Tuesday, February 15, 2011

At Mass, Actions Speak Louder Than Words


By Michael A. Beauregard

I have taught in Catholic schools for many years. For the past ten, I have had the pleasure of teaching sixth-grade religion classes in a school that is unwaveringly faithful to the Magisterium. The religious curriculum in the sixth grade includes the sacraments, the theology of the Mass, and Church history. In previous grades, the students thoroughly study the faith with the help of textbooks that are faithful to the Church, and teachers who are devout, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable.

Nevertheless, year after year I am surprised by what my students know — and do not know — at the beginning of their sixth-grade year. Students are typically baffled and sometimes even stunned to learn that the Blessed Sacrament is Christ physically [sic]1 present in His body, blood, soul, and divinity, and not just in a spiritual or symbolic sense. More often than not, these students have incorrectly acquired the notion that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is just a Communion service memorializing the Last Supper with the priest acting as presider. They are fascinated to learn about the sacrificial aspects of the Mass and the priesthood, and the tremendous graces received from the Mass. Why are all these students, who have no less than five years of solid catechetical training, entering the sixth grade with an almost Protestant view of Catholic liturgy and the sacraments?

One might question the content, quality, and overall effectiveness of the religion program. But after years of observing, monitoring, and, most importantly, probing the students, I have come to a clear assessment of this peculiar situation. Irrespective of what is being taught, if the Mass and liturgies do not reflect the realities and truths of our Catholic faith, the teachings of the Church will be taught in vain. It is of the utmost importance that the Holy Mass model and emphasize what we want our students (and adults) to understand and embrace. The rubrics, gestures, and symbols that are employed serve a fundamental and very useful purpose in that they reveal and give witness to the faith we profess.

To illustrate a common example, I ask students at the beginning of their sixth-grade year what they genuflect toward inside a church. At least ninety percent say the crucifix or the spiritual omnipresence of Christ. After receiving a thorough explanation that genuflection is an act of adoration toward the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, the students invariably have a number of questions, a typical one being: “If we believe that the Blessed Sacrament is Christ Himself truly and really present among us, then shouldn’t we show greater respect and reverence at Mass?” The crux of the problem is that students cannot retain the truths they are taught if these truths are not manifested on a regular basis in our liturgical language, songs, gestures, and symbols.

In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, many expressive gestures and symbols in the Mass were not necessarily suppressed, but were set aside in favor of an emphasis on simplicity. This has resulted in a watering down of the truths of the Mass, which has itself led to a lack of reverence during the Mass.

One of the greatest tragedies of the post-conciliar New Mass is that the spirit of informality has displaced our duty of reverence and respect. For example, in the pre-conciliar Tridentine Mass, only the priest was allowed to touch the sacred Species. During and after the consecration, he was required to keep his thumb and index finger joined in order not to spread the particles of the sacred Host. It was only at the final ablution that he was able to separate his finger from his thumb. This simple yet powerful rubric sent a clear message about what we as Catholics believe about the Eucharist.

During reception of Holy Communion, an altar server held a paten under the Host to ensure that Christ would not accidentally drop to the floor. The use of patens in the New Mass has been requested in the Vatican’s 2004 instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, but they are absent from the average Catholic parish. In most Masses today, the sacred Species might be handled with care at best, but not with the ineffable care they were once given. And they are handled by virtually everyone. What does this teach our children? Furthermore, what example is given to reaffirm mature, faithful Catholics in their beliefs? The strict rubrics in the pre-conciliar Mass were established for a firm purpose: to foster a greater reverence for the Eucharist and to prevent avoidable accidents.

One of the great and unexpected phenomena of our day is the number of young Catholics who are attracted to the Tridentine Mass. Many critics of the “extraordinary form of the Mass,” as it is now called, have stated that its appeal is largely nostalgic. However, the younger generations of Catholics did not grow up with the extraordinary form and, therefore, it cannot be a nostalgic experience for them. I require my students to attend the Tridentine Mass periodically, and they often comment on how much more reverent it is than the typical New Mass. Many respond that they prefer the Tridentine Mass because it gives authentic expression to their faith in a way that is both prayerful and contemplative. This is not to say that the New Mass cannot be reverent too, but because of the rubrics and gestures employed and indeed required, the Tridentine Mass shows greater honor toward and adoration of the Holy Eucharist.

Our Holy Father has written extensively about and encouraged two liturgical practices that were at one time common in every parish: priests facing ad orientem, toward the East, and communicants receiving the sacred Host on the tongue, while kneeling. Both of these practices have been encouraged for two main reasons: to give glory and reverence to God and to reinforce our belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. These two practices express our beliefs through action and raise awareness of the sacredness of the Mass. Even smaller actions that appear at first to be trivial can have a similar effect, such as making use of chalice veils (as recommended in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal) and patens, and keeping silence in the church before and after Mass. There are a multitude of lessons we can learn about the symbolism of such acts and how this conveys and expresses our faith in the real presence. These small details, which many take for granted or ignore altogether, can make the difference between giving the appearance, to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, that the Mass is either something extraordinary and mystical or something ordinary and secular.

The hymns that are selected should be given due consideration as well. Sometimes I wonder if anyone really pays attention to the words that are sung. Are they consistent with the theology of the Mass and what we as Catholics believe? If the lyrics were recited and not sung, would they be appropriate prayers to God?

Recently, when I was teaching fifth-grade boys some of the refinements of serving at Mass, one of them did not know exactly what I meant when I mentioned “the altar.” He mistakenly thought that the altar was the general area around the altar of sacrifice — the sanctuary. After I corrected him briefly, the young student responded, “Oh, you mean the Communion table.” I then saw that it was necessary to give him a fuller explanation of the sacrificial nature of the Mass and what distinguishes the altar of sacrifice from an ordinary table. But the next day at Mass, the offertory hymn included such lines as “Come to the table of plenty” and “O come and sit at my table, where saints and sinners are friends.” That hymn served to reinforce the incorrect perception not only about the altar but about the nature of the Mass. I realized that despite the faithful, correct instruction we give, we are fighting a losing battle when the externals of the Mass do not accurately reflect what we teach.

The Church has witnessed some positive and fruitful developments over the past twenty years. I can remember a time when the ringing of the bells at the elevations had become a rarity. This very important element, which has been reintroduced in many parishes, can act as a great teaching tool to both Catholics and non-Catholics. For example, a co-worker of mine, a Lutheran, attended Mass at our school during her first week of employment. Afterward, she inquired about the ringing of the bells at the epiclesis (unbeknownst to many, this is encouraged in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal) and the elevations. It was a great opportunity not only to explain the symbolism of the actions but to talk about the Mass and how it differs from Protestant services.

Another positive development that has been occurring over the past decade is the placement — or relocation — of tabernacles in many churches to their proper place of honor. Even in many of the cathedrals in the U.S. that were modernized in the 1970s the tabernacles are beginning to be returned to prominent areas in order to foster devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Likewise, a momentous event soon to unfold is the revised English translation of the Order of Mass. This single event will not only bring the wording of the Mass back to its Latin origins, it will also provide a richer, more compelling and beautiful translation that will uplift the faithful. [For a look at the new missal translation, see Rosemary Lunardini’s article “A Defining Step Toward Authentic Liturgical Reform,” Nov. 2010 — Ed.]

Perhaps one of the greatest changes we have seen over the past twenty years is a renewed interest in and devotion to eucharistic adoration. A majority of parishes now participates in some regular form of eucharistic adoration. This is incredible and miraculous, not only because this practice became almost extinct nearly thirty years ago, but because it occurred without any mandates or widespread movements. It was one of those things that suddenly happened everywhere, an occurrence of such great magnitude over such a short time that it can only give witness to the workings of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church today.

