18 June 2011

Yes to Jenny; no to kung-fu (A Wedding Homily)

Jennifer-Patrick Wedding
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Catherine of Siena Church

It's August 1, 2008 and I am sweating away my obedient life in Rome. Having just discovered that the language school I am enrolled in doesn't hold classes in August b/c of the traditional Roman summer Ferie, and having no A/C or internet access in my 16th century convent cell, I am precariously perched on a rented stool in a dodgy internet cafe on the Street of Snakes. Why “dodgy,” you ask? Well, it's on the Street of Snakes. And the whole time I am there a steady stream of early twenty-something Italian guys come and go holding what look like smallish bricks of heroin tightly wrapped in tissue paper. How do I know it's heroin? I don't. I'm a writer, a literature professor, and, most importantly, a southerner. . .so wild exaggeration and outright lying in the pursuit of a good story are sacred duties. It turns out that the internet cafe was a front for a pub crawl business and all those packages were actually bundles of coupons for handing out to tourists. Though I'm sure you are relieved to know that I wasn't in any danger of being kidnapped by Roman drug lords and forced into spending my life as a heroin mule for the gypsy syndicates, you have to be asking yourself at this point: what does any of this have to do with Jenny and Patrick getting married? Good question. You see, while I sat delicately planted on my rented stool in that internet cafe, watching the scuzzy Italian couriers rush in and out with their faux heroin bricks, and wiping Rome's oppressive August humidity from my brow, I received an email from Patrick. Like most emails from Patrick, it was long, a bit convoluted, and contained two questions. First, should I marry Jenny? And, second, should I become a kung-fu master? There it is: August 1, 2008. . .the beginning of something larger than Patrick's capacity to ask annoying questions: the first hint that Patrick is thinking about Jenny “in that way.” So, yes, Patrick, you should marry Jenny. And, no, Grasshopper, you should not become a kung-fu master. 

When Patrick and Jenny asked me more than a year ago to preside at their wedding Mass, I was just a bit apprehensive. Knowing both of these U.D. alums quite well and remembering the first time I laid eyes on Jenny during Charity Week walking up the mall in D&D drag, I was afraid that these two were planning a Star Trek wedding or a Princess Bride wedding or some other uber-dorky ceremony that would require me to wear a period costume or some sort of ridiculous hat. I could just see me processing down the aisle dressed as a 37th Level Chaotic Good Drow Elf Cleric named Pleiades the Ample. Thanks be to God and all His Saints, they wanted a normal, Catholic wedding with a normal Catholic wedding homily. . .so, without further falsehood or exaggeration, here it is:

Paul, inspired, and no doubt telling the truth, assures us, “Love never fails.” Though we are certainly happy to hear this bit of wisdom and grateful to Paul for its timely delivery, we should not be accused of thick-headedness if we were to ask, “Never fails what? Or never fails whom?” OK. Love never fails us. Love never fails to heal, to reconcile, to forgive, to hope. Love never fails when all else does; when the last chance passes untaken; when there's no one left and no one coming. Love never fails to flourish: to tell the truth and all the truth, to ohhh at the beautiful, and to demand the good. Love has never failed. Will not fail. In fact, Love cannot fail; it is the most excellent way.

Love is fundamental, elemental, if you will; it is the primal and pervasive way. Without love, Paul writes, both human and angelic tongues are nothing more than clanging noises. Without love, all knowledge, all prophecy, all mystery are empty. Without love, a faith that moves mountains cannot move mountains and the self-sacrifice of body, mind, and spirit gain us nothing. Love gives a tongue its words. Gives knowledge, prophecy, and mystery their intelligibility. Love gives faith its power; gives sacrifice its reason for holiness. Primitively, primally, “[Love] bears all things, [Love] believes all things, [Love] hopes all things, and [Love] endures all things.” And to the degree that we participate in this Love, to the degree that we love, we bear, believe, hope, and endure all things as well. And we do so not b/c we are strong or determined or especially holy. We love b/c we are first loved. Loved by Love Himself from the vacuum-suck pop of creation from nothing of everything, we are loved. To love in return is our only reason for being here. 

