There’s a video making the rounds on Facebook depicting distribution of Communion during Sunday’s papal Mass in Manila. In it, we see various individuals — not a few of whom appear to be laity — placing the Eucharist in the hands of those in the front of the crowd to be handed back like common food.
The original video currently appears only on Facebook, but we have received permission to create a YouTube copy for your convenience:
Some have gone so far as to describe what you are seeing here as a “desecration” of the Eucharist. While I doubt this is intentional, I find it hard to dispute that description. Whatever the case, I can’t see a way any Catholic who believes in the Real Presence would find this appropriate.
Contrast what you are seeing in the video above with this section of our featured video of Bishop Athanasius Schneider, where he describes the reverence with which we should treat the sacred host (the most relevant clip begins at 8:56, as linked, and ends at 10:39, but the entire section beginning at minute 5:00 is beautiful and worth watching if you have the time):
Can we think of any substance on this earth more precious than the Eucharist? Not gold or silver or platinum, not diamonds or jewels, not any other tangible thing has a value comparable to Our Eucharistic Lord. To treat Him in such a way that the sacred species may be profaned, trampled, or crushed…it should horrify us.
It is essential that we correct these practices, beginning at the parish level, so that people return to a sense of the sacred and this reverence becomes instinctive – no matter the circumstances.
There are those who may ask, “What are people supposed to do at these large papal Masses?”
I’ve got a poor head for logistics, so I won’t make concrete suggestions except to ask: does the value of these large papal Masses outweigh the offenses against the Blessed Sacrament that occur during them? I’ve heard stories about consecrated hosts brought home from World Youth Day and put in scrapbooks, or sold as memorabilia on Ebay. We already have seen the rise of Satanic Masses which desecrate the Eucharist – requiring hosts that are easily obtained from venues where nobody will notice them being stolen.
But if these Masses are deemed a necessary witness of the faith, then perhaps if communion can’t be distributed in an appropriate fashion, it should not be distributed to the entire gathering. We do not need to receive communion at every Mass we attend. In fact, if we are not properly disposed, we should not receive, even if we are in a state of grace. Personally, I find the idea of seeing my Lord handled like a beach ball at a concert more than sufficient to cloud any sense of proper disposition.
How many of those hosts were unintentionally dropped and stepped on, to say nothing of the lost fragments? How many were pocketed and brought home? How many were received by those who were non-Catholic, or were not in a state of grace? There’s simply no reasonable way I can conceive of for a Mass with over a million people in attendance to handle distribution of communion properly. It is a wonderful thing to yearn for our Lord in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar and to desire to be present with the Vicar of Christ in a public Mass. But that yearning should be accompanied by a deep and abiding sense of propriety, a desire never to offend Him or profane His sacred body, even by accident.
What about you? What do you think? Leave your comments below.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have eight children.