Teaching Liturgy: Where Do I Begin? (part III)

Teaching liturgy today is both a wonderful opportunity and a challenge. We asked a number of excellent educators of children and youth to give us a snapshot of where they begin, and why. Here are some of their responses:

Catherine MarescaAs a catechist of children ages 3-12, and a course director for catechists preparing to use the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, I have approached the liturgy through the language of signs. The most significant moments of our liturgies are made apprehensible through concrete objects or gestures. These can, in turn, be offered to young children (ages 3-6), who are capable of repeated and deep reflection on their meaning. This reflection may be wordless for many months, but then articulated with piercing insight.

For example, we begin the year by introducing a model altar, “the table for the family of God”, and showing the children how to prepare it with the altar cloth, chalice, paten, crucifix and candles for the Eucharist. One boy repeated this exercise for a year. Then one day he completed his preparation and turned to the rest of the class and announced, “Dinnertime!” With this word he acknowledges that Eucharist is essentially a meal, his classmates are his Eucharistic family, and that all should be invited. (Is it not ironic that this four-year-old Catholic child announces his own invitation to the meal he and his peers cannot yet receive?)

Each sign introduced has a limitless depth of meaning, rooted in nature, life, Biblical history and liturgy. We gently set the children on the path of searching for this meaning for themselves and their community. There is no test, no complete answer, no required lesson beyond the simple words that begin the search: “The altar is the table for the family of God.” “This is my body given for you.” “This is my blood.” The sign is a true beginning, meaningful for the child of three, and full of possibilities for a lifetime of reflection.

Catherine Maresca is the founder and director of the Center for Children and Theology (www.cctheo.org) and a catechist at Christian Family Montessori School since 1982.


Dave Ceasar Dela Cruz, CCSAfter graduating with a Bachelor of Elementary Education major in Religious Education, teaching at the public school was a challenge. The students were not that oriented to doctrine, morals, and worship. What I did, to encourage them to attend and be attentive to the subject, is to celebrate the Word of God with songs, readings, and reflection. Afterwards I asked my students to write what they have learned and what can they do to apply the Word of God. I always encouraged them with these words: “The Word of God is life and your hope!” Hope is a weighty word for them, especially those students in the public school belongs to Class C and D of the society. They have so many dreams and desires in which sometimes they are discouraged because of their status. God is their only hope. Much more significant, I accompanied them to Sunday Mass at the Cathedral and encouraged them to serve as lay ministers. After Mass, I played and ate with them, helping them to integrate Christian values into their lives. I wished to be “Jesus” in their midst. Though I am not worthy, God really works in mysterious ways. Thanks be to God, almost all of my students are now active Catholics.

After two years as catechist, I worked as Campus Minister of the Cathedral School in the diocese. Another challenge, as it was the biggest parochial school in the diocese. Children’s liturgy is a gift of Vatican II, and I used it well. I believe that good celebration leads to good faith and good Christian living. I pray and hope that it may succeed. The students thirst for that good celebration and where their faith is deepened and their Christian living is enriched.

Dave Ceasar Dela Cruz, CCS, currently teaches theology at Siena College, Quezón City in the Philippines.


Rita Burns SensemanI am a catechist for children and teens who are catechumens and candidates in the RCIA. When I “teach liturgy” I am usually leading children toward their first celebration of a sacrament. I always start with one of the liturgical symbols. I start here because it’s something the children can see, touch, taste and grasp. For example, I start with water, oil, bread, wine, or the laying on of hands. First, I help the children identify their everyday human experience of the symbol. From there, we move to what the symbol means in the life of the Church. All of this is then brought together when the young people experience the symbol in the actual ritual celebration. After they have had a ritual celebration with the symbol, then we once again unpack the meaning of the symbol from the post-celebration perspective. These kids come up with some amazing insights!

Rita Burns Senseman is a catechist at St. Joseph University Parish in Terre Haute, IN.

183 comments

  1. These beautiful witnesses encourage me to broaden my perspective on liturgy and ritual at a time when concentration on the Roman Missal fiasco would otherwise tend to undermine joy and hope. Thank you, Rita, for these wonderful examples (from I, II and III).

  2. Liturgical catechesis is indispensable in our time. Liturgical Catechesis has to sides: 1. the liturgy catechizes and 2. we catechize toward liturgy. This post is obviously about the 2nd side.
    One of the main tasks of the catechist is to prepare for ritual prayer. We can do that is many ways, for children of all ages.
    We borrow this wisdom from the RCIA. First, attention to feasts and seasons of the Church Year is vital. As the director of a large catechetical process, I focus weekly lesson planning on the Liturgical Year and the upcoming Sunday Gospel. Next, catechists are encouraged to use the hymns and prayers that we pray at Mass in the classroom as prayer. This is a creative way to make valuable connections.
    Recently I gave a presentation on the Liturgical Year to parents of first grade students. Most commented afterward that they never knew this (sad, but true). We distribute at home resources that include the Sunday readings and a liturgical calendar for display at home. These are only first steps; however, I will never forget a parent’s comment regarding our particular method of teaching; she said, “My son was as excited to tell me it was Ordinary Time as he was to tell me he could tie his shoe.”

  3. Catherine Maresca: “Eucharist is essentially a meal…”

    That’s wonderful, Catherine, as long as your teaching Protestant children.

    1. I find it terribly unfortunate, and exceeding wearisome, when those posting in the comment boxes take single lines out of the context of a post, and use them to insult both the author of or contributor to a post, as well as the non-Catholic readers of, and contributors to, this blog — whose various theologies of and faith in the Eucharist are likely more nuanced than a reduction of the sacrament and its liturgy to nothing more than a meal.

      In the case at hand, though, for a three- or four-year-old child to grasp the significance of the Eucharist as a meal is — as the post says — “a true beginning.” A sacrificial understanding of the meal can come later, and with more nuance, when the child reaches an age where she or he can begin to understand how God works in Jesus Christ to save us — which is not necessarily by means of a retributive justice exercised through penal substitution. While that model is within the boundaries of Orthodoxy (as are some non-retributive models), it is too easily perverted into notions of an angry parent-God who demands child sacrifice.

      As Ms. Maresca wrote: “There is no test, no complete answer, no required lesson beyond the simple words that begin the search: ‘The altar is the table for the family of God.’ ‘This is my body given for you.’ ‘This is my blood.’ The sign is a true beginning, meaningful for the child of three, and full of possibilities for a lifetime of reflection.”

    2. I agree with Cody. I find MB’s constant orthodoxy patrol tiresome. It is nothing we don’t already know, and hence it contributes little to the conversation. If the idea is that other people aren’t orthodox, I can’t imagine that these insults would convince them. So what’s the goal?
      awr

      1. I agree that it contributes little to the conversation.
        Why not ask such people to leave the party?
        It’s your house.

        I have had several dialogs here with people who obviously disagree with progressive point of view which dominates these comments and my own point of view. However, those people had points to make and a logic they were able to explain. None of us were into simple condemnation.

        If one cannot even stand to let people state things in their own terms, then one is not interested in dialog but in dominance. The rest of us should not have to put up with such rudeness.

        Separately, has anyone a better suggestion than “progressive” for and adjective for those whose liturgical views have been formed by SC and the Liturgical Movement? I feel like progressive is a term coined by those for whom it is insulting, as if progress were the opposite of orthodoxy.

        I also notice that the traditionalists Hitchcock, Weigel, and Tucker are all from the laissez faire part of the political right of the USA. Has anyone explored the connections between these two lines of thought?

      2. My goal, Fr Ruff, is to give a response from another perspective!

        Are you not interested in my point of view just because you think it’s some kind of orthodoxy police?

        I’m sorry that I offended the sensibilities of so many readers of this blog by being direct and to the point in my observation about Ms Maresca’s story; however, I did make a legitimate theological observation: It sounds Protestant to say that “Eucharist is essentially a meal.”. Perhaps I’m interpreting “essentially” in a stricter sense that Ms Maresca intended.

        So far Fr Cody is the only one who has responded to my theological observation.

        Fr Cody: don’t go down the “that’s offensive to Protestants”-path. I used to be a Protestant. An honest Protestant who believes that the Eucharist is “essentially” a meal might not be offended by my statement. They might simply interpret it as a statement of fact.

        Though I am by no means an expert on the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, I am quite familiar with it. I see very little value in it beyond the five year old level. The recommended catechesis for First Communion preparation that is part of CGS is thoroughly inadequate. I recommended to my pastor that he get rid of it.

    3. Here, as almost anywhere on the Christian blogosphere, you need a good shibboleth filter. Starting with “hermeneutic of continuity”, set the filter to screen out all meaningless buzzwords. In the case of some blogs and commenters, very little will be left once the filter has done its work.

    4. I think Michael Barnett’s tone is unnecessarily condescending and aggressive, but we’re not writing for children here, we’re writing for adults. The Eucharist certainly is a meal, the sacrament requires eating, but it’s difficult to know what is meant by “Eucharist is essentially a meal”.

      It’s not entirely clear to me that a sacrament has a quiddity and thus an essence. But speaking in a rough way, it seems that the “Quid” of the Eucharist is three-fold (or four-fold) in correspondence with its names, as Aquinas writes and that it is essentially Sacrifice, Communion/Synaxis (and in this element meal), and Viaticum/Eucharist (and perhaps under this aspect or perhaps separately Metalepsis/Assumption).

      To write that the essence of the sacrament is the meal is certainly to reflect a view that is a controversial theological position (not shared, for instance, by the current Pope when he wrote his book Feast of Faith).

      To discuss then whether this is the best way to immediately teach liturgy to children, since it assumes a controversial theological position seems suitable, though it was badly done here.

      Apologies that this comment is somewhat rough in its form, I don’t have time to write a clearer version.

      1. “… it’s difficult to know what is meant by “Eucharist is essentially a meal,'”

        No it’s not. Unfortunately for critics, you have to place it in context.

        Do children catechized by “essentially a meal” approach the Eucharist as if it were “only” a meal? Or do they show by other behaviors their understanding that it is much more than “only.” In my experience, children seem to absorb the reality of “sacrifice” by the example of adults. And most catechists and many parents are largely up to the task.

        Where I see a lack of perception in the sense of sacrifice the Eucharist imparts is among the hierarchy. There I see people–many, but not all–who say the right words, but in their actions show they have failed to integrate the meaning of “Eucharist as sacrifice” in their lives by grace.

        I suspect we lose good numbers of kids as they approach middle-school age because of the increasing awareness that the high ideals of theology do not match up to the concrete actions of adults in their lives. And let’s be clear: young people are perceptive enough to realize when adults fail at perfection. Unfortunately, they see many “religious” adults fail to try.

        So a prelate who dresses in finery, celebrates the Mass with reverence, and can parrot the words about sacrifice would seem to be in the camp that the Eucharist is “essentially” a show I put on in between my cigars, brandy, and chauffered drives out the in way.

        In sum, I think a more effective approach is to show children how to act in reverence, making sure we ourselves have the Big Picture of that.

      2. Thanks to the three examples of teaching ritual – insights from both good theology and the behavioral/learning theories we have today.

        This blog is not the place to delve in eucharistic theology – basically, we celebrate a ritual meal that contains multiple historical understandings and meanings (not unlike the famous models of the church) that stretch from communion, to sacrifice, to remembrance, to vertical vs. horizontal, to atonement, to community, etc.

        From Cardinal Bernardin:

        “At this table we put aside every worldly separation based on
        culture, class, or other differences. Baptized, we no longer admit to distinctions based on age or sex or race or wealth. This communion is why all prejudice, all racism, all sexism, all deference to wealth and power must be banished from our parishes, our homes, and our lives. This communion is why we will not call enemies those who are human beings like ourselves. This communion is why we will not commit the world’s resources to an escalating arms race while the poor die. We cannot. Not when we have feasted here on the “body broken” and “blood poured out” for the life of the world. Let that be clear in the reverent way we walk forward to take the holy bread and cup. Let it be clear in the way ministers of communion announce:
        “The body of Christ,” “The blood of Christ.”
        Let it be clear in our “Amen!” Let it be clear in the songs and psalms we sing and the way we sing them. Let it be clear in the holy silence that fills this church when all have partaken.”

