This was a letter in Newsday to the “God Squad” that astounded me. Notice the self righteousness.

I’d like to get your opinion about a very strict priest I encountered during my nephew’s first Communion. It was recommended that we be at church an hour before the Mass. With about half an hour to go, the pews were nearly full. Our two rows were filled with family members from around the country, most of whom had not seen each other in years. It seemed reasonable to think we could all talk to each other. Members of the whole congregation were also engrossed in conversations. During this time, the priest came out to tell us we were all in the presence of Christ and needed to be reverent. He said we were breaking the First Commandment that we should have no other Gods before us, and because we were not being silent, we were putting chit-chat before Christ. He told us we were sinning and were only to speak if it was absolutely necessary, adding that we were setting a bad example for the children. Then, he hastily walked away. As soon as he left, the talking resumed. The priest returned and stared at everyone. When they quieted down, he repeated the same things as before. I’d think that Jesus would love to see families gathered at church for such special occasions. Do you think this priest was out of line? Did we really violate the First Commandment? The priest from my hometown encourages parishioners to greet the people around them before Mass. – S., via e-mail

Notice he calls him a “very strict priest.” You gotta’ love how this guy says proudly how everyone went back to talking as soon as the priest walked out. What kind of people are these? But then comes the rationalization that Jesus loves to see us talking to each other.

Is there really this little awe and reverence of the Eucharist? Or is it simply no belief?

Father Tom Hartman responded that perhaps the priest had been too severe but added:

The treating of holy spaces as if they were corner bars is a growing problem, and the priest was right to say something to you and your family about proper decorum in church. Your family had plenty of time to catch up on things after Mass.

The communion rails are gone. We run through Communion like it’s just “Drive-Thru Jesus.” We receive from Eucharistic Ministers in sneakers and shorts. We hide the tabernacle in a closet. We can’t really be shocked that the people show no reverence towards the Eucharist when too often the Church has ignored Jesus.