Priesthood says in an interview with bimonthly "Polish Christian" JE Athanasius Schneider, b iskup Auxiliary of the Archdiocese of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Astana (Kazakhstan) .

Bishop is a German-born, but born and brought up in the former Soviet republics. How did this happen?

- At the beginning of the nineteenth century (years 1809-1810) there was a great migration of farmers from the south-eastern Germany to the Black Sea region, which is located on the site of the former Russian Empire. Residents emigrated Baden, Alsace, Lorraine and the Palatinate. Czar of Russia gave them free land very fertile soil (humus). The newcomers have the right to set up the village, where it was said only in German and to retain religious autonomy (so villages were purely Catholic and Lutheran), and which bore German names, such as Strassburg, Elsass, Karlsruhe, Baden, Mannheim, Speyer, etc. .. . My ancestors were immigrants from the north of Alsace, in the vicinity of cities and Hagenau Seltz. They lived there (in the Black Sea region - ed. IP) until World War II. After the war, Stalin regime deported them to different places in the Soviet Union, where they were interned and sentenced to hard labor. My parents were deported to the Ural mountains. Once freed, they moved to Central Asia to Kyrgyzstan, where I was born.

Your Excellency's childhood certainly was marked by pervasive persecution of the Faith by Soviet terror. Under what conditions came Excellency and His Family practice the faith? How does the religious life flourished bishop and who played a major role in it?

- The aim was to establish a communist regime society without God. Every public gesture of religious or public worship was therefore denied. Faith had lived and passed through the family, through a Catholic family as the church, the home. I had the great privilege and good fortune to be born into a Catholic family and you can tell that sucked the Catholic faith in human milk. In times of persecution, and in the absence of priests (which sometimes lasted several years) my parents celebrate and sanctify Sunday by refusing us, children, common prayer in the morning. Later we moved to Estonia, where we had a priest and a church located about 100 km. Therefore, always overcame the distance in order to participate in the Mass. We thought that this is a very short distance and liked the Sunday trips to church, even though they required some sacrifices. Our family had the honor to personally know the two holy priests blessed Father Alexija Zaritzkiego, from Lvov Ukrainian priest who was martyred in the gulags in Karaganda in 1963, and who was beatified in 2001., And his father Andreas Pavlovsky'ego Janis, Latvia Capuchin, who suffered as a follower of the faith in the Gulag in the Karaganda. He was my pastor in Estonia and died a saint in Riga in 2000

In the seventies of the twentieth century, the then teenage Don Bishop and his family were allowed to return to Germany. Finally, it was possible to free exercise of faith. What were your first experiences of Your Excellency in this regard? We are talking about a time when already introduced many of the unfortunate, the post-conciliar liturgical reform.

- We who practiced the Catholic faith during the persecution imagined Germany and the Western world as "paradise". The persecuted church lived deep faith, while maintaining a great honor for all the holy reality, for the priest, liturgy, and especially for the Holy Communion.
What deeply shocked us was the lack of honor and the sacred in the liturgy of the Mass. For the first time in our lives we watched a scene unimaginable distribution of Holy Communion in the hand. It seemed to us something so trivial and so common as handing out cookies. When we got home, we felt in our souls silent pain. When my mother saw that similar scenes are taking place in almost all the churches we visited, deeply suffered and wept.

Excellency often emphasizes that Holy Communion should be taken only in the mouth and in the kneeling position. What are the greatest risks and consequences of the widespread practice of receiving Holy Communion in the hand (both in terms of objective and respect for the faith of the person)?

- The biggest and the most severe consequence of risk lending practices of Holy Communion in the hand is a huge loss of particles of the Eucharist and the fact that the particles are trodden by human foot in our churches. Another serious risk is enormous ease of theft of the Holy Eucharist. The practice of receiving Holy Communion in the hand for a long time clearly undermines faith in the Real Presence and Transubstantiation, as the Saints Blessed is treated as a regular diet, without convincing gestures of adoration.

Some Catholics who support Holy Communion on the hand (or simply are accustomed to this practice), argue that the human hand sinning less than the mouth. They say the gesture of holding our Savior in their hands gives them a nice opportunity to adore him for a moment. They also argue that the kneeling position uwłaczałaby their human dignity, and that the standing position is more appropriate and equally respectful. As Bishop would respond to these arguments?

- The authorities of the body (hands, language, etc.) are not guilty of sin. Sin is assigned to the human person. Authorities used the human person to commit sin always remain innocent. Therefore, it is nonsense to opposing palms lips. Adoration of our Lord by the laity by holding the consecrated Host in his hands denies the whole tradition of the universal Church. This practice is subiektywistycznym, though pious, abuse. The Church has always reserved the right to touch the sacramental Body of Christ to the ordained priesthood. Exceptions were made for objective reasons in times of persecution or higher can absolutely necessary, but never in order to meet the individual piety. Even in the early centuries of Holy Communion has never been touched by lay fingers, but they immediately took her mouth with his hand, and the women were covered his hands with white cloth. Standing position is valuable and your time. This is a typical Christian position, as a Christian is a person who has been redeemed, living a new life and believe in the resurrection of the body. But the kneeling position is the position typically Christian and is used in times of worship and acts of God, Christ, God incarnate. It is also used to express a pleading prayer, penance and repentance. Sam our Lord prayed on his knees, so too did the apostles and the women on the morning of the Resurrection. Kneeling posture is seen in the heavenly Jerusalem, where angels and redeemed humanity from falling down on his knees, and even face to adore Christ, the Lamb of God. That's why most biblical, the most appropriate and the most logical gesture at a time when the faithful welcomes and accepts the Lamb of God in the form of bread, a kneeling position.

We say we believe in God, but we can not show him reverence, trying to do it on their own, often miserably. What are, according Excellency, causes loss of reverence for our Lord Jesus Christ? What pastoral and catechetical solutions could, according to Bishop, to restore the honor?

- Human nature consists of the visible and the invisible, the spiritual union of the soul and the material body. As a result, a person must act according to its nature, which in our case, this means that he must worship God while in the act of internal and external act. Act is the most important internal and external act revives it, but because of this external act can not be neglected. Exclusive emphasis on internal act while neglecting the external act leads us to the inhuman attitude of Platonism and Gnosticism. Emphasizing only the external act while forgetting and neglecting the internal act leads us to a dead formalism and hypocrisy. Our Lord said: "This in turn ought to have done, and then do not leave" (Matthew 23:23). To restore the honor, it is necessary to teach and preach faithfully and fully the truth of the sacrament of the Eucharist, especially the Real Presence and Transubstantiation; must be accompanied by the introduction of external gestures of worship.

Although the possibility of receiving Holy Communion in the hand was introduced in Poland in 2005, still does not make it, thank God, a common practice. Are being introduced, but other, troubling news: the celebrant's chair is placed centrally between the tabernacle and the altar, which makes the priest sits with his back to the Lord Jesus, ministers passed from one to the other side of the chancel bow reverently (although rather mindlessly) in the empty table altar , simultaneously thrusting towards the Blessed Sacrament , the King of Kings. We observe the phenomenon of "fraternization" faithful, especially young people, with Jesus Christ. That "fraternization" accompanied by trivializing and infantile manner in which we give worship to God, and it is often approved of, or even promoted by priests. When you try to talk about their pastors, they often hide behind the latest tips liturgical or pastoral needs and generally do not want to take the relevant discussion of "naprzykrzającymi the" faithful. What arguments should we use to convince our pastors that lex orandi substantially affect the lex credendi ? Is the laity in general, we must exhort our priests (in the way that Jesus commanded us in the Gospel) each time when respect for the Lord Jesus exposed is at risk?

