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 Krzysztof Winnik /

June 15, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The Archdiocese of Munich has endorsed a bizarre and sacrilegious website that supposedly celebrates and elaborates the message of Corpus Christi. The creators, two “pastoral advisers,” Michael Raz and Johannes van Kruijsbergen, explain (translated from German by Google):

This festival is about showing people on the spot that God is in the middle of us, in the middle of the world, at all times. The idea arose to photograph the monstrance, i.e. this vessel for showing the body of Christ, in different places of everyday life. The oral project received broad approval from the other sixty or so pastors.

And so we have photographs of a monstrance in a playground, on a roadside bench, on a pedestrian crossing, in a car, next to a building site, on a water feature in a park, and so on, with supremely un-memorable little texts to accompany each one: how our lives are bit like a building site or whatever.

It shouldn’t need to be pointed out that the Blessed Sacrament should not be carried around simply to provide photo opportunities, and it certainly shouldn’t be dumped on park benches or in the middle of a road for no good reason (see Canon 935). Nor is there any indication that it was a priest, or even a duly instituted lay person, who was manhandling this monstrance about the place, and one of the photographs shows a little boy grasping it (see Canon 943). It is a sad reflection on the state of the Church in Bavaria that the sixty pastors apparently consulted on the idea didn’t appear to notice its liturgical impropriety.

What were they thinking? The reality of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is not referred to in the little meditations. On the other hand, the whole object of the exercise is to show (as the title of the website says) “Gott — mitten in der Welt”: “God, in the middle of the world.” It appears that the Host displayed in the monstrance was not consecrated; in any case, the monstrance is itself a sacred vessel worthy of respect. Indeed, they have presumably chosen a rather lovely traditional monstrance, and not a freakish modern one, because it is easily recognizable by the folk of once Catholic Bavaria. In one or two of the photographs, the monstrance has been placed on a corporal, as it would be in Benediction on an altar.

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Here are people with so little instinct for the reverence due to the Blessed Sacrament, taking this monstrance around town to create a scene to photograph, because it represents, they tell us, “God in the world.” I suppose the paradox is explicable if they think the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance is merely a symbol of God, but they are also relying, for their photographs to have any interest, on the shock, or at least some mild surprise, of the viewer at the incongruity of the Blessed Sacrament in these places.

The point of a traditional Blessed Sacrament procession is the direct opposite of the purpose of this project. Instead of placing the monstrance in a profane place as if it were an everyday item, a traditional procession is a triumphal progress in which our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament receives the veneration of participants and bystanders and takes possession of the area. A traditional Blessed Sacrament procession shows us that the Tabernacle in a church is not His prison, but His throne.

The Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance receives even greater honor, is treated with even greater reverence, in a traditional Corpus Christi procession than during the liturgy. Traditionally, the priest, who has the privilege of handling the Blessed Sacrament with his hands, holds the monstrance with a special cloth; he can be preceded by two thurifers, candles, and a special canopy and accompanied by a throng of people singing and praying.

How can the world be converted: by actions that profane what is holy or by actions that prompt greater reverence toward what is holy? The answer is obvious. It is a continuous battle to accord God the honor that is His due in the everyday world. Today, those committed to this struggle have to contend not only with sin and indifference, but with misguided Catholics like Raz and van Kruijsbergen, who work to reduce the honor accorded to God by the world. The pathetic image of a monstrance on a bench or road, apparently abandoned and forgotten, is a vivid symbol of the Church some progressive Catholics seem determined to create, though not in the way Raz and van Kruijsbergen intended.

The rest of us will have to work twice as hard to make up for their contrary efforts: and it is they, not us, who are supported by the vast resources of the German Church. If the institutional Church suffers financially from the epidemic, we can at least reflect on the limitations this will place on the harm, as well as the good, being done.

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Dr Joseph Shaw has a Doctorate in Philosophy from Oxford University, where he also gained a first degree in Politics and Philosophy and a graduate Diploma in Theology. He has published on Ethics and Philosophy of Religion and is the editor of The Case for Liturgical Restoration: Una Voce Position Papers on the Extraordinary Form (Angelico Press). He is the Chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales and Secretary of Una Voce International. He teaches Philosophy in Oxford University and lives nearby with his wife and nine children.


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