Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
KC archbishop clarifies wine validity norms (pillarcatholic.com)
50 points by Tomte 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 113 comments

I don’t see how this is Pharisaic in nature. The way I read it, the issue is: what is wine? The definition of a thing and debate around the definition is something that everybody does. Just remember the hot dog/sandwich war which took the lives of so many… Pharisaic concerns would be about nonessential things like the color of the bottle the wine is in, the cork or bottle cap, etc.

What materialists and some scientists forget is that matter matters. What materialists, some scientists, gnostics, and some Protestants forget is that matter has spiritual matters. God became man so that man could become God - Athanasius [1]

Jews (and thus Jesus) followed particular instructions by to obtain material effects (think Passover or Jericho). Similar to preparing a meal, particular ingredients and particular processes yield a particular result. Change some of the ingredients and you get a different result.

What Jesus did in the Last Supper was to elevate material behaviors to produce spiritual effects. He takes the Passover meal and uses it to share his divinity.

If wine and bread is needed to share his divinity, then the questions of what is wine and what is bread are of the utmost importance for a Catholic.

[1] - https://www.catholic.com/qa/what-so-that-we-might-become-god...

Y'shua of Nazareth seemed not to have cared much, if at all, for formalities or strict definitions — see his answer, in Luke 10:25-37 [0], to the lawyer's question, what must I do to inherit eternal life? (TL;DR: Love God, love your neighbor — and your neighbor is everyone, even your enemy.)

[0] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+10%3A25-37...

You are right, Jesus hated those Pharisaic formalities that prevented people from actual loving others. However Jesus did participate in other Jewish “formalities”. He celebrated the Passover, the festival of tents, he was presented at the temple, and so on.

To say Jesus believes all formalities are bad is not true.

For this partially question, what is wine, I don’t think it is preventing us from loving God and neighbor. I do think it is important because of the centrality of wine in the Gospels. T he miracle of the wedding feast at Cana, image of the vine and branches, and with the culmination of the last supper.

Please see my comment below [1], which I won't repost here.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=36374781

Beautiful! Yes, Jesus did give us the prime directive. However unlike the Pharisees he willing “to lift a finger” to help with them. He gave us his teaching. He gave us his Church. He gave us the Holy Spirit to live out the prime directive.

He also gave us the Eucharist. The body of Christ doesn’t distract us from our work - it allows us to do our work better. So to debate about the Eucharist is how athletes debate about training regimens or diets. If we can improve how we prepare ourselves for the work that need to be done, we can do the will of God better.

Wine can of course be anything at all. It could be milk, or used motor oil, or hydrofluoric acid. It need not even be a liquid, or tangible. Wine could be a really bad poem by an amateur, or a class of neutron stars that astrophysicists have yet to discover.

Shame on the Catholic Church for trying to pin down a word so that it means one thing and one thing only.

The argument is not that the definition of wine is malleable (which it definitely can be without falling down your slippery slope), but that being picky about the definition misses the point of the Eucharist entirely.

Well, when Jesus was incarnated on Earth his primary focus was on how we just have to be loose with our definition of wine.

I don't know why the Catholics have such a problem with this. Pretty much every story you read about Jesus, he was pointing out how wine could be anything. Even water.

So yeh, being picky about the definition of wine is probably the most blasphemous thing anyone could say or do.

Again: I don't think this is a mainstream Catholic church thing. You'll see downthread people besides myself relating stories of priests consecrating Triscuits or wine parishioners brought back from trips. Eastern-Rite Catholics all use leavened bread, apparently.

Traditionalist Catholicism (tradcath-ism) is not the same religion as Roman Catholicism. It's a weird splinter thing.

Traditionalist catholics celebrate the mass as it always was. The new religion you are alluding to that would consecrate a triscuit is what is out of lines. You can't accuse a group that stays the same as creating a new religion while you consecrate snacks from the grocery store.

Nevertheless, there is no objection to using eastern rite leavening or wine made from grapes from elsewhere. The eastern rites are just doing what they've always done and the wine just has to be grape wine and fermented. This is not a novel rule. It's how it's always been done. You can read any older document on the matter to realize the so called traditionalists are not creating a new religion.

That's fine! Every religion has an intricate set of justifications for its practices and I generally respect them all. All I have to say about traditionalist Catholics is that they aren't mainstream Catholics.

This is like calling protestants mainstream Catholics because there are more aggregate protestants in the us than Catholics. At some point we must be clear as to definitions. If you start doing things like consecrating triscuits you are not Catholic. You can be whatever you like but it is simply dishonest to say you're Catholic. Anymore than the protestants are.

Why would what’s true and required about the Eucharist (at the most fundamental level) change from, say, 1923 to 2023?

The matter at hand is not a trad thing (but I will disclose that I am in the trad camp): these are just basics covered in e.g. the 1997 Catechism promulgated by John Paul II and the the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which are 100% mainstream.

If you tried to sell a bottle of milk as wine, you’d get in trouble fast.

Wine is fermented grapes?

Just look at how much time EU devoted to defining all the different types of wine.

A thing is what it is.

This is a fairly tough nut to crack, because the FDA in these United States does not have any requirement for winemakers to put ingredients on their label. So you have the situation where you really have no idea what's in the wine, or how it was made, beyond a few disclaimers such as "contains sulfites".

So, like this archbishop has mandated, you can choose only wine that is especially certified for sacramental use, which means that the makers pledge they're following Canon Law in making the wine. But, again, this is a self-certification, and it means you're trusting the makers when they say what the ingredients are. They're still not regulated, they're still not mandated to have a label.

I also learned, from commenters, that some wines are specifically made to be invalid matter, such as Kosher wines, which are boiled, and cane sugar is added, and so they deliberately invalidate the wine so that Catholics cannot use it for the Eucharist, which I suppose would be sacrilegious in the opinion of many Jews.

This also relates to the makers of altar bread, which of course can't really be purchased in a grocery store and so it's always made especially for sacramental use. There has been a marked rise in the use of "low-gluten hosts" for those with Celiac disease or gluten allergies. The Catholic Church has weighed in on this, and has specifically said that there must be gluten in the host in order to be valid matter. So there are altar bread manufacturers who make host out of potato, or rice flour, and while Episcopalians and Lutherans may be OK with this, Catholics are not, and so pastors must be careful that their "low-gluten hosts" are not "gluten-free". Just to confuse the matter, an extremely low-gluten product can be marketed as "gluten-free" according to FDA rules, so enjoy the confusion. I have seen Catholic parish bulletins advertising "gluten-free hosts" and I just cringe, because they're basically saying "we use invalid matter for our Eucharist!" even if they really are using that approved, low-gluten altar bread. And there are nuns who proudly make the stuff just for that reason.

Your comment made me curious so I did a bit of research - kosher wines are not boiled or adulterated for the purpose of making it unsuitable for Eucharist.

Rather, according to ancient Jewish tradition, if kosher wine is boiled (which is called Mevushal wine), it remains kosher even if handled by non-Jews. This is in contrast to uncooked kosher wine, which loses its kosher status if handled by non-Jews.

Actually, you're both right. One of the explanations (albeit, not the only one) given for why boiled wine remains kosher if handled by non-Jews is that it's considered unacceptable for non-Jews to use in idolatrous rituals.

I'd love to hear from someone that knows but afaik most things Kosher derive from ancient food safety where provenance was also part of safety.

Two reasons.

There were some alleged cultist/idolatry practices involving wine that would cause it to become non kosher so it’s easier to just blanket ban anything handled by a goy. I think boiling makes it unusable for those same rituals.

It’s also to discourage fraternising (especially romantically) with goyim.

This should be an indie puzzle video game

this is interesting, but it seems like a cover for old feuds over commercial food services to pious people. In the USA there was a specific, constructed and lawful means to end "pious people captured by commercial efforts masked as piety" and secondly, a constructed reform within religious communities, to move past this sort of obvious, power and profit motivated supply chain control. Not all places or people have been motivated to include themselves in these reforms, of course.

Episcopalian here: we're more than ok with gluten-free wafers - not figuring out how to offer gluten-free wafers to someone whose health will be harmed by consuming even a small amount of gluten (anyone with celiac, for starters) is shoving them away from Jesus' (and not our) table. Given the last few years, a lot of people are, for good reasons, hesitant to sip out of a cup a bunch of other people just drank out of, no matter how carefully the person handling the chalice wipes it, and we're rational enough to understand that 19% alcohol Port really isn't killing anything, so wafers safe for everyone are necessary.

My parish deals with it the easy way: we just do gluten-free wafers for everyone, and our priest reminds us not to intinct (dip) the wafers if we'd rather not drink the wine, as intinction is far worse than sipping for sharing germs... hands are filthy.

That is very easily accomplished in any Roman Catholic church by simply offering them a sip of the Precious Blood. Your slur of "shoving them away from Jesus' table" is a strawman.

Gluten is indeed the protein in the wheat, so I guess not having at least some would impede transformation of the host into flesh. Makes total sense.

I think the Jewish community took the best method for knowing if a product is kosher: set up their own agencies that permit identifying marks on packaging if standards are met.


The Catholic Church would do well with this, considering member churches often follow centralized decisions. A certifying agency in each diocese should work well.

There was a fascinating article that seems to have gone down the internet’s memory hole:

Eucharistic bread was made by religious communities. Then a for-profit corporation began competing with the nuns, and using brutal tactics was able to get a monopoly on supplying Eucharistic bread.

In any case, there’s no need for certification because there are so few sellers. It’s a specialized product. It’s not like priests are picking it up at the store.

Actually, some of the sisters (the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration) made a remarkable comeback around 2004, when the need for extremely-low-gluten altar bread arose. They devised and refined a formula, cleared it with all legitimate Church authorities, and began marketing it to a very niche but expanding market, and they have enjoyed very good success.


You go to a mass. The church serves you grape juice and rice crackers. Just once.

Do you think after you die, at the pearly gates, you're going to get sent to hell for "consuming invalid Eucharist?"

That... just... takes things to a whole new level. This idea of "Commercial goods with a catholic church seal of approval!" seems to go directly against at least a few of Jesus' teachings.

The idea isn't that you get in trouble for taking invalid communion, but rather, that particular communion doesn't count; you participated in one fewer eucharists than you thought you had.

(I think, but am not totally sure, that this is a fringe tradcath belief, and that for the overwhelming majority of Catholics (including the clergy), this doesn't matter at all; if you felt it counted, did it in good faith, &c, it counted.

> (I think, but am not totally sure, that this is a fringe tradcath belief, and that for the overwhelming majority of Catholics (including the clergy), this doesn't matter at all; if you felt it counted, did it in good faith, &c, it counted.

This is in no way a "fringe" belief. As you can see by this archbishop's statement (he is no "fringe tradcath") Catholic clergy take validity very, very seriously.

