OH! And before I forget, I need to point out that this little blessing was granted to me on the Feast of Corpus Christi!!!
I have to express thanks for the unique favor I received at Mass this morning. In addition to taking the veil, I've made it a point to always receive the Blessed Sacrament from the consecrated hands of a priest.
In my research travels, I've come to believe that accepting the Body of Jesus into my hands is simply not proper. I am unworthy to accept Him at all, let alone touch His Body with my hands. Only a priest, whose hands have been consecrated for the precise purpose of caressing the Host for Eucharistic dispersment, have been deemed worthy enough as they've been hand-chosen by Jesus, Himself. In fact, Pope John Paul II put it quite nicely in his Pastoral Letter, Inaestimablile Donum. On accepting the most Sacred Body of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament he writes:
The Holy Eucharist is the gift of the Lord, which should be distributed to laymen through the intermediation of Catholic priests who are ordained especially for this work. Neither is it permitted that the Consecrated Host and Chalice be taken or given into the hands of the faithful.
He goes on later, in the same Letter, to state:
The faithful, whether religious or lay, who are authorized as extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist can distribute Communion only when there is no priest, deacon or acolyte; when the priest is impeded or advanced by age; or when the number of faithful going to Communion is so large as to make the celebration of Mass excessively long. Accordingly, a reprehensible attitude is shown by those priests who, though present at the celebration, refrain from distributing Communion and leave this task to the laity!
This echos St. Aquinas' teachings that out of reverence towards this Presence, the touching and administrating of the Eucharist belongs only to priest. After Vatican II, when this practice started gaining popularity in Europe, Pope Paul VI had to issue an Instruction titled Memoriale Domine. In it, he again states that Communion is to be given by priests to the laity on their tongue, NOT in the Protestant manner of accepting in the hand. Unfortunately, Bishops did not obey this (even though many decried administering Eucharist into the hands), and as a result, it became widespread and "legalized" (for lack of a better word).
In fact, I posed a question about this to my Catholic friends not too long ago. All of them were taught at their 1st Communion to accept in the hand. Not a one of us was taught to accept on the tongue. This is a tragedy! How can we say we believe that the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus is present in the Host if we can't even show proper respect to His Presence? And just as Popes and Bishops warned, this practice has led to a complete lack of reverence for Christ! This practice has led to a disillusionment regarding the entire concept of transubstantiation (Christ is present, Body, Soul and Divinity, within the Host)!!!
Oh, when I understood what I was doing by accepting God so unworthily, I went to confession and wept. I literally wept. Poor Father must've thought I was insane, but I could not control the absolute grief I felt upon realizing how poorly I had been treating the God of the Universe. Even now I cringe at the memory.
Anyway, as a result of this newfound realization, I made it a point to always accept the Eucharist from a priest, and always on the tongue. It seemed to me, however, that every time I'd be situated where I thought Father would distribute, he'd surprise me by going to the opposite end of the Church. So I'd have to find my way over to his line, and I know he took notice of this (we're a small parish). After a few weeks of me doing this, I began to get the feeling that he thought I was being ridiculous, so I became very self-conscious. This past weekend, we had a baptism at our Mass. Every time there is a Baptism, I've noticed Father being sure to lead the line near the Baptismal font (I think so he can be sure to give special attention to the families of our newest arrivals!). So I made sure to sit on that side of the Church.
Don't you know at Communion time, he's on the OPPOSITE SIDE?! I actually looked up and said, "Okay, Jesus, is this your way of telling me that it really is OK to accept the Eucharist from a minister?" So I get into the line, against better judgement, and kept looking over at Father's line across the Church. I couldn't focus properly on who I was about to receive because I had this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. I really felt like what I was doing was wrong. It was torture!
Here's where my little blessing comes in. I had one person in front of me, about to accept the Eucharist when Father Piotr popped up in our line. Apparently his line had suddenly ended, so he came over to help with our side (which had significantly more people due to the family of the baptized infant). Just in time for ME!!!
I immediately accepted Jesus with a heart more thankful than words can ever express. I know in my soul Jesus was telling me I was to accept Him from a priest, and I truly believe He gave me this grace because I was struggling with the issue of obedience (if the Church allows it, then who am I to place myself above it's authority?). Oh, Jesus, you are so kind to me. Thank you for your Holy Spirit's guidance. I promise to always seek out a priest, even if he does think I'm a little looney. I do this for love of You - true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Help us to rekindle the reverence Your Divinity demands. Amen, amen, amen! I love You, I love You, I love You!
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