Communion vs communion

I had an interesting talk with a neat Protestant guy. I say neat because yes, he is wheelchair bound (he’s got one of those nifty electronic ones) and he just started debating me right off the bat. I know many people who are paraplegic, but so many of them don’t have that *BAM* sort of personality. Then again, people in general tend not to have that sort of personality. In any case, this dude was interesting.

He mentioned that he was going to a Catholic Mass nearby, prayed the rosary, and took Communion, and that is when things got weird, because he also mentioned being a “general Christian, but not a Catholic.”

And I feel I have to (and I did) explain something here (though to be fair he asked what was up on the teachings with that) so, here goes.

Before I even get into the feelings and personal opinions I have about that issue, let’s go over the rules.

The Code of Canon Law allows for some non-Catholics to receive the Eucharist:

Catholic ministers administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick licitly to members of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church if they seek such on their own accord and are properly disposed. This is also valid for members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern Churches. (CIC 844 §3)

Other non-Catholic Christians may receive the Eucharist only under specific circumstances:

If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed. (CIC 844 §4)

That’s from the Code of Canon Law, which I’m getting acquainted with. Its like the Catechism, only far more specific. I suppose it can be considered the Catechism 2.0. Pay some attention to the stipulations- must be from an Eastern Church (Orthodox) or from a Church (not a church). Just like there’s a difference between Tradition and tradition, there is a difference between Church and church.

Church means that even for the few who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church as headed by the Pope, they are still descended from Apostolic leadership in an unbroken line. That means they didn’t just grab Mr. Rogers and decide they could make their own Christian sect- they have Bishops who can all trace their ordinations back to the time of the Apostles, to the Apostles themselves.

No, that does not include the overwhelming majority of Protestants, though there is some speculation about certain Anglican sections…but even the speculators believe that the chance is very very small that Apostolic succession has survived to present day.

The other stipulation, however, does allow for Protestants. Oh but wait, if you’re a Protestant, you have to be in danger of death, nobody from your faith community is anywhere near you, and you’re doing this on your own will and…oh yeah, you have to exhibit Catholic faith in the sacrament which you’re about to receive.

And in both of these cases you must be PROPERLY DISPOSED which is Catholic shorthand for no known mortal sins on your soul- no murder, no masturbation, no abortion, etc. So if you aren’t properly disposed you had better go to Confession first.

As regards a Protestant, you basically have to have already abandonded most of Protestantism for Catholicism in order for you to have Communion, and even then people will have to meet and agree upon it.

It takes 100+ years for us to agree on anything.

A lot of this sounds harsh, but besides the quotes coming from Paul and more importantly Jesus (although both are vaild!!!!!!!!! they’re coming from the same place after all…) about eating flesh and drinking blood and just what sort of trouble you get into if you do it carelessly….

Even if you just decide to ignore the Bible, the Church teaches that when you say that Amen after the Priest (or the 300th Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion…dang people, that’s enough already) you are saying I believe.

First, you are saying that you really believe that that is the body of Christ. God. Literally. NOT symbolically. Literally.

You are also saying that you believe, even if others do not, that that is the body of Christ, but that it doesn’t really matter what you choose to believe about the Eucharist in the hands of the Priest- its still God’s body. I can go and pretend that that isn’t Jesus, its just a cracker, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is JESUS in the sacrament LITERALLY.

Then, you’re agreeing to every other cottonpicking Catholic teaching. Abortion, euthanasia, not using birth control other than NFP which isn’t birth control, following the priest and bishops, submitting to the Pope and the Magisterium, all those nifty little teachings about Mary and her sinlessness, and every other major Catholic doctrine and defined dogma.

And you’re doing it publicly. People will assume you’re Catholic.

You’re also saying that you believe that you are committing sacrilege if you are taking Communion in a state of mortal sin, or that you even believe in mortal sin at all.

And guess what- while you may not have the full knowledge, consent of the will, and grave matter (3 things it takes to get a mortal sin) you are still doing something EXTREMELY risky with your soul.

Yes, Jesus may taste like bread, or wine, may look like bread, or wine, but that is still Jesus held up during the Mass.

