Fifteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time
Soccer World Cup. I’m sure most of you are were as excited as I was by the U.S. women’s soccer team’s World Cup victory last Sunday, July 5—what a great way to seal the celebration of “the 4th of July.” Congratulations to these fine young American athletes. Also, I’m particularly happy for many of our parish girls who play soccer since I know it was a particularly thrilling victory for them.
Sadly, though, the “progressive” forces of the media just couldn’t resist using the victory as an excuse to advance its agenda. The next day headlines blared “Soccer Star Kisses Wife,” with an accompanying picture of the game’s female star rushing to kiss her lesbian “wife” in the stands.
Now, some may say, “O Father, get over it.” But I will not. This is just another way of the media trying to normalize the abnormal and glorify the shameful. These two women are not “married” to each other—they are not “wives,” no matter what the Supreme Court says.
And their kissing each other is something neither to be celebrated nor dismissed. On Monday I saw a news story that interviewed several fans, including two mothers who spoke about how the players are a great example to their daughters. There is much that is true in that statement, but also much that should concern us. Sports stars are good examples of some things, like determination and hard work. But that does not make them automatically good examples for how to live. What if the headline would have read, “Soccer Star Beats Wife,” would we want our children to learn from that example, to make that athlete their hero?
But now that the Supreme Court has blessed same-sex relationships and “marriage”, look for more of this sort of thing. We’re all elated about this huge victory for America’s team on (almost) the 4th of July, and for the victory of these young dedicated athletes; and in the midst of our cheers the “progressives” slip in this strange picture and expect us to cheer even louder, to be even happier.
But we should not cheer, and it should not make us happy. Rather it should anger us (not controlled by hatred, but by reason), as we recognize it as part of a concerted effort to coerce and desensitize us: first, to “get used to it,” then to “get over it,” then to “celebrate it” as normal and good.
God bless all these young women athletes for all their hard work and accomplishments in sports. And God bless them as face the everyday struggles and temptations of life. But just as we would not “get used to it” if they were poor sports or cheaters on the field, we must not get used to their sinful conduct off the field.
We cannot become obsessed with the issue of homosexuality, but we also can’t foolishly ignore it. So we pay attention and face the challenge, confident that, with the grace and charity of Jesus Christ, and, following the example of determination of our American soccer players, we can gain victory over every opponent.
Distribution of Holy Communion: Blessings and Babies. In the last few months several people have asked me about two practices which apparently surprise them when they come to receive Holy Communion at St. Raymond’s. I’ve addressed these in the past, but it seems time to do so again.
Blessings. Some wonder why the priests don’t give blessings to those who come up in the Communion line but who are either too young (i.e., little children) or otherwise unable to receive Holy Communion (e.g. non-Catholics).
First of all, this is the “Rite of Communion,” the high point of the Mass, as we focus on the incredible act of intimately receiving the Body of our Lord. Thus, the “Communion line” should not be confused with a “blessing line,” which would imply that a mere blessing somehow compares to the miracle of Holy Communion. The time for the blessing is not during the Rite of Communion, but in the Rite called the “Final Blessing,” which occurs just a few minutes later as the priest blesses everyone at the end of Mass.
Also, most people seem to seek a blessing so that their children or they themselves will not feel “left out.” But is it so terrible to feel left out of something we are not ready for? For a child it’s part of growing up, and says to them: “this is something very special that one day, when you are ready, you will be able to join in.” And the same is true for adults: it reminds them that nothing (i.e., a blessing) compares to the Eucharist, and encourages them to do whatever it takes to be able to receive the Eucharist. (Note: sometimes people who cannot receive Communion, for whatever reason, come up in line because they are embarrassed not to come up. I understand, so feel free to come up in line, even though you receive neither Communion nor a blessing.)
But the main reason for not giving a blessing is that we are specifically prohibited from doing so. The Church repeatedly admonishes us: “no one, not even a priest, may on his own authority add, omit, or change anything in the Liturgy.” Building on that, the “Roman Ritual” specifically states: “some blessings …may sometimes be joined with the celebration of Mass. This book specifies what such blessings are….No blessings except those so specified may be joined with the eucharistic celebration.” Since the “book” contains no blessing during Communion, this norm clearly prohibits such blessings.
Receiving Holy Communion While Holding Something. While I strongly encourage receiving Communion on the tongue, you are free to receive in the hand. However, if you chose to receive in the hand, you should do so with due reverence and care. According to ancient custom, and the discipline of our Diocese, this usually means 1) using both hands—placing one hand on top of the other–to receive the host, 2) then carefully taking the Host with one hand and placing it in your mouth, and 3) checking for crumbs that may have clung to either hand. Since both hands should be involved when you receive “in the hand,” you should not do so if you are already holding something or someone (i.e., a baby) in your hands. It’s hard to simultaneously focus on a baby in one hand and the Body of Christ in the other. Because of this, people holding children in their arms are given Communion only on the tongue at St. Raymond’s. Parents, please don’t view this as an insult, but as a simple aid in showing reverence for Our Lord.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles