Sunday, March 12, 2017

Don't sell consecrated things

Shame on you, antiques vendor. You're among my favorite people but consecrated chalices, something we Catholics believe has been set aside to hold God himself, shouldn't be sold. But you probably don't know better.

I have two first-class relics, of St. Augustine and of St. John Neumann, without certificates, Augustine is in a reliquary I got separately from an antiques shop (my bedroom windowsill is like a gradine: a crucifix flanked by candles, a statue of Mary holding Jesus, and the relic). I ransomed the one of Neumann from a thrift shop; they didn't know better.
I have saved vestments and relics etc. from going into the skip.
Why a friend and I once liberated two Roman chasubles from a decades-disused sacristy. (By the way it's not a fiddleback; the weird violin-shaped back was briefly a fashion about 400 years ago. Violin-shaped front and rectangular back is a Roman chasuble.)
A chalice that is sold loses its consecration. The bishop who ordained me re-consecrated my chalice.
I see. It's just like a blessed devotional object such as a rosary losing its blessing if it's sold. I understand a consecrated church (with consecration crosses on the walls the bishop made with chrism, with cross markers and candles afterwards, lit on the anniversary of the consecration) can never return to worldly use; it has to be torn down if you don't want it anymore. Most American Catholic churches are only blessed so that's not an issue.

If the chalices are still there next time I'll see about ransoming them and giving them to a priest or society at least conservative, explaining what happened, so they'd be reconsecrated and properly used again. Like most of my things (furniture, some appliances, clothes, and car), from golden-era America, ransomed from hipster vendors to be given a real home again.
At the Marché aux Puces in Paris in the 1980s there were still entire sacristies being sold off, much of the stuff bought by traditionalist communities, and some going for collections or profane purposes.
Of course I knew of things like that. I wondered if a Catholic parish threw these out because of the rampant heresy since the '60s, basically agreeing with the Protestants that sacrifice and adoration at the Eucharist are superstitious, ignorant papist trash, with the excuse that a church detached from greed wouldn't have gold chalices, etc.
The iconoclasm in France was usually less radical. Most of the old altars are still there but unused. Many sacristies still contain old vestments in more or less cared-for condition. Parish inventories are usually under the control of the local municipal authority. However, the religious orders threw out or sold most of the old stuff to "look poor" with ugly and expensive vestments, altars, etc. in a modern style.
I have no problem with space-age or "looking poor" churchmanship as long as it's still Catholic and churchmen don't try to take the old form away. Modern Anglicans including the new liberal Anglo-Catholics often get the second part right. (They love my Mass, on their own terms; Catholic liberals hate it for the same reasons classical and evangelical Protestants did.) In practice neither was the case 30 years ago in the United States; priests would literally yell at you, abusing the church's authority to try to force you to accept their heresy as God's will.

From this article:
In my diaconal formation I've been taught that the church is not a hierarchy. That it's not some grand pyramid with the Pope at the top, and that we are all the the same loving and inclusive level. Until you start asking about tradition and or question something the [reigning?] Pope said. Then all of a sudden [a clericalist caricature of the church]: “HOW DARE YOU QUESTION THE POPE! DON'T YOU KNOW IT’S A MORTAL SIN TO QUESTION A PRIEST, NEVER MIND HIS HOLINESS!!!?”
But they'd likely phrase it "you're outside the church/no longer Catholic; how dare you question the church?" to try to shame you, rather than the sound idea of mortal sin, or in their smarmy terms, such as "you're not open to the Spirit" and "this isn't healthy for you" ("you need help" as an insult), both of which priests said to me 30 years ago. (A friar brother also called me a fundamentalist: let's shame you into accepting our neo-Protestantism by calling you a Protestant. Ooookay.) I know the church's teaching just enough so that doesn't faze me. I'd forget such priests as soon as I'm out the church door, cruising in the Edsel on another wonderful Sunday. If one confronted me (why? I'm pretty low-profile at the new Mass; among my few tells, I genuflect during the creed and I don't go to Eucharistic ministers — nobody has bothered me in person the five years I've been back in the church, but I don't pick such fights), I'd quote Huckleberry Finn, "All right; I'll go to hell" and keep the faith somewhere else. But more and more the few remaining practicing Catholics really believe in Catholicism so no problem.

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