Saturday, June 9, 2012

Can The Eucharist Survive Outside the Mass and Hierarchy ? Corpus Christi Weekend

National Catholic Reporter runs a essay that is illuminating in many ways. See Essay: Power of the dying hierarchy is an illusion .

Right out of the box we have this:

The Eucharist will live only if we find a way for it to live outside the Mass. I heard this from a Catholic sister last year, who was quoting a lay parish worker.

Another sister told me this about a decade ago: The hierarchy is like a dying dragon, breathing fire on those around it as it flails through its final collapse. But don’t worry, she said, it is dying and someday something else will resurrect.

I believe both of those statements, I love both of those sisters, and the recent news about the Vatican’s actions toward the Leadership Conference of Women Religious does not stir anger in me one bit.....

That of course points out big time some big Vatican Concerns that appear to be valid. I have noted that in many ways ( at least for now) the Female Priest Ordination movement in the Catholic Church is quite different than what we see in let's say the Lutheran and Anglican bodies. That is many people involved have a agenda that is far beyond having a woman say Mass and do Sacraments. There is something much more radical at root.

Now the death of the Catholic Church has been predicted for 2000 years. So I have a feeling  those privileged just be walking around are going to be wrong again over the democracy of the dead no matter how valid they think their "experience " is.  I also suspect that if an attempted alternative did arise it would have the same elements of supposed problems of power and intolerance they now decry. See
Shut Up, They Explained (PCUSA Edition) from Stand Firm.

With all do respect to "experience" that seems to be very American / Western  and not very catholic/universal  what does scripture , Church Tradition, and Church teaching have to say.


Acts 20:17-28: "From Miletus he (Paul) had the presbyters of the church of Ephesus summoned. When they came to him, he addressed them, ' ...Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers (i.e., "bishops"), in which you tend the Church of God..."

Church Fathers

Lets look at the  letters  St. Ignatius of Antioch ( who was ordained by the Apostles) , and note the EUCHARISTIC connection.

You must all follow THE BISHOP as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and the presbyters as you would the Apostles. Reverence the deacons as you would the command of God. Let no one do anything of concern to the church without THE BISHOP. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by THE BISHOP, or by one whom he appoints. Wherever THE BISHOP appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." (Ignatius, TO THE SMYRNEANS)

"....your most worthy BISHOP, and through your worthy presbyters Bassus and Apollonius, and through my fellow servant the deacon Soto, whose friendship may I ever enjoy, inasmuch as he is subject to THE BISHOP as to the grace of God." (Ignatius, TO THE MAGNESIANS, Chapter II)

"Take care, then who belong to God and to Jesus Christ -- they are with the THE BISHOP. ...Do not err, my brethren: if anyone follow a schismatic, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. ...Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: for there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one Cup in the union of His Blood; one altar, as there is ONE BISHOP with the presbyters and my fellow servants, the deacons .

Ignatius, who is also called Theophorus, to the church of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, which is at Philadelphia, in Asia ...which I salute in the blood of Jesus Christ, who is our eternal and enduring joy, especially if men are in unity with THE BISHOP, the presbyters, and the deacons, who have been appointed according to the mind of Jesus Christ, whom He has established in security, after His own will, and by His Holy Spirit. Which BISHOP I know, obtained the ministry I know which pertains to all ....Wherefore my soul declares HIS (one bishop) mind towards God a happy one, knowing it to be virtuous and perfect, and HIS (the bishop's) stability as well as freedom from all anger is after the example of the infinite meekness of the living God." (Ignatius TO THE PHILADELPHIANS, Intro and Chapter I)

Not too long after this we see  Clement .

Since then these things are manifest to us, and we have looked into the depths of the Divine knowledge, we ought to do in order all things which the Master commanded us to perform at appointed times. He commanded us to and services (the celebrate Sacrifices  Eucharist), and that it should not be thoughtlessly or disorderly ....He has Himself fixed by His supreme will the places and persons (the appointed presbyters) whom He desires for these celebrations, in order that all things may be done piously according to His good pleasure, and be acceptable to His will.  then those who offer their oblations at the appointed times are acceptable and blessed, but they follow the laws of theSo Master and do not sin. For to the high priest (the bishop) his proper ministrations are allotted, and to the priests (the presbyters) the proper place has been appointed, and on the Levites (the deacons) their proper services have been imposed. The layman is bound by the ordinances for the laity. ......Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who blamelessly and holily have offered its Sacrifices." (1 Clement to the Corinthians, 44:4)

We could on and on ,but I use these examples to show an very early established tradition that can be clearly seen.

However as we see not only is the Eucharist linked to the Mass it is very linked to the BISHOP.

The Church teaching on this is of course quite vast. Of particular important is a document recently by the Congregration of the Congregation of the Faith that pretty sums all this up. That is DECLARATION


...The Catholic faithful are required to profess that there is an historical continuity — rooted in the apostolic succession53 — between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church: “This is the single Church of Christ... which our Saviour, after his resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care (cf. Jn 21:17), commissioning him and the other Apostles to extend and rule her (cf. Mt 28:18ff.), erected for all ages as ‘the pillar and mainstay of the truth' (1 Tim 3:15). This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in [subsistit in] the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him”.54 With the expression subsistit in, the Second Vatican Council sought to harmonize two doctrinal statements: on the one hand, that the Church of Christ, despite the divisions which exist among Christians, continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church, and on the other hand, that “outside of her structure, many elements can be found of sanctification and truth”,55 that is, in those Churches and ecclesial communities which are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church.56 But with respect to these, it needs to be stated that “they derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church”.57

17. Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him.58 The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches.59 Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church.60 ...



Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?


According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery[19] cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense[20].

Of course as we see from the above scripture and very early Apostolic Fathers the Congregation is saying nothing new under the sun here.

If you want to be Church you have to "eat God" and no matter how much many would like otherwise that is linked to a Bishop.

No comments: