Question from ANNE JONES on 8/11/2008:

Dear Father,

Please provided some advice. When receiving Holy Communion from our pastor there have been a few instances where I supose I was closing my mouth to quickly and his fingers slightly touched either the corner of my mouth or lip. This does not upset me as I have unfortunately dropped Our Lord in the past so I waste no time closing my mouth. However, I believe he finds it repulsive as he quickly pulls his hand and arm back in a manner which suggests his complete disgust.

This upsets me greatly and undoubtedly him as well. I do not always have an opportunity to get in another line based on either where I am sitting or where he decides to stand when distributing Our Lord.

I find I am really getting my feelings hurt as I have been hurt by priests before. I pray and offer this up but I am getting preoccupied with it and thought maybe you could provide me with a suggestion which would not offend our pastor. He is a nice man and a very tall man and I feel like a midget standing next to him so maybe he is having a problem with his eye hand coordination but I don't think so. I have started watching others but have not seen the same jerky hand movements he displays with me.

What am I doing wrong? I know I could receive in the hand but I am of the old school and was always taught to receive from the priest. Of course this doesn't always happen but I do try to situate myself where I am more likely than not to get either the priest or deacon. Sometimes I feel as though the devil is causing these things to happen to me. On another occasion a priest, our then pastor, when venerating the Cross on Good Friday, pulled his hand back all the way to his shoulder with the crucifix in it as if he were going to hit/strike me. I had been taught that we were allowed on Good Friday to venerate the feet/hands or whichever part of the crucifix we wished and that we were allowed to touch the crucifix. In front of the entire congregation he did this to me. I offered that up as well as it was Good Friday and Our Blessed Lord suffered much more than that for me.

I thank you for helping in this situation as I will not allow the devil to tempt me not to receive. That is what happened to me just yesterday, at Sunday Mass when I saw it was to be our pastor who came to where I was to distribute Holy Communion. I focus on Our Lord in the host whom I am about to receive and when I do I feel as though my neck is going to break off as he is so tall and he stands on the step which makes him even taller. Maybe he doesn't like me focusing on the host? That is WHOM I am about to receive.

God Bless You for your kind response. Thankyou!
Answer by Fr. Jay Toborowsky on 8/12/2008:

Of course, I don't know much about your pastor, so I can't tell you what he is thinking. The occasional finger touching a tongue or mouth is an occupational hazard of the priesthood. I often joke that my hand has been in more mouths than a dentist's! The only thing I can suggest is that, in receiving on the tongue, you wait until you actually see his fingers away from your mouth before you close your mouth and go back to your pew.

As for the thing you were taught about being allowed to venerate any part of the crucifix you want, I've never heard that before. Veneration is simply the whole cross, and not separate parts of it. If you were doing something that others were not doing, I can see how this may have surprised him, especially when, with long lines on Good Friday, he may have been on "auto pilot".

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