The Basic Difference Between Normal People and the Catholic Blogosphere

The Basic Difference Between Normal People and the Catholic Blogosphere July 25, 2012

For normal people, this is an immensely powerful witness to the mighty and merciful love of God transforming sin and tragedy into forgiveness, healing and redemption.

For an awful lot of people in the Catholic blogosphere, this is an occasion to get all bent out of shape because a priest administered baptism with a coffee cup and communion was given by intinction.

Never, ever make the mistake of thinking that the Church you encounter on line is like the Church of normal people you find in a given parish.  Cyber-Catholicism is a funhouse mirror of flesh and blood Catholics.

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  • I thought that was a nice story. Didn’t hurt that it’s in my own neck of the American woods.

  • I’m confused. If we can’t expect a priest to observe the laws of the Church in small matters, how can we be expected to trust him on more important matters? Further, if we are meant to overlook these lapses based on the outcome of situation, isn’t that just a form of consequentialism?

    • Jmac

      Oddly enough, there’s a continuum between Pharisaical legalism and pure relativism.

      • Pharisaical legalism is legalism because it is legalism which stops at legalism. Legalism from love goes by the name of obedience.

    • Deadstop

      What lapses? Intinction by the minister of Holy Communion (as opposed to intinction by the communicant) is not forbidden, and any water may be used to baptize.

    • Ted Seeber

      Last I looked, Inction is allowable in the GIRM if the *priest* does it. It is self-inction that is banned, though in practice I don’t know any Extraordinary Ministers *or* priests that would turn somebody away from Christ for it.

      A priest I know has *official permission* from the Archbishop to do it twice a year at a special needs retreat.

  • Pedantic Classicist

    Mark, thanks for sharing. It’s so weirdly poetic. The officer had such strong faith and forgave his shooter, even as he entered on a long period of disability. The shooter himself became an invalid, but found faith. The widow of the officer is herself finally able to forgive. Standing like bookends on the whole affair is this same priest, Fr. Lutz. You couldn’t write something this beautiful: it’s like something out of Michael O’Brien or Walker Percy.

    Hmmm, fair point on the issues with the “blogosphere,” though I’m not sure if anyone has gotten bent out of shape yet. At any rate, this clearly isn’t a case of “self-intinction,” so I think we’re in the clear!

    On a less important note, perhaps: what is it with (properly done) intinction and indult parishes? The indult parish in Front Royal does the same thing regularly, I think. Maybe it’s healthy for “Traddies” to do some borrowing of Maronite practices? Or is this some kind of secret campaign to get rid of Communion in the Hand?? Uh oh! I hear maniacal laughter erupting somewhere from the darkest regions of the Traditionalist Cabal…. Well, if you can’t beat em…..

  • Steve S

    “Behold I make all things new.” Thanks for posting this, Mark. Between this and the earlier story of the wells in Ethiopia, I have been reminded of the mysterious ways that God’s grace works to transform the world. Also, this story helped me meditate on Paul’s epistle from this past Sunday: “For he is the peace between us, and has made the two into one entity and broken down the barrier which used to keep them apart, by destroying in his own person the hostility”

  • “Never, ever make the mistake of thinking that the Church you encounter on line is like the Church of normal people you find in a given parish. Cyber-Catholicism is a funhouse mirror of flesh and blood Catholics.”

    Truth. Though to be fair, it seems to be the case that cyber-life-in-general is a funhouse mirror of the real thing…

  • Bob G

    What is really hilarious is that the priest is pastor of the parish in Columbus that offers Mass in the Extraordinary Form and also runs a soup kitchen for the poor.

    • Peggy Hagen

      And – for anyone passing through the area – hosts a museum of art and sacred objects from closed churches, or that were discarded by churches that renovated after Vatican II. If you’re in Columbus, be sure to stop by – but mind the signs in the church parking lot about locking your car. God bless Fr. Lutz for his ministry there!

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    This is truly a beautiful story. Forgiveness in the face of violence; repentance and redemption in the aftermath of murder: all grace.

    It’s not to become bent out of shape when Christ’s ministers choose to disregard the proper liturgical form when dispensing His sacraments (we should allow nothing to disturb our peace or our charity), but an act of that betrays a careless ignorance or a disobedient attitude is something that should sadden any faithful Catholic. As an ugly storm cloud mars the brilliance of an otherwise beautiful blue sky, and partially blots out the sunshine, so, too, mistakes in the liturgical form are . . . a disappointment.

    Mistakes or disobedience may well not be the case here: special needs of an ill or disabled recipient may permit the priest to use intinction and to use special arrangements for the administration of the water of Baptism. In fact, I’m going to give Father the benefit of the doubt by assuming that they are pemitted in such special cases, that this case fit the bill, and that pastors in his diocese have the authority to decide such things.

    Getting bent out of shape? About what? Losing my peace would be a sin.

