Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

pass the hemlock

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Nov 06, 2004

In a letter to the Jesuit publication America (10-25-04), Thomas Clarke, S.J., welcomes the "priestless liturgies" made necessary by the decline in vocations, and suggests evolving forms of the approved Liturgy of the Word with Communion Service may free us from our lingering hang-ups with the old Body and Blood of Christ theology:

Another [possibility] is a theological and pastoral rethinking of what distinguishes the Mass from this new liturgical form as it develops. How important is it that the hosts received in the new rite have been consecrated elsewhere in the diocese? Is the new rite not truly eucharistic through the real presence, as this has been redefined by the Second Vatican Council?

Father Clarke takes the teaching of the Council to be that the Real Presence comes into being by the gathering of the faithful for prayer, whence an ordained priest is merely a symbolic adjunct to a "consecration" effected perfectly well in his absence. Such a reading is preposterous, but doubtless consoling to a spiritually sterile generation that faces death with neither accomplishments nor successors to comfort it in its last hours.

It has to be difficult for a man to commit to a demanding course of preparation for what he once believed to be a noble undertaking, only to come to view himself as nothing more than an oddly dressed mascot -- like those Goofy or Mickey Mouse figures that stroll around Disney World to have their pictures taken with kids. Will anyone with the authority to do so correct Fr. Clarke's frankly heretical misapprehension of the priesthood? Not likely. Small wonder, then, if he indulges in a little theological thumb-sucking as the shadows lengthen around him.

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