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Liturgical Horror Story: Popsicles Made from the Blood of Christ?

05/21/2012 Comments (37)

A page on CNN's web site is headlined:

Jesus Christ ice pops made from frozen, inadvertently blessed wine. No, we can't believe we typed that, either.

The story goes on to explain:

Sebastian Errazuriz has used art to take on an array of issues: New York's death rate, the Occupy movement, military suicide, children with disabilities, the brutal reign of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Now, the Brooklyn-based artist is taking aim at what he sees as religious extremism.

At a party this weekend celebrating New York Design Week, which begins today, the Chilean-born artist plans to hand out 100 "Christian Popsicles" made of "frozen holy wine transformed into the blood of Christ" and featuring a crucifix instead the tongue depressor that typically hosts the frozen treats, he said.

According to a related story:

"It's not that I purposely want to get in trouble. I just believe if you are not doing work that can make people stop, think and discuss, then it's better not to make any work at all," he said.

Raised in a Catholic household, Errazuriz is now a "practicing atheist," but he has many friends and family members who are religious, and he respects their beliefs. He has always been vexed by religion, however, particularly the practitioners who wish to force their beliefs on others.

"(I'm) more than happy to recommend that thinking for ourselves and questioning the realities we received from previous generations can be incredibly liberating," he said.

Today, he feels that America is growing more extreme in its dogma, which is "holding a growing influence over American politics." He is especially unnerved by demands that U.S. leaders "publicly profess their faith in their god and enforce laws that defend the ideology of the Bible over individual liberties," he said.

Errazuriz wants his "Christian Popsicles," which will be stained red by the wine after their consumption, to signify the relationship between fanaticism and historic religious violence.

If you're like me, your blood is probably far from freezing and closer to boiling at this point.

Also, far from discouraging religious violence, if I were at such a party and somebody started handing out such things, I'd be extremely tempted to punch the guy in the face, right on the spot. (NOTE TO ANYONE IN NEW YORK THIS WEEKEND: DO NOT ACTUALLY DO THAT. WHAT I'D BE PRIVATELY TEMPTED TO DO IS NOT A GUIDE TO WHAT YOU SHOULD ACTUALLY DO.)

But there is some good news here. Despite the horror the artist is attempting to perform, he fails. Here's why:

An image of Jesus Christ positioned traditionally on the cross is visible once the ice pop is consumed. As for the frozen wine, Errazuriz said, he concealed it in a cooler and took it into a church, where it was "inadvertently blessed by the priest while turning wine into the blood of Christ during the Eucharist."

Sorry. Items smuggled into church that a priest has no knowledge of are not "inadvertently blessed" by the priest and do not become the Body and Blood of Christ.

You can't smuggle a loaf of bread in under your coat and have it transubstantiated. If a mother has a packet of unsalted crackers in her purse to keep the kiddos quiet should they get hungry, it won't be consecrated. Even if these things would otherwise be valid matter.

A priest must have the intention of consecrating a particular item of valid matter in order for the consecration to take place.

According to the late Fr. Nicholas Halligan, OP, in his outstanding book, The Sacraments and Their Celebration (written as a training manual for priests and seminarians):

The material to be consecrated must be definitely intended by the minister, since by intention the formula determines the significance of the material. . . . The bread and wine to be consecrated should be placed on the corporal (or the altar cloth). If there is material to be consecrated or which is consecratable on the altar, but its presence is unknown to the celebrant, by that very fact it is not consecrated, since the intention of the minister must in some sufficient way designate or include the material that is to be consecrated (pp. 68-69, emphasis in original).

So smuggling wine into a church in a cooler, where the priest can't see it and has no intention of consecrating it, will not result in a consecration. Period.

Mr. Errazuriz may win today's award for most vile and offensive act you've heard of in a long time, but fortunately there is a safeguard preventing this kind of thing from happening at the whim of a crazed artist: God has set it up so that the intention of the priest is necessary for the consecration and you can't just wander into the room with hidden bread or wine and get material for a planned sacrilege.

So one more reason not to punch Mr. Errazuriz. He's a wanna-be sacrilege artist, but he's failing to commit the sacrilege he wants.

Let's pray for him.

Filed under art, artist, eucharist, liturgy, sacraments, sacrilege

About Jimmy Akin

Jimmy Akin
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Jimmy was born in Texas, grew up nominally Protestant, but at age 20 experienced a profound conversion to Christ. Planning on becoming a Protestant pastor or seminary professor, he started an intensive study of the Bible. But the more he immersed himself in Scripture the more he found to support the Catholic faith. Eventually, he entered the Catholic Church. His conversion story, "A Triumph and a Tragedy," is published in Surprised by Truth. Besides being an author, Jimmy is a Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers, a contributing editor to This Rock magazine, and a weekly guest on "Catholic Answers Live."