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How to Deal with a Mistake

One time, a visitor to St. George came forward for communion and brought a pyx (the small brass case used to carry the Eucharist to the sick) with him. He asked me to give him the Sacrament to take home to his sick wife. I told him "speak to me after Mass"; he was clearly upset by that. When I explained to him that "it doesn't work like that", he got even more upset at me. "I'm not going to do anything wrong with it; I'm just bringing it to my wife who is sick", he said.

It was difficult to explain to him the proper rules regarding the administration of communion to the sick. I tried to lay out the situation to him, but he kept repeating to me, "Other Priests would give it to me, I don't understand why you won't trust me". The rules are not unimportant; they were written in order to prevent irreverence or an abuse in the handling of the Sacrament.

The rule of the Church is that, of course, Priests and Deacons can bring the Sacrament. Also, Instituted Acolytes are specially appointed by the Bishop to bring the Eucharist to the sick. It is the case that Priests can appoint another parishioner temporarily if there is not an Acolyte available. Priests, however, do not have the authority to appoint someone who is not their own parishioner to bring communion to the sick. The Sacrament of the Body of Christ is not supposed to be given out haphazardly to anyone who says "can I take it home?" (yes, I know this occurs, but it should not!). Furthermore, it takes more than being Catholic to be approved to take the Sacrament to the sick. There is such a grave disrespect for the Sacrament today that people do not know how to handle it.

There are many reasons for this rule. Obviously it has to do with authority, but it is also an issue of oversight; if a stranger asks me to give him communion to take home, how do I know if he is properly trained to administer the Sacrament? How do I know that he is not planning on doing something immoral with the Sacrament? Anyone planning on using the Sacrament for a sacrilegious purpose is not going to say "I am the devil in disguise and I plan on performing a black Mass".

Thus, I want to encourage everyone: do not get upset with a Priest (or anyone for that matter) who explains something to you in the correct manner. It is not his fault if someone else (even another Priest) misled you. Priests have to give account someday for everything that they did in ministry, and most Priests take that seriously. If Jesus asks "why did you break this rule?" or "why did you show disrespect for My Body and Blood?", it will not be acceptable to answer, "I didn't think it was that big a deal" or "what someone else does is not my responsibility".

Understand, please, you may (even right now) have something that you are doing wrong. You may be performing a duty that you think is correct, but since you were misled in the first place, your performance is actually incorrect. Be willing to be corrected. Be willing to be open to whomever the Lord will send to correct you; especially if it is an ordained minister of God's Church. Be willing to grow closer to God, even if you have to have some of your rough edges smoothed out in the process.


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