Sunday, June 6, 2010

Review of Dominus Est by Manfred Hauke

The following review was written by Prof. Dr. Manfred Hauke.  Fr. Hauke is a professor of patristics and dogmatic theology from Germany on the Theological Faculty of Lugano in Switzerland (google translate version).  Hauke is a prolific author of books and articles, several of which are available in English.  He is probably most known by his defense of an all-male priesthood (Women in the Priesthood: A Systematic Analysis in the Light of the Order of Creation and Redemption, Ignatius Press, 1988.) and taking on feminism in the Church (God or Goddess?: Feminist Theology : What Is It? Where Does It Lead?,Ignatius Press, 1995).

Upon discovering that Prof. Hauke had written a review of Dominus Est, I asked for his permission to have it translated into English.  He sent me the original in German.  It was translated by Richard Chonak of the Catholic Light blog, and approved by Hauke for publication here.  In brackets [...], are page numbers or other notes that correspond to the English edition (US) of the book.  Those wanting to reproduce this review can find contact information at Prof. Hauke's homepage.

Today was an appropriate day to release this review, as many of us in English speaking countries celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi (transferred to Sunday). 

A link to the original German article can be found at the bottom.

Drawing from the Treasures of the Church.
A plea of Bishop Athanasius Schneider for the worthy administration of Holy Communion

by Manfred Hauke

In his Apostolic Letter on the Eucharist Pope Benedict XVI recalls the words of St. Augustine: “But no one eats that flesh without first adoring It; we should sin were we not to adore It” (Enarrationes in Psalmos 98:9: Sacramentum Caritatis 66). Indeed the adoration of the eucharistic Christ belongs to the core of the Catholic Faith, and it must also be expressed in the liturgy. A small book by auxiliary bishop Athanasius Schneider of Karaganda (Kazakhstan) is dedicated to this wish, a book which has already aroused great notice in the Italian original edition that appeared last year from the Libreria Editrice Vaticana. The cover image shows Pope Benedict XVI as he brings Holy Communion to the mouth of a girl making her first Communion, kneeling in recollection and with hands folded. This practice is common now in papal Masses, at least for the faithful who receive Communion from the Holy Father personally. It is a reminder that Communion by mouth remains the universal norm of the Church, even in the reformed liturgy of Pope Paul VI, and that Communion in the hand has only been allowed additionally on a regional basis, with specific conditions. In view of the spread of Communion in the hand, almost worldwide by now, the stance of Pope Benedict XVI and the publication of the work which lies before us is almost a sort of liturgical revolution, as Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, the present secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, states in an extensive foreword (pp. 7-12) [preface, pp. 13-17]

This small but content-rich book does not present any argument that would reject the current practice of Communion in the hand on principle, but impressively shows important historical, liturgical, dogmatic, and pastoral reasons for the kneeling reception of Communion by mouth. The present-day practice of Communion in the hand is different from the usage of the early centuries of Christianity: according to the exemplary witness of Cyril of Jerusalem, the Eucharist was received with the right hand and then taken up by mouth (pp. 36ff) [pp. 34ff]. This was to ensure that no particles would be lost (pp. 36-42) [pp. 34-38]. Besides this circumspection, adoration is also important: if the faithful are to kneel at the eucharistic consecration as a sign of adoration, the author asks, how fitting is it to recommend the standing reception of Communion in the hand? (p. 63) [p. 50] It is admittedly not quite correct, as Schneider points out, that the Church “prescribes” kneeling at the consecration, but at least the latest 2002 edition of the Roman Missal recommends this posture, as does the post-synodal Apostolic Letter on the Eucharist, Sacramentum Caritatis (2007, n. 65).

In a first section, Bishop Schneider tells of the “eucharistic women” in Kazakhstan, who, while the Church was under persecution, maintained the adoration of the Sacrament of the Altar at the cost of great personal sacrifice (pp. 13-22) [19-26]. The faith and reverence of these faithful, which so impressed the author, are indeed exemplary. The second part of the work presents “some historical-liturgical observations on Holy Communion” (pp. 23-60) [pp. 26-48] with a diligently prepared collection of texts from Church Fathers who are also highly regarded in the Orthodox Church. The author does not go into all the points of view discussed in liturgics regarding the reception of Communion, but still sets forth a convincing plea to rediscover the adoration of the eucharistic Lord and childlike reverence for the Sacrament of the Altar by means of Communion by mouth, received kneeling. The title of the work, “Dominus Est” -- “It is the Lord”, is a quotation from the Gospel of St. John: with these words the beloved disciple John points out to St. Peter the risen Christ, who appears to His own (Jn 21:7). Whoever believes in the bodily presence of the resurrected Lord in Holy Communion will be happy to share the author's conclusion: the house of God, the Church, can only be renewed when she places the eucharistic Jesus at the center, and acts “so that in the moment of Holy Communion a sign of reverence and adoration is also included.” (p. 64) [p. 51]

Athanasius Schneider, Dominus Est: It is the Lord. Thoughts of a bishop from Central Asia on Holy Communion, SJM-Verlag, 2008, 67 pages. €8. [English edition: Newman House Press, 2008, 63 pages. $8]

The original German version of this book review appeared in the Catholic newspaper “Die Tagespost”, 28. 7. 2009, p. 6, and is referring to Athanasius Schneider, Dominus est. Es ist der Herr. Gedanken eines Bischofs aus Zentralasien über die heilige Kommunion, Neusäß 2008.


Where can I buy Dominus Est in English (US and UK)?

Before ording Dominus Est online, you might consider going to your local Catholic bookstore and asking them to order it for you.  When they do this, they will probably order a small number to stock on the shelf to get it at a reduced rate. This will expose others to the book when they are browsing.  It's probably a trade-off for what you will pay at a bookstore, versus what you would pay in shipping if bought online (even if it is not the most economical choice, consider the exposure you will give the book).  Bookstores will need to know that the publisher is Newman House Press. Print out the form and encourage them to call for their rate.

