Thursday, August 12, 2010

a special place in hell...

... if you live on North Carolina or have visited here you may have had the pleasure to attend St. Lawrence Basilica in the mountains of Asheville. The Basilica has many wonders to behold but the one I'm focusing my attentions on is their use of the Eucharistic Bouncer.

Yes, I said Eucharistic Bouncer. His sole job is to stand beside the priest while he administers Holy Communion to the congregation looking menacing and making sure each Host is consumed. You see, Asheville is a large artist community. And as with every artist community, there are a disproportionate amount of pagans and practicing wiccans. Apparently the problem of consecrated Hosts being stolen for desecration is so rampant at the Basilica that they needed to install the special ministry of Eucharistic Bouncer.

As I was recently relaying this story to some one and I couldn't help but remark that there is a special place in Hell for such depraved souls... the very bowels of Hell. I imagine the worst torments for these sorry lots, the lowest level of Hell. I envision that Memling painting of devils consuming souls and defecting them out into a lake of fire for those whose commit this grievous sin.

The news of this story reminds us all that there are very really offenses committed against the Body of Christ that we should make special reparations for.


Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Do you mind updating your link to my new blog please?

Tc said...

Pagans and Wiccans would have no need of a Host. Satanists, yes, but pagans, no.

Also, the idea of a Eucharistic Bouncer puts me off. Big Time.

Jesus told Peter to put away his sword.

Minkykat said...

The idea of the body of Jesus being insulted time and again by some punk puts me off BIG TIME.

I don't recall in the article where it said the bouncer was armed.

The Crescat said...

Agreed... I never said the Bouncers were armed. So Thom, you would not defend the Body of Christ with your life? What about the saints who died before us protecting Hosts?

Thom, I know you are a pacifist but defense is not an act of violence.

The Crescat said...

Jackie, I am bad about updating the links, I apologize. Please, of you don't mind, give me the new address and I will make the changes this evening.

Dan said...

The words of Jesus, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do...." always comes to mind when I hear of consecrated Hosts being stolen, or desecrated.

Tc said...

Kat, the arms weren't the point.

But anyway, there's nothing in our tradition to support something like that, is there?

PaxetBonum said...

How about starting with a mandatory public reading from the lectern, at the end of the Prayers of the Faithful and before the Preface, of the "Guidelines for Reception of Communion" printed just inside the front or rear covers of most missalettes? This wouldn't stop anyone bound and determined to desecrate the Blessed Sacrament, but it should give pause to non-Catholics or Catholics not in a state of grace.

Since such a statement would be an extra-liturgical announcement, you could add a few remarks about recent desecrations, and the gravity of such monstrous sins (graviora delictae). That way, at least you have put everyone publicly on notice.

I have actually heard such remarks made in Protestant worship services over the years, usually just before distributing "The Lord's Supper". They cite St. Paul's comments regarding participating in Communion unworthily.

A bouncer seems a little over the top; if he actually accosted someone physically, I think he (and the pastor and the diocese) may be liable to criminal assault charges and maybe civil lawsuits. Doen't seem too practical.

Maybe we can assign Knights of Columbus to stand near the priest with their swords strapped to their hips and the same look a cop has on his face when he approaches your vehicle during a highway stop?


newguy40 said...

If the majority of Catholics attending Sunday Mass, truly beileved in the Real Presence, a bouncer would not be needed.

Maurisa said...

Mmmm, interesting, Newguy, but my thought went more like: If more Catholics truly believed in the Real Presence, they would understand the need for Eucharistic bouncers at the Basilica.

Terry Nelson said...

Thom can be kinda feisty can't he. ;)

Anyway - our Cathedral has ushers standing next to the minister of Holy Communion since not a few people approach because everyone else is going forward - and when they get there they seem not to know how to receive properly, and that is when the usher steps forward and explains that the host must be consumed then and there and should not be put in one's pocket or carried around the church. You would be amazed by what people do. One parish found numerous hosts in the hymnals after an all school Mass.

I have actually heard some people claim these abuses and desecrations occur because of Communion in the hand, but the bishops are not convinced...

C. G. Burns said...

Wait a minute...where does it say in the article that Pagans and Wiccans are responsible for the thefts?

I realize that they make up a significant proportion of many artists' communities, but throwing around accusations like that makes me uneasy. You may be surprised to find that many Wiccan/Pagan elders or leaders would also condemn the theft or desecration of another church's sacred objects (stealing is NOT something they condone).

Lola said...

My dh and I visited that church a couple of years ago on a 'get-away' to Asheville.

I thought it was a jewel and a gorgeous surprise to find in a city with more Southern Baptist Churches than Catholic.

I like the 'no-nonsense' approach. Even if it seems a bit strong.

Our parish had had a couple of 'hosts' found on the church grounds after mass for a couple of weeks in a row. Father discussed it at every mass until it stopped shortly there after. We've had to lock the church up since. Probably more for the 'poor-box' snatchers. Those Eucharistic Ministers are pretty clueless on handing out the Eucharist to 'non-catholics' visiting with their family.

I wonder what sort of 'bouncers' the Cordoba will have when it opens it's doors.

Paul Cat said...

I believe part of the job of the ushers is to make sure the communion host is consumed on the spot.

Also, I spent a number of summers in the Pisgah forest leading backpacking trips. On one occasion a buddy of mine stumbled across the remains of a black mass. He hotfooted it out of there.

So perhaps, in Ashville, due to the high concentration of hippie wiccan pagan satanist the Church needs to be more watchful with the sacrament.

Also, the random drum circles in Ashville were always fun to watch.

Anonymous said...

"Over the top?" Ever been to the Bele Chere Festival in downtown Asheville? If you have, you wouldn't doubt the need for the bouncer.