Lest we confuse love with Love, let's make a few important distinctions. Paul is not writing about the warm feeling of affection one gets for someone one finds attractive; or the fierce attachment one might feel toward a parent or sibling. Yes, that's love but it's not the Love that Paul is writing about. Paul is writing about the Spirit of Love that spoke the Word over the Void and created from nothing everything that is. The same Spirit of Love who freed the slaves in Egypt, led them through the desert, brought them to the Promised Land, and established them as a holy people, a nation of priests, a kingdom of prophets. This is the same Spirit of Love who issued the Law, inspired the Prophets, and promised His people a Messiah. The same Spirit of Love who introduced His son at the River Jordan; transfigured him on Mt Tabor; raised him from the dead on Easter morning; descended like a mighty wind upon the disciples; and lives with us still as a consoler, counselor, and advocate. This Love is the Love that binds us to one another, that holds us fast in our hope, and shows us the way to forgiveness and mercy. This is the Love that never fails, that cannot fail. Hormones, neuro-transmitters, passions, emotions are all well and good when we need to be motivated and the complex cocktail of brain chemistry that produces the state we call “love” is quite useful for motivating action, but it is also quite dangerous if not properly controlled. One of the most common mistakes we make as humans is to confuse the brain state we call “love” with Love Himself. I am confident that Patrick and Jenny—with their U.D. educations and sensible upbringings—will not make the mistake of believing that the Love Who Never Fails is the brain state we call “love.” That sort of love crashes and burns more frequently and more brightly than not. No amount of prayer or sacrifice or fasting will fortify a marriage against the tides of adversity if that marriage is rooted in the sort of love that can washed out of the brain with a timely release of dopamine-serotonin antagonists. The Love that matters, the Love that makes a Christian marriage a marriage is Love Himself, Christ Jesus and the love that he is for his bride, the Church.

I know that you two know what Christian marriage is: I did your marriage prep! But I would be remiss in my duties as a priest if I didn't at least touch on the sacramental nature of our little adventure in love this afternoon. By exchanging matrimonial vows in the Church before God's people and His minister, you two are vowing to live your lives as a sacrament—a visible sign—of Christ's love for his Church. Not only do you vow to live as a sign, you are vowing to BE the love that Christ has for his Church. Sacraments not only point at God's grace, they make His grace present and efficacious. So, when we look at you two, bonded together by vows in the Church, we see not only a sign of divine love, we see Divine Love Himself and we see how much He loves His Church in how much you love one another. Thus, when Paul writes that love is patient and kind, not jealous or pompous, not inflated or rude; that love does not seek its own interests; that it is not quick-tempered nor does it brood over injury; that love does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth, he is describing not only how you two should behave with one another, he's also describing how God loves His people.

In his priestly prayer to the Father, Jesus asks that we all might be made one so that our perfection in him would be assured. Each of us has one last imperfection—one remaining crack, one broken bit—that, when it is finally healed, will mark us out as one, done, complete. For most of us, that last imperfection is hidden under layers of flashier imperfections, louder cracks, squeakier bits that get more attention in prayer and sacrifice early on. One sign that we are ready and willing to begin naming and healing all of our imperfections is the readiness and the willingness to enter into a marriage covenant and have all our bruises and bumps and scars and creases and crevices exposed to the sacrificial love of another human soul. This is the vocation you were called to and the vocation you have agreed to pursue. Therefore, if you will bring one another to perfection in Christ, you will love one another with ferocious generosity, vigorous patience, and zealous humility. Nothing matters more—and I mean NOTHING—than your vow to be a sacramental sign of Christ's love for his Church. When money, kids, jobs, etc. start to ease cracks in your lives, remember: we are a sign of Christ's love for his Church. When jealousy, anger, impatience rise up, remember: we are a sign of Christ's love for his Church. When you are tempted to go your separate ways, remember: we are a sign of Christ's love for his Church. And b/c you are here to become a sign of Christ's love for his Church, his Church is here today to say AMEN to your vows, to witness the creation of this sacrament, and to make our own promises to support you in your ministry to us. 

One last note to you both. The book of Sirach says that “a worthy wife brings joy to her husband.” She also brings a beer and a sandwich so that a smile is ever on his face. Sirach also says that a good wife is a great gift to the man who fears the Lord. If the man is smart, he will also fear his wife. . .for those sandwiches do not make themselves!

