On fly ashes and flexibility

The Church doesn’t say, “Oh, well, no one should have to swallow a bug, so let’s just say that, if there’s a fly in there, it’s not really Jesus’ body, blood, soul, and divinity. Do what you like.” No. But neither does she say, “If you really, truly believe in the sacrament, then you have no other choice. Down the hatch, or you’re out.” She makes allowances for our humanity without denying Christ’s divinity. She is, in short, incarnational all the way down.

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly.

***
Image:  By Aravind Sivaraj (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Feeding time in the Father’s nest

Sometimes we’ve developed such a strong taste for unhealthy, unnatural foods that good, plain ingredients taste bland and pointless to us. We have to retrain our palates before we can enjoy or even tolerate the things our tongues were designed to delight in.

And the same is true for the words of God. If the Gospel sounds dull, if the laws of God seem stodgy and arbitrary, if prayer always feels tiresome — well, there could be many reasons for this, but one common reason is that maybe you’ve ruined your spiritual palate by training it only to respond to cheap thrills and passing pleasures. Time to retrain.

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly.

Image: Robert Lynch via Public Domain Pictures

Why you should care about gluten-free Communion—even if you eat wheat

After watching many secular media outlets butcher these very ready facts about gluten in the Eucharist, though, and after seeing educated Catholics retreat huffily into their corners, I began to wonder if I have a dog in this fight, after all. Maybe we all do. Because maybe this is not the first time we’ve seen some version of this fight.

Read the rest of my latest for America Magazine.

The Church is a big tent. But it does have walls.

Someone’s suffering, veiled abuela hobbled painfully past her contemporary, a fellow sporting athletic shorts and a pendulous ear gauge. A woman hung in the doorway of the Church of Christ, Scientist, gawking through the screen at this Church of Christ, Everyone. The traffic roared, the squirrels groused, and we lurched on, praying as we went.

Read the rest of my latest for Faith in Focus at America Magazine here.

Photo by Nestor Trancoso Creative Commons

Hey, faithful Catholics, why are YOU here?

This plea goes for sinners whose souls are heavy with old-fashioned sins of the flesh, and also for sinners whose souls are heavy with the even older sins of pride and presumption.

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly here.

And why are you at Mass?

The elderly gentleman thinks Pope Francis is some kind of pinko hippie, and there hasn’t been a real Pope in Rome since Giuseppe Siri, and he will tell you alllllll about it if he can get you cornered in the foyer.

The nun next to him is headed to a pro-choice rally after Mass, and is chilling some champagne for the day when women priests will finally be approved.

So … why are they at Mass?

Because Jesus is here, and He’s giving Himself away.

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly here.

***

Image: Christ revealed in the breaking of the bread, photo by Ted via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Food, Love, Law, Jesus: It’s All the Same Thing

5826503639_b910fc7672

What God is trying to tell me is, “Sweetheart, why are you making this so complicated?”

Read the rest at the Register.

***

Nobody told me!

ABEL_-_Figure_Kneeling_in_Prayer

 

This isn’t about Communion in the hand vs. Communion on the tongue. This is about the casual abuses we allow ourselves to commit — we faithful ones, we educated ones, we who have been told. We who should know better. Somebody told us. The one up there, hanging over the altar with His arms spread out, open to be abused, open to be misunderstood, open to be ignored — what has He done but tell us, over and over again, that He is here, giving Himself to us, because we don’t care?

Read the rest at the Register.

At the Register: The Tabernacle Holds the Heart of the Church

PIC tabernacle

I struggle hard to believe the best about people’s intentions, but I cannot find anything good in the impulse to put the tabernacle away, to the side, out of sight, hard to find, easy to overlook or even forget. Why would you do that? Why would you make it hard to do the thing you’re there to do? How would a body function if the living, beating heart were shifted off somewhere else, to a left foot or an elbow, maybe stashed off site in your coat pocket? What kind of body would that be, and how would it function? And why?

Read the rest at The Register.

Ad Orientem and Versus Populum both make sense

Here we see a cartoon meant to illustrate why it “makes more sense” for the priest to be facing the altar and the crucifix, as he does when celebrating the Traditional  Latin Mass:

PIC ad orientam versus populum cartoon

 

I’ve seen this cartoon in various places, most recently here. It’s cute, but misleading. Recall what the catechism says:

1368The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of the Church. The Church which is the Body of Christ participates in the offering of her Head. With him, she herself is offered whole and entire. She unites herself to his intercession with the Father for all men. In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. The lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and work, are united with those of Christ and with his total offering, and so acquire a new value. Christ’s sacrifice present on the altar makes it possible for all generations of Christians to be united with his offering.

When the priest and Christ crucified are both facing the same way, it brings out the idea that Christ allows us, with the priest as a mediator between heaven and earth, to share in the sacrifice that He re-presents to the Father.  This is particularly obvious during the Elevation, when the priest raises the consecrated Host above his head, and the congregation makes a profound bow.

It’s an error to refer to Ad Orientem as “the priest with his back to the people”; but it’s also an error to refer to Versus Populum as “the priest with his back to God.” Each orientation is a valid way to celebrate Mass, and both expresses something true, mystical, and profound about what is happening.