Tabernacle Safety

Recently we’ve heard the shocking news of the profanation of the Blessed Sacrament that took place in and around Ars, France. From the photos I’ve seen, many of the tabernacles involved were very old wooden ones that were hacked into. In other words, they were not removed from the church and later pried open, but vandalized on site so as to gain access.

From other stories that I’ve heard of things like this happening, there’s a certain sense in which, when someone with diabolical motives wants to get at the Blessed Sacrament, they’ll stop at nothing to get it. Even still, there is much that can be done to make it very difficult for such a tragedy and crime to happen, from having a properly secured church building to a properly secured and solid tabernacle.

What does Church law say about the tabernacle in this regard? Canon 938 § 3 of the Code of Canon Law indicates: “The tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved habitually is to be immovable, made of solid and opaque material, and locked in such a way that the danger of profanation is avoided as much as possible.”

Probably many of us have seen abuses over the years concerning this law; for example, I recall seeing a church with a glass tabernacle, in which the Holy Eucharist was displayed in a glass bowl with colored lighting shining underneath it. That is wrong on many levels…

In any case, what we can focus on here, perhaps, with regard to the above canon, is the immovability of the tabernacle. Back in the day when many altars had a reredos (vertical back part), many tabernacles were built into the altar. Thus they would be secured within a framework made of marble, some other stone, or wood, and only a locked door would be visible. That is the case with our tabernacle at Holy Rosary parish:

The tabernacle is secured inside the wooden high altar, and is itself made of metal with a special locking door that would be quite difficult to break into.

Nowadays, perhaps, it is more common for the tabernacle to be freestanding, positioned on top of an altar or some sort of stand. That is the case with ours here at St. Barnabas:

In this case, the tabernacle is bolted down in such a way that it would be quite a production to remove it once installed. And, since it’s made of metal and has a secure lock, it would be very hard to break into as well.

There is a fair amount more we could talk about with regard to security and precautions to take with the Blessed Sacrament, but we’ll leave it there. The Holy Eucharist is the greatest treasure we have, Christ himself present in our midst, and so it is due the highest possible respect and care.

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Some New Altarware

Our new altar candlesticks, crucifix, and missal stand arrived recently for Holy Rosary parish – one of the fruits of the fundraiser that I had. (Side note: another Mass for benefactors will take place soon.)

Here are two photos:

Unbleached candles for Lent.

Unbleached candles for Lent.

I wasn't standing right in the middle, so some things look off-center.

I wasn’t standing right in the middle, so some things look off-center.

You’ll note that there are no flowers on the high altar. This is because during Lent, with the exception of certain Solemnities and Feast Days (such as Laetare Sunday, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, etc.), it is not permitted to have flowers on the altar (see GIRM # 305). That means that, in the morning, when I go over there, I need to remove those silk flowers showing in the photos above out from under the altar as well. (Tomorrow’s Mass is the first Mass celebrated there during Lent.)

Again, my gratitude to all of our generous benefactors, particularly the one who bought this new altarware for us!

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27 weeks and counting! | Momma’s Finding Her Balance

An update on my sister’s pregnancy. We were worried about very bad news, but things ended up turning out very well. Thank you for your prayers! Click here

Previous post here:

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A Time of Martyrs

Lucas Cranach the Elder. Beheading of John the Baptist. 1515.

Lucas Cranach the Elder. Beheading of John the Baptist. 1515.

I said to some priest friends at dinner tonight that after I was ordained nearly seven years ago, whenever I preached about martyrdom I would do so in terms of “white martyrdom” (suffering for the faith, not dying for it), saying that it would probably not happen to us that we would ever face “red martyrdom” (dying for the faith).

Well. How times have changed.

The image of the 21 Egyptian Christians forced to kneel on the beach before being decapitated is forever seared into my mind. And then… to hear the reports of how some of them were calling out the name of Jesus before they were killed! Thanks be to God! I hope I would be able to respond the same way in such a situation… but I fear I would shrink back in cowardliness. May God give me the grace.

(NB: I have not watched the video footage of the slayings, and will not watch it.)

So it seems that “red martyrdom” is much more a reality of our time than many of us previously thought. Look at how much has changed in such a short time in our world. Here in Alabama, for example, where I live, one of the last states where one would expect to find gay “marriage”, it has recently been forced upon us by judicial fiat. Seven years ago that was hardly on the radar either.

What is coming next? What is awaiting us here, in the United States of America? Only God knows. But we would do well to pray seriously, and ask the Lord for the grace to withstand whatever may be required of us to give him glory and fulfill his plan for us. He has chosen us to live in this time and place, and he will give us the graces that we need to do so well.

A blessed Lent to all!

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Fat Tuesday’s Excesses

Shrovetide Revelers

Shrovetide Revelers

In the Catholic world, the time leading up to Lent has traditionally been known as “carnival”, from the Latin words for saying farewell to meat (“carne vale”); during this time people would clean out the larder in their homes – i.e., clean out the pantry of meats and other things that were forbidden during Lent – and so prepare for the time of penance.

Nowadays perhaps the most famous carnivals take place in Rio de Janeiro and in New Orleans. And they have become times of great excess and great sin. It’s one thing to clean out the larder and eat some extra flesh of animals; it’s another thing to feast on pleasures of the flesh. We all are familiar enough through our knowledge of pop culture with what happens at these “carnivals”; there is no need for me to go into detail.

Many saints saw this time, therefore, not as one of feasting, but as one of doing extra penances, in reparation to Our Lord for the great and outrageous sins being committed by those reveling in the flesh instead of making a more sober preparation.

Tomorrow is Mardi Gras – Fat Tuesday – and surely there’s nothing wrong with having a little extra celebration, a little extra chocolate, a good steak, etc., as we prepare for Ash Wednesday and beyond. But let’s not anticipate too much the joy of Easter. And let’s also ask ourselves: is there some act of reparation that I could do during this day, on account of those whose minds are far from the holiness of the season we are about to embark upon?

If you choose to undertake some act of reparation on Mardi Gras, you are in the company of many illustrious saints who did the same. You bring pleasure and consolation to the heart of Our Lord. And perhaps – perhaps – through your act of love, you will obtain a special grace for a poor sinner in need of conversion.

A blessed final preparation for Lent to all!

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Lent Is Upon Us

While I’ve had some blogging ideas lately, I’ve not had the time actually to post them. In any case, I did want to put the link back up for the Lenten Reading Plans. So those of you accessing the blog from a desktop computer or on a mobile device in “desktop view” can see the tab up there on the main menu. Those viewing the mobile version can access it by touching the “menu” at the top of the blog screen. Feel free to download these plans and use them for daily spiritual reading during this Lenten season. There is more information on the page for each plan.

With that posted… hopefully I’ll have more to say soon (and time to say it)!

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Needed: Lenten Almsgiving Alternatives

In many places it’s a tradition by now to save one’s pocket change for Operation Rice Bowl, a program run by Catholic Relief Services (CRS). However, CRS unfortunately continues to make bad decisions about how it will use its funding, so I would not want my parishes to participate in their program.

A friend suggested participating instead in a program run by the Holy Childhood Association of the Pontifical Mission Societies. However, not only are their materials very difficult to get (there is a maze of verbiage-laden web sites and no clear ordering page — from what I’ve been able to find), but I am also not convinced that a sufficient portion of my donation would actually be going to the poor. My impression, from another fundraising effort that they run each year, is that they operate with huge amounts of overhead.

Is anyone aware of another program that has an incremental approach (such as saving pocket change in a bucket or box or something) and supports those in need beyond our communities, states, and nation? There are, of course, many fine charities that we can donate to locally, but it is good for us also to think of needs abroad as well. If anyone can recommend any good programs, I would appreciate it.

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Vatican II Urban Legends

Vatican II called for Mass to look like this, right? (NOT!)

Vatican II called for Mass to look like this, right? (NOT!)

The thought has occurred to me to do an adult education class (maybe, at some point) on “Vatican II Urban Legends”. It would involve looking at various ideas and errors that have been proposed as originating from the Council but are, in fact, nowhere to be found in its documents. Things such as:

– Altars must be detached from the wall and Mass must be said facing the people

– Altar rails must be removed

– Guitars and drums are OK; Latin chant is not to be used

– All religions are good and it is not necessary to be Catholic

Help me out! What are some other “Vatican II Urban Legends” that come to mind? Perhaps, if I ever succeed in organizing this class, I can do a series here on the blog also. Thanks!

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Did St. Thomas Say That?

There are various quotations often attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas that are false. One that is circulating on the social networks pretty heavily today (to the shame of Catholic Vote, which is promoting it, even after it was brought to their attention that it’s false), is “Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine”.

St. Thomas did NOT say that.

My friend, Fr. Geoff Horton, debunks it here on his helpful blog, Fauxtations:

St. Thomas Aquinas and remedies for sorrow [CLICK!]

Another one, often attributed to him, but he didn’t say it: “Drink to the point of hilarity”. I won’t debunk that one here, though. Hopefully Fr. Horton will do so soon. Follow his blog!

St. Thomas Aquinas, Pray For Us

St. Thomas Aquinas, Pray For Us

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A Preview

Just in time for our benefactor’s Mass at Holy Rosary in the morning, a little preview of what has just recently arrived:

Thank you again!

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How did ‘ad orientem’ worship go in the Diocese of Lincoln?


