Apparently, mine is worth only $564.54. How much is yours worth?
Archive for July 2008
Throughout this whole PZ Myers affair, Myers and his sheep have said repeatedly that we must hold nothing sacred. The thought behind the saying is, presumedly, that those traditions which are irrational must give way to those which are rational. As the old story goes, science will only advance when we allow the most reasonable theory to cast out the theory which is unable to account for the same phenomena that the new theory does. Of course, anyone with any background in the history of science knows that even that story is bunk: it’s amazing how long untenable theories remain around because the tenured professor at Grand Elite University has spent his entire career holding it.
But nevermind science at the moment: do we really want a society where nothing is held sacred? The bodies of our deceased loved ones, as a commentator on another blog suggests? The scientific method? Freedom of Speech, or more generally the Constitution? Moral Norms? Reason? Life? Liberty? Human happiness? Do these iconoclasts really want a world in which nothing is held sacred? I guess I would be presuming too much to guess what Myers’s response would be to this line of questioning.
But alas, there are more problems: according to the principle, “hold nothing sacred,” why ought I hold the principle itself as beyond reproach? Furthermore, if we are to hold nothing sacred, then we cannot hold the current atheistic, materialistic worldview as sacred, for to do so would be to contradict the principle itself. And yet, the people who have been shouting this principle in the streets are so sure of themselves and their worldview that they dismiss other traditions ad hoc without so much as flinching. Ironically, the very principle which is invoked to preserve the integrity of the rational enterprise has the effect of closing the door to rational discussion.
But this should surprise no one: the student of history should expect nothing less from ideologies and ideologues.
Just about every Catholic blog out there has commented on PZ Myer’s threatened and eventual desecration of the Eucharist. I don’t want to provide any traffic, albeit small, to such a sacrilegious person, so I won’t bother providing a link. However, the best summaries of the recent events can be found here.
What I will do, however, is talk about something which I have yet to hear discussed: what are some simple ways of preventing such sacrilege from happening in the first place? The much missed story in this whole affair is that it was very easy for a person who wished to steal the Blessed Sacrament to do so. Not only that, but no Catholic blog that I read ever questioned the fact that it was an easy thing to do! That, to me, speaks worlds of how careless we’ve become, and I think it is time to take practical measures to protect the Eucharist. Much of what I say will seem extreme to many people; nevertheless, I think going “old school” is much better than allowing the Eucharist to be abused on a regular basis. Nor do I find it “extreme” to do things the way that it had been done for centuries.
First, a quick story. Two weeks ago I was serving Sunday Mass and I witnessed a lady pretend to place the Host in her mouth, and then proceed to place the Host in her pocket. I followed the lady back to the pew and politely told her that she needed to consume the Host. She followed directions without too much of a fight, telling me that her husband was sick and needed Communion. I replied that if she talked to the priests after Mass they would be more than happy to listen to her requests. She never appeared after Mass to talk to the priest, probably out of embarrassment more than anything else.
What this incident taught me was how easy it is for anyone to steal the Eucharist. I took this lady at her word, that she was merely trying to take Communion to her husband; I doubt she had any malicious intent. She had probably done it before without anyone catching her (or maybe her priest back home didn’t care), and she may have even done it habitually. When she put the Host in her pocket, she did not even both to do it discreetly: she just did it without trying to hide her actions. And yet, despite the fact that what she is doing is wrong, this may have been the first time she had ever been caught or even instructed about proper reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.
Still worse, when I sometimes clean up after Mass, I will on occasion find the Blessed Sacrament sitting in the pew or on the floor. Now we have a story of some punk groupie of PZ Myers who was able to steal the Blessed Sacrament. According to Myers, they even have a youtube video posted of the person performing the theft.
So what do we do about such things? Do we continue our current modus operandi and allow this type of thing to happen without putting up any road blocks? Here are my suggestions regarding how to stop such abuses:
a) Bring back the Communion rail; have a server watching the line to see if someone tries to take the Blessed Sacrament out of his mouth.
b) Require people to receive on the tongue at large Masses where the priest does not know all of the people present. This of course does not apply to daily Masses where the priest is familiar with everyone present.
c) Have everyone receive by intinction. I hope this doesn’t border on disrespect, but I’ll be blunt because I think it’s true: nothing discourages taking something out of one’s mouth more than being required to take it out when it is wet and soggy. Intinction makes sure that once the Host goes in, the Host won’t come out. Plus, the Precious Blood would help to dissolve the Host much more quickly so that even if the thief did take it out of his mouth, he wouldn’t have much left of it to use for whatever purposes he is planning.
I think any combination of these things would serve as enough of a safeguard that many acts of abuse would simply stop. I think a combination of all three of these things would discourage even the willing thief, or at least make stealing it very much harder.
If my readers find these measures extreme, that’s fine. However, I leave those who disagree with a question: given that we all know how easy it is to profane that which we hold most dear, what measures would you take to prevent such a thing from happening? I’m willing to accept any suggestions so that I can carry them out when I am ordained, God willing. What I will not accept is the current status quo.