Thursday, June 30, 2011

Eucharistic Flash Mob: Canonically Appropriate?

Not long ago, the video of a Eucharistic "flash mob" began making the rounds on the internet among the Catholic media.  It consists of a Friar, on the feast of Corpus Cristi (the Body of Christ),  lifting a monstrance with the Eucharist exposed for public veneration in a market square in Preston (England, I think) and a group of worshipers falling to their knees in adoration.  I've seen the video a couple of times and was a little bothered by it, and I was left wondering if it was liturgically appropriate.  I searched some of the Catholic forums and the views ran the gambit.  So I decided to look into the matter myself.  This is what I found.

Cannon Law states:

Can. 935 It is not lawful for anyone to keep the blessed Eucharist in personal custody or to carry it around, unless there is an urgent pastoral need and the prescriptions of the diocesan Bishop are observed. [The question is, was there an urgent pastoral need to transport the Eucharist to this location in order to do the Flash Mob? This of course depends on what is meant by "urgent", "need" and "pastoral." In section 18 of John Paul II's apostolic letter, MANE NOBISCUM DOMINE, for the year of the Eucharist, the Holy Father writes:  
Our faith in the God who took flesh in order to become our companion along the way needs to be everywhere proclaimed, especially in our streets and homes, as an expression of our grateful love and as an inexhaustible source of blessings. [Emphasis mine]
No doubt there certainly is an urgent pastoral need to expose the world to the healing offered by the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. No doubt that the 'flash mob' would not have happened without the transportation of the Eucharist to this location. The real question always comes down to whether or not the Bishop gave approval of such transportation for this reason.]

Can. 944 ß1 Wherever in the judgment of the diocesan Bishop it can be done, a procession through the streets is to be held, especially on the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, as a public witness of veneration of the blessed Eucharist. [I'm going to assume the Friar had the Bishop's approval.]

ß2 It is for the diocesan Bishop to establish such regulations about processions as will provide for participation in them and for their being carried out in a dignified manner. [This is a kicker. The local Bishop establishes the regulations for a Eucharistic procession. Typically a Eucharistic procession has a specific form: songs, walking through the streets, public witness, incense, etc. However, according to this Canon, the local Ordinary may change the form of the procession if he sees fit. So this 'flash mob' could very well be an extraordinary form of a Eucharistic Procession in the form of a culturally popular "flash mob." But did they have approval from the Bishop? I think it is generous that we all assume so. Though, it is sometimes easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

Could the Eucharistic mob have been done in a more dignified manner? I personally do not see a loss of dignity, but the Friar could have arranged the use of all the smells, bells, and canopy to give the 'mob' more of a Liturgical and Eucharistic feel. Also, If you watch the video, pay attention to what the Friar is saying. He is recounting Christ in every book of the Bible.]

Check out the Directory on Popular Piety and Liturgy and Eucharistiae Sacramentum for further reading on this subject.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Welcome to the Vacuum, where lies and fales hoods are sucked up

The web show Kevin O'Brien is parodying, I cannot stand.  This is a comical look at all the hoopla surrounding Fr. Corapi.

P.S.  I'm an expert on this issue because I have a blog.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Know Nothinger Dowd takes aim at Archbishop Dolan's stance on Gay Mariage.

It always amazes me how people in the media always cover topics about which they know nothing.  I would never be asked to teach a math class or biology not becuase I do not have opinions on those subjects, but becuase I do not have the necessary training in math or biology to teach those subjects.  Likewise if I was a reporter or person of the press I would hope to never be asked to cover golf, as I know nothing about golf other than Tiger Woods is good at it. 

However, Maureen Dowd, who from her recent op-ed for the NYTimes, is not hindered by her lack of knowledge on a subject that she is clearly ill equipped to speak of in an educated and respectful manner that should be the cornerstone of journalism.

Here are some quotes, with my commentary in red.

"If only his church had been as ferocious in fighting against the true perversity against nature: the unending horror of pedophile priests and the children who trusted them. "  [Seriously?  They way she writes makes it seem like every member of the catholic faith under the age of 12 is being constantly approached by priests for abusive purposes.  I've been Catholic my whole life.  I know many many priests.  Never did a priest try to molest me.  Plus, I grew up living across from our parish priests whom I got to know very well.]

"Governor Cuomo was already on the wrong side of the church for his support of abortion rights, his divorce and his living in “sin” with the Food Network star Sandra Lee. He was accused by the Vatican adviser Edward Peters of “public concubinage,” as it’s known in canon law, and Peters recommended that Cuomo be denied communion until he resolved “the scandal” by ceasing this “cohabiting.”" [Ok, let me get this straight, church letting some priests wrongfully get away with abusing teens and pre-teens and the church is a hypocrite.  Someone within the church restates the church's teachings on an issue and all of a sudden Dowd has a problem with it.  What it boils down to is that Dowd wants a religion/Church in which she makes all the rules.]

