Two Comments on Cardinal Müller’s Sacramental Theology

Corriere della Sera just ran an interview with Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, about the synod underway, and especially the leak of the letter to the pope from thirteennine … thirteen cardinals. You can read the whole thing (in Italian) here.

I will limit my comments to the cardinal’s response to one question – communion for the divorced and remarried. Asked what can be done in such cases, he said,

“People are suffering because their marriages are broken, not because they cannot go to Communion. For us, the center of the Eucharist is the consecration. Each Christian has the obligation to go to Mass, but not to go to Communion. To concentrate on only one aspect resolves nothing.”

Two points, one more pastoral, one more theological.

First, it is rather insensitive to speak so glibly about how others are not suffering. Perhaps some people in this situation care little about the prohibition on going to Communion. But surely there are others who are hurt by it – perhaps a little, perhaps more. (I recall an older man in a hospital bed who cried because he couldn’t receive.) It befits any ordained minister, and certain a high official of the Holy See, to show sensitivity to any human suffering and not minimize or dismiss it. All the more when the suffering has to do precisely with the great importance we attach to the Blessed Sacrament.

Second, while it’s not heretical, it’s rather unfortunate Cardinal Müller says that “the center of the Eucharist is the consecration.” This almost suggests a mechanistic understanding of sacraments with undue focus on the power of the priest and the ‘thingness’ of the sacrament apart from its spiritual purpose. But the entire Eucharistic Prayer is ordered toward, and reaches its fulfillment in, the communion of the people. As John Paul II wrote in Ecclesia de Eucahristia 16: “The saving efficacy of the sacrifice is fully realized when the Lord’s body and blood are received in communion. The Eucharistic Sacrifice is intrinsically directed to the inward union of the faithful with Christ through communion.” To say that “you got to be there for the consecration, so don’t worry about receiving Communion” not only fails to be consoling, it is also theologically suspect.

Please note, everyone: in critiquing the prefect’s unfortunate comments, I have said not one word in favor of communion for the divorced and remarried. That is another issue entirely.

One could certainly hold to the discipline of the Church in this matter, while also maintaining a right relationship between the Eucharistic Prayer and the communion of the faithful, and showing great sensitivity to those who understandably suffer because they are not able to receive sacramentally the Lord they love.

As it is, Cardinal Müller has done his cause no favors. He has only strengthened the impression that the traditional discipline is tied to the worst of the old theology and comes from people who aren’t on board with Francis’s repeated calls for bishops to be close to their people.



  1. I just finished reading elsewhere about the Synod on the Family, and the first point here resonates with Michael Sean Winters at NCR:

    Bishops are being called to generate a culture of encounter. But, what is the shape of that encounter? Some prelates note that Jesus Christ called people to conversion, he did not just hang out with people for the sake of hanging out with them. True enough. Indeed, we heard one of the most powerful stories of encounter in the Scripture yesterday, when Jesus encounters the rich young man. The Church’s pastors, like Jesus in the Gospel, are called to love that man, but, again like Jesus, they should not be afraid to challenge him. But, Jesus knew the hearts of those with whom he came into contact, knew their hearts better than they did themselves. Can the same be said of the Church’s pastors? Would a pastor who has actually come to know a gay parishioner not realize how offensive the phrase “instrinsically disordered” is? Would a pastor who has spent time with a couple in a second marriage dismiss that union as “adultery”?

    His later comments fit with your point #2:

    In the eyes of the opposition, the New Evangelization was a PR technique, about better packaging of Church doctrines, but in Pope Francis’ vision of “a Church in mission,” (and I think in John Paul II’s and Benedict’s understanding too) the New Evangelization was always about the encounter with Jesus, about seeing God as much in those we encounter as in the doctrinal formulations of the Church and, like Jesus, trusting in the Spirit to lead us on, even when we can’t see where we are going. I fear that the opposition to Pope Francis thinks that the Word did not become flesh; The Word became a syllogism, and they have mastered all the riddles of salvation.

    Again, this is a separate discussion from the debate over communion for the divorced and remarried — it’s about what it means to be a leader.

  2. Cardinal Müller is not saying that people are not suffering but that the cause of that suffering is the breakdown in their marriage and not merely the inability to receive Communion. Indeed, it is the infidelity to the marriage that prevents one from receiving Communion in the first place. It is a false mercy to focus solely on the inability to receive Communion while ignoring the reason for it. Cure the disease and not just the symptom.

