Holy Eucharist & "Crackers" – UPDATED

Medal-Cross of St. Benedict

Is it too much, really, to ask reporters to get it right? They always seem to write some variation of this:

…he smuggled a Eucharist, a small bread wafer that to Catholics symbolic (sic) of the Body of Christ after a priest blesses it…

No. We believe it is the Real Body and Blood of Christ, after consecration. Not a “symbol” after a “blessing.” Is that so hard to get straight?

Don’t know how I missed this story, but I almost wish it had not been brought to my attention, because it’s very sad, and sickening. Follow the links from Matteo at Cartago Delenda Est here and here about this:

“Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers?” Myers continued by saying, “if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I’ll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won’t be tempted to hold it hostage (no, not even if I have a choice between returning the Eucharist and watching Bill Donohue kick the pope in the balls, which would apparently be a more humane act than desecrating a goddamned cracker), but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web.”

That from the website of a biologist and Associate Professor at U of Minnestota.

Can we say, “perpetual adolescent?” Yes, we can. Apparently this is a response to a rather tame – for him – statement by Bill Donoghue on a resolved situation concerning the University of Central Florida.

Most Catholics understand and accept that Christ told us we’d face hate and ridicule. Some, I have no doubt, are going too far in their anger and – in doing so – simply giving this pathetic creature some fodder for his freakout. If “death threats” have truly been made, well, that’s not only going too far, but it is unedifying behavior in a Christian. We’re supposed to be ready to die for the Christ, not threaten to kill others.

And I do hope that we don’t see Catholics insisting on “hate crimes” prosecution, because reducing things to “hate crimes” ultimately ends up affecting free speech. Let’s not be people who encourage that unhelpful movement. As I wrote a while back:

Really, all of this [anti-Christian, anti-Catholic stuff] comes with the job.

The job of the Christian is to hold fast in the face of chaos and recall that Christ is more powerful than any man or media, and that darkness does not overcome light. To be honest, all the fretting from us Christians is a bit unseemly. If we are secure in what we believe, a cartoon does not take us down, no matter how perverse and offensive, because Christ is alive, and Grace abounds, and because…the Holy Spirit has a way of confounding us by using what is out there in the world – sometimes very surprising things and people – to do the will of the One. Pray for those who hate us. There is power there.

Let us not forget that the Holy Spirit is whirling through all of this, and will do something with it. Our job, here, is prayer and love – yes, love, actually.

But, I must say, reading all of this I am more and more inclined to support the idea of Communion being received on the tongue rather than in the hand, which will help end such abuses. And it seems like this is the time to repost this conversation with Buster, from April, 2006 – I’ll blockquote the stuff to keep in mind:

Buster and the Gift Freely Given:

After Mass this evening Buster and I headed out for a quick hamburger and somehow the discussion came up about how the Holy Eucharist is sometimes accepted at Mass by someone only to remain unconsumed and spirited out of the church for use in various – always nefarious – ways.

“How exactly,” Buster asked me. “I’ve read that the Eucharist has been stolen for use in black masses – but what do they do with it, actually?”

I don’t like talking about this stuff, but I related a little – that some have put the Consecrated Host upon an “altar” and stabbed it, or sliced it, so as to “stab” Christ. “They believe, as we do, that the Eucharist is the actual, physical Presence, the Body and Blood of Christ,” I explained. “That’s why Wonder Bread and Grape Juice won’t do [nor will the unconsecrated wafers lying on the sacristy shelf of a Catholic church]. They want the Consecrated Host – they know what it is. Sometimes the desecrations can be tearing it up and stomping on it, or doing disgusting things to it. And sometimes the Host is even abused sexually. Just as sexual abuse or rape is about power and control and domination, someone who sexually abuses a Host, sees it as controling and dominating Christ.”

“But, it’s a Gift,” Buster said, “So they only cheat and hurt themselves.”

I was a little confused. “What do you mean, which is the Gift, the Holy Eucharist, or sexuality?”

“Both,” he said. “They’re both gifts, but I’m talking about the Gift of the Body of Christ.

Christ gave himself to us – freely – of his own free will. A Gift freely given. If someone takes the Gift and spits on it or whatever – they’re only destroying what was given to them, they are destroying what is “theirs.” They don’t in any way destroy the Giver of the Gift, or lessen the Giver…OR the Gift. So they have no power over it, they can’t dominate it. All they can do is destroy themselves within themselves.”

