This morning, I got the bug up my nose to look up the contact info of the parish I mentioned in my post about proper reception of communion.
I sat down with my coffee and wrote them a little note. This is what I said (the specific place info has been redacted):
I was baptized at St. ____ by Msgr. _____, in December of 1977. I’ve been there only a handful of times since, but I recently had the opportunity to visit while in _______ this past month.
Two things I noticed struck me as odd.
First, many of the parishioners bowed before the Blessed Sacrament rather than genuflecting. I recently came across this article by Bishop Paprocki of Illinois, in which he reminds us that the universal practice of the Church is to genuflect, not bow (it’s in the GIRM) and that only those unable to genuflect should bow.
The second thing I saw was the great number of people receiving communion in the hand. This practice, as you no doubt are aware, began as an abuse in the late 1970s in some of the European nations. In an attempt to contain it, Pope Paul VI issued an indult for those countries where the practice was already commonplace (the United States not among them) along with norms for proper reception according to this method which, as common sense dictates, is solicitous of not only the stealing of the Blessed Sacrament for sacrilegious purposes, but also its unintentional desecration through loss of particles or hosts later dropped by people unaware of what to do with them because they are not Catholic and should not be receiving in the first place.
In a recent speech by another esteemed bishop, Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan, this reality was brought to light:
‘There is also the question of the objectively irreverent reception of Holy Communion. The so-called new, modern manner of receiving Holy Communion directly into the hand is very serious because it exposes Christ to an enormous banality.
‘There is the grievous fact of the loss of the Eucharistic fragments. No one can deny this. And the fragments of the consecrated host are crushed by feet. This is horrible! Our God, in our churches, is trampled by feet! No one can deny it.
‘And this is happening on a large scale. This has to be, for a person with faith and love for God, a very serious phenomenon.
‘We cannot continue as if Jesus as God does not exist, as though only the bread exists. This modern practice of Communion in the hand has nothing to do with the practice in the ancient Church. The modern practice of receiving Communion in hand contributes gradually to the loss of the Catholic faith in the real presence and in the transubstantiation.
‘A priest and a bishop cannot say this practice is ok. Here is at stake the most holy, the most divine and concrete on Earth.’
It was lovely to see St. ____ parish again, but I do believe that if the faithful were to be made aware of the danger of such practices as regards to our common belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, it would be of great spiritual benefit to them.
The faithful want to worship God appropriately. If they fail to do so, it’s often out of ignorance, not malice.
I hope you will take my correspondence in the spirit of fraternal charity in which it is offered.
Will they simply hit delete? If I had stuck it in the mail, would they file it in the special round filing cabinet with the other trash?
I don’t know.
I do wonder if there would be some value in creating templates for letters like this to send to parishes where such abuses are rampant, as well as to the bishops of those dioceses. Would you use such templates if they existed? Would a grassroots campaign of letters and emails to parishes such as these make a difference, or at least prick the consciences of pastors of souls?
I wish I knew. But it seems awful to only complain about it and not address those who have the power to fix it.
Steve Skojec is a storyteller, writer, blogger, photographer, designer, and sci-fi fan. He is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. He lives in Arizona with his wife Jamie and six of their seven children.