Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
February 24, 2003
WCR Letters to the Editor
Several omissions from article on Communion cup
Sister Louise Zdunich's reply to the letter "Can the Communion cup infect?" (WCR, Feb. 10) covers most of the bases, some perhaps in more detail than is necessary. However, she failed to answer some key elements in the original letter.
The author of the letter states that "the Church expects a large group of people to drink from the same Communion cup." The Church does not expect us to drink from the same Communion cup. She allows us the privilege of choosing to drink from the cup or not. No one is forcing anyone to drink from the cup.
The author of the letter also states, and asks: "In the United Church, I noticed individual disposable plastic glasses were provided. Could not the Catholic Church have something similar or is there something about drinking from the common cup?"
The United Church can use disposable cups because they believe that the bread and wine only represent the Body and Blood of Christ. When they discard the used cup, they are only throwing away some wine.
However, we believe that the bread and wine is transformed during the transubstantiation into the actual Body and Blood of Christ while still maintaining the appearance of bread and wine. For us, throwing away a disposable cup with some leftover wine in it would mean throwing away the Precious Blood of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. That is why we can't use disposable cups.
Several articles from medical journals that I have researched indicate that microbes are transferred during Holy Communion, and that the potential for spread of disease during this ritual does exist. But the chance of being infected is so low that receiving Holy Communion as often as daily does not increase one's illness rate.
For those recalcitrants who insist on receiving Communion by intinction, I must point out another reason why this procedure is wrong. The most frequent source of transmission of disease is the hands. The research articles I read found that some individuals had small amounts of fecal and other potentially dangerous bacteria on their fingers, and some of these pathogens were recovered from chalice samplings.
former professor medical microbiology and infectious diseases
Eucharistic adoration must inspire people to action
This letter is concerning the front page coverage given to perpetual (or almost) adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (WCR, Dec. 16). There is some very poor theology going around based on emotions and pious devotions and inaccurate thinking.
When we talk about Eucharist we must always consider what could be called a tripod: the Last Supper - the sacrifice and death of Jesus on the cross - the Sacrifice of the Mass. These three are intrinsically united.
They are the one divine action by which the salvation - redemption of the world was (is) accomplished. In the Mass we have sacrifice of Christ, divine mystery and sacred banquet expressed in a liturgical action.
What happens after Mass is something completely different. We must realize that Jesus is not physically present in the Eucharist. He is sacramentally present: body - blood - soul and divinity. Jesus is not a prisoner in the tabernacle. He is not lonely in the Eucharist. The heart of Jesus does not bleed nor is it pierced with thorns.
Jesus present in the Eucharist is the Glorious Risen Lord. He does not weep over our faults. He is not sad nor does he any longer suffer. He is the Risen Lord. He is not a child anymore, but a supremely perfect human being who is at the same time completely divine.
People can go to church and pray almost anytime, and be with the Lord whether the tabernacle is open or closed or if the host is solemnly exposed. But most important of all and better than anything else, people can actually commune with the Lord by receiving Communion at Mass.
We should keep in mind the advice of Archbishop Thomas Collins: "It is also something that should inspire people to move into action because Our Lord calls us not only to adore, but to act. So perpetual adoration must move people into action."
As an aside, I would like to see the WCR have a theology corner every week, in which Catholic theology about various teachings, or about liturgy or tradition could be expounded for the faithful. This need not occupy more space, but could replace space presently taken up by the crossword puzzle and by the Prayers of Gratitude corner.
Fr. Clem Gauthier
New Age movement gives nothing to fear
I read with interest your article on the new document from the Vatican entitled Jesus Christ: The Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the New Age (WCR, Feb. 10) and promptly proceeded to print the paper off the Vatican's website. I want to point out that the paper should be more appropriately subtitled A Vatican Reflection on the New Age. Using the word "Christian" seems to imply that this is an interdenominational paper when in fact it is not.
I realize that the paper is broadcast to parishes world-wide attempting to give instruction in the so-called New Age movement. However it's polemic is very minimalist and borders on defensiveness of the Catholic faith.
In my own view I do not believe the Catholic faith needs to defend itself against an unorganized cultural wave of spiritualism - albeit relativistic and without an agreed upon institutional framework. In fact the Vatican states that the lack of institutionalism in the "movement" is the very threat itself. I disagree with this position, because it is the very lack of a framework and organization that threatens the movement in and of itself - if in fact there really is a "movement" which I believe there is not.
The paper is permeated with a tacit equation between gnosticism and the New Age Movement. Old fears and a profound sense of tradition-as-religion continue to haunt the magisterium, even today. There is nothing to fear from the New Age movement - if indeed there is a "movement." We have only to fear ourselves.
