What a great pity that "The Celebrant" (July 4) — and, presumably, Monica Baldwin (July 25) — completely missed the point of my letter of June 20.
Nothing in my letter could surely suggest that I intend (or on the day referred to, showed) irreverence for the Blessed Sacrament. I was describing an occasion on which I think I was justified in being concerned about the intolerance shown by a person who must surely desperately want tolerance for the illegal act he was performing.
The disposition of the recipient can only be judged by his demeanour "at the altar of God": no priest can judge motives. How can he presume to question a man's "belief in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament" — any more than he can judge a man at the altar rails to be in mortal sin?
How did he know on this occasion when Mass was being said in a public place, visited by thousands of tourists a year, that I was not a foreigner attending Mass? If I had been intent on sacrilege I could have succeeded as easily whether I received "in the mouth" or "in the hand".
If he had read my letter without prejudice (incidentally, why sidetrack again and criticise my shorthand phrase "theological complexion' ... it merely meant that I concur in the teaching of the post-Vatican Council Church and he appears not to) he would have had no reason to suspect that I was suggesting that "receiving Holy Communion in one's hand was so much more attractive and preferable to receiving directly from the hand of the priest".
I prefer to receive the Blessed Sacrament in the most natural way possible: reverently and with clean hands — often cleaner than my coated tongue when I am suffering from a stomach upset (good heavens! does he really think that God bothers about such things if our motives are pure).
I do not think everyone should receive Holy Communion in this way — merely that anyone may who wishes so to do, and certainly that no priest should refuse an apparently worthy communicant.
In fact, if Kevin McNamara's amusing and balanced article of August I were read aloud at Mass, instead of "The Celebrant's" letter as Monica Baldwin suggests, it would help many people to avoid the confusion between reverence for God and theological prejudice.
"Becket" Name and address supplied.
This correspondence is now closed. Ed.