Tuesday, November 4, 2014

THE LOSS OF CATHOLIC FAITH THAT LEADS TO THE LOSS OF CATHOLICS! 88% OF CATHOLICS DO NOT ATTEND MASS IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK!

Does this method of distributing Holy Communion create more reverence and true belief in the Real Presence of Christ?

Does this method of distributing Holy Communion communicate the same piety, reverence and ultimately the Church's teaching on the Real Presence as the above two photos and thus support Catholic identity or does it erode the communicant's belief in the Real Presence, not only of receiving Christ, but that Christ is God, the Supreme Being?


Driving to Macon this morning I was listening to Gus Lloyd of the Catholic Channel's "Seize the Day." Part of the conversation focused on all the church closing in the Archdiocese of New York.

The bottom line is that only 12% of Catholics attend Sunday Mass regularly in that Archdiocese. One can't maintain all the parishes with that number of Catholics attending. Put another way, 88% of the Catholics in the Archdiocese of New York DON'T  attend Mass!

I continue to wonder if there is a way to poll Catholics who no longer practice as to the reasons why. We know of some anecdotal evidence mostly based upon disagreement with the Church's sexual morality teachings, especially artificial birth control. But is there more to it than just poor preaching and insensitive priests who don't have pastoral skills?

Any survey has to take into account what Vatican II did to strong Catholics and Catholic families in the 1960's and 70's and the deleterious effect of experimentation with the liturgy and loss of a strong Catholic identity as well as authoritativeness of the Magisterium of that period.

This part will be more difficult because the current generation of ambivalent Catholics came from strongly unambiguous Catholic families in the 1950's and early 60's, but now this is the third generation and for some 4th generation!

The old saying which I think is true is "Fix the Liturgy, Fix the Church."

I wonder for those who don't attend Mass, apart from moral disagreements with official Church teachings, if there isn't more. IS THERE SIMPLY A LOSS OF CATHOLIC FAITH IN THE VERY FOUNDATION OF WHAT MAKES US CATHOLIC, OUR SACRAMENTS, ESPECIALLY THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE MOST HOLY SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR?

How many Catholics actually believe they receive the Risen Lord, His glorified Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion. If they don't believe in this outright (I am sure many wonder but strive to believe and actually do) why is it they don't believe?

My intuition tells me that we have destroyed for the most part the supports to this Faith Reality which can never be proven in any other way than how we treat the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist.

These are my hunches for the loss of Catholic Faith in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar:

1. Communion Standing, receiving on the run and in the hand! It has become a casual object and everyone comes forward and receives. Some receive in the hand very reverently, but many, many don't and seem clueless about Who they are receiving. 

2. The loss of the traditional piety and reverence associated with the pre-Vatican II Mass which is illustrated in #1 in terms of the manner in which Catholics receive today but beyond that too.

3. Allowing anyone to handle the Sacred. Indiscriminate selection of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion who may or may not witness to their Catholic Faith in their daily lives or simply don't believe what the Church teaches about the Eucharist and no real "seminary" program to screen and train these extraordinary ministers.

A year or so ago I met with a young gentleman who went to 12 years of Catholic school, Mass every Sunday, was an altar boy until 12th grade who said to me at the age of 21 that he didn't believe in the Real Presence of Christ in Holy Communion as the Church teaches it! How common is this with today's Millennial generation?

I had ingrained in me as a pre-Vatican II child that no matter how horribly the Mass was celebrated, how terrible the homily, how corrupt the priest, how awful the music, that if the Mass was valid, Christ's sacrifice was made present and His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity could be received worthily by Catholics. That was the bottom line.

Do modern Catholics have this same conviction. If so, why so and if not, why not?

Just one more anecdotal item from my glorious life: when I was child and prior to Vatican II, receiving Holy Communion was always a big deal to me. I went to the altar railing with fear and trembling, made sure that if I had any doubt about the advisability that I should receive, like maybe accidentally swallowing toothpaste or a particle of food between my teeth from three hours earlier I swallowed or maybe I should have gone to confession first but wasn't sure I had actually had an unforgiven mortal sins,  that I said a good act of contrition prior to receiving.

And then when I knelt to receive and received on the tongue, I prayed "my Lord and my God!" and was conscious not to chew but also not to allow the Host to dissolve completely but at just the right time I would swallow and consume the Host and God forbid it the Sacred Host got caught on the roof of my mouth and I couldn't dislodge it before our Lord was completely dissolved and gone! My heart would race in fact if this happened.

When I watch our school children today come forward, receive in the hand, pop the Host in their mouth as they depart I really wonder what their feelings and sentiments are at this most sacred time. I doubt that they have the sense of awe and reverence I had at their age or that they approach Holy Communion with the same sense of holy fear and trembling!




52 comments:

JusadBellum said...

I suggest everyone watch this short 6 minute clip of Fr. Barron talking about 'dumbed down' Catholicism.

How we expect teens to be capable of reading highly technical material and assimilating it, understanding it, memorizing it....but then when it comes to catechism we give them coloring books and crayons.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZkPH1rOAG0&list=PLg6k5UmSDlchf7Ah2mvlH3oXWcPG0vsw-&index=5

cpttom said...

I grew up in the NY Archdiocese, and I live in the Rochester Diocese. I would in the past disagree with this article. Not Anymore. Cardinal Dolan has not helped the situation...he was silent during the gay marriage vote last year. He has been ambiguous about supporting abortion ("it's not worth going to the mat for"), and he has given cover to Democratic Politicians who (Governor Cuomo, Pres. Obama) support agendas that are totally against the teaching of the Church.

In Rochester Diocese, there was a survey of priests that reported only 1/3 of the PRIESTS believe in the real presence! Liturgical practices were awful. Thank God we now have a new bishop who is Eucharistic and sacramentally strong. He is in the process of tighting up the sacramental norm (limiting the number of EMHC, communion in both kinds etc.). He also is clear on Catholic teaching and doctrine. This is the most important thing he can do. 40 years of squishy and progressive teaching needs to be undone

I do not expect him to make the biggest change that needs to happen: Limit communion to one kind AND communion kneeling and on the tongue. Period. I think this would help the most. Along with the return to all male altar servers, and the restoration of the sanctuary as Holy ground. We have lost so much. So much needs to be restored.

Mostly what needs to be restored is acting like we actually believe that the Lord is there in the Eucharist: Body, Soul and divinity. Lex orente, Lex Credente
Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi. As we Worship, So we Believe, So we Live

JusadBellum said...

Secondly, I might ask the clergy here if you have ever attempted to explain to 'modern scientific' Americans not so much the 'how' but why it's possible that God can become incarnate and that this incarnate God can again 'incarnate' in bread and wine.

It seems to me that if we attempt to define 'substance' as "atomic structure" we're falling into a classic error. Atomic, molecular structure, the chemical makeup of bread or wine are the accidents, not the substance.

But in what way can substance exist then? This is the materialist and atheist challenge to believers precisely on the two greatest mysteries of our Faith: the Incarnation and the Real Presence.

In what way did the Word 'become flesh'? He was after all true man. In what does the Hypostatic union consist, how does the person inhere in the human being?

Similarly, what is the 'is-ness' of substance? We're not talking about 'God-particles' but - I submit to the theologians present - about spiritual relationship, the 'organizing principle' of the matter and energy that make up the perceptual world.

Think of the human soul - it is spiritual and so has no atoms, no molecular structure and yet it sustains and makes the body through matter. It's the 'software' of the hardware. It's the motive force by which the organic stays alive, stays organized. Without the soul the body immediately begins to disintegrate.

When we say "body, blood, soul and divinity" substantially present albeit not accidentally present...what are we saying?

The other sacraments - the use of signs and water, oil, position of hands... don't all point to substance ("the spirit that gives life, the flesh is useless")?

It's a conceptual, not perceptual reality. As such it calls for wisdom but also faith as it's not immediately obvious to the senses.

Ergo, why people don't go to Mass or behave morally or retain a sense of community and cultural heritage as Catholics stems, I believe from a loss of inter-generational catechesis (the 'what', how, and why), and from a loss of faith and personal experiential encounter with the living God.

Without the explanation for our faith, people doubt and then cease caring. Inertia and habit will last only so long before other gods demand their allegiance and fealty.

Ultimately every religion and ideology is based on a conception and belief in some truth as 'obvious'. Communists believed in Marxist analysis and utopia. The LGBTQ movement is based on the presumption of "scientifically proven health of their ideations" and "scientifically proven connection between homophobia and their lack of health" (neither of which have been "scientifically proven" btw).

Islam rises and falls on certainty about the prophet being from God and not the devil.

Catholicism rises and falls on certainty about the Incarnation and the Real Presence. Take away the latter and you get Protestantism. Take both away and you get atheism.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Father for posting this.

I have been wanting to approach our fairly new pastor, since he was appointed in this position back in July, about the very issues you bring up.

He is fairly traditional, but having gone from four to one parish I cannot help but wonder if he will simply say, "Our hands are tied, we need the 'Eucharistic Ministers'[sic] to distribute Holy Communion to accomodate the larger numbers of the faithful."

