The God of heaven is beyond our ability to comprehend. The universe cannot contain Him. This allows us to grasp, however imperfectly, the depth of the love that He had for us; to become so small as to enter the womb of the Virgin Mary as a child. The knowledge that the God of heaven became so tiny as to be only available to sight under a microscope, leads me to accept without question what some liberals have called crumb theology. Yes, that tiny crumb on the paten is the God of majesty who became fully what we are without ceasing to be fully His divine self.
Our faith has everything to do with the body. All we need do is look at our religious language to see that Truth: Body of Christ, Precious Blood, Sacred Heart, and Immaculate Conception. Awareness of my own body and its participation in this mystery makes me realize that the crevices of my fingerprint might contain trace elements of the Host I have just raised in my hands.
So yes, holding thumb and forefinger together does make a spiritual difference. Reverence for the Most Precious Body of the Lord means that I should preserve these trace elements until the ablutions are available.
2. If you began your priestly life celebrating only the usus recentior and later learned the usus antiquior, did learning to hold the fingers together strike you as more devout, or as a nuisance, or something else?
The one thing that became abundantly clear when learning the Extraordinary Form was that I was not in charge. I could not pick and choose this or that option depending on my homily or my personal preference. No, here I had to conform myself to the liturgy. This was experienced both spiritually and physically. In the spiritual life, it is my hope that I can be conformed ever more to the likeness of Christ. This becomes possible in the Extraordinary Form. I never experienced it as a nuisance. I took it up readily and easily.
3. Has this traditional practice affected the way you view the corresponding lack of rubric in the usus recentior? Have you considered adopting, or do you adopt, the traditional practice in the modern rite? Why or why not?
When I celebrate Mass in the Ordinary Form, my preference is to use many elements that I have learned from the Extraordinary Form, especially because the rubrics are absent in the Ordinary Form. This includes the act of holding together thumb and forefinger from the consecration until the ablutions. This also includes the use of an amice with the alb, crossing the stole, wearing the maniple and using the biretta.
4. In your mind, how does this practice fit into the overall “ethos” or spirit of the classical Roman liturgy?
The act of holding together thumb and forefinger from the consecration until the ablutions is just one action among many in the traditional Roman rite. But the more I can conform myself to the rite, the more I pray I may conform myself to Christ. I believe that the more reverence that I can show in the ars celebrandi, the more reverence might be called forth from the congregation. In my experience, this has been the case. Some loved it, some hated it, and some did not even notice it.
5. In your pastoral experience, has any layman ever commented on or asked about the holding-together of the fingers? Do you think it is noticed and has any bearing on the piety of the laity?
No one has ever commented on the way I hold my hands after the consecration. There have been many comments on the increased reverence in the celebration of the Mass, however. I have even heard some liberals comment that there is increased reverence and silence because of some of the initiatives I have offered at the Mass. These initiatives in the liturgy also were accompanied by preaching on the Mass as well as preaching on contraception, same-sex “marriage” and abortion. It is the combination of all of the above which caused the visceral anger among the liberal, heterodox crowd that caused my removal from (my previous) parish.