        Or from Guardini: “….Those whose task it is to teach and educate will have to ask themselves — and this is all decisive — whether they themselves desire the liturgical act or, to put it plainly, whether they know of its existence and what exactly it consists of and that it is neither a luxury nor an oddity, but a matter of fundamental importance. Or does it, basically, mean the same to them as to the parish priest of the late nineteenth century who said: “We must organize the procession better; we must see to it that the praying and singing is done better.” He did not realize that he should have asked himself quite a different question: “How can the act of walking become a religious act, retinue for the Lord progressing through the land, so that an “epiphany” may take place? ‘

        These examples show dedication to the task of opening the liturgy so that even young children can begin to experience an “epiphany”!!

  4. Tom,
    The wisdom of one of the finest scholars I know suggests those of us whose views are formed by Vatican II are “deeply conservative.” I would put myself in that category.

  5. I think it would be interesting if the Holy Spirit would transport people like MB into mid-fourteenth century Rome, but with his present sense of orthodoxy intact. He could have a field day correcting everybody from the Roman pontiff to his courtiers to the common clergy. From that perspective surely few got into heaven with their impoverished notion of the doctrine and praxis of the church.

  6. I find this post very inspiring. For me. For my grandsons. For my own children. For my friends. Living liturgy, bringing life back into it, entering illo tempore. Thank you!

  7. Tom – much has been written about the fact that “orthodox” today all too often is just another face of “cafeteria catholicism”.

    From South African Bishop Dowling last year: “But it seems to me that this is also a symbol of what has been happening in the Church especially since Pope John Paul II became the Bishop of Rome and up till today — and that is “restorationism,” the carefully planned dismantling of the theology, ecclesiology, pastoral vision, indeed the “opening of the windows” of Vatican II — in order to “restore” a previous, or more controllable model of church through an increasingly
    centralized power structure; a structure which now controls everything in the life of the Church through a network of Vatican Congregations led by Cardinals who ensure strict compliance with what is deemed by them to be “orthodox.” Those who do not comply face censure
    and punishment.”

    From a presentation by Gabe Huck last year in Chicago subtitled – “A Knock at Midnight”:

    “…….there is no intention and maybe no ability on the part of the hierarchy to remember or to call the church that resides in the US to remember that it has a life and a responsibility beyond opposing abortion. Even the modest ideas of Joseph Bernardin, the “seamless garment,” are long forgotten, gathering dust with the equally modest pastoral letters of the bishops on peace and on the economy.

    Perspective from Groody, ND theologian:

    “….The basic premise of a theology of migration is that God, in Jesus, loved the world that he migrated into the distant country of broken human existence and laid down his life on a cross so that we could be reconciled to him and migrate back to our homeland with God and enjoy renewed fellowship at all levels of our relationships. Reading the Christian tradition from a migrant perspective involves perceiving what God is doing and his desire to cross all barriers.”

    orthodox, progressive – labels that that create barriers…

  8. Funny… I was raised with an “adult” perspective right from the start, and it did nothing but give clarity to my understanding of the Holy Sacrifice. I think anything else is a dumbing down of orthodoxy.

    1. Francis, you might want to consider the possibility that your own experience is not the measure of what is effective with everyone.

      It seems from your statement above that perhaps somewhere along the line you learned to dismiss other people’s views and approaches to religious education. That’s a shame, especially because the Holy See does not share your own narrow view, as it is expressed above. Rather, magisterial documents consistenly take a developmental approach toward catechesis.

    2. Francis – would suggest that your definition of “adult” perspective and my definition are radically different. Read James Fowler’s “Stages of Faith”….your constant comments (e.g. Holy Sacrifice) indicate an over-reliance on rule, dogma, law, one historical period or council, etc. In any study of faith development as Fowler did, this type of religious belief is at stage two or three (at best) – defined as following rules; relying upon outside authority, etc.

      Stages four and above: Faith means at its core that you have a relationship with Jesus Christ that is a pilgrim journey – this journey consists of gaps, sin and good deeds, penance, shame, attempts to love, etc. Faith at heart means that I do not have definitive answers or even proof – I believe because I have faith – it is a mystery. Our understanding of sacraments – starting with the Father and Jesus; the church, and the sacraments are built on loving relationships – the heart of sacrament and what it means.

      From this perspective one has no need or even desire to use words such as “orthodoxy”, progressive, traditional, etc.

      1. Bill

        The Church has always resisted heresy, schism and apostasy. It is no different today. In fact, these errors are most prominent now more than ever. The words are much more necessary now than in tmes past.

      2. In particular:

        “Fowler’s Stage 4 faith requires that the person be willing to interrupt their reliance on external authority and relocate the source of authority within himself. Fowler calls this the formation of an “executive ego,” which is not a bad thing, like the other kind of ego. It just means the person is more able to govern himself without the need for rules from the outside. In Fowler’s Stage 4, meanings in stories are separate from the symbols themselves, so the stories are demythologized. (In losing the literal meaning of the religious symbols, people can – I think often! – at the same time lose ALL meaning of the symbol and that is how you wind up with so many atheists and agnostics at this stage.)”

  9. Remarkable. This string started with three moving examples of liturgical catechesis and has deteriorated in part to an exercise in name-calling. Rita, thank you for providing the needed perspective in this regard.

  10. Jim, you are welcome.

    I find each of these witnesses inspiring and valuable as well. First of all, I hear in each of their stories an enormous respect for the people they serve. We can all learn from that.

    Second, I find that there is a sense of awe and wonder about the grace of God working through the liturgy to bring light and life to all those who celebrate it.

    Third, there is a sense of privilege in sharing in the work of Christ, being Christ for others, and yet realizing that the gifts to which these little ones are being introduced are immeasurably greater than any gift we bring, and will continue to unfold over a lifetime.

  11. Thanks to all the contributors. I especially like Catherine Maresca’s exercise of having the children set up an altar and identify the liturgical articles. From what I understand, many priests first learned of their vocation this way.

    I agree with Fr. Cody that the notion of liturgical banquet is for many children the entry into later, more complicated eucharistic theology. However, I went through years of post-conciliar Catholic school catechism without being taught the orthodox definitions of the Mass per the Catechism of Trent and the new Catechism. I had to teach these symbols to myself. I am convinced that a confirmation candidate is capable of understanding the orthodox doctrine. At one point or another, the sacrificial and paschal mystery of the Mass must be introduced, even if it is hard to explain at times.

    Also, it is important to expose confirmation candidates to liturgies of the Universal Church that are different than the Mass the candidates most often attend. Confirmation students from a primarily broad church Ordinary Form background should attend an EF missa cantata and even a Byzantine Divine Liturgy. Similarly, EF Catholic students should attend a typical OF parish Mass. Even if the catechist disagrees or dislikes other Catholic liturgies, the students should nevertheless be exposed to them. If I were a catechist I would do the same.

    1. I too think that there is much benefit to providing children with opportunities to experience and participate in eastern Catholic liturgies. It really expands one’s understanding of the Church.

  12. Rita

    Nah… I don’t buy it. Kids these days are naive and don’t know how to defend the faith. They think Catholicism is about on par with all other religions or denominations. My children are all schooled in Classical Thomistic thinking. My son two years ago (age 14) had a debate with a Baptist who had a prostylatizing booth at the county fair trying to convince him Catholicism was errant, and he held his own for two hours and came home and told us all about it. He argued Trinitarian dogma, Sacramental theology, the divine institution of the HCC and more. Feed them milk and you wind up with milktoast. Feed them meat and you have holy men and women.

    1. On the contrary, children have a natural sense of wonder and awe. The problem, well meaning adults do not understand what it means to be a child. (Read The Little Price by Antoine De Saint-Exupery for deeper insight into chilhood).

      It is the responsibility of adults to help children develop religiously , and , participating in ritual is a most important way.

      (Further development of this point can be found on this blog under “Children,” August and September 2010).

    2. There are a good amount of adults who do not know how to leave childhood. “When I was a child, I thought like a child”… but its now high time to think like an adult.

  13. Jordan Zarembo :

    I agree with Fr. Cody that the notion of liturgical banquet is for many children the entry into later, more complicated eucharistic theology. However, I went through years of post-conciliar Catholic school catechism without being taught the orthodox definitions of the Mass per the Catechism of Trent and the new Catechism.

    What concerns me is this insistence on the orthodox definition according to Trent without even mentioning the teachings of Vatican II, the most recent and authoritative exercise of the universal magisterium of the RCC.

    I have this concern every time I see someone insist on sacrifice or have qualms over meal in regard to the Eucharist.

    I have this concern every time someone insists on awe at the Mass or seeks sacral language instead of the best of a modern vernacular language.

    RCC theology has always allowed for multiple interpretations and developments beyond very narrow minimum doctrinal statements.

    So, Jordan, what are all the truths about the Mass which children need to learn? Did all development of Eucharistic theology end before 1600?

    1. The teachings of Trent continue to be valid even after Vatican II. Both Trent and Vatican II are part of our Tradition. We Catholics are a “both/and” people.

      If you want to get picky, one could point out that the teachings of Trent on the Eucharist are dogmatic definitions. They are permanently relevant. The teaching of Vatican II on the Eucharist presume the teachings of Trent.

    2. Notice, Tom, that I mentioned that the students should learn the definitions from the Catechism of Trent and the New Catechism. The New Catechism builds on Trent (in fact, the New Catechism explicitly references Trent). Both catechisms complement one another.

  14. Tom

    Are you saying VII has exempted Trent? Don’t think so! The theology of the Eucharist was pretty much wrapped up in one of the Doctors… his name was Alphonsus I believe. Truth never contradicts previous truth.

  15. Donna Eschenauer :

    Tom,
    The wisdom of one of the finest scholars I know suggests those of us whose views are formed by Vatican II are “deeply conservative.” I would put myself in that category.

    Conservative is where I think I am, also. I want to actually carry forward the changes of SC and the theology of the original GIRM. I am actually less impatient with those who want to have a nearby option for Mass in Latin, but I do not understand why some who want the Missal of Pius V do not want to follow the current church calendar or have at least the Liturgy of the Word in the vernacular.

    More irritating are those who do such nonsense as clown Masses or dance shows during Mass, and especially those who search the GIRM for excuses to do musical exhibitions which turn the assembly into their audience.

    I want my own category and do not think the restorationists are orthodox in their substitution after the council fathers have passed away that those bishops did not intend the missals they approved. The restorationists have never provided any documentation for their interpretation. This is not conserving the official teaching of the church, nor implementing it but resistance by all possible means, not orthodoxy but rebellion. Just because they have taken over the capital does not mean that they are in accord with the law.

    1. “…those bishops did not intend the missals they approved…”

      Tom, what are you talking about here? When did the Council Father’s “approve” a missal?

  16. Samuel J. Howard :
    Tom, none of the three you mention are traditionalists in the ordinary understanding of that word.

    If the editor of Adoremus is not a traditionalist, who is?

    But if you want to redefine things, what would you call these people?

    1. Speaking of Adoremus’ editor, notice her defeaning silence regarding the Vox Clara hijacking of the translation actually prepared according to Liturgiam authenticam and the Ratio translationis (i.e., 2008). She and other strong conservative voices perhaps could have prevailed upon the bishops to look closely at what Cardinal George and Bishop Serratelli told them were merely “editorial” changes, when, in fact, there was a substantial rewrite, some of it mistranslated, some of it grammatically embarrassing, precious little of it “merely editorial.” For those of us in favor of a new translation who support this blog’s pointing out such inconvenient truths, it’s enough – at this point – to know that she, Fr Z, the people at Chant Cafe, do know the truth of the matter, even if they, unlike Father Ruff, have made the decision to go along to get along.

    2. “9. Adoremus believes that the liturgical reform legitimately mandated by the Second Vatican Council cannot be furthered by a simple return to the pre-conciliar Liturgy; although it does not oppose those who make lawful use of the present discipline which permits celebration of the pre-conciliar Liturgy under certain conditions.”

      Adoremus is not a “traditionalist” publication, so would it be safe to assume it is not the publication of traditionalists?

  17. History is a good teacher. I am fond of drawing people’s attention to the provisions of GIRM 85:

    It is most desirable that the faithful, just as the priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lord’s Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the instances when it is permitted, they partake of the chalice (cf. no. 283), so that even by means of the signs Communion will stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.

    The footnote refers to two other documents, Eucharisticum mysterium (1967) and Immensae caritatis (1973), but where did this idea of receiving bread consecrated at the Mass that you’re at first originate? The surprising answer is at Trent. And yet practitioners of the EF routinely ignored that for well over 400 years. And anyone who says that Trent was only recommending, not imposing, should at least remember that Benedict XIV definitively banned Communion from the tabernacle as long ago as 1742.

    Did someone mention cafeteria Catholicism?

    1. This is not a good example of cafeteria Catholicism. I know that you were going for a “gotcha” moment, but you’ll have to try again.

      The fact is that Pius XII in Mediator Dei, while encouraging priests to distribute hosts consecrated at the same Mass, explicitly says that one can distribute hosts from the tabernacle. Your history isn’t quite complete.

      On a more practical note, if I accidentally consecrate too many hosts at one Mass and there are still a lot left over, what am I supposed to do with them? I’ve got to distribute them sometime.

      1. MB – again you missed the point of Paul’s comment.

        Cafeteria catholic is a derogatory term applied by those who define catholicism in a rigid, restricted manner and look to cite various past pronouncements to justify the labelling that they carry on. It feels much like those who, for whatever reason, need to “elevate” themselves by putting down others.

        This is the opposite of the “original” definition and meaning of “CATHOLIC”.

      2. Bill wrote “…those who define catholicism in a rigid, restricted manner…”

        I agree that we must avoid unnecessary “rigidness” and
        that is why we should rejoice in the generous application of SP-the Extraordinary Form only enriches the Church.

      3. Once again, you’re interpreting the text, Michael.

        Mediator Dei, paras 118, 121 and 122, is quite clear about the desirability of receiving bread consecrated at the actual Mass. The “wiggle-room” given is specifically in relation to the then-frequent practice of distributing Communion before or after Mass, not in relation to the celebration itself. Pius XII is also clear that, at Mass, priests should not deny the faithful the opportunity of receiving Communion consecrated at the Mass itself (para 118).

      4. Cafeteria catholic is a derogatory term applied by those who define catholicism in a rigid, restricted manner

        Actually, it’s a term to describe just that type of person: to select only some elements of the faith while refusing others is the very essence of a cafeteria approach.

  18. I like Tom’s appeal for conversation and dialog. Since when do we have to have names and labels that are divisive, and why can’t we accept each others point of view. It is the Catholic Church after all and if it is truly universal, it can handle the differences in perceived orthodoxy and since the Church is the Bride of Christ, I think I will let Christ defend her honor. He’s done it for over 2,000 years and quite frankly done a better job than I could ever do.

    I think there are bigger issues to worry over other than someone’s disagreements with my philosophy, such as nuclear reactors in Japan, civil unrest in the Middle East, the slashing of funding for the education of our children, keeping our troops safe, need I go on?

    Where charity and love prevail, God is also found there.

  19. Michael B: I did make a legitimate theological observation: It sounds Protestant to say that “Eucharist is essentially a meal.”.

    I don’t think it was a legitimate theological observation; in fact it wasn’t a theological observation at all. At best it was a statement of identity politics; but, as Michael later observed, we aren’t at all clear what is meant by “essentially” – and, I would add, about “Protestant”. Are we talking about Calvinists? Lutherans? Anglicans (and if so, what kind…)? Baptists? On its own, the observation has about as much content as Mammy Yokum’s dictum that “good is better than evil because it’s nicer.”

    I have always found it irritating when bloggers or commenters’ first and only question, on reading someone, is: are they One of Us?

    “Progressives” do this at least as often as “conservatives”, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

    It is the lack of substance, not ruffled “progressive” sensibilities (Michael) or an ability to engage in adult discourse (Samuel) that I object to in comments of this nature.

    1. I am not interested in identity politics. I’m interested in doctrine.

      If Ms Maresco is teaching children the Catholic faith, it is certainly legitimate to ask if she is teaching it accurately. Maybe she is; maybe she isn’t. That’s what I wanted to discuss.

      And no matter what cute little sayings you have, whether or not “Eucharist is essentially a meal” is a valid theological point to discuss. I didn’t get my theological degrees by being stupid.

      1. Just a couple of thoughts after reading this latest exchange.

        I would suggest, with regard to what Ms Maresco is teaching, that the meal-aspect of Eucharist is both age-appropriate and age-appropriable for children of three and four years. Again, this is a beginning, an anthropologically familiar and meaningful entrance point, upon which children can build.

        As to the theological point — and yes, it is a valid topic — Eucharist is essentially a meal, and to deny or downplay that is to exclude a massive amount of Eucharistic theology: and this has been the downfall, in my humble opinion, of much so-called “traditional” (whatever that means) Catholic Eucharistic theology. Eucharist is a meal — the Passover in bread of affliction, the anticipatory meal of the Reign of God, the family meal of the Church which connects us in a real way to every meal we eat, whether Thanksgiving dinner or a quickie lunch at McDonalds. Eucharist as meal teaches us about the abundance of God and challenges us to make that abundance available to those who experience the world as a place of scarcity. “Eucharist is about bread and bread is about bodies” is a common saying when connecting Eucharist to issues of food justice; and so long as there are hungry bodies anywhere in the world, the connection between Eucharist and all our feeding and eating needs to be drawn out as frequently and forcefully as possible.

        All that being said, Eucharist is also essentially a sacrifice, with all that entails: the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ once offered for all time and people and places, made radically present through the Church’s anamnesis by the power of the Holy Spirit; the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving of the Church as a whole, and of each individual Christian; the self-oblation of each worshiper, uniting him- or herself to Christ in his obedience and surrender to the Father; the sacrifice of time and attention and devotion in worship. . . the list goes on.

        Both meal and sacrifice are of the essence of the Eucharist; both need to be taught and understood — in a meaningful way.

        As the title of this series of posts indicates, the theologians and catechists being featured are offering a brief glimpse of where they begin to teach about the liturgy. No one has claimed that this is all that any of us have to say about the matter, or that it is all that there is to say. It’s only where we begin to teach.

      2. Michael,

        How much of the sacrificial aspect of all of this would you expect a 4 year old to grasp? At least the idea of a meal is within their experience. Three and four year olds are pretty concrete creatures, and don’t do so well with deep abstractions.

  20. Fr. Cody captures the essence of the Eucharist as meal and the fuller understanding of it in Catholic doctrine and practice. The only problem is that we Americans and our fast food culture have lost the sense of the sacredness of the family meal, with the main meal mandatory for the family, with a nicely set table with a nice table cloth and all of the accouterments and etiquette that goes with that kind of family meal, especially the Sunday dinner after Mass. That seems to be disappearing from our culture in general and our Catholic culture in particular to the great detriment of our understanding of the nature of the Mass as a very sacred meal.
    But describing the Mass as meal we shouldn’t fixate solely on the elements but we should focus on Jesus who uses these sacramental signs to bring us His Real Presence and to sanctify us individually and collectively and to unite us to Himself through the Church and ultimately lead us to heaven through the sacrificial aspect of Good Friday reenacted in an unbloody way at every Mass. It’s Jesus we receive with all of the elements of his sacrifice and the symbolism of actual bread and wine being a metaphor for Jesus Himself and what He accomplishes in us through sacramental grace, even the making of the bread and wine are important to understand as it refers to Jesus and His One Sacrifice. Just make sure one makes the focus of all of this on Jesus, not the bread and wine alone.

    1. One does not have to be a child, nor to have a culture of family meals to appreciate the Eucharist through the image of the meal.

      One of the most memorial liturgies that I have experienced, and one of the few whose homily I remember occurred on Corpus Christi which was also Father’s Day that year. The celebration was a re-celebration of the first communion class which gave them an opportunity to sit with their parents as families but also to re-do many of the special things they had done on their first communion day several weeks before. The celebration also used a Eucharistic Prayer for children, one of the few times I have experienced that.

      The priest talked about his own father who had been in the restaurant business, about how his father had courted his future mother when the father was a cook and she was a waitress by making little special meals for her. Also how the family had often gone on Sunday drives, and the care with which they packed their picnic meals, and found special places on the drive to eat them.

      Few people likely had the exact experiences of this priest, but it was easy for anyone from the first communicants to the oldest people there to live his experiences in their imaginations. While the homily was easily understood by the young children, it was aimed at the parents. In fact it was one of the most eloquent and challenging calls to a life of love and sacrifice that I have ever heard at a Sunday Mass.

  21. I highly recommend we all reread “The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ”, 2nd Chapter of Liguori’s writing on the Eucharist. There in no language about “the meal” aspect. This meal mentality is a distortion to the propitiatory aspect which is central to the meaning and practice of the Mass. It is a distortion of protestantism which assaults the true presence in which now most Catholics have lost belief. This distortion is WHY there is a crisis of faith within our own priesthood and the members at large.

    In order to illustrate this point I will compare this distortion to a jetliner. Instead of focusing on the aircraft, let us look at a single rivet on the right wing. Let’s just look at the rivet and be fascinated with the rivet. Let’s all consider each of us as one of the rivets in the aircraft. We are the rivets! Wow, rivets are strong and hold the aircraft together. Without each rivet the aircraft would cease to exist! What silliness is this focus on the rivets. You forgot about the very purpose and meaning of the jet, which is to fly! You have put your all consuming focus on the rivet and forgot about the aircraft and the pilot who flies it.

    1. Oh my, where to begin?

      You write as if doctrinal orthodoxy is the most important thing, sacrifice primarily means propitiatory, Protestants are wrong and “assault” the truth, pre-V2 sources since Trent can be used without further ado.

      I would question every one of these assumptions.

      Doctrinal orthodoxy is a value, but not the ultimate value. From the Gospels it is clear that Eucharist (and Christian life ) is about weightier things – love of God, love of neighbor, unity, service to others, transformation of us, and so forth. In the case of “sacrifice” and “real presence,” affirming the truth is great, but rather unimportant alongside the other things.

      I often wonder whether a Protestant with an unorthodox (according to my understanding) theology of Eucharist, but who exceeds me (probably not too difficult) in charity, service, witness, fellowship, and evangelization, isn’t more acceptable to God than I am. From the Gospels, I think the answer is “yes.”

      Orthodoxy is important, but overemphasis on it is a clear distortion of the Christian faith.

      Vatican II does not blatantly contradict previous councils, but – to use a phrase of Pope Benedict XVI – there is “discontinuity within the greater continuity” at times. Doctrine develops, and Vatican II represents a great development over Trent, which for its part was framed in the unhelpful context of defensiveness and condemnation of Protestantism. This doesn’t make Trent wrong. This makes Trent a marker of where the Church was then. Now the Church is in a different place. No need to condemn our past too harshly.

      To make Trent the standard by which to judge alleged heterodoxy since Vatican II is a big mistake. It comes close to rejecting Vatican II as an ecumenical council. Far better to read pre-V2 sources with acknowledgement that V2, and the development it implies, happened.

      Far better, precisely from an orthodox understanding of Eucharist, to read Protestants with this question: What can I learn and gain?

      Pax,

      awr

      1. It is possible to create a greater chasm between Trent and V2 than really exists. I know we all agree that development as it were did not end with V2. As for where the Church is today, we should recall that the 21st century Church’s teaching expressed in Dominus Iesu is heavily footnoted to V2 and remains more contemporary than the council.

    2. This meal mentality is a distortion to the propitiatory aspect which is central to the meaning and practice of the Mass.

      I presume you don’t find any distortion in the following:

      O sacred banquet!
      in which Christ is received,
      the memory of his Passion is renewed,
      the mind is filled with grace,
      and a pledge of future glory to us is given.
      Alleluia.

