Sunday, December 26, 2010

Whose House Is This, Anyway?

We took my son to a Protestant church for Christmas Eve mass. I'm a Buddhist and my son's father is a Catholic, so Cracky had never set foot in an Episcopalian church. I felt the need to explain to him that it might be different than the church he attends with his father.

Once we sat down beneath the cathedral ceiling and the beautiful stained glass windows, looking every bit the Catholic church so far as these Buddhist eyes could tell, my son turned and loudly asked:

"Is this for Jesus or the Buddha?"

My little Catholic-Buddhist hybrid revealed himself before mass even started. I couldn't help but think if I ever do manage to get him to the Buddhist temple, he's going to be sorely disappointed. The Catholics and the Episcopalians have the Zen Buddhists soundly beat on pageantry and architecture.

Then when it was time to take communion, the rector announced that anyone could partake, regardless of where they were on their spiritual path. My husband volunteered to take Cracky up to the altar with him.

"Can I go?" my son accepted my husband's suggestion with such zeal it gave me a moment's pause. I knew something was up.

"Wait. Are you even allowed to take communion at your dad's church?" I asked.

Cracky gave me the wide, altar-boy eyes that revealed that Something Was Definitely Up. "I don't know," he said softly, eyes wider.

"You're not supposed to take communion until you finish your catechism classes, are you?" I asked. He just looked at me as if he were utterly baffled at what I said.

The more I thought the more I could imagine a passionate protest from his father that I'd gone behind his back and offered up the host to the boy before he'd jumped through the requisite Catholic hoops.

"I don't know..." my son repeated, same saucer-like eyes full of lies.

"No, I think First Communion is some sort of big deal in the Catholic church. I think you get a party and everything. I think we'd better wait until your dad says it's cool," I said, thankful that I'd caught my religious gaffe before I'd committed it.

My son looked down at the floor with wide, wounded eyes. I'd denied him Christ's flesh and blood and Holy Communion with his god.

But I tell you, the Catholics have marketing down whereas my husband's church could learn a thing or two. The Catholics are the Tom Sawyer of religions. Tell them communion is a big whoop-de-do that they can't do, and brother they want it.

In contrast my husband's church hands the wafer out like candy, like no big deal. I didn't see any little six-year-old Protestants that night all bitter that they couldn't take communion. They were trudging down the aisle to get a bit of cracker before they got to go home and rip open gifts.

Supply and demand, baby. Keep it elusive and you'll have the whole world wanting it.


  1. Some churches allow you to take communion no matter what religion you are, or whether you belong to that church or not. I think Lutheran is also one of those churches that allows other faiths to receive communion in their churches. I am Orthodox and the babies are allowed to get communion as long as they have been baptized already. But you have to be a member of the Orthodox faith in order to get communion in my church just like Catholic. It seems like almost every church has a different set of rules.

  2. Aw. He is going to be so well rounded and exposed to different beliefs so he can make an informed decision!

  3. I think God & Budha BOTH will approve of how you respected & honoured the boy's father, which in turn honoured them all.

  4. we caught hell from my 16 year old nephew because we attend church as a whole family on christmas eve, the christmas attenders are we. he doesn't get that.

  5. I'm waiting for stamped little discs of holy flesh. Like those Pillsbury reindeer cookies.

  6. I think you handled it wonderfully. As a Catholic, Cracky will be SOOOO thrilled when he makes First Communion with everyone else, and then gets his party. And he'll remember that YOU helped make that possible.

    I think Buddha, Jesus, and anyone else would be thrilled with all of you, for showing love to one another, all the time. Merry Christmas!

  7. Nice save! But even if you let him, don't worry. Having at one point or another belonged to all churches mentioned here, the communion of most Protestants is a symbol, while the Catholics actually believe that the bread and wine are changed to the eating of Christ's body and drinking of his blood (which is why they are not so open about offering Communion to anyone who doesn't believe this).

    For this reason alone, I agree, hands down, Catholics steal the show. What kid wouldn't want to partake in that latter sacrament? For a boy this should be especially fun and worth waiting for!

