A Decline in Reverence

There is ample testimony to the fact that the liturgical "renewal" has been accompanied not simply by a decline in Mass attendance, but by a decline in reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament. It is not only traditionalists who testify to this. Cardinal Heenan, in common with so many bishops, gave way on the question of allowing lay ministers of Holy Communion. On February 2, 1974, he used the occasion of commissioning a group of these ministers to lament the decline in reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament:

 "At one time it would have been unthinkable for anyone without anointed hands to touch the Sacred Species. In this century there has been a steady diminution of outward signs of respect for sacred objects. When I was a boy there was a scale of values. It was understood that anyone could handle a ciborium or monstrance, but only the priest could touch the chalice because it was consecrated. Until recent times we priests kissed each sacred vestment as we put it on, we genuflected before and after touching the Sacred Host. The new rubrics abolished the kissing and reduced genuflections to a minimum.  . . . the loss of outward marks of respect lead the simple-minded to lose their sense of reverence. Some have begun to ignore the Blessed Sacrament. They do not genuflect to the Blessed Sacrament and do not kneel in adoration when they come into church."
 There are . . . reasons for the changes-----diabolic reasons is probably the most accurate description.

In the October 1977 issue of his official diocesan journal, The Messenger, Bishop Ackerman of Covington, Ky., took the occasion of informing his priests that they would have to distribute Communion in the hand [whether they liked it or not] to lament the decline in reverence for the Blessed Sacrament:

          "There is clear evidence that in recent years the reverence which we should have for the Holy Eucharist has diminished among some of our people and especially the young. This is displayed in the manner in which many come to the altar to receive Holy Communion -----a tragic result of a dilution of Faith in the Real Presence of Christ caused by some teachers and writers with little or no faith . . . Many have forgotten, or seem to have forgotten, the law of the Eucharistic Fast. Those who plan to receive Holy Communion must abstain from solid food or liquid refreshment, with the exception of water, for at least one hour before the reception of this Sacrament. This is not simply a request or a pious admonition. This is a discipline of the Church imposed out of reverence for the Holy Eucharist: it is a serious obligation which must be obeyed by all. Only the truly infirm and sick are excused. How shocking it is to see Catholic men and women, boys and girls chewing gum in church and continuing to do so when they come to Holy Communion. Where is their faith? Have they lost all reverence for the Holy Eucharist? The practice of receiving 'Holy Communion in the hand' must not become an avenue to continued or even greater irreverence. There is much truth in the proverb: Familiarity breeds contempt."
 It might have been hoped that in order to prevent Holy Communion in the hand from leading to greater irreverence, Bishop Ackerman would have forbidden the abuse-----which he was quite entitled to do. Instead of doing so, he allowed his "experts" to send out the standard brainwashing material to priests and teachers to initiate the campaign of making the innovation the norm.

   Bishop B. D. Stewart, of Sandhurst, Australia, adds his testimony to the decline in reverence, quoting the Vatican in the process:
"Doctrinal errors quickly produce practical abuses. The Holy See tells us that the irreverences coming from faulty Eucharistic theology are many in number and spread through many places.

  "Numerous and widespread abuses have appeared, sometimes so serious that they cast doubt on the very Faith in the Real Presence, on the adoration and reverence due to the Blessed Sacrament. [Instruction on Worship of the Eucharist, May 15, 1969]."

     But Cardinal Heenan's concern at the decline in reverence for the Blessed Sacrament did not result in his refusing to commission lay ministers of Holy Communion; Bishop Ackerman's concern did not lead him to forbid Communion in the hand in his diocese; and the alleged concern of the Vatican has not prevented its giving official sanction to both abuses whenever so requested.

 Bishop Stewart testifies that:

   "There is ample evidence of consecrated Hosts being discarded into a bin; because, so it is said, 'the Presence does not remain when the meal is finished'; sometimes these Hosts are re-consecrated. Priests are known to genuflect at the Communion but not at the Consecration; because, they hold, 'Christ is present only in the meal'. Some have affirmed publicly that they do not genuflect before the Tabernacle, because 'one does not adore a box'.

"Children are known to have fiddled with the Sacred Host placed into their hands at Holy Communion; adults have been seen to pass the Blessed Sacrament from one to the other in a Queue.

"Rightly does the Sacred Congregation ask whether people who act like this really believe in the Real Presence of Christ.

"One must pass over in appalled silence the unspeakable abominations of demonism when the Sacred Host is sacrilegiously carried off to the satanic rituals of black masses.

"Sacrileges have occurred in the past and will occur in the future. But today the Holy See testifies that they are numerous and widespread; it also says that Communion in the traditional manner is a better safeguard against adulteration of doctrine and profanation."

  Precisely! The Holy See says that the traditional manner is a better safeguard against profanation-----but then sanctions an innovation which could well be described as an invitation to sacrilege!