Communion from priest only?

Q. It has been 30 years since I last saw this happen, but at Sunday Mass yesterday a couple and their two children got up from a pew in front of me just as Communion was about to be distributed and walked around our section of pews in order to get in line to receive from the priest instead of from a lay eucharistic minister. I am fighting being judgmental, but I can't believe that this still happens. How might a priest deal with this? How might those who witness it best react? (St. Paul, Minn.)

A. It is, of course, the same Eucharist - whether received from a priest or from a lay minister - and like you, I am a bit surprised when someone feels compelled to make a choice. You may have not seen it for 30 years, but my experience is more current. Up until a few weeks ago, there was a man in our parish who consistently refused to take the consecrated host from a layperson. (I say until a few weeks ago because the man has since passed away.)

When the distribution of Communion began, he would remain in the back of the church. At the end, when I would go up to give Communion to those unable to negotiate the aisle (our floor is sloped downward toward the altar), he would walk over to me, fall to his knees and take the host in his mouth.

I respected his choice and never made an effort to change his behavior. In the scope of things, I felt that his preference was a small issue. For me, it came under the heading of the "big tent" that embraces a wide variety of Catholics. (For safety reasons, I did, some years ago, speak to him about his habit of walking down the Communion aisle and suddenly dropping to his knees when he reached the priest, leaving the people behind him hard-pressed not to fall in a pile on top of him.)

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