One of his concerns, as I understand it, is Holy Mass will be 10-15 minutes longer (and he already gets guff for just *one hour*!).

You say one of your hunches "for the loss of Catholic Faith in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar": "Allowing anyone to handle the Sacred."

Bing, bing, bing! We have a winner!

If our Lord's Precious Body and Blood is so... well, *precious* - why in the world is this allowed?

The truth of the matter is this practice, as anecdotal evidence can show, *does not* foster "reverence and true belief in the Real Presence of Christ" at all. In fact, in my estimation, it does just the opposite.

What kind of "fruits" can come from this practice? Does it foster vocations to the ministerial priesthood? I'm not buying it.

Our diocese has about eight men studying for the priesthood. This coming on the heels of having a new bishop appointed about three years ago. Usually when a new bishop is appointed there is a "bump" of seminarians. Our diocese had a modest "bump", at best. Actually we need about eight new men coming in each year to off set the number of priests who are retiring and dying.

[huge sigh]

I am sorry for length, Father MacDonald. You hit where it hurts most for me today. :^(

The modernist/progressives, it seems, have gotten what they wanted in many areas. Lay run dioceses.

Yeah, *that* will foster reverence towards the Holy Eucharist, right? Right?

Sure.

Catechist Kev

Gene said...

Ahem…grammar police correction: "…88% of Catholics in the Archdiocese of New York do not attend Mass." Carry on...

Gene said...

BTW, is that, indeed, Harry Potter distributing the Host in the last picture?

Templar said...

I feel all of the things you list, and quite frankly have to force myself to attend Mass some weeks because I will be exposed to things which will drive me further away. I wouldn't feel it if the OF Mass was celebrated as it was this past Sunday (okay, not the singing parts which were beautiful but not necessary to feel the reverence). I prefer the EF but don't need the EF, what I need is for the OF to have the same sense of reverence of the EF, and quite frankly, even at orthodox and conservative St Joseph it doesn't have that same sense usually. The OF Mass in any Parish as it is commonly done today is essentially no different in the sense of awe and reverence from any other denomination's service. If we're down to 12 to 20% attendance following the "renewal of the Liturgy after V2" why not risk scrapping it for a renewal that brings us back to the OF as it was done this past Sunday. Some more folks will leave sure, but those that remain will become a real cadre upon which to rebuild the faith. To keep doing it the way we've been doing it since 1970 and hoping to get the results of 1969 is lunacy and eventually the Catholic Faith will be nothing but another dying denomination (except of course for those small branches that practice the EF exclusively, they'll continue to grow because those adherents are steeped in the Faith). What "the Church" seems to miss in all this is that they think the 12-20% still showing up are "on board", but they're not. Most of those still coming are going through the motions and don't believe any more than the 88% who have been intellectually honest enough to admit they aren't on board. The real believers is a number smaller than 12 or 20, and I've got to believe that the resurrection of the Church lies in them. Find out how to reach them and build upon that if you want renewal. I'm pretty sure renewal for them will start with awe and reverence in the Liturgy.

Pater Ignotus said...

Jus - The Incarnation was the topic of our RCIA class two weeks ago and I did explain the "why" according to Augustine's thought.

cpttom said...

My family is a typical "Vatican II" era family. There are 7 of us age 51 - 63. 4 of my siblings are no longer Catholic (1 Quaker!, 2 Methodists, 1 Presbyterian Minister) 1 is a progressive Catholic, and only two of us me and my oldest brother are devout Catholics.

Based on this evidence alone, I would say that the last 50 years have been a resounding failure of Cathechisis and transmission of the faith. Because not only were 5 members of my family lost to the faith, but so are their children.

We need to change what we are doing...we need to actally be Catholic instead of talking in nice generalities we need to get back to the brass tacks: The sacraments, the last 4 things, actually talk about sin and the teaching of the Church, and the living of the faith.

The post Vatican II era has been a jumbled mess, let's admit we aren't smarter than the Church Fathers, and our ancestors and stop thinking we know better. It isn't so, because we've busted the Church.

JBS said...

But Gene, it is certainly true that 88% of Catholics do not attend Mass in New York. And for that, I thank God!

JusadBellum said...

Pater, I wasn't there.

Would you mind linking us to where St. Augustine spoke of the real presence and the 'why'?

But more, would you mind helping us mere laity with felicitous turns of expression that might help us with atheists who insist that all of reality is just 'accidents', just matter and energy and that 'substance' is a word without meaning, a ghost, a fiction.

