How Do You Take the Eucharist?

Chalices

Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist.

My passion for the Catholic faith had been awakened. When I saw the veiled young woman dressed all in black take Communion, I was already no longer satisfied with the status quo I’d accepted for so long. I was only a person or two behind her on the opposite side of the aisle, but I was fascinated by her. The little I could see showed me she was a beautiful, dark skinned Hispanic woman, a woman who stood out in our small town, predominantly white church community, and I watched her surreptitiously as I moved closer to the altar. When it was her turn to receive Communion, she stopped and knelt in the aisle opening her mouth reverently before standing again and walking to the rear of the church.

In contrast, I patiently moved closer to taking the Host, shuffling forward in line with everyone else. When my turn came, I stood, put my hands out, left over right as I’d been taught in 2nd grade when I had made my First Holy Communion and took the wafer, pausing only a moment to make a quick Sign of the Cross before turning my back to the Cross and returning to my seat.

I had never seen the woman before and have never seen her again. I didn’t even see her in our small church before or after Communion. It was as though she only appeared for those few moments on the Communion line. She was veiled so I could not tell who she was or identify her today if she stood in front of me, but that young woman left an impact on me.

About the same time, the news media began raising questions about President Obama’s bowing to leaders of foreign dignitaries. In America, we are fortunate to bow to no one. We have no supreme leader, no king, no intimidating individual demanding we bow as he passes by, and yet, Obama bowed more than once to those foreign leaders, and the woman in the veil had bowed before the Eucharist. The contrast between Obama’s bowing and this woman’s bowing and my own resistance to bowing was another question I needed to investigate further. Obama needed to bow less, but perhaps, by not bowing, I too was bowing to the wrong things. Perhaps, I needed to bow more to  that who is worth bowing to. Perhaps we all do.

Again, about the same time, I began seeing articles discussing whether it was proper to take the Eucharist in hand or whether it should be taken only by mouth. The timing of my discovery of these articles was surprising to me, but since I no longer believe in coincidence, I have to attribute these “coincidences” to God wanting me to discover more about another aspect of my faith that I took for granted.

How we take Communion, whether by hand or by mouth is an interesting debate and one I will look more into since I am no expert on the subject, but that young woman and those articles made an immediate impact on me and made me reconsider the way I take the Eucharist.

Before, I was taking Communion as though it was a communion with friends and family. I didn’t fully appreciate that this was meant to be in Communion with our Lord. I approached the altar without real in-depth thought or understanding of what I was about to do. I walked quietly along with everyone else, but I wouldn’t hesitate to give a tiny wave to a friend sitting nearby or to make faces at that adorable baby in the pew I was passing. I was unfocused. I would take the Eucharist in my hand and pop it into my mouth almost as fast as possible to get out of the way of the next person and keep the line moving quickly.

I hadn’t thought of how the seriousness of what I was doing in a long time. I hadn’t thought…

THIS IS THE BODY OF CHRIST

…I hadn’t thought about what that really means.

I hadn’t thought enough of being physically one with the Lord. I hadn’t thought of bowing before my Lord. I hadn’t thought about how I would one day need to bow before my Lord as He judged me. I hadn’t thought of how my shuffling forward, “popping the wafer” into my mouth, and moving quickly out of the way would look to my Father. I hadn’t thought about what taking the Eucharist in exactly the same way I had when I first made my Communion in 2nd grade said about how I’d matured as a Christian.

When Jesus said we should be like little children, He didn’t mean we shouldn’t grow and mature in our faith. By taking Communion the same way I had when I was eight, I hadn’t grown or matured. I began concentrating on what I was really doing as I walked toward the altar. I didn’t kneel as the young woman had, but I did begin bowing. I began realizing that I was truly bowing before my Lord each Sunday, that He is as physically with me at every Mass as He will be at Judgment. I began truly looking forward to the day I would see His face and bow before my Lord in Judgment.

