So much has been happening in the last few weeks, and so passionate has been the debate around the European whiteness of Jesus, Mary and the Saints (in Europe!… how strange… not!), that it appears as if everyone either missed a major event, or awareness of how important it was is low… I’d rather not dwell into whether it was missed because nobody gave a flying bell end about it.
Amid the turmoil caused by the ongoing mob-rule, and all that has been taking place in the United States, in the UK and elsewhere, yesterday fresh news emerged that in North Carolina, a Catholic Church had been desecrated. If you now find yourself scratching the back of your neck, thinking “desecrated?… how come?”, well here is some consolation for you: I have been scratching the back of my head since yesterday morning in disbelief at what happened.
Early reports stated that the church had been broken into and the vandals lifted the Tabernacle and took it with them, including its Contents. The parish, which is in Boone, clarified that nothing else had been stolen from the Church. This is very interesting because it shows intent with a view to hurt deeply. The thieves went for the Tabernacle alone, the single item of most importance above all others.
It gets “better”… The Diocese of Charlotte declined to comment about a plausible motive for the theft, and the Boone Police Department has not been available for comment. In short, the Body, Soul and Divinity of Christ resting in that Tabernacle, got snatched and absolutely nobody had anything useful to say! What a non-event!
This is deeply disturbing, though!… It is becoming increasingly clear that the histrionics of Shaun King, unchallenged as they have been so far, are exceedingly encouraging. The mob-rule which has been very busy damaging property, hurting people’s feelings and emotions and causing havoc all over the United States and beyond, has been not just busy, but busy and in the most complete impunity. Thus there is no reason to stop. First it was the non-issue of a white-looking Jesus, then came the call to pull down churches, then aggravated assault on priests became okay and it would appear that removing the Blessed Sacrament and the Tabernacle has become just as fashionable in the little grotesque mind of those who respect nothing, care for nothing, know nothing about respecting the freedoms and rights of others (except their own!), and stop at nothing.
This is clearly the case. The swivel-eyed mobs will stop at nothing until something stops them in their tracks. This is what needs to happen, but nobody seems to know how or are too afraid of doing anything.
HISTORY HAS THE ANSWER
Look no further than historic events elsewhere to find the answer. European History is peppered with examples of this sort of trouble. Attacking priests, calling for the destruction of churches and Christian iconography and desecration of the Blessed Sacrament and abduction of the Tabernacle, are not new.
In some Countries, such as France, Spain, Portugal and in Latin America, the solution became known as the Confraternities of the Most Blessed Sacrament (see above). In times of Peace, their role was mainly ceremonial and a means for lay Christians who have a special devotion, to get together, organise events, vigils and so on. This is still the case. These confraternities were also often charged with maintenance of Church Plate; metal monstrances, candlesticks, chalices, often made of brass or gilt bronze, and so forth. The confraternity would plan for cleaning and preserving these items.
But at times of civil unrest, confraternities of the Blessed Sacrament had another important role, which included, irrespective of Church size or importance, the keeping of Church keys and Tabernacle keys, supervised installation of the Tabernacle ensuring suitable anchorage, maintained vigilance shift rotas, patrolled the Church buildings and grounds, maintained liaison with local Police authorities, maintained security and safety of items in storage, among other duties. The most senior members in these confraternities also maintained a small Oratory at home, where the Blessed Sacrament could retire to overnight.
Some of these Confraternities were founded as far back as the 18th Century. It is not uncommon to find them in Portugal, Spain, Brazil and other countries. One of the oldest in Brazil was founded in 1791, for example. Their motto may vary, but common to all is a dominant sense of practicality along with a sincere devotion to the safety of the Blessed Sacrament.
In the past they were men’s only, today all have both male and female membership, but retain their traditional dress-code, usually a sleeveless bright red jacket-like top or a cape secured with a clasp at the front, normally full length from the nave of the neck to the ankle but sometimes just a 3/4 ending mid length of the calf.
Confraternities of the Most Blessed Sacrament are as much respected today as they were 200 years ago and their contribution to preventing terrible desecrations such as the one in North Carolina, is invaluable.
BLESSED SACRAMENT SAFETY: WHOSE BUSINESS IS IT? IT’S EVERYONE’S BUSINESS!!!
The incident in North Carolina was due to criminal actions of one or more people with sickening intentions. Doubtlessly. But, even considering the little we know from reports in the Press and Media outlets, this case lays bare some serious issues and a lesson should be learnt from what happened there.
Responsibility for the security and safety of the Blessed Sacrament is arguably the most important aspect to consider. There are rules in place for proper installation of a Tabernacle in Roman Catholic churches. Many other churches and denominations that keep an Eucharistic Reserve, may or may not follow established rules, but there are some essentials, which are simply common sense. The Roman Code of Canon Law specifies a simple rule, which I do not see why other Churches and denominations should feel reluctant to follow, just because it is a Roman Catholic rule. It is in fact a very sensible rule:
The Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a tabernacle that is immovable, solid, not transparent, and locked securely against profanation(c. 938 §3).
Thus – sorry for emphasising what should be obvious – if the Tabernacle is to be immovable, that means it must be bolted down to a rock solid place, either a floor or heavy pedestal which is in turn bolted to the floor; or a rock solid wall; or even embedded into the wall. If it is to be solid, that means it must be made of something substantial, hard enough and particularly difficult to crack open. And if it is to be locked securely, that means it must be fitted with a security lock or even a safe-like lock with or without combination, and if there are keys, they must be stored OFFSITE, or kept by one or two persons at all times.
Hence, what happened in North Carolina is particularly irritating, because had the parish actually paid attention to Canon Law, the desecration of the Body, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Christ Jesus could have been easily prevented, or at least made considerably more difficult to carry out.
But our troubles do not end there. Tabernacle manufacturers also need to take stock and look at the ludicrously high prices they practise in most cases, leaving parishes, chapels, rectories, oratories, public and private, reduced to a choice of either buying cheap and flimsy and easy to take away, or something very substantial, heavy and secure, usually enormous and running into tens of thousands of pounds.
None of this is helpful, and worse of all, puts the Blessed Sacrament at risk. And we can’t be “pragmatic” here if we are certain in our Faith that a Consecrated Host contains the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus. I do believe and feel certain of that.
Roman Catholics are subject to Roman Canon Law, thus they must petition the Ordinary (the local Bishop), when they wish to keep a Private Oratory. All Roman Catholic Dioceses have the canonical rules in place for this. Other Faithful from other Churches, should refer to their respective Presiding Bishop and rules should be in place to ensure safe-keeping of the Blessed Sacrament. If rules are missing, they should be drawn up urgently and be followed to minimise profanation incidents.
After COVID-19, this is even more urgent. The possibility of a wider distribution of private “House Churches”, Oratories and Domestic Chapels will increase and with it a wider presence of the Blessed Sacrament outside a traditional Church setting. It is imperative to raise awareness of what and WHO the Blessed Sacrament is and why it is absolutely critical to follow strict rules.
I do not think I am thinking over the top here. I think the Blessed Sacrament requires us all to take our responsibilities seriously and for once, at least just this one time, allow me the old and tired cliché:
Better safe than sorry!