By Fr. George Welzbacher
August 24, 2008
By now is there anyone in the upper Midwest who hasn't heard about the desecration of the Most Holy Eucharist by a certain Paul Myers, a biology professor at the Morris campus of the University of Minnesota! To demonstrate his contempt for religion as such and for the Catholic faith in particular Mr. Myers made use of the "YOU-TUBE" to share with the public his plunging a rusty nail through a consecrated host, after which he discarded the sacred host, together with one or more pages torn from the Koran, into a residue of coffee grounds and other refuse at the bottom of his garbage pail. Letters or e-mails of dignified protest directed to the chancellor of the University's campus at Morris are certainly in order, as are prayers of reparation to the Blessed Sacrament and prayers for Mr. Myers' soul.
An excellent comment on this disgusting episode appeared in the August 14th issue of The Catholic Spirit. It was written by Father John Paul Erickson, one of the cohort of intelligent and zealous young priests with which our archdiocese is blessed. Father Erickson was ordained in May of 2006 and served with great distinction at the Cathedral of St. Paul as associate pastor for two years. He was recently appointed director of the Archdiocesan Office of Worship and was assigned to serve as associate pastor of St. Agnes Parish as well. Father Erickson, may I note with pride, is a graduate of St. Agnes High School. Welcome "home", Father John Paul!
For those of you who don't receive The Catholic Spirit may I share with you here Father Erickson's rejoinder to a provocative gesture that is as sacrilegious as it is grotesque.
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Prof's Actions Call Us to Examine Our Own Eucharistic Faith
By: Father John Paul Erickson
From: The Catholic Spirit
Date: August 14, 2008
As was reported in these pages (The Catholic Spirit, July 31), a college professor teaching at our Own University of Minnesota, at Morris, recently willfully and publicly committed a despicable act of sacrilege against the Most Blessed Sacrament.
"This act was a strained and juvenile effort to show that in the professor's own words, "nothing is sacred." Outrage at the reprehensible act is appropriate, and respectful but forceful letters, e-mails and phone calls of complaint to the University of Minnesota are to be recommended.
Professor Paul Myers' actions and writings are but the latest volley of angry assaults against faith and believers. There has recently been a string of vitriolic publications advocating the wonders of atheism and the evils of religion, particularly Christianity.
But the reason why this most recent episode of vitriol has gathered so much attention, much of it fought for by concerned Catholics, is due to a peculiarly Catholic belief. As Catholics, we firmly believe that ordinary bread and wine, consecrated by the prayer of the Church in the holy Mass, become the very body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ-His flesh given for the life of the world.
Each and every altar in the Catholic world is another Bethlehem, where God becomes little so that we might become like God. Professor Myers' attack on the Eucharist is an attack on no less than Christ himself.
It is not the first time Jesus has been attacked by those who do not understand who He is, and is certainly will not be the last.
One of the mysteries of the Incarnation is the reality that God has become, in a certain but very real sense, vulnerable. Just as the Infinite One took the form of a baby in the arms of Mary and of a condemned criminal on Calvary, so, too, in the hands of the priest God hides himself out of love, submitting to littleness.
To love another is to be vulnerable-to be vulnerable to rejection and to abandonment. In the Incarnation and in the mystery of the Eucharist, God himself embraces this reality.
Until the end of time, this scandalous display of love will continue in the holy sacrifice of the Mass, where the Creator of the Universe assumes a form that can be held and can be consumed.
While Professor Myers' display of contempt for the Catholic faith is to be unequivocally condemned, it should prompt us as Catholics to examine our own Eucharistic faith.
Do we try to remember that every time we attend Mass we come face to face with God himself, present in the consecrated host?
Do we recollect and prepare ourselves as we approach the table of the Lord to receive his sacred Body and Blood?
Do we manifest this faith in our bearing, attitude and dress while at Mass, and by important signs of reverence such as bowing and genuflection when in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament?
Do we take the time to speak to Jesus when in His presence or offer thanksgiving following the reception of Holy Communion?
When needed, do we make a sacramental confession before receiving Christ?
It is equally important to remember that the mystery of the Eucharist must not only be adored. It must be lived. We, too, must become vulnerable to love. We, too, must manifest our love in ways that at times are "scandalous"-the ways of forgiveness, of compassion and of mercy.
This includes our reaction to Professor Myers, and to all those who do not understand or who openly reject the Church's teaching on the Blessed Sacrament. The words of Christareappropriatehere: "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do."
Following our communications of disgust and anger, we must dedicate ourselves to prayer and to penance, not only for Professor Myers, but also for ourselves, that we might grow in attentiveness to the mystery of love that is the Eucharist.
I would like to make a practical suggestion: Plan to pay a visit to the Blessed Sacrament sometime in the weeks ahead. Better yet, try to pay a visit at least once a week for the next several months. Perhaps this will become an important part of your own spiritual life, as it has become for so many.
There are many chapels of Eucharistic adoration around the archdiocese, and many churches remain open during the week for an afternoon or early evening visit.
Speak to Him about your struggles and your triumphs, your concerns and your hopes. Speak to Him honestly and with the faith of a child.
Jesus waits for you in the Blessed Sacrament. He has become little, He has become vulnerable, out of love for you.