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17 June 2011

Spending a heavenly treasure

11th Week OT (F)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Albert the Great Priory

Noting the ever-present threat of moths and decay and thieves, Jesus advises his disciples to avoid storing their treasures here on earth. Even well-loved prizes and keepsakes are subject to the wear and tear of gravity, greed, and the occasional, hungry bug. Of course, the question here isn't really about where we ought to store our treasures. By highlighting the possibilities for storing our treasures, Jesus indirectly dares us to question the nature of what it is that we treasure. In other words, by advising us to store up our treasures in heaven and not on earth, Jesus is telling us that anything we could store on earth cannot be a treasure. A true treasure, that which is permanently valuable, cannot be eaten, stolen, or lost to rot, and anything we can lock in a box, hide under a floorboard, or pack into a freezer bag can disappear, will disappear, eventually. What sort of treasure cannot, will not fall apart over time or diminish in value if given away? In fact, what sort of treasure increases in value for you the more you give it away? The only kind of treasure that can be stored in heaven: the favor of God when we follow His Christ in preaching and teaching the Good News, and serving the least of His people. What the Church keeps, we lose; what we spend, we have. 

As creatures intimately bound to the material world, as embodied souls thoroughly subject to space and time and gravity and all those other terribly inconvenient physical realities, it is sometimes difficult, more than difficult at times, to move our thinking and doing beyond the immediate and the proximate and to think and do in terms of the infinite and the eternal. For Christians, still bound to the material world though not of it, our thinking and doing is best focused on The End of Things and the holy pretense of thinking and doing as if The End were here already. What difference does it make to our plans, our investments, our projects if we fake the End Time? Does that sound dishonest? Well, it's what we are supposed to be doing—faking the End Times, that is, living now as if the End were here. Not running around screaming and hoarding food and water but rather setting up our lives as if God's justice already prevails, as if Christ ruled here and now every heart and mind, as if the new heavens and the new earth were set resolutely into their places and were just waiting for us to arrive. 

Living “as if” in this way doesn't mean that we believe the Kingdom of Heaven is some sort of material paradise destined to be manifested by the work of our hands! No. Living “as if” our treasure were storable only in heaven and never on earth means living in full and glorious knowledge that our Lord has won his victory over death and that everything we do is motivated by the living hope that his death and resurrection reveal to us. That's the light that dispels the darkness: the living hope, the daily hope, the hope moment by moment, knowing that God's promises have been fulfilled. Our task—bound to the world but not of it—is to keep the Word, store the Word by freely giving it away; to store up our heavenly treasure by going on a wild spending spree. The more we spend, the more we save!

Pic credit:  Bonkas

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15 June 2011

The wind sends its spies. . .

We're currently reading Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse in the 20th Century Literature class.   Not an easy novel to navigate; however, there are some excellent moments. . .some truly wonderful examples of superb writing.  The two passages below are taken from "Time Passes," the "bridge section" of the novel, that is, the middle bit that connects the two larger bits:

"And now in the heat of summer the wind sent its spies about the house again. Flies wove a web in the sunny rooms; weeds that had grown close to the glass in the night tapped methodically at the window pane. When darkness fell, the stroke of the Lighthouse, which had laid itself with such authority upon the carpet in the darkness, tracing its pattern, came now in the softer light of spring mixed with moonlight gliding gently as if it laid its caress and lingered steathily and looked and came lovingly again. But in the very lull of this loving caress, as the long stroke leant upon the bed, the rock was rent asunder; another fold of the shawl loosened; there it hung, and swayed. Through the short summer nights and the long summer days, when the empty rooms seemed to murmur with the echoes of the fields and the hum of flies, the long streamer waved gently, swayed aimlessly; while the sun so striped and barred the rooms and filled them with yellow haze that Mrs.
McNab, when she broke in and lurched about, dusting, sweeping, looked like a tropical fish oaring its way through sun-lanced waters.

