Monday, July 07, 2008

Kneeling Before Christ - A Scandal to Unbelievers

Father Cassian Folsom of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute relates this short story of his days as a substitute chaplain in snowy New England:

As we approached the door of the girls' dorm, two of the students happened to be coming out at the same time. They weren't expecting us, but as soon as they saw that I was carrying the Blessed Sacrament, without a moment's hesitation, they knelt down in the snow in honor of Christ present in the Eucharist. That gesture made a profound impression on me.

In these our days, when the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist is often very weak -- when there are some people who don't even know what it is that they receive -- it is imperative that we show by our gestures the faith we believe. Actions speak louder than words! So let us kneel. Flectamus genua. Carefully, deliberately, reverently. That will reinforce our own belief in the Real Presence of Christ, it will teach our children by example, it will inspire our fellow Catholics, and it will scandalize a world that does not believe.
On my mind this week is "active participation" at mass because that's the topic at Friday's upcoming Liturgy & Lager. Father Folsom's article on active participation is worth reading in its entirety. What it made think of is that when the "spirit of Vatican II" Catholics think of "active participation", they immediately think it has something to do with lay readers, Extraordinary ministers of communion and sing along hymns that "celebrate our diversity". But active participation begins first with the actual rubrics of the liturgy and doing what you're supposed to do and knowing why you do it.

Though what struck me here in this passage was the last line: it will scandalize a world that does not believe. How often do our words scandalize unbelievers? In this age of timid men not often. How much less often do our actions scandalize unbelievers! ("Unbelievers" here includes anyone who denies the Real Presence of Christ in the transubstantiated Eucharistic species). It is a scandal to them for anyone to adore what they think is mere bread. For the Protestant, it's idolatry and for the naturalist it is superstition.

Now we don't cause scandal for scandal's sake obviously; but just as an sinful man scandalizes the upright by his evil, a devout man will necessarily scandalize the sinful and the unbelieving by doing what is right.

8 comments:

Andrew Preslar said...

I enjoyed Fr Folsom's article. The atmosphere is so many of our Roman Rite churches is such that I am afraid to kneel, cross myself, etc., in a truly deliberate and reflective manner. I feel as though to do so would be ostentatious. I don't know, its like I'm in a hurry or something.

George Weis said...

I was reading and enjoying, then I got hit with the Eucharist bomb. I do not yet believe in at least the fullest sense of transubstantiation, although I believe in a real presence of sorts. Dang! I don't like being an "unbeliever"... I have always been a believer :)

Much love to you man!

-g-

Tim A. Troutman said...

Well to be fair, "unbelieving" doesn't mean you're wrong automatically. I'm an unbeliever when it comes to say Joseph Smith or Mohammad. I'm 100% sure I got at least one of those right.

George Weis said...

Ok, haha! You know what I mean ;)

-g-

God's Paintbrush said...

George,
Why don't you try spending time in Adoration before our Lord, truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Talk to God and ask Him where He is and truly pray with a pure heart to know Him more. You may not get an aswer right away, but do your best to seek His will, and not yours or your brothers or your school teacher's, but God's. Best to you! +jmj

George Weis said...

I had contemplated that very thing GP. There is a Latin Mass happening today a block away from me, but I am not sure I can go through with it :D

Plus, I am not the owner of slacks! So my dress would not be so distinguished haha!

-g-

God's Paintbrush said...

GW. Go first to Adoration if the Mass is still unreachable. Find a Church that has Exposition by using www.masstimes.org. Pray before anything and you will be lead by the Spirit. Look to John 6. Do not be a part of the unbelievers that walked away from Christ, but be like Peter who answers Jesus with "Where shall we go, Lord? YOU have the Words of Everlasting Life!"

Tim A. Troutman said...

Insightful advice God's Paintbrush. I need to do the same thing myself more often.