As a child, I had the thrill of receiving First Holy communion when I was in the second grade. The sisters drilled into us the understanding that Holy Communion would be the sacred changing of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus. Pretty difficult for an eight-year-old to understand … sometimes even for adults.
Fast forward to Vatican II, when Catholic church members learned that instead of the small white wafer, members of the church could actually drink from a cup of wine and eat real bread. That was a new and heady change from the tasteless, skinny wafers!
Currently, I am now living at Saint Scholastica Convent in St. Cloud. There, I found that instead of the bread and wine, once again members at Saint Scholastica received the Eucharist in the form of the small white wafer. The reason was clear: a quarantine during the flu season and, in addition, some sisters were not able to swallow easily. It was not easy for me to make the change once again from the actual bread and wine to a small white wafer. Surely, richer bread might symbolize God’s abundance in a more literal way. But these small wafers seemed to say, “I offer you a simple gift.” No matter the form of Eucharist or lack thereof, communion can’t take place without community. As I considered all of this, I was prompted to write the following haiku:
Small white wafers
Perhaps fifteen cents apiece
Hold the Universe
Kate Casper, OSB