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 it...giving 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