Very interesting post from Fr. Z on ad orientem worship in the Diocese of Lincoln:

How did ‘ad orientem’ worship go in the Diocese of Lincoln?

I previously posted about the topic of ad orientem worship here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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In some corners of the Catholic news world, ever since the papal trip to the Philippines, there has been discussion about the desecration of the Holy Eucharist that took place at at least one of the large outdoor Masses that the Holy Father celebrated. (It is doubtful that anyone intended actually to desecrate the Eucharist – let us be clear that we are not judging anyone’s conscience – but the fact is, the profanation did happen; it is on video.)

We have a need to make reparation for our own offenses against God, as well as for those of others. Some people offend God without realizing it; others do so with some degree of knowledge that what they are doing is wrong and displeasing to him. Especially for those who are offending the Lord without realizing it – and for the many times that we ourselves have done so – we need to make reparation.

I think, therefore, that we all should take a moment to say some prayers of reparation for this particularly egregious offense against our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament that was recently committed, surely with all good intentions. In the Papal Mass in the Philippines, amidst the crowd of millions, people passed the Blessed Sacrament to each other, sometimes dropping it in the mud, often with wet hands, and surely with particles falling along the way. This is one of the tragic results of mega Masses in which it is sought to distribute communion to everyone at all costs. (Read about it here and ESPECIALLY here, for some insightful commentary. After I started writing this post several days ago, Diane Korzeniewski began posting about this topic also. Her two posts, here and here, are very worthwhile.)

The fact is, the only ones who ever have an obligation to receive Holy Communion during a Mass are the celebrant and any concelebrants. Everyone else may make a spiritual communion. I would love to see a “mega Mass” at which someone even steps up to the pulpit at communion time to lead the faithful in a spiritual communion prayer, instead of attempting to distribute the Blessed Sacrament, often at considerable risk of profanation, to thousands or millions of people.

This latest desecration is one of the effects of the extremely ill-advised practice of giving and receiving Holy Communion in the hand: a loss of reverence and even belief in the Real Presence, and/or a certain casualness and familiarity that has catastrophic results! “We must receive communion at all costs – even the cost of offending our Lord who is really and truly present in this host that I am passing around in a precarious manner!” We need to make reparation! Lord have mercy!

And I would like to say yet again, as I have various times before in this space (here, for example), I hope that those who currently receive in the hand will stop doing so immediately and evermore receive Holy Communion on the tongue.

We need to make reparation. Here is one prayer that we could say:

My Lord Jesus Christ, only Way to the Father,
Son of God, Divine Redeemer, Savior of the world: I worship, adore, and glorify You.
I offer to You infinite praise for the sublime gift of the Most Blessed Sacrament,
the sacrament of Your Sacred Body and Precious Blood.
I beg of You mercy, grace, and peace upon this unworthy world,
and especially upon Your Holy Catholic Church.
I offer to You, O Eucharistic Lord, my adoration, prayer, study, and good works,
my hardships, humiliations, temptations, and daily crosses.
I accept them and I offer them up to You in reparation for countless offenses
against the Holy Eucharist.
I offer them for irreverent bishops, priests, deacons, and lay people,
for heresies, schisms, and apostasies, for errors, trivialities, and novelties
preached in place of Catholic truth, for deliberate violations of Church laws,
for countless liturgical abuses, for illicit additions and omissions,
for reluctance to bend the knee, for familiarity with the sacred,
for scandalous behavior at the altar, for perfunctory devotion and unworthy communions,
for unbelief and lukewarm faith, for immodest dress and profane music,
for talk and laughter before the tabernacle, for the neglect that is sacrilege,
for the laxity that is blasphemy, for the ignorance that is indifference to revealed truth,
and for every evil assault upon the sanctity of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
In reparation for all such godlessness
which daily occurs within Your Holy Catholic Church,
I offer to You, O Lord Jesus Christ, all the difficulties of my life,
and most especially the anguish I feel at the sight and sound of irreverence
before the Holy Eucharist.
All that You have given to me I accept and offer up to You,
my Eucharistic Lord, in reparation for countless offenses
thrown at Your Most Holy Presence.
Have mercy upon Your Church, O Lord. Defend her against the attacks of the devil.
Fill her with Your Spirit of Truth. Embolden her with missionary zeal.
Animate her with the deepest devotion. Arm her with saints and scholars.
Guide and protect Your vicar on earth. Bless Your clergy and religious.
Inspire the faithful to serve You as courageous soldiers of Christ.
And may Your Holy Gospel be proclaimed to all the nations and to the end of time,
with fortitude and perfect fidelity, for the salvation of souls
and the glory of Your Thrice-Holy Name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Lord, have mercy on us all. Lord, forgive them: they knew not what they were doing.

Lord, have mercy on us all. Lord, forgive them: they knew not what they were doing.

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