Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Laying of Hands by the Laity

I don't normally refer to myself as a progressive or liberal Catholic but rather as a progressive or liberal Christian. The reason being that I honestly do not care about the many of the specifically Catholic issues. For instance, I could care less about the hot button liturgy issues and so on, for reasons I may go into later. My concerns tend to be more broader Christian concerns and less about specifically Catholic issues.

Anyway, my point is that I never get into arguments about sacraments or mechanics of sacraments because I don't see the point. That said, I had to share this scripture because it has to have implications for something:

Acts 9: 10-17
10: And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
11: And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
12: And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
13: Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
14: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
15: But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
16: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
17: And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.


Get it?

It was a layman who confirmed Paul by the laying on of hands. Sorts of turns the current practice on its head. Was Paul's confirmation then valid???

5 Comments:

Blogger Jcecil3 said...

Greetings!

This is a very interesting question. I suspect that the conservative answer might be that Paul was actually confirmed when he went to confer with Kephas and James in Jerusalem (Gal 1:18-19). He was probably ordained then too according to this interpretation. Thus, the incident you point to is not a confirmation, but simply a prayer.

But what does it mean when a lay-person lays hands on another?

Even if the Church doesn't count it among the seven sacraments, can it be considered a "sacramental"....along the same lines as a Rosary or a Scapular or a blessing with holy water?

I think we have become too reliant on priests for everything. We forget that we can bless each other (don't we say "God bless you" when someone sneezes? ). The laity are in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit and we share a common priesthood with ordained ministerial priest. There is truly only one priest in the Church, Jesus Christ. The ministerial priest and the common priesthood of the faithful share in this one same mystery.

I like the idea that laity would lay hands on one another....hug during the sign of peace....hold hands during the Lord's prayer....and engage in charismatic gestures during Mass (and even the sign of the cross is a charismatic gesture). I think we should clap when singing a responsorial Psalm that refers to clapping in praise of God. We should greet one another with hymns and inspired songs as Saint Paul exorts. I think the gift of tongues is still available today, as are the gifts of prophecy, healing and other charismatic gifts.

At the same time, there is a place for structured liturgy to form a back-bone around which we build. Within this structure, there needs to be adequate attention to times for silent and contemplative prayer. There is a place for rational reflection and well reasoned critical thinking in the life of faith as well.

It's all an issue of balance. It's both/and rather than either/or. I think it is wrong to try to exclude the charismatic expressions of faith, or to exclude the traditional liturgical expressions, or to exclude the liberal progressive expressions, etc....All of it togetehr is part of the rich heritage of Roman Catholicism.

Peace!

5:14 PM  
Blogger Ono said...

On the topic of Paul, here's what Acts 9:17says:

And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.Jesus sent him, a lay man, to (1) restore Paul's sight (healing) (2) lay hands to confirm Paul. Even if one does not take it literally, it can't be lost on the writer and us readers that only a chapter earlier in Acts 8, after Phillip had preached and converted the Samaritans, he sent for Peter and John to confirm the Samaritans. So at the least, the writer, is not of the idea that confirmations are restricted to the Apostles or their successors.

About Kephas and Paul, it would make an interesting post I guess. The relationship between Kephas and Paul is somewhat political. Paul's followers sought to defend his independence as Paul also did, while Peter's supporters sought to link Paul to Peter.

Acts in interesting because Luke clearly wants to show that Paul is on par with the Apostles, an Apostle in his own right, yet not independent and unconnected to the flow of the Holy Spirit that begins on Pentecost.

Church bash moment: a scripture like this would clearly support and increased ministerial role for the Catholic laity, but I always say that it is about power. An increased role would mean less power for the hierarchy and they are not about to relinquish that. Even if the lay ministerial role was seen as a sacramental, it still increases the symbolism of the lay role and eventually leads to substantial power shifts and that ain't about to happen.

7:01 PM  
Blogger Ono said...

On the topic of Paul, here's what Acts 9:17says:

And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.Jesus sent him, a lay man, to (1) restore Paul's sight (healing) (2) lay hands to confirm Paul. Even if one does not take it literally, it can't be lost on the writer and us readers that only a chapter earlier in Acts 8, after Phillip had preached and converted the Samaritans, he sent for Peter and John to confirm the Samaritans. So at the least, the writer, is not of the idea that confirmations are restricted to the Apostles or their successors.

About Kephas and Paul, it would make an interesting post I guess. The relationship between Kephas and Paul is somewhat political. Paul's followers sought to defend his independence as Paul also did, while Peter's supporters sought to link Paul to Peter.

Acts in interesting because Luke clearly wants to show that Paul is on par with the Apostles, an Apostle in his own right, yet not independent and unconnected to the flow of the Holy Spirit that begins on Pentecost.

Church bash moment: a scripture like this would clearly support and increased ministerial role for the Catholic laity, but I always say that it is about power. An increased role would mean less power for the hierarchy and they are not about to relinquish that. Even if the lay ministerial role was seen as a sacramental, it still increases the symbolism of the lay role and eventually leads to substantial power shifts and that ain't about to happen.

7:02 PM  
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