Friday, September 20, 2002

Telepathy and the Lidless Eye
I am simply amazed at the telepathic ability of so many Catholics. They seem so at ease explaining the motives for the behaviors of those they criticize that they must have an inside track into interior life of those unfortunate enough to be visited by their withering gaze. Two examples from liturgical piety should suffice to illustrate my point.

Receiving Communion in the hand: Is it really a sign of irreverence? How do we know the interior attitude of those who receive Communion in ways other than our preferred way? I received Communion in the hand for about 25 years before I returned to the more traditional practice. I switched with hopes that the practice would increase my sense of reverence and devotion, which at the time seemed somewhat attenuated. What I have found out is that my sense of reverence does not seem to have improved after taking up the "old" practice. In fact, I am still not comfortable with it, even though I've been doing it for several years now. I am much more comfortable (and am perfectly able to have a reverent attitude) when receiving in the hand. Will I return to receiving in the hand? Probably not. My family receives on the tongue and I would not want to stand out like that. But I will never assume that people who receive in the hand are more likely to have less reverence or less belief in the Real Presence than myself. Why? Because I know that I haven't changed much in that regard since taking up the traditional practice.

Eucharistic fast: Here's a good one. Some people still fast from midnight before receiving Communion. This is a very worthy and commendable practice, one that I should probably take up. But, those of us who don't practice it, and who pretty much stick to the 1 hour fast, are not automatically less devout than those who fast from midnight. It would be a shame for someone who fasts from midnight to see someone scarfing down a donut an hour before going to Mass and saying, "Gee, he's not very devout."

Obedience to legitimate authority is a perfectly good act of devotion. The Church, of course, does not demand that we eat before receiving Communion, but the freedom of the Sons of God leaves it up to us to work out how best to approach the Altar within the confines of the minimal demands the Church makes. Maybe, just maybe we should leave the judging to God, who knows the interior lives of those we'd like to condemn to additional centuries in purgatory for their impiety.

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