The Reactionary and the Sacraments

The Reactionary and the Sacraments October 2, 2013

In a recent discussion, a reader in the combox makes the common sense remark that there are lots of ways in which Jesus accepted honor and worship, not simply in the context of the Mass (though of course the Mass is the source and summit of our worship):

If we only look to Jesus in the Mass and/or require only one specific version of reverence of Jesus from others we miss who Jesus is.  Yes, Jesus did respond lovingly to those who were reverent, but he responded with love to those who were lost.

Right on cue, a Reactionary responds with the time-honored Reactionary insistence on using the sacraments as a way of barring as many people as humanly possible from the love, grace, and mercy of God:

The Mass is the only acceptable form of Worship to God.  You cannot worship Him apart from the sacrament.  You are not the center of creation; Christ is and we are nothing without Him. We should strive for transformational union with Christ and remember Him in all areas of life but that only comes from a proper understanding and reverence of Holy Mass.  How do you think St. Francis and Padre Pio attended Mass?  Do you know better the mind of God than the collected wisdom of the saints that have gone before us?  Better than the Apostles?  True humility you have apparently attained.


Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ – Jesus

“Offer your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual worship.” – St. Paul

One of the marks of Reactionary thinking is the eager desire to turn the sacraments into reducing valves whose principal function is to exclude as many people as possible from encounter with God, rather than to see them as sure encounters with God.  The Mass is, to be sure, the source and summit of our worship and all our acts of self-offering are tied to Jesus’ self-offering in the Eucharist since Jesus *is* the Eucharist.  But for those who do not have access to the Eucharist (like f’rinstance the Good Thief or people like the sheep in the parable who clearly have no understanding of Holy Mass since they had no undertanding of Jesus Presence at all) all is not lost.  Turns out our salvation is not actually completely dependent on “a proper understanding and reverence of Holy Mass”.  That’s intellectual Pelagianism, not Catholic Faith.  We are saved by grace, not by achieving levels of understanding and reverence sufficiently pleasing to a Reactionary’s sense of aesthetics.  And we are saved by a Eucharistic Lord who will accept the smallest sincere attempt to obey him, even by somebody who has no idea he is serving Christ.

The sacraments are intended to be sure encounters with the grace of God, not secret handshakes designed to keep the riff raff out of the Sooper Secret Club of Uber Pure Reactionary Catholics.  God will meet us a thousand miles from the Table and, if we are willing to take the smallest step toward it, he is pleased.  But he will not be satified till we reach the Table.  Reactionaries who tie up heavy burdens for the backs of weak people and do not lift a finger to help them reach the Table but only condemn them for not being there are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Browse Our Archives