Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

On Particles

August 16th, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

One of the “hang-ups” that liberals see “conservatives” as having is the fixation with purification of Eucharistic vessels and the drive to ensure that not one particle, one crumb of the Blessed Sacrament be unaccounted for. I could say a lot about this, the background, the psychology involved, but it’s able to be simplified down to one single sentence: Liberals lack faith. If you truly believe that Our Lord is absolutely, wholly, and undeniably present under the forms of bread and wine, why would you not seek to ensure that God isn’t ground into the carpeting, crushed in a pocket, left in a clay pot in the sacristy cupboard, or flicked off the palm of your hand after reception? If you deny that even the smallest piece of the Blessed Sacrament is, in fact, the Blessed Sacrament, you have done something which marks yourself as one of Our Lord’s deniers, not His defenders.

I have always noticed that you can tell a lot about a priest from the manner in which he purifies the sacred vessels. While one will spend several minutes meticulously cleaning the chalice, paten, ciborium, etc., you will see another not even bother with any form of purification, just piling the vessels together for the server to take away to the credence table. Anyone who reads Cleansing Fire with any regularity will see that we go after actions, not people – this is one of those times. We have an absolute respect for very priest and deacon, but when they consign the Blessed Sacrament, aka “the crumbs”, to the darkness of the sacristy cupboards, we cannot and must not remain silent. The zeal we have for the liturgy isn’t a zeal for the ritual, for the pomp, for the splendor – it’s for the reason of those things, namely the Blessed Sacrament. What purpose is there to the Mass when the celebrant obviously just “goes through the actions”? Of course, I think that in Rochester, even among the more error-embracing clerics, there is a love for the Blessed Sacrament. It may be warped, but it’s there nonetheless. However, there are those few priests who think that the importance of a Eucharistic particle depends on its size. That’s woefully blind, and I hope that their eyes will eventually be opened.

Now, among these priests who don’t purify the vessels properly, or who don’t ensure that every host distributed is consumed, how many do you think are actually 100% culpable for their actions? I would say (this is my opinion) that most of the priests who are less-than-diligent are victims of their formation. Imagine the trash our priests put up with in seminary, and how many, out of love for the Church, didn’t question it. The liberals who wanted to enact their own inorganic reform took advantage of the innocence of our seminarians in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. That’s the real sin, here. Look at what St. Paul wrote to the Romans:

“Now I beseech you, brethren, to mark them who make dissensions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; avoid them. For they that are such serve not Christ our Lord but their own belly: and by pleasing speeches and good words seduce the hearts of the innocent.” Romans 16: 17-18

The abuses we see aren’t anything creative. They’re the stale, trite, over-used and under-thought products of the “reformers” of the 60’s. How sad is it that most parishes cling to their 1980’s theology as the “newest and freshest” when, in truth, the “newest and freshest” is what we’re seeing in the first rumblings of the Reform of the Reform. The new translation, the restoration and promotion of the Extraordinary Form, young men on fire for God, young women living lives dedicated to God, not to self – all these things are the genuine fruits of the Second Vatican Council. The Council’s purpose was renewal, not revolution, but look what we received from it: priests who don’t really have faith in the True Presence, nuns who shed the veil and don the alb, monks who lose themselves in heady ruminations and not in the glorious strains of chant, families who see nothing wrong with going to Mass twice a year, RCIA programs that omit things like the Rosary and Confession.

The question of Eucharistic particles is just one out of several which all have the same root. And the answer to all, not just this particular particle matter, is a lack of faith. I said it above, and I’m saying it again. If our priests, nuns, deacons, laity and so on and a real and intense faith in the Eucharist, none of the things we see going on would be permitted. But the hard thing is, it’s not really the fault of this generation, at least not wholly. The smoke of Satan really did enter the Church, and only now have people had the brilliant notion to open the windows and air the place out.

