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Browsing Fr. Joel Hastings

Authenticity & pinchy fingers

How do we know what the pope really said?

This is a very good question regarding “who” we are to believe when it comes to presenting the messages put forth by Pope Francis. On his own part, the Holy Father has shown a willingness to say what is truly on his mind without regards to how it will be perceived or “twisted” by those who follow him. On the other hand, because his way of communicating is very open, his style equally gives all of us opportunity to have access to his words and to read/hear them as given without anyone needing to tell us what he said. To that end, might I suggest the following as a way to know what Pope Francis really says:

Almost every public word the Pope Francis ever speaks is posted on the webpage of the Vatican. To find the website, simply go to www.vatican.va (and upon arriving there, I am guessing that most who read this column will want to go to the button in the upper right of the screen and pull down the menu so as to select “English” instead of “Italiano”). Once on the page, several headings will appear below the picture of Pope Francis, including such items as “homilies,” “messages,” and “daily meditations,” not to mention more formal documents such as “encyclicals,” and “apostolic exhortations.” Click on any of these to be led to further pages that contain these various documents/words of Pope Francis, from where you can read them on screen or often are able to download them. Seeing how accessible his writing style is, any who desire to know what he really said can read it first-hand, without any middle source portraying something other than the Holy Father’s own words.

 

Why do you pinch your fingers during Mass?

This question refers to my hands during the Mass after the consecration of the Body of Christ. The action of the priest holding the tips of his index finger and thumb together on both hands after the consecration is an action that I choose to do that has had long-time practice in the Mass in the centuries prior to our receiving of the Novus Ordo of the Mass in 1970 (that is, of the Mass as we celebrate it in the “Ordinary Form” today).

The meaning of the action is quite simple: as the priest has touched the sacred body of Christ with the tips of these fingers, it is important that he guard against any profanation of the Eucharist, mindful both of the host itself and of any particles that may be on the tips of these fingers. Thus, in former times it was required that these fingers, and only these fingers touch that sacred Body of Christ after it was
consecrated until after Holy Communion, at which time these fingers are “purified,” or rinsed with clean water that is then consumed as part of the ablutions after
communion. Conversely, whenever the priest was not touching the consecrated host, he would keep these fingers pressed together, not allowing them to touch any other thing, so as to protect any traces of the sacred elements that may be upon his fingers from being disturbed and profaned. While there are no such directives within the
Ordinary Form for Mass for the priest to hold his fingers this way, the truth is that some priests still choose to do this mindful both of the reverence owed to the
Eucharistic species and of the sign value that such an act portrays, so that all might pay such reverence to the Eucharist at all times, especially during their reception of Holy Communion. Said another way, that such an act is noticed by you in the pew hopefully places upon your heart a deeper sense of reverence for the Eucharist and a greater awareness to be reverent in your own approaching and receiving of
Holy Communion.

 

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