2013-03-04

Ritual Hand Purification

I will therefore that men pray in every place, lifting up pure hands, without anger and contention.
(1 Timothy 2:8)

There exists a local parish in some close by town that currently does not offer the extraordinary form of the Holy Mass. One might note that the Agnus Dei is often punctuated with the echoing call of a permanent deacon: "We need Eucharistic Ministers. Could Eucharistic Ministers please volunteer?" Of course there are no priests, deacons, or acolytes within ear shot that are not already standing up at Altare Dei. One might think that such urgency and need would suggest that there is standing room only in the Church; or that both the priest and permanent deacon are somehow incapable of keeping up with the potential communicants, who if were optimized in their seating arrangement for the ever important worship of efficiency, together might fit in one or two smallish pews.

While attempting to ponder why and how our Lord wants us to be worthy -- one might happen to notice a legion of those adorned with pastels and polyester pant suits parading pompously to the Altar. The hoard of extraordinary Eucharistic ministers enter the sanctuary by crossing over where once stood the communion rail. One by one this extraordinary league presents themselves to "lavabo stations" dispensing hand-sanitizer for their ritualistic cleansing.

After turning back to recollect oneself from the royal rumpus, one will be strongly encouraged to merge systematically with the "unity queue". If a person manages to stay the course they tilt their head back and extend their tongue in anticipation of being in Communion with their Lord through this most Holy Sacrament. The eyes and tongue of Faith see and taste the sweetness of our Lord. The eyes of our material body see what only looks like bread, our material tongue tastes the acrid chemical laden perfume of the hand-sanitizer dripping off the fingers of the extraordinary Eucharistic minister.

Forgive my tone. I do believe that most are deluded into believing that the overuse (abuse) of extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers (EEMs) is for the good of the Church. I do believe that the reason hand-sanitizer is often used is that many sincerely care about the health of their fellow parishioners. (I will also note that many EEMs are not pompous or covered in brightly colored synthetic textiles.) It is hard not to juxtapose this 'serious' concern for health, along with the ignorance of discipline surrounding this Sacrament with the ritual hand washing of the Pharisees.

And when they had seen some of his disciples eat bread with common, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews eat not without often washing their hands, holding the tradition of the ancients: And when they come from the market, unless they be washed, they eat not: and many other things there are that have been delivered to them to observe, the washings of cups and of pots, and of brazen vessels, and of beds. And the Pharisees and scribes asked him: Why do not thy disciples walk according to the tradition of the ancients, but they eat bread with common hands? But he answering, said to them: Well did Isaias prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain do they worship me, teaching doctrines and precepts of men. For leaving the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, the washing of pots and of cups: and many other things you do like to these. And he said to them: Well do you make void the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition. (Mark 7:2-9)
And the Pharisee began to say, thinking within himself, why he was not washed before dinner. And the Lord said to him: Now you Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but your inside is full of rapine and iniquity. Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without, make also that which is within? But yet that which remaineth, give alms; and behold, all things are clean unto you. But woe to you, Pharisees, because you tithe mint and rue and every herb; and pass over judgment, and the charity of God. Now these things you ought to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Woe to you, Pharisees, because you love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the marketplace. Woe to you, because you are as sepulchres that appear not, and men that walk over are not aware. And one of the lawyers answering, saith to him: Master, in saying these things, thou reproachest us also. But he said: Woe to you lawyers also, because you load men with burdens which they cannot bear, and you yourselves touch not the packs with one of your fingers. Woe to you who build the monuments of the prophets: and your fathers killed them.Truly you bear witness that you consent to the doings of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and you build their sepulchres. For this cause also the wisdom of God said: I will send to them prophets and apostles; and some of them they will kill and persecute. That the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation, From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, who was slain between the altar and the temple: Yea I say to you, It shall be required of this generation. Woe to you lawyers, for you have taken away the key of knowledge: you yourselves have not entered in, and those that were entering in, you have hindered. And as he was saying these things to them, the Pharisees and the lawyers began violently to urge him, and to oppress his mouth about many things, Lying in wait for him, and seeking to catch something from his mouth, that they might accuse him. (Luke 11:38-54)

The actual Lavabo and emphasis on Ordinary Minsters of Holy Communion would sufficiently address both abuse and health (spiritual and material) concerns.

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