But slumber and sleep though it might there came later in the summer ominous sounds like the measured blows of hammers dulled on felt, which, with their repeated shocks still further loosened the shawl and cracked the tea-cups. Now and again some glass tinkled in the cupboard as if a giant voice had shrieked so loud in its agony that tumblers stood inside a cupboard vibrated too. Then again silence fell; and then, night after night, and sometimes in plain mid-day when the roses were bright and light turned on the wall its shape clearly there seemed to drop into this silence, this indifference, this integrity, the thud of something falling."

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12 June 2011

Response to Pervasive Liturgical Abuses

In 2004, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued the document, Redemptionis sacramentum in order to correct a number of pervasive liturgical abuses.  This document is not well known, or not well known enough.  Here are some of the more salient paragraphs for your consideration:

6. For abuses “contribute to the obscuring of the Catholic faith and doctrine concerning this wonderful sacrament.” Thus, they also hinder the faithful from “re-living in a certain way the experience of the two disciples of Emmaus: ‘and their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.’ For in the presence of God’s power and divinity and the splendor of his goodness, made manifest especially in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, it is fitting that all the faithful should have and put into practice that power of acknowledging God’s majesty that they have received through the saving Passion of the Only-Begotten Son.

[Abuses rooted in a false understanding of liberty]*

7. Not infrequently, abuses are rooted in a false understanding of liberty. Yet God has not granted us in Christ an illusory liberty by which we may do what we wish, but a liberty by which we may do that which is fitting and right. This is true not only of precepts coming directly from God, but also of laws promulgated by the Church, with appropriate regard for the nature of each norm. For this reason, all should conform to the ordinances set forth by legitimate ecclesiastical authority.

11. The Mystery of the Eucharist “is too great for anyone to permit himself to treat it according to his own whim, so that its sacredness and its universal ordering would be obscured.” On the contrary, anyone who acts thus by giving free reign to his own inclinations, even if he is a Priest, injures the substantial unity of the Roman Rite, which ought to be vigorously preserved, and becomes responsible for actions that are in no way consistent with the hunger and thirst for the living God that is experienced by the people today. Nor do such actions serve authentic pastoral care or proper liturgical renewal; instead, they deprive Christ’s faithful of their patrimony and their heritage. For arbitrary actions are not conducive to true renewal, but are detrimental to the right of Christ’s faithful to a liturgical celebration that is an expression of the Church’s life in accordance with her tradition and discipline. In the end, they introduce elements of distortion and disharmony into the very celebration of the Eucharist, which is oriented in its own lofty way and by its very nature to signifying and wondrously bringing about the communion of divine life and the unity of the People of God. The result is uncertainty in matters of doctrine, perplexity and scandal on the part of the People of God, and, almost as a necessary consequence, vigorous opposition, all of which greatly confuse and sadden many of Christ’s faithful in this age of ours when Christian life is often particularly difficult on account of the inroads of “secularization” as well.

12. On the contrary, it is the right of all of Christ’s faithful that the Liturgy, and in particular the celebration of Holy Mass, should truly be as the Church wishes, according to her stipulations as prescribed in the liturgical books and in the other laws and norms. Likewise, the Catholic people have the right that the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass should be celebrated for them in an integral manner, according to the entire doctrine of the Church’s Magisterium. Finally, it is the Catholic community’s right that the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist should be carried out for it in such a manner that it truly stands out as a sacrament of unity, to the exclusion of all blemishes and actions that might engender divisions and factions in the Church.

[Baptismal and Ordained priesthoods differ in kind not degree]

36. The celebration of the Mass, as the action of Christ and of the Church, is the center of the whole Christian life for the universal as well as the particular Church, and also for the individual faithful, who are involved “in differing ways according to the diversity of orders, ministries, and active participation.” “In this way the Christian people, ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy people, a people God has made his own,’ manifests its coherent and hierarchical ordering.” “For the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical Priesthood, though they differ in essence and not only in degree, are ordered to one another, for both partake, each in its own way, of the one Priesthood of Christ.”

38. The constant teaching of the Church on the nature of the Eucharist not only as a meal, but also and pre-eminently as a Sacrifice, is therefore rightly understood to be one of the principal keys to the full participation of all the faithful in so great a Sacrament. For when “stripped of its sacrificial meaning, the mystery is understood as if its meaning and importance were simply that of a fraternal banquet.”

