As we know only too well, the wreckage produced by nearly forty years of liturgical revolution is vast. It is particularly sad to see how young people have been affected by an ambiance of anthropocentricity and community self-congratulations. My wife Sharon and I observed about seventy 7th graders in the religious education program of St. Matthew's Church in Dix Hills, Long Island, New York, display an abysmal sense of the respect due our Lord's Real Presence while they awaited their turn to go to Confession on Thursday afternoon, November 15, 2001. Brought into the church by their religious education teachers, none of the children (that's right, not one) genuflected before our Lord solemnly exposed in a monstrance for adoration. Not one of the children genuflected at all, no less did a double genuflection before our Lord's Real Presence. Talking abounded throughout the church. Efforts to ask the children to remain quiet were met with cross-eyed stares of disbelief. To compound matters, these children attended the parish's 5:15 p.m. Mass that day. Many of them were gabbing during the Consecration, chewing gum, and poking each other, often in full view of their parents, many of whom were engaged in their own conversations with friends and neighbors.
Folks, this did not happen fifty years ago. Children were taught in Catholic schools and what used to be called CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) programs and in their own Catholic homes how to comport themselves while in church and/or attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If children did not demonstrate a proper degree of respect and reverence they were smacked inside their little heads but good. Children are capable of learning discipline and self-control at a very early age, as witnessed by the success home-schooling parents who are devoted to the Traditional Latin Mass have with their own children. These parents are simply using the time-honored approach of the good Catholic parents of the past: teach children to love God and to keep holy things holy. Period.
The new Mass has generated this confusion and disrespect. No amount of Lockean structural reform (such as Liturgiam Authenticam) is going to correct problems which have their root in the very essence of the nature of the new Mass. Thus, it is important to continue our review of GIRM as a means of understanding how all of the king's horses and all of the king's men cannot ever put Humpty Dumpty together.
Paragraph 83 of GIRM reads as follows:"The priest breaks the Eucharistic bread. This gesture of Christ at the Last Supper, which in apostolic times gave the entire Eucharistic action its name signifies that in sharing in the one bread of life which is Christ, who died and rose for the salvation of the world, the many faithful are made one body (1 Cor. 10, 17). The breaking of the eucharistic bread is begun after the sign of peace, and is carried out with reverence. Nor should it be unnecessarily prolonged or its importance be overemphasized. This rite is reserved to the priest and the deacon. Then the priest drops a small piece of the consecrated bread into the chalice. During the breaking of the bread, the Lamb of God is, as a rule, sung by the choir or cantor with the congregation responding; otherwise, it is at least recited aloud. This invocation accompanies the breaking of the bread and, for this reason, may be repeated as many times as necessary until the conclusion of the rite. The final repetition concludes with the words: Grant us peace."
Comment and Analysis:
Eucharistic bread? Gone is any reference to the Host. This is very significant. GIRM refers to the breaking of "bread" in the context of a meal. Traditional Catholic theology sees it differently. Our Lord's Body was broken for us on the wood of the Cross so that we would be reconciled to the Father. He feeds us not in the context of any ordinary meal but from the wood of the Cross, which has become the true manger from which we are fed with His very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in Holy Communion. We receive Holy Communion as a result of the consummation of the work begun by our Lord at the Last Supper through His Passion and Death on Good Friday. Words count. GIRM's choice of words in this instance demonstrates a Lutheran concept of the symbolism of liturgical actions rather than the extension in time of the Sacrifice of the Cross. Indeed, the use of the word "bread" in the official documents of the Church has resulted in the abandonment of the traditional hosts in favor of what appears to look more like ordinary loaves of bread, many of which are of questionable liceity. Assuming such liceity, however, ordinary loaves of bread broken after they have been consecrated to become the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the God-Man inevitably winds up with particles of the Sacred Species dropped all over the sanctuary and in the areas at which the faithful receive Holy Communion. What's the big deal about this, however, is the bread is merely symbolic of what took place once in history and is not being extended in time in the "liturgy"?
Of stylistic concern is the manner in which the Agnus Dei has become a theatrical production. The "bread" is broken, sometimes with dramatic flair. A procession of lay men lay women make their way up to the altar to distribute the "bread" and to administer the "cup." Modernistic variations of the Agnus Dei go on ad infinitum. Once again, the sacredness of the Mass is replaced by showmanship and the profane.
Paragraph 84 of GIRM reads as follows:
"The priest prepares himself by the prayer, said inaudibly, that he may receive Christ's body and blood to good effect. The faithful do the same by silent prayer. The priest then shows the Eucharistic bread above the paten or above the chalice to the faithful and invites them to the banquet of Christ. Along with the faithful, he recites the prayer of humility in the words prescribed by the Gospels."
Comment and Analysis:
GIRM once more demonstrates its schizophrenic nature. The priest receives our Lord's Body and Blood (note how capital letters are not used to refer to the Sacred Species). However, he then "shows the Eucharistic bread" to the people. Gone is the language of Catholic tradition. There is only sporadic mention in GIRM of the word Host. No, the priest shows the people bread, which is actually heretical. Although the appearance of bread remains following the Consecration, it has been Transubstantiated into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the God-Man, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (Each particle of a consecrated Host contains in Its entirety the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord.) A consecrated Host has the taste and the smell of bread. However, it is not bread and must be not be referred to as such.
Furthermore, Paragraph 84 continues to refer to the Mass as the "banquet of Christ," once again demonstrating, as the late Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani noted, a dramatic departure in the understanding of the Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice for sins offered by our Lord to the Father in Spirit and in Truth. Indeed, the unbloody re-presentation of that one Sacrifice which is the Mass is completed when the priest partakes of the Most Precious Blood from his chalice. That is mentioned nowhere in the text of the revised GIRM. Indeed, the priest does not show the consecrated Host to the people in the Traditional Latin Mass until after he has completed the sacrifice by his consumption of our Lord's Most Precious Blood. Now, however, he shows the Host before he communicates. This is nothing other than a revolutionary change worthy of John Calvin himself.
And while it is nice that priests are instructed to elevate the Host for the people to see in this revolutionized part of the Mass, the plain truth of our current state of liturgical anarchy in the Novus Ordo is such that many priests present the paten or a ciborium at the time of the Domine non sum dignus without ever being corrected by their ordinaries. The priests who are violating the rubrics as outlined in the previous edition of GIRM are going to continue to do with the revised edition. And it remains to be seen whether the proper translation of Domine non sum dignus, which is called for by Liturgiam Authenticam (LA) will actually make its way into the liturgical lives of parishes in this nation and the world. "Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed."
Also important to note here is the practice of the Confiteor being recited by the servers for the faithful assembled and the administration of absolution by the priest prior to his holding up a small consecrated Host at the Domine non sum dignus is nowhere mentioned in GIRM. It has been flushed down the memory hole. It never existed. The people are not in need of any reminder of their sinfulness and unworthiness prior to being invited to participate in the banquet, are they? The recitation of the Confiteor prior to the faithful's reception of Holy Communion was indeed supposed to remind us of our sinfulness and unworthiness. It was a special reminder to those not in a state of grace to refrain from the reception of Holy Communion until they had made a good sacramental confession. And it was a reminder of our constant need to seek God's forgiveness even for our venial sins and faults.
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.
Next Friday: Part Thirty-nine
For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives