I am not a theologian. I’m not ordained in anything. I’m what you might call a plain old run-of-the-mill Catholic. I live in the world, I go to Mass, I try to keep learning when it comes to my faith, I pass on what I’ve learned to others when I have the chance. I do the best I can and when my best falls short of the word “good”, I say I’m sorry and thankfully – I’m always forgiven.
I wanted you to know how I think about myself because things are about to get personal and I figured it was the least I could do. One more thing: I am not now nor have I ever been a Eucharistic Minister…
I don’t know if you’ve noticed it yet but lately (it is afterall almost an election year) the subject of denying Communion to Catholic politicians has once again reared its, shall we say – uncharitable head. There is no shortage of opinions out there as to whether or not a particular Senator or Representative, Governor or perhaps even Vice-President is a “good enough” Catholic to receive this sacrament.
But I wonder if all those pundits and bloggers, so quick to pass judgement, have ever stood on the other side of the finger they’re pointing. Or at least tried to imagine what that would be like. I wonder if they realize what they’re really saying is this: I have decided that you are not good enough for Jesus.
So, just between you and me – when was the last time you were denied Communion?
I’d be willing to bet that nine out of ten people reading this have never been denied nor could they imagine it happening to them and at least half the people reading this are fairly peeved that I mentioned it at all.
Here’s the thing. I was denied. It happened well over a year ago. It was, I can honestly say now, as much my fault as the Eucharistic Ministers – though it’s taken me a long time to be able to say that.
I have Celiac disease. This means I can not eat anything with or contaminated by gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, spelt… in short, I can’t consume the normal host or Precious Blood that has been co-mingled. I bring my own low gluten host to Mass. On this particular Sunday something went wrong and my host wasn’t brought to the altar with the other gifts – which I didn’t realize until I was standing in front of the priest with my tongue sticking out. Oops.
Father and I both went through a minor panic attack and sort of a quick blessing. I sidestepped to the line for the Precious Blood. The Eucharistic Minister refused to offer me the cup. Refused twice actually.
I could go on with a lot more detail but sadly…the story just goes downhill from there. I can tell you how it felt though.
It broke my heart.
It made me cry, in public no less and in a split second it threw me back into a black hole that I’d spent the past three years climbing out of.
In a heartbeat, someone who didn’t know me at all decided they knew my relationship with God well enough to determine whether or not I could receive.
When I hear people say, so cavalierly, ”That politician (fill in a name) should be denied Communion,” I shudder.
Who or what are these people really concerned about? Can you image if one of the Apostles pushed someone away saying, “You’re not good enough for Jesus.”
Oh wait. That did happen and I believe they were soundly tromped for it.
If you’re really and truly concerned for a fellow Catholic’s relationship with God and the Church then try reaching out rather than pushing away.
Write that Senator or Representative or Governor a letter. Encourage them to go to Mass every chance they get, every day if possible. Find out when Adoration is held at their parish (easy to do actually) and send them an invitation. Pray for them. Pray for them a lot. Write them more letters – do it as a group. Treat them like they are your brother or sister because in fact, they are.
One more thing – if you are or have ever been a Eucharistic Minister, what was your training like? Was it as complete as you would like? Was it standard across your diocese? Did you ever feel unsure about offering to someone?
What’s it like to be a Eucharistic Minister?