Cardinal Sarah Again Advocates “Reform of the Reform”

 

by Matias Augé

On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the publication of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, La Nef (juillet-août 2017 – n. 294) offers a long position paper by Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. In it, the cardinal proposes and makes concrete his well-known position on the “Reform of the Reform” of the Mass liturgy of Paul VI. The text’s first part is historical and doctrinal, which leads to a second part with specific proposals.

Sarah says that “the liturgy has become a battlefield, the place where the champions of the pre-conciliar Missal and those of the reformed Missal of 1969 face off.” In this situation, the aim of his paper is “liturgical reconciliation.” While I appreciate the cardinals’ love for the liturgy and his good intentions, I think that his reasoning is not without some ambiguities.

Following Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Sarah claims that the extraordinary form of the Roman liturgy is entirely consistent with the requirements of Vatican II. He asks: “How can we think that the Council wished to contradict what was in use before?”

Of course, Your Eminence: “contradiction,” no; but “reform,” yes. Sacrosanctum Concilium “desired to undertake a general restoration of the liturgy” (no. 21). And of course it was a matter of reforming the liturgy which was celebrated in the Church at that point in time.

Later, in support of his thesis, Sarah argues that it is “incorrect to hold that the two forms of liturgy express opposing theologies. The Church has a single truth which she teaches and celebrates.” Again, I must say: two “opposing” theologies, no; but “different,” certainly. As the cardinal himself says, quoting Benedict XVI, “the history of the liturgy consists of growth and progress.”

If this principle is then applied to the reform of Paul VI, we can say that there is growth and progress in the Missal of 1969. However, note that the Cardinal equates “theology” with “truth” and states that there is a “single truth.” But one cannot say the same of theology: the post-Tridentine theology of the sacraments is one thing, and the sacramental theology inspired by Vatican II is another. This is not a “hermeneutic of rupture,” but of growth and progress.

Some may think that my critical reflections on the first part of Cardinal Sarah’s paper are irrelevant. But I think that this kind of “minimalist” reading  by the cardinal, common in traditionalist circles, is ambiguous and exploitable, and it serves to justify and extol what Summorum Pontificum decided.

As has been said by others, the fathers of Vatican II who approved Sacrosanctum Concilium did not intend to create two forms of the Roman liturgy. I know how some will respond to my observation: Vatican II did not intend to bring about a reform such as that of the 1970 Missal. But if it be that the Mass of Paul VI went beyond the letter of the liturgy constitution, then the solution offered by Summorum Pontificum not only did not solve the problem, but deepend it. In my opinion, after some years of experience with the reformed Mass, one could intervene and correct, enrich or change certain elements of the Mass of Paul VI and focused on it’s dignified celebration. But now everything has become more complex, as shown by the proposals made by Sarah in the next part of his paper.

In fact, it is to the cardinal’s credit that he puts forth his concrete proposals in order to reach “a common reformed ritual in order to facilitate reconciliation within the Church.” First, the cardinal hopes that we can achieve a common liturgical calendar for the two forms of the Roman rite, and also a “convergence” of the lectionaries. His Eminence knows better than I that an ad hoc committee labored during the pontificate of Pope Benedict without succeeding in producing a concrete proposal, given the difficulty of the task.

But the most significant thing is the list of changes or “enrichments” of the Ordinary Form which the cardinal then proposes: orientation toward the Lord; genuflection before the elevation and after the Per ipsum (“Through him, with him, in him…”), communion kneeling and on the tongue; the use of Latin for some parts of the Mass “to rediscover the profound essence of the liturgy”; “praying the Canon in silence” in order to enhance its experience; the inclusion in the next edition of the reformed Missal of the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar of the Extraordinary Form in a simplified, adapted form, and the Offertory prayers of the Extraordinary Form… Oh, I almost forgot: it is also proposed that, after the consecration, the fingers which touched the sacred Host remain united. This last proposal reflects a Eucharistic theology which is no longer viable.

These proposals are justified by Cardinal Sarah because, according to him, the Ordinary Form needs to be “enriched with holy attitudes that characterize the Extraordinary Form.” At this blog I have repeatedly spoken of the sense of “mystery” and the “sacred” in the liturgy. It is enough to review what I posted a few days ago by Loris delle Pietra: “Faced with polemical assertions of those who lament the disappearance of a supposed ‘sense of mystery,’ it must be reaffirmed that this cannot be confined to one particular evolutionary phase of the Roman rite, certainly not in those aspects that tend to conceal rather than to reveal, but it is bestowed and mediated through participation in the ‘linguistic’ modality proper to the rite.”

