I think differently now. I think about my every day actions more critically. Why? Because I read reports of terrible things in the news: priests molesting children, bishops covering up for abusive priests, the Pope confusing Catholics with vague and imprecise language about dogma. I wonder if one of the causes of the evil we see is the watering down of the Catholic Church dogma in the name of charity and tolerance of differences?
I wonder about my actions and the actions of other professed “Catholics” in the context of the words: “If I believe….”
For example: The Catholic Church now allows the Holy Eucharist, the “host,” to be distributed to the faithful by lay people. On any given Sunday in most Catholic Churches in my area, “Aunt Sally” and “Uncle Joe,” dressed in t-shirts and shorts, can be seen handing out the Eucharist to lines of people who can easily be mistaken for a buffet line at the local Chinese restaurant. Something seems amiss.
So I ask myself: “If I believe (I mean REALLY believe) that the Holy Eucharist is the actual and genuine body and blood of Jesus Christ, our Savior, and not just a symbol….if I believe that when the sacramental bread and wine is blessed by a consecrated priest in the Blessed Sacrament, it is the transubstantiation or the conversion of bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ, is it safe for just anyone to handle the host and distribute it?”
In many Catholic Churches (in the “Novus Ordo” Mass – see the comparison here) lay people, called “Eucharistic Ministers” now distribute the Blessed Sacrament, just as the bishop, priests and deacons of the Church. I wonder, is there any danger in this practice?
I think there is a danger. I recently watched a video of people in Manila handing out sacred hosts to crowds, each person handing it back to others in the crowd, with no regard if some of the hosts fell and landed on the ground or in a pool of mud. If they truly BELIEVE the host is the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ, not just a symbol, should they be passing it around with such disregard? What is the proper way to handle God’s body and blood?
This post is not meant to be a discussion of dogma, or a repudiation of Vatican II Council. I’ll leave that to the theologians and Catholic traditionalists. I’m just considering this in terms of conscience and common sense.
Now I attend a traditional Latin Mass and I receive Communion on the tongue, administered by a consecrated priest, as I knell at the altar rail. Why? It feels right and reverent.
Recently, after Mass, and quite unexpectedly, the priest exposed the Holy Eucharist for an hour of adoration. I must have missed the announcement or failed to read the recent Church bulletin. Nevertheless, my evening plans aside, as I was preparing to leave the Church, I stared at the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the Holy Eucharist, which was displayed and exposed on the tabernacle within an ornate golden crucifix. I didn’t plan to stay another hour and I was surprised by this hour of adoration, so didn’t I have the right to scoot out the door? If I believe God is present, should I turn my back on Him and go home?
Many people left and I’m sure they had their reasons. I could not. I really believe He is present. I thought to myself: most people would not walk out on Bruce Springsteen or Paul McCartney if either performed on the altar and stayed for an extra hour encore. But they will walk out on God. Shouldn’t God be held in any higher regard than a rock star?
Think about it.
Here’s another example: If I really believe that after death we are judged by God and are saved only if we are in the state of grace and are one with God, would I ever willingly and knowingly commit sin, putting my eternal life at risk? After all, if I believe in eternity, this life is merely a “blip” in that timeline.
If I believe in eternal life in heaven with God and I were in the state of grace, would I use every means possible, including artificial breathing apparatus, artificial infusion of nutrition, and other means of extraordinary life support, to extend my earthly life for even one hour?
I could go on and on with more examples.
What do you believe? If you believe something, should your decisions and actions consciously conform to those beliefs? And if our actions don’t conform to our beliefs, are we just out of control or lacking self-discipline or just plain hypocrites? Or do we need to acknowledge that we may not really believe at all?