Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Crowded Sanctuary Syndrome – Liturgical Contraception

July 23rd, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

Just as the use of various contraceptive methods have, for all intents and purposes, destroyed the traditional model of the family, so too has Crowded Sanctuary Syndrome, henceforth CSS. I don’t make the analogy to add a little humor – I’m quite serious about this metaphor. Having hordes of lay people within the sanctuary performing canonically dubious roles prevents the fertilization of vocations, and the advancement of beautiful liturgy.

What young person, in his right mind, would consider a vocation to the priesthood when he looks up at the altar only to see Sr. Mary Whatshername in a role which looks presidential? Even on a subconscious level, there is communicated to the young man a sense of “no need to think about the priesthood – they’ve got it covered.” Just look at where vocations are coming from, folks – they’re coming from the company of good and solid priests, and not at all from pious or impious lay administrators. Vocations are stopped by the artificial barrier these lay administrators have created. There should be something special and set apart about the Holy Mass, and nothing common, trivial, or mundane.

And, friends, what could be more mundane and trivial than Rochester’s unfortunate tendency to turn Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion into Ordinary Ministers of Special Bread? The term “extraordinary” means “outside of the norm.” What’s the norm? Ordained ministers, called by God, distributing Holy Communion. The priest is singularly blessed to be able to provide this spiritual nourishment, and then go among the people and feed them – physically and spiritually. That’s the beauty of the communion rail – the faithful sit and wait to be served by the priest, who bears the Savior of the World in his trembling hands. And his hands ought to be trembling, indeed, having that unrivaled privilege to handle in his hands the source of his salvation.

Though not from a DoR parish, this kind of "everyone is worthy" approach to Communion kills vocations and stifles genuine piety.

Having any more than three or four EMHC’s at a  well-attended Mass is problematic. That is not my opinion, it is a fact. Like the case of lay administrators cluttering the sanctuary and killing vocations, consider now the case of the numbers of EMHC’s at the churches producing vocations. None of the parishes with seas of EMHC’s are producing vocations – none. Compare St. Mary’s Downtown with a parish like Our Lady of Victory. They’re within walking distance of each other, but one church has dozens of EHMC’s, falling attendance, and no vocations, while the other has one EHMC, no lay administrator, growing attendance, and several vocations. This is not a coincidence. When young men go to Mass and see that Communion is just as easily handled by the laity, there is nothing which would give them pause to consider what is unique about the priesthood. The potency of the theology, the liturgy, and his discernment are all reduced to nothing by the use of these liturgical contraceptives.

Even for the laity, seeing a crowded sanctuary where “everyone is special” conveys a sense of apathy. Like Nerina and I have pointed out before, “When everyone’s special, no one is.” I would like to extend that to “when everyone’s special, nothing is.” For not only is the priest grouped in with the other “ministers,” but the sacrifice of the Mass, the true and unrivaled, unbloody sacrifice, is buried in a sea of liberal platitudes and self-congratulatory back-slaps. No. The Mass is something wholly unique to the priest. The sooner people realize that, the sooner this vocations crisis will be at an end.

The Pope is giving us a clear example to follow. Again, look at the young nun - that's the future.

Now you must realize that I’m not saying that only OLV and the Latin Mass groups are producing vocations for Rochester – they’re not. However, all the places that are producing young and holy men have holy and reverent liturgy. The priesthood is tied inseparably to the Holy Mass, and having crowded sanctuaries nullifies that reality in the eyes of those considering vocations. We have received emails from many young people who are pursuing vocations to the priesthood, but guess what – they’re leaving the diocese. Why? Maybe because they’re made to feel like secondary citizens in their own ecclesial country. Maybe because they know that so long as Bishop Clark reigns from his throne of pure imagination, their word will be taken only after that of Nancy, Joan, Barb, and Mary. They are bullied into silence, and for what reason? They have the audacity to kneel? They have the gall to revel in the Real Presence?

Of course, the diocese doesn’t realize this. In their eyes, all is bliss and splendor. They’ll deny that orthodox Catholics are treated badly, and they’ll even claim that we who assert these things are the uncharitable ones. That’s ludicrous. Look around you. What do you see? Do you see youthful fraternity or do you see liberal hags spreading their heretical and illicit filth in our sanctuaries?