It is imperative for all parishes and schools to closely examine the Church’s authoritative writings on matters liturgical, such as the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and Redemptionis Sacramentum. Employing the rubrics they call for, and in addition those that are given as options, will bring about a greater sense of mystery and sacredness to the Mass.

Beyond just reading these documents, their contents need to be incorporated into a liturgical catechesis. This could be accomplished by printing short columns in Sunday bulletins about different aspects of the Mass, or by offering workshops and classes in order to better educate the faithful in the rubrics and gestures. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “liturgical catechesis aims to initiate people into the mystery of Christ by proceeding from the visible to the invisible, from the sign to the thing signified, from the ‘sacraments’ to the ‘mysteries’” (no. 1075).

Many parishes, schools, and dioceses have taken tremendous steps toward ensuring faithful catechetical training. This is a great turnaround from the watered-down instruction largely given in the 1970s and 1980s. However, if what we teach about the Mass and the Eucharist is not expressed in our actions and daily examples, even when good catechetical instruction is offered, we are inadvertently leading the faithful away from the fullness of truth about the most sublime and beautiful event this side of Heaven — the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, with all the graces it contains.

Michael A. Beauregard is Headmaster of St. Michael’s School in West Memphis, Arkansas. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Memphis and has written extensively on the classical curriculum in elementary schools. This column originally appeared New Oxford Review (January-February 2011). It is reproduced here by kind permission of New Oxford Review, 1069 Kains Ave., Berkeley, CA 94706.


  1. I am not the author of this posted article and am therefore not at liberty to change or delete the word "physical" here, which readers literate in the scholastic philosophy will find offensively imprecise and misleading. I am at liberty, however, to refer the reader to the discussion in the comment box attendant to this post (below), which offers a wide-ranging treatment of the differences involved between precise Thomistic language concerning the Real Presence and the fluid semantic range of meanings found in the untutored vernacular. [back]


Roger said...

“The hymns that are selected should be given due consideration as well. Sometimes I wonder if anyone really pays attention to the words that are sung. Are they consistent with the theology of the Mass and what we as Catholics believe?”
Of course this is a direct reflection on the one who chooses the hymns. I don’t wish to name any priests or imply there are a great many of priests who select the hymns or the fact that some priests never actually paid close attention when attending theological instruction at the seminary, however if the shoe fits. I have actually witnessed a priest say sanctifying grace is received when we bless our self with holy water on the way into mass. The unfortunate thing as your article speaks of is some of us are lazy thinkers when it’s not the time to be lazy especially if God called you to be a priest. The laity may be paying more attention to detail than one may believe.

Jordanes551 said...

"Students are typically baffled and sometimes even stunned to learn that the Blessed Sacrament is Christ physically present in His body, blood, soul, and divinity, and not just in a spiritual or symbolic sense."

I know what he means here, but he has misspoken here. The Church maintains that Christ is not "physically" present in the Blessed Sacrament: He is really and substantially present, but not "physically." If He were physically present, then He could not be simultaneously present in heaven and in all places when the Eucharist is confected and reserved. Moving the Blessed Sacrament from one place to another does not change Jesus' location in heaven -- and "physics" is about motion, things that move and the natural laws that govern motion. It is the substance alone that is changed when the Eucharist is confected, not the accidents, and thus it cannot be a physical presence.

Anonymous said...

Please check your theology of the Real Presence. It is NOT the Catholic teaching that Christ is "physically" present in the Eucharist. Our Lord is "really" present or "substantially" present, not "physically" present, in the Host.

To be "physically" present would mean that Christ was present as in a place or space. That is what "physical" means. It would also mean that when you move the Host, Christ also moves. Also absurd. That Christ is not physically or "locally" present in the Eucharist is demonstrated by Thomas Aquinas. See Summa Theologia III, Q. 76, aa. 4-6. This teacher needs to go back to theology class.

Pertinacious Papist said...

