Saturday, October 25, 2014

Why can't everyone receive Communion?: Parish Bulletin: 10-26-14

Have you ever wondered, “Why can’t everyone who comes to Mass receive Communion?”  I have met this question on many occasions, especially in the context of preparing for a wedding or funeral that features a mixed crowd of believers (Catholics and Protestants) and unbelievers.
While we have often been accused of being unloving or unwelcoming in asking non-Catholics to come up for a blessing instead, quite the opposite is true.  The Second Vatican Council ensures we have a deep respect for those of different faiths, religions or personal convictions.  We indeed have people at weddings, funerals and Sunday liturgies who believe differently in the Eucharist (and we are glad you join us!).
            The key to the above question is in one powerful word we say several times during Mass: amen.  Two of these are especially important.  The first comes collectively in the Great Amen which the congregation sings (or says) after the priest elevates the Body and Blood of Christ while proclaiming, “Through Him and with Him and in Him, O God almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is Yours forever and ever.”  The second is stated individually after the minister of Communion says, “The Body/Blood of Christ.”  In both cases the amen is equivalent to affirming: “Yes, I believe this is Jesus’ Body and Blood!  Yes, I believe in the Catholic Church!  Yes, I follow the Pope as Christ’s voice on earth!  Yes, I believe in Catholic Church teachings! 
While it may seem loving or welcoming to invite everyone forward during Communion it actually is not.  In fact, doing so would be to put brothers and sisters under false oath, proclaiming belief in something of which they may not actually believe.
            It is also important to know that receiving a host at Mass is not necessarily the same as receiving grace.  While consuming a small wafer only requires an open mouth, receiving God’s grace in the Eucharist requires having an open soul.  Someone who abstains from Communion at Mass (a Catholic who is in a state of mortal sin or a non-Catholic who joins us to worship) may indeed receive more grace than the Catholic who receives Christ absent-mindedly.
            The general guidelines for receiving communion include being baptized, being in a state of grace, going to Confession after committing mortal sin and believing that the Eucharist is Jesus’ Body and Blood. 
            To anyone who believes the Eucharist is Jesus’ Body and Blood who is not Catholic, please join us in our official steps of welcoming by coming to RCIA!  To our Catholics who come to Mass weekly or daily, approach this gift of the Eucharist seriously!  To those who join us who abstain from Communion, know we ask this because we love you and respect your own faith or personal convictions.
            God Bless!

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