Tuesday, March 24, 2015

An Old Argument Re-Surfaces, Communion in the Hand!

A long time ago, I was reading an issue of “Saint Anthony’s Messenger,” published by the Franciscan Friars.  I was scanning the comment letters, when I saw a letter in which the writer was complaining about a previous magazine cover depicting a woman holding a communion host in her cupped hands.  The writer was outraged that a Catholic magazine who depict a layperson (cannot remember if he made reference to gender) holding a consecrated Host.  The writer went on to state that because of this practice, the Eucharist was being demeaned in the eyes of the faithful.  Well, this letter got my dander up (I still had hair at the time!), and I wrote a reply, which actually was published.  As I recall what I wrote, I am sure I stressed that receiving on the tongue, or in the hand, were both valid choices.  What upset me, and continues to upset me, are those who believe that I am desecrating the Eucharist, when I receive in the hand.  For me, it is the greatest honor, the greatest joy, to be able to receive my Eucharistic Lord, in my hands.  To realize that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, loved me; loved all of us so much, that He humbles Himself each day to be with us, to feed and strengthen us.  He is willing be present in simple bread and wine, so He can be one with us.  This realization for me is awesome!

All this came to mind when I saw an article by Mathew N Schmalz, a contributor to the website Crux.  He also was commenting on how divisive how one receives Communion has become.  It is becoming a litmus test, a way to determine if you are for Vatican II reforms or against them.  Are you a “traditionalist,” or a “liberal” Catholic?  Do you believe in the sacredness of the Eucharist or not?  What should be the highest experience of Christ’s Presence among, has become just another theological or liturgical argument!

Since I was ordained as a deacon in 2012, I have distributed Communion at many, many Masses.  The vast majority of those who come forward to receive Communion come with their right hand cradled in their left hand.  Many approach me with a look of anticipation, a look of reverence in their eyes, as they receive the Body of Christ in their hands.  There are some who do come up to me and receive the Host on their tongues.  I see the same sense of reverence, in their eyes and in their voices, as they say “Amen,” and I place the Host on their tongue.  Whatever way we chose to receive the Eucharist, it is vitally important that we remember who it is we are receiving, and be open to His Eucharistic Presence.

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