Jordanes and Anonymous,

On behalf of pew peasants everywhere, of which I proudly count myself one, I would beg your indulgence on this point. You guys are both technically right insofar as the technical language of scholasticism is concerned. No question. Yet I have struggled for years with the discrepancies between the language of scholastic metaphysics and the concrete language, e.g., of the Bible. One can't deny the truth of either, but they involve prima facie contradictions that are a challenge for many pew peasants. Thomism says the God is simple and cannot change. Genesis says that God, beholding the wickedness of Noah's generation, repented of having created man and sent a flood to destroy the earth. These are reconcilable, of course, but I think we have to give concrete ordinary language its due.

On the FACE of things, it sounds like a contradiction to deny that Jesus is "physically" present but to affirm that He is "really" and "substantially" present and that the host is really transformed into His real Body, etc. I doubt whether any pew peasant thinks that he is receiving Jesus' finger or toe when he receives the Eucharist, and that's what St. Thomas means when he says that He's not "physically" present. But one has to take care to avoid presenting the matter as thought it were an equivocation, and that's not always easy to do. When someone in a non-technical concrete context asks, "Do you believe that the 'wafer' really becomes Jesus, that it's His real body, that He's really there physically?" my inclination would be to answer in the affirmative, because it errs on the side of affirming belief in the substantial Real Presence of Jesus rather than a Calvinistic equivocation of "spiritual presence" under the "sign" and "seal" of the sacramental elements. I would not worry so much about the technical error involved, since the listener doesn't really think I believe I'm chewing on Jesus' finger. Also, I like to let the literal sense of Jesus words in John 6:53-56 have their full scandalous force, about "eating my flesh" and "drinking my blood" ... I see it as a healthy corrective to the de facto Zwinglianism that seems to pervade many AmChurch Catholic parishes.

Having said that, I think what seminarians need as much as ever is clear-headed instruction in the scholastic tradition to the point that they are able to offer explanations of such common prima facie conundrums that reconcile the Biblical or concrete language with the technical Thomistic explanations.

Thank you for your observations.

Pertinacious Papist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pertinacious Papist said...

In this connection, is there anybody who can enlighten me on the following quotation allegedly from a book by the former Cardinal Ratzinger entitled Die Sacramentale Begrundung Christliche Existenz?

“Eucharistic devotion such as is noted in the silent visit by the devout in church must not be thought of as a conversation with God. This would assume that God was present there locally and in a confined way. To justify such an assertion shows a lack of understanding of the Christological mysteries of the very concept of God. This is repugnant to the serious thinking of the man who knows about the omnipresence of God. To go to church on the ground that one can visit God who is present there is a senseless act which modern man rightfully rejects.”

Both the attribution and the significance of the quotation remain an unresolved mystery to me in my ongoing battle against some fringe traditionalists.

1. I'm not sure whether the attribution is accurate.

2. If it is accurate, I'm not sure whether such a statement (A) falls under Ratzinger's refereces, on a couple of occasions, to the "sins of his youth"; or whether (B) it has to do with the kind of discrepancy to which I refer in the previous comment -- namely a philosophical understanding, in this case of divine omnipresence, which appears prima facie as if it denies the Real Presence, although in fact it does not. Your thoughts?

Pertinacious Papist said...

This is a significant issue both theologically and liturgically. Luther argued for the Real Presence under the rubric of divine omnipresent. If God is everywhere, He is also present "in, with, and under" the Eucharistic species (his view).

Granting divine omnipresence, however, there is also a sense in which God's unique presence (or absence) is manifested in Scripture. God is present in a unique way in the Burning Bush of Moses, the Ark of the Covenant, the Cloud by day and Pillar of Fire by night in the Israelite encampment, in the Incarnate Christ, in the consecrated Eucharistic elements and reserved Sacrament.

(And, believe me, the challenges involved in understanding the relationship between absolute divine simplicity and Christ's incarnation and ascension are formidable.)

