The Sacrament of Unity, continued

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 08, 2004

"Eucharist is not a place to deform the meaning of our beliefs," said Cardinal Francis George in a radio interview. "Our most profound act of worship is receiving Holy Communion. We can talk [controversies] through in other places, but not make the Eucharist a statement -- except that this is the Body of Christ and we receive it on His terms."

Well, yes and no. Cardinal George's doctrine is correct of course, and fellow bishops J.H. Newman, Charles Borromeo, Augustine of Hippo, and Irenaeus of Lyons would have recognized it as such without a quiver. But the lived reality of Catholic life is so grossly contradictory to the Cardinal's statement that almost anyone -- layman, priest, or bishop -- who takes it at face value finds himself in continual conflict with his fellow Catholics.

In 1991 I brought a new convert to Mass at the chapel of a certain religious order that shall remain fordhamless. Halfway through the first reading a priest entered dressed in shorts and running shoes, eating a bread roll. He smiled, apologized, popped the rest of the roll in his mouth, and proceeded to concelebrate, leaning forward in his chair and giving a kind of weak Nazi salute toward the altar at the time of consecration. My friend was shocked. He knew the doctrine, you see.

All of us have Eucharistic horror stories of our own to tell -- not only about the Mass, but about RCIA, First Communion preparation, and so forth. Bishops and religious superiors are not unaware of the problems, but the post-Conciliar "compulsory optimism" (as Prof. James Hitchcock names it) forbids even the tough-guy ecclesiastics to take the kind of action that suggests anything more than fine-tuning is required by way of correction.

As a consequence we coach ourselves, as well as our kids and new converts, in a kind of controlled schizophrenia: we play-act membership in the church before our eyes while simultaneously cultivating an interiorized focus that mentally replaces the actual personnel with bishops who believe Catholic doctrine, priests who enact Catholic rituals, etc. And "virtual charity" bids us reinforce the delusions of others. "That was a wonderful reflection Father gave!" Yes, wasn't it.

My naive friend mentioned above was shocked at the beach volleyball Mass because he hadn't yet acquired the schizophrenia (or rose-colored glasses, or post-Conciliar sensibility) that allowed him to bilocate. He was still stuck in real time. Later he came to understand that he was no see no abuses, to hear no heresy, to feel no indignation when lied to.

That's why the communion wars are so disorienting. They provide brief moments when it appears that the interiorized Church of authentic teaching has fused with reality, that a doctrine has been found worth defending in fact and not just in words. Sometimes the call seems so unambiguous that even veterans are lured back from bilocation to make a stand in the trenches, only to be let down with a thud.

Take this simple test. Examine the photo below: do you see "our most profound act of worship" exemplified therein -- the same event that Irenaeus, or Augustine, or Pope Pius IX might recognize as the Eucharist? The Mass of Sacrosanctum Concilium or, for that matter, Sacramentum Redemptionis? If you don't, chances are you're judgmental and a source of divisiveness. It's your vision that's defective, your attitude that needs to change.

I'm aware of no abuses

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  • Posted by: - Jun. 14, 2004 2:15 PM ET USA

    The Papal mass in Switzerland last week or so had a jazz number. All was needed was Tom Jones, Elvis or BB King performing

  • Posted by: - Jun. 10, 2004 12:44 PM ET USA

    John, do you know for a fact that crisco breads are being used? Are they comercially marketed? How does one recognize them? Pat

  • Posted by: - Jun. 09, 2004 11:16 AM ET USA

    And for those who wonder where this took place: at Christ the King Church in California, in September 2002, under presbyter Brian Joyce. You can see this photo on

  • Posted by: - Jun. 09, 2004 11:14 AM ET USA

    John's comment about the irreformability of the Novus Ordo is on the mark. The theology behind it is not Catholic but Masonic and Protestant, and it's the reason there is little belief in the Real Presence..if indeed, He is there. If there is Crisco in the communion "cookie" then the Mass is invalid because of defective matter. And if that's so, it's idolatry to worship it, because it's not the Lord, it's just a biscuit.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 09, 2004 1:00 AM ET USA

    People of the pollyanna cult refuse to see these people for what they are - willing evil accomplices of Satan in his effort to destroy the Church. Their number is legion and many of them have quite impressive credentials. Credentials don't lead souls to heaven, and neither will they. Eventually they will die the death and the Church will be renewed. Pray that God will hasten the day before none of us has the Faith anymore.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 08, 2004 6:58 PM ET USA

    This may not be original but my conclusion is that the Novus Ordo is irreformable. We need a council just on liturgy. Until this issue is sorted out nothing good can come. My diocese still has not implemeted the new directives on the Eucharist or even the new Girm. We have crisco in communion bread, for Pete's sake. "In persona crisco" someone remarked.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 08, 2004 4:29 PM ET USA

    I was going to comment, but got confused. Which one is the priest?

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Jun. 08, 2004 3:46 PM ET USA

    The bishop of the diocese where this occurred needs to help these folks by removing them from any affiliation with a parish. If they refuse to repent & reform, their bishop might help them get employment at Disneyland. For the sake of Christ and His Church, remove these people from any association with the public! If the bishop approved this, then lmay he be removed as well. (By the way, was this offense against God and His Church and His Mass, conducted in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles?)

  • Posted by: - Jun. 08, 2004 1:43 PM ET USA

    Anyone interested in seeing a photogallery of more of these travesties of the Mass, should go to You can select your favorite there: priestess Masses, bagel-Masses, Harley (Hog) Masses, etc, all on camera. And it's only a matter of degree, not kind, that separates this Bozo Mass from the little exercises of self worship in almost all US Catholic churches now. Satan must be loving this.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 08, 2004 10:26 AM ET USA

    Everytime I see one of these Apostate Liturgical Abuses (ALA for all you managment types reading) I am reminded of Our Lord throwing the money changers out of the Temple. More testosterone would be a good thing.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 08, 2004 10:22 AM ET USA

    No one should be shocked by the photo of the “Clown Mass;” there have been many more documented cases of serious abuses; e.g., the most recent being the (obscene) “Solemn” Papal Mass in Bern. The reality is that the enablers of these sacrileges believe that they are advancing the Faith when, in fact, their main objective is to make themselves feel good. Diogenes: “Compulsory optimism.” I like that! Reminds me of my military service, wherein some activities were known as “mandatory fun."