A jewel of a comment from a priest. Must read.

Under another entry, my old friend Fr. Sotelo made a good observation:

Perhaps it is now time for the bishops to sit down and write the Charter for the Protection of the Blessed Sacrament, so that He is no longer spiritually molested in His sacramental Presence by people who should know what mortal sin is, by people who should not be receiving Him sacrilegiously while the clergy look on and applaud.


Thank you Fr. Sotelo.

This was a gem.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Fr. Z KUDOS, Mail from priests and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. wantny says:

    A gem indeed. Just after I read Fr. Sotelo’s words, I picked up the latest copy of “The Long Island Catholic” and read the following letter to the editor:

    Editor: “…Three weeks ago, at a Saturday evening Mass here on Long Island (not my home parish), I witnessed such an act first-hand. After Communion, a nine or ten year old girl seated in front of me was using the host to trace perfect circles on a drawing pad. When I leaned forward to urge the girl’s mother (I presume) to correct her immediately, the reaction was one of “What’s the big deal, she’s drawing balloons?”

    This was the end of the letter. The writer did not go on to say that he retrieved the Host and consumed it. The Editor did not write a reply. There should have been a bolded statement following that letter explaining that if you are ever to see such a thing, you should retrieve the Host and alert the Priest after Mass. How could such a serious issue be treated so nonchalantly by this paper?! It would seem that nobody involved believes in the True Presence – neither the man, the girl, the mother, nor the Editor!

  2. Henry Edwards says:

    I’ve been here since WDTPRS’s beginning, and I don’t recall ever seeing a finer WDTPRS comment on any subject than this one by Fr. Sotelo. Perhaps the least that can be done is to provide a direct link to it. Anyone who has not read this whole comment — of which Father Z quotes above only the final sentence– can click here to go directly to it.

  3. Mike says:

    Hoorah! is right! While the barque of Peter has certainly righted from the storm of the late 60s onwards, there is much work to do. The feminization of the Church has pretty much abolished the loving, demanding, all-forgiving presence of the Father, whom the Son from all eternity has brought to us in Christ. Let’s get serious about our Marian devotions, and have manly priests who can say at the pulpit “mortal sin”, “eternal damnation”, “loss of soul”, and then remind us all that the Father is waiting in the Confessional to embrace us as his children through Christ Our Lord.

  4. Supertradmum says:

    Thank you, Father Sotelo, for not losing your First Love, Jesus Christ. You are a good and holy priest and I pray for you.

  5. Nordic Breed says:

    Let me add that bishops the world over should order at least one hour of Eucharistic Adoration every week in every parish of their dioceses.

  6. I am not sure that I was ever taught about the obligation to refrain from Holy Communion while in a state of mortal sin. I suppose I must have been at a very young age — I do remember making First Confession right before First Communion — but I do not think I ever was afterwards. It is simply not something emphasized much now (though the parish where I am is better … a very recent homily about the Commandments’ role in a Christian life and the necessity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation).

  7. I meant that my CURRENT parish is better (than my childhood one). On some issues the difference is almost like night and day.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    Nordic Breed,

    There is a famous retreat day given by Archbishop Sheen to certain bishops in which he said basically, “I have power and you do not”. He said that the bishops in the audience had no power or authority and that people did not listen to them. Archbishop Sheen then went on to explain that he had power because he spent on hour everyday on his knees in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

    ‘Nuff said….

  9. Dr. Eric says:

    I read the whole post. I agree 100% percent with what Fr. Sotelo wrote. I wish more priests would defend Our Lord and Holy Mother Church like he did.

  10. joan ellen says:

    Thank you so much Fr. Sotelo. Just this week I began, when praying the Luminous Mysteries, to pray in reparation for sins against the Sacraments. A Charter for the Protection of the Blessed Sacrament would be wonderful! The very thought gives me hope.

  11. Elizabeth D says:

    I have suspected that a lot of the movement toward a greater laxity in practices relating to the Eucharist and reception of Holy Communion, was a recoiling from the excesses of Jansenism (which was not really a discrete movement, nor clearly defined, but seems to be associated with rigorism and overly severe restrictions on who can receive Holy Communion). In the past, there was sometimes/often such a great protectiveness toward the Blessed Sacrament , that there was a severe curtailment of access to the Sacrament even to those with no mortal sins on their conscience. I think it was Pope St. Pius X who allowed promoted frequent Communion, and shifted the Church toward a conviction that the Sacrament is a help to sinners rather than a reward for saints. Changes in practice and discipline ordered toward this good, opened the possibility of the current immense problems, not only related to people receiving Communion illicitly, but also leading to liturgical chaos, abandonment of disciplines such as fasting which helped people attain the self control by which to avoid sin, and resulting loss of Catholic identity. The task of providing the sacrament of Penance so everyone could receive Communion every Sunday was just so vast that Penance was given up on almost entirely in many cases, and people conveniently forgot that it mattered. I am not competent to discuss the things I’m trying to discuss, and I don’t mean to advocate a particular position, but “protecting the Blessed Sacrament” (or, protecting people from receiving when they must not) would seem to have very wide ranging implications.

  12. spock says:

    It won’t happen. The Bishops won’t do it. Will make too many people mad (particularly feminists) and compromise “Social Juuuuuustiiice” efforts from the Church to society. But we can hope.


    Spock the cynic ( the evil bearded “Mirror Mirror” episode version )

  13. kelleyb says:

    Amen! I will pray that the Charter for the Protection of the Blessed Sacrament is written. Frankly, I don’t care who it offends.

  14. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    This leaves me wondering how far the protections ought to go. Certainly efforts should be made to educate people on the need to be 1. Catholic and 2. free of mortal sin before receiving communion. Hasn’t that already been covered in law and tradition? But beyond that… Shouldn’t the Bishops make an effort to curtail “entertainment” services held within sanctuaries? (I’m thinking of a visiting secular choir singing classical but not religious music in concert around the altar.) How about “ecumenical services” with singing and dancing groups of women and proclamations regarding economic and gender oppression, as ministers of various “faith communities” gather in front of a Roman Catholic Tabernacle? I’m aware of these sorts of events and consider them abuses of the Eucharistic Presence, even if the hosts are safely locked away in the Tabernacle. Should a Charter for the Protection of the Blessed Sacrament go beyond Holy Communion and into regulating the environment to which the sacrament is subjected? I am seriously wondering if this is possible.

  15. Supertradmum says:

    Massachusetts Catholic,

    The tradition of having secular music in Church is as old as churches in Europe. The church building would have been one of the largest in the city or town, and concerts would have been normal. That these occurred around the altar could be disputed, but the Eucharist would have been removed from the sanctuary.

    There is plenty of historical evidence of both choral and instrumental music not necessarily specifically religious being presented in churches even in pre-Reformation times.

    The Blessed Sacrament would not have been present during those . The large and famous cathedrals were cultural centers, as well as centers of worship. In fact, the development of all types of music was positively encouraged by the Church, as were all the Arts. The Church saw Art as intrinsically good and that Beauty, as an attribute of God, was part of the pursuit of Art.The more modern statements on the use of churches for liturgical music, or sacred music, rather than secular, has to do with abuses. In 1987, the Vatican clarified the use of churches for liturgical and religious music, but did not rule out classical music, because of the nature of classical music being both secular and spiritual. Music which was created to be purely for performance was not to be allowed, but much classical music was created for sacred use. For example, one would not expect Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte in a church, but could expect Mozart’s Coronation Mass, outside of the Mass, as a concert piece. The same could be judged for the Brahms’ Requiem, or even Britten’s War Requiem, which I heard at Westminster Cathedral in London, presented as a profoundly religious piece, as well as a modern classical work.

  16. Henry Edwards says:

    When a non-liturgical event is held in a Catholic church having its Tabernacle within the sanctuary, the Blessed Sacrament is supposed to be removed from the Tabernacle (and its doors left open). Is this not the ordinary practice?

  17. Brooklyn says:

    Elizabeth D – you are right that Pope Pius X did promote frequent reception of the Eucharist. However, the Church promoted daily reception as far back as the Council of Trent, as can be seen in the Catechism from that time. If you go here, you will see that there is a section entitled: “The Church Desires The Faithful To Communicate Daily.”


    If you go to this link, you will find all kinds of interesting things there. That’s all I’ll say.

  18. Centristian says:

    Get ready to throw your tomatoes, but…

    I feel that “A Charter For the Protection of the Blessed Sacrament” is a sentimental, gimicky idea that, in my estimation, bizarrely weakens the image of the Almighty, reducing the resurrected and glorified Jesus Christ to the status of a vulnerable potential victim of abuse. Christ does not need our protection, we need His. In the end, sacrilege does damage to us, not to God, who cannot be damaged.

