…Recently, my father passed away and we had a funeral Mass celebrated. The Mass was well attended by family and friends, not all of whom were Catholic, or practicing Catholics. When it came time for communion, as is typical on occasions where there would normally be non-Catholics attending, the priest made the same announcement with the addition that anyone not receiving could come forward, if they wished, with their hands crossed over their chest and receive a blessing.
As I discovered later, this caused some confusion, as well as some damaged feelings on the part of some of the attendees. And as came to light later, there was a massive misunderstanding in the room of what The Eucharist is, particularly as taught by the Catholic Church.
To the non-Catholic, and, sadly, even many Catholics, the Eucharist is probably one of the least understood things about the Catholic Mass, indeed about Catholicism in general. In addition, many people don’t know that they don’t understand it. Indeed, millions of Catholics go to communion in robotic fashion, not discerning the Body and Blood of Christ. (1 Cor 11:23-30) To many, it’s just what you do at church.
Hence, the reason I’ve decided to jot down some thoughts on the subject. I envision the distinct possibility of me dying someday, and I don’t want the same thing to happen at my funeral, so I just want to clear up a few things on the Eucharist for Catholics and non-Catholics alike, in hopes of helping someone avoid the same confusion (or worse) when they find themselves planted in the pews and saying “goodbye” to old Bill…