Sunday, March 18, 2012

Open Communion

So here's how I see it.

Though the missalettes in the pew may have instructions on who may receive communion, the rules do not always apply.  Especially at funerals and weddings.  Although - for a time - there was a prohibition against showing up in a sash:  If you were wearing a Rainbow Sash, you could not receive, and if you approached to receive, you would be denied communion - although you might have received a 'blessing'.  See - that's another place where Fr. Guarnizo went wrong I think - he could've, should've offered a 'blessing' to Barbara Johnson.  That said - I don't think a priest has a leg to stand on refusing communion to someone just because they are wearing a colorful accessory - not after the Fr. Guarnizo correction... at least that argument may likely be raised from now on.*

Anyway, so when my relatives go to Mass for one of their kids to get baptized - as they have done - they can go to communion, even though they haven't been in a church since the last funeral, and haven't been to confession once in their adult lives.  (No, they do not marry in the Church either.)

Likewise, anyone can go to communion standing, kneeling, lying prostrate; receive in the hand, on the hand, or on the tongue; dressed in a tank top and jeans, or shorts, or topless - depending on the country.  Come as you are - everyone is welcome.  Gather us in.

That's the way it is when Catholic teaching and discipline is taught, but not practiced, when priests and bishops neither agree nor support one another.  It's a free-for-all.

Rose?  Or pink?

I think everyone knows the answer to that one.

Gree-vee-ous or grie-vous?

C'mon Fathers - you should know this.  (Hi Nan - my pastor pronounces it wrong too!)

Photo:  John Paul II in New Guinea accepting the gifts.  Oh, lighten up. 

*Note:  I'm against it, of course. 
**How irishronic - I just discovered Nat'lCathRegister has a post entitled "Closed Communion" - this post has nothing to do with that one.


  1. Well, obviously proper dress WOULD reflect the country, right? What counts as scant, immodest dress here would not be in say, Papua New Guinea.

    I read somewhere about an extreme case - a church deep in Africa where the men in the parish reported problems with chastity only after the priest had gotten women to cover up - apparently, it caused tem to focus MORE on the women's bodies, not less.

    But on a different note, why is it that the Orthodox guard the Sacrament so fiercely, ad that usually one ha to at least introduce oneself to the priest before receiving, yet here, they hardly even mention that you have to be worthy (well, NO ONE is worthy, buy I mean properly disposed)? I know that many people, especially the go-to-church-occasionally types, have never even heard this - for them it's just another thong you "do" before you get to leave - sit, stand, kneel, stand, get communion, kneel, etc.

  2. "for them it's just another thong you "do" before you get to leave"

    "thong"? You are obsessed, aren't you. LOL! Just kidding Merc - but it is amusing. Sorry.

  3. It's when I write comments on the iPhone - the stupid 'o' is right next to the 'i' ... Oh, dear.

  4. I hope it made you laugh.

  5. Of course, as much as I can through all the paranoia :)

    btw, I HATE the new captcha - some are impossible.

  6. I don't know. I mean when missionaries arrived in Hawai'i (my mother's home) they found scantily clad brown skinned natives who really didn't know anything about modesty. It was a non issue. Women wore no tops of course. Today it is looked upon as puritanical that the missionaries asked the natives who converted to Christianity to cover themselves. This by the way is the origin of the MuuMuu. The Hawaiians found it a bit too confining and made it bit more airy and comfortable. My Hawaiian ancestors were baptised into Christ and died in Christ to their old ways and lifestyle. This same thing happened to my German Swiss ancestors when they were baptised and died into Christ and gave up their old pagan lifestyle whatever was not conformable to their lives in Christ....
    Therefore I am somewhat confused when in modern times the newly catechised and baptised continue on with their pagan customs which is confused with cultural traditions that can be fused onto the Catholic tree. Coming to Mass half naked is not in my mind a cultural tradition that is conducive with Catholic faith and practice. A scantily clad Hula dancer male or female has no more place in the mass than a belly dancer.

  7. LAETARE SUNDAY 2011 ----

    Some parishioners rejoiced in Jerusalem in Shorts and spaghetti top sun dresses at Mass today. ----

    It occurred to me that one could technically anonymously send a bulletin insert and at the discretion of the Pastor it would be put in the weekly bulletin:

    "As we approach summer we must again remember when coming to church that there is a dress code. We must remember to dress respectfully. No shorts, halter tops, thin strapped tops, bare feet or any other dress that is not appropriate. This is God's house, not ours."
    Appropriate dress required

    in the Church..

    No Shorts, Tanktops, or

    mini-skirts please

    Please do not recieve Our Lord in Holy Communion if you are not

    respectfully clothed

    But then the pastor might get chastised by his bishop if word reached the chancery .....such are the times in which we find ourselves.

  8. Servus - wow, you have both Hawaiian and Swiss ancestry - what a combination!

    I understand what you mean about the missionaries in Hawaii, but there were other places where this did not happen. And I don't know if I would assume that such cultures knew *nothing* about modesty - in some places people wear nothing but a gourd on a string, but you'd better damn well have that gourd in place!

