Thursday, October 9, 2014

Can the poor receive communion?

By Jorge Costadoat, SJ (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Reflexión y Liberación
October 8, 2014

This question is hard. I know. Hard on the poor. It might be hurtful to them. But this question is not against them. They know that.

In my country, Chile, it's normal for the poor to form their families little by little. When life smiles on them, they come to have their own house and, if they're Catholics, they get married in the Church. There is nothing more wonderful than a religious marriage celebrated after making a long journey of great effort, with all the winds against you. The best of all worlds is having reached this point, having brought up your children and still having the strength to take on the grandchildren.

The working class family is a miracle. It consists of people who tend to come from very precarious human situations, have gotten ahead by overcoming great adversity and, if that weren't enough, bear the scorn for being poor. Society looks askance at them and blames them for their destitution! They do not live as they should.

She already had a child. She got pregnant at fifteen. He also had a child elsewhere. They fell in love and went off to live together in a room they could rent. But in a few months, life there became impossible for them. The child cried. The bathroom wasn't enough for everyone. In the refrigerator, they had a minimal space reserved for the baby bottle and nothing more. There were rumors of a land takeover. A political party offered them a share. They decided to run the risk because it was dangerous to try it. In the camp, a third child was born...of both of them. Together the four withstood the lack of water, the filth, the trips to the hospital, the bad environment...Thanks to the leaders and the assemblies, they fought for a house and got it. Getting married in the Church never crossed their minds. Civilly, yes. But they didn't want to do it until they could offer a fiesta in the place they would live forever. In the meantime, she arranged to leave the children with a neighbor and thus be able to be employed in a private home. He, a construction worker, was a real go-getter. He rarely lacked work. But to get to the job, he often had to take two buses, a trip that took him an hour and a half or two hours in all.

What piety is possible under these living conditions? A very deep one. I know. It's not a matter of talking about it. I would have to extend my remarks. I just want to make it known that the working class Christian communities are composed of people like these. They themselves are the ones who got land for the chapel, built it, and water the garden. These same people are responsible for the catechesis of their children. In these communities, at Sunday Mass, at the moment of Communion, no one is denied anything.

If the poor couldn't receive communion, the Church wouldn't be the Church.

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