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A Leaven In The World… Spiritual Materialism Cannot Save Your Soul

August 19, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK

Some call it cafeteria Catholic. It manifests itself as a demand to take one thing Christ handed down in the Church while rejecting others likewise handed down.
The Eucharist is the Real Presence of the Lord and it is thus the source and summit of our faith. The sight of the faithful going forward at Mass and receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord is deeply rooted in Catholic experience. Which is awesome, considering who it is we thus receive! If we truly understood that the One greater than which cannot be imagined was before us, we might be seized by an immobilizing fear of offending Him and remain in our pews, bent knees trembling upon the floor.
The sight of faithful streaming forward at Communion in Mass should, however, be emblematic of our faith experience. It is right and just for He who gives commanded: “Take and eat, this is my Body.” The Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier truly present under the sign of bread is the most powerful effect of His love consummated for our sake on the holy cross.
As I like to teach, the Lord’s perfect prayer of the Holy Mass in which we participate through Baptism results in the perfect gift of His true and Real Presence of the Eucharist, which we fruitfully receive if in a state of grace.
But familiarity also breeds attitudes other than wonder, awe, and fear of the Lord. Receiving the Lord of Heaven and Earth in the hand no doubt has had its part to play in the long-term degradation of faith in the Eucharist. Treating the Body and Blood of the Lord like ordinary bread militates against the Catholic faith one may profess. And the faith has always demanded its influence in action.
Denying the faith in one’s postures and gestures while professing it in words has had other deleterious effects on the witness of the Church outside of Mass, such as voting pro-abortion within the privacy of election balloting and failing to stand up and be heard on the issue of redefining marriage — just a couple of the ways that God is denied in His world today, also by self-described Catholics.
How many priests over the years have given Communion in the hand against their own better judgment? They depend for their livelihood on bishops who have caved before this faith-eroding aberration, legally permitted as it is by indult. This sets up a collision course which cannot be avoided once the Traditional Mass begins to make its way back into the parishes. The Traditional Mass admits of no slippery slopes leading to possible profanation of, irreverence toward, or disbelief in, the sacraments.
It seems now that one may be as pious in speech as one wishes, just as long as one does not cause discomfort to others less inclined by expressing such convictions in one’s behavior. This might explain why in some parishes one sees a visiting celebrant physically shove a paten-bearing altar server away as Communion begins and appear to grow angrier as scores of faithful kneel to receive our Lord in the Eucharist. Again, the message seems to be “talk as piously as you like, but don’t ask me to watch you physically express such sentiments through venerable Catholic customs.”
The privatization of belief has far-reaching consequences. One of these is a chilling effect on evangelization. The following scenario plays out again and again in many locations.
A woman comes back to Mass after many years away from practice. She is not married in the Church and unable to be so as she lives with a man who is previously married in a valid Catholic ceremony. She begins discussions with a priest while attending Mass a few times and taking part in some parish activities outside of Mass. After a couple of weeks she abruptly announces to her village neighbors with whom she has attended the liturgy, to their chagrin, that she is not going to “this church” anymore. When asked what she means, she says that she wants to go to Mass where no one knows her and she can receive Communion.
You see, she doesn’t want to go to Confession or promise to live as a sister with the man with whom she shares a home, the usual path necessary for anyone in similar circumstances before returning to reception of the Eucharist in a state of grace. Grace builds only upon grace.
The error of spiritual materialism is at work in those who fail to understand they cannot truly receive the Christ they can see in the Holy Eucharist while rejecting the Christ they cannot see but who truly speaks in the Church’s teaching on marriage and in the voice of the priest in the confessional as he confers absolution.
Why the demand to receive God on one’s own terms and without regard for the necessity of doing so in a state of grace so as to avoid further sin and to grow in grace as the Lord desires?
It might have something to do with the fact that in any typical parish on a weekly basis an observer sees 99 percent of the people going forward at Communion time to receive the Lord as He gives Himself in the Eucharist. This while the priest in the confessional prior to Mass was unable to give the Lord through the grace of absolution because none of those people availed themselves of the sacrament of forgiveness. This scene repeats itself countless times nearly every weekend, close to 52 times a year.
Nearly an entire generation may have fallen away from belief in or practice of one of the seven sacraments, the only one for absolving of grave sin under ordinary circumstances. Which might explain why so many individuals of a certain generation refuse the Sacrament of Confession even on their deathbeds, witnessing which causes this priest to shudder with abject fear for the salvation of their eternal souls. Which now-canonized saint would have rejected the forgiving Jesus in their last moments on this Earth? Not one.
A breakdown in teaching which demonstrates the inner connection in Christ between all of the sacraments and all of the teaching in faith and morals, all handed down through the Church, is the missing piece of the puzzle for many Catholics. Reject one sacrament and you reject all, for it is the same Jesus we profess to love in each. Reject one teaching and you reject the holiness of life in Christ.
One cannot love Jesus present in the Eucharist while, in serious sin, rejecting His voice which says, “I do not condemn you. Go and sin no more” in the absolution of the confessional. Love is also saying you are sorry.
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.
Watch for my first tweet after a 90 day Twitter fast coming soon @IntroiboAdAltar. Stay in touch at APriestLife.blogspot.com. Scripture and Catechism teachings are paired for Sunday Mass at mcitl.blogspot.com.

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