Monday, October 10, 2011

No Wine In Madison

I don't see any wine at this commemorative Christmas feast, and neither will Catholics in Madison.

Before I get to the topic of this post, I just want to inform readers that my lack of posting this week was due to overtime at work, and feeling quite under the weather to boot.  I basically went to work, took cold medication, and went to bed. Today is a much needed day off, but will still include plenty of cold medication.  On to the topic at hand.

I can not say I was at all shocked when I read that Bishop Morlino of Madison, WI declared that his fellow cheese heads would no longer have wine at Mass. Once reactionary Bishop Olmstead declared such for Phoenix, I knew Morlino would not be far behind. I frequently thank God that Morlino is no longer in Helena, MT and also add prayers for Madison that his reign of incense and ego will end soon for them.  In the meantime Madison Catholics can look forward to no wine at Communion along with the introduction of the new Missal come Advent.  I bet they feel doubly graced.  

What I did find shocking is the apparent indult that Morlino and Olmstead seem to be referencing in justifying their action.  From the Dating God blogsite:

......The argument for this move, at least as it is presented in the Dioceses of Madison, WI, recently (here is the full text of the cathedral bulletin where this news was first published) and Phoenix, AZ, is that the expiration of a Vatican Indult in 2005 ostensibly concerning the distribution of Communion under both species. However, a record of this alleged Indult is not easily acquired. What can be found are a number of other Indults near the same time: The permission for extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist to purify sacred vessels (1975, which is said to ‘expire’ in 2005) and the person to give communion to the faithful in-the-hand (1969 universally, 1979 in the US particularly), for example.

It is this first matter, the purification of sacred vessels, that seems to be the real legal argument that the bishop of Madison, bishop of Phoenix and perhaps some others are using for their squashing of Communion under both kinds. That is the so-called expired Indult and the matter, as it was explained in a 2006 CNS article on the subject, that Cardinal Arinze of the Congregation for Divine Worship stressed when the vessel-purification Indult “ran out.” [For the full-text of the 2002 three-year extension of that Indult, accompanied by then USCCB President Archbishop Gregory's introduction, see here.]
Noting that the General Instruction of the Roman Missal “directs that the sacred vessels are to be purified by the priest, the deacon or an instituted acolyte,” the cardinal said in his Oct. 12 letter that “it does not seem feasible, therefore, for the congregation to grant the requested indult from this directive in the general law of the Latin Church.”
Although receiving Communion under both kinds is a “more complete” sign of the sacrament’s meaning, Cardinal Arinze said, “Christ is fully present under each of the species.”
How quickly the argument goes from a matter concerning which person can or cannot clean a chalice to the widespread denial of Communion under both kinds to thousands, or even millions, of the faithful.
It would appear that the Congregation for Divine Worship used this expiration as an opportunity to circumvent the directives of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), which in its 2002 revised form reads:
Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it is distributed under both kinds. For in this form the sign of the eucharistic banquet is more clearly evident and clear expression is given to the divine will by which the new and eternal Covenant is ratified in the Blood of the Lord, as also the relationship between the Eucharistic banquet and the eschatological banquet in the Father’s Kingdom.
The GIRM also outlines what authority the local ordinary has in matters relating to Holy Communion under both kinds:
The Diocesan Bishop may establish norms for Communion under both kinds for his own diocese, which are also to be observed in churches of religious and at celebrations with small groups. The Diocesan Bishop is also given the faculty to permit Communion under both kinds whenever it may seem appropriate to the priest to whom, as its own shepherd, a community has been entrusted, provided that the faithful have been well instructed and there is no danger of profanation of the Sacrament or of the rite’s becoming difficult because of the large number of participants or some other reason.
Canon Law is notably silent on this matter as it directs pastors, clergy and the faithful to the liturgical laws of the Church (i.e., in this case, the GIRM!).
Holy communion is to be given under the form of bread alone or under both species according to the norm of the liturgical laws, or even under the form of wine alone in the case of necessity. (Can. 925, emphasis added)
This whole business is very curious.  (To say the least.)It seems absurd that bishops, including the Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome, would be so myopic and concerned about this technicality ordering who is and who is not fit to clean the sacred vessels, objects which only contained the precious species, when the same faithful — extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist or otherwise — have already handled and consumed Holy Communion. In other words, they are fit to receive, handle and distribute Communion, but are not fit to purify a chalice (which, for those who don’t know, consists of consuming the remaining particles of the Eucharist — which any baptized person is permitted to do according to the law, pouring water into the empty vessel, consuming that poured water, and drying the vessel itself with a purificator).

That the bishops of Phoenix and Madison, and anyone who in the future tries to use a similar justification for curbing access to Holy Communion under both species, are using this purification-of-vessels matter as the rationalization for restricting or refusing the Eucharist is a scandal in itself. The faithful have a right (according to Can. 912: “Any baptized person not prohibited by law can and must be admitted to holy communion”) to receive Communion and this right, according to the liturgical law (GIRM, etc.) leans toward communion under both species as normative unless it becomes impossible due to circumstances such as large numbers of people or lack of access to wine. (Ah, but ideas of ritual purity are still hugely powerful--especially in some minds.)

Here we come to the title of this post: The Eucharist is Not a Weapon. It strikes me as nothing less-than an clerical overstepping and unnecessary demarcation of the clergy and laity. What are these pastors (by which I mean the Canonical notion of pastor) thinking? It seems, at least superficially, that it is an “in” and “out” club — who is and who is not permitted to receive from the cup. The only shred of juridical support is the technicality about who can and cannot clean the cups after Communion.....


