Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Interview with Bishop Schneider

Bishop Athanasius Schneider, the auxiliary bishop of Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan granted an interview to the Catholic Herald, which was reproduced in its full form by the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales. He is the author of Dominus Est - It Is the Lord: Reflections of a Bishop of Central Asia on Holy Communion (I suggest you buy this through the Amazon search box on Fr. Z's blog), a book I highly recommend. If it were read by all Catholics, I strongly believe the practice of Communion in the hand (and even standing on the tongue, in the Roman Rite where this is not the historical practice) would cease.

He says something very interesting to me as he comments upon the banal method of reception, the lost particles (crushed in the fingers or by the feet), and the stealing of Hosts:
Why would I, as a priest and bishop, expose Our Lord to such a danger, to such a risk? When these bishops or priests [who approve of Communion in the hand] have some item of value, they would never expose this to great danger, to be lost or stolen. They protect their house, but they do not protect Jesus and allow him to be stolen very easily.
There is an unavoidable loss of particles. The priest no longer is required to keep his fingers together and thus the ablutions require the washing of fingers (except those of a bishop). The communicants' paten is no longer retained in most parishes, and its use is only mentioned now in the GIRM for use when the Sacred Host is intincted in the Precious Blood. Even Archbishop Bugini saw no reason to do away with the paten, and this change only came into effect with the third edition of the modern Missale Romanum and its corresponding instruction in 2002 (or when it came into effect locally). At what point does Redemptionis Sacramentum come into play? See paragraph 92 of that document. I cannot wrap my head around the unavoidable risk of profanation (which in regards to the Precious Blood, seems to include accidental or unintentional incidents, such as spillage, by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments), which thus stands contrary to the ability to receive in the hand where this has been permitted. There is a difference between profanation and sacrilege, I believe, but should we not try our best to protect Our Lord under the form of the Eucharist?

I am glad he distinguishes between the practice for receiving in the hand of the patristic era and the contemporary practice. Also, medieval rituals contained instructions for the ablution of the mouths of the faithful by drinking unconsecrated wine, which is still done by the priest in the Vetus Ordo and has also been practiced in the Byzantine rite, if I recall correctly.

On the family: His and Cardinal Burke's honesty and forthrightness about allowing the divorced and remarried to receive Holy Communion is refreshing. And it is heartwarming to see his comments about the nature of the Church, even as she goes through crisis.

On the liturgy:

Our first duty as human beings is to adore God, not us, but Him. Unfortunately, the liturgical practice of the last 40 years has been very anthropocentric. 
Participating in liturgy is firstly not about doing things but praying and worshipping, to love God with all your soul. This is true participation, to be united with God in your soul. Exterior participation is not essential. 
The crisis is really this: we have not put Christ or God at the centre. And Christ is God incarnated. Our problem today is that we put away the incarnation. We have eclipsed it. If God remains in my mind only as an idea, this is Gnostic. In other religions e.g. Jews, Muslims, God is not incarnated. For them, God is in the book, but He is not concrete. Only in Christianity, and really in the Catholic Church, is the incarnation fully realised and this has to be stressed therefore also in every point of the liturgy. God is here and really present. So every detail has meaning.
As far as the new rite's direction is concerned, t all the chant, all the Latin, worship ad orientem, Communion on the tongue kneeling, etc. are merely options among many, well, several. Yes, these options are by far the most proper (sometimes literally in the case of chant), the most traditional, and the best. But it's absurd that (good and well-meaning Catholics) people find it acceptable to use anything but these choices on certain occasions. I find the trouble is not that we made the Mass Protestant, it's that we made it look badly Catholic.
Ascension Thursday (Sunday) even has multiple collects! The one actually for Ascension is a new composition (thanks, Fr. Z.), the other used to be on the Sunday after Ascension. By what criteria can one make a case for one over the other? The newer one is more vivid, the other tied to the feast-albeit as an extension- for centuries. (The fact that a celebration tied to Thursday forty days after Easter since the 4th century is moved to Sunday boggles the mind.)  I am not saying we should not do these things (chant, Latin, etc.), but rather recognize their limitations in the context of the usus recentior, a rite which was cut-and-pasted together, largely ignoring intermediate liturgical texts and practices (read: later medieval and post-Tridentine liturgy). When looking at the Pauline Missal, it makes sense that different understandings of the readings developed, it makes sense that worship is versus populum, it makes sense that the vernacular (or a smattering of it, especially for the readings) is used. It doesn't make it any less novel, but somewhat more understandable.


The daily Novus Ordo Mass does not lend itself well to contemplative and unitive prayer. There's too much to worry about, with making the responses and standing and sitting and all that. The readings are usually proper to the day, irrespective of the feast being celebrated. In contrast, Low Mass lends itself well to contemplation, especially at the Canon, and it is typically offered on days where greater solemnity is usually not required. Those more solemn celebrations lend themselves to a different and valuable form of interior participation in the sacred liturgy, one that leads to a more vocal and outwardly participation but does not exclude silent interior participation (a distinct advantage of the Mass of all ages over the newer form).

Finally, the traditional Offertory is far superior in moving us towards union with God. Suscipe, Sancte Pater....

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