Another Day, Another Antigospel

The funeral planner brought back the report to me. The widow had asked, “Do we really need to offer the cup at his funeral? I never take from it. Most people don’t either.”

But then at the funeral dinner, my friend talked to the woman, who reported “something happened” when she went up to Communion. Her late husband, in fact, did receive the Precious Blood, and “without thinking” she presented herself in front of the Communion minister. Just as her husband did. “I felt a connection with him when I received the Blood.”

It was a connection she had missed as the family gathered to pray and tell stories. And as she went through the excruciating tasks of planning, sitting, worrying, and dealing with the first chunks of raw grief.

It was an opportunity.

Granted, it was just one small opportunity that likely would have eventually happened. God always works around human obstructions, excuses, lame reasoning, and general non-sensical behaviors.

I  had debated posting about this story at all, but you can surely bet I’ve been watching it in the Catholic blogogroup for the past two days. I was actually hoping PrayTell got punked by somebody. But alas, it is as true as the color of the sky, and Fr Ruff has an ample takedown of the reasons behind the initiative.

Reviewing good liturgical practice, church history, and theology is taking place capably on other sites. Go there and read them if you need the intellectual argument against Bishop Olmsted buttressed.

Speaking for myself, I don’t need to go much further than the combox at the Bench to note another victory for the forces of “conflict and division,” as the second Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation terms it.

I am delighted at this news.

I find the news … to be most impressive and encouraging.

They should be praised for this.

This is precisely what the Church needs.

What the Church precisely does not need are canon lawyers and armchair theologians waving pom-poms in our faces. Clearly the SCGS antigospel has yet to penetrate to the teaching of the apostle:

… so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

As I mention above, I considered ignoring this story. It certainly does my spirit no good to muse about the gnostic and antigospel tendencies in the modern American episcopate. I was thinking about doing a spiritual and liturgical take-down of each of the “reasons” given on the website cited above.

Ministry is difficult. There are no easy solutions to the problems faced by those of us who serve, and who watch and worry about the wider sacrileges, ignorance, indifference, trials, and challenges faced by our sisters and brothers in the world.

At a meeting yesterday, I was confronted by a line in the prayer attributed to Pope Clement XI:

I offer you, Lord, … (m)y sufferings: to be endured for your greater glory.

I don’t even to pretend to understand a line like this. Suffering is always a shame. My parents always cautioned our snickering when a sibling was in trouble. God’s glory would seem to happen in spite of suffering or in the triumph over it rather than in the actual experience.

I don’t plan to move to Phoenix or even visit there anytime soon. I live in a diocese served by a gentle and wise bishop. My parish and I will enjoy the opportunity offered by the cup of salvation to call upon the name of the Lord. And I will pray for my sisters and brothers in Arizona who, not only have one more spiritual opportunity sealed off from them, but who will also be the targets of tasteless cheering by the Temple Police.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Church News, Hermeneutic of Subtraction, Liturgy. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Another Day, Another Antigospel

  1. I am not ashamed to stand with you on this issue, Todd. The Q/A from Phoenix does indeed have a gnostic mist wafting in its midst, if not outright double-speak and, forgive me Lord, silliness.
    What is happening? And I don’t mean that in eschatological terms. Just basic math? Like “Philadelphia,” can you explain this to me like I’m a four year old, bishop?

  2. FrMichael says:


    All the Bishop of Phoenix is doing is implementing the universal norms of the Roman Rite and deciding not to add additional local ones.

    You call this an antigospel? A bit of a stretch, don’t you think?

  3. I am truly distressed – at the overall tone coming from Phoenix. I am ever surprised by how people react to the cup.

    Thanks for this post, Todd.

  4. Neil says:

    This is disappointing. In the Q&A several reasons are given. But no example of profanation – or explanation of why wine is more vulnerable to profanation than bread – is provided, and there are other ways to honor feast days or to express solidarity with poor countries. The main reason appears to be extraordinary ministers. What’s wrong with extraordinary ministers? They can appear to “obscure the role of the priest and the deacon.” Now, as Fr Ruff has said, the priest and deacon are usually very recognizable. We can assume that “role” can here be replaced with “importance” or “sufficiency” or other such words.

    The restriction seems to show that at least some bishops feel that the “role,” perhaps the “importance” and “sufficiency,” of the clergy is under threat. It apparently needs protection, even at some cost.

    The problem here isn’t just the cost, but avoiding some of what I think are the real issues:

    1. How does a priest act as the shepherd of a massive “superparish” in which he is the only resident priest or a parish that he can visit only weekly to celebrate Mass?

    2. How does a priest act as the shepherd of a parish in which lay ministers are more recognizable as educators, spiritual directors, and (yes) liturgists?

    3. What does it mean for priests if the laity no longer automatically looks at them with awe or even – in some contexts – trust?

    I’m not arguing that there are unsolvable problems. But we should talk about them, instead of desperately trying to enhance the “role of the priest and deacon” in any possible way.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s