During the past two weekends, I’ve had occasion to be in the church vestibule during parts of Mass.
Last week, I slipped out during the homily to use the restroom. (I know, it’s better to wait, but sometimes you just…can’t.) This past weekend, I was over at our other “worship site” helping to set up the Cub Scout Babka sale at a different Mass than the one I actually attended.
But both times, I noticed something strange. Different people, same situation.
There are people who lurk in the vestibule of the church (or even outside the front door) until it’s nearly time for Communion. Then they slip in, get in line for Communion, receive, and leave.
I stayed in the vestibule during the entire homily last week rather than be obvious about walking in and out of church–I waited until everyone was starting to stand for the Creed to slip back into my place in the choir area. The whole time, a woman with a son (Little Brother’s age) were in and out of the vestibule. Sometimes they were outside the church, other times in the vestibule. During Communion, they were in line to receive and then out the door (they had to pass right by me to do this.)
Yesterday, I arrived around the “Lamb of God” to help set up the babka to be sold after Mass. A woman was hanging around the vestibule. She went in for Communion and then came back out, bought her babka, and left.
We’ve got a big trend at that particular “worship site” of people leaving just after Communion. It’s better than it was, but it’s still disconcerting to see 1/4 of the church empty out before the final blessing, week after week after week.
There’s a big discussion going on right now at the NCR blog on Communion in the hand. From what I’ve seen in the past two weeks, it’s not whether you receive on the tongue or in the hand that’s the issue. It’s reverence in general. It’s understanding that you don’t just show up, get in line, receive, and go home–at the very least!