Most of us in the pews can’t quite see what happens at Communion. But in talking to a few priests and deacons over the years, apparently the manner in which many people receive the Eucharist is downright dreadful. It seems our parishes have an epidemic of irreverence.
Some people hold out their hand to receive the host with all the enthusiasm of a guy waiting at a bus stop checking to see if it just started to rain.
Some people snatch the host from the priest or deacon’s hand like they were taking a number at the deli counter. You almost expect them to stand off to the side waiting for their number to be called and then order a pound of liverwurst.
Some people commit gross violations, such as waiting until they return to the pew before consuming the host, or even worse, breaking it in pieces and sharing it with young children who have not had their First Communion yet.
Most of us haven’t heard a detailed explanation of the Church’s doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist since CCD class in the 4th grade. I don’t know about you, but when I was in the 4th grade, I had the attention span of a chipmunk on crack. (Actually, that’s an insult to chipmunks — my attention span was much worse.)
Anyway, let’s just say it’s been a long time since the average Catholic was taught that the bread and wine are truly transformed into the body and blood, soul and divinity, of Jesus. It is not symbolic. It is not merely a remembrance ceremony. It is truly Jesus in the flesh.
How can this happen, you ask? Well, it’s a divine, supernatural miracle. If we’re Catholic, we already believe in miracles: the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the Red Sox winning the World Series in our lifetime. We believe miraculous things are possible when God causes them to happen. Just look in the mirror. Your very existence is a supernatural miracle. Of course, some folks look rather super, while the rest of us look a little too natural.
So at Mass, let’s try to be more reverent when we receive Communion. Let’s remember exactly WHO is being placed in our hands. And you don’t even have to bring your vehicle registration form with you.