Rediscovering Sacred Limits

Is the attack on Edmonton priest Father Marcin Maroniuk, following hot on the heels of the knifing of the rector of the Montreal Oratory, another anomaly, or a sign of worse things to come? The assailant ‘smelled of liquor’, so perhaps the drink and not so much the devil made him do it. Father Maroniuk was being strangled when the elderly ladies – who comprise most of the congregants at morning Masses across this land – began to beat the sacred strangler with their canes until he let go, giving new meaning to Aristotle’s logical argumentum ad baculum, wherein you beat your assailant ‘with a stick’ until he submits.

This does not work so much for intellectual assent, but does work in self-defence against someone else giving you the ad baculum treatment; the women are to be commended, doing more than most we modern milquetoast men might do.

Another Edmonton priest, the same day, Father Roger Rouleau, was also rushed by a man as he was saying Mass, but in this case, it turns out the putative assailant, ‘struggling with various issues’ (are not we all?), just wanted a big, cuddly hug. Hmm. Sentimentality has its limits, and one never knows what to expect in today’s age, where true customs are dying, and new ephemeral, transitory ones taking their place, like hugging at Mass, or the prolonged love-fest known as the ‘kiss of peace’. 

As I write this, I am thinking, perhaps if we returned to celebrating Mass ad orientem, and there were proper altar rails, and a clear delineation of where the sanctuary began, and three large marble steps leading up to the high altar, and the sanctuary dedicated to those in the hierarchy and specifically-garbed altar servers, and reiterating the teaching that assaults on God’s ministers merits special condemnation and punishment; in fact, in accord with Pope Saint Paul VI’s post-Vatican II clear teaching in Minsterii Quaedam, that we should have designated and specifically deputed men serving and reading at the altar, who would stand in place, and offer their lives if need be, for their priest; who knows, individuals – whatever their motive – would be less inclined to blithely enter into the sanctus sanctorum. We might even rediscover that whole sacred notion of ‘sanctuary’, where even angels fear to tread.

Just a thought. As said, there should be limits.