    1. @Fr. Anthony Forte:
      He said that they are not suffering because they can’t go to communion. Sorry, that’s what he said. You can cure the disease all you want, but you’re not going to get very far convincing anyone when you say what he said about who’s not suffering. It’s insensitive.

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB:
        Look again at what Cardinal Müller said: “People are suffering because their marriages are broken.” He indeed does acknowledge that they are suffering but the cause is the breakdown in the marriage. Any additional suffering for not being able to go to Communion is caused by their infidelity to their marriage. This is a self-inflicted wound. Resolve this and the path to Communion opens up. What is in dispute is not whether they are suffering but the root cause of this suffering.

      2. @Fr. Anthony Forte:
        YOU say “any additional suffering…” etc.
        THE CARDINAL says that there is not additional suffering, self-inflicted or otherwise. He denies expressis verbis that there is suffering in not being able to go to Communion.

        You’ve tried several times now to make the cardinal say something he didn’t say, or not to say what he did, and it’s not working.

        With this, I’d like to close this side issue. Further volleys will just be repetitious.


  3. But the entire Eucharistic Prayer is ordered toward, and reaches its fulfillment in, the communion of the people.

    As a deeply ignorant member of the laity, my experience of Mass is that we have the consecration: bells are rung, genuflections made and silence settles over the assembly. And then we all stand up to say the Pater Noster, before heading off to embrace our loved ones, greet our friends and shake hands with strangers and acquaintances. There is a moment of solemnity during the Angus Dei and Non Sum Dignus and then those of us who are receiving communion get in line (I know that this is supposed to be a “procession”, but the practice is that this is just a queue) and then go back to our seats to sit in silent prayer (or look at everyone else) with those of us who have remained in our places. Then we sing a song. Then we stand up and listen to a prayer. We might sing another song at this point, or we will watch the recession of the clergy and ministers and then leave ourselves, to catch up with the friends that we didn’t greet earlier.

    In experiential terms, the reformed rite of Mass has two moments of climax at the consecration, after that we laity are busy doing things: any sense that the communion of the faithful is in any way a central part of the Mass has been dissipated long before the communion antiphon.

    I am sure that the rite of the Mass can be read so that communion of the faithful is the summit of the liturgy, but as a member of the assembly, the communion rite itself (including the priest’s communion) seems something of a mechanistic afterthought: we’ve had the consecration, best to get on with communion.

    *From an earlier thread, I do know that there is a desire for the faithful to sing while we line up for communion; I confess myself sceptical that such an accomplishment would metamorphosise the queue to receive communion into a procession.

  4. It’s one thing to hear a priest or even a bishop misstate a dogmatic proposition but for the prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith . . . !

    Council of Trent, Session 13, October 11, 1551:

    . . . quod fuerit a Christo Domino, ut sumatur institutum.
    . . . Christ the Lord instituted the Eucharist to be received/consumed.

    Denzinger/Hünermann 1643

  5. Paul Ford,

    That’s not quite the entire teaching, is it?

    They have taught that some receive it sacramentally only, as sinners; others spiritually only, namely, those who eating in desire the heavenly bread set before them, are by a lively made sensible of its fruit and usefulness; while the third class receives it both sacramentally and spiritually, and these are they who so prove and prepare themselves beforehand that they approach this divine table clothed with the wedding garment.

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB:
        Dear Fr Anthony

        Paul is quoting part of a sentence from chapter 5 of the thirteenth session (concerning Eucharistic adoration), I am quoting chapter 8 of the same session, which concerns the reception of communion.

        My point is that the passage that Paul quotes is not a definitive demonstration that the Cardinal has erred.

  6. I am agitated by the cardinal’s comment and by some made here. He seems totally unaware of the numerous responses by ordinary Catholics to the questions posed by Synod officials and passed on through some bishops conferences. Many people have long since moved on from the great suffering experienced due to marital behavior. They are now in another union and are longing to be reconciled to full communion. Until a solution is achieved, they are in fact suffering from not being able to experience the fruit of their offering of the Mass. These include people who are endeavoring to be faithful Catholics. They cannot be reconciled to a marriage long since failed. They are unable to abandon the partner of the second union and see no sense in becoming a sibling to them. A declaration of nullity was not a route open to them. They are asking for bread and the cardinal suggests they be content to watch the bread become the Body of Christ. The contention that all couples living in a civil marriage without annulment are living in a continuing state of adultery is a teaching that is widely rejected by faithful Catholics. Stop offering hungry people scorpions. Give them the bread of life with all its power to be a remedy for sin and suffering.