The modern conceit of materialism IS powerful in some quarters and among some populations... and it behooves us to have a ready reply that doesn't require another invocation of authority (after all, atheists deny both Bible and dead Christian bishops).

If we could at least spell out how it's possible for substance to be real and knowable, it would help raise their awareness not only to Christian dogmas like the Incarnation or Real Presence but also to the spiritual nature of the human soul.

Anonymous said...

Traditions on kneeling have varied over the centuries (see Q and A on that in the April 1997 Southern Cross, newspaper of the Savannah Diocese). I don't see that as a "liberal/conservative" debate, unlike some of the readers here. The Episcopal Church, certainly more liberal than the Catholic Church, has more kneeling in its Eucharist than Catholics do in their Mass, while the Eastern Orthodox, certainly traditionally conservative, stand to receive communion, and many of their churches abroad do not have kneelers or kneeling---you stand the entire service (which can really be testing given their length!!)

Standing (to receive) communion also is more practical in large parishes with frequent Sunday Masses. And some simply can't kneel because of age or other infirmity.

Basically, kneeling is a small "t" tradition on which people of good will can vary---akin to whether the altar should be in the front or back of the sanctuary which color vestments to wear, etc. Not a big "T" tradition like the Trinity, Virginia birth or apostolic succession, etc.

As for cpptom saying the biggest chance that needs to happen is limiting communion to one kind and kneeling, I await an explanation. In the early Church, communion was distributed in both species---and that is the tradition today followed by Agnlicans, Lutherans and the Eastern Orthodox. Certainly there can be practical reasons not to do so---health being the most obvious---but viewing distribution of both species as a "liberal" or "progressive" innovation does not have any warrant.

cpttom said...

I'll add one more thing...the 4 who are Protestants all had their primary catechisis Before 1969. So something went drastically wrong before the council ended, I'm not just blaming the council. Also, considering the Baby Boom after WWII, the Last 50 years should have been a huge growth era for the Church, and it was until the "Spirit of Vatican II" hit. I think going back to basics, emphasizing the sacraments and adding all traditional elements and options to the mass would go a long way to help, but we need to reach out to those who've fallen away. That isn't going to happen if we aren't clear and consise about what the Church is and isn't

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The small "t" tradition of kneeling had a nearly 1600 year tradition in the West. (East had another tradition, but if you watch how they distribute Holy Communion Standing, and who does it, you will find a similar reverence in the older and longer tradition of the Catholic Church of kneeling).

Protestants of the reformation period and most of them to this day have maintained this ancient practice which is also the longest practice in the West.

In fact, Protestants who kneel for Holy Communion in their traditions are much more reverent and pious today about what they are doing than Catholic who stand and receive on the run.

And I would say there is greater assent to the truths of Protestantism as Protestants understand their truth in those communities who kneel, to include the acceptance of heterodox principles such as female priests and same sex marriage along with other fallacies. In other words, greater loyalty to their ideologies and theologies.

Henry said...

Of course, you have brains, Father (as well as clairvoyance). But this is a no-brainer. Until the pope and the WHOLE body of bishops make the re-sacralization of the liturgy their primary focus, the decline will continue and no evangelization of any sort will go anywhere. (If they had sufficient faith themselves, they wouldn’t need anyone to tell them this, certainly not some nobody in a blog com box like this.}

Incidentally, one of the hallmarks of the de-sanctification and de-mystification of the liturgy--which is surely the root cause of the general loss of belief—was the goal of making it “understandable”. But verbal understanding of the literally ineffable Eucharistic mystery is a contradiction in terms, and words like “substance” and “accidents” contribute little or nothing to making the Real Presence meaningful. For most, it probably suffices to say simply that at the words of consecration in the Mass, Christ is made present in the Blessed Sacrament in a way greater and different from His presence anywhere else.

Of course, words alone mean nothing if not supported by actions and liturgical practices demonstrating belief. So long as practices in the liturgy connote and encourage non-belief, it seems foolish to expect belief to be inculcated. And what sense does it make to expect people to exhibit greater faith than their bishops and clergy who have imposed a faith-sapping liturgy upon them?

Richard M. Sawicki said...

Father, where is that first (top) photograph from?

It looks an awful lot like the interior of the Church of St. Vincent de Paul in New York City prior to the pre-war (late 1930's) remodeling.

Just curious.

Gaudete in Domino Semper!

Bee said...

