02Jun There is too much emphasis on Mass as sacrifice

Brendan Hoban poses the question ‘Who will break bread for us?’ in the context of dwindling vocations to the priesthood – and presents us with a seemingly frightening prospect ‘without priests we have no mass and without Mass we have no Church ‘.

However, rather than seeing the future in these terms, maybe we should approach this seemingly intractable issue differently.

I think we have approached the Eucharist with far too much emphasis on the miraculous power of the priest in transforming the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. The Mass thus revolves around the words of consecration spoken by the priest as immediately after these words of consecration the transubstantiated bread and wine immediately become objects of adoration and as the presence of Christ persists in the consecrated Bread after Mass an individualised adoration of the Blessed sacrament after Mass in the form of Holy Hours developed. This adoration of the consecrated bread and wine immediately after the consecrating words was introduced to counteract the protestant reformers’ alternative beliefs. Also too much emphasis on the mass as sacrifice further objectivises it and the congregation of lay people become both passive receivers of grace and adorers of the real presence in the consecrated Bread and wine.

What is lost is the primary meaning of the Body of Christ as the presence of the risen Lord in his followers. As the primitive Church had no priests and thus no ‘consecrations’ as such the emphasis of these followers of Jesus was not on his sacramental presence in the transubstantiated bread and wine but on his presence through the Spirit in his followers as his real presence was revealed through the charisms of the Spirit. This community not only survived without priests but thrived without Mass as we know it.

Maybe these dwindling vocations are a sign of the times to recall us to a re-emphasis on the Body of Christ as the mystical presence of the Risen Jesus in his followers and a call to by the Spirit to realise the implications of this presence among the people of God. We need a renewed theology of the ‘Body of Christ ‘ as present not only in his followers but also in our world of today.

35 Responses

  1. Soline Humbert

    At least there won’t be a pope shortage: The future looks bright….http://irishcatholic.ie/20130516/news/if-the-cap-fits-S33468.html

  2. Darlene Starrs

    This is an extraordinary admission of where our theology of the Eucharist ought to be today. My sister remarked to me the other night at dinner, that her and her husband, no longer frequent Sunday mass as much, because, for them, the “Euarcharist” is in the people of God, and in particular, the people of God, as they encounter others in their workplace, etc, etc. However, one other thing, she said, which surprised me….was that she yearns to hear, and to know,….the Word of God….As I say, in my posting this Sunday on v2catholic…it is not so much the receiving the ‘host’, that is necessary for the soul today….but the Word of God. It is the Word of God that is meant to evangelize, to strengthen, to nurture, etc. Your words, Brendan, so well said, directly, and concisely, and with authority, especially, on this day, when the Pope has called for universal adoration of the host….but, yes, we need to rethink and refashion our ‘theology of the Eucharist’. It is no accident, we are at this juncture of the Church….after all, Vatican II ‘shifted’ the focus from the wafer to the people, and also, shifted the focus of the cultic ‘priesthood’…to the “Royal Priesthood”. Great, Great, Great…..Happy Feast of Corpus Christi!

  3. Con Carroll

    we are living in 2013. I am not accusing Brendan Hoban. of arrogance. I agree with sentiments from Brendan Butler. there should be open invitation and welcome of people from both sexes who are not ordained to be invited to share celebrate the Eucharist
    remember the words of Jesus in the Gospels.
    when you are having a meal go the the by ways invite those who are alienated. not just those in the Gucci Aramani suits or who smell of sweet perfume

  4. Martin Mallon

    Pope Francis addressed this problem indirectly on Wednesday 17 April 2013 when he:

    …recalled the persecutions in Japan in the early 17th century, when Catholic missionaries were expelled and communities were left for 200 years without priests. On their return, the missionaries found “all communities in place, everyone baptized, everyone catechized, all married in the Church” — and this thanks to the work of the baptized.

    Note the church survived for “200 years without priests.” Why worry?

    The Pope emphasised the importance of baptism:

    “Let us ask the Lord”, he concluded, “for the grace to become baptized persons who are brave and sure that the Holy Spirit who is in us, received at Baptism, always moves us to proclaim Jesus Christ with our life, our testimony and even with our words”.

    Read the full meditation: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/cotidie/2013/en/papa-francesco-cotidie_20130417_slumbering-church_en.html

    Pope Francis was pointing out that:

    The Church cannot be merely “a babysitter who cares for the child just to get him to sleep”. If she were this, hers would be a “slumbering Church”. Whoever knows Jesus has the strength and the courage to proclaim him. And whoever has received Baptism has the strength to walk, to go forward, to evangelize and “when we do this the Church becomes a mother who generates children” capable of bringing Christ to the world.

  5. Sean O'Conaill

    “Also too much emphasis on the mass as sacrifice further objectivises it …”
    Although I agree wholeheartedly with Brendan on the need to celebrate the presence of the risen Lord and the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the gathered community, I do not see how this is incompatible with understanding the Mass as a sacrifice also. The problem is simply that since the Council of Trent we have had an undeveloped understanding of sacrifice that leaves most priests totally inarticulate on the subject. This completely dissociates our very hazy, and often somewhat scandalised, notion of sacrifice from the central idea of building and reconciling community by giving generously of oneself, even to the point of self-denial.
    So we can have, for example, Offertory processions that carry baskets of envelopes to the altar for the upkeep of the clerical system – while gifts to the poor through the St Vincent dePaul Society are collected on the way out of chapel and play no part in the ceremony inside – even though these days those gifts may well express the self-sacrificing generosity of many who contribute. No wonder the priesthood of all the baptised is ungrasped and undeveloped and lay people walk away for lack of an understanding of their essential sacrificial role in the ceremony. And no wonder the poor usually don’t experience inclusion in the Mass either – and have no idea what it’s about.
    ‘Acceptable sacrifice’ is simply ‘giving back what one has been given’. It is a natural continuation and completion of the penitential rite, our own act of ‘at-one-ment’. We lay Catholics do often ‘give back’ but we are rarely if ever told that this is the central ‘imitation of Christ’ to which we are called by our central ritual. Our Irish church is falling apart for lack of a joyful understanding of how to connect justice and mercy with sacramental sacrifice.

  6. Darlene Starrs

    Thank you Soline, for the link to the picture….it is precious…Thank you to Martin and Con for your powerful remarks.

  7. Fr. Kieren


    I think your friends are right, as you describe their hunger for the Word of God, but surely there is something wrong when we can’t see, or no longer believe (or have never believed) that the Eucharist is the Word of God. Yes, there is much confusion over our understanding and presentation of the concept of sacrifice, but is not the Eucharist God’s offering (his eternal sacrifice or self gift) to us his children. Does not or should not the Eucharist draw us into a deeper relationship with the Word who is the Eucharist. One of my favourite saints Edith Stein once wrote that the Lord is fully present not for his sake but for ours, is that not what we mean by sacrifice?