If there were not some sense in which the Divine Presence can be understood as "located in space and time" (again, granting that concrete language needs to be reconciled with the technicalities of scholastic conceptualization), then we could not make sense of the traditional Catholic language about our churches having "sanctuaries," or practices like genuflecting toward the Tabernacle, or making a visit to our Lord in the (reserved) Blessed Sacrament.

Cheers, -- PB

Anonymous said...

Sadly, for a number of reasons I have to remain anonymous ! I, too, have taught in an (English) school which has a Religion dept. that is faithful to the maginsterium and wonderfully orthodox in teaching. I agree with your sentiments, and yet we have a fine priest who celebrates Mass in a splendid chapel in antique vestments, with great dignity.We have Solemn Benediction weekly. Yet,the pupils seem to be untouched by it all ! The can produce the answers, but it seems to wash over them and produce no practical piety or devotion. My gut feeling is that it is a vast mixture of problems, but much goes back to the family; if you don't see your parents go down on their knees, it al means nothing. Are there others in schools with a similar line ?

Roger said...

LOL Dr. B. You seem to be having a pretzel of the mind and arguing alone. When you try to reconcile the real presence of Christ in “space and time.” You hit on the major solution, at least in my pretzeled mind. God doesn’t operate in our time, which is in the now and as for space, He obviously could not be put in a box. In other words, it’s His choice.
Cheers for you.

Latin scholar said...

You should really remove the word 'physically' (present) from your post as it is an erroneous interpretation of catholic doctrine which has been officially condemned as heresy. Arguably, it was such ill-informed over-interpretations of catholic doctrine that caused the backlash from protestant reformers at the reformation.

Joseph said...

Your quotation is unfortunately more a paraphrase than a quotation. The original comes from “Die sakramentale Begruendung christliche Existenz” – a summary, written by Professor Ratzinger himself, of a 4 hour long lecture given at the University of Salzburg in 1965. The title, which may be translated as “The sacramental foundation of Christian existence” was chosen as the subtitle for the 11th volume “Theology of the Liturgy” (although the first one published) of the collected writings of Joseph Ratzinger, in which the essay is re-published.

The quotation in the original German (Page 213 of Gesammelte Schriften, Volume 11) reads:

„Eucharistische Anbetung oder stille Besuchung in der Kirche kann sinnvollerwiese nicht einfach Unterhaltung mit dem local zirkumskriptiv praesent gedachten Gott sein. Aussagen wie „Hier wohnt Gott“ und auf solche Weise begruendete Gespraech mit dem lokal gedachten Gott druecken eine Verkennung des christologischen Geheimnisses wie das Gottesbegriff aus, die denkenden und um die Allgegenwart Gottes wissenden Menschen notwendig abstoesst. Wenn man das In-die-Kirche-Gehen damit begruenden wollte, dass man den nur dort anwesenden Gott besuchen muesse, so waere dies in der Tat eine Begruendung, die keinen Sinn haette und vom modernen Menschen mit Recht zurueckgewiesen werden wuerde.“ (My Emphasis)

My own (rather more pedantic) version would read:

“Eucharistic adoration or a silent visit to the Church cannot be simply thought of as a conversation with a God who is thought of as being sharply confined to a particular locality. Statements such as “This is where God lives” and an on this basis defined conversation with locally imagined God express not only a misunderstanding of the Christological mystery, but also of the very concept of God, a misunderstanding that a thinking person, who knows about the omnipresence of God, must find repugnant. When one would try to justify “going to Church” on the grounds that one had to visit God who is only present there, this would indeed be a justification which simply does not make sense and a justification which would from people of our time be rightly rejected.”

The essay covers 18 pages in the German original, with the following headings:

1. Preparatory considerations: The crisis of the sacramental idea in the modern consciousness
2. The sacramental idea throughout history
3. The Christian Sacraments
4. The meaning of the sacraments today (in which your quote appears)
In the meantime I have found a literal translation of the last chapter of the work in question in the internet, which will perhaps put the quote in context:


I hope this will be of value to you in your continuing discussions.

Ann said...

Die Sakramentale Begrundung christlicher Existenz was published in 1966. It's a set of four lectures Ratzinger gave in Salzburg in 1965, and the (mis)quote you are asking about is p26 in the german. Because of course he said no such thing.In fact, he said almost the opposite. the novus ordo watch site has a literal translation of this, plus they have scanned the original. They translate it as:"If one were to justify going to church on the grounds that one must visit the God who is present only there, this would indeed be a justification which would make no sense and would rightfully be rejected by modern man". On p27 "Praying in church, and in closeness to the eucharistic sacrifice is a subsumption of our relation to God into the mystery of the Church as the concrete place where God meets us." Hope this helps!

Ann said...

Sorry, should also have said, book was published in 1966 by Verlag and looks to be available on Amazon.

Pertinacious Papist said...

Joseph, Ann,

Thanks for the footwork garnering the sources and context of the quotation. It particularly helps having the German original.

I can see that although the Holy Father's (Ratzinger's) language is not Thomistic (he elsewhere describes his formation as "Augustinian"), the distinctions at issue is not unrelated to those raised by Jordanes, et al. in connection with the Thomistic distinction. In Ratzinger's formulation it is more a variation of the finitum non capax infiniti objection, without denying the natural limitations of Jesus' human nature.

I am particularly thankful for the opportunity to use these references in my debates with those inclined to suspect the Holy Father of revisionism in misrepresentations of such of his writing. Thank you.

Pertinacious Papist said...

I apologize for the typos in the previous.

Latin Scholar, you wrote:

"Arguably, it was such ill-informed over-interpretations of catholic doctrine that caused the backlash from protestant reformers at the reformation."

I know what you mean, although the following cavil comes to mind -- namely, that Jesus might be accused of analogous "over-interpretation" in John 6:53-56 causing the backlash of many his followers departing from Him, offended by His teaching (John 6:66).

My point is not that the term "physically" is not erroneous, strictly speaking. My point is that the doctrine of the substantial Real Presence of Christ in His Body and Blood is still so offensive to the non-Catholic mind that the early followers of Christ in the subapostolic period were accused of CANNIBALISM in their clandestine celebrations of the Eucharist. I doubt you would disagree.

George said...

"... we have a fine priest who celebrates Mass in a splendid chapel in antique vestments, with great dignity.We have Solemn Benediction weekly. Yet,the pupils seem to be untouched by it all!"

This is similar to one of the problems faced by partisans of the traditional Latin Mass in this post-Summorum Pontificum world. It's a jewel without a setting, text without a context, a traditional liturgy without a traditional living parish culture.

Fr. Z may have something of a point in his slogan, "Save the Liturgy, save the World." There is, however, a point to be made on the other side: you can't save the liturgy in isolation from saving the world, if, by "world," we mean the Catholic traditional cultural context that gave birth to it and in which it naturally developed.

Traditional liturgy, vestments, Adoration & Benediction, even solid catechesis, are little more than futile attempts at planting a garden in a desert, without the needed water and soil of a living supportive Catholic culture in the home life and community. Humanly speaking, we're doomed.

Anonymous said...

A sacramental presence is precisely the sort of real presence you have without its being a physical presence. The problem, as that great Thomist Herbert McCabe observed, arises when we start using 'sacramental' as a synonym for 'in the deepest and truest sense' or 'in a specially profound and meaningful way' - i.e. 'not really'!

Pertinacious Papist said...


Indeed it may be true that it's a problem if "sacramental" is used in this imprecise way. But a problem that needs to be solved even before that one in the minds of most ordinary Catholics is the word "sacramental" itself, which doesn't really denote anything precise. The word is a Latin translation of the Greek "mysterion," of course; but that isn't much help either, because the word "mystery" doesn't denote anything very precise either in the minds of most ordinary Catholics.

