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steve tomkins
crows nest
By Stephen Tomkins
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communion wafers
Mass hysteria
June 2009

Do you pine for the blessings of the holy sacrament, but can't be bothered to go to church? Then I'd say you are Bishop Jonathan Blake's target market. Yer man of the Open Episcopal Church who married Jade Goody (to her husband) is launching Post the Host.

This invaluable service delivers the body and blood of Christ to your doormat, in easy-to-swallow wafer format, for just 2 per consecrated wafer to cover postage and packing. Crow's Nest wishes the Right Rev every success in his aim of getting protesters frothing at the dog collar, and of course providing a service for those who want Mass in a jiffy. Or rather, providing Mass in a jiffy for those who don't want a service.

The fact that hostinthepost.co.uk has already been doing the same thing under almost the same name purely as a spoof, is perhaps occasion for a moment of quiet episcopal reflection.

What else is new in the wacky world of the sacrament? There have been a spate of eucharistic kidnappings. Webster Cook, a student in the University of Central Florida, fought off attendants to take a wafer home from Catholic chapel. When he got in trouble with the university for his takeaway communion, he claimed to have been planning to eat it as soon as he'd shown a fellow student who was curious about Catholicism.

Cook kept the wafer in a plastic bag for a week, while the Diocese pleaded for its safe return, made reparation to the Lord for the loss, and appointed a nun to guard future Masses. When emailers threatened him with hell and a rescue break-in, he returned the host. The church is looking at ways to make eucharist less accessible to the wider community.

Soon after, in England, the London Oratory was holding a service of reparation for letting a Mass kidnapping happen on their watch. This one was YouTubed and the host posted to Prof. PZ Myers, the Richard Dawkins of Minnesota University. Myers stuck a rusty nail in it and put it in a bin with – in a refreshingly interfaith approach to blasphemy – pages of the Qur'an, The God Delusion, and a banana skin.

So if anyone doubted that fundamentalist atheists are as lacking in a sense of proportion as their opposite numbers, I think we can consider the point proved. I'm not sure of the religious significance of the banana, by the way, but possibly it's here.

Meanwhile, the Church of St Edward, King and Martyr, in Cambridge offers a monthly goth eucharist, with candlelight, rock music and a sermon on subjects such as "anger, depression, doubt, grief, self-harm and suicide". A Valentine's Day service invited worshippers to crush roses under their feet as they went up for communion.

Finally, Catholic priests in England are, we hear, to stop saying "Good morning" to congregations at the start of Mass. As part of a review of the English liturgy, they have been told to reconsider such inappropriate informalities that have slipped in.

"It is a debate that has been going on in the Church for a long time," said a spokesperson. "Are we doing a cabaret or are we actually celebrating the eucharist?" Crow's Next wishes the church every success in finally resolving this thorny question, preferably in favour of the latter alternative, because it sounds like the crappest cabaret ever.
 
also see
hubris 2
Mark Howe's regular rant about Internet culture
strangely warmed
Andrew Rumsey's regular column about the religious life
loose canons
Stephen Tomkins' regular round-up of the saints of yore who were one wafer short of a full communion
   
 
 
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