Sunday, 21 July 2013

CAN ANY MAN OR WOMAN - ORDAINED OR NOT - CELEBRATE THE EUCHARIST?

CAN ANY MAN OR WOMAN - ORDAINED OR NOT - CELEBRATE THE EUCHARIST?

THIS QUESTION ARISES IN THIS BLOG TODAY BECAUSE ONE OF THOSE WHO COMMENTED ON YESTERDAY'S BLOG WAS AN IRISH NUN WHO SAYS THAT SHE CELEBRATES THE EUCHARIST WITH HER PARTNER - AN IRISH PRIEST. SHE ALSO SAYS SHE HAS CELEBRATED THE EUCHARIST FOR HER FELLOW RELIGIOUS SISTERS.

SHE ASKS THE QUESTION: "IS JESUS CHRIST LESS PRESENT WHEN I CELEBRATE THE EUCHARIST THAN WHEN A MAN CELEBRATES IT"?

LET'S TAKE THIS ONE A STEP AT A TIME.

1. WHAT IS THE EUCHARIST?

AT THE "LAST SUPPER" JESUS, HAVING PRAYED BROKE BREAD AND GAVE IT TO HIS DISCIPLES. HE ALSO, HAVING PRAYED OVER THE CUP GAVE IT TO HIS DISCIPLES. AND THEN HE SAID: DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.

WE ARE LATER TOLD THAT AFTER CHRIST'S DEATH THE DISCIPLES CONTINUED TO WORSHIP IN THE JEWISH JERUSALEM TEMPLE AND TO MEET IN EACH OTHER'S HOUSES TO BREAK BREAD. THEY PARTICULARLY MET TO BREAK BREAD ON A SUNDAY - THE DAY THE LORD HAD RISEN FROM THE DEAD.

THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF WHAT WE CALL "EUCHARIST; HOLY COMMUNION; MASS" ETC.

THE LANGUAGE THAT JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES SPOKE WAS ARAMAIC. SO THE FIRST LANGUAGE OF THE EUCHARIST WAS ARAMAIC.


2. EARLY DEVELOPMENTS:


AS THE EARLY CHURCH SPREAD AND PEOPLE LIKE SAINT PAUL BECAME INVOLVED THE GREEK LANGUAGE CAME TO THE FORE. GREEK WAS THE LANGUAGE OF GOVERNANCE AND TRADE. BUT THE JEWS HAD LONG SINCE STOPPED USING HEBREW IN DAILY LIFE - HEBREW WAS MAINLY CONFINED TO THE LITURGIES OF THE SYNAGOGUES AND THE TEMPLE.

AND AS THE CHURCH SPREAD AROUND THE THEN KNOWN WORLD PEOPLE BROKE THE BREAD IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGES. LATIN WAS THE LANGUAGE OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE.
PASTORAL SERVANT OF PEOPLE - OR ROMAN EMPEROR MK 11


3. THE EARLY CHURCH

THE EARLY CHURCH WAS VERY DEMOCRATIC AND NON-HIERARCHIAL. DIFFERENT PEOPLE PRESIDED AT THE EUCHARIST. EVENTUALLY THE MINISTERIES OF DEACONS, PRIESTS (PRESBYTERS) AND BISHOPS (OVERSEERS) EMERGED. THE PEOPLE APPOINTED THE PRESBYTERS AND THEY BECAME THE CELEBRANTS OF THE EUCHARIST UPON APPOINTMENT BY THE PEOPLE. THE BISHOP WAS REALLY THE SENIOR PRESBYTER. HE/SHE WAS NOT A RULER - BUT RATHER A FACILITATOR.
WOMAN PRESIDING AT EUCHARIST


4. THE ROMAN EMPIRE:

WITH THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH BECOMING THE OFFICIAL RELIGION OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE  THE CHURCH BECAME MORE MILITARISTIC AND HIERARCHIAL. GRADUALLY BISHOPS BECAME "RULERS" RATHER THAN SERVANTS. THE PRESBYTERS ALSO TOOK ON A "RULING" ROLE.


5. "APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION":

NOWADAYS WE HEAR A LOT ABOUT "APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION". OUR BISHOPS SAYS THAT THEY AS "SUCCESSORS OF THE APOSTLES". IN FACT THEY ARE NOT!

