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Harvard Club Hosts Black Mass; Catholic Church Freaks Out

A student group at Harvard has invited the Satanic Temple to perform a “black mass” ceremony at the university as part of a series on rituals performed by smaller religions. Naturally, the Catholic Church is throwing a temper tantrum about it and is demanding that it be canceled.

A reenactment of a Black Mass celebrating Satan is scheduled to take place at Harvard University on Monday evening. It has outraged the Catholic Church, but the group holding the event says it’s educational.

The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club is hosting the Satanic Temple from New York. The Black Mass is scheduled for Monday night in the basement of Memorial Hall…

The club released the following statement:

We are hosting a reenactment of a historical event known as a Black Mass. The performance is designed to be educational and is preceded by a lecture that provides the history, context, and origin of the Black Mass. While a piece of bread is used in the reenactment, the performance unequivocally does not include a consecrated host. Our purpose is not to denigrate any religion or faith, which would be repugnant to our educational purposes, but instead to learn and experience the history of different cultural practices. This performance is part of a larger effort to explore religious facets that continue to influence contemporary culture.

The Archdiocese of Boston wants Harvard to put a stop to the event saying:

The Catholic community in the Archdiocese of Boston expresses its deep sadness and strong opposition to the plan to stage a “black mass” on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge.

For the good of the Catholic faithful and all people, the Church provides clear teaching concerning Satanic worship. This activity separates people from God and the human community, it is contrary to charity and goodness, and it places participants dangerously close to destructive works of evil.

Well if there’s one thing the Catholic Church knows all about, it’s destructive works of evil. Don’t like it? Don’t go. And don’t go to the Shinto tea ceremony they’re holding, or their exhibit on the Shakers either. I have pretty much no use for “Satanism,” which I consider almost entirely absurd and inane. But I don’t think that means they can’t perform whatever ritual they want that doesn’t hurt anyone.

The wingnuts are losing their minds over the whole thing, especially over the question of whether the dry wafer (they call it a “host”) used during the ceremony will be “consecrated” or not, which means whether it has been prayed over by a priest.

You might chalk this one up to just more anti-Catholic hijinks from academia, except that reports began to circulate that the Temple planned to use a Consecrated Host in the ceremony, which is essentially an inverted parody and denigration of a Catholic Mass.

For those who don’t know, in the Catholic faith, once a wafer is consecrated by a priest in good standing with the Church, it becomes – despite outward or even microscopic appearances – the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

So, to faithful Catholics, mishandling or desecrating one in any way is tantamount to doing it to Christ Himself. Some faiths may truck entirely in symbols and signs, and the Church has those, but when it comes to the seven Sacraments, of which Communion or the Holy Eucharist is one, they’re considered to be real, to be what they claim, and to do exactly what the Church says they do.

Breitbart News also picked up the story, driven largely by a report in Campus Reform, and the hard work and perseverance of Patheos Catholic editor Elizabeth “The Anchoress” Scalia, who made numerous phone calls to try to ascertain whether the Host in question had been consecrated (and pilfered somehow from a church) or whether it was still just a wafer.

Uh, I’ve got news for you: It’s just a wafer no matter how many priests may have prayed over it, danced with it, soaked it in wine or rubbed it on their genitals. It’s a cracker. That’s all it will ever be, until some unfortunate soul eats it (as I recall from occasional trips to a Catholic church as a teenager, they taste a bit like a styrofoam tire patch). But by all means, clutch those pearls. While you’re at it, hold your breath and stomp your feet.

Comments

  1. doublereed says

    As a non-Catholic, I have always found communion and the whole wafer-worship is be strange and cult-like. It’s very strange to hear liberal catholics defend it.

  2. says

    The beauty of this kind of trolling is that it drags people’s true colors out.
    Like, what, they’re just teaching the controversy…

  3. mordred says

    The beauty of this kind of trolling is that it drags people’s true colors out.
    Like, what, they’re just teaching the controversy…

    Which is about the only reason for Satanism IMO.

  4. Michael Heath says

    Harvard:

    This performance [Black Mass] is part of a larger effort to explore religious facets that continue to influence contemporary culture.

