Ecclesiam res et talia sermocinamur -

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Friday, October 21, 2005

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?

How on earth does this issue come up? Since when does the laity go about performing sacraments? Heck, how many laymen think this is in some universe appropriate? There are only two sacraments that the laity can perform, and most people don't even know about those (lay performance, not the sacrament itself -- there are still just seven). In extreme emergencies, a layman can baptise -- that's pretty standard, and comparatively well known. And, of course, marriage is always performed by the man and woman getting married -- the priest merely officiates and blesses; you marry one another, the priest doesn't marry you. But really, it's quite a stretch to get from there to thinking that just any ol' person can administer extreme unction -- or annointing of the sick (what was wrong with the old name anyways?). The baptismal rite is absurdly simple in terms of the words said. But how many people know the words of the last rites? How many people have ever seen last rites? To take another look, how many people have chrism, the sacramenal instrument of the rite, just lying around? Water is pretty easy to come by -- sacred olive oil, not so much.

Perhaps this is an unnecessary and reactionary response on my part, but I have this itching feeling that this isn't a very old problem. Bringing the laity into greater participation in the Church and all whatnot is great, but this is that sort of abuse that has "spirit of Vatican II" writen all over it.

Which, if I may continue my little diatribe, makes me think of something else. It seems to me that anytime you go trying to ascribe principles and characteristics to something that it does not truly possess, that you create a world of trouble for yourself. For instance: both the "spirit of Vatican II" language of Church modernists and the "living Constitution" language of legal liberals tend to wreak havoc on their respective fields by attributing qualities of life to a fundamentally inanimate object (the VII documents and the Constitution). From here you could likely get into an entire Aristotelian discussion of things' natures and the roles and treatments that arise out of them, but I won't do that. Suffice to say for the moment that just like Frankenstein, bad things happen when you try to bring dead things to life.

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