… I just had the absolute worst experience ever during mass, at my Abuela’s funeral no less. I wasn’t going to post about here but I feel I have a duty to warn you all. If you ever happen to find yourself visiting the Tidewater area of Virginia and need to go to mass… just drive right by St. Therese in Chesapeake. Simply make the sign of the cross and keep on driving. Don’t look back. Trust me.
But of course, feel free to completely ignore my advice if you like your tabernacle located near the church office, absolutely love ginormous burlap banners, and simply loathe kneelers. Perhaps you find it charming and personable that the Sign of Peace last twenty minutes long because the priest likes to walk around and shake everyone’s hand. How friendly, right?
Maybe those stodgy, formal processions aren’t your thing either and you like a little a warm up how-we-doing-this-morning routine before you get down to mass-y business.
But if sacrilege is your cup tea, boy oh boy, is this parish just for you – especially if you have complete and utter disrespect for the Eucharist and disdain for those disgusting “traddies” that like to receive on the tongue. I mean gross, right? Yeah, to hell with those people. Lets just be jerks to them at their grandmother’s funeral.
I mean I’ve heard stories about priests refusing to give communion to people kneeling or on the tongue before but have never witnessed it myself. I just had such a hard time believing a priest could be so poorly formed or dismissively casual with the Eucharist.
Woa, wait a minute, Katrina. This is the internet and everyone reading this will know exactly who are talking about.
What this priest did was totally inexcusable.
Not only did he consecrate a wheat pita but when I went up to receive on the tongue he forcefully tried to pry open my hands to put the Eucharist in my palm. When I remained in front of him with my mouth open, holds folded closed, to receive on the tongue he grabbed my hand and took the Body of Christ, wedged it between my fingers and said, “Just take it. It’s easier this way.”
Easier for what or whom?! There were not even 50 people in that church! How was me receiving on the tongue going to disrupt the communion line? It made absolutely no sense. Just take it, it’s easier this way? And at my grandmother’s funeral is where you decide to make your little anti-trad point?
And while he was busy making a show out of denying me communion on the tongue in front of my family at my dead grandmother’s funeral, he was hap-happily giving out consecrated wheat pita to the rest of my non-Catholic family without a moment of instruction or notice in the program on why they shouldn’t receive.
[edited 3/11/15 @ 9:41am est] He took time out of the liturgy to inform the congregation that they don’t kneel at his parish and that we should all remain standing through the consecration and until the last person has received. It would have taken all of five more seconds to say, “Oh, by the way. We really believe this is the Body of Christ so if you aren’t Catholic please just come up for a blessing but don’t receive.” Five more seconds to add that in, that’s it. But that’s five seconds taken away from his meet and greet Sign of Peace.
This parish has absolutely no understanding of the sacraments. To illustrate my point, last month when I got the call from my family that Abuela was back in the hospital and it wasn’t looking good I decided to call her church and let Father know. I reached the parish secretary and the conversation went like this…
Me: My grandmother is in the hospital dying and I would like Father to administer Last Rites.
Secretary: Well, Father stays pretty busy but we have a ministry team of people that regularly visit the sick and pray over them.
Me: No, I want her to receive Last Rites.
Secretary: Well, the members of this ministry can anoint her for healing.
Me: Well, that’s lovely but you can’t heal death. She.is.dying. I would like her to receive Last Rites.
Secretary: I have a few members of the ministry available now. Are you sure you wouldn’t like them to visit with her?
Me: Unless they can hear her dying confession, absolve her, and prepare he soul from one transition to the next, no.
I was flabbergasted we were having this conversation. It was obvious that she had made no distinction between praying over someone for healing and the sacrament of last rites. But I don’t blame her. I blame the pastor of this parish for so miserably failing his congregation and not teaching them about the sacraments.
Is this a harsh critique? Yes, but it is deserving. Abuses like these need to be harshly admonished so they can be corrected. Also, I want people to know about this parish for two reasons, 1) because they are in desperate need of prayer and 2) so they can avoid it at all costs.
People have said I should write the Bishop; I plan to. Others have suggested I request an apology from the offending priest. It’s not me he needs to apologize to. He owes his congregation the apology for failing them in the formation of their faith.
My hopeful outcome to this whole miserable situation would be that this parish receives a greater respect for the Eucharist and at the very least provide instructions on their website and in their bulletins that non-Catholics should not receive the Eucharist to prevent profaning the Body of Christ. And of course, that this priest never, ever publicly shame and humiliate another Catholic for wanting to kneel during the consecration or receive on the tongue. [end edits]
Pray for the parish of St. Therese and ask the church’s patron for her intercession. As for the rest, avoid the church at all costs unless you’re in mood for a little sacrilege in your liturgy.