Thursday, March 15, 2012

Profanation of the Sacred


It is easy to destroy the Sacred, to profane it, to reduce it to the banal especially for children: to turn an angel into a fairy or even the Truth of the Gospel into a fable just by using the word "story", for example. Treating holy things with contempt empties them of meaning.
Yes, the contrary also happens, I remember an elderly arthritic womean coming up with the greatest difficulty weeping to venerate the crucifix on Good Friday, who insisted on kneeling to do so. My own faith in the Real Presence was helped greatly by a man called Fred who just spent hours kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament.
In a place where devotion to the Eucharist had died, where the priest lived in concubinage and the altar was covered with dust the great Borromeo simply knelt, he knelt all night until little by little he was joined by the whole parish.
In the past fifty years an elite has spent its time destroying and trivialising the Holy, it is not just the Linz focaccia on a stick Corpus Christi procession, or turning one's back on the Most Holy, it is the whole process of distancing God from man, the denial of the veracity of scripture and the Church, ultimately it is a neo-Arianism. Its knock on effect is the trivialising of humanity in society as a whole and shows itself in the great touchstone of humanity: our relationships with one another.
An extract from Fr Bede Rowe's post: Get you hands of that Altar. 
First I have had to remind one of my altar servers this week that when they genuflect close to the Altar, then they are not to put their hands on it as a way of hoisting themselves up. I know that at various points during the Mass the Priest is allowed to touch the Altar in such a manner, but not an altar server.
Why? Because this is the Altar of God where the divine sacrifice of God to God takes place. This is Calvary where the Precious Blood of the Lord is spilled for our redemption. This is not a shelf or a table to put things on. It is consecrated and set apart for a supernatural purpose. If I allow him to use it as a table then how can I tell him that it is the Altar of God? If I reduce it to the status of his desk then I cannot expect him not to treat it like a desk? If he treats it as a normal table then soon he will think of it as a normal table – and further, normal things happen on normal tables, not supernatural things.
Our limited humanity will make it difficult to believe that profane things carry sacred significance.
Will Holy Mass ‘work’ using a dirty coffee cup and the dregs of last night’s wine glass? Well, yes. But it is not suitable, it is not fitting. In an emergency, no problem, but if that becomes normal then when I say to you that this is the most precious thing in the world – the Holy Blood of God made Man – then I cannot blame you if you say “I do not believe that you would treat something so precious with such little respect”. It is important that my altar-server does not slouch on the Altar in the Chapel. 
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14 comments:

gemoftheocean said...

Oh, nuts. Father doesn't allow one to comment on his blog so I'll have to comment here as regards the whole. Yes, I quite agree that one must treat holy things as holy. BUT I do not go so far as to think the server would be so stupid in the faith that he would have no distinction between an ordinary kitchen table and an altar. If the server subsequently plops a sandwich down on the altar after Mass and pulls up a chair, my apologies. To be sure, the fault was worth correcting - but no need to be melodramatic!

As to the 'play' in question -- frankly, I don't know if the priest is reading too much into it or not. I don't have words to go on, and words can mean everything. I, for one, do not necessarily take this as 'oh, this is an ordination, and they're showing that women should be ordained' any more than I take daily Mass as the server standing in place of an apostle being ordained! From the visual, I'd take it more as 'Christ offers up Himself in the Eucharist same today, as yesterday, as will be tomorrow.' Are we not all, men and women, the heirs and heiresses of that which Jesus wanted us to partake?

As it is, I'd be uncomfortable REGARDLESS even if it was an all male cast. A real altar or a real chalice shouldn't be used in a stage set. Period. Full stop.

But perhaps Fr. Bede can enlighten as to where the Blessed Mother and Mary Magdalene et al ate that night? Did they perhaps have dinner with the Finklesteins?

Gigi said...

Can I just have a whinge? I feel I'm very open-minded about most things - I live in Brighton for goodness sake - but something in particular always rattles me when I see it. I don't have a problem with altar-girls as such; I know St MM's doesn't have altar-girls, but I do see them elsewhere. I just think that girls with long hair should have it tied back or pinned up while they're serving. It's obviously a distraction for the girls when their hair is pulled or falling forward. I have seen one lovely young girl who's clearly very proud of her beautiful long locks, fiddling for split-ends while the sacrament is being blessed. Just sayin'.

Gigi said...

Oh and while I'm still whinging: I agree with gemoftheocean's comments about the "play": I'm not overly fussed about girls being included in the cast, just the use of the chalice and altar. And I have to agree also: are we to believe that Christ's mother Mary and Mary Magdalen were excluded from His last meal?
Speaks a lot of sense, does gemoftheocean.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Gigi,
I think it quite probable that women did not sit at table with men.
The NT does not indicate they did!

Liz W said...

I am an adult altar server, a grandmother in age,,,, I am a woman.I trained as soon as we were allowed and think it to be a priviledge. We are therefore servers nor girls. Thank you.

gemoftheocean said...

