SEVERE language warning
Loyola Press had a promotion where people participating in a parish RCIA program either as candidates for full communion with the Catholic Church or as team members could receive a free book from their catalog. I looked at the books they were making available through the program and selected Living the Mass: How one hour a week can change your life by Father Dominic Grassi and Joe Paprocki. I didn’t really have high expectations for the book, as I had a hunch based on past experience with Loyola Press that the book would be somewhat fluffy and lightweight. Plus, you get you what you pay for, right?
Well, I wasn’t wrong… The book was kind of light and fluffy and I didn’t find much new in the way of insight. And the authors got some stuff wrong: they belittled the “old” Mass for giving people the supposedly mistaken notion that the priest alone, without participation from the laity present, performs the consecration, changing the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Of course, this is exactly what happens, as the priest-author should know, especially since he relates that he often celebrates the Mass alone, as priests are encouraged to do on days when they are not publicly celebrating the Mass. If the laity’s attendance were essential to the consecration, then he couldn’t perform the consecration alone. (I don’t think I misinterpreted what they were writing; I read the paragraph a number of times.)
In addition, they seem to develop a false dichotomy between the body and the blood of Christ saying that receiving under the appearance of bread expresses our unity with all of Christ’s baptized people, since “through baptism, we become members of his mystical body”, while receiving from the cup expresses our “commitment to the mission of the church.” There are a number of problems with this section. First, there is no separation between the body and the blood under the two different species. Receiving either under the appearance of bread or under the appearance of wine gives us the fullness of Christ’s body, blood, soul and divinity. Receiving under both species is not necessary. While describing that way might be helpful and make it more meaningful, implying that both are necessary is incorrect and against the long-held teaching of the Church. Additionally, if receiving under the form of bread expresses our unity with all the baptized, why has the Catholic Church always restricted reception to those in full communion and good standing with the Catholic Church, excluding those Catholics not yet admitted to Communion, those not in a state of grace, and non-Catholic Christians?
I can’t really recommend this book. The theology is shaky and I think it really fails in its main mission of inspiring us to live the Mass during the week.
Many years ago, a great hitter named Paul Waner was nearing the end of his long career. He entered a ballgame with 2,999 hits — one hit away from the landmark total of 3,000, which so many hitters want to reach, but which relatively few actually do reach.
Waner hit a ball that the fielder did not handle cleanly but the official scorer called it a hit, making it Waner’s 3,000th. Paul Waner then sent word to the official scorer that he did not want that questionable hit to be the one that put him over the top.
The official scorer reversed himself and called it an error. Later Paul Waner got a clean hit for number 3,000.
What reminded me of this is the great fervor that many seem to feel over the prospect of the first black President of the United States.
No doubt it is only a matter of time before there is a black president, just as it was only a matter of time before Paul Waner got his 3,000th hit. The issue is whether we want to reach that landmark so badly that we are willing to overlook how questionably that landmark is reached.
I’m a sucker for a good baseball analogy, especially when it works as it does here. We shouldn’t obsess ourselves with getting “the first black President” (or woman President for that matter); rather, we should focus ourselves on getting the best president we can at all times. Just like Paul Waner wanting to earn his 3000th hit, the first black President should be someone capable and qualified. Obama seems to fail on both accounts.
We had a similar situation in Wilmington last decade. Jim Sills was the first black mayor of Wilmington and that seemed to put him beyond reproach in many people’s eyes. Meanwhile, his administration was spending like crazy, destroying the tax base, handcuffing police among lots of other damage he did to Wilmington, that we’re still trying to fix and recover from. But he was untouchable in many eyes due to his status as “the first black mayor.”
Electing on identity politics alone, as Obama’s and Hillary’s supporters often seem to be pushing, can be very damaging if the wrong person is being elected due to their identity. Wilmington’s past shows that, and it’s lesson the entire nation shouldn’t be forced to learn.