Saturday, October 3, 2009

Beware the Scrupulous Scowl

And believe me, it's a scowl.

Fr. X, back in 8th grade. Weekly mass for us kids. The only thing I remember about his sermon? "I watched you walk into God's house and not one of you said to Him, 'Good Morning.'"

You bad, bad, pathetic, worthless little Catholics. You didn't do it right. I'd like to smoosh you with my little thumb.

It's 25 years later, and I've spent a lot of time reconciling my independent nature and emotional upheavals and creative instincts with the church of my cradle. I often go to Daily Mass. It's good for me. Doesn't even take half a day for me to get discombobulated at work and all it takes is a half-hour of Mass and I am able to be normal again.

People can call me a lot of things in relation to my faith journey, but "insincere" is not one of them.

I've also got a bit of OCD. If I cut myself, the worst thing I can do is get blood on anything, especially another person.

So in the communion line this past Wednesday, I scratched my ear. Apparently I scratched too hard. I was afraid there was blood on my finger. For me, even microscopic blood is enough to trigger my compulsion to NOT let you touch my hand.

If that doesn't make sense, I can only ask that you accept that the urgency is real.

So this was my left hand. I'm right handed. I put my right hand on top of my left to receive communion from Father Y, then I bring my hand up to my mouth to take Communion. No, this isn't elegant. But even though I'm about to chew up this host and allow it to pass through my digestive system, I'm sure as heaven not going to get blood on it.

Communion ends. Before the final blessing, Fr. Y stands up and offers a bit of information on the proper way to receive Communion. Hey, I don't mind education. It's not something I remember. Proper way to receive Communion. To me it was always about mindset. Reverence. Gratitude. That sort of thing. Communion has always been the highlight for me. It blows my mind.

So imagine:

"The proper way to receive communion is to put your non-dominant hand over your dominant hand, then take the communion with your dominant hand and put it into your mouth. Those of you who play games and keep it in the same hand and bring it up to your mouth in order to gulp it down are not doing it correctly."

Playing games? Gulp it down?

Sorry Father, but it's God who knows my heart, not you. Bite me.

And it's not like I can go take communion from him again. He'll be watching me.

It's bewildering to me. Here is the priest I'm always pleased about when it's his turn to do the daily Mass. His sermons are simply yet unique and insightful. I went to him for confession once and thought he was amazing and very caring.

And then this crap. Who pissed in your Wheaties, Father?

It sucks sometimes, when spiritual leaders get all *human* on you.

But because I'm not back at the church in order to second guess my every move, in order to scrupulously and anxiously make sure I jot and tittle my way to heaven, I must reject his admonishment. Not the information within it. But yes, the insulting and demeaning assumption he made. I'm sad, but I won't be going to his Masses again.

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