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The Novus Ordo is Mean to “Remarried” People

Luca_signorelli,_comunione_con_gli_apostoli,_cortonaThe Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, not a protestant “altar-call”

“One of the problems with the way the Mass is presented in the Novus Ordo, e.g. as a very weird kind of family dinner, is that the emphasis is on ‘goin’ up for communion.'”


In Poland I went to Mass, as you do, and at a Novus Ordo Mass I noticed two things: 1. that those who received communion went up in no particular order, knelt on the altar step and stuck their tongues out and 2. that less than a third of the congregation went up to receive.

At the Tridentine aka Traditional Latin aka Extraordinary Form of the Mass, one barely notices who receives and who doesn’t, but this is partly because Traddy Masses tend to be in old-fashioned cruciform churches with a lot of pretty or awesome objects to distract one’s wandering eyes from one’s neighbours.

Post-war round churches, on the other hand, encourage the congregation to look at each other, and we are often more interesting than the priest, or the altar, or our extempore prayers, especially when we are doing something unusual, like staying put during the Communion of the Faithful or biting the hand that wants to give us the handshake of peace.

The cruciform congregation resembles an assembly, the circular congregation a herd. And, for some strange reason, in the Novus Ordo ushers herd up communicants row by row, as if fearing a stampede. The impulse just to follow the herd to the altar is very, very strong, as I have noticed when I have uneasily pondered my sins or frame of mind and wondered if I really should be receiving Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. It takes moral courage to stay praying in your pew, especially when by so doing you discommode those neighbours who must climb over your legs. Come on, come on. Let’s go! Usher’s here. Move it!

Possibly realizing the intolerable pressure on congregants, some of whom may not even be Catholic, to receive communion, a novel rite has been introduced: that of the arm-crossed blessing. In this rite, those who feel compelled to go forward but do not want to receive the Eucharist may approach the altar, arms crossed, and receive a blessing. It always does my heart good to see the Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, usually a woman of a certain age or a layman of some pomposity, giving a priestly blessing. Actually, no, it doesn’t. But at least it acknowledges that receiving Communion is supposed to be a free choice, not the price of admission to Mass.

Meanwhile  I would be very surprised to hear that the vast majority of Mass-attending Canadian or American Catholics who live in a perpetual state of  sexual sin refrain from receiving the Eucharist. My surprise would spring from the knowledge that although 99% of Catholics in Toronto churches queue up for communion, the percentage of communicants in other countries, e.g. Jamaica, Poland, is much smaller. A Jesuit priest once told me that at the Jamaican parish at which he served, very few congregants received the Eucharist because the vast majority of his congregants were in, shall we say, irregular unions. As for Poland, at this church-in-the-round Novus Ordo, I could not help but notice that of those few who received, the majority had passed reproductive age.

Because I go to the Tridentine aka the Traditional Latin aka the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, I can think of all kinds of reasons why a Catholic would not receive the Holy Eucharist. The first one, stemming from a sad reflection on my social life, is that he is still drunk from the night before. The second is that he has an upset tummy. The third is that he habitually fasts three hours before Mass, but decided that day that he had better have breakfast instead. The fourth is that he habitually fasts the new minimum of one hour before receiving communion, and communion time came five minutes earlier than he anticipated. The fifth is that he has spent Mass in a terrible mood of anger or annoyance or impatience and when the moment comes, he just cannot bring himself to receive the Lord in such a state. The sixth is that he lost a battle with the devil that week but did not get to Confession. Meanwhile, it is none of my business, and thanks to my cruciform church and the total lack of ushers, nobody makes it my business.

But I think we can all learn from communities in which people who are under the sway of serious sin nevertheless go to Mass and admit to Our Lord Jesus Christ that they are not worthy to receive Him because they have not yet accepted the Word that will heal their souls, and therefore they do not receive His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity that day. A Pole or a Jamaican in a state of mortal sin does not compound his sin by receiving the Eucharist so as not to feel embarrassed before his neighbours or to convince himself that God doesn’t mind his sin. At least, I hope not, and most of the time, I suspect not.

