April 26, 2011

Only the Penitent Man Shall Pass

Remember the scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy is navigating the cave on his way to, he hopes, find the Holy Grail? As he walks, he reads from the diary of his Father which gives the following instruction for getting thru the next danger: “Only the penitent man shall pass” Indy falls to his knees as he recognizes to show humility before God is to kneel. His quick action allows him to narrowly avoid a set of circular blades that slice thru the air right where he his head would have been had he been standing.

When we receive Holy Communion, we don’t (and some trads may be sad to hear this) have a set of blades that come out and chop our heads off if we are not kneeling for Communion, but our attitude when we approach to receive the Lord in the Host should be humble, submissive and penitent. If the Lord wants to smote us and cut our heads off while we receive Communion, well, I can’t think of too many better situations to die in, can you?

I think there are too many of among us who approach the altar of the Lord and Holy Communion with a sense of defiant entitlement. There is nothing wrong with me. I’m perfect or, at least by MY standards, good enough and worthy enough. No one should be able to tell ME I’m not worthy to receive and deny ME what I want. These are the same folks who refuse to say “Lord, I am not worthy (Domine, non sum dignus)” or mutter thru it to make it look like they are saying something-more than likely “Lord, I AM worthy” Apparently, they also get to say the word and they are healed. I wonder that these same folks have not figured out a way to cure cancer.

I have no issues with people unable to kneel at the Consecration because they are physically unable to do so. But, I do have a problem with the physicially fit who have learned, been taught, or decided on their own, that to kneel before God is antiquitated, something we don’t have to do anymore, or a practice (like so many others) that doesn’t apply to them. If the other “weak minded” want to kneel before God let them but I’m not.

I figure if no less than the Angels kneel before God, who do I think I am?

During Holy Week I observed a woman who I’ve never seen at our Church before, who looked to be fit and about my age, refusing to kneel during the Consecration. She stook the whole time. The only one in the entire Church. Needless to say, she rather stood out. I was more than slightly irked. I asked someone after Mass if they knew her. Yes, she used to come to Chruch here all the time. She’s probably back now that the parish is merging and more than likely closing. There was a time when we did not kneel in this parish for the Consecration. She would remember those days. She is among the group that was upset and left when a former priest reimplemented the practice of kneeling or assuming a reverent seated posture. I wonder where the heads are at of people like this who are in essence making some kind of political statement in the middle of Mass and insulting everyone-including God. Do they go home from Mass feeling smug? Do they feel like they got away with something?

Dissenter though I used to be I was never this brazen. I didn’t go to the parish of folks that were more traditional than I was and act like a rebellious adolescent. I dissented but I did it amongst “like minded” people in like-minded parishes. Does that make it right? No. But, you certainly didn’t see me making an incursion to St. Agnes and standing during the Consecration in a lame attempt to “school” the conservatives by calling attention to myself and insulting them.

It occurs to me that Pentecost is approaching and around here you know what that means-the usual gang of dissenters showing up at local parishes standing in protest like petulent adolescents when their public dissent from Church teachings means they will be denied Communion. I wonder if it’s better that, at least, by their sashes we can recognize them. Others are not so easy to identify.


Blogger Clamburger said...

You wrote, “I do have a problem with the physicially [sic] fit who have learned, been taught, or decided on their own, that to kneel before God is antiquitated, something we don’t have to do anymore, or a practice (like so many others) that doesn’t apply to them.” I just converted from Protestantism, and there are some things from that old Faith that I still appreciate.
If you see a church full of people kneeling, you tend to assume that they are being good Catholics. But “assume” here is the key word. You don’t know the real state of their hearts or the sins that they currently bare.
There are more important things to be concerned about when you’re at Mass.
But I’m not saying all of this just to say it. There is actually reasoning behind it. It turns people (especially converts like me) off to the true religion when we question the reasoning behind certain practices and find that they don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. …People who consider that God is more interested in the positions of our hearts than he is with the position of our bodies.
One problem I see with the Catholic church’s reverence to the physical host and blood is that Catholics tend to believe (even though they don’t admit it) that when they leave the physical church, they are leaving the presence of Christ. ...The same Christ who said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am with them.” In my mind, this is proven every time I hear a Catholic in church say, “Don’t do ______! You’re in the presence of God!” --Something they don’t say outside of the building.
I have a Bible on my phone. In fact, I have a program that carries several of them. When I first visited my local parish church, I noticed that the pews had Missalettes and Gather Hymnals, but not unabridged Bibles. So, during the Mass, when I wanted to look up a scripture related to something that the celebrant was saying in the homily, I pulled out my Bible—which happened to be on my phone. Now, mind you, I wasn’t making any noise or otherwise distracting anybody. But nevertheless, during the liturgy of the Eucharist (which I wasn’t allowed to take at the time, not having been Catholic, and all) I continued to read the digital Bible passage I brought up. And two random men, as they passed me to go to communion, told me, “Put that away! You’re in church!” I don’t know what they assumed I was doing. But they assumed something. Last time I checked, it wasn’t irreverent to read your Bible in church.
I’m sorry that it irks you. I will kneel, but that’s just because I think it’s neither here nor there. I don’t believe strongly that it should be mandatory nor dismissed.
You have heard the term “Live and let live.” I believe in a similar maxim: Believe and let believe.
One time I was in a mass, and there was a portion where the congregation was supposed to respond, “Lord, have mercy!” And while we were responding, there was this one guy who practically yelled the response and certainly exclaimed it: “LORD! HAVE MERCY!” It was much more of an exclamation than the responses that came from the rest of the congregation. It stood out. But was it a conscious dissent from the traditions of the church for the man to put some gumption into his prayer? I don’t think so. Yes, he stood out. But so what? He wasn’t disrupting the Mass.