Although I'm up here in PA, my folks live in Asheville. As a matter of fact, Dad's the Grand Knight of the St. Lawrence KofC Council. As such, I think he also coordinates the ushers. I'll get the scoop from him tomorrow.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Appalling! This strikes me as a good reason to go back to communion on the tongue only and priests should quiz those they don't know before communing them. Ours does.

Q1: Are you Orthodox?
Q2: Have you kept the fasts for the last week and especially since midnight?
Q3: Did you attend Vespers last night (unless excused for an honorable reason)?
Q4: Have you been to confession recently?


The Blind Guide said...

I second John a.O. It is a (way overused) exception that Communion be recv'd in the hand in the Latin Rite. Here Fr. Z. cites Redemptionis Sacramentum which says "If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful,":

The Asheville Basilica case seems pretty damn applicable.

Dominic Mary said...

It really is that simple . . . end the abuse of giving Holy Communion into the hand.

Finita la commedia.

Janny said...

It's not where you receive the Host (hand or tongue) that counts, and it never has. What counts is what's a few inches further down.

I get so tired of blanket condemnations of receiving Communion in the hand, as if THAT's responsible for the bad catechesis that makes people think it's OK to put a Host inside a missalette. Clue: it's not. Teach people about the Real Presence--and insist on honoring Jesus' Presence AS SUCH--and most of the rest takes care of itself.

I could never be an EHMC...the first time I saw some half-dressed cutie saunter up to Communion chewing gum, I'd be tempted to whisper to her, "Come back when you're ready to receive the Lord, sweetheart. That obviously isn't now."

(But then, that'd probably just make the altar girls faint dead away...)


Just another mad Catholic said...

I agree with Dominic Mary; last night I was at the LMS training conference and His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider addressed us on the importance of recieving on the tounge and how the Bishops conference of Khazakstan voted UNANIMOUSLY to ban Communion in the hand!!

Now if only the Holy Father would do the same.......

Minkykat said...

Sadly at the main church I go to, I have no choice but to receive in the hand...the priest is a little guy. Even if I wear flats, Father is still only coming up to my shoulder.
Add to that the "sleath priestess" aka the girl altar servers just stay seated thru out communion.
No one is there with the "host catcher" for accidents.
(and listen, once you've had the host dropped into your blouse by some butterfingered newbie, you learn real quick that trying to receieve "old school" ain't worth the embarrassment sometimes! Some priests have the wrist action down, some don't)

Lola said...

BTW here's a Youtube that'll make you want to hurl:

Radical Atheists are the worst sort of offenders, and I bets' they're all over Asheville.

Ink said...

Minkykat: As a female altar server who has been trained twice in two completely separate churches, I can tell you that the people in charge simply don't tell any of the altar servers about that type of thing. Heck, I couldn't even find a paten if I wanted to. Oh, and I got in trouble for wearing my hat to read and serve. On the flip side, I have seen a church which, at its 7pm Saturday Mass, has a single female altar server (usually) who is ridiculously efficient. She does, in fact, hold a paten beneath the Host during the Eucharist.

Nan said...

The priest where I sometimes go for daily Mass moves very fast to move his ciborium to act as a paten when I receive on the tongue; I sometimes wonder if I'll be decapitated.

Terry, I've never seen ushers at the Cathedral deployed in the manner you describe.

Courtney said...

This is truly a desecration and is evidence of both poor catechesis and the general ignorance and even malevolence of unbelievers. But honestly, even while I firmly support priests and the faithful doing their best to prevent this kind of sacrilege, how else can you respond than by praying for the offenders? Sparing the unworthy from that grisly death in Hell which you describe is above precisely why Jesus came and died and made Himself vulnerable and available as a little appearance-of-bread that (as the medievals worried) even a mouse could eat.

When I'm at Mass and thinking about the people around me who are no doubt basically uncatechized and spiritually mostly-dead and are taking communion anyway (ignoring my own less-than-worthily reception, of course, as befits an narcissistic young convert like myself), I try to think of two things: 1. a poem by Scott Cairns in which, during communion, he finds himself thinking about how much he hates the person sitting in front of him, and 2. Shusaku Endo's book Silence, in which a priest being persecuted (in 16th century Japan) hears Christ speak to him: "‘Trample! Trample!... It was to be trampled on by men that I was born into this world. It was to share men's pain that I carried my cross.’"

I think we should pray all the more fervently that with every (deliberate or accidental) mistreatment and desecration of the Host, Christ will bind the suffering -- those who share his fate, and those who bring it upon themselves by their own perversity -- more closely to Himself. I, personally, when I was an (unbaptized!) Protestant teenager, presumed to receive the Eucharist, out of a combination of curiosity and pride. (How silly of Catholics to claim that I wasn't good enough of a Christian to receive Him!) Sometimes I think that's when Christ got His hook in me and drew me into the Church. Deniers can end up a Peter as well as a Judas; and what about Paul, who desecrated Christ's body by killing its members outright?

I'm sorry if this comes off as preachy. I just couldn't help thinking, re: the comments above, that "if Catholics really believed in the Real Presence," they'd realize that Jesus Himself willed to make Himself vulnerable, even in this way, to our immense capacity for sin and betrayal. Which isn't to say that we shouldn't do our best to prevent that sin from actually occurring, but that seems somewhat different to me than savoring a vision of them in the very bowels of Hell... ;)

The Crescat said...


I think if you reread the post you will see that I was calling for prayers of reparation... no where did I say I was "savoring visions" of sinners being tormented in hell.

Please do not assume malice on my part when their is none.

I was pretty clear that no one deserves to suffer that and we should be praying for their souls.