      1. The reference to banquet is not the issue. It is to the exclusion of its central purpose that is the problem. Read SC, section on Eucharist as Father Ruff suggests. The emphasis is on sacrifice, not having dinner time.

      2. Has someone been advocating excluding the central purpose of the Eucharist? As I recall, this began as an anecdote about 4-year-olds who (quite rightly) recognized that the Eucharistic sacrifice takes the form of a meal.

      3. Uh, excuse me, I didn’t suggest that. Please don’t speak for me. I did suggest that your reading of Vatican II, and your understanding of doctrine in general, is distorted. Until that issue is dealt with, reading SC or anything else will not be that beneficial.
        awr

      4. The central purpose of the Eucharist is the meal aspect —
        “Take EAT, Take DRINK — given and shed FOR YOU”. There is a purpose, an end to which these things are done — divinely instituted, no less, from a doctrinal standpoint.

        To be sure, I do not deny the value of the sacrificial aspect as a means of grace for the living or the dead, but neither the sacrifice nor the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist (which are bound up in one another) exist for their own sake. Both point toward the eating and drinking, the means of encounter with that sacrificial presence, which if it becomes detached from any sense of a meal, quickly deteriorates into fetishism and idolatry. Both meal and sacrifice have to be held in a creative tension for either to be meaningful. When either goes missing, there is a theological problem.

      5. Hey Deacon Fritz!

        Forgive me for skimming this string! But I think you are the first one to mention that the Eucharist is ‘essentially’ Jesus Christ. IMO the ‘essential meal talk’ is correct so long as it is simultaneously accompanied by the dogma that in that meal the eater ‘manducat Dominum’ -Body-Blood-Soul-Divinity. I’m afraid that does not get emphasized enough.

        Else we would not regularly witness the incongruent spectacle of the priest -I can imagine Fr. Ruff doing this as beautifully as anyone- carefully gathering all the tiny Fragments on his paten while the faithful wipe Them on their clothing or flick Them off like dried up boogers.

      6. The wonderful thing is that the new contemporary ICEL translation of the Mass brings out its sacrificial character far better than the soon to be dismissed old ICEL version. The way some of the EP’s were translated may be a contributing factor to some peoples confusion on this topic.

  22. Father

    I was a “protestantized” Catholic for at least 20 years. VII is not the offender. The spinners of its meaning are. During my years of “ecumenical enlightenment” I was one of the great offenders and accusers of the Catholic Church. Since I have “been there and done that” there is no reason or excuse to err from the truth any longer. This is why I speak so clearly without regard to being a respecter of persons. I now only fear God’s judgement which is now being visited upon us in this time of great scandal, and do whatever I can to alert others to the same.

    1. How precisely were you protestantized then and now no more? I am curious. It’s not obvious from what you write.

      1. I was a member of an ecumenical “Christian” community beginning from 1972 onward. In 1992 I was renewed in the RC faith through intense prayer, reading and conversion and through the sacraments. I became a member of the Company of Mary, and took upon myself a new devotion to Mary and the Church.

  23. This is a good series. Thank you. I am enjoying going through it all.

    I know, speaking for myself, that I would like to do more study in liturgy. It’s one of many things on my to do list that I don’t have a lot of time for!!

  24. Eucharist is a gift that is meal, memorial, and sacrifice. Our introduction to the signs of Eucharist begin with preparing a model altar, introducing the aspect if meal. Jesus’ own ministry included many shared meals as a sign of welcome and unity in the reign of God. The Last Supper and Eucharist rest firmly on these. In the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd we introduce many Eucharistic signs by the time the children are 5 or 6 years old. As the children become immersed in the language of signs they are fed by them. These include an introduction to Eucharist as memorial (anamnesis) with a work on the Last Supper, to Eucharist as a gift (sacrifice) with a work that pairs the Eucharist with the parable of the Good Shepherd, to Eucharist as a sacrament of the covenant with the gestures of Epiclesis and Offering, and to Eucharist as a sacrament of unity through the gesture of Peace. We continue to develop these themes with both Biblical and liturgical lessons as the children pass into their elementary years. But this development is not by means of discussions of dogmatic statements but by communal and personal meditation on the signs and scriptures that our liturgies rest on.

    Please remember the children in your discussion. Their need for access in a simple but profound way to the signs of liturgy is also a gift for the adults of the families and communities who pray with them.

    1. Catherine:

      Nice symbolism, but the Church at large for the most part believe the Mass is ONLY that; a symbol. Belief in the true presence is almost extinct. So I would suggest that modern catechesis has largely failed on the most crucial level in supporting Christ present in the forms of bread and wine.

      1. Careful – the eucharist is a mystery, and the real presence is a mystery, beyond the understanding of all of us. The understanding various Catholics have is distorted in all sorts of directions. I find quite regularly among students who (think they) strongly believe in the Real Presence that, coming into my class, they think the eucharistic presence of Christ is physical (wrong), localized (wrong), not symbolic (wrong). I ask whether, when the priest moves the Host, the Body of Christ is moved. YES they affirm. NO, said Aquinas. Some Catholics have the impression that the more strongly we believe in the Real Presence, the better. Physical, local – these are all ‘more,’ so let’s do it. They think that all the things enriching our spiritual understanding of Eucharist are possible weakening of their (mis)understanding of Real Presence, so they’re skeptical of the enrichment. It’s depressing.

        I sometimes find hesitance to call the consecrated Host “bread” – though Scripture and the Latin missal both do so. Some people think it’s somehow more Catholic not to call it bread, or worse, think it is heresy to do so.

        I see the misplaced emphasis on orthodoxy, combined with basic misunderstandings of what doctrinal orthodoxy is, doing a good deal of harm to the Church today.

        awr

      2. Fr Ruff,

        Where does the Latin text of the Mass refer to the consecrated bread merely as “bread”. You made this claim once before in another post.

      3. “Quotiescúmque manducámus panem hunc et cálicem bíbimus, mortem tuam annuntiámus, Dómine, donec vénias.” (Memorial Acclamation)

        “Panem sanctum vitae aetérnae et Cálicem salútis perpétuae.” (EP I)

        “panem vitae et cálicem salútis” (EP II)

        “concéde benígnus ómnibus qui ex hoc uno pane participábunt et cálice” (EP IV)

        “Panem nostrum cotidiánum da nobis hódie” (Our Father)

        “Quod etiam pluries repeti potest, si fractio panis protrahitur.” (Fraction Rite rubric)

        “ex hoc uno pane et cálice partícipes” (EP Rec. I)

        “panem vitae et cálicem benedictiónis” (EP for various needs)

      4. Jeffrey:

        It is not just bread… even when you try to hide behind the Latin.

        The Council of Trent in its thirteenth session ending October 11, 1551, defined transubstantiation as “that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood – the species only of the bread and wine remaining – which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation”.[8] This council officially approved use of the term “transubstantiation” to express the Catholic Church’s teaching on the subject of the conversion of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist,[9] with the aim of safeguarding Christ’s presence as a literal truth, while emphasizing the fact that there is no change in the empirical appearances of the bread and wine. (wiki)

      5. Francis, neither I nor Fr. Ruff said, implied, or believe that it is “just bread.” And I think it’s safe to say neither he nor I believe it is “bread and…” in the Lutheran understanding (consubstantiation), but that we believe the bread changes in substance (transubstantiation) as Lateran and Trent defined.

        I’m not hiding behind anything. I’ve read Trent, the Tridentine Catechism, and the modern Catechism on this. St. Paul calls the Eucharist “bread”, and his audience knew what he meant. Now, I will admit that calling the Eucharist “bread” to the wrong audience will result in confusion. But I pray we know of an audience similar to the Corinthians.

      6. Notice Jeffrey that other than the quote from St Paul the references to the Eucharist as bread always have modifiers. They are titles for the Eucharist.

        Panem VITAE
        UNO pane
        Panem SANCTUM VITAE AERTERNAE

        In the case of the rubric, fractio panis is obviously an ancient title for the Eucharist.

        These examples do not support an argument for referring to the consecrated bread simply as “bread”. I cringe when I see a parish bulletin indicating the “bread ministers” for a particular Mass.

      7. Michael,

        I think Anthony and Jeffrey’s point is that not every reference to the Eucharistic species as “bread” is a sign of heresy, not that every reference to “bread” is salutary.

  25. Fr Ruff Said:
    Far better to read pre-V2 sources with acknowledgement that V2, and the development it implies, happened.

    I stand corrected. You did not recommend reading V2, but I did anyway just to make sure that it does not break the continuity with the Mass as being a sacrifice. It in fact mentions it as a sacrifice numerous times. The “developments” (erroneous theology) that was put forward by the spinners occurred post V2 and because of the spin, the rupture occurred with regards to the continuous understanding of the Mass as sacrifice (priest facing altar) as opposed to priest facing people (having dinner time together)

    1. I’m sorry, but several things are jumbled up here.

      Who has denied here that the Mass is a sacrifice?? Could we let go of that already??

      “Developments” were put forward by the fathers of Vatican II. Which followed upon “developments” put forward by Pius XII, and Pius X and others before him. There has been development for 2,000 years. Please don’t label all this “spin.”

      Linking Mass as sacrifice with priest facing altar, and Mass as meal with priest facing people – and using derogatory language of “having dinner time together” to describe the meal – is beyond absurd. Every Mass is both meal and sacrifice, OK? Whatever direction the priest faces. The Pope celebrates Mass facing the people, did you know that? And he thinks it’s still a sacrifice when he does so. Eastern rite priests, and a few Latin rite priests, face the altar. Of course they still think it’s a meal – the Latin missal says so in a hundred places.

      awr

      1. Father:

        I didn’t call it “dinnertime”… that is the way it was understood by the child attending the “catachetical teaching on the eucharist” (see above).

        I didn’t say it wasn’t a sacrifice if the preist is facing the people. All I am implicating is that the sacrificial nature of the rite is played WAY down and the element of meal is played WAY up.

    1. As I said, it’s a misplaced emphasis. It can crowd out the other things which, in my reading of the Gospels, are much more important. And especially when doctrine is used as a means to condemn others in an attitude of arrogant superiority, clearly something has gone wrong.

      Let me go further. An overemphasis on correct doctrine could be, and I believe oftentimes is, idolatrous. As Thomas Aquinas said, doctrines are not ends in themselves, they are meant to lead to God himself. The concept leads to the reality it describes.

      I sense an attitude in some people of finding their security in doctrine. It defines their sense of mission in the church. They are highly animated about correcting false doctrine. They write (on this blog and all over the web) as if doctrinal truth is the most important thing in the world, as if the best thing about the Catholic Church is that it has all the truth.

      But our only security is in God. And God is a mystery. The very God we believe in, the very nature of this God, cautions us not to be too smug or secure in our doctrinal understanding. The very nature of God calls us to be humble, self-questioning, open to ever greater truth. Even from Protestants!

      Doctrinal orthodoxy is such a miserably low goal. Christianity is about so much more.

      Please note, at no point have I denied any doctrinal truth here. I affirm every truth defined by the Church. But then, after we have that out of the way, the adventure of discipleship can begin.

      awr

      1. Father R—-God, cautions us to be too smug or secure in our doctrinal understanding. The very nature of God calls us to be humble, self-questioning, open to ever greater truth. Even from Protestants!—–

        But! aren’t dogmas and doctrines, etc. building blocks for a mature faith? IMO they are truths which have consequences. Take for instance this discussion. I cannot fault Rev Unterseher when he refers to the Eucharistic practices of some Catholics as idolatry. He is simply being consistent with his dogma. I don’t think a Catholic could make the same statement because, in our dogma, it is impossible to commit idolatry when the object being worshiped is is no idol, but God Himself.

        I don’t see how it can help us mature our faith by trying to learn from a ‘protestant’s’ Lord’s Supper, if it is apparent from the start that they are built upon a dogma which simply contradicts our own.

        I get the idea, at times, that some believe it is a mark of bigotry to think there is anything we can know for certain about God other than He’s a mystery. If this is so, then there is nothing so arrogant as the first spiritual work of mercy……Instructing the ignorant.

      2. Don’t kid yourself -all of us, me included, are always liable to idolatry. This effect of original sin persists. For example, it’s not idolatrous to worship the consecrated bread. But while doing so, it could very well be that our attachment to our understanding of the Real Presence is idolatrous. Only the Real Presence is worthy of worship – not our understanding of the Real Presence.

        If you think we Catholics have nothing to learn about Eucharist from Protestants, then I think it’s a good place for me to exit from this conversation.

        All best,

        awr

      3. Fr. Ruff wrote: “An overemphasis on correct doctrine could be, and I believe oftentimes is, idolatrous.”

        I wonder if an overemphasis on ecumenism can be similarly
        “idolatrous”?

        Fr Ruff also writes: “The very nature of God calls us to be humble, self-questioning, open to ever greater truth.”

        But Fr. Ruff, didn’t He tell us Himself that He is the Truth?

  26. One thing strikes me in this discussion: how everyone seems to know precisely what the Eucharist is. Heated discussions about it, but each has his or her own apparently clear understanding.

    I find the Eucharist mysterious. My understanding of it is limited and still changing over time. I don’t expect that I will ever be able to say that I have figured it out.

    Update: I just saw Fr Ruff’s latest comments. Amen to what he said.

  27. I know that most of you are hostile toward my stance, but I invite you to read again the great Doctor AL. Read again SC. Study the great miracles of the Eucharist where the bread is turned into real flesh and blood and is made visible for all to see. It is a mystery, but it is also God making himself openly available to us in utter vulnerable simplicity.

    1. I would suggest that you spend some time with St Thomas, particularly on the Eucharistic Miracles. So far as he is concerned, the visible flesh and blood involved in these events are NOT the real presence. A miracle meant to promote faith, yes, or to convict one of sin, but not the real presence of Christ, which is always latent and sacramental (cf. ST III, 76.7-8.)

      1. Father Cody:

        Natural concomitance… the two elements of bread and body are inseperable. The flesh IS the flesh of Christ, and the blood IS the blood of Christ. It is no different than the flesh and blood that hung on the cross.

        “if you do not eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will not have life within you”

      2. Jeffrey, thank you for posting the link.

        Francis, I think you miss my point.

        With regard to Eucharistic Miracles, the point that St Thomas makes in ST III 76.8 c is that the change from the accident of bread into flesh/wine into blood is a change in accidents, not in substance: the substance of Christ’s presence remains sacramental; the proper species of his body — his actual tangible flesh and blood — remain in heaven. The miracles are meant to inspire faith, not in themselves as objects of adoration, but in Jesus Christ who is sacramentally present in the Eucharist, however its accidents appear.

      3. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.

        Not sure what point you are trying to make.

      4. Francis, what Cody wrote is very clear, and it speaks directly to the problem in what you wrote. Your proof-texting of Scripture does not help in this case; it even suggests that you’re avoiding the issue Cody raises.
        awr

      1. I think he’s saying it has the appearance of flesh and blood, but the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in these Eucharistic miracles is still a sacramental presence, not a locational presence. I think that’s what Aquinas was saying too.

      2. Jeffrey’s reading here is correct: in an Eucharistic Miracle, the change of the bread and wine into flesh and blood is a change at the level of the accidents; the substance of Christ’s real presence remains veiled under the accidents, which it would not if the flesh was that of Christ himself. Thus Aquinas:

        “it sometimes happens that such apparition comes about. . . by an appearance which really exists outwardly. And this indeed is seen to happen when it is beheld by everyone under such an appearance, and it remains so not for an hour, but for a considerable time; and, in this case some think that it is the proper species of Christ’s body. . . .

        “But this seems unlikely. First of all, because Christ’s body under its proper species can be seen only in one place, wherein it is definitively contained. Hence since it is seen in its proper species, and is adored in heaven, it is not seen under its proper species in this sacrament. […] That which appears under the likeness of flesh in this sacrament, continues for a long time; indeed, one reads of its being sometimes enclosed, and, by order of many bishops, preserved in a pyx, which it would be wicked to think of Christ under His proper semblance.

        “it remains to be said, that, while the dimensions remain the same as before, there is a miraculous change wrought in the other accidents, such as shape, color, and the rest, so that flesh, or blood, or a child, is seen. And, as was said already, this is not deception, because it is done “to represent the truth,” namely, to show by this miraculous apparition that Christ’s body and blood are truly in this sacrament.”

        ST III, 76.8 c

        Let’s be clear here: there definitely is a miracle involved, it is meant to build up faith in the Real Presence. But the reverence shown to such a miracle is not shown to the accidents of flesh and blood (which in Thomistic hylomorphism are not otherwise to be considered accidents when in reference to a living person — see ST I, 76.1 ad 1; 76.1 ad 5; 76.8 c), any more than it would be shown to the accidents of bread and wine. In the Eucharist, Christ’s Real Presence is always sacramental.

  28. Anthony Ruff, OSB :

    An overemphasis on correct doctrine could be, and I believe oftentimes is, idolatrous.
    awr

    How can you overemphasize truth?

    St Paul and the fathers of the first seven ecumenical councils were pretty interested in orthodoxy.

    I agree that orthodoxy is the means to something greater, but if the car (orthodoxy) isnt running correctly I’m not going to get to my destination.

  29. Anthony Ruff, OSB :

    Don’t kid yourself -all of us, me included, are always liable to idolatry. This effect of original sin persists. For example, it’s not idolatrous to worship the consecrated bread. But while doing so, it could very well be that our attachment to our understanding of the Real Presence is idolatrous. Only the Real Presence is worthy of worship – not our understanding of the Real Presence.

    I do not understand the meaning of this statement.

    I am not trying to be a jerk. (I’ll save that for later. 🙂 )

    I am not sure that its possible to worship an understanding.

    1. I worship the Eucharist according to my understanding of it. If I have no understanding of it, I have no reason to worship it.

      My understanding could be wrong and I may be convinced of the accuracy of my understanding, but I cannot worship (idolize) my understanding.

      It seems that Fr Ruff is equivocating on the meaning of “worship” in this regard.

    2. Father R—–Don’t kid yourself -all of us, me included, are always liable to idolatry. This effect of original sin persists. For example, it’s not idolatrous to worship the consecrated bread. But while doing so, it could very well be that our attachment to our understanding of the Real Presence is idolatrous.—

      IMO this statement – in fearing the sin of idolatry at every turn–even when worshiping God– rings of scrupulosity. I don’t see it as a particularly Catholic scrupulosity, remembering that Protestants are very careful to devote an entire 10% of the Ten Commandments to avoiding idolatry, whereas Catholics do not.

      Should we teach our little children? ‘ Be careful when you worship the Holy Eucharist not to be worshiping your idea of the Holy Eucharist!’ (“by the way if you cannot fathom St. Thomas Aq. you’re certainly wrong anyway! That automatically makes you an idolater!”)

      Is the winsome Gospel? or is it Jonathan Edwards in a cassock?

  30. Anthony Ruff, OSB :

    I sense an attitude in some people of finding their security in doctrine. It defines their sense of mission in the church. They are highly animated about correcting false doctrine.

    Yes! There have been lots of people like that. Some examples that come to mind: St Paul, St Augustine, St Athanasius, Martin Luther, John Calvin.

    I am honored to be in their company!

  31. look up the 12 steps, and then see number 3. man defines god according to his own knowledge. this is why Catholic truth, doctrine and dogma must be our center… if not, relativism becomes god.

    1. and where did Catholic truth, doctrine and dogma come from? Out of the air? Straight from God? All truth, doctrine, and dogma is mediated through human articulation, experience, and understanding.

      You confuse “magical” with “mystery”.

      Twelve Steps – a gift for some who have an addictive personality and genetic make=up. But, this does not necessarily translate to the rest of the world. But, the more you write, the more we learn about where you are coming from…..keep in mind that you write from your experience, your experience and opinion only.

      As a trusted psychologist used to say to me frequently – “it is sad that you continue to hold that position”…..despite years of contrary experience, advice, and the insights of others.

    2. Bill:

      Catholic truth comes from the Catholic Church. Not from human articulation, experience and understanding outside of it.

      I also disagree with the notion of addictive personality and genetic make-up. Sin is sin. We are all liable to it and able to resist it. God does not tempt us beyond our ability to resist sin.

      Why is it that people want to attack my opinion on this forum? I don’t attack other peoples opinions. I simply state my own. It seems that open-mindedness is a one sided slant here.

      Present me with your facts, opinions and references. I am open to what you have to say. So far, nothing has changed.

      I don’t trust psychologists.

      Some quotes by Fulton Sheen:

      Anyone who goes to a psychoanalyst ought to have his head examined.

      Most people who go to a psychiatrist think they’re crazy. When they come out, they think the psychiatrist’s crazy.

      A psychoanalyst will think that when you cut onions, the reason you cry is that you were once cutting onions and you got the news that you were disinherited, and you have cried ever since.

      Two psychoanalysts were walking past each other in the streets. One says ‘hello!’. The other says ‘I wonder what he meant by that.’.

      1. I wholeheartedly disagree with your opinion on psychologists. I fear you have undermined your credibility in the eyes of those with whom you are debating.

        Please lets not make this thread a debate about psychology!

      2. I did not bring up psychologists… Bill did. If my credibility is altered, so be it. I would be honored to have the credibility of Fulton Sheen as he is the one that espoused these assertions.

        …and I have certainly lived under the fruit of their consequences… nuff said.

  32. I like the middle (and “higher”) ground of the todah. The Eucharist is an a class all its own: it is not only a meal/banquet, not only a sacrifice/offering, it is both in a surpassing way; it is a sacrificial repast. It is Thanksgiving par excellence, because of Who it is that offers it and Who it is that is offered, not to mention in Whom and to Whom it is offered. Perhaps our problem is that we have isolated certain aspects of “thanksgiving” and forgotten other aspects of it, all of which are essential and important.

    And although it may not be a “proof”, consider that Jesus said “Take, eat” before He said “This is my body.” He gave the command to consume the Eucharist before He described Its nature and purpose!

    1. The “eating” is the fifth and final requirement to fulfill the sacrifice built on the old law.

      “We must also know that the Old Law exacted five conditions in regard to the victims which were to be offered to God so as to be agreeable to him; namely, sanctification, oblation, immolation, consumption, and participation.

      “Finally, the lamb having been eaten, what remained of
      it was consumed by fire, and thus was the sacrifice con
      summated.”

      (St. Alphonus Liguori, The Holy Eucharist)

      1. The terms of the todah as St Alphonsus presents them are chronological, not necessarily hierarchical. The participation in the communion of the sacrifice was as integral to the sacrificial action as was the oblation or immolation.

  33. Thanks, Jeffrey – good observation. But for Frances and MB it feels like we are reliving the dust up between Cardinal Mahoney and EWTN’s Mother who all but condemned the Cardinal’s pastoral letter on the eucharist. Sad to say, Mahoney tried to articulate the best in terms of eucharistic theology, understanding, and using the “models” of the church approach to eucharist in which no one analogy can capture all of the historical and current lived experience of eucharist. Rather, he tried to articulate the “both/and” – and any over-emphasis on one “model” limits and diminishes our experience of the eucharist. “Mother” could not let go of her limited and rigid definition of eucharist and loudly declared her “opinion” as if it was the “truth”. It was not a high point for the US church.

  34. Everyone here is seriously pursuing the mystery of God’s presence in the world. This is a great thing. Yet we have some calling others basically stupid and stilted for looking to doctrine in this pursuit. And we have others who cry heresy whenever questions are raised that may not be encompassed in doctrine. If we could get past our egos, we might actually get somewhere. Alas, the Church is a battleground and we must defend our turf!

  35. Michael Barnett :

    The fact is that Pius XII in Mediator Dei, while encouraging priests to distribute hosts consecrated at the same Mass, explicitly says that one can distribute hosts from the tabernacle. Your history isn’t quite complete.
    On a more practical note, if I accidentally consecrate too many hosts at one Mass and there are still a lot left over, what am I supposed to do with them? I’ve got to distribute them sometime.

    If you accidentally consecrate a few too many hosts (sic), you can consume them, if necessary with the help of others . I don’t think it is accidental to just fill a ciborium regardless of the number present. Within five weeks one can get a good estimate of how many usually attend at any Sunday Mass time. Too few hosts and you can break them.
    There should never be more hosts in the tabernacle than the parish expects to need for viaticum.

    I bet the pope said “may” rather than “can” and please note the great difference between may/can and most desirable.
    Justifying a regular practice on the basis of permission versus recommendation is almost the definition of cafeteria Catholicism.

    1. There should never be more hosts in the tabernacle than the parish expects to need for viaticum.

      Should Eucharistic adoration be permitted only during those times between Mass and the administration of viaticum?

      And the relevant quote from Pius XII refers to Benedict XIV:

      ‘Moreover, our predecessor of immortal memory, Benedict XIV, wishing to emphasize and throw fuller light upon the truth that the faithful by receiving the Holy Eucharist become partakers of the divine sacrifice itself, praises the devotion of those who, when attending Mass, not only elicit a desire to receive holy communion but also want to be nourished by hosts consecrated during the Mass, even though, as he himself states, they really and truly take part in the sacrifice should they receive a host which has been duly consecrated at a previous Mass.

      ‘He writes as follows: “And although in addition to those to whom the celebrant gives a portion of the Victim he himself has offered in the Mass, they also participate in the same sacrifice to whom a priest distributes the Blessed Sacrament that has been reserved; however, the Church has not for this reason ever forbidden, nor does she now forbid, a celebrant to satisfy the piety and just request of those who, when present at Mass, want to become partakers of the same sacrifice, because they likewise offer it after their own manner, nay more, she approves of it and desires that it should not be omitted and would reprehend those priests through whose fault and negligence this participation would be denied to the faithful.”‘ (Mediator Dei 118, quoting Certiores effecti 3)

      1. The regulations regarding the tabernacle say that its primary purpose is to reserve communion elements which might be needed for viaticum. This need is possible at any time so there should always be eucharistic bread preserved in the parish tabernacle. The fact that there was Eucharistic bread in the tabernacle led to the veneration of the reserved species. The Eucharist was not preserved for the purpose of veneration. Nevertheless, there should always be viaticum available in the tabernacle and the elements should be rotated frequently.

      2. I love the strength of this statement.

        approves
        desires
        should not be omitted
        reprehend priests who deny this level of participation to the faithful
        partakers of the same sacrifice
        they offer it after their own manner

        This shows some of the origins of the teachings of Vatican 2 in continuity with earlier understandings of the participation of the laity rather than as mere observers at the priest’s Mass and the obligation of the priest to serve the people not just do his own thing.

        Notice the bare acknowledgment of sacrifice and the several sentences which go on to develop other foci of the Mass.

      3. Tom, have you read all of Mediator Dei? I wouldn’t characterize it by your assessment of this one paragraph: “the bare acknowledgment of sacrifice.”

        The sacrificial dimension of the Eucharist is a major theme of this encyclical on the liturgy. Pius XII weaves together the various dimensions of the liturgy and the Eucharist. As for the theme of the faithful joining themselves to and in the offering, I would recommend you read paragraphs 80-104.

  36. Michael Barnett :

    The teachings of Trent continue to be valid even after Vatican II. Both Trent and Vatican II are part of our Tradition. We Catholics are a “both/and” people.
    If you want to get picky, one could point out that the teachings of Trent on the Eucharist are dogmatic definitions. They are permanently relevant. The teaching of Vatican II on the Eucharist presume the teachings of Trent.

    What an irrelevant reply!
    Why the attack?
    Did you not read my entire comment before making yours?
    Both/and was exactly what I requested, and you, not directly addressed, went back to just focusing on Trent.

    This is arguing, not discussing

  37. Jordan Zarembo :

    Notice, Tom, that I mentioned that the students should learn the definitions from the Catechism of Trent and the New Catechism. The New Catechism builds on Trent (in fact, the New Catechism explicitly references Trent). Both catechisms complement one another.

    Nice diversion by restating your point without answering my question. You have not advanced the discussion but attempted to score a point you already had.

    Please answer my question to you.

  38. Francis Koerber :

    Tom
    Are you saying VII has exempted Trent? Don’t think so! The theology of the Eucharist was pretty much wrapped up in one of the Doctors… his name was Alphonsus I believe. Truth never contradicts previous truth.

    Don’t put words in my mouth then argue against them.

    That is merely building a straw man and burning it and acting as if you accomplished something.

    Please address actual points made instead of just saying something comfortable for you.

  39. Francis Koerber :

    Bill
    The Church has always resisted heresy, schism and apostasy. It is no different today. In fact, these errors are most prominent now more than ever. The words are much more necessary now than in tmes past.

    Traditionally, the church has defined and condemned heresies in ecumenical councils.

    It is most un-Catholic of you to dismiss the development of doctrine in the most recent such council and insist on skipping 400 years of theological development and the basis of the theology you dislike in conciliar statements.

    The tone of your statements is not that of one doing theology but of one judging. Close ended judgments do nothing to support your position. It is insulting to avoid discussing a theological point without assuming the intent of the other to theologize within the tradition.

    Please raise whatever points you can support without condemning or implying condemnation of those with whom you merely disagree and have no jurisdiction to judge.

  40. Francis Koerber :

    I highly recommend we all reread “The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ”, 2nd Chapter of Liguori’s writing on the Eucharist. There in no language about “the meal” aspect. This meal mentality is a distortion to the propitiatory aspect which is central to the meaning and practice of the Mass. It is a distortion of protestantism which assaults the true presence in which now most Catholics have lost belief. This distortion is WHY there is a crisis of faith within our own priesthood and the members at large.
    In order to illustrate this point I will compare this distortion to a jetliner. Instead of focusing on the aircraft, let us look at a single rivet on the right wing. Let’s just look at the rivet and be fascinated with the rivet. Let’s all consider each of us as one of the rivets in the aircraft. We are the rivets! Wow, rivets are strong and hold the aircraft together. Without each rivet the aircraft would cease to exist! What silliness is this focus on the rivets. You forgot about the very purpose and meaning of the jet, which is to fly! You have put your all consuming focus on the rivet and forgot about the aircraft and the pilot who flies it.

    Ligouri represents one piety in the RCC among many others.

    He is not an authoritative magisterial voice of the RCC, regardless of canonization. Heavenly existence does not guarantee completeness or even total orthodoxy regarding the RCC theological tradition.

      1. Francis, you’re writing as a fundamentalist. Not everything frmo every doctor of the Church is necessarily true or helpful or relevant. No one is obligated to accept (note the verb) all the writings of every doctor of the church.
        awr

      1. Only God is absolute! That’s the whole point. All human perception is limited, and every doctrinal definition of the Church is limited. This isn’t to say they’re false, but that they do not exhaust the fullness of God’s truth.
        This is basic theology, found in Augustine and Aquinas, and I think every serious theologian ever since.

        awr

      2. Only God is absolute! That’s the whole point. All human perception is limited, and every doctrinal definition of the Church is limited.

        The use of language to discuss God is not a settled topic. There are a variety of permitted philosophical opinions, not all of them in agreement that absolute positive statements about God are impossible.

        Less controversially, absolute negative statements about God are very much possible. The whole point behind apophatic theology, it avoids the problem of “limiting God,” which theologians have seen in cataphatic approaches.

  41. Francis Koerber :

    Tom
    Are you saying VII has exempted Trent? Don’t think so! The theology of the Eucharist was pretty much wrapped up in one of the Doctors… his name was Alphonsus I believe. Truth never contradicts previous truth.

    Your inference is not logically consistent.
    Truth may not contradict truth, but that does not mean that any given truth has all truth about a subject. The erroneous assumption in your syllogism is contained in the idea of Eucharistic theology being wrapped up by one theologian at one point in the development of doctrine.

  42. Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    Daniel McKernan :

    “…those bishops did not intend the missals they approved…”
    Tom, what are you talking about here? When did the Council Father’s “approve” a missal?

    When they approved the translations for their use in their conferences, not significant objections were raised to the missal. There are no recorded speeches of the bishops who supported SC objecting to the new MR. Sounds like approval to me. Of course, the Vatican bureaucracy in those days consulted widely and often publicly, so they also had much opportunity to show approval in the process.

    Please do not go to the diversion that they never formally approved the new MR, because they were never given an opportunity for a formal vote. Traditionalists cannot have it both ways to support such a procedure now and declaim against the procedure then. Look at the public record for indications of approval or rejection.

    1. Bishops conferences approving translations is not the same thing as as Council Fathers approving a new missal. You are changing the conversation now. Nevertheless, the bishops have now approved a more contemporary translation. The teachings of the council continue to be implemented.

  43. Fr. Allan J. McDonald :

    But describing the Mass as meal we shouldn’t fixate solely on the elements but we should focus on Jesus who uses these sacramental signs to bring us His Real Presence and to sanctify us individually and collectively and to unite us to Himself through the Church and ultimately lead us to heaven through the sacrificial aspect of Good Friday reenacted in an unbloody way at every Mass.

    Others may need to clarify this, but I thought that the RCC did NOT hold that Calvary was re-enacted in each Mass, but made present.
    In all this focus on the sacrifice of Jesus, where is the additional material on what the assembly offers?
    Where is the Liturgy of the Word?
    Where is the building up of the community?

  44. Daniel McKernan :

    It is possible to create a greater chasm between Trent and V2 than really exists. I know we all agree that development as it were did not end with V2. As for where the Church is today, we should recall that the 21st century Church’s teaching expressed in Dominus Iesu is heavily footnoted to V2 and remains more contemporary than the council.

    More contemporary does not mean more authoritative.

    Heavily footnoted may mean that the writer has chosen to cite every word which supports his own argument and ignore their context and omit those which are contrary to his argument. The amount of footnoting proves nothing.

    The point you are eliding is the more relevant one that much more development went on between Trent and Vatican 2 and much of what B16 says is part of the process of seeking understanding. Further development goes on mainly among professional theologians and in the acceptance and understanding of the teachings by the faithful.

    Please do not ignore Vatican 2 and four hundred years of doctrinal development when citing Trent or even its centuries of explicators.

  45. Francis Koerber :

    Nice symbolism, but the Church at large for the most part believe the Mass is ONLY that; a symbol. Belief in the true presence is almost extinct. So I would suggest that modern catechesis has largely failed on the most crucial level in supporting Christ present in the forms of bread and wine.

    The most crucial part of the Eucharist in the Acts of the Apostles is the sharing of the meal and thus continued so until the patristic era and the post Nicene era. The real presence definition is fairly late in those terms. Can anyone refresh my memory as to which council in what year made that definition?

    As for the screed with which you begin, it reads as very subjective and judgmental and you are not in the position of ecclesiastic authority to make such judgments. Your points are not obvious. Please support them with data rather than anecdotes or personal opinion.

  46. Francis Koerber :

    Jeffrey:
    It is not just bread… even when you try to hide behind the Latin.

    It is a logical fallacy to assume that a person saying x is y is saying x is not anything that is not y. In effect you are misquoting and taking out of context at the same time by adding the word “just”.

    Therefor your accusations are false because they are based on a false premise.

    I hope you had enough class work in logic before studying theology to recognize these sorts of terms.

  47. Francis Koerber :

    All I am implicating is that the sacrificial nature of the rite is played WAY down and the element of meal is played WAY up.

    If this is all you are implying, why have you been saying so many harsher and broader things? If you had said this in the beginning, there could have been little disagreement, because it is your opinion. As was said in “Music Man”, you could use some work on “your phraseology”.

    Until this posting, you have been sounding judgmental and condemnatory, deliberately provocative rather than discursive. Please continue this kind of clarity.

  48. Francis Koerber :

    these discussions are not heated. it is simply a debate.

    If you think these discussions are a debate, your entire attitude is understandable.

    Debates are about winning and losing.

    Discussions are about understanding each other.

    Problem solving usually involves discussion but requires discussions to come to a consensus in order to move to action.

    These comments are discussions. Please refrain from trying to win instead of seeking clarity. It is a crucial distinction.

    These discussions become heated when someone tries to score debate points in order to “win”. Please try to avoid creating that situation.

    1. Tom

      Those who stand on an orthodox platform are not here to “open one’s mind” to new or varrying perspectives on truth, doctrine or dogma. They are the absolutes on which an orthodox position is built. It’s the old built on rock adage. We have no desire to move our house to a sand beach. We are black and white. I lived on a sandy beach for many years and held onto my faith by a thin thread. Then the BVM threw me a 2000 year old lifeline which will never break. I simply here to extend the same rope to anyone who would like it.

      1. Your audacity in claiming that you accurately and completely know what is orthodox and can judge the opinions of those who have been awarded degrees of masters or teachers by orthodox RC theology schools is breathtaking.

        Your insistence that there is no place for an open mind in theological discussions indicates a failure to understand the entire role of theologians, even as far back as Aquinas defended it.

        Indeed there are absolutes, but there are not as many as you seem to think there are. The rest is theologizing about the absolutes.

        For example, the theology of transubstantiation was accepted at Trent as one acceptable description of one matter concerning the Eucharist. Saying that transubstantiation cannot be rejected does not mean that other theologies cannot be developed on the matter at hand or that other matters concerning the Eucharist cannot be described in other ways.

    1. Tom

      I am not being sarcastic. I truly feel bad that Father Ruff has abandoned the thread. I also feel that my thoughts and perspectives have no place here, and that it only makes people angry, so I will discontinue my contributions for the sake of peace. Pax.

  49. Michael Barnett :

    Anthony Ruff, OSB :
    I sense an attitude in some people of finding their security in doctrine. It defines their sense of mission in the church. They are highly animated about correcting false doctrine.

    Yes! There have been lots of people like that. Some examples that come to mind: St Paul, St Augustine, St Athanasius, Martin Luther, John Calvin.
    I am honored to be in their company!

    Too bad you do not accompany them in humility.
    What is your point except self-aggrandizement?

    1. Have you read Fr Ruff’s posts?

      My point is quite obvious: there is no opposition between personal faith and orthodox doctrine!!!!

      Fr Ruff’s statements about concern with orthodoxy are insulting to me and others. St Paul, St Athanasius, and Martin Luther were all very much concerned almost to the point of obsession with orthodox teaching.

      Fr Ruff said: “Doctrinal orthodoxy is such a miserably low goal.”

      I think the saints and reformers I mentioned would disagree.

      Furthermore, I think it is dreadfully condescending to people to tell them that their concern with orthodox teaching is somehow spiritually immature.

      1. Michael,

        One of the reasons why I honestly don’t find your comments to contribute much to the discussion, and why I honestly haven’t been persuaded by anything you’re written, is that you really don’t engage others or hear accurately what they’re saying. I make no promise that I’ll try to respond to you in the future if this continues.

        Your comment above is a case in point. I didn’t say that there is an opposition between faith and orthodox doctrine. Nor would I – as you might have guessed from the fact that I believe in both.

        What I said is that there can be an opposition. To put it another way, it is possible that orthodox doctrine be tied with great maturity of faith, but it is also possible that orthodox doctrine be tied with weak faith or immature faith.

        When I see orthodox teaching used to club others, or when I see orthodox teaching as an excuse to believe that one has nothing to learn from others, I have no hesitation asserting that, in this case, the orthodox teaching is tied to immaturity in faith. Perhaps the person is way more mature than I in other aspects of their faith. The possibilities are many.

        awr

      2. Fr. Ruff’s Statements are far from insulting. They are grace-filled, provocative, and full of the deeper meaning of Eucharistic faith.

        I would agree with Fr. Ruff’s point below. And, I think you have taken this discussion off the intent of the post – teaching liturgy.

        What we all need is an open mind, and heart!

  50. Francis Koerber :

    Why is it that people want to attack my opinion on this forum? I don’t attack other peoples opinions. I simply state my own. It seems that open-mindedness is a one sided slant here.
    Present me with your facts, opinions and references. I am open to what you have to say. So far, nothing has changed.
    YOU CONSTANTLY ATTACK BY JUDGING AND CONDEMNING. YOU OFTEN FAIL TO STATE A LOGICAL POINT. YOU REPLY WITH DIVERSIONS INSTEAD OF TO THE ACTUAL POINTS MADE. THE MAIN THING WHICH HAS NOT CHANGED IS YOUR CERTAINTY THAT ANYONE WHO DISAGREES WITH YOU DOES NOT MERELY DISAGREE BUT IS IN DOCTRINAL ERROR. IT WOULD HELP IF YOU WOULD CLEARLY DESCRIBE WHAT YOU SAY AS YOUR OPINION INSTEAD OF SOUNDING LIKE YOUR OPINION IS THE ONLY POSSIBLE TRUTH.
    I don’t trust psychologists.
    Some quotes by Fulton Sheen:
    FULTON SHEEN WAS AN EXCELLENT TELEVISION ENTERTAINER WHO SOMETIMES APPEALED TO PEOPLE WITH HUMOR. WHEN QUOTING HIM, YOU MUST BE AWARE OF WHEN HE IS TEACHING THE FAITH AND WHEN HE IS MAKING A JOKE. THIS IS CALLED CONTEXTUALIZATION. IT IS CRUCIAL IN ANY SERIOUS DISCUSSION. IT IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT WHEN READING SCRIPTURE OR THEOLOGY. i COMMEND IT TO YOU.

  51. Tom Poelker: “Too bad you do not accompany them in humility.”

    Your ad hominem argument is not helpful.

  52. .#35 by Jeremy Stevens on March 20, 2011 – 9:24 am


    For those of us in favor of a new translation who support this blog’s pointing out such inconvenient truths, it’s enough – at this point – to know that she, Fr Z, ,the people at Chant Cafe, do know the truth of the matter, even if they, unlike Father Ruff, have made the decision to go along to get along,.

    I refute your blanket assumption, Mr. Stevens, and lament your lack of discretion and charity. I don’t tolerate such from my confreres at CMAA, nor from any corner. I should expect those who know me well would also decry your slander.
    .

  53. Well, this thread has been very enlightening to me. I will pray for all of you and ask that you will all attain the knowledge of Christ in all its fullness.

    Ut iam non simus parvuli fluctuantes et circumferamur omni vento doctrinae in nequitia hominum in astutia ad circumventionem erroris.

    1. I could be misreading you, but this sounds a lot like you’re claiming that you have the knowledge of Christ in its fullness, and others do not. Do you realize how condescending this comes across? I just don’t see how this is a Christian attitude or behavior.
      awr

  54. Daniel McKernan :

    Bishops conferences approving translations is not the same thing as as Council Fathers approving a new missal. You are changing the conversation now. Nevertheless, the bishops have now approved a more contemporary translation. The teachings of the council continue to be implemented.

    Not changing the conversation by mentioning the same men in two modes. The bishops who approved and happily accepted the missal were mostly the same one who attended the council, plus others.

    The bishops approved the 2008 translation. What we are about to get is not very close to what they approved. In fact, they have not had the opportunity to do anything with it officially because it is still in the charge of a secretive committee.

    The 2008 translation they approved is more contemporary. Please do not misapply the word “contemporary” to the VC2010 translation. It has been done more recently, but the language is less contemporary.

  55. Tom,
    CMAA = Church Music Association of America, and by inference those of us who contribute to the Chant Café.
    Tom, Fr. Anthony, Rita et al, I certainly don’t want this important discussion to be hi-jacked or interrupted by my admonishment of Mr. Stevens. But, I have consistently called for a mutual “cease and desist order” from the inclination to portray any factionalism among ourSELVES as monolithic. And it’s a real shame upon us all that quite a few proponents of the joy of liturgy no longer can stomach visiting either here or at the Café because of the vitriol and bile they know and do encounter when doing so.
    The phrase “go along to get along” I find particularly distasteful because it presumes some sort of mercenary attitude towards the manner in which we work and minister. And that condemnation has been leveled at me personally and others who are RotR “types” by our own fellow travelers at CMAA.
    It is repugnant, un-Christian and demeaning from the tongue of anyone towards another Christian soul.
    I beg the forgiveness from the readers for the interruption.

  56. SJH writes: “The use of language to discuss God is not a settled topic. There are a variety of permitted philosophical opinions, not all of them in agreement that absolute positive statements about God are impossible.”

    GA writes: “IMO this statement – in fearing the sin of idolatry at every turn–even when worshiping God– rings of scrupulosity. I don’t see it as a particularly Catholic scrupulosity, remembering that Protestants are very careful to devote an entire 10% of the Ten Commandments to avoiding idolatry, whereas Catholics do not.”

    In fact, the mystical tradition of the Church as well as the doctrinal tradition have been quite vigorous on this point. The Fourth Lateran Council, for example, stated: “between Creator and creature no similitude can be expressed without implying an even greater dissimilitude.” That is, even our true statements about God are more false than true. This is quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. For the mystics, detachment has been a primary goal – gradually removing our every attachment to anything which is not God. As for what to tell children, or when any of us (self included) are ready to beginning letting go of all our idolatrous attachments to ideas or doctrine or sacraments or liturgy or… that’s a different question.

    Only God is God. This really isn’t a liberal or a conservative position. It just happens that, in this instance, those resisting the ancient wisdom happen to be “conservative.”

    awr

    1. The problem is that you’re using the transcendence of God, which is, as you note settled doctrine, to argue for all sorts of things that may or may not follow from that position and are not settled doctrine.

      Apophatic statements about God, e.g. “God is not a dog.” Do not express similarities between God and created objects and therefore clearly do not fall into the trap you’re trying to set up.

      It’s simply not the case that “That is, even our true statements about God are more false than true.”

      Furthermore, as the paragraph from the CCC that quotes this from Fourth Lateran notes:

      “43 Admittedly, in speaking about God like this, our language is using human modes of expression; nevertheless it really does attain to God himself, though unable to express him in his infinite simplicity. Likewise, we must recall that “between Creator and creature no similitude can be expressed without implying an even greater dissimilitude”;17 and that “concerning God, we cannot grasp what he is, but only what he is not, and how other beings stand in relation to him.”18”

      As I understand it, the extent of this “reaching” is one of the disputes between Scotian and Thomistic philosophies of analogy.

      Only God is God. This really isn’t a liberal or a conservative position. It just happens that, in this instance, those resisting the ancient wisdom happen to be “conservative.”

      That only God is God doesn’t mean that we can’t say true (and not merely unfalse things about him.)

      1. No, I don’t think it’s limited just to God’s transcendence. It’s about the nature of God. We can say true things about God. But, to take an example, “God is love,” while this is a true statement, “love” here is still more unlike than it is like our understanding of “love,” so much does God exceed our thoughts and experience.

        I agree that our language can “attain to” God himself, and also – as the catechism continues – that our language is unable to express him. And note the sequence of the presentation in the Catechism. After the “attain to” is the “greater dissimilitude” of Lateran IV. That is to say, we can say true things about God (see above), but even when we “attain to” God in stating true things, the dissimilitude remains greater than the truth to which we’ve attained.

        awr

    2. Father R—- That is, even our true statements about God are more false than true.—

      Father R—All human perception is limited, and every doctrinal definition of the Church is limited. This isn’t to say they’re false, but that they do not exhaust the fullness of God’s truth.—-

      Can someone sort this out for me? It appears to me Father R is contradicting himself. ‘more false than true’ = ‘not false’
      ?
      Couldn’t we just say some statements (about God) do not present to the whole Truth, but since they do not pretend to, that they are not in any way ‘false’?

      Isn’t that what Father is trying to say?

  57. The most effective form of liturgical catechesis is… the liturgy itself.

    When I was a young child (before Kindergarten), my mother took me to daily mass almost every day. One day, 5-year-old-me asked my mother:
    “If I eat that white stuff, will I get to live forever?”

    If you want teenagers to learn to drive, they need to spend more time in a car, not more time ruminating on the meaning cars. Children learn their times tables by practicing them over and over, not by lengthy explanations of how multiplication works.

    If we want our children to learn the meaning of Mass, we need to do Mass. Correctly (yes, I know- take that to mean what you think it should mean).
    And we should never (EVER, EVER, EVER) send the kids out of Mass to have a children’s church or cherub school or whatever.

  58. It seems to me, though, that we are doing the childen a great disservice by heavily focusing on the meal aspect of the Mass instead of the sacrificial. It seems to me that there might be some folks in this thread who are allergic to the word “sacrifice” and find it abhorrant; however, the Mass has been known for generations as the Holy Sacrifice.

    While there has always been a meal component in the cultic sacrifice of ancient Israel, we must remember that this was all done within the context of the sacrifice. Furthermore, as Pope Benedict said in one of his Holy Thursday homilies, we cannot have the Last Supper without Good Friday and the Resurrection. We cannot divorce one aspect from the others as they are one complete act.

    It seems to me that those who adhere to the alleged “spirit” of Vatican II want to sanitize things and make the Mass some feel good experience rather than the meeting point between God and Man where we become present at the sacrifice of Calvary. Sadly, such watered down catechesis is not good for the children, and, ultimately, it is not good for the rest of us.

    1. Sounds nice in the abstract, but how would you teach a 4-year-old about the sacrificial aspect of the Mass? They are usually oblivious to their parents’ sacrifices for their sake. We have enough trouble teaching them the concept of “sharing” what they have with others, let alone sacrificing.

      I suppose that one could kill the family bunny and eat it for Easter while remembering how cute it was and celebrating its life. That might make a lasting impression on the child at an impressionable age. But as you say, most parents would not be up to doing that; they’d rather make the Mass a good experience rather than a reminder of when the family sacrificed the child’s favorite bunny. Perhaps this would have been easier in ancient Israel, but now many people would find the idea abhorrant.

      So, how would you teach 4-year-olds about the Holy Sacrifice without watering it down?

    2. Michelle, you’re making false accusations. Having you even read this blog regularly? Your writing suggests you haven’t.

      You write: “It seems to me that there might be some folks in this thread who are allergic to the word ‘sacrifice’ and find it abhorrent.” This is outrageous. I have never read any comment here by any Catholic commenter – ever – who has denied the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist. I have read dozens upon dozens of commenters who have said the exact opposite.

      It’s up to the editor, Rita, whether your comment remains here. If it does, I’d invite you to retract your accusation. It is calumny and bearing false witness.

      awr

  59. Fr. Ruff, the three individuals in the OP here seem so to ignore the notion of sacrifice and concentrate heavily on the meal aspect. This is not correct. It makes for bad liturgy and it makes for bad catechesis.

    It seems to me that PT only wants to hear from people who agree with watered down theology instead of orthdoxy.

    The fact remains that we do children no favors by watering down the Faith. Ancient Israel certainly did not water down what was hapenning at Passover. We should explain to children that at the Mass, we are made present at Jesus’ sacrifice, that He became Man so that he could save us. At the same time, He offers Himself as nourishment for our souls to help us journey along the pilgrimage of this life so that we can be with Him in the next.

    It seems to me that the Baltimore Catechism handled it better than what the OP and others here seem to propose.

    1. I honestly don’t know what OP stands for.

      Clarify please. You accused some people hear of finding “sacrifice” abhorrent. Do you have proof for the charge or do you retract it? Concentrating heavily on meal aspect is an entirely different question. I want to get at your accusation, which is that someone denies sacrifice. Who, please?

      And now you level another accusation – that PT doesn’t want to hear from those who agree with orthodoxy. Do you honestly realize what sort of accusations you’re hurling around so carelessly? The idea that Rita or I or anyone else doesn’t even want to hear about orthodoxy is absurd beyond belief. Please, substantiate your accusation that someone here doesn’t even want to hear about orthodoxy, or else retract it.

      So now we have two accusations from you on the table. Please, give evidence in each case or retract. In the Catholic Church, you don’t get to accuse anyone of heterodoxy carelessly and without evidence.

      awr

    2. Rather than turning this into a shouting match, let’s look at the root problem here: how do you teach a child about sacrifice?

      What is sacrifice? It’s a serious question, because the way the word has been used throughout history has changed repeatedly, and where we are now in understanding sacrifice is a far cry from where we were even thirty years ago. Where the medieval church was is none-too-clear: there were theologians making all sorts of assertions then, none of them magisterial at the time. The Council of Trent struggled mightily with this question, and ultimately left it open-ended: while the death of Christ and the Eucharistic offering are both affirmed as sacrifice, the Council never defines what precisely it understands that sacrifice to be.

      Roll the clock back farther: early Christians used the term in an anti-cultic sense. They perceived Christian sacrifice as radically different that what went on in the Jerusalem Temple, or on the pagan altars. Sacrifice was a moral category above all: faithful Christian living, utterly for God, was considered sacrificial — and not just, or even especially, martyrdom. Those ideas developed later among some theologians, and took a while to catch on.

      Much more recently, a variety of theologians have wrestled with the meaning of sacrifice, specifically as it applies to the Eucharist. Leading in the early-to-mid 20th century were Eugene Masure and Dom Anscar Vonier. Both came up with rather different understandings of how sacrifice is an operative category in Eucharistic discourse; neither ran into trouble because of how Trent left the “what” question open. Since them, theologians have had to wrestle with sacrifice, on the one hand, in light of Rene Girard’s exploration of mimetic desire and mechanisms of scapegoating, and on the other, with data from cultural anthropology on gift-giving and from postmodern philosophy on the same topic. These yield a variety of fresh ideas that contribute to an ever-expanding understanding of the dynamic of sacrifice as it plays out in the Eucharist. And faithful to the history of theological development, these ideas are allowed some latitude for exploration — the Church continues to affirm that the Eucharist is a sacrifice, but does not circumscribe the meaning of that term: it’s too rich and too complex a notion to do so. There is more than one orthodox answer to the question.

      All of this is intimately related to questions of soteriology: how does Jesus save. Again, note what the Church actually teaches: Jesus saves, and in that saving process his sacrificial death is paramount in making our atonement with God. The Church does not, however, affirm a strict Anselmian reading of substitutionary atonement, much less penal substitution. Such would exclude the contributions of other and earlier theologians, whose ideas are not immediately reconcilable with Anselm’s reading, but which are well within the wide bounds of orthodoxy.

      You can tell a child that the Eucharist is a sacrifice. That’s data for her or him to file away. Is it meaningful to the child? Probably not until the child asks, “What is sacrifice?” And how do you answer that question while doing justice to a rich and complex theological category — and without locking the child into a debatable soteriology that makes God the Father out to be an angry parent who won’t be satisfied unless his child is killed?

      Eucharist as a meal, is equally complex, equally rich, and equally on par with sacrifice. They’re two sides of the same coin, and no one here (so far as I can tell) denies that. The difference is that the child has immediate anthropological experience of meals with which she or he can begin to understand the implications of Eucharist as a meal. Remember, this is about beginnings, not about implanting a fully formed mature faith — and who of us can claim to have that this side of the eschaton?

  60. When I was a child, our small, humble parish church acquired a rather large crucifix with an almost life size corpus. It was placed above the tabernacle of the pre-Vatican II altar. At the age of 5, that laid the foundation of what the Sacrifice of the Mass is. My experience with our elementary school children, especially in our ornate Church is that they get it. Visuals go a long way in teaching, a picture is worth a thousand words. Also as a child, we weren’t allowed to approach the altar railing with our family members, we had to stay back in the pew. As people waited for the priest to distribute Holy Communion to them, it looked to me that they were around the table waiting for the Food or “Meal” if you will to be given to them. The connection between the ornate altar cloth that hung down the facade of the altar and the table cloth at home was quite obvious to us children.

  61. “My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit.”

    I consider both Francis and Fr. Ruff to be friends, as well as many others who self-identify along various positions in the {[Liberal:Conservative][Traditional:Progressive][Orthodox:Heretic]} matrix.
    When I see a conversation (debate? discussion? argument?) like this, I’m sort of amazed at how little everyone seems to be listening to everybody else.

    Francis, and several others, are upset that the one of the OPs (original posters) referred to Mass as “essentially a meal.” That statement could be interpreted many different ways (poor understanding? misplaced emphasis? incomplete thought? mistaken choice of words? non-orthodox theology?), but FK and others understood it in the worst possible light (“You’re either a heretic or an idiot.”), because they filtered the statement through their notions (right or wrong) about what sort of things the PT-gang believes in (progressivist heresy).

    I’m sympathetic to the “opposition” side here, for precisely the reasons that Fr. Ruff uses in his attack on the defenders of orthodoxy: to use the word “essentially” in reference to a one word description of the Mass is theologically ludicrous. I suspect, though, that the word was an imprecision in language, not a declaration of the speaker’s Eucharistic theology.

    That hardly matters, though, if you are convinced of both the rightness of your own understanding as well as the wrongness of someone else’s (ahem, conservatives). It also hardly matters if you pick up the tone of attack and engage the agitator in theological debate when the problem was further upstream, cry foul, fling accusations about accusations, and fail to sympathize with the agitator’s viewpoint (ahem, liberals).

    Considering that most of the people commenting here are officially “in communion with” each other, I’m wondering how the tone of conversation (yes, from all sides) reflects each person’s understanding of meal, of sacrifice, of…

  62. I suspect, though, that the word was an imprecision in language, not a declaration of the speaker’s Eucharistic theology.

    I suspect the same thing. Indeed in a comment on March 20, 2011 at 4:46 pm, this was clarified by the original writer.

    But what remains is the fact that it could be written, edited by the editor and posted, without someone reading it and along the way saying “Wait a second, is that really what is meant?”

    I think it’s reasonable to think that the fact that it was so easily passed over reflects an theology of the Eucharist that downplays the sacrificial element in favor of the meal aspect, perhaps unduly. I think in a context where people weren’t being accused of heterodoxy for doing this they would readily admit it, saying something like “The post-Vatican II liturgy brings out the meal aspects of the Eucharist which were obscured by the Tridentine liturgy’s overemphasis on sacrifice.”

    It’s a commonplace among catechists that when you catechize children, you are also teaching their parents. Certainly many people don’t understand the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist.

    I’ve even found previous questions about the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in this regard, where a parent was confused. This is an issue that people should be aware of and be careful of the language they use.

  63. To Everyone,

    This discussion has ranged widely, and included some valuable insights as well as some that shed relatively little light on the subject. Nevertheless, I thank you all.

    It is time to bring this discussion to a close. I am now taking the opportunity to have the last word in this thread, which I began.

    I would like to thank again the contributors to the original post: Catherine Maresca, Dave Ceasar Dela Cruz, and Rita Burns Senseman. Their excellent experience, outstanding skills and sincere and unaffected love for their students continue to stand above the fray, in my view. While some commenters here have contested the value of their several approaches to catechesis, these critiques have not succeeded overall in making a coherent or convincing case.

    I’d also like to say something on the positive side. As with the contributors to the two preceding posts, these latest contributions have brought with them a praiseworthy sense that we “stand on holy ground” as we undertake the work of teaching liturgy — whether it be to the very young, or to experienced adults.

    This post is the last in a three-part series on teaching liturgy. The procedure I chose was to open up the subject by looking at where people BEGIN, how they embark upon this fascinating subject. Where do they find the entry point of their students to enable an awakening of interest and engagement in the subject? We could as easily have asked for course descriptions or syllabi, I suppose, or even “best moments” or “exam questions” and the like. But beginnings are precious.

    It is never too late to begin again. Some of my favorite comments have been those in which someone said, in effect, this series made me want to learn more.

    May your own beginnings, whether in the study of liturgy, or in some other avenue of exploration of the Sacred, be as rich as the ones we have read in these three posts.

    Peace to you all.

Comments are closed.