Monday, March 17, 2014

YOU KNOW?

The post on ZOLTAN CONFIRMS THE NEOCATECHUMENAL WAY IS NOT CATHOLIC has produced over 40 comments, and some of them are as strange as they are instructive. Let’s take a look:
Where does it say were (sic) not Catholic?
It appears that I assume too much. I actually assumed that people would see that treating the General Instruction of the Roman Missal as a book of suggestions would sort of speak for itself. But apparently not. So more explanation is needed. 

Because the Catholic Mass is the “sacrament of unity” as Vatican II calls it, and is in fact the highest Act of the Church, separation from that Act, either in spirit, theology, or in practice, is separation from the Catholic Church. This is why any variance in the celebration of the Eucharist must be authorized, and usually authorized by the Pope (even though he may speak through a Congregation.)

However, this idea that the GIRM is only a GUIDE is so thoroughly imbued in the thinking and comments of the members of the NCW who comment on this blog, we have begun to see that this is not the view of just a few individuals, but a view originating in a higher authority. Later in the comments, we get a bit of a hint, when one commenter says:
GIRM is a document providing us with a guideline how to perform liturgy. Monsignor David informed us it is only a guide and we interpret the document in the light of inculttaration (sic) to our needs and culture on Guam. We are the catholic church on Guam so we have a new way now of doing things. Monsignor David supports this so we are right.
I sincerely hope that Monsignor David (David C. Quitugua) DID NOT say this, but whether he did or not, the view that the GIRM is only a GUIDE and not an INSTRUCTION, certainly comports not just with the majority view of NCW commenters, but in the constant practice of the Neocatechumenal celebrations of the Eucharist. We then get this from Zoltan (emphases mine):
Zoltan March 16, 2014 at 9:55 AM

...when a bishop allows the Way to work under its jurisdiction, then the same bishop consents to the faith life and the practices of the Way. So we do not need special permission from the local bishop, or the Archbishop in this case, to participate in and follow our celebrations. The Way celebrates the Eucharist in the exact same manner in every country of the earth. We are not talking about reception of the Eucharist on the tongue, but under both kinds. Our practice in the Way has been existing for quite some time. Whoever wants to change this, has the burden of proof. Otherwise we follow our practice.

We sometimes have to be wary of impostors being sarcastic or facetious and posting exaggerations, but in this case, we can be sure that the author of the comment is who he says he is. And, Zoltan, as we have come to know on this blog, is one of the staunchest defenders of the Neocatechumenal Way. He is also not uneducated, being a math professor at the University of Guam. Thus, we must take his comments as serious, and his errors, just as seriously. 

But the real question is: Are they errors? Yes. And I will demonstrate so. But No, if he is only repeating what he has been taught. And from the looks of it, he is only repeating what he has been taught. How else to explain the same attitude by Neocatechumenal communities around the world?

Including Zoltan's previous point, we now have THREE main beliefs of the Neocatechumenal Way:

  • The General Instruction of the Roman Missal is subject to interpretation.
  • The permission of a bishop for the Neocatechumenal Way to practice in his diocese is a blanket consent to the "life and practices of the Way," and no other permissions are needed.
  • The practices of the Way are valid because the members of the Way have been practicing them for "quite some time", thus any challenge to them requires a "burden of proof" from the challenger.

Zoltan has been very concerned that I have taken him out of context in the past, so I am making sure that I am quoting him pretty much verbatim. However, feel free to verify the above with his comments. Zoltan is also going to say that he speaks only for himself, but in fact he speaks using "we", not I, so we have to take him at his word: he is speaking for the Neocatechumenal Way.

Let's take these one at a time. 

We have already argued that the GIRM is not subject to interpretation, that it is NOT a "guide", that it is an INSTRUCTION, and there is no variance from it without authorization from the competent authority. In fact, Zoltan agrees with this last part, it's just that he believes that the "community" is the "competent authority", which is why no "permissions" from the bishop are needed. In fact, he told me on the phone, that even if Archbishop Apuron should come out against the practice (the way they do communion), the Archbishop's position would have no bearing on how the communities practice. I do hope the Archbishop is paying attention here. (But then the fact that the Archbishop is not in charge is something we've all known for a very long time. It's just that Zoltan now confirms it.)

But let's grant the neos their druthers. Let's agree (with Msgr. David ?) that the GIRM is only a guide and that is is subject to interpretation as the neos claim. And let us agree that a "community" can decide to take or leave a particular instruction such as the requirement to immediately consume the host upon reception (GIRM 161). And let's say that your parish, since it is a community, takes a vote and says: "You know, we would prefer to carry the host back to our pews and wait till everyone has received, and then consume it altogether as a community, since we believe this would be much more meaningful." (This is how many Protestant churches design their "worship",  by the way. )

And so next Sunday, instead of consuming the host "as soon as" (GIRM 161) one receives it, everyone takes the host back to their pews and waits. In fact, let's forget about the vote. There is nothing that says (since the GIRM is only a guide) that a change in practice even need be approved by a "community". So let's just let every one do as they feel. Let's let everyone "interpret". Those who want to take the host back to their pews and wait can do so. And those who want to immediately consume can do so as well. Maybe we can even fix some of the communion traffic jams and send just one member of a family up to get a handful of hosts for the rest of the family. This would have "meaning" too, right?

So, Msgr. David, just to let you know what is being said in your name, perhaps you, since the Archbishop will not respond, may want to address this? And please let the rest of us "regular Catholics" in on whether it is okay to treat the GIRM as a guide and subject to interpretation. Otherwise, there is absolutely no reason that we cannot adopt the practice of the neos (since, according to Zoltan, no permission from the bishop is needed) and begin taking the host back to our seats where we can look at it for awhile before popping it into our mouths. 

We actually covered both of Zoltan's first two points, so let's go on to the third which is that their practice is valid because they "have been doing it for quite awhile," and that any challenge to conform with the rest of the church requires us to prove something. 

I have yet to figure out what it is that we are supposed to prove, but let's give it a shot. The Catholic Church is composed of approximately one billion believers. The Neocatechumenal Way - at least according to Kiko (ahem) - has about one million members. Zoltan is a math professor so we shouldn't have to do the math, but let's assume nothing. One million is 1/1000th of a billion. So Zoltan is telling us that the burden of proof is on 99.9% of the church that receives holy communion as instructed by the GIRM and, by the way, has done so before long before Kiko was born.

There is much more we could have fun with, but after the last couple days I have realized that in engaging the likes of Zoltan and "Diana", we are but "tilting at windmills". The real villain is the thing that takes otherwise sane minds and melts them as we have witnessed here. How else to describe a university professor who believes that the burden of proof lies with 99.9% of the church to prove to the 0.1% that our "interpretation" of the GIRM is right and theirs is wrong. But then that's not even the point. THERE IS NO INTERPRETATION. THAT'S WHAT AN INSTRUCTION IS FOR. (Hey, maybe that's what happened to that Malaysia flight. The pilot decided to interpret the flight manual. Same result.)

So while we will probably go on engaging absurdity after absurdity, if only for the fun of it,  I believe we can all see that there is something much more sinister and serious going on than just the constant flow of inexplicable delusions from otherwise well-meaning people.  And don't think that we haven't noticed that the "sinister and serious" have remained silent. They know that we know that they know what most of you don't know and don't want you to know. You know?







 


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