In conclusion, let me quote a statement of Cardinal Sarah from the end of his paper: “For some, the expression “Reform of the Reform” has become synonymous with a tribe from another realm.”

Perhaps this feeling is possible because the term concerns the reform of the Ordinary Form, forgetting that Vatican II decreed the reform of what today is called the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite. Thus the expression “Reform of the Reform” becomes “laughable.” I repeat that I understand the good intentions of Cardinal Sarah. But I believe that his proposals are guided by a minimalist vision of Sacrosanctum Concilium and would hardly find a broad consensus in the Church. Indeed, they may even cause new divisions, and then we would end up with three forms of the Roman rite: Ordinary, Extraordinary, and “hybrid.”

Matias Augé is former consulter to the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, longtime professor of liturgy at Sant’ Anselmo in Rome, and a highly regarded liturgical theologian. He blogs at Munus: Liturgia e Dintorni, from which this post comes.

Reprinted with the author’s permission. Translated by Anthony Ruff.

34 comments

  1. From a possible baker’s dozen of questions: I would appreciate just one citation from any document of Vatican II that justifies Father Augé’s stunning assertion that (re: the celebrant keeping his fingers united), “This last proposal reflects a Eucharistic theology which is no longer viable.”

    1. @Lee Fratantuono:
      He didn’t refer to Vatican II specifically. He accurately referred to the major theological developments of the most important and significant sacramental theologians throughout the course of the twentieth century.

      There is a complex interrelationship between the major theological developments of the twentieth century and the teachings and reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Every page and every line of every document of Vatican II makes clear its reliance upon those theological developments. Many, many of the same people who helped draft the documents of Vatican II then served in official capacities carrying out the Council’s reforms – in every area.

      Here would be an example – one among several thousand: The Council affirmed the Real Presence, of course. But it never used the term transubstantiation once. Coincidence? Oversight? Irrelevant detail? No. Rather, perfectly emblematic of an entire way of thinking which informs the Council’s documents.

      I mean no disrespect, but a commbox isn’t the place to attempt a survey of the major theological developments of the 20th century, nor to demonstrate that these developments are implicated in the reforms of Vatican II. One has to read a couple hundred books on the topic, and read all the major commentaries on the Vatican II documents, and see the deep connections.

      Maybe the main gain from Summorum Pontificum and Cardinal Sarah’s comments will be to provoke a necessary conversation about what the implications of Vatican II really are. The efforts to minimize or distort or undo the Council won’t fare well, I predict, when the question is posed directly and clearly.

      awr

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB:
        I’m presuming that the “Eucharistic theology that is no longer viable” does not refer to transubstantiation (or, to be more precise, does not mean that “transubstantiation” is no long an apt term to describe one aspect of the Church’s eucharistic theology).

        As for the specific suggestions, they seem a mixed bag. Some would probably be innocuous (e.g. the old offertory prayers) since people wouldn’t notice them; others would be hard to fit into the reformed liturgy, such as the prayers at the foot of the altar (a few years ago I outlined some of the difficulties here). As to the silent canon: would this be mandated or left as an option? If the latter, wouldn’t this exacerbate the “optionitis” that liturgical traditionalists (like me, on occasion) so often bemoan?

      2. @Fritz Bauerschmidt:
        HI Fritz,

        Thanks for this – it allows me to clarify that everything about transubstantiation comes from ME, not him! I do not wish to implicate Auge in any way in what I wrote about transubstantiation.

        I’m simply trying to make the point that Vatican II is informed by 20th century theological developments. The decision to speak about Real Presence without using the term transubstantiation is an example of how Vatican II was informed by contemporary theology.

        I hope my example doesn’t muddy the waters.

        awr

      3. @Anthony Ruff, OSB:
        You raise a question in my mind, what is the normative value to these “major theological developments”? In my mind, they are not of normative value unless explicitly discerned and backed by the Magisterium. For example, if a conclusion of a theologian is included in the council, the premises and reasoning that led to that conclusion are not guaranteed true as one can reach a correct answer with incorrect logic.

