Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Blood of. . . . a Dangerous Slip? Sober Living in the World of Church

Why am I writing about my adventures with alcohol in the World of Church? Thank my beloved gal pal and sister in Christ, Fran Rossi Szpylczyn. 

Over on Facebook, Fran managed to generate comments on my post about GF Eucharist. Among them a well-meaning suggestion from someone about receiving only from the cup as a work-around to wheat-laced hosts. 

Uh, no.

Offering wine as the only option for Communion screws with people in recovery. Intinction ("what's the harm of a little dipping?") also screws with people in recovery. 

Even if you really truly believe that wine has really and truly substantially turned into the Sacred Precious Blood of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ during the consecration, offering wine Sacred Precious Blood screws with people in recovery, especially those not in recovery long enough to know that even a whiff of blood wine could trigger a slip or full-blown bender. It also screws with those in recovery long enough to know all this.

(Thank me for not going on about church folk who should be in recovery. Legion.)

In the World of Church there's a universal code for "I'm not receiving the cup." It's standing with your arms crossed across your chest. Sometimes the instruction to do this appears in the bulletin or worship booklet; sometimes it's announced by the celebrant. In any event, it's universally recognized across denominations as meaning, "Go ahead and bless me but don't hand me the cup." 

Universally recognized. Except when it isn't. I, of course, have a personal story about this.

At the time I'd already put together well over ten years of continuous recovery. I'd even published a book with Hazelden about Twelve-Step recovery. While there was no way I'd receive from the cup, I wasn't unilaterally opposed to serving from it as a eucharistic minister. 

On mornings when I really didn't need to be smelling wine -- especially the cheap stuff bought in bulk by the parish -- I'd quietly ask the celebrant or deacon to let me distribute the host. A couple of times I turned to the EMOC next to me and say, "Please may we swap?" Never a problem.

So imagine my utter disgust with the 40-something priest who kept offering me the cup. This guy just couldn't or wouldn't get with the program -- pun intended. 

Father Passive Aggressive would offer me the cup even after I reminded him not to. He'd offer it to me even as I stood at the altar with my arms crossed. He'd offer it to me even if I stood, arms crossed, one marble step down from other eucharistic ministers. He kept offering it to me until the bright Sunday morning when I finally hissed through clenched teeth, "Get. That. Thing. Away. From. Me." 

Protestants get this right by offering grape juice as an option, although I don't receive that either, mostly because Crest Whitestrips are pricey.

And yes, I receive Communion at Protestant churches. As someone raised Jewish and baptized, I consider my sacred right and privilege to receive anywhere, everywhere, and anytime  Repeat after me: "We believe in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins....We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church."

Last but certainly not least, buy my book. I'm sure you know someone in the World of Church who needs to sober up from something. Relative to that, stay tuned for my forthcoming post about binge-watching stuff on Netflix.