January 3, 2010

Jesus Likes Sweatpants

'The Lord suffered on the Cross all morning; he can handle this.' It's a little phrase that I offer to myself to keep me from indulging unhelpful indignation when I see the indignities to which Our Lord is sometimes subjected in his Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. For example, when I see someone chewing gum in the communion procession and I feel like pulling them out of line and threatening to boil their head in vinegar, I just remind myself that Jesus can handle it and I ask him to inspire me notice the opportunities for a more charitable correction.

Of course many such indignities are accidents, like when someone drops the Host. This happens from time to time. To me it demands a quick, delicate, and twofold pastoral response. First, the dropped Host must be recovered immediately, and somehow reserved so that the priest, deacon, or EMoHC can consume It eventually. Second, and this, to me, is the part that requires some delicacy, a response--even if only by gesture--must be made to the communicant. If the communicant is embarrassed or horrified by the incident, it is important to do something by word, expression, or body language to put him at ease. On the other hand, if the communicant is nonchalant about having dropped the Host, even by accident, he needs to be put a little ill at ease about it. In just a few seconds, the priest or other minister must perform the physical act of recovering the dropped Host, discern the spiritual condition of the communicant, and communicate a corresponding pastoral reaction.

I'm just thinking about this today because at Mass this morning I had an incident of Host dropping like none I have ever experienced. The communicant, a nice older lady, mishandled the Host and dropped It. I immediately looked to the floor, but didn't see it. Somehow it had landed on the rear end of the previous communicant's sweatpants and stuck there. (He was to my right, facing away from me, in procession to receive the Precious Blood.) "Well," I thought to myself, "I'm not going to make him turn around by trying to have a conversation about this." So I just plucked the Host from his backside and put it in it's own spot in my ciborium. I told the lady that everything was o.k. and gave her Communion again. There's always something new that can happen at Mass!


Sarah said...

Okay, I have to know.

Did you consume that Host, or did you have someone else consume it?

Brother Charles said...

Yes. Until the ordinary movement of the procession was restored, I held the adventurous Host to the side of the ciborium with my left thumb, and then consumed.

Adoro said...

I'm not sure if you've seen it, but there is a video out there of a bride and groom receiving Holy Communion. The Host went right down the front of the bride's dress! She looked up at the priest, unsure what to do, he reached in and grabbed the host! Looks bad on video but my guess is that he could see it sitting on fabric. Pretty funny, if shocking video.

On a personal note..not long after I received my 1st communion, I dropped the host. They NEVER told us what to do should that happen, and all I could think was "That's JESUS!" Not wanting anyone to step on Jesus, I quickly bent down, picked it up, and consumed it, glanced back at Father and my Mom. Mom was looking shocked, and Father just kinda shrugged...and I skipped off into the sunset with Jesus. lol

My Mom told me later that I shouldn't have done that, so for YEARS I was totally guilt ridden, finally learned I had really done, by instinct, EXACTLY the right thing. Um, except for the skipping part. I shouldn't have skipped back to our pew.

Julia said...

I think you handled that pretty well! It must have been surprising. I like that you handle the situation differently depending on the disposition of the individual.

Disrespect and irreverence to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is something that really, really bothers me. It actually chokes me up sometimes.

I usually offer prayers in reparation when I see it. It also always reminds me of my own sinfulness. After all, the other person may not be totally culpable for his irreverent actions, but I know that I am truly guilty of my own offenses against the Lord.

Bless said...

Father, I almost had an accident this morning. I was receiving the Sacred Host from a lay minister, she was probably afraid of touching my tongue.Thanks be to God everything went well.

Norah said...

1. How does one swallow the Host with chewing gum in one's mouth?
2. Do you ask the person to remove the chewing gum before giving the Host to the person?

The Church documents e.g. Redemptionis Sacramentum recommend that the communion plate be retained for all of the reasons your post and comments point out.

Brother Charles said...


1. With danger of sacrilege, I suppose.

2. Yes.

Qualis Rex said...

Ooooooooooor, 99% of these problems can be avoided by simply recieving on the tongue kneeling.

The gum-chewers in communion line really steam my clams. I haven't seen nor herd of/about them in years (basically since I stopped going to NO masses). Somewhere between a running-tackle by an usher and a "Get thee behind me, Satan!" pronouncement from the priest there must be a happy middle ground that let's the person know that they are being irreverent, self-centered and disgraceful.

I'm glad you tell them to take it out of their mouth, Father. Maybe the next step is to put it on their nose and have them wear it for the rest of the mass.

Adoro said...

Based on Canon Law, chewing gum breaks the fast (it is not water or medicine) and therefore the person with chewing gum should be informed they cannot receive.

How to do that with them standing in front of you...dunno. Yet another reason I refuse to be an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.

Problems like that is why priests make the big bucks! ;-)

Qualis Rex said...

Adoro - my guess is someone who is chewing gum right before receiving communion prrrrrrrrobably hasn't been to confession beforehand either. Just guessing.