17 June 2010

3 Liturgical Abuses

Three recent examples of liturgical abuse:

Hand sanitizer at the lavabo.  This is the sort of thing that happens when a priest learns just enough about the history of the liturgy to be dangerous.  The lavabo (washing of the priest's hands after receiving the gifts) probably derives from the once-upon-a-time real need for the priest to wash his hands after handling not only the bread and wine but other less sanitary gifts as well--food, livestock, clothes, etc.  The real need for a mundane washing got ritualized and theologized over time, so in this guy's mind he thinks it's OK to use hand sanitizer b/c the original purpose of the rite was to clean the priest's hands of actual, visible dirt.  I wonder if he uses candles on the altar.  We have electric lighting these days, so what's the point of candles? 

Con-celebrant snapping pics during Mass.  I've presided at all of five weddings in my five years as a priest.  Each time, before the liturgy begins, I take to the pulpit and threaten divine punishment on anyone who snaps a pic once the music starts (well, it sounds more ominous in my head anyway). I even taken the professional photographer aside and make sure he understands that his job starts when the liturgy ends.  At my very first wedding, a woman arrives late, sits in the front pew, and proceeds to take pics (with flash) throughout the Mass.  The poor bride was mortified.  I kept thinking:  I need a burly acolyte/bouncer to toss this heathen out the door.  For a priest to take pics while con-celebrating is beyond the pale. 

Deacon anointing a baby at baptism with the priest present.  Without doing a lot of research, I think the problem here is not so much the division of labor between the priest and deacon (one prays, the other pours), but the fact that deacon does the anointing.  Only priests may anoint.  Fr. Z. is correct:  no baptism took place here.  I'd hate to be the pastor who messed this up and had to tell the parents.  Seems like just punishment though.  [UPDATE:  I'm wrong here.  Deacons do anoint at baptisms.  I was thinking of the anointing of the sick, which is reserved to priests b/c the sacrament absolves sins.]

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6 comments:

  1. Anonymous1:50 AM

    What about ecclesia suplet? And is the anointing necesasary anyway for a Baptism to be valid?

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  2. Without doing a lot of research, I think the problem here is not so much the division of labor between the priest and deacon (one prays, the other pours), but the fact that deacon does the anointing.

    Philip,

    No, the division of labour is the real problem here. The fact that the one pouring the water doesn't say the sacramental form is what makes the baptism invalid.

    Having the deacon do the anointing at baptism is certainly incorrect, but doesn't touch on the validity of the sacrament. Indeed, when deacons baptise on their own, they're permitted to do the anointings.

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  3. FrB, you're right. . .I looked it up. I was thinking of the anointing of the sick, which absolves sins.

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  4. Isn't a baptism valid when water is poured and the correct words are said, assuming the baptizer has the proper intention? Even a lay person can baptism like this in an emergency situation---or so I was taught in the 50s at Catholic school. The anointings and other perks are part of a solemn baptism, are they not?

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  5. Hold on Fr.
    I have seen many use hand sanitizer before and after communion NOT replacing the rite of hand washing but to cut down on the germs - especially if the priest is prone to sickness.
    There isn't anything wrong with that, is there? I wonder if that is what they are referring to.

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  6. Opey, from the note sent to Fr Z. the sanitizer replaces the water washing.

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