As a Catholic blogger I don't think I'm supposed to share something cringe-worthy like this unless there is a really awesome moral or redemption at the end. There is neither, but it's still a good story. So this one time, I completely blundered my way through trying to bring my wife Holy Communion.
I'm not a lay Eucharistic Minister, but I've always wanted to be because Jesus being bodily and bloodily present is one of the coolest things there is and being able to help dispense this gift is a grace. Being a youth minister and catechist, you would think that I should be familiar with all sorts of Catholic guidelines and protocols including this one, but as it turned out, the role of Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion to the sick (I had to look that one up) wasn't one of them.
It started out simply enough. You know, the usual Sunday where your wife has labored through the entire night delivering your first born child with some minor complications? Yah, that Sunday. In my utter sleeplessness/euphoria/delirium, my thought process was, "Mass...gotta go...receive Jesus...thank Him. Oh, and bring Him back to wifey***."
That afternoon when we had a couple hours of downtime before the next round of family and friends came to visit, I found a 4:30PM Mass at a nearby church. Not knowing anything about standard EMHC procedure, ie. bring Jesus directly back to the sick or homebound, I simply thought, "I'll go to Mass and then swing by the house to grab some stuff that we forgot and to clean up a bit."
So off I went to attend Mass where I blubbered through it in thanksgiving for my beautiful baby daughter. Internally, of course. So what, I get self-conscious about these things and then start worrying more that people around me are thinking I'm either having a powerful moment or I must have committed a mondo sin. Anyways.
Afterward, I went to find the priest and after explaining my predicament, he told me to go to the sacristy and find the altar server who should be able to help me out. I wander to the sacristy and find the tall, dark-haired dude and after explaining myself again he simply shrugged and said, "No problem." I told him I didn't have one of those gold circle host holder thingies that super holy people who have a habit of bringing communion to the sick have. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I guess I figured that churches would just have fancy disposable ones or something for this exact situation, you know, like plastic shot glasses. Instead, he shrugged again, looked around, and then to my absolute horror, found some random shrink wrap that was lying on a table and wrapped the consecrated host in it.
Yes. Jesus was wrapped in used plastic shrink wrap.
I don't know which is worse, the mocking purple garment that the soldiers put on Him after being scourged or this non-decomposable crunchiness. I may not know much, but at least I had the sense that this may not be the best way to house the Lord of the entire universe. Talk about a downgrade from the Ark of the Covenant. If this was the Old Testament, I think both me and the altar server dude would've been zapped. Praise Jesus (ironically), it's not.
As I scurried back to my car to make the drive home, I kept bouncing back and forth between absolute awe that I was carrying Jesus on my person and complete shame for the sorry way He was being carried. Like I try to do with my prayer times, I at least tried to fold the shrink wrap neatly around the host instead of Him practically falling out of the unwieldy plastic the way the altar server had given Him to me. The whole drive home I reverted to the "convenient Jesus" spirituality with thoughts like, "There's no way I can get into a car accident with Force-Field Jesus(TM) around," and, "Even if I do crash and die, there's nothing holier than having Fire-Insurance Jesus(TM) right here," and, "I'd better not speed or break traffic laws because the omniscient Everywhere Jesus (TM) will definitely see this!"
When I got home, the first thing I had to do was get Jesus better housing. I went straight for the second drawer from the floor to the right of the kitchen sink and pulled out a small tupperware container.
I know, I know. You must be thinking, "Tupperware?! How is that better than shrink wrap?!" But check it, we are an Asian household and we do tupperware right. The ones we have are like the Rolls Royce of tupperware. This ain't no Geo Metro old-disposable-one-that-I-saved-because-I'm-too-cheap-to-buy-real-ones (although we have those too). It's thick glass with an airtight snap-on lid, yo. Out of all the containers in my house, I can think of no better receptacle.
Like I said, I didn't know that you're supposed to go directly to dispense communion, but I did know from Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament that there should always be someone with Jesus when He is exposed and so making sure to keep Him on me, I grabbed the things I came home for. You know, doing small things with great love. Having pulled an all-nighter and feeling a little greasy, I then decided that I should clean up a bit. I delicately put Jesus on the bathroom counter, reverently took off my clothes, and hopped into the shower.
It was easily the holiest shower that I've ever taken. Aside from the fact that it would make plenty of people wince, there was something pretty cool about being naked and unashamed before the Lord. I'd like to think that the washing of dirt and grime off my body was a metaphor for the way that Jesus cleanses the spiritual dirt off of my soul. Either that or I had committed a mortal sin minus the full knowledge part which means a venial sin after that coupon code was applied.
After the shower, I loaded up the car and headed directly back to the hospital. Luckily, I got back to the recovery room right before my wife was about to eat dinner. At least the "don't eat an hour before receiving communion" rule was followed.
I popped open the lid to my make-shift pyx and looked my wife straight in the eye and said with all the love I could muster, "Babe, this is the Body of Christ."
*** I guess I could have asked the hospital if they had a Catholic chaplain or even called my parish priest, but that's just clear-mindedness and several months of hindsight talking.