Every knee… Most knees… A few knees shall bow
Everybody’s talking about the Pope and the Corpus Domini Mass and procession in Rome this weekend.
We’ve all seen the pics of this pope standing in front of the monstrance on the altar set up in front of St. John Lateran this Sunday, the ornate red-cushioned, conspicuously un-used priedieu sitting in front of him like a rebuke.
I must say, this priedieu so consistently appears at papal events in Rome – and is equally consistently never used – that I am beginning to wonder if there is someone at St. Peter’s who is doing it deliberately to send a signal to the rest of us. Like a desperate “help me” message from inside the Vatican gulag.
At least this year he spared his subordinates the embarrassment of just not doing it and not telling them ahead of time.
But the No-Show pope is not a new experience for his perpetually humiliated co-accompaniers, as we know. (And for some reason, this boorish arrogance – this disdain for the efforts and offerings of the musicians to honour the new pope – was taken as a sign of “humility” by the press and the fangirls… Seriously.)
Today the good Fr. Harrison makes the suggestion (via email) that perhaps this pope didn’t kneel this Sunday in front of the Blessed Sacrament because he’s signalling to the Luthies that he wants us all to be pals. (Not like we were pals before the Prot-revolt, you understand… but in a new, much nicer way…)
. . . every knee shall bow”. Every knee, it seems, except that of the Successor of Peter himself.
The photos from yesterday’s Corpus Christi procession in Rome speak for themselves. So do the photos of Francis kneeling without difficulty on other occasions.
There appears to be a ‘dog-whistle’ message being sent out with body language here – perhaps an ‘ecumenical’ message to Lutherans in their 500th anniversary year. Adoration of the consecrated Host outside of Mass and Eucharistic processions were roundly condemned and abolished by Luther and his followers – an attitude which itself was soon condemned as heresy by the Council of Trent:
Pope Francis no doubt realizes he couldn’t simply abolish Eucharistic processions from Catholic worship (or at least, not yet); but it seems he wants to signal to our now-not-so-separated brethren that he is cool towards such practices, and is trying to move our Church a little more in a Lutheran direction in that regard.
That would also explain why, unlike all his predecessors, Francis did not even take part in yesterday’s Corpus Christi procession! He let other Prelates carry the monstrance with the Host in the procession through the Roman streets, and apparently drove round privately to St. Mary Major’s Basilica for the final adoration and Benediction.
But, unfortunately, when our Eucharistic Lord Jesus is pointedly greeted with a “standing ovation” by his own Vicar on Earth, it’s closer to an insult than an honor.
Father includes a link to his piece at One Vader Five giving the reasons in theology why Lutheran intercommunion isn’t possible. Some useful stuff in there.
But I’m afraid our Fr. Harrison may be overthinking it. If our pope were conspicuously standing instead of kneeling before his God and maker this year in order to somehow signal the Lutherans on the 500th anniversary of their baleful schism and sundering of Christendom, what was his excuse every other time? What was the reason he *never* kneels or genuflects – as the rubrics of the Novus Ordo Mass require him to do – at the consecration?
I don’t necessarily disagree that his colossally arrogant signals are also directed at the Lutherans. But judging from the rest of his behaviour (…his eagerness to re-write scripture and correct Our Lord and Saviour, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity on His retrograde and unmerciful opinions about marriage, for instance…) gives us a clear message that the signal is pointed upward more than outward.
I think tortured explanations about ecumenical motives aren’t really necessary, though it does seem clear that Modernists and Lutherans hate the Holy Eucharist and love themselves for many of the same reasons. But really sometimes the most obvious answer is the answer.
No, I think we may be failing to take into account the bigger post-conciliar picture here.
What also isn’t getting much play in Mainstreamia is the fact that the crowd – at least the crowd at the Lateran at the start of the event – was absurdly tiny. It is one of the favourite lies of the modernists that they shift a feast from its original day – say, the Feast of Corpus Domini – to the nearest Sunday so that more people will be able to come on a weekend than a work day. There’s so much wrong with this that it would take a book to write about, but you can read the gist of the response here. And here. But suffice to say for this moment that it clearly didn’t “work” if the stated intention was the actual intention. (If, on the other hand, the stated intention was bullshit and the actual intention was to undermine the sense of the faithful, de-sacralize the week and create confusion over the liturgical calendar, then mission accomplished!)
I must say I think I owe Socci an apology. We had a bit of a tiff on Twitter some time ago when I said that judging his popularity from crowd size wasn’t a very useful standard, since so many other factors – so many variables in the equasion – were also necessarily present. But I think he’s more and more got a handle on something.
But I think more to the point, the reason Francis never kneels in front of the Sacrament of the Altar is that he thinks he is giving an example to be followed. It’s a New Church, for a New Catholic Man. The kind who doesn’t kneel down in adoration or supplication in front of God, but treats the Divine Author of Everything like an equal.
Let’s not forget that all novusordoists have been taught from the first day of their new religion that they’re terribly terribly important and all grown-up now, and that all that kneeling stuff was what people did before The Council came to give them full adulthood in the Faith. Truly adult Christians understand their adultyness and are faaarr too adult – thanks to The Council – for all that childish kneeling down stuff. Penitence?! Maybe OK for your Nonna, but the rest of us have moved on. We’re an Adult Easter People now. And Adult Easter People stand up because, well, we’re like, sort of divinized now, right? We’re kind of like gods ourselves…
Taken in the context of modern novusordoist liturgical practices, particularly in Italy, the pope’s refusal to kneel before his Lord and Maker, becomes a lot less puzzling.
We all know the Churchwreckers have pointedly taken the kneelers out of the churches, and they have not been shy about telling us why. These days, having failed to stop the nefarious practice of kneeling entirely, they’re taking the pews out too, and giving us nice individual chairs, so we can all emphasise our tremendous personal importance.
If you go to Mass for any length of time in Italy one of the things you quickly notice is an extreme aversion to kneeling. You will find in no parish anywhere, even in the “trad” parishes, do all the people kneel down at the consecration or afterwards. In some cases the entire congregation eschews kneeling throughout the Mass, standing at those times when in other countries it is considered normal in Latin parishes to kneel down. In all cases, even those where kneeling is retained, there will ALWAys be a significant portion of the congregation who remain standing.
At every Mass you go to in Italy, there will always be that guy who, often after having come in a few minutes late so he has the largest possible audience, marches straight down the centre aisle, positions himself in a front pew, and remains decisively on his feet for the entire Mass, very clearly giving the rest of us poor schlebs a useful lesson in who is the more importantly enlightened adult present.
[The urge to yell “down in front!” has become so overwhelming with me, that it has motivated an entire elaborate plan to buy a vehicle so I can go to the real Mass up in Perugia – where people kneel most devoutly – so I am no longer placed in the way of this grave temptation against charity towards my neighbours… not to mention bad manners.]
Even in cases where the Eucharist is distributed to the faithful at an altar rail, these people will remain standing, though they show no sign at all of infirmity. This was especially noticeable at the parish I attended in Toronto, one that had once been a hippie-boomer stronghold but had sadly been taken over by a community of deeply retrograde and un-adult priests who – horrors! – had actually put a new altar rail in… after the greying revolutionaries had gone to such a lot of trouble to have it removed in the 70s! Da noive! These other poor, pathetic un-adult people could kneel and receive on the tongue, but they weren’t going to abandon their principles, no sir!
I once asked a friend who is a well known liturgical expert about it, someone who has lived in Italy a long time, and he explained that since Vatican II the modernists in Italy beat all traces of penitential piety out of the people. They were browbeaten, harangued and lectured if they dared to retain any sign of preconciliar devotion. So of course, now it’s gone.