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Stories We Tell Traditions: Why Do You Do That?
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By Bruce Nicola
 
There was a small-town church in upstate New York. 
They’d had a priest in that church for over thirty-five years. 
He was loved by the church and the community. After he retired, he was replaced by a young, brand new, inexperienced priest.
 
It was the young priest’s first church and he had a great desire to do well. After
 he had been at the church for several weeks, he began to sense that the people were upset at him and this was troubling to him.
 
Eventually he called aside one of the lay leaders of the church and said, "I don’t know what’s going on, but I have a feeling that there’s something wrong." 

 
The man said, "Well, it’s true. I hate to say it, but it’s the way you do the Communion service." 


"The way I do the Communion service? What do you mean?" the young priest asked.



"Well, it’s not so much what you do as what you leave out."



"I don’t think I leave out anything from the Communion service" said the young priest.
 
"Oh yes, you do,” the church member replied. “Just before our previous priest administered the chalice and wine to the people, he’d always go over and touch the heating radiator. And, then, he would …"
 
"Whoa, whoa — just a minute — touched the heating radiator?! I have never heard of that liturgical tradition." 


 
So the young, new priest called the former priest. 
He said, "I haven’t even been here more than a few months and I’m in trouble." 

 
"In trouble? Why? What’s happening?" the priest asked.


 
"Well, it’s something to do with you touching the heating radiator during the Communion service. Could that be possible? Did you use to do that?" 

 
"Oh yes, I did. Always before I administered the chalice of wine to the people, I touched the heating radiator to discharge the static electricity so I wouldn’t shock them."
 
Bruce Nicola is pastor for seniors and visitation at the Paradise, CA Church