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Old 20 February 2008, 08:53 AM
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Icon215 Buried wafers will halt communion

Comment: A rumor is going around some forums that there's a secret society
of people who are taking communion wafers out of the churches and burying
them. They leave notes for the priests and everything telling them
they've done it. Its supposed to create enough concern that the church
authorites will stop giving out the communion. Does anyone know about
them? People call them the savior saviors but I don't know what they call
themselves.
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Old 20 February 2008, 09:47 AM
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You would think doing something like burning them or such would be more 'distressing' to the church. As it sounds here, it almost sounds like some would believe that the ground would be blessed at the burial sites, especailly if given a martyrific spin.

I guess the 'savior saviors' are trying to stop the 'symbolic canabilism' of the church.

Ravenhull
-- who is looking for recipes for 'savory saviors' himself
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  #3  
Old 20 February 2008, 12:08 PM
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Priests are usually very observant of any funny business with the Eucharist. On more than one occassion I've seen a priest chase down a communicant to make sure they consume the host. I'm not sure about burying it, but I would guess that the majority of people trying to take the host out of churches are doing so to give it to sick loved ones.

Of course, there have been lots of freaky things done in the past. The Middle Ages produced dozens of miraculous stories about the Eucharist being desecrated. I think Caesarius of Heisterbach includes a few in his Dialogus magnus visionum atque miraculorum [Great Dialogue of Visions and Miracles]. Plus, there was that guy trying to sell a consecrated host on e-bay a few years ago.
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Old 20 February 2008, 12:24 PM
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Before a Mass, communion wafers are just that - wafers. They only become the Eucharist after they have been consecrated IIRC. Stealing unconsecrated hosts would hardly cause concern, other than concern for the thieves' souls

Atlanta Jake
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Old 20 February 2008, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Atlanta Jake View Post
Before a Mass, communion wafers are just that - wafers. They only become the Eucharist after they have been consecrated IIRC. Stealing unconsecrated hosts would hardly cause concern, other than concern for the thieves' souls

Atlanta Jake
I read it that they were doing it during the course of a Mass. Of course it's possible that they broke into the tabernacle and stole the reserved hosts, or that they're just dumb and are stealing unconsecrated hosts.

Incidentally, when I was an altar boy I used to sneak the unconsecrated hosts. Delicious and nutritious!
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Old 20 February 2008, 12:49 PM
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I believe any consecrated, but unused, wine is consumed by the priest/officiant. Is it the same with the host?
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Old 20 February 2008, 12:52 PM
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I believe any consecrated, but unused, wine is consumed by the priest/officiant. Is it the same with the host?
You're right about the Precious Blood, but some hosts are reserved in the tabernacle for later Masses. I'm nearly 100% positive that at least one host must remain in the tabernacle after a Mass (but I'd have to check the Code of Canon Law or the GIRM for about that.)
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Old 20 February 2008, 01:35 PM
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Years ago there was a "scandal" at our church that persons unnamed had seen some children - young enough that they may or may not have just had their first communion - taking the host on their hand and pocketing it. There was another "scandal" where we were forbidden from making the sign of the cross after receiving communion, because one person flailed their hands so wildly that they bumped the priest, which dumped the whole "container" (sorry, can't remember the correct word) of hosts on the floor. The excitement lasted about 2 months, when we got a new pastor. Personally, I doubt the story about the "pocketing" of the host - the priests usually pay attention to this, and they always have an altar server present to catch anything that may fall. Scandal for the sake of scandal alone.
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Old 20 February 2008, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Admiraldinty View Post
Incidentally, when I was an altar boy I used to sneak the unconsecrated hosts. Delicious and nutritious!
IIRC, in one of Rita Mae Brown's Sneaky Pie mystery series, several cats break into a closet and spill and eat the unconsecrated hosts.

One of the cats belonged to the clergyman and was named Lucy Fur.
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Old 20 February 2008, 05:31 PM
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Anyone remember the old outcry against Dungeons and Dragons, because the books had one (very minor!) note on the reversal of the procedure of sanctification? It was called "desecration," and hinted that you could smear the holy altar with noisome substances.

So: you wanna mess up communion? Sneak in and rub down the altar with Cod Liver Oil. Doesn't hurt any if you do it in the name of Moloch.