Changing the way I approached the altar and bowing before taking the Eucharist was easy. Deciding whether to take the Host by hand or by mouth was more difficult. Join me Thursday for my next post which will discuss what I’ve decided or subscribe to get posts delivered straight to your email, and, as always, if you have thoughts or comments, please share them below.

God Bless…

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10 Great Things About Being a Single Mom in America

America Flag Backdrop - 10 Great Things About Being a Single Mom in America

What do you love about life in America? If you’re a single mom elsewhere, how does life compare? Leave a comment below!

The life of a single mom in America isn’t easy, and for all their talk of women’s liberation and women’s equality, too many of today’s politicians have done too little to strengthen the lives of women in America. When Hillary Clinton and others talk of equal pay for equal work, they often fail to take into consideration that many women take time off from work to raise children, take care of the family home, and, yes, even cook and clean for their husbands (shocking I know)! What may be even more shocking is that many of these women enjoy (horrors!) doing such menial tasks for those they Love.

Becoming a single mom for these women is beyond devastating. They are cast into a role meant to be shared by two. In addition to losing self-worth, they also lose their work identity as they are told they are no longer good enough at being wife and mother to maintain their positions. To make matters worse, society and even their own churches often look down upon them casting them in with other single mothers.

Other single mothers are those the abandoned housewife knows as little about as the as well as the highbrow politician does. These other single mothers may include: the girl who gets pregnant at 14 and keeps her baby, the college co-ed who gets drunk on a one night stand but decides against the abortion mill, the low-income, lonely divorced woman who already has three children but, in an effort to prove she is not worthless, reaches out for love from an unworthy man and finds herself pregnant and alone again despite “precautions” taken, the rape victim who runs away in shame but decides not to make two victims from one man’s evil, vomit-inducing action.Continue Reading

Why Remain Catholic Through Divorce – My Defining Moments

An Empty Catholic ChurchMy Baptist friend said it best, “Once I asked the Lord to put a hunger for His Word in my heart, that hunger never stopped and I couldn’t get enough of the Bible.” For me, that moment was the night I crawled on my hands and knees in the darkness begging God for forgiveness, begging Him to come to me, carry me, lift me, save me.

Before that night, I had been living a lukewarm faith; I’m sure now that my lukewarmness was the very thing that would have led to a longtime in Purgatory – if I was lucky. I shudder to think about it now and hope others are inspired to leave their lukewarmness behind. It is amazing how the Lord’s timing works. Sometimes we wait years with no clear answers, but other times, we are answered almost instantly.

That night, I knew instantly that the Lord was there, but that it was up to me to maintain the relationship. Years before, our marriage had gone through some rough times, and I had wanted to leave my husband. From what I know, from stories I heard growing up, and from people who’ve made it through the rough times to long, happy marriages, I knew all couples go through rough times and that most have thought of leaving their spouse at one time or another. Those who made it and were happy about having done so were willing to work hard, to put the other person first, and to look long and hard in the mirror.Continue Reading

Why Remain Catholic Through Divorce – More Than One Reason

An Empty Catholic Church“I remain Catholic through divorce because of Jesus Christ’s presence in the Eucharist and in my every day.”

If someone had asked a week ago why I remain Catholic through divorce I’d have given the above answer.

Jesus Christ will always be the main reason I am Catholic, but I owe the Lord and other divorced Catholics more than this simple answer. There is so much more  to the Catholic faith than “just” Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist – as if that wasn’t enough!

10 Reasons to Remain Catholic Through Divorce

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Why Remain Catholic After Divorce – The Annulment Disaster

An Empty Catholic ChurchIronically, the divorce was finalized on Valentine’s Day 2012, three years after we had renewed our vows. In those three years, the boys and I had lost our home and moved into another (thanks Mom!). I achieved those two years of college credits attaining 7-12 math certification only because I loved teaching and math was more marketable than my expired elementary certification had been. When I couldn’t find a teaching job even with the math certification, I started an education and college prep business.

I’d also given birth and continued raising five wonderful sons.

