06 September 2010
Causing Trouble Sometimes Causes Trouble
I often reflect about how good we have it in St. Louis, because it is human nature to take blessings for granted. Catholics have the opportunity to assist at the Traditional Mass at many places-- without taxing my brain, I can think of six places that offer it on Sundays and at least three that offer it daily.
Now, the cynic (realist?) may point out that 6 out of 250 isn't all that great. But I prefer to look at the glass as 6/250ths full.
Because in many other places, things are truly bleak. And where the traditional Mass makes an inroad, it is subject to great opposition. Lots of people would like it not to exist; lots would like it to go away.
And we know that there are some who adopt the Saul Alinsky tactics of faux controversy and misdirection to get what they want.
I remember when I first came to the traditional Mass about five years ago seeing a person at the Communion rail with hands extended for Holy Communion. The priest, a very holy and humble man, did not demand that the hands be withdrawn, but rather held the Host patiently near the mouth until the communicant understood the protocol. Nothing confrontational, just effective. I remember thinking that I may never have to know the answer to the question-- would they ever distribute in the hand?-- because of the charitable and humble way of addressing the situation.
As further background, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, charged with administering the implementation of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, responded to the question posed by a correspondent of the propriety of Communion in the hand in the context of the Extraordinary Form. The answer, in relevant part:
...the celebration of Holy Mass in the extraordinary form envisages the reception of Holy Communion while kneeling, as the Holy Host is laid directly on the tongue of the communicant. There is no provision for the distribution of Holy Communion on the hand in this form of the Holy Mass.
Now this was an answer to private correspondence, so one cannot cite it as though it is an ex cathedra pronouncement. But it clearly gives heart to those priests who seek to safeguard Our Lord's Body and Blood from sacrilege and to restore the immemorial custom of receiving on the tongue while kneeling.
Back to the point, I often speculated that the manner of receiving Holy Communion would be a dramatic way for anti-TLMers to try to turn Bishops against the Extraordinary Form in their Dioceses. Simply insist that they must receive in the hand, and one of two things must occur: either they help establish a practice of receiving in the hand, or else they can fly to the Bishop (upon whose authority they may actually rely for the first time) and claim they are denied Communion. Perhaps in this way they can bully a Bishop into demanding the allowance of Communion in the hand to appease people who will never darken the doors of the Church once it is granted. Perhaps-- this would be ideal-- they can convince a Bishop that the TLM is "too divisive" or "too much trouble" and cause it to be practically suppressed.
This sad situation of making Holy Communion a crisis moment has now happened in Knock, Ireland, where, according to reports, a would-be communicant did not follow the cue to receive on the tongue and caused a scene that resulted in a sacred Host being thrown on the floor. Because the information is not complete, I am not inclined to link to the source for this news nor list any names involved.
The reason I post it is to point out again, the relative position of the TLM in St. Louis and just how blessed we are. And also, to pray for those priests and bishops who are trying to be faithful to the Church and to implement the Holy Father's wishes that the Extraordinary Form spread throughout the Church. Though it is their calling to be faithful sons of the Church, their work is difficult and subject to opposition by many-- and many who are not acting in good faith.