Too Much Attention at the (Human) End of the Line

The Communion line, that is.

First we have Rome focusing on how the Communicant receives and the personal preference of one Eucharistic Minister. Whatever happened to the focus on Christ, not people?

Now it seems the wrong person got in line at Tim Russert’s funeral.

I’ve known lots of people who have received Communion when they shouldn’t. Even me.

The offender’s words:

The outpouring of emotion after Tim’s death June 13 has been extraordinary and even those of us who knew him well and adored him were stunned at the extent of the reaction. I haven’t seen anything like it in Washington since John Kennedy’s death. People who never met him have been e-mailing me and coming up to me on the street, crying and hugging me. I’ve been trying to analyze it and what I think is this: Tim was a truly good person. He was authentic. He was kind and generous and thoughtful and caring. He was optimistic and funny. He was deeply religious. He was the most enthusiastic person I have ever known.

The word “enthusiastic” comes from the Greek words “en theos”, meaning “in God.”

The Anchoress discerns the litmus test. Tim Russert was inspiring to Catholics and non-Catholics alike not by how he preached the faith, but by how he lived it.

I see Andrew Greeley is doing some electioneering on the man’s behalf. I can’t agree. While I’m sympathetic Greeley is looking for some good men in the clergy, my inclination is to snark, “Too bad; Russert’s ours.” From what I read, Tim Russert lived his life as an authentic believer and lay person. Maybe such people should be the stock from which we find candidates for holy orders. It might be an improvement on the careerism model we have right now.

Russert as bishop? Is that all? I think the man has a higher calling: saint.

The frowny-faces are predictably all over Sally Quinn receiving Communion when she shouldn’t have done so. You know I’m not sympathetic toward Bill Donohue or Deal Hudson or their commentariats on this one. The WWJD comments don’t float my boat either. A fine man has died, and from all accounts he was a sterling example of being a good Catholic. As for the WWJD question, none of us is Jesus. But we are believing Catholics. If you can’t think of what you should do in response to this, consider what a saint would do.

One commenter at the America blog wrote, “My family will be praying in reparation for this sin.”

If reparation is needed, let me suggest those offended set themselves to a special task this coming year. Find one inactive Catholic and return her or him to the Church. Or, if you feel brave, find a non-believer and bring him or her to Christ. The end of the Communion line will be a more grace-filled experience for it.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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7 Responses to Too Much Attention at the (Human) End of the Line

  1. Gavin says:

    I always blame everyone but the individual who attempted to commune when it comes to this. I’ve bugged plenty of priests about it, but it seems to me at any funeral or wedding Mass that a priest ought to announce, before communion, that communion is for fasted Catholics in a state of grace only. At that point, it’s on the conscience of the individual and not the priest. I’ve only seen one priest who does this; it wasn’t intrusive or rude, and the protestants in attendance respected it. One priest told me “oh, I can tell who’s Catholic and who isn’t.” Odd claim to make, because anyone can mimic the gestures.

    Actually at my last Christmas Mass, we had a trumpeter for the Vigil and Midnight Masses. He looked awkward at the Vigil Mass, being an evangelical protestant, so I said to him after “if it makes you feel more comfortable, just do what everyone else is doing at the next Mass.” So he kneeled when people kneeled or stood at the right times, and it went better. Then when I was playing the communion hymn, I noticed him in line for communion. Oops. I didn’t say anything to anyone about it.

    I’m not going to look benignly on any non-Catholic taking communion. However, I think we ought to hold off judgment and condemnation on something which is 99% of the time just a misunderstanding.

  2. Michael says:

    I’ve bugged plenty of priests about it, but it seems to me at any funeral or wedding Mass that a priest ought to announce, before communion, that communion is for fasted Catholics in a state of grace only. At that point, it’s on the conscience of the individual and not the priest. I’ve only seen one priest who does this; it wasn’t intrusive or rude, and the protestants in attendance respected it.

    Interesting. I’ve rarely seen this not done.

  3. Sean says:

    At a lot of places it is printed in the handout.

  4. Anne says:

    “…a priest ought to announce, before communion, that communion is for fasted Catholics in a state of grace only.”

    Sorry, don’t agree with doing that. The presider’s job is to lead the prayer and invite us to the table in Christ’s name. The presider should be encouraging “full,conscious and active participation”. Catechesis and explaining the rules that divide us are for another time.

  5. Tony says:

    I’m not going to look benignly on any non-Catholic taking communion. However, I think we ought to hold off judgment and condemnation on something which is 99% of the time just a misunderstanding.

    Indeed. Motivation is everything to God. If you receive out of ignorance, I don’t see it being a problem. If, like John Kerry, you receive out of prideful rebellion, then it is.

    But at the end, it’s going to be God’s call. I tend to go with the Catholic interpretation of what that will probably be.

  6. Jimmy Mac says:

    Rules, glorious Rules!
    What wouldn’t we give for
    That extra bit more –
    That’s all that we live for
    Why should we be fated to
    Do nothing but brood
    On Rules,
    Magical Rules,
    Wonderful Rules,
    Marvellous Rules,
    Fabulous Rules.

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