    While the thought of sacrilege is always disturbing to any faithful Christian, what will a gimicky document do to put an end to the stupidity of individual ignoramuses, such as the mother of the child in the example given? Or to cocky “Catholic” politicians without consciences? Persons such as these are oblivious, thus far, to all the well-known doctrines of the Church concerning the Eucharist. And those who commit sacrilege out of evil will not be swayed in any case.

    The only effect such a document would have would be to inflate the breasts of a few chest-thumping reactionaries, who will point to it and say, “ah-ha! A charter! See! Look! Now treat the Eucharist with reverence…because there’s a charter!” However, if a Catholic doesn’t have an innate sense (formed by catechesis) that the Eucharist is Divine and therefore something to approach with reverence, a gimicky charter isn’t going to change anything.

    “A Charter for the Protection of the Blessed Sacrament,” therefore, in addition to being ineffective and meaningless, would actually represent a disservice to contemporary Catholics. It makes one imagine that one is there to save Jesus Christ, rather than vice-versa.

  19. irishgirl says:

    OORAH for Fr. Sotelo, indeed! Way to go, Padre!
    Wish you could be a Bishop! [that’s for Fr. Sotelo, Fr. Z-just so you know]

  20. Brooklyn says:

    Centristian – no tomatoes, but a few thoughts on your post. One of the aspects of the Holy Eucharist that completely blows my mind is that the great God and Creator of the Universe has indeed done just what you sarcastically stated: reduced himself to the “status of a vulnerable potential victim of abuse.” Most of us have a terrible problem with pride, wanting everyone to see just how great we are. But our Lord and Saviour comes to us under the form of a small wafer, which can so easily be abused and desecrated. Just as he made himself into a tiny baby who needed all of his needs taken care of by his human mother, he comes to us under the form of bread requiring us to do just as you stated: to watch over and protect him. I always ask myself, can I ever become that humble and small?

    You say that Catholics should have an “innate” sense of reverence for the Holy Eucharist. Knowledge of and reverence for the Holy Eucharist is not part of the natural law. It is not something we can in any way just know “innately.” We must be taught, and unfortunately, far too many Catholics have never been properly taught. A Charter for the Protection of the Blessed Sacrament would not only not be “ineffective and meaningless”, it would teach everyone that this truly is God come down to us, just as real as when he physically walked the earth. But he is a God who has made himself more approachable and vulnerable than we could ever imagine. Just as he hung on the cross with his arms outstretched, wanting only to give us his love, so he comes to us under the appearance of a wafer, asking only that we lovingly become one with him. A Charter for the Protection of the Blessed Sacrament is one of the best ideas I have ever heard, and I’m sure our Lord would smile on it.

  21. Henry Edwards says:


    In the end, sacrilege does damage to us, not to God, who cannot be damaged.

    Surely no one could disagree with this. The purpose of “protecting” the Blessed Sacrament from our sacrilege is to protect ourselves from its destructive effects.

    And those who commit sacrilege out of evil will not be swayed in any case.

    Not if most formal sacrilege is – as I think it is – committed by generally well-intentioned people who have not been adequately instructed by existing catechesis and norms.

    However, if a Catholic doesn’t have an innate sense (formed by catechesis) that the Eucharist is Divine and therefore something to approach with reverence . . .

    But the sole intent of any such “charter” would be catechetical — to begin to instill such sense and reverence.

    So I wonder where you find profound disagreement in all this.

  22. Brooklyn says:

    Centristian – Here is a story about St. Tarcisuis:

    “Tarcisius was a twelve-year-old acolyte during one of the fierce Roman persecutions of the third century, probably during that of Valerian. Each day, from a secret meeting place in the catacombs where Christians gathered for Mass, a deacon would be sent to the prisons to carry the Eucharist to those Christians condemned to die. At one point, there was no deacon to send and so St. Tarcisius, an acolyte, was sent carrying the “Holy Mysteries” to those in prison.
    On the way, he was stopped by boys his own age who were not Christians but knew him as a playmate and lover of games. He was asked to join their games, but this time he refused and the crowd of boys noticed that he was carrying something. Somehow, he was also recognized as a Christian, and the small gang of boys, anxious to view the Christian “Mysteries,” became a mob and turned upon Tarcisius with fury. He went down under the blows, and it is believed that a fellow Christian drove off the mob and rescued the young acolyte.