    As for me on my Holy Communion Day as a Catholic I was overwhelmed, immensely proud, undoubtedly hoping that I wasn't truly going to be eating Jesus, and a little bit skeeved.

  8. "I don't know..." my son repeated, same saucer-like eyes full of lies.

    hahahahaha! original sin at its finest. :-)

    deleted to correct spelling error

  9. As a child , moved to the South, forced to go to Baptist churches when I originally was a nice quiet Presbyterian with a great grandmother whose father was an Anglican missionary, I was enchanted with a Christmas candlelight service in a Moravian church. The tea, the candlelight service, the music and how quiet and sweet everyone was ... that has stayed with me through the years.
    Your son will have this sort of upbringing, seeing the varieties of ways that people all worship and pray.
    I think this is just great...
    Meanwhile, if I had any self control and was a bit more strong in my convictions, I would be a Buddhist. But I guess it is too late for me, I am just a heathen with good intentions :)

  10. I remember for my First Communion being consumed with the decision on whether or not to let the priest put the host directly onto my tongue or accept it in my hands.

    I suppose that's what it's like to be a 15 year old girl. Hahahahahaha.

  11. I wrote a whole post about the time Will saw a gold domed building and asked what it was. When I said it was a church, he asked, "what is a church?" That made me cringe. I guess having 'Cubs' listed as my religion on facebook tells ya something.

  12. Hi Mandy,
    Happy Holidays to you and yours.
    Your son has a great question: "...for
    Jesus or The Buddha..."
    Re your upcoming braces...
    you will still be the same
    person and for those who
    base friendship on looks
    ...sad for them & how much
    of life they miss.
    Just think how good
    you'll feel, knowing you
    are finally getting the
    wish to repair a 30 year
    old accident.
    P.S. From your photos I
    see a beautiful woman;
    with braces: I see only
    a beautiful woman.

  13. It's been a while since I went through catechism but from what I heard recently anyone can take Holy communion... UNLESS that individual happens to be a pro-choice Democrat Catholic - in which case communion is withheld and announced by the local bishop publicly in the form of a press release.

  14. This made me feel a bit sad. It should not matter who or at what age someone is accepted into a house of god. There should be no special club . Nobody should have to qualify. Those special rituals of different denominations are all bull-paddies. This is why religion has screwed up the minds of people.

    I was listening to a radio preacher saying that if someone did not receive the baptism water ritual they would burn in hell.
    ...Asshole said what?

    I went to Catholic school and the church and had my 'First Communion ritual" wearing my white Hush-puppy shoes and white springtime suit coat and pants .They made me fold my hands as if in prayer . It all was too much for me as a kid. It gave me ongoing headaches as a child . It was boring and puffed up and had too many strict rules. They told me when to speak and what to say, None of that explained or helped me understand what I was going through, That's why I was so sad all the time during those years.

  15. We practice open communion at the Methodist church I go to.

  16. I am sorry Mandy to unload my past. You inspire that out of me , ha , at the least .
    You should be giving advice as a online therapist would not have to touch or shake any filthy patients hands. :P bonus )

  17. Switch it all up and take him to the LDS church...they'll give him the bread, but no wine, but he doesnt; get to get all wet until he is 8. Then he gets to go hot tubbing in the church! :-)

  18. You are so and demand; marketing; sales 101. They have it down pat!

  19. Haha it's like dating, right? You have to play a little hard to get.

    I'll never forget going to the Mormon church with my friend and watching their communion process. Literally white Wonder bread and grape juice. Didn't seem so special that way...

  20. This is going to sound so strange. I almost just didn't write, but it's bothering me so of course my mental issues win out over everyone knowing I'm crazy. I remember reading a post from you about a year ago that had something to do with everything being in order. That your house knows when your bed isn't made. I KNOW that's probably not what you wrote, but it's what my head translated it to, and really stuck with me. I've been thinking about it alot, and I tried to find it and cannot. Do you have any ideas which post I'm talking about? If not sorry, for being weird.

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