Monday, July 10, 2017


Progressives at Praytell really fear Summorum Pontificum and what they call the "unreformed" Mass rather than the Ancient Mass, th Ancient Usage, the Tridentine Mass or Extraordinary Form. Although those who celebrate it are probably smaller in number than those groups they would support like the heterodox WomenChurch or other off the wall liberal groups advocating this, that and the other ridiculous things.

Deacon Fritz as he is known offers the only sane voice of challenge and reason to otherwise immature drivel one finds at Praytell. And yes the clericalism of some of the academics there, wth the know it all and better than the pope and bishops, like Cardinal Sarah, is breathtaking and verges on Gnosticism.

This give and take revolves around a highly stylized and symbolic gesture towards the reverence due the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, One Divine Being, with two natures, Human and Divine. It is about the priest holding his index finger and thumb together as an act of reverence if any speck or particle of the consecrated Host clings to them after the consecration. I love how Deacon Fritz calls Fr. Anthony out and points out the obvious arrogance and elitism of liberals when it comes to other religions with their peculiarities and praising these while dissing our symbolic gestures of awe and mystery and reverence that to the uninformed eye appears as fussy! Good for you Deacon Fritz, but your days may be numbered at Praytell like Cardinal Mueller's were at the CDF!
  • #23 by Anthony Ruff, OSB on July 9, 2017 - 2:56 pm 
    @Roger Pieper:
    I think common sense will take you most of the way toward your answer.
    This is a fetishistic approach to the Host and to the “sacred hands” that touched it (or, I suppose, It) that distorts more than it reveals. Obsession about such secondary things does not bring in closer to the really central things. Like: meal, sacrifice, love, death and resurrection, community, eternal life, sharing of earth’s blessings, etc.etc. It’s a weird focus on the magical cultic figure.
    I don’t impute bad motives at all to the many good and holy priests who faithfully followed what they were taught to do all those centuries. I suppose most of them just did it, and didn’t think too much about what in it was distorting effecting for ill their attitude or the attitude of others.
    But I am glad that the Council called for a wise simplification that could let fall away things that are not helpful or necessary.
  • #24 by Fritz Bauerschmidt on July 9, 2017 - 3:34 pm 
    Anthony Ruff, OSB :This is a fetishistic approach to the Host and to the “sacred hands” that touched it (or, I suppose, It) that distorts more than it reveals.
    Of course “fetish” is a term of abuse invented by colonial powers to disparage the sacred objects of African religions. I feel pretty sure that today we would not look disparagingly at, say, an African sacred mask and the exacting care with which it is handled. Should we not look with equal charity on our own (very) recent past, rather than disparage it with the term “fetishistic”? I feel pretty sure that even with all the theological advances of the past decades we Catholics still see the eucharistic as a sacred object, so I don’t think the suggestion that they should be ritually handled as such should be labeled as “fetishistic.” Indeed, the use of such terms is redolent of Protestant theological polemics against various ritualistic aspects of non-Christian religions—which were often just thinly veiled polemics against Catholicism.
    I’m not advocating for Cardinal Sarah’s suggestion. When I’ve seen it done it has struck me as odd and fussy. But I don’t think it is fair to describe it as “fetishistic” (or if it is fair, I’d say, “Damn right it’s fetishistic; we’re talking about a sacred object!”).
  • #25 by Anthony Ruff, OSB on July 9, 2017 - 3:52 pm 
    @Fritz Bauerschmidt:
    OK, Fritz, my comments were a bit strong.
    But I’m not sure it’s relevant that the term I chose has also been used by others to attack non-Christian religions. To say the term therefore has connotations of bad, illiberal disrespect for non-Christians is illogical. This is a discussion among Christians about things Christians – actually, among Catholics about things Catholic.
    Maybe the better term is “scrupulous,” but I don’t think “fetishistic” is entirely out of line. Confessors and psychologists both have a long history of dealing with real illnesses of people, and there is no doubt that scruples and fetishes and obsessiveness and compulsiveness are tied to all sorts of ritual behaviors and attitudes about ritual.
    I think we Catholics should be honest about the ways in which our ritual system has fed into that. I’m sorry of my critique of our system was too strong. I really have lots of reverence for all the depth and beauty in our tradition!
  • #26 by Fritz Bauerschmidt on July 9, 2017 - 4:06 pm 
    @Anthony Ruff, OSB:
    I guess part of my concern is that we seem to be able to appreciate ritual behavior in every tradition but our own. I know Catholics who gush over seeing buddhist monks in their saffron robes but who roll their eyes at nuns in habits or priests in cassocks. I suspect the disparity is because they see an agenda at work in the habits and cassocks that they don’t see in the Buddhist robes. But maybe the habits and cassocks represent the same thing as the robes: a desire to give outward expression to a religious identity through a certain traditional attire. Maybe we shouldn’t presume the agenda without more evidence than a certain set of ritual behaviors. (NB: I’m not accusing you of doing this; but I have certainly seen it done.)
  • #27 by Anthony Ruff, OSB on July 9, 2017 - 4:25 pm 
    @Fritz Bauerschmidt:
    Good points, Fritz.
    I think it’s appropriate for us not to criticize others’ ritual traditions and to strive to respect them, since we’re outsiders to their tradition. (I suppose there are situations of inter-religious dialogue that are another matter.)
    As to our own tradition, which is checkered and (according to the last Council) in need of reform, there is a place for us to critique our tradition with our own tradition-specific principles.
    That critique has to have the right balance of respect for the past and honesty about its problems – a balance it’s hard to get right!
    Your comment helped me see I had gone too far with the honesty part and veered into disrespect.