Now there some other cases recently concerning Baptism. There was a priest who, it turned out, was never baptized at all, and therefore had never been a priest. The Church officials had to release a statement and notify everyone who was affected (because he wouldn't have been able to celebrate the Eucharist, etc.) and of course the priest was baptized and then properly ordained.

Then in yet another case, there was a priest in Arizona (and apparently also a deacon in Michigan) who had performed baptisms for nigh on 20 years using an invalid formula. The formula was invalidated by his use of "we" instead of "I". That's right, it was the wrong pronoun and it made all the difference in the world. The bishop of Phoenix released a statement to inform everyone affected that their baptism was, in fact, invalid, and they'd need to have this ceremony repeated. However, the bishop of San Diego said it wasn't really a big deal and not to worry too much about it. So yes, there is some variance about this, and there are clerics who say it doesn't matter, but I'd say that the latter bishop is an outlier, because that attitude doesn't really comport with Catholic law and doctrine. In fact I think it's harmful to tell invalidly-baptized people that it doesn't matter, because in another diocese 20 years from now, it may really really matter.

The formulas and the definition of valid matter have been distilled down to very simple elegant definitions over the years. It is definitely not difficult, for example, to bake altar bread that meets the simple definition of validity, because it's very exclusive and simple. Likewise, the words in the formula can be very simple. The priest must say "I absolve you" in the Confessional (in some language) or it doesn't work! In fact, that's all he has to say! The priest must say "This is My Body... This is... My Blood" or it's not the Eucharist!

These rules seem oh so simple and uncomplicated, but it always seems like some ad libber can get in there and bollocks it up.

Catholic clergy demonstrably do not take validity very seriously. My experience (in Chicago) of validity --- a term I learned earlier today, despite growing up Catholic and attending 12 years of Catholic schooling --- is that Catholic priests will consecrate a Ritz cracker and a bottle of Nehi Grape. That can bother you, and that's fine, I respect whichever religion you belong to, but the one where twenty years of masses can be "invalidated" because of additives in the wine isn't my Catholicism, and it isn't the Catholicism of any parish I've been a part of in Chicagoland, and Chicago is one of the most Catholic cities in the United States, so I'm taking it as a good proxy for Catholicism everywhere.

You can be a part of some other Catholicism that rejects Nehi Grape! That is, and I am not fucking with you about this, just fine.

You're more generous that I: We could uncharitably describe some of the trad-caths' absolutist views (such as those on validity) as sheer fantasy, a house of cards lacking even a pretense of intellectual rigor and based on, how shall I put this, questionable reporting of events from 2,000 years ago [0] [1]. The fact that trad-caths hold so fiercely to such views lends support to what one might call a Hitchensian view of religion [2]; in that regard, the trad-caths are more like ultra-Orthodox Jews and radical Islamists than they are different.

[0] https://www.questioningchristian.org/2004/10/troubling_incon...

[1] https://www.questioningchristian.org/2004/10/why_i_cant_acce...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Hitchens#Criticism...

It would probably behoove you not to make sweeping statements, even based on personal experience in one particular archdiocese. If a priest is going around simulating a sacrament, using invalid matter for the Eucharist, and pulling the wool over parishioners' eyes about it, then they should absolutely be reported to the ordinary. If the ordinary doesn't care, which may be the case for you, then someone in the Roman Curia will definitely care. Of course, it may take the Dicastery for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments a long time to investigate, come to a decision, and issue a statement/sanctions, especially if the ordinary does not cooperate and resists any of this. But they will. I assure you that the validity of sacraments matters very much to people who matter.

I mean, can you imagine the turmoil and unrest in a Church that would happen if the faithful couldn't depend on the validity of our sacraments? Imagine if, at every Mass you attend, you have to second-guess the priest and peek at what kind of bread is being used, and whether that bread tastes like oil or sugar, and whether the priest is using proper wine, and many thousands of Catholics thrown into confusion about whether we had received the Body & Blood of Jesus or whether it had just been deliberately and cruelly simulated in front of us? Imagine the uproar that would occur! That is definitely something that Church officials don't want to deal with, because it shakes the foundations of the faith. No, validity is a very real concern for anyone who wishes to keep the peace among the faithful.

Regarding leavened bread: leavening altar bread in the Roman Rite is illicit but it will not be invalid matter. It is because our Eastern Catholic brethren very much use leavened bread, which if it's valid for one, it's valid for all. Likewise, a Byzantine Catholic priest using unleavened bread would be acting illicitly, and probably get in a lot of trouble just from his parishioners, but it would still be a valid Eucharist.

Now, personally I definitely have seen priests and even provinces of religious orders where validity and liceity perhaps did not matter much at all. I was part of a community that used glass "chalices" (illicit), they eschewed crazy things like chasubles, and they used "gender-neutral" pronouns for God. Now they usually did use real altar bread and real wine for the Eucharist, but I'm fairly sure I saw a home-baked loaf thing used once. The way they played around with the words of the liturgy was disturbing to me, and honestly I determined that several of those priests really did not believe in the True Presence with the reprehensible way they treated the Eucharistic elements, post-consecration.

And this may be the case with your Chicagoan priests: they don't believe in the Real Presence, so why does it matter if they attempt to consecrate unfermented grape juice? (By the way, just looking at Ritz Cracker ingredients online, I'd say they're also invalid, due to lots of sugars, salt, oils, soy lechitin, and other gross stuff -- not even fit for human consumption, I'd say.) I'd say it is very common for rank-and-file priests to not care much about their vocation or for the rights of the faithful. But the faithful have a right to a properly-celebrated, licit liturgy with valid matter, and Rome tends to uphold those rights, but bishops have a lot of ordinary power in their own dioceses, and so if the bishop is obstructive or drags his heels, then Rome may have a real difficult time championing the rights of the faithful.