- Supernatural knowledge of the faith the size of the Eucharistic mystery must first increase among the clergy. Also Rule authentic Catholic Christian worship and need to be better understood, according to the eternal unchanging tradition and teaching of the Magisterium ( sensus Ecclesiae perennis ). The fundamental right to worship God as follows: God, Christ, eternity, is the center and all the aspects and details of worship must be continually subordinated to him and set him (as taught by the Second Vatican Council in "Sacrosanctum Concilium", Article 2). When the celebrant takes his seat in the center, in a visible way, it points out that the center of the liturgy is the man. This is contrary to the teaching of the Church, especially with the aforementioned teachings of Vatican II. In contrast, when the tabernacle and a large cross with the image of Christ is in the center, and the chair celebrant stands on the side, is clearly underlined the truth that Christ is the president, the leader and the head of every liturgy
Eucharist. Christ is the Head of His Mystical Body, and therefore Christ is the Head of His "liturgical body." Because Christ is the incarnate, and the liturgy is sacramental, visible and brings the characters, the truth that Christ is the center and head, also must be visible, that is, His Real Presence in the tabernacle, and His visible image of the Cross must be at the heart the church and the center of the Eucharistic liturgy.

The Second Vatican Council and the Code of Canon Law encourages the faithful to ensure that they communicated their concern about spiritual spiritual good of the Church ("Lumen Gentium," 37 of the Penal Code, canon 212 and canon 213 CIC). Therefore everyone has the right to ask the secular clergy to corrected scandals and abuses which are contrary to the good of souls and the spiritual laws of God. The Church has a faithful following law: "Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or true light has the right to complain about liturgical abuse against diocesan bishop or his equal rights to the competent Ordinary, or before the Holy See under the primacy of the Bishop of Rome." ( Redemptoris Sacramentum, 184).

Blessed John Paul II said in 1980 that "touching the consecrated particles and distributing their own hands is a privilege of priests." What Excellency think of lay stewards of distributing Holy Communion? Despite the fact that (at least in Poland) appointed ministers are generally carefully selected, respectable men, husbands and fathers, their ambiguous, the growing role raises some concerns.

- Separation of Holy Communion during the lay Eucharistic Sacrifice is contrary to the whole tradition of the universal Church (East and West) and has never been practiced. It is an absolute novelty and a real break with tradition. In times of persecution [secular and] hermits in the desert can distribute Holy Communion to the faithful, but it was always a place outside the Holy Mass. The introduction of lay ministers, justified by the desire to save time and relieve the priests in the distribution of Holy Communion to crowds of people. When we realize the unparalleled size and the sanctity of the Holy Communion and the fact that the timing of the Eucharistic Lord is really the highlight of Catholic life, then no one - neither the priest nor the faithful - not looking at the clock counting the minutes, it will also lamented the circumstances that cause fatigue. Contemporary reality is as follows: in the churches, in which lay ministers are involved in the distribution of Holy Communion, the priest at Mass wasting time chatting with people or the internet and watching TV. In such cases, the priest often wasted more time than the Mass zużyłby him to separate himself Holy Communion and without the participation of lay ministers. Another excuse to involve lay ministers, as follows: to express the active participation of the laity in the liturgy. It is a misconception of active participation, contrary to the teaching of the Magisterium and the Tradition of the Church. Separation of Holy Communion is an essential part of the ministry of ordained priests, and never was in the Church means the active participation of the laity. The Second Vatican Council teaches: "In liturgical celebrations each its function, whether spiritual or secular, should do just that, and everything that belongs to the very nature of things and liturgical norms." (Sacrosanctum Concilium, KL 28) and "promoting active participation should be encouraged to take acclamations, responses, psalms, antiphons, hymns as well as actions, gestures and bodily attitudes.At the appropriate time, you should observe a reverent silence "(ibid., KL 30). There is no mention of the lay stewards of Holy Communion as a center of active participation, because such understanding and such a measure is contrary to the age-old tradition of the Church and deny the following principle, which the Second Vatican Council teaches:
"Finally, the news should be made only when required by the true and undoubted good of the Church, subject, however, to form a new kind of grew organically from forms already existing." (Ibid., KL 23).

In his beautiful book on Holy Communion entitled "Dominus Est", Bishop described as a "Eucharistic woman" in the Soviet underground, which in the absence of priests managed to keep the flame of the Faith by the adoration of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and by accepting the Lord Jesus, even in a spiritual way . Excellency described the moving story of his Mother, Maria Schneider, the priest hiding exceptionally allowed himself to give Holy Communion her seriously ill mother, provided that it does so it is with the greatest possible respect. Bishop's mother founded the hands new, white gloves and use tweezers gave Holy Communion to her mother. Then burned the envelope, which was kept consecrated Host. In contrast to the above described, the highest honor the full behavior of women working in a state of necessity, today raises a number of questions related to the increasing activity of women in all areas of the liturgical service (as altar girls, dispensers of Holy Communion, or even as "pastoral assistants"). What should be the limits of women's activism liturgical and what arguments should be used to discourage women from excessive involvement in the service of the altar?

- The role of women in the Church was established by God and is consistent with the laws that God in His wisdom and love enrolled in the unique nature and deeds women. The order of creation of human nature in the two sexes reflects the beauty and complementarity rather than competition. In the supernatural order of the Church's life and the most beautiful master model Christian woman is Mary, the Mother of God. The deepest and most beautiful feature of a woman is motherhood. Christ, the Incarnate God and eternal High Priest took human nature in males and His Wisdom inextricably connected nature of the official priesthood in all its stages and in all forms of the ministry of the male sex, because it symbolizes the spiritual fatherhood of Christ. The degrees of the priesthood of Christ is the presbyterate and episcopate and the quality they provide the highest level of service of the altar. You could say the bishop and the priest are acolytes, altar servers and lectors well. Diaconate in his service of the altar and the word symbolizes the ministry of the episcopate and the priesthood in particular and sacramental form. All other forms of ministry and was ordained a deacon below (subdeacon, acolyte, lector, acolyte) are exercises in the form of a deacon niesakramentalnej and serve to develop the role of the deacon, and ultimately to the priesthood and the episcopate. In accordance with the true universal and timeless tradition of the Church never did not allow women to serve at the altar, and the words of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, which is itself the official liturgy of the priesthood. During the Liturgy of the Hours, which is not the priesthood and the sacrificial liturgy in terms of strictly official, lay people, including women, may, however, act as a teacher. The highest model in the sense of the sacrificial liturgy is strictly official liturgy Last Supper, which was attended by only twelve apostles, and it was not even Mary, the Mother of God. Wieczernikowi Last Supper corresponds to the altar space or "sanctuary" in today's churches. Therefore, during the Liturgy of the Eucharist women have never been active in the altar, but in the nave of the church, because it symbolizes the common priesthood of the nave and the altar together with the space, "sanctuary", creates the whole Church and the whole priesthood of Christ, made up of the ministerial priesthood and the common priesthood of the one body, but essentially performing different roles (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 10).

