The parish bulletin editor has taken to using “C.E.” (Common Era) for “A.D.” (anno domini, year of the Lord) and “B.C.E.” (Before the Common Era) for “B.C.” (Before Christ).  This is madness.  Christians are to conform to the usage — in their own church bulletins — of people who don’t believe in the Lord as such or would rather not allude to Him?

Also in the bulletin, in advice on how to receive communion in the flu season, are some more understandable but noteworthy expressions, noteworthy in that they (I think) reveal an odd approach to liturgical practice.

One is to substitute “a genuinely warm verbal exchange” for the handclasp of peace.  In my opinion, there’s a whole mentality about mass attendance there.  My warm verbal exchanges I have found incompatible with whatever prayerfulness I have been able to gin up in the course of the service, and in general I find them better engaged in on the street, where I meet a friend, or sometimes a stranger who looks amenable, or in a party.  Mass is not a party, in my book.

I have a solution to the handclasp problem, however.  It’s the fist-bump that Stan the mechanic gives me when we close a deal, or — and this I least expect to see — a high five, accompanied by a wink.  Indeed, once I gave the lady offering me the wine cup a wink, which startled her, I think.  Trouble was, and is, I find the warm verbal stuff hard to come up with when faced with a total stranger and prefer something, oh, more matter-of-fact.  Know what I mean?

Another item in the anti-flu advice category is the one urging us to give up our communion on the tongue rather than in the hand, which has become customary in this day of reformed church practice.

While we respect your preferred way of receiving the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion, we ask you to consider having the Eucharistic Minister reverently place the Blessed Sacrament into the palm of your hand.

“We respect your preferred way.”  Ah, my friend, do you not know that the tolerance which you proffer for tongue-reception (mouth wide open, head tilted back — while standing), puts the cart before the horse?  Tolerance, permission has been given for taking it in your hand!

You didn’t know that, because you know what’s done and little else, but Father Resident surely can set you straight, he is so well versed in our obligations of one sort or other, as is clear from his highly instructional homilies.

It’s true.  First there was on the tongue, at least since Pius X got us all to go to communion more than once a year at Eastertide, and then, in the wake of Vatican 2, there has been taking it in the hand.  The respect, aye, even tolerance is better saved for the latter.

That said, you have a point about flu bugs going directly from giver’s fingers to recipient’s mouth, or vice versa.  So when I take the bread, I will do it in the hand, except when I take it at my local Pius X Society mass at Ridgeland and Washington, in the converted Presbyterian church. 

In that church, at that mass, I will kneel and put my tongue out for the priest to drop it on while saying in Latin, “May the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ keep thy soul unto eternal life.”  Flu or no flu.

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