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.)


Teresa M. said...

I attended Catholic elementary school in the late 60s and early 70s and I do not remember being taught to pray the rosary or ever hearing anything about Adoration.

I'm embarrassed to say that when I returned to the Church a few years ago after an absence of close to 30 years, I was mystified when I heard talk of Adoration as I had no idea what it was. I soon discovered an Adoration Chapel close to where I work and began making frequent visits there on my lunch hour and those visits helped to deepen my faith.

I also don't recall ever having heard anyone praying the rosary. When I first found the parish I now belong to I walked in for Sunday Mass about 15 minutes early and saw a bunch of people kneeling and saying some type of group prayer. I didn't put two and two together until I saw they were all holding rosaries.

I suppose I shouldn't mention that the first time I heard Latin spoken I thought it was some weird Spanish dialect...

Paschase Radabert said...

It is unfortuinate that you choose, Fr. McDonald, to lable as "stupid" those who choose to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in a place other than "dead center" in churches.

While you disagree with the, to use such a derogatory term is both unnecessary and un-priestly. Surely it is not necessary to disparage everyone who does not share your opinions of theological perspectives.

Marc said...

Fr. M: "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."

@Paschase Radabert Father didn't say that the people were stupid. He said that the basis behind moving the Blessed Sacrament to a less conspicuous place during the Mass was stupid. He's not disparaging the people, but their incorrect idea.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Radabert, you misrepresent or misread what I wrote, it's not stupid to have the Blessed Sacrament visible in the Church proper, whether dead center or elsewhere prominent, it is stupid to remove it altogether because of some unfounded fear that having it present during the celebration of the Mass may distract the assembly and diminish their participation. This is what I wrote which is clearly nuanced:
"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."

That statement was not in reference to "dead center."

Paschase Radabert said...

"No longer are we so stupid to think . . . " If the "we" are not people, what are they?

This sounds to me like "His car was driving on the wrong side of the road. Not him, but his car."

Now, I ask you . . .

Gene said...

Radabert, Can you say, "reading comprehension?"

SqueekerLamb said...

Teresa M.,
I had it only slightly better than you.
My Catholic schooling was in the 1970's exclusively, and I learned how to make rosaries, pray the Rosary, and the Stations of the Cross.
Never heard a word of Latin, never heard of an Exposition nor Benediction, never heard of Eucharistic Adoration, and certainly wasn't taught any amazing Eucharistic theology. No wonder I was away for 25 years, but you have me beat, with your 30 year abscence.
What bought me back was the searing need for forgiveness by the God of the Universe.

What brought you back?

Anonymous said...

Radabert, try 'We are disabused'...

Gerbert said...

Being born in 1961, my Catholic education was also affected by the "spirit of vat II". While we had somewhat traditional nuns at school (they still wore their habits, but a modern version) and they taught us about the real presence of our Lord in the Eucharist, but I never heard of Eucharistic adoration or many of the devotionals of the pre conciliar church. Watching old movies is where I saw my first Eucharistic procession, and a monstrance, and was fascinated to learn more about what I saw. During my journey back to the Church I looked to our past, and found a beauty and reverence that seemed to be lacking today. I saw a Church that was confident, sure of itself, and comfortable with who she was, when I observed the mess after Vatican II I saw a Church that was, divided, confused, not confident of who she was, wondering lost in the desert without a compass, abandoning the faith of our fathers, trying to remake the Church unrecognizable with her past. That my friends is changing rapidly, Pope Benedict, and the new crop of bishops, have returned to orthodoxy, have become confident and proud of who and what the Church is, strength is returning to the Church, and that strength comes from the Eucharist, the center and summit of the life of the Church. The battle is not won, but the future is a whole lot brighter to be sure.
The Eucharistic procession we had last year was an event I will never forget, and hope to participate in many more, people stopped and looked, and maybe it moved them to ask what was that all about, the world needs to see this expression of faith and love more than ever.

By the way Radabert you may want to reread Fr M's post, I don't see anything close to what you see, but maybe my eyes are open?

Gene said...

"...try,we are disabused..." Now, that's funny! LOL!

Robert Kumpel said...

Sadly, Father, there ARE places where, in spite of what the people believe (and want), the local Church authorities are still pushing the erroneous notion that a central tabernacle somehow detracts from the Mass. You can read a story I wrote about this problem in my old diocese by clicking here. I can also recall one parish where, after holding fast to having their tabernacle in the center at the high altar, a new pastor came in insisted that it be moved. The source of this disordered thinking was revealed later, when the pastor was arrested for his cache of kiddie porn on his computer--he has since been laicized. My point is that when you see this kind of thinking, it's often symptomatic of other problems.

That said, I am VERY hopeful seeing photos of you actually leading a procession in Georgia! I hope and pray that one day, Catholics in south Georgia can experience this same renewal.

At my last parish in San Diego, people not only prayed the rosary before Mass, but often one of the priests would come out, knee in front of the tabernacle and lead the rosary.

I have high hopes for the future as the silliness and error fades.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Robert, what is interesting too is that in my very liberal seminary days in the late 70's St. Mary's had removed the tabernacle from the old main altar and placed it in a rather nice, beautiful side chapel immediately to the left of the main altar, but not visible from the nave of the main chapel. As I wrote, very few seminarians and no priests where to be found in the chapel in private prayer and adoration, nor was this type of private prayer and adoration encouraged. Those who did make use of the Eucharistic Chapel where marginalized and called the worse insult anyone could be called in those days, in fact it is so insulting I hesitate to print it out of fear of being accused of using an explicative in this comment, but here goes, "Pre-Vatican II!"
However, low and behold, St. Mary Seminary in Baltimore somewhere in the early 2000's replaced the tabernacle on the old high altar with, and get this, the six candle sticks that had long ago been removed in a "liturgical act" of stripping the Church by taking all the accouterments of the pre-Vatican altar off of it, placing it in a wheel barrow and taking it out of the chapel! This happened around 1970 or 71! I kid you not.
So wonder of wonders, the tabernacle is dead center where it was prior to Vatican II. I hope it is because the seminary wants to instill a Eucharistic piety in their future priests and not just because they know that they have to cater to conservative bishops who will not send men there if the seminary is still acting like its 1970!