Holy Discommunion…

After Lament

During my recent silent retreat, I found myself writing some odd things.

I was thinking about the nature of the Communion/Eucharist/Mass. This was triggered in part by an encounter with the centrality of the Mass within the Catholic church. Rightly so of course- it is one of the few specific things that Jesus told us to do- when you meet, do this in rememberence of me.

For many of my brothers and sisters the Mass is a place of mystical exchange. It has power that must be mediated through the ministry of Priests- and the exclusion of those outside the boundaries of the church. Having said that, many Catholics bemoan some of the power stuff that has attached itself to the church, and there is a long tradition of openness, generosity that warms my heart.

However, at one of the celebrations of mass that I attended recently, a Priest said something like this- “Each time we take this bread and this wine, it is doing its work of salvation within us.” I found myself in a place of divergence.

And I started to think about that final meal in the upper room- Jesus looking around at his closest friends, holding them in his heart, longing for them to get it. Get that it does not get any better than this- friends who laugh and love and share life together. Friends who take the stuff of their humanity- their bodies, their life blood, and lay it out for one another. And how Jesus knew that he would soon be gone. That a place at the table would be empty. How his heart must have ached.

Then I started to think about all those people who do not get to share a table like this- ever. All those people who life has broken and split off to live a kind of discommunion. Unmass. Nocharist.

And I suddenly felt a grief that our communal remembering of who Jesus was could ever become exclusive.

And I wrote this;

Holy Communion


Make me a mass from the broken bread

Of the schizoid on ward C

And for wine there’s a pool of Rogers blood

After suicide number three


And mix me some bread from the words he said

To Carrie when she was nine

The secret stains that drip from her

Will do for communion wine


Tear me a piece of the angry bread

Of Leroy on ICU

It took three nurses to inject his wine

They’ll need more before he’s through


Bake me bread in the boozers head

His clothes they sure do stink

Instead of wine have the turpentine

That was all he could find to drink


These are the holy broken ones

Gone soon and not much missed

From the first and the last of the least of these

We make our Eucharist

Blessed are the birds…

cave, birds


The feathered Eucharist


Happy are these birds above who

never have to go to mass.

Happy fragile feathered things with

light not stained by glass.

Blessed are they beak and claw; their air

Is ever sacred.


Blessed be their treetop temple, each twig

a flying arch.

And sacred is each song that choirs

from sparrows or from larks.

Happy are these crows and cranes

Whose Eucharist is endless.


And may the vaulted holy sky

Be full of wings as birds fly by

On their way to ruffled worship.


(With thanks to Juan Raman Jimenez, ‘The Silversmith and I’.)

osprey takes flight from nest