Sunday, November 08, 2009

forgive them, Father

The parishioners of All Saints Catholic Church received some disturbing news this weekend. Dozens of consecrated hosts were found stuck to the underside of the pews last Sunday. Fr. Michael Woods celebrated all the Masses this weekend so he could deliver a homily explaining that desecration of the hosts is punishable by excommunication from the church. The same message was conveyed to the students of Knoxville Catholic High School on Thursday morning during their Mass at All Saints.

There are some Christians who take the beginning of the Bible literally. They believe that creation happened in seven days, just like the book of Genesis says. As a Catholic, I was taught that the creation story was a nice way of explaining the world to early humans and that the process took considerably longer than a week. I summarize my belief in three words: "God created evolution."

There are also some Christians who take the words of Jesus figuratively, especially at the Last Supper. As a Catholic, I believe that Jesus meant what he said and said what he meant when he took bread and said, "this is my body. Do this in memory of me." To this day, Catholics believe that the bread and wine at Mass become the body and blood of Jesus. Just because I can't see the difference doesn't mean it hasn't changed. I once heard a priest draw an analogy between the transubstantiation and the exposure of an item to radiation. It looks the same as before but is now very different.

One of the people I sponsored in the RCIA program at St. Finbar Catholic Church asked me why Jesus would want us to eat his flesh and drink his blood. I responded that the Lord wants us to be one with him, to be in communion, on a cellular level. He becomes food that nourishes us spiritually. I believe that Jesus has the power to take any form he wishes, including that which appears to be bread and wine.

Because Catholics believe in the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the consecrated hosts and wine must be treated with the utmost respect. Those that are not consumed at Mass are kept in a tabernacle. During hours of adoration, a host may be displayed in a monstrance. The desecrated hosts at All Saints had to be disposed of in a sacrarium.

At St. Finbar, ushers were positioned to watch the communion lines. They made sure that the communicants consumed the hosts and did not take them outside. At the time, there was a rumor that Satanists were stealing the Body of Christ from local churches and desecrating it on their altars of evil. Somehow that is easier to understand than whatever compelled someone to stick the hosts to the underside of a pew.

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Anonymous Taylor C. said...

Interesting post, and ditto on the title.


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