UPDATE 5/12/2014: Father McTeigue offered another act of reparation here.
By now many have heard of Harvard University’s “black mass” scheduled for May 12. The always engaging head of Ave Maria’s Department of Philosphy, Michael Pakaluk, who as an alum (undergrad and PhD) knows the black mass Harvard well, served up a list of pithy comments about the situation on his blog. Here is one to tempt you to click:
2. Yes, of course, the administration would not be benignly tolerant if it were the reenactment of a KKK lynching (for purposes of cultural edification, of course), or a ritualized Koran burning. It’s too obvious to say this. But it had to be said.
When my good friend, Father Robert McTeigue, SJ, an adjunct philosophy professor at Ave Maria University, heard about Harvard’s black mass, he changed his homily, went to say Mass at the Oratory as scheduled, put on red vestments, and
announced that he would offer the Votive Mass in Honor of the Precious Blood of Christ. He preached the homily, below (and invited me to publish it). After Mass he was pleased to learn that people were contacting Harvard, and were arranging for a Holy Hour as an act of reparation for this outrage. He also said he was “grateful to be in this community with so many good people who love our Eucharistic Lord.”
Some of you may know that this semester I am teaching a course on rhetoric. I tell my students that when you are preparing a public talk, you should have in mind what state you want the audience to be in when you’ve finished speaking. Ok—so here’s how I want you to be when I’ve finished this homily. I want you to be filled with righteous anger; I would very much prefer that you be in tears; I want you to be resolved to take action; and above all I want you to be more in love with our Eucharistic Lord than ever before.
That is my plan for today’s homily for two reasons. The first reason is this most beautiful passage from the Gospel of John, which we just heard. Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world.”
The second reason I am preaching this particular homily this particular way is because of a revolting headline I found this morning. The Cultural Studies Club of Harvard University has announced that on May 12, on the campus of Harvard University, a New York-based “Satanic Temple” will offer a Black Mass, using a Consecrated Host stolen from a Catholic Mass. Harvard University has admitted that the event will be “controversial”, but otherwise will not take a position on the event. As news of this monstrosity came to light, representatives of the Temple and the Cultural Studies Club have issued conflicting messages about whether or not they will actually use a Consecrated Host. Sponsors of the event say that there may—may—have been a “miscommunication.”
Public response to this outrage has been relatively muted, and relatively difficult to find. Could we not wonder what the public response would have been if the Harvard University Cultural Studies Club would have been if they had chosen to, say, burn a Koran in bacon fat, or burn witches in effigy? Would Harvard University merely noted that the events were “controversial”?
All I can say is, “I’m not surprised.” I’m not surprised because Satan is a liar, a thief and a murderer. He hates God and hates what God has made. He hates the human body and the human soul. Of course, then, he would hate the Incarnation of the Christ of God, and of course, above all, he would hate the Holy Eucharist. The gift of Our Blessed Lord in the Eucharist is the testimony of God’s love; our Eucharistic Lord offers to be our constant companion and sacred sustenance as we make our pilgrims’ way from this life to the home of our Heavenly Father.
It is no surprise then, that Satan hates the Eucharist. It is no surprise, then, that the pagans found the Eucharist incomprehensible. It is no surprise then, that the Protestant so-called Reformers scorned our devotion to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. It is no surprise then, that intellect of the modern skeptics were darkened against the Eucharist.
I believe that all of human history will be divided and decided by faith in the promise of our Eucharistic Lord. When I hear the words, “…the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world”, I believe those words because Jesus said them. Jesus is the Truth! Jesus is the Word spoken by the Father, the Word-made-Flesh, and there is no lie in Him. And Jesus, Our Blessed Lord, Who loved me and give Himself for me, Jesus, Who became Man and Ransom for my salvation, Who made Himself vulnerable in human flesh for my sake, and Who humbles Himself to come to me as Food and Drink and Sacrifice for my salvation—I must not abandon Him to the hands of blasphemers! I must not remain silent when He suffers sacrilege! Today my righteous anger is a gift and duty from God—and I believe, firmly, that righteous anger is God’s gift and duty for you today.
So, now what? What shall we do? It is not enough for us to shake our heads, beat our breast and return to our ordinary routines. Not today! Not today!
Today, I call upon all of us for three commitments. I call us to commit to gratitude, reparation and action. Let’s express our gratitude for the gift of our Eucharistic Lord through our preparation for Mass and our behavior at Mass. Let’s make reparation for outrages suffered by our beautiful and holy Eucharistic King at the hand of sinners, by spending time consoling our Lord in Eucharistic Adoration. And let’s take action by contacting Harvard University, and Harvard alumni (especially alumni in politics and in media) and demand a response. Let’s shine a bright light on this ugly episode. God help us all.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us! Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us! Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
Update 5/9/2014: Pakaluk has added this template for a letter to black mass Harvard President Faust, written by his friend and HLS graduate, inviting all people of good will to “please consider using for your own letter, sent to email@example.com“:
Dear President Faust,
I am a 1986 graduate of the Harvard Law School, writing to request that Harvard rescind its permit for a “Black Mass” on campus.
Unlike the other ceremonies proposed by the Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club, the “Black Mass” is not an original religious ritual with its own significance. Rather, its purpose is precisely to mock and denigrate the beliefs of Catholic Christians. Every bit of the ceremony is directed to this purpose.
To be specific, according to one expert: “The rite follows more or less that of the Catholic Mass with the prayers recited in Latin, English, and French. Instead of the name of God the name of Satan is invoked, together with the names of various demons. The Our Father is pronounced in the contrary or negative sense (our father who are in hell), invectives are hurled against Jesus Christ and the Host is profaned in various ways (utilizing it in sexual practices, trampling it repeatedly with hate).”
I was not aware that Harvard encourages the mockery of religious belief, and I am deeply saddened that Harvard’s name will be associated with the denigration of these particular beliefs, which I and many other Harvard alumni hold dear. Of course, if your goal is to decrease contributions from Catholic alumni and applications to Harvard from Catholic youth, you are certainly going to have the desired effect.
I urge you to consider whether Harvard benefits in any way from allowing this particular form of hate speech on campus.