My younger brother (who by default affectionately earned the name Seawolf) recently graduated from Boston College – a prestigious, Jesuit school steeped in rich tradition. One of these traditions is a Baccalaureate Mass for the graduating seniors held inside the gymnasium with an erected makeshift altar on center court. The graduates, dressed in their robes (but no hats), were not asked to sit in a designated spot on the floor, but rather were populated throughout the audience, sitting amongst family and friends. Near the end of the mass, several graduates stood up and walked down towards the floor. Eagerly, I nudged my dad who nudged my brother to fall in line with the rest of his fellow graduates.
Seawolf dutifully rose, following the line of graduates to the center of the gymnasium floor, not yet realizing what he was lining up for. It wasn’t until he got halfway down that I noticed most of his fellow graduates actually remained seated and only a select, chosen few rose. From the nosebleeds, my sister, mother and I watched as a woman placed a bowl of communion wafers in my brother’s hands while “On Eagle Wings” triumphantly played in the background. My father left the bleachers, heading for the nearest exit – at the same time Seawolf accepted his bowl of Christ – most likely not wanting to witness his son make a mockery of the church. With a stern, reverent face Seawolf accepted his task for which he had no previous training, climbing the bleachers towards us, inconspicuously looking around at the other Eucharist Ministers for clues as what to do next. Eventually, he settled into a post directly below us with a priest less than 30 feet away.
When the priest gave out his communion wafers, he raised the circular host up in the air, presenting it to the parishioner before saying, “The body of Christ.” My brother, on the other hand, gave out the communion wafers like he was a Vegas dealer handling cards, low and unassuming. To his first parishioner he said, “Peace be with you.” After an awkward moment, he redeemed himself, remembering his one line –“The body of Christ.” – correctly. When it was my turn to receive Christ my brother in a measured tone said, “The body of Christ, my child.” I swallowed my chuckles as I walked past the priest clamping my lips together in an effort not to burst into hysteria. I got back to my seat just in time to see Seawolf placing his hand over the head of a small child in way of a blessing, at which point I absolutely lost it.
“What did he say, what did he say?” My sister wanted to know, struggling to get the words out through her cascading laughter. After I told them he called me his child, I insisted they too get in line.
“I can’t, I can’t. This is sacrilege!” My mom said, shaking her arms and hands in front of her.
“Ma, you gotta go…trust me, it’s going to be the best body of Christ you will ever receive.”
It didn’t take much to convince her to join my sister in line – both of them sticking out their tongues for Seawolf to place the body of Christ on – while the other parishioners waited in my brother’s line instead of going to the priest’s line. Apparently, Seawolf, the graduate, was their preference. After mass my brother told me, “Please tell my girlfriend that it is over between us – Jesus is my bride now.”
Peace Be With You,
A Warrior Princess