I don't believe it's anything the Church has done or is doing now that has caused the exodus from the pews. It's the world around us, and the culture.
Back in the pre-Vatican II days most of the Catholics were from families of immigrants, and those immigrants were devout hard-tried people. They sacrificed mightily for a chance at freedom, and never looked back to the old country as a place to return to. They raised their children with a fear and trembling of God. In my mother's family (a child of immigrants from Eastern Europe), there were 8 children. Of those 8, all the way to 2 were devout, with 6 falling away (with their children). In my father's family, there were 6, and only 1 was devout, with my father being somewhat nominal, until at the end of his life, during a crises of a serious illness, he turned fully to God (which was awesome to see!)
My mother and father raised 6 of us. All of us had 12 years of Catholic schools (we grew up in the 50's and 60's and experienced Vatican II). Of us, 2 are devout, 2 is lukewarm, 1 is agnostic, and 1 passed away as a young man.

As I passed from adolescence to adulthood, I fell away, in spite of a very great love of God I had in my teen years. I fell away because the culture got to me. It was a tsunami of doubt and ridicule, coming from every direction. College professors did me in, as did exposure to my quasi sophisticated peers, who argued sophistries I had no defense for.

After I experienced some of the destruction that is the consequence of mortal sin, I went back to the Church. And then I got mad. Really, really mad. Because I found out I had been sent out into the world without one shred of defense against it. When I discovered the massive amount of literature the Church has in its archives addressing the very issues that did me in, and I discovered NOT ONE Catholic educator or priest led me to even ONE of those volumes when I was a teen in the 1970's, I was furious. The defenses are there, but our Vatican II Church tossed them into the garbage heap.

And today, my oh so sophisticated nieces and nephews, who are so hip and with it from their public school educations, openly ridicule me and my beliefs at family events. I just smile and bide my time. Because I know they are getting nailed by the same sophistries that crushed me, and hopefully, one day, they'll realize there is an answer.

It's not about liturgy, per se. It's about topics St. John Paul II addressed. And confronting the culture on a daily basis, getting the word out about what Catholics actually believe. But that's not going to happen with weak priest and bishops who don't believe the Faith themselves.

John said...

Our Church is a hierarchical Church. Catachesis comes from above. As long as we get the same lukewarm nonsense that we have gotten for the past 50 years (and for some parts of the world for even longer) than the, say NY Archdiocese, will have to reorganize again when only 6 percent of baptized Catholics go to Mass.

The liturgy reform of B-16 dead now. Father, your good efforts at your present location, what will happen to all the good work you have done when the bishop transfers you to another parish?

The Church will survive but only as Benedict XVI predicted: small; orthodox/traditional in doctrine; materially poor; persecuted but strong. My guess is that this small Church then, in time, will experience a spring time and grow in God's time.

Without repentance for the sins (pride chiefly) of the past 5 decades all activities of "renewal" are but shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.

cpttom said...

Anonymous,

I didn't say it was liberal or progressive. That's a straw man. Also to point out what the "early church" did is false archaeologicalism.

And what the Anglicans, Lutherans do I could care less, that's their traditions and they don't view the Eucharist the way we or the Orthodox do. Again a strawman.

Far as the Orthodox, we do not do what they they give the body, dipped in the blood on a spoon with reverence and not quickly. It's the reverence part that is missing in how we do things. The Orthodox are generally scandalized by the way we commonly handle the precious body and blood between communion in the hand and having non-clerics handle the sacred species and vessels.

First, communion wasn't done in both kinds universally in the early Church. Second, it was eliminated because a heresy developed where people thought that if they didn't receive both, they didn't receive "all" of Jesus. I've heard this same phrase frequently today

The other thing is that we do NOT do communion in the hand the way the early church...which was on your knees with a cloth over your hand you were receiving with, and then tipping your hand to your mouth WITHOUT touching it as only the priest who had purified his hands could touch the concecrated host. That is certainly more reverent than the tossing the host in one's mouth like a potato chip that is so common today served by an army of pseudo clerical lay people. Most often with out a patten to catch crumbs or the host if it is dropped, as well as ignoring the crumbs on the communicants hands and the ground.

If we truly believe that Christ is present body, soul and divinity, the last is particularly appalling and is sacrilege.

I actually like the way the Greeks do communion, and we could do this by having the Priest use the Roman equivalent intiction, I would have no problem with communion in both kinds then as it UNIFIES the elements and it is reverent. Otherwise, I think communion in both kinds should be eliminated as it is commonly done today as it does not unify the experience of communion, and it tends to the heretical view that you have to have both kinds or you haven't received all of Jesus or it isn't a "complete" sign. Both undercut the belief in thereal presence, body blood, soul and divinity of Christ.

God bless.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

It was a photo search I did on the internet, so I don't know.

JusadBellum said...

