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Grand Canyon, USA
How can you change a whole nation's religion? Just like you would dig the Grand Canyon in the USA: drop-by-drop! To cause the apostasy of a whole nation, you just need to find ingenious ways to make all the faithful commit small sacrileges each week, year after year.
In this article, I'll examine two of those means, the "Prions en Église" (little booklets which let the faithful follow along during Mass) and communion in the hands (as opposed to communion on the tongue).
(Little cultural note: in French, "Prions" means "Let us pray". No relation with bacteria, viruses or prions! Also, the registered trademark "Prions en Église" means "Let us pray in church", hence the pun in the French version of this text: "Sacrilégeons en église", or "Let's commit sacrileges in church".)
The same Word of God, underneath in a Missal respected for a lifetime,
and on top in a «Prions en Église» thrown away every week.
Nothing says a religion must have complex ceremonies. In fact, there are surely religions with very simple ceremonies, but that's not the case for Catholicism. Mass, for example, is very rich in songs, words, gestures. To understand what is going on and to take full advantage, it's very handy to have the Mass' texts, both in the language of the Church (Latin) an in one's mother tongue.
Before the Vatican II Council, these texts were gathered in a "Missal of the Faithful", a fairly hefty book that you'd normally be given at a young age, and which you kept all your life.
In the Province of Quebec these days, the faithful sponsor the publisher called Novalis. Novalis publishes the "Prions en Église", the little missalettes distributed each Sunday to all parishes in almost all churches in Quebec. These disposable missals contain the liturgical texts for the Mass, as well as editorials and other articles written by the Novalis staff, and ads for Novalis products. Frankly, this publisher should be called "Sacrilegis", not Novalis:
2.1) A suspicious liturgical content. The "Prions en Église", as we speak, don't even contain the official text (Tertio editio typica) of the Mass. Of course, they never have Latin (whereas the Vatican II Council states Latin must be conserved in the liturgy), nor gregorian chants (whereas the same Council says they must have pride of place). For the aspects of the liturgy where the Church grands a bit of leeway for adaptations, Novalis takes a mile where the Church only granted one inch. Even the photos and drawings systematically avoid the classic Christian works, and even religious topics!
2.2) Disposable Word of God. Do you have jewelry from your grandmother? Or a personal object that belonged to one of your children who tragically passed away? Or a trophy or medal you won? Would you have the gall to throw away one of those objects, so they would burn in the municipal incinerator? But, that's what we do for the "Prions en Église", in almost every parish, each week. And they contain the Word of God!
2.3) Heretical articles. Every week, the "Prions en Église" contain many articles not related to Mass. OK, why not? They could quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or teachings of the Magisterium, or explain each week an aspect of Mass using quotes from canonized saints, etc. But no, they are opinion pieces, written by Novalis staff, and opinions which oscillate between the incredibly bland and the downright heretical!
2.4) The Word of God mixed with commercial ads. Can you imagine a President or a Prime Minister who, in the middle of his speech, would stop and say: "And now, a commercial break from our sponsor: BURPO-COLA! Drink BURPO-COLA, the drink that burps with pleasure! So, as I was saying, our country is going through a serious crisis, and I have therefore asked the Parliament to [...]". You're laughing? Each week, the "Prions en Église" carry ads for Novalis products. As if that wasn't insulting enough, the announced products are often heretical! (Do I need to mention the total absence of ads in my old missal?)
2.5) Suspicious Director. Imagine if you had to hire a Quality-Assurance Director, for a factory that manufactures little jars of baby food. Would you hire anybody? If a single one of those little jars causes the death of a child, or even just a serious illness, your company might go bankrupt! Now what if you hired a guy who had lost his previous job because of infractions to the food safety policy, a guy who never washed his hands, and who had no clue as to the meaning of words like "Salmonella", or "Escherichia coli bacteria", etc.? But the Director of "Prions en Église", Jacques Lison, a defrocked Dominican Priest, is apparently pro-choice and against Transubstantiation, based on my understanding of his coded language (see his editorial in the Sunday Edition, vol. 69, no. 31. But just about any issue at any given week could also be used). And he is in charge of Quality Control for the "Prions en Église"!
