Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Food For Thought

So I got my weekly copy of The Tablet in today -- I've got a piece in there about the grand jury report in Philadelphia. As always, the pages of the World's Best Catholic Paper made my week.

An article ran in last week's edition musing about an accidentally spilt chalice. This week, a letter about the column appeared from a Scottish priest which makes for very compelling and beneficial reading.

It will challenge many of you, but it's an appropriate discussion in these days of a Synod on the Eucharist.
[The column] recalls stories of priests who risked and sometimes lost their lives trying to "rescue" the Blessed Sacrament from a burning church, when a moment's reflection would have made clear that Christ could no more be burned in a fire than he is drowned at the purification of the chalice.

Sadly, respect for the Real Presence of Christ continues to be tinged and tainted by what the Dutch theologian Godefridus Snoek calls "pious and pseudo-historical meanderings of the ecclesiastical mind."

The Council of Trent made it quite clear that it is not Reservation, Exposition or Benediction, much less Forty Hours Adoration, which is the reason for the institution of the Blessed Sacrament, but Holy Communion -- "instituted in order that it might be received" (ut sumatur, institutum) cf.Dz 878.

The more the independence of the eucharistic cult, from the reception of Communion within a community Mass, has gathered pace, the more the reverence has been transmuted into awe and sometimes fear -- and this in turn has spilled back into the Mass. To gather up any visible crumbs after Communion, as at the feeding of the five thousand, is reverence -- to worry about any others is scruples, and misplaced veneration. The primacy of the Real Presence is as a working sacrament; it is good that in a recent Instruction to the bishops the Holy See has reminded us that the two candles and simple genuflections at Mass are not to be improved upon for Benediction.
OK, so who's gonna take issue with Trent?



Blogger Jimmy Mac said...

When I was a young'un making my First Holy Communion in the late 1940s, we were told in no uncertain terms that, if the host happened to stick to the roof of your mouth, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES were you allowed to touch it and work it loose. To do so was to hurt Jesus!!!! Talk about inspiring superstitious fear and trembling in a bunch of 7 year olds.

Objectification of a communal action, i.e., the Eucharist, results in excesses and superstition.

5/10/05 23:27  
Blogger Ephraem said...

I understand the dangers of the reification of Grace, but Action does imply Presence. The erosion of an "ontological density" in the Laity's understanding of the holy Eucharist is a grave problem.

Yes there is some pious silliness! I've encountered it. I've also encountered a sinister and impious silliness that goes out of its way to shock the Eucharistic sensibilities of the Faithful in the name of updating. The latter is far more destructive and more more widespread than the former, which is why I'm ready to put up with the occasional odd but well-meaning piety but walk sadly away from the sneering Zwinglianism of much modern Eucharistic theology especially in its populist forms.

6/10/05 01:55  
Blogger Gotpraecht said...

The use of "ut sumatur" in the article in the Tablet (also my favourite Catholic newspaper) was, I'm afraid to say, slightly dodgy.

The chapter in which it appears (Chapter 5; DS878) is entitled "On the worship and veneration to be offered to this most holy sacrament" and it's in fact a defence against the reformers' attacks on "circumgestation" (i.e. the cult of the Eucharist outside the Mass and particularly the Corpus Christi processions).

So the sentence is: Neque enim ideo minus est adorandum, quod fuerit a Christo Domino, ut sumatur institutum i.e. "So it is no less to be adored because Christ instituted it in order for it to be eaten [i.e. the reformers' claim]." It then goes on to defend eucharistic processions etc.

Canon 6 (DS 888) then anathematises those who attack the adoration of the Eucharist, including the processions and other venerations.

It's important to recognise that decrees and canons of Trent are committee documents. They balance the concerns of various kinds of theology and pastoral priority represented in the committees of theologians and among the bishops.

So there certainly was a desire to re-emphasise congregational communion, and the Tridentine treatment of the private Mass is quite lukewarm. The inclusion of ut sumatur is significant, because there were Catholic theologians in the period who emphasised the sacrificial dimension of the Eucharist at the expense of communion. On the other hand, Trent is careful to balance that against a wholehearted affirmation of the medieval eucharist cultus.

In striking that judicious balance, I think Trent does set us all an example.

6/10/05 05:49  
Blogger Petra said...

A bit off:

I recently read your piece about St Blog's that appeared in The Tablet some weeks ago, and I must say, I was extremely disappointed. You made the Catholic blogosphere seem like a bunch of wackos with their knives in their fists, prepared to slay everyone they don't like. Well, of course there are sometimes harsher voices on the blogosphere, but my own experience was rather that very many people in St Blog's are extremely thoughtful and prepared to repent if they have shown lack of charity. Most bloggers are very far from the red-eyed fanatics you suggested, but rather prayerful, well-read people deeply in love with Jesus Christ and His Church.

6/10/05 09:22  
Blogger John Hearn said...


Rocco has a bit of the tabloid writer in him, so he falls pray to fits of exaggeration from time to time. But he is otherwise so fun to read (even when he is wrong) that I for one choose to forgive him these little extravagances.

6/10/05 14:34  
Blogger Ben said...

Jimmy Mac... you don't believe do ya. Jesus Christ's Body and Blood, the same Body and Blood which hung on the Holy Cross for us, is present there on the Holy Alter concecrated by the Priest (whether with a congregation or BY HIMSELF) and Jesus' True Flesh remains there until it no longer has the properties of bread. I hope this doesn't sound too excessive or superstitious... Because it is the Catholic Faith that comes down from the Apostles. (which of course came from Jesus, that is, GOD Himself.

6/10/05 15:09  

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