I would like to inquire about the hygienic aspect of receiving Holy Communion in the mouth. I believe that it is impossible that any disease could be transmitted by the Lord Jesus, who is substantially present in the consecrated Host, and to my knowledge, never in the history of the Church has been accused of causing or spread of any outbreak. Although recently it happened that Holy Communion in the mouth has been temporarily banned, and distribution of Holy Communion in the hand was imposed (sic) by one of the Bishops' Conference of fear of swine flu. As might be expected, the effect of this decision was rapid, drastic loss of respect for the Blessed Sacrament, and even after the ban was lifted above, no longer taking the country's Holy Communion in the mouth due to "concerns about hygiene," which unfortunately dominated by faith in the Real Presence. I would like to ask the bishop if such an epidemic can in general be regarded as a legitimate reason for the introduction of the Holy Communion in the hand? Is the recommendation of the Bishops to take Holy Communion spiritual, it would be an acceptable alternative in case of an epidemic?

- In fact, over two thousand years of Christian liturgy had never heard that the Holy Communion were transmitted diseases or epidemics. It has been proven that the hand contains more bacteria than the language. Everyone uses saliva to make your first disinfecting wounds, but no one is using for this purpose the finger. Hand of the person who takes Holy Communion on the hand, usually many items previously touched upon which is full of bacteria or even dirt: door handles in public transport and in the church, but most of all coins and banknotes. Such unwashed fingers they touch the consecrated Host, Host leaving a huge amount of bacteria and the bacteria Host full quietly put into the mouth. Indeed receiving Holy Communion in the hand is highly unsanitary. If you truly diocesan authorities are guided by "concern about hygiene", should primarily prohibit Holy Communion on the hand. In some rare cases, extremely dangerous epidemics recommendation of receiving Holy Communion spiritual could be an acceptable alternative. Indeed, we need to rediscover and appreciate the fruitful spiritual practice of Holy Communion.

My next question is about how to avoid the risk of sacrilege during Masses celebrated for large gatherings of human and where you can also find people who have not been baptized in the Catholic faith (or even non-Christians) who come to Mass. out of curiosity, and who still receive Holy Communion. Certainly the practice of distributing Holy Communion in the mouth that has restored our beloved Pope Benedict XVI and senior which upheld the Holy Father Francis, is a natural "filter" that can prevent non-Catholics from taking the Body of Christ. What other precautions can be introduced by the priests in situations where the risk of committing sacrilege is too high?

- The Church from the beginning of its historical pilgrimage of the Sacred always keep the Saints, Blessed Sacrament , the Body of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist, according to our Lord's admonition: "Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before swine" (Matthew 7:6) . In the Liturgy of the Eucharist in the early centuries, the liturgy of the word and we all baptized catechumens were sent. Deacon announced: "The catechumens, depart. No catechumen can not stay. " These words are used in the Byzantine liturgy today. In the Church there
Special liturgical ministry "gatekeeper" (ostiariusza), who had to watch carefully that no unbaptized person took Holy Communion and that no person with bad intentions does not distort or profanowała liturgy and sacred place. Common restoration functions and services such doorman is a real need in the whole Church ministry. In the Byzantine liturgy, the person who takes Holy Communion must give your name, you must identify yourself to the priest, who distributes Holy Communion. This method makes the rite of Holy Communion more personal, gives it a family atmosphere and, thus, help prevent profanacjom. [This practice] could also be adapted by the Church of the Latin rite.

Catholics who go to church in Western Europe and wish to receive Holy Communion on the knees and the mouth are sometimes treated by the priests of aversion. It happened to me that, with tears in his eyes had begged the priest to give me Holy Communion in the mouth, as the stubbornly refused. Finally agreed to my request, but it did express disgust. What attitude is, by Your Excellency, more appropriate: always insist and be prepared to reprimand or even a verbal conflict with the priest at the point where we should focus only on our already inside, not the outside (seemingly obvious) available to accept the Lord Jesus? Should we rather decide to adopt similar situations spiritual Holy Communion to avoid situations hurtful breaking our hearts and conscience? Is there any other possible solution?

- The law of the Church is very clear: no priest or bishop has no right to deny Holy Communion to the faithful only because the faithful would take it in a kneeling position and the mouth. This law was written in the "Redemptoris Sacramentum", No. 91 Violation of this standard Church as a "serious offense", see Instruction said, No. 173 Church exhorts his ministers following, serious words: "Every saint minister should also seriously ask if respected law lay faithful who entrust him with trust each other and their children with the belief that all of them for the good of the faithful properly perform the tasks that the Church with the mandate of Christ wants to fill in celebration of the sacred liturgy. Every one should remember that it is a servant of the Sacred Liturgy. "(Redemptoris Sacramentum, No. 186). To deny Holy Communion to the faithful only because he wants to take it on your lap or on the tongue, is a manifestation of the arrogant clericalism and clerical despotism.

For about fifteen years Excellency full priestly and episcopal in Kazakhstan. For many decades, the faithful in the former Soviet Union was not allowed to hear Mass, they were deprived of the benefit of the priests and the sacraments. Missionary priests who came to the area in the nineties of the twentieth century, necessarily Masses celebrated by the new missal, and introduced a number of new, previously unknown liturgical and pastoral practices that were not marked by the old respect for the Blessed Sacrament . As Catholics, who still remember the Old Mass and the religious formation was much more traditional, have adopted these new products?

- The new rite was introduced in the former Soviet Union at the beginning of the seventies. But it was exercised in the spirit of the Old Rite, with deep faith and reverence. In my own parish, to which I belonged in the years 1969-1973 in Tartu, Estonia, Holy Mass was celebrated by the Novus Ordo , but versus Deum , at the main altar, in Latin, Holy Communion was adopted by
balaskach kneeling and on the tongue. So for my parents and for me the difference between the two " ordo "was almost imperceptible. The celebration versus populum was introduced in Kazakhstan in the days of the Soviet Union, but the way the celebration was very pious. It was introduced with profound obedience to the instructions of the Holy See. After the collapse and disintegration of the Soviet Union came there many missionary priests from different countries. Some of these priests introduced liturgical practices contrary to the piety of the faithful and characterizes life inherited from the times of persecution. Such practices were, for example, receiving Holy Communion standing, using guitars and clapping during Mass, sentimental songs and secular songs in melody sung during the liturgy. But, thank God, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Kazakhstan has established a standard to which the only acceptable way of receiving Holy Communion is received in Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue, except for those whose physical condition makes it impossible to kneel.

Could you describe the faith of the Bishop of their flock? Do the faithful in Kazakhstan continues to show greater reverence for the Blessed Sacrament than Catholics in the West? Is their devotion was perhaps too strongly marked by the effects of the atheist regime?

- Catholics in Kazakhstan preserve the precious heritage from the times of persecution, that is, deep faith, great reverence for the liturgy, especially the Holy Eucharist kept clear awareness of sin, because the faithful often make use of the Sacrament of Penance, the great love of prayer, especially Eucharistic adoration , the love and reverence for priests and bishops and a deep sense of reverence for the sacred.

In the Eastern Churches in the twentieth century there have been no drastic ushered liturgical reform. Do you, by observing Bishop, in the churches of these has been preserved reverence for the Eucharistic Christ, it has been eradicated under the influence of Soviet atheism?

