A sense of the sacred

A reader sent me a a quote from Alice von Hildebrand’s Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion which is out of print:

“Not only is the quality of sacredness a mark of all religions, but it is so essential to religion that the very moment sacredness disappears religion vanishes with it."
“Sacredness is such an essential element of man’s religious life that it can be considered to be a barometer for the vitality of a particular religion.  The moment the sense for the sacred diminishes, it is a sure sign that the faithful of that particular religion, are becoming secularized – that they have lost the sense for the things that are above.”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. The Egyptian says:

    communion minsters
    standing and in the hand
    girl servers
    new mass
    pita bread
    Hagen music
    peace and social justice
    no cassocks (priest or servers), no birettas, no kneelers, no confession, adoration, dress code, silence,

    Oh are we in trouble

  2. prairie says:

    You mention pita bread. I haven’t seen this yet. (Thank God!) If pita bread is used, but the words of consecration are said correctly, is the body of Christ present? Asking so I’ll have some clue how to behave if I ever do encounter this.

  3. The Egyptian says:


    From my long neglected blog, yes a pita bread, and barbecue tongs for a monstrance


    Haven’t blogged lately just not in the mood, done this before, in a couple of months I’ll get the vigor back

  4. New Sister says:

    Egyptian – add to your list permanent deacons. I’ve not met one yet who was not subversive and in some way destructive to sacredness in the Catholic Church. (save *one* on EWTN – Dr. McDonald) I say get rid of them.

  5. Jack Hughes says:

    I second both New Sister and the Egyptian

  6. Jack Hughes says:

    sorry for the double post but am I the only one thinking that restoring a sense of the Sacred would lead to a boom in vocations? Its just that all of the orders we hear about that are having ‘housing shortages’ as opposed to vocation shortages e.g. Benedictines of Mary, the ODC in Wyoming, the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer in Scotland, the Dominican Sisters of Nashville and he nuns on Oprah etc etc all seem to have restored the sense of the Sacred whilst all the orders with vocation shortages seem to have desroyed it, goes the same for dioceses as well.

  7. I love Alice von Hildebrand.
    She speaks with such a sense of “sharing the fruits of contemplation” and the focused Benedictine love of the real “work of God”…her husband’s works are yet to be discovered; his “Liturgy and Personality” absolutely changed my life, I am forever grateful.
    Her recent writings in “The Wanderer”, esp. the piece about “chastity and reverence” are superb.
    I believe, not only her husband, but she, as well, will one day be considered great “spiritual directors” in these times; maybe even “Doctors of the Church”…Pope Pius XII even spoke of this regarding her husband. Truth is beautiful; truth makes saints. Both of them have contributed to this great legacy in our Church. Bless Alice von Hildebrand.

  8. nhaggin says:

    Permanent deacons contributing to the loss of the sacred? Certainly not. I would speculate that, just as in some places candidates for the priesthood were selected based on their commitment to certain ideologies, so were candidates for the permanent diaconate. That does not make the office itself an insult to or reduction of the sacred.

    I’ve known a couple of iffy permanent deacons, I’ve known plenty of good permanent deacons, and I know a fine upstanding man, devoted to God and his Church, a good husband and father, in formation at this very moment. Between finishing grad school and taking my first job, I spent the summer in my home town, where a permanent deacon was (and probably still is) the only man keeping Eucharistic Adoration going in my old parish. Every Wednesday night he would lead a holy hour, and I assisted him as server and cantor until I moved away. (Plenty of incense and Gregorian chant.) The pastor gave him permission, but did not emphasize or encourage the holy hour in any particular way.

  9. permanent deacons…

    I cannot go along in a general way with the inclusion of and denigration of all permanent deacons in a list of things that detract from the sense of the sacred.

    I know a few permanent deacons who are outstanding liturgically, and knowledgeable as well. They often can make solemn liturgy possible.

    I also know a few permanent deacons so liturgically hamfisted that my jaw nearly drops. These are good men, in other respects.

    I have also, in two cases, trained permanent deacons who had never done anything traditional, to serve in a very solemn occasion. No problem… once they knew what to do.

    Many permanent deacons would be game, but they never had a chance to learn anything.

    And I now close this rabbit hole. We can return to the topic: the sacred.

  10. robtbrown says:

    You mention pita bread. I haven’t seen this yet. (Thank God!) If pita bread is used, but the words of consecration are said correctly, is the body of Christ present? Asking so I’ll have some clue how to behave if I ever do encounter this.
    Comment by prairie

    My understanding is that pita bread is unique in its way of baking, not in its ingredients. If it is made from wheat and water, then it would be valid matter.

  11. MichaelJ says:

    If things are not treated as if they were sacred, then I would expect nothing else other than a loss of the sense for the sacred.

    So if actions such as Communion on the Hand, excessive unnecessary EMHCs, standing for reception of the Eucharist, etc. etc. are actively promoted instead of simply allowed, can anyone really be suprised that the faithful have begun to lose the sense of the sacred?

    And yes, rabbit hole or no, the Permanent Deaconate is a part of this overall issue. This has nothing at all to do with the sanctity (or lack thereof) of the men that have chosen this as a vocation but instead is due to the reason the office was created in the first place. There are those who would speculate that the Permanent Deaconate was created to accommodate men who wanted to “do the things that Priests do”, but did not want to make the additional personal sacrifices necessary.

    I am not saying that this is a valid speculation, but it is a real perception that must be addressed if you want to recover the sense of the sacred.

  12. cmm says:


    Oh are we in trouble

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