If you must purchase it online, you can of course get it at Amazon, but I have only seen it being sold used for over $30, which is outrageous.  Apparently, there is a market for it and people do not know of other online sources offering it cheaper.  Compare that to the $7 price (NEW) here.  Those in the UK can find it at Gracewing for £5.99

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Review of Dominus Est by Dr. Alcuin Reid

Reprinted with the permission of the author:
The little book that will cause a great storm
Alcuin Reid on a book endorsed by Cardinal Francis Arinze
19 December 2008

Dominus Est: It Is The Lord
By Athanasius Schneider
Gracewing £5.99

It was 1969. Paul VI was the Pope. The Congregation for Divine Worship issued an Instruction, Memoriale Domini, on the manner of receiving Holy Communion. It makes very interesting reading.

After recalling the development of the reception of Communion on the tongue as a fruit of "a deepening understanding of the truth of the Eucharistic mystery, of its power and of the presence of Christ in it", the Instruction declares that "this method of distributing Holy Communion must be retained... not merely because it has many centuries of tradition behind it, but especially because it expresses the faithful's reverence for the Eucharist.

"The custom does not detract in any way from the personal dignity of those who approach this great sacrament: it is part of that preparation that is needed for the most fruitful reception of the Body of the Lord," it said.

It also warned: "A change in a matter of such moment, based on a most ancient and venerable tradition, does not merely affect discipline. It carries certain dangers with it which may arise from the new manner of administering Holy Communion: the danger of a loss of reverence for the august sacrament of the altar, of profanation, of adulterating the true doctrine."

And it published a survey of the world's bishops, which led it to conclude: "The vast majority of bishops believe that the present discipline should not be changed, and that if it were, the change would be offensive to the sentiments and the spiritual culture of these bishops and of many of the faithful."

For this reason it reported: "The Holy Father has decided not to change the existing way of administering Holy Communion to the faithful." So, given that Communion in the hand is now practically universal and younger generations know practically nothing else, what happened?

A "loophole" existed. The Instruction contained the provision for bishops' conferences to make a decision to allow Communion in the hand in places where "contrary usage... prevails". And over the coming decade or so this loophole was exploited.

Today, the Instruction's warnings about loss of reverence for, belief in and even the profanation of the Blessed Sacrament have - sadly - been vindicated. It is time to look again at the question of Communion in the hand. This is precisely what a young bishop from Central Asia has done in Dominus Est.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider, a patristic scholar, appointed a bishop by Pope Benedict in 2006, has raised his voice in prophetic call for the western Church to recall the importance, if not the necessity, of returning to the previous discipline of the reception of Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue.

There is, of course, no question that - as Memoriale Domini itself attests - it is "true that ancient usage once allowed the faithful to take this divine food in their hands and to place it in their mouths themselves".

This fact was much flaunted throughout the 1970s, together with talk about receiving Holy Communion as mature adults, and not as children. We were encouraged to return to the primitive purity of early Church practice as we emerged from centuries of supposedly corrupt accretion in the way we worshipped.

However, in our egalitarian excitement we ignored the sober facts that, as Bishop Schneider attests, the "organic development" of the practice of receiving Communion on the tongue is nothing other than "a fruit of the spirituality and Eucharistic devotion stemming from the times of the Fathers of the Church", and that the exclusion of kneeling for Holy Communion was a feature of the Protestant theological revolt of both Calvin and Zwingli.

Indeed, no less a scholar than Klaus Gamber points out that the reception of Communion in the hand "was in fact abandoned... from the fifth or sixth century onwards".

The Church as she proceeds through time accrues wisdom. Her Sacred Liturgy, developed in tradition, is a privileged repository of the same. All but the most partisan liturgists today recognise that many of the hasty decisions taken in respect of liturgical reform and practice in the Sixties and Seventies were infected by an antiquarianism that was at best naïve and at worst unbalanced. It is time to reconsider some if not many of those decisions and to take decisive steps to correct them where necessary. Communion in the hand is one such.

Lest we think that this young bishop - whose account of his formation in Eucharistic piety under Communist persecution in the first chapter is a spiritual treasure in itself - raises his voice alone, let us be clear that the book carries the approbation of the superiors of the Congregation for Divine Worship. Cardinal Arinze, who retired this month, states: "I have read the whole book with delight. It is excellent."

And Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, a true prophet of the liturgical reform of Benedict XVI, writes in the preface: "I think it is time to evaluate carefully the practice of Communion in the hand and, if necessary, to abandon what was never actually called for in the Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium nor by the Council Fathers but was... 'accepted' after it was introduced as an abuse in some countries."

This little book, a brief but insightful survey of the Fathers, the Early Church, the Magisterium and the Eastern and Western liturgical rites, is capable of creating a storm - not in a teacup, but in the minds of those unduly attached to the flawed external changes made to the liturgy in what can only be described as a peculiar period in the Church's history.

That it will provoke a storm is unfortunate, for the practice it advocates is a practice of love and of humility, one from which no one who truly adores Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament ought to recoil.

But perhaps today some controversy is necessary. Future generations, though, may well wonder why we took so long to realise that it is, indeed, the Lord, and once again to behave accordingly.

This is 2008. Benedict XVI is the Pope. The Holy Father has himself already reformed the manner of reception of Holy Communion at the Masses he celebrates. Let us follow his example. It accords with the teaching of Pope Paul VI.

Originally found in The Catholic Herald (UK)
H/T - New Liturgical Movement

EDIT:  Removed "Rev" from title upon learning Alcuin Reid is not a priest.  Error on my part.