11 January 2016

Tales from the Ordinariate (1)

Father Zed, archiblogopoios, is delighted that one of his favourite bishops is having tabernacles put back into their proper places. So am I; and so all right-thinking people will be. Considering the intensive bullying which an (almost) entire previous generation of bishops employed to get the tabernacles shifted to the wrong places (without any Conciliar mandate whatsoever), involving great expense and very considerable vandalism, I don't see how anyone can criticise this admirable Bishop if he puts on a bit of pressure so that his own fortunate diocese can get back to orthopraxis. Three cheers!! And it is splendid that we have Fr Zed; not least so that he can share good news.

Some weeks ago, a brother Ordinariate priest, just taking up a parish in the 'Diocesan Church', described his new church building, built a couple of decades ago. It was constructed, upon the explicit instructions of the then bishop, without Confessionals, and with the Blessed Sacrament reserved in a quite separate room without an altar so that "there will be no confusion between today's bread and yesterday's bread".

What a shame nobody had ever explained to that poor bishop that his and our Most Holy Redeemer is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow!

When Benedict XVI founded the Ordinariates (io triumphe), it was his wish that we Anglicans should bring our riches into the Catholic Church for the benefit of all Catholics. So here is our great Professor Canon Dr Eric Mascall, writing in 1965, dealing with exactly that question of tabernacles. This is pure 24-carat Anglican Patrimony, every single word of it! Lege, disce, age!!

"The fundamental facts about the Blessed Sacrament are its publicity and its centrality. It is not a secret treasure, hidden away in a corner to be the object of devotion of the abnormally pious; it is the gift of God to his body the Church. The method of reservation which is advocated by many - though fortunately a diminishing number - of our [Anglican] bishops ... whereby the Consecrated Elements are placed in a safe in the church wall and removed from association with the altar, seems calculated to encourage almost every wrong view of the reserved Sacrament that is conceivable. Could anything be more likely to detach the reserved Sacrament from its organic connection with the Church's Liturgy than the provision that the place of reservation 'shall not be immediately behind or above a Holy Table'? ... It is therefore, I would suggest, most desirable that the Blessed Sacrament should normally be reserved in as central a place as possible, upon the high altar of the church, and that regularly some form of public devotion to the Eucharistic Presence should be held, if possible when the main body of the congregation is assembled."  

(If you wish to procure a copy of his Corpus Christi, make sure you get the second [1965] edition.)


7 comments:

Grumpy Beggar said...

One would be hard-pressed to devise a better method of diminishing belief in our Blessed Lord’s True Presence in the Blessed Sacrament than by diverting attention away from this Sacrament : “Out of sight – out of mind”, as they say.

To be abruptly brief: A sacrament is a sense-perceptible sign which effects what it signifies.

It is precisely because we are human that God, in His wisdom, has given us what we can see and touch to remain in touch with Him ; we need sense-perceptible signs. A sign always points to something else (in the Blessed Sacrament the sign points directly to Someone else). So, make the sense-perceptible sign imperceptible or less and less perceptible , and belief in what (Whom) it signifies will, in all likelihood and quite logically, wane commensurately.

And to impede anyone whom God may have inspired to return, we’ll erect as many roadblocks to Confession as we can – both by removing the confessionals altogether and by making confessors less and less available (. . . if they ever were available at all). Many "Catholics" I know rarely speak of the sacrament of Reconciliation - let alone avail themselves of it.

Happily, we have always had cathedrals, oratories, shrines and the like which offer a more generous availability of the sacrament of Reconciliation. And now, (just a personal observation) I’m starting to notice in some of the local parishes, that certain priests are taking it upon themselves to make the sacrament of Reconciliation more available to their respective parishoners.

The two go together : Our Blessed Lord’s True Presence in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar , and the sacrament of Reconciliation. The ultimate goal of both, is to give each of us the most intimate union possible with God.

“ . . .pure 24-carat Anglican Patrimony.” - and prophetically so by contemporary measure.

Thank you for this and for so many additional informative and edifying posts Father H.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Well at least our assistant priest did put the matter to the vote. On a show of hands there was a 100% vote AGAINST moving it. It was moved.

ansgerus said...

In case of many old cathedral churches, there are special side chapels for the Holy Sacrament, and I see nothing wrong with that practise. It would be more problematic to expose the Holy Sacrament to crowds of tourists and others with no or almost no pious Devotion, when placed onto a high altar newly. Things would be different, of course, if there still exists a High Altar with a tabernacel. If so, it should be used of course. The necessary devotion also might come back, if at least the clergy would behave correctly in front of the Holy Sacrament.

I wonder, by the way, always very much how to behave in front of an altar without a tabernacel, especially in case of former catholic, now protestant churches with remaining historic altars once used for the Holy Sacrifice. What is the proper devotion to be paid to an altar without tabernacel when entering the church? The altar represents Christ Himself, some early texts even speak of the altar as the Body of Christ (see the references in the short, but well-informing article of Peter Riga of St. John Vianney Seminary, NY, under https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=2787 )

Jonathan Dandridge said...

Of course now in most churches the celebrant will have his back to the tabernacle. The solution to that is -- Ad Orientem. Is that the next step?

Francis Arabin said...

This may be a mere point of personal aesthetics and preference but monstrances make me somehow uneasy. Devotion to the Divine Sacrament is paramount and I agree with every single word of Dr "Patrimony" Mascall. Yet, I cannot but help reflect on the vulgarity of monstrances. There is something to be said for the ciborium or pyx (hanging or not - though, here on the question of the pyx, I must say I prefer a hanging pyx to a "Sacrament House", as the tabernacle used to be known in our parts) as being more sober instruments in the public worship of the God man flesh present in the Sacrament of the Altar; the Godhead being there latens anyway, what is the point of actually showing what appears to be mere bread? Perhaps Father Hunwicke or some other reader might direct me to some solid author to help me dispose of my preventions against the current practices of Exposition.

Ttony said...

Father, what's wrong with the 1953 edition?

William Tighe said...


Nothing "wrong" with the 1953 edition, but the second edition (1965) is much, and beneficially, expanded.