- The Eastern Churches, both Catholic and Orthodox, still retain a great honor for the liturgical tradition. Change the liturgy is for them something equivalent to the change of faith. They are deeply rooted in faith and fidelity to the liturgical tradition. They see the liturgy as a sacred treasure that the Church must carefully preserve and pass on to future generations. This attitude of the Eastern Churches, the Orthodox Churches, in particular, is a value that can and should enrich the Latin Church in these days of the Great Depression of the doctrinal and liturgical. It is my experience of the contacts with the clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church. Learning and adoption of the liturgical spirit and loyalty of the Orthodox churches would be one of the best ecumenical gestures on the part of Catholics.

Hey, we show the Lord Jesus, it's never perfect. How can we train ourselves to constantly increase our devotion to Christ? Is the bishop could give us in this regard, a number of practical suggestions?

- First of all, we need to better understand the fullness of the Catholic faith in the Eucharist, in particular the extremely rich documents of the Magisterium. This will be a reading of the lives and examples of the Eucharistic life of the saints and martyrs. We express our faith with clear gestures of reverence, adoration and devotion to the Eucharistic Lord. Very helpful practice
generating spiritual fruit is Eucharistic Adoration. We need to promote Eucharistic adoration in our communities, and even set up a group or guild of worshipers the Eucharist. We also need to comfort our Lord because of the huge and numerous acts of sacrilege and a lack of respect and sacrifice in the spirit of penance through the hands of Blessed Virgin Mary, Woman of the Eucharist, acts of penance and reparation for example the angel who appeared to the children at Fatima.

In conclusion, I would like to ask the bishop is, it is, according to Your Excellency, the definition of the holy priest.

- Holy priest is a priest who is aware of the fact that objectively and ontologically is another Christ, alter Christus , and that the grace of God more each day trying to become an alter Christus , also in your mind, in your intentions, in their words and deeds, in accordance with the spirit and example of Christ, the Eternal High Priest, the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the eternal salvation of immortal souls of men, who do not care for their own profit, but only for the glory of God and the spiritual good of souls. And the biggest help in this process will gain if daily exercise will ever deeper faith and a deeper love of the Mass sacrifice.

Interviewed by Izabella Parowicz

+ Athanasius Schneider, Titular Bishop of Celeriny and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Astana (Kazakhstan) .

Translation of the Holy Scriptures for http://www.nonpossumus.pl/ps/

Read more: http://www.pch24.pl/przed-jego-majestatem-aniolowie-kryja-twarz,18087,i.html#ixzz2iy0bzlwk

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Rethinking Communion in the Hand

Catholic-Pages.com | the catholic home for your browser

By Jude A Huntz


Has the practice of Communion in the hand really strengthened and clarified our faith in the Real Presence?

The time has come to begin to do everything we reasonably and licitly can to discourage the practice of Communion-in-the-Hand. In fact, the time is long past that we started doing this. It is much better to receive Holy Communion in the traditional manner, than it is to receive the Sacred Host into our hands. In Canada and the United States, it is true that one may receive "on the hand," with due precautions, but it is better to receive on the tongue.

Even as we begin, it might immediately be objected: Communion in the hand is fully approved by the Church, and it is disloyal and disrespectful and therefore not allowed even to begin this discussion. In answer to that objection, let us begin with the legal aspects of the question.

1. The legal status of the two methods

It is the law of the universal Church in the Latin Rite (to which most of us belong) that we receive Communion in the traditional manner. To receive on the hand is only an "indult," or concession that is in effect here and there. It does not exist in the greater part of the world. For example, for a while it was allowed in the Philippines, but then the bishops there changed their minds, and rescinded the permission.

Another way of illustrating this same point is to recall that in those countries where the indult for Communion in the hand has been granted by the Holy See, an individual bishop may forbid the practice. But, no bishop has the authority to forbid the traditional way of receiving Communion: on the tongue. Thus from the point of view of liturgical law, the two are very far from equal.

It must be further noted that the relevant legislation "strongly urges and exhorts" us all to receive Communion in the traditional manner, which is officially described as "more reverent." One will search in vain for any encouragement of Communion in the hand on the part of the supreme authority of the Church. Indeed, the only time that it is mentioned in official documents is in a cautionary way. It can be done reverently, but be careful!

In some countries the practice of receiving Communion in the hand has been introduced. This practice has been requested by individual episcopal conferences and has received approval from the Apostolic See. However, cases of a deplorable lack of respect towards the Eucharistic species have been reported, cases which are imputable not only to the individuals guilty of such behaviour but also to the pastors of the church who have not been vigilant enough regarding the attitude of the faithful towards the Eucharist. It also happens, on occasion, that the free choice of those who prefer to continue the practice of receiving the Eucharist on the tongue is not taken into account in those places where the distribution of Communion in the hand has been authorized. It is therefore difficult in the context of this present letter not to mention the sad phenomena previously referred to. This is in no way meant to refer to those who, receiving the Lord Jesus in the hand, do so with profound reverence and devotion, in those countries where this practice has been authorized. (Pope John Paul II, Dominicae Cenae, II)

In Memoriale Domini, which granted the original concession, and in the letter to nuncios which in each and every case accompanied the actual indult (L'instruction "Memoriale Domini"), the permission for Communion in the hand was hedged around with so many precautions, that some have concluded that even in countries where it would seem to be legal, actually, in the larger number of cases, it is still not allowed.

2. The fragments . . .

If we examine the practice of placing the Sacred Host in the hand of the communicant, one dogma of the Church comes immediately to mind:

The Eucharistic presence of Christ begins at the moment of the consecration and endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist. Christ is present whole and entire in each of the species and whole and entire in each of their parts, in such a way that the breaking of the bread does not divide Christ. [Note 205: Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1641.] (CCC, 1377, my emphasis).

The Roman Catechism put it this way:
Christ, whole and entire, is contained not only under either species, but also in each particle of either species. Each, says St. Augustine, receives Christ the Lord, and He is entire in each portion. He is not diminished by being given to many, but gives Himself whole and entire to each . . . . the body of our Lord is contained whole and entire under the least particle of the bread.

Therefore, very great reverence, respect and care is to be taken of these fragments. Since this is the case, why would we multiply immensely the number of persons who are handling the Sacred Host, some of whom are clumsy, or cannot see well, or don't care, or don't know, etc.

To this must be added the increased danger of dropping the Host on the ground and the increased ease of stealing the Body of the Lord for superstitious or horrible purposes.

For those who believe with lively faith, this question ought to be enough to put an end to Communion in the hand: "What about the fragments?"

3. Clericalism?

Is it not a form of clericalism to allow the priest to touch the Sacred Host and to disallow the laity to do the same? But priests are not allowed to touch the Blessed Sacrament except out of necessity. In fact, other than the celebrant of the Mass itself, no one else who is receiving Communion, not even a priest, may do so in the hand. And so, in the traditional liturgical practice of the Roman Rite, if a priest assists at Mass (and is not [con]celebrating) and if he wishes to receive Holy Communion, he does not do so by his own hand: he receives on the tongue from another priest. The same is true of a bishop. The same is true of the Pope himself.

