December 07, 2007


Gentle Reader: I'm fasting today for First Friday . It's tough for me. I changed jobs in late October and now I work for a major food retailer/wholesaler. The entire building is food, food, food. If we aren't getting food, we are talking food, studying food, analyzing food. You get the picture. I had to flee the building after my morning meetings. The temptation was building because today is #1 of 2 Holiday Potlucks! Good grief. Here I am away from the building, enjoying that marvelous modern invention: Wi-Fi (may its creators flourish and prosper)

I had an email from a blogging sister regarding a couple of RCIA questions.

Here are 2 of them:

* We (the congregation) are the Body of Christ
* We ask Christ to enter the bread and wine.

I know some people think I get REALLY hung-up on words (like in some of the letters I rip apart on this blog). I know, because I get email that says...well, it says they object and I need to calm down. (that's not what they really say but you get the gist of it)

Why do I do it?

Thanks to 3/4 of my life, I'm always conscious of the dissenting Catholic mind. I'm always aware of the words that they use to convey their take on Catholicism. I know that sometimes I'm probably wrong. Maybe they did not really mean what I assumed. However, I feel like it's safer to be cautious and cover both ends just in case. It can also serve notice, unfortunately, that you are aware of their tactics. Making the finite point, can also serve as a teaching moment too.

For example (here we go!):

*We (the congregation) are the Body of Christ-My response to this is that I think of the congregation as MEMBERS of the Body of Christ (like arms, legs, torso) but NOT the fullness of Christ in and of themselves. Christ is the head. The body cannot survive without the head. This should not be turned around to say Christ can't survive without us because he's the head and no body. Wrong. Christ is complete. It's WE that are not. We need Christ. He does not NEED us. Though, he desires us to come to Him very much, our absence is not necessary for His survival.

Why do I care? Because I've experienced first hand "We are the Body of Christ" interpreted to mean that the congregation are the most important entities in the church on Sunday and Christ is practically irrelevent to the gathering of the people.

*We ask Christ to enter the Bread and Wine: Weeeeellll, yes and no. The priest is the ONLY one who is supposed to be actually speaking the consecration out loud. The congregation SILENTLY unites their prayer with his.

Why do I care? Because I've attended Masses where the congregation is openly encouraged to speak the words of consecration along with the priest. Huge no-no. The GIRM is quite clear on this point. The priest is the only one with the power and authority to speak the words out loud and ask Christ to come. Sure, I could speak but just because I'm capable of speech does that mean I should? I'm not going to bring anything "extra" to this particular mystery unfolding by verbalizing it. If I speak does that mean Christ is not going to come? I doubt it as long as Father is speaking. However, can we please have a moment of silent awe? Please. One of the greatest mysteries ever is unfolding before our eyes. We should be speechless before it.


Blogger Jeffrey Pinyan said...

We (the congregation) are the Body of Christ

We are members of the body, insofar as we are joined to his body which is the Church (which can do without us, but we cannot do without it). Christ is the head of the body, and the body only has meaning through Christ, its head.

We ask Christ to enter the bread and wine

Strictly speaking, the priest asks the Father to send His Holy Spirit to change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of His Son; Jesus himself prayed with the same intention, to turn the bread and wine at the Last Supper into his very Body and Blood, by means of the Holy Spirit in accordance with his Father's will. As Pope Pius XII explained in Mediator Dei, the faithful unite their prayer to the priest's prayer (which is the prayer of Jesus to the Father). In so doing, we offer ourselves to God along with the sacrifice of His Son.

Jesus -- the second Person of the Most Holy Trinity -- is directly spoken to very little in the Mass; most of the words are directed to the Person of the Father. The whole Eucharistic Prayer is directed to the Father (as was Jesus's whole prayer). After the Our Father, the priest then speaks directly to Jesus, who is present in the Most Blessed Sacrament directly in front of him on the altar: "Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles..."

I will now let you return to your regularly scheduled fasting.

December 07, 2007 2:20 PM  
Blogger Allison said...


(Have you been to a Tridentine Mass? You would love it.)

December 07, 2007 4:17 PM  
Blogger Jeffrey Pinyan said...

Me or Cathy?

(I've been to one, and I did love it.)

December 07, 2007 7:28 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

I have been to Mass in the extraordinary form. I don't know that I loved it right off but, it could grow on me.

December 07, 2007 10:02 PM  
Blogger Vincenzo said...

