Cleansing Fire

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At Mass, Actions Speak Louder Than Words

February 17th, 2011, Promulgated by Bernie

This from the January-February issue of the New Oxford Review:

WHY LITURGICAL LESSONS AREN’T BEING LEARNED
By Michael A. Beauregard

I have taught in Catholic schools for many years. For the past ten, I have had the pleasure of teaching sixth-grade religion classes in a school that is unwaveringly faithful to the Magisterium. The religious curriculum in the sixth grade includes the sacraments, the theology of the Mass, and Church history. In previous grades, the students thoroughly study the faith with the help of textbooks that are faithful to the Church, and teachers who are devout, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable.

Nevertheless, year after year I am surprised by what my students know — and do not know — at the beginning of their sixth-grade year. Students are typically baffled and sometimes even stunned to learn that the Blessed Sacrament is Christ physically present in His body, blood, soul, and divinity, and not just in a spiritual or symbolic sense. More often than not, these students have incorrectly acquired the notion that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is just a Communion service memorializing the Last Supper with the priest acting as presider…

…Irrespective of what is being taught, if the Mass and liturgies do not reflect the realities and truths of our Catholic faith, the teachings of the Church will be taught in vain. It is of the utmost importance that the Holy Mass model and emphasize what we want our students (and adults) to understand and embrace. The rubrics, gestures, and symbols that are employed serve a fundamental and very useful purpose in that they reveal and give witness to the faith we profess.

To illustrate a common example, I ask students at the beginning of their sixth-grade year what they…

This is an excellent article. Do take the time to read the whole thing.

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Michael A. Beauregard is Headmaster of St. Michael’s School in West Memphis, Arkansas. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Memphis and has written extensively on the classical curriculum in elementary schools.

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5 Responses to “At Mass, Actions Speak Louder Than Words”

  1. avatar A Catholic says:

    I read the article and I don’t understand why 6th graders at a school that is “unwaveringly faithful to the Magisterium” don’t know the basics of the Catholic Faith by 6th grade. Wouldn’t such a school have devout liturgies and wouldn’t the parents of students who attend this school go to “orthodox” parishes? Perhaps they need new religion textbooks. The “Faith and Life” series from Catholics United for the Faith is excellent. I’ve witnessed even non-Catholic children learning and understanding the basics of the Catholic Faith if it is taught properly. I agree that poor liturgy can undermine this since how we pray impacts how we believe, but the author of the article, who is listed as the headmaster of the school in question, needs to take steps to improve things.

  2. … physically present in His body, blood, soul, and divinity …

    The Church teaches that Christ is substantially present; the word “physically” might suggest there shouldn’t be any accidents to the Eucharistic species after the consecration.

  3. avatar Kevin says:

    That article is spooky. I never went to Catholic schools, yet I knew more than some of these kids do at that age. Really makes me wonder what is wrong with the Church today. Something definitely is wrong. I’m not one to point fingers at what, but something is.

  4. avatar Snowshoes says:

    As Yogi Berra would say, It’s the old Lex orandi, Lex credendi all over again! And Rich, after that initial flub, he really does a great job describing the uphill battle of teaching the faith in the midst of a casual liturgy, with songs that don’t teach the truths of the faith, etc.

    The distinction between the “physical Presence” of Christ in Holy Eucharist and the Real and True Presence, can be understood so we say it correctly (I think the nuns taught us this) is that a “Eucharistic Miracle” such as at Lanciano, or some of the other officially verified Miracles of the Sacred Host turning to Flesh in the presence of the priest and people at Mass, and/or the Precious Blood turning to actual Blood, constitutes an instance of the “Physical Presence” of Our Lord Jesus Christ being manifested, and it is normally reserved for adoration, and not consumed.

    The “ordinary” miracle of the Holy Eucharist at Mass takes place during the Consecration of the Species which do not change in their “accidents”, they still retain the appearance of bread and wine, but they become the Real and True Presence of Christ, present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

  5. avatar Bernie says:

    This made me think of the interesting change in catechetical instruction given to catechumens -I’m not sure if this is at all pertinent- during the 4th century after the legalization of Christianity. Converts of dubious or weak commitment began to enter the Church and bishops found it necessary, for the first time, to systematize and write out their sermons to the initiates for the purpose of greater clarity, emphasis and consistency.


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