Sunday, April 20, 2008

"This Saying is Hard; Who can Accept It?"---Part II

Why are Non-Catholics Excluded from Receiving the Eucharist?

Many people do not seem to understand the Church's teaching that non-Catholics (except in extremely rare cases) are not eligible to receive Holy Communion. Why are some Catholic politicians denied Communion because of their political views? Doesn't this seem unfair and like the Church is getting too personal and overly controlling? I wish to answer how in fact the Catholic Church is not "too personal" or "overly controlling", and the reasons why there are rules for the reception of the Holy Eucharist.

Let's look first in the Holy Scriptures where we read St. Paul talking to the Corinthians about the Eucharist: "Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself." (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)
St. Paul uses very strong language by today's standards, and these truths are just as true today as they were when he spoke them. The Eucharist has not changed. So now let's see and compare that to what the Church says regarding the reception of Communion.

"To receive Holy Communion one must be fully incorporated into the Catholic Church and be in the state of grace, that is, not conscious of being in mortal sin. Anyone who is conscious of having committed a grave sin must first receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before going to Communion. Also important for those receiving Holy Communion are a spirit of recollection and prayer, observance of the fast prescribed by the Church, and an appropriate disposition of the body (gestures and dress) as a sign of respect for Christ." (Compendium of the Catholic Church #291 emphasis added)

You should have been able to catch those parallels between what St. Paul said and what the Church stated. Really, the Church has simply given further clarification into what St. Paul was saying. Simple logic can help us to understand why this is so important. And again it boils down to Faith on what Jesus said. If Jesus really said that the Eucharist is His REAL Body and Blood, then who are we to think we are worthy to receive It? Obviously, no matter how "holy" we are, while on Earth we are never "worthy" enough, but we must be at least in a state of Grace (life with Christ, free from mortal sin) before we can dare approach to receive Him. If we have no life with Christ, how can Christ live in or enter into us?

This then gives a very simple explanation as to why some so called "Catholic" individuals (e.g. politicians) have been refused Holy Communion because of their stance on political issues or other things. Probably the most popular example would be a politician who supported abortion being denied Holy Communion---why is this? To support abortion, which is murder, is to commit a serious sin, and therefore, as this is also publically known, the Church has the right to refuse Holy Communion. The Church is doing these people a huge favor in reality, as she is preventing these individuals from committing sins of sacrilege against our Lord's Body. Receiving the Lord in mortal sin, is itself a mortal sin. So, the Church lays this out clearly so that we can know what St. Paul means by "discerning" and how we can live an authentic and living relationship with Jesus Christ, and not a fake, self-centered, "warm and fuzzy", superficial relationship. Jesus never promised that following Him would be easy, in fact quite the contrary, but we do know that it will be the only way to true fulfilment and lasting happiness.


Soutenus said...

What a great post!!

Amanda said...

Great Post! It is a pity that more people do not know of St. Paul's and the Church's teachings on receiving the Eucharist, if they did, they might look on this great sacrament with more respect.