Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Bridle the Tongue (Keyboard)

By now just about everyone has heard about the Bishop of Calgary suspending the TLM over the reception of Communion on the Tongue during the Swine Flu. Certainly this is an unfortunate act and we should pray for His Excellency that the Holy Spirit would change his heart.

It may not be understood by the bishop why Communion in the hand is so offensive to pious sensibilities. Perhaps a lot of people who receive in the hand don't understand. Some might even think we are being scrupulous about crumbs. We need to take the time to charitably explain our reasons while resisting the urge to throw toothless anathemas at them.

Understandably, lot of people are now irate. There is a certain righteous anger which is not only justified but also holy when something like this happens. But we need to mitigate our feelings in order to prevent comments like this...

There is error and heresy in every single diocese in the entire world. There are no more Catholic countries anymore. Every single country in the world is missionary territory. Led the blind follow the blind, as the majority of Catholic bishops lead their flocks to hell with them.

...from spewing our of our mouths and keyboards. Keep the thoughts in check too. The above comment reads like a propaganda pamphlet from the Reformation and was one I spotted on an internet forum. I once heard someone say that traditionalists can be their own worst enemies. It is true. Charity will win hearts and minds. Just who do we think we are helping with the vitriol? How many souls are won by vicious adolescent commentary on internet forums?

For those who think these times have somehow brought on a new phenomenon of unjust acts by their shepherds I invite them to read Church history. We started out with bad bishops (Judas...) and we will end with them. Bad acts by bishops are not a good reason to hurl comments the demons admire. That is what they did during the revolt and many left the Church by falling prey to the anger.

It is good to remember that the traditional movement now has a lot more friends in the hierarchy than before. I think we all know that and I believe we will have a good outcome to the present unfortunate situation.

People who cannot keep their anger in check should take up the Rosary rather than the keyboard. Not all of us are St. Jerome ya know.


Brian Thomas said...

I am someone who enjoys your posts and their traditional leanings. I participate in an Eastern rite of the Church I also will be singing this Christmas eve at a Latin Mass. I like those who favor beauty and tradition in the liturgy and want to see more reform. So I am glad you posted this, because sometimes it seems there is danger in getting too critical or rebellious. But one thing I wonder if you think of much (regarding your preference of receiving the Eucharist on the tongue, as I also practice when going to Mass at a Latin Rite Church) is if the fact that before people received on the tongue, they were receiving in the hand. Sometimes traditionalists argue falsely that a reason to insist more people receive on the tongue universally is because it should not have been changed to on the hand, not realizing that receiving on the hand was practiced in earlier liturgies, which is part of why they saw fit to allow it again.
My view is that I might like seeing them change it back again because it may increase reverence for Communion that I think may be lost. But if a Bishop sees fit to suspend the practice do to health reasons, I am not sure that this is the worst thing either. There were after all many times when the cup is simply not offered due to health or practical reasons etc.
But I am not really commenting on this decision (don't know enough to defend or criticize it), so much as wondering if traditionalists much consider that their preference is not actually the older or more "traditional" approach. If they argue for it, I would like to see them use theological or other arguments for it.

Matt said...

Hi Brian,

Thanks for your comment. The historicity of receiving on the tongue or in the hand is somewhat of a moot point for Traditionalists except in the point of the end of its practice. The issue here is one of right vs. wrong and that of potential sacrilege in an age of lost reverence and increased hatred toward the Eucharist.

Briefly, we believe the potential for sacrilege is hightened to an unacceptable degree by the practice of Communion in the hand. So did the Church when it ended the discipline in the first millenium.

Another way to look at it is that we reject the false archeologisms such as those talked about by Pius XII in Mediator Dei. Just because something is older doesn't make it better.

As to the Bishop changing the practice temporarily, he (for better or worse) does not have the authority to do that. Roma locuta, causa finita as they say.

Here is another analogy. If for safety reasons the Bishop mandated that all confessions be made in the middle of the Church with everyone listening would that offend pious sensibilities? Certainly it would not hurt the validity of the sacrament and it was done that way in the early Church at times.

People would go crazy and would not go to Confession. The same sort of thing is going on here with the Eucharist. We know small but identifiable pieces of Our Lord fall to the ground, get trampled on, or get brushed between the hands.

Hope that helps!

Brian Thomas said...

Thanks for the reply. A lot of it makes sense. I think what bothers me is when people are upset in a way that seems to divide as opposed to charitably repair. To favor a view and to pray for its return to practice is a good thing. To defend it. But when people start becoming disconnected from the Church at large or refrain from even receiving the sacraments or going to Church because of these things I feel like it can not be in the best interest of their salvation. Some traditionalists I have met seem to leave me wondering if they even think the "norvus ordo" mass is valid due to some of their complaints. I can see them hoping that it will be modified/reformed, even praying for it while attending other liturgies. But at a certain point if you are Catholic, you have to realize that the Church has the authority to have made the decisions it has, and even if they can or should be changed back later, graces are still flowing to the faithful who are practicing according to what is suggested or allowed to them. While I am willing to believe that receiving on the tongue may be a better way, I am not going to judge others who receive on the hand and do so very piously. For instance, even in our Eastern liturgy, The Priest and Deacons receive on the hand while the faithful do not.
Are you saying that in this situation that the Bishop made a decision that he did not have the authority to make? I am not well aware of the situation. Still, I think that for the faithful the best recourse is obedience to a Bishop while possibly writing letters to him or his superiors or Rome. If I were in there position I think I would receive on the hand rather than not receive at all, which I think may be the greater insult, in my opinion. If there is anything definitely wrong with the practice, I would think that the Bishop is culpable, and the faithful are receiving the graces of the Sacrament.

"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton