A wad of bishops is on the verge of deciding Joe Biden should not be allowed to partake of the Eucharist on account of his support for abortion rights. They didn’t ding Trump for restoring the federal death penalty, although, of course, Trump is not a Catholic. Or anything else. At least most of the time. Depends on what church he poses in front of, I guess.
All of which led me to revisit the subject of the Eucharist, or Holy Communion. And how much of a big deal it would be to be denied the partakance thereof. And, of course, the funeral rituals of the Wari’ tribe of the Amazon rainforest.
It would be a pretty big deal. Like a lot of other things, but not climate change, it’s important to the degree you believe in it. No Eucharist for you basically means you’re out of the club, and this is a club that goes to a lot of effort to make you stay in it.
Catholics believe that the bread and wine of the Eucharist is the actual body and blood of Jesus. If that seems like a hard sell, they remind us that this happens “in a way surpassing understanding.” So if you don’t understand it, that proves it. The phenomenon of the transformation of actual bread and wine to actual body and blood is called “transubstantiation.” One of the most miraculous parts of it is it still looks and tastes like bread and wine, so I would judge it has not been so much wholly as substantially transubstantiated.
I remember when Mom and Dad trooped up to the altar for Communion. And then they came back to the pew smelling like alcohol, which was a damn miracle, all right. The pastor held up the Host and said “This is my body, broken for thee,” or something like that. Okay. I could plainly see the Host was not Jesus himself but just some other cracker. I was little, but even I could appreciate a metaphor.
Catholics evidently do not. They are not about figures of speech. If Jesus wanted to make the point that breaking bread should remind people of the sacrifice he was going to make for them, he would have said “Verily, this is, like, a little illustration of a broken body, much like mine is about to be, and I hope you all think of me next time you have some,” but he did not, not even in Aramaic. He said “This is my body,” and that was that.
Back to the Wari’ tribe. They used to honor their dead by eating them. Not right away, either. They’d wait for the apparently standard three days, during which time the deceased did not, in their case, rise again incorruptible. It’s hot in Peru and they were plenty corrupted and they ate them anyway, causing great gastric distress. The Wari’ believed this honored the dead by incorporating them into their own bodies, albeit for a very short period of time. Clearly this was a ritual involving a lot more sacrifice than is required of Catholics, except perhaps the ones with celiac disease, because–this is true–the people in charge of these things insist the Body Of Christ must not be gluten-free.
In any case Joe Biden, by all accounts a faithful Catholic, might well think it was a BFD if he would no longer be allowed to eat his Lord and Savior. It depends how gullible he is. I know he doesn’t believe in trickle-down economics.