Wednesday, May 9, 2007


I don’t see what the big to-do is over the choir standing in front of the altar to sing a song. What are you getting so upset over?”

This comment is why it is so good to talk to people who do not see the world as you do. For a moment you can step outside of your paradigm and come closer to understanding not only why others do not believe as you but even better, in thinking about it, you come to understand more fully why you do believe.

Truly, the choir standing between the altar and the people even during the sung parts of the canon is an absolutely trite thing about which to be concerned and even makes sense unless you have the fullness of understanding about what the Eucharist is.

If a people think that the Eucharist is anything less than the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the reason the priest can elevate the host and proclaim as John the Baptist did 2000 years ago, “Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world,” and mean the same thing, then pulling focus away from Christ does not offend because that which is in the priest’s hands is not fully Christ.

Architecture, art, environment, the way we celebrate all go a long and subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) way in informing us exactly what it is that we are doing. If a person has not been strongly catechized, then poor judgments in these areas will lead to erroneous beliefs about the faith.

Instances such as the one sited above show how a community can begin to close in on itself. Ostensibly gathered to worship God, what is slowly evolving is a celebration of the community wherein our entertainment, our comfort and our concerns become paramount. If we can erode the idea of the Eucharist as a Divine Person then the presence of the only “persons” rises to a disproportionate level of importance. Celebrating God in the community becomes the norm instead of the community looking outward, uniting themselves to Christ desiring to be united to the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Is it any wonder then that Pope Benedict XVI reminds us in Sacramentum Caritas that, “Every great reform has in some way been linked to the rediscovery of belief in the Lord’s Eucharistic presence among His people (6)” and that “What wonder must the Eucharistic mystery also awaken in our own hearts” (1).

It will only be in a refocusing and rediscovery of the glory of the Eucharist in which the Church will reclaim her proper course and cease the silliness that has infected our rites. The way we celebrate, our art, our architecture are important tools in the endeavor.

You may be thinking that you have little control over these areas. That is Okay, for they are not even the most effective or long lasting remedies. The most powerful tool in your toolbox is a continual conversion to a life of a person who believes that the Blessed Sacrament is Christ, worshiping thusly and live so as to show evidence of this conviction.

You cannot change another person no matter what you do. You can only change yourself. And if you live the life the way Christ calls us, you will become attractive to those who are seeking and if they follow you, you will lead them to Christ.

John Paul II did this. When he came to the States and we provided him a service with all kinds of silliness going on, he focused on prayer and Christ. I have forgotten most of the silliness, I remember him. We need to follow his lead both at mass and in our daily lives. If not, we get what we deserve, a bellybutton gazing liturgy.


There is a rumor going about that is completely unconfirmed: The new Bishop of Cleveland is distressed that the tabernacles in the diocese are so difficult to find. Perhaps his focus has the above in mind. Pray for you bishop whoever he may be.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes in America, in mid-morn on a sunny day, a tear slips down a cheek as one sits before a monitor, reading a love of God.. and the tear bears nothing of sadness at all, but is made of Joy, escaped from that spot where a deep desire for reparation/adoration gasps and sputters and cannot speak. I praise God for unconfirmed rumors of greater Acknowledgment. I praise God for priests (and Religious). And I learned long ago to pray for Bishops..and sometimes, it is from that same agonized spot. I praise God for our living in the time of JP II, and in this Benedict XVI time. Indeed, as always, the only remedy (which will work), is humble example.

I hope seminarians are reading this 'blog.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful explanation. I have been going to Adoration Chapel approximately once a week for 10 years. This is not to "toot" my own horn, but to agree totally with your post. When I first began going, I tended to fall asleep, not *getting* the full meaning of my being there. It was often a brief respite of having small children. However, over time, I've grown and I know by just that one hour a week, I can let myself be transformed by the grace of God...however badly I may have messed up that particular week. And to be totally honest, there are times I've forgotten to go to my designated hour due to my preoccupation with whatever was happening in my life. I always feel a tug when I forget and I am so happy to return the following week.

Anonymous said...

There's also been a big push with young people (specifically jr.high and high school age) to have "mass as entertainment". The intention is to get them more interested in the mass. What happens then as they grow older and they have not been taught the real meaning of the Eucharist? We don't teach them their academic subjects as "fun". Why do we think we should do this with something as sacred as the Eucharist. They need to be taught and modeled by adults the reverence and sanctity of what the mass is actually about.

Anonymous said...

This past weekend I wasn't at the Mass in which the kids received their First Communion, but Father told us in his homily that when asked, all of them knew that it was the Body and Blood of our Lord. Father sounded like a very proud papa.

Anonymous said...

Fr. V...

Here is a link to Bridge's MTV thing...


Odysseus said...

-I don’t see what the big to-do is over the choir standing in front of the altar to sing a song. What are you getting so upset over?”-

This is a symptom of modern thinking. The question is always "why not?" and "what's wrong?" instead of "why?" and "what's right?".

Indeed, what is wrong with everyone standing on the altar? What's wrong with bringing our pets? What's wrong with me kissing my wife on the altar? What's wrong with me parking my motorcycle on the altar?

With "what's wrong?", we are unable to draw a line between sacred and profane, appropriate and inappropriate. Ask someone, who thinks the choir on the altar is acceptable, if it would be okay to do a number of acts, neutral or even benevolent in and of themselves, on the altar. If they say no to your suggestion (perhaps to kissing your wife on the altar at mass), ask them "why is that wrong? What's wrong with me kissing my wife?" They will have no answer.

They will have no answer because they do not know how to ask "why?", only "why not?"

Once you begin to ask "why?", you will be able to determine what is appropriate. Believe me, there is a "why" for everything that is SUPPOSED to be done at mass.

Fr. V said...

Rob -

Particularly insightful. I am going to steal your thought and take full credit for it so that people will think that I am clever. ;-)