April 26, 2011 6:20 PM  
Blogger Fr. Andrew said...


Congratulations on your conversion. A small point about your long comment, then off to a busy night for me. You said: "People who consider that God is more interested in the positions of our hearts than he is with the position of our bodies. "

But God is concerned with our bodies and postures because that is how we learn as human beings. We learn through our bodies and our senses. That is why Christ our Lord heals through sensible material and gives himself in sensible Sacraments.

I don't think you're denying that but I want to encourage you to see Cathy's larger point. We are taught by our postures at Mass and by the willing participation in them even if we don't understand them.

Cathy: Happy Easter, how's the novena?

April 26, 2011 6:42 PM  
Blogger X said...

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. If they kneel in that parish, kneel. If they are still standing until the new Missal is implemented, then stand. If everyone is kneeling and you can't, then sit. There is nothing worse than being eye level with the butt of the person in front of you - this happened to me on Holy Thursday. Ugh.

April 26, 2011 6:57 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

I bet she didn't have a chapel veil on eithr. ;)

A couple people do this at my parish all of the time.

April 26, 2011 7:04 PM  
Blogger TLW said...

Clamburger, I share Father Andrew's sentiments about your conversion. Welcome!

It may have been part of your former faith tradition to look up a Scripture passage during a homily. It's not something Catholics do. While it's true that Christ promised to be wherever two or more are gathered in His name, His Presence in the Blessed Sacrament demands a different dimension of reverence and respect. If He condescended to remain with us in the guise of bread, is it really asking too much to kneel?

So few do anything to return the love Our Lord has for us in the Blessed Sacrament that the very least we can do is kneel for Him.

Perhaps the reason the gentlemen saw fit to chastise you about having your cell phone out is because they, like me, have been disturbed by people who think nothing of allowing their phones to ring at Mass AND answer them. I suppose with advances in technology whereby even the Missal might soon be contained on a phone, this will continue to create a challenge for those of us who wouldn't think of leaving our phones on at Mass, let alone take them out and use them.


April 26, 2011 8:08 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Clamburger: Newness is disconcerting. Just as it takes some getting used to in realizing that someone can read the breviary on an iPad while in Church, so, too, can kneeling seem disconcerting to someone who comes from a faith tradition that does not kneel regularly (if at all) during services.

I share your wish that a Bible would be in every pew! I'd add that my wish is that every pew had a Bible, a Catechism and a Rosary! But, my wishes are not always followed! :-) There is nothing stopping you from bringing your own Bible to Mass. Or, hey, reading it on your mini-computer!

It is never acceptable, imho, that anyone leaves their faith at the door. However, I knew plenty of Evangelicals, back when I was one, who did so too.

I believe that the posture that we, as Catholics, are encouraged to assume before the Lord goes a long way towards differentiating our Faith from Protestantism. Our belief in the Real Presence in the Consecrated Bread and Wine is a important distinction to emphasize.

Thank you for sharing. You realize you are Rock Star in blogdom now, right? :-) You have many who will now spiritually adopt you-as you can see in this thread! :-)

April 26, 2011 9:15 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Father: Oh, DM Chaplet is in full effect! But, I keep forgetting to do the Novena every day. I was good for Day 1 and 2 and then, oh! I better get caught up. I struggle with remembering to do Novenas but I need to approach it; not as a task but as a good spiritual practice!

April 26, 2011 9:19 PM  
Blogger Nan said...

Clamburger, my parish has Bibles in every pew. Reading scripture on your cellphone is inappropriate because the light is very bright and detracts from the prayerful nature of Mass.

April 26, 2011 9:30 PM  
Blogger Clamburger said...

Nan: Point taken.
Father: Not everyone who says to Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of his Father in heaven. On that day, many will say to him, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we kneel before your Presence in Mass?...” Then he will announce to them, “I never knew you! Depart from me, you lawbreakers!”

April 27, 2011 6:58 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Being in the Pharisee Section at Mass has the advantage of one not being able to view folks who are posture-rebels, giving back rubs or otherwise serving as distractions. Plus it's a great aid for geezers with failing eyesight.

We should be going to Mass to worship, to ask for forgiveness, to gain favors for ourselves or others, to give thanks, to do penance, for contemplation and for other spiritual reasons.

April 27, 2011 6:05 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Ray: You know I go for the fashions!

Nan: Do you Byzantine Rite Catholics worship in the dark? I disagree with your comment but you know I love you anyway!

Clamburger: Don't you think our outward posture has an impact on our interior? I agree that faith on the lips and law without compliance are not good.

April 27, 2011 8:01 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

<< # St. Blog's Parish ? >>
Locations of visitors to this page