Of course, in practice, this just means a little extra work for the janitor.

Silas (I'm a Sexton and I oughta know... )
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Old 20 February 2008, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Silas Sparkhammer View Post
Anyone remember the old outcry against Dungeons and Dragons, because the books had one (very minor!) note on the reversal of the procedure of sanctification? It was called "desecration," and hinted that you could smear the holy altar with noisome substances.

So: you wanna mess up communion? Sneak in and rub down the altar with Cod Liver Oil. Doesn't hurt any if you do it in the name of Moloch.

Of course, in practice, this just means a little extra work for the janitor.

Silas (I'm a Sexton and I oughta know... )
It is possible for a church to be desecrated and require reconsecration, but I'm not sure what sort of actions constitute true desecration. I would guess if a murder, rape, or some anti-Christian religious rite occurred in a church, it would require reconsecration.

ETA: Here's one example.
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Old 20 February 2008, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Hero_Mike View Post
snip-Years ago there was a "scandal" at our church that persons unnamed had seen some children - young enough that they may or may not have just had their first communion - taking the host on their hand and pocketing it.
I remember as a child once asking my grandmother if I could eat the leftover "crackers" (matzo) and juice when she was cleaning up the communion set after church one Sunday. She said I could, but I couldn't tell anybody, since "some people might not like it." I was quite puzzled as to why anybody would care about me eating crackers and juice.
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Old 20 February 2008, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Admiraldinty View Post
It is possible for a church to be desecrated and require reconsecration, but I'm not sure what sort of actions constitute true desecration. I would guess if a murder, rape, or some anti-Christian religious rite occurred in a church, it would require reconsecration.

ETA: Here's one example.
I'd want to be careful in attributing that kind of power to evil persons. It's a little like recognizing the might of sorcerers. I think, theologically speaking, desecration should be considered merely a material affair, akin to vandalism. If someone breaks the stained-glass windows, you repair or replace them, and there's nothing wrong with a ceremonial rite of celebration when that's done...but if you hold, further, that the church has been "disempowered" somehow, and that communion can't be held there -- then that allows any jackass with a rock in his fist to stand between the priest (and parish) and God.

(It also strikes me as a bit comparable to the Jewish "cleanliness" laws regarding the Tabernacle and Temple. Roman soldiers, by invading the Temple and profaning it, not only desecrated it, but made it non-functional. A mere churl in greaves had the power to bar God from his dwelling!)

Iffy theology that permits a bad person to shove God around!

Silas
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Old 21 February 2008, 01:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Silas Sparkhammer View Post
I'd want to be careful in attributing that kind of power to evil persons. It's a little like recognizing the might of sorcerers. I think, theologically speaking, desecration should be considered merely a material affair, akin to vandalism. If someone breaks the stained-glass windows, you repair or replace them, and there's nothing wrong with a ceremonial rite of celebration when that's done...but if you hold, further, that the church has been "disempowered" somehow, and that communion can't be held there -- then that allows any jackass with a rock in his fist to stand between the priest (and parish) and God.

(It also strikes me as a bit comparable to the Jewish "cleanliness" laws regarding the Tabernacle and Temple. Roman soldiers, by invading the Temple and profaning it, not only desecrated it, but made it non-functional. A mere churl in greaves had the power to bar God from his dwelling!)

Iffy theology that permits a bad person to shove God around!

Silas
I don't pretend to be an expert at Sacramental Theology, but I can give you an approximate answer:

It is comparable to Jewish ritual cleanliness (Hugh of Saint Victor in his magnum opus De Sacramentis explicitly makes this connection - the reason being the sacraments of the New Law are fulfillments of the rites of the Old), but it seems to me that it's alaso based on the same Aristotelian philosophy from which we get some of the corollaries to the doctrine of Transubstantiation. When a thing is consecrated it is set aside for sacred purposes. Desecration means that it loses its sacred character, and this occurs when a thing literally becomes what it is not meant to be. Thus, as an analogy (and only an analogy), take a look at the Eucharist. Say I find a broken host on the floor in Church (this actually happened to me.) It still has form of bread, but when I bring my discovery to the deacon, he washes it in the sacrarium (a sink that runs directly into the ground.) The "bread" turns into mush and is no longer bread. It has literally become something else. The Eucharist is no longer the Eucharist if it does not have the form (i.e. the accidents) of bread. (There's a long, detailed explanation if you're interested; see questions 74 of the tertia pars of Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologiae.)

It works similarly with church buildings, vessels, and symbols (technically, only these can be desecrated.) These things are desecrated when they no longer are what they were meant to be. This needn't be the result of vandalism or moral evil. Say there is an earthquake and several walls of a church fall down - it has been desecrated because there is no longer a church, only ruins. Technically, a church is also desecrated if a major addition is added to it, and the church does not retain the form it once had.
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Old 21 February 2008, 02:14 AM
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Admiraldinty: I think your answer, while good, is not quite directly in relation to what I'm trying to say.

Let me hit you with another bit of Catholic Theology (which, I'm pretty sure, you know a lot better than I do...) Suppose an airplane crashes in the wilderness, and, among the survivors, are a few Catholics. They want to hold a mass, but none of them is a priest. They can -- and should -- and perhaps even must! -- hold it anyway; one among them is the priest pro tem.

My point is that, without that kind of dispensation, a bad guy could interfere with God's grace, simply by capturing a Catholic and imprisoning him where there wasn't any priest.

If a bad guy can desecrate a church, so badly that it cannot be used for worship, then, in a way, that bad guy has power over God. Since Catholicism wouldn't concede that to be possible, bad guys can only perform material desecration -- breaking windows or stomping on the wafers -- but can never truly pollute that which is sacred.

Again, take the rite of extrme unction. It's good if a dying person can receive this ritual -- but it isn't necessary. It isn't vital. Salvation doesn't depend on it. If it did, a bad guy could, by interfering with the ritual, stand between a person and God. And I really don't think that Christians want to allow bad guys to have that kind of power.

(This is why I find Christianity more admirable than Temple Judaism: everyone is equal before Christ, whereas people with blemishes or missing limbs or whatnot were not permitted within the Temple. That means that, by taking my sword and cutting off a Jew's hand, I can exclude him from Temple congregation, but that power is not permitted to Christianity's foes.)

Clear? (As coffee?)

Silas
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Old 21 February 2008, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Silas Sparkhammer View Post
Admiraldinty: I think your answer, while good, is not quite directly in relation to what I'm trying to say.

Let me hit you with another bit of Catholic Theology (which, I'm pretty sure, you know a lot better than I do...) Suppose an airplane crashes in the wilderness, and, among the survivors, are a few Catholics. They want to hold a mass, but none of them is a priest. They can -- and should -- and perhaps even must! -- hold it anyway; one among them is the priest pro tem.

My point is that, without that kind of dispensation, a bad guy could interfere with God's grace, simply by capturing a Catholic and imprisoning him where there wasn't any priest.
If such an awful thing happened and there were no priest, these Catholics could not say Mass. A big deal was made out of this recently by the Dutch Dominicans. Read this if you have the time. (Naturally their solution was rejected by virtually every theologian worth his salt.) While no Mass certainly isn't the ideal, attending Mass is not necessary for salvation (especially given the circumstances.)

Quote:
If a bad guy can desecrate a church, so badly that it cannot be used for worship, then, in a way, that bad guy has power over God. Since Catholicism wouldn't concede that to be possible, bad guys can only perform material desecration -- breaking windows or stomping on the wafers -- but can never truly pollute that which is sacred.

Again, take the rite of extrme unction. It's good if a dying person can receive this ritual -- but it isn't necessary. It isn't vital. Salvation doesn't depend on it. If it did, a bad guy could, by interfering with the ritual, stand between a person and God. And I really don't think that Christians want to allow bad guys to have that kind of power.
I think you might be working under two misconceptions:

1) Masses can be said anywhere. They needn't be said in a church. Thus, if a church is desecrated and is no longer a church, a Mass could still be performed there (not the ideal, but if this is the only option, then it can be done.) Hell, priests in WWII used to say Mass on the hoods of Jeeps on a battlefield. (My grandfather has told me about this, and I've seen photos, but my google skills aren't good enough at the moment to give you a cite.)

