Reparation

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.
Amen.

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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15 Responses to Reparation

  1. hashtagcatholic says:

    Reblogged this on Blog Stew.

  2. bobboffa says:

    Yes I noticed the reaching, the grabbing. And I asked myself ; with so many , how else could this be accomplished? I said a prayer the faithful understood what / who they received.

  3. Anne says:

    I saw this video too and was so very surprised. But, I can’t bring myself to receive on the tongue again; the only two times there was a mishap–dropped host– was when I was receiving on the tongue. Maybe my fault? Maybe the minister? I don’t know but I was horrified both times. So I carefully, reverently receive in the hand. I noticed our church is using the larger hosts again so i may reconsider after some prayer….thank you for your blog and the beautiful prayer. I’m going to bookmark it and pray it at adoration this week.

    • There are youtube videos about how to receive on the tongue. Some people make themselves moving targets; others stick their tongue all the way out as if gagging (in fact, it’s only necessary to extend the tongue just onto the bottom lip and open the mouth just a little); others open wide as if having their wisdom teeth extracted. On the other hand, some ministers are clumsy and have bad technique — their problem, not yours. As Diane says below, the proper use of communion patens would help, as is required by church law. I have a post about this in my blog archives. You may be able to get that ball rolling simply by offering to buy a set of the inexpensive patens to which I link in that post. On the other hand, accidents do happen — we are incapable of always avoiding them, even in spite of our prudence and care.

  4. If you watch Mass on EWTN, they make use of a spiritual communion prayer. That approach does seem to make more sense with those mega-Masses, though I suppose a few pre-selected representatives could also receive the host too.

  5. mmfollbaum says:

    Oh my – I thank you for this post. I had not heard about this happening, and have never thought about the difficulty of Holy Communion distribution at these ‘mega’ Holy Masses. How tragic – our poor, dear Lord. Thank you for enlightening us, and for the beautiful prayer of reparation. Do you know if it exists on a prayer card? I would like to be able to carry it in my missal for daily use. I only receive on the tongue, but was recently asked to receive on the hand because the Deacon had to break the hosts as there were not enough at this Communion service (both priests were ill with the flu). I was distraught with worry that I would somehow desecrate our Lord! Perhaps I should have abstained from receiving, but did not think of it at the time.

    • I found the prayer on a web page that collected together various prayers. That’s all I know about it. The problem with receiving in the hand when hosts are broken is that there is even greater risk, due to the jagged edges. However, in many parishes the very large celebrant hosts are used that are broken into many pieces, and then these are distributed in the hand seemingly without any thought. The deacon should not have insisted on a certain mode of reception in that case. If that ever were to happen again, where they only would give communion in the hand in similar circumstances, it might be better to abstain.

      • mmfollbaum says:

        I now know that for the next time, thank you – although I hope it doesn’t happen again. I realized that about the jagged edges, and actually (excuse my indelicacy), licked my hand afterward. There is a wonderful video that I think everyone (especially those who receive in the hand) should watch. It shows that, indeed, particles can remain after receiving in the hand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiUqDa_Gzj0

        We are blessed to use both the communion rails and patens in our parish that consists of three historic churches! (The previously mentioned incident was at daily Mass elsewhere.)

  6. Thank you Father, for you post, and the links. I think we need to have the discussion, and in a dispassionate way so as to grow in our understanding of Eucharistic reverence.

    Some of the objections I’ve received to the idea of inviting people to make a spiritual communion in areas of a mega-crowd where it is impractical to safely distribute without high risks, are:

    1) The Eucharist is meant to be consumed by those present at a Mass and properly disposed.

    2) Jesus wants the children to come unto Him, to receive Him, and therefore is willing to risk accidents, improper handling, and intentional profanation.

    Some in this camp, like Archbishop Villegas and the spokesman for the Filipino bishops feel that with such an extraordinary event, where 6-7 million people come, it is okay and unavoidable for the Eucharist to be passed around the way we see in that video.

    Then, there is the flip side of the argument where others, like myself, believe that, such extraordinary events, such as this mega-Mass, requires measures to mitigate the risks of those accidents, improper handling, and intentional profanation.

    I still cannot get past the fact that most priests carefully clean their own paten, yet do not use the Communion-plate, as is required by the GIRM. Is it any wonder, if there is no concern for the fullness of Christ being dropped in particles, crumbs, and fragments on the floor, there is no sense of sadness at Jesus going crowd-surfing at a mega-Mass?

    It’s important to point out too, that for whatever may have happened with the Eucharist, including particles, we should probably all agree that in most of our parishes (at least in the US), the greatest profanation happening today, is people going to Communion with mortal sin on their souls. I say this not as a judger of souls, but as one who notes, along with Cardinal Arinze, among others, the long lines for Communion and virtually empty lines for Confession.

    • Diane, thanks for your thoughtful reply. Here are my thoughts in response to each point:
      1. This is true, but it is not required, and indeed I think there are situations where it would be wise not to. Such situations are not limited only to mega-Masses. Given the widespread ignorance nowadays about Church decorum and intercommunion and so forth, I could see not having communion for the faithful at a funeral Mass where it was known that there would be many Protestants (because I’ve found that no matter how clear of an announcement I make before Communion about “the rules” — which itself could probably be classified as a minor liturgical abuse, since the rubrics do not foresee such announcement — people who shouldn’t still come forward).
      2. Christ was obviously willing to take risks in commending himself into our fragile hands, but that does not mean that it falls to us to provoke intentional profanation when it can be reasonably foreseen that it will happen — such as at mega-Masses. Indeed, we cannot control everything; but long experience shows that at these large outdoor Masses, terrible eucharistic tragedies REGULARLY happen. Christ is willing to take risks but that doesn’t mean that we can be imprudent.
      3. Regarding the communion plate, I posted about that here, and I would encourage people to talk to their priests and offer to buy at least the inexpensive ones as a way of enabling this practice to be taken up in their parishes. (I see that the link for Autom is now dead, so I’ll try to update it.)
      4. This is surely true, but it’s not the central point at hand. In any case, I think that showing greater reverence and prudence with respect to how we handle the Eucharist will help to ignite a deeper faith in the Real Presence and therefore a more proper response to Holy Communion, including better use of the Sacrament of Penance, etc.

      • Father,

        On the point about Communion-plates, I suspect not a few priests will point to the fact that they have too few servers for the number of people distributing Holy Communion.

        To my mind, it would be a great opportunity to catechize the faithful on the Eucharist, along with Eucharistic reverence, especially as it is seen in the patrimony of the Church and throughout the centuries. It’s really only in recent decades that we have seen things deteriorate to a great degree with regards to external manifestations of reverence. That said, the people could be told that until more come forward to serve at the altar, it might take longer to get through Communion with fewer distributing (limiting based on number of plates and/or servers who can hold them).

      • With some creative conspiring, I think it could be possible in advance of approaching Father to get some lay people who attend daily Mass to agree to work the plates, even if there are not enough servers — same on Sunday. There are some people who go to the same Mass every week, and could possibly help, even if there are not enough servers.

  7. Anne – the problem you experienced with Communion on the tongue would be resolved by the use if the required Communion-plate that is rarely seen.

  8. hashtagcatholic says:

    I offered my reception of Holy Communion today in reparation for this.

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