St James Cathedral - Seattle, WA

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Taking Things for Granted

I just read the following blog post, written by an RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) candidate. It's short and sweet, but has a lot to tell us Catholics who often take our faith for granted. My cradle Catholic remarks follow what is pasted below.


a little more like Mary: When you can't participate in the Eucharist: When I was in high school, my best friend and I went to her dad's place down south for the weekend.  Her father, a devout catholic (my friend....not so much), told me very sternly that I was NOT to participate in communion because I wasn't catholic.  I was pretty hurt by it, insulted really, and no real explanation made it worse.  Now, I absolutely understand why I wasn't allowed, but I didn't then.  That is the problem with looking at a religion based on the person who presents it to you.  A lot is lost in translation, and I bet most religious people have no idea how to explain their doctrines in a positive and helpful way.   It would have been way more christian of him to have a quick and helpful chat with me about "why" I wasn't allowed.  Unfortunately, just because we believe that something is true and just, doesn't mean that everyone else does...and if you want them to respect you and your belief, being rude doesn't help.

My real reason for this post was to say that I respect that I am not supposed to participate in the eucharistic portion of the mass.  I have been told, wisely, that I should focus and pray during that time.  My prayers should be centered on making myself ready to receive the true body of Christ.  I know I am not ready for that yet.  I have much to do with my spiritual self before I can REALLY say that I am fully involved.  Christ's sacrifice is a lot to digest (pun intended) and I need to make sure I respect that. 


This blog post struck me for a couple reasons. The first has to do with being the "translator" when it comes to the faith. For me, I've always tried to represent Catholicism well. I know that this hasn't always been the case, and until now, have never seen it through the eyes of the person on the other end of the conversation. I don't think I've ever done this in regards to receiving Holy Communion, but I'm sure I've probably done it with other aspects of the faith. I suppose I've always taken it for granted that people were OK with what I was trying explain to them.  I hope I've never turned anyone away.

The second reason has to do with receiving the Eucharist. We do this every Sunday (or at least we should). Some even go to Mass more frequently. It's good that we do this as often as we do, but the temptation with frequent reception is that it can become usual, habitual, and routine very easily. It's no secret that for many in the pews, receiving Holy Communion is just another thing we do. Some go to Communion because the person sitting next to them goes, without thinking about what is really going to happen.  People stand in the line approaching the altar no differently than standing in the checkout line at the store. We forget that what's happening is a close encounter with our Lord in a unique way, in way that unites us together for at least a few moments.

On the other end of the spectrum is someone who is wanting, yearning, and patiently waiting (or at least trying to) until she can do what we do so often.  
RCIA candidates and catechumens aren't alone. I'm reminded of the other Christians throughout our Church who so desperately want to receive the Eucharist but can't for reasons of safety or availability. There are Christians that go without because there are no clergy to administer the sacraments to them (such as in the Diocese of Juneau in Alaska where there are only 9 priests). There are Christians in parts of the world like Iraq who may be killed if the attend a public Mass. Finally, there are military service men and women who in the course of their duties go without sacraments, so that civilians like me can do so freely.

I was humbled by that blog post.  I'm sorry if I have ever taken for granted what God has given.


  1. I like the grocery store line true.

  2. This cradle Catholic has definitely been guilty of taking the Eucharist for granted and also not approaching it always with the correct frame of mind. I think in some Orthodox churches they do first Holy Communion with Confirmation. I actually really like that idea.

  3. Jill, that's true--in the Orthodox faith, typically once children are baptized and chrismated they then receive communion. As for the post itself: I am beginning the process of entering the Church (am currently "officially" Orthodox), and am so looking forward to the day I have a blessing to receive the Holy Eucharist.


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