Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Andrei Have we lost sight of that which is holy?

DPF has a post up about a debate that took place in Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell, chaired by Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye.

Public debating is a sport, the proposition "That the Government should promote atheism" is neither here nor there.

What is of more import is according to DPF the Chair, Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye produced a one liner
how ******* awesome it would be to be married to a hairdresser, as Aussie PM Julia Gillard is.

Our friend Adolf expressed his dismay at this and copped a twenty point demerit in the process. C'est la vie.

Surely a Cathedral is God's Holy House. A place we enter with "faith, reverence, and the fear of God"?

It would seem not in these enlightened times.

What I do find a little odd though a word which needs bleeping out on DPF's blog is now acceptable in a Cathedral.

I just can't get my head around that one.

24 comment(s):

Lucia Maria said...

Well, it was an Anglican Cathedral, thank goodness.

Melva said...

Because that's somehow lesser and makes it ok, Lucia?


Ciaron said...

Now now, if it's the one that puts up silly billboards, you may have a point.

Lucia Maria said...


That's right. There's no Real Presence in an Anglican church, so it's not nearly as bad.

But it's still not good that such a debate occurred there. In terms of symbolism, its a mockery of God.

I'm just glad that that mockery did not occur in the physical Presence of Jesus.

Melva said...

Wow - the arrogance inherent in Catholicism still astounds me :( I'm glad the flirtation I had with it on an intellectual level did not lead to me entering the RCC.

Whilst my utmost respect still remains to the point where I still defend Catholicism to fellow Christians who hold spurious views of it and whilst I still hold to the view that we are part of the same family under Christ, comments like that sadden me.


Michael Wynd said...

I'm not suprised. It is after all, the Auckland HQ for the OGd-optional wing of the Anglican Church. That being said, it's not a good look for a MP to be swearing in public.

Lucia Maria said...


It's only arrogance if you don't believe in the Real Presence. Once you do believe, everything changes.

Melva said...

"Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am among them." Matt 18:20.

That sounds like a 'real presence' to me, though the Wesleyan tradition through which I identify does not reject the concept of the Real Presence in the Eucharist:

" Holy Communion

For Wesley, Holy Communion was the means of Grace through which we are remembered to the Real Presence of Jesus. The reality of Jesus' Divine, Grace giving presence in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, must not be minimized. While Wesley did not accept the Roman Catholic Doctrine of Transubstantiation, he nevertheless affirmed that Jesus was REALLY Present to the believer when the Believer ate and drank of the elements with Faith. This Means of Grace Wesley identified closely with Sanctifying Grace ... Communion provides the believer with the access to the Grace which they need to literally walk the Christian walk and improve their Christianity toward the goal that God has for them in Christ Jesus.

These two Sacraments, Baptism and Holy Communion, are the principle Means of Grace that God gives us to access what we need, as Christians, to live the Disciple's Life. That is why Remembering our Baptisms frequently AND receiving Holy Communion frequently, is so VERY important. Through both the Real Presence of Jesus is made known to us ... in the blessed water and in the broken bread and blessed cup. And that is why we are called to receive them so often."

Though of course, that understanding would not be acceptable to the RCC or seen as being on the same level - you would view it as minimizing the Real Presence.

Needless to say - the idea of the 'presence' of Christ is an interesting discussion when taking his words in Matthew into account - this would suggest that when believers gather together to worship and participate in the sacraments, Christ is present in a very real way no matter what the circumstances or place.

Keeping in mind that the Anglican Cathedral exists for that very purpose, I cannot believe that it is any better or worse for an insult to take place in an Anglican cathedral than a RCC cathedral for to do so would be to minimize the very words of Jesus himself regarding his presence.

That said, they're both just buildings in my mind and it is the participation of believers in the life of faith both communally and individually in our world (including participation in the sacraments) that is sacred and 'invokes' (for want of a better term) the 'real presence' of Christ.

"whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine you do for me." Matthew 25:40 - This also points to the real presence of Christ found in the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick and imprisoned - yet how often do we express our outrage when the mistreatment of such people continues? It is easy to be offended at a swear word in a building and create headlines related to such, invoking the ongoing culture war yet hold back outrage at the very things Christ himself called us to express our concern for. This is where the Catholic tradition has so much to offer in the example of the Jesuits and the Franciscans and the work they have done amongst poor communities alongside their other pursuits.

The 'real presence' is not at all limited to the Eucharist and if we are to take the words of Jesus himself seriously then we maintain his 'real presence' amongst the faithful and in their acts of service to our fallen world.

Melva said...


I just read a good conversation we had on the "real presence" and Transubstantiation on my old blog in 2007. It was a good chat!

Maybe I should reopen that blog...

Andrei said...

It is easy to be offended at a swear word in a building and create headlines related to such, invoking the ongoing culture war yet hold back outrage at the very things Christ himself called us to express our concern for.

I think you are being a little unfair here - this post is not one of outrage but of puzzled sadness - and without DPFs post the swear word in a building would have gone unnoticed and unremarked by anybody.

So much for "culture war".

And while the church is just as building as you say it is also God's temple - a place where we put aside our earthly cares and concerns, or are supposed to anyway, for worship. Temples are for prayers not profanity.

Remember to that in a fallen world we too as individuals are fallen and the church is like a hospital where we go for healing because we are as fallible and broken as everybody else.

After contemplating that which is truly important and succored by the sacrament we may venture forth to (try and) do the things you suggest we should be doing and to live our lives according to God's for will for us as best we can.

This is how I see it

Lucia Maria said...


"Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am among them." Matt 18:20.

That's a spiritual presence only. Though, He could physically appear if He wanted to.

The difference is, if you could imagine, Jesus physically present, how different that would be.

Buildings are just buildings, unless He is in one of them - then they feel completely different.

Yeah, I remember those conversations. :)

scrubone said...

It's an episode that demonstrates a fact some of us know well: The rot is well advanced in the Anglican church.

I should also point out the Catholic church still has plenty.

It would help if some churches actually acknowledged that rot existed, rather than believing it to be an alternative to wallpaper.

Lucia Maria said...


In the Catholic Church it is well-known by those who pay attention that there has been a problem for some time. The Holy Father is actively working to turn everything around, but we're talking a church of over a billion people - there's a certain inertia when things are that big.

scrubone said...

"In the Catholic Church it is well-known by those who pay attention that there has been a problem for some time."

Yes, a fellow called Luther pointed this out in 1517. ;)

But seriously, the last two popes have made some good progress. As much as I disagree with many aspects of the Catholic church, the Vatican has been a valuable part of Christendom in recent years.

Lucia Maria said...


No, seriously. He hasn't been the only one. The Church is always in need of renewal, as with anything that human beings are involved with.

Melva said...


I don't disagree with your comment at all except to say that I do not believe it is the building we go to for healing - the building simply serves as the space where it takes place. It is within the gathering together and the engagement with the sacraments that we muster what is needed to venture forth. It is the gathering together and the community this provides us with one another and with God himself that is sacred and holy- the building provides the shell for this to take place. It can happen within one's living room, in a dust ridden village hut and in the grandeur of the world's most beautiful cathedrals... though sadly, many of those in Europe are simply tourist shells now. It is the body of believers and Christ himself that is the temple, not the building.

That said - we make the building sacred through our gathering together and designation of it as a central place of gathering for those purposes... it is where the temple gathers and is made present. In that sense, both an Anglican and Catholic cathedral are significant which is why I see it as no more or no less saddening... either way it is a space where we invite the presence of Christ (physical or not, depending on one's view of Transubstantiation).

It also showed a complete lack of class.


Seán said...

Lucyna/Andrei - I have to side with Melva/Frank and scrubone here. Frank says "It is within the gathering together and the engagement with the sacraments that we muster what is needed to venture forth.". This is key and this is common. Indulge this for a moment. You might be surprised.

