UPDATE: 5/7/14: Priya Dua of the Satanic Temple just contacted us to say that she made a mistake and there will NOT be a consecrated host used at the mass. Also, Harvard has published a statement confirming that this "cultural" event will take place.
The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club is allegedly hosting a black mass on May 12 to be staged by The Satanic Temple and which will include a consecrated host.
According to a press release from The Satanic Temple, they plan on presenting the black mass at the Queens Head Pub in Memorial Hall, 45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA along with "an academic narration that explores the ritual’s unique history and practice."
Priya Dua, of The Satanic Temple's Public Relations office confirmed to us in an e-mail that "Yes, there will be a consecrated host at the black mass."
Lucien Greaves, spokesperson for the Temple, claims that the idea of the Black Mass was originally conceived as a "conspiracy theory but eventually cohered into an actual practice embraced by some segments of populations who felt their religious cultural background to restrictive and oppressive. For these practitioners, there is a certain feeling of transcendence that is obtained from the symbolic transgression. At its best, it is a declaration of personal independence from what some see as counter-productive cultural programming.”
What this meaningless claptrap is trying not to say is what a Black Mass really is - a mockery of the Mass complete with upside-down crucifixes, the invocation of the name of Satan and other demons, and the desecration of a consecrated host.
According to this article written for L'Osservatore Romano by Giuseppe Ferrari, National Secretary of the Organization for Research and Information on Sects, the black mass is considered to be the principal rite of every satanic group. The rite is usually officiated by a celebrant, a deacon and a subdeacon. The instruments used include candles, an inverted pentacle, a chalice full of wine or liquor, a bell, a sword, an aspergillum (used to sprinkle water), an inverted crucifix and an authentically consecrated Host. The altar is often the body of a nude woman.
“The rite follows more or less that of the Catholic Mass with the prayers recited in Latin, English and French. Instead of the name of God the name of Satan is invoked, together with the names of various demons, the Our Father is pronounced in the contrary or negative sense (our father who art in hell), invectives are hurled against Jesus Christ and the Host is profaned in various ways (utilizing it in sexual practices, trampling it repeatedly with hate),” Ferrari writes.
According to the Temple's press release, the Cultural Studies Club claims to be hosting this event as part of a series of explorations into religious cultures which will include a Shinto Tea Ceremony, a Shaker Exhibition, and a Buddhist presentation on meditation. Including a black mass on this list makes me wonder if they are planning on mocking Shinto beliefs during the tea ceremony. Will stomping on or turning statues of Buddha upside down be included in the exploration of Buddhist meditation? Will Shaker beliefs be ridiculed? Somehow, I doubt it.
To include something like a black mass, a hideous satanic ritual, on a list of otherwise harmless religious cultural explorations is more than just disingenuous - it's a deliberate attack on the most fundamental beliefs of Roman Catholicism.
But this isn't the first time the Cultural Studies Club scheduled a pro-Satan event. Campus Reform reports that last year the group hosted a "History of Satanic Worship" with academics and practicing Satanists.
Please contact Mr. Jeff Neal of Harvard's Communications office to protest this event: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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