receiving host celiac linkWe couldn’t chew it, it just laid on our tongue until melted or placed comfortably on our mouth’s roof.  We couldn’t touch it, only the man in the dress could do that.  When he gave it to us a gold plate usually hit our throats by a nervous eight year old (also in a dress).  To prepare for getting it, it was a 24 hour fast permitting only water and that was later watered down to one hour.  Kneeling was the method before receiving it with hands folded.

Before my time, a cloth was placed over everyone’s hands while kneeling just in case the nervous eight year old missed the host if it were to fall on the ground.  If not completely handed out, it is kept in an gold container placed prominently behind the altar where the guy with the dress stands.  A constant light is kept on this gold container.  Those involved in the service must acknowledge the gold container every, single time they pass it.  A slight bow does this trick.  It can be brought to the sick and informed in hospitals or nursing homes.  Years have passed since the guy in his dress with two nervous eight year olds with lighted candles performed this distribution.

Now days it’s a friendly volunteer that brings it to those wishing it during a fragile time in their lives.  Centuries ago it was customary to bring it home with you and apply it to whatever aliment may occur, a scraped knee or perhaps early balding.  Oh, I almost forgot, you need to be a member of the Club, I mean this Church, before receiving it.

These days the receiving of it is done in a procession of folks that leads to getting it with their hands now extended.  They are now able to both touch and chew it.  Three popes ago thought this to be too casual for such a sacred ritual that folk’s heads were told to be bowed before touching it.  In a busy procession this has only resulted in bowed heads before the guy in the dress. (Which I predicted would happen, by the way.)  If someone is in the state of sin (it’s a state between Alabama and Mississippi) then in the procession arms are crossed over one’s chest and a blessing (from the guy in the dress) is provided but no touching or chewing or mouth’s roof for that someone.  Bishops from all over the world have met for two weeks for two years to decided if folks married outside the sacrament of marriage can still get it.  “Three popes later” hasn’t made up his mind yet.

It can have many names but “Body of Christ” is the declaration the guy in the dress says before giving it to you.  “Amen” is the expected response but my favorite response that I heard was “I know.”  The “Body of Christ” is also used to tell us that we are all the “Body of Christ.”  If only we treated each other with the same reverence as we do the lighted gold container which contains the lives of us all.

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on Amazon.com.
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