To both: regarding these tourist shell cathedrals. I say better a tourist shell than an ignored building. Why? If a building can help spread the word - albeit slowly - it is better than not spreading it it at all (so don't be so negative). Being a Euro resident now, I always make the effort to visit one (actually it is not an effort since a) I want to be there and b) in most European towns the cathedral is central) since it brings a new perspective to history and faith that a NZ can't bring. That is not a criticism, only a fsct. To be here is to appreciate it.

I.M Fletcher said...

Frank/Melva, I do agree that Mass can be celebrated anywhere, but the Church is still a holy place, not least because (at least in an RC Church) it contains the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist housed in the Tabernacle.

In the Jewish Temple, the Tabernacle was called The Holy Of Holies and which no ordinary person could enter. The Presence of God in the Ark was what made it Holy. Now it is the Eucharist. That is why RC's genuflect, or go down on one knee toward the Tabernacle before entering their pew. The Church isn't empty - God is physically there which is an incredible thought, really.

Seán said...

I recently said "To be here is to appreciate it." So come to Spain, come to Italia, come to Switzerland, come to Slovakia, come to the Czech Republic, come to Ireland, come to Paris. Come to these churches/cathedrals and be truly inspired, the passion, the emotion, the faith, ...it is not gone, it is still right here. You want it? you got it. Give thanks, find purpose, know what it is all about. And we have real people in these places. Some tourists may come, I am a tourist. It is more important what you put in than what you get out. Never forget that.

Melva said...


It's just 'Frank'. Melva is my wife and has a blog in our google account so it's her name that shows up... and since this blog doesn't allow signing in without a blogger account or Open ID, I have to use her name :)

I appreciate your comment and am extremely sympathetic depth to it, but I will show my reformation roots when I say that nothing in the NT points towards the church building being the temple the that OT Temple/Tabernacle points towards - rather the typology in the NT is carried over into Jesus himself and the communion of believers. I could proof-text that, but I'm not into doing so :)

That's not to say that I don't see the buildings as sacred space, but their sacredness is inherited through the gathering of believers.


Lucia Maria said...

A couple of years ago I entered the space of a "community church" for a homeschooling group. I don't know what I expected, but I was struck as to how empty the building was. Totally dead and empty, until people went into it and brought it to life.

I never get that sense when I go into a Catholic church. Even if I am the only visible person there.

I've also experienced the same thing in a temporary chapel that was set up for a retreat in motel complex. When it was all nearly over, one of the organisers consumed the Body of Christ, and then that room that seemed so full, after a while was bereft of the presence. Even with all those people there.

So Frank, when you say: do not believe it is the building we go to for healing - the building simply serves as the space where it takes place. It is within the gathering together and the engagement with the sacraments...

I have to strongly disagree.

The sacred space does not come from the people. It comes from the Lord.

Melva said...

The sacred space does not come from the people. It comes from the Lord.

Of course sacred space comes from Christ ultimately - he is the source of all that is good, but to remove people from the equation leaves a big gap in theology - his anthropological agents and his engagement with those agents - his body - the Church. The Church is the people in union with him.

I can stand in a Catholic Cathedral and feel the awe of the presence of God, I can stand in a small town Anglican Parish and feel it, I can stand on a mountain top and feel it, I can stand in the humble urban slum home of a struggling family in India and feel it, I felt it more than ever piled beneath laughing children in a sponsorship project in the middle of the world's biggest slum - Kibera, in Nairobi, Kenya. God's presence is not limited, yet is most alive where people are in union with him because that is the Church, the body of Christ - that is what the whole NT points towards and the transformation it aims for, that is the goal the sacraments serve - uniting Christ to humanity, imparting his grace so that the union is strengthened and he is made known.

If the sense of God's presence diminishes for you when the sacraments of the Eucharist are not present, then I feel sad for you. There's so much more. I don't say that to diminish the significance of the Eucharist, I too hold it highly, but it is not the end, it is the beginning.


Lucia Maria said...

No need to feel sad for me, Frank. We're talking about two different things.

Melva said...


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