Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
That's What She Said
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Friday
Mar242006

Please Pass The Bread


I'm passing the bread, but it isn't dinner time. Which can only mean one thing: sacrament in the church. The Mormon church. The tray of bread the teenage boys who hold the Priesthood prepared before uttering the usual prayer is now headed straight for me via the hands of other god fearing Mormons.

"Oh god the eternal father..."

My best friend Lisa's mom is taking her turn.. First she daintily plucks the morsel of bread from the silver tray, then she places the white fluff of yeast into her mouth. Now she passes the tray to her husband who does the same. Next comes Lisa's big brother Jimmy and her sister Laura. Now bullets of sweat are slipping down my back. After Laura comes Lisa and after Lisa it's my turn.

"...we ask thee in the name of thy son, Jesus Christ..."

The bread and the tiny, thimble-sized cup of water that is to follow is supposed to represent the flesh and blood of Christ, the dude that everyone tells me died for my sins. The doctrine of the Church is that Holy Communion is morally necessary for salvation.. That is to say, without the graces of this sacrament it would be very difficult to resist grave temptations and avoid grievous sin.

"...to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake..."

Probem is, I've already sinned. Last weekend I let my boyfriend Matt stick his hand up my shirt. I haven't told my bishop yet. So I don't deserve the sacrament. But it's coming my way and if I don't take my turn everyone will know I'm a sinner!


"...that they eat in remembrance..."

That's when one of the boys who pass the sacrament parks his size 10 Kenneth Coles next to my pew. He's waiting for the bread tray. Since I'm sitting at the end of the row it will be me that hands it to him. It also means he will be watching every move I make. But so is god, watching every move I make. The Lord sternly warns church members to refrain from giving the sacrament to those who are unworthy. If I take the sacrament in my sinning state I'll surely be in bigger trouble than I already am. It says so right in The Book of Mormon:

3Nephi, chapter 18 (verses 28-29): "… this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall minister it; For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him."

The tray clinks noisily against Lisa's watch as she takes her turn, but my heart sounds like it's pounding louder than the brief collision of metal. I can't take the sacrament, I just can't! It wold be wrong. I risk a peek at Laura who is still chewing her bit of bread. Behind me, someone coughs discreetly. Off to my left one of dozens of babies in the congregation begins to wail before it's mother deftly swoops it out of the chapel and into the lobby.

"...that they may always have his spirit be with them..."

Lisa passed the tray of bread to me and I promptly pop a piece in my mouth. It's what we all do.

"...Amen..."

Reader Comments (15)

coincidentally- I just came over here to leave http://www.kten.com/Global/story.asp?S=4671085
this. What the news article doesn't mention is that Lyman, the superintendent, is a practicing Mormon with all three degrees from BYU. Nice censorship, there.
March 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEmily
My god, how stressful -- to have all of that pressure on you to be perfect. I don't think I've ever believed anything religion-related enough to be super-impacted by it...but still feel a bit of ChrEaster Catholic guilt on occasion. I can't imagine what it must be like to deal with the aftermath of having believed something so strongly, for so long, even if it was a long time ago.

(by the way -- your mom was excommunicated? I missed that somehow...)
March 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commentersandra
well done, monica. again.

(i figure if people can post just to say something sucks, i can post when i have little more to say than "i liked this.")
March 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkasey
This struck so close to home. This was and is my life.
March 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterStuckinthemiddle
Wow. The second I saw that picture load for the entry I got chills and knew I should keep reading. You have described something I have experienced many Sundays, trying to reconcile what I should do with what I think people will think of me. Struggling with hypocrisy from others, and trying to avoid it myself.

Thank you for writing this entry. It makes me realize I'm not the only one.
March 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJo
You rock.
March 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterI hate jello
jesus (hey a pun!). It's a wonder you're not a total psycho. This post gave me the creeps.
March 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterGemma
I wonder what old Hinckley would do if he knew that probably half of his church went through this exact same struggle every single sunday...and how many of them just say, fuck it, and eat the bread anyway?

To echo Jo, though, thanks for writing this. It's nice to be reminded that I'm not the only one who has had basically that same conversation in my head during sacrament.
March 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commenter[drowninginjello]
I think every.single.person.does.....and by single I dont mean 'single' ..I mean every person.
March 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermama
i always pass on communion. i can't stomach it.
March 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterT
what a horrible post. What an aweful way to represent the church in writing. Do you even understand what the sacrament is for? If you did you would know that a guy sticking his hand up your shirt is even MORE reason for you to take the sacrament and resolve to do better than to go without that spirit. The person who wrote the old Hinckley post was also very disrespectful to our church and the prophet. Go talk to you Bishop about the sacrament and stop writing such disrespectful stuff
October 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCC
If you really feel you are unworthy than don't take it. Y ou should fear God more than man---and Amen CC
October 28, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTeyalyn
Bite me. I don't believe in your God. But I did get a chuckle over you backing yourself up under a different name.. That's sweet, you must be new, bless your poor little persecuted Mormon heart.
October 29, 2006 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko

Wow, I came across this blog by accident, read the story and the many words of support offered. Conclusion: I didn't know there were so many "girls who" were so paralyzed by what other people think.

Are you truly that wrapped up in what other's think about you that you have forgotten why you are in the chapel? Hey, if you don't want to be there, fine. But have the integrity to say so, and don't go. Or if you feel a spiritual obligation to be there, then BE there.

News flash: nobody is paying much attention to you. We are too overwhelmed with our own lives. That twelve-year-old waiting for the sacrament tray is thinking about lunch and doesn't know your name.

Grow a backbone. You are a liar when you feel one way inside and act another on the outside. Same to your "supporters". You don't add much credibility to the intelligent voice of women when you write, or act, like that.

March 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFrom the inside

Dude, if you don't think Mormons don't pay attention to who does and doesn't take the sacrament you're sorely mistaken. I was 12, invited to attend church with a friend and when the whole family is popping the sacrament and I'm sitting in the mix of course I'm going to do it as well. And if you don't think half the Mormon congregation (adults who know better) take the sacrament when they shouldn't just to keep up pretenses you're wrong. God forbid Mr. Johnson down the street notices Sister Christensen didn't take the sacrament.. My god, the speculation.

News flash: going through high school is like walking through a land mine and if you make the grave mistake of being the outsider - good luck for the next four years of your life.. Perhaps you don't remember being 13 through 17 but at that impressionable age, all you care about is friends and what other people think. Now? I could give a fuck what some anonymous douchebag thinks about my past. It's my past, not yours. And don't you dare tell my 12 year old self to grow a backbone.. I've spent the past 20 years growing a backbone precicely so I can tell self-righteous, judgmental assholes like you to go fuck yourself.

March 4, 2008 | Registered CommenterMonicaBielanko

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