I get the question all the time from many people about “Why are Catholics so picky”? This is usually after hearing me rant about things like Communion in the Hand Vs on the Tongue or the Great Battle of the Musics or even No, It IS NOT The Eucharist if its Peppered with Paprika., aka Jesus is not a Snack, and that’s not Kool Aid, its Blood.
We’re picky because yes, it does really matter. I’ve been to lots and lots of Protestant services, from Baptist to Methodist to random “Bible” churches.
One thing I’ve noticed is that there is more emphasis on the People and their comfort. So there’s big screen tv’s, powerpoint presentations, wonderful seating (my butt likes) microphones, and depending where you are the service could easily be mistaken for a rock concert or an upscale business conference.
This is not to say that Protestants are not in love with Christ!!!
However, the service itself seems to be people oriented rather than God oriented. Don’t get me wrong, there’s lots of God to go around, but comfort seems to take a higher peg in a service rather than a Mass. This kind of makes sense, as there is no belief in the Real Presence when it comes to the majority of Protestants.
People *need* to be able to see something physical in order to orient themselves. This is why when a lot of people pray, they do so in the direction of a cross or a crucifix, or why they hold a Bible when praying.
Weird and miraculous as it is, I think this may be a reason God allows his Son to be with us in the Eucharist- why we have the Body and Blood in the Church at all times. If we can’t see and touch and participate with God, its hard to keep focusing entirely on him.
Ever try praying a rosary without using *something*? Try it. Put down the beads and don’t look at your hands or use your fingers, and do it all mentally. Don’t speak it either.
If you can still manage to stay on track, good for you. Not many people can, and its much easier and more reasonable to focus on the mystery of Christ when He’s right in front of you.
And this makes things like how you receive the Eucharist a big deal. When I go to Mass (I’ve missed a few, and I need to fix that, ASAP) and receive the Eucharist, I need to not only make sure I’m free of mortal sin and in a good state of mind, I also had better think about how I receive the Eucharist.
Receiving in the hand was only allowed after the Church basically said, “Oh fine.” Probably in a grudging voice, too. Even so, it can be a really good way to receive God, with my hands “forming a throne” for Him.
Unfortunately, this is not what has happened. Actions influence thoughts, and a lot of people seem to think that they have a “right” to the Eucharist, like they own it and can do whatever they want with it.
What’s the universal hand signal (or at least universal in the US) for “Gimme”? Often times I see people extending their hands out for the Eucharist, and their attitude often ends up being “gimme”. I remember doing that, and thinking it, too. Gimme.
Considering the culture of people in the US and Europe, it might be a good time to head back to “On the Tongue”. Along with that should come the paten. I flipped when I learned what that thing was for (Catching Jesus in case he takes a dive towards the floor…)!!!! Yes, I know Jesus got dirty and all that, but who wants to drop their best friend on the ground?
For me, receiving on the tongue is a much better option. Why?
1) The action of receiving is strong symbolism. I am not *taking* I am receiving. It is a gift given to me. I don’t deserve it, yet I am receiving it.
2) Further, this is something absolutely miraculous. There is no other thing that I would accept from someone else without it passing from hand to hand, unless it were medicine and I were sick. Which brings up the symbolism about “all have sinned”- I’m reminded of how low I really am without God, and even with Him I still struggle with sin.
3) Receiving on the hand was more recently done by Protestants (500 years is pretty recent for me), who among other things, protested the Real Presence and wanted to make that obvious. They received on the hand so that they could publicly say the opposite of Amen (I believe = Amen).
I don’t want to knock something just because Protestants did it, but when I think of what that meant…I don’t want any part of it. I’m not a Protestant, duh.
Catholics can be accused of being picky, but really, its all about a desire to please God. We know that none of us actually deserve, as if it were an absolute right, that which God has to give. That’s what the devil tried to do- demand what wasn’t his as if he had a right to it. Yet he gives us his love, grace, and Presence anyway. He’s like that awesome Grandpa who gives you treats even when you’re being a nasty little stinker (after saying sorry of course, but still).
Ah what the heck. Why don’t I just say us Catholics are a bunch of guilt ridden pharisees so that people can go on believing and imposing their own insecurities on us. Oh yeah…and we don’t read the Bible either. *eye roll*