Didn't anyone think of merely translating the Latin to English but leaving all the EF rubrics and ritual in place?

I struggle with the Latin - so I bury my head in the book for the translations which are there but I wonder if the priest said them aloud, would it help us all pay attention to his actions (vs. looking at our booklets)?

There's something about hearing beautiful words aloud that does something more than silent reading (which IS the purpose of reading the Gospels out loud rather than silently, is it not?)

Could one celebrate the EF without Latin? Has it been tried/is it possible?

cpttom said...

Bee,

I agree it isn't just liturgy. That contributes. I don't think the Church has not done a good job at all at getting across to the young "Why be Catholic" Youth programs have been awfully light on teaching the faith, and have more about superficial stuff that does not prepare the young for the onslaught of the world.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The 1965 missal was that experiment with only slight changes.

I love the vernacluar although appreciate the Latin, but a little Latin goes a long way for me.

That is why I have been saying that the current missal could be celebrated with an EF Order of the Mass, all its rubrics, only the Roman Canon. One could still keep the modern lectionary and keep the Liturgy of the Word at the ambo or at the altar, either way.

Anonymous said...

cpptom, all I will say to conclude my say about communion under both species---the denial of it (for whatever reason) has been a criticism of the Eastern Orthodox Church. (There are of course other differences, and more substantial ones.) I don't at all object to kneeling, and in fact I think there is an inconsistency between kneeling for the consecration and then standing to receive communion. I agree with the reverend, you should be able to receive either way, kneeling or standing.

But amidst all the debate of liturgical correctness, I think we are omitting the problem of societal influences---most notably, Roe v Wade, which opened up the floodgates for abortion on demand (50 million+ to this day). Now we have a Supreme Court which by default says yes to same-sex marriages. Though Democrats tend to be liberal and Republicans more conservative, I don't view this as partisan---after all, because of GOP appointees to the Supreme Court (like Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy) Roe v Wade was upheld in 1992. Father, I'd like your opinion on this---we also as a country are divided by an increasingly secular North and far West, and the more traditionally conservative South. Easier to be a Catholic today in Dixie than in the increasingly secular Northeast, Far West and Chicago.

Pater Ignotus said...

Jus - CCC starting at #456. The Word became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciling us with God, that thus we might know God's love, to be our model of holiness, and to make us partakers of the divine nature.

These four reasons can be expanded into almost every aspect of our systematic theology, from soteriology to ecclesiology, from eschatology to sacramental theology.

The Incarnation, after all, is the fundamental mystery of Christianity!

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father, you say, "Protestants of the reformation period and most of them to this day have maintained this ancient practice (kneeling) which is also the longest practice in the West."

I would suggest that gathering on the Lord's Day is a practice more ancient than kneeling, that reading from the recollections of the Apostles and prophets is a more ancient practice, that an exhortation by the president of the assembly is more ancient, that the bringing forward of the bread and wine, the offering of the Eucharistic prayer, the distribution of communion, and (the pastor's favorite) the taking up of a collection are all more ancient than kneeling.

Kneeling is the most ancient practice? Really?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Good PI my comment is about kneeling or standing to receive Holy communion not the other things you mention. In the west kneeling has the longest tradition which many reformation Protestants maintain. PI READ WHAT I WAS RESPONDING TO! tisk tisk!

JusadBellum said...

Pater - yes, the Incarnation is essential.

All the more reason for us to have a quick explanation or elucidation of how the Creator 'took flesh'. What do we mean when we say "substance"? What do we mean when we say "God became man"?

Atheists among the young (and they are many and snarky and arrogant) challenge Catholicism precisely on the key point: how God could be incarnate and how we can possibly believe bread becomes "really Jesus' body".

Pointing to the ancient fathers or authoritative documents don't work with atheists. I typically try to argue from analogy and phenomenology but I'd like a priest's input here.

Phenomenologically I can show that soul (organizing principle of matter) is not itself matter or energy insofar as conceptual thought and free will are not material objects and yet real and knowable all the same.... so while brain is made of stuff, our mind and will are not.

Ergo, our "is-ness" (substance) remains while every other aspect of our human nature, our "stuff-ness" is in constant flux, change, replacement. The accidents of "JusadBellum" are in constant change while my "is-ness", my identity, the substance of who I am remains.

This "is-ness" is not molecular and yet inheres in the stuff-ness.

That's my layman's attempt to describe it. Is it accurate to you?

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father - I read what you posted and kneeling isn't the longest practice in the west.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

You persist in missing the contest of my remarks and the person these were directed, tisk , tisk!

Pater Ignotus said...