Any one of those accomplishments would have been a big deal. Doing all in such a short time and under the circumstances took more hard work and determination than most will understand and was nothing less than miraculous, but it also left me no time to breathe. I hoped, once the divorce was finalized, I could catch a bit of that break, but it wasn’t to be. I hadn’t yet caught my breath when I opened the mailbox to find the annulment papers awaiting me.Continue Reading

Why Remain Catholic After Divorce – Catholics v. Christians

An Empty Catholic ChurchI was certain the Lord would save our marriage, that He would override my husband’s free will, change his heart, and make him see reason, but the Lord didn’t, and things went from bad to worse.

I had no job, no skills and certifications that had expired requiring almost two years of college credits to get back. Lack of child support left me with a badly damaged credit rating, and we lost our family home. 24/7 I faced five small children who were scared and hurting and looking to me for everything, and I wasn’t able to give them a fraction they needed emotionally. Worse than facing those children was handing them over to this man who had said and done such awful things. What was worst of all was that I needed them to go sometimes. I needed time alone, to cry, to scream, to beat my fists, and to try to clear my head.

I needed time to search for God.Continue Reading

Why Remain Catholic Through Divorce?

An Empty Catholic ChurchI crawled literally on my hands and knees in the dark. The grass was cool beneath me; the tears were hot streaming down my cheeks. I searched for the Crosses I’d flung across the backyard earlier. I was hurt. I was terrified. I was mad at God. What had happened to my life? To the lives of my children? To my family? To our whole world?

So often during those first couple of years I’d run images in my head trying to figure out what had happened. My husband and I had been best friends and had renewed our vows on Valentine’s Day 2009. What had happened to change him so drastically? Had he changed or had I misjudged him the entire time? I couldn’t know. What I did know is that shortly before we renewed our vows, he reconnected with an ex-girlfriend on Facebook and that on Mother’s Day of that same year he suddenly announced he was leaving, moving out just a week later.

I was also five months pregnant with our fifth little boy.Continue Reading

100 Inspiring Things Men Do Deserving Appreciation Father’s Day & Every Day

Happy Father's Day in blue lightsThe message came through my newsfeed, “Happy Father’s Day to Single Moms who play both roles!” I knew the sentiment and appreciated what the message intended, but I knew the lie it portrayed too – that single moms do the jobs of two parents. Truth is, no matter how hard a single mom tries or how many hours she puts in, she cannot play the role of Husband and Wife, united Mother and Father as well as a Husband and Wife, united Mother and Father.

No matter how amazing the woman, the value of marriage and a present, involved father cannot be underestimated. On Father’s Day, Single Mom Smiling would like to take time to honor and recognize 100 things I’ve seen men do to courageously carry on to build up their families in the face of the pull of modern society…Continue Reading

Father’s Day Survival Guide – 8 Tips for Single Moms

Father's Day Survival Guide for Single MomFathers should be honored and appreciated, but for the single mom, Father’s Day can present challenges.

Ad after ad shows giggling children bouncing on shoulders of fun loving dads, cuddling for stories, cooking messy masterpieces, climbing into their parents’ bed for tickles and laughter, and inviting scores of friends to a paint-balloon shootout barbecue in the backyard.

Friends on Twitter, Facebook, PinterestInstagram and other social media outlets post photos of their favorite parenting moments and praise husbands and fathers for being hard-working both at home and at work, for standing with their families in both good times and bad, and for being strong lovers, protectors, providers, leaders, and role models.

But life isn’t always so picture-perfect, and Father’s Day emptiness sometimes becomes a seemingly inescapable reality as single mothers kiss their children goodbye and watch them run off with a man who doesn’t match up with false promises.Continue Reading

Anna’s Story

A Daisy

Anna’s Story

I continue to receive email from women in situations similar to the one I found myself in six years ago. Once in a while one of them agrees to have her story published, hoping to help another in a similar situation, hoping others feel less alone, hoping others understand, pray, and love and that God hears those prayers and bring their husbands back.

Anna is one such brave, faithful woman. This is Anna’s story:Continue Reading