Sunday, May 25, 2008

Corpus Christ

I think I was a bit too much under the thrall of this morning's homily for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. My evidence is what happened while I was distributing Communion.

The priest at the 11:30 Mass was wired with a wireless mic that allowed him to move away from the ambo. Dear God I wish this would happen more often. I find it easier to connect to the message(s) when the homilist wanders into the nave without clutching a sheaf of papers. Note, I do mean into the nave and not into the pews as if we were at Michael Feldman's Whad'ja Know?

Stepping away from the ambo underscores how the homily is a teaching moment and serves to strengthen the link to how Jesus taught in addition to what Jesus said. Of course I realize not everyone is well suited to this teaching style. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has noticed that for some the ambo is a necessary prop in every sense of that word.

I was also captivated by the content of the homily which in addition to explaining what we believe about Real Presence, included a lesson about receiving Communion. That's right! We received a play book distinguishing among current forms of reverence, including what seemed a wistful reference to kneeling at altar rails and a somewhat bizarre reference to EM's making sure that the Host is consumed on the spot rather than taken home "for Satanic worship."

It was either during that part or the commentary about receiving on the tongue when I wished I hadn't been sitting in one of the front pews. I so wanted to observe the Body of Christ's facial expression and body language.

Alas, when it came time to distribute Communion I wasn't observing the Body of Christ closely enough to avoid placing the Host on the tongue of a very surprised woman who evidently wanted to receive Him in her hand. You may be wondering how this could possibly happen. No, I did not force her jaws open as if I were pilling a cat. Let's just say that we were both rather startled and then both tried to not laugh.

After Mass, when I went over to apologize, she confessed how in the wake of the homily she was so busy deciding between a head nod and a solemn bow that she neglected to get her hands up quickly enough. By the grace of Almighty God, I resisted saying anything about spiriting the Host home for God only knows what.


  1. First, thank you for your wonderful blog. I’m just delighted by your words and insights. I usually need to make sure I’m not drinking anything when I read it, I hate when tea comes out through my nose when I laugh.
    How wonderful you were given the “play by play” for receiving Communion as part of the homily before the actual event.
    Our homily focused on what it means to truly receive the Body and Blood of Christ, and the responsibilities that go along with receiving and how to sustain our spiritual well being.
    I truly had a sense of awe and spiritual reverence as I received the Host and went back to my seat to finish the consumption of said Host. I was lulled into a meditative state of Thanksgiving and Grace. Until…just before the closing prayer, the priest went into a grocery list of do’s and don’t for receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, and then he went on to point out that many at this Mass were incorrect in their manner and consumption. He commented that he noticed many ’took it back to the pew” either in their hand or dissolving on ones tongue. (Sorry, I’m a cradle catholic. I thought we weren’t allowed to chew it, I remember being told to let it dissolve and stick to the roof of your mouth as you went back to your seat). He too, had concern that we were bringing it home for some unholy reason. It must be a common concern of the clergy these days. To top it off, the bulletin had what resembled my Senior Thesis on the above including preparation, dress, consumption, etc. All in all to be honest, I did find it fascinating, the bulletin that is, as to why Catholics “do what we do” in receiving the Eucharist. That little snip - it has found a home in my Bible box (the box that my Bible came in that now houses many meaningful weekly bulletin information, writings “From the Staff” and several laminated funeral cards.

  2. As much as I love Palm Sunday and the Easter Triduum, and not disrespecting Christmas in any way, Ordinary Time following Pentecost has always been my favorite time of the liturgical year. And for some reason, I've always thought of Corpus Christi as the start of Ordinary Time, so it has always been just about my favorite Sunday of the year. So it was a real high point for me when the assigned lead EMHE couldn't make it and she asked me to fill in for her.

    Distributing Communion yesterday, the thought came into my mind as I looked into the eyes of each communicant and said "The Body of Christ: -- Will the next time I look in your eyes be in Heaven, when we share in the Vision of God? People must have wondered why I went all misty-eyed on them.

  3. For what it's worth in the debate over chewing/dissolving the host. As I get older, my mouth gets drier, and it is harder to simply swallow the host whole. So I break it twice, into four quarters, using my tongue. Sometimes I think, as I do so, "You are my Life now, I am Your bread now." This allows me to swallow the host, and also not hold up the line waiting to receive the Blood of Christ when we have the opportunity to receive under both species.

    The point, it seems to me, is to consume the Host respectfully, and quickly.

  4. Too funny! Sounds like it was a delightful feast for you :)


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