I'm not going to dispute the fact that Canon Law allows Olmstead and Morlino the authority to enact virtually any liturgical edict (abuse)  their little hearts desire.  But  the rationale for these decisions certainly appears to be hugely deceptive if Daniel Horan OFM, author of Dating God, has the right of it.  When an indult regarding washing dishes is used as the basis for removing a cherished right of the laity, and then it's misrepresented,  this is not about pastoring. This is about underscoring clerical power to control the liturgical life of laity.  Exactly as the current USCCB campaign against gay marriage and birth control is about controlling the intimate life of the laity.  Too bad the same vociferous and careful attention to these two areas are not exercised within their own ranks. 

There is another issue which might be at play in all of this exercising of clerical muscles.  It might be even more important to put the laity in their subservient place when it comes to things like diocesan finances and the various other committees in which laity are supposed to have some say.  Committees like the ones that oversee clerical abuse allegations for instance.  If laity washing the dishes used at Mass is anathema to bishops like these two, it's pretty easy to imagine having lay interference in the day to day operations of their fiefdoms is even worse.  The thinking must run a long the lines that if we can put them back in their places in the pews, they will certainly then know their places in diocesan committees--which is to say, silent and agreeable.

I would love to see the faithful in Madison just walk out of Mass in mass come Advent.  A sort of reverse Occupy Wall Street movement, as in Don't Occupy The Cathedral Pews movement.  Madison Catholics could always go home and do as the early Christians did in memory of Jesus, and they could enact that memory with actual wine.


  1. I have never understood all the scrupulous hand-wringing about our unworthiness to clean the vessels (we are made worthy by God to take the Eucharist, but cleaning the vessels is just too much for God?) or about drops of blood/crumbs of the host inadvertently falling on the ground. Does what Christ did at the last supper matter? Didn't he "break bread", which surely must have involved some crumbs and broken pieces falling on the ground, and share the cup (which likely resulted in dribbles and perhaps even the wiping of mouths on sleeves or other linens after partaking)? Was Christ running around to make sure no crumb made its way to the floor? Or that sleeves and napkins were properly cleansed by only those worthy of it?

    Either what we do reflects what happened at the Last Supper or it does not. It was probably a lowly and ignorant servant woman who ended up cleaning those vessels and sweeping that floor.

    I personally have no pony in this race because I don't like taking communion under the form of wine and therefore avoid it. But when the issue of "irreverence" inadvertently happening to the Eucharist comes up, it always strikes me as a bit ridiculous considering the scene of the Last Supper in the Bible. Reverence, by all means yes. Scrupulosity, OCD, and the determining of who is worthy and who is not to clean the vessels? That doesn't have anything to do with the Last Supper, at least as far as the Biblical version of the story goes.

  2. This particular movement of these two Bishops may have a lot more to do with the idea that they wish the clergy were solely able to consecrate the Eucharist than anything else. We know that before there were consecrated priests and bishops, the Eucharist was consecrated by individuals in their own homes. These individuals would then clean the crumbs and vessels. I think that clericalism is circling the wagons because they FEAR loss of power. First it was the loss of the Vatican States and civil power. The Episcopal response was to circled the wagons and declared the Pope infallible. It really was the papal response by a fearful Pius IX Who was not satisfied when the full membership of Vatican I was present and voted his ideas of papal infallibility down, but he declared the counsel ended. When a sufficient number of norther European and American Bishops had gone, he reopened the council and declared himself the infallible authoritarian. The Old Catholics broke away. Now the Episcopacy is circling the wagons again trying to convince others that they as the magisterium (magichysterium) are in fact infallible and in so doing they have little use for the recommendations of a well educated laity.

    We see all the celebration in Rome when a few ultra conservative homophobic and misogynistic members of the Anglican Church join the RCC but forget about the very fact that far too many Roman Catholics are leaving for the Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, several other Protestant churches and even religion all together. This trend continues because of the authoritarian mind set of the Popes and the rest of the Episcopacy. This mind set is indeed a very dark side of humanity manifested in poorly educated and fearful Bishops. It is true that Benedict is well educated, but he is way too fearful to to give credence to others who have brilliant incites. Thus we see the further implosion of the RCC from inside out.

  3. "I would love to see the faithful in Madison just walk out of Mass in mass come Advent. A sort of reverse Occupy Wall Street movement, as in Don't Occupy The Cathedral Pews movement. Madison Catholics could always go home and do as the early Christians did in memory of Jesus, and they could enact that memory with actual wine."

    Protestant blogger masquerading as Catholic?

  4. The bishops may be circling the wagons against a laity that is beginning to question their status. Maybe it will end up as a circular firing squad!

  5. No Invictus. I'm Catholic through and through. Firm believer in Spiritual Communion. I've also read early Church history and rdp is absolutely correct. House Eucharists were all the rage back in the day. Organization was loose and subsidiarity ruled the day.

    Spirituality works better that way. It's more personal, it's more communal, and it's more integrated. All of those attributes is why the monastic system has endured and thrived for 1700 years.

    Today of course, we have lay initiatives that operate somewhat similarly with the Neo Cats and other type of movements becoming in effect small parallel communities with in the larger Parish structure. On the progressive side of things we have the Emergent Church or Eucharistic Communities. While the Institutional Church is moving to larger and larger parish structures, both sides of the Catholic theological spectrum are moving to smaller, more homogenous groups. I don't think that makes them protestant, except in an organizational sense.

  6. It is interesting that Olmsted and Morlino have more of an ability to disregard the entire meaning of Jesus' ministry by focusing on the crumbs and not on the substance or the content or in the fulfillment of the meaning of Jesus' life, death and resurrection in the Body of Christ which is the Church.

    The two of them are what one might call "crumb bums."???