Monday, January 21, 2013

A Tale of Two Churches

My priest gave a fabulous homily yesterday... he talked about ways to receive Communion, and how the pope now only gives Communion to people kneeling, and how while the US bishops gave "permission" (and made it the norm) to receive standing and in the hand, he was encouraging people to try to receive kneeling, and he even brought out a kneeler and said that anyone who wants to could use it during Communion.

OTOH, at my husband's parish (the largest in the diocese,) this week they printed a blurb with very careful wording that really did say/imply that you should receive standing, since that is the norm in the US.  ugh
What a contrast.

The thing that strikes me the most about one of the things my priest said (and I've known this, just never thought to put it in words,) the way we receive Communion is instructive. He said that quote that I've heard before, "(Some non-Catholic said), 'If you Catholics really believed what you said you did about the Eucharist, you would be crawling up the aisle to receive.' " Our body posture not only demonstrates what we believe, but our beliefs can change b/c of what our body posture is!

So... I just feel rather depressed about that whole situation, especially the arrogance of the pastor at my husband's parish who thought that was an appropriate thing to put in the bulletin. (Keep in mind, this huge parish, for the first 30 years of it's existence, up until this new pastor came in 3-4 years ago, was a GREAT parish. No hanky-panky silliness was tolerated!)

The thing that gives me consolation, is my strongly held belief that, in my lifetime, we will see a return to either mandated reception kneeling and on the tongue, or else everyone will naturally go that way. The Church cannot be sustained while continuing to treat the reception of Communion in such a casual manner. I know that there are many people (especially those reading this) who do receive on the hand who do NOT have casual views of the Eucharist, (I myself receive on the hand for a variety of reasons,) but I think that overall within the Church in the US, the lax attitude towards Mass and the Eucharist is either encouraged or enabled by reception standing.


Marie said...

I really think you've mis-interpreted "If you Catholics really believed what you said you did about the Eucharist, you would be crawling up the aisle to receive".

I interpret people who use this quote to mean that if Eucharist is source and summit (as we say), then we would we doing everything in our bodily power to receive - and that means crawling if we cannot manage to walk (or run!) to get there.

The idea that there is something so abominable about us as human beings that we cannot stand to receive nourishment from the one who made us (in his own image and likeness, no less), and that we should crawl to get there, is very sad and which denies our holiness and role as temples of the Holy Spirit.

Mara Joy said...

That is certainly a very strange interpretation of that quote. If you don't like the quote itself, fine, but I am 100% sure that it is intended to demonstrate how a non-Catholic is shocked that we are believe we are receiving the Body and Blood of GOD, and yet most Catholics take it like they're receiving a cookie, and a high percentage don't even stop to pray as they run out the doors of the church immediately afterwards. The standing posture *encourages* this mentality. "It's not a big deal."

It's funny that you say you "interpret people who use this quote to mean..." Well, with the priest who *I* just heard use this quote, there was no question about his meaning, and your interpretation would have been quite delusional. Again, if you don't like the quote and disagree with the theology, fine, that's your problem, but to try and put your own interpretation ON others' interpretation is just... weird.

And compared to God? Yes, we are weak, poor sinners. If by "abominable" you mean "causing disgust or hatred," I most certainly never even implied that or said that. I pity your narrow mindset if that is the implication that you get by witnessing someone who were to crawl or kneel in adoration of the Almighty God.

And one final thing - as for "holiness"? I know some very NOT "holy" people who have no qualms about receiving Communion - partly because it is so *easy* to just walk up and take it. (I know we ought not to judge any man's heart, but I am referring to people who, for example, aren't even baptized.) IF it were a norm to receive kneeling, where our bodies were to demonstrate the posture that our hearts ought to be in, these people would most definitely have second thoughts about what they are doing, and would probably even feel uncomfortable enough that they would stop.

Luke said...

well said, Mara!