Monday, July 18, 2011

Today's Mass: The Good, The Bad and the Strange

Last Sunday I got through an entire Mass without being... "inspired"... to write a blog post. No one placed their whole hand on my tongue. I made a point of not looking at the missal so I wouldn't get upset that we weren't using the actual psalm for the day (I did that again today!). And during today's Mass I tried to ignore the fact that there were three elderly couples sitting together who would jerk their heads around in unison to glare at Mae if she so much as sighed.

Okay, so maybe a bit of the godzilla I've been repressing in other instances peaked out. I glared back (they didn't see me. They were too busy giving my twelve month old death glares while she was held silently by her father). Paul was standing at the back with Mae Bae, who does better away from me during Mass, and was ready to take her out if she made acted up.

In my opinion glaring just because a baby is present in the parish is directly related to the fact that some churches have such a hard time getting families to attend. She did make several giggly, happy baby sounds during Mass. I'm surprised none of the members of the glare-committee (one of whom was an usher: "Hi, welcome to Saint Joe's!") didn't have to be carried out as a result.

There has been an interesting development in our parish these past two weeks. It seems that we now have Eucharistic Bouncers. Two men stand at the front of the church, one behind the priest and the other behind one of the Eucharistic ministers and they watch and make sure that the Eucharist is consumed. Paul and I had noticed that it seemed like more and more hosts were being dropped each week. I'm not sure if it's related and I do wonder if an event inspired this change. Either way it seems like they're being very careful these days.

Besides the Eucharistic bouncers, our parish has ushers who walk up to the front and make sure that everyone stays orderly in the communion lines. I do, kind of wonder, why our parish feels that it's necessary to have an entire flock of Extraordinary Ministers crowd around the altar at every weekend Mass.

Do we really need eight people down there so that no one has to stand in line for more than two and a half minutes? Would it be the end of the world if people stood in line for four minutes to receive from the priest or deacon? I mean, I understand having extra people on a holiday or if there's an actual need, but there just doesn't seem to be a need. Why draw out every other part of Mass with show-tunes only to rush through the main event?

There is a reason for my attitude about this (which you probably already guessed). Sadie and I were seated in the back this morning after the entire family woke up late and barely made it to Mass and we moved over next to Paul and Mae when everyone got in line.

This put us at the very end of the priest's line, which I prefer, since Monsignor isn't going to panic when he sees someone receiving on the tongue (and he was the one saying Mass today! I love his Masses!). Quite a few people moved over, into the priest's line, and most of those who we let go in front of us were in the 90+ age range, who had slowly made their way over to the line.

As we neared the front the Eucharistic Minister's line ran out of people and the usher tried to force the elderly in our line over to him. They refused. He gestured for anyone to move over. A few went right away, but no one else would (again, I was apparently in fine form this morning and actually shook my head as he tried to make us move over... I was really annoyed at the way he was treating the people in front of us... it reminded me of a school yard bully...). He finally walked through the line and went over himself, obviously annoyed with us all (which was actually more evident later, when we left the church).

I know, I know, it's the same Eucharist. But I'd rather not have the distraction of having someone put their whole hand on my tongue, or dropping the Eucharist because they're so horrified at the thought of someone receiving on the tongue. And I know Monsignor isn't going to be wearing a bottle of perfume that will be coating the Eucharist by the time it makes it's way into my mouth. Maybe it's just the pregnancy hormones making me extra picky? Probably not. I think I'd be bothered, pregnant or not...


  1. I don't even know how to respond! All I can say is all this hoopla seems to be minimizing the fact the summit of it all is the Eucharist, not the giggly sounds of a child or whether or not someone is crooked in the line.

    sigh, a part of me wants to go back to the days when I was a naive little girl who was to giddy to know that I can receive Jesus to focus on anything else.

  2. If you think receiving on the tongue weird them out try kneeling and receiving. The Baron and I get looks as if we were aliens with green faces. I've even gotten priests (when on vacation) who look down at me like what are you doing? Get up this very moment! I just kneel their and wait. It was great going to my favorite Mass this weekend. Hope you find a church you adore in Fl. Just a little longer Cam.

