I had the pleasure of catching up with a former volunteer who turned into a friend on Friday. We met at a local coffee shop and were all ready to catch up. Before I know it the first hour of our conversation had been taken over by chatting about religion. He being Catholic, me being Greek Orthodox, we have many similarities in our religious backgrounds. He went to Catholic school growing up and a Catholic High School, as did I. The only difference was the location–mine in the States and his in Canada. It was interesting to chat about how religion in our lives helped to mold us into the adults that we are today. He recalled a hockey tournament in Detroit where his parents made him still go to Sunday Mass even though they were away and I recalled walking to church as a child during a snow storm so that we could get there. Now I’m not writing this to spark a huge religious debate, I’ll leave that to the professionals, it was just interesting how this somewhat taboo subject by some had us gabbing for over 60 minutes.
One story that I relayed to my friend is a conversation that I had when I was in my 20’s with a Catholic Monsignor of the High School I was working at. No I never taught, I worked in their fundraising department on a multi-million dollar capital campaign. I remember joking with the Monsignor that if I wasn’t going to Heaven on the Greek Orthodox card for some reason, I better be going in on the Catholic card. My friend let out a hearty laugh. Yes some people would call that ballsy, but I truly believed it. I am a good Christian, I follow the Golden Rule, I help wherever I can and I pray that I will be rewarded for that in the after-life.
The bulk of our conversation focused on the Eucharist: commonly in the form of a wafer placed in the hand or on the tongue in the Catholic Church and a teaspoon of red wine to be followed with a piece of bread in Greek Orthodox Church. My friend told me how he was a bit relieved when he saw the Eucharistic Ministers in the Catholic Church use a hand sanitizer prior to receiving and then passing out communion. I returned and asked him if he knew how we received communion in our church? He did not so I explained to him that it was actual wine on a gold spoon. The parishioners lined up and received the body and blood of Christ in that way. He couldn’t believe that everyone partook from the same spoon. It wasn’t only until my recent years that I wondered truly how ‘safe’ that spoon was. I remember once asking when I was younger and the answer I was given was because it was 18K or 24K gold it killed all germs. I know that was just an answer to appease a child 🙂 But really how else could they distribute Holy Communion? I remember a woman I encountered who was Byzantine Catholic and a member of a church in New Jersey who told me that in her church they used plastic spoons? My question around that was what happened to the spoons after Mass? How were they disposed? Burned, thrown in the garbage, recycled?
At coffee our discussion continued on was it right to try and change something that was written over 2000 years ago or do you just go on believing? We didn’t solve the world’s problems but I thoroughly enjoyed our discussion.
If you are interested in reading more about the common spoon/chalice, I found an interesting article here.