Magazine article U.S. Catholic

The Body of Christ, Given for Whom?

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

The Body of Christ, Given for Whom?

Article excerpt

He looked like he was about 6 feet 5 or 6 feet 6, the way he towered over me. He had the cold, arrogant glare of someone who knew that he was bigger, stronger, and had more power.

When our paths crossed, he gave me one of the chilliest, most disapproving looks I have ever received in my life. I thought for a moment: Have I done something wrong? Did I offend him? Is he going to hit me?

Then came the confrontation: I looked up at him, smiled, and held my hand out.

He did nothing.

I smiled again and extended my hand up a little higher.

This got a reaction: a sneer that reeked of condescension.

Now I was angry. I stood there, smiling, hand up. Nothing. He wouldn't budge, and I wouldn't budge. I kept smiling, and he kept sneering.

Finally, I started to say something--after all, we were holding up the line--when he quickly jammed the host into my mouth. He said nothing to me when he gave it, and I certainly couldn't say anything to him or even mumble an "amen."

The big thug was a priest, and this was Communion at the parish we were visiting.

Did I mention that I was holding my 11-month-old son at the time? Good thing my son was too young to notice or care about a petty junior cleric who seemed to take a strange delight in determining how I would receive the Body of Christ.

Funny, but I thought that us common layfolk--the poor, simple, faithful--were allowed to receive Communion in our non-sacred hands. Poor young priest: Maybe he never got the news? My family and I wound up in his parish partially by chance. We were returning home on Sunday from a weekend trip to see friends and knew we couldn't get to St. Michael's, our parish family in Glen Allen, Virginia in time for 11 a.m. Mass. This may come as a surprise to Father Thug, but we wanted to be sure that we didn't miss Mass. We decided to fulfill our obligation in a parish halfway between our friends' house and our home.

What a spirit-crushing disappointment! Perhaps the main presider and his flock of altar boys had a fine Mass. But expecting to be fed through the liturgy, we certainly went home hungry. The readings were poorly done. The main thrust of the awful homily, if you want to call it that, was that we need to be nice to Protestants so that we can bring them to the "True Faith. …

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