Monday, March 22, 2004

I concur!

I will endeavor to be brief. I find it interesting that people are reacting so strongly to Fr. H's post on this matter of giving blessings in the communion procession. What Fr. H is doing is no different than what St. Peter in the Acts of the Apostles did when he led the Apostles in one of the first "councils" of the Church. What Fr. H is doing is no different when St. Paul directs the congregations under his responsibility to follow certain admonitions he imposes. Fr. H is exercising the power of the Keys. In Matthew's Gospel, first to Peter and to the rest of the Apostles, Christ hands over authority to bind and loose. Each priest in virtue of his ordination and befitting his office in the Church shares in the exercise of this power.

In the first sense, this is meant in the realm of conscience, i.e. sin. But it also applies to governance and power use of those things that are placed in the purview of a priest. This is not one of those instances.

The communion line is not a place for blessings. It is to facilitate receiving Holy Communion. Period. Nowhere in the rubrics is the priest directed to bless anyone or anything. It is simply not envisioned. If one were to argue that because the rubrics don't say that you can't bless people in the communion line, you could. This opens you to an immediate reduction to absurdity. Based on what is not said, I think next Sunday I will slaughter a lamb and sprinkle the people with it, so they will understand the roots of the sacred Liturgy. It doesn't say I can't do it. And it might help people "experience" what it means to be washed in the blood of the Lamb.

The nature of a rubric is simultaneously descriptive and proscriptive. By the description of the standard or proper form of celebration, one understands what the Liturgy looks like, sounds like, even smells and tastes like. Based on this description, certain matters and practices become proscribed and eliminated from the table. Through the Church, the reality of the sacraments is both distributed and preserved for harmful admixtures.

Fr. Hamilton is in the final analysis exercising obedience and not imposing a personal decision upon a matter that someone else has already decided what its purpose is. A priest is not an independent contractor of the Liturgy nor a private entity. He is the servant of the Mysteries of God and the representative of the Church. While there is variance in the manner of administration of the sacraments and sacramentals in various ritual churches, that doesn't mean that I or any other priest is free to simply skip around as they see fit.

Sorry if that rambled or didn't make sense. By the way, just for everyone's information, I also don't bless people in the communion line due to a couple of incidents in the past. If you want to hear about them, just mention it in the comments.

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