I listen to Catholic talk radio daily to collect fodder for this blog. Most of the chatter either isn’t very noteworthy or involves topics I’ve already addressed, but two consecutive shows from last month brought up topics that fit right into my “Catholic legalistic rabbit hole” category.
Called to Communion – EWTN Radio
Moderator: Thom Price, Host: David Anders
Podcast 4/23/19 – 24:58 mark
This first episode I’ll call “The Case of the Abused Altar Linens.” Let’s begin by noting that Catholicism teaches that at its masses, priests transform bread wafers and wine into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ to be offered as a sacrifice for the sins of the congregants. Mass-goers then consume the Jesus wafer (and Jesus wine by some), believing it imparts graces that help them to avoid temptation and sin. Because the Roman church teaches the bread wafers are actually changed into Jesus, they are worshiped by the congregants. Mass-goers bow to the wafer, bend their knee to the wafer, and pray to the wafer god. The Jesus wafer and Jesus wine must be handled with worshipful reverence. As a part of the mass’s liturgical ritual, the priest handles a large Jesus wafer and Jesus wine and there’s always a chance that small Jesus crumbs or Jesus droplets will land on the linens covering the altar. Therefore, when the altar linens are periodically washed, they must be handled with the utmost reverence. Let’s pick it up when an indignant Catholic listener calls in to the show complaining that reverential protocols aren’t being followed with regard to the altar linens at her parish:
Thom Price: Let’s go to Kitty, now, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, listening on St. Michael Catholic Radio. Hello, Kitty. What’s on your mind today?
Kitty: Oh, yes. I would like to know your thoughts about this. I’m very concerned about the presence of our lord in the precious blood that’s on the purificators and altar linens. At the church where I’m going the altar linens are just left in a basket on the counter and, shouldn’t they be in some sort of a container that has a lid with a light next to it to indicate that our lord is present? They don’t leave consecrated hosts just lying in an open basket!
The show’s host, Catholic apologist David Anders, then responds to Kitty’s inquiry, saying that he is aware that “there are liturgical laws that govern these things,” but it’s “not (his) particular area of expertise.” Anders defers to moderator, Thom Price, but Price pleads ignorance as well and suggests to Kitty that she should make inquiries to a particular priest radio host.
The Catholic teaching that its priests change bread wafers and wine into the actual body and blood of Jesus leads to all kinds of legalistic rabbit holes involving such things as falling Jesus crumbs and spilt Jesus droplets and Jesus wine stains. Catholicism breaks my heart. Hundreds of millions of Catholic souls, like Kitty, get indignantly and scrupulously wrapped around the axle over the proper handling of altar cloths, but never hear the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.
Kitty mentioned “purificators” and altar linens that could possibly have Jesus particles and Jesus stains imbedded in them, but several other cloth items are also used by the priest during the eucharistic liturgical ritual including the “corporal,” “lavabo towels,” and the “pall” (see photo right)
To see the correct Catholic rubrics for the handling and cleaning of these “sacred” cloths, refer to the article below. Wow! The Catholic mass has more protocols than a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier! Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea.
Friends, we’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to all the rubrics involved in the Catholic mass. Whoops, I see we’ve already hit the 625-word mark so we’ll have to visit the second Catholic rabbit hole tomorrow. Remember, it’s the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone that’s important, NOT copious and complicated religious rituals and ceremonies that are alleged to help people merit their salvation.
The Proper Care and Cleansing of Altar Linens & Sacred Vessels in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend – Adapted from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Divine Worship