  3. I sympathize. We have Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion at every mass even when the crowd is small. They do the deacon's job of purifying the vessels as well. AND apparently nobody in our parish can read music written before 1960. We had 1970's and 1980's this week. 2000 years of music traditions and nobody uses it where I live. I love good music, long for it in the mass, and to add to it, they read a piece about the importance of music and the importance of everyone singing-- but the music is so awful some weeks I cannot find the voice to sing it, and when the words are heterodox, I refuse to sing all together. But fortunately I have not seen any dropped blessed hosts and our Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion do not wear heavy perfume, but it might be nice if they could find sleeves for their dresses....

  4. *Hugs* I'm sorry you have to deal with this. I don't mind the longer lines either, its worth it.

  5. Do your EMHC try to bless your kids?

    The one we got yesterday said a blessing for each of our children and tried to put her hand on their heads. Maybe it is just the "Mama Bear" in me but I really wanted to shout "Get your hands off my children!" Fortunately I restrained myself, but it really ticked me off. Who do they think they are? Priests? Why do they think they should be blessing and "laying hands" on my children? Ruffles my fur!

  6. Yes, I am paying attention, but what a gorgeous rosary!

  7. Sylvanna, I'm sure it's on said in her etsy store. :)

  8. Thanks Baroness :)

    And more specifically:

    I love amethyst rosaries!

  9. Katherine,

    Don't get me started on EMHC trying to give blessings. I had one try to bless me when I went to receive on the tongue (cause my hand wasn't out) That is a completely different convo that it pains me to have.

    Good luck on your search for a parish Cam

  10. At the parish where I grew up, the music was beautiful. A large family of singers, all of whom were in the choir, helped, and the music director belonged to that family. All the traditional hymns were sung. Loved it. (The parish I attend as an adult is lucky to have a single cantor at each mass who sings off-key... and it's easily five times as large as my childhood parish. Argh!)

    Here's what I find interesting... it was pretty frequent there that the Psalm in the missal was NOT the one we sung that week. It was announced or posted as to what page we'd find that week's Psalm on. I vaguely remember an explanation about the music being allowed to be changed within a certain set of Psalms that were appropriate for that time of year.

    I never gave it a second thought until I read your blog. :)

  11. Don't hate, but I'm an EMHC at my parish. To me, it's almost like having Adoration for the entirety of Communion. I come from a large parish and honestly, I think we need to have extraordinary ministers because of the design of the church and the sheer volume of people. Communion definitely takes more than 2.5 minutes. I have heard that we are not supposed bless people who can't receive, but that is what the priest told us to. I don't want to stop being an EMHC, but I also don't want to do something I don't have the authority to do. Can anyone point me to the authoritative literature (the GIRM or something) that says EMHCs can't bless people, and suggest a proper course of action when someone comes forward to receive a blessing?

  12. Hi Anonymous-

    I don't have a problem with there being Extraordinary Ministers, I just like being able to "opt out" of going to them. If people are okay with receiving from them, than they can, but after having so many "accidents" receiving on the tongue with EMHC it's something I try to avoid if at all possible. I know I've seen canons sited about blessings during the Mass (that debate gets pretty heated). Here's what I found after a quick search:

    He gives the relevant canons. Hope that helps!

  13. I SO hear you about feeling a blogpost coming on during Mass---in fact, I've decided to pre-write my Monday blog post so I am not tempted to just vent after Sunday Mass ;)

  14. Cam--

    The "Don't hate" part of my comment was more in jest than anything else. I can understand where you're coming from, since a priest is more likely to know how to properly give Communion on the tongue. It seems pretty clear that I shouldn't bless someone. I'm just concerned what the priest will say when I bring this up. He's not always orthodox, has no problem playing fast and loose with the rules, and will probably accuse me of being overly scrupulous. I still would like to be an EMHC, but if I can't be inspired with a polite way to not give a person a blessing and/or avoid angering the priest, I will have to stop. :(


  15. Hi Anonymous-

    The first parts good to hear because I was worried that I'd come off as not liking EMHC's since I complain about the situation at our current parish so much!

    That is a tough situation. Prayers as you navigate it! It's unfortunate people get put in situations where they have to make that sort of choice.

  16. Methinks you (and probably all those above) will enjoy this, then.

    If only folks would actually pay attention to these guidelines! Humpf!

  17. Thought you might be interested to know that over here in the UK, the Archbishop of Westminster recently issued a letter about receiving Holy Communion. Maybe there are some similar issues over here to those you have experienced...? Here's the link - - and near the bottom of that page is the PDF document of the actual letter.

    - Gail


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