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“Trying To Steal Jesus”

In today’s (11/13/2008) Palm Beach Post, one of the funnier things I have read lately:

Communion wafer fracas leads to man’s arrest

JENSEN BEACH- Morning Mass at St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church was going smoothly until Communion.

That’s when John S. Ricci took one of the Communion wafers and pocketed it, not only attacking their priest, but also their faith, parishioners told Martin County sheriff’s deputies.

Ricci was supposed to consume the water – considered by Roman Catholics to be the body of Jesus Christ – to accept Communion, but when he didn’t the Rev. Marco DeLeon called after him, parishioners said.

Ricci, 33, then pushed DeLeon and grabbed a handful of wafers from the priest, parishioner Jim Molgano said.

“It was a horrible thing to witness,” Molgano said Wednesday.

Parishioners attending the 8:30am Mass rushed to Ricci to stop him from leaving the church, according to a sheriff’s report.

Among them were 82 year old Molgano and a 65 year old man who later suffered a mild heart attack.

Lori Shekailo, St. Martin’s director of fiance and operations, said the church had been flooded with emails and calls since local media reported the incident.

Some express gratitude. Thank you for “helping to catch the man who was trying to steal Jesus,” Shekailo said one Minnesota woman wrote.

Most, however, have a nasty tone, she said, with some people charging that the parishioners overreacted.

“I would hate to see what would happen if he took a hymn book,” another email read.

Shekailo said some people accused the church of having a homeless man who wanted something to eat arrested.

“That’s so far from the truth,” she said, pointing out that the church has a soup kitchen that cooks free meals every Friday night.

Also, that doesn’t explain why Ricci placed the Communion wafer in his pocket, Shekailo said.

For the church, the incident is about much more than wafers, Shekailo said. It is about the core of the Catholic faith, she said. Those who helped stop Ricci were trying to protect both their priest and their beliefs, she said.

Still, church members also share concerns about the man who was still at the Martin County jail on Wednesday.

“We’re praying for Mr. Ricci,” Shekailo said. “We’ve forgiven him, obviously.”

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Amazingly, the person still remains in prison, though they have “obviously forgiven him.” Doesn’t it say something about a belief when a person who takes a few communion wafers and puts them in his pocket must be apprehended and arrested? One poor fellow had a heart attack over this! Nothing shows Christ to the world than having a visitor arrested over a few communion wafers. To see this act as “trying to steal Jesus” drives to the heart of the problem.

Just so you know, if you come to my church, you will not be tackled or arrested for taking communion.