June 23, 2019
The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
Dear Parishioners of Our Beloved St. Paul:
Praised be Jesus Christ, and Mary, His Most Holy Mother!
In years past when Holy Communion was received universally “at the rail”, distribution was carried out by the Priest, with no variation in reception on the part of the communicants. Today it seems that there are dozens of ways in which Catholics receive the Blessed Eucharist, yet this should not be so.
Though the official Catholic norm is still for reception of the Most Holy Sacrament on the tongue, if Holy Communion is to be received in the hand it should be so done in the following, correct manner: While in line, the communicant reverences (makes a bow) to the Sacrament while the person in front of them is receiving. When the priest, deacon, or extraordinary minister says, “The Body of Christ,” the communicant responds, “Amen,” and puts out their tongue and receives; or puts out their hands (one hand under the other) as flatly as possible; the Sacred Host is then placed on the flat, horizontal palm. The communicant then steps aside (so that the next person can receive), and immediately places the Host on their tongue with the other hand, and returns to their place in the congregation.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386 A.D.) gave instruction for the manner in which the faithful should receive: "They should make a throne of their hands, laying the right upon the left to form a throne for the King, forming at the same time a cross. This symbolic gesture, so fine and so profound, is what concerns him: The hands of man form a cross, which becomes a throne, down into which the King inclines himself. The open, outstretched hand can thus become a sign of the way that a man offers himself to the Lord, opens his hands for him, that they may become an instrument of his presence and a throne of his mercies in this world."
Presenting oneself to receive with hands that are curled, cupped, held down low to the body; held side-by-side and/or with open fingers… make it difficult for the one distributing to therein place the Sacred Body of our Lord. It also increases the danger of the Sacred Host falling to the floor. Please also remember that no communicant should ever “pluck” the Host themselves from the fingers of the one distributing.
One is never required or forced to receive our Lord in the Holy Eucharist (except for making one’s Easter Duty, in the state of grace); so if one is unsure as to whether they should present themselves or not in the Communion procession, it is probably best to err on the side of not receiving. The inside front cover of the missalette/hymnal has a useful guideline issued by the U. S. Bishops for the reception of Communion in the Catholic Church. (And no one should ever be chewing gum in church if they intend to receive Holy Communion.)
Unfortunately, I have experienced numerous abuses in the reception of Holy Communion. Occasionally, parishioners find Hosts in the pews or on the floor!!! Please, please, please be vigilant! Should you see someone not consume the Holy Eucharist, immediately alert the priest or deacon; or you may even take the Host back from them yourself and bring it to the priest. This is a very serious issue.
We cannot be too wary of abuses that can occur, either through ignorance or with evil intentions. Truly, there are practitioners of devil worship and of the occult who seek to obtain the Sacred Body of our Lord for use in so-called “black masses.” The main goal of this heinous act is to commit desecration and blasphemy towards God. The Holy Eucharist is the Real Presence of Jesus Christ. Ironically, the demons understand this while many of the faithful do not. So, when we come to receive Him into our souls, may our reverence, modest dress and demeanor, actions, and love be displayed accordingly.
FIELD OF HONOR: As many may recall on Saturday, May 18th, we dedicated our Field of Honor. This beautiful field of flags attracted the attention of all who drove north and south on busy Route 107. Our Knights of Columbus and Squires set up the Field. There were the flags of the four branches of the armed forces as well as the Coast Guard. There were also 60 American flags donated by parishioners in honor of fallen members of the armed forces as well as members of the Police Department, Fire Department and EMT’s.
More than 50 of our parishioners attended the blessing and dedication after the 5PM Mass on Saturday, May 18th which is Armed Services Day. Taps were played and we all prayed. The Field remained as a great sign of respect on our property until Flag Day, which is June 14th. May I thank Grand Knight Don Cavanaugh, Sir Knight Kevin Fernandez, Lt. Col., USA and former USMC, PGK Peter Boyle, PGK James Galante and Sir Knight Thomas Principe, Esq. and Lt. General in the USAR. and all our Knights and Squires for such an heroic act of kindness. God willing, we will do the same at Veterans’ Day. The first funeral at St. Paul’s after the field was erected was that of a veteran of the USAF. The family was greatly comforted to see the flag of the Air Force flying.
MASS MANNERS: As you know, due to the great love and generosity of many of our parishioners, we have undertaken an extensive renovation of our Church building. This beautiful Church will uplift our parishioners for years to come. Next Saturday, the first wedding will take place in our beautiful Church. This couple will be making history. May I humbly implore all those who have not given anything to this great endeavor to consider prayerfully joining us in doing something great for God.
You may recall that during 2016, I wrote in this column for ten weeks explaining the renovation and the rationale behind it. Essentially, I was writing a series on Church architecture and Sacred Art. The finest architects in our country have worked on our Church, and, although not yet completed, we have had bishops, priests, and architects visit. (We already have a group from another parish scheduled to make a pilgrimage to our Church to pray at our various shrines and to see its beauty). All have concurred that it is one of the most beautiful renovations ever accomplished on Long Island. In the coming weeks I will be writing about the various shrines and the statues of the saints. For the devil hates beauty. That is why we use the expression ugly as sin. In the words of the great Russian novelist Dostoevsky, It is beauty that will save the world.
One wonderful thing is that everything from the Church was used for its renovation. The pews are the same. The lovely tables were made from the wood of the pews. The original Cross is in the Fatima Chapel and the reliefs of Our Lady and St. Joseph are in prominent and accessible places.
You will notice that there are many places in the Church for the handicapped. Please save these places for the handicapped and do not take their places. The kneelers are all new and very lovely with fabric (not plastic) to kneel on. Please lower and raise the kneelers gently. Please do not let them slam as this will damage them over the years and is very noisy. May I ask and beg everyone to please be careful, in the original sense, of that word. Please be filled with care and treat with respect the things of YOUR Church.
Please remember that it is never appropriate to chew gum in the Church, let alone discard it under the pew. Unless one has a medical condition, one should not bring water bottles into the Church and drink from them. Essentially, our orientation during Holy Mass must be toward God, not ourselves and our own comfort.
With a beautiful church now almost completed, it is my hope that all our parishioners, will take pride in it and keep it clean and beautiful looking. This is not hard. It essentially means simply doing nothing. When the hymnals are pushed into the racks open, when gum is placed under the pews, when papers are ripped and bulletins put into the hymn racks, that all takes effort. I pray all will say I belong to St. Paul’s. I pray they will not damage the Church and its belongings so dearly and sacrificially bought by our parishioners.
May I ask you to please respect the House of God and keep it clean. Perhaps if one should even see some paper on the floor, he/she may consider picking it up. As we enter the doors of the Church, we should always have in mind the words of Jacob in the Book of Genesis:
This is none other than the House of God and the Gate of Heaven.
Or the words of King David in the Psalms:
O Lord How I love the Beauty of Thy House and the place where Thy Glory Dwells.
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda