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Communion & Catholic School Trauma

May 5, 2008

I have certain hangups about communion.  It goes back to the two years I spent in Catholic school (2nd and 3rd grades). 

It’s hard to be a Protestant girl in a Catholic school.  Doubly hard if you aren’t a regular church-goer.  There were so many aspects of that education that were foreign to me — nuns, rosaries, being required to say Hail Mary, and the like.  There were many things I’d never even seen before.  One such thing that baffled me was communion.

I remember with stunning detail my first communion.  We were told that the bread was the body of Christ, and that the wine was His blood.  Not that they represented the body and the blood.  Oh no.  That they actually were the body and the blood.

The communion wafer tasted like nothing I had ever tasted before.  Bland, almost powdery.  It must be part of Jesus’ body, I thought!  Why else would it taste this way?  Anxious to get it over with, I began to chew it.  I was severly reprimanded, possibly even slapped, for chewing “the body of Christ.”  Likewise, as a seven year old, I had never tasted wine.  So when I was given a sip of the foul-tasting, foul-smelling liquid, I thought that, oh yes, it must be blood.  I tried hard not to spit it out, particularly after being chastised for chewing the wafer. 

As a result of these early experiences, I was almost afraid to take communion when I was an infant Christian.  Now, thankfully, I participate in communion each time it is held at my church, and I enjoy its special significance to us believers.  However, to this day, I have a hard time chewing the communion bread… even when it’s Matza, which you can pretty much keep in your mouth for hours before it will soften enough to swallow it.  Logically, people all around me are chewing and I don’t have a problem with it.  But emotionally, for me, I just cannot bring myself to do it.

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