When Pope St. Pius X, for example, was on his death bed in August of 1914, and Holy Communion was brought to him as Viaticum, he did not and was not allowed to receive in the hand: he received on the tongue according to the law and practice of the Catholic Church.

This confirms a basic point: out of reverence, there should be no unnecessary touching of the Sacred Host. Obviously someone is needed to distribute the Bread of Life. But it is not necessary to make each man, woman and child into his own "eucharistic minister" and multiply the handling and fumbling and danger of dropping and loss of fragments. Even those whose hands have been specially consecrated to touch the Most Holy Eucharist, namely the priests, should not do so needlessly.

4. "Communion in the hand" is a misnomer

To place the Sacred Host in the hand of a person is not to give him Holy Communion. The Sacrament of Holy Communion consists in the eating of the Bread of Life. Rather, what is happening here is that each person who receives the Sacred Host in his hand, is then giving himself Holy Communion. Each person is becoming his own (extraordinary-become-ordinary) minister of Communion. By this means the ministry of priests (and deacons) or even that of legitimate extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion is becoming obscured or even dissolved.

5. Some Scriptural considerations . . .

In Holy Communion, we receive the Word-made-Flesh. When Ezekiel received the word of God, in a wonderful yet lesser manner than do we, it was as follows:

And [the Lord] said to me: . . . "But you, son of man, hear what I say to you; be not rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth, and eat what I give you." And when I looked, behold, a hand was stretched out to me, and, lo, a written scroll was in it . . . And He said to me, "Son of man, eat what is offered to you; eat this scroll, and go speak to the house of Israel." So I opened my mouth, and He gave me the scroll to eat ["And I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that book" - Vulgate]. And he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it." Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. (Ezek. 2:1,8,9; 3:1-3, RSV).

It does not say that the prophet stretched out his hand, but that he opened his mouth. And is this not very fitting, since we are to receive the word as little children, whether it be the bread of doctrine or the Bread come down from Heaven.

In another place, in a psalm with clear prophetic, Eucharistic overtones, which is used in the Office of Corpus Christi, the Lord says to us, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it . . . . But Israel I would feed with finest wheat and fill them with honey from the rock." "I will fill it," not "fill it yourselves."

Now admittedly, this is not in itself a proof. But it points us in a certain direction.

Again, it is certainly eminently scriptural to refrain from touching something as a sign of reverence (and not only scriptural, but even universally human). In the case of the Ark of the Covenant, it was absolutely forbidden to touch it, under pain of death. Even when it was "necessary" to do so, as it seemed to one unfortunate ark-bearer, it was still forbidden. And the fellow paid the supreme price for his temerity in reaching out to steady the ark: "When they came to the floor of Machon, Oza put forth his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it because the oxen kicked and made it lean aside. And the indignation of the Lord was enkindled against Oza, and He struck him for his rashness and he died there before the ark of God" (II Sam. 6:6,7). We have greater than the Ark of the Covenant here.

6. The Last Supper

But surely the apostles received Communion in the hand at the last supper? It is usually presumed that this was so. Even if it were, though, we would point out that the apostles were themselves priests, or even, bishops.

But we must not forget a traditional practice of middle-eastern hospitality, which was practiced in Jesus' time and which is still the case: one feeds one's guests with one's own hand, placing a symbolic morsel in the mouth of the guest. And we have scriptural evidence of this as well: our Lord dipped a morsel of bread into some wine, and gave it to Judas. Did he place this wet morsel into Judas's hand? That would be rather messy. Did he not perhaps extend to the one whom he addressed later in the garden as "Friend" the gesture of hospitality spoken of above? And if so, why not with Holy Communion, "giving himself by his own hand."

7. Take and eat . . .

Did not our Lord say of Holy Communion, "Take and eat"? Yes, but these words were addressed to the apostles and not to all Christians indiscriminately. Further, even if these words had been addressed to all the faithful, they are not verified in our standardized way of receiving Holy Communion. Literalism here would require that the priest or other minister merely hold the ciborium while the faithful "took" and ate. But this practice is forbidden. (It has been practiced here and there in violation of liturgical law.)

8. The provenance of Communion in the hand

The origin of the current practice of Communion in the hand in Western Christianity can be traced to the Protestant Revolution, or "Reformation." Some will argue that this was the reintroduction of a formerly universal and venerable practice. We will deal with that idea below. But even if it were the case that this was formerly a practice in the Catholic Church, its introduction in the sixteenth century was hardly orthodox. Rather, it was an embodiment of a denial of the Real Presence as taught by Christ and his Church, and of the reality of the Catholic priesthood. It was a liturgical consequence of a prior heresy.

It is well known that Communion in the hand began spreading during the early nineteen-sixties, in Catholic circles in Holland. It began, then, as an aping of the Protestant practice, or at the very least as a "false archaeologism": an idolization of (supposed) practices of the ancient Church. This involved a forgetfulness (or denial!) of the truth and development of Catholic Eucharistic doctrine to an ever clearer, and ever more explicit form. It involved a rejection of what had in fact been handed down to us in the organic development of the Liturgy. And it was a case of blatant defiance and disobedience of Church law and ecclesiastical authority.

The desire for this practice proceeded neither from the supreme authority of the Church, which was opposed to it, nor from the ranks of Christ's faithful (who by definition hold fast to belief in transubstantiation) who never asked for this practice. Rather it proceeded from some of the middle management of the Church, and the "liturgical establishment" in particular. And this in typical revolutionary fashion.

When it came time to begin pressure for the practice in North America, the means used were not always honest. In fact a measure of deception or at least "mis-information" was involved. It is better to draw a cloak over the sordid details, but if anyone wants to dispute that things were this way, ample documentation can be brought to bear.

We can summarize that the practice of Communion in the hand came in modern times from heresy and disobedience. Is that what the Holy Spirit would inspire to bring about some desired liturgical change? One is permitted to think that perhaps a different spirit was at work.

9. Was it universal?

The history of Communion in the hand is usually told as follows: From the Last Supper on, and during the time of the apostles, Holy Communion was, of course, given in the hand. So it was during the age of the martyrs. And it continued to be so during that golden age of the Fathers and of the liturgy, after the peace of Constantine. Communion in the hand was given to the faithful just as we now do (in the more open and up-to-date sectors of the Church). And it continued to be the common practice until at least the tenth century. Thus for over half of the life of the Church, it was the norm.

A wonderful proof of the above is held to be found in a text of St. Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386) in which he counsels the faithful to "make a throne of your hands in which to receive the King [in Holy Communion]." This Father of the Church further counsels great care for any fragments which might remain in one's hands, since just as one wouldn't let gold dust fall to the ground so one should take even greater care when it is a question of the Body of the Lord.

According to the popular rendition, the change in the manner of receiving the consecrated bread came about in this way: During the Middle Ages, there were certain distortions in the faith, and/or in the approach to the faith, which took place and which gradually developed. These include an excessive fear of God and related preoccupation with sin, judgment and punishment; an overemphasis on the divinity of Christ which was virtually a denial of or at least downplaying of his sacred humanity; an overemphasis on the role of the priest in the sacred liturgy; and a loss of the sense of the community which the Church, in fact, is.

In particular, because of excessive emphasis on adoration of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, and a too strict approach to moral matters, Holy Communion became more and more rare. It was considered sufficient to gaze upon the Sacred Host during the elevation. (In fact, this decadent practice of the "elevation"-so the mainstream treatment of this period continues-and the equally unhealthy Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament find their origins during these unfortunate Middle Ages, a period whose liturgical practices we would do well to rid ourselves of).

It was in this atmosphere and under these circumstances that the practice of Communion in the hand began to be restricted. The practice of the priest placing the consecrated bread directly into the mouth of the communicant developed and -sad to say- was imposed.

The conclusion is rather clear: we should get rid of this custom whose roots are to be found in the dark ages. We should forbid or at least discourage this practice of not allowing the faithful to "take and eat," and return to the pristine usage of the Fathers and of the apostles: Communion in the hand.

It is a compelling story. It is too bad that it is not true.

The Sacred Council of Trent declared that the custom of only the priest who is celebrating the Mass giving Communion to himself (with his own hands), and the laity receiving it from him, is an Apostolic Tradition.1

A more rigorous study of the available evidence from Church History and from the writings of the Fathers does not support the assertion that Communion in the hand was a universal practice which was gradually supplanted and eventually replaced by the practice of Communion on the tongue.

Rather, the facts seem to point to a different conclusion.

Pope St. Leo the Great (440-461), already in the fifth century, is an early witness of the traditional practice. In his comments on the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, he speaks of Communion in the mouth as the current usage: "One receives in the mouth what one believes by faith."2 The Pope does not speak as if he were introducing a novelty, but as if this were a well-established fact.

A century and a half later, but still three centuries before the practice (according to the popular account reviewed above) was supposedly introduced, Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-604) is another witness. In his dialogues (Roman 3, c. 3) he relates how Pope St. Agapito performed a miracle during the Mass, after having placed the Body of the Lord into someone's mouth. We are also told by John the Deacon of this Pope's manner of giving Holy Communion.

These witnesses are from the fifth and the sixth centuries. How can one reasonably say that Communion in the hand continued as the official practice until the tenth century? How can one claim that giving Communion on the tongue is a medieval invention?

We are not claiming that under no circumstances whatever did the faithful receive by their own hands. But, under what conditions did this happen? It does seem that from very early on it was usual for the priest to place the Sacred Host into the mouth of the communicant. However, during times of persecution, when priests were not readily available, and when the faithful took the Sacrament to their homes, they gave Communion to themselves, by their own hand. In other words, rather than be totally deprived of the Bread of Life, they could receive by their own hand, when not to do so would mean being deprived of that necessary spiritual nourishment. The same applied to monks who had gone out into the desert where they would not have the services of a priest, and would not want to give up the practice of daily Communion.

To summarize, the practice was that one could touch the Host when not to do so would mean being deprived of the Sacrament. But when a priest was available, one did not receive in one's hand.

So St. Basil (330-379) says clearly that to receive Communion by one's own hand is only permitted in times of persecution or, as was the case with monks in the desert, when no deacon or priest was available to give it. "It is not necessary to show that it does not constitute a grave fault for a person to communicate with his own hand in a time of persecution when there is no priest or deacon" (Letter 93, my emphasis). The text implies that to receive in the hand under other circumstances, outside of persecution, would be a grave fault.3 The saint based his opinion on the custom of the solitary monks, who reserved the Blessed Sacrament in their dwellings, and, in the absence of the priest or deacon, gave themselves Communion.

In his article on "Communion" in the Dictionaire d'Archeologie Chretienne, LeClerq declares that the peace of Constantine was bringing the practice of Communion in the hand to an end. This reaffirms for us the reasoning of St. Basil that it was persecution that created the alternative of either receiving by hand or not receiving at all.

After persecution had ceased, evidently the practice of Communion in the hand persisted here and there. It was considered by Church authority to be an abuse to be rid of, since it was deemed to be contrary to the custom of the apostles.

Thus the Council of Rouen, which met in 650, says, "Do not put the Eucharist in the hands of any layman or laywomen but only in their mouths." The Council of Constantinople which was known as in trullo (not one of the ecumenical councils held there) prohibited the faithful from giving Communion to themselves (which is of course what happens when the Sacred Particle is placed in the hand of the communicant). It decreed an excommunication of one week's duration for those who would do so in the presence of a bishop, priest or deacon.

Of course, the promoters of "Communion in the hand" generally make little mention of the evidence we have brought forward. They do, however, make constant use of the text attributed to St. Cyril of Jerusalem, who lived in the fourth century at the same time as St. Basil.

Henri LeClerq summarized things as follows: "Saint Cyril of Jerusalem recommended to the faithful that on presenting themselves to receive Communion, they should have the right hand extended, with their fingers together, supported by the left hand, and with the palm a little bit concave; and at the moment in which the Body of Christ was deposited in the hand, the communicant would say: Amen."

There is more to this text than just the above, however. It also goes on to propose the following: "Sanctify your eyes with contact with the Holy Body . . . . When your lips are still wet, touch your hand to your lips, and then pass you hand over your eyes, your forehead and your other senses, to sanctify them." This rather odd (or even superstitious? Irreverent?) recommendation has caused scholars to question the authenticity of this text. Some think that perhaps there has been an interpolation, or that it is really the saint's successor who wrote it.

It is not impossible that the text is really the work of the Patriarch John, who succeeded Cyril in Jerusalem. But this John was of suspect orthodoxy. This we know from the correspondence of St. Epiphanius, St. Jerome, and St. Augustine. So, in favor of Communion in the hand we have a text of dubious origin and questionable content. And on the other hand, we have reliable witnesses, including two great popes, that placing the Sacred Host in the mouth of the communicant was already common and unremarkable in at last the fifth century.
10. Who promotes Communion in the hand?

(This argument might be accused of the logical fallacy of "guilt by association." But that argument is not necessarily false.) Those in the mainstream liturgical establishment (and their followers) who promote Communion in the hand are the same persons who, for the most part, have a distaste in general for worship of the Lord in the Holy Eucharist, and perpetual adoration in particular. A due, strong emphasis on the personal, bodily Real Presence of Christ our God in Holy Communion is not something which modern liturgists are noted for. Indeed, they even discourage it. Our attention is to be on the community, they say. In general, we can apply to the distorters (knowing and unknowing) of the Catholic doctrine and practice with respect to the Mass the following words of G. K. Chesterton: they are guilty of "the idolatry of the intermediate to the oblivion of the ultimate." Well, these are the promoters of Communion in the hand. And they dislike and discourage the traditional manner of reception. Why?

11. Communion in the hand is too casual

What kind of foods do we eat with our hands? Often, in our "culture," it is food to which one pays no attention. We eat pop-corn with our hands, paying it no attention while our eyes are fixed on the movie screen. We munch on snacks at a party, while engaged in conversation. Particularly with children, but not only with them, this seems to be a very unwise thing to associate with the Most Holy Eucharist.

12. To possess and control God?

It is consoling to hear our Creator say to us, "I have carved you in the palm of My hand." It is of primary importance to recall that "He made us, we belong to him." But what is Communion in the hand saying at a symbolic level?

Often something is placed in our hands as a sign of ownership and control. The consummation of the purchase of a new home or automobile is in the handing over of the keys. We might even toss them in the air and triumphantly catch them. But should we take him (unnecessarily) into our hands whom the earth and the sea cannot contain?