Jus - We can't explain "how" the Logos took flesh, other than to say He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. It is miraculous and mysterious.

When we say "substance" we mean God-ness. The Father and Son are "homoousios" - of the same substance, one in being, consubstantial. Now, just what that Divine substance is, I don't think we can say.

The Incarnation is the mystery of faith that separates us also from the Jews and the Muslims who find it unthinkable that the Divine Being could be "reduced" for any reason to the status of a human or that the Divine and Human could exist in one person.

I don't think any argument works with a true atheist. Our understanding of God is based on Revelation which is built upon belief in a God who has done the revealing. Hence...

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father, when you wrote, "Protestants of the reformation period and most of them to this day have maintained this ancient practice which is also the longest practice in the West" are you referring to kneeling as the "ancient practice which is also the longest practice in the West."?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

both of course!

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father, well the practices I mentioned are more ancient than kneeling. They date from a letter from St. Justin Martyr who died in 165.

And "tisk" isn't a word. "Tsk" is.

Paul said...

People tend to appreciate and cherish that which they have to work, suffer and die for.

Some people want to grease the skids? "Easy" (dumbing down) is the quickest way to devalue anything.

George said...

JusADBellum:
What is physical matter? What is the "substance" of matter? At its most elemental is it just "strings of energy" as some believe? An atheist can sit in a chair.He can see it, touch it, feel it. Can he really say he understands the chair in it essence- the physical matter which makes up the chair? Is the atheists position superior to St Paul's in Corinthians 13:9 - "At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully knowing". So the atheist lives in a world he little understands and yet questions the believer.
In our world today, there is a constant stream of electronic transmissions which our senses cannot perceive unless we have a cell phone or some other device to convert and display them so that our senses can perceive them . The receiving device presents the transmitted data to us in a form palatable to our senses. And so even the atheist accepts what he cannot see. Likewise, The Divine Substance is presented to us externally as bread and wine in a form palatable to our senses. There are those who have difficulty accepting that Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity could enter into a small piece of bread and some wine. When He entered into humanity at the Incarnation in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was He not at that moment much smaller and insignificant by human standards? It is a miracle to us, but what is a miracle to God? In ages past our phones and computers and televisions would have been considered to be miracles yet today we accept them as nothing out of the ordinary. What we consider to be a miracle, which is something supernatural, to God is nothing out of the ordinary. Let it not be said that Catholics place a limit on God, Who is not only Omnipotent but is also Love, Mercy and Generosity itself. We are to partake of that by which we are sanctified, which is the Body and Blood of the Sacrificial Lamb which is Christ, having offered Himself on the cross to atone for our sins.



John Nolan said...

PI, using Justin Martyr as a template for liturgy in the 21st century is archaeologism, pure and simple. In the second century AD Christianity was a persecuted sect and people gathered clandestinely in their own homes. The only thing that can be said for certain is that a basic framework for the Eucharist was already in place. Liturgy is not static, as you are constantly reminding us.


Gene said...

PI, There must be such a thing as a "tisk" because there was a little nursery rhyme song I learned as a kid, "A tisket. a tasket, a green and yellow basket."
Now, a tisket must be a small tisk. I guess a tasket is a small task, like counting there members of your Church. LOL!

Pater Ignotus said...

John - St. Justin's description of the mass is accurate, is it not?

I'm not offering it as a template for liturgy in the 21st century. I am merely point out that Good Father McDonald's assertion that kneeling is the longest practice is inaccurate, another bit of unhistorical hyperbole for which he is justly famous.

And Justin's description is the template that the Church has followed in all centuries. The elements described by Justin are the elements that have been the hallmarks of the liturgy since Apostolic times.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

PI you need your brain examined. In the west kneeling for Holy Communion has about a 1600 year advantage, meaning the longest, over standing which may have had up to 400 years in the first four centuries and another 50 years currently from around 1970.

Just what's up with your brain in this regard. I'm concerned for you!

Marc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

If there is no real basis for his silly remarks, then of course he is being a jerk, but if he had a stroke and really thinks standing for Holy Communion is the longest tradition in the Church, then he's had a stroke and needs medical attention, not the derision of being called a jerk.

Marc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father - If you are comparing two things - standing and kneeling - then you would use the comparative form, "longer."

But you incorrectly use the superlative form, "longest," hence my confusion.

Yes, kneeling has been used LONGER than standing - no one disputes that. No, it is not the "longest practice" in the West regarding liturgy.

John - Citing Justin regarding the elements of the mass is far, far less an archaeologism than arguing for the necessity (or value) of the maniple, the chasuble hem-lifting, or the inclusion of the "Last Gospel" in the liturgy.

