When I was growing up in Carlsbad in the 50’s (yes, I’m that old), St. Michael’s was located three blocks south, where the 7-Eleven mini-mall is now. You may have seen photos of what it looked like back then: surrounded by a white picket fence with the entry doors on the side, not the end.
There were only two services per week, on Sundays at 9:00 am and 11:00 am. Communion was offered once per month, and then in the late 50’s, increased to twice a month. During that time, the priest wrote to the bishop, asking permission to serve the communion by tincture (dipping the wafer into the wine) as it was very time-consuming to serve wine to everyone from the chalice.
There was no First Holy Communion sacramental preparation then — just Confirmation at age 13 or older, with that service being the first time that parishioner received communion.
Moving forward to the present day, things have changed greatly at St. Michael’s! The Holy Eucharist is available 5 days per week: Sunday, and Wednesday through Saturday (see the schedule).
The first Eucharist was at what we know of as The Last Supper. On the night before Jesus was crucified, He served bread and wine to the 12 apostles telling them this symbolized his body and blood, which was to be given for them (and all of us, as well). He asked that they observe this ’liturgy’ as often as they could, in memory of him.
Early Christians were accused of being cannibals, as the Holy Eucharist was being talked of as consuming body and blood. They mistakenly presumed this was a literal and secret occurrence. Remember that the early Christians were persecuted, and often had underground caves and dug out areas where they conducted their prayers and the Eucharist. The catacombs, and other caves used for this, are now archeological sites in Greece and Italy.
Whatever it’s nomenclature — Holy Eucharist, Communion, or Mass — it is a celebration and remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for our sins that we might live. What a blessing to commemorate this feast at the altars of St. Michael’s by-the-Sea, and to be in Communion with Our Lord and with one another!
This article was written by Ginny Unanue, St. Michael’s Registrar.