“Yes,” I agreed. If I freely give you a car, and you decide to smash it up, you’ve lost out, not me. If I give you my life, and you are unappreciative, it doesn’t lessen what I have done, but reveals the void within you.”

“That’s why even during the Passion of Christ, those who wanted Jesus dead could not have victory over him,” Buster mused, picking up on today’s Gospel reading. “So, no matter how they mistreated Him or misjudged Him, or tortured Him…He had consented to it. And so they lost, and He won.” The Power was always His.”

“Right,” I said, wondering what I was thinking about when I was 16 years old.

“And so, these people at the black masses – they have an illusion of power, but the power is always Christ’s, because He is the Gift.”


“It doesn’t make me feel any better to think of anyone desecrating a Host,” he mused. “But if they don’t realize that the power they think they have is only an illusion, then really…’they know not what they do.’”

I ordered espresso and wished for whiskey.

“It’s the same, then with the gift of our sexuality,” Buster said, eyeing a brownie sundae on the menu. “That’s a gift, too. Abuse it, and that doesn’t mean you have power over it. Abuse it, misuse it…it actually dominates you.”

“Yes,” I said, quietly. “Why don’t you order that thing? Why don’t you eat some chocolate, or something.”

He did and his mood brightened considerably.

“It’s a shame you don’t want to be a priest,” I said, shaking my head, referring to the fact that he has a push-me-pull-you going on with that idea. “You have something to say, and you’d sing a heck of a mass.”

“They’d hate me,” he said, flicking sloppy hot fudge all around him. “I’d talk about all these things no one wants to talk about.”

I stirred my coffee and thought…kid, you’d be surprised at how grateful some people would be to hear what you have to say.

UPDATE: Well, if the professor was looking for attention, he’s beginning to find it. This WaTimes piece quotes him as saying he has at least one Eucharistic Host in his possession with “double-digit” offers from others to provide him with same – who knows if any of it is true. I disagree with the WaTimes characterizing this post as “angry.” (The writer, Victor Morton, has been kind enough to clarify) I think I basically “rolled my eyes” at the adolescent behavior of this man and his crew. In truth, I haven’t seen any Catholic blogs that have been “angry” – the one’s I’ve looked at (not many are even writing on it) have been rueful, sad or loving. I also suspect that this professor is simply trying to give the Catholic League’s Bill Donoghue a stroke. Adolescent? Yes. Rather self-enthralled, too, sounds like.

Fr. James Martin shares some thoughts over at America Magazine’s blog

Related: Meyer & Shana; Growing Up vs Blaming

Today is the feastday of St. Benedict, the Father of Western Monasticism and one of the Patron Saints of Europe. Let us ask him to pray for us, that we may be guided in wisdom and in the love God has for each of us.

Icon of St. Benedict

At Inside Catholic Steve Skojec has more.
Confederate Yankee, too.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://sisu.typepad.com Sissy Willis
  • http://www.therextras.com Barbara

    (Prayer said.) Amen.

  • mathman

    Unfortunately for Myers, the only damage that he will do is to his own soul.
    In choosing to reject Messiah, he runs the certain risk of being himself rejected.
    That is not a problem now, it is rather a problem for eternity.
    Myers may not believe in eternity. His belief, of course, has no bearing on whether eternity exists. That there is eternity is itself a gift of faith, for unaided human minds cannot see forever.
    The real problem is that eternity apparently exists even for the rejected ones, who endure torment forever. See the history of Dives and Lazarus for details. Ugh. I DEFINITELY do not want to go there.

    Should he think himself truly brave, he could try desecrating a Koran.
    Or drawing a salacious cartoon of Mohammed (PBUH) (the Danish cartoonists).
    Or writing a book about some challenged early writings in the Muslim faith (Salman Rushdie).
    Any of these will provide him with an early look into eternity.
    And he will not be rewarded with the Paradise of Allah, either.

    Christians are more kind. We leave it to the Judge of All, Who on the Last Day will exercise His Judgment.

  • ricki

    I am a biologist and an Associate Professor.

    I am embarrassed for my profession about this U of Minnesota clown. (I am surprised that he does not face reprisals for it – even if he is “only” dissing Catholicism and not one of the “trendy” faiths on campus).

