A girl kneels as she receives Communion on tongue from Pope Benedict during a Mass celebrating the feast of Corpus Christi outside the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome May 22.
To the Catholic Sentinel:
My phone rang and they asked if I was Al from St. Francis Parish in Sherwood, Oregon. I said yes and the lady asked if I would take her place next Sunday as a eucharistic minister. I just said yes I would be happy to and thank you.
When I was about 14 years of age I was an altar boy for my Parish at St. James in Ferndale, Mich., and we had an Irish priest who had problems getting around the altar and he would lean on me for support. When it was time to distribute the host we would go to a small table at the communion rail. One Sunday a host dropped to the floor and Father O’Brien said, Al, pick it up. I turned to him and said that I could not pick the host up as I was not a priest. He said in a very strong voice, Pick the host up, Al! Well, I did and I don’t think I washed my hands for over a week.
When the Church decided to have Communion in the hand I was approached by my priest in Anaheim, Calif., to join him and a few other men to go to the bishop’s office in Santa Ana. When we were there, the bishop blessed us and mentioned that we were selected as eucharistic ministers. This brought tears to my eyes, as I was now able to touch the host and present it to the other parishioners. What a great feeling to be selected for this ministry; I have been blessed with many years of being on the Altar of God.
When I moved back to Oregon I mentioned this to our parish priest and he said, Welcome, we can use you each Sunday. I was blessed to have this opportunity to serve the lord in a very special way. After over 30 years of this service I mentioned to Father Tom that it was time to allow the younger parishioners to have this mission in their lives and that I was stepping down. He understood my feeling and I agreed to be on the list of ministers who would be on call if needed.
When that phone call came in I looked up and said, thank you, lord. I approached the Altar with the other ministers and looking over the parishioners I thanked the lord again.
A very strange thing happened and a family of 10 took the host by tongue. Then there were three others who also took the host by tongue. I have been giving by hand for many years and as I looked at some of those hands I wondered if they ever washed them when taking the Body of Christ. Perhaps the good lord is getting tired of being place in a dirty hand. Maybe it is time to go back to our old ways of honoring our lord. I know I will.
When Mass ended a few couples approached me and said that they liked to go to my station as I lift the host to God before presenting it to them. Maybe this is what God is telling us: To honor Him in a special way.