Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wine and Wafers

So, this story at Patheos is getting some viewage in the Catholic blog world this morning, about a woman who was denied Communion, at her mother’s funeral, because of a supposed lesbian relationship.  If you spend the 35+ minutes it takes to read all the comments on the Deacon’s post, you’ll find that a good 75% of commenters are appalled that a priest would do something so insensitive at a funeral.  Really?  Our take away from a story in which the priest has been told, according to the woman herself, that she has a female “partner,” is that the priest shouldn’t have hurt peoples feelings that way?  It sure is.

After weeks of being so proud of the bishops and pleased at the masculine stance they had taken on all the HHS nonsense, we get kicked back to the curb (along with this poor priest) by the Archdiocese of Washington and their pitiful, pansy statement that it “isn’t archdiocesan policy” to publicly reprimand anyone on their suitability for the reception of Communion.

The frick?

We’re putting feelings on a pedestal here, in just the most disordered way I can imagine.  How about, Cardinal Weurl, you start out with, “Out of supreme respect for the presence of Jesus Christ, King of Kings, Prince of Peace, Mighty God, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Archdiocese of Washington commends Father Marcel for his sincere effort to safeguard the dignity of the source and summit of Catholic life.  Unfortunately, misunderstanding and ignorance about circumstances under which we may receive that gift of God’s Presence sometimes arise, and for that we apologize.  It is not the policy of the archdiocese to give public scandal as regards denying Communion to anyone, etc…”

Nope.  Too many scary words, like “God” and “ignorance.”  The minute Father Marcel did what he did—which again, was the right thing—he effectively threw himself under the bus and probably knew it, too.  He knew that his action was going to make waves, certainly there in the building, probably in the immediate interaction with people afterward, and even possibly at the Chancery.  It shouldn’t surprise him, in fact, that someone took the story mainstream.  Perhaps seeing himself in the Washington Post the next day was a bit of a stunner, but he still had to know that his action would have fairly unpleasant repercussions.  The primacy of “pastorality” has taken hold, and anything that smacks of rules, laws, or coldheartedness is going to be disowned by the bishop faster than you can say tax exemption.  It’s a world where everyone wants kindness.  If they’re really up on their theology, they’ll call for charity.  But charity without truth brings no one to salvation.

The Truth is Present in the Eucharist, and no one seems to have remembered that in this discussion.  In the original news article that aired, we’re told that the woman was shocked when Father Marcel “covered the wine and wafers” with his hand.  Those aren’t her words—those are the words of the WUSA Channel 9—but plenty of Catholics manage to use bread, wine, cup, and wafer at every conversational opportunity.  When you sanitize the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ down to mere “wine and wafers,” its no wonder you have spare neurons to waste on things like feelings and sensitivity.  It’s exactly the same kind of (literally) Satanic language ploy that bought us the mental space for “products of conception,” the “fetus,” and “reproductive therapy.” 

Abortion kills a baby.  Jesus IS the Eucharist.  These are real truths, one awful and one beautiful.  Thinking of them in solid, truthful terms might be hard, but reality and priority come much more sharply into focus.  Simultaneously, those who choose the wrong answer (“kill the baby, desecrate the host, etc”) become starkly outlined against a clear and unequivocal moral canvas.  They are wrong.  Calling someone wrong is now mean, identifying unacceptable behavior is insensitive, and as long as we find nicer, softer terms for those pesky truths, we can erase things like “wrong” or even “sin” altogether.

Yup.  Wine and wafers.

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