        Therefore, disagreement with those theological developments are not necessarily a repudiation of Vatican II itself unless they were included within the council itself or later magisterial developments.

        This of course doesn’t necessarily mean those developments are false and of no value. And certain developments are more probable to be true in relation to how reliant the council was upon them, but at least in my mind, you can’t baptize them by association.

      4. @Devin Rice:
        The notion of “magisterium” throughout Middle Ages meant “those who teach” – i.e. theology prof, popes, bishops, councils. This notion got attenuated, especially since Vatican I, with distorted attention only to the pope, and perhaps bishops but they virtually became the pope’s “students” and “disciples.”

        I’m repeating myself, but I maintain that there is a complicated interrelation between the documents of V2 and the work of theologians. V2 is a teaching council – unprecedented genre in church history – so it naturally calls for a new understanding of how its texts relate to theological developments.

        The docs of V2 are long compared to previous Council docs – eg think of Gaudium et Spes. But still, for every one word in GS there are hundreds of thousands of words written by theologians in the decades before and after GS that provide the context for understanding GS. GS could not possibly have happened without the ton of books written by others who were part of the “new theology” from the 1920s or so on. What GS says in maybe one sentence oftentimes points to a topic taken up in entire articles and books by others. Further, I hold, with John O’Malley, that the unprecedented “event” character of V2 necessarily opens new doors and makes possible further developments by theologians and the magisterium.

        I reject ecclesiastical magisterial positivism. What is “normative” is simply not clear-cut, and not solved by citing official documents, especially out of context.

        Part of my skepticism is the development where people do that sort of thing to, in effect, distort and roll back V2. Something’s gone wrong when their conclusions are so different from the thinking of the people who wrote and approved the V2 docs.

        Take-away: call off the skepticism toward the vast majority of theologians, and approach their work sympathetically. It’ll bring one closer to the letter and spirit of V2. It’s an attitude thing, really.

        awr

      5. @Anthony Ruff, OSB:

        Father, let’s imagine there are 100 books on whatever theology topic you choose relevant to understanding a single Vatican II document. Let’s imagine that in those 100 books, there are 25 more or less readily identifiable schools of theological thought, with varying degrees of disagreement between them.

        Following your logic, Vatican II could mean just about anything. It truly does become a Super Council.

        But since you mentioned Gaudium et Spes…I am curious. Over fifty years later, are we now finished with the “hodiernum tempus” of which that indeed very verbose document speaks? If not…when is that tempus no longer hodiernum? That, I think, is also of great relevance to understanding Vatican II.

      6. @Lee Fratantuono:
        Nope, I’m not gonna go there. I’ve said what I have to say.
        If the basic attitude is skepticism toward mainline, contemporary theology, and desire for some sort of revival of Denziger to correct everything that has gone wrong for 50 (or is it 100?) years, there is little that could be said by me or anyone in the commbox to advance this discussion.
        I consider it closed, on this point.
        awr

      7. @Anthony Ruff, OSB:
        I think we will continue to disagree as I do support the subservience of the schools of theology to the Popes & Bishops (which IMHO seems to have been continued w/ VII and the post conciliar documents). But I feel I left a harsher opinion of post conciliar theology schools then I intended as I do think they are necessary to interpret the Council correctly. But I place post-conciliar documents on a superior hermeneutic, even when a consensus of theologians would disagree with those documents.

        As a side note, Blessed JH Newman appears very sympathetic to the idea that theology schools are the bearer of the prophetic/teaching office of the church in his “Lectures on the Prophetical Office of the Church”.

    1. @Marko Ivančičević:

      I do not object so much to the silent canon if qui pridie, simili modo, and per ipsum were pronounced slowly and clearly in the vernacular. Maybe also supplices te rogamus could be included. The Latin prayers of the rest of the canon leans towards a sacerdotal nature and lend themselves to a quiet or sotto voice. One gets the sense when listening to the new canon missae in English that the prayer follows the Latin well but gets an A+ for compositional turgidity.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo:
        Christian sacrifice is a reasonable one, as even the Roman Canon says. Taken that into account, taken into account that the EP is the prayer of all prayers, alongside Lord’s Prayer, and taken into account the history of the liturgy and the known fact that the anaphora was always said aloud universaly, i don’t know why would any part of Canon be conducive to silent pronunciation.