Gigi, agree about the hair. When I was at my parish in Old Town in San Diego, I trained up a number of servers over the years, both boys and girls. My first lesson was always on 'deportment.' i.e. no pulling focus - and part of that was that girls with long hair should wear it back in a pony tail or otherwise constrained. Ditto no long fingernails or creepy colors that drew attention. Fortunately I was spared any goth kids!
I also gave practical advice regards 'what to do if you get the giggles' and 'what to do if you feel like throwing up.' That sort of thing. Also trying to impress on them that whenever they passed the tabernacle they were to genuflect, etc. ...and reminding them that they were all so very lucky to be so close to the sacrament at the consecration. The mechanics came lesson 2!

gemoftheocean said...

Fr. Blake -- I'm wondering perhaps a bit more about the time immediately after the Ascension and so forth. The time when an agape was still the fore action[?] before the breaking of the bread. [I'm glad the agape had a quick death!] But I rather suspect that the communities were small at first, around a dinner table. In Judaism, AFAIK, women in theory don't have to take part in the synagogue activities at all - they could just stay home (in Jesus' day at any rate.) I'm sure they'd go to the temple for mikvahs, etc. But if you want to take the whole male/female issue literally, then in theory you could argue: 'If women weren't at the last supper, would it be right to give them Communion, since Jesus didn't give Communion to women.' IT certainly seems to be taken from the beginning that this was a given -- i.e. yes, of course women could partake of that sacrament. The NT was written, in part, to tell one of the essentials of the faith -- so I don't think it necessarily captures every jot and tittle of the events. Would Jesus not have wanted His own mother there to give her Communion too? Were women excluded from the Passover meal? I think not! Jesus, knowing what was coming within 24 hours, would He not have wanted His mother nearby to embrace her as he left for the Garden? Since Jesus is both God and Man, I think He'd do the latter! I know. Pure speculation - but it seems more natural to me. What son does not hug his mother as he departs for war?

FrBT said...

Ladies

Do you also wear the robes of Serving?

I do think that girls/ladies with long hair should have their hair tied back in a pony tail, or whatever you call them.

Can I add also something about footwear? Yes - thank you.

Could ladies please wear suitable footwear. Leave the high heels at home please. Those comments also to EOEMinisters.

FrBT

FrBT said...

Sorry Forgot Father

Nice picture of Padre Pio.

FrBT

Fr Ray Blake said...

Gem,
I think women were excluded from the Passover. It was a redemptive meal to save the 1st born (males). I think the use of the upper room(s) might suggest women were in the lower room.

I am not sure Jews would have considered it proper to have had mixed sexes recline at the triclinam.

Mikvim in the Temple, any evidence?
Those entering the Temple were expected to be already purified.

gemoftheocean said...

I meant that they'd have mikvah then go to the temple. They may well have eaten in separate areas, but I have a hard time believing they'd be so far away -- women generally, undeniably, being the step-and-fetch-it characters in any big traditional meals. Because, God knows, if they weren't there the men would have said 'why don't we just use paper plates.' Like the women would have been putting together all that stuff and not gotten to eat any of it. Right! I had always thought from the readings the whole family was to get together to eat the paschal feast. It's quite possible they weren't at the same table, but for it to be a passover meal someone would have had to preside to do the cup blessings, and that wouldn't have been the women -- so I'd expect they'd be within hailing distance, rather than that far apart. Anyway, Exodus 12 says for 'the WHOLE household' - not just 'dudes in the household.'

Jacobi said...

Fr.,

“in the past 50 years an elite has spent its time trivialising the Holy”

Personally I think it is more serious than that. What we have experienced amounts to, effectively, a second or “Relativist” Reformation in which the concept of the sacred and indeed of absolute truth has been attacked, not by the Secularists but from without, but by Relativists from within the
Church - as warned about by St Pius X – and they have been very successful.

So many Catholics today are not even aware of the Sacred (see picture of youngsters in Fr Rowe’s article, chatter in church before the tabernacle etc.) because they have not been so taught.

If we are 50 years into a “Relativist” Reformation it will probably take at least that to get out of it, but thanks to Benedict XV1, we have turned the corner.

Gigi said...

@ Father Ray: I accept that the women supporting Jesus and the disciples wouldn't have sat at the same table, but under the same roof...
@ Liz: of course there are older female altar servers. I know at least one who is around seventy years of age and still serving, respectfully and beautifully. I was referring specifically to altar-girls: younger ladies who maybe haven't had similar instruction or tradition to refer to. I hope you and any other women who serve weren't offended.
I've seen several younger altar servers of both sexes in quite scruffy trainers too; I'm probably sounding like a fuddyduddy now but that seems highly disrespectful to me.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that even Our Lady and Mary Magdalene ate the Last Supper in the upper room with Jesus and the twelve. They were not there and that is that. Supporters of women priests may think so and youth leaders may gather boys and girls to portray the Last Supper , but it is erroneous historically. No wonder there is a shortage of vocations to the priesthood in that part of the country ! ( the priesthood was instituted at the Last Supper - remember ?!) Lindi.