The Church is not "some other Catholicism" that "rejects Nehi grape", I assure you that it is the other way around. No faithful Catholic in his right mind will tell you that unfermented grape soda can be valid matter for the Eucharist; it was simply the fact that you had a series of heretical priests, and they may have been given ample cover by their bishop. There is not "tradcath" radical hardlining here: it's just simple doctrine.

It would, and I think this is pretty clear, behoove you not to use words like "No faithful Catholic in his right mind will tell you", because (a) one just did, and (b) it makes you sound like a sedevacantist, which is I think not what you're going for.

To me, and, I think, to a lot of mainstream ("actual") Catholics, the position you're taking is the spiritual equivalent of the people who pay way too much for fancy speaker cables because they insist they triangle tested it and the expensive cables sound better. And, hey, if that's your thing, go with God.

It's the priest who's at fault, because he's the one who's supposed to be informed and know better. Knowingly confecting an invalid sacrament is one of the worst sins you can commit as a Catholic. In Canon Law, it's known as "simulating a sacrament", i.e. going through the motions and faking it.

It's not unforgivable, but it's reprehensible.

I mean yea, I understand the idea.. making a sacrament out of sawdust to cut costs or whatever would be reprehensible, but using pressed twinkies as sacrament doesn't seem that awful to me, if that was all they had available in a hurry.

Probably why I'm not a priest. Hehe.

Canon law itself is rather laconic on the ingredients to be transsubstantiated:

> Can. 924

> §1. The most holy eucharistic sacrifice must be offered with bread and with wine in which a little water must be mixed.

> §2. The bread must be only wheat and recently made so that there is no danger of spoiling.

> §3. The wine must be natural from the fruit of the vine and not spoiled.


An interesting point regarding Catholic Canon Law is that there is a distinction between validity and liceity: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Validity_and_liceity_(Catholic...

To a casual reader, it may seem the "valid" and "licit" are nearly interchangeably in this article, but they are two different things and there are cases where an action is valid and illicit, or invalid, but licit.

Canon 126 is also relevant for this particular case:

> Can. 126 An act placed out of ignorance or out of error concerning something which constitutes its substance or which amounts to a condition sine qua non[1] is invalid. Otherwise it is valid unless the law makes other provision. An act entered into out of ignorance or error, however, can give rise to a rescissory action according to the norm of law.

This is part of why Catholicism does not view itself as legalistic despite having a well-developed code of law. In minor things, it is assumed that God gives the benefit of the doubt so mistakes made out of ignorance/error do not affect the validity of the action. This also helps with scrupulosity and splintering over minor things.


[1] Latin for "an essential condition" or "something absolutely indispensable"

As someone who grew up Catholic but isn't now, it's always very bizarre to see stuff like this. Catholic teaching explicitly claims that the wine is miraculously transformed into the "blood of Christ", but I guess it only works if the wine doesn't have additives? It's hard enough for me to imagine a god that wants to bless his followers by letting them drink his blood; I can't take seriously a claim that he will do this _only_ if the wine doesn't have extra sugar or elderberries added to it.

The point is that Catholics believe the words that Jesus said during the last supper, and He used wine without additives. The Mass is the repetition of that last supper and the death of Jesus in the cross. So to be faithful to what Jesus did it's important to use the same type of wine He used.

I would imagine that most modern wine is not necessarily the same type as the wine that would have been used as (presumably) table wine at the last supper.

Indeed it seems likely based on archaeological evidence that common wines drunk in the region and at the time contained additives for flavor! See https://www.vivino.com/wine-news/searching-for-the-wine-from...

Furthermore, how far should one take this silly adherence to imagined fact? If we discover that in Jerusalem they drank predominantly wine from some now extinct local varietal, does that make all masses since invalid?

I, like the poster you’re replying to, grew up Catholic, and this sort of slavish adherence to stuff some church person made up at some point in the past has always struck me as one of the more ridiculous parts of the religion.

Catholicism is a mass religion, which means you need to be able to have a functioning society of Catholics (whereas if you're just making a religion to get a few dozen people into your cult so you can exploit them however you please, it isn't important whether an entire working society with this religion is even possible) so the rules can't just be complete nonsense.

But on the other hand it's important for your religion to stand out. Unless it's going to result in mass persecution or genocide, you want your believers to stand out, the requirements of your religion to impact on everybody else. So you get silly rules - not really that tricky to obey but seemingly pointless because hey, if nobody is grousing about your silly rules, nobody is noticing your religion exists.

This sort of thing is only a big problem once it tilts the whole society. People will probably vary in their tolerance but somewhere between "The weird logo on my groceries apparently signifies that a specific religious group may consume this product" and "Your existence is prohibited by the established religion in this country and so you'll be executed" there's a line crossed.

Yeah you’re absolutely right, and that’s a good point. For some reason to me it feels sillier when I have an inside perspective than looking at similar things in other religions. Because I have experienced and discarded Catholicism, those arbitrary rules strike me as particularly ridiculous. I don’t have the same knowledge of or disdain for the arbitrary rules of other religions, probably mostly because of lack of familiarity, but maybe also because I have never personally rebelled against them.

