Thursday, November 22, 2007

Archbishop Ranjith on Communion in the hand

Thanks to Fr Finigan on the Hermenutic of Continuity for pointing out this part of a recent interview with Archbishop Ranjith. Father translates as follows:

Let us distinguish carefully. The post-conciliar reform was not entirely negative; on the contrary, there are many positive aspects in what has been realised. But there are also changes introduced without authorisation which continue to be carried forward despite their harmful effects on the faith and liturgical life of the Church.

I speak for example of a change that was brought about in the reform which was not proposed either by the Council Fathers or by Sacrosanctum Concilium, that is, communion in the hand. This contributed in a way to a certain loss of faith in the real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This practice, and the abolition of the altar rails, of kneelers in churches, and the introduction of practices which obliged the faithful to remain seated or standing during the elevation of the Most Holy Sacrament reduced the genuine meaning of the Eucharist and the sense of profound adoration which the Church should direct towards the Lord, the Only-begotten Son of God.

It is indeed interesting to see a reference to communion in the hand contributing to a certain loss in faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist (ad un certo calo di fede nella Presenza reale di Cristo nell’Eucaristia).

It`s getting hard to keep up with the good archbishop but at a quick glance at the rest of this interview I see the practice of standing or sitting throughout the consecration is condemned, the using of churches for secular meetings, the hiding away of the tabernacle in churches, the confusion of the roles of the clergy and laity on the sanctuary which renders it a `place of disturbance and of too much movement and not certainly `the place` where the Christian is able to grasp the sense of amazement and splendour before the presence and saving action of the Lord.` Also the use of dancing and musical instruments not suited to the liturgy as well as homilies of a political character.


Anonymous said...

we're so lucky having the altar rails intact & i've returned to communion on the tongue..

gemoftheocean said...

I'm beginning to think this liturgical dance business is a snipe hunt, invented by those who don't like any of the changes in the church post Vatican II. Times I've seen liturgical dance? Zero. Times I've seen it mentioned in real parishes? Double Zero. Times I've been in conversation with someone who was actually present at a Mass where it was featured? Triple zero. Times I've seen people whip up mass hysteria over it like it's a common phenomenon? Too many to count. This practice, has been condemned for years. Some people make it sound like this happens frequently.

While I'd agree that kneeling should be the preferred posture for the consecration, remind me again what they do in St. Peter's? Sit? No. Kneel? No Not unless young and have the knees for it - not on those stone hard floors. What do they do? Oh. Stand. What do people do when someone important comes into a room? Oh. Stand. Last I looked standing can also be construed as a sign of respect. I've no problem with people wanting to receive Communion on the tongue - that should be their right - and kneeling should they wish. But I also have a hard time envisioning this scenario:

Jesus: "Peter, tilt your head back and stick out your tongue so I can give you Communion."

Let's not get carried away here. If it requires someone to believe in the the Real Presence based on whether one receives on the tongue rather than in the hand -- then things have really gone to hell in a hand basket. I thought religion was for adults too. Most people know there's more than one way to do something, and both can be right and proper. Otherwise the notion of "receiving on the tongue only, it's the only valid way to get you to believe in the Real Presence" comes off a little as the same people who would posit "Step on a crack, break your mother's back." I think it falls in the category of superstition to believe that the person who receives on the tongue is automatically more pious than the person who prefers in the hand. I suggest people "grow up" and not assume either way.

Either way, the Communion host is going to end up with all your stomach acids and be digested and come out the other end of you no matter if you touched it with your hand first or your tongue. Get a grip, people! Amazing how the people who faint at the thought of Communion in the hand never pause to think it's also going to end passing through their alimentary system.

A few people would do well to remember that correlation does not automatically equate to causation.
"See, I told you if we kept the pink elephants away, there'd be good weather and there is - you don't see any pink elephants around, do you? Well, that PROVES it then."

As for musical instruments? No, a drum kit and electric guitars are likely out,as a rule of thumb. But one should give pause to remember that Silent Night was originally written for the acoustic guitar - the organ having gone out that day, and the priest wrote the simple song. [I've never been able to stand that particular song myself, I expect I find it overly gag inducing for some reason - it's just me.] I think it would be fair enough to ban the kazoo and the harmonica. I rather like the piano, if done well. It's technically a percussion instrument.