    From my vantage point Satanism has no influence on contemporary culture; except to serve as a strawman by some Christians.

  5. Michael Heath says

    Archdiocese of Boston:

    The Catholic community in the Archdiocese of Boston expresses its deep sadness and strong opposition to the plan to stage a “black mass” on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge.
    For the good of the Catholic faithful and all people, the Church provides clear teaching concerning Satanic worship. This activity separates people from God and the human community, it is contrary to charity and goodness, and it places participants dangerously close to destructive works of evil.

    Frickin hilarious demonstration of idiocy. On the one hand the Diocese puts scare quotes around “Black Mass”, i.e., it’s really not a black mass. Then they contradict themselves in the same paragraph with the assertion that, . . . it places participants dangerously close to destructive works of evil.

  6. says

    Give “host” to the Church. If they can determine that it has been consecrated, the Satanist will use a different host. One catch: they have to explain how they can tell the difference.

  7. says

    In its contemporary incarnation, Satanism was invented by an eccentric ex-circus performer who thought the notion of religion-as-a-joke-as-a-religion was a cool idea. I understand he did it “for the lulz,” as one might put it today. There’s nothing necessarily “inane” about that, and like it or not, it helped pave the way for today’s secularist movement.

    That’s gotta be worth something, right?

  8. Carlos Cabanita says

    About the black mass, the catholics are saying what some half superstitious Spanish sometimes say:
    Yo no creo en brujas, pero que las hay, las hay!
    I don’t believe in witches, but they exist, yes they do!

  9. raven says

    I have pretty much no use for “Satanism,” which I consider almost entirely absurd and inane.

    Yeah, most “satanic” churches exist just to troll the xians.

    The First Church of Satan is atheist. The Satanic Temple is a bunch of humanists who don’t take themselves seriously.

    as part of a series on rituals performed by smaller religions.

    There might be minor merit in that.

    Who knows what the Moonies, Scientologists, Nordic Pagans, Wiccans, and Druids do any way? I suppose the Moonies can have a mass wedding of young people who just met and the Scientologists can get rid of Thetan ghosts inhabiting a rutabaga.

    There is a legally recognized church, although small, in the USA that uses Ayahuasca, a South American hallucinogen in their ceremonies. That might be interesting although I’m not recomending it. Timothy Leary did something similar at Harvard with LSD and it didn’t work out very well.

  10. John Pieret says

    as I recall from occasional trips to a Catholic church as a teenager, they taste a bit like a styrofoam tire patch

    As an ex-Catholic myself, all I can say is that the churches you dropped by must have been serving the extra expensive tasty ones. The ones I got tasted like pre-chewed paper covered with library paste.

    it places participants dangerously close to destructive works of evil

    As opposed to being a child near a Catholic priest?

  11. colnago80 says

    Re doublereed @ #1

    It is my information that non-Catholic Protestant churches also have a communion service, including the Episcopal Church, which ritual Episcopalian George Washington famously declined to participate in. I don’t know about other Protestant Churches.

  12. Reptile Dysfunction says

    Many of the comments in the [Boston] Herald on this topic had
    a familiar sound. “They would never dare to stage a Quran burning, for
    educational purposes only.” I think that’s probably true. The obvious
    solution: give the RCC back the power to burn people at the stake.
    Problem solved!

  13. Pierce R. Butler says

    Why all the freak-out? Surely the Holy Mother Church needs do no more than dispatch one or two members of their crack exorcism team to Cambridge, wearing utility belts packed full of incense and beads.

  14. Johnny Vector says

    So they think that by even re-enacting a black mass they may call out Beelzebub, or something?

    “Etekuem Nasmeth”

    “Don’t say it!”

    “It only works on her, Jayne.”

    “Well now I know that.”

  15. hopeleith says

    replying to colnago #12 – while Protestant churches have communion services, the whole wafer-is-special-and-magic thing is Catholic (and Anglican/Epispocal? not up on the Anglicans). Most Protestant churches just use regular old bread, and are clear that the bread is a symbol, not somehow transformed into Jesus.