13. Authentic inter-ritual and ecumenical considerations

If we glance around the Catholic world, at the twenty-one rites of the true Church, we must ask, "how do they receive Holy Communion?" If the present writer is not wrong, they do not or hardly ever receive Communion in their hands. And under those rare circumstances that they do, on particular days, they receive in a far different manner than ourselves, taking pains to purify their hands both before and after.

We must further ask if some of the propaganda in favor of Communion in the hand, on the part of modern liturgists, is not deeply offensive to our fellow Catholics, such as when the traditional manner of receiving Communion is said to be "childish" (or when intinction is criticized).

And if we take a look at those of our separated brethren who share with us an explicit, and orthodox belief if the Holy Eucharist, we must ask ourselves: "How do they receive Communion?" Further, is true Christian unity promoted by the present decadent state of our Eucharistic practice, of which a significant part is Communion in the hand?

14. Its fruits . . .

We must be rigorously honest with ourselves. Has this practice really strengthened and clarified our faith in the Real Presence? Has it resulted in greater prayerfulness, greater love, and a more abundant fraternal charity? Are we as a people more and more awe-struck at taking the Lord's Body into our hands?

At least one fruit has manifestly not come from the introduction of this practice. And this is a feature also of the larger liturgical reform in general: unity has been injured. It seems to this writer, at least, that Communion in the hand must share part of the blame for the decline among Catholics in belief in the Real Presence.

15. The Pope . . . and Mother Teresa of Calcutta

It is well known that the Holy Father is not a promoter of Communion in the hand. In his native Poland, the practice is still illicit, as indeed it is at the level of the universal Church. It was also illicit until very recently in the Vatican Basilica. And he has even refused to do it in countries where the practice has been granted by the Holy See.

The most remarkable example of this last is the time when the wife of the President of France, Madame Giscard d'Estaing approached the Pope for Holy Communion with hands outstretched. He ignored those hands and placed the Sacred Host into her (astonished) mouth. (Actually, she need not have been astonished; explicit instructions had been given that the Pope would not give Communion in the hand.)

The Missionaries of Charity have no qualms about touching Christ in the guise of the poor, lifting him out of the gutters, and cleaning his maggot infested wounds. They choose, however, not to touch him in his Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. All of Mother Teresa's sisters are united both in their many hours of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and in their manner of reception of Holy Communion: on the tongue.

Mother Teresa herself evidently regards the practice in a somewhat negative light:

I will tell you a secret, since we have just a thousand close friends together, and also because we have the Missionaries of Charity with us, whom the Holy Spirit has sent into the world that the secrets of many hearts might be revealed. Not very long ago I said Mass and preached for their Mother, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and after breakfast we spent quite a long time talking in a little room. Suddenly, I found myself asking her-I don't know why-"Mother, what do you think is the worst problem in the world today?" She more than anyone could name any number of candidates: famine, plague, disease, the breakdown of the family, rebellion against God, the corruption of the media, world debt, nuclear threat, and so on. Without pausing a second she said, "Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand."4

Thomas Aquinas reminds us that reverence demands that only what has been consecrated should touch the Blessed Sacrament. By baptism, the Christian has been consecrated to receive the Lord in Holy Communion, but not to distribute the Sacred Host to others or unnecessarily to touch it. "To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained, one which indicates an active participation in the ministry of the Eucharist" (Dominicae Cenae, 11).

A practical course of action ought to be undertaken or these reflections would be next to useless. A minimal thing to do would be to broadcast far and wide the legal status of Communion in the hand and the urgent desire of the Church that we in fact not receive Communion in that manner. A thorough and well understood catechesis in the integral Catholic Faith should lead to a rejection of the practice. In particular, we should include a renewed and due emphasis on the Divinity of Christ, the burning love of his Sacred Heart for us, the Real Presence and the adoration due it, and the need for reparation.

Adult converts and catechumens and children preparing for First Communion have habitually been denied in many places even knowing about the traditional manner of receiving the Lord, let alone being allowed to choose that method. Without coercion, they should gently be guided towards what is objectively superior and a very important safeguard for their delicate faith.

Priests should refuse "Communion in the hand" unless it is manifestly being done with great care and correctness, including astute attention to the fragments. They should question their penitents as to their manner of receiving the Sacred Host, and, if the penitent receives in the hand, he should be encouraged to at least think about a healthy change for the better.

We have of course not argued that Communion in the hand is in itself evil or sacrilegious. And, together with the Pope we acknowledge that it can be done with reverence and care. But this practice has been the occasion of great harm to the Church and to souls. It has expedited "indifference, outrages and sacrileges" towards Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

It is implicated in the manifest lessening of faith in the Real Presence which we see in our times.

Reparation is needed. In addition to heartfelt prayer, let us make every effort, according to the light which the Lord has given us, and according to our state in life, and our resources, to contribute to the day when it will only be a reference in the history books.

1 Sess. 13, c. 8: "Now as to the reception of the sacrament, it was always the custom in the Church of God, that laymen should receive the communion from priests; but that priests when celebrating should communicate themselves; which custom, as coming down from an apostolical tradition, ought with justice and reason to be retained." In sacramentale autem sumptione semper in Ecclesia Dei mos fuit, ut laici a Sacerdotibus communionem acciperent; Sacerdotes autem celebrantes seipsos communicarent: qui mos, tamquam ex traditione Apostolica descendens, jure, ac merito retinere debet.

2 "Hoc enim ore sumiter quod fide creditur." Serm. 91.3.

3 Just as if I were to say, "It is not a grave fault to miss Mass on a Sunday, if one has to take care of sick person." This implies (what we already know) that when there is no such excusing cause, it would be a grave fault.

4 Fr. George William Rutler, Good Friday, 1989, sermon at St. Agnes Church, New York City.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Stages of Sin from St. Bernard of Clairvaux – Fasten Your Seatbelt!

There are just times when a saint speaks and one is stunned by the insight, the piercing analysis, like a surgeon’s scalpel dividing diseased from healthy tissue. Such is the case with a quote I read recently from St. Bernard that Ralph Martin references in his Book “The Fulfillment of all desires.”

In this quote Bernard analyzes the descent into the increasing darkness of sin experienced by those who do not turn back, who refuse to hear the call to repent. And not individuals only, but, I would argue, cultures too.

St. Bernard’s quote is long enough that I can only make brief comments. But consider it first in total, and then in stages. Here is the full quote:

"If this cold once penetrates the soul when (as so often happens) the soul is neglectful and the spirit asleep and if no one (God forbid) is there to curb it, then it reaches into the soul’s interior, descends to the depths of the heart and the recesses of the mind, paralyzes the affections, obstructs the paths of counsel, unsteadies the light of judgment, fetters the liberty of the spirit, and soon – as appears to bodies sick with fever – a rigor of the mind takes over: vigor slackens, energies grow languid, repugnance for austerity increases, fear of poverty disquiets, the soul shrivels, grace is withdrawn, time means boredom, reason is lulled to sleep, the spirit is quenched, the fresh fervor wanes away, a fastidious lukewarmness weighs down, brotherly love grows cold, pleasure attracts, security is a trap, old habits return. Can I say more? The law is cheated, justice is rejected, what is right is outlawed, the fear of the Lord is abandoned. Shamelessness finally gets free rein. There comes that rash leap, so dishonorable, so disgraceful, so full of ignominy and confusion; a leap from the heights into the abyss, from the court-yard to the dung-heap, from the throne to the sewer, from heaven to the mud, from the cloister to the world, from paradise to hell. (sermon 63.6b on the Song of Songs, The Fox in the Vineyard)."