> and He used wine without additives

He used a specific bottle. But catholics were pragmatic enough to say "well, surely he didn't mean that bottle specifically." And they don't latch on to the vintage, either- doesn't have to be the same grapes grown in the same region. They don't latch on to the age of the wine, or its alcohol content. But those variations don't matter! Because.... I guess because, uh.... oh heavens me-oh-my-oh, this is a pickle. Turns out it's all subjective.

There is no evidence in the bible what kind of wine Jesus used. Wine in biblical times could refer to fermented or unfermented drink.

During Jesus lifetime, there is archeological evidence that apices and fruits - including pomegranates, mandrakes, saffron and cinnamon - were used to flavour wines, and tree resin were added to help preserve them.

So, the wine drank at the Last Supper might actually resemble the mulled wine some of us drink at Christmas.

Basically, this has nothing to do with being faithful to Jesus, but more with archaic rules that were agreed upon centuries after Jesus' lifetime.They are canonical to Catholic teachings though.

> So to be faithful to what Jesus did it's important to use the same type of wine He used.

But the last supper wasn't a Catholic mass. Why is this one arbitrary detail so important when the entire ritual bears only a superficial resemblance to a dinner held by Jews in 33AD Jerusalem?

It seems odd that the man who said (paraphrasing because I don't want to look it up) "The Sabbath was made to serve men, not men the Sabbath" would insist on such pedantry.

Well it is a mass. In the Latin rite, the only requirement for a thing to be a valid mass is for a priest to take bread and wine and say 'this is my body' and 'this is my blood'. That's it. If a priest does this with the intention to say a mass he does an illegal but otherwise valid Mass. There is no doubt to this.

That sounds like it might be true, but whereas I can't say I'm totally sure about the church being fastidious about the wine (most people don't take wine at mass, and I certainly didn't), I know for a fact that they'd not at all scrupulous about bread; I've taken communion from consecrated ordinary leavened bread, and when that happened, the priest who did the service explained that, essentially, bread was bread, and the words were what mattered.

I'm sure there's some traditionalist Catholic rebuttal to this! And I'm fine with that. I'd just say: traditionalist Catholicism is not the same religion that ordinary mainstream Catholics practice.

It's not that God cannot it's that the human church cannot say for certain whether God does.

For example, God can come back tomorrow riding in from heaven on a Ford mustang but the church isn't going to declare this as true and make everyone wait for it tomorrow.

If God tells you to do X so Y happens, then you should do X. You should not do Z and then expect Y to happen with certainty. It might. It might not. You cannot know.

It reminds me a lot of the rules we used to make up while playing games during recess in primary school.

If you're no longer Catholic why would you care one way or the other?

I don't think I care in any particularly strong sense, but it was part of my experience growing up, so it's hard not to have any opinion about it at all. I'm fortunate that the friends and family I have who still are members are accepting of my choice not to be a member anymore; it's not like I don't associate with anyone at all who is Catholic. At least in my immediate family, discussing religion isn't something that will cause arguments, so sometimes the topic comes up when I talk with my parents. I'm sure there are plenty of things I'd find silly in other ideologies as well; I just don't have the same level of exposure.

> If you're no longer Catholic why would you care one way or the other?

Another former Catholic here. We should all care because a controversy such as this:

- diverts attention from Jesus' "Prime Directive" — which was straight from the Hebrew Bible, of course (Leviticus 19:18) — that we seek the best for others, even our enemies, as we do for ourselves; and

- falsely implies that not following pharisaic rules makes one less worthy and thus excluded from the Prime Directive.

This harms civil society in general, not just Catholics.

I’m still Catholic too, and your argument doesn’t hold water.

From the first century A.D. to the present, the Church has cared about holding true to the Apostolic tradition, which includes teachings re: how to treat others as well how to worship God.

> From the first century A.D. to the present the Church has cared about holding true to the Apostolic tradition

Oh. So then I guess either Matthew or Acts got it wrong about whose name should be invoked in baptizing: If Jesus really said to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then the apostles apparently ignored his instructions — compare Matt. 28.19 with Acts 2.38, 8.16, 10.48, 19.5. [0]

On a tangentially-related subject: Peter, preaching at Pentecost, seems to have flagrantly misrepresented his scriptural source. [1]

While we're at it: The Apostles all indisputably thought that Jesus would be returning Real Soon Now — and that just didn't happen. [2]

[0] https://www.questioningchristian.org/2004/10/troubling_incon...

[1] https://www.questioningchristian.org/2004/10/troubling_incon...

[2] https://www.questioningchristian.org/2005/10/is_jesus_coming...

Well, I'm sure such a general reply won't satisfy you, but in the Catholic West and East the idea is that the teaching of the Church is the context in which one needs understand Sacred Scripture, not the other way around. More concretely, the context for understanding Matthew, Acts, et al. is the teachings of the Councils, Fathers, and Doctors of the Church, as well the lives, writing, and preaching of the Saints.

This still very much allows for disagreement on matters not formally settled, and is no barrier to a person untrained in ecclesiastical history and dogmatic theology from being edified by reading and/or hearing the Bible.

  You may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.
— 1 Tim 3:15 (RSV)

The church is the pillar and bulwark, and we are on the surest footing when interpreting Sacred Scripture standing atop the pillar; everything else is a complete non-starter, though can be fodder for debates and whatnot.

> Well, I'm sure such a general reply won't satisfy you ....

On that much, we agree.

> the context for understanding Matthew, Acts, et al. is the teachings of the Councils, Fathers, and Doctors of the Church ....

You might consider another possibility: That the apostolic succession belongs to all the baptized, not just to what I once referred to as "the Twelve's decisions to anoint themselves as a self-perpetuating elite" in the early church. [0]

[0] https://www.questioningchristian.org/2007/02/the_apostolic_s...

Thanks for the link, which is helpful.

1. Unfalsifiable, ipse dixit proclamations by church "overseers," i.e., bishops (Greek: ἐπίσκοπος, episkopos, whence English's episcopal) aren't persuasive.

Long ago I read translations of the surviving writings of some of the earliest church fathers — such as in the page you linked. I was struck by the distinct impression that the first bishops essentially bootstrapped themselves into authority — they peremptorily announced:

- that they were successors of the Apostles; and

- that their apostolic succession entitled them to be in charge.

(EDIT: This foreshadowed, by some 1,700 years, the U.S. Supreme Court's bootstrapped declaration that judges have the power to decide the constitutionality of congressional legislation, in Marbury vs. Madison, where Chief Justice John Marshall famously said that in case of conflicting statutory- and constitutional provisions, "It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. ...")

And these first bishops persuaded their (self-selected?) flocks to acknowledge their authority; eventually, what started out as an arguable heresy on the part of these "overseers" became carved in stone as a core principle of church governance. [0]

2. The church fathers relied extensively on the letters of Paul, né Saul, of Tarsus. Recall that Saul/Paul started out as a fiery persecutor of Christians — then suddenly "flipped" and became equally zealous preaching his version of Christianity.

And remember that Paul preached what he claimed to be his own gospel, not received from any man, but directly from Jesus himself, whom he had never met in life — if Paul had known Jesus before the latter's execution, he surely would have trumpeted the fact, in his Epistle to the Galatians and elsewhere.

[0] https://www.questioningchristian.org/2006/04/what_is_the_pro...

I'm still Catholic and these would be my reasons too. :)

Great article! I was unaware of he existence of "valid matter", "dubious or doubtful matter", and "invalid matter" until now.

I was similarly unaware of organizations like Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and Society of the Divine Word. Heck, I was unaware of the word and concept "dicastery". This has been very illuminating.

There are actually many more Dicasteries than there were a year ago, since Pope Francis reorganized the Roman Curia. Previously, many of them were called Congregations. So far, it is basically a name change for the same sort of orgs, but it represents a sort of change in orientation.

In addition, it made me wonder how Jesus felt when all the sudden his blood is full of sulfates!

I don't think that you meant to use that word. But you're very busy being cute and clever and insulting, what could it matter?

Copper sulfate is sometimes added to wine. What word do you think I didn't mean to use?

In the Eucharist the words are "this is my blood".

Time for a schism in the Church, where both sides agree on every matter of doctrine and practice, except that one side takes this Cansacastran view on the eucharist and the other follows the Dogma of St Petersburg, also detailed in the article:

> Any good house wine is fine... Bottom line: the finer quality of wine, the better it is. This is an important consideration since the wine selected will become the Body and Blood of Christ.

Catholics see what you say, and unfortunately, the right thing to do is to say "no", if we are to be consistent. We live measured by centuries, not years, so maybe we'll be okay.

This is a lose-lose situation for the few Catholics who know or care about the difference between valid and licit Masses (and probably went to more traditional parishes anyway) and everyone else will be oblivious to the whole thing.

> As a result, he wrote, in those parishes, “for any number of years all Masses were invalid and therefore the intentions for which those Masses were offered were not satisfied

What about all the weddings?

How can a lay person know if the Mass they are attending “counts” ?

You don't need a Mass to get married. Actually it's a different sacrament, and the only things you need are the two spouses and a qualified witness (aka the Priest)

You don't need a priest for a wedding. In the Latin rite, a couple marries themselves. In the medieval times, the church allowed couples to marry in secret without a priest (and without any witnesses). The only sacramental requirement for a marriage is a man and woman make a solemn commitment to live together as husband and wife with full understanding and full freedom to enter into the agreement.

However as you can imagine this became an administrative nightmare as couples sought to divorce after such a secret marriage and no one could say whether the marriage was valid.

So the church required marriage vows to be made public and in front of witnesses in order to be legal.

However, the couple is the minister not the priest. During a Catholic marriage, the couple is seated on the sanctuary along with the priest . One of the few times laypeople can do that.

Very strange that we don't have ingredient labels for alcoholic beverages, even though pretty much every other substance you ingest has them, and even many things you don't, e.g. soap and shampoo.

Is this a traditionalist ("tradcath") thing? I feel like there was no such scrupulousness about the wine at masses when I was growing up.

I don't mean this as a dismissal. If you're not Catholic you might not have noticed that there is a weird cultural moment happening right now, with a very small but noisy (or prominent, if you like) faction of traditionalists, many of them young hipsters. It's oddly centered on New York City and Kansas/Nebraska.

So I see things like this, almost unrecognizable from the church I grew up in, and I wonder if this is just another tendril of that movement.

n=1 data point -- as a practicing Catholic who cares about the discipline of sacraments, this is the first time I hear about concerns regarding sacramental wine. At the same time, the story of using invalid baptismal formula ("we baptize" instead of "I baptize"; discussed on HN here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=30348624) definitely made rounds in my circles (attending Ordinary Form Mass but also leaning traditional).

In general, what I see gives me a lot of hope: people care (and that they care about the right stuff; worrying about sulfites is likely misguided). Overall, it can't be that a confession line is always empty but line to receive the Eucharist is 100% of parishioners.

