See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Reverence for the Blessed Sacrament: Fragments.

Too scrupulous?

Reading Fr. Z and Fr. Mark of Vultus Christi, I noticed both priests have posts concerning reverence for the Eucharistic species.  In one case a priest asks a question of Fr. Z concerning fragments of the Eucharist left on the corporal.  I always wonder why priests would seek clarification of these matters online rather than approach their bishop, pastor or superior of their place, and/or their spiritual director?  After all, that is the ordinary chain of command in their obedience.  In another post on WDTPRS, a newly ordained priest asked if the pastor of the place he is assigned had the right to censor his homilies.  You bet he does - within reason - but if there is a real problem, an abuse of power, etc., the priest should bring his concerns to the chancery or directly to the bishop.  But I digress.  Such issues are instructive for the ordinary Catholic and it is another reason why enjoy reading Fr. Z.
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That said, Fr. Z's questioner reminded me of a situation I noted at my own parish.  I mentioned before that I am the last person at adoration in our parish, and so I must repose the Blessed Sacrament - I would rather not do this, but no one else is available.  Nearly every week I notice the corporal remains on the altar outside of Mass - some weeks there are red stains from the precious blood - or wine, I have no way of knowing which came first - as well as the occasional crumb(s).  The same corporal usually remains on the altar week after week.  The priest uses an oversized host - so we know how minute fragments scatter.  I was told not to worry because unless the fragments resemble actual bread, they are of no concern.  This in a day when we can view and study micron particles... 
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Now as a lay person I can see why I would bring these concerns to a priest - only to be regarded as overly scrupulous and a busy-body - so why bother?  Nevertheless, in the monastery I was always taught the corporal should be removed from a properly dressed altar after Mass.  (During exposition a properly cleaned corporal is used.)  Nevertheless, at least one bishop (before he was consecrated bishop) has offered Mass at my parish - during the week and on a weekend or two, while the pastor was away - and he too left the corporal on the altar.  I realize some things are just out of a lay-person's hands.
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Today is my adoration day, so I'll bring these matters to Our Lord, "who can do infinitely more than I can ask or imagine."  In the meantime, check out Fr. Z's post and then read Fr. Mark's at Vultus Christi.  Fr. Mark departs from his usual meditations and homililetics, asking serious questions concerning the 2004 document, The Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist.  Once again one might ask why his concern is not brought to the attention of his bishop or a higher authority, but I think the question is more or less rhetorical and meant for our instruction.
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11 comments:

  1. I agree with you, Terry.
    These matters are best dealt with person-to-person; general information is fine on the internet...but I do believe that
    this underlines something that is going on today that is NOT good; there is a real "divide" in some places, where a young priest, an associate with an older priest, the pastor, usually from the "wild days" are in constant conflict.
    As for fragments, I'll tell you...I get rather "put-off" when I'm using a corporal used by another priest and there are definite fragments...and then when the server "sets the altar" and waves said corporal in the air (gasp~!)...
    As those who have read my posts, I'm not a particularly scrupulous kinda guy (I could probably become more scrupulous, but, alas, my spiritual condition ain't the topic here!)...but definable, visually apparent fragments of the Sacred Host are to be properly consumed and the vessels purified. And leaving the corporal on the altar? WTH? Even if the priest is orthodox in his theology, this is just liturgical "craziness".
    Some are so damned sloppy...Fr. Corapi mentions making a Holy Hour before the cabinet where the sacred vessels were stored...someone asked him about it and he replied that since they weren't properly purified, Jesus was in that cabinet in those vessels.
    And I believe it.

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  2. I think there is a middle ground between sloppiness and scrupulosity that we need to find. The idea is to show proper reverence for Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. We need to do our best. When there are visible fragments of the host, or visible stains of the Precious Blood which aren't being taken care of, someone isn't doing their best. I don't feel that God expects us to worry about fragments which may be visible by electron microscopy. But when easily visible fragments or stains are left by priests, deacons, or EMHC's without being dealt with properly, it sets a poor example and doesn't show proper respect.

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  3. Fr. - Thanks - I never heard that one by Corapi.

    Melody - the micro particles is just hyperbole - although in one of the psalms the psalmist expresses reverence even for the dust of Jerusalem - can't recall the wording at this moment - but I'm always reminded of it whenever I check my palm for fragments after communion.

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  4. Terry, I knew it was hyperbole; some people do get about that hung up, though.
    Another scriptural reference that comes to mind is the feeding of the five thousand (which is a Eucharistic precursor). The disciples gather up the fragments, they don't leave them laying around.

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  5. Yeah--there's a fine line..as I am an engineer by profession my "attention to detail" might be a bit more refined than others..as am EM I really try to take special care to ensure that everything is set up and put away properly..but also things HAPPEN too...especially with elderly priests with shaky hands and perhaps a bit shaky memory.

    If the corporal needs to be replaced, then take the initiative and do so...our sacristy has a special basket where the purificators and corporals are placed to be washed by the Altar Linens folks. Or find someone else who CAN do it..It is not being bitchy, or difficult, or confrontational...it is being attentive, just like you would wipe a child's face..

    And for those who gripe that we only have one or two corporals/purficators/ etc because "they are too expensive"--ya know--it really isn't that hard to learn how to hemstitch linen and embroider a little cross...would be good activity for Girl Scouts/ homeschoolers/silver foxes.. and a yard of good Irish linen would make ALOT..

    Sara

    P.S. Please pray for me as I got a WONDERFUL advancement at work this week!! Not quite a promotion, but the additional responsibility will translate into a tidy little raise :) Thanks be to God :)

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  6. Melody - thanks for that reference - excellent.

    Sara - congratulations! I will pray... may God give success to your work.

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  7. After reading the comments on Z's post I think the priest would have done better to have gone to his bishop.

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  8. Thanks so much for the prayers Terry....

    Like your new photo....someone mentioned that you were going bald and I was going to offer to send you some of my golden locks to make a hairpiece...although it is more silver threads among the gold now..

    But then you'd have to put up with blonde jokes.. :) And the world can be such a cruel place.. :)

    Sara

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  9. I'm not going bald - nor am I bald - my hair is just as handsome as Donald Trump's. Thanks for the offer to share your locks though. ;)

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  10. Terry: Wish I could say the same...I'm getting a "natural tonsure" and the rest is going white...
    wisdom?
    Probably not:<)!

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  11. Terry--Donald Trump???

    Oh dear..

    You might want to consider investing in a new stylist :)

    Sara

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