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April 23, 2004

Redemptionis Sacramentum

I printed it out and will take it on the airline for some reading. It's a four hour flight so it should be no problem to get the whole thing read. Maybe I will have some comments tomorrow.

Posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. at April 23, 2004 8:53 AM

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Redemptionis Sacramentum has been released and will try to track bloggers who write about it. The New Gasparian has an entry about it. Comments will follow shortly. Open Book has an entry as well. The list will get updated as more blogger writ... [Read More]

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Where there's a Vatican document on the Eucharist, there's commentary. The latest Vatican missive, Redemptionis Sacramentum, is now available on the Vatican website. For commentary, we go to: David Ancell "Athanasius" at Summa Contra Mundum Domenico Be... [Read More]

Tracked on April 26, 2004 8:52 PM


I have finished reading the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum. I think it will be interesting when, after reading the section on who may worthily receive Eucharist, those who support the death penalty realize that they are in the same boat as those who support abortion. Church teaching says,"Thou shalt not kill." If you can't abort, you can't execute either. That should make for some interesting discussion, don't you think?

Posted by: Gerry Downs at April 25, 2004 5:19 PM

With all due respect, the teaching of the Church is a bit more nuanced. It may be helpful to read the Catechism's principal sections on abortion and on legitimate defense (including the death penalty): CCC 2270-2275 and 2263-2267, respectively.

Posted by: Humilis Penitens at April 26, 2004 9:52 AM

Peace, H.P.

The Church's teaching on the death penalty might be more nuanced, but the specific application of death penalty law in some locales (even in the US) might be objectively immoral. In matters such as the application of capital punishment to robbery, assault, or DWI, (among other examples) a legislator would be clearly off base, no matter how Church teaching might hedge on the case of individuals who are proven dangers to society and who cannot be safely incarcerated.

Posted by: Todd at April 26, 2004 11:46 AM

A nicely nuanced response, Todd.

Posted by: Humilis Penitens at April 26, 2004 1:07 PM

"Nuanced" -- what does that mean, exactly?

We're focusing on a very specific question here, but I think the whole point of the most recent teachings from both the Vatican and from the US bishops on the death penalty is that, in the current circumstances of every day life in the US, there are no individuals who are proven dangers to society who cannot be safely incarcerated.

This is from paragraph 2267:

Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm—without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself—the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically non-existent."

Posted by: Maureen Lahiff at April 26, 2004 4:33 PM

Please, return comments to the topic.

Posted by: Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, CPPS at April 26, 2004 5:26 PM

Sorry, Father. Mea culpa.

This thread, alas, reminds me of the media coverage of the Instruction's release, which focused on the politicians and communion issue (which arose from reporters' questions more than from the Instruction itself).

My impression (for what it's worth) of the Instruction is that it does not go as far as some conservatives would have wanted and that it mostly restates existing norms (perhaps as a reminder and/or perhaps to give emphasis), although it does clarify a few points that had been fuzzy (e.g., consecrating flagons).

Posted by: Humilis Penitens at April 27, 2004 8:36 AM

I'm still reading and reflecting on the document and its context.

One thing that I had hoped to see in this document was a strong, clear directive to priests who lead our prayer to "cut the chatter."

The relationship between presider and assembly is in many ways an intimate one. Like all intimate relationships, it has its customary ways and forms of interaction.

Breezy informality and off-the-cuff personal remarks have no place in liturgical presiding. Nor does the people of God (with some rare exceptions) need to be directed: "Now let's sing the Gloria!" or "Please be seated for our readings." "Isn't our server a fine young man! Let's give him a round of applause!" Mini-homilies before the Our Father. We know our parts! They are ours to do, we don't need Father's invitation to sing the Gloria! I don't like to be told what thoughts to have in mind while we say/sing the Our Father, although I understand that the liturgy gives the presider an option to make a brief well-crafted invitation to the prayer. And so on. "Good morning!" "Have a wonderful day and week!" What are these compared to "The Lord be with you." ?

And, pace others, I don't think we ever consecrated flagons. Just their contents. Although it is easy to pour the Precious Blood into the cups without spilling with a well-constructed flagon, the instruction requires all the cups to be used for communion to be brought to the altar and filled as part of the preparation of the gifts. So much for the image of "one cup, one loaf." Well, we hardly ever have the one loaf, anyway, and the instruction recommends a distinction between one larger cup from which the clergy will receive (and one hopes the assembly, too) and the others.

One more thing for now: the use of the word abuse in the US context. If a bit of honey in the bread is a "grave abuse" then what are we to say about other violations of people?

Posted by: Maureen Lahiff at April 27, 2004 10:13 AM

Sorry, in the interests of haste and brevity, I typed "consecrating flagons" when of course I meant consecrating the wine while it was in the flagon. I presumed that everyone would understand, since "consecration of the chalice" is not an uncommon expression for what happens at that part of the Liturgy (e.g., GIRM 324). My apologies.

The physical symbolism of literally "one cup, one loaf" is impossible for all but the smallest of liturgical gatherings, and it wasn't conveyed that well by "one cup and a flagon" either. So, now the pouring happens during the preparation of the gifts and the Fractio remains just the Fractio.

Actually, in some sense, the Instruction helps reinforce the spirit of "one loaf" (or at least "one table") by saying "it is preferable that the faithful be able to receive hosts consecrated in the same Mass" ("so that even by means of the signs Communion may stand out more clearly as a participation in the Sacrifice being celebrated").

It is interesting what constitutes grave matter in the Instruction and what does not. Sometimes the reasons are readily apparent, sometimes not; but of course the bottom line is that Liturgy is not a matter of personal preferences, but the mind of the Church.

As for "a bit of honey in the bread," the purity of the Eucharistic species is no small matter.

Posted by: Humilis Penitens at April 27, 2004 12:02 PM

Many of the things readers of the Instruction (here and other places) have been commenting on have been around for a long time.

My hunch is that the reason things that have been in the Vatican II Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and the various General Instructions are noted in the new document is that Rome thinks they aren't being observed.

For instance: the use of a large host so that some of the pieces that are broken are received by members of the assembly. It's not new.

(I sometimes laugh when I hear lay people referred to as 'faithful' since I'm sure the clerics deserve to be called 'faithful' also! Just another example of the Alice in Wonderland quality of church language.)

Posted by: Maureen Lahiff at April 28, 2004 9:04 AM

The term "Faithful" includes both clerics and lay people (Can. 207 §1). As a rule, the Instruction usually specifies "lay faithful" when it means just laypeople.

Precisely how faithful individual clerics and laypeople may be is another question.

Oremus pro invicem

Posted by: Humilis Penitens at April 28, 2004 11:34 AM