What would help is a brief catechesis in scholastic metaphysics, an instruction that conveys the difference between accidental and substantial change and how the notion of "substance" doesn't necessarily refer to an obvious empirically perceptible quantum -- as, for example, when it refers to the proto-hyletic substrate that subsists through any substantial change, or even the substantial form unifying a hylomorphic composit, which can't be reduced to its physical accidents. Yet try persuading an average Catholic metaphysical tyro after Mass that he has time for such a lesson.

Roger said...

Is one of the dangers of dwelling on the question whether Christ is “really’ present in the Eucharist (granted we should know it’s absolutely true) or not lead us to the meaning of the Eucharist being merely the presence of Christ?

Sheldon said...


True, and this is another version of the sometimes excessive focus of the Latin or Western rite on the priest's faculty for 'confecting' the Body of Christ, not that this isn't true. But anything can detract from the divine worship of Christ in the Mass, even if it's the academic question of whether or how Christ is 'really' present or if it's a sort of prurient interest in the quasi-magical transformation of the elements designated by 'transubstantiation'.

A serious problem in the common understanding of lex orandi lex credendi is the assumption that the mode of worship is DERIVED from the mode of belief. While it's true that there should be a correlation, the order of dependence is exactly the reverse: the mode of belief is derived from the mode of worship. This is why liturgy has been historically referred to as theologia prima while doctrine has been termed theologia seconda. We Latin rite folks could learn a great deal about this from our Eastern rite (and Orthodox) brothers concerning this.

Anonymous said...

Pertinacious Papist, thank you for your blog. I have a question for you. I wanted to thank you for this post. I belong to a parish now where the pastor (who is orthodox) intellectually acknowledges the importance of good liturgy but balks at liturgical renewal because the liberals in the parish wouldn't like it. He wants to change things and says things will get better but I don't see how if we just sort of wait for conversions to happen instead of actively implementing anything liturgical. I am involved in adult formation at the parish and so many times I wonder how I will teach people exactly what the Church teaches and they don't retain it and within a month of getting baptized they already are skipping Mass on Sunday. I find that good liturgy is the best form of Catechesis and to catechize without good liturgy is like shooting yourself in the foot. The problem is I can't convince my pastor to take direct action. There is constant fear of a mutiny in the parish by the liberals so we have to wait slowly over a long period of time before any of this stuff can be put in place. In your opinion, do you feel that pulling the frog in boiling water approach to restoring liturgy over a long period of time will work or do you feel that while maybe implementing slowly a faster implementation of these things will be necessary to restore the liturgy and ultimately the parish. When I say restore the liturgy I mean either doing the Novus Ordo in line with Tradition or offering the TLM on Sundays. Any insight into this is appreciated. Thanks!

Michael Beauregard said...

Dear Friends:

Thank you for sharing your insights on my article, "At Mass, Actions Speak Louder Than Words". In retrospect, the word "physically" could be misleading and perhaps it was not the best choice for that sentence.

However, I can defend this by stating that there is a physical reality that exists in the Blessed Sacrament. If Christ's corporeal presence in the Eucharist it real(replacing the substance of bread and wine which have become absent), then this in reality is a physcial presence, as defined by the Church, and not merely a spiritual presence. The late Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., very eloquently used the same terminology in some his writings such as "Christ in the Eucharist - Presence and Reality".

Thank you for allowing me to respond.

Michael A. Beauregard

Pertinacious Papist said...

Mr. Beauregard,

I like Fr. Hardon too. When you get a chance, though, read St. Thomas Aquinas on the issue and see how best to reconcile our language about the Real Presence with the issues he describes.

Philosophical language, of course, isn't necessarily identical to Biblical language, and the objective is to try one's best to conceptually sort out what can be understood and articulated about this mystery of mysteries -- an exhilarating project, if one fated to fall dreadfully short of any kind of adequacy.