Monday, June 13, 2011

Dan Reads the Catechism: Paragraph 103 and the Kneeling Argument

I remember having a huge argument once in the Faith and Leadership House. Actually, the argument was between the house and one of our directors over whether we should kneel at Mass. It was a pretty infamous incident for us and one that (still) stretches me on whether we were truly submitted to authority in Catholic fashion.

The authority in question was a professor at the University who asked us why we knelt during or near the consecration at Mass, and while we weren't all this vehement about it, she and one of the more staunch Catholics in our house got into a fairly intense debate about it. At one point, when she mentioned Christ being present in the reading Scriptures (the implication being, so far as I took it, we should kneel then).

Now the counterargument offered, and if I recall correctly it was at the time, was that there was a qualitative difference in these presences. (The authority this person exercised, by the way, was that of an official faculty director of our program, and the extended question was whether the instructions to Catholics in our area indicated we should kneel at the consecration or not. My question as to authority was whether we ought to have obeyed her recommendation despite believing we were right; what would Jesus do?)

But paragraph 103 says "For this reason, the Church has always venerated the Scriptures as she venerates the Lord's Body. She never ceases to present to the faithful the bread of life, taken from the one table of God's Word and Christ's Body" (source).

Now intuitively, going on history, it seems like the Real Presence in the Eucharist is a qualitatively different presence from Christ's presence in the reading of the written Word of God . After all, I don't recall any Early Church Fathers ever saying that the letters of Paul were "the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again" (source).

But paragraph 103 itself gives...little, if any, indication of such a difference. Perhaps some later paragraph (on the Eucharist, perhaps?) will clarify this for me. In the meantime I continue to be struck a tad confused by the lack of distinction drawn here. And it seems like the professor in question may have had, at the least, more intuition behind her thought than we wanted to grant at the time.

There's something about paragraph 82 that bugs me, too. I don't disagree with the paragraph. But it brought something to light that begs further investigation. More on that later.