You may have noticed in the last two years there have been many adaptations in the Mass out of fear and concern for spreading COVID-19 but the question becomes: is man the author of the liturgy? Of course not. Christ has put His Church in charge of safeguarding her teachings and one of these primary elements is the liturgy. Through the centuries, it has organically developed, and now, all of a sudden, we are experimenting. Let’s just be honest: this tinkering has encouraged irreverence, and dare I say sacrilege. As Catholics, we must be aware that Jesus’ present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity cannot be loved and adored enough! At every waking moment, we must treasure the gift of the Eucharist which is more precious than any jewel or for that matter, anything in the entire universe!
Last month, I read a book titled The Holy Bread of Eternal Life by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, a theologian and teacher who has written a handful of books on liturgy. This book is particularly impressive as it dives into our current liturgical abuses in parishes all around the world. He describes in great detail the Theology of the Eucharist and how we can restore reverence in what he calls the “Age of Impiety.” We should approach Christ with authentic faith and reverence. How do we do this? First, we must be properly disposed to receive Christ present in the Eucharist. We often talk about this as receiving Communion “worthily.” Even though we are not worthy as sinners (“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof…”), Christ freely gives out of love His Flesh and Blood to eat and drink. This should not be taken lightly. We receive many graces when we approach Him humbly and reverently while being in the state of grace. Because of this, examining our hearts is necessary before receiving our Lord. We must be conscious of what we are receiving and never approach it carelessly.
Not only does our interior disposition matter when receiving Christ present in the Eucharist, but our externals do, as well. Therefore, we should receive Him kneeling and on the tongue. It is an act of surrender and humility. Kwasniewski states, “it is therefore absolutely fitting that Christ’s faithful should go before His minister, receiving on bended knee and with open mouth the nourishment of body and soul, like a baby bird fed in the nest by its parent.” Through His minister, who acts in His place, Christ is the one who truly feeds us. We do not feed ourselves with this gift from heaven above. This gift comes from Him which should be reverently received.
In his last chapter, Kwasniewski discerns what is true and false obedience. So how can we distinguish between what is good and bad? True obedience can never lead us into sin although it should stretch us and lead us to greater holiness. As faithful Catholics, it is our duty to restore and recover authentic Catholic tradition. This applies not only to liturgical practices but also to doctrinal and moral teachings. Kwasniewski boldly proclaims, “obedience cannot absolve us from listening to and following our well-formed consciences. Otherwise, we are reduced to robots.” In other words, obedience has limits! It is our duty each day to follow our well-formed consciences rooted in the Truth that God has given to us in the Scriptures and the rich Tradition the Church. We cannot depart from the foundation that Christ has given to us to safeguard. We must fight for Truth when it is being attacked! True and authentic obedience is either directly or indirectly always pointed to God. If we forget God when talking about what obedience is and is not, we have completely lost sight of who we are serving and where our ultimate aim is located. Let us continue to be rooted in the Truth and always remain faithful to Christ and His Church. Remember the words that Jesus gives us, “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt. 28:20)