A radical proposal for the Eucharistic revival of the American Bishops’ Conference

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(Fr. John A. Perricone in Crisis Magazine)-Four simple changes to the way you receive Communion will do more to create a Eucharistic renaissance than any multi-million dollar program.

Ominous. It is the only word that can adequately describe the Pew Research 2020 Study. He polled Catholics on his belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Almost 70% of those surveyed said they did not believe in it. Chilling, but not surprising. Even a casual glance at the parishioners receiving Holy Communion in most Catholic parishes reveals a nonchalance that is revealing.

It is not necessary to be a phenomenologist to appreciate the importance of symbolic acts in man’s self-revelation. Insouciance before the Holy Eucharist is a damning sign, not only of the total absence of rudimentary piety, but of a withered belief in the doctrine itself. The one follows from the other as surely as day follows night. If a Catholic shows as little attention to the Holy Eucharist as he does to his Starbucks order, something is wrong.

The American bishops seem to have become aware of this alarming anomaly last year. It is strange that they detected this doctrinal collapse so recently, since it has been evident for more than half a century. It’s more like a man being bitten by a shark and only screaming an hour later.

Clearly, this collapse of the central dogma of the Catholic Church had its obvious antecedents, antecedents supported by carefully planned strategies that were gestated, all of them, among the greats of theology for decades. Many, now forgotten, deeply laid the foundations of the reviled Catholic faith now so ubiquitous. To name just a few:

  • Edward Schillebeeckx, OP, and his dimming of grace through the sacraments
  • Karl Rahner, and his “supernatural existential”; not to mention his iconoclastic article “How to receive and signify a sacrament”
  • All the work of concilium
  • The Sacramental Theology of the Theological Society of America, 1965-present

Although this list is not exhaustive (in fact, it is quite skeletal), it does suggest the formidable momentum that laid the foundations on which the current crisis rests.

All this cerebral theological rooting could only be called the mango of the spear The tip of the spear had two points: liturgy and catechesis. Without them, the revolution to undermine the Holy Eucharist would have been stillborn. These two glasses are the ones that bring faith to the faithful on foot. Liturgy and catechesis inculcate not only doctrine, but piety and the entire Catholic identity and drive.

The esoteric musings of bogus Catholic scholars would have gathered dust on the shelves of universities and seminaries unless they were translated into praxis through the instruments of liturgy and catechesis. This is exactly what was done with impressive and overwhelming results. In the case of catechesis, the old Baltimore Catechism firmly anchored the faith in the minds of the young; His successor leaves young Catholics adrift in a sea of ​​old-fashioned junk from the 1960s. And all of this has happened in the last sixty years under the negligent gaze of pastors and bishops. Or is it that we should assume that they had a sharp eye?

The transformation of Eucharistic theology has been so profound that well-meaning Catholics now confidently call the Mass “a meal” and the Holy Eucharist “communion bread.” From this logic, it is quite hostile, not to say inhuman, to deny any man or woman access to the Holy Eucharist. Not a few bishops rebuke a priest who even publicly repeats the traditional requirements for the reception of Holy Communion. Very “unwelcoming”, you see. This alarming doctrinal break entrenched itself so deeply that it even dictated new architectural forms for churches, confirming Marshall McLuhan’s principle: The medium is the message.

This helpful backdrop brings us back to the bishops. The Pew poll has been a shower of cold water on their heads, or on some of them. Something has to be done about it. Launch a three-year Eucharistic Revival culminating in a Eucharistic Congress in 2024. All Catholics pray for its success.

But, for this, it is convenient to make some proposals. At first glance, they may seem radical. In fact, they are; but only because they are placed so starkly against the devastated landscape of current Eucharistic practice. Some of these proposals may seem so antediluvian as to be laughable. But this further demonstrates that the Eucharistic doctrine has degraded so much that these things seem almost taboo, like swear words.

First proposal. Tabernacles return to the center of each church. It is interesting how the “liturgists” ordered this displacement of the tabernacle from the center of each church to the side, if not from the church itself. They appealed to Vatican II, the preferred tool to impose novelties on the Church that reconfigured the faith. Indeed, the relevant 1983 canon (derived from Sacrosanctum Concilium) contradicted this: “The tabernacle in which the Holy Eucharist is reserved must be placed in a truly noble part of the church or oratory, prominently decorated and suitable for prayer” (Canon 938,2).

Only the ill-considered would interpret this directive as something more than maintenance of the status quo of the churches before the Council. And point. Any marginalization of the tabernacle conveys the unquestionable message of marginalizing Christ himself. No theological-liturgical dissimulation can hide it. Liturgists may not abide by the inescapable laws of the natural symbol, but ordinary people do.

