Tuesday, August 16, 2011

To Kneel or Not To Kneel

To kneel or not to kneel. On the tongue or in the hand. That is the question. A couple weeks ago, Catholic "shock-jock" Michael Voris posted a video on RealCatholicTV.com about kneeling for communion and taking the Eucharist in the hand vs on the tongue. It's something that I, a Catholic who grew up post Vatican II and who has never received on the tongue has pondered.

In the video, Voris contends that Cardinal Llovera, a big-wig at the Vatican for all of you non-geeky Catholics out there, states that everyone should receive communion on the tongue and while kneeling. Voris goes on to say that priests could use this a teaching moment and bring back some of the reverence that has been lost towards the Eucharist. Apologist Jimmy Aiken responded in his podcast acknowledging that receiving communion while kneeling and on the tongue is what he prefers but contests some of the things that Mr. Voris says.

Several years ago, I started genuflecting prior to receiving communion instead of just bowing. I felt that it was more appropriate than bowing. After all, this IS Jesus. If He was in front of us in human form I expect we would all be on our hands and knees. But, I stopped after six months or so because wanted to be more "in community" with the other parishioners that go to my church. I admit, I also didn't want to appear to be more pious. (Believe me---I'm no more pious than anyone else) Here is the thing about my parish, it is a very liberal parish. I expect less than 1 % of the parishioners take communion on the tongue. We do not have kneelers so, we stand during the consecration. (I don't think it was due to the design of the church and not because of anyone trying to make statements) So, I would feel really out of place taking communion on the tongue, much less kneeling.
The thing is, I totally understand what Voris is saying. I even agree with much of what he is saying. I believe to kneel and to take communion on the tongue with a paten underneath is the way we should be receiving communion. I also totally understand that standing and in the hand is perfectly allowable. That's not my argument or my quandary.

My question is this, should I go on, bowing and receiving communion in the hand while standing. Or, should I start kneeling and receiving on the tongue? Especially, in a parish where "alter-rail" is spoken with disdain? I could serve as an example and be a reminder of who we are receiving. There is also the dilemma of confounding the Eucharistic Minister who doesn't know what to do as experienced by Danielle Bean when she gave up taking communion on the tongue. Then, if I do decide to take communion on the tongue--how the heck do I do it. I don't mean, should I go to the priest or whatever. I mean how--like how far do I stick out my tongue--if at all.

Do you take communion on the tongue? Think it's gross? What do you think?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Endurance and an Encouraging Mother

My teenage daughter Emma has had probably the busiest two weeks of her life the last couple of weeks. Last week she was at horse camp for Girl Scouts--spending the whole week outside during the hottest weather in the last thirty years in horse stables. This week she has band camp (she is in color guard) from 8am to 5pm and then golf practice for the school golf team from 6:30 pm until 9:00 pm. This may just be typical activity for a lot of teenagers and, having grown up in a small town around a lot of farm kids I realize this type of activity would be like a vacation to some. But we are talking about a typical suburban fifteen year old girl who normally spends most of her summer days sleeping until noon. It's been a busy and tiring couple of weeks for her.

This morning I was awakened at 8 am by my wife Abby trying to get Emma out the door. Poor Emma was still half asleep and sore from flinging her flag around, marching, and whacking at golf balls all evening long. I think it would have been easier moving a two ton boulder than getting Emma to move. She wanted to stay home and sleep. She wanted to quit band. There was no moving her. But Abby was there, patiently talking to her. Telling her that she needed to get up. Telling Emma that she needed to fulfill her obligation. She just needed to put her other shoe on and put one foot in front of another and walk out the door. After all, it was going to be a beautiful day out and she could do it. If I would have taken the blanket off of my head and looked I probably would have seen a halo around Abby because she was behaving saintly.

I laid there thinking what a wonderful spiritual model was going on in front of me. We work hard on our spiritual life and for whatever reason we get in a rut or we just become stubborn and don't want to go on. It is too difficult to be Christian and to live our life the way Jesus wants us to. It's much easier to lay there and be spiritual slothful. It's much easier to be sinful. It's much easier, it seems, to turn our backs on God than it is to follow Him.

And who is standing there with us encouraging us to get up when we become like that?? Our Mother. The Blessed Virgin Mary is always there with us to tell us to get our butts up and to go follow her son. Mary is there to hold our hand and to tell us we can do it because we are not doing it alone. She knows that it isn't always easy to follow Jesus. After all, she followed Him all the way to the foot of the cross. But, because she saw her son hanging there she knows how much He loves us and why we need to keep on the path to Him as opposed to the one we want to take.

There is a reason Jesus gave us His mother. (John 19: 26-27) Jesus knew there would be hard and difficult times when we would need a mother's love in order to make it. Just like we need our own mothers to push us, to motivate us and to encourage us, Jesus gave us His mother in order to point us to Him.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Love and Sacrifice

Last Friday night, my son Max--who is 11 years old--and I were supposed to go on a Boy Scout camp out. I, by no means, am an outdoorsman. But Max would much rather stay inside than go outside, especially when it's hot out. So, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I finally decided to leave him at home and went on the camp out as an adult leader.

I grew up in scouting. My grandfather was the town's Cubmaster for years so it was natural that I would join when I came of age. I went through the ranks. Earned my Arrow of Light and became a Boy Scout. Our troop was small but I went to Camp Geiger and was inducted into the tribe of Mic-O-Say and given that name "Little Black Parchment"---named after my grandpa who was "Black Parchment." I rose to the rank of Firebuilder in the tribe and have many memories of Geiger and Mic-O-Say. I went through the scouting ranks. I turned in my package for Eagle Scout before I left for Marine Corps boot camp. Sadly, my scoutmaster never turned it in and I never followed up so I did not get this prestigious award.

Several years ago, when Max started first grade, I signed him up Cub Scouts. I was then that I realized how much scouting had made me into the person I became. As a son of a single mom, scouting truly helped me become a man. I loved it! I couldn't wait to share the experiences with Max and foresaw him learning the same things that I did.

Max isn't your typical eleven year old boy though. Max is unique. Max has certain tendencies and can be socially awkward. Because of these tendencies and awkwardness, Max does not enjoy scouting. He doesn't like camping in the summer when it's hot outside. He doesn't get along with the other boys and he is just bored with it. I've tried to encourage him, bribe and and convince him that it's a way for him and I to spend time together.

Last Friday the situation reached a boiling point though and we butted heads. He refused to go. I forced him and we weren't even to the meeting place before I turned around and took him home, broken hearted. I'd been looking forward to spending time with him on this camp out with him and I've come to the conclusion that if I wish to stay involved in Boy Scouts as a leader it may have to be without him.

I love Max. He's my only boy. And I really wanted to share Boy Scouts with him and he's rejected it.

When we love people, we are supposed to give them all of our love. We are supposed to do whatever we can to make them happy, to help them become better people, and to help them get to Heaven. What happens when they reject what we offer them? What happens when you disagree? What happens when you are fighting and you cannot reach a compromise without someone being hurt?

It's a difficult situation. Love calls for sacrifice. We don't always get what we want. Sometimes love hurts. Sacrificing what makes us happy in order to make someone we love happy can be brutally painful. This weekend, I felt like my heart had been pierced with a lance.

That's the time when we have to look towards Jesus as a model. He made the ultimate sacrifice. He suffered. He was physically tortured. He gave his life for us to show us the love He has for us. If you want a model of what love is, you only have to look at a crucifix.

So, I made a decision this weekend that I didn't want to make. I had to relent in order to show my love. I'm not trying to make myself look pious or make myself into a martyr. After all, many times the sacrifices we make for love go unnoticed. That's okay. We do it for love not for notoriety.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Last Saturday evening, I was on the way to mass with my family and I ran out of gas about a mile from church (and about 2 blocks past two gas stations.) I posted about the event on Facebook and jokingly said that it was Satan's fault. The next evening, I did make it to mass at another church and this time I posted that God won. Now, obviously Satan didn't have anything to do with me missing mass. It was my own stupidity for not getting gas when I knew I was low. But that doesn't mean that Satan wasn't pleased that I missed mass. It doesn't mean that the devil doesn't do everything that he can to make us turn away from God. It doesn't mean that it's not a victory for God whenever we turn towards Him, everytime we do good or everytime we love.

Joe at the Defend Us In Battle blog made a post a couple of weeks ago about why it is important to be "battle minded." He points out that we are in a constant state of spiritual warfare, whether we want to believe it or not. He says that from every stop light to the check out counter at the grocery store we are tempted into sin.

This is an important reminder and one we constantly need to be reminded of. The minute we don't think of ourselves as under attack is when Satan strikes. It's what he is looking for. It's the prime opportunity for. He loves it when we think that he doesn't exist. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The devil does exist. We are in a constant state of battle. We have amazing weapons though. We have the church. We have the sacraments. The Bible. The rosary. And most importantly, we have God on our side. Too often, it seems almost like the devil wants us more because he works on us so much. The truth is, we turn away from God and try to make our own decisions. .

So what do we do? Turn to God, obviously. Through prayer. Mass. Reconciliation. Through these means, God gives us the grace to fight the devil and resist temptation. But we should still always be on guard so we can kick the devil's butt (with God's help of course)