From a reader:
I have a BA in Catholic Theology and A MA in Religious Studies; however, my background is not strong in liturgy. I focused on pastoral ministry, youth ministry and world religions.
Could you help me answer a question with your background and expertise?
We occasionally visit a relative in ___ who attends a Catholic Church that serves communion that looks, tastes and feels like wheat bread that you would serve at dinner, not the traditional wafer-hosts that we are used to here in ___. What I found disturbing was that these hosts at the ___ Church produce crumbs, which we observed being wiped off of by numerous folks’ hands as they were walking back to their pews after communion line and these crumbs were on the floor. My young son was appalled and whispered to me that "Those people are wiping Jesus onto the floor and stepping on Him." Out of the mouths of babes…
It is my understanding that hosts for communion must be of the appearance of bread, be recognizable as bread, and only wheat may be used. It is also my understanding that crumbs should not be remaining with enough in quantity to cause communicants to wipe their hands off like they are "dusting off their hands." Is this Ohio Church granted some special permission to use real wheat bread instead of wafer-hosts? Are other parishes making this switch as well?
Needless to say, the few times that we do visit this relative when we are out of town, now we worship at another Catholic Church closer to our hotel that is more respectful of the Real Presence. I found this behavior at the Ohio Church to be offensive. I also have four small children and don’t want them confused or scandalized by the behavior of those at this Church who do not realize Whom it is that they are wiping onto the floor.
The relative who attends this Church is my brother-in-law and he labels his Church "progressive" and "up to date" with Church teaching and he says that my objections to the behavior of some people regarding the Eucharist are just "…your interpretations of Catholicism."
Why are some Catholic parishes allowed to get away with nonsense like this?
We attend a … Church in Michigan that is very traditional and has great reverence for the Eucharist. Relatives call us Pre-Vatican II Catholics, but I’d prefer to think we are just respectful Catholics.
If you could point me to a reference about the matter and form of Eucharist for non-liturgist specialists to understand, it would help me better explain this to my husband, too.
I will let others dig up the specific references.
I think there is a problem here. Your son noticed what was going on and said something. It must be noticeable. In this case, one of God’s little one’s was scandalized by what he saw.
Since you are not parishioners there, it is hard for you to intervene. On the other had, it sounds like there is a serious risk of profanation of the Blessed Sacrament going on at that parish.
You could first write to the pastor of the place, and make your concerns known. After that you would write to the local bishop, of the place where that parish is. The difficulty in writing directly to the Congregation in Rome is that some "proofs" are needed before they can really act quickly.
Everyone has a responsibility to see that the Church’s liturgy is conducted well. If there are liturgical abuses, we all have the duty to try to help correct them. This is made clear in the CDW’s Redemptionis Sacramentum:
6. Complaints Regarding Abuses in Liturgical Matters
[183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favouritism.
[184.] Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity.
If you write to anyone, keep in mind my tips.