Thursday, 10 September 2009

The wisdom of Fr. Richard McBrien

Recently Fr. Richard McBrien of Notre Dame University, Indiana, has offered us his great words of wisdom concerning adoration of the Blessed Sacrament: (H/T to Fr. Tim).

Notwithstanding Pope Benedict XVI's personal endorsement of Eucharistic adoration and the sporadic restoration of the practice in the archdiocese of Boston and elsewhere, it is difficult to speak favorably about the devotion today.

Now that most Catholics are literate and even well-educated, the Mass is in the language of the people (i.e, the vernacular), and its rituals are relatively easy to understand and follow, there is little or no need for extraneous Eucharistic devotions. The Mass itself provides all that a Catholic needs sacramentally and spiritually.

Eucharistic adoration, perpetual or not, is a doctrinal, theological, and spiritual step backward, not forward.

What he seems to be implying is that those who love the practice of Eucharistic Adoration (like myself, and the parish and fathers of the Birmingham Oratory) are illiterate, ill - educated, and hankering after obscurantist rituals and dead language. Also that in our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament we are neglecting devotion to the liturgy, to the mass and to Christ, if indeed (God forbid!), we are not practicing devotion to Our Blessed Lady...

In other words, we must be backward, uneducated and superstitious Irish, Italian or Polish peasants who need to be enlightened by learned intellectual American liberals like himself. Bear in mind also that our Holy Father, notwithstanding the fact he is a leading theologian, scholar, liturgist and Vatican II peritus, comes from Bavarian peasant stock, and that Pope John Paul II originated from what must be a backward Eastern Europe. With this in mind, Fr. McBrien has an excellent reason for explaining their advocacy of perpetual Eucharistic adoration.

But as for me, I would like him to explain why I am so backward in my devotions. I have great love of the liturgy and the psalms, pray the Benedictine office daily and was educated by Benedictine monks. And it is almost second nature for me to fall prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the Oratory on Saturday mornings: the Word made flesh, that has dwelt amongst us. I must have a most immature view of the faith, or perhaps I am suffering a complex and trauma that needs to be resolved by intensive psychotherapy.

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