People were receiving Communion without thinking, the preacher suspected. But how true is that? And does it matter?
I doubt that parents or nurses or carers are always consciously focussed on the task in hand when they change the nappy or soiled sheets of a child or elderly patient, but they will still do the job properly. Doing the job properly is what matters, not having the mind fully focussed or experiencing the ‘right’ emotions.
Lest anyone object to my comparison, I would argue that changing a nappy or soiled sheets could be counted as a work of mercy to rank with the other seven, It is an act of love, and it is life-saving, as any public health worker would tell you.
There are distractions enough at Communion time in church: apart from anything else, I find myself watching whether the person in front of me is going to kneel or genuflect: am I a safe distance from them?
There is though, a chance for all to spend time silently reflecting after Communion. If the priest allows it to happen of course, and to be fair, this preacher does.
In life there are times when the head must lead the heart, and indeed the body or the senses must also lead at times, perhaps when we are dog tired and still need to carry on. It can happen that way at Mass or prayers too: coming to Mass after working a long shift or enduring a broken night may lead to not hearing the readings, missing the consecration and lining up mechanically to receive the sacrament, even to falling fully asleep in the post Communion silence. But you can be there in body and spirit, if not in mind.