The Blood of Jesus is on your hands

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You have the blood of Christ on your hands…. literally
Shortly after my first communion in the mid-sixties, I became an altar boy. Even at that early age, Altar boys became immersed in the liturgy of the Mass, it’s meaning…and ramifications. Well, as much as we could at that age. But then, Christ said we must come to Him as little children.
Back then, our local Parish had back-to-back services that started at 6:30 am and didn’t end until noon. Most of the services were full. There were 3 or 4 priests, and long lines for confessions the Saturday before. Us kids would pick the priest we wanted to go to for confession because he would give us less prayers…remember? We also had a school and as many as a dozen nuns running around. Those were the days!
 At Mass, we did not offer the Chalice to all the faithful, probably because we were such a large parish.  But of course, the chalice and wine were necessarily an integral part of the liturgy of the Mass. An Altar boy would bring the small vessels, (Cruet) containing the Holy Water and the Wine to the altar during the service. Then the altar boy would take the unused portion of wine and water back to a rear table. Another would assist the priest in cleansing his hands with Holy Water prior to the offering.
 As Altar boys, at least all I knew, understood and believed the liturgy of the Mass: i.e., what was happening. So much so, that I encountered a crisis situation after the Mass one time. I was young and didn’t realize that the unused wine was NOT the precious blood. So, I asked the priest what to do with it. He said either drink it, or pour it out.
 I was panicked. I couldn’t pour the blood of Christ down the drain! It was traumatic for me. I drank it. I carried with me what that priest had said that Sunday morning for much of my life. Finally, decades later, I realized that the wine was not consecrated, just plain wine. What a relief.

The Calm before the Storm

People still knelt along a rail in front of the Church, praying while waiting to receive communion with our Lord. They received by reverentially kneeling, and on the tongue. I remember that it was important for the Eucharist to go from the consecrated hand of the priest, he was “In persona Christi,” directly to the tongue.
During the time of the Old Temple, the Israelites needed to make pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. But now, as Christ ministers unceasingly at the heavenly tabernacle on our behalf. (Or, once for all, in God’s time), the priest stands in, “in the person of Christ”.  as Christ reaches Through the rent veil the Heavenly Tabernacle bonds to the scattered altars amongst the people, and nations. (Where 2 or more are gathered). By the power of the Holy Spirit, it rejoins in confirmation of the New Covenant, the bride, His Church, with the Groom Himself.
But, there were storm clouds on the horizon.

The Storm

Rumblings of, the “spirit of Vatican II” began to stir within the Church.
I was an altar boy for just a few years before we moved into our new Church, and low and behold, the communion rail was gone. My new local church was designed completely different. I didn’t know anything about “Novus Ordo”, but I did know that we had no place to kneel. It was still on the tongue, by priests, and I still had to hold that Paten till my arm fell off.
  • Each altar boy would have to hold this heavy gold plate with a handle on it below every parishioner’s chin while they received communion. It went directly from the consecrated hand of “in Persona Christi” to tongue of the communicant. It was serious business, and my arm could barely get through it all.
As Altar boys, we were NEVER going to allow the heavenly Host, or any particle thereof, to fall to the floor, or touch anything else for that matter. At that age, we still saw ourselves as solemn soldiers on guard. I’d lay awake nervous about it. A 7 or 8-year-old stressing about the Eucharist. A LOT! We were the sentries, the Vatican Guard, the Knights of Templar. Oh perhaps forget I said that last one, but we were young. And I felt noble about it.
Well, after years of my separation along a long winding road, I came back as a prodigal revert to the Church. I was happy to be back.  But I found no nuns. You know, no sisters. And many fewer priests. Surprise!
But the most awkward thing was the Mass. You see, every Sunday I gave my right arm to protect Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity; To keep it from touching anything but the communicants tongue. It was a compulsion, and a duty.
I guess nobody worries about that anymore. Now it goes right into the hand, and most likely, not from a consecrated hand! So, the difference in the Mass today has me flabbergasted…completely.

New Reality

Fewer services, no sisters, and few priests. I understand that there has been a priest shortage.  Maybe we just do not need as many. But we don’t need helpers with unconsecrated hands. Now we have so-called Emergency helpers that are evidently necessary for the Mass, the liturgical ministry of reconciliation and communion with our groom. This has become the norm.
They can’t possibly be “In persona Christi” in the exchange between the groom and His bride. Let that sink in a moment. They are not ordained and recognized as “in the person of Christ”. Yet I have even seen them give blessings in the communion line.
Once, a young woman emergency helper must have come directly to Mass from gardening all day, and without passing go. She thought her Ciborium didn’t contain enough Hosts. So, she walked up to the Altar and reached mitt down like a child grabbing for as many M&Ms from a candy dish.
It is the body, and the blood of Christ. I used to pour Holy water over the priest’s hands before those consecrated hands touched the Host. You have obviously seen it. Do these emergency helpers have some sort of liturgical process of this cleansing? Or is it baby wipes?
It’s a fair question for those of us who don’t know. Every particle contains all that Christ offers: His body, His blood, His soul and divinity. How is this dealt with afterward? Anti-bacterial? Just asking.

It’s the Blood of Jesus

Many moons ago, I was watching a crime show. They explained how a product called ‘Luminol’ could pick up the remnants or traces of blood even after people may have tried to clean it up.  Many of these “CSI” styled shows depict crime scenes that ‘light up’, glowing where the traces of human blood remain. The trunk of a car, the back of a truck, or the motel room is now a crime scene.
As the book of Hebrews clearly depicts, Christ was the “sole mediator” of the altar of the Old Testament tabernacle. Realizing, the Temple of old did not lead to the ‘hoped’ salvation. Only Christ could mediate that sacrificial altar where the blood ran continually. As Hebrew’s explains ‘our’ altar, His altar, is outside of the Temple encampment. It is an altar in which others have no right to eat. This was “hard teaching”.
My absolute faith in the liturgy of the Mass of my youth contrasted by the newly-styled Mass today, is difficult for me to handle. It is unsettling. Is it his body and blood or not? When I combine these memories with the Luminol scenes, the transcended bloody altar of the old Temple, and the real presence, a stark reality emerges.
It’s a striking picture but also as a gentle reminder of the intimate relationship we have with Christ. It is a picture of my hand glowing with the “Luminol’d” particles of Christ’s blood on my hands.
The first time I looked at my hand during Mass after this revelation startled me. I saw Luminol in my mind’s eye.  Every Emergency (extra-ordinary exception to the rule) helper has Christ’s blood on their hands. People touch the pews and the kneelers; their clothing and each other. Particles are certainly on the floor and perhaps your steering wheel. Think about it.

How’d We get Here.

It seems as though, like a kid who doesn’t stop asking for a paw-sic-ko (translated popsicle) until he gets one, the Church relented and gave the option to receive it in the hand on occasion. Now, it is the norm.  The camel got its nose under the tent.
I for one, thought that I had to receive it in the hand. Nothing could be further from the truth. The pains of my youth are vindicated. I can receive it on the tongue and have ever since.
A question naturally comes to mind, do we call in the Holy cleaners? Did you just rub your cheek? …looks like you have a spot on it. Here let me get it…Brothers and sisters, you got Christ’s blood on your hands…Believe it…or not.  You get the idea.

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