(Shoutout to Boston HNers - check out OMV churches like St. Clements or St. Francis; historically, St. Clements was the first church in the Boston area to offer public Masses and sacrament of penance during the early days of COVID, including special-made arrangements like https://www.facebook.com/StClementShrine/posts/pfbid0zmWzyKa... They also have ample Eucharistic Adoration. IYKYK.)

Makes me wonder if "I've been a traditional Catholic since 1975 AMA" would be an active topic on HN. :-)

I've seen a priest raid the pantry for bread to perform the sacrament and I think decided triscuits were better than cheese wheat thins. I've also seen a priest talk about the provenance of the wine and which member of the congregation had provided it from their travels. Only one bottle was transubstantiated, the second bottle came out for tasting later.

Speaking from my personal experience, I feel my (South American) priest would have rolled his eyes at this, the same way I would feel about (say) the Rust foundation releasing a clarification document on tabs vs spaces.

I understand the need for a baseline to keep churches from holding mass with Fanta, and I agree that good wine is better than bad wine. But I easily imagine a Last Crusade moment where we learn that Jesus actually drank poor people's wine and, in an ironic twist (as suggested by a dead comment), it turns out that his wine was diluted and wouldn't fit the definition here.

Right! I mean: there's nothing wrong with this stuff; Jewish people have kashrut, Muslims have haram and halal, Hindus (or at least a big chunk of them) have ovo-lacto vegetarianism.

But: this seems like something new. I doubt many people in my parish would care at all about the specific wine used at mass. For that matter: most people don't even take wine at mass.

This is very mainstream. There was a period of experimentation and lax discipline corresponding to my own youth. Catholicism was whatever the local priest wanted.

There pre-Vatican rules regarding Eucharistic matter have been almost perfectly followed for a few decades.

The LDS church uses water but if you don’t have water you can use whatever you have available. It’s just a symbol of the blood.

Sounds like the modern Pharisees.

Honest question, no trolling: for Jews and Muslims, the "kosher" and "halal" labels are heavily regulated, and AFAIK there isn't any great controversy about shady operators self-labeling their ordinary foods in order to sell more (or is there?).

So as a (former) Catholic: why can't the Church do something similar? Is it only because the market for sacramental wine is so much smaller than the market for halal foods?

The kashrut authorities have found an interesting loophole. It’s a violation of the first amendment for a state to directly ban the labeling of unkosher food as kosher. Too much entanglement with religion. However the various authorities have registered trademarks like ou and k. Enforcing ordinary trademark law runs into no constitutional issues.

I see the kashrut trademarks as a good workaround that lets legitimate religious objections work well with American law.

As far as "halal", there have been shady operators doing self-labeling. [1] There are also companies that do not follow the halal process completely/properly but still label themselves as halal. For example, the animal (cow/cattle/lamb/camel/...) has to be slaughtered from below the neck by a Muslim man by hand while making the animal face a certain direction and also reciting prayer.

What do these companies do ? They have the prayers on speaker and a robot/machine that slaughters the animals. Is it halal ? No. But there are some agencies who would gladly give you a "halal" certification for some money, and now you are certified halal.

"Halal" word in Arabic just means permissible. In the food context, we look for halal (permissible stuff, not logo) in not just meat, but also any product that contains animal by products/byproducts, like cheese for example. Microbial rennet is okay, animal rennet not so much. We usually avoid eating factory made food that contain animal products/byproducts. If it is something that can has vegetable and animal sources, then we check the ingredients/labels to see if something is specified. Sometimes they clearly specify vegetable source. Otherwise if source is not clear, or if not sure about the certification agency, we either look for a kosher label on that (if it contains some animal products/byproducts) or manually call the company and ask away any questions. If both of those are not possible, we look for something else.

[1]. https://www.google.com/search?q=fake+halal+meat

Huh. I've had a very devout (hair-covering hijab, wouldn't even go swimming at the same time as our male colleagues in her "burkini") Muslim colleague tell me that she doesn't mind eating kosher meat if that's what's on offer, because Jews do things properly; otherwise, it's vegan for her to avoid whatever Germans do to otherwise perfectly good green beans or Käsespatzle (for those unfamiliar with southern Germany: yes, there's probably pork in there, unless otherwise specified)

It is also common for the butcher to just have the bismillah written on the knife (at least in Pak)

At least for kosher I'm aware that rabbis inspect and approve the manufacturing facility and process directly. This is doubly true for items labeled "Kosher for Passover". https://oukosher.org/passover/articles/what-is-kosher-for-pa...

cf. The Blessed Eucharist as a Sacrament


I'm atheist-leaning agnostic, but having grown up with Christian parents, I have to imagine that Jesus (the historical figure) would be annoyed at the idea of people two millennia in the future arguing about whether or not a particular grape juice product[1] was suitable for commemorating the ceremony he put on for his disciples.

Furthermore, I'm pretty sure he'd be angry enough to start tipping over tables in the square that anyone would claim that using a slightly different grape juice product invalidated anything about the events where it was consumed.

Of course, I'm sure this philosophical difference is exactly why there are so many splinter factions of Christianity, but it's hard for me to imagine making a religion a central part of one's life and then completely ignoring so much of the message that the core figure of that religion tried to get across.

[1] or even any dark red beverage, really.

On the other hand Jesus was born and grew up jewish and would have been familiar with jewish dietary laws and the sacrifices in the temple and the complicated conditions for those.