Catholics who allow themselves to notice things have noticed that a number of liturgical abuses have been accepted merely because they have persisted. And naturally the acceptance of these liturgical abuses have eroded those matters of faith their prohibition was meant to protect. The nod to altar girls has, naturally, eroded the masculine nature of priesthood, and made it less attractive to manly boys. The overuse of communion-in-the-hand has, naturally, eroded belief in the True Presence. The overuse of Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharists has eroded both the priestly character of the priesthood and belief in the True Presence. Heaven only knows what encouraging those in a state of mortal sin – many of whom humbly admit that they are in a state of mortal sin – to receive the Eucharist will do.

But let us return to my theme of how mean the Novus Ordo is to people in irregular unions or on the Pill or whatever else is keeping them slaves to serious sin. One of the problems with the way the Mass is presented in the Novus Ordo, e.g. as a very weird kind of family dinner, is that the emphasis is on “goin’ up for communion.”  (Gotta go up for communion. What’s the matter? Why aren’t you going up for communion? You in a STATE OF MORTAL SIN OR SUMFING?) Although receiving our Lord in the Eucharist is indeed a wonderful blessing, it is not the be-all and end-all of Mass.

Archbishop Gądecki, one of the Synod Fathers who believes the Roman Catholic faith, has provided the following reflection on behalf of those chained by sin. It is by Father Dariusz Kowalczyk, who also believes the Roman Catholic faith:

God’s Grace, Sacramental Grace, Sanctifying Grace
God’s grace is basically every saving action of God for man. We can therefore say that grace is one, just as there is one God. However, taking into account changes in circumstances as well as in the modalities and the consequences of God’s action, we distinguish different types of grace, including “sacramental grace” (gratia sacramentalis), “the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1129).
The Council of Trent teaches that through the sacraments “all true justice either begins, or being begun is increased, or being lost is repaired” (Denz. 1600). Therefore, sacramental grace is essentially sanctifying grace (gratia sanctificans). It should be noted that the concept of “sanctifying grace” is much broader than that of “sacramental grace.” For, God can come to sanctify human relationships outside the sacraments. In other words, God also saves non-sacramentally, as the Second Vatican Council stated: “we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery” (Gaudium et Spes, 22).
The situation of divorced persons living in new unions would then be a situation in which they are deprived of the sacramental grace linked to the sacrament of marriage, the sacrament of Penance and Holy Communion, but they should not be, by definition, deprived of God’s grace in general, of this sanctifying grace that God can give—as we said—non-sacramentally.
This is why John Paul II was able to write in Familiaris Consortio:
“They [divorced and remarried divorcees] should be encouraged to listen to the word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts in favor of justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God’s grace [our italics]” (No. 84).
Divorced persons living in new unions can therefore truly ask God to grant them His grace, which, although it is not and cannot be sacramental grace without the fulfillment of certain conditions, is nevertheless a true grace of God that restores a saving relationship with Him. However, this does not open the way for sacramental Communion for divorced people engaged in new unions. On the contrary, if this were so, they would turn away not only from the internal logic of sacramental grace but also risk to eliminate the grace received non-sacramentally.


My Dorothean solution to the problems of the “Remarried” Catholic at Mass is fivefold:

  1. it should be made clear at all Masses in communities where this has clearly been forgotten that although God’s grace may be obtained from assisting at Mass, the sacramental grace of the Eucharist may be received only by Roman Catholics who are not in a state of serious sin
  2. the fast should be emphasized, and perhaps returned to the three hour minimum, which will not only re-emphasize the sacredness of the Eucharist but will give those suffering in a prolonged state of mortal sin an alibi in the minds of their fallible, easily-distracted neighbours
  3. the People of God should not be herded and bossed about by ushers but allowed to consult with their own consciences, free from coercion, if they are in a fit state to receive Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist
  4. it should be made clear at all Masses that Sunday Mass worship is obligatory for every Christian, whether or not they wish to receive the Eucharist or are in a fit state to receive the Eucharist.
  5. churches should be built, ordered and decorated in such a way that people may unobtrusively worship God in concert with their neighbours but not distracted by, or distracting, their neighbours.

In an ideal world, the whole congregation would be in a state of grace at any given Mass. However, we don’t live in an ideal world, but in a fallen one, and in an age where the vast majority of Catholics do not make use of the Sacrament of Penance. Therefore, it would be a lot more honest, and perhaps a comfort to the so-called “remarried”, if those others not in a state of grace did not fall into the temptation of, or pressured into, making a sacrilegious communion.




22 thoughts on “The Novus Ordo is Mean to “Remarried” People”

  1. Gladstone says:

    Just on the outside chance that you’re not doing this already, ask here: She’ll take care of everything.

  2. PompousMaximus says:

    I was going to actually do that. And send my resume and maybe a form type letter see if I can’t get a few walleye bites.

  3. Lynda says:

    Hopefully after having made a good confession and so in a state of grace.

  4. Lynda says:

    Such persons have a moral duty to acknowledge their respective true husband or wife, and to make it clear to those they know that they are not living as man and wife but as friends sharing a household.

  5. Lynda says:

    Priests and bishops who facilitate sacrilege are in a state of mortal sin and heading to hell.

  6. Lynda says:

    Why can’t he give them these individual blessings after Mass? The priest blesses all during Mass.

  7. Lynda says:

    He is a scandal to souls. Obviously cares nothing for the Body, a Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. And what was he doing to even notice that a person didn’t receive, never mind admonishing him for doing so?!!

  8. dbwheeler says:

    Try here, pompous…they often have Catholic school ads too.

  9. Lynda says:

    What that “pastor” said was evil. Heretical. He should not even know and certainly not comment on whether you received. Has he know shame? He cannot know why you didn’t receive, nor is it for him to know. It is a mortal sin to receive if not in a state of grace. We may not receive if in a state of mortal sin, not of proper disposition at the time, including proper preparation, or we have not fasted. I think it is actually very irreverent to receive Our Lord without a fast – not eating for one hour (from about the time one arrived at church, to pray in preparation for Mass) is not a fast.

  10. Chloe says:

    Oh we had ushers to find us seats, no harm in that. It’s the ones who stand at the end of each row in turn to indicate when you should get up and go to communion that are the problem for me. Our church was packed to the doors and I think even the porch was full at Sunday Masses, but we had no need of anyone to herd us to communion. There was no chaos. All going up in turn, like sheep, makes it obvious who hasn’t gone and leads people to speculation there no right to. Bad idea.

  11. Barbara says:

    Yet when I was a kid in the 50s we had ushers because the Church was so packed they helped people find a seat. As well, if everyone had used the ‘festival-seating’ method to receive Communion we would have had chaos. Even with this ‘herding’ there were lots of people who did not receive. We just assumed they had not fasted from midnight or had some other personal reason. We never gave it another thought.

  12. Barbara says:

    We had an FSSP priest in past years who stopped blessing little kids and babies who were brought to the Communion rail – because it stopped the Mass in its tracks, to be picked up again when the next person received Communion, rinse and repeat.

    But ‘the families’ loved it so, that the next priest started doing it again. To me this is not only an abuse, stopping the ‘action’ during one of the specific parts of Holy Mass, but does no good before the kid, or baby, has the use of reason.

    We have bought into that meme that God’s Grace sort of washes over you when you enter the Church. I know, I know, He is really and truly there, but that’s not what I mean. One has to be disposed to receive grace, other than that kick in the head of Actual Grace that converts you. There are many things new in Holy Mother Church that tend to blur truths that we used to know.

  13. Barbara says:

    One hour? Where do you live? Here in NO parishes it’s 15 minutes before Saturday night Mass (you know, the ‘vigil’ that starts before dark?). Other days you have to call the priest, and if he’s in, you make an appointment! Then you go into the ‘Reconciliation Room’ for a nice chat and some jokes.

  14. Barbara says:

    Interesting and informative. I had not remembered that Saint Pius X was the one who encouraged frequent Holy Communion – saintly Pope – trying to encourage coming to union with Our Lord – different problems, different political and Church environment – liars and defilers have morphed his good intentions into sacrilege.

  15. Gladstone says:

    You might want to contact the Editors of the Remnant, who are St. Paul natives. Do you know how to fish for walleye?

