June 26, 2007

Everyone Else is Going Up So I Should Be Able To

It's too humiliating to sit in the pew while EVERYONE else goes up to receive Communion. Therefore, I will:

a) Not go to Mass at all
b) Go up and receive anyway
c) Go up and ask the Priest for a blessing

Cathy's Big Shoot Down

a) Great idea-NOT!. Adding to your sins with yet another sin, and a mortal one at that, is not a good idea.
b) Bad idea. Really, REALLY, bad idea. Recommended Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:27-29
c) I would not do this unless you are certain that the priest does not mind. Exceptions are usually made for children when they can't be left in the pew, but, some priests prefer not to do blessings during Communion.

Discussion (a.k.a more reasons to make you love/hate me)

Why?! Why, do some Catholics INSIST upon thinking that if they condescend to attend Mass, they are ENTITLED to the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ?

Communion is NOT a communal picnic. It's not a potluck either. I realize that a lot of Catholics think that the Mass exists solely as an occasion to be with your fellow Catholics and that receiving Communion is a sign of your solidarity with the brothers and sisters in the pews. In a way, Communion is that. However, since few of us Catholics can agree on much of anything amongst ourselves, I prefer to think that we are making a greater statement when we receive Communion. That is, we are announcing that we are: properly disposed to receive AND we are in solidarity with God and His Church. Yes, the Church means the people too but to think it's ONLY that is to miss part of the whole picture.

Back in my dissident days, I heard a priest say, during the Homily, that no one should be excluded from Communion because imagine if you went to a birthday party and you could not get a piece of the cake. To this day, that remains the single most horrifying and blasphemous thing I have ever heard from the Pulpit. And, trust me, I've heard a lot of appalling stuff. Yet, a lot of Catholics think that way about the Host. It's a special treat that I get to enjoy with my friends. Clearly, if nothing else, that priest had his finger on the pulse of the average "Catholic".

In this day and age, we are taught that we are all entitled to everything and somehow we are being oppressed when we are excluded. We put the power of exclusion outside of ourselves. It's someone or something else's fault that I am excluded. We don't want to accept the responsibility that our action, or our inaction, may be the cause or our exclusion.

At Communion you may exclude YOURSELF. It's popular these days to think the big, bad, Church excludes me. The Church excludes me because I'm sleeping with my boyfriend. The Church excludes me because I masturbate. The Church excludes me because I aided an abortion. The Church excludes me because I'm a practicing homosexual. The Church excludes me because I use contraceptives. No, beloved, the Church does not exclude you. You exclude yourself.

The Church gives us guidelines to follow. Just like we have guidelines to follow in: our careers, at school, in chat rooms, on the volleyball court. If you don't follow the rules, you don't get to participate.

A lot of Catholics know and accept that what I said above is Truth. However, a lot of people have a major problem with publicly identifying themselves as someone who may have done something wrong. If I remain in my pew, EVERYONE is going to know I did something wrong and everyone is going to be judging me or assuming that I did (insert most salacious sin-ever).

We recite the Confiteor at just about every Mass and, by doing so, we acknowledge, publicly, that we sinned. However, it's one thing to say it and it's another thing to show it, isn't it? It's one thing to say it in a group and it's another thing to stand alone, isn't it? Is this a fear that is keeping people from Individual Confession too? Gee, someone I know might see me in the Confession line. It's "easier" to hide in the General Absolution crowd.

I believe that publicly acknowledging to your fellow Catholics that you may have done something wrong is just about the single greatest act of individual courage in our time. Which is probably another reason that so few are willing to do it. Too many of us have no backbone whatsoever.

At the end of the day, it's no one's freakin' business what you may or may not have done that keeps you in the pew. Maybe it was a mortal sin. Maybe you did not complete your Penance from your last Confession. Maybe you feel like you did not "firmly resolve" to do what you said you would do in your last Act of Contrition. Maybe you have a raging head cold and don't want to give it to Father. Maybe it's your 3rd Mass of the day. Maybe you did your Examination of Conscience and you aren't sure and you'd feel better talking it over with your Confessor before receiving. Who knows? That's right: only you and God.

If you remain in your pew and your brother is judging you unfairly, then the sin is your brother's not yours. If you remain in your pew, when you know you should, then you have done right.

Update: Bearing Blog has a post up on this subject too. I love her blog, but whenever I try to comment, it times out on me. It must be a Masonic conspiracy!


Blogger Anita Moore said...

c) I would not do this unless you are certain that the priest does not mind. Exceptions are usually made for children when they can't be left in the pew, but, some priests prefer not to do blessings during Communion.