As far as "confusion of roles" can't say I've ever seen a layman offer Mass - so I don't know why, in particular, the good Archbishop is in a tizzy. Are people really so stupid as to not know who is whom?

I'm happy that the traditionalists have TLM back, with Pope Benedict telling the bishops to back off - but please, in some quarters the Benedict mania is a little overdone. He's infallible on faith and morals, for sure - but just because he says "I think it will rain today" doesn't mean it's bound to happen. In that case, he puts his cassock on one sleeve at a time, like the next priest.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Gem, I wish I could agree. I have seen liturgical dance on a number of occasions. The last time it was a post communion thing at a Mass at which I was concelebrating. As I saw it mentioned in the leaflet I managhed to slide out of the side door of the sanctuary before it started and went home. Other times I`ve not been so lucky. It just makes me very angry given that the people who promote it dismiss serious music at Mass which people can`t join in but expect the cogregation to sit as spectators while the ladies in leotards go through the motions.

The rule is that people should kneel at the consecration. Almost every time I attend Mass on the continent (of Europe)while I kneel there is invariably someone in front ofme who stands and so obscures the view for all behind. That doesn`t mean it`s right.

As for Communion on the tongue. I read somewhere ( I`ll try to find the reference) that in Semitic societies it was not unknown to put food in someon`e mouth as a sign of intimacy and as such could have been used at the Last Supper. However the Apostles were ordained priests at that time. I believe all the traditional rites have Communion on the tongue except the Syro-Malabar rite. I don`t think it is a sign that people are more pious if they receive on the tongue but i agree with the archbishop that it has led to a certain loss of faith in the real presence. I think you`ll agree that we have a crisis of faith regarding the Eucharist.

I`m loathe to take a stand on musical instruments. I like Mozart Masses but remember that Pius X didn`t. However there do appear to be some instruments which are inherently unsuitable for the liturgy as you say.
If you are unclear what is meant by confusion of roles I suggest that you have a look at Chris Gillibrand`s Catholic Church Conservation blog and look at his photos of `stealth priestesses` etc.

Glad you are happy for those of us who want the TLM. I always say that if you can live a happy Catholic life with the Novus Ordo then do because it`s hard work supporting the TLM.

gemoftheocean said...

Dear Fr. Brown, thank you for your very kind reply (Btw, I've been meaning to add you to my blogroll, I've been mostly lurking at your site off and on.)

I'm sorry you've seen liturgical dance. From what I have read about it, it seemed a practice that was meant to account for some non-western cultures.. God knows what they planned that for in the first place, but I'm sorry to see that it's still used anytime, anyplace, anywhere. Just out of curiosity, where was this done where you had concelebrated?

I don't like it where people stand when there are kneelers provided. As you say for one thing, it does block the view of all behind them. In the US, other than those parishes cursed with a hippy pastor, the kneelers have remained pretty intact - I've yet to attend Mass at a church where they were lacking ... SAVE, for initially Mass at an Eastern Rite church in town -- the church now has pews, but initially didn't. The tradition there being more to standing as they had in those european churches they came from where there was neither kneeler nor seat. I can appreciate the fact that some have bad knees. Well then, they can either stand in the very last row as it wouldn't disturb those behind them ... now that I'm past 50 with bad knees myself, I can appreciate that some people will do the "rear end on the pew, but at least try and put a knee on the pew if they can manage." Something I didn't understand when I was young and possessed knees in great working order. And of course, those old European cathedrals sans pew or kneeler do fall in a different category.

I quite agree there is a crisis of belief in the Real Presence - but I think this comes from poor catechesis and lack of Catholic inculcation from early childhood. In spring of '64 I was in the first group of youngsters to receive their 1st Communion in the NO. I quite liked then, and still think today that turning the Mass around was the best thing about it. I was always very frustrated that I could NEVER see (and indeed was told by the nuns in 1st grade that I would never see "what was going on" given I was a girl and would only get to be in the sanctuary when I was married or professed and for my 1st communion and confirmation. Outside of vacuuming the sanctuary, I was going to be out of luck regards seeing what was happening. )

