The Roman Catholic Church in The Bahamas is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope. The diocese was elevated to a full diocese, as the diocese of Nassau in June 1960. On June 22nd, 1999, the diocese was again elevated as the new Archdiocese of Nassau.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The eleventh commandment: "Thou shall not...."

There are many "what ifs" in life that we sometimes take for granted. There should be an explanation to everything even if it is narrowed down to a mystery that can only be explained through faith. The simpler things in life can sometimes go right over our heads because we never stop to think for a moment and ask "what if?"

Being an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion is not to be taken lightly. Those who accept the role should do so with humility and reverence. Through consecration of the bread and wine by the Priest, it becomes the body and blood of Jesus. In order to assist with distributing to a large number of parishioners, then Extraordinary Ministers are utilized.

Once you've accepted the fact that the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Christ then you are completely transformed to a new person. It becomes an honour to participate in the distribution of the body and blood of Christ to fellow Christians. If we think back to the days in the Old Testament only the Priests were allowed to enter the Tabernacle. How blessed Extraordinary Ministers are to be holding a chalice with the blood of Christ?

With such a task comes great responsibility. It just so happens that one of my "what ifs" came to pass yesterday at Mass that only those who sat close to the front were able to recognize what was taking place. Some of my "what ifs" have included: what if a parishioner collapses during communion, what if someone gets up and shouts at the Priest during his homily, and what if the body and blood spills during communion?

Sitting on the altar allows me a bird's eye view of the entire Church as well as how members approach the altar to receive communion. A fear that probably every Extraordinary Minister has or have thought about is "what if I spill the chalice?" As communion was being distributed and the EM was wiping the chalice after the communicant partook of the blood, the chalice shook and some of the blood spilled on the floor.

For the EM, their facial expression told a thousand stories of shame, guilt, fear and disappointment. They continued administering to the other members then returned the empty chalice to its rightful place, thereafter the EM went back to the area with the purificator and began to wipe up the blood of Jesus. The EM was not doing it because of fear that someone might slip (even though that was a possibility as well), but rather because it was the blood of Christ and should not be left on the floor. Still carrying the burden of guilt and disappointment the EM went back to their seat after attempting two times to wipe the area of every drop. Tiles can be very deceiving to the eye and only from an angle can you see liquid on it.

After Mass, the Extraordinary Minister went back to the area with another purificator, got down on their knees and began wiping again. Realizing the hurt that this individual was feeling the EM was comforted by another who tried to explain that these things can happen. This was one of those times that you could pinch yourself to see if you are sleeping and this could only be a dream. To add insult to injury, this poor individual was asked by a member if they did not know that that was the blood of Jesus? I just stood back and thought to myself, "are you kidding me?"

An already spiritually injured individual with sorrow in their heart was now being dealt a second blow. I was very happy to see another Extraordinary Minister stand up for the EM who at that point was still on their knees. Had the EM left the blood on the floor, then they would not have been worthy of administering such, however they did what any individual would have done; continue to give the blood of Jesus to the other members, then deal with the spill afterwards.

There is never a dull moment in Church. Those who sit closer to the front may have identified with what the individual was doing while others may have thought that it would have been easier just to get a mop to clean up the spill. Whatever questions you have as it relates to your faith and the things that we do, then you should seek answers so you're not left thinking "what if."

So this brings me to my eleventh commandment for the week, "Thou shall not spill the blood of Christ,” but if you do, follow the correct procedures in dealing with it, and people, do not get down on your fellow parishioners for accidents that happen. We all understand the significance of both species.

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