    I am not Catholic but I am disgusted by the idea of someone defiling what I know Catholics believe to be the body and blood of Christ.

    The man who is talking about doing this is disordered in some way. I hope he finds peace and healing; I cannot think that someone wanting to do this merely as a petulant anti-Christian, anti-God statement (which is what it appears to me to be) has got something troubling him.

  • KIA

    My guess is the U of MN prof is suffering from what I call “intellecutal atheism.” By that I mean, the mind can’t go where the soul wants to take it, consequently, it comes out as rage.

    Throughout my career I’ve worked with some real braniacs. I’ve always believed that most of them (the “so called atheists”), found God long ago. Finding God, IMO, has never been the problem as much as “giving up control” to God, that “obedience” thing.

    Bottom line, I thing this guy is cloer than he apparently “looks.” I suspect many good souls will be praying for him.

    I too Anchoress, believe, at least in these times, too much abuse has come about with receiving in the hand. Thank goodness Pope Benedict is on the same track, at the very least “setting the example.”

  • Lily

    I always feel very sad when faced with this sort of hateful behavior. But good can come of it. Perhaps, in all the various discussions on this man’s dreadful conduct, someone who knows nothing about the Eucharist will learn about it. And perhaps some people will start praying for this poor soul since I don’t think he travels in circles where people pray for each other much.

  • Bridey

    This is both shocking and terribly sad. And it illustrates why I dislike seeing the Catholic League — of which I have been a member, though I am not now — go on about “hate speech.”

    I know that, with his demands for consistency, Donohue is trying to use the “speech code” people’s own terms against them. (He’s not a subtle dude.) But it sometimes appears as though he’s saying laws or policies restricting speech are less the problem than their inconsistent application.

    The term “hate speech” was coined, of course, in the service of inventing categories of political and religious speech to which the First Amendment does not apply. It’s not as brilliantly obfuscatory as “pro-choice,” which was pure rhetorical genius. But when we are governed by those who appear, more and more every day, to have all the instincts of dictators, it may do very well.

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  • http://benningswritingpad.blogspot.com/ benning

    “perpetual adolescent?” – I think he exhibits an immaturity that is beneath any perpetual adolescent.

    How far have our educators fallen?

    Buster has a very sharp mind!

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  • rcareaga

    It will perhaps not surprise you, Madame A, to learn that I’ve followed and enjoyed Myers’ “Pharyngula” blog for some years now, but this episode makes me cringe a bit. Myers performs a valuable service in knocking down the execrable pseudo-science of the “intelligent design” crowd (I am speaking here as an educated layman who, although lacking Myers’ chops or credentials, has studied the now-contended issues with lively interest for some forty years), but I regret that he has become so emotionally wedded to atheism that he essays a puerile prank like this one. For the rest, I am disposed to disagree with “mathman,” who avers that Myers has assured himself an eternity of torment (eternity exists; we exist—for about threescore and ten; the universe has not been arranged as a torture-house for skeptics), and to warmly second the reservations “Bridey” has expressed about “hate speech” — along with “hate crime”* a pernicious legal notion upon which non-authoritarians of both left and right ought to pour scorn and abuse.

    *I do not deny that “hate crimes” occur, but it’s the crime that is properly prosecuted, and not the hate. Elizabeth I forbore to make windows into men’s souls. We, the descendants of the rebellious descendants of her loyal subjects, should meet at least that standard.

  • TheAnchoress

    Well, then, Rand you’ll perhaps give me credit for being at least as wise as that Elizabeth, as I too have stated pretty clearly that calling this a “hate crime” will only infringe upon all of our freedoms. I do manage to meet some standards, sometimes!

  • JuliB

    I was an atheist for 25 years before becoming Catholic. I never would acted this way. It’s frightening that such a undisciplined and hateful man teaches at a University.

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  • lat

    Is this true, that only the Pope can give Absolution for desecrating the Eucharist Host?

  • TheAnchoress

    I have absolutely no idea, but I doubt it. You might want to go to Catholic Answers and ask that one.

  • lat

    Thanks for checking. I just stopped by a Catholic Seminarian’s website and apparently, one of Mr Myers’ supporters used the site to post the um president’s email address. No shame–frightening, really.

  • layla

    Yes, lat, only the Holy Father in Rome can grant absolution for the sin of desecrating the Holy Eucharist. Naturally, in the case of an emergency, a priest can absolve the sin.