Sunday, March 1, 2015

The bishop made me cry

Image result for Communion in the hand
Today, the presider at Sunday mass was a dear friend and past spiritual director of mine who ended up being called by Pope John Paul II to become a bishop over twenty years ago. My bishop friend has always been a very humble man who values the involvement and efforts of people in the pews. He once asked me to help him lead a confirmation retreat. He's one of those priests who isn't stuck in the "us" and "them" mentality that many clerics seem to hold when it comes to lay people. He's one of the flock under the Good Shepherd, even as a bishop.

I really appreciated his homily, and the fact that he focused on God's love in the story of the prodigal father -- how tough the father is, how determined to love even in the face of his sons' rejection.

I was grateful when he prayed the more down-to-earth Apostle's creed instead of the super-wordy Nicene, though it caused a bit of confusion in an archdiocese that's been stuck on the latter since the new Roman Missal translation came out (Rant Alert: for us men and for our salvation hurts every time I hear it! I'm not a man, and never will be!!! And that kind of language is another example of women are pushed down to the level of second-class citizens all over the world).

But it was the bishop's actions at Eucharist that made me cry.

Since the Roman Missal was altered, lay eucharistic ministers have been banished from the altar until the priest has received communion. But this morning, the bishop gathered the ministers around him, distributed communion to them all, and after he completed the final prayers, he and everyone else partook together.

A small difference, but it made me cry tears of happiness -- and pain. The bishop refused to separate himself, to hold himself above the others to be the first to receive. His decision to share the sacred bread with the lay eucharistic ministers who were assisting him with distributing communion is how I imagine Jesus would want all those who serve him to share Eucharist.

I'm convinecd my bishop friend did it right, and I pray for the day when the men who make the liturgical rules see, respect and acknowledge the equality of everyone the way the bishop did this morning.

Come, Holy Spirit!

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