"Dolan insists that marriage between a man and a woman is “hard-wired” by God and nature. But the church refuses to acknowledge that homosexuality may be hard-wired by God and nature as well, and is not a lifestyle choice." [Commonsense can figure this one out.  Just because some men like other men and some women like other women means that homosexuality is no more hardwired in to a person than kleptomania.  One would think that if homosexuality is indeed hardwired into people that it would have been eliminated from humanity millennia ago by means of evolution and natural selection as it provides humanity with no beneficial advantage over other members of the species.]

"The church refuses to acknowledge the hypocrisy at its heart: that it became a haven for gay priests even though it declares homosexual sex a sin, and even though it lobbies to stop gays from marrying."  [She acts surprised to find sinners in the Church.  That's like being shocked at finding sick people in the hospital.  The Church is for Sinners!  Moreover, has Dowd not paid any attention to the press?  The Church has admitted its mistakes on it for trying to handle some of the abuses cases inhouse.  It has been doing it for over 5 years?  How much longer do you want to the church to admit it.  The Church also teaching it is not a sin to be a homosexual.  It is a sin to have gay sex.  Why?  Because they aren't married!  Same rules for straight people too.] 

"The report suggested that the problem was caused by permissive secular society rather than cloistered church culture, because priests were trained in the turbulent free-love era. It concluded, absurdly, that neither the all-male celibate priesthood nor homosexuality were causes."  [Go read any book on church history and with will surprisingly find that the church is not immune by the surrounding culture.  She should also go read "Goodbye Good men" which goes into more depts as to how many more gay men were let into the priesthood and how some seminaries became know as pink palaces because in some of these seminaries the only way to be let in is if you supported gay rights.]
"If God and nature are so clear about what marriage is, why do the well-connected have an easier time getting the church to sunder their marriages with annulments? (Yes, we’re talking about you, Newt Gingrich.)"  [It would have been helpful to research the topic.  Clearly she things an annulment is the same as divorce -- they are not the same.  Annulment simply means that the sacrament never actually occured do to several reasons:coersion, not freely giving of ones self, improper intent, improper sacramental form or matter etc . . .  Simply put with an annulment, the marriage never happened. So the church is not sundering a marriage.  There is nothing to sunder.]
"The Starchbishop noted" [You can tell a person knows they are loosing when the resort to name calling.]
“Last time I consulted an atlas, it is clear we are living in New York, in the United States of America — not in China or North Korea,” where “communiqués from the government can dictate the size of families, who lives and who dies, and what the very definition of ‘family’ and ‘marriage’ means.”

Yeah. Not like the Vatican. [The Vatican didn't define it.  Go read the gosples.   Sermon on teh mount might be a good place to start.  I might change the definition of "tree" to include "upright, bi-pedal, rational animals" but I have not enhanced the mean of "tree"  I have only destrioed what it means to be a tree and confuse people what it means to be a person.] 

"And how about the right of a child not to be molested by the parish priest? "  [Funny how when people can't think of any intelligent response they just throw the "priests touch little boys" argument.  For instance:  "The Church teaches that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Jesus."  In which the other person says, "No, I don't agree, I know this teaching is wrong becuase priests molested people."  Seriously?]

"Dolan acts like getting married (when done by gays) is a self-indulgent act of hedonism when it’s really a leap of faith and a promise of fidelity."  [He doessn't even talk about pleasure in the context of marriage in his article.  An act of fidelity is what marriage is supposed to be.  Like an ideal.  The marriage vow does not guarentees faithfulness.  If it did, 70% of marriages would not end in divorce.  But the fact that 70% of marriages do end in divorce does not eliminate the ideal and the nature of what marriage is.  If we got rid of the marriage vow people would still be unfaithful.]

Worn out by the rampant sexting of Anthony Weiner and the relentless blogging of Archbishop Dolan, I’m wondering if our institutions need to rejigger: Maybe pols should be celibate and priests should be married. [About once a week I read a news story about some teacher somewhere in the usa who is being arrested and charged for molesting a student.  If we this country would only allow teachers to get married maybe then children and schools would be safe.] 

Really what Dowd fails to see is that the body itself has a meaning and that meaning is expressed by means of the matter.  Certain kinds of matter can only express and mean certain things.

Sorry for any typoes, I'm trying to type this quickly. 


Thursday, June 09, 2011

We Choose You Benedict XVI: McBrien Gots Some Learning to Do

Fr. Richard McBrien, over at the NC Reporter, is decrying the process in which the Pope and all Bishops are currently selected.  He sites a few historical documents that glancing mention selecting a bishop publicly from the community.  McBrien wonders why the Bishop is no longer publicly selected/elected by its own community.  It is sad when a professor of ecclesiology does not realize that any person who receives the Sacrament if Holy Orders is publicly selected/elected by the Church community.  However, it just doesn't happen in the way in which McBrien wants -- he wants a publicly held election, in which I assume would resemble something like a US political election.

When a priest or deacon is ordained the Bishop says the following: "We rely on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, and we choose these men, our brothers, for priesthood in the presbyterial order."  The key phrase is "WE CHOOSE THESE MEN."  The Bishop here is speaking on behalf of the entire local church community.  Though I have not been to or seen the rite associated with making a priest a Bishop, I feel pretty confident that there is something similar in the words in which the Church chooses the new Bishop through the Pope.

To make a modern analogy, it is similar to how a Senator represents a portion of his or her state.  Not every person can be present to cast his or her vote at every single bill.  So the Senator and Congressmen stand in place and represent portions of their state and how the President represents the entire country.  It is akin to how the priest represents his parish, the bishop his diocese, and the Pope the entire Church.

From a practical perspective:
1.  In the early days of Christianity such a public selection process, when church communities were very small, might have been practical.  However, with some diocese having millions of people in it, it is no longer practical to select bishops or the pope in that manner.  The question that must be asked is not only "What was it like in the early church?" but also "What is it supposed to be and where is the Spirit guiding us?"
2.  We all know how ugly political elections can be.  Must we tempt our brothers in Christ with the same lack of charity for the mere position within the Church.  This process would seem to lend itself to pride than humility.  I refer you to this book by Gregory the Great in which he discusses the need of humility for the priestly office as well as the dangers of selecting spiritual leaders who want to be spiritual leaders.
3.  The entire local church would not be voting for the Bishop.  Just look at the dismal rate of US citizens who turn out for political elections.
4.  In order for anyone to know enough about a person in regards to holiness, education, prayer life, etc . . . the requirement would have to be a small community -- perhaps 150 people in size.  The average church goer does not have the time nor the means to vouch for every candidate for the Priesthood or Bishopric.  Good thing there are places like the Seminary that can vouch for these individuals.
5.  I have parents who think Genesis, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, and Jesus are the first five books of the Bible.  With such little knowledge of their own faith, the current state of the church,  who only pray when they need something from God, and who are caught up more in the works of Fantasy Football or the Real Housewives than the work of the people in the form of the Mass, how can we be certain that they are making a well informed decision?  No I'll stick with the Bishops speaking on my behalf when selecting the Pope and the Pope speaking on my behalf in selecting a Bishop.  They are much smarter and much holier than I.

Scriptural speaking, it is Peter who leads the selection of Judas' replacement in Act 1.  So first it is clear that Peter has the authority to select a new apostle (bishop) through the process that he saw fit as given to him by the Holy Spirit.  A selection process does take place; however, it is not explicitly detailed in how it happened.  Did all 120 members vote?  The text does not say, but what is clear from later writing in Acts, other letters, and in the Gospels is that little happened in the early church,  without Peter's consent (John 20, the other apostles wait for Peter and let Peter go first into the empty tomb of Christ;  Acts 15, the council of Jerusalem in which Peter makes a decree and James -- the head of the Jerusalem church -- affirms Peter's decree and set about implementing it. Just to name two.)  It only makes sense that if a person has the authority to select a new Bishop that he too has the same authority dispose of a Bishop from his bishopric.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Jesus Didn't Say That! Or Did He?

In today's Mass readings (June 8, 2011), Paul quotes Jesus saying, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."  The funny thing is, Jesus is not reported to have said such a thing in the Gospels.  Does this mean Paul doesn't know what he is talking about or that Jesus didn't really say it?  Not at all.  First one should remember John 21:25 which reads, "There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written."  So it should be no surprise that everything Christ did and said are not in Sacred Scripture.

Yet, where does Paul get his information?  There are several possibilities:
1.  Directly from Jesus Himself when Christ appeared to Paul.
2.  From Word of Mouth from other Christians.
3.  The Gospels.

We know that the Gospels as a whole were not fully formed when Paul is writing, so we can rule out the Gospels.  It is possible that Christ taught it directly to Paul; however, if the records of Acts is accurate in Paul's conversion in recording all that Christ said to Paul then option one can be ruled out also.  Therefore, the only plausible option is that Paul received the saying of Christ from one of Christ's followers.  After all, he did meet with the Apostles in Jerusalem. 

So what does this mean?  Simply that Paul is depending upon oral tradition to teach others what Christ did and said.  In other words,  Paul's teachings is based not upon a book, but the Traditions of Christ passed down from Christ to His Apostles and to His followers.  Hopefully this calls to mind Acts 2:42 in which it is recorded "They [the early Christians] devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers."

Yet, later on in Paul's ministry, he tells his readers in 2 Thes. 2:15 to "stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours."  Aware that teachings are passed down by letter, Paul still adheres to the importance of oral tradition.  If letters were the only source of teachings and tradition, Paul would have never encouraged his readers to adhere to oral tradition.  Why the emphasis on oral tradition?  Because that is how he was taught and learned about Christ.  To discredit oral tradition would be to discredit his own teachings and therefore all of Christianity as even the apostles taught by means of oral tradition.  Oral tradition is how all early Christians learned about Christ from the Beginning.  If oral tradition was done away with then one could never learn of Christ as what latter flowers from the oral traditions are not only the epistles but also the entirety of the New Testament.  In other words, the New Testament is the written portion of Sacred Oral Tradition.
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