As I've said before, nothing dictates to religions how they should structure their beliefs. There are even religions that don't have a clear concept of God! Catholicism on the other hand has a very clear concept of God: the Supreme Being, endowed with all perfections at an infinite degree. Curiously (for a Sociologist of Religion), Catholicism teaches that God was made "incarnate", that God took on the human nature, to become a "Man-God" (technically called "Jesus Christ"). As if that wasn't enough, Catholicism also has a ceremony in which Jesus Christ makes Himself present, really and substantially, under the appearances of bread and wine (following what is technically called "transubstantiation").
One of the important moments of a Catholic Mass is "communion", where the faithful who don't have a mortal sin on their conscience go unite themselves to Jesus Christ, by going to eat what seems like a little piece of bread (technically called "the consecrated Host"). Before the Vatican II Council, the faithful had to kneel behind a barrier (the "communion rail"), and the Priest would put the Host directly on their tongue. These days, in general, the faithful receive the Host in their hands, standing up, and themselves put it in their mouths.
I don't want to delve into the liturgico-ecclesiological complexities which led to that change (the Conciliar texts don't mention communion in the hands). I don't either want to cast doubt on the sacramental validity of such a practice (the Host is not "de-transubstantiated" by contact with the hands of the faithful). Finally, I don't want to hint that Jesus only wants to be touched by the Priest; after all, our tongue is just as much part of our body as our hands! On the other hand, the old way of receiving communion avoids many opportunities for sacrilege:
3.1) Stomping on Jesus Christ. You might have heard about the Muslims who screamed blue murder when an American pastor threatened to burn the Koran. Except Islam doesn't teach that the Koran is God. On the other hand, Catholicism teaches that even the smallest fragment of the Host is really God! Having myself often licked my hands after communion, to pick up Host fragments that remained, and that kind of care being rare, it's certain that people walk all over Jesus Christ in many churches, every day. Add to that the almost inevitable absence of a paten (despite being required), and the profanation of the Blessed Sacrement is almost inevitable.
3.2) Theft of Hosts. Satanic cults need consecrated Hosts. Once the Host is in someone's hands, it's easier to slip It into a pocket, etc. On the other hand, if the Priest puts It himself into the mouth of the communicant, theft is more difficult. (I myself once stopped a communion lineup, to tell the Priest one faithful had run away with the Host. The Priest and me had to go into the pews, and order that faithful to consume the Host.) The laws of the Church state the faithful must consume the Host in front of the person who gave It to them, but in Quebec these days, that behavior is almost the exception.
3.3) Sacrilegeous communions. These days, many anti-Catholics want to go to communion, to "prove" that their deviant behavior is acceptable (for example remarried divorcees, or flaming sodomites, etc.). Church laws forbid communion for notorious sinners, but if the delinquent is kneeling behind a barrier, he is at a tactical disadvantage. Conversely, if someone is standing right in front of you, with nothing in between you and him, it's much harder to refuse him something. Add to that the modern fashion of having many "extraordinary ministers of communion" (normally old and frail laypeople), who don't have the authority of a Priest, and the probability of sacrilegious communions increases even more.
3.4) Disrespectful bodily postures. Of course, it's possible to kneel down, and to have a soul filled with pride or distraction. On the other hand, it's a lot easier to be humble and attentive when you are kneeling. The contrary of a humble posture is for example standing up, with your guard up, ready to fight. The kneeling posture is, by its very nature, a position of vulnerability, of submission. In the same way, the contrary of an attentive posture is to be standing up and running around, arms windmilling and neck swiveling to try to see everything going on around us. Kneeling down with hands prayerfully joined together is a bit like turning off our locomotion and grasping systems, in order to send all our energy to our attention system.
Throwing away the Word of God as if it was just an ordinary scrap of paper, and stomping all over Jesus as if He was just an ordinary crumb that fell off the dinner table, are little sacrileges which fall, drop by drop, onto the Faith of a nation, and which end up digging the grand canyon of apostasy.
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