Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Taking Communion

My maternal grandfather was a Catholic and an FDR Democrat who loved his country and fought for her, and loved his Church and wrestled with her. He never hesitated to speak the truth as he saw it to anyone he felt needed it, including priests.

When my mother wanted to go to college at a state school instead of a Catholic one, he stood by her against all the criticism from the nuns at Julienne, including his own sister. When she met and married a Methodist, my grandfather jumped through every hoop to get her permission from the archbishop and a nuptial Mass instead of a mere wedding service. When my grandmother had been dead a few years, and my grandfather met a lady whom he wanted to marry, and the priests were reluctant to marry him to such a recent convert, he threatened to live in sin with her instead and, once again, got a nuptial Mass.

But here's the thing. My grandfather cared enough to wheel and deal until the Church was right with him and he with the Church. He didn't sit there and claim that it wasn't important that his daughter was marrying someone from outside the Church, and proceed to get her married in a civil wedding or another denomination. Heck, no! He'd rather have died. He'd rather have shacked up with Grandma Cue than not have married her in the Church, for that matter -- though I'm sure he had alternate plans before that, and a list of other priests in his head if the threats didn't work.

Meanwhile, here is John Kerry, a US Senator, wealthy and powerful, marrying an heiress like Theresa Heinz, and he couldn't even be bothered to marry her in the Church. (Though, to their credit, they apparently got things convalidated afterwards.)

My grandfather took my mom and uncles all sorts of places on vacation, including to towns in the South and West that didn't have Catholic churches. He knew exactly how late one could slide into church and still have it be a valid Mass, and many's the time on vacation that his car found the local church at just the last moment. If he'd lost his formidable temper on the way, he'd quietly stay put in his seat during Communion, since he obviously hadn't had time to put things right with God through Confession, and put himself into a state of grace. But he and all his family never missed a Sunday Mass if they could possibly help it, and they fasted beforehand, too. If they couldn't fast, they didn't go to Communion; but they still went to Mass. Regular Confession was also a must.

But John Kerry dares to not only approach Jesus on the altar, but take His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity into hands covered in infant blood. What's more, he dares to try and justify his doing so.

If Kerry just said, "I'm a bad Catholic," or "I'm having a little disagreement with the Church hierarchy about this," and didn't go up for Communion, Catholics would respect him. They might think he's a murdering jerk, but at least he wouldn't be a hypocrite. But that's not what he's doing.

Wherever my grandfather is, he's probably wheeling and dealing with the Almighty, trying to negotiate some kind of salvation for his party. It's probably just as well for Kerry. Otherwise, my grandfather would very likely have found a way to work his way through the layers of staff and handlers and have a little chat with him.


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