[Proper understanding of "active participation"]

40. Nevertheless, from the fact that the liturgical celebration obviously entails activity, it does not follow that everyone must necessarily have something concrete to do beyond the actions and gestures, as if a certain specific liturgical ministry must necessarily be given to the individuals to be carried out by them. Instead, catechetical instruction should strive diligently to correct those widespread superficial notions and practices often seen in recent years in this regard, and ever to instill anew in all of Christ’s faithful that sense of deep wonder before the greatness of the mystery of faith that is the Eucharist, in whose celebration the Church is forever passing from what is obsolete into newness of life: “in novitatem a vetustate.”

45. To be avoided is the danger of obscuring the complementary relationship between the action of clerics and that of laypersons, in such a way that the ministry of laypersons undergoes what might be called a certain “clericalization,” while the sacred ministers inappropriately assume those things that are proper to the life and activity of the lay faithful.

[Male servers preferred, female servers permitted]

47. It is altogether laudable to maintain the noble custom by which boys or youths, customarily termed “servers,” provide service of the altar after the manner of acolytes, and receive catechesis regarding their function in accordance with their power of comprehension. Nor should it be forgotten that a great number of sacred ministers over the course of the centuries have come from among boys such as these. Associations for them, including also the participation and assistance of their parents, should be established or promoted, and in such a way greater pastoral care will be provided for the ministers. Whenever such associations are international in nature, it pertains to the competence of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to establish them or to approve and revise their statutes.121 Girls or women may also be admitted to this service of the altar, at the discretion of the diocesan Bishop and in observance of the established norms.

[No ad-lib Eucharistic Prayers]

51. Only those Eucharistic Prayers are to be used which are found in the Roman Missal or are legitimately approved by the Apostolic See, and according to the manner and the terms set forth by it. “It is not to be tolerated that some Priests take upon themselves the right to compose their own Eucharistic Prayers” or to change the same texts approved by the Church, or to introduce others composed by private individuals.

59. The reprobated practice by which Priests, Deacons or the faithful here and there alter or vary at will the texts of the Sacred Liturgy that they are charged to pronounce, must cease. For in doing thus, they render the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy unstable, and not infrequently distort the authentic meaning of the Liturgy.

[No non-biblical readings at Mass]

62. It is also illicit to omit or to substitute the prescribed biblical readings on one’s own initiative, and especially “to substitute other, non-biblical texts for the readings and responsorial Psalm, which contain the word of God.”

63. Within the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, the reading of the Gospel, which is “the high point of the Liturgy of the Word,” is reserved by the Church’s tradition to an ordained minister. Thus it is not permitted for a layperson, even a religious, to proclaim the Gospel reading in the celebration of Holy Mass, nor in other cases in which the norms do not explicitly permit it.

[No lay homilies at Mass]

64. The homily, which is given in the course of the celebration of Holy Mass and is a part of the Liturgy itself, “should ordinarily be given by the Priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating Priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to a Deacon, but never to a layperson. In particular cases and for a just cause, the homily may even be given by a Bishop or a Priest who is present at the celebration but cannot concelebrate.”

65. It should be borne in mind that any previous norm that may have admitted non-ordained faithful to give the homily during the eucharistic celebration is to be considered abrogated by the norm of canon 767 §1. This practice is reprobated, so that it cannot be permitted to attain the force of custom.

66. The prohibition of the admission of laypersons to preach within the Mass applies also to seminarians, students of theological disciplines, and those who have assumed the function of those known as “pastoral assistants”; nor is there to be any exception for any other kind of layperson, or group, or community, or association.

[Proper subjects for the homily]

67. Particular care is to be taken so that the homily is firmly based upon the mysteries of salvation, expounding the mysteries of the Faith and the norms of Christian life from the biblical readings and liturgical texts throughout the course of the liturgical year and providing commentary on the texts of the Ordinary or the Proper of the Mass, or of some other Rite of the Church. It is clear that all interpretations of Sacred Scripture are to be referred back to Christ himself as the one upon whom the entire economy of salvation hinges, though this should be done in light of the specific context of the liturgical celebration. In the homily to be given, care is to be taken so that the light of Christ may shine upon life’s events. Even so, this is to be done so as not to obscure the true and unadulterated word of God: for instance, treating only of politics or profane subjects, or drawing upon notions derived from contemporary pseudo-religious currents as a source.