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I would ask Fr. Anthony is being unscrupulous is to be preferred to being scrupulous. The term scrupulous is a generic term for Obessive Compulsive Disorder, like a person who constantly washes his hands, but this doesn't mean all germaphobs have OCD. When a priest follows the rubrics of the Mass, this isn't scrupulosity or OCD! But if he destroys the corporal cloth with his paten trying to get all the particles of the Host off of it, then yes, this is OCD, not really scrupulosity!

Victor said...

"Fetish" or scrupulous"? The term should be "honour". If there is a chance that a particle is left on the fingers, then we do our best to honour God by making sure none of Him is trampled on or discarded, even accidentally. Those closed fingers are a symbol of our honour and respect and acknowledge the Real Presence. Look, either the bread is the real divine Christ or the bread is not. If the Bread is Jesus, then to the best of our ability, we treat Him with our full honour in our humility. (Like for the pagans of ancient Greece, humility is not a virtue for today's God-less people.) I do not honour Jesus by trampling over him or throwing him into the waste bin when cleaning up the sanctuary. If those particles are no longer Jesus once they are on the fingers or when they drop off them, then hello Mr Luther and his consubstantiation. My, my, how the folks at PrayTell want to turn Catholicism into Lutheranism. That figures, since the Germanic worldview of Fr Ruff goes back to the philosophical Nominalism of Reformation times.

Fr Martin Fox said...

There was another comment by Father Anthony that stunned me, in another thread:

Well, the apostles never taught (or had heard of) the Assumption or the Immaculate Conception or papal infallibility. Or that there are 7 sacraments, or that Holy Orders has 3 levels.

He then goes on to say, "Attempts to spin all this as 'unpacking what was implicit' are highly forced."

Now, it is true that at least some of the Apostles would not have taught the Assumption -- because they were martyred before it happened! And, very possibly, some were far away when it happened. But it is also quite possible that some of the apostles were aware of Mary's death drawing near, and may well have come to see her -- exactly as tradition holds.

As for the rest, the most Father Anthony can say with confidence (i.e., unless he has access to knowledge denied most mere mortals) is that the terms he uses were not used by the Apostles: i.e., "sacrament," "Immaculate Conception," "papal infallibility," and "holy orders." Scripture does, in fact, bear witness to all these doctrines of the Faith. Saint Paul uses the term "mystery" to speak of sacraments, as Eastern Christians call them to this day; the three degrees of holy orders are explicitly referenced in the letters of Saint Paul. (Yes, scholars dispute Paul wrote these, but their contentions are not settled, and even they will frequently allow that the contents of the letters reflect Pauline thought.)

I don't know how anyone living almost 2,000 years later can make definitive assertions about what the Apostles knew. But then, I do not possess the apparently superhuman, transtemporal mindreading abilities of the amazing Father Anthony Ruff.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Fr Ruff borrowed a tape recorder from Fr Sosa and hid it where the Apostles were talking. He should release the tapes!

Rood Screen said...

I wonder why this man is a monk. Surely there's nothing less Modern than Benedictine monasticism.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

It is entirely possible to fetishize ritualistic behavior per se without regard for when or why it is used.

We must do it this way today because we have always done it this way is an example of fetishizing ritualistic behavior. Was there a good reason why uniting the fingers-that-touch-the-host? Maybe, maybe not. Is there a compelling reason, other than "we've always doe it that way" to require doing so today? I don't see it.

And most any time someone says "always" regarding the rubrics of the liturgy, take a deep breath and step back just a bit.

Victor said...

Fr. Kavanaugh:
Yes, but what is the best way for the priest to handle the Lord with his bare hand's? It was discovered, if not divinely revealed centuries ago, that, because the consecrated bread is the Lord, the best way to handle the Bread is for the priest, after the Lavabo, to keep his handling index finger and thumb clasped together except only when touching the Bread. That way these fingers are prevented from touching anything but the Bread until they are washed after communion. This minimalises the risk of profanation and sacrilege, of having even the microscopic particles of bread cast asunder irreverently. Nothing has changed over these centuries except that fewer and fewer Catholic clergy believe in the Real Presence. Do you believe in the Real Presence, and if so how to you treat the Lord with your bare hands? I, as a layman, am certainly not worthy to touch the Lord with my bare hands.....

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Victor - If there are no fragments of what is commonly understood to be bread on the priest's fingers, there is no danger of profanation.

Victor said...

Fr Kavanaugh:
And how do you know "If there are no fragments..." Do you use a magnifying glass to determine if you need to wash your fingers after Communion? The Church takes no chances, and asks that all priests ritually wash these fingers after Communion, implying that those fingers ought to touch only the Host after the consecration; an easy way to do that is to keep them closed.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Victor - You may not be, but I am aware of what is or is not on my fingers. If a magnifying glass, dissecting microscope, or some other aid to vision is needed, I would say that what may remain on a priest's fingers is not that which is commonly understood to be bread. Therefore....

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) says the following regarding the purification:

"278. Whenever a fragment of the host adheres to his fingers, especially after the fraction or the Communion of the faithful, the priest is to wipe his fingers over the paten or, if necessary, wash them. Likewise, he should also gather any fragments that may have fallen outside the paten."

This refers to visible fragments, even if small. The need for such washing, however, is actually quite rare, and most priests will use the first option of rubbing the fingers over the paten, occasionally with the help of a purifier."

- By Father Edward McNamara, A ZENIT DAILY DISPATCH, Rinsing of Hands After Distribution of Communion, Rome, 06 October 2015 . Retrieved from EWTN website

Victor said...

Fr Kavanaugh:
Wow. Thank you. I did not realise that the Novus Ordo was that bad, even inviting sacrilege. Thank God for Benedict's Summorum Pontificum!

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Victor - If there are no fragments, there is no sacrilege or invitation to sacrilege. The instruction, it seems to me, recognizes that the priest is the best to determine if washing is needed.