Two, four, six, eight, time to transubstantiate …
I CAN hardly contain my indifference to the fact that Ireland this week is hosting the Catholic Church’s 50th Annual Eucharistic Congress – and neither, apparently, can a significant number of Catholics in that country.
The congress aims to renew people’s belief in the core woo of transubstantiation: the crackpot notion that crackers and wine can be magically transformed into the body and blood of Christ.
But, according to a recent survey in Ireland, almost two-thirds (62 per cent) believe the blessing of bread and wine during Mass only represents the body and blood of Christ. Furthermore, the majority of Catholics in Ireland do not attend Mass regularly.
Ahead of what is being dubbed “The Spiritual Olympics”, “celebrity” Richard Dawkins, on a visit to Dublin, called on Irish Catholics to be “honest” and to admit that they were no longer Catholics because they do not accept their Church’s fundamental teachings.
This irritates the beJesus out of Colum Kenny, of the Irish Independent, who writes today:
He [Dawkins] and some bishops and their most loyal followers want people in or out. They think of the Church as a club, where you accept the rules or leave.
But the teachings of Jesus cannot be reduced to a neat set of club rules or medieval doctrines. How their truth is articulated is through the hearts and lives of Christians. The Eucharist is at the very heart of how Christians understand their faith and their church and themselves.
The Eucharist consists of the consecrated bread and wine that are central to the Mass, which is itself a Christian re-enactment of the last supper of Jesus. The gospels tell us that Jesus referred to such consecrated bread and wine as his body and blood; he bid his followers to do as he had done and to eat and drink in memory of him.
But did he mean that Christians who did so would literally be eating his body and blood? Such an idea of ‘transubstantiation’ seems barbaric to some people, with its echoes of human sacrifice and cannibalism, and simply unnecessary to others.
And some merriment, of course, in the form of the brilliant Tom Lehrer’s Vatican Rag, in which he satirised this nonsense by singing:
Two, four, six, eight, time to transubstantiate.
His lyrics include this verse:
First you get down on your knees
Fiddle with your rosaries
Bow your head with great respect and
genuflect, genuflect, genuflect
Make a cross on your ab-domen
When in Rome do like the Romans
Ave Maria, gee it’s good to see ya’
Doin’ the Vatican Rag!
I had no idea that The Vatican Rag was once performed on TV in 1974 by British comedian Marty Feldman, who in a prelude to an hilarious performance of the song, castigates the BBC for not allowing the word “God” to be uttered in broadcasts.
How things have changed!
Hat tip: Conor Mcbrierty