Eating at the Catholic Table

Richard Rohr’s topic for meditations this week is “Eucharist”. Sore spot with me. My decision to dissociate myself for Catholic worship came as a result of the Church’s teaching about exclusivity, that is, only Catholics (in good standing) can receive. Many priests offer a blessing if someone comes forward and holds their hands over their heart. Sounds to me like a way for people too embarrassed to sit in their pews so they are less noticed and perhaps less likely to be judged. When I go to a Catholic funeral or wedding, I wait and listen for the priest to either tell people that they cannot receive or refrain from saying anything. I will go up for communion if nothing is said.

Going to communion is one way to show my oneness with the those I am there for, either in death or marriage or any other celebration. If the bond is really close, such as a relative, I may go even if the priest is exclusive. The relationship takes precedence over my stubborn need to make a statement (as though anyone is watching).

Refraining is a way to show oneness with those others who are being excluded. If I go forward for the blessing I feel it still violates the oneness I feel with them. I was at funeral recently and sat next to a woman who is not Catholic but I know her to be very pious. She appreciated the invitation to blessing and I could see by the look on her face that she was indeed blessed. I sat there angry as hell because I think she should have been able to take the bread. Holy of me, huh!

Before I end I have to mention that technically I am not worthy to receive the Eucharist, Catholic or not. I am not practicing faith. I am what some in the Church would call “fallen away.” I don’t feel fallen away. I feel that I have veered to another path where I have found community and other practices that feed my soul. Going to a Catholic mass is like coming home to visit. I am still a member of the family whether other members agree or not. I enjoy the rituals and words as they stir those sacred moments I remember from my childhood. Because I continue to see myself as part of the Catholic family, I maintain the right to have an opinion and the right to eat at the table if I so choose.

4 thoughts on “Eating at the Catholic Table”

  1. In my opinion, too much control is given to the Catholic church with regards to our personal walk with God. I figured that out in high school when I made note of the many flaws. For instance; given a booklet during the mass that contains what the bible verse will be, what your repetitive responses should be; no bibles in the pews; a confessional that requires you to sit and tell a priest all your sins, so that he can absolve you for them; and the whole mass process is too ritualistic. I go to church to be fed and fulfilled. Nothing about the Catholic Mass promotes that for me. The icing on the cake was when my sister and I were planning my mom’s funeral. I had chosen some scripture verses to be read during the service. I was told by the priest that we were only allowed 2 verses; one from the old testament and one from the new. When I challenged him about it, he replied that it was the ‘rule’ and could not be wavered. Jesus would have wept.

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