Traditional Anglo-Papist

02 August 2006

A cautionary tale

I was emailed the following by a fellow priest who has given premission for it to be published.

The cautionary tale involves my attendance at a High Mass on S Peter's day at which the celebrant was a newly-ordained priest of The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter - the Latin Mass chaplains to the Archdiocese of Melbourne. A beautiful Mass with a small but expert choir which chanted the Propers according to the Liber Usualis and led the congregation in the chant of the Kyrie, Gloria, and Credo.

At Communion, I was happily on my knees amongst the empty pews distracted by the detritus abandoned by the communicants queuing in the central aisle.

Suddenly, the Subdeacon (Fr Carl Gismondi FSSP) leaped from the altar step and chased a communicant along the Epistle side aisle. He was aided and abetted by two laymen (both of Marine stature if not training) who blocked the path of the fleeing young man. Fr Carl immobilized him until the younger of the other two had him in a headlock and the trio marched him out to the narthex.

Such undignified behaviour! The cause?? Fr Gismondi had noticed that the young man, having received Communion in his mouth - the FSSP adheres to the 1962 RULES as well as the RITES - put his hand to his mouth and, seeing Fr Carl looking at him, feigned a cough. Fr Carl looked away and then straight back to see the fellow removing the Host from his mouth. Then the chase was on!

No one is quite sure what the full motive behind the action was, but we may be fairly sure that he wasn't taking the Sacrament home to his sick mum.

The Host was retrieved but whether any action was taken was not announced.

There were several comments about the behaviour and the vulnerability of the Blessed Sacrament to sacrilege and blasphemy especially in a modern setting such as surrounds the 'novus ordo' with the myriad of 'Eucharistic Ministers' at points around large churches, dispensing the Blessed Sacrament rather like handing out lollies - in the hand with the hope that it is consumed 'on the run'.

Fortunately in our Anglican heritage, there is the potential for an assistant priest or a deacon to be following with the Chalice. But in an age where agnostic, athiestic, antagonistic individuals or groups are warring on any semblance of orthodoxy or Tradition, There is ALWAYS a need for vigilance.

Perhaps it may take a cumulative few minutes more to pray "The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ which is given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life" whilst dispensing the Host to one communicant rather than communicating three in the space of that short sentence.

None of the faithful is likely to feel intimidated by our 'hovering' whilst they reverently consume the Host, nor will a genuine stranger mind a whispered "eat it" as the priest is on the spot - it happens with relatives and friends who just follow rather than ask - it is a small price to pay for the satisfaction of knowing that our Blessed Lord is not being subjected to further insult and indignity.


  • May I suggest a return to the tradition of non-communicating High Mass? It would not eliminate every opportunity for sacrilege, but it would cut down on occasions where random visitors (I speak as someone who attends a city parish with an excellent music program) present themselves at the rail.

    By Blogger Paul Goings, at Wednesday, August 02, 2006 9:27:00 PM  

  • Come on guys, this is absurd. I am perhaps the most ardent transubstantiationalist I know, and I am completely against communion in the hand, but chasing someone down at Mass and tackling them is a far greater offence against the Sacrament than someone taking it out of his mouth, even if he was going to take it home and perform voodoo ceremonies with it.

    And as for 'random visitors' receiving at High Mass, I'm sure both you, Paul, and I have been 'random visitors' at High Masses and have received communion faithfully, fasting, in a state of grace, and with all due reverence. It would be a shame, not to mention erroneous, if we were regarded with suspicion at the communion rail.

    If someone tries to take a consecrated host home at Mass, a member of the clergy should discretely handle the situation. Physical apprehension of the individual certainly doesn’t sound appropriate in this case.

    By Blogger Mr DG Fulton, at Thursday, August 03, 2006 11:17:00 AM  

  • Mr Fulton,

    (There is nothing personal in the following comment!)

    What worries me is that you seem to suggest that perform[ing] voodoo ceremonies with the Body of Our Lord is less of an offence than an undignified race down the aisle!!! Hmmm?!?!?!?!

    I wonder if one could get running shoes to match the cassock??

    By Blogger Marco Vervoorst, at Thursday, August 03, 2006 12:12:00 PM  

  • Mr Fulton,

    I can agree with you about a need for charity, and for the need to act with as much decorum as possible in a given circumstance, but I think that it is important to remember two things:

    1. The Church and her ministers have a solemn duty to act as the guardians of the sacraments. This is not to be taken lightly, and prudence demands certain safeguards. After all, if we wanted to just trust to God in all things, why don't we remove all of the locks in our church buildings? In any case, I can't understand your logic that restraining a person who is attempting to remove the Blessed Sacrament for nefarious purposes is a worse offense against Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament than anything which the offender might do with it later. In fact, I can't see that it's an offense at all.

    2. Those who attend Mass at traditionalist Anglican and Roman Catholic parishes are often refugees from other places, where they have experienced outrageous abuses. If they are a bit sensitive, and tend to perhaps overreact at times, then I still think that is better than the alternative.

    As to strangers receiving Holy Communion, you are entirely correct to say that we cannot see into their hearts. And yes, I have received the Holy Communion as a stranger in other parishes. However, I think that one can still say that a safer (although not perfect) approach would be to distribute Holy Communion before and/or after Mass, as was done formerly. I am not actually arguing for this; I think the best approach in this day and age is to teach our own people fasting communion, and then to have the ushers keep a sharp eye on strangers. It is regrettable that this is necessary, but it is still a far cry from the discipline of the early Church.

    By Blogger Paul Goings, at Friday, August 04, 2006 12:15:00 AM  

  • What worries me is that you seem to suggest that perform[ing] voodoo ceremonies with the Body of Our Lord is less of an offence than an undignified race down the aisle!!! Hmmm?!?!?!?!

    The undignified racing down the aisle isn't a problem. However, I think it is a problem for Fr Carl to violently immobilize the communicant, put him in a headlock, and march him out to the narthex in the middle of Mass.

    The goal of this behavior was to retrieve the consecrated host, and this could have been accomplished with much less drama.

    Even if this guy ran out the back of the church taking the Sacrament with him, if Our Lord could deal with hanging on the Cross for three hours (not to mention dying), I think he could deal with this punk’s irreverence.

    In any case, I can't understand your logic that restraining a person who is attempting to remove the Blessed Sacrament for nefarious purposes is a worse offense against Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament than anything which the offender might do with it later. In fact, I can't see that it's an offense at all.

    If the person in question is approached by a priest and asked to give the host back, he most likely will. If he refuses to give it back, calmly and peacefully restraining is fine, putting him in a headlock is not.

    By Blogger Mr DG Fulton, at Friday, August 04, 2006 2:46:00 AM  

  • To imply that you don't need to defend Our Lord (to the death, if necessary)- without passion- is to show how much you truly believe in the Eucharist. Try reading the Martyrology. Children have died protecting Our Lord from the hands of "non-believers".
    Something- for those who believe- to think about today: If it is so much easier to get the Host from Novus Ordo (and all other novel "Masses"), why bother going to a Traditional Mass to steal a Host (for whatever reason)? The answer is simple... and valid.

    By Blogger M. Brindisi, at Tuesday, September 05, 2006 2:54:00 AM  

  • Indeed, I'm ashamed of you people who would think it better to preserve human decorum than protect the Body of Our Lord. Fr. Gismondi brought me (and my fiancee) into the Church, and Lord willing, will celebrate our nuptual Mass next year. I've always had the utmost respect for him, but this story makes me love him even more. Fr. Gismondi is a viligant pastor of his flock, and this is perfectly in character (as is shown by another incident recorded on our blog. To borrow a phrase: Good on 'ya, Fr. Gismondi!

    By Blogger Doctor Asinorum, at Monday, October 02, 2006 5:26:00 AM  

  • I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thursday, April 02, 2009 2:00:00 PM  

  • WHAT an amazing story!! I am proud to be a relative to Fr. Carl Gismondi. I question anyone who would doubt the need to apprehend someone wishing to make a MOCKERY for our Holy Communion.

    Would any less force be necessary if someone came to the Altar, grabbed another object and attempted to steal it? How is this any different? I imagine the subject had an opportunity to explain himself afterward, but standing up for the decency and tradition for Holy Communion should NEVER be questioned. How far are YOU willing to go to defend our Faith and the Honor of our Lord?? Not very far if you question Fr. Carl Gismondi's actions.

    By Blogger Brian Ignatowski, at Thursday, February 28, 2013 1:15:00 PM  

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