Jesus Christ for sale on eBay

Jesus Christ for sale on eBay

Some idiot, trying to capitalize on the death of Pope John Paul auctioned off the Eucharist he purloined at a 1998 papal Mass in Rome. The guy, who says he’s a non-Catholic received Communion twice that day, consuming one Host and saving the other, shrinkwrapping it like just another souvenir.

A California man, a devout Catholic, came to the rescue, buying the Eucharist for $2,000. (I think buying the Eucharist is technically a sin, although in this case I think special circumstances dictate that the guy was trying to do good.) He said he rushed to buy the Eucharist to prevent it from falling into the hands of a Satanist or witch. Did buying it encourage more desecration of the Eucharist? Who knows? It’s academic now.

Some will say that this is evidence of why Communion in the hand is so bad, but one can just as easily remove the Host from his mouth as he walks back from Communion. Unless the priest (or minister of the Eucharist) is really attentive, abuse can happen in either case.

  • We have got to deal with this.  One Christmas eve a few years ago, I found a consecrated host stuck in a hymnal at my parish.  It about broke my heart.  I have no doubt that many of them walk out the door.

    We have got to get rid of Communion in the hand, and we need a scanner—someone who can notice if the Eucharist goes into the pocket.

  • Scary.
    My Irish teacher at BC said he used to find the consecrated hosts stuck in the end of the pews in Ireland. He wasn’t sure the cause of the phenomenon: People who went up and didn’t know what to do with it? Who knew they were not worthy to consume but didn’t want their neighbors to know?

    What we need is for priests to teach people reverence for the Eucharist. If every homily I heard for the next ten years was on the profound mystery of the Eucharist, I would be ecstatic. Why are all the priests ignoring our late Holy Father’s call to make this the Year of the Eucharist?

    This morning we had to endure a wretched homily in which we were condescended to by a priest who at once tried to explain the technical philosophical understanding of transubstantiation, while he also assumed we would be unable to understand the terminology. Meanwhile he clearly didn’t know the difference between substance and accident.  (He also used the prayers of the faithful as an opportunity to make a joke about his weight: May I loose 200 lbs. And people actually responded to that!)

    God, send us pastors who will teach us and lead us to reverence you in your profound mystery of self-giving!

  • One of the reasons that Perpetual Adoration is so necessary is that it provides the prefect opportunity to beg Christ’s forgiveness and mercy for the many outrages done to Him in the Holy Eucharist.

  • Yes, I’ve heard people say that before, but I don’t believe it, Domenico. 

    And at any rate that’s why we need a “scanner” or two—to make sure the host goes in the mouth and stays there.

  • At places like the National Shrine, and at least one parish that I’ve been to, they have ushers who stand next to the ministers of Holy Communion and watch each person who comes up.  If they don’t put the host in their mouth before walking more than a few feet away, they confront them and take appropriate action.  I’d say that’s about the best that can be done, other than teaching people proper reverence, as Melanie said.  I don’t like communion in the hand, because on several occasions when I have received that way I have noticed particles in my hand, and I see so many others who don’t even look when they receive that way.  But again, that’s not the fundamental issue – the Church has said that this is an option for receiving Holy Communion, so people need to be taught to be conscious of what they are doing and look for particles.  So, teaching seems to be the most important thing here.

  • Just this past Sunday, a little girl in the front pew went with two of her friends up to receive Communion. I can only assume that she wasn’t Catholic. The deacon noticed that she made a face after she tasted it and didn’t consume it.  He left where he was distributing Communion, went to her in the pew, took the Host, and consumed it himself.  I would gladly go back to Communion on the tongue only, with altar servers using patens and observing- it would also give the altar servers something useful to do.

  • I am an Eastern Orthodox (who often finds himself looking longingly across the Tiber) and I have wondered about how the East and the West differ in administering our Lord’s Body and Blood. In the Eastern Tradition there is no chance that someone would walk out with Communion since it is received from a spoon. The Body and Blood are combined by the priest in a single chalice and he then spoons them to the faithful (forgive my clumsy descriptions).

