Summary: None of us deserves this great kindness from God. We can only accept it as His unmerited favor and mercy.
1) Lon Bonsberry is a native Texan, Vietnam Veteran, and legal editor. He has a website called “Writers on the Loose” and on his homepage he recounts a story of “The Time I Received Holy Communion”
2) He writes of how when he was just 12 years old, he and his ten-year-old brother boarded a passenger train in Houston, Texas, bound for New York City. They were going to spend the summer with relatives they had never seen.
3) They had many adventures and exciting times but one incident has stuck in his mind to this day.
4) Their relatives were Catholics. He and his brother attended a Baptist church in Houston, but they were unsure if they were Baptists or not because whenever they asked their mom what religion they were, she would simply reply “We’re Protestants.” Ron wasn’t sure what a Protestant was, but he knew that we weren’t Catholics.
So the first Sunday we were in New York, we found out that we would be going to church with little Bernie. Aunt Francis told us to “just do what Bernie does, it’ll be fine.” On this particular Sunday, all the kids sat separately up towards the front of the church ,,, adults sat in the rear and in the balcony.
The service was in a language that I would later learn is called Latin, so we couldn’t understand anything that was said. But it was a big beautiful church and the music was really nice too. There was much kneeling down and then getting up and we didn’t understand, but we just did what Bernie did, as Aunt Francis told us.
Then the kids started standing up and moving out into the aisle and up to the altar. And when Bernie, stood up and moved to the aisle, my brother and I stood up and moved to the aisle. When Bernie walked up to the altar, we walked up to the altar. When Bernie knelt down in front of the railing, we knelt down too. We were just doing what we had been told.
The priest and an altar boy moved down the row of kneeling kids, placing the host on their tongue, and then moving to the next one. I could see him approaching out of the corner of my eye. He came to Bernie and placed the host on his tongue. He and the altar boy then stood in front of me. The priest placed the host on my tongue while the altar boy held a tray underneath, to catch the host in case it fell I figured. Then they moved to my little brother.
Aunt Francis had given each of us a quarter for the offering. So when the priest placed the host on my brother’s tongue, my brother placed his quarter on the tray.
Now the priest was a large man by any standard. And for a couple of small kids kneeling at his feet, he appeared to be truly gigantic! And when he roared to my little brother, “Take that off of there!!!!”, it seemed like the voice of God himself had chastised us. We were very afraid and couldn’t wait to get back to our pew.
Well, Aunt Francis was just mortified by what happened, and spent most of the afternoon in her room saying the rosary. It seems like she had forgotten that little Bernie was getting Communion that Sunday. Uncle Bernie was pretty laid back, and when we got home, he just opened a beer and watched the Yankees on TV. And little Bernie just couldn’t stop laughing and couldn’t wait to tell all his friends what had happened.
Like I said, we had many great times that summer in New York. And when we boarded the train for home, we knew we would miss Aunt Francis, Uncle Bernie, and little Bernie. And we knew we would always remember the time we received Holy Communion.
Now I don’t know if that was a sin or not, but we were just a couple of kids from Texas and there was no evil in our hearts ,,, so I don’t worry about that.
5) Well, what are some of your own first or early memories of Holy Communion and how did they impact your thinking and affect your participation today?
6) I can recall at least a couple of dear Church people who have refused to partake of Holy Communion because they felt they were too unworthy and it seemed that no amount of explanation and Biblical evidence on my part was able to dislodge that faulty understanding in their minds.
7) Somehow, at a most impressionable time in their life, they had come to feel so petrified of “eating the bread and drinking the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner” and being thereby “guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord” and becoming weak, sick, or even dying that this unholy fear had poisoned their thinking and made prisoners of their spirits.