  16. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    it becomes – despite outward or even microscopic appearances – the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

    I’m happy to be corrected, but as I understand it, the cracker does not mystically, magically, and undetectably become the BBS&D of JC. It mystically, magically, and undetectably becomes the literal Body and, again, I don’t know if I understand this correctly, possibly what you’re referring to as the “divinity of JC”. It’s the wine that mystically, magically, and undetectably becomes the literal blood and “spirit” of JC.

    Given that autopsies of persons who die after communion are guaranteed to show cracker mush and Night Train rather than bloodied human-steaks, it is rather surprising to me that the RCC wants us to believe that this is the “literal body and blood” of JC.

    Tantamount to calling JC a drunken cracker, innit?

  17. Kevin Kehres says

    Well, I’m sure the Satanists would be similarly put-out if the Harvard Club had a Catholic priest say their mass.

    …or not.

  18. eric says

    Yeah, most “satanic” churches exist just to troll the xians.

    The First Church of Satan is atheist. The Satanic Temple is a bunch of humanists who don’t take themselves seriously.

    The ST here is pretty up front that they are secularists who use Satan as a symbol/method to help them dis-entangle religion from government. They’ll tell you outright they don’t worship any supernatural entity. So there’s not a lot of deception going on here; if anyone is fooled ,it’s because they aren’t paying attention to what the re-enactors are saying about themselves. Having said that, I wouldn’t trust them to pull off an historically accurate reproduction of some real satanic ritual further than I could throw them.

  19. Reginald Selkirk says

    RE #18: They mean yes, “literally,” but you see, reality is some supernatural landscape we can only glimpse. Thus, they have to come up with new terminology to describe the process of transubstantiation.

    The Catholic Church teaches that the substance or reality of the bread is changed into that of the body of Christ and the substance of the wine into that of his blood,[3] while all that is accessible to the senses (the outward appearances – species[4][5][6] in Latin) remains unchanged.[7][8] What remains unaltered is also referred to as the “accidents” of the bread and wine,[9] but this term is not used in the official definition of the doctrine by the Council of Trent.[10]…

    (bolding added by me for humour)

  20. Reginald Selkirk says

    In addition to the verboten Black Mass and the approved Red Mass, there’s also the Blue Mass (for first responders) and the White Mass (for health care professionals). Why, it’s almost as if the Holy Roman Catholic Church has set out to claim all the patriotic colours.

  21. dingojack says

    abb3w (#6) asked: “exactly when and why did Ed ever taste a styrofoam tire patch?”
    You been dining out with that cheapskate PZ again, Ed?
    :) Dingo

  22. raven says

    Having said that, I wouldn’t trust them to pull off an historically accurate reproduction of some real satanic ritual further than I could throw them.

    I’m not even sure if there ever was such a thing as a “historically acccurate black mass”.

    Much of what we think we know about witchcraft was written by torture-murderers AKA the Catholic Inquisition. And they were (probably) just making it up as they went along.

  23. says

    A Black Mass? Do they think they’re Yale?*

     
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden “I’m happy to be corrected, but as I understand it, the cracker does not mystically, magically, and undetectably become the BBS&D of JC. It mystically, magically, and undetectably becomes the literal Body and, again, I don’t know if I understand this correctly, possibly what you’re referring to as the “divinity of JC”. It’s the wine that mystically, magically, and undetectably becomes the literal blood and “spirit” of JC. “
    See: Substance Theory. (Short version: If memory serves, wafer and wine retain form of bread and wine, but have their substance, their “waferness” and “wineness”, swapped out for “Jesusness”)

     
    * Take that, Yale!

  24. freemage says

    The Episcopal Church’s teachings on the Eucharist, while similar to the Catholics’, contains a few out-clauses.

    First off, and most importantly, there’s some conditions that are required before a Sacrament can take place. These get divvied into Proper Form, Proper (something) and Proper Intent. Form is basically, ‘gotta say the words right’, and the second one is more like having the proper priestly licenses. The last one, though, requires both the priest and the communicant to want to perform the Sacrament of Communion. If the Communicant is planning on taking the bread for a ritual, then Proper Intent isn’t there, and the blessings don’t ‘take’, or soemthing like that.