I think SO many things happened in the 60s and 70s that were just plain wrong. Not so much the NO in and of itself - it was the fact that they threw the baby out with the bathwater. For instance WHY fewer and fewer Holy Hours? WHY the lack of Benediction? I count myself very lucky that my mother was particularly devout, and we would attend these on an almost weekly basis. First Fridays etc. All of those lovely and important expressions of WORSHIP -- tossed out for a crummy felt banner. Now I'm not totally ragging on the people who made them. They probably meant well, and they weren't the ones deciding that Benediction wasn't important. I'm glad to say things like Benediction are making a comeback. 20 years ago you had to do much searching to find one properly done. It's easier now...but still much work needs to be done in bringing back that practice. A few churches do have Perpetual Adoration. For which I am most grateful to be able to stop by and visit when the host is in the monstrance and I can just sit and pray in The Presence. I say also bring back the May Crownings and the Corpus Christi processions.

And what about our school systems? Too often "gone with the wind." I grant you that learning about the faith is the primary responsibility of the parents - but the schools backed all that up, and filled in things the parents didn't always know themselves.

When I was 19-through my early 20s, for about 7 years I was a CCD teacher. I saw inadequate instruction materials - and these were given to the kids who needed it the most - the ones who didn't go to Catholic school. I wasn't so much worried about the kids who had parents who practiced the faith and were fervent - but I felt it was my duty to supplement (by a LOT) things that were "left out." Things I was expected to know by my 1st Communion simply weren't in the kid's Micky Mouse religion books. I did what I could to see they understood the Mass, knew their prayers, went over the sacraments again and again. But you can only do so much with ONE hour of formal instruction a week. But that was off my bat and not out of the crummy texts the idiot publishers were putting out. The kids in the 70s and 80s really got rooked and cheated.

And there are far fewer Catholic schools. Not upper middle class? Or at the least Middle class in the socio-economic scale? Fat chance of your kid getting the kind of sound catechetical instruction routinely given to the children of even the poor and working class families in days gone by in Catholic schools. The druggies have moved to the inner cities and the suburban parishes don't have the schools they should.

Re: Communion in the hand. Even I would say to be careful that the faithful are properly instructed. No wandering off before consuming. (I help distribute Communion at Mass and keep an eagle eye that the Host is put in the mouth.) We get a lot of visitors. It helps if parishes don't use the big hosts that break for the people. This is a stupid idea, because it leaves Crumbs, and I don't want to distribute anything that's crumbly.

With musical instruments, I can keep an open mind somewhat. [Save those kazoos and electric guitars and amplified instruments.) In college in our frosh history of music class it was pointed out that when polyphonic music came into the church it was considered shocking and unruly in some quarters. All I ask is that the mediocre not chase the good and excellent. And I'd agree there's a lot of crummy mediocre out there. You can put a fine saddle on a jackass -- but it's still a jackass. But why have plain Tomato juice when you could have a V-8?

BTW, somewhere amongst the priest's blogs I read it was recently noted that fervor increases where there is Benediction and exposition. Didn't matter whether the parish was NO or not.

As for the Gillibrand site -- well, let me guess. He has an older sister who could out roller skate him. Let me guess he wouldn't be having a hissy fit if a layman were to be pastoral assistant. PA's are never to be preferred to priests - but if you were the guy out in the boonies with 10,000 Catholics and ONE priest, I hate to tell you, but there may have to be some laypeople pressed into service to do things the laity can assist with. Stop paying "wimmin's pay" if you want men to do the job. In other words, Gilli can put up or shut up! The meditation room is hideous, but I want to hear the actual words out of the horse's mouth before I pass judgment on a bunch of still photos. [If I had ONE impossible wish it would be that every man should be changed into a woman for one week, and vice versa. I think we'd all understand each other a lot better, psychologically. ain't gonna happen though.]

Along the lines of of NO/vs TLM - the TLM has a LOT going for it. But I do think if places are going to do it regularly, there ought to be some basic instructions/classes offered for the laity who may not know Latin. (I had almost 2 years of college Latin.) My own priest (now 79, who said the Latin Mass for 10 years) DESPAIRED when people would recite the rosary DURING the Mass, because they didn't know enough Latin or didn't have a hand missal with parallel translation. It's all well and good that the Mass has its profound elements of Mystery -- but it shouldn't be "mysterious" in the way that invites the casual observer to inadvertent superstition. you don't want to be "mysterious" for the wrong reasons, in other words.