  7. There is a VAST spectrum of levels of respect and desire for the Eucharist among Catholics, which is of course no surprise, as at Mass “here comes everybody.”

    I think that part of why it can sting so much to not be able to receive Communion is because we have developed a church culture where it is the expectation that everyone receive every time. I hear over and over again people tell me that sometimes they receive when they know they “shouldn’t” because they didn’t want to cause a scene or be looked at. I don’t really know how that is still so prevalent when in most communities I serve the practice of coming up for a blessing is very common. I think that has helped immensely, but it is still there.

    If you can feel pain for not being able to receive, then you must love the Sacrament enough to want to make sacrifices in order to receive. I think this starts with a very low level Instill the idea that coming to Mass is sacred time: remind one another to keep the fast (and make the fast longer, because right now there really isn’t much of a fast), dress up a little when you can, don’t chew gum or bring in your coffee. We don’t have a culture any more of making even tiny sacrifices to prepare for Communion–little wonder when a large sacrifice is asked for people cannot comprehend why anyone would do such a thing. We do crazy things for love.

    Fr. Freehily, it matters not one whit whether people reject a teaching. That means it has been poorly taught, not that it is wrong. How many Catholic believe in the Real Presence? Or in the bodily Resurrection?

    1. @Fr. Jarrod Waugh, CSC:

      I think that part of why it can sting so much to not be able to receive Communion is because we have developed a church culture where it is the expectation that everyone receive every time.

      While I am a younger adult who does not plan on marriage, I can see both the insensitivity and logic of Fr. Waugh’s position. Undoubtedly, many divorced and remarried couples who long for the sacraments but are “cut off” from them due to the legal strictures of the church long for the communion. I don’t think that most of these couples commune out of a flagrant disregard for sacramental preparation for the communion. Rather, the clergy has refused them the ability to be shriven. The divorced and remarried are in a great bind with regard to confession before communion. I am sure that many would like to confess and receive the Eucharist with a serene conscience.

      I agree with Fr. Waugh, however, that today’s Catholics are often overly intimate with the Eucharist. I often abstain from communion at Mass. I have no care what other congregants think of me. No one should care what others think of them. So, how has the culture of near universal communication at every Mass develop?

  8. “(W)e have developed a church culture where it is the expectation that everyone receive every time.”

    That certainly is an expectation of the clergy, is it not? It seems to be something of an ecclesiastical “nyah, nyah nyah” to suggest what Cardinal Müller has said here.

    At its root, we are talking about a Pauline tradition in 1 Cor 11:27-29 frequently applied to general personal sinfulness. But that is not the only way to read the passage. Others might take in the specific condemnation of Paul in verses 17-34. What if Christ offers himself not only for the pure and perfect, but also for the broken and hurting?

    Some of us proclaim a faith in the Eucharist that to others beggars belief. But it seems some of these place limits on the Lord himself, that he hasn’t called people to encounter him deeply, or that he is incapable of healing the sinner.

    All that said, there are many Catholics who have experienced broken marriages at the hands of addicts, abusers, and those who have abandoned them. There are also children of divorce who have been totally abandoned by one parent. Are these people not deserving of both a mother and a father? And shouldn’t mothers and fathers in that situation serve as examples of those who are healed and restored by the Lord Jesus himself? And not just pious, but empty misreadings of the Scriptures?

    1. @Todd Flowerday:
      As one of “the clergy,” it certainly is NOT an expectation that “everyone receive every time.” That doesn’t mean “everyone” doesn’t come forward… but even many of them, for whatever their reason, are with hands across the chest.
      While the whole Church, including “the clergy” might DESIRE that “everyone receive every time,” being in the state of grace, that isn’t the case, either. While there are universal truths involved, there are no universal, all inclusive, “everyone” answers.

      1. @Dismas Bede:
        The Church expects clergy to receive at every Mass.

        Regarding #20, I don’t think the Cardinal should resign. The head of CDF should be a competent theologian. She or he need not be perfect. It’s an interview, not a catechism.

        We already know church discipline is edging toward mercy with regard to the reception of Communion. This is a good thing for people who believe in the efficacy of the sacraments. And for those who need it.

      2. @Todd Flowerday:
        I don’t think that’s true, Todd. If what you are referring to is the priest/bishop presiding, or priest concelebrants, then yes, con/celebrants are required to receive for their con/celebration to be valid. It may even be true that clergy who participate in choir are “expected to receive,” though I have witnessed priests nod the communion minister off in cases where they have already been to Mass that day (maybe more than once, even). And while it may be rare in practice there is no reason why a priest who judges himself to not be prepared to receive communion (didn’t fast, already said Mass, was too late to vest, isn’t in the state of grace) can’t attend and pray sitting with the congregation rather than concelebrating and therefore needn’t come forward. I think that the church expects clergy vested to receive, and if they can’t/shouldn’t the church expects them not to vest.

      3. @Fr. Jarrod Waugh, CSC:
        In parish settings, the exception you describe is exceedingly rare. Lay people occasionally experience more than one priest at Mass. They hardly ever witness a priest sitting in a pew, not receiving Communion. I notice you are a Holy Cross Father. Perhaps in religious communities what you describe is common. I accept that. Redemptionis Sacramentum is rather strong on the matter of clergy discipline where the celebration of Mass is concerned.

        Lay people seem to imitate what they see of the actions and values of the clergy. This may not always be a good thing. But it is a reality. Do we lay people measure our cooperation with God’s expectation of holiness of all of us by what we do? That seems to happen. Again, it may not always be a good thing. But people are long-accustomed to taking cues of holiness from a priest. “Priests receive all the time,” people may think. “That must be a good thing.”

        My sense of theology is that who among the baptized receives the Eucharist is a matter of discipline. Not doctrine. I don’t know that a remarried Catholic receiving is necessarily a sacrilege, a scandal, or even a problem. I’m aware it is a disputed point. I think there are busybodies in the Church who make it their concern to note who receives who shouldn’t be doing that. Sometimes that itself may be an occasion of sin.

        I respect Cardinal Müller and his office. But his is not the final word, brief or otherwise. If he has written more in depth on liturgy, I would be interested to read it. But his theological expertise is in other areas.

      4. @Todd Flowerday:
        Surely penitence, confession of sin and a resolve not to sin again, invites mercy. Without the resolve not to sin again the action of receiving communion is inappropriate. “Dad, I know I have been causing trouble at school and I am going to do so in future but please give me my pocket money anyway?”

      5. @Peter Haydon:
        With regard to divorced and remarried persons, the question stands: where does one locate the sin? Jesus had strong words about the act of remarriage after a divorce, certainly. But it was a particular context. He mentioned unfaithfulness in one instance, but not abandonment or addiction or immaturity or economics.

        “Dad, I know I got into trouble last week. But I served my detention and admitted my part in the mischief. Will you restore my allowance next month?”

        Unless Christians are prepared to start wearing eye patches or prosthetic hands or feet, count me a skeptic on the indiscriminate application of the Gospel particulars by celibates on *all* remarried persons.

        The Church had an age in which gravely serious sin was not pardoned. Murderers were cast out of the Church, and to a rigorist this makes sense. Until a victim is resuscitated, she or he remains murdered. Ten, thirty, or fifty years later, the person remains dead and perhaps the offender is still alive. Why should such a person continue to receive the Eucharist when there is no remediation?

        Wisely, the Church evolved from this level of rigor, and I believe there is room to discern a greater good in some instances of divorce and remarriage.

      6. @Todd Flowerday:
        Thank you Todd.
        My first point is that we have heard much about mercy and little about pentience. Pope Francis has given us the example of being seen going to confession but we do not seem to hear as much about this. I suspect that the reporting of his comments has not always covered the full range and balance.
        The idea of mercy without repentance suggests that the action in question was not really a sin.
        You are quite right that having offered appropriate repentance we are welcomed back. If confession is uncomfortable, like Finns diving in a freezing lake, the good feeling afterwards is good reward.
        The challenge is that some who live in sin only offer limited repentance.
        I quite understand that for those caring for children from a second relationship the duty to the children precludes any theoretical return to the previous marriage. I do not propose a solution but caution with the maxim “Hard cases make bad law.”

      7. @Peter Haydon:
        Thank you also, Peter, for the questions and the response.

        Unlike some people, I have heard about penitence, but also reconciliation. I have read Cardinal Kasper’s 1977/1984 book detailing his theological reflections on marriage. So I feel somewhat familiar with the topic, though it is not my expertise (except as a married man). Some of my graduate studies involved the Orthodox approach to the sacraments, so I also have some familiarity with the valid sacramental practices of the East.