  2. The discussion of this topic calls to mind the panels of commentators and experts on cable news shows. Each participant makes impassioned pleas that arise from personal conviction and finely crafted ideologies but talk right past each other. Someone who believes that the reform of the Missal authorized by SC and actually implemented under Paul VI was everything from deeply flawed to misguided is unlikely open to arguments to the contrary.
    As to Fr. Anthony’s reference to transubstantiation, the developments in sacramental theology during the 20th century took into consideration that absent a comprehension of the Aristotelian construct of substance and accidents the term tends to mystify rather than clarify what is meant by real presence. I find it interesting that in inviting 7 year olds to prepare for first communion we only require that they be able in some way to distinguish the Bread of Life from ordinary bread. It’s far more about faith than philosophy.
    Finally, didn’t Francis nix the term reform of the reform? Apparently Cdl. Sarah has been emboldened by Benedict’s recently published forward to his new book on the importance of silence.

  3. Jack Feehily : The discussion of this topic calls to mind the panels of commentators and experts on cable news shows. Each participant makes impassioned pleas that arise from personal conviction and finely crafted ideologies but talk right past each other. Someone who believes that the reform of the Missal authorized by SC and actually implemented under Paul VI was everything from deeply flawed to misguided is unlikely open to arguments to the contrary. As to Fr. Anthony’s reference to transubstantiation, the developments in sacramental theology during the 20th century took into consideration that absent a comprehension of the Aristotelian construct of substance and accidents the term tends to mystify rather than clarify what is meant by real presence. I find it interesting that in inviting 7 year olds to prepare for first communion we only require that they be able in some way to distinguish the Bread of Life from ordinary bread. It’s far more about faith than philosophy. Finally, didn’t Francis nix the term reform of the reform? Apparently Cdl. Sarah has been emboldened by Benedict’s recently published forward to his new book on the importance of silence.

    May I envision Dr. Martin Luther smiling from heaven on the realization that Aristotle is not necessary to define the Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist?

  4. so, are there any good (and not merely “innocuous,” cause what use is that for the “enrichment” purpose) ideas on Cardinal Sarah’s list of proposals? If there is none on his current list, what might be some other changes that could help “enrich the Ordinary Form with holy attitudes that characterize the Extraordinary Form”? Surely there must be some, no?

    On the other hand, sigh. I sincerely hope this — invoking every so often the dreadful and divisive “Reform of the Reform” and namedropping B16 along the way — isn’t how Sarah is planning to spend the remaining two-plus years of his tenure as the head of the CDW. Sure, doing so might get some “Cardinal Sarah experienced life under Francis as a sort of Calvary, but was a good soldier to the end” article published at First Things. But otherwise, that wouldn’t get him much of anywhere fruitful in his quest to Make the Liturgy Holy Again.

  5. Anthony Ruff, OSB : I mean no disrespect, but a commbox isn’t the place to attempt a survey of the major theological developments of the 20th century, nor to demonstrate that these developments are implicated in the reforms of Vatican II. One has to read a couple hundred books on the topic, and read all the major commentaries on the Vatican II documents, and see the deep connections.

    I was as puzzled as Lee was by this comment by Matias Augé – and I still feel at sea.

    I have an advanced theology degree; I have perhaps not read as many works on Eucharistic theology as some here – I do not post myself as an expert – but I have read a fair bit. But should I need to have all that background to appreciate that such a major theological development has taken place?

    When the Church has reached a point in the past where it has developed doctrine, as to say that what was affirmed before is not incorrect, but now more must be said, it has invariably been said clearly and succinctly enough for the People of God to understand what must now be believed – even for a parochial vicar or layman of middling intellect. And yet when I read the major post-conciliar papal documents on the Eucharist – two encyclicals (Mysterium Fidei & Ecclesia de Eucharistia) and one Apostolic Letter (Dominicae Cenae) – I do not see this kind of development. If anything, in fact, these documents seem at pains to correct new theologies on the Eucharist which have emerged in recent decades (what JPII termed “the dark clouds of unacceptable doctrine”).

    There may well be connections which need to be made between various developments. But I think the faithful can justly expect the Magisterium to spell them out, such that a merely literate layman can readily see the foundation of Matias Augé’s assertion.