[Sober exchange of the Peace]

71. The practice of the Roman Rite is to be maintained according to which the peace is extended shortly before Holy Communion. For according to the tradition of the Roman Rite, this practice does not have the connotation either of reconciliation or of a remission of sins, but instead signifies peace, communion and charity before the reception of the Most Holy Eucharist. It is rather the Penitential Act to be carried out at the beginning of Mass (especially in its first form) which has the character of reconciliation among brothers and sisters.

72. It is appropriate “that each one give the sign of peace only to those who are nearest and in a sober manner.” “The Priest may give the sign of peace to the ministers but always remains within the sanctuary, so as not to disturb the celebration. He does likewise if for a just reason he wishes to extend the sign of peace to some few of the faithful.” “As regards the sign to be exchanged, the manner is to be established by the Conference of Bishops in accordance with the dispositions and customs of the people,” and their acts are subject to the recognitio of the Apostolic See.

[Lay testimony at Mass]

74. If the need arises for the gathered faithful to be given instruction or testimony by a layperson in a church concerning the Christian life, it is altogether preferable that this be done outside Mass. Nevertheless, for serious reasons it is permissible that this type of instruction or testimony be given after the Priest has proclaimed the Prayer After Communion. This should not become a regular practice, however. Furthermore, these instructions and testimony should not be of such a nature that they could be confused with the homily, nor is it permissible to dispense with the homily on their account.

[No political or special interest Masses]

78. It is not permissible to link the celebration of Mass to political or secular events, nor to situations that are not fully consistent with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Furthermore, it is altogether to be avoided that the celebration of Mass should be carried out merely out of a desire for show, or in the manner of other ceremonies including profane ones, lest the Eucharist should be emptied of its authentic meaning.

[Communion for non-Catholics]

84. Furthermore when Holy Mass is celebrated for a large crowd—for example, in large cities—care should be taken lest out of ignorance non-Catholics or even non-Christians come forward for Holy Communion, without taking into account the Church’s Magisterium in matters pertaining to doctrine and discipline. It is the duty of Pastors at an opportune moment to inform those present of the authenticity and the discipline that are strictly to be observed.

[Communion may be received standing or kneeling]

90. “The faithful should receive Communion kneeling or standing, as the Conference of Bishops will have determined,” with its acts having received the recognitio of the Apostolic See. “However, if they receive Communion standing, it is recommended that they give due reverence before the reception of the Sacrament, as set forth in the same norms.”

91. In distributing Holy Communion it is to be remembered that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who seek them in a reasonable manner, are rightly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them.” Hence any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. Therefore, it is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling or standing.

[Latin is always permitted]

112. Mass is celebrated either in Latin or in another language, provided that liturgical texts are used which have been approved according to the norm of law. Except in the case of celebrations of the Mass that are scheduled by the ecclesiastical authorities to take place in the language of the people, Priests are always and everywhere permitted to celebrate Mass in Latin.

[No glass, clay, ceramic, or wooden vessels--metal only]

117. Sacred vessels for containing the Body and Blood of the Lord must be made in strict conformity with the norms of tradition and of the liturgical books. The Bishops’ Conferences have the faculty to decide whether it is appropriate, once their decisions have been given the recognitio by the Apostolic See, for sacred vessels to be made of other solid materials as well. It is strictly required, however, that such materials be truly noble in the common estimation within a given region, so that honor will be given to the Lord by their use, and all risk of diminishing the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic species in the eyes of the faithful will be avoided. Reprobated, therefore, is any practice of using for the celebration of Mass common vessels, or others lacking in quality, or devoid of all artistic merit or which are mere containers, as also other vessels made from glass, earthenware, clay, or other materials that break easily. This norm is to be applied even as regards metals and other materials that easily rust or deteriorate.