    Can someone help me to understand the Catholic and Orthodox differences. I’m also wondering why don’t Catholics receive the Blood of Christ at Communion?

  • Yes, receiving communion on the tongue is also subject to abuse.  But it’s slightly more difficult.  The reception of the Eucharist by hand is often so very casual.  I have seen many people, espcially those who only seldom attend Mass just pop the host into their mouth as if it was a gum drop or piece of popcorn.

    There IS something more reverent about receiving on the tongue and I certainly agree with the posts of Thomas Tucker and Bryan Jerabek—using the paten again and having ushers posted to ensure the the Eucharist is treated reverently.

    The other way stems from sheer laziness.

  • I think (this will never happen) kneeling at the altar rail to receive Holy Communion helped as well… it’s the small things we do (did)  that reinforce the idea even to the uncatechized that what we are receiving is something important – and gives them pause for thought. The filing in line like you’re in a bank or in McDonalds just doesn’t cut it.

    My parish priest is so reverent and he never fails to say before Communion: ‘remember, these are the most holy moments of the Mass where you are receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ into your soul, ask him for your needs’ – there is no doubt there that all know what they are receiving.

    I agree about the patens – another sad loss,  miss the bells too.

  • Correct, Bryan, that’s what I am calling scanning (my term).  It needs to be done everywhere because the level of Eucharistic abuse is very high.

    I also agree with the views regarding crumbs in the hand—that’s why I receive on the tongue.  Very few people will lick the crumbs from their hands; rather they dump them on the floor and walk on them. 

    I know several non-Catholics who have stepped into line, largely because of the casualness of it, and received out of curiousity.  There is no announcement about who should or should not receive—a great oversight, I believe.  And the usual line is so informal it seems like a small thing to non-catholics to just hop in line.  If one had to kneel at the front of the church and act like one knew what one was doing, trust me, many fewer casual tourists would hop in line.

  • Daniel,

    Latin-rite Catholics can and do receive the Blood of Christ at Communion, but it is an option. We don’t make it a mandatory part of Communion because of our belief that the complete Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ are present in either the Host or the Cup. Receiving from both is a fuller sign of the sacrifice of Christ, but is not completely necessary for all.

    As for whether Communion in the hand is more reverent, I have seen people receive on the tongue just as irreverently, with no apparent concern. Likewise, I have seen some very reverent people receiving in the hand. I remember seeing Fr. Michael Scanlan kissing the Eucharist before placing the Eucharist in his mouth and that image has stuck with me and I continue to imitate it.

    Having altar servers holding the plate along with the priest can be done whether someone receives in the hand or on the tongue and I think it’s a good idea regardless.

  • Besides, the timeless practices of the Church, like kneeling at Holy Communion, are incomprehensible to the culture.  This is not bad—it’s good!  The reverence and implicit declaration of truth and faith gets converts.

    Consider this:  Would you rather get converts because of the display of faith OR would you rather get line hoppers who regard it as an item of curiosity?

    The casual atmosphere now encourages curiosity-seekers.  The more formal and reverent atmosphere gets converts.

    I’m a convert and I know this.

  • For the past couple of months, I have been receiving in the mouth again instead of the hand. I guess it just feels more reverent to me.

    Apologies to EMs, but I also try to receive from a priest or deacon, especially one who is on the more orthodox side, if the option is there. Come to think of it, though, I’d go to a more orthodox EM over a priest who wasn’t particularly orthodox.

    I guess the Eucharist is the Eucharist and it shouldn’t matter from whom it is received, but for some reason, it sort of does.

    Best –

  • Daniel,
    Some Catholics do receive the Blood of Christ at Communion. They offer it at my parish and I for one always receive both when I can. I was raised receiving both from the time of my first communion and it feels incomplete to me to receive only the Body, even though I do know that the accident of bread contains the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ.
    I wish I knew more about Orthodox practice and teaching so I could explain the differences. Hopefully someone else will post who can better explain.

  • The reception of Holy Communion at the Divine Liturgy is very reverent.  But the differences, I believe, are a matter of history and culture.  I have no problem with reception either way.  The only thing that bothers me is the casualness of the Roman Rite with respect to crumbs in the hand, spills and abuses, which are frequent.

  • Dom & MelanieS, Thank you for the responses. Thank you especially for helping to clarify my own muddled thinking that if one does not receive the Blood of Christ than something must be missing. Of course, I should realize that the Host is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. Dom, kudos to you for standing up to the lost soul trying to keep a “souviner”.

  • Reading this reminded me of a Eucharistic miracle in Bob & Penny Lord’s book “This is My Body, This is My Blood”.  I’ve read it to many of my CCD classes because it’s so wild.

    It took place in Zaragoza, Spain in 1427.  A woman who was desperate to save her marriage went to a Moslem sorcerer for help.  He directed her to bring him a consecrated Host so he could make a ‘potion’ for her.  She did it reluctantly but went to the local church the next day, received, and saved the Host in her mouth, took It out and put It in a sack.

    When she arrived at the sorcerer’s house she opened the sack to find a live baby.  The sorcerer told her to take the baby home and burn it.  She tried but nothing happened.  The bright aura around the baby only increased in the fire.

    Of course, she freaked out, took the baby to the cathedral in Zaragoza, and confessed everything to a priest.  The archbishop decided to hld a solemn procession so that all could venerate the miracle baby.  During Mass, as the Archbishop offered the gifts of bread and wine the gleaming baby disappeared and in its place was a consecrated Host!

  • Our parish still uses the paten—in fact, our priest reintroduced them last year, shortly after “Redemptionis Sacramentum” was issued (April, 2004):

    “[93.] The Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful should be retained, so as to avoid the danger of the sacred host or some fragment of it falling.”

    Of course, the servers must be taught how to use the paten—especially that it MUST be kept perfectly horizontal.  And that can be a challenge when some people receive on the tongue while standing, some in the hand, and some on the tongue while kneeling. 

    I have to agree—kneeling at the altar rail made a big difference all around.

  • Gee, I guess I am lucky that I can kneel at the rail, take communion in the mouth, and have an altar BOY hold a patent under my head. See what evil Egan and Lori hath wrought?

    I did see a Priest take off after a communicant at the Bishops JPII mass last week. I saw one of the KofC guys talking to him, and he flew past me down the aisle, made the person consume it, after checking they were catholic.

    and EMHC’s sorry, I will receive in the hand, for the ordained its different. But I have seen EMHC’s used TWICE in my 4 years at my parish, once for a retired Priest who was not doing well at all.

  • At my parish the patens and the consecration bells have been retained, and we have only male altar servers, though some of them are adult males.  I receive in the hand.  For me seeing the Host and touching it make Christ more present.  Christ used bread and wine, afterall, because He knew that humans need something present to the senses to better experience the sacrament.  I haven’t ever seen crumbs, though.

  • Our dear Carrie, of all people, receives in the hand?  Good Heavens!  grin  And I thought she was “to the right” of me!

    No, actually, I do too at times, if the minister is an EMHC or a short or frail priest. 

    As for Dom’s theory, churches should be using old-fashioned sticky hosts: “It goes in, but it won’t come back out!”  (There’s an idea for the Curt Jester in here somewhere.)

  • Dominick –

    This is truly disturbing for the obvious reason that someone tried to sell Jesus for 30 silver pieces, but also, consider this:  What’s to stop someone else from going on E-Bay with an unconsecrated host, calling it “consecrated”, and then essentially holding it ransom with a $2000.00 reserve?  EBay had two days to stop this abomination but did nothing. 

    And what about Satanists who would pay for a consecrated host?  I don’t mean to be over the top when I say this, but the competition between believers and non-believers to secure what we believe to be the body of Christ could become very costly. 

  • Carrie,

    I’m surprised to read your line, “For me seeing the Host and touching it make Christ more present.”  Really?  There are no degrees to the Real Presence. 

    Communion In The Hand is no different than altar girls.  Both practices were started by dissidents.  Universal liturgical law forbids CITH.  In Memoriale Domini, Pope Paul VI explained why the traditional method of reception-on the tongue-was preferred and to be maintained.  However, he did indicate that in countries where the practice of CITH had begun illicitly (the U.S.), the hierarchy by a two-thirds vote could petition the Holy See for permission to have CITH.
    After several ‘no’ votes, a slim majority of bishops voted for it and received authorization in 1977 to continue the practice.

    Yet another example of the gutless American hierarchy rewarding disobedience.  Why go along with it?

  • Correct, RC.  Many parishes around here use hosts that are not the little sticky ones.  They may be already broken and they do have crumbs. 

    It is a problem that people are not careful.

  • If you live in a place that is careful, like some described above, perhaps you are not cognizant of the real problems across the country, where most parishes are not so careful……..

    Correct, cm, there is a black market.

    Seeing and touching cannot make the host “more present,” Carrie.  Perhaps they help your perception of the Presence.  That’s all.  And I might add, that’s not universal.  I do not have that effect and I have received both ways.  Christ in the Eucharist is Christ in the Eucharist.

  • I think Carrie was speaking subjectively and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Just like with altar girls, while CITH may have been forbidden by liturgical law, it obviously isn’t now. When it is allowed by the Pope it is de facto legal. Whether we like it or not, the Pope is the supreme legislator in the Church and if he legalizes it, that’s the way it is.

  • Yes, CITH is a ‘legal’ option but that doesn’t mean we have to go along with it. 

    JPII frowned on the practice of CITH for various reasons, making clear to national hierarchies where he visited his desire that those receiving Holy Communion from him should receive on the tongue.

    I believe CITH is, indeed, forbidden by universal liturgical law.  Remember, the disobedient ones had to petition for special permission.  This did not make the original law obsolete.  We were only granted special permission.

  • However we got here, here we are. 

    I’m a visual and tactile learner.  It isn’t until I see and handle something that I really understand it.  I share Melanie’s hatred of the phone because it provides neither touch nor sight.  Writing, on the other hand, is very satisfying, so I tend to communicate by writing and shudder at the thought of keyboard free internet communication.

    Consequently looking at the Host and touching it as I put it into my mouth are important aspects of experiencing Christ’s presence for me.  Sure, I went for years without either one and still believed in Real Presence.  It’s a bit like receiving both the Body and Blood is for other people, it just makes it more complete.

    If Christ in human form were in my presence, I’d want to touch Him, too.  Shake hands or hug Him or something.  If I don’t think He would object to shaking hands or a hug, why would I think He would object to resting on my hand for a moment? 

    Conversely, if He were standing next to me, I don’t think I’d want to lick Him.

    Yes, I know…it’s a totally nontraditional way of thinking, but there it is, and you’re just stuck with me having that opinion, I’m afraid.

  • Carrie,
    I understand exactly what you are saying.
    I believe in the Real Presence. But sad to say I seldom feel anything when I receive Him. It is very hard for me to see beyond the accidents of bread and wine in the moment when I am receiving.
    I know that maybe God is saying it’s not about feeling. St John of the Cross, St Teresa of Avila, other mystics went for years, decades with no feelings at all. Because faith doesn’t depend on warm mushy feelings. Like love doesn’t depend on warm mushy feelings.
    Blessed are they who have not seen and still believe.
    Maybe as well blessed are they who have not felt warm and gushy in the Real Presence and still believe.
    But I understand the need to feel something.
    And of course He does too or he wouldn’t give Himself to us in such a physical way.
    At the same time he understood that the Eucharist would be a stumbling block for many.
    Often when I meditate I imagine hugging Christ. Or holding His hand. I imagine Him holding me in His arms. This is how we understand love. To be a child in His presence. I don’t think it’s odd at all.
    He gave us bodies so we could love Him with our bodies. The reason why marriage is a sacrament is the two become one flesh, as St Paul says this is a great mystery that images Christ’s love for His church.

  • Carrie, I understand what you are saying.

