I don't know about you, but I am curious as to what's going on with those two strange church bombings out in New Mexico.
Maybe you are like me and the detail that is nagging you is that someone -- unless the bombings are a coincidence and not the work of one person or group -- decided to hit a Baptist and a Catholic church. That's an interesting pair of targets. Also, the bombs were fairly minor, so this seemed to be a symbolic attack. Strange, strange, strange.
Authorities report that the first bomb went off at about 8:20 a.m. in a mailbox near the door to the Calvary Baptist church office. Services hadn't start yet.
And the timing of the attack at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church? That's the subject of this post, focusing on the Associated Press report on the attacks. You see, there has been some interesting chatter online about whether editors there really thought this one through. Either that, or the Associated Press copy desk doesn't include a single Catholic who frequents an altar. Then again, you could say the same thing about The Las Cruces Sun-News.
So here is the crucial part of the story. Let us attend:
The next blast came from a trash can outside Holy Cross Catholic at about 8:40 a.m. as Monsignor John Anderson was helping pass Communion.
"I was right in the middle of saying the words 'take and eat, this is my body,' and there was a pow! I mean, I knew it had to be more than a gunshot," Anderson told the Las Cruces Sun-News newspaper. "I didn't know if it was a shotgun blast, I didn't know what. But it was very loud, and I just kept on saying the words."
Ann Marie Sullivan, a college student attending Mass, said it "sounded like something had fallen off and shattered the glass in the back."
Note that the priest "kept on saying the words."
Here is the relevant passage in the Sun-News report, which adds another crucial detail (if you are a Roman Catholic or a journalist who cares about accuracy in covering this kind of thing):
Monsignor John Anderson had been in the part of the service where communion is passed.
"I was right in the middle of saying the words 'take and eat, this is my body' and there was a Pow! I mean, I knew it had to be more than a gunshot," he said. "It didn't know if it was a shotgun blast, I didn't know what. But it was very loud and I just kept on saying the words." ...
At the end of the Lord's Prayer, the pastor sent a deacon to find out what had happened, and it was reported that a bomb had exploded in a trash can outside the front glass doors, shattering the thick glass.
The crucial question: Did Father Anderson SAY that he was helping distribute Holy Communion when the bomb exploded? Or did journalists simply assume that?
This raises a second question: Did anyone at the newspaper or the Associated Press click a mouse a few times and find out WHEN a Catholic priest actually says the words, "take and eat, this is my body"? Also, when does the priest say these words BEFORE the congregation recites the Lord's Prayer?
Here is the crucial moment in Eucharistic Prayer I:
Priest: On the day before he was to suffer, he took bread in his holy and venerable hands, and with eyes raised to heaven to you, O God, his almighty Father, giving you thanks, he said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to his disciples, saying:
The priest bows slightly and then, in a firm voice, says or sings:
TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT, FOR THIS IS MY BODY, WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU.
He shows the consecrated host to the people, places it again on the paten, and genuflects in adoration.
No priest would ever, ever, stop in the middle of the Consecration Prayers. He would wait until he has finished and THEN look for a safe place in the rite to send a deacon out to investigate whatever disturbance had taken place.
In other words, he would wait until the end of the Lord's Prayer, which is the next part of the Mass. And the distribution of Communion comes later. In other words, the priest clearly said that he was in the middle of the Consecration Prayers -- not the distrubution of the Hosts.
Thus, the bomb went off precisely at what most would consider the most sacred, the most mysterious, moment in the Mass. Talk about drama!
So why did journalists think otherwise? Perhaps (this is just a theory) the editors were Protestants who at some point have attended rites in which, as Communion is served, the person distributing the bread says to each person who is receiving: "The body of Christ, broken for you."
Whatever the case, the Associated Press needs to correct this error of fact. Please.