    • Mark Shea

      Marion: I agree with all you write. My purpose in writing as I did was, frankly, to head off the kind of majoring in minors I describe by pointing out the absurdity before the whole discusson got started. I find it exhausting to try posting some beautiful story like this, only to have some culture warrior drag it back to our need for the death penalty or some liturgical warrior obsess over how the Church is going to hell in handbasket because of the coffee cup baptism or communion by intinction. It’s suffocating. So I wrote as I did to short-circuit the impulse and keep it out of my comboxes. Seems to be working so far! 🙂

      • Marion (Mael Muire)

        Thank you, Mark. The last thing we would want is a blog host who has been suffocated. You’re doing a great job, by the way. (Don’t know how you do it, in the circumstances . . . Well, yes, I do. )

  • Deadstop

    Even for those who focus on sacramental abuses, what would be the issue here? A priest can intinct the Host and give Communion that way, and any ordinary water can be used for baptism. If a passerby can baptize a dying car accident victim with water from a rain puddle, it seems unlikely that the Church would quibble about the choice of container in a home-baptism situation.

    • Mark Shea

      I quite agree. I’m not talking about what the Church would object to. Simply about what liturgical cops in comboxes often choose to obsess over as they strain at gnats and swallow camels.

  • Did I miss something? I didn’t see anyone commenting on intinction (which as pointed out by commentors is allowed in the GIRM). And especially given the circumstances, I thought the choice of the 8-sided (with relevant eschatological symbolism) coffee cup was great.

    And I am one who has more than once been referred to as pharisaical when it comes to liturgy!

  • If I may be permitted to quote from a novel I have recently finished writing and not yet published, this seems apposite:

    ‘A certain man was lost in the desert, and like to die of thirst, and another gave him water; but he spurned the gift because the cup was cracked. Was that man wise?’

    I would rather have received the water of baptism from a worse vessel than a coffee cup, than not receive it at all.

  • FrJoseph

    The real question is what TYPE of cup was used? We would not want fateehrr ‘flying SOLO’ and styrofoam would be anti-environment, so I am hoping it was a Dixie cup so father could ‘pour out of dixie the dewfall’!

  • Tammy

    If there is a time-out bench in Purgatory for unconventional baptisms done in moments of desperation, not only will I have to sit there a while, I will likely carve my initials into said bench. You all can come by and visit me. Its mostly nurses who will be on this bench…we can chat about how bad our hands look and how much we need a nap.

    I loved the story, what an amazing witness of faith and hope !!

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      Part of purgatory is going to be nurses and EMT/paramedics coming to grips with our common enmity sitting on said bench.

      “You did it too?!?!?! I thought you were too busy ‘running and gunning’ to care about anything but blood loss and cardio conversion?”

      “You did it too?!?!?!? Let me guess, in between bitching about your schedule and how the doctor gets all the glory?”

      And together…

      “I’m sorry. I love you too.”

    • Ted Seeber

      A liberal I recently argued with at church brought up something related to this on the abortion issue. She said the only abortion she had ever participated in for her entire career- the one that she felt made her pro-choice; was the case of an mother of 8 (7 living, one to be aborted) in an ectopic pregnancy. And it was in the 1980s- long before they discovered how to keep both mother and child alive. Worse yet, it was undiagnosed- and late term- and the mother was already in a coma because of it.

      I wish I had told her (and will when I talk to her next) that pro-life as I am, I do not consider that abortion sinful. I consider it triage. Triage is often consequentialist- it’s doing evil to for a greater good- and the abortion itself was indeed evil. But sometimes, part of being a medical professional is knowing your own limits- and, after due consideration of both patient’s right to life, saving the one you are able to.

      • One day, we will have the knowledge and the equipment to save all ectopic pregnancies. For Catholic hospitals, the event will largely be a matter of budget to afford the equipment and to send people to get trained. For other hospitals there will be meeting after meeting to decide whether or not to do it, the moral implications of it all, whether chemical termination of ectopics should be banned, etc. It will be very complicated. It will be complicated because they do not have a morality that works independent of technology.

        Triage is an apt term. Triage is what you do to save the most you can when you can’t save everybody. Saving all you can in difficult circumstances is not sinful.

  • Confederate Papist

    I see only love and forgiveness and grace.

    Priest intinction of the blessed sacrament, as noted above, is fine, and it seems to me that the communicant cannot drink from the chalice due to his no problems I see here.

    Not that anyone needed my imprimatur. 😉

  • Elizabeth Scalia

    Yes, I had a commenter today who was so busy being negative about a sister not wearing a habit, that she somehow managed not to notice a lifetime spent working among the poor (and improving their lot dramatically) for her long, entire life.

  • LaVallette

    Some people need to learn about the concept of “epikaia” in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches the right to set aside to Church rules and rituals which do not offend against fundamental dogma or church teachings, if it is for the greater benefit of the Faithful. For example, the setting aside of the “Readings of the Day” to substitute more apporpriate readings for a special congregational celebration on the particular day. Perhaps some exploration of the issue by you and others may save many of the so called Catholic “traditonalists” fromn being scandalised when Catholic MINISTERS do so and in the process do not allow themselves to be hide bound like the Pharesees by the “rules”. After all Christ, a Jew, practiced “epikaia” on a regular basis during his life on earth despite the Rules and The Law.

    • Yeah, but our worship is broken. We shouldn’t go fiddling around with anything until we get a feel for it again.

    • LaVallette

      Please note that the concept of “epikaia” applies to “one offs” not permanent change to ritual and rules at will.

      • Was this story not a “one off”?