Gene said...

Ignotus being a jerk…imagine that! LOL!

John Nolan said...

PI, liturgical archaeologism as defined by Pius XII in Mediator Dei is the erroneous belief that antiquity itself confers authenticity and would ignore organic liturgical development. The maniple originally had a practical use but like most of the vestments it has acquired a symbolic significance. It is also the vestment (in the EF) which is conferred on the subdeacon at his ordination. It was in use from at least the sixth century until 1967.

The Last Gospel is a relatively recent innovation (it was a long time before the Dominicans could persuaded to adopt it) and its retention in the 1962 rubrics can hardly be archaeologism. I suggest you revisit Mediator Dei before making silly comments.

Gene said...

Ignotus making silly comments…imagine that…LOL!

Pater Ignotus said...

John - The outline given by St. Justin has been the framework for the mass for 2000 years. It does not amount to archaeologism by any definition of the term.

Accretions, such as the maniple, the Last Gospel, the chasuble hem-lifting, do not serve the purpose of the liturgy. As accretions, they were omitted with the reform of the mass.

John Nolan said...

PI, liturgical development depends on accretions, additions, often deletions. It is impossible to reconstruct a Greek Mass of the second century; the evidence is not there. When did the Eucharistic Prayer become fixed rather than improvised? Nobody knows. It is clear that the post-V2 reformers wished to simplify the Rite, but this did not stop them from adding 'accretions' of their own, particularly newly-composed Eucharistic prayers. You are not best qualified to decide what 'serves the purpose of the liturgy' and what does not; and according to most eminent liturgical scholars of the present day, neither was Bugnini's Consilium.

Your definition of an 'accretion' appears to be a liturgical development you don't happen to like. No-one is asking you to wear a maniple, despite the fact that it is one of the earliest Eucharistic vestments of the Latin Church. I could ask you to read St Alphonsus Liguori on the subject, but suspect you would rather stay mired in your own peculiar mix of ignorance, prejudice and subjective opinion.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - I am not, nor have I ever claimed to be, the one who judges whether accretions are good or bad, worth retaining or rejecting. I leave that to those who do know and celebrate the mass they have given to the Church.

And there are plenty of eminent liturgical scholars of the present day who do not share you views. Your own "subjective opinion" is more than evident. Stay mired in it if it makes you happy and secure.

You, on the other hand, are perfectly willing to accuse "Bignini's Consilium" of not knowing either, because the "you don't happen to like" the changes they made.

If St. Alphonsus tells me why the maniple is integral to the purpose of the liturgy, I will happily read him. If, on the other hand, he gives up an overly pious and unhistorical version of what it has come to mean then, no, I am not particularly interested.

Which does he offer?

John Nolan said...

PI, to say that something is 'not integral to the purpose of the liturgy' is not the same as saying that something 'does not serve the purpose of the liturgy' The former, if taken to its logical conclusion, would imply no vestments or fixed prayers at all. The latter suggests that certain practices are positively harmful. This is not a semantic quibble but an important distinction.

The liturgical zeitgeist which dominated the Bugnini years no longer holds sway. Most of its advocates are dead, and fifty years on the majority of liturgical scholars are more balanced and less ideologically driven.

The rather flowery piety of St Alphonsus (and many others of the saints and mystics) is perhaps not to modern tastes, but should not be condemned on that account. It's unlikely that many souls have been won to Christ by reading Hans Kung. I don't recall ever saying 'I didn't happen to like' the 1970 MR, so your attempt to impose an equality of subjectivity misses the target.

Interestingly, 'accretion' has two meanings, according to Chambers. Firstly 'continued growth; the growing together of parts externally, or continuous coherence'. In liturgical terms this is the 'organic development' called for by Sacrosanctum Concilium. The second meaning is 'an extraneous addition'. There have been not a few of those since 1970, and most of the commentators here do not think they 'serve the purpose of the liturgy'.

Pater Ignotus said...

John - It is equally unlikely that anyone has been won to Christ by seeing a priest wearing a maniple. But that's a silly argument one way or the other.

As you noted previously, I am a firm believer in the evolution of the liturgy. Anyone who has ever read about its history understands this process, save those who think Quo Primum put an end to all developments.

The changes to the liturgy that came from the liturgical movement and, more fundamentally, from the development of a more sacramental and less hierarchical ecclesiology cannot be dismissed as non-organic simply because they came relatively quickly or because they do not appear - appear being the operative concept - to have sufficient antiquity. There was a time when the maniple, the hem-lifting, the Last Gospel, etc., were all new to the liturgy.