Saturday, October 21, 2017

In Which We Wonder If Mass Is a Sacrament

Well.  That escalated … if not quickly, at any rate to a higher altitude than expected.  Apparently, at least over here at the Register, the topic of children’s liturgies is even hotter than Game of Thrones (pun obviously intended).  I don’t know whether to lament this as an instance of one of those regrettable skirmishes in the endless wars over religious nonessentials, or to take it as a net positive that people are more eager to defend their children’s souls than to defend their entertainment choices.  (Why not both?)

A few comments indicated points itching for clarification.  First, I confess that I have never attended or taught at a children’s liturgy—I’ve only watched the kids march out.  This does indeed preclude my critiquing children’s liturgies per se (although many of my readers, being more experienced, felt no such qualms).  But my point was not that children’s liturgies are bad (see disclaimers in the previous post) but rather that there are (at least for my family) better options.
Second, and more importantly, one commenter (“Sharon”) had this question:
Can I ask, though, in what way is Mass itself a sacrament?  I know we refer to the Blessed Sacrament, that comes to us at the Mass, but we don’t refer to the Holy Sacrament of the Mass.  I think I’m missing something, and I don’t like missing anything about what the Mass is!
Actually, I doubt Sharon is missing anything.  She was reacting to my statement that “The Mass is a sacrament—yes, even for those too young to receive Communion—and there’s an advantage to a young soul in being there, beginning to end, even if it isn’t always perfectly comprehensible to a young mind.”  That is, I think, substantially right; but Sharon is also right that we don’t speak of “the Holy Sacrament of the Mass.”

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