THE APOSTLES WERE NOT TIED TO ANY PARTICULAR CHURCH. THEY HAD A MORE ROVING AND EVANGELISING ROLE. THEY DID NOT CONFINE THEMSELVES TO ANY ONE CHURCH. OF COURSE THEY SPENT TIME IN LOCAL CHURCHES TEACHING, PREACHING AND EVANGELISING. BUT THEY WERE NOT THE PRIESTS (PRESBYTERS) OR BISHOPS (EPISCOPI) OF ANY PARTICULAR PLACE. SAINT PETER WAS NOT THE FIRST BISHOP OF ROME. THERE WAS NO "POPE" IN PETER'S TIME. THAT WAS A MUCH LATER ADDITION.

WE DO BELIEVE THAT THE EARLY CHURCH DEACONS, PRIESTS AND BISHOPS WERE PRAYED OVER THE SOME OF THE APOSTLES. THAT BEGAN A LINE OF THE "LAYING ON OF HANDS" THAT WE ROMAN CATHOLICS IN PARTICULAR REGARD AS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF ORDINATION. BUT THAT LAYING ON OF HANDS WAS NOT AN EXERCISE OF BRUTE FORCE, UNABRIDGED POWER. IT DOES NOT GIVE THE ROMAN CATHOLIC HIERARCHY OF TODAY AN EXCLUSIVE POSSESSION OF THE GIFT OF PRIESTHOOD AND MINISTRY. SUCH A MATHEMATICAL VIEW OF PRIESTHOOD IS BAD THEOLOGY. IT MAKES BISHOPS INTO "SACRAMENTAL" PLUMBERS IN WHAT HAS BEEN CALLED A PIPELINE THEOLOGY.

6 A CHRIST-CENTRED AND GENUINELY SACRAMENTAL VIEW OF ORDINATION:

JESUS CALLED 12 APOSTLES. HE FURTHERMORE APPOINTED 70 "DISCIPLES". HUNDREDS OF OTHERS - MANY OF THEM WOMEN - WERE DISCIPLES OF THE LORD.

IN THE EARLY CHURCH THERE ARE SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES TO WOMEN AS CHURCH LEADERS.

A MODERN CHURCH COMMUNITY NEEDS MINISTERS. THE CALL TO MINISTRY IS A CALL FROM THE PEOPLE. CHURCH LEADERS SIMPLY VOICE THAT CALL OF THE PEOPLE AND ON BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE PERFORM THE LAYING ON OF HANDS - WHICH IF DONE PROPERLY - ATTRACTS THE HOLY SPIRIT WHO IMPARTS THE GIFTS OF MINISTRY TO THE COMMUNITY'S CHOSEN.

THE MODERN PEOPLE OF GOD ARE QUITE HAPPY TO CALL WOMEN TO THAT ROLE - AS WERE THE PEOPLES OF THE EARLY CHURCH.

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS WELL USED TO ENDOWING WOMEN WITH HIS/HER GIFTS - SEE MARY BEING CALLED TO BE THE MOTHER OF THE CHRIST.

IN THE ROMAN CHURCH THE HIERARCHY HAS HI-JACKED THE HOLY SPIRIT AND WILL ONLY CALL MEN - AND MOSTLY CELIBATE MEN.  THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OR REVELATION THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL BE LIMITED IN THAT FASHION. 

BUT WE DO NOT CALL OURSELVES TO PRIESTHOOD. THE PEOPLE OF GOD - INSPIRED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT CALL US. THE BISHOP LAYS ON HANDS AS THE SERVANT OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD ON THOSE WHO FEEL CALLED. THE COMMUNITY CAN OF COURSE - AND SHOULD - DISCERN WHO IS AND WHO IS NOT CALLED. 

THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING CALLED BY THE PEOPLE OF GOD AND BEING CALLED BY EGO OR INDEED BY SOME NEUROTIC OR PSYCHOTIC NEED OF OUR OWN. 


THE STEPS ARE VOCATION (FEELING CALLED BY GOD) - COMMUNITY ASSENT OR CALL (BEING CALLED AFTER DISCERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE OF GOD) - AND HAVING HANDS LAID ON BY THE SENIOR PRESBYTER (BISHOP) IN OBEDIENCE TO THE WISHES OF GOD'S PEOPLE. 

I WOULD BE VERY UNCOMFORTABLE ABOUT SOMEONE APPOINTING THEMSELVES A PRIEST OUTSIDE THE CONTEXT OF A CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY. 

A PRIEST WITHOUT A COMMUNITY IS LIKE A BIKE WITHOUT WHEELS. IT MIGHT LOOK GOOD - BUT ITS NOT GOING ANYWHERE.




WHATS THE POINT OF A PRIEST WITHOUT A COMMUNITY? WHATS THE POINT OF A DOCTOR WITHOUT PATIENTS? 