  8. Kathleen Faley

    Vocations to Priesthood and Religious Life: A Lay Person’s Perspective

    As a regular reader of the Irish Catholic Newspaper, I am familiar with the Advertising Supplement on Vocations prior to Vocations Sunday every year. One thing that I notice in these Vocations Supplements is the mindset of Bishops that are still caught in a time warp as regards the reasons why there is such a dearth of Vocations to Priesthood and Religious Life. Among those reasons is the expectation that Mothers should encourage their sons to join the Priesthood and Religious Life and are presently not doing so. Why should they? These same Mothers would have to accept relegation to the place of second class citizenship by these same sons when they would eventually be Ordained. The Catholic Church still holds on to the First Century idea of womanhood as designated by the male dominated Jewish culture of that time. Why should women encourage their sons to join Priesthood when this is how women are regarded? Religious training in the home has been relegated too much to the domain of women/Mothers which makes it just too easy to blame women/Mothers for the lack of young men entering Priesthood and Religious Life. What about men/Fathers?What about the example they are setting when they sidestep teaching their sons about God, Priesthood and Religious Life. Why are they less interested, less visionary and less involved? Why is their involvement so meagre and complied with unwillingly by the vast majority of men? Schooling today is all geared towards the jobs market and professional career opportunities and vocations to Priesthood and Religious life are not well served through the Career Guidance model. When young school leavers go to Career Guidance Counselors the main focus is on points to enter Third Level education towards careers later on and not so much on Religious Vocations because it has a totally different focus and the element of God’s Call is an essential part of it. I know that there are school Chaplains who may give that kind of guidance if they are asked for it. Bishops and Priests should also realize that the present format of Seminary training has to change dramatically from the present -cut off from society and parish communities model of Seminary training that still operates. It is not conducive to encouraging young men to enter Priesthood. Jesus never laid down to Peter or any of the other Apostles or disciples that Priestly training should be Seminary based and should take seven years to complete. Jesus taught his apostles and disciples using the practical approach of learning from Him as they travelled around from place to place, preaching, teaching, healing the sick and disabled and performing his miracles. Jesus did explain the parables to them more deeply and they did take time out for some extra teaching but it did not extend to the duration of seven years. Jesus’ own ministry did not last that long. I propose a more Community based model of Priestly training where a young young man could be ‘adopted’ by a diocese or a particular cluster of parishes within the diocese where the parishioners could journey with him as he learned more at parish level among the ordinary lay faithful. This model already operates for the Sacramental preparation of young children for First Holy Communion and older children for Confirmation. Involving the Parish Community would be essential to his Preparation for Priesthood from day one right through to his ordination. He should be seen to read or sing the Office in the main body of the Church at different times so that anyone going in for a visit could listen in and observe and go away with a renewed sense of the depth of intense preparation for priesthood and Religious Life. The reading or singing of the Office could be taken into secondary schools where young students may be positively influenced and consequently inspired to join Priesthood and Religious Life. All Altar Servers should not be ‘dismissed’ at Primary School 6th class but should be allowed to continue to serve at Mass if they still wish to continue. Dismissing Altar Servers at 6th class as they change over to Secondary School gives out a wrong message that Church attendance is now an optional extra. There is too much blameworthy speech going around about young people who leave the Church after Confirmation. Before Confirmation, there is a special ceremony for those who wish to take a Pledge and promise to abstain from drink and drugs. This can then be extended when they reach eighteen years of age. So why can’t there be a similar ceremony for teenagers who want to continue Altar Serving? Give it a special title and a particular time span that encourages Secondary School pupils to continue Altar Serving. It could be an extra ministry for youth during teenage years which may lead on to vocations to Priesthood and Religious Life among some of them at least. Encourage the use of Missals again so that there is a weekly and daily continuity of Liturgy and the Liturgical Cycle which the disposable weekly Mass leaflet does not encourage. Theology is no longer something that is taught exclusively in Seminaries. Many lay people who are interested in their faith have studied and are studying Theology and Philosophy also so local parish communities are better educated that they once used to be in their Christian Faith. These are just a few thoughts that came to me as regards Vocations to Priesthood and Religious Life. I hope they are thought provoking and that the next Vocations Supplement in the Irish Catholic Newspaper will reflect some of them positively. Kathleen Faley

  9. Fr. Kieren

    Just thinking off the top of my head … I often think that too often we have instilled the notion of our participation in the Eucharist as an obligation, a thing we Catholics do. We need rather to focus on dynamic encounter and relationship, we need to recognise that we are not receiving a wafer or slurping from a chalice of wine, we are renewing our relationship, we are entering communion, and through that renewal and communion we are empowered again to fulfil our baptismal ministry as the people of God.

  10. Darlene Starrs

    Dear Father Kieren:

    I would be remiss to leave you the impression that I do not understand the reception of consecrated bread and wine not to be another manifestation of Christ’s divine life for us. Honestly, Father Kieren, I am the converted! What I have observed is that there is a hunger for the Word of God in the Scriptures among practicing Catholics and non-practicing Catholics. As Bishop Diarmud Martin has said, the New Evangelization is about the study and contemplation of the New Testament, so that, the ‘seeker’ may encounter Jesus Christ and develop a relationship with Him. That Word must “dwell richly in us” and yes, we are drawn to ever deeper union with him…and that includes yearning for the reception of Christ under the signs of bread and wine. In addition to that, we understand, that we “become what we contemplate”, so that, we as Church, must also come to experience ourselves, as that “spiritual house”, that “living temple of God”, which is a Eucharistic presence, not just for own Good, but for the Good of His Holy Church, and beyond the doors, as Pope Francis would say. Having said that, I believe there is an “urgency” for a revitalized proclamation of the Gospel….whether that is because of secularism, I do not know. However, at the highest levels of the Church, a New Evangelization has been called for, and I certainly hope that that means a new commitment to the Word of God as manifested in the Scriptures.

  11. John Quinn

    Loved the article.Without the community there is no Eucharist.It is the belief,the Amen,of the community,that makes the presence of Jesus real and alive.It has nothing to do with Anselm’s Atonement nor magic words spoken by ontologically different males.

  12. mjt

    Among many other interesting points you wrote, “the present format of Seminary training has to change dramatically from the present -cut off from society and parish communities model of Seminary training that still operates.”
    But don`t you realise that far from moving in that direction, the recent report by the Visitators to the Irish Church, which was described as “Pastoral in nature….a Visitation..intended to assist the local Church on her path of renewal” (“Pastoral Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland”(sic), actually recommended creating and enforcing an even stricter segregation of the trainee priests from their peers on campus?
    Or so it is thought, as even the poor Irish bishops, not to mention “the catholics of Ireland” weren`t allowed to see it in full. The full text was for the eyes of archbishops and cardinals only, who offered The People of God in Ireland a summary only, maybe because we would not be capable of understanding it properly. And the object of this policy, presumably, in the minds of the authors, is to create new conditions for the nurturing in formation of a new generation of priests for the people of Ireland: without any input from The People of God in Ireland, except as filtered through the mouths of the archbishops, and without input even by the Irish bishops.So much for collegiality. And not a cheep of protest made by any Irish bishop about this, about the methodology or about the policy itself.
    So, if you think they are going to be enlightened along the lines of your suggestions or indeed any other anytime soon, you may think again. Unless miracles really are happening in the Vatican even at the present moment, and a movement that has lasted since 1978 is coming to an end.

  13. Martin Murray

    “we need to rethink and refashion our ‘theology of the Eucharist”. Brave and honest words Brendan. Are there two bodies of Christ? One on the altar and one in the pews? I read somewhere that for the first thousand years of the church it was the people who were referred to as the ‘Real’ (flesh and blood) presence of Christ and the bread on the altar that was the ‘Mystical’ (or mysterious) presence. Somewhere it got swopped around and we lost the reverencing of Christ present in each other and conveniently, the priesthood became indispensable. Our first communicants hear little or nothing about the community aspect of communion but rather about their individual encounter with Christ in the bread. The English Benedictine, Fr Ian Petit used to say he could never hold the host up and say this is the body of Christ without at the same time looking beyond it to the people gathered in the pews. The Franciscan, Fr Richard Rohr would say, see Christ present in the bread, but don’t stop there. Go on to see the Christ present everywhere; i.e. the spark of the divine in all of humanity – and more, in all of creation. The incarnate Christ. The Cosmic Christ. The real presence. Nothing existing apart from or outside of God.
    We have made liturgy an end in itself, emphasising it so much that we have little time or energy as communities for anything else, such as local charitable outreach (certainly in the north here, the evangelical churches put us to shame in this regard). Or what about time for the pursuit of justice, or peacemaking, or taking care of creation? (Contrary to what the song says, this world IS our home. We are not just passing through). Getting people back to Mass, desirable as that is, may not be the end game we have made it. Helping people find their own goodness , their Godness, the sacredness at the core of their being, and putting it at the service of a Kingdom where God can be more fully present on Earth as in Heaven, is something that we may need to value in itself, even if does not have a religious label attached. Does this emphasis on liturgy have more to do with clerical indispensability than it has with any noble theological truth? Communion and the Mass is important to us as Catholics, but maybe too often for the wrong reasons.

  14. Soline Humbert

    Isn’t the Body of Christ a cosmic reality, the totality of creation?http://www.catholicireland.net/the-green-christ/

  15. Fr. Kieren

    Hi Darlene,
    I agree with what you say. I’ve just finished Scot Hahns new book. I know he can be a bit conservative but it is well worth reading, he speaks about the relationship between the Word of God as sacrament and the Word of God as scripture, and how they should be lived and understood as one.
    Interesting debate above regarding seminary formation and I am in entire agreement, my own Diocese has formed (albeit married former Anglican clergy) outside the formal seminary structure. Of course that begs the question if it can be done for one group, why not all.

  16. Darlene Starrs

    Thank you Soline….Sure, I understand Christ to be Cosmic…He’s the Alpha and the Omega…I remember reading many years ago some of Matthew Fox’s material and of course…some of the work of Father Diarmud? O’Murchu..I need to keep things simple for myself…so, I see, myself needing to always think, speak, act, and live out of the integrity of Christ….or I guess, oh here it comes another quote!…..Love Tenderly, Walk Humbly, and Do Justice!
    Father Kieren, I’m not familiar with Scot Hahns…I have to reread the above section on the Formation of Priests….but, we might not be of the same mind on that one….I don’t know…Just Guessing…

  17. Fr. Kieren

    Hi Darlene,

    I think we would probably agree more than you think. Wouldn’t life be boring if there was nothing left to argue and debate about.
    Going back to the Word of God scripture, Eucharist or both. I think we have to be a little cautious, the Eucharist – as the place where the Word of God was encountered – was firmly established within the Church before the NT was copied down and formulated. We can find this truth echoed in the writing of Paul, Acts and of course the Didache etc … in my opinion (it is only an opinion) the scriptures and especially the NT should draw us deeper into this encounter, deeper into a relationship with the Word.

  18. Sean O'Driscoll

    From reading Brendan Hoban’s article and also Brendan Butler’s follow-on piece I felt compelled to share my experience of a church without a priest that survives very nicely thank you. And I’m not referring to 17th century Japan as highlighted above, but to my experience of less than 30 years ago in Peru. I believe the experience of church in the remote villages in the Andes is no different today, to back then. The impoverished remote villages in the mountains never had the experience of having a permanent priest in their parishes. These people had a tradition of having a priest visit their mountain village just once a year for the annual Fiesta. At this time baptisms, marriages, First communions and confirmations were celebrated along with masses for all those deceased in the past year from the community. Festivities lasted over several days and then the priest departed for his parish down on the coast again, till the following year when the community leaders of the village made the journey back down in search of a priest to come for the fiesta.
    Meanwhile back in the villages throughout the year the trained catechists kept the faith alive. Catechesis was delivered; people gathered for worship and scripture study each week; funeral services were carried out. The church truly matched the model of “people of God”. Amazing what lay baptised Christians can do when trusted and given freedom!!
    The expected disappearance of priests from the church landscape in Ireland over the next 20 yrs is merely mirroring the disappearances from the pews. I see no reason to panic at all. New wineskins for the new wine that will flow as the Spirit sees fit.

  19. Rosaline

    I was shocked and dismayed when I read the title of Brendan Butler’s article. If the title itself was meant to provoke thoughtful discussion about The Eucharist, perhaps it might have been worthwhile, if misleading. However, to me, the whole purpose of understanding the Mass as sacrifice is precisely so that we can go out to give ourselves in love to others in our families, our communities, and our world.

    While I agree with many of the points made in the article, what has been lacking in the discussion so far is any mention of the profound and awesome basis for understanding The Mass as sacrifice in the first place. I’m sure everyone who contributes to this website has a basic understanding of The Old Testament, the sacrifice of Abraham, the symbols of lambs being sacrificed, the prophesies of Isaiah, Jeremiah etc. all leading and pointing to the reality of Jesus, the Sacrificial Lamb pouring out his blood in sacrifice….. There is little point in “rattling off” hymns and texts such as, “The Lamb that was slain” or “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of The Lamb” if someone can come along and, largely unchallenged, say that there is too much emphasis on Mass as sacrifice!

    My basic point is that if we don’t understand or if we de-emphasise the Mass as sacrifice we run the risk of losing all meaning of the roots of our faith and end up running some kind of social experiment. There is nothing incompatible about such understanding and all the reforms, updating and renewal of the church that we all so ardently long for.

    Baby, bathwater???

  20. Darlene Starrs

    Maybe these dwindling vocations are a sign of the times to recall us to a re-emphasis on the Body of Christ as the mystical presence of the Risen Jesus in his followers and a call to by the Spirit to realise the implications of this presence among the people of God. We need a renewed theology of the ‘Body of Christ ‘ as present not only in his followers but also in our world of today.

    These words above that complete Brendan Butler’s entry, are in my view, the words to ponder.

    There are many thought provoking and profound words on this thread.

    I believe you are quite right, Rosaline, that the title of the article is misleading…misleading in that, I question whether Brendan Butler intended to say, that the problem of liturgy is the over emphasis on the sacrifice. I think, his point, was that we need to understand for fully, how the People of God are a Eucharistic presence and what the implications of that are, for the Church and the World.

    As a People of God who are in Christ and who desire Christ, coming together to break bread will not change. How we do that might well change, given, all sorts of factors.

    The element of the liturgy as sacrifice, recognizes what Christ’s life and ministry to us resulted in, and yes, we too, are called to “lay our lives” down for the sake of Jesus Christ and the Gospel. There are many thought provoking and profound words on this thread….all of them….It was a pleasure to read!

  21. Cameron

    You’re right Solene, albeit possibly not deliberately so. The majority of the people on this site have made themselves ‘Pope’ of their own church. As a young Catholic, this site breaks my heart. 🙁

  22. Wanderer

    Was Isaac a type of Jesus or was it the ram/lamb (what’s in a name ?) caught in the bush ?

    God did not want sacrifice or the death of Isaac. The ram became a substitute. But substitute for what, for whose need of blood ?

    Not sure what Anselm’s theory of atonement is. Not sure what most are, and never took a great interest because the prospect that some infinitely loving God demanded blood, and blood of a child at that, not Isaac’s, seemed to be and is barbaric. Isn’t that making god in our image and likeness ?

    It also seems to have been a good reason for Christians to slaughter others of different faiths, traditions, religions and none for centuries.

    Maybe the poor ram needs more compassion and understanding ?

    Self sacrificing love is a noble ideal. I also can’t help wondering what it was we were being asked, are perhaps really being asked to give up, to sacrifice.

  23. Mary O Vallely

    This is addressed to Cameron @21. I am saddened by your comment:- “As a young Catholic, this site breaks my heart.”
    As an old Catholic I am actually pleased to see a young person posting on this forum. You obviously read the comments. Does this remark of yours refer specifically to this thread or is it a general comment? It would be helpful if you could expand and explain what it is that grieves you so as we can only have true dialogue if we are open and honest about our thoughts and feelings. Good on you for starting to engage and I really look forward to hearing more from you. We meet the Spirit in each other through love, tolerance and charity and I don’t think you could doubt the hunger for that Spirit in anyone who cares enough to post on this forum. Perhaps you could start a new thread and help us all to understand how you feel? Thanks, Cameron.

  24. Wanderer

    Hearts need breaking if the Lord Christ were to enter therein. Broken and contrite hearts the Lord will not despise.

    “As a young Catholic I am appalled, indeed affronted, that you are not all as good and faithful as I am.” ?

    Pride, comes before the fall, or the much needed breaking.

    Wish I could be ‘nice’ about it but it’s simply not ‘nice’.

    I could suggest you are ‘judge and executioner’. Greater of two ‘evils’ ?

  25. mjt

    You are a model for us all, Mary!

  26. Wanderer

    On a less stroppy note.

    I wonder if Cameron is not left wondering what kind of mind messing is going on here. It goes all over the place at times and would leave anyone questioning, or rather wondering, and not always in a good way what is really going on.

    I know there is paradox, unity in and through diversity, order from chaos.

    But sometimes chaos is just that – purely chaotic for no good reason.

    Maybe not so much the heart breaking as wrecking his poor head.

  27. Wanderer

    Has anyone any thoughts on the ram ?

    God does not ask sacrifice as in blood but broken and contrite spirits. Loving sacrifice in the service of one another. It’s become so much about rocket science that there is little love or service or community. Just ‘go to Mass’. Which I am not meaning to downgrade at all but the non Catholics could teach a lot in this regard.

    I think the idea of Mass as Sacrifice where the community come together in communal offering of themselves, their lives of service – mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, doctors, teachers, nurses, post men………. etc, and in thanksgiving too, supplication, is not something you find very much if at all. Priesthood of all who believe in the love of God. Of Christ. Come on some of you priests. Tell us. Let us know. Cut the crap. Stop going to the internet for ‘homilies’ that are meaningless. Speak from your heart, your own experience. We are all works in progress and learn from each other.

    I think the priest says words at the end of Mass…. “Go forth…. ”

    And that’s just what we do. Go forth to our lives. Sleeping with half the country, gettin’ full every night, kicking the cat and God forbid, watching Eastenders instead of…..

    Alfie, what is it all about ? Please help me understand.

  28. Mat Sandner

    I think # 11 John Quinn has it in reverse. Without Eucharist there
    is no community. Jesus does not depend on us, we depend on him.
    Jesus is real, with or without us. Jesus does not exist because
    we believe in him. He exists for all of us, even for those that do not believe in Him.

  29. Kathleen Faley

    Last Saturday night 8th June I attended Mass in my home parish where I grew up. In the Newsletter I read about a Eucharistic Service which was due to begin Monday 10th June consisting of the Liturgy of the Word adn Distribution of Holy Communion. This Eucharistic Service would continue until the end of July. The Eucharistic Service was described as follows: “It is essentially a Eucharistic Service without a Priest. This Eucharistic Service will be celebrated by the Pastoral Ministers”. I am not sure if the parishioners were notified about this Eucharistic Service before this or not -the information about it in the Newsletter was basic. I think that parishioners deserve to have more information than this. They need to be given time grow in understanding of what a Eucharistic Service actually is i.e a step closer to a Protestant Service. A few years ago, on a hospital visit I went to the Hospital Chapel where I experienced for the first time such a Eucharistic Service which was celebrated weekly on Wednesdays there. As described above the Eucharistic Service consisted of the Liturgy of the Word and then the reciting of the Lord’s Prayer and the Distribution of the Holy Communion. I was appalled at what this Eucharistic Service omitted, the Offertory and the Consecration of the Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of Christ – which is the Heart of the Catholic Mass. I wrote to the Irish Catholic Newspaper outlining what I have just outlined above re: the ommission of the Offertory and the Consecration and how that was my personal view of the Eucharistic Service. Catholics cannot allow themselves to be lulled into a false sense of security that just because we are receiving the Holy Communion in this way that we can do without the Heart of the Mass which makes it unique from Protestant Services some of which do not distribute Communion. I think the time is coming when the Catholic Parishioners of Ireland have to realise that they seriously need to educate themselves about the value of the Offertory and the Consecration which takes place at the Eucharistic celebration of Mass and which is based on the Institution of the Eucharist by Jesus at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday above and beyond a Eucharist Service as an adequate replacement. It cannot replace the Mass.

  30. Mark O'Meara

    In reply to Kathleen Faley at #29:- A Eucharistic Service (or Communion service of the sort you describe) is not intended to replace the Mass. However, it is a legitimate service – provided of course that diocesan guidelines are followed.
    I am a parishioner in England (and have been to several mid-week eucharistic services of this type). Consecrated hosts are taken from the tabernacle.
    Best wishes, mark.

  31. BuenCamino

    @ Kathleen. I’m afraid you will have to get used to such services in the future as parishes simply will not have priests to celebrate mass. Is your comparison to the Protestant church services bogged down in our history on this island? Are we not all meant to be more ecumenical these days… are we not all brothers and sisters… baptised Christians? Therefore, I find the comparison insulting to other denominations.

    Also, in this country we are obsessed with Mass. A Eucharistic service offers the opportunities to explore different types of prayer, to empower new leaders in our communities. Did the early Christians have ordained priests in all of their ‘houses, breaking bread’? I don’t think so. What about our brothers and sisters on the African continent who wait weeks for a priest to travel to them to celebrate the Eucharist. This makes the celebration all the more joyful and meaningful when it does happen.

    We need to refocus, what exactly are we celebrating? Nothing can replace the mass. It is not a competition. We should not be afraid. Catholics are not being ‘lulled into a false sense of security’. Most Catholics are aware that what they are attending is not mass, but a gathering of the community in prayer. People need to open their eyes…. look at the age demographic of your priests – is your community ready for what is coming down the road?

    Love the Japan story – inspirational.

  32. Joe O'Leary

    “We have made liturgy an end in itself, emphasising it so much that we have little time or energy as communities for anything else, such as local charitable outreach.”

    A devastating and true comment. A eucharistic community without an active charity program is a travesty and I also note that Anglican churches take this more to heart. This is where “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” bites.

    As to Abraham and Isaac, I find the author of Hebrews tackles the problem well. Hebrews 11:17-19: “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.” This is part of what is called the “Hall of Faith” chapter.

  33. Kathleen Faley

    In reply to Mark O’Meara @ 30:- I know that the Eucharistic Service is not intended to replace the weekly Saturday Vigil and Sunday Morning Masses but it does replace the daily celebration of Mass that so many Catholics in Ireland are used to attending until now. I am aware that it is a legitimate eucharistic Service- I nevere questioned that aspect of the Eucharistic Service.

  34. mjt

    Holidaying in rural France in the 1990s we found it common to have Mass once a month or so in the local church. Parishioners, few as they were, had to travel or wait until it was their turn again. I`m sure a Eucharistic Service would have been very welcome there.

  35. Mark O'Meara

    To Kathleen at #33:- But in your original post (to which I replied) you said that a Eucharistic Service is “a step closer to a Protestant Service” – which it’s not.