At Christmas 2019, a Dublin inner-city church was packed with respectfully dressed middle aged and elderly people, along with a sprinkling of excited children. The carols, the crib and the candles gave a warm glow to the cold winter darkness. The people went to receive communion, standing in line in front of the altar, and a woman - bedraggled, smelly, distracted and clearly mentally ill - joined the line. The priest approached, flinched, and then passed her by without a word or gesture. She returned to her place, confused and distressed, dug into her bag, and pulled out a package of stale bread, evidently intended for the Royal Canal ducks struggling with the recent ice. She broke off a piece, ate it, turned to her neighbour and said simply in her soft Dublin accent; "Body of Christ." The neighbour feigned deep prayer, and people nearby avoided eye contact; one told her, rudely to "shhh!" Then after several tries, a young woman with dark Gothic eyes and several face piercings looked her straight in the eye, took the proffered bread with respect and reverence, and said simply, "Amen"
(Story above adapted from Anthony Gittens, "Eucharist Flesh and Spirit", RLR, Nov 2010, pp. 337 – 356)
“Christmas belongs finally and fundamentally to those who are excluded from its celebration.” Aidan Mathews, In the Poorer Quarter, p 218.