I was recently asked to be one of the altar boys at a funeral for someone at my parish who I did not know personally, but who was a very dear friend to my deceased grandmother. The widower really wanted us to serve, and serving is so easy so I decided to go and do it.
My brother and I were the two servers, and mass largely progressed as usual, except with some extra incense, prayers, and a few omissions and additions. The pastor gave a good homily (he’s a very good young priest) and then we had communion. To my great annoyance, I observed several of the deceased woman’s family members going up to receive communion and apparently they had no idea what they were supposed to do with the communion wafers. They looked confusedly around until they finally figured out they were supposed to eat it.
I confess myself very flustered and saddened by these events. It shows the decay of family/church tradition over generations, from a devout set of grandparents, to some lapse children, and finally a third generation of almost completely ignorant children. However, this whole issue of the desecration of the eucharist could easily have been avoided if my pastor had simply said something before communion or mass, or had left some slips of paper in the pews reminded the congregation of the rules of communion (namely that you shouldn’t take it if you just think it’s a snack to get you through the seventh inning).
I talked to my aunt after mass and she admitted that it was unorthodox but said it was fairly standard practice. I disagreed but didn’t argue with her.
What are the thoughts of the forum patrons? Should the priest have said something? Has anyone else seen something like this occur?
Also, following mass, the widower gave me a thank you note with some money, and one of the relatives also gave me some money, referring to it as a “tip”. Have any other altar servers experienced something like that? I thought it was odd and didn’t really feel like I deserve it.