One More Mass Reflection
Is there such a thing as a six month old Calvinist?
I was at Mass yesterday and there was a young famiy in sitting in front of me with four little children squirming all over the place. While most find this a "distraction to prayer", I always think that noisy kids help me pray better. They help me realize that the Mass is not about how I feel, it is about the Body of Christ. And these small noisy children are Its purest part. Having been a monk, I suppose I know that I don't need hyper children to distract me when I pray. I do that very well all by myself. True, parents should try and keep their kids under control during Mass, but this can only be done within reason. Even when the children are well-behaved (and these children were), they are still children. And God bless them. It was really cool when the six month old tried to snatch the rosary right out of my hand. I just smiled and wrapped it around my fist. I wasn't going to let some infant drool all over my rosary.....
When the elevation came, I was astonished that the children stopped squirming for one second and looked up. Now, I am not a big fan of the "Kodak-moment" concept of consecration. While it is surrounded by beautiful cermonial, many obsess too much about the "exact moment when Jesus comes down". This can reduce liturgy to overly mechanistic principals. This being said, when I saw that six month old look up at the priest silently elevating the Host, I realized then what really constitutes our formation as Christians. It is that moment when we watch and marvel before we can even rationalize or speak that binds us to God for the rest of our lives. That is real participation and it cannot be created by a liturgical committee. Thanks be to God that those kids have parents who go to the traditional Mass.
At Holy Communion, I have to say I missed receiving from the chalice. In both the Anglican and Byzantine traditions, you are given the Blood of Christ as well, either directly from the chalice or on a spoon. However, if one principal has led to my recent change of heart on many things it is the one that states that the better is often the enemy of the good. In the Roman Catholic Church, they now give out the Blood of Christ as well but in a manner that destroys the hierarchical principal behind the liturgy. Now that everyone has to receive Holy Communion at every Mass, "Eucharistic ministers" are employed to save time and Communion degenerates into a free-for-all of irreverence. Some would advocate giving Holy Communion by intinction, but this is just another novelty. Haven't we had enough of those lately? In the end, Communion under one kind is a good, and not entirely unique to the Roman rite. (See the Byzantine Liturgy of Pre-Sanctified Gifts, for example.) Trying to replace it with something better has only made things worse.
Going back to the first point, however, I have always wondered if there is really a such thing as a Protestant child. How do you instill an ideology that exalts the word over the image to those who cannot yet read or even speak? It just doesn't seem natural to me. Sola Scriptura doesn't work because it doesn't work for children. And if it doesn't work for these little ones, what good is it for us?