Thursday, November 18, 2010
His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI: Church is Experiencing a Eucharistic Springtime
We've written about the "spirit" of Vatican II having such a deleterious effect upon the Church beginning in the late 1960's and continuing well into the 1990's. You can see it's effects particularly on Religious Life, and its so-called "renewal" which really amounted to "decline and fall." The same thing happened with Church attendance. While there are many reasons for what happened, one must also assign the "deconstruction" mentality that persisted in not a few "reformers" who thought the "spirit" of Vatican II would lead to a "springtime" of renewal in the Church. They were wrong, dead wrong.
Last night I was speaking with a parishioner who told me that in the early 1960's at my parish, 40 hours devotion as well as other devotions would garner a packed Church for these events. Usually these devotions were very "Eucharistic" oriented and included Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
But for some strange reason, the "spirit" of Vatican II crowd thought devotions detracted from the primary form of Catholic worship, the Mass and that the only reason devotions were popular and well attended was the fact that these were in the vernacular whereas the Mass prior to Vatican II was less participative (although 90% of Catholics attended Mass) and so devotions were needed for English participation. Once the Mass went to English, who needed devotions? The English Mass became the end all and be all of Catholic life. Devotions were denigrated, eliminated and mocked, especially novenas, Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Rosary. These left the scene almost entirely so much so that about three generations of Catholics knew or know very little about these. On top of that Mass attendance is down to about 30% of Catholics.
When I was in the seminary in the 1970's, devotions were unheard of. The Mass was the only thing we prayed and the Liturgy of the Hours. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was suspect although the Sacrament was reserved in a separate chapel of our main chapel, but few prayed there and the ones who did were mocked as pre-Vatican II. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was never celebrated when I was there except for one time and this was protested by not a few of the priest-faculty! The Eucharist is Food and Drink to be eaten and drunk, not adored or "looked" at was their now tired mantra.
Thank goodness that common sense and popular piety are returning to the Church. In Macon, we have a perpetual adoration Chapel, weekly Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament in context of Evening Prayer and the Holy Rosary daily following our 8:00 AM Mass.
In many Churches throughout our diocese and elsewhere the tabernacle is being placed in a more prominent area of the sanctuary once again, sometimes dead center behind the main altar. No longer are we so stupid to think that having the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle during the celebration of Mass will lead to the decline and fall of the proper theology of the Mass. In fact, when the tabernacle is placed dead center in the sanctuary an increase of faith, hope and love begins to be experienced and a renewed appreciation for the Real Presence in all Christ's forms is renewed during the celebration of Mass.
This is what Pope Benedict said yesterday concerning the new springtime of Eucharistic devotion through out the world:
"Recalling St. Juliana of Cornillon, let us also renew our faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and let us assist in a very strong renewal of the Eucharist throughout the world." These were the words of the Pope who, in his general audience catechesis today, presented the life and work of this thirteenth century saint. Benedict XVI said that Pope Urban IV, an admirer of the saint, established the feast of Corpus Christi in 1264, the year after the miracle of Bolsena. Benedict XVI also noted that we are experiencing a Eucharistic springtime in the Church. Many people, he said, are placing themselves in silence before the Tabernacle to spend time in conversation with Jesus Christ. The Pope said it is consoling to know that many groups of young people have rediscovered the beauty of prayer and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. "I pray," he said, "that this "Eucharistic springtime" will continue to spread to all parishes, particularly in Belgium, the birthplace of St. Juliana."
(Concerning the post I had from the New York Times and faux priests celebrating "mass" in Belgium, it is interesting that the Holy Father singles out Belgium for this recovery of Eucharistic adoration.)