Monday, April 02, 2007

Profaning Communion: Part 2

Thanks to popular demand, I have decided to pick up where I left off in my partial response to Chris Anthony on "open Communion." Internet Explorer can't hold me!!

Now, where were we....
What about a Catholic politician who abuses his power to subdue his people and amass large amount of wealth? What about glamorous celebrities who live immoral lives against the teachings of the Church?
What about them? The Church says that they should not receive Communion either:
  • Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Worthiness to Receive Communion: General Principles, nos. 5, 6:
    • 5. Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.

      6. When “these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible,” and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, “the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it” (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration “Holy Communion and Divorced, Civilly Remarried Catholics” [2002], nos. 3-4). This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgement on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.

  • Code of Canon Law, nos. 915, 916:
    • Can. 915 Those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to holy communion.

      Can. 916 Anyone who is conscious of grave sin may not celebrate Mass or receive the Body of the Lord without previously having been to sacramental confession, unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, which includes the resolve to go to confession as soon as possible.
Just because people like this seem to be able to receive the Eucharist unhindered (although many of the bishops have spoken against this), that does not mean that we should then let Protestants receive the Eucharist too. Yes, the Eucharist is for Catholics, but more specifically, it is for Catholics with the proper disposition.

This discriminatory action of our modern Church poses one important question in the minds of many liberal thinking Catholics – Is Christ for all or is He reserved for an exclusive few?
I responded to this question at the beginning of Part 1. The Eucharist is for all, in the most encompassing sense of the word. But, that doesn't mean that God does not place demands on the state of man before he can receive it.

Holy Communion, I admit, is not a trivial matter and the Eucharist is not to be toyed with, but denying our separated brethren the Eucharist because of their dispute with Catholics is definitely tantamount to revenge especially when this dispute is as ancient as the Church itself. If this is not a spiteful policy then what is it?
You think this is out of animosity and revenge?? My friend, the Eucharist itself demands that those who receive it be in relationship with the Lord, believe in the Real Presence, and have full membership in the Catholic Church. Fr. Philip Goyret (professor of sacramental theology, ecclesiology and ecumenism at the University of the Holy Cross) explains:
For Catholics, the eventual distribution of Communion to a non-Catholic, within a Catholic celebration of the Eucharist, implies a contradiction, as it would imply an ecclesial communion that does not exist in its fullness. Something similar occurs in the case of the eventual Communion of a public sinner.

Obviously, these ideas presuppose a strong affirmation in faith in the Eucharist—not as a mere external manifestation of a generic feeling of Christian fraternity, but as the sacrament that truly contains the whole Christ, with his body, blood, soul and divinity.

It is important to see that the necessity of full unity of the faith among the participants in the Eucharist is something exacted by the specific content of this sacrament, namely the substantial reality of the body of Christ—because in it is necessarily implied faith in everything that Christ has revealed and that the Church teaches.

Therefore, Eucharistic Communion and communion in truth cannot be separated. In this line, the Catholic Church denies Eucharistic Communion to those who do not participate fully of its ecclesial communion, as they cannot participate in the sign of full unity who do not possess it wholly.
This is not a "spiteful policy." Instead, it is the logical implication of what we know to be true about the Eucharist. On this point, Fr. Goyret's entire article is helpful.

The practice of excluding some people from Communion may be Biblically based, and it reflects the mind and heart of the early Church, as they were taught by the Apostles. Wouldn’t it be morally wrong on our part to carry the ancient animosity created by our ancestors onto the present generation of Christians who had no part whatsoever in that ancient dispute?
Yes, that would be wrong, were it what is actually taking place here. But it's not, as I hope I have already shown. Furthermore, is there not something to be said for the fact that my stance is "Biblically based" and "reflects the mind and heart of the early Church"? Does that give you no pause? Are you so quick to reject something that finds its basis in the authoritative rules of our faith?

None will deny that there must be conditions for receiving Christ in Holy Communion. These should be based on the condition of the heart of the receiver and not rituals he performs or group to which he belongs. The fundamental requisite should be faith and a sincere eagerness to welcome Christ into his life.
Yes, but what kind of faith? Will any faith do? Surely this faith must take some particular form. Jesus, Paul, the early Church fathers, and the Magisterium have defined the form that this faith must take and the proper "condition of the heart of the receiver."

In a world torn apart by hate and revenge, Christ should an instrument of unity and peace among not only Christians of the various denominations but of the whole human race.
....if they would only approach the Lord's Table the way that He desires them to. What you have failed to understand is that the Eucharist does not establish a communion that did not pre-exist. Instead, it strengthens a communion that already exists.

Christ belongs to all, including sinners, not to just a chosen few. He is not the founder of an exclusive club called Christianity or to be more specific Catholicism. Let’s not confine him to this club by imposing man-made rules and rituals. As his faithful we have a far greater obligation, to bring His love to all mankind.
Jesus Christ is not the founder of Christianity? Please doctor, if Jesus did not found it, who did? As for "man-made rules and rituals," if you can prove that the Church's stance on open communion does not flow from the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles, and from the nature of the Sacrament itself, I would love to see it.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

thanks for finishing up this article.

Brian

John, The Evangelist said...

Good Stuff

phatcatholic said...

Thanks!

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