And now consider the stages, with brief comments by me to them along the way. Fasten your Seat belts, turbulence ahead.

1. If this cold once penetrates the soul when (as so often happens) the soul is neglectful and the spirit asleep - For it too easily happens that we are morally or spiritually asleep. And this provides doorways for the evil one, for the world, the flesh, and the devil. Jesus warns, Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matt 26:41). And yet we love to sleep. We also love to anesthetize ourselves with alcohol, drugs, and other diversions. Jesus says in one of the parables that he sowed good seed in his field, But while everyone was sleeping, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away (Matt 13:25). We love to sleep. Bad stuff happens when we are spiritually and morally asleep.

2. and if no one (God forbid) is there to curb it, then it reaches into the soul’s interior, descends to the depths of the heart and the recesses of the mind - If we are smart, we walk in spiritual company with the Church, and with close spiritual friends and spiritual leaders in the Church. Even if, at times we get sleepy, they rouse us and warn us. But too many do not do this and if they pray at all they are lone rangers and many drift from or discount the voice of the Church and family members. Thus, in our weakness there is no one, by our own fault, to warn us, or if some one does, we ignore or ridicule them. Thus the darkness of sin reaches deeper into our interior.

3. paralyzes the affections, - our desires being to go awry first. Our desire for spiritual things is shutting down.

4. obstructs the paths of counsel, The darkness of sin makes good counsel seem difficult at first, obnoxious later. For example, one may begin to wonder, “Why does it matter if I go to Mass or not? What’s the big deal….Why is looking at a little porn so bad….why is the Church so “uptight” about stuff?”

5. unsteadies the light of judgment - Severed from good counsel our judgments become poor and self serving.

6. fetters the liberty of the spirit - The (human) spirit is that part of us that opens us to God, that delights in the truth and in goodness. But as the flesh begins to dominate, the spirit’s influence is diminished and its “liberty” to move within us to draw us to the good, true and beautiful, is hindered.

7. and soon – as appears to bodies sick with fever – a rigor of the mind takes over: – Our thoughts become distorted, stinking thinking begins to masquerade as sensible. As St. Paul says of the Gentiles of his time that, having suppressed the truth, they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools (Rom 1:21-22)

8. vigor slackens - What was once virtuous, i.e. a good habit and easy to do, now seems hard and one lacks strength or vigor to do good.

9. energies grow languid - Without the enthusiasm of an alive spirit infused with grace we begin to lack the energy to do what is good and right. It all seems so much harder, so much effort!

10. repugnance for austerity increases - As the spirit goes more into a coma and the flesh becomes more demanding, any limits to pleasure make us wince and get angry. It is almost like a gluttony wherein the stomach is stretched and must have a bigger meal each time to satisfy. Never, satisfied, the flesh demands more and more, and any notion of limits causes anger and avoidance.

11. fear of poverty disquiets – The more we get, the more we have to loose and the less secure we feel. The world and the flesh now have in their grip through fear. Poverty is freeing, but wealth enslaves. You can’t steel from a man who has nothing to loose, you can’t intimidate him. But a rich person, a person rooted in the world has too much to loose and is thus disquieted by even the most benign of threats. The laborer’s sleep is sweet, whether he has eaten little or much; but the rich man’s wealth will not let him sleep at all. (Eccles 4:11)

12. the soul shrivels - Just as any part of the body which is underused begins to atrophy (weaken and shrink) so too the soul and its faculties, increasingly unused, recede, grow weak and go dormant.

13. grace is withdrawn - as sin grows serious, now mortal sin robs the soul of graces.

14. time means boredom - without spiritual insight, boredom is sure to follow. Nothing has real meaning. Even the delights of the flesh, now so demanded, fail to satisfy. Scripture says regarding a soul in this state: All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor is the ear filled with hearing. That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun (Eccles 1:8-9)

15. reason is lulled to sleep - foolish thinking is not seen for what it is. One cannot follow the path of simple logic or reason because the flesh feel threatened by it. Sins of the flesh are not the most serious of sins (sins of the spirit are) but they are the most disgraceful because of their capacity to cloud the mind.

16. the spirit is quenched - The human spirit becomes increasingly dead.

17. the fresh fervor wanes away - Even good days, spiritually speaking are fewer and fewer.

18. a fastidious lukewarmness weighs down - one actually begins to cultivate mediocrity, compromise and to celebrate it as open-minded, tolerant and avoiding “extremes.”

19. brotherly love grows cold - Was it Camus or Sartre who said, “Hell is other people.” Yes, sin is growing very deep now, the world is closing in on an increasingly petty object: “Me.”

20. pleasure attracts - It always has, but now inordinately and with greater and greater power.

21. security is a trap - In other words it is a lie. This world is a thief. It takes back everything, no matter what the John Hancock Insurance Co. says. But increasingly the sinful soul prefers lies to truth, even knowing deep down that they are lies.

22. old habits return - If one had made progress in virtue, now it erodes.

23. Can I say more? The law is cheated – In other words, legalism and minimalism becomes a tactic. One seeks the “least expensive” interpretation of everything, parses words, and uses every trick to see how the clearly manifest will of God is either not clear, does not apply or how it can be observed in the most perfunctory of ways. One will often collect experts to tickle their ears. Whatever it takes to cheat the law, skirt the edges and reinterpret clear norms.

24. justice is rejected – After cheating the law the next step down is just to reject it outright. The person does not care what God says. They now begin to exult the imperial autonomous self saying in effect that they will do what they want and they will decide if it is right or wrong.

25. what is right is outlawed, - next comes trying to outlaw others from proclaiming the truth. Call what they say “hate speech” fine them, arrest them make them answer in court. Banish the truth from schools and the public square. Demonize and criminalize all possible ways of proclaiming the truth.

26. the fear of the Lord is abandoned - The delusion that one will never face consequences of judgement for what they do is embraced. They will answer to God, but they deny it and are permitted a very deep delusion that they will never have to answer for what they do.

27. Shamelessness finally gets free rein Things that ought to cause shame, and used to do so are now celebrated. Scripture laments them saying, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them (Rom 1:32). The celebration of sin, even the exultation of it as virtue shows that the darkness is now complete, the fall reaches as cracking and crushing thud. St Bernard describes it this way:

There [has come] that rash leap, so dishonorable, so disgraceful, so full of ignominy and confusion; a leap from the heights into the abyss, from the court-yard to the dung-heap, from the throne to the sewer, from heaven to the mud, from the cloister to the world, from paradise to hell.

Pay attention to what the Saints say. There are some who will no doubt dismiss this post as negative etc. I am more concerned if it is true, rather than negative (or positive). My own experience as Pastor, teacher, disciple, sinner and denizen of the world, is that St. Bernard is right on target and has given us a kind of diagnostic manual of the progression of the disease know as sin. Read this, ponder it, consider your own life, and consider too the lives of people you love.

Disease unattended has a way of moving deeper in stages to become grave if we do not soberly assess its presence and power and use the medicines of the Prayer, Scripture, Sacraments, and Fellowship with the Church (cf Acts 2:42).