Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 19, 1915 when ground was broken for St. Stephen Church, Hamden.
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BDunn 4C 75x75Column name: The Merry Catholic

Ever go to the Department of Motor Vehicles? You see people waiting in line, bored, listless, hands in their pockets. They slowly make their way forward. When they finally get what they came for, they make a beeline for the parking lot. “There,” they think to themselves, “that obligation of getting the car registered is done. Won’t have to come back here again, hopefully, for another year or two.”

A lot of people have the same attitude and appearance when they receive Communion at Mass (including the part about not coming back for another year or two). They wait in line, bored, listless, hands in their pockets. They slowly make their way forward. When they finally get what they came for, they make a beeline for the parking lot.

Most of us in the pews can’t quite see what happens at Communion. But according to a few priests and deacons I’ve talked to, apparently the manner in which many people receive the Eucharist is downright dreadful. It seems our parishes have an epidemic of irreverence.

Some people hold out their hand to receive the host with all the enthusiasm of a guy waiting at a bus stop checking to see if it just started to rain.

Some people snatch the host from the priest’s or deacon’s hand like they were taking a number at the deli counter. You almost expect them to stand off to the side waiting for their number to be called and then order a pound of liverwurst.

Some people commit gross violations, such as waiting until they return to the pew before consuming the host, or even worse, breaking it in pieces and sharing it with young children who have not had their first Communion yet.

But it’s really not so much a problem of irreverence. It’s a problem of ignorance. Receiving Communion has become a rote ritual for many Catholics, similar to a trip to the DMV, because we’ve forgotten what is present in the Eucharist – or rather, who is present.

Most of us haven’t heard a detailed explanation of the church’s doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist since CCD class in the fourth grade. And I don’t know about you, but when I was in the fourth grade, I had the attention span of a cocker spaniel puppy. (Actually, that’s an insult to cocker spaniel puppies – my attention span was much worse.)

Anyway, let’s just say it’s been a long time since the average Catholic was taught the bread and wine are truly transformed into the body and blood, soul and divinity, of Jesus. It’s not symbolic; it’s not merely a remembrance ceremony. It is truly Jesus in the flesh.

How can this happen, you ask. Well, it’s a divine, supernatural miracle. If we’re Catholic, we already believe in miracles: the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the Red Sox winning the World Series, etc. We believe miraculous things are possible when God causes them to happen. Just look in the mirror. Your very existence is a supernatural miracle. Of course, some folks look rather super, while the rest of us look a little too natural.

We believe the bread and wine truly become the body and blood of Jesus. Now, we don’t believe this because it sounds nice, or because some church leader tells us it’s true. We believe it because Jesus himself clearly taught that it’s true. It really makes all the difference in the world.

So at Mass, let’s try to be more reverent when we receive Communion. Let’s remember exactly who is being placed in our hands. And you don’t even have to bring your vehicle registration form with you.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.