        I haven’t heard from the gang-of-13 what they would do if the rigor on the remarried were loosened. Would they feel committed enough to work with Cardinal Kasper or Pope Francis or others to discern appropriate penance or reconciliation experiences? Or would some feel that would taint their credibility?

        I suppose a parent who was abandoned by a spouse might feel more the wronged than the sinner. Such a parent might complain, “I went through emotional, spiritual, and economic hell when my children and I were abandoned. What do I have to be sorry about?”

        Many churchfolk complain about so-called no-fault divorce, but the all-fault approach seems a bit hypocritical.

        The Church strongly advocates for a mother and a father for every child. Yet this is barred for many children whether the faithful parent(s) were at fault or not. Is the Church really pro-family? Or only when canon law is satisfied?

        I tend to agree with your maxim, but perhaps that might also imply that some instances of divorce and remarriage should remain outside of the law. Hard cases treated with mercy show the heart of Jesus.

      8. @Todd Flowerday:
        Thank you Todd.
        I have not read any book by Cardinal Kaspar.
        You raise an interesting point as to what will happen if a change in Church practice is forced through without a consensus. I fear that a discussion on this would be divisive in a way that would set readers of this blog at their most vociferous. Let’s hope that this does not happen.
        I will think about what you write but as it is bed time will not post anything first that I will regret later.
        All the best, Peter

  9. @Scott Smith:
    Good point. Which means it is left to the rest of us to preach mercy as it is needed, elaborating to the fullest.

    I would agree with you that short sections, even 1 Cor 11:27-29, cannot be applied without a larger context (in this instance, unity and hospitality).

    I think short bits like this need to be given life and flesh by real Christians, not held up as banners of victory or gotcha! moments.

  10. Christ’s words of institution were “Take and eat…” not “Look at and admire…”

    And one of the recipients of that first Communion was the man who had already committed the great sin of betraying Christ. Seems that there was quite a bit of forgiveness in Christ’s act.

  11. For me, the most problematic aspect of this poorly worded statement of Cardinal Muller is this: “Each Christian has the obligation to go to Mass, but not to go to Communion.” As far as I understand it, the reception of Holy Communion at least once a year in the Easter Season is one of the precepts of the Church. Hence the reception of Holy Communion is an obligation not an optional extra in the life of a Christian.

    I agree, however, we should avoid being overly critical of the Cardinal in the spirit of charity. This is a very short interview and I am sure the Cardinal is aware of the qualifications we are making in these comments.

  12. Ultimately Eucharist is about a depth of faith and about the community we share it with. It cannot be confined in a box of words, explanations and careful phrases. It is about our individual relationship with Lord and through that experience, with each other.

    “Lord I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall be healed” is a holistic appreciation of the gift we are being given. It brings each of us, whatever our burden might be, to the Lord for healing, the entirety that is us. The loss of that gift is painful.

    When a marriage breakdown causes an immense sense of grief, it seems inconceivable that we add further to that loss by denying the Eucharist, the very sustenance of our journey.

    The event of consecration is ultimately of no avail unless the Lord is received by the people.

  13. I discerned years ago to wholly ignore the advice of any person who seeks to separate me from Christ. I rely on daily examen and deep trust in God’s leading instead. Lay Catholics are being invited to grow into spiritual adulthood and perhaps bring the Church and its ordained leaders out of perpetual adolescence. I know many priests, but very, very few who possess the mind and heart of Christ. Despite their training, they live in a ecclesial never-never land, fighting imaginary pirates. Still I receive Christ with joy from their unworthy hands.

  14. The Cardinal should resign from the CDF position. The only good he can do is to be so blatent again so that there will be a stampede in the other direction.

  15. This is a frustrating conversation because the more it continues the more I realize that Catholics willing to engage in it are only talking to themselves.

    Cardinal Muller is using Donald Trump-like language trying to lump all “problematic” marriages and Eucharistic reception into one issue. Not only is it insensitive (sensitivity has never been a hallmark of the CDF staff) but it is wrong.

    My sense is that in the heavens…Jesus is looking at us and saying “what part of ‘Take and Eat’ or ‘Take and Drink’ did you not understand?”

  16. Everything that I can think of pertaining to the Eucharist in our Scriptures is presented in the context of a meal and an action. “Take and eat. Take and drink.” “Unless you eat…and drink….” “When it becomes time to eat…. What I passed on to you….”

