St. Philip Neri, the saintly parish priest in 16th-century Italy, once noticed that a member of his congregation would regularly leave Mass immediately after receiving Communion...
Q. I am surprised by the number of people who regularly leave church immediately after receiving the Eucharist. In the diary of St. Faustina, Jesus says how sad he is that people treat him as a dead object and busy themselves with other things.
It is distracting and disruptive of my own personal prayer when I see these people head directly to the exits. This is the closest and most holy time we have to spend with the Lord. Am I being overly sensitive about the actions of others? (Louisville, Kentucky)
A. St. Philip Neri, the saintly parish priest in 16th-century Italy, once noticed that a member of his congregation would regularly leave Mass immediately after receiving Communion, and he decided that the man needed to be taught a lesson.
So the following Sunday, St. Neri assigned two Mass servers to accompany the man with lighted candles out of the church and down the street. The man, of course, returned demanding an explanation, which gave St. Neri a chance to explain the importance of taking time to thank God for the gift of the Eucharist.
It bothers me, as it does you, to see people rush out to their cars right after taking the host -- although I've never had the courage to use the same pedagogical technique as St. Philip Neri!
Your question makes me think of what Elizabeth said at Mary's visitation; in shocked surprise, Elizabeth asked her cousin, "And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" Even more, each of us should be struck with awe that God himself in the person of Jesus has deemed us worthy of a visit.
In "Inaestimabile Donum," his 1980 instruction on the Eucharist, St. John Paul II reminded us that we should not "omit to make a proper thanksgiving after Communion" -- perhaps with some moments of silence "or also after the celebration, if possible, by staying behind to pray for a suitable time."
Q. Is there anything that can be done at a local Catholic school about the parent of a student who has a violent and criminal background? My own child was just beginning her Catholic school education when I crossed paths with this dangerous individual.
Knowing his history, I informed the school principal. I was assured that this man would not be allowed to assist in any of the school children's activities but that his children were welcome to remain as students at the school. While I understand that his own actions should not reflect on his children, I wonder whether his violent potential should be at the expense of others.
I felt strongly enough that I withdrew my own daughter from this school and enrolled her in a different Catholic school, but my heart still goes out to the other innocent children and uninformed parents. While I know that this man is not a registered sex offender and I am not really sure what legal convictions he has had, I believe that he has been arrested for rape, disorderly conduct, abduction, felonious assault, menacing, intimidation and more -- for things that he has done from 15 years ago until the present day.
My moral compass is telling me that it is my duty to do more than I have done; am I right in this conviction, or should I drop the issue? (City of origin withheld)
A. I believe that you have done all that you needed to do by putting the school on notice. Certainly, the principal is as concerned for the students' welfare as you are and would take all necessary precautions to keep the children out of harm's way. And if the man's arrest record is as extensive as you describe, I would think that the other school parents have surely been forewarned.
To be honest, that this individual is not a registered sex offender and that you are not certain about any convictions causes me to wonder whether your concerns may be founded in part on rumor and hearsay. But you were right to share your apprehensions with the school principal and, in so doing, have discharged your moral duty.
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Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.
Father Kenneth Doyle is a columnist for Catholic News Service