A priest friend of mine told me about how the local Methodist minister turned up during Lent and said, “Father, I’ve got a practical question for you.”

“Yes? How can I help?”

 (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

“Well, where do you guys get the ashes for Ash Wednesday? See, we were trying to be more liturgical this year and so I was going to put ashes on people, so I just got ashes from the fireplace, but it was real messy. Where do you get those nice ashes you use?”

Priest says, “Well, we save the palms from the Palm Sunday before and we burn them on Shrove Tuesday to produce the ashes for Ash Wednesday.”

Slow grin breaks across the minister’s face, “Gee, all this Catholic stuff is connected!”


This came up today when instructing some potential converts. I was explaining about the sacrament of Eucharist and the doctrine of transubstantiation, but then said that the sacrament of matrimony was connected because instead of the bread and wine being the matter of the sacrament the physical love of the couple become the sacrament and the substance of each one of us is to be transformed by the grace and power of God. This pictures the transformation of humanity as the Son of God took on human flesh and transformed it by his Real Presence.

The sacramental transformation in the Eucharist therefore is connected to the Incarnation, to our sanctification and two the transformation of the whole created order.

This is why you can’t tinker with the divine law concerning marriage without unraveling everything else. You can’t tinker with human sexuality without messing with what it means to be human and you can’t tinker with what it means to be human without tinkering with what it means to be infused with the Holy Spirit of God and you can’t tinker with that without tinkering with the nature of God himself.

I remember in the Anglican Church the feminists were pushing for ordination of women and they said, “This is not a theological issue! This is an issue of equal rights!” But of course, once they were ordained they started adjusting the liturgy so it wouldn’t be so patriarchal and then they said, “This is not about the identity of God. It is just about the way we talk about God.”  Then they pushed their feminist theologies on everyone in which they were indeed referring to God as “Mother” and getting rid of all “gender specific” references to God, Father,Son and Holy Spirit.

They were lying to themselves or they were deceived. Those of us who were opposed to female ordination knew very well that to tinker with the traditional model of ministry was also to tinker with human sexuality and also to tinker with the nature of God himself. It was theological from the start.

All this Catholic stuff is connected.

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