    1. @Richard Malcolm:

      Incorrect theologies (or, more charitable put, “incompatible” theologies of the Eucharist) have sparked and given impetus to the Reformation. Luther wished to discard Aristotelianism/Scholasticism when rejecting St. Thomas Aquinas’s dogma of accidents and essence. Luther simplified Aquinas by saying the eucharistic bread is Christ himself, and the eucharistic wine to be Christ himself, both simultaneously. Hence, confusing theologies for the educated and uneducated both were discarded for more simple explanations.

      So, to say that new theologies are paraphrased and forced on believers is a simplistic reduction, even if it makes more “sense” to many believers. Transubstantiation is difficult to wrap one’s head around, but it is still dogma. I understand you believe this, but eucharistic explanations, like Luther, will always take the route of entropy.

  6. It seems to me that we have to ask ourselves, “Is my theology merely different or oppositional?” “Do I, by my theological expression, intend to communicate the same doctrine with different words; or do I intended to change or obscure what has been received?” “And, if our goals indeed are the same; why should it concern me if another Christian expresses the same faith in different but parallel words or actions?”

  7. The whole business of only being able to touch the consecrated host with the two magic anointed fingers and then nothing else with them afterwards (for fear that microscopic — and therefore indiscernible as bread — particles of the host might be adhering to them) is really rather ridiculous in the 21st century.

  8. I think that Fr. Anthony is exactly right. It is a radically different way of “reception” — exactly the opposite of the Denzinger approach that prevailed previously that focused on cut-and-dried propositions unmoored from any historical context.

  9. “Oh, I almost forgot: it is also proposed that, after the consecration, the fingers which touched the sacred Host remain united. This last proposal reflects a Eucharistic theology which is no longer viable.”

    Given that I don’t know much about this gesture beyond that it was done, what of holding the fingers together would make Auge believe that it is inappropriate for current Eucharistic theology? Thanks!

    1. @Roger Pieper:
      I think common sense will take you most of the way toward your answer.

      This is a fetishistic approach to the Host and to the “sacred hands” that touched it (or, I suppose, It) that distorts more than it reveals. Obsession about such secondary things does not bring in closer to the really central things. Like: meal, sacrifice, love, death and resurrection, community, eternal life, sharing of earth’s blessings, etc.etc. It’s a weird focus on the magical cultic figure.

      I don’t impute bad motives at all to the many good and holy priests who faithfully followed what they were taught to do all those centuries. I suppose most of them just did it, and didn’t think too much about what in it was distorting effecting for ill their attitude or the attitude of others.

      But I am glad that the Council called for a wise simplification that could let fall away things that are not helpful or necessary.

      awr

  10. Anthony Ruff, OSB :This is a fetishistic approach to the Host and to the “sacred hands” that touched it (or, I suppose, It) that distorts more than it reveals.

    Of course “fetish” is a term of abuse invented by colonial powers to disparage the sacred objects of African religions. I feel pretty sure that today we would not look disparagingly at, say, an African sacred mask and the exacting care with which it is handled. Should we not look with equal charity on our own (very) recent past, rather than disparage it with the term “fetishistic”? I feel pretty sure that even with all the theological advances of the past decades we Catholics still see the eucharistic as a sacred object, so I don’t think the suggestion that they should be ritually handled as such should be labeled as “fetishistic.” Indeed, the use of such terms is redolent of Protestant theological polemics against various ritualistic aspects of non-Christian religions—which were often just thinly veiled polemics against Catholicism.

    I’m not advocating for Cardinal Sarah’s suggestion. When I’ve seen it done it has struck me as odd and fussy. But I don’t think it is fair to describe it as “fetishistic” (or if it is fair, I’d say, “Damn right it’s fetishistic; we’re talking about a sacred object!”).

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt:
      OK, Fritz, my comments were a bit strong.

      But I’m not sure it’s relevant that the term I chose has also been used by others to attack non-Christian religions. To say the term therefore has connotations of bad, illiberal disrespect for non-Christians is illogical. This is a discussion among Christians about things Christians – actually, among Catholics about things Catholic.

      Maybe the better term is “scrupulous,” but I don’t think “fetishistic” is entirely out of line. Confessors and psychologists both have a long history of dealing with real illnesses of people, and there is no doubt that scruples and fetishes and obsessiveness and compulsiveness are tied to all sorts of ritual behaviors and attitudes about ritual.

      I think we Catholics should be honest about the ways in which our ritual system has fed into that. I’m sorry of my critique of our system was too strong. I really have lots of reverence for all the depth and beauty in our tradition!

      Anthony

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB:
        I guess part of my concern is that we seem to be able to appreciate ritual behavior in every tradition but our own. I know Catholics who gush over seeing buddhist monks in their saffron robes but who roll their eyes at nuns in habits or priests in cassocks. I suspect the disparity is because they see an agenda at work in the habits and cassocks that they don’t see in the Buddhist robes. But maybe the habits and cassocks represent the same thing as the robes: a desire to give outward expression to a religious identity through a certain traditional attire. Maybe we shouldn’t presume the agenda without more evidence than a certain set of ritual behaviors. (NB: I’m not accusing you of doing this; but I have certainly seen it done.)

      2. @Fritz Bauerschmidt:
        Good points, Fritz.

        I think it’s appropriate for us not to criticize others’ ritual traditions and to strive to respect them, since we’re outsiders to their tradition. (I suppose there are situations of inter-religious dialogue that are another matter.)

        As to our own tradition, which is checkered and (according to the last Council) in need of reform, there is a place for us to critique our tradition with our own tradition-specific principles.

        That critique has to have the right balance of respect for the past and honesty about its problems – a balance it’s hard to get right!

        Your comment helped me see I had gone too far with the honesty part and veered into disrespect.

        Anthony

      3. @Fritz Bauerschmidt:
        Fritz, I agree with you to some extent. But there are cultic practices that lead to other cultic practices, and that ultimately fail to support the theological reforms of Vatican II.

        I am thinking of SC §7, for example:

        To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, “the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross”, but especially under the Eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).

        And so if keeping the fingers joined leads to the celebrant omitting the exchange of the peace – yes, I know this is optional – or to removing Mass vestments at the homily, to separate it from the “real” Mass, or to celebrating what is in essence a private Mass, observed by a mute congregation … then I think something has gone wrong.

        Not all cultic practices, however ancient, should be preserved. Priests no longer tell Jewish catechumens, “Horresce Judaicam perfidiam, respue Hebraicam superstitionem”; nor should they.

      4. @Jonathan Day:
        I agree totally. Even as I was typing my limited defense of finger-joining, I was thinking of how Christianity, while in many ways like other ritual systems, is also in crucial ways unlike them as well. Certainly Jesus’ teaching that the Sabbath is made for human beings and not human beings for the Sabbath, along with Paul’s teaching on the letter and the Spirit, allows for–indeed demands that–Christians manifest a certain freedom with regard to their rituals.

        On the one hand, Christians remain human beings and as such the human impulse for ritual–which by its nature is rigid, unchanging, and even “fetishistic”–must find a place within Christian worship. On the other hand, for freedom Christ has set us free, and this freedom must also manifest itself in Christian worship. The difficulty, of course, is striking the balance, which because it is a matter of particular events cannot be arrived at deductively, but only by the exercise of prudence (which, alas, is often in short supply).

  11. I think this is Cardinal Sarah et al moving the Church to one form. When the second form (EF) was put into acceptance, the Church started down a road where those on the journey were given permission to sing “Anything you can do I can do better.”

    It is in that attitude that I have seen both scrupulous and fetishness, eye-rolling and crossed arms. Getting words exactly right, making sure the stances are defined by degrees of arm angles, making sure fingers stay together are all actions of devout prayer or changing prayers so that they are un recognizable from the original eventually turns into a behavior that follows the words of the song from Irving Berlin…”Sooner or later, I’m greater than you.”

    I know I would have better street creds if I could say that in Latin.

    While I love these kinds of conversations, I do know that the Church, when it engages in whether the intricacies of the EF or the hand holding of the OF (sorry for the generalizations) is better or greater …is flying right over the heads of the overwhelming majority of people I attended Mass with this morning.

    To repeat, “it’s an attitude thing, really.”

  12. I recall in the “good old days” the great effort that the celebrant invested in scraping the paten over the corporal after Communion to gather up all possible microscopic bits of the Host. Of course, what he succeeded in scraping up and putting into the chalice for the first ablution was linen lint and morsels of starch. And in the pre-atomic scheme of transubstantiation, where there is no sensible a accident of bread there can be no subsistence of the Body and Blood of Christ.

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