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Bill Radjewski wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have a question regarding the proper celebration of the Eucharist and other liturgical practices.

I am a student attending a "Catholic" university and we have a priest who celebrates Mass in a peculiar way.

  • First of all, he refuses to take his seat at the altar, preferring to sit with the congregation.
  • He also avoids contact with the Sacred Host. For example, during the Eucharistic Prayer, he will not hold up the bread or the chalice during the words of consecration.
  • He keeps his hands folded throughout the entire Eucharistic Prayer. In fact, he keeps the wine inside of the corporal. He won't even touch the bread and wine before "consecration".
  • The people presenting the gifts, are told to put them on the altar themselves while he sits and watches.

  • My main question is whether or not the gifts are appropriately consecrated seeing he won't even touch them during the Eucharistic Prayer?

I fear that they aren't, so I avoid going to his Mass whenever possible, and when I do, I don't receive Communion.

  • My other question is whether he is allowed to sit with the congregation.

There are many other abuses, but they are too numerous to list. A group of students have already confronted the priest about his practices, but it appears he has ignored us. We are considering writing the bishop.

Any help with the above questions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much for your time.

God Bless and may Christ's Peace be with you.

Bill Radjewski

  { Is this priest validly celebrating the Mass and is he allowed to sit with the congregation? }

Mike replied:

Dear Bill —

What you have said is totally out of line and in no way resembles the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This should be reported to the bishop. If the bishop won't listen, I would recommend reporting it to another bishop who is loyal to the Magisterium and Holy Father.

The priest, in persona Christi, in the person of Christ, represents Christ and re-presents or "makes present" what Jesus did at the Last Supper on that Holy Night before he died.

A properly trained Catholic priest, will use the correct form:

This is my body.
This is the cup of my blood.

and matter

  • unleavened wheat bread, and
  • grape wine in the Roman rite

to re-present what Jesus did on the night before he died; and to re-present Calvary in the
Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. A priest can't re-enact what Christ did if he is sitting down in the pew like a parishioner. Christ uses the body of the priest, and through his ministerial priesthood,
he reenacts the Last Supper. If he is avoiding contact with the Sacred Host, this priest obviously has been poorly trained. It is through the priest's body that Jesus is transubstantiating the bread and wine into His Divine Body and Blood. I can't see how he can have any intention of doing what the Church intends him to do, so I would say his Masses are, not only illicit, but invalid.

You stated in your question:
My main question is whether or not the gifts are consecrated seeing he won't even touch them during the Eucharistic Prayer?

No, the gifts of bread and wine are not consecrated.

You stated in your question:
My other question is whether he is allowed to sit with the congregation.

No.

You stated in your question:
We are considering writing the Bishop.

Good, and if that doesn't work, go to another bishop loyal to the Holy See.

Hope this helps,

Mike

Annette, a visitor to our site replied:

Hi, Mike —

I just wanted to make a comment that perhaps the priest was not feeling very well or perhaps he thought he was coming down with something and didn't want to take the chance of infecting others. Perhaps he should have stayed standing off to the side.

  • I don't know, but I think he may have had a really good reason, don't you?

Just a thought.

Annette

Mike replied:

Hi, Annette —

Thanks for the comment.

I wish the problem was as easy to solve as that. If that were the case, the priest should have found another priest to celebrate Mass in his place.

The Holy Mass which we attend Sunday is the source and submit of the Catholic Faith.
The gestures of the priest re-present the gestures of Jesus at the Last Supper. The stance
of the priest are governed by the Church which he established on St. Peter in order to preserve the correct celebration of the Mass. The priest is re-enacting what Jesus did on Holy Thursday.

What that priest did, in this case, resembles nothing of what Our Blessed Lord did on the eve of Holy Thursday.

Hope this clarifies things.

Mike

John replied:

Hi Bill,

Thanks for the questions.

  1. The priest is not allowed to sit among the congregation during the liturgy.
  2. Unless he has some communicable disease, or other physical reason that he has been given dispensation for, he is not allowed to do what he is doing during the Consecration.

Given the fact that he sits with the congregation during the Mass, it leads me to believe he is just out right disobeying the rubrics.

As for the validity of the consecration, it is not as clear cut as my brother Mike seems to imply. So long as he says the right words and intends to do what the Church intends, then the gifts,
in fact, do become Jesus, the Christ. Any and all bread on the corporal, the white sheet on the altar or in the paten, are consecrated at Mass, not just the one host a priest picks up. You don't always see this because, often times, there are hosts, in reserve, in the tabernacle. When they run out of the consecrated species, they need consecrate more, and they need not be handled or elevated.

When there is a Mass and Holy Communion is to be received under both species, typically the priest holds up the chalice, but there is another vessel filled with wine on the altar which also gets consecrated, even though the priest doesn't hold it up.

A Sacrament requires a certain minimum form and matter for validity. In this case, you need the right words, the right intention, and valid bread and wine. Gestures, while they are an integral part of the Liturgy, are not vital or essential. Hence the omission of an integral component only makes the sacrament illicit, not invalid.

Nevertheless, just because the sacrament is valid, there is no excuse for ignoring the rubrics.
It sounds to me like this priest may have received some bad theology along with his lack of obedience.

This man's blatant disobedience may give you "just cause" to wonder what his intention is during the consecration.

The Church has a doctrine known as Ecclesia Supplet. Briefly put, if his intention is close enough, the faith of the Church is sufficient.

The priest may have personal passing doubts about the faith from time to time, as all of us do, but so long as the priest intends to do, what the Church intends, despite his doubts, the faith of the Church is sufficient for a valid Sacrament.

It does not mean, that priest can intend to bring about consubstantiation or a symbolic presence, which some might say is close enough. The priest must intend to consecrate according to the teaching of the Church even if, at the time, he happens to be struggling with that teaching.

In addition, Ecclesia Supplet does not apply to the required form and matter for all the sacraments of the Church. The priest must follow the correct form and matter for a valid sacrament.

  • The question is how much of an intention does he have to have when he speaks the words of consecration, assuming he is using the correct words?

To that end I agree with Mike; I have my serious doubts about his intention but then again,
I'm not in this priest's head, nor does anyone know what his intention is, so I am in no position to declare that the sacrament is invalid.

At any rate, rest assured that you've received grace and a spiritual communion at the very least.

It might not be a bad idea to find another parish to attend if possible. Speaking from personal experience, when abuses are so many and so blatant, one tends to focus on the abuses and does not worship the Lord properly because of the distractions.

I repeat, I have concerns about whether this priest has the correct intent, but I don't know his heart. The best thing to do is ask him. If that doesn't get you anywhere, write to the bishop and find another parish.

God Bless,

John DiMascio

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