How about (d), go get a "blessing" from an EMHC? I just witnessed a female EMHC use a Host to give somebody the "benediction" of the Blessed Sacrament over the weekend.

Of course, there's also always (e): Go to confession before Mass!

June 26, 2007 2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I maintain it was a bad idea to reduce the Eucharistic fast from 3 hours (as of 1957) to 1 hour (as of 1964).

If nothing else, a person remaining in the pew instead of going forward might be assumed to have, say, eaten breakfast within the period for the fast before receiving Communion. The psychological pressure would be reduced.

(NB: Today, the fast period is calculated for 1 hour before Communion, not 1 hour before Mass begins.)


June 26, 2007 2:36 PM  
Blogger Adoro said...

I was just going to say what Fr. Z. said, and you alluded to it, too. No one has the right to judge why someone remains in a pew during communion.

I actually don't care, neithier do most people. Maybe if they are someone I know well, but then, it's none of my business. I typically just pray for them. If it was a matter of not meeting the fast, not an issue. If it's something they think is a mortal sin...prayers can be very helpful for them. And if they've done nothing wrong and they are abstaining from Communion for another reason, well, none of my business and if I offer a prayer for them anyway, God will still hear it and provide the grace for whatever it is that person needs at that moment.

More often than not, if I see someone sitting in a pew at Communion, I just assume they might not be Catholic. End of story.

Great post!

June 26, 2007 2:40 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

If I see them remaining in the pew I immediately assumed they sinned and I go home and blog about it. LOL! I'm sorry Cath, I just can't resist sometimes.


Good post however. one reason everyone goes up - well there are several really...

1) Kids in Catholic school (Gen-X-ers Ha! hahahahaha!) were told that the Eucharist (like it's a thing) forgives sins - and the penance rite does as well. Of course, many were never taught about mortal sin either - and if they were - that it is practically impossible to commit a mortal sin, etc. Serious - kids who worked for me told me this.

2) It's a banquet silly, everyone is invited! In the '70's that is what many priests would tell people. And if you go to 6 Masses in a day, you should communicate at each one - the Mass is not complete otherwise - monks told me that.

3) The other trendy made up rule has been that if you make a good act of contrition, and resolve to go to confession at the next opportunity, you can go to communion - I have been told that in confession many times - when I asked to confess before Mass.

4) I'm pretty sure the last thing on most people's minds is someone may think they committed a mortal sin. I get the impression most people believe murder is the only mortal sin there is, because they frequently say, "What have I done wrong? I've never killed anyone."

5) Finally, don't forget, not a few people think it is just a symbol - the congregation is the real body of Christ - recieving communion under both species proclaims that, and unites everyone together - can you hear Dana in the background? Raise your arms, "We are one body, one body in Christ!" Sing it!

Sadly, I'm old enough to remember fasting from midnight on - then the 3 hour thing - and now one hour - but first take your gum out before receiving.

Delightful post you little Munchkin you! :)

"We are one body..."

June 26, 2007 3:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohmygosh- this is an excellent post. I don't see many NOT going to communion, but if they do not, I really don't think anything of it either. I guess I assume they're not catholic or just not going for whatever reason. The fasting rule is never talked about much now and wasn't discussed at all during my teenage years either. I remember the priest and nuns talking about it(the one hour fast) when I prepared for Holy Communion,(1970) but then in the later 70s, it seemed to drop off the radar screen. Until I met my husband and his family, I never thought of Eucharist as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass like they did/do. It was always termed the meal, the feast or joining "the table of plenty". Lots to "chew on" here...ha! Sorry:)
God bless,

June 26, 2007 4:54 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

I forgot - Anita - LOL! The EMC's at the church I go to bless the children by putting their hand on the kid's heads - I've seen them do it with adults too.

June 26, 2007 5:52 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

Another comment - the people I know who go to general absolution penance services - or any communal penance service do not do so because they are embar-assed to stand in line, they simply do not want to have to confess their sins to a man. Seriously, and some think any communal rite is the same as general absolution.

And people do not believe theat protestantism has crept into the Catholic Church.

June 26, 2007 5:57 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

Golly this is a good post, no wonder you are the internationally reknowned Queen of blogging.

June 26, 2007 5:59 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Great post, Cathy!! I have wondered often why there are no lines to confession but everyone manages to receive communion. A one hour fast is the same as a low fat, sugar free, caffeine free latte – why bother!!
As a RE teacher to the teenagers - trust me on this one – they (teenagers and their parents) know NOTHING about their Catholic faith and really have not a clue what Holy Eucharist is or, for that matter, what any of the sacraments are, where they came from and what they accomplish in our lives.
But my job is to just keep plugging away and show God gratitude for the one or two I influence in a positive way each year. The rest of the time I’m busy trying to get the plank out of my eye:)

June 26, 2007 6:44 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Wow! I go to Adoration for a few hours and look what happens?! LOL! Looks like I'm not the only one who thinks this is a hot topic.

