Saturday, March 01, 2008

Requiescat in pace

Nov. 24, 1925 - Feb. 27, 2008

William F. Buckley, Jr., was my hero while I was in high school seminary. I used to religiously (pardon the pun) watch his weekly television show on PBS, Firing Line. I was so impressed by his erudite debates with his guests and by his prolific use of polysyllabic words, that I imitated his style in most of my essays and term papers. Some faculty members detected WFB's influence and used every opportunity to attempt discrediting this perspicacious intellect.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship Reiterates: It's Time to Rethink Communion in the Hand

Bruno Volpe, of Petrus, recently interviewed the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

Bruno Volpe: Your Excellency, let us come to the question of Communion in the hand: What do you think about it?

Msgr. Albert Malcom Ranjith: I 'simply' believe that this practice needs to be reviewed. How to do it? To begin with, a good catechesis. You know, unfortunately, many are not even aware of Whom they receive in the Communion, that is Christ, and so approach the Eucharistic banquet with scarce concentration and very little respect.

Volpe: Specifically, what needs to be done?

Ranjith: We need to recover the sense of the sacred. I speak only for myself, but I am convinced of the urgency of reviewing the practice of Communion given in the hand, returning to giving the particle to the faithful directly in the mouth, without them touching it, reinforcing thereby that in the Eucharist there is really Jesus and that everyone must receive Him with devotion, love and respect.

Volpe: Would it not be appropriate to return to kneeling at the moment of Communion?

Ranjith: I think so. This gesture would represent a true act of respect towards the gift and the mystery of the Eucharist.

Volpe: But some, even inside the Church, seem to express “embarrassment” only at the idea of seeing restored kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament.

Ranjith: Beyond the office I occupy in the Vatican, as a Catholic I ask myself and wonder: why be ashamed of God? Kneeling at Communion would be an act of humility and recognition of our nature as children of God.

Fr. Zuhlsdorf has consistently spoken of a gravitational pull between the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite, with which I totally and unequivocally agree. Many of us believe Pope B16 intends that both the TLM and the Novus Ordo mutually enhance one another insofar as the future of Catholic sacred worship is concerned. Since Divine Liturgy is integral to Catholic dogma (lex orandi, lex credendi), it is obvious that in this post Vatican II (and post JP2) era, a liturgical renaissance is unfolding. While still in the advent of such an epic moment, the most important element of contemporary worship is the decline in REVERENCE.

Just as Communion in the Hand was banned in the Middle Ages after abuses became prolific, it may very well need to be re-banned again. While currently a legitimate option in many American dioceses, the Roman Pontiff can easily revise that prior decision of his predecessor. If the modern liturgists are so convinced that their 'preference' of receving 'in the hand' is so beneficial, why not put their theory to the test? Observe parishes where one method is the overwhelming preference of the entire congregation (and parish). I maintain that places where people receive Holy Communion on the tongue rather than in the hand tend to show more respect and reverence for the REAL PRESENCE.

If universally (in the Latin Rite) we only allowed communion on the tongue AND required communicants to KNEEL or GENUFLECT, you would see a pronouned difference and improvement in the overal REVERENCE given to the Most Blessed Sacrament. Combine this celebrating the vernacular Mass (Novus Ordo) ad orientem AND insist that unchangeable common parts of the Mass be retained in LATIN (or Greek for the Kyrie) such as the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Canon (Eucharistic Prayer), Pater Noster and Agnus Dei, not only would the reverence to the Holy Eucharist be enhanced, but the dogma of the Real Presence would simultaneously be REINFORCED and re-emphasized.

Wherever the Most Blessed Sacrament is adored and worshipped with proper reverence and respect, we see a pronounced INCREASE in vocations to the priesthood but also to the diaconate and religious life. Banal and pedestrian worship is not edifying nor does it INSPIRE man to ASPIRE to seek the HOLY. Yet, God created man (male and female) to seek the TRUE and the GOOD. Only in pursuing sanctity can man become holy by God's divine grace. Yet, man has no desire for holiness if his 'common' worship gives him the false impression that there is no transcendent reality beyond this world. Catholic worship is centered on the union of body and soul, material and spiritual, earth and heaven. We are INCARNATIONAL. Hence, our worship uses our five senses of this world to lure us into the next. Sadly, all too often modern liturgy has not led men to God and to heaven. When done properly (according to the rubrics) and well (reverently) the Ordinary form (Novus Ordo) of the Roman Rite is dignified, eloquent, didactic and inspiring. When done improperly, it deteriorates from divine worship into human deification.

BOTH the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Roman Rite are here to STAY, Pope Benedict XVI has said, and this is a good thing. In this spring time of renewal, let us hope and pray that the sacred mysteries of faith will once again find their rightful place in the hearts and minds of all the Catholic faithful.

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