By Christina Debusschere
Christina Debusschere is a wife and mother from Alberta, Canada. After being homeschooled K-12, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Music and Bachelor of Education from the Concordia University of Edmonton. She blogs with her husband at www.theromanticcatholic.wordpress.com.
Recently, a piece that I wrote concerning Communion on the tongue was published by Crisis Magazine, and this post is a sequel to good news. Effective July 1st, permission was granted for Catholics in our archdiocese to once again receive Communion on the tongue. Many of us breathed a collective sigh of relief and thanked God. This year has been long without the help of the Eucharist, which, for future reference, is an essential service. We grieve the lost opportunities of the past year, yet we rejoice at the thought of returning to the wedding feast of the Lamb.
One might look back over this experience and think, “Were we foolish to wait so long? We could have had the help of our Lord’s Body and Blood to further our spiritual progress and prepare us for the challenges that the world continues to throw at us. Should we have done things differently?”
While this is a difficult question to grapple with, the Eucharist is a grave matter and we should not beat ourselves up for giving it much consideration. We can look around the Church and count numerous problems that either spring from a poor understanding of the Eucharist or have led to a poor understanding of the Eucharist. While I pointed out in my recent article that choosing to receive on the tongue can be an opportunity to set a public example of respect for the Body of Christ, the real reason we should be choosing that method of reception is just that: reverence for the Body of Christ.
I do not think that this year of abstaining was wasted. As the old saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and I’m sure there is more than one heart out there that has ached and groaned with longing for the Eucharist. How much more fulfilling it is when we finally receive the Bread of Life! In his homily on Sunday, our priest mentioned that the choice to receive the Body of our Lord is a deeply intimate one, which leads me to think of the following expression in the Song of Songs: “Eat, O friends, and drink, and be inebriated, my dearly beloved.” (Song of Songs 5:1) In Behold the Pierced One, Joseph Ratzinger says that “the renunciation of the sacrament could in fact express more reverence and love than a reception which does not do justice to the immense significance of what is taking place. Fasting of this kind—and of course it would have to be open to the Church’s guidance and not arbitrary—could lead to a deepening of a personal relationship with the Lord in the sacrament.” (pp. 97-98) When he mentions the Church’s guidance, I think of our obligation to receive once a year during the Easter season: there is no way of escaping that precept of the Church, but it is for the good of our souls.
There are some answers that only God knows. When it comes to matters of conscience and individual practice during challenging times like these, I can only go so far on my weak understanding. I cannot rely entirely on myself. At some point, faith in the unseen takes over and even if I cannot fully explain my choice, I can rely on the wisdom of the Church and the example of her saints to guide me.
In the end, I give it to God. All of my efforts, ideas, and decisions are placed before Him as I say, “Be merciful to me, a fool.” A balance needs to be struck between what we ourselves choose in good faith and what we must submit to the mercy of almighty God. A poem that has struck a chord with me as I reflect on this issue is Edward Rowland Sill’s The Fool’s Prayer. It captures what I cannot say with my own words about the smallness and silliness of our efforts on earth and how reliant we are upon God’s mercy.