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The Limits of Docility | Catholic Life

The Limits of Docility

My dear conservative other (husband) is quite a fan of my ideas of docility to community (or Communio as he’d prefer) when it means that I embrace He/His/Him. But he is not so sure that it could be reason to ::gasp:: gather around an altar during the consecration.

I agree with him that there has to be some limit to docility in every form, but my own preferences cannot determine the line for docility to my local community. So what does?

Docility to the bishop.

If you are confident that something is so wrong that you should not join in with the rest of the Body of Christ in your parish, talk to the pastor. If you are unsatisfied that his answer matches up with what the Church really wants, write a letter to your bishop. If it is really so wrong then the bishop will deal with it. And if you get a letter back that simply tells you to pray, then why are you so certain that this is something worth breaking the unity of the Body of Christ?

I have never written a letter to the (arch)bishop, though there was a time or two when I really should have. But I have known a few people who have and this is the principle which I have gathered from their experienes:

If the problem is an abuse of the Eucharist (storing the consecrated host outside a tabernacle, having open communion as a general policy, not just exceptional pastoral circumstances such as weddings or funerals, tossing out Hosts which have been dropped on the floor) then it is worth contacting the bishop and he will almost certainly deal with it.

If the problem is with language or posture it is highly unlikely that the problem is actually as problematic as those who compromise unity in order to “fix” the problem for themselves. Pray. And when joining in with everyone else causes you to suffer, offer it up in reparation for liturgical abuses everywhere and inĀ petitionĀ for the purification of your parish.

And what if you’re quite certain that you are the exceptional prophet and are really called to change your parish’s behavior? Then go and get a good spiritual directer as quickly as possible.

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7 Responses to “The Limits of Docility”

  1. Kathleen 15. Jun, 2010 at 6:05 am #


    You are on a roll, Rae. :)

    I am a Catholic InTheMiddle, and I’m 100% with you that postures are not nearly as much a problem as people who have problems with postures–whatever that posture may be. We get so bent out of shape on things that really just don’t make that much difference. That’s why I like your take on following the community, even when it isn’t in line with your own preferences.

  2. Christine 15. Jun, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    Very enlightening posts, today and yesterday. :-)

  3. Michelle 15. Jun, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    I love this. As someone who HAS witnessed actual liturgical abuses in the past (not using precious metals for the Body and Blood of Christ is one of about four at a certain parish we used to belong to) I like your comment to take it to the pastor/bishop. And then on things like posture…just offer it up if it truly causes you suffering. I was also very interested in the conversation on the previous post of this nature…

    • Rae 15. Jun, 2010 at 3:53 pm #

      “not using precious metals for the Body and Blood of Christ” Ah! Maybe I have the wrong attitude, but I am almost happy that someone else notices this. This is one of those things that I have seen at several parishes and I thought that only Josh and I noticed. Though I recently visited a parish that I hadn’t been to for a few years and was glad to notice that they’d replaced the glass chalices with metal.

      I’ve mostly “gotten over it” except for the parishes that use pottery of the sort that seems designed to spill! I stopped receiving communion under both species at such parishes after I not only saw others spill the Precious Blood but did so myself! I took the shirt to a priest at another parish (I thought I was to burn it) but he simply had it washed with the purificators. Problem solved, but terrified for life!

      Anyway, all that to say that while I don’t think that it is right for me to spaz about the material of the sacred vessels I am actually glad that I am not the only one who cares.

      • Michelle 15. Jun, 2010 at 7:24 pm #

        I find it so frustrating the distinction between “diocesan norm” and “reflections” after the actual stated instruction in the GIRM.

        I suppose I don’t “spaz” over the vessels, but it saddens me that we ever got to a state in our country where so many parishes uses vessels made of material other than precious metal. I just feel like it belies the fact that many Americans don’t really believe in the Real Presence…

  4. Sarah 17. Jun, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    My biggest issue w/glass is the possibility of dropping it and shattering. I feel like it does sort of “endanger” the Precious Blood. I personally can ONLY receive the Precious Blood (Celiac.. cannot consume wheat – and yes, I know the Host is our Lord’s Body, but it maintains the accidents of wheat), so I must receive from the chalice. Like your measured post on this topic, especially as one who lives in a diocese where things can get wacky. Helps to identify which battles are worth fighting and how to go about it!

  5. Marc Trolinger 16. Jan, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    As an Orthodox Catholic Christian, I would encourage you to explore the history of our Faith and expand your understanding of many of the issues you mention in your blog.

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