-by KRISTEN ANNA-MARIA HAUCK, Obl. OSB has a MA degree in Humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas. She is a Benedictine Oblate of the Monastery of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Westfield, Vermont and lives in a tiny hermitage in Maine.
The Institution of the Eucharist
“I grew up a “Navy brat,” the youngest of six children. (Years later, I discovered that there was another brother whom my destitute mother had given up for adoption. So we were really seven siblings.) My father was from Minnesota. He married my mother after a previous failed marriage, that had produced two daughters. My mother was from Maine and, similarly, had been married twice before, with three children. I was born unexpectedly in 1975. As a result, while most children attended school with their siblings, I attended with my nephews.
My family was not religious. Though I was taught to identify as Christian, I never really knew what that meant. The few experiences I had with Christianity taught me nothing.
The most memorable of these experiences occurred after my father retired from the Navy, around 1984, when we moved back to his home in Minnesota. At this time, my Grandpa Hauck and Mabel (Grandpa’s fourth or fifth wife) insisted I learn “my” Lutheran faith. They decided they would start bringing me along with them to church.
The first Sunday came; they picked me up, and we drove over to a Lutheran church in Minneapolis. The service was long, and the minister seemed to talk an awful lot about very boring things. Then, all of a sudden, my grandparents dragged me up to the front of the church with them where everyone was taking a place along a rail and kneeling. I kept looking past Mabel to see what was happening and saw the minister with an assistant. The assistant had a tray with little cups and crackers, and the minister would take one of each and give it to each person kneeling. I was excited about the prospects of a snack — until they came close enough for me to hear what they were saying.
A few people away, I heard the minister as he picked up the host first, then the little cup, saying, “The body of Christ; the blood of Christ.” Then I got scared.
I tugged at Mabel and kept asking, “We’re eating somebody!?Who are we eating?! Grandma Mabel, Grandma Mabel!”
Mabel kept hushing me all the way until the minister came to me, at which point, confused and scared and certainly not interested in cannibalism, I screamed and threw a fit, refusing communion.
We left quickly that day, with my grandpa dragging me, crying hysterically, out of the church while Mabel followed, chastising me for embarrassing them. They never took me to church again.”