    It isn’t that the tactile experience makes Christ any more or less present, but it can affect my experience of that Presence. Either way I take it, I feel an incredible awe. The feel of the dry wafer in my hand, or only the feel of it on my tongue… Whichever way I receive Him, I don’t receive the Eucharist in order to get that sensory experience, because honestly it is a very small tactile experience. But knowing that it is the true body and blood of our Lord makes that small, normally unimportant sensory experience somehow more amazing to me.

    Last year, a friend of mine converted, and I had the honor to stand for her. I remember very clearly the last several months before Easter, in which my god-daughter, coming closer and closer to Easter, began to feel an intense hunger for the Eucharist. She’d walk up to me on campus and say “How much longer do I have to wait?” She counted the days. In class, she’d sometimes write something about it in my notebook. It was walking with her last year on the road to Easter that I really understood why we don’t do things right away, but instead have this period of waiting for those seeking to join. Her faith, and mine with hers, grew incredibly during that time. I began to experience some of that longing with her. Not because Christ wasn’t already with us, but because we have this incredible grace to step deeper and deeper into Christ in a way that is not merely spritual, but because it does cross over to the physical manifestation, bringing us also physically into His body.

    Watching that hunger for Christ grow in her was amazing. It really deepened my faith and opened me to even further depths of love and reverence. I began to really see the Eucharist in a way I hadn’t before. Her hunger was so intense that it spilled over from the spiritual into something almost physical. Her joy on Easter at being at last able to receive was amazingly intense. I don’t think her parents had any idea what to make of it, not believing in the real presence themselves. And it wasn’t just the spiritual. It was the dry, bland taste of the body, the normal taste of the small sip of wine combined with the knowledge that this was something more than what our senses communicate to us.

    Christopher West points out, and I’ve heard it other places too, that this is one of the things which sets the Catholic Church apart from our Protestant brethren. We, and the Eastern churches, touch not only on the spiritual level, but also on the physical. We use incense, bells (my church has brought them back). At Easter and Christmas we play with sight, going from darkness to dim candlelight, to darkness to bright blazing light. We sing, we chant, we pray out loud together. We use holy oils and water to anoint and bless. And we have the physical touch of the most miraculous body and blood. All five senses are engaged to bring us in deeper into reverence and love. Christ is soul and body. The Church is Spirit and body. We are soul and body. And so it touches us at all levels. Body and soul.

  • George Washington and Thomas Adams once, while travelling, stopped in a Catholic Church on a sunday.  Adams wrote a letter to his wife shortly thereafter pondering why, with the beauty and reverence of the Catholic Mass, the reformation ever happened.  The answer is simple, abuses have always happened, throughout the history of the church and occassionally they become habitual abuses.  This is what Trent realized and that is why the Council pushed for such uniformity of rules.  As Cardinal Raztinger notes in his book “The Spirit of the Liturgy,” the problem with the Mass of Paul VI is not the Mass, but the fact that with the lack of strong rules and the overabundance of “options” it can be celebrated as reverently and piously as the priest wants.  Therefore with a pious priest you get a pious Mass, and vice versa.  Because the Mass of Pius X was said Sotto Voce, always “with” the people facing east toward the rising sun, and quite demanding certain simple actions be followed, even an impious priest couldn’t distract the faithful. 

    Of course, to be fair, often the faithful did not participate in the Mass as is their right and duty.  What we need to day is a return to some semblence of uniform actions in the Mass.  Quite interesting, many priests, both young and old, including Ratzinger, believe that returning to standard practice of saying Mass with the people facing the east (and the Cross) rather than against the people (i.e. facing them, a practice allowed by Paul VI as an option but which has never been the norm) would do much to reclaim the sense of the sacred in the Mass. Not to mention reclaim an Apostolic Tradition.

    Anyway, all I mean to point out is that all these things that have been “done away with” really have not been done away with, they have just become options.  Two weeks ago I was in the villiage of Ars where we had Mass daily, the priests facing the altar, the people recieving at the rail, gregorian chant and all; but this was neither and indult Mass or a schismatic Mass, it was the Mass of Paul VI done well.  To renew faith and reverence for our Eucharistic Lord all that is needed is for priests to catechize and then to realized how little “counter-cultural” physical actions solidify teachings by engaging the sacramental imaginations of the faithful.  Does this mean that priests should deny people communion standing or in the hand, no! But by means of the little things like allowing for the use of the communion rail, suggesting that in accord with the GIRM people should make some sign of reverence before receiving, using communion plates, having ushers, announcing before communion that the faithful, who are in the state of grace, should now come to the Altar to recieve Christ, etc.  we can show the people that (Credo!) I believe and that this is serious business.

  • Oh man, thank you Melanie! I don’t feel anything either and I thought I was the only one. I struggle to get my head around the awesomeness of what It is I am receiving… I understand it intellectually and faithfully, but I don’t feel anything at all. I always pray ‘Lord, help me in my unbelief’ – which for me, is begging pardon for having so little faith that all I can do is to say ‘thank you’ for something that I don’t fully understand and I don’t ‘feel’ at all.

    I had no idea that others were the same way.

    >>Apologies to EMs, but I also try to receive from a priest or deacon<<

    My kids and I commit what is probably a sin and actually cut across the aisle if the priest is on the other side of ‘our’ side and an EEM is at the head of our aisle. My son and I receive on the tongue and my daughter in the hand but we would all receive on the hand if we received from an EEM.  I struggle with this and hope I don’t do it out of pride – although enduring the dirty looks of some of the parishioners (we are polite though when crossing over) is a humbling penance.

  • Colleen – it’s not a sin.  The EME most likely isn’t truly needed in the first place.

    I’ve been teaching CCD for more than 10 years now.  When I taught the grade that would be receiving their First Holy Communion, I considered the year a success if I could convince them of the Real Presence.  And I reiterate the message as they grow.  I tell them that everyone tends to forget that they are receiving the true body and blood of Christ and that we have to remind ourselves – probably for the rest of our lives – that it is Jesus we are receiving.  I tell them to picture Jesus standing there in the sanctuary.  We’re only human.

    The arguments that are being used to justify CITH could also be used to justify holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer.  The Mass is not subject to personal whims and feelings.  It is the property of the Church, not the priest or the laity. 


  • Colleen,
    You’re welcome. I’m glad I could help.
    I tend to be very distractable at mass. I’m always annoyed at the people sitting in front of me or behind me. The misbehaving children. The misbehaving priests.
    But recently someone told me a story about Mother Teresa that changed my attitude. Some of her sisters were complaining about a bad homily one day and Mother Teresa stopped them: Was the mass valid? Did you receive Our Lord? They answered yes. Then what were they complaining about.
    I have since started to pay more attention to the planks in my own eye rather than the splinters in others.
    Perhaps they don’t know better. They were ill catechised, don’t understand. (This holds for priests as well as lay people. Some of these guys had to suffer through terrible training, or mistraining, in seminary).
    Instead I offer a prayer for the person who is annoying me and then try to renew my concentration on the mass, to focus on the prayers, on the Word, on the Presence.
    Of course, there are problems and abuses; of course, we should try to educate people about them, we should try to correct them wehn we see them. But we should be careful that they don’t interfere with our own worship, our own prayer.
    Bottom line, I’m at mass to worship God, to give Him thanks and praise, to receive Him into myself. I’m not there to be a music critic or to play liturgy police.
    I have enough problems without letting those of other people get in the way. I hope my reverence will set an example, I pray for all my brothers and sisters that they will learn to recognize the True Presence. That’s all I can do.


  • One thing I have learned in the past year is how blessed I am in the single life. Sitting with Dom’s sister, her husband, and three beautiful children under the age of four, I have realized that parents don’t have the luxury of worrying about their own problems. They are too busy trying to teach their children and to keep their children from being a distraction to others. Now I am no longer disturbed by misbehaving children because I know their behavior is not their fault or even their parent’s fault. They are too young to understand. Instead I try to help so mom and dad can have a minute of quiet prayer, a minute to try to focus their attention on the altar instead of on the baby’s diaper. What a wonderful sacrifice they are making to give up their time and energy and attention.