Liturgy

Prêt-À-Manger Eucharist, etc.

More than monuments are toppling. Our sense of the sacred diminishes further with each week that fear of Wuhan virus ranks higher on parish concerns than the concept of sin. Thomas Mann once quipped that nowadays sin is “an amusing word used only when one is trying to get a laugh.” Now we can get our laughs untainted by any nagging guilt right in our own parishes. They have risen from slumber over the concept of sin in order to testify with vigor to hygiene in the age of COVID. Continue Reading
Hand Sanitizer: The New Sacramental

“Doctor, Doctor, will I die?” “Yes, my child, and so shall I.” Hand sanitizer has entered the liturgy as both a stay against mortality and a sacramental displacing holy water. Coronavirus is not cholera but it might as well be. That is the unavoidable impression given by churches with dry fonts but multiple dispensers of sanitizer. Every acute respiratory illness is serious. By no means is this latest Chinese virus to be taken lightly. But there is no point in my adding to the media drum beat. Continue Reading
St. Xavier's: From the Waterfront Priest to the Dancing Priest

There exists no sharper illustration of present-day enfeeblement of the Jesuit temper than the difference between the ministries of John Corridan, S.J., the “waterfront priest” of the 1940’s, and today’s Robert VerEecke, S.J., the “dancing priest.” Fr. Corridan earned a significant place in labor history. Fr. VerEecke earned removal from the Church of St. Francis Xavier for making sexual overtures to a male parishioner. The diminution is tragic. And telling. In the slide from Corridan, a morally serious man, to VerEecke, a flâneur on ideological boulevards, we witness the unsteadiness of a Church listing toward the conceits of the age. Continue Reading
Of Calendars And Memory

The sixties were generous with gifts that keep on taking. I cannot help thinking that one of them was the Church’s 1969 calendar revision for January 1. / /The Church began withdrawing recognition from the circumcision of Jesus in the sixties. Today, circumcision itself is under threat once-Christian Europe, from Switzerland to Scandinavia. Because it is practiced by both Jews and Muslims, it is tempting to see moves against the ritual as the sour fruit of secularist ideology. And there is partial truth to that. Continue Reading
Keeping It Lite

It was a gift from the Sixties, our user-friendly funeral Mass. Every time I attend one, I come away convinced that resurrection is in the bag. In keeping with the confident, self-affirming modern cosmology that animates our memorials, it is as if the dead were already risen. So why not just strike a commemorative medallion and be done with it? I remember the service arranged for . . . call him Stan. Friends and family stepped to the lectern with smiling eulogies. Continue Reading