Responding to Critics


Some of you may have received copies of a newspaper called ‘The Wanderer’ which is being distributed in some parishes. Like ‘Le Panto’, a newsletter from the Sunshine Coast that it quotes frequently, ‘The Wanderer’ specialises in personal attacks on people with whom the editors disagree on liturgical and theological matters.
With a weekly column about liturgy in ‘The Catholic Leader’ and all 250+ past columns available on the web, I am a prime target of these publications.
Amongst other things, I and a few other named ‘fellow dissenters’ are accused of ‘misdirecting the youth and quickly promoting them into positions of influence in their parish communities’ and of ‘disregarding the efforts of the Holy See to regulate the liturgy’. It would be funny if it wasn’t so hurtful and untrue to me personally and confusing to some others.
Recent issues of both papers take me to task for ‘pressuring parishes to replace traditional Communion host wafers with home-baked bread’, and advocating the use of ‘invalid matter’ (yeast).
In my column on 1st February, I quoted this from paragraph 321 of ‘The General Instruction of the Roman Missal’: The nature of the sign demands that the material for the eucharistic celebration truly have the appearance of food. I could have gone on to add from the same paragraph: …however, small hosts are in no way ruled out, which quite clearly indicates that the use of hosts is a secondary option.
I suggested that while hosts are quicker and easier to use than real bread, it is good to use home baked bread when the situation makes this possible because it allows a community to offer its own gifts for the eucharist, can be seen by everyone in the church and looks, smells and tastes like real bread.
Apparently ‘they’ believe that it is not possible to make unleavened bread at home. Millions of people around the world do it daily! There are several recipes available for baking communion bread at home. One was published in ‘Liturgy News’ in December 1990. Here are the ingredients for the recipe that was used to bake the bread for the Mass I referred to: 2 cups unbleached white flour, 1 cup wheat flour, 1 cup sparkling water. I am not at all sure which of these is judged to be ‘invalid’.
I have also been taken to task for using incorrect grammar in another column. I had quoted exactly from GIRM 2000 paragraph 281: ‘Holy Communion has a more complete form as a sign when it is received under both kinds’. My critic wrote: ‘This statement (‘more complete’) from an education officer? One would expect that an education officer writing in a Catholic paper would be trying to explain Christianity in the Catholic tradition.’
I would have thought quoting from an official instruction was being pretty orthodox, and who am I to correct the grammar of a Vatican document?
I wonder if horticultural experts or doctors who write newspaper columns get told regularly that they haven't got a clue, that they are trying to undermine gardening, medicine, etc? Perhaps if I listed my degrees in arts (majors in English and German), economics, teaching, theology and liturgy, ‘they’ might realise that I am qualified to write about liturgical matters, but I doubt it! Perhaps I should be flattered by being described as directing ‘ the liturgical formation of priests and laity in Brisbane and other dioceses’. I must ask for a pay rise!


Elizabeth Harrington