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Friday, 6 January 2012

On Layclerics...

Today, I was discussing the teaching of non-clerical Eucharistic Services to seminarians. Many years ago, when I was in the Diocese of Calgary, I had an extremely interesting discussion with Bishop Frederick Henry about such things, as some people, who were laymen and laywomen working with youth in the high schools, were pushing for Eucharistic Services without priests. These services, normally labelled Communion Services, are intended to provide the Holy Eucharist to a congregation on a Sunday when the priest is absent. Bishop Henry was adamant that such things lead to the undermining of the priesthood and the reverence of the Sacrament.

He was and is correct.

Many bishops have moved away from such quasi-clerical lay services for many reasons, the main reason which is the confusion it causes those attending. Nuns or laypeople who hold up the Host and say, "This is the Lamb of God" and so forth are acting in the place of the priest in such a way as to undercut the vocation and sanctity of the priesthood. I am totally against seminarians doing such pseudo-liturgies, and I think that the laity conducting such, especially EMHCs, is simply wrong. In some dioceses, layman and women who are not EMHCs have conducted such services. It is all wrong.

One of the greatest errors of the Post-Vatican II wave of abuses has been the clericalization of the laity. Laypeople have great work to do without prancing about the altar and leading Communion Services. The New Evangelization should be the main work of the lay person in the marketplace. Having lots of babies is another thing the laity should be providing for the Church. That America and other countries have such a priest shortage is no excuse for the clericalization of the laity.

One person said to me, "Then, what does one do without priests and no Masses?" My answer was that if parents have been so selfish as to discourage vocations and if they have contracepted, creating the shortage of priests, no Mass is a logical consequence of this lack of generosity. Consequences, the lost concept of irresponsible parenting...Why should not the laity have consequences from their own life choices? No priests, no Mass, no Communion. Why do seminaries and parishes make up for a deficit which is natural and possibly, a cause of suffering which might lead to conversion among the laity?

Communion Services simply should not be allowed under any circumstances except in war. That those who teach our young men to conduct such services do not even see that they, as teachers, are undermining the priesthood, is ironic. Obviously, the permanent deacon would be the person of choice if a priest is unavailable, but why go to such lengths to provide Holy Communion outside of Mass, when the laity will not continue to encourage their boys to become priests? Is there a one-to-one correlation between dioceses which have these services and low vocation statistics?  The fact that these services are being taught indicates a lack of sensitivity as to what a lay person is. We have enough to do without pretending to be clerics.