  16. Athelstane says:

    One obvious fix – failing the option of another Sunday Mass at the parish where another priest is celebrating – would be to suddenly discover the need to visit the loo during Father’s sermons, thus avoiding near occasion of sin. But most likely, that would likely incur his wrath if he started to notice the pattern after a few Sundays. Have you considered earplugs? It sounds like you need some for the entire family.

    Obviously, what he’s doing is a violation of your canonical rights, but if the bishop is going to back him through action or inaction, well…difficult to stand on your rights when it’s your paycheck at stake. I know; I’ve been there.

  17. PompousMaximus says:

    The Bishop here has a shady history of taking over after a shady Bishop and shuttering a minor seminary known for some horrible abuses over approximately 30 years and paying off victims. One of the most prolific abusers even was elevated to Bishop and it seems an awful lot of folks knew about it before he was elevated. So unfortunately I don’t know if that would help. I have found refuge in the adjacent dioceses at both FSSP and ICKSP, but imagine that our Bishop does not welcome them. But again that is at the least a 2 or so hour drive. So we can do it somedays but when weather becomes an issue we will have to stay home, plus the Pastor certainly keeps dibs on my whereabouts. I totally appreciate the prayers. My wife and I are also looking into begining an apostolate or an independent school of our own.

  18. PompousMaximus says:

    Middle midwest USA. Coming from Florida. Looking to head North to the future. I hear St. Paul is nice.

  19. Stephen says:

    Kick him in the groin then quit. Word will get out. A new better job will likely come.

  20. rodlarocque1931 says:

    I have long had the same thoughts about this issue.
    Yet again Tradition has already solved the problem, yet moderns don’t want to listen.
    What is motivating this reform of ‘discipline’ or doctrine is that people in Germany, and other Western countries, are embarrassed to go to mass and not take communion, so they are not attending at all. The bishops know this and want to give them an easy way out of the awkward situation, to keep the bums-in-seats.
    Yet in the past this matter was already solved, there was the midnight fast, there was the awareness of other graces to come from attending mass and also there was the encouragement and availability of confession.
    For those that still couldn’t bring themselves to go to confession, they could sit in the back of the Church, the choir loft or anywhere else, and not be noticed enough to be stressed about it. At my TLM chapel, we have some people that never, or rarely, go to communion, no one bothers them and they are embraced with friendship and love. Of course I am sure they experience some encouragement privately here and there, but no one makes it his business to ask questions and at the least we appreciate that this person respects the Blessed Sacrament enough to observe the discipline and avoid sacrilege.
    I love Pope St. Pius X very much but think that his encouragement to frequent communion has had this terrible side-effect, the expectation that everyone should go to communion at all masses.
    Bring back the Traditional Latin Mass, the midnight fast and priests in the confessional. Also, encourage people to refrain from communion as a routine action, make it a special event and only when they feel the appropriate devotion.
    This was the way it was, and it worked for over 1,000 years.
    The TLM and its environment knows the human heart, the good and the bad, and it developed for saints and sinners to get along together in the Church. We need to really appreciate this more.

  21. Diego Serrano says:

    Something else I have noticed in the US and Canada: The sacrament of confession is reduced to a strict schedule of a few hours a week (I have seen places where it is one hour per week!). It is harder to have access than at many countries where there is confession during the Mass at almost every Mass!

  22. PompousMaximus says:

    After a particular difficult homily where in my N. O. Pastor ( I am the Principal at his school) stated that Christ was scared and needed to go off to pray to make up his mind whether he wanted to be King of Israel or not, some pretty dangerous stuff, especially for my wife and kids, I was a bit heated to say the least, I stayed back for communion. That being a wrongful disposition to receive Our Lord. Well the pastor came into my office a day later and told me that I am not to do that again. That if I stayed back for communion people would talk and we shouldn’t have any of that. I told him I wasn’t comfortable with that and that I would hope that he would separate my personal piety with my public position, I assured him that if anyone did indeed talk he could direct them to me and I would be glad to tell them why I stay back sometimes. Wasn’t good enough. Ho hum…again….persecuted for Jesus……could be worse…. shameless networking, any schools need a good trad administrator? It is one thing to subject myself to this but my family will need a change soon.

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