    The mangled body of Tarcisius was carried back to the catacombs, but the boy died on the way from his injuries. He was buried in the cemetery of St. Callistus, and his relics are claimed by the church of San Silvestro in Capite.”

    Do you think St. Tarcisius foolishly gave his life to protect the Holy Eucharist? Or is that an example for all of us?

  23. Centristian says:

    “Do you think St. Tarcisius foolishly gave his life to protect the Holy Eucharist? Or is that an example for all of us?”

    I’ll interpret that as a tomato.

    I have not suggested that Catholics ought not to do their duty to avoid or to prevent sacrilege; I have suggested only that the suggested charter (at least under its proposed title) seems (to me)sentimental and gimicky. That’s all. No need to take my observations ten steps beyond where they actually went and imagine that what I actually meant to say was that St. Tarcisius was a fool.

  24. Brooklyn says:

    Centristian – in your first post you wrote: “A Charter for the Protection of the Blessed Sacrament,” therefore, in addition to being ineffective and meaningless, would actually represent a disservice to contemporary Catholics. It makes one imagine that one is there to save Jesus Christ, rather than vice-versa.

    I gave you a story of a saint who gave his life to “save” Jesus. You interpret that as a tomato. That was not my intention. My intention was to point out that contrary to what you wrote, as Catholics, it is our role to guard and protect the Word, both literally and figuratively. You now say that you basically agree with that: “I have not suggested that Catholics ought not to do their duty to avoid or to prevent sacrilege.”

    You have not explained in any discernable way why a charter to protect the Eucharist (which would, as pointed out in Henry Edwards’ post, be catechetical as well) is “sentimental and gimicky.” So if I have misunderstood your post, I think we would all appreciate it if you would clarify it. As a Catholic, I know that you believe the Eucharist is the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. We also know that there is constant descration – both intentional and non-intentional – every day. Why not do something to point this out? Why wouldn’t a charter work? Can you think of a better way?

  25. Fr_Sotelo says:


    I made the comment above from a sense of indignation, and it is more of a rhetorical salvo than a serious proposition. The Church, after all, has codified and established law for the reverence and protection of the Blessed Sacrament. Among the bishops, it would never be a serious matter of discussion to add to present canon law and liturgical law.

    In addition, the Church is loathe to release special documents which highlight penal sanctions, preferring always to encourage and exhort rather than threaten. However, a point can be made that we are getting to the point where the legislation cited by Dr. Peters is simply being ignored as “pastorally impractical” and where “business as usual” is no longer functioning to protect the dignity which is due to the Blessed Sacrament.

  26. Centristian says:


    In the first place, please accept my apology for the snarkiness of my reply to you. It was unnecesarily catty. I’m sorry.

    I am reluctant to get into an extensive back-and-forth dialogue with you or with other followers of this blog because I’m under the impression that that is not what Father Z wants to see going on here. Father once admonished me (quite rightly) not to dominate the com-box, and I’m trying to behave in that respect.

    I said “trying”, I didn’t say “succeeding”.

    At any rate, I have to bear in mind that this is someone’s blog, and not a discussion forum (like Catholic Answers Forum). I hesitated even to offer this response, therefore, but I believe I owe you one.

    With apologies to Father Z, then (this is the last comment I’ll post under this topic, I promise), let me just say that I think, really, it’s the proposed title of this proposed charter that gives me the most pause. “A Charter For the Protection of the Blessed Sacrament” just doesn’t sound right to me, for the reasons I have already given. I understand and laud the good motivation behind the idea, I really do, but I think it’s a bit ill-conceived.

    First of all, what is a “charter” in any case? Ecclesiastically speaking, that is. The terminology dissatisfies me (perhaps without good reason). Are such things properly addressed by charters, I wonder? To me a charter is an instrument, like a constitution, that constitutes offices, delineates the roles and responsibilities of officers constituted and so forth. Perhaps someone can elaborate on the role of charters in the life of the Church and explain why a charter would be the proper instrument by which to address this matter.

    Far beyond the type of form imagined, however, the notion of “Protection of” in relationship to the Eucharistic Christ still leaves me cold. I don’t think one really speaks in terms of “protection” in such a case. Our relationship to Jesus Christ is not one of “protector”, rather the reverse relationship is true: Christ is our protector. We do not, therefore, really “protect” Christ in the Eucharist, as such, though we take pains to prevent sacrilege.

