Through my experiences of attending many churches who celebrate the Mass of Paul VI (Novus Ordo - I've decided to say the Mass of Paul VI, for that is what it is), if I knew not the priest's own devotion to Our Blessed Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist and was to assume the worst in everyone, I would assume that hardly any priest believed that Christ was truly there, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
Now you might be thinking, "Chase, that's harsh! That's a really pessimistic view of priestly conduct! They're Catholic priests! They know it's Christ."
Well, if the priest knows it's Christ, why are there so many un-catechized Catholics who do not even know that Christ is truly there, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in the Most Holy Eucharist? Why have we allowed this to go on in the Church? The faith of any particular congregation depends upon the faith, devotion and love of Christ and His Holy Church on the part of the priest (think of St. John Vianney and his congregation!). If there is a faulty parish, look towards the priest! If the Year of Faith is ever to come into full effect, EVERY priest of EVERY Catholic parish MUST be authentically Catholic, have a devout prayer life, teach only the truth of the Catholic faith, and never faultier!
How does this tie into "keeping the fingers together"? By treating Christ with the utmost care, reverence, and importance, the truth of the Catholic faith will prosper and there will be so many vocations to the priesthood and religious life, you'll have to build a new seminary and monastery every year to house them all! Now, let me explain the "keeping the fingers together" bit.
During Holy Mass, even before the consecration, whenever the priest is to touch the Host on the paten, he should ONLY use his thumbs and forefingers while moving or picking up the Host. Even before the consecration! The reason? During the consecration, if you "man handled" the Host during the Offertory and after the consecration happened you use your thumbs and forefingers, the tiny particles of Host on your other fingers have been transubstansitated into Christ! At that point, you might as well just "throw in the towel on keeping Christ's body from being blasphemed"! You'll probably forget He was on your fingers and wipe them on something else, blaspheming Our Lord in more ways than your ever want to know! You, as a priest, will have to answer for this some day! (happy thoughts and confession time!)
So...what do we do about this, and why keep your fingers together? Here's the logistical explanation. When you touch the Host, use your thumbs and forefingers. After you touch the Host, even if it's before the consecration, press your thumb and forefinger together unless if you are touching the Host again (don't see why you would be, but if it happens, OK). This keeps the particles on unconsecrated Host from getting everywhere and being consecrated without you knowing about it! (Priests, think to yourself...How many times have I man-handled the Host, touched the missal, the linens, etc., before, during, or even AFTER the consecration....More prayer and another confession topic...)
At the consecration, again, only use your thumbs and forefingers to pick up the Host, now Christ Himself! Do NOT wipe your fingers on the corporal and DO NOT think that by rubbing your fingers together over the paten or chalice you have sufficiently cleansed your hands of any remnants of Christ. More on how to cleanse your hands at the end of this post. Even when turning pages or when raising the chalice, keep your thumbs and forefingers together and use your other three fingers! Practice this if you have to! Would you rather have to take a little extra time practicing and getting use to only using your middle, ring, and pinkie fingers, or would you blaspheme Christ Himself?! I know which one I'd choose. Do you?
When you (the priest, NOT the congregation) are holding your hands in the orans position (arms slightly stretched), keep your thumbs and forefingers together! You think I'm repeating myself too much? I'll say it again if I have to just to get it in your head - keep your thumbs and forefingers together! YOU HAVE POTENTIAL (before consecration) OR ACTUAL (after consecration) CHRIST (GOD, remember Him?) YOUR FINGERS!
When distributing Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist, ONLY use your thumb and forefinger to pick up and distributed Christ! One hand (preferably your right hand) should be administering Christ while the other should be supporting the ciborium (whilst keeping your thumb and forefinger together). If you think I'm being "nit-picky" about this, just wait until I write a post about reception of Our Blessed Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist by the faithful (or should I say in the modern Church - the assumed faithful...).
When cleansing the sacred vessals (they are called so because Christ Himself has touched them and made them sacred by His own Self), keep those thumbs and forefingers together! You might be saying, "Chase, when do I separate these fingers? They're starting to hurt!" Well, they might be hurting because the demonic spirits around you are so tired of you caring so much for Our Blessed Lord that they are purposing trying to make you open and wipe your fingers on something (fight the good fight)! The only time that you are allowed to open your hands is when they are over the chalice with water being poured over them by an altar boy (This is during the cleansing of the sacred vessels)! This is where you are rub your fingers together. You are washing your fingers and Christ is going into the chalice with the rest of Himself in order to be consumed!
Do you want to know why I'm being so harsh on this topic? I care and love for Our Eucharistic Lord so much that I want to make sure all priests KNOW how to handle Our Lord. I have literally cried during Holy Mass because I have witness such disgraceful attitudes, facial expressions, and "man-handling" towards and with the Blessed Sacrament! Pray for priests who do not know, do not believe, and do not hope in Our Eucharistic Lord, who makes Himself known to us at every Mass and is truly housed and present in every tabernacle!
There will be another blog post some other time about how to properly cleanse the sacred vessals. Until then, keep the fingers together, prayer hard, and pray for me, a sinner!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, pray for us. Amen.