    Sure, it’s still just silly magical thinking, but at least they avoid the sorts of questions that are getting lobbed at the Catholics here.

    Note: All this is what I recall for confirmation classes taken 30 years ago.

  25. sigurd jorsalfar says

    The wingnuts are losing their minds over the whole thing …

    Looks like we’ve found at least one use for Satanism then, though I could have sworn the wingnuts lost their minds some time ago.

  26. imthegenieicandoanything says

    Their just assholes who like the thrill – one of the few they permit themselves in public – of being outraged.

    They’d kill people over this – not the “satanist” necessarily, but whoever was convenient – if they could (as Muslims and other religions sometimes still do – but they know they no longer own the government and the courts.

  27. Kermit Freehand says

    hopeleith: replying to colnago #12 – while Protestant churches have communion services, the whole wafer-is-special-and-magic thing is Catholic (and Anglican/Epispocal? not up on the Anglicans). Most Protestant churches just use regular old bread, and are clear that the bread is a symbol, not somehow transformed into Jesus.
    .
    Moreover, the Southern Baptist churches I attended as a kid didn’t even use wine*; they used grape juice. When I asked about it, they assured me that the first miracle of Jesus was turning water into grape juice at a friend’s wedding.**
    .
    * Probably worried that one of the congregants would drink ‘em all up ahead of time. Not that Southern Baptists drink booze; they don’t. Don’t dance, either.
    .
    ** “John 2: On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the grape juice was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more grape juice.” “Woman,[a] why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
    They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into grape juice. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice grape juice first and then the cheaper grape juice after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.””

  28. caseloweraz says

    Kermit freehand: Moreover, the Southern Baptist churches I attended as a kid didn’t even use wine*; they used grape juice. When I asked about it, they assured me that the first miracle of Jesus was turning water into grape juice at a friend’s wedding.

    They’re really trying to Welch out, aren’t they?

    (ducks, runs…)

  29. dannorth says

    @18
    “Given that autopsies of persons who die after communion are guaranteed to show cracker mush and Night Train rather than bloodied human-steaks, it is rather surprising to me that the RCC wants us to believe that this is the “literal body and blood” of JC. ”

    Shows your no catholic, former or otherwise, because usually only the priest gets the wine.

  30. says

    It’s a cracker. That’s all it will ever be, until some unfortunate soul eats it (as I recall from occasional trips to a Catholic church as a teenager, they taste a bit like a styrofoam tire patch)

    It’s still better than airline food.

  31. dingojack says

    Reptile Dysfunction (#13) – posted: “Many of the comments in the [Boston] Herald on this topic had
    a familiar sound. ‘They would never dare to stage a Quran burning, for educational purposes only.’… ”

    Well that’s possibly because Quran-burning isn’t part of any religious ceremony or cultural practice. This series of ‘demonstrations’ (for want of a better word) are designed to show differing forms of religious and/or cultural practices around the US and the world.

    Next.

    Dingo

  32. sugarfrosted says

    Confession: I actually like the way communion wafers taste. I always looked forward to communion for this vary reason.

  33. says

    We are hosting a reenactment of a historical event known as a Black Mass.

    Did they ever give the actual history to back up that assertion?

  34. raven says

    Wikipedia Black Mass:

    The history of such rituals is unclear before the modern era. The Black Mass was allegedly celebrated during the Witches’ Sabbath.[1]

    It is not clear if the Black Mass was ever celebrated in medieval times;

    the works referring to them are lurid and unreliable manuals for witch-hunters written in Latin, such as the Malleus Maleficarum (1486) and the Compendium Maleficarum (1608), and it may have served solely as a shocking act with which to accuse enemies[citation needed].

    According to the Fount of A Lot of Wisdom, the Black Mass is most likely a modern invention. Most people seem to have gotten the details from novels and other works of fiction, such as the Catholic Inquisition’s works.

  35. dingojack says

    Raven = “According to the Fount of A Lot of Wisdom, the Black Mass is most likely a modern invention.”

    No, paraphrasing what the FoAW actually said:
    ‘Black Masses may have been celebrated in the medieval period or not, but we don’t know for sure because there isn’t any reliable evidence, one way or the other’.
    Absence of evidence….
    Dingo

  36. raven says

    ‘Black Masses may have been celebrated in the medieval period or not, but we don’t know for sure because there isn’t any reliable evidence, one way or the other’.

    Claiming the Black Mass is an ancient ritual of secret societies of witches is a positive truth claim. In that case, it is up to those making the claim to provide evidence.

    In this case, in the absence of evidence, the claim is unconvincing. Especially, given that the sources we do have are all fiction.

    You could say the same thing about visits from ancient UFO aliens. That there is no evidence doesn’t mean it is likely or even possible that they built the pyramids or started civilization. Just about any thing can fall under the word “may”.

  37. says

    Black Masses may have been celebrated in the medieval period…

    I find this extremely unlikely — people in the medieval period would have either worshipped Yahweh, Jesus or Allah, or clung to their local pre-Christian pantheon. If they believed in an Abrahamic God, they would have worshipped that God, not his arch-enemy; and if they didn’t believe in any Abrahamic religion, then they would not have worshipped Satan or any other Abrahamic construct.

    The most likely theory is that Christian propagandists simply branded all other beliefs as “Devil-worship,” and all references to “Black Mass,” recent or not, are pure propaganda, not history. If this Harvard group are calling their “black mass” an “educational” “reenactment,” then they’re just as clueless and full of shit as all the Christian propagandists who went before them.

  38. says

    PS: Communion wafers tasted okay, but the pancake brunch after church was way better. Another modern variation sanctioned by Pope John XXIII, I guess…

  39. dingojack says

    Raven – There is no reliable evidence to support either position. The best we can say is that we don’t know whether there were Medieval Blass Masses, or not*.

    Dingo
    ——–
    * my issue was more that your summary of the article from the Font of All Wisdom was inaccurate.

  40. arensb says

    So if I understand correctly, people who believe that a piece of bread magically turns into the meat of their god, and wine into his blood, and then proceed to eat the meat and drink the blood, served to them by a man in a pointy hat, object to having their beliefs mocked?

  41. says

    Communion wafers: If you think peanut butter sticks to the roof of a dog’s mouth…

    Anyway, the rituals and beliefs of the RCC and other religions frequently denigrate and disrespect each other. Sometimes by design. But even if the religions grew up in near-isolation from each other, they will still have core beliefs contrary to the extreme with another religion. So, why can’t Satanists (regardless as to how seriously they take their religion) participate? May as well ask for all Protestant and other heretics to be removed.Oh right, varying degrees of power and privilege, gotcha.

  42. says

    “The ones I got tasted like pre-chewed paper covered with library paste.”

    I went to a pretty hip church before I became a BAA* and when they brought in the vulgar mass and the bad guitar music they also started serving “Pizzahosts**”. The “Hawaiian Hosanna” (TM, Sm, etc.) with the roast pork and spam on poi base was good, but messy. The “Rustic Redeemer”(as above) was a sourdough whole wheat wafer topped with artisanal goat cheese, arugula and prosciutto from Gadarene swine, fed on nothing but Gethsemane Grove olives and then humanely slaughtered; it was a big hit. But my personal favorite was always the “Garbage Host” (Yeah, this one’s mine, too) piled high with Italian sausage, pepperoni, linguica, andouille, chorizo, loukanico, applewood smoked bacon and foie gras topped with cheese whiz***.

    I miss that part of my religious experience; the beatings and buggery, not so much.

    * Born Again Atheist

    ** TM, Sm, (c) 2014 democommie ministries and media LLC, PCP and SOB–not to be confused with democommie media and ministries THC, COPD and LSD

    *** You always knew when those were on the menu. Father Gimme Sarduci (Guido’s older brother) always had grease stains on his chasuble after the “drunks’ mass” done at 3:30 on Sunday morning.

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