Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Profaning Communion for the Sake of "Communion": A Partial Response

Someone alerted me via email to a Catholic blogger, Dr. Chris Anthony, who recently made a post about the reception of Holy Communion. Suffice it to say that his suggested policy is very........liberal. I would like to make some corrections to what he presented, since what is at stake here is the profanation of the Body and Blood of the Lord (cf. 1 Cor 11:27).
Is the Eucharist only for Catholics?
Is Christ for all or an exclusive few?
The title and subtitle for his post says a lot. Most of the time, you'll find that the people who defend "inter-communion," or the sharing of the Eucharist with non-Catholic Christians, have the false notion that forbidding certain people to receive the Eucharist is a denial of the all-inclusive intention that Jesus Christ has for it. This is incorrect. It is true that God offers his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity to every man. But, it is also true that every man must approach the altar with a particular disposition before he can receive it. Just as Jesus died so that all might be saved but some aren't, Jesus wishes for all men to feed on Him but some can't.

Paul outlines for us the requirements of any man who wishes to approach the Lord's table:

1 Cor 10:20b-22
20 I do not want you to be partners with demons.
21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.
22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

1 Cor 11:26-29
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.
28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.
30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.


Now, when Paul refers to the "table of demons," his first reference is probably to pagan sacrifices. But, I think that this is also a reference to sin. Whenever we eat of the forbidden tree, whenever we allow ourselves to be enticed by the devil's fruit instead of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, we sin and we partake of "the table of demons." But Paul says we can't partake of the table of demons and the table of the Lord. This means that we must approach the Lord's table with a clear conscience and no attachment to sin that separates us from Him.

That is our first requirement.

The second requirement comes in chapter 11. In it, Paul says that we must receive the Eucharist in a worthy manner and we must discern in this Eucharist the very Body of the Lord. If we do not, then we will be guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord and we will eat and drink judgment upon ourselves.

So, just as certain requirements must be met before we can partake of the Lord's all-encompassing salvation, there are certain requirements that must be met before we can partake of the Lord's bountiful table. It will be helpful to keep these requirements in mind as we continue.
Recently I came across a report in a Catholic weekly trying to explain in detail why Protestants cannot receive Holy Communion at a Catholic liturgy. In fact of late in many of our Churches there are announcements and LCD projections reminding the congregation that Holy Communion is reserved only for baptized and practicing Catholics. To me this is quite disturbing as I see it as a discriminating act.
Indeed, it is quite discriminating. But, this is not always a bad thing. Shall we take God to task for saying that sinners aren't fit for heaven? That is certainly a "discriminating" act. Perhaps Jesus is too "discriminating" when he says, "Unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (Jn 6:53). The fact is that sometimes God requires us to be discriminating: to discern right from wrong, to admit certain individuals to the ministerial priesthood and not others, to pronounce certain doctrines as true and others false, to require that men receive the Eucharist with the proper disposition.

Everyone knows that without these rules there is anarchy. Surely you would not have the Church allow her members to do whatever they wanted. We need rules, so that man can be free to follow God and live up to his full potential. But, rules naturally discriminate. G. K. Chesterton says: "Morality, like art, consists in drawing the line somewhere." This is necessary for the right order of the Church. Paul has given us the requirements for reception of the Eucharist. Those who do not meet these requirements simply cannot receive it.
Who is a practicing catholic – one who observes strictly all the rituals of the Church at any cost or one who genuinely carries Jesus into his daily living and in the process ignores some of the rituals?
How can someone both "genuinely carry Jesus into his daily living" and ignore the rituals of the Church? First of all, you betray an ignorance of the Church by calling them "rituals." What we are talking about here are laws, not "rituals." Secondly, bringing Jesus into daily living naturally entails obedience to His laws, and to the laws of the His Church.

Paul in particular has much to say about how important it is to respect and obey those in positions of authority in the Church:

1 Thes 5:12-13
12 But we beseech you, brethren, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you,
13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.

1 Tim 5: 17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching;

Heb 13:7,17
7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith.
17 Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you.


Likewise, Peter and Jude warn us of what will happen to those who reject authority:

2 Pet 2:9-10
9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,
10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and wilful, they are not afraid to revile the glorious ones

Jude 1:8, 10
8 Yet in like manner these men in their dreamings defile the flesh, reject authority, and revile the glorious ones.
10 But these men revile whatever they do not understand, and by those things that they know by instinct as irrational animals do, they are destroyed.


The Christian life calls for obedience. I don't see how anyone could claim otherwise.

[At this point, IE encountered a problem and decided that it needed to close, so I lost the rest of my response. Hours of work down the drain. I don't have the time or the energy to write it over again, so this post will have to stand as it is. I hate Bill Gates. I'm gonna go cry now.....]

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

3 comments:

Suzanne said...

Great post! Another analogy (I saw on EWTN) would be that we, as Americans can freely go visit Canada and enjoy the sights, eat the food and stay in a nice place. But we can't run for office or vote because we aren't Canadians!

The fact is that when you receive Jesus in the Eucharist, you are accepting everything the Catholic Church believes so you absolutely need to be a member!

Amber said...

I was upset by the closed communion concept at first, before I understood... but now I view it completely differently. These liberal views are damaging and actually end up causing greater division.

It always seems to come down to an issue of authority, doesn't it?

My dad's very issue with Catholicism is all about authority and it was also my own issue prior to conversion. Once I accepted the authority of the Church, everything else just fell into place.

Anonymous said...

I understand you not wanting to finish this up, but I was wondering if you can attach an outline of what you would/ did say even if you are not up for the full energy of getting all the words and concepts nice and tidy. I also understand if this too is not what you are up to right now. God bless.

Brian

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