July 1, 2010

Top Ten Least Favorite Communicants

After several heavy posts lately, I thought it might be time for a lighter and amusing one. This one I've been incubating for some time.

Of course I very much enjoy and appreciate being a minister of Holy Communion. I usually concentrate on the eyes and hands of the people, in which one can see the joys and griefs that make up the blessedness and the woundedness of the Body of Christ in the world. See more on that sort of thing in this old post.

Nevertheless, the communion procession is also a time when one observes the various little idiosyncrasies and funny habits that people have developed around receiving. In that bemused spirit--though not without a touch of horror--I present my top ten least favorite communicants:

The low-five. The hands are held low, even below the navel. Since I probably don't even see the hands in this position, I often get confused about how the communicant wants to receive. If I think I can get away with it, I sometimes 'go for the tongue' in a spirit of friendly correction. This one seems much more common among the young. Could it be shyness or self-consciousness?

The delayed reaction. This communicant wishes to receive in the hand, but only raises the hands to do so at the last second. Once you know who they are, it's fine, but if not it can produce collisions as hands are raised while I presume the intention to receive on the tongue. I don't know where this one comes from; artificial drama, perhaps?

The pincers. Thumb and forefinger are presented, ready to grab the Host when it is presented. Disrespectful and annoying!

The lips. Rather than receive on the tongue, this communicant wants to grab the host with their lips. Weird.

The teeth and tongue. Much like "The lips," but instead this communicant wants to grab the host between tongue and upper teeth. Not only weird but a little disconcerting. Don't bite me, Ma'am!

The re-fractioner. For some reason this person has to break the host in half before consuming it. I don't get it.

The overly polite. Either in place of or in addition to the standard "Amen," this communicant also has to say 'Thank you' or 'Thank you, Father," etc. Odd.

The sucker. After receiving in the hand, this communicant raises the hand and sucks the Host into the mouth. If you're going to do all that, why not just receive on the tongue already?

The hand licker. Same advice as above.

The kidnapper. This communicant, desiring to bring Holy Communion to someone who is sick or homebound, but also being shy or unwilling to ask a priest to do it or accept the public role of an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, tries to consume only some of the Host and then take the rest away. Usually highly indignant when caught, because of the basically good intention.


Ad Abolendam said...

Admittedly, I am somewhere between "The Lips" and "The teeth and tongue". I have only been receiving super linguam for the past few years, and still haven't mastered it yet. I kind of feel funny just sticking my tongue out, even though I know it's the correct method. I'd like to change, but it has become a habit.

Ad Abolendam said...

I should also add that I was reprimanded for this just last week whilst receiving. It was muy embarrassing.

ben in denver said...

A couple of weeks ago our pastor suggested in a homily that we should recieve with our eyes closed as a sign of humility before the Lord. This was not something I had heard before, but I tried is without hesitation.

I must say that I was very surprised at the difference it made. Having the eyes closed, on your knees before the Lord really does make one feel humble and vulnerable.

Greg said...

Speaking of eyes closed...

What is the accepted attitude of the priest? Do they assume a prayerful lowering of the eyes?

I naively assumed they would meet you, eye to eye, in an I-Thou moment of co-witness, but have yet to find that happen.

Seems there is a certain hurry to a rite that, in my mind, deserves a "slowed down" prayerfulness I expected.

Brother Charles said...

Greg: That's just what I do, for all the reasons you suggest. When I say, "Body of Christ" I mean it in part as an address, so I always try for eye contact.

Greg said...

Brother Charles, perhaps that is a uniquely Franciscan trait. The I-Thou contact that recognizes the divinity in one another is vital to Franciscan theology and practice.

In Taming I celebrate the idea of "the face of a Franciscan" I first encountered in Friar Murray Bodo's book The Threefold Way of St. Francis.

Have plans to develop an anti-bullying course for kids based on the idea of the Face of a Franciscan and what is known in mediation as Face Work. It would go beyond Saving Face, etc. to the idea of Giving Divine Face.

GirlCanChant said...

I find that when I receive on the tongue (which is always, now), I close my eyes without thinking about it. I think I may be guilty of catching the host with my lips or teeth on occasion, since I am still new at this, and sometimes the priest seems a little confused as well. (Not you, Fr. Charles, I am sure!) Sometimes things can go awry with the hustle and bustle of the assembly line. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I have been "guilty" of hand-licking, but only when I can actually see fragments of the Host in the palm of my hand. It happens every now and then.