As the smoke begins to dissipate, we get these stale corners that don’t seem to be well-ventilated. We’re in one of these corners. The smoke of the 60’s and 70’s has been collecting here, and hindering the organic development of the Faith. The funny thing about this kind of mentality is that those who profess it always point to the Early Church as the paradigm for Sacramental theology, liturgy, etc. And, to a point, it is. However, the Church has been around for 2,000 years, so things do, in fact change. Certain things do not, though, and these are the things that the progressive nay-sayers refuse to admit. Look at these various statements about Eucharistic reverence (mostly pertaining to receiving in the hand):

Pope St. Sixtus I ( 115-125): “it is prohibited for the faithful to even touch the sacred vessels, or receive in the hand.”

Origen (185-232 A.D.): “You who are wont to assist at the divine Mysteries, know how, when you receive the body of the Lord, you take reverent care, lest any particle of it should fall to the ground and a portion of the consecrated gift (consecrati muneris) escape you. You consider it a crime, and rightly so, if any particle thereof fell down through negligence.

Paul VI’s Mysterium Fidei (1965): 57. The ancient documents of the Church offer many evidences of this veneration. The bishops of the Church always urged the faithful to take the greatest possible care of the Eucharist that they had in their homes. “The Body of Christ is meant to be eaten by the faithful, not to be treated with irreverence,” is the serious warning of St. Hippolytus. (61)

58. In fact, the faithful regarded themselves as guilty, and rightly so as Origen recalls, if, after they had received the body of the Lord and kept it with all reverence and caution, some part of it were to fall to the ground through negligence. (62)

See the trend? Saints from the second century to the Popes of today all declare the absolute sanctity even of just one particle from one host. For those of you who (licitly) receive in the hand, be very prudent in making sure that you leave no portion of the host on your palm. For Catholics today, receiving in the hand is permitted (not preferred, but permitted), but this poses many problems. I am sure there are several who receive in this manner and do so with great piety and attentiveness, but how many times do we see people just brush off their hands after receiving, doubtless throwing their Creator to the ground? Just one time is too frequent.

(I know I’ve been a tad tangential, but please pardon me. I’ve been meaning to post on this for a while, and different aspects of the question kept presenting themselves in conversations I’ve had recently.)

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3 Responses to “On Particles”

  1. Robert says:

    Okay. What does the Roman Missale say about all of this? There are directives.

  2. anonymous says:

    At STA we still use patens. The vast majority of parishioners still kneel at the communion rail to receive the Eucharist and this facilitates the use of patens. Besides their intended use, I always considered them a wonderful visible sign of the sacredness of the Blessed Sacrament. The altar boys had always been instructed in their training to return the patens after communion to the altar so that the priest could purify them along with the other sacred vessels. However, we have had priests that refuse to purify the patens. They instruct the altar boys to simply put them away after communion. So we have the bizarre situation of using patens to capture any fallen particles of the Eucharist but then do nothing to purify them after communion! Even the altar boys understand this to be illogical. Many of them “secretly” purify the patens before putting them away if the priest refuses to do so. What poor priestly example given to these young boys. And we wonder why we don’t have vocations!

  3. Dr. K says:

    Okay. What does the Roman Missale say about all of this? There are directives.

    “The Purification

    278. Whenever a fragment of the host adheres to his fingers, especially after the fraction or the Communion of the faithful, the priest is to wipe his fingers over the paten or, if necessary, wash them. Likewise, he should also gather any fragments that may have fallen outside the paten.

    279. The sacred vessels are purified by the priest, the deacon, or an instituted acolyte after Communion or after Mass, insofar as possible at the credence table. The purification of the chalice is done with water alone or with wine and water, which is then drunk by whoever does the purification. The paten is usually wiped clean with the purificator. Care must be taken that whatever may remain of the Blood of Christ after the distribution of Communion is consumed immediately and completely at the altar.

    280. If a host or any particle should fall, it is to be picked up reverently. If any of the Precious Blood is spilled, the area where the spill occurred should be washed with water, and this water should then be poured into the sacrarium in the sacristy.” – GIRM 3rd Ed.

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