    Also, a lot of cultures like that certainly have customs regarding chastity, sometimes very severe (a lot have rigid rules regarding menstruation and pregnancy, for example), complete with punishments. They usually do not look kindly upon promiscuity or adultery, not upon premarital sexual relations, etc. Margaret Meade was essentially a liar.

    It is the case in many times and places that the exposure of the female breast does not have the same effect on men as it does on us. If you grow up around it, it's not something that will automatically turn you on or make you struggle. For example, public breastfeeding is the norm in many many cultures around the world, including in places much more Christian than our own.

    While I admit Germany has slid back into paganism in many ways, I found it interesting that even pious old ladies there thought it silly that Americans found exposed breasts for the purpose of breastfeeding, or the exposure of the body in certain other contexts, to be a sexual issue at all. They actually thought it was kind of gross that we think that way.

    I admit, I am bothered by the sight of an exposed breast - but I can't generalize that onto everyone. At one time in the West, exposed ankles or shins was a BIG deal. Those same missionaries who went to Hawaii in the 19th century would have found a woman's one-piece bathing suit to be utterly scandalous even in context, as well as a man wearing a t-shirt and shorts in summer weather.

    Cultural practices that are sexual in nature - fertility rites and such, obviously shouldn't be incorporated - but we should also be careful not to presume sexual intent or perception when there is none (not saying that is the case here or in the examples you mentioned, but it is true).

  9. I mean granted the majority of early original missionaries were what the Hawaiians refer to as "Kalavina" Calvinists and the few remaining Native Hawaiian Churches (where Hawaiian is the language of worship) are Congregationalist (UCC).

    My knowledge of the ancient Hawaiians is that they had a system of Kapu (Tapu) TABOOS that women didn't have sexual relations during menstruation and couldn't eat with men. I list goes on and on. promiscuity was something that was a part of life. I can only speak for Polynesians but you will not find bare chested Polynesians at worship. My point is that they gave that up when they became Christian. It was incompatible with their new faith.

    Now, I'm not Puritan and I have no issue with women breast feeding in public etc. I think Germans rightly poke fun at American hypocrisy with having issue with nudity in film but not so much with extreme violence in a film. They find it odd (so do I).

    There is definately a Catholic standard of modesty. it is neither puritanical nor libertine. it is becoming of Catholic men and women.

  10. I agree, servus.

    You must obviously know more about Polynesians than I do. Can your mom speak Hawaiian? I am a linguist by training, and the fact of a language with just 13 sounds (AEHIKLMNOPUW')is fascinating.

    There are standards, yes, but it's not merely mathematical - I guess you said it best that is all come down to common sense. Context is important too, whether it's culture, function, or familiarity - a bathing suit on a beach or in a restaurant is a different matter, and how we dress (or don't) in front of our spouse is different than with other people, of course. And what the doctor sees and what our friends see is also different.

    You were right that it really is a simple question "am I a likely occasion of sin for others?" Likely, not just possible, otherwise no one could ever dress to look good, and women would have to wear burkas.

    And of course this is all very male-centric. I have heard women say that a man dressed in a tuxedo can actually be more tempting than a man dressed in his underwear.

  11. I guess you'd agree that "low-rider" jeans with exposed boxer shorts are a problem? :)

  12. I've always thought sheer, lacey albs and surplices on priests were immodest. And don't get me started on fiddlebacks that are sometimes way too short for comfort.


  13. Terry, the Yiddish word is schlock to describe those transparent, lacey albs and surplices (actually short cottas) together with chopped up, truncated fiddleback-style vestments so favored by the Roman OF devotees.

  14. Ha! Thanks Robert! I always forget the name 'short cottas' - it almost makes it sound worse. LOL!

  15. You're welcome, Terry.

    Correction: I should have said, " ... fiddleback-style vestments so favored by the Roman EF devotees," not "OF devotees."

  16. Mercury,

    I have a passive knowledge of Hawaiian but nothing like what I think I should have. I think part of the missionaries success in the Hawaiian islands was the tradition of a prophecy of a returning "god" who would bring a new faith to them on "floating islands" ie ships. Anyway, that's what I was always told.

    Interestingly, one of the pagan elements that survived was the concept of ancestral "protective spirits" 'Aumakua our family had two from both sides. We were basically told to have no fear of sharks as my great grandmother would call them to feed them on the reef! I always tried to imagine this scene.

    I do have to say however that few peoples have had such a deep and dramatic conversion as have the Polynesians.

  17. Interesting how lots of cultures seem to have been "prepped" for the Gospel, huh?

    I wonder if the 'Aumakua are anything like guardian angels.

  18. Servus - I had a hula hoop when I was a kid.

  19. Mecury

    I am assuming the 'Aumakua operated similar to guardian angels but they were almost always animals or minor deities.


    I had a hula hoop too!


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