Saturday, February 12, 2011

Christ on a stick

Bouncy bouncy

The February 10, 2011, installment of “Catholic Answers” featured a pre-recorded interview with Cardinal Francis Arinze. Once considered among the papabili, Arinze is the African prelate whose puckish sense of humor prompted him to cleverly declare that he was “personally opposed” to gunning down all the members of the U.S. Senate, including those Catholic members who “personally oppose” abortion but decline to enact legislation to outlaw it for everyone. (Arinze's audience chuckled appreciatively as the cardinal equated the slaughter of a legislative body with a “pro-choice” decision to terminate a pregnancy. Never doubt that the cardinal and his admirers really see no difference between abortion and murder.)

Arinze was momentarily flummoxed during his “Catholic Answers” interview when host Patrick Coffin quizzed him about permissible practices during the celebration of mass. After a brief discussion of the unsanctioned (but not forbidden) custom of holding hands during the Lord's Prayer, Coffin indulged in a bit of hyperbole:
People say that receiving holy communion on a pogo stick or letting monkeys into the sanctuary is also not forbidden. I guess it's a matter of balance.
Balance? Yes, I would say that's pretty important in the instance of the pogo-stick eucharist. Catholic traditionalists should also be pleased that both hands are usually needed to maintain stability while bouncing about, so that pretty much settles the question of receiving the host in the hand or on the tongue. It puts a premium, though, on the priest's hand-eye coordination as he thrusts the wafer at the communicant's oscillating tongue.

I haven't quite wrapped my head around the monkeys-in-the-sacristy scenario (unicycles, perhaps?), but I have to admit that Coffin is a veritable font of ideas for resuscitating the entertainment value of the Catholic mass. I'd consider going back!


Thomas said...

Pogo stick jumping keeps you from holding hands, so maybe Arinze is not mocking hand holding, but presenting the Catholic alternative to it?

Kathie said...

Do you know whether anyone's ever performed assays on the wafers and wine to prove that they don't turn into flesh and blood?

And how do Catholic vegetarians resolve the conunundrum of eating what they believe is flesh?

Zeno said...

Lab tests would confirm that the communion wafer and sacramental wine remain bread and wine, but the Church would aver that this is true only of their physical properties—the blasphemous lab techs who performed the mortally sinful tests would have no way of confirming their spiritual conversion in actual (sort of, anyway) flesh and blood (only visible, of course, to the eyes of faith). Convenient, that.

Nevertheless, there is a treasured little collection of eucharistic miracles in which the bread allegedly turned into actual meat (usually bloody). Wowee! These supposed miracles, cherished by many Catholics, are attested to by devout individuals who brandish crinkled photographs and personal testimonials and scientific "proof" that human flesh was found in lieu of a wafer (with credulous faith that no one worked a switch). The usual worthless stuff.

Kathie said...

I'd also point out that eating handed-out wafers, not to mention drinking from a communal cup, as well as assorted hand-shaking and hugging during church services, all run counter to good public health practices.

The Ridger, FCD said...

Of all the reasons not to go to mass, surely "public health" has to be the last one.

I have never heard of an epidemic spawned by communion - and yes, I was raised Episcopalian so I spent 30 years doing it... (Plus, I really think the whole paranoia over germs is one thing that's making us sick.)

Seriously. Citing public health is ceding some sort of reality to the claims.

Gene O'Pedia said...

I take minor umbrage with The Ridger's assertion that public health isn't an issue in Catholic mass. The local Catholic church in my town changes the communion routine during heavy flu seasons, exactly for public health reasons.

Granted, "true" believers are surely perfectly safe in a Catholic church, but the rest of them risk who knows what when hundreds of people all drink from the same sippy cup.

I'm not sure just how they handle it, though. Soda straws, or maybe little one-ounce plastic cups for each parishioner? Or does the sacramental wine industry produce even smaller versions of airline bottles?

Anyway, the masses at mass all drinking from the same cup sounds like a setup for an advertisement for a flu nostrum.

Anonymous said...

The Ridger:

So the following from CNN (and other outlets) is just made up?:

"Hundreds of people might have been exposed to hepatitis A while receiving communion on Christmas Day, Long Island officials said Monday."

It also goes on to say something about the health department offering vaccines. Sounds in the realm of public health to me.


The Ridger, FCD said...

No, it's not made up. I hadn't heard it, though. And certainly you can see where a communicable disease could be spread at a church - like any other place where lots of people gather, touch, and share food.

And I still say that the public health issues of the mass are hardly the worst things about it, even if it's spreading all sorts of diseases...