The world is on the brink of war. Perhaps the Vatican, the bishops and all priests and Catholics should energize their efforts toward the cessation of hostilities emanating primarily from south of the border. It is the New World Order that threatens our faith, not the New Age movement. The Vatican may do well to enlist the leaders of these spiritualisms in a common quest to end conflict, poverty and war world-wide.
Widespread ignorance about the life of prayer
Kneeling has in recent issues of this paper became a subject with some citizens. Personally, I take every advantage to pray ceaselessly. Most often it is The Jesus Prayer. Kneeling is not an acute route for me and here is my personal feeling. For me, prayer is significant spiritual aspirin, powerful medication, love, hope, millstone, worship.
Physical position is of least importance when I pray. Holiness of prayer is absolute. In my travels, association, common discussions, I find that today there is so little praying.
Last week on chairlifts to reach peaks in Alpine skiing, I had opportunity to speak to many including three junior high students from a Christian school and neither of them could fully repeat The Lord's Prayer. Shocking indeed! What difference does it make to these dear fellow citizens whether they should pray standing, sitting, kneeling, running, cycling, if only they could pray?
One whole afternoon I skied with a boy of 14 from Alabama. The two of us, in spite of age difference, prayed The Jesus Prayer during some of our 15-minute rides on mountain chairlifts. This boy is truly a remarkable Episcopalian Christian.
Neither of us found need to kneel to reach out to our Lord Jesus with our heart to show him that we worship him and we are at his mercy: "Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God; have mercy upon me a sinner." Kneeling could not have improved anything for us in our personal appointment with Jesus Christ.
Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin boasted he had spent 26 hours in space and hadn't met God. What a difference it would have made to the world if he had just solemnly prayed? What difference would it have been in some distinct physical position, so long as he prayed with his heart and soul?
A U.S. astronaut countered: "If Gagarin would have opened the hatch of his space craft, he would have met God in a hurry." This astronaut prayed solemnly but kneeling was of no significance to him.
Ever since the beginning of time some solemn expression or prayer has monopolized the human race. At one time or another, everyone has to come to grips with the reality of leaving this planet and moving unto that permanent landscape.
I do not believe kneeling was a label of reverence, a concrete foundation, a humble expression, a golden step on the ladder to eternity. The focus should be, and it is, upon holiness of our prayer.
Poets, philosophers, mystics have dramatized upon significant prayer formula during our life on earth while the medics, clerics, pastors, morticians, tax collectors, regularly deal with it in their own real terms. I don't encounter any of them staking some physical formula for our crusade to eternity as kneeling to be a crucial factor in Eucharist and evangelization.
I feel well by holding my book in my left hand and with my right hand over my heart as my sincere definition that I solemnly worship, salute, love my Lord.
Recently, a group of air travellers became shocked, sickened, delirious, when their plane dramatically lost altitude and subsequently the co-pilot made a juvenile statement which eventually got him fired. He stated: "Gentlemen and ladies, we have just managed to outwit God, we will land safely in 40 minutes!" I do not believe kneeling would have had an effect on the Lord's decision of extending their lives on this planet Earth.
I know that we cannot always solve our traumas or heal ourselves which should motivate us to pray to God for his love to help us or take over, but whether we do it while distance running, kneeling, standing, sitting, chauffeuring, we will be on the precious route to physical, mental, spiritual, eternal health.
I believe that as practicing Christians we must ask ourselves how we can be saints by our living witness to the Gospel. It is obvious that the greatest barrier to evangelization today in our materialistic nation is our lack of prayer and/or just a mediocre acceptance of Jesus on personal terms, but not what sort of physical position we must take while praying to God or celebrating the Eucharist.
Only self-centred reasons given for joining invasion
Here are some of the reasons I heard recently as to why countries should join the U.S. in their war on Iraq. It would be bad policy for countries not to be on the side of the only superpower.
Germany and France should join because if they don't, the U.S. will insult intimidate them and not give them a share of Iraqi oil after its defeat; it would also be anti-American.
The former East European nations should join because the U.S. will give them financial aid and it would be anti-American not to. Russia should join because they will not get a share of Iraq's oil if they don't and it would be anti-American.
Canada should join because we are their closest neighbour and their biggest trading partner - they would have bad relations with us if we don't and it would be anti-American.
That is not much different than the conduct of Mafia bosses.
Here are some reasons why they should not. It is wrong, immoral and illegal. What ever happened to human moral fibre and courage.