The photos are accompanied by short texts without any connection to the meaning of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Taken by two lay ministers employed by the archdiocese, the pictures show a monstrance “in different places of everyday life,” outside of liturgical functions, for instance on a bench in the park, or in what appears to be a beauty salon.
The text for the picture of the monstrance in the beauty salon, for instance, stated, “I love the laugh lines under your eyes. You should laugh more. And I love these few gray hairs: you have already experienced and endured so much.”
“I also remember the scar: it was very dangerous to go hiking in this weather. And that pimple behind the ear. Funny that it is there. How beautiful you are,” the text added.
Another photo shows the monstrance in the foreground, with two children on a swing in the back. “Higher, and higher, yeah,” the two lay ministers wrote. “Nothing matters anymore. Only the moment counts. The momentum carries me further and further. It should never stop. Good thing I’m not alone.”
A third photo presents the monstrance on a shelf, surrounded by many trophies.
“A whole series of successes. Some things were easy to achieve, for others I had to try really hard. It’s amazing what I’ve already done and accomplished,” the text stated. “And in the middle of it all, God. He hardly stands out. His message is also inconspicuous: You are good just the way you are. No matter what happens or what you do. I love you.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, however, does not tell people that they “are good just the way you are,” no matter what they do.
Instead, every Catholic is called to holiness. “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” Christ said, according to the Gospel of Matthew.
“There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle,” the catechism points out. “Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes.”
The catechism is equally clear on the adoration and worship the Eucharist is due.
“In the liturgy of the Mass we express our faith in the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine by, among other ways, genuflecting or bowing deeply as a sign of adoration of the Lord. ‘The Catholic Church has always offered and still offers to the sacrament of the Eucharist the cult of adoration, not only during Mass, but also outside of it, reserving the consecrated hosts with the utmost care, exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and carrying them in procession.’”
The catechism does not mention putting a monstrance with a consecrated host into profane places, even as a public relations campaign aimed at getting people to become interested in the Catholic faith.
“The tabernacle was first intended for the reservation of the Eucharist in a worthy place so that it could be brought to the sick and those absent outside of Mass,” the catechism teaches, indicating the utmost care used by the Church in relation to the Eucharist.
“As faith in the real presence of Christ in his Eucharist deepened, the Church became conscious of the meaning of silent adoration of the Lord present under the Eucharistic species. It is for this reason that the tabernacle should be located in an especially worthy place in the church and should be constructed in such a way that it emphasizes and manifests the truth of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.”
The two lay ministers said their idea for putting a monstrance in profane places came about during a conference in 2019 that discussed “how to speak about God today in a modern and understandable way.”
They did not explain how their photos and texts are supposed to draw people to the Catholic faith, nor did they address the scandal the photos would cause among the faithful.
On Facebook, the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising made clear it was siding with the two lay ministers, after several users had criticized the publicity stunt.
“We thank you all for this controversial discussion: both the critics and those who, like us, are pleased that, in addition to traditional representations, there are new approaches to showing that God is among us,” the archdiocese wrote.