Monday, April 9, 2012

If you want to know why the Catholic Church is increasingly irrelevant in people's lives, and the bold direction in which some people want to take it, you must read this piece by Father Cory Sticha. In this piece he makes the brave and powerful stand against...wait for it...wait for blessings to little children in the communion line. Finally, someone has the guts to speak out against this travesty, this horror, this desire on the part of parents and grandparents to have little children receive a blessing in Church. What a bunch of selfish, rude people who now come to Church!  Father Cory Sticha, though, comes down hard against this practice: "I despise blessing children in the Communion line (and yes, I chose that strong language very carefully), and encourage other priests to stop immediately." What is going on?

In some ways, I do not care whether this priest wants to give children a blessing in the communion line, he knows the liturgy much better than I, but it is that he wrote this piece on April 7, 2012, on Easter. This was the top priority on his mind: how and why to exclude children from a blessing. It is hard to imagine in the midst of economic suffering, the trafficking of children and adults, for examples, and the regular, daily travails of life which most of us trudge through, that this weighed most heavily on his heart. That on the greatest Christian festival, that of the suffering and resurrection of Jesus, the conquering of sin and death, this man cares whether people hold hands during the Our Father, or whether little children are given a blessing, and how both of these actions point to our culture of entitlement and Church as "social activity". You might have thought that Jesus said, "I have come so that you might have life, and a life more exclusionary." Or, "as often as you can exclude the least of my children, you have got to take that opportunity."

Or, swallow hard, but this is the verse that does come to mind for me: "You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!" (Matt. 23:24).  For many of you this whole affair is insignificant, in so many ways, or confirmation of what you have always felt, but for me it is heartbreaking. If Fr. Sticha and others continue along this path long enough, however, it will soon enough become a hypothetical issue for the Church: the children will not be there.

John W. Martens

Follow me on Twitter @johnwmartens


  1. Fr. Sticha equates "social activity" with focusing on ourselves, not God. I wonder what sort of gymnastics he would inflict upon us to claim that liturgy is not supposed to have a social dimension. We can hope that the mass readings which will soon come up from Acts 2 & 4 will help him realize that God can be powerfully experienced in communion with others.

  2. Thanks Mark. I must admit that I have found this dismissal of communion with others as counter to or at odds with communion with God as more than puzzling. The passages from Acts 2 and 4 are great examples and I always reflect upon the fact that Jesus calls us to love God and neighbor. Is it so strange that the liturgy would reflect both elements of this love?

  3. What is there to say that has not already been said many times about the ideological division in the church? I'll take it down a notch from that and chalk this one up to some bad judgment by an insensitive priest whose road is paved with good intentions.

    I get why some people are anti-blessings in the communion line, there is certainly a liturgical argument you can make against it. But the pastoral side of teaching others why he is against it is entirely lacking, which as you point out, is just as bad of a crime (if not much, much worse) than taking the liberty of blessing a non-communicant in the line. I'll go out on a limb here and guess that this guy also hates the word "pastoral."

    I would also venture to guess that he ranks among the good number of clerics I know that tend to whine a lot this time of year about the people who only show up to Church on Christmas and Easter. I suppose their frustration is understandable, but c'mon boys, grow up (and yes, I chose that strong language very carefully).

    I'll give him the benefit of the doubt as his actions seem to be well-intended, although imprudent and misguided. Many of our priests are tired and overworked, which can drive anyone to insensitivity and carelessness. Let's pray for a renewal of charity in our priests, and for those hurt by their poor decisions.

    Susan M

  4. As I think on this a little more, I'd like to slightly amend my previous comment. Keeping the same idea, I think I was a bit too generous toward his approach. He is being a jerk about this.

    While this thought was nagging me in the back of my mind, what brought me back here to comment again was that just as you can argue that giving blessings in the communion line goes beyond the liturgical rubrics, you can argue with as much or more strength that this is a pious custom that, with the requirements of law being observed, can come to have the force of law and therefore actually *be* the law.

    All this to say, it's one thing to be personally against giving blessings in the communion line, but completely another for speaking so harshly against those who innocently seek out this pious custom that is unquestioningly accepted pretty much everywhere else in the states.