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The Communion Line Shuffle

I can be a pretty awful Catholic sometimes. The worst part is that I do not often notice how awful I am until divine intervention hits me on the head. Then there's the husband. God with His sense of humor and in His infinite genius, well, He decided it would be best for me to marry an agnostic-turned-Catholic who now gives ME pointers on how to be a good Catholic. No, he's not a niggling nit-picker...and no, he's not turning into a Sedevacantist nut. However, he is teaching me in his own quiet ways....and here I am...his confirmation sponsor...putting my foot in my mouth time and time again these days. And I am (a bit grudgingly at times) loving every moment of it.

One of these moments happened a month or so ago before communion. The husband made a joke about how I had moved from one communion line to another so I could receive from the padre. At the time, I appreciated the work that extraordinary ministers put into mass and liked a few of the extraordinary ministers in my church. However, I didn't want to receive communion from them. At the time, I believed that it was less authentic. I believed that I should receive from the priest...and only the priest. I mean, come on...what are the chances that the extraordinary ministers prayerfully wash their hands before administering communion? What are the chances that they've reached the level of holiness of the priest during mass? What are the chances that they will know what to do with me...this old-school Catholic who still kneels and receives on the tongue? These, and a few more excuses, made me move from one line to another on any given Sunday....regardless of how obvious it was.

The husband noticed and made a bit of joke about it. Since getting confirmed, he hasn't bothered himself too much about communion lines as long as he receives. He had no idea why it mattered so much to me. I laughed it off and didn't think too much about it until a week or so after when I found myself sitting in mass. Having gone to confession, I was thinking about communion and hoping that I would end up in the priest's line and not the line of the extraordinary minister.

Then all of a sudden it felt like the world had stopped and time had frozen.

In my mind, I heard "And why is that piece of my body any less than the rest? What makes that piece any less than the rest?"

I was a bit floored by this. The idea of one host being less worthy than the rest is an idea that never crossed my mind before. I mean, yes, my husband and I had talked about how ridiculous it must look whenever I shuffled from one line to another. However, we never discussed the theological implications of my ridiculous behavior. In moving from one line to another, I was attributing holiness to the person administering the sacrament...not the sacrament itself. Whoah! Talk about a hit to the head! I finally woke up and the scales of vanity and holier-than-thou pride fell from my eyes. Without saying a word, I got in line when the time came, received communion from the extraordinary minister, and accepted all of it with a humility that can only come from a repentant heart. And you know what? It was fine. The placed the host on my tongue and didn't even flinch when I kneeled. The church didn't burst into flames and the grace that rained down on me from heaven felt no less refreshing than it ever did. Perhaps it even felt a bit better than usual because Christ loves obedience and humility more than he does misplaced piety.

The husband, of course, noticed my change in heart and gave me one of this looks. I explained and we had one of those "I told you so" moments that tend to happen whenever my head becomes a little less hard and my heart a little more humble.