PRIESTHOOD IS PRIMARILY ABOUT SERVICE. 

Bishop Pat Buckley. 21.7.2013







21 comments:

  1. No bishop can minister to all of the faithful in his diocese, so priests act, in the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as "co-workers of the bishops." They exercise their powers lawfully only in communion with their Bishop, and so they promise obedience to their Bishop at the time of their ordination. That is why your Priest's need to go to Bishop Noel today and present themselves!

    The chief duties of the priesthood are the preaching of the Gospel and the offering of the Eucharist.

    Eligibility for the Sacrament:

    The Sacrament of Holy Orders can be validly conferred ONLY on baptised men, following the example set by Christ and His Apostles, who chose only men as their successors and collaborators. A man cannot demand ordination; the Church has the authority to determine eligibility for the sacrament.

    While the episcopate is reserved to unmarried men, the discipline regarding the priesthood varies in East and West. The Eastern Churches allow married men to be ordained priests, while the Western Church insists on celibacy. Once a man has received the Sacrament of Holy Orders, however, he cannot marry.

    The Form of the Sacrament:

    As the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes:

    The essential rite of the sacrament of Holy Orders for all three degrees consists in the lawful Bishop's imposition of hands on the head of the ordinand and in the Bishop's specific consecratory prayer asking God for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and his gifts proper to the ministry to which the candidate is being ordained.

    The Minister of the Sacrament:

    Because of his role as a successor to the Apostles, who were themselves successors to Christ, the valid & Bishop is the proper minister of the sacrament. The grace of sanctifying others that he receives at his own ordination allows him to ordain others.

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    1. Once again thank you for your comment and the rationality and charity with which you present it.

      You might appreciate a little background information on my priest colleagues:

      FATHER TED FLANAGAN was ordained in Maynooth in 1960 by Archbishop John Charles McQuaid of Dublin for the Diocese of Clogher.

      FATHER TONY MC CARTHY was ordained a priest in 1972 by the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore Dr Michael Russell (RIP)who also ordained me to the priesthood in 1976

      FATHER SEAN PAGE was ordained a priest by the Bishop of Elphin,Dr Dominic Conway.

      FATHER MICHAEL SCULLION was ordained by myself and had studied for the priesthood while a monk at Mellifont Abbey, Ireland.

      FATHER TERRY BRADY was ordained by myself and had studied for the priesthood at the Irish College in Rome and is currently completing his doctorate in theology.

      So as you can see the calibre of Our Oratory Society priests is good and solid.

      As to BISHOP NOEL - when he came to Down & Connor in 2008 I wrote to me and requested a meeting with him. I am still waiting for an answer.

      Bishop Pat

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  2. I would respectfully suggest that all of the clergy so kindly named above present themselves to Bishop Noel of Down & Connor and or your own 'lawful' Bishop. Not to be punished but to be put 'right thinking'. I am annoyed at Bishop Noel for not responding, however would his response have found its way into the hands of a lawyer, a journalist or even the land registry office! - I am not sure! I am not being disrespectful to you, but maybe you have 'scared' people away because you hold on to everything and 'pop' it up when it suits, completely out of context!

    As you can guess, I reside in D&C - why not reconcile with the Church and let us all try to move forward, even as critical friends.

    God Bless.

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  3. My Brother,

    Thank you for your respectful suggestions.

    I have no problem whatsoever with your criticisms of me.

    I am human - and a sinner and there have indeed been times when I have reacted in hurt and anger.

    If Bishop Noel asked me to speak to him with a guarantee of confidentiality I would do so and sign a legal confidentiality agreement.

    When the diocese and I reached a confidential arrangement about the house in January of 2012 I bound myself to confidentiality concerning its terms.

    18 months later I have not breached that agreement.

    The lack of DUE PROCESS within the Church and Canon Law has forced me over the years to do my business in the market square.

    I believe that you are not being disrespectful. I can detect that in the kind tone of what you write.

    I may have "scared" people over the years. But if you trap someone in a corner and give them no way out what can you expect.

    I am now 61 :-) and no longer have the anger of the young man. Alongside some courage I now have the wisdom that comes with the years.

    As you reside in D & C maybe you can be an instrument of healing and reconciliation ? It is worth you asking the Lord if he wants that from you.

    Pat

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  4. Thank you Pat for your honest answer. Whilst I reside in D&C I am in position of authority to speak for the diocese, only myself. I find the whole thing wrong. In my view, it is only a house, others see it as a 'symbol' of power etc. As far as I am concerned it is a roof from the elements, we all have that in our part of the world.

    I just desire no more hurt, no more seperation etc - as for what those in authority want and desire, I do not know! But there are those in D&C reading your blog, it is a talking point that makes me tiggle, Thank God for a laugh - not much to laugh about these days.

    I wish you no harm at all and I would love the young and old clergy that have found a home with you serving in my parish and neighbouring parishes.

    By the way, we have been told not to communicate with you, so I am being the rebel right now, first time ever, feels good.

    Peace Brothers.

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  5. Thank you again.

    You are right - all wounds in the Body of Christ are sad.

    You are right about houses - just a roof to lay our heads under when we pass through this Vale of Tears. And we can remember the words of Jesus; "Foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head".

    I agree with you that a laugh and a sense of humour is important amid all the hard things that are happening.

    And I wish you and no one in D & C any harm either. Upon reflection it is a great pity that Cahal (RIP) did not handle things better all those years ago.

    From the tone of your comments I think I would enjoy ministering alongside you too.

    Congratulations on becoming a rebel :-) I'm glad it feels good.

    Its when people do not communicate that problems arise and exist.

    Pat

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  6. Pat, seek a meeting with Noel about the possibility of reconciliation. Inform him of your intentions.

    Brother

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  7. I did ask to meet him 5 years ago and received no answer.

    Do you propose I write again?

    Pat

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  8. I might agree with your main point about self-appointment. But I have to quibble about the need for a bishop to avoid that. Bishops may play the role you describe in an ideal world, but as you noted yourself, the present day church is far from ideal.

    In the real world today, a bishop is NOT typically the servant of a community of the people of God. Today's bishops are much more like Roman proconsuls, appointed by Rome the rule a province (diocese) in Rome's interest, without regard to the wishes or needs or discernment of the people of the community they are supposed to be serving. For practical purposes they are rulers, not servants. So the bishop ISN'T really a representative of the people of God or any community of the people of God for purposes of ordination; he's a representative of the Roman Curia, enforcing its "discernment" on ordination candidates. That's where your argument about the need for the bishop to represent a community of the people of God as their servant at ordination falls apart.

    Even in an ideal world where a bishop really is the servant of the people of God of the diocese, why does ordination have to involve the intermediary of a bishop as the supposed representative of a community? Why cannot a community of the people of God discern the call to spiritual leadership of one of their community and invest/ordain/lay hands upon that person themselves, without any clerical intermediary? Isn't that the way it was often done in the early Christian communities, in church Jesus founded, before Constantine? The apostles couldn't be everywhere. Is there really any theological imperative for an intermediary between a candidate for priesthood and investiture by a community of the people of God?

    Of course today a community's due diligence in discernment would have to include the candidate's professional qualifications (e.g. M.Div) as well call by the Holy Spirit.

    Mike Crowley
    Call To Action - San Diego

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    1. Dear Mike,

      Thank you for your very discerning comment.

      I agree with you about the Roman Catholic Church becoming more like The Roman Empire MK 11 and the Roman bishops becoming MASTERS and not SERVANTS.

      I also agree with you that a Christian Community can call someone to be their "episcopus" or "presbyter".

      I suppose it boils down to whether or not we wish to have a "catholic" theology ( I deliberately use a small c ) or a "protestant" theology. And please do not for a moment think I use the word protestant in any offensive way.

      Personally I treasure the theology of "apostolic possession" but equally respect those who do not hold to it. Only God can judge in the end.

      But nowadays we do have a number of reputable bishops, who are not under the Roman thumb, who would be quite happy to respond to the requests of a Christian Community for a liturgical celebration of ordination.

      For instance in the US there is Peter Paul Brennan.

      I am also openminded.

      Pat

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    2. I also meant to say that an M.Div is not always a great assurance that you are getting a good priest. I do think that a knowledge of theology etc is important. I also think that choosing a person who spends some time on their knees is vital

      Pat

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  9. Since coming to the UK I have learned (subjectively) a new meaning for Church, Eucharist, Scripture and Sacrament. The Church community of which I am now a part is based on fellowship and faith. The Church I was a part of in Ireland was a sort of"Sunday Spiritual Clinic" where faithful patients attended and I was the GP-"God's Practitioner" who dispinsed the Grace-This is not a put down on the RC Church in the Diocese of Elphin. It is just how I see things as I look back and reflect. Any group of believing people can sit at table and share an Agape or Eucharistic type meal. However this must be done in faith and humility and in the spirit of the early church. It must not be undertaken as a sort of "ouiga board type of experiment" nor to put the wind up the local clergy. In the early Church the disciples met in their houses to Break the Bread but still attended the Temple or Synagogue for prayers & teaching. We do not use Synagogues but we do have established Churches which are there for a reason. The Reason being to remain true to the teaching of the lord as handed down through the power of the Holy Spirit with roles and ministries being discerned in the community with the Church Elders playing a key role. The Elders are not incapable of making mistakes nor should they be immune to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in the modern world or the need to adapt and change when necessity demands. The young Church may never have heard the word "Inculturisation" but they certainly knew how the principle worked. How many feasts in the Churche's year incorporate & build on pagan themes. This is called Evolution. Part of our evolution process involves " the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come" We are on an amazing journey of faith & growth but we need to let go of our fears superstitions and presuppositions. Let go & let God. Its worth the risk. A farmer once discovered a pearl of great price. In his joy he sold all he had and went in search of the Pearl. Happy Pearl Hunting