2) More fundamentally, evil, according to orthodox Christian teaching, cannot thwart God's grace. Why? Because evil is not an equal yet opposite force to God. We are not dualists. Evil is literally nothing. It is privation of a good. This was one of the major insights that Augustine had on his way to conversion. (See the Confessions for this. BTW, a great read, if you have the time.) Thus, if some evil person stopped a sacrament, God would find a way. To take an example, the martyrs of the first three centuries of Christianity were no less saints if they weren't baptized. Even the babies slaughtered by Herod are considered saints and martyrs, yet they hadn't been baptized, hadn't heard of Christ. Hell, their parents hadn't heard of Christ.

Quote:
(This is why I find Christianity more admirable than Temple Judaism: everyone is equal before Christ, whereas people with blemishes or missing limbs or whatnot were not permitted within the Temple. That means that, by taking my sword and cutting off a Jew's hand, I can exclude him from Temple congregation, but that power is not permitted to Christianity's foes.)
Funny thing, that. Until somewhat recently a person could not be ordained if he had disfigured hands. Why? Because there was a fear that he would not be able to say Mass properly (especially elevate the Host and chalice.) This is why Jacques de Brebeuf (or was it Isaac Jogues?) had to have special dispensation to say Mass after having some of his hands mutilated by the Iroquois. There is a scene in the movie "Black Robe" that reflects this. Note, however that this has nothing to do with ritual purity.

Last edited by Admiraldinty; 21 February 2008 at 12:05 PM.
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  #17  
Old 21 February 2008, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Admiraldinty View Post
Incidentally, when I was an altar boy I used to sneak the unconsecrated hosts. Delicious and nutritious!
And now available in low-fat. I can't believe it's not Jesus!

When I was about 10 years old, I gave my wafer to my brother during mass at school. He hadn't made his First Communion by that stage. Somehow the priest found out and I got the strap, in front of the whole school.

Aaah, good times.
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Old 21 February 2008, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Bettie Page Turner View Post
I remember as a child once asking my grandmother if I could eat the leftover "crackers" (matzo) and juice when she was cleaning up the communion set after church one Sunday. She said I could, but I couldn't tell anybody, since "some people might not like it." I was quite puzzled as to why anybody would care about me eating crackers and juice.
There's a Polish tradition of "breaking bread" before the traditional meatless meal on Christmas Eve. The "bread" that is used is almost exactly like the "host" used for communion. It comes in "sheets" the size of a 4x6 photograph or postcard, usually with some kind of Christmas-themed "relief" pattern on it. It is not consecrated but can be bought at the church, presumably because the people who make it, are the same ones who make communion hosts.

I say almost exactly because a few years ago - maybe more than 10 now that I think about it - our church switched to a host that is no longer completely bleached white. It appears to be "whole grain", or at least multi-grain. And it tastes better. The plain white ones sometimes taste like paper - and I can't stomach even the thought of having paper on my tongue.
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Old 21 February 2008, 07:15 PM
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. . . More fundamentally, evil, according to orthodox Christian teaching, cannot thwart God's grace. . . .
That's my point.

One last example: some Muslims are caricatured as believing that contact with pork products can cause Allah to reject them from paradise. In the current wars, certain ugly persons have suggested threatening the opposition with burial in pork products. (There is a scene in a "British in India" movie -- I can't recall if it's "Gunga Din" or "Lives of a Bengal Lancer" -- where the heroes coerce information from a captive by threatening him by burial in pig's blood.)

Seems to me like a very "iffy" theology, if we mere humans can have such immense power, power enough to interrupt God's grace.

Ditto, then, for material desecration of altars. Bad guys can dirty them, but can never (as you say) thwart God's grace. And any theology that gives that kind of power to mortal stinkers is attributing weakness to God.

Silas
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Old 21 February 2008, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Admiraldinty View Post
It is possible for a church to be desecrated and require reconsecration, but I'm not sure what sort of actions constitute true desecration. I would guess if a murder, rape, or some anti-Christian religious rite occurred in a church, it would require reconsecration.
We had the bishop come out for something like that after our altar was destroyed by a couple of loonies. I don't recall now if it was a 'reconsecration' or just the bishop pouring lots of oil (he liked to use lots of oil) as part of some rededication.
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