Saturday, July 25, 2009

On -- I don't know, the "etiquette?" -- of receiving Jesus

There are times—I like to think of them as "extraordinary circumstances"—when I'm asked to help distribute the Blessed Sacrament. Primarily, this means taking the Sacrament to hospital patients. But sometimes this also occurs at Sunday Mass...usually when my parish church is unusually filled with tourists, as so often happens in the summer here in Boston.

The honor is awe-inspiring.

The point, though, is often—too often—I'm distracted from this amazing honor by the manner in which some folks receive the Lord.

Personally, I'd rather everyone receive on the tongue.

And, to my delight, many people do—many more than I can recall for several years. What's especially gratifying is seeing younger folks—college age, for the most part—receiving on the tongue.
And new communicants seem to receive with proper respect.

I've noticed that younger kids—say, from age 7 to 16 or so—seem to not only know Whom they are welcoming, but the proper way to welcome Him. Even when they receive in the hand.

But what's with the "liturgical hors d'oeuvre" crowd?

I've encountered people respond to my "The Body of Christ" in some of the following manners:
  • "Uh-huh"
  • "Thank you"
  • "Thanks"
  • ...silence...
  • "Okay"
  • "Yep"
Generally this is followed by an attempt to snatch the Host from my hand and pop the Sacrament into the mouth like a Frito, for Heaven's sake.

Often, I've found myself refusing to give the Host to people who don't, at the very least, indicate to me how they'd prefer to receive. (I.E.: "if you're receiving on the tongue, open your mouth, please." Or: "put your hand under the other hand, that's right, now please consume the Host.")

Am I alone in experiencing this, and in my dismay at it? Ordinary and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, please feel free to respond.