A lot of the complications came later. The destruction of the Temple caused a huge mess with how the Law was handled.

The expansion of ritual purity into everyday mundane life was an active area of dispute in the judaism of christ's time & place. He certainly would have been aware of the general concept and most likely had a take on it.

In fact there's a historically grounded secular interpretation of the good samaritan parable indicating it's at least partially about exactly this. According to contemporaneous jewish moral norms, the priest in the parable has valid reason to avoid what he thinks is a dead body but only if he has a ritual duty to perform in temple in the near future. In the parable he is traveling "down from jersusalem" eg his duty is complete for now. Jesus is coming down against him maintaining ritual purity without a specific liturgical duty to.

The MS Office 2003 toolbar version of religion. You got some people to write some code/rules, and then didn't fire them, so they just kept making the code/rules more complicated to keep their job.

I'm super sure that God really really cares about the kind of wine, and not the intentions of the humans asking for help

This is a common criticism: "Why would God care about this seemingly minute detail?"

We hear it, as well, with things like, "Does God really care if I eat meat on Friday?"

But actually, the whole point is that if we can't expend the effort to make trivial sacrifices, or to follow seemingly trivial rules about valid matter for the Eucharist, then why on earth would we expect ourselves to get more important things right?

Catholicism is not as persnickety as you might think, but there is a "When you know better, do better" mentality. Now that the bishop has realized the problem, he's taking steps to do better and rectify the issue. Yes, we trust that God knows what's in our hearts, but that doesn't mean we should just shrug our shoulders and say, "Not a big deal" when we have the opportunity to do better.

> But actually, the whole point is that if we can't expend the effort to make trivial sacrifices, or to follow seemingly trivial rules about valid matter for the Eucharist, then why on earth would we expect ourselves to get more important things right?

Reminds me of the Van Halen brown M&Ms


This seems backwards. I wouldn’t expend effort on the trivial because it’s trivial. I try to conserve my time and effort for what’s important. (Now excuse me while I spend two hours fine-tuning my Vim color scheme.)

Exactly. Validity is extremely important: you want to have certainty in sacraments. When you go to confession and hear "I absolve you" you want to know that it means what it means.

They specifically said all the masses where you used the wrong wine don't count, God will have ignored all your intentions said during those masses

If the bishop specifically said that God ignored those intentions, please quote it.

What he said was that the Masses were invalid, a term that means the conditions necessary for the sacrament were not present. He also said, "the intentions for which those Masses were offered were not satisfied," meaning that the Church did not offer a valid Mass for those intentions, not that God ignored people's prayers.

This quote from America magazine, a Jesuit publication, touches on the nuances of such cases:

> “Invalid” is not the same as “unreal.” Our mistakes do not prevent God from entering into a moment any more than our sins do. In the wake of Father Hood’s case, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit wrote,“The Church, following the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, recognizes that God has bound Himself to the sacraments, but He is not bound by the sacraments.”

What that means is that although we must never be cavalier and make mistakes with the assumption that God will overlook them, we can nevertheless have hope that God offers his graces to those who sincerely seek them, even extra-sacramentally, and especially when we take the time to remedy the issue once we become aware of it.

I totally agree, but I don't think the reason has anything to do with what god would think, actually. It's about trying to put yourself in the mindset of christians throughout history. That something of the original last supper is preserved in the celebration of mass today.

Oh, what I'd give for a good old toolbar again. I've still never adjusted properly to the Ribbon and its comparative waste of space. Give me density, dammit!

Market price: $75+ a bottle[1]...of course.

I'm somehow reminded of corporate McDonald's grift of contractually forcing Taylor ice cream machines on franchisees.

EDIT: cbfrench below correctly points out that that price is per case...the devil was hiding in the details and I stand corrected.

[1] https://www.zieglers.com/church-goods/sacramental/sacramenta...

For one thing, that’s the case price, not the price per bottle. And that’s not really a sound analogy, as Cribari isn’t the only sacramental vintner, nor is Ziegler’s the only supplier of said wine. And there are general canonical provisions (varying by diocese, of course) for using wine that isn’t approved as sacramental; it just saves a few headaches (and, obviously, concerns about validity) to go ahead and procure the sacramental stuff, especially when it’s not exorbitantly expensive per case.

Here’s a longer, more punctilious discussion of the variety of wines that may qualify for sacramental use in the Roman Catholic Church: https://wdtprs.com/2013/04/quaeritur-is-sherry-valid-matter-...

> For one thing, that’s the case price, not the price per bottle.

Thanks for the clarification; the devil certainly was in the details on that one.

Yeah, it’s really not clear unless you click through and see that the weight per unit is 37 lbs. Unsurprisingly, purveyors of church goods almost invariably have terrible websites. Ziegler’s is comparatively decent, lol.

Are there any other manufacturers of commercial scale soft serve machines? No matter where I go it's always a Taylor.


No doubt because the submitter thought it was intellectually interesting and enough upvoters agreed: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.

Religious practices are often quite interesting if one can relate to them out of curiosity (the intended spirit of this site). The challenge is that intense emotions, identities, etc. can also get activated and those can easily drown out the interesting aspects. Curiosity isn't a high-intensity phenomenon - it requires a light touch.

Quite a few commenters in this thread have been managing to discuss the OP in the curious spirit, which is good - probably better than median for this type of topic!


"Eschew flamebait. Avoid generic tangents."


this seems like a topic mainly of interest to people who are interested in making divisions between communities larger

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact