Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Our duty to protect the Most Blessed Sacrament

"In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favoritism." (Redemptionis Sacramentum, n. 183)

5 comments:

Moonshadow said...

The parishioners in my former parish often told how then Bishop Reiss, as a young priest, had recovered the tabernacle from a burning St. James Church in Red Bank at great personal risk.

As if we needed any more reason to be in awe of him.

I wonder if I could ...

japhy said...

I've heard of people going to similar great lengths, but that if one had to choose between rescuing the Blessed Sacrament or people, you should rescue the people, because although abuses to the Blessed Sacrament are grave matter, no pain comes (or can come) to the Lord through the Eucharist: just as the Lord is not divided during the Fraction, and the Lord is not crushed between our teeth, so too a fire that destroys a tabernacle causes no injury to him.

preacherman said...

Japhy,
I am learning about the Catholic Church and wanted to know when you say, "Sacrament of the Eucharist" is that what non-Catholics would call The Lord Supper or Communion? I know that I strive to be reverant and respect what Christ has done when I take the waffer and drink the "wine". Can you let me know? Oh, I would love your thoughts on my blog from a Catholic thoughts on what you think the Church needs to do to thrive. I would love for you stop and share your thoughts if you'd like brother.

Another question is what must one due to become a Catholic?

Your friend,
Kinney Mabry

japhy said...

preacherman when you say, "Sacrament of the Eucharist" is that what non-Catholics would call The Lord Supper or Communion?

Yes; we know it by many, many names: the Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Holy Communion, etc. Each of the names we have for it describes part of it.

For instance, we call it the Eucharist (from the Greek eucharistein, "thanksgiving") because Jesus, when he took the bread and wine and blessed it and gave thanks (cf. Matt 26:26-27): it is the "thanksgiving sacrifice" (the todah as Israel called it) to God the Father. We call it the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because it is the sacramental re-presentation (not a representation or symbol) of the ONE sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary, the same sacrifice that he pre-presented to his disciples at the Last Supper. And we call it Holy Communion because it is the sign and means of our being in holy communion with God and His Holy Church.

It is the memorial of the Lord's death and resurrection, but not in the common secular sense of "memorial". It's a memorial the way the Passover was a memorial of the Exodus: each Passover spiritually connected the Israelites who partook of it with the first Passover and the Exodus. Think of it, not as "memorial day", but rather as a Civil War re-enactment... the big difference being that a Civil War re-enactment is a play, a performance, essentially fake, but the Memorial at Mass is the real deal.

I know that I strive to be reverant and respect what Christ has done when I take the waffer and drink the "wine". Can you let me know?

St. Paul says it is very important to receive communion reverently! (Cf. 1 Cor 10:16-21, 11:27-30) The norm among Catholics is to receive the Host (the Eucharist under the appearance of bread) by kneeling and having the priest place it on their tongue; in the last 40 years, some other practices have been permitted in some places (standing instead of kneeling, and having the Host placed in our hand rather than on our tongue), but I think kneeling and receiving on the tongue shows the most reverence for so great a Sacrament. Catholics are also permitted, on occasion (although some places do it all the time), to receive from the Chalice. We are never to receive Holy Communion (under either form) if we are conscious of grave ("mortal") sin; we must first go to Confession.

There are three important differences between the Eucharist in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches and the Lord's Supper in other Christian communities:

The first is that the bread and wine are changed, in substance (reality) into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ; only their "accidents" (physical characteristics) remain. We see what looks like bread, we taste what appears to be wine, but that is simply because our senses cannot detect the change, only faith can. What were bread and wine are no longer bread and wine: instead, as Jesus said, they are his Body and Blood. The Catholic Church calls this "transubstantiation" (that is, "a change of substance"), not "transformation" (because the form is not changed).

The second is that, as I said before, it is the sacramental re-presentation (in an unbloody manner) of the ONE sacrifice of Jesus Christ, 2000 years ago. It isn't a symbol.

And third... we have a "closed Communion", which means that you must be a Catholic to receive the Eucharist (except under very, very specific and extreme circumstances). The reason is because the Eucharist is "Holy Communion": it's the sign of our communion with the Church, so if you aren't in communion with the Church, you can't receive the Eucharist. It's not just a sign that you believe in Jesus Christ, but that you believe all that God has revealed to His Holy Catholic Church.

I would love your thoughts on my blog on what you think the Church needs to do to thrive.

Yeah, I've been meaning to share on that topic of yours... I'll get around to it soon.

Another question is what must one due to become a Catholic?

You must be baptized in the traditional trinitarian form -- "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:18) -- which you already are, and you must give an assent to the faith of the Catholic Church. You would, of course, be instructed in the faith... we wouldn't ask you if you believe in something you haven't been informed about! You don't have to understand it all (although throughout our lives, we try to come to a better understanding), and you might not know why something is true, but you can still believe it by faith alone. Bluntly put, if you don't believe all the Catholic Church says is revealed as Truth by God, why would you want to be a member of it?

japhy said...

I'd like to expand on what I said about the method of receiving:

The norm among Catholics is to receive the Host (the Eucharist under the appearance of bread) by kneeling and having the priest place it on their tongue; in the last 40 years, some other practices have been permitted in some places (standing instead of kneeling, and having the Host placed in our hand rather than on our tongue), but I think kneeling and receiving on the tongue shows the most reverence for so great a Sacrament.

This is, of course, written from a Latin and Western perspective. In the Eastern Catholic Church, the norm is to receive standing, by intinction (that is, the Precious Body is mixed in with the Precious Blood): they receive a portion of both forms on a spoon-like instrument and this is "poured" (if you will) into their mouth. Another method is that the priest will take the consecrated bread and dip it into the chalice and then place that on the tongue. The point is that the Eastern Church receives Holy Communion standing, and I meant in no way to denigrate their traditional practice. The Western Church adopted a kneeling posture around a thousand years ago, as a result of cultivating a greater adoration for the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. (Kneeling is not found much in the Eastern Church, but that is certainly not related to their profound respect and adoration of the Eucharist.)

That second method of intinction is also done in some places in the Western Church: the priest takes a Host, dips it into the Chalice, and places it on our tongue. (Self-intinction, by which a person receives the Host and then dips it in the Chalice themselves, is not allowed; nor is an intincted Host allowed to be handed to a person: it must be placed on their tongue.)

So, from my Western Cathlic perspective, I find kneeling and receiving on the tongue to be the best representation of our adoration and reverence for the Eucharist, as well as our humility in receiving. An Eastern Catholic would feel that standing and receiving by intinction best represents his or her Eucharistic spirituality.

(I don't know how many Eastern Catholic or Orthodox readers this blog has, but I would never wish to offend them over the Eucharist!)