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Trivializing Holy Things

Joseph Sheppard

As we enter a new millennium, every day brings more horrific news of moral depravity and indifference. We are often so “shell-shocked” by the avalanche of media malnourishment that many, in a relativistic sense, are prepared to be content with a weakened and less sacral Church.

In an effort to appeal to our modern world, we witness the Church’s Shepherds compromising holiness. One of the clearest examples of this phenomenon is the World Youth Days. Although these experiments produce massive crowds, they make a mockery of our Holy Faith. In this same vein, we have witnessed years of experimentation with the Holy Mass.

A clown standing on the altar during mass

In the center the priest, behind him the altar, surrounding him a group of persons dressed as clowns. You are looking at a "Clown Mass" that took place in Pleasant Hill, California. Another conciliar novelty to transform the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to an irreverent celebration.
To appeal to children, there are puppet and clown Masses; for the young adults there are folk Masses; for the native Americans, native-American vestments and music. There would seem to be a greater effort to accommodate man during the Mass than to serve God.

In addition, we see that lay men and women have invaded the altar to perform the sacred functions of the priest. The Holy Eucharist is handled by the unconsecrated hands of the laity, diluting the uniqueness and sacral nature of the priestly vocation. The question must be asked: “What is the result of this socialization of the altar?” Are such changes intended to please God or man?

In contrast, one might recall how the Israelites, instructed by God through Moses, revered their Holy of Holies. The Ark of the Covenant, containing the Ten Commandments, the rod of Aaron and the miraculous manna, was placed in the Holy of Holies and surrounded by a veil. Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies after making a blood offering, and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement. In addition to the Holy of Holies, the tabernacle contained a sanctuary which only priests could enter. If these sacred relics of the Israelites were so revered, how infinitely more should we revere the tabernacles of every Catholic Church where Our Lord Himself resides! How much higher is the Catholic priesthood to that of the Old Law!

Modern man is uncomfortable with the traditional examples given by Popes, Bishops, priests and members of religious orders. The modern mentality desires a priest or religious who is more or less indistinguishable from the laity. To accommodate this desire priests and members of religious orders refrain from clothing themselves with the symbols of their vocations. In more extreme cases, there are those who desire a married priesthood and a female “priesthood”. Almost all of these tendencies have the common goal of destroying the hierarchical and sacral character of the Church established by Our Lord.

The same tendency to destroy the sacral and hierarchical nature of the Church may be manifested in seemingly innocuous ways. At first, Father Smith became Father “Bob” and recently on a popular Catholic television network we hear two priests referred to as “you guys.” These casual and perhaps well-intentioned appellations to men who represent Our Lord at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass are accepted by most as appropriate, though they are a more subtle slight to the dignity of the priesthood. How often have we allowed ourselves to be entertained by “jokes” whose content deals with holy things? Such “humor” serves to trivialize the subject matter.

Let us not fall into the error of creating a Church in the image of the contemporary world. Our Lord has established the hierarchical nature and sacral spirit of the Church to safeguard and keep Her holy. Let us do our part to combat any tendencies that trivialize our Holy Faith.

Posted September 17, 2003

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