    In the case of Tarcissius that you presented, did he really imagine that Christ needed his “protection”, as such? Was Tarcissius motivated by a conviction that Jesus Christ Almighty, glorified with the Father in Heaven, would get hurt, injured, or damaged? Or was he concerned that dishonour not be shown to the Deity in Christ’s holy Sacrament? If the later and not the former, then “protection” conveys the wrong idea, I think.

    If instead of “…for the Protection of the Blessed Sacrament” one were to style this proposed instrument, say, “…for the Fostering of Proper Respect for the Blessed Sacrament” (or words to that effect, that convey the same notion), that would make more sense to me.

    “Can you think of a better way?”

    How about educating Catholic children (and adult converts) properly to begin with? A solid catechesis would render any such charter redundant and unnecessary. I realize that the Age makes that statement almost laughable; I do. But for the same reasons, the Age makes this proposed charter laughable. What will such a charter do that catechesis will not?

    Now, permit me turn the tables on you, if I may. What would the effective implementation of such a charter involve and what would be the effect of it, do you think?

    Fr. Sotelo put it very well:

    “…it is more of a rhetorical salvo than a serious proposition.”

    Pax tecum.

  27. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    I, too, have been properly chastised by Fr. Z in the past (for linking to articles), [I don’t object to links, I object to long URLs dumped into comments. It is good to learn to post links in a neat and tidy way. Also, the blog’s anti-spam is happy to target commentators who post lots of links. After a while, their comments are automatically pulled into the spam queue. FWIW.] but I will dare his wrath because this is such an appalling “Catholic expert” kind of article. It is from the Albany newspaper, in which a former Jesuit is quoted supporting +Hubbard’s position on giving communion to Gov. Cuomo. The argument this “expert” makes is that in the world of today, and in the governor’s social circle, living with a girlfriend isn’t considered a serious moral issue, so Cuomo isn’t really committing a mortal sin… or something like that. The link: http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Bishop-None-of-your-business-1027954.php#ixzz1EswbJA9g I wonder where the reporter found this expert.

  28. Brooklyn says:

    Centristian – I will ask Fr. Z’s indulgence in answering you, as I do not want to usurp this blog either. You are correct, this is not a discussion forum.

    What it all really comes down to is salvation of souls. Certainly we want to show the highest respect for our Lord, first and foremost because he is our Creator and Saviour. But secondly, because by doing so promotes salvation of souls. The Catholic Church’s whole purpose for existence is the salvation of souls. Because Bishop Hubbard allowed a public sinner to receive communion and even publicly lauded him on top of it, many people will believe that it is okay to co-habit without benefit of marriage and/or to espouse abortion, and still be in good standing with God and the Church. This is what Christ was talking about in Mt. 18:6 – “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” I am most certainly not espousing such treatment for Bishop Hubbard, Andrew Cuomo or anyone else, but it shows how serious and spiritually deadly these actions can be, and why someone in such a position should not be allowed to receive communion.

    No, certainly Jesus does not need our actual protection. Yet at the same time he presents himself to us in the most vulnerable form he can. Why is that? Why did he allow St. Tarcissius to be attacked and killed while quite literally protecting the Blessed Sacrament? When Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt, weren’t they protecting our Lord? Certainly even as a baby, Jesus was still God and was constantly surrounded by angels. Yet, the task was given to Joseph and Mary to keep him out of harm’s way.

    “Respect” is just not a strong enough term. Respect is what I give to another human being. My Lord and Saviour deserves much more than that.

    I think I have already stated what I believe the effects of such a charter would be. First and foremost would be catechesis. One poster here said he/she didn’t even know that we are to refrain from communion if in a state of mortal sin. Something is terribly wrong here, and as Fr. Sotelo said: a point can be made that we are getting to the point where the legislation cited by Dr. Peters is simply being ignored as “pastorally impractical” and where “business as usual” is no longer functioning to protect the dignity which is due to the Blessed Sacrament.

    I am also done, and thank you, Fr. Z, for your indulgence.

  29. Clinton says:

    Since reading Fr. Z’s post and Fr. Sotelo’s excellent comment on it, I’ve been wondering
    what on earth one would actually have to do to be publicly denied Communion in this
    country. Evidently politicians who insist on publicly defending and enabling abortion
    for the most part remain untouched. Public figures notoriously ‘living in sin’ likewise
    seem not to rate denial of the Sacrament. What sin is grave enough to actually rate public
    denial of Holy Communion?

    Oh yes, there’s kneeling for reception…

Comments are closed.