I was close to tears on a sunny Sunday morning, standing outside of the most beautiful cathedral I’ve ever seen in Prague. I was beyond confused and surrounded by a mob of angry parents, ready to tear me limb from limb.
How did this happen? Minutes before, I was inside celebrating Easter Sunday with a group of my friends. We had all traveled to the Czech Republic with our high school marching band to perform during their Easter festival.
We were given the choice to attend a traditional Catholic mass and personally, I thought this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
My girlfriend at the time was somehow half Catholic and half Jewish. When the time came to take communion, she stood up and got in line. Naturally, I didn’t want to miss out.
Once we made it to the front, I frantically glanced around and realized that Catholic communion was sort of like those choose your own adventure books I read growing up.
Some of my friends knelt down and were fed the body of Christ in wafer-form. Some were given the wafer to eat on their own. I honestly had no idea what to do next.
It was my turn. I sheepishly trudged forward and innocently glanced up at the Czech priest in front of me. Not knowing what to do next, I did the first thing that came to mind.
I knelt down, closed my eyes and opened my mouth while raising my hands.
After what seemed like an eternity, he cleared his throat and I opened my eyes to a confused look on his face. With a thick accent, he asked me a question I couldn’t fully decipher. After a brief pause, I answered, “No?”
What I thought he had asked me: “Do you exit the body of Christ?”
What he had probably asked me: “Do you accept the body of Christ?”
I realized I was in deep trouble and slowly stood up. With the same accent, he said, “You have different customs. It’s OK. You can sit down now.”
Filled with confusion and shame, I walked back to our pew where I was greeted with daggers. I sat in silence for the rest of the service, wondering why I had made such an apparent mistake.
Why wasn’t I allowed to experience something so apparently meaningful? Was it because I wasn’t Catholic? Did they know something I didn’t?
After a long walk back to our hotel, a friend did his best to make me feel better. He put his arm around me and said with a smirk, “You might feel shitty now, but think about it this way. I don’t know anyone else who has rejected the body of Christ.”
This post reflects the views and experiences of the author, and is intended to start a conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!