Monday, November 20, 2006

"Offer it up"?

Dr. Philip Blosser offers this insightful post on his Musings of a Pertinacious Papist blog:

“I once privately related to my priest my frustration when trying to recollect myself before Communion and focus on Christ when eight Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion regularly file up from the ranks of the laity and self-consciously stand about the Altar looking a bit like nervous community theater actors auditioning for a part. We have a healthy, able-bodied priest at each Mass, and at least one deacon (sometimes two) on hand. The priest's attitude toward my complaint was very sympathetic, but his counsel was to "Offer it up."

“His counsel keeps surfacing as an unresolved question in my memory. "Offer it up"? Why offer this up? I could understand offering up the pain of arthritis, or the anguish of the death of a loved one -- something over which one has no control and can do little but pray. But if someone was, say, suffering from a troubled conscience because he was having an adulterous affair, would the priest counsel him to "Offer it up"?

“The problem here is that the sort of thing being permitted in our parish and parishes across the country are in direct violation of Vatican's published liturgical laws. The Vatican Instruction, Redemptionis Sacramentum, expressly forbids our current practice:

[158.] Indeed, the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion may administer Communion only when the Priest and Deacon are lacking, when the Priest is prevented by weakness or advanced age or some other genuine reason, or when the number of faithful coming to Communion is so great that the very celebration of Mass would be unduly prolonged. This, however, is to be understood in such a way that a brief prolongation, considering the circumstances and culture of the place, is not at all a sufficient reason....

“In view of this, I struggle to make sense of my priest's counsel. It is not that I wish to be a doctrinaire knit-picking stickler about the letter of the law in these matters. In my view, the letter of the law is not the primary thing. The law is always a means in service of an end, which here is the purpose of liturgy: divine worship. What is of primary importance here, in my view, is the amplification of whatever faciliates divine worship, honors God and elevates and edifies the human heart, and the elimination of whatever does not.

“Yet perhaps there is one sense in which I can understand my priest's counsel. For whatever reason, circumstances are what they are. Whether the reason is because he may be afraid or unwilling to go against the tide of institutionalized liturgical abuses and make the mandated changes may be beside the point here. Given the status quo, I may lodge my objections with my priest and bishop, but then what? Have I any alternative but to "Offer it up"? My priest, perhaps despite himself and the Church's failure in self-administration, may have a point.”

Visit his blog to read the comments.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What would Sister Mary Martha say?

7:11 PM  
Anonymous liz said...

Gee whiz, at my church, the Eucharistic ministers race up to the altar like they've just won a prize in a game show. Then, they all great each other with handshakes,hugs and pats on the back. I half expect them to do the ancient dance, "The Bump." Then, the pastor greets them by name. Then, they scurry to their spots and distribute Holy Communion. Although that aspect is now better, they used to refuse to give you the host if you did not tell them your name. "You've got to say your name if you want Communion," you were told. (If you stand there long enough now, they will usually give you Holy Communion without discussion." If you sit up in the front few pews, you can hear that the Eucharisitc ministers (generally the older ones who may be hard of hearing)often get the names wrong. For example, when "Bob" says his name, he becomes "Dom." "Margaret" becomes "Sara Beth." The elementary school aged boys find this particulary funny. Unfortunately, they -- and the middle and high school aged boys -- also find it funny when one of the Eucharistic ministers breastfeeds her baby when she is sitting in her pew. (Everything shows.) When they go to her to receive Holy Communion, the behavior is not good. I would like to attend Mass elsewhere and do whenever and where ever I can, but practical considerations often dictate that that's where I will worship. ... I think the priest there simply does the best he can.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Sorka said...

This post made me very sad. The extrodinary ministers of the Eucharist at my parish are good people who show utmost respect to the Eucharist in both forms. They do not race up to the altar but stay respectfully back until the priest has recieved, then move from the side up. Their desire is to serve our Lord and their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. If any of them look uncomfortable at the begining its only because they wish to do a good job.
The most mystical holy experience I ever had was once when I was the minister of the Cup. I can't even talk about it today without getting teary. I read posts like this and the one comment and I just feel so sad that the day might come when I am forbidden the privledge to serve my Lord in this way.

12:05 AM  

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