I don't like the EMHC's blessing everyone either. Unfortunately, it happens at my parish on occasion. IMHO, it's not the same as receiving a blessing from someone who's hands are blessed (the priest). Also, it's, yet, another unfortunate blurring of the lines between the laity's duties and the priests.

Father Zuhlsdorf: The issue of restoring the Fast to 3 hours (or even midnight) is an interesting one. Honestly, I'm neutral on it. If the rules are changed, I will follow them. However, I'm sure lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth will ensue. I wonder, really, how many Catholics know they are supposed to Fast for one hour before receiving? I think the real problem (well, this is my "root of most problems idea") is people are not hearing the rules where they need to hear them most: from the pulpit. It's just about the only place where you have the captive audience of folks who will never go to a seminar, never read the Catachism, never read a blog etc.

Adoro: There are people that I know who stay in the pews because they are not Catholic or they were divorced and remarried without an Annulment. However, they are the exceptions to the practice in most parishes of just everyone seeming to go up.

Adrienne: The Communion line, in my observed experience, is always longer then the Confession line. Isn't it amazing, how many Saints are among us? :-)

Terry: Queen of blogging? I thought I was Queen of something else-oh, never mind.

June 26, 2007 7:23 PM  
Blogger Adoro said...

About being catechized; in our recent RCIA meeting, we discused logistics...those people who are attending RCIA who are only seeking to be Confirmed, etc. Our DRE referred to them as being "highly catechized". I about fell out of my chair. I know very few Catholics I would consider to be "Highly Catechized" as most don't know the least thing about their faith. I bit my tongue, but it continues to drive me crazy. Amazing to me what Baby Boomers consider to be "highly catechized". No wonder so many go up for Communion when they'd be better off remaining in the pew...they don't know what the "rules" are!.

Highly Catechized my ass!

(Sorry, I know this is a family blog, but let's get real...catechesis is not what it should be!)

June 26, 2007 8:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm starting to get a feeling of unworthiness when I frequent your blog, Cathy. When Rock Stars like "Father Z" are regularly noted commenting on your posts, why that makes me feel that I've committed some heinous mortal sin of concupiscence or espoused some Sabellian heresy and thus am unworthy to post here.

But, what the hey!!!

I think we Americans should look on the bright side of things and take advantage of our carnal natures and make some money off of our fellow Catholics.

How's about we printed up a jillion Holy Cards with lots of different appropriate pictures on the front, but the same message on the back: the key to the colors people can wear to Mass that indicates what sin they have committed. There must be a dozen or so colors and sins that we could select.

So, for example, people wearing blue shirts would be those guilty of traffic offenses. Those in gray, lied about their age or weight to a co-worker. Those in purple would be those who didn't tell the Target checkout person that she charged them for only four packages of Juicy Fruit gum, but it was really five. Etc.

So you could stay in the pew rather than going up to receive Communion and let people know that you were NOT an ax murderer.

Actually, I found it very interesting attending a Spanish language Mass at Ascension Parish last year in North Minneapolis. The parish is pastored by Father Michael O'Connell, pastor of the Basilica, and Franciscans serve the parishioners. There is no compulsion among them to receive Communion, nor is there a compulsion to ritualistically get in line and not barge ahead of others. Get up when you are ready.

That's the way it used to be in the "olden days."

I have been honored with the privilege of being able to distribute Communion to patients in a local hospital. Some receive it devoutly; some receive it; but I am most moved by those patients who tell me that they have been bad Catholics or that they have not been practicing their faith. We then pray an Our Father together (commonly saying "it can't hurt") and virtually without exception, all pray along with me even if they don't quite remember the words, and many will cross themselves at the end.

June 26, 2007 8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are told to fold our arms criss-crossed over our chest if we are not catholic, or have a child who hasn't received Holy Eucharist yet when processing to Communion...the EMHCs or the priest(if you're in his line) will give the blessing on the forehead. This happens all the time, every mass.

June 26, 2007 8:15 PM  
Blogger Iosue Andreas Sartorius said...

In South Korea where I live, about one third of the people do not receive, and a priest is always in the confessional fifteen minutes before mass and there are always lines.

Are Koreans worse sinners or or better Catholics?

June 26, 2007 9:51 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

Koreans are obviously better Catholics - gosh - everyone knows Americans are not sinners, and frequently not very good Catholics either. Unlike Koreans, Americans have never shed their blood for the faith on our soil. French and Spanish missionaries - but no American.

