Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Signs, signs, everywhere the signs

Signs are good. They point us to our destination. In Christian typology, signs point us toward the greater good. So why, to continue robbing from the Tesla song, would I find they are "clogging up the scenery, cluttering up my mind"?

Well it is simple really, signs point to a greater good. They are not the good, they just help us find it. So if the sign holders get disordered, they can actually cloud the view of the destination. Imagine so many signs along the roadway that you miss the exit. Okay, enough analogies, how does this apply to us.

The ultimate good in the eyes of a Christian is Christ. Being connected with Him, having a relationship, knowing and loving Him. For Catholics, the ultimate connection with Jesus is receiving Him; Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist. All Sacraments point towards this ultimate Sacrament. The priesthood was given so Jesus could continue offering Himself to us at every Mass. Confession washes in the blood of the Lamb and reminds us that we are indeed forgiven, reorders our lives to better receive Him in the Eucharist.

The Eucharist is the ultimate good, the most Awesome connection we have to Jesus on this earth. Many signs point to this. Marriage is a prominent sign or type of the Eucharist. Type being something that prefigures or points to the Anti-Type. Adam, Moses and Elijah were all types of Jesus, Jesus being the Anti-Type. Eve was an type of Mary. The union of marriage points to heaven, our ultimate union with God. Without going to heavily into Pope John Paul's Theology of the Body, our earthly marriages should point to the marriage supper of the Lamb.

A quote I am going to work in here by Fr. Euteneuer of HLI, "The marriage bed is the altar of the domestic church." God intended our marriages to bring life to others, to bring love to the world. A good marriage requires sacrifice. "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Ephesians 5:25. That is the basis for the e5 Men.

So marriage is a sign pointing to the Eucharist, to Christ's love for all humanity. Where does the clutter enter? Many of us have a passion for liturgy, we do our best to right the wrong and pray when we can't. But abuses can happen from any angle. It is an abuse when the Rainbow Sash people try to make Pentecost about themselves. It is also an abuse when the Marriage Encounter people twist the sign to point to themselves.

Perhaps you are not familiar with the practice of the husband and wife receiving Communion together. It seems to be gaining ground in our parish and it needs to stop. The husband and wife walk side by side to receive the Eucharist and wait for each other. Then when receiving the Blood of Christ, the wife takes the Cup first, and then hands it to her husband as a sign of their unity and love.

What could be wrong with standing up for good marriages, you ask? When you are in the presence of God Almighty, the signs shouldn't get in the way.

Think about it. We are at Mass to worship God. Any demonstration that draws attention away from God probably shouldn't be there. What is greater, the sign or the destination? The creature or the Creator?

Thanks to Frival in the comments for correcting me on the Type/Anti-Type reversal. It is fixed in the article now. And for those dealing with this, feel free to use the article to help your case if you act on this.


Adrienne said...

Not to mention the wife (or husband) cannot give communion to each other unless they are actually appointed a EMHC. BIG no no

frival said...

Let me first say that this is a great post and the subject of discussions I've had with several people over the years. We have been given the Sacraments and the signs in the Mass for a reason, and without properly understanding the typology and symbolism behind each we change them at great peril to ourselves and others.

I should mention, BTW, that I'm pretty sure your description of type and antitype are reversed. The type is the foreshadowing or "pointing to" of the antitype. Thus we say, e.g., Adam was a type of Christ and the manna in the desert was a type of the Eucharist. I could be wrong, but that's my recollection and some brief back-checking confirms it. So far, anyway.

On the original topic, however, we did have a couple who did the whole "hand the chalice to the husband" thing a while ago at our parish. After a brief consultation between our Pastor and Deacon they were informed that it needed to stop. As far as I know they didn't give any hassle about it and did as they were asked, like they should have. Sometimes people change things because it sounds or looks like a good idea, not realizing that "there be dragons".

KaleJ said...

Thanks for the correction Frival. I fixed it in the original. It definitely needs to be addressed in our parish.

Anonymous said...

On another note, it seems that the extraordinary ministers in mt parish are starting AGAIN, with saying my name as I receive communion. While that sounds well and good it sometimes dashes my focus, I wonder, are they going to say my name or not say my name. Do I smile, wink, dance the jig or what?
Will it be "Eric, the body of Christ?" or "The body of Christ, Eric" or better yet, the "receive the body of Chist Eric"
I wonder, should I share with our pastor and deacons the VatII documents concerning the who, what, and how for, of extraordinary ministers of communion? again.