    In the days of the Latin Mass with back to the people, Mass became “the Magic Moment” with bells and all and people came forward to receive something, Jesus Christ.

    Communion was usually taken from the tabernacle and we really didn’t even have an altar.

  17. Sorry, somehow I lost the ability to finish the above.

    On too many occasions today I have observed the Eucharist coming from the tabernacle (if I may “the refrigerator”) rather than from the altar.

    Since I try to attend Mass whenever I’m away from the parish, I have observed this more than a dozen times in 2015 alone in a dozen parishes.

    Too often i feel that the priest said Mass rather than celebrated the Mass. I know that I cannot enter the mind of the priest but his gestures or lack thereof and his manner of saying the prayers can speak volumes.

    Father Dave Riley

  18. “You raise an interesting point as to what will happen if a change in Church practice is forced through without a consensus.”

    Not my point at all. Suppose a small minority of bishops–ten or thirteen–found themselves opposed by the other 257-plus others back home. Would they work in the new system, making the best of it? Or would they be bothered by the prospect of losing a few lay supporters?

    “So, how has the culture of near universal communication at every Mass develop?”

    Inspiration of the Holy Spirit?

    1. @Todd Flowerday:
      Thank you Todd
      Yes, part of the issue seems to be that the reception of holy Communion is seen as “welcome” and so its refusal is seen as being a sign of rejection.
      Communion is good so more of it is better. I am reminded of the Irish maxim noting that voting is good so one should “Vote early and vote often.” Perhaps not.
      Fr Hunwicke raises the question as to whether this mercy extends to paedophiles. These are, presumably, people to whom the bishops should try to be close.
      At the end of Brideshead Revisited Julia explains that “the worse I am the more I need God. I can’t shut myself out from his mercy. That is what it would mean; starting a life with you without Him. … But I saw to-day there was one thing unforgivable – the bad thing I was on the point of doing, that I was not quite bad enough to do; to set up a rival good to God’s.”

  19. Hello Peter, and thank you for your response, which seems to raise a number of issues.

    I think it is untenable for me to posit what other people think. My education in liturgy suggests that the Mass and sacraments are, as seen in this world, our participation in the Son’s worship of the Father. Frequent Communion is less a sign of welcome (?!) and more one of participating in the sacrifice and in opening oneself to spiritual nourishment as provided by the Lord.

    What individual lay people and clergy bring to the Mass when they receive every time: I have no idea. I can attest my motives are occasionally misplaced. If I am tired. If it’s the fifth Mass I celebrated as a music director on a weekend. If I have distractions. I suppose faith in Christ covers my lapses, or even my sins.

    I don’t know about the Irish voting maxim, but I know there’s value in kissing my wife early and often. There’s a sacrament that surely deserves some intentionality these days, right?

    Don’t know Fr Hunwicke, but we do know that mercy has generally been extended to sex abusers. We’ve heard of a few serial abusers repeatedly going to confession to the point where secular lawmakers here and there want to crack into the seal. And lay people are scandalized that repeated unrepentant sinners seem to commit sacrilege. But yes, even there, where the sacramental life of the Church is concerned, I would be in favor of mercy to a sex addict who makes a firm effort to recover. Such grace may well be enough to save.

    Julia’s quote echoes something I read somewhere from the early monastic tradition. A brother who suffered from a repeated sin to the point where expulsion from the community was considered: the abbot was counseled that perhaps the offfender was most in need of the Lord in the Eucharist, and that this medicine should not be denied him.

    1. @Todd Flowerday:
      Thank you Todd
      Fr Hunwicke is blogger who makes fearless comments that seem to be very well considered.
      The Irish voting approach idea is that a voter would vote several times in one election to secure a win for his preferred candidate. Presumably he would use several different names to do so.
      As we heard in the first reading today the Lord does not always spare us suffering. It can be tough on the innocent.
      All the best

  20. #35 Todd,

    This may be an unreasonable request (I know you read widely), but if you can possibly remember where you saw that item about the errant brother and the Eucharist, I would really like to know the source. If memory serves, in general the early sources don’t say much about the Eucharist, so a story like that would be quite special.

    Or perhaps one of Fr Anthony’s brothers would know the source?

  21. I don’t know that particular story, but the form of it sounds like the Egyptian desert fathers, if it is indeed real.

    The Lausiac History for example certainly talks of encouraging monks to receive, when they might wish to abstain from either pride or despair. That is in the context of a rather extreme asceticism however, and therefore is not immediately applicable universally.

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