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    1. Excellent Sean.

      And one of the most important things of all is that we should all be able to discuss and explore all these issues openly.

      Our structured Church has forgotten the wise maxim: VOX POPULI - VOX DEI - THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE IS THE VOICE OF GOD

      Pat

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  10. fr. Michael Scullion22 July 2013 at 18:01

    How good and how plesent it is whem brother's dwell in unity. Psalm 132

    Brother Priest of D&C

    A few months ago I was requested by a family in Belfast to conduct a funeral Mass for their deceased loved one.
    This person was filled with faith, hope and and love for Christ and inspired all with whom they came into contact. For reasons of consience this person could not allow local clergy to minister to them during their long illness or after their death.
    Local clergy heard about my proposed celebration of the funeral rites and approached the local Undertaker who was providing their services. This was done in a direct attempt to prevent me from using the facility a funeral church to say the Requiem Mass. This action placed the Undertaker in a very difficult professional situation. The relatives of the deceased where then contacted and pressure was then excerted on them in the midst of their grief and vulnerability to prevent my saying the Mass. This action caused further unnecessary grief and ditress to everyone concerned.
    In the end we had a very reverant and profoundly spiritual celebration of the Mass at the home of the deceased.

    I am reminded of the antiphon for the feast of Pastors, the good Pastor is one who is ready 'to give the servents their measure of food at the proper time'. For me as a priest this means giving the People of God who ARE the Church, the grace of Christ in the sacraments WHEN and HOW they NEED them.
    Could we not at least work togeather as servents of the same Christ, to achieve this end.
    M

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    1. A very well written piece Michael.

      It should be all about CHRIST and the PEOPLE OF GOD

      Pat

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    2. Church ministers of all denominations have had long standing good relations with the Funeral Directing Profession. It is un professional and unjust for a Churchperson or denomination to put pressure on a Funeral Director or other business not to conduct their ligitimate businass if whatever is being conducted is not illegal in civil or criminal law and does not openly offend any group. If there is an objection it should be channelled though the appropriate civil channels. I am reminded of signs from the US in the early 60's that pointed out Colored Entrance for non Caucasion folk or the signs from the England of the past that said No Irish Wanted or No Irish Need Apply. My sympathies are with the family of the Deceased referred to above and the Funeral Director who was put under pressure that never should have happened

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  11. From the D&C point of view Brothers,

    We are not perfect! We struggle, we cry, we laugh and some of us have done great wrong but many of us do moderate good. We all strive to be Christ in all we do, but human greed; the need and want to belong to human society with human relationship can lead us on the wrong (or right) path.

    Please pray for us, I pray for you. Keep bringing Christ to people, particularly in the need of their suffering! I apologise to my brother for the distress of that family. Their and your dignity speaks volumes!

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    1. Friend,

      Of course you are not perfect. No one expects you to be. But you speak humanly and from the heart - and that strikes a big chord with all of us.

      We have all done wrong - "each taking his own way and straying like sheep".

      The need to belong - now there's an interesting one.

      How often have I been walking down a Belfast street and I see a priest coming with whom I used to be friendly - and even prayed with. He sees me and runs into a shop.

      Even (especially) priests need human relationships. They need companionship, intimacy, a hand to hold etc. That does not make them "bad" priests. It makes them "better" priests. Perhaps an ill-advised and no longer man made law is the problem?

      Pat :-)

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    2. fr. Michael Scullion23 July 2013 at 13:45

      There are among us many fine examples of compassionate and creative priesthood today, the majority of which I personally continue to experience from the minisrty to me by my sisters and brothers which I meet in the context of the daily pilgrimage! In D&C one man who's example I would humbly suggest that we could ALL look to is that of our brother at 'Spring Hill' and examine the model of community/church that had developed there over the past 40 years, a model which has been marked by prayer and service with and for the People of GOD.

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