Second proposal: abolish communion in hand. This coarse practice, from the early 1960s, represented an undisguised break with an ancient tradition that deeply implanted a reflective understanding of the Holy Eucharist. With ease, traditional practice transmitted to the illiterate as well as the gifted the ineffable sacredness of the sacrament of the altar. No need for words or long explanations. Hence the immediacy of the symbolic act: informative, edifying and exciting.

Only the Church exploits the power of the symbol with its repertoire of ritual acts, all done without theatrics or kitsch, but embodying all the elements of authentic drama. What emerges is a unique marriage of the highest capacity of man for poetry threaded with the divine traces of the Third Person.

The early 1960s, that wretched age which rightly deserved WH Auden’s epithet for the 1930s “that low and dishonest decade,” marked the beginning of the demise of reverential and critical communion in the language, dating back to a restless European theological elite bent on tinkering with the faith of the Church. They made fatuous appeals to the “sacrality of the whole body” and innovation as an “ancient practice.” Those arguments were mendacious in their first appearance, but by now they are so out of date that their mere mention should cause embarrassment.

Its deadly spread so alarmed Pope Paul VI that he promulgated the Domini Memorial in 1969. Here he confronted the harmful practice illegally introduced, and ruled that it should cease because “after studying more thoroughly the truth of the Eucharistic mystery, its efficacy and the presence of Christ in it, already under the impulse of reverence towards this most holy sacrament, and because of the humility with which it should be received, the custom was introduced for the minister himself to deposit a particle of the consecrated bread on the tongue of those receiving communion».

This method of distributing Holy Communion must be preserved, taking into account the current situation of the Church throughout the world, not only because it has many centuries of tradition behind it, but above all because it expresses the veneration of the faithful for the Eucharist.

Third proposal: Eliminate Extraordinary Ministers of the Holy Eucharist. Again, to the common Catholic mind today, a suggestion like this sounds like the abolition of the Ten Commandments, just proving how pervasive the distorted understanding of the Holy Eucharist is. The fact that few Catholics refer to the Ministers extraordinary It is further proof of the tight control of doctrinal misunderstanding. The 1997 document promulgated by the Sacred Congregation for the Liturgy and the Discipline of the Sacraments (together with seven other departments) makes clear the character extraordinary of allowing the laity to distribute Holy Communion, well aware of the easy slide into doctrinal chaos: the Holy Father points out that “in some local situations generous and intelligent solutions have been sought (to the shortage of priests). The same legislation of the Code of Canon Law has provided new possibilities, which, however, must be applied correctly, so as not to fall into the ambiguity of considering ordinary and normal, solutions that were designed for extraordinary situations in which priests were lacking or scarce. .

These departments clearly adhered to Saint Thomas Aquinas in S.T. III, q.82, a.3, Does the administration of this sacrament correspond only to the priest?: «The administration of the body of Christ corresponds to the priest for three reasons. First, because, as we have just said, he consecrates in persona Christi. Now, in the same way that it was Christ himself who consecrated his body at dinner, so it was he himself who gave it to others to eat. For what corresponds to the priest not only the consecration of the body of Christ, but also its distribution. Second, because the priest is an intermediary between God and the people. Therefore, in the same way that it corresponds to him to offer to God the gifts of the people, so it corresponds to him also to deliver to the people the holy gifts of God. Third, because out of respect for this sacrament nothing touches it that is not consecrated, therefore the corporal, such as the chalice, are consecrated, as well as the hands of the priest, in order to touch this sacrament. Therefore, no one is allowed to touch him, except in a case of necessity, as if, for example, he fell to the ground or any other similar case.

Fourth proposal: The reception of Holy Communion must always be kneeling.. In recent years a war has been unleashed against the few Catholics who follow the crystalline inner logic of orthodox Catholic doctrine by kneeling to receive Holy Communion. In their rage to abolish kneeling, the innovators invoke the empty excuse of uniformity and “local custom.” Even the most naive Catholic sees him for the gross hoax that he is. One kneels to get a free lunch, not to receive the Bread of Angels (sorry, that kind of sacred language gives rise to the skin of the old guard). It is puzzling that the same pastors who perpetrated this not-so-veiled diminution of Eucharistic doctrine now wish to promote Eucharistic doctrine.

Attempting to disguise any longer the causes of the degradation of Eucharistic belief is monumentally false, on a par with the Wizard of Oz” commanding Dorothy: “Don’t listen to that man behind the curtain!”

Our good bishops have not been afraid of harboring radical gestures in the past, even when they have upset the faithful. Why not one more? Or four more?

Excellencies, shake the status quo. Don’t be afraid to scandalize. dare.

Be pioneers. Embark on an amazing Eucharistic rebirth.

One traditional. The only thing that is lost is a crisis.

Posted by Fr. John A. Perricone in Crisis Magazine

Translated by Verbum Expensive for InfoVatican

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A radical proposal for the Eucharistic revival of the American Bishops’ Conference