June 26, 2007 10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Want bad cathechesis?

I believed until very recently that the only thing that would exclude someone from Communion is being divorced and remarried without an annulment. This is with 10 years of parish religious ed, in a very mainstream parish. I learned how things really work at the age of 25.

I went to Mass on a holy day of obligation and didn't receive (I couldn't make it to confession until the day after.) People looked at me as if I were out of my mind. Plus, kneeling during the consecration when there are no kneelers?! What?!

Probably 1/3 of people at the Tridentine parish I attend don't receive.

June 27, 2007 12:32 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Adoro: Your ASS is highly catachized?!? I can't even say I think my brain is highly catachized. LOL!

American DON'T sin, as Terry indicated. ;-)

Ray: Sweetie, I'M the only Rock Star around here. You've seen my shades and my entourage. How can you doubt it?

Interesting comments, everyone.

June 27, 2007 4:40 AM  
Blogger swissmiss said...

I have two uncles remarried outside the Church. Both at the extremes of the equation. One, knowing he is in mortal sin, sadly, doesn't go to church at all. The other, his younger brother, acts like his first marriage never happened and goes to church AND communion without batting an eye. IMHO, both would be good candidates for an annulment of their first marriages, but won't look into it.

June 27, 2007 10:06 AM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

Update: Bearing Blog has a post up on this subject too. I love her blog, but whenever I try to comment, it times out on me. It must be a Masonic conspiracy!

There you go again, trying to steal my thunder - I just wrote about Masons. You are getting as bad as Ray.

June 27, 2007 11:39 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

I know you did. I saw that post of yours and I thought the Masons must be behind my inability to comment on Bearing Blog!

No one is as BAD (in a good way) as Ray. How many other guys can get away with using a fern as a fashion accessory?

June 27, 2007 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: going up for a blessing.

My priest says if you are too lazy to go to confession, then you can just keep your butt in the pew during communion.

June 27, 2007 1:06 PM  
Blogger bearing said...

I don't know what's wrong with it. If it does that again, email your comment to me. There's an email link at the bottom of the sidebar.

June 27, 2007 1:14 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Woo hoo!
Hooray for your priest!

June 27, 2007 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"priest is always in the confessional fifteen minutes before mass and there are always lines"

Recently, I went to Mass at the Assumption Grotto in Detroit and they had at least two priests hearing confessions prior to Mass and there were long lines. Many of the those in line were not able to confess prior to the start of Mass.

I've also been to Munich a few times and have witnessed the same. From what I could tell, there were priests hearing confessions throughout the Mass and there were long lines.

June 27, 2007 1:44 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

At our parish, we are blessed to have [does quick head-math]about 7 priests, so we have (generally) all six confessionals going up til the consecration.
There are always lines, and some folks don't get in in time, but the priests come back to the confessionals right after Mass ends, so that's nice.
You can tell the priests really take it seriously, and I think that carries over to the parishioners.

June 27, 2007 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This a travesty! (25 comments!) I'm leavng the Church!

June 27, 2007 3:31 PM  
Blogger Adoro said...

Cathy ~ Of COURSE my ass is highly catechized! So are my dogs! I just keep the ass tied up in the yard, and each day he gets a lesson, just like St. Francis would do. He doesn't bray as much as the general public does about it, though, and he would NEVER go up for Communion without first going to Confession.


Iosue Andreas ~ Well, in America, most people only consider murder of an adult or a child that has been born for awhile to be "sin", so when suggested they might be sinners, their typical response is, "Well, I'm a good person...I haven't MURDERED anyone!" And then they go off to their jobs at the local abortuary or Democrats for Choice office.

I suspect that most Korean Catholics are far better catechized and dedicated than American Catholics. And I'm not sure of the stats, but the Asian countries are a big supplier of priests over here. We currently have a Vietnamese priest and I think a Hmong priest was ordained this year. I'm not sure, but I suspect other parts of the country have a lot of Korean priests. God bless you all for saving us!

June 27, 2007 7:42 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Germaine: I know who you really are!

Adoro: I can't speak for your donkey, but you appear to be highly catachized.

June 27, 2007 8:09 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

Adoro - most of the Hmong and Vietnamese seminarians and priests are Americans who immigrated here - they have been educated and ordained here. Although we are getting a number of African priests.

Now stop adding to Cathy's comments totals. LOL! Just Kidding!

June 27, 2007 8:20 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Terry: Come back anytime, my blog visit numbers are thru the roof! LOL!

June 27, 2007 8:24 PM  
Blogger Adoro said...

Terry ~ Au Contraire! I've read articles discussing how Asian dioceses have been contacted to send us priests! I know 2 priests from India who were sent here by request of the Archbishop.

They were also trained here, but for their own countries. Several articles have come out discussing the state of the priesthood in Asia...and the state of lack of a priesthood in the US. Our culture is not conducive to the Catholic understanding of a life of sacrifice, thus, we don't have a lot of priest, but we do have a huge amount of dissent, not a lot of Confession, and everyone goes up for Communion because they think it's just a "symbol". Who would give up their life for a "symbol"?

In Asia, they know that Jesus is present...and the Eucharist is not a "symbol". Thus, more priests. More Confession. Better Catechesis...they got the whole circle going.

Hmm....why don't we all move to Korea?

June 27, 2007 8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post!
I come from a country where not everyone goes to communion. I was so surprised when I came to the US and people stood row by row to go forward. It makes it much more evident of who goes and who stays.
I believe in other countries they do not stand up row by row either.
It is always difficult for me to stay in my pew, I feel like I have the big Scarlett Letter on me, but I use the humiliation as part of my penance for the sin that is keeping me from receiving. It is difficult, but I'd rather be embarrased by staying in the pew than receiving while not in the state of grace.
This is a great post. Thanks for articulating it so well.

June 27, 2007 10:43 PM  
Blogger Terry Nelson said...

Oh India - well you said Hmong and Vietnamese - that is sooooooooo different Adoro, ISN'T IT!.

Now stop increasing Cathy's stats!



June 27, 2007 10:45 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

I find it interesting that, in so many countries, they don't process up in an orderly fashion. It would be nice to go up when you are ready. Sometimes, when I am planning to go up, I'll be deep in prayer and all of the sudden it's my "turn" for my row. I'm not quite ready but you are expected to keep to the queue code!

June 28, 2007 4:38 AM  
Blogger Vincenzo said...

Holy See Press Office confirms Motu Proprio:



Si è svolta ieri pomeriggio in Vaticano una riunione, presieduta dal Cardinale Segretario di Stato, in cui è stato illustrato ai rappresentanti di diverse conferenze episcopali il contenuto e lo spirito dell’annunciato "Motu proprio" del Santo Padre sull’uso del Messale promulgato da Giovanni XXIII nel 1962. Il Santo Padre si è recato a salutare i presenti e si è intrattenuto con loro in un’approfondita conversazione per circa un’ora. La pubblicazione del documento – che sarà accompagnato da un’ampia lettera personale del Santo Padre ai singoli Vescovi - è prevista entro alcuni giorni, quando il documento stesso sarà stato inviato a tutti i Vescovi con la indicazione della sua successiva entrata in vigore."




A meeting took place yesterday afternoon at the Vatican, presided by the Cardinal Secretary of State, in which the content and the spirit of the expected "Motu proprio" of the Holy Father on the use of the Missal promulgated by John XXIII in 1962 were explained to the representatives of several episcopal conferences. The Holy Father came to salute those who were present and maintained a deep discussion with them for about one hour. The publication of the document - which will be accompanied by a thorough personal letter of the Holy Father to the singular Bishops - is predicted for within a few days, when the document itself will be sent to all Bishops with the indication of its successive coming into effect.

June 28, 2007 6:55 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Vincenzo: I heard. I just hope it's not this weekend but is, in fact, 7 July. I'm out of town and offline Friday-Sunday.

I'm trying to crash Father Z's party but, clever guy that he is, he's not falling for my tricks to try and figure out when he'll have it! In fact, I heard he's hired security to keep me out! You'd think he'd want someone to bring more Veuve Clicquot wouldn't you? That's expensive stuff!

June 28, 2007 9:48 AM  
Blogger Vincenzo said...

"You'd think he'd want someone to bring more Veuve Clicquot wouldn't you? That's expensive stuff!"

Yes I would think so!

click me click me click me

June 28, 2007 2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ray from MN....LOL on the holy cards!
Great comments.
Just trying to add to your tally here Cathy!:-)


June 28, 2007 4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ray - This blog is under investigation.

June 28, 2007 6:59 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Vincenzo: ROFL!

Library Security: Whatever.

June 28, 2007 10:29 PM  
Blogger Arkanabar Ilarsadin said...

Excellent post. I pray it helps more Americans gain the courage to actually live their Catholic faith, rather than just ape it.

July 03, 2007 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't gotten a chance to read through other comments, but I know of a parish where D) is the option happening. That is, go up, receive, don't consume the Blessed Sacrament, sit down, and leave Him in a pew.

July 04, 2007 8:05 AM  

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