[Purification of the vessels reserved to the priest, deacon, or instituted acolyte]

119. The Priest, once he has returned to the altar after the distribution of Communion, standing at the altar or at the credence table, purifies the paten or ciborium over the chalice, then purifies the chalice in accordance with the prescriptions of the Missal and wipes the chalice with the purificator. Where a Deacon is present, he returns with the Priest to the altar and purifies the vessels. It is permissible, however, especially if there are several vessels to be purified, to leave them, covered as may be appropriate, on a corporal on the altar or on the credence table, and for them to be purified by the Priest or Deacon immediately after Mass once the people have been dismissed. Moreover a duly instituted acolyte assists the Priest or Deacon in purifying and arranging the sacred vessels either at the altar or the credence table. In the absence of a Deacon, a duly instituted acolyte carries the sacred vessels to the credence table and there purifies, wipes and arranges them in the usual way.

[Proper vestments and how to wear them]

123. “The vestment proper to the Priest celebrant at Mass, and in other sacred actions directly connected with Mass unless otherwise indicated, is the chasuble, worn over the alb and stole.”213 Likewise the Priest, in putting on the chasuble according to the rubrics, is not to omit the stole. All Ordinaries should be vigilant in order that all usage to the contrary be eradicated.

[A priest is necessary for Mass]

146. There can be no substitute whatsoever for the ministerial Priesthood. For if a Priest is lacking in the community, then the community lacks the exercise and sacramental function of Christ the Head and Shepherd, which belongs to the essence of its very life. For “the only minister who can confect the sacrament of the Eucharist in persona Christi is a validly ordained Priest.”

[Pastoral Assistants are not Pastors]

149. More recently, in some dioceses long since evangelized, members of Christ’s lay faithful have been appointed as “pastoral assistants,” and among them many have undoubtedly served the good of the Church by providing assistance to the Bishop, Priests and Deacons in the carrying out of their pastoral activity. Let care be taken, however, lest the delineation of this function be assimilated too closely to the form of pastoral ministry that belongs to clerics. That is to say, attention should be paid to ensuring that “pastoral assistants” do not take upon themselves what is proper to the ministry of the sacred ministers.

[The use of Extraordinary Ministers of Communion is not about lay participation]

151. Only out of true necessity is there to be recourse to the assistance of extraordinary ministers in the celebration of the Liturgy. Such recourse is not intended for the sake of a fuller participation of the laity but rather, by its very nature, is supplementary and provisional. Furthermore, when recourse is had out of necessity to the functions of extraordinary ministers, special urgent prayers of intercession should be multiplied that the Lord may soon send a Priest for the service of the community and raise up an abundance of vocations to sacred Orders.

153. Furthermore, it is never licit for laypersons to assume the role or the vesture of a Priest or a Deacon or other clothing similar to such vesture.

156. This function is to be understood strictly according to the name by which it is known, that is to say, that of extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, and not “special minister of Holy Communion” nor “extraordinary minister of the Eucharist” nor “special minister of the Eucharist,” by which names the meaning of this function is unnecessarily and improperly broadened.

157. If there is usually present a sufficient number of sacred ministers for the distribution of Holy Communion, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion may not be appointed. Indeed, in such circumstances, those who may have already been appointed to this ministry should not exercise it. The practice of those Priests is reprobated who, even though present at the celebration, abstain from distributing Communion and hand this function over to laypersons.

[Every Catholic's duty to guard against abuses]

183. In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favoritism.

184. Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.

*All bracketed headings are mine.

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Coffee Cup Browsing

A round-up of Youtube vids on the new book, Hollywood Propaganda. . .interviews with writers and producers of popular TV shows wherein they confess their lefty bias and admit using the medium to influence public opinion.

Romney can add another nearly immovable stone to his campaign:  his recent brainless support for the Church of Global Warming

An indispensable website for dyslexic folks like me:  howjsay.com.  I frequently embarrass myself by mispronouncing words/names, especially words/names with vowels in the second syllable.  Just can't get them right w/o practice!

Fr. Z. has a hilarious and decidedly un-P.C. report on that meeting of Protestants in Detroit who are calling themselves The American Catholic Council.  Warning:  swallow whatever you are drinking.

On modest dress for women. . .and yes, all these apply to men as well.  I've seen a young woman come to her baptism dressed in black short-shorts and then change into a mini-skirt and strapless top after the baptism!

Today's cuteness. . .someone gets a spaghetti dinner.

On why it is not a good idea to stab a Marine while he's collecting Toys for Tots.

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