17 September 2008

Daft women and spineless men

I heard this evening of a liturgical innovation in a normal, middle of-the-road C of E parish. The 'Worship Committee' decided that some women (who felt that they had the gift of healing) should lay their hands on all those kneeling at the altar rails to receive Holy Communion. This happened before the Blessed Sacrament was administered.

Enough people complained about this daft little ritual for a change to be made: that the Salutary Imposition should happen after the Sacrament had been received and that those who wished not to avail themselves of its benefit could intimate as much by folding their arms upon their chests as the Impository Nutters approached. Ah: and, by the way: a couple of women also lurk in a side chapel in case anybody returning from the altar Needs To Talk About Something. And this is not a parish in which womenministry is so unavailable that a safety valve is necessary to satisfy the pent-up hunger for feminine pseudoliturgy: it is a parish crawling with womenpriests.

The Rector, I was told, is too weak to put a stoppers on such nonsense.

Is this a novelty, or is it a widespread fashion which I, as so often, am the last person in the world to hear about?


Dexter Bracey said...

I'm afraid, Father, that it is becoming relatively common. It seems to have begun in Evangelical circles, where churches have for some time felt the need for a prayer ministry for individuals, which may or may not be accompanied by the administration of the sacrament of our Lord's body and blood. From there, it has spread to middle-of-the-road parishes, many of whom are quick to emulte what they suppose to be the success of the Evangelical wing of the C of E. And in an age when lay ministry is being encouraged ad nauseam, it doesn't take long for all sorts of people to feel called to offer this ministry to all and sundry.

What I find particulalry worrying is the idea that the administration of the sacrament needs to be somehow supplemented by the administration of some additional ministry. What does that say about peoples' understanding of what they are doing at Mass?

I suppose it could be worse: I did once find myself in a church where a lay minister was giving out chocolate to children at the Communion rail so that they didn't feel left out whilst the adults were given something to eat. Presumably, admitting those children to Communion, or even, dare I suggest it, preparing them for confirmation, was not deemed sufficiently inclusive.

Ecgbert said...

I agree it's muddled and William's probably right that it's MOTRs trying to imitate the success of the Evangelicals. (Charismatic-movement RCs do the same.) Illicit? (But strictly speaking in your situation CW and the ordinary call that shot.) Liturgically confused? Naff? Sure. But not heretical. Compared to the Episcopalians, among whom it's now fashionable to break their own rule and commune the unbaptised, it's tame. To give the charismatics their due, receiving grace in the Sacrament (assuming you're in a Catholic church with a valid priest) and being helped by being prayed over aren't mutually exclusive.