That reminds me, on Dec. 15 EWTN
will broadcast the extraordinary form: "the Advent Solemn Mass of Our Lady by Candlelight (The 'Rorate' Mass) from the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama."

December 07, 2007 11:09 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Vincenzo: Thanks! That will probably be so beautiful I won't be able to stand it-even if it is on TV.

December 08, 2007 11:16 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 08, 2007 2:19 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ray from MN said...

I would agree with japhy in this: "We are members of the body, insofar as we are joined to his body which is the [Roman Catholic] Church."

Nobody asks God for anything at the Consecration.

The priest celebrant, acting in persona Christi [acting as Christ, something only a priest can do, and then only while celebrating the Mass] by saying the words of the Consecration as actually said at the Last Supper, transubstantiates the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

December 08, 2007 2:22 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

"We ask Christ to enter the Bread and Wine"

Christ does not "enter" the bread and wine. As Ray said, transubstantiation takes place. It is changed not "entered into."

December 08, 2007 4:18 PM  
Blogger Adoro said...

We are all members of the Mystical Body of Christ, and we are renewed and unified in worthy reception of Holy Communion.

The priest does not actually do anything but cooperate with God. It is the Holy Spirit that effects the transubstantiation. The priest stands in the person of Christ. Each Mass makes the sacrifice of Calvary substantially present, effects the sacrificial meal (the flesh of the Lamb), and becomes a new Pentecost.

Those who attend the Mass do nothing to effect the consecration; we are there to offer ourselves to God...that is our offering. If we are focusing on sharing in the consecration, we are both doing something illicit and raising ourselves to a level to which we have not been invited. Our only position is that of humility, for none of us deserve the sacrifice that drips blood upon our heads as we [should be] kneel at the foot of the cross.

God have mercy on us. We do pray during the consecration....for mercy.

December 08, 2007 11:58 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Father Tim from "The Heremeneutics of Continuity" in the UK has a nice analysis of the Mass today on his blog, titled "Manifold Benefits of the Mass.":

Every Mass that is offered is of infinite value in that the Mass gives adoration and thanksgiving to God. Every Mass is also offered for the propitiation of our sins, and to gain God's gifts for us. In these respects, the fruits of the Mass is limited by our capacity to receive these benefits.

The sacrifice that is offered is the once and for all perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Mass is primarily the actio Dei, the work of God himself. However the priest is called by God to participate in this one perfect sacrifice by worthily celebrating the sacred rites. The priest offers the Mass ministerially and the Church generally. The faithful also offer the Mass by participating in it: by requesting the celebration, by making an offering for that purpose, by providing the material requisites for offering the Mass, and, most of all, by attending the Mass and uniting themselves spiritually to the sacrifice. These actions of the faithful constitute their "actuosa participatio" - an expression that is often unfortunately rendered as "active participation". It would be better to talk of "genuine participation" to avoid giving the impression that you are not "participating" in the Mass unless you are doing a job or reading all the words in a book.

Some effects of the Mass are applied to God: adoration, praise, and thanksgiving. Other effects (or benefits or "fruits") are applied to us: the imploring of God's generous gifts, the propitiation of His wrath and the forgiveness of our sins, and satisfaction for our sins with the remission of the temporal punishment due to them. All of these effects flow from the Mass as the perfect sacrifice of Christ.

This perfect sacrifice is efficacious in pouring forth benefits or "fruits" as follows:

1. To the all the members of the Church, living and dead, who do not pose an obstacle to this grace - the general fruits of the Mass.

2. To those who participate (as outlined above) in the Mass - the special fruits of the Mass.

3. To the priest himself - the "most special" or personal fruits of the Mass.

4. To the person for whom the Mass is offered - the ministerial fruits of the Mass which the priest may apply for an intention that has been requested, for the people of the parish, or for any other proper intention of his choosing.

In addition, to the perfect sacrifice of Christ, the prayers and good works of the whole Church are applied through the Mass.

Finally, the personal prayer and devotion of the priest is efficacious in proportion to his own holiness. This personal prayer can be added as a secondary intention to that for which the Mass is offered by way of the "ministerial fruits". Hence the prayers in the previous post about the mementos.

(In the above, I have mainly summarised JB O'Connell's excellent treatment in chapter 4 of his book "The Celebration of Mass".)

December 16, 2007 12:48 PM  

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