Definitely filing this away under "That was Awkward, and Slightly Irritating." A friend of mine called me out on routinely going to my pastor's line for Communion. Apparently this "pattern of selfishness" made her feel disrespected and hurt.
I knew sooner or later this issue would come up, and I was even prepared to explain my position in a succinct manner. I didn't really get the chance, though, because I was chided the entire time. She had automatically assumed she knew my motives and lectured me on why those motives were incorrect.
I was surprised to learn that I:
- am being selfish
- think that reception of the Host from a priest makes me holier than those who don't
- think that I get an extra blessing because I receive from the priest
- belittle the role of EMs and their important role in the Church
- am setting a bad example for others who might get confused by my actions
- (apparently I'm also a lot more popular than I've given myself credit for)
- disrupt the flow of traffic by crossing the aisle
I explained that I believed EMs to be Extraordinary Ministers - only to be used in (*gasp*) Extraordinary circumstances. Sunday masses, especially with our congregation size, could not be considered "extraordinary circumstances" that require the aid of EMs.
Secondly, I believe that only an Ordinary Minister (Priest / Deacon) should be allowed to touch the Host. If EMs must be used, they should be relegated to Chalices as their unconsecrated hands never come into contact with Christ.
Next, I don't believe in getting an "extra blessing" or being "holier" than others. I simply choose to accept Christ in the way He intended us to receive Him - from the hands of His Ordinary ministers.
I believe that this over-use of EMs lessens people's understanding of the awesome Presence of Christ. If anyone is willy-nilly able to pick up the Host, are we really paying Him the proper reverence? I simply don't believe so, and that can be seen clearly in the obvious eroding of people's faith in Transubstantiation. Most folks believe the bread and wine merely represent Jesus.
I do NOT disrupt the flow of traffic - that's just non-sense. I also doubt anyone else is paying enough attention to me to gain a "bad example" though I could only HOPE to be so lucky that someone chooses to follow me in this regard. Again, though, absolutely DOUBTFUL anyone pays any attention to me.
I don't belittle the role EMs play, I simply view it as understanding the role as it was MEANT to be. It wasn't meant to be a troop of lay-persons rushing up to the altar at Communion time every Sunday. That, in and of itself, diminishes the role they are meant to play.
She pushed me further, attempting to defend herself (I guess my differing opinions came off as a vicious attack on her integrity) by saying, "This is my way of fully participating in the Mass. It is my calling to do this, and I believe those who look down on that choice are disrespectful."
... *sigh* ...
Maybe I shouldn't have needled, but I couldn't help myself on this point. The sentence "This is my way of fully participating in the Mass" REALLY got under my skin. I asked, "Oh, so because I'm not a Eucharistic Minister, I guess I'm not fully participating in the Mass?"
She said, "Well no, that's not what I meant. Some people just aren't called to do that."
I said, "Oh, okay, so if you aren't on the schedule for a particular weekend, do you feel as though your Mass experience was somehow sullied because you didn't participate to your fullest?"
She stuttered back that "I didn't mean that either. It's just I have a calling and you seem to resent that by always going to a priest."
At this point, I'm darting my eyes around for the closest wall to smash my head into - repeatedly.
"No, I do not resent EMs. I honestly don't pay them any attention. I'm too busy praying that Jesus puts me in the right frame of mind to accept Him lovingly into my heart. Apparently, however, while you should be busying yourself with begging God to make you worthy of distributing Him to the congregation, you're eyeballing the congregation to see who is choosing you over the other ministers. I didn't realize there was some sort of competition going on for who could get the most communicants."
ARGH - I was REALLY fuming at this point, and I realized I was starting to get snippy. As a result, I said, "Look, it is not my intention to hurt your feelings by not joining in with your line. I never thought it made any difference to the Eucharistic Ministers who showed up in what line. However, I will ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS seek out a priest or a deacon as that is something I personally promised Jesus when I entered back into the faith. So if you've got a problem with that, I really don't know what to tell you."
She responded we would just have to be content to disagree with one another. I stopped myself from saying, "I WAS content with that well before you opened your mouth to me!" Ugh - I seriously cannot believe that conversation took place. I really can't!