The Herb Of Grace

Theology and Poetry, Politics and Prose

How I Got Eucharistically Busted: “give me back that wafer!” March 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joel @ 9:11 pm

Today is Palm Sunday.  A Few of us went down to a catholic church in Kitsilano to begin Holy Week with the nominal remnant of Vancouver (humor).

Sparing you all the details of the service, good and bad, the main thing is:  I got turned down for the Eucharist.  All shock and awe aside, all protestant pride let go of, all self-entitlement released (well not all), i still have some thoughts for that short woman with curly hair, concerned eyes, and paltry blessings for the uninitiated.  “wait,” she said, while the body was already in my hands, “are you catholic?”  Having never been refused the Eucharist before (and i’ve been countless times), i was too shocked to say “are you?” and then chomp, down goes Jesus.  No, i was slow of tongue and so mumbled, “no.”  she said, as she firmly pried the Lord from my fingers, “well you come up for a blessing then,” and waved her hand around my cranium, careful not to touch me.  good times.

So i know the official score and the reasons for it; the catholic Eucharist is a strange practice set apart for the faithful, you don’t need to tell me.  But in the end, she was wrong, is wrong, to try and keep me from the most wholesome food i know of in this life.  after the service, on my way out, i was looking to see if there was any chance i could steal a wafer.  And i would have, with joy, but there was none in sight, all had been locked away, so i went away hungry. (ironically, we went to a jewish deli afterwards and i had a bagel)

I feel no guilt or shame about wanting to take the Eucharist in a catholic community.  part of the reason for that is probably that i’ve never been refused before.  But the main reason is that i need the eucharist, and so i will go up next time, and the next, and also the time after that.  At baptist churches where they try and strip the Eucharist of its presence, i still stubbornly eat the presence that IS there, because i am hungry.  at catholic churches where they (only sometimes) keep the body and blood for those baptized in the catholic community, i take it because i am hungry.  no human will tell me i cannot come to the table, ever.  it is my one hope.

so it was a bit funny and a bit painful, but mostly strange and silly.  we all have our ingrained theological beliefs.  the lady who refused me had it hardwired into her head that because i was not baptized in the catholic community, Jesus was not edible to me.  My hardwired belief is that Jesus is, well, mine.  The one thing flesh and blood cannot take from me is the flesh and blood, how interesting.  For even if i am refused in every church i go to from this day till the day i die, my hunger would remain as a sign that my soul and body have been made to take God into my very self, Gift of all gifts.


12 Responses to “How I Got Eucharistically Busted: “give me back that wafer!””

  1. Bob McGaw Says:

    Busted! My father, Garry McGaw shared this with me. I’ve never been refused communion the times I’ve gone to a Roman Catholic church! But perhaps they thought I was just a very young sporadic attender!

  2. roger flyer Says:

    So sorry beloved.

  3. roger flyer Says:

    Oh…I think this would preach to really hungry people. Where are they (we)?

  4. roger flyer Says:

    You’ve discovered a great secret: Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee O Lord.
    St Augustine

    Love you Joel

  5. andrea Says:

    hungry w u bro

  6. Rachael Barham Says:

    I love this post, Joel. It is sad and hungry and (rightly, in my book) ‘critical’, in the best sense, yet not judgmental. Especially pertinent for Holy Week. Thanks.

  7. Mary Elizabeth Ilg Says:


    If and when you move back to Minnesota, I would be happy to personally escort you to RCIA classes every week for nine months. I think you are yearning to be Catholic. This is a 2000 year-old tradition, so yes, the rules are rather stringent. This Easter is my 10 year anniversary of becoming Catholic. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me, to realize that God is real, and present among us. And that He will help you if you ask Him.

    Do you not receive Communion in the Protestant church??

    I welcome any ongoing dialogue with you on this subject:

    My email address:

    God Bless You and Happy Easter!

    There is a novena that begins on Good Friday which you can read about at


  8. masonmusic Says:

    thank you all for your thoughts and comments. it has been a good holy week here in vancouver and i am looking forward especially to the maundy thursday service (stripping the altar and all that).

    mary, i thought i would give you a few of my thoughts in response to yours.

    Maybe we’ve never talked before about my relationship with the catholic church (if not, we should!). this post should be set within the context of my having considered for a long time, and at different points more seriously than others, taking the rites of initiation and all the requisite classes in order to enter formally the roman catholic community.

    But i haven’t yet made that move. instead, it seems that i am, for now, called to a place of in-betweens, twixt here and there. As far as I can tell, i have been given the friends and experience of investigating and loving both protestant and catholic communities so that i can speak in a communicable way to folks who have a hard time understanding people on the “other side.” So in that context, a context of intense love and, as you rightly describe it, longing, i hope my post on being refused the Eucharist last sunday sits in brighter light.

    i do wonder if one day, my felt calling to in betweens will turn into a more specific calling to become roman catholic. i am open to it, i think. and i hope that, were my course to focus, i would still find myself a strange mix of obedient and indignant.

    all the best,


  9. ashburtch Says:


    Thanks for sharing this. Thanks for reminding me of my own hunger. And for reminding me where my only hope of fulfillment lies.


  10. Beloved Joel,

    Tho’tful-introspective-holy thoughts on the real presence of Jesus. You lead me to ‘hunger and thirst’ for our Lord who says, “It is the spirit that makes alive; the flesh profits nothing; The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” (Jn 6:63f).

    Tell us more of the ‘communion’ you and Katie experience. Norma’s life and thoughts for 68+ years have taught and shown Jesus to me and ours — communion. Often the rebel in me is stronger than the Spirit.

    For thoughtful insights explore Al’s minister’s understanding of the Rights of the Church and shared authority from/to one another: http//

    More, please from you and your readers.

  11. Leland Maerz Says:

    Loved this post Joel – especially the last sentence. I suppose in a sense she really did bless you by reminding you that your hunger is in itself is a form of sustenance. Peace.

  12. catholicnoob Says:

    I happened upon your Eucharist part 1 posting through way of the picture you used. I was looking for pictures for my own blog and your posting intrigued me. After reading part one, I glanced over and saw this posting, thus…I’m writing back.

    I just finished the RCIA process i after a long discernment process of being in the “in between” of baptist and Catholic. I’m proud of you for searching out your faith in a way that so many are too complacent to do, but I felt as if I could offer some encouragement.

    I do not think God wants you to be forever in this “in between”. If you feel called to the Eucharistic table…I think you know where your heart belongs. No other place in this world can offer this kind of nourishment, which I see that you understand. I did not receive our Lord until Easter, a few weeks ago. It was definitely a struggle to abstain from the table until then, but it was worth it.

    I learned that this practice is done out of respect for what The Eucharist truly is. By respecting the boundaries around it, you are in turn truly respecting The Eucharist itself. It seems to me that you do have a respect, but I would encourage you to look a little deeper into yourself to find that this “shock and awe aside, all protestant pride let go of, all self-entitlement released” that you spoke of may not be truly absent. It is the pride inside of us that says we deserve something. It is the reverence inside us that says, “I can wait”.

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