Communion in the Hand
From a recent reading from the Holy Rule of St. Benedict:
The fourth step of humility is that in this obedience under difficult, unfavorable or even unjust conditions, his heart quietly embraces suffering and endures it without weakening or seeking escape.Before was this:
The third step of humility is that a man submits to his superior in all obedience for the love of God, imitating the Lord of Whom the apostle says: He became obedient even to death. (Philemon 2:8)It is easy to obey when we agree. When the Church is just the way we like it. When we have a Pope we like. But St. Benedict talks about obeying under hard, or even unjust, conditions. Those times when we know we're right, but a higher authority demands something else of us.
Nonetheless, obedience may make us uncomfortable, because, seriously, we're right!
The Bear has been a "line jumper." If the priest is not in front of your line, you jump over to the other line to avoid receiving communion from a "eucharistic minister." The Bear doesn't much care for that tribe.
Nothing is less subtle than a Bear jumping from the right line to the left the moment a sufficiently large gap appears.
Some time ago, the Bear decided to take communion from whoever, dressed however, in his line. For awhile he was the only person taking communion on the tongue. He discovered that some EMs were less than expert with this strange practice, and he feared Our Precious Lord might be dropped. So he started taking communion securely in his hand like everyone else. Like it or not, this is the common usage in the Bear's parish.
How much of the Bear's previous antics were out of reverence to Christ's Precious Body and Blood, and how much were out of a psychological need or willful desire to "be right" in his own eyes? Only God knows the mix. What the Bear was doing was causing a minor disturbance every time he took communion, and was approaching his Lord with the attitude, "I'm right." There was probably a bit of unspoken, "and they're not."
The safer course is to exercise humility and obedience. Right or wrong, this is the way it is. The Bear will not argue the point, but it is self-evident to him that there is nothing inherently sacrilegious about taking communion in the hand from an EM.
Even if it is not the Bear's preference.
Ah, that is hard. It is always hard to put our own psychological needs, informed personal preferences and plain old prejudices in the background.
"But communion in the hand is an abuse!" some will object. That ship has sailed. The idea was that it would be an exception, but it became the norm. Abuse or not, it is the way things are done in much of the plain ol' Roman Catholic Church. The Bear hopes the humility and obedience he exercises will be more rewarding than being the Bear who is "correct."
It makes him more peaceful, at least.
And if someone should read this and wish to cite the history of the practice, and rail against the abuse, the Bear would say, with all due respect, that everyone must weigh the very substantial virtues of humility and obedience versus "being correct" all the time. You would not be educating the Bear. He knows the history.
The whole point is that, knowing that this is not what was originally intended, can you do as the Church actually does in a spirit of humility and obedience? Or is your attitude during communion going to be "I am right," if not also, "and they are wrong?" Risky, the Bear thinks.
The Bear does not urge one method or another. He doesn't care about that. Communion in the hand is more of an illustration, really. His own experiences are what came to mind when he read Father Benedict's Rule today. How do you know if you're exercising the virtue of obedience? When you don't like the rule, or the Abbot is unreasonable, or the prior is treating you unjustly. When it's hard and you have to grit your teeth and put your own will away.
Especially when you're right.