You see, despite the fact that there really doesn't seem to be that much of a necessity for them (other than perhaps on holidays), the crowd of extraordinary ministers that flocks to the altar each Sunday is huge. There's about nine of them, and the priest and sometimes a deacon, and while it means that the lines fly by (twenty people per extraordinary minister! The communion line only lasts a few short minutes! More time for announcements!), it also means that chances are, you aren't going to be receiving from a priest or deacon.
Not a big deal (to me)... unless... you begin to notice a look of panic as the extraordinary minister realizes that you are going to approach for communion on the tongue, as you juggle a struggling toddler or baby and do your best to keep them from grabbing the chalice.
I've only had one priest react in the same way, attempting to stuff the eucharist in my hand which was, well, full, with my child in my arms. And it only happened one time. So when I realize that the randomly chosen line for the week that the priest will be at isn't ours (and we're in the front row) I feel a little stuck.
Last week I went forward, holding Sadie and opened my mouth and extended my tongue, head tilted slightly back, having already seen the slightly panicked look on the woman's face. As I stood there, in the overpowering cloud of perfume that surrounded us (not mine), I held very still. And then I felt it. An entire hand that touched my entire extended tongue. And then perfume. The taste of very strong perfume.
So I have to say, I was a bit hesitant as I went forward yesterday, holding Mae, opening my mouth and extending my tongue and saying a silent prayer that the Eucharist would just make it into my mouth, with nothing else. She was much more careful this time (it was the same woman). Only her finger tips touched my tongue. But the Eucharist still had the very strong, chemically enhanced, taste of her perfume (which actually seemed to be on the Eucharist).
And I'm left wondering, why something so simple, something that's been a tradition for a very long time (receiving on the tongue), has to be so difficult now? It just seems like it should be a basic part of the training that extraordinary ministers receive (maybe it is? I'll admit I've never gone through the training so I don't know... but it seems to be a problem...).
We've been sitting in this particular pew because it's in the front, so the girls can see, but off to the side next to the organ, where it doesn't cause a stir if we have to get up and go to the back.... and it's working really well for Sadie and Mae... but wow... I'm not quite sure what to do. I'd think the perfume thing would even bother people receiving in the hand...