Catholics do not just go up for Communion out of some sense of community, whether fuzzy or strong. We don’t just do it to show that we are Christian, or to memorialize the Last Supper. We are LIVING the Last Supper.

And this is why we don’t take communion in your churches as well, even if you welcome us to it. Because then we’d be making ourselves into liars by appearing to say that we don’t believe there is a difference between us and Protestants- because YES there is a DIFFERENCE!!

Its not merely cultural, or cliquish or anything like that- Protestants and Catholics may agree on most things, but there are very very very very very very big differences in the few things we *d0* disagree about.

The Eucharist is one of them.

Now, I am done with the facts.

My own opinion on this is very heavy. I’m offended that this one young man, or many people, act as if they have a RIGHT to come up and walk off with Jesus all of their own accord.

Even Catholics in a state of grace (free of mortal sin) and even free of venial sin, should come up with a lot of humility when we approach the Eucharist.

That is not a cracker, that is Jesus. And we don’t get to come up on our own two feet-it is Jesus who is calling us and extending this wonderful gift out to us. And ALL of us need to cooperate with that. And cooperation is COOPERATION. We need to have at least a basic understanding of what we are about to do, which is why there are classes for kids and adults all about Communion and the Eucharist.

Its offensive to me that someone who doesn’t even believe all of this, and does not even respect our beliefs, feels that he or she can walk into Mass and do whatever the hell he or she pleases.

How would you feel if I decided to come over to your house and start rooting through your drawers, or answering the phone, or not wiping my feet before entering?And then I continue to do that after I’ve been repeatedly asked not to- how would you feel?

Just what makes you think that its okay for you to do the same sort of thing in the Mass? Should I walk into a Lutheran service, or a Baptist service, or a nondenominational funeral service, and get up from the pulpit to preach from all 7 of those books not found in the regular Canon of the KJV Bible? Maybe quote some Saint Dominic for y’all?

Its rude, arrogant, and ignorant behavior that I’m not a fan of at all. It takes an infinite amount of self control not to yell, cry (yes, cry), or walk away seething when I’m being point-blank told that “I don’t believe what you believe, so I’m going to do whatever I want.”

And in spite of all this, I wish I had the balls to say my opinion to every person who has told me this. There have been many people who have told me that they do this.

Almost every single one of those people I have known have acted as if its something to be proud of, like getting away with stealing a piece of cake. And its almost always accompanied by this incredibly annoying sense of arrogance and superiority for having pulled the wool over the eyes of the Priest, who didn’t know what was going on.

Some have told me that they did it so that they wouldn’t feel left out, or “wierd” for not accepting Communion.

Well, here’s the thing. A lot of Catholics, myself included, don’t always take Communion because we realize that we have something impeding our communion with the Church.

So guess what? You are not alone.

But hey, still feel self conscious? Let me put this in steps for you:

  1. Get in line.
  2. Cross your arms in front of your chest. Think pretzel.
  3. Be respectful.
  4. If the Priest doesn’t get it, shake your head if he tries to give you the Eucharist, and quietly say that you can’t. The overwhelming majority of priests will not judge you.( And a majority of priests know what the crossed arms mean.)
  5. Receive a super cool blessing.

Voila. You have went in line with everyone, and if someone is actually keeping track of who doesn’t receive Communion and feels the need to gossip later, that someone has some sin issues of his or her own.

Guess what? Since being taught this by a friend of mine, I’ve done it whenever I have not been able to recieve Communion, and guess how many people take notice?


I had one time where I think the priest honestly didn’t get what I was doing, but then this is the same happy-clappy priest who does questionable liturgical silliness. I’m convinced he’s in the category of “not knowing what they do” because he was honestly confused about it.

So, in just 5 simple steps, you can feel welcome in the Mass, not step on anyone’s toes, not pretend there’s agreement where there is none and so may remain true to your own belief, and not stick out so much.

Hurrah, gosh that was hard. And as for the few (I’ve never met any) Catholics who will comment and speculate on that, follow my other program:

Patented STFU pills for Catholics:

  1. Take 2 stfu pills, and don’t call me in the morning.
  2. Go talk to a Priest.
  3. Offer it up.

By the way, did you know you get a blessing just for coming to Mass? Hurray for you.


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