If there is one place in particular I think the NO shines, it's in the revised lectionary. Far more scripture is covered. If I got to play amateur "Karen, fix one thingsthat's wrong about the liturgy of the word" I'd say fix it so that John 6 is said EVERY year at Sunday Mass rather than cycle "B." That may be part of the problem with what's wrong. The priest needs to hammer that every year and make the subject of the Real Presence fit in to many homilies.

God Bless you and the work you do.


Anonymous said...

Jackie, so have I. I'm nearly the only one in my parish and that makes for a little discomfort. However, I'm much happier receiving this way.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Dear Karen, the only times I remember seeing liturgical dance was at Masses in this diocese. I`m happy that you can cope with Mass facing the people. However it is worth remembering that in the earliest basilicas a curtain ran between the four pillars of the altar canopy and during the canon it was drawn so no-one would see anything! I sometimes imagine building such a thing around the altar here: then it wouldn`t matter whether the priest `faced the people` or not!
You are right about devotions. I have an hour of exposition in each of my parishes and Rosary and Benediction on a Sunday afternoon but the attendance isn`t enormous. However that doesn`t matter: I need it and am delighted if anyone else wants to come too.

You may also be happy to know that I ran a `Latin for beginners` course twice in my last parish (as well as once for Greek) and am thinking of putting it on again next year for Forest Hall. However I don`t really think a knowledge of Latin is that important if a person has a Latin-English missal.

The three year lectionary is interesting but often the various books of scripture have to be so abbreviated as to make it irritating. I`m not sure the liturgy is the place for Scripture study and don`t think I`d miss it if I only said the TLM.

I`ll add you to my blogroll too.

gemoftheocean said...

Thanks Father. So glad you've run people through the basic Latin and are considering doing it again. I know in the Jewish temple there had been the veil to separate the holy of holies. Sometimes I also find the shortened scripture sections annoyingly brief - especially the 40 word snatches that essentially say "Paul says hey." Instead of saying "The word of the Lord" I sometimes feel like saying "Tune in again at this same station next week - WILL Paul finally get to the point? Will Prisca be mentioned again?" I think sad to say too many Catholics don't pick up the bible as often as they should, and this at least gives the average Joe in the pews more exposure. Then the priest can chose to incorporate same or not.

Just depending on your Sunday schedule, have you experimented with having at least Benediction directly after your main Sunday Mass? Or if you have, say, two morning Masses on Sunday, tried scheduling Benediction smack between the two of them -- thereby perhaps catching people who stay after Mass a bit, or arrive early for the next? Just a thought. Does your parish have a school? There's a nearby parochial school that has the children attend Mass once a week and Benediction is done afterwards. At least there is according to last night's altar server when I quizzed him on his school's frequency of attending Benediction. He loves all the incense. I say, do it in Latin (and provide with a running English translation.) Kids think it's kind of neat and as the Latin doesn't change it's the sort of thing that can be learned if repeated frequently.

I'm interested that you also put on a session re: Greek. As the Kyrie all by its lonesome wouldn't need a whole separate lecture on its own (unless you are doing something really exotic) I'd be curious to know what else you covered in that.

Ah, wait. I just did a blog search for you on the word "Greek." I see. I would have attended! I've been trying to off and on get a start at Greek. (It would be fun to be able to read the NT in the original.) I can google the Peter Jones books you mentioned.

I'm glad to see Latin making a small comeback in our secondary schools. I'm at the age where they had dropped it just before I got to high school - in favor or all modern languages. I felt cheated, so I did get 5 academic trimesters worth of Latin in college. There was a nice Episcopalian classics scholar who taught the course. We went through Wheelock's grammar the first year plus some simple text from various sources. Then we waded in on the Aeneid the second year and did books 2 and 6. I was a history major.

*personally* I wouldn't mind if they did all the unchangeable parts of the Mass in Latin, even in the NO - but human nature being what it is I know there are a lot of people out there who just wouldn't do the work to familiarize themselves, or intellectually wouldn't be able to handle it.

Best to you in our part of the vineyard.