I promise you this – un-clutter your sanctuaries, and you will see vocations. Promote holy hours, and you will see vocations. Encourage orthodoxy, and you will see vocations. Thank God that the young people are wise enough to see this trash for what it is, and aren’t being hindered in their quest for genuine and authentic Catholicism. Look at the Colloquium, where the average age was under 30. Look at our seminarians and prospects at Becket Hall who love their faith with a jealous love, like that of God for His Church. The signs of a new spring-time are all around us, friends, but our crowded sanctuaries have spiritually and liturgically castrated too many young souls. Don’t let this continue uncontested.

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5 Responses to “Crowded Sanctuary Syndrome – Liturgical Contraception”

  1. Bernie says:

    Yet another great post! What you point out is so true. It is the natural idealism of youth to want to do something special, something set apart.

  2. Anonymous says:

    They may think it’s splendor but it is only whitewashing a tomb. As Jesus said, the pharasees are wonderful on the outside butlike a tomb on the inside.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Of course, the diocese doesn’t realize this. In their eyes, all is bliss and splendor. They’ll deny that orthodox Catholics are treated badly, and they’ll even claim that we who assert these things are the uncharitable ones. That’s ludicrous. Look around you. What do you see? Do you see youthful fraternity or do you see liberal hags spreading their heretical and illicit filth in our sanctuaries?

    I agree with this article, especially in attracting vocations. I do, however, think this last sentence above is inherently uncharitable. Here’s an excerpt from an article on the recent USCCB guidelines for social media: “The USCCB’s own Facebook site lays out ground rules: “All posts and comments should be marked by Christian charity and respect for the truth. They should be on topic and presume the good will of other posters. Discussion should take place primarily from a faith perspective.” It goes on to say, “You would think as Catholics you wouldn’t have to remind us to play nice, but it was in every set of guidelines I looked at,” Osman told CNS.
    Maybe we do need to remind ourselves to play nice and speak the truth in love.

  4. Gen says:

    Oh no – we’re going down this road again!

    Anon, we are more than charitable in our pursuits here. Anything we say is backed by fact, not emotion or rumor or pure hatred. In fact, I think if you were to talk with a random Catholic in Rochester, you would find much harsher words than “liberals hags.” We’re not the ones exiling solid priests, replacing them with heretical lay administrators, and then robbing the parishioners blind through the CMA.

    If you feel the need to publicly correct our perceived short-comings, I humbly ask that you leave that for the confessional, the author, and the priest, and not the comment box. It’s our policy, and people tend to flaunt it to seize the moral high-ground and make us look like impious fools.

    Here’s a list of comments/sources you may find particularly uncharitable – vastly more than the “hags” comment I made.
    1. “The priests dance to my tune.”
    2. “Go fertilize another parish.”
    3. “It all seemed so rote.” (A blogger about a local priest’s liturgical correctness)
    4. “The people of St. Thomas deserve what they’re getting.” (Another local blogger)
    7. The bulletin articles of Fr. Shaw
    8. “Fr. Leone’s a seminary flunky” – Joan Sobala

  5. Eliza10 says:

    Here is a delayed comment as I am a new reader of old stuff here. The hag comment made me shrink a little, too. Takes extra effort to frame the truth charitably and, though the “truth hurts”, we can always soften it. Gen, they only look haggard because the social-change they are trying to implement is just not going to happen. They are fighting an uphill, losing battle, and the effort it takes to keep on with it by deluding themselves must be exhausting.

    I am so glad to see someone else has taken note of and even named “The Crowded Sanctuary Syndrome”. I always thought there is something not right about this!

    I have been asked on a couple of occasions at least, always by Catholics who see I am happy to be Catholic: “Are you a Eucharistic Minister??”. This is asked innocently and postively, and my answer has been, “I don’t feel called to that” which is the truth. More of the truth is: “Something seems very wrong about that crowd at the altar”. But to say so may pointlessly offend. I cannot blame the people of the DOR for being poorly catechized. I am trusting a new bishop to actually teach.

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