A LOT of questions surround the Catholic Church these days and many are seeking answers from the Holy Father. In one of these issues, fifteen priests from several countries wrote the Pope on April 22 asking for a “reaffirmation of the Gospel”.
This concerns, “with the mistaken approach to the Christian moral life that we frequently encounter and that grievously harms those misled by it… The damage could be healed or mitigated if you were to affirm Christ’s teachings and to correct those errors with the full authority of your apostolic office.”
What is this mistaken approach? Basically, “the mistaken approach asserts that those who commit objectively evil acts and judge themselves subjectively free of culpability must be allowed to receive Holy Communion. In a more developed form, it denies that certain behaviors are always evil and claims that in some circumstances those behaviors are the most realistic good that can be achieved or, indeed, are simply good.”
Plainly said, the mistake is that a person decides whether his action is evil or not, not what is intrinsic to the act. Thus if a person steals but thinks it is all right because his theft is justified, so his evil act is not evil anymore and therefore he can receive Holy Communion without need for confession and absolution..
“An even more extreme version declares that those behaviors can be approved or proposed by God. Christ’s life and moral teachings are thus presented as abstract ideals that must be adjusted to fit our circumstances rather than as realities already attuned to free us from sin and evil in every situation. Although this approach claims to be a new and legitimate development, its principles have always been recognized by the Church as contrary to the Gospel.”
There is another issue that needs papal affirmation and clear direction – receiving communion by the hand raised by Fr. John Perricone.
The 2000 Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (#161) says, “if communion is given only under the form of bread, the priest raises the Eucharistic bread slightly and shows it to each one, saying: ‘The Body of Christ’… and [the faithful] receive the Sacrament as they choose, either on the tongue, or in the hand, where this is allowed”. In the typically spare manner of Roman documents, a notable truth is conveyed. Communion on the tongue remains normative, with Communion in the hand only tolerated, where permitted by law. This detail might be lost in the din of hammering together a liturgical New World, but it should not be lost on those with a deep love for the Body of Christ. But is linking this change in practice to a decline in vocations a slight stretch? Not really.
“Holy Church understands that an intimate ontological bond exists between the Holy Eucharist and the Holy Priesthood: an eclipse in appreciation for the one inevitably leads to a decline in interest in the other. A priest’s whole raison d’être is the Holy Eucharist. He protects it, as the Bridegroom protects the Bride. All the priest’s vigor streams forth from that august sacrament and it is that sacrament which fashions his priestly personality. His priestly manhood is perfected in the adoration, care, and affection for that sacrament. Apart from it, the heart of the priest withers and his priestly virility falters.
Softness replaces heroism and an epicene compromise substitutes for fiery conviction. Soon the priest no longer seeks the sharp strokes of saintly action but is more at home in the safer and softer secular life. Conceal the majesty of the Holy Eucharist and you reduce the once noble class of priests into a tribe of spiritual pygmies. And soon even that inglorious residue disappears. Could the lesson be clearer? No healthy young man aspires to be small. Greatness alone summons him.”
Is lack of vocation related to the decline in reverence for the Eucharist that the receiving It by the hand has created?
This form has caused probably millions of Host particles to fall to the floor and trampled upon. If priests cannot be models, in this reverence I wrote about last week, can they attract the young to also be gifted with this singular privilege?