A Cleansing Note

This missive arrived last week for all priests and liturgists in our diocese:

As many of you are aware from reports in the media, including the Catholic Key, the indult which had been granted to the dioceses in the U.S. permitting the purification of sacred vessels by Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion has expired.

Bishop Finn wishes to provide some guidance to parishes so that the change to purification performed only by priest, deacon, or instituted acolyte might be made in an informed and orderly manner. To that end, an instruction is being prepared. With the dissemination of that instruction, there will be a date for implementation of the new procedures.

Until the directive is received and the implementation date set, you may continue current practice.

In some parishes, it may be possible to implement the change prior to receiving an implementation date.

It will be an interesting implementation, given the numbers of guest clergy we have presiding at Mass these days. Our new associate does return from school just before Christmas, so the traffic of visiting clergy will lessen somewhat.

From my view, bringing Eucharistic vessels to a place out of view–a sacristy–for reverent cleansing would make more sense, ritually and pragmatically. If vessels were to be purified in church, then I could see a point of lifting the indult.

Again, decisions made by guys (Cardinal Arinze, Pope Benedict) who, being surrounded by a cloud of clergy at nearly every Mass, rarely conceive of the impracticalities of some of the things they dictate. Another example of a misplaced decision that should be made on the parish level, under the supervision of the bishop.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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2 Responses to A Cleansing Note

  1. Gavin says:

    “Again, decisions made by guys who, being surrounded by a cloud of clergy at nearly every Mass, rarely conceive of the impracticalities of some of the things they dictate.” (do HTML tags work on here?)

    As someone whose job is “to noodle around” while the priest does the “dishwashing”, I have to disagree with this. At my church, the priest cleanses the vessels at the altar immediately following communion, and has done so since at least my arrival in July. Needless to say, the indult was a moot point since we didn’t follow it. This is, however, a church with a single priest, no deacon. It’s not a feat of speed or an assault on the congregation. It’s a liturgical action which the priest does to the best of his ability. If they did indeed have an “ordained dishwashing squad” as at large churches, it would supposedly go faster, but think how much praying can be done in the 2-3 minutes it takes. On Sunday, we did a Post-Communion hymn. The congregation wasn’t really into it, but we started it the second the priest communed the final person and we got through all 4 or 5 verses filling just enough time for cleaning, reposition, sitting, and all that. Seems to me it was a fine idea; why not sing a hymn of thanks there? It’s certainly appropriate and legit.

    Admittedly, I don’t know what all needs to happen at the cleansing. It just seems to me that if we can get it done with one priest, most parishes can get it done with two or three (or one).

  2. Tony says:

    From my view, bringing Eucharistic vessels to a place out of view–a sacristy–for reverent cleansing would make more sense, ritually and pragmatically. If vessels were to be purified in church, then I could see a point of lifting the indult.

    I don’t want my Lord out of my sight until He is completely consumed. My priest agrees. He purifies each of the 6 vessels reverently and it takes 2 minutes and 22 seconds (ask me how I know).

    When our pastor first arrived within a couple of weeks, he was greeting people at the door as they were exiting, and an altar boy ran up to him with a chalice, and said: “here father, drink this!”. With horror, father realized that it was the blood of Christ that was sloshing around in that cup.

    There is another reason that father purifies the chalices, the prior pastor’s modus operandi was to take the cups to the sanctuary and pour the remaining Blood of Christ down the sink drain. When they “wrecktovated” our church, they got the kumbaya Jesus right, they moved the tabernacle to a side “chapel” so it would not distract people from finding Jesus in “community”, but they neglected to install a sacrarium. The Blood of Christ was being poured down the sewer!

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If the Precious Blood is a problem to deal with, eliminate it. Eucharist under both species is not a requirement for the lay faithful (nor is it even encouraged). It is only a requirement for the priest.

    Again, decisions made by guys (Cardinal Arinze, Pope Benedict) who, being surrounded by a cloud of clergy at nearly every Mass, rarely conceive of the impracticalities of some of the things they dictate. Another example of a misplaced decision that should be made on the parish level, under the supervision of the bishop.

    The Holy Mass is not about “practicality”. It is about worshipping God.

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