This happened to me last night. I’ll tell you what happened, then tell you how I dealt with it.
I went to a church near where I work (not my usual parish) for Eucharistic adoration at 6:30p last night. They have a small Eucharistic chapel that connects the parking lot to the main doors of the church. When I walked in, I saw there was no adoration because apparently there was a special Mass at 7p. Around 6:35p, a man in street clothes came into the small chapel, opened the tabernacle, threw some hosts into a pix, and closed the tabernacle. He did not remove his key. At this point, almost everyone had left the chapel and people were walking through the chapel to get to the main church.
At 6:55p, there was only two of us left in the chapel. I was seriously concerned because I was about to leave and the key was still in the tabernacle.
At this point what would you have done?
[pauses for a moment to give you time to reflect]
What I wanted to do:
Take the key, walk out to my car, drive home, and mail it anonymously to the Bishop asking him to please review the GIRM with the people in the parish who have keys to the tabernacle:
The Place for the Reservation of the Most Holy Eucharist
- In accordance with the structure of each church and legitimate local customs, the Most Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a tabernacle in a part of the church that is truly noble, prominent, conspicuous, worthily decorated, and suitable for prayer.
The tabernacle should usually be the only one, be irremovable, be made of solid and inviolable material that is not transparent, and be locked in such a way that the danger of profanation is prevented to the greatest extent possible. Moreover, it is appropriate that before it is put into liturgical use, the tabernacle be blessed according to the rite described in the Roman Ritual.
What I ended up doing:
I asked the other lady who was there if she could watch the tabernacle for a moment as I was going to find out when the person was going to come back with the key. I found the man - apparently a Deacon at the parish - standing with a priest at the entrance of the church. I approached the priest and said, “Father, the key is in the tabernacle.” He said “I know.” I said, “But Father, no one is in there to watch the tabernacle.” He said, “Yes, it’s supposed to be there.” I said, “Um … okay Father. I just thought you would want to know.” He said, “Okay …” and rolled his eyes at me.
I was so upset I almost cried. This was a Mass where many non-parishioners were in attendance, and were using the Eucharistic chapel as a walk-thru. Any number of things could have happened to profane the host. However, at that point, I felt I was under obedience to the priest to leave the key and so I left it there.
I am trying to figure out what I should say in my letter to the Bishop, because our Bishop is a strong and orthodox priest. I feel confident he would want this issue addressed. I told my priest after Mass this morning, and asked him what I should have done, and without missing a beat, he said “Take the key. Walk it to the Priest and give it to him. It’s not stealing, it’s a rescue mission.”
So what would you have done?