On this Feast of Corpus Christi,
I want to talk about some practical things,
particularly as we try to resume what was normal
before this last, very abnormal year.
First, I want to thank you for the way take reverence seriously,
not only during Mass, but before and after.
I’ve been in churches where this has been lost,
where people are visiting and talking as they would anywhere else.
Nothing wrong with visiting – but it destroys prayerfulness.
This is a good time to talk about how we receive Holy Communion.
You know that there are two options:
receiving on the tongue, or in the hand.
It’s no secret that I have encouraged you to receive on the tongue;
but during the Covid crisis,
a lot of people were uncomfortable with that. I understand that.
So what follows isn’t meant to override that concern,
but to talk a little about the best way to receive the Holy Eucharist,
whether you do it in the hand, or on the tongue.
Let me say that sometimes people come to Holy Communion
with only one hand free, often because you’re holding a child.
In those cases, I’ll whisper, “I’ll put it on your tongue.”
And this is the reason: it really isn’t reverent
to try to juggle the Holy Eucharist with one hand,
particularly when you are carrying a child.
Also, if you are receiving in the hand, please lift your hands high.
That’s both very reverent: lifting Jesus up! It’s also practical.
If you are receiving on the tongue, this is going to sound funny, but:
You really do have to put out your tongue –
I’m not a dentist, I really don’t want to go IN there!
And whichever way you receive, it’s important to remain still.
Many of our younger parishioners are kind of rushing.
Parents, maybe you can help them remember these things?
I’ve told this story before, but it’s too good not to repeat it.
Father Randall Roberts was an United States Air Force chaplain
in Saudi Arabia where, he explains,
“any public Christian activity is punishable by imprisonment.”
When he was going to offer Mass for American soldiers
who were stationed in Saudi, soldiers would spread the word.
Because of the laws against any sort of Christianity,
Father Roberts had to celebrate Mass in a “remote area”
In this case, an abandoned recreation shack
encircled by a chain-link fence.
Now, it happens there are many millions of foreign workers
in Saudi Arabia – and a large number of them are Christians.
One of these foreign workers walked by;
and when he realized Mass was underway,
he “pressed himself against the other side of the fence.”
Here’s what Father Roberts saw:
He appeared to be straining his whole body – or at least his heart –
through the chain-link fence, like water through a filter…
The sheer ecstasy in his face from being present
at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass – though not able to move closer –
is an image that will be indelibly etched in my heart until I die.
I wasn’t there, but now, I will never forget that image.
And I hope you won’t, either.
What a gift we’ve been given!
May God give us the gift of loving the Mass, and the Holy Eucharist,
like that poor man, and the many millions like him,
who are starving for what is so easy and available for us.