CommunionFirst, a clarification: although I am a follower of the renegade Rabbi from Nazareth, worship according to the Roman Catholic rite, and sent all of my children to high schools run by Roman Catholic religious orders, I was raised in the United Methodist Church. (That's another tale ... ) This is also only a first person story in that it was related to me by a good friend, and I enjoy telling it for him because it helped me understand the intensity, peer pressure, and humor twined into the tension of growing through adolescence in the structured social fr
Let's call my friend Mike, a common enough name to avoid revealing his identity, even if I open the story as I learned it, riding the R2 home out of Philadelphia with Mike after working on a contract project, usually standing for most of the fifty minute ride and talking about Anything But Work. Mike and I quickly exhausted current events and moved on to family stories, and when I mentioned a daughter who was attending a big coed Catholic school, he asked who had taught her classes so far?
Being a graduate of that school, he said, he had strong feelings about some of the teachers, both pro and con -- and since his mother taught there, knew a bit more about them than the average disciple to that temple of Knowledge. His family, though, was "casually Catholic", Mike said, and did not push their children's involvement much beyond instruction for first Communion and twice-annual presence in the back rows for Christmas and Easter, slipping out early to avoid the exit rush.
So, Mike said, his radar was down when yet another all school gathering in the auditorium was scheduled -- cool, another hour free from teachers assigning homework and giving surprise exams, eh?
The guys were sitting together in the back rows, of course, and kept their buzz down to a low rumble during the readings and the priest's talk -- stand up when everyone else stood up, sit when they sat, easy. But then, Mike said, suddenly everyone got quiet for no reason he could tell -- so, all right, he kept quiet, too.
And now everyone was getting up and filing down in a line to where the padre and one of the upperclass girls were standing; Mike couldn't see quite what was going on, they seemed to be getting something, then returning to their seats looking real quiet. Okay, just go with the flow, right?
Now, it was Mike's turn at the head of the line, and the padre held a wafer up, saying something he didn't catch (being a little distracted by the upperclass student taking care of the other line), so he put on his best winning grin, held out his hand, and said "Cool!" -- the priest gave him a disgusted look and gave him the wafer. Suddenly aware that he had somehow botched the transaction and was In Front Of Everybody, he turned and put it away for further inspection, follwed the conga line back to his seat, and knelt just like the others.
Sneaking looks left and right, he saw that all of his buddies were quietly chewing something -- recollection of younger days suddenly kicked in and he realized with horror that he had just put Jesus in his pocket!
So he removed the Host from its safe location, received and consumed. Deo gratias.