Elizabeth Scalia has upset the apple cart in a big way today, asserting at Aleteia,
We are a church of faith and reason. I believe every word of the Creed. I believe every word articulated from the mouth of Christ Jesus, and I mean to obey the doctrine and dogma that have grown from his teachings and the traditions. I believe marriage is indissoluble and that divorce does not exist in Catholic marriages, but findings of nullity do. But belief does not automatically confer understanding. What I understand today is that we are all deeply in need of medicine, and none of us can defile the purity that is Christ, nor can the Holy Eucharist defile any one of us.
(Emphasis supplied.) Elliot Milco has a witty, devastating rejoinder, based on a children’s catechism.
For our part, we note that it is true: not one us can defile Christ’s purity. However, by that reasoning, all manner of shocking abuses of the Eucharist are No Big Deal. The lunatics and blasphemers who would abuse the living Flesh and Blood of the mighty God can’t defile God’s purity-beyond-purity. So, why should we get worked up if there’s an occasional black mass? Or if some perplexed protestant sticks the Eucharist between the pages of the hymnal, not knowing (1) that he shouldn’t approach the Sacrament and (2) what to do with the Sanctissimum once he has?
The reason, of course, is that we have an innate sense that one shouldn’t do those things to God. He deserves better. He deserves better than we can possibly give him, but we can at least do our utmost. One also has the sense that God is, in fact, hurt by abuses of his Precious Body and Blood, which he gave up on Calvary for us. At bottom, Scalia’s argument confuses injury with insult. We may not be able to diminish God’s purity-beyond-purity, but we are certainly capable of offending him, both in what we do and what we fail to do. And it seems to us that taking the Eucharist unworthily, given the witness of the Apostle, is surely an offense to God.
There is an uncomfortable nihilism at bottom here. If our ability to harm God is the sole meaningful criterion, then there is no meaningful criterion.