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Saturday, August 15, 2009

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allyHM

Once again, Mr. B. H. I recommend locating an AMiA or CANA Anglican church near you. All of the doctrine (liturgy, too) and none of the guilt. In the Anglican tradition all baptized Christians are welcome at the altar rail for communion. And there's no need for individual confession. We say a "group confession" during the service prior to the Eucharist at which time the participant is to review his/her own personal sins of recent times. Give it a whirl. The worst that could happen is you don't like it and then you can continue to attend a Catholic church and wrestle with your feelings (maybe even guilt?).

Leslie

That's a great story your priest told, Rick.

I've been offered by priests and have taken Catholic Eucharist and have been blessed by it. It seems Catholic church has really set its sites on Jesus moreso now than I perceive it in the earlier part of the last century. I worship there comfortably on occasion, which is not how it was when I was a kid.

Perhaps it's changed; perhaps I've changed; perhaps both of us have changed.

Either way, no need to rush your wife, eh? God waited a long time for you to return...and patience is a godly virtue they say. :)

Rick

Once again Ally… there are none nearby…

And Leslie... sound advice...

BroKen

Leslie is right. Now I am no expert on Catholic theology and practice, but if you were baptized Catholic, isn't coming back for communion enough. They wouldn't rebaptize you, would they? Now if your wife wasn't baptized Catholic, she might not be welcome at the table without that baptism. The prudent course is to ask the priest for clarification.

Fr.D

Some years ago, when there was no Anglican parish anywhere nearby, my wife and I attended a Catholic parish for several Sundays. Several members of the parish asked why we did not take Communion, and we said that we thought we needed to speak with the priest first. They encouraged us to do so.

When we finally got a chance to talk with him (he seemed to find this to be a real imposition), we told him we were Anglicans without a parish and would like to receive Communion, and he fairly told us where to go. We did not return.

shana sfo

Rick,

I would say to you that Jesus would ask you to respect His Bride, the Church, and obey her authority. She would not ask of you what He would not desire of you because She cannot. The Church is the 'pillar and foundation of truth' according to Sacred Scripture, is it not? Did Jesus not promise the Holy Spirit would guard the Church and recall to Her all of His teachings?

Like those living together before marriage and bearing children they do not baptize, God's blessings can still come to those who decide to be disobedient to the Church, but what greater, deeper joys and blessings come when we do things in the right order and with the right disposition of heart and soul?

You may want to carefully consider 1Cor 11:26-29 also, because St Paul is also clear about this teaching.

The Groom and the Bride are one in unity and purpose, and neither would lead their children astray.

1Sm:15:22:
22b For obedience is better than sacrifices: and to hearken rather than to offer the fat or rams. (DRV)

Peace and all good.

Rick

BroKen,

Prudence, in my less than humble opinion, should be that practiced by any member of the clergy who might dare to stand between a congregant and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Shana,

I'm not well versed in Catholic theology though I believe I am in Holy Scripture. Jesus was especially harsh on religious leaders who attempted to stand as roadblocks between seekers and Himself. If Scriptural swordplay is to take place, I would encourage the reading of Luke 18:15-17 and Matthew 18:1-5.

Today, Mrs. BH, on her own accord, came with me to Mass.

And she participated in the Eucharist.

Again I ask for those who see this to be a grievous error, answer the question that to this point, has been ignored.

Would Jesus turn Mrs. BH away if she sought communion with Him?

Mommynator

As much as I have problems with some of the doctrines of the roman catholic and greek orthodox church, I have met too many people and priests who love God with their whole selves to turn up my nose at either expression.

I think we're all different parts of the Body, and we are all united through Christ. Communion is simply a reflection of that.

I participated in communion a couple of weeks ago at the church my husband, youngest daughter and I have settle into and it was a profound experience, having not had the experience for so many years.

It is a mystery, but it is a unifying act no matter where it's taken.

Matteo

Not intending to harsh out on anyone here, but I just need to speak up in favor of Church policy.

The policy for receiving communion is printed on the inside cover (or thereabouts) of the missalettes you will find in the pews of a Catholic Church. These are the 'rules' as given by the infallible magisterium of the Church. If these are to be rejected as unimportant, than just what is it that makes the Eucharist important? Does the Church which has the (God-given) power to make Jesus present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist during Mass not have the power to get it right in terms of setting the rules of reception for the good of the individual believer?

Is the Church powerfully competent in making the Eucharist available on Earth, but bumblingly inept in making the rules for receiving it? Has Christ come in great power *and* in total clusterfarging incompetence?

Priests who knowingly ignore these rules when asked to are going against clear Church teaching on the matter. They're acquiescence does not somehow make it right, or indicate that the Church itself is somehow softening its allegedly "uptight" policy.

And if the answer is that you don't believe in an Infallible Magisterium, well certainly the Catholic Church does! The question then becomes, why would you want to participate in an organization that is so delusional that it thinks it has Infallibility when it does not?

It's kind of a package deal. It's hard for me to see how one can, in effect, say on the one hand, "I love the Church because it gives me the 100% genuine Glorious Bread of Life which is the Very Living Flesh Of God Himself! I also love the Church for boldly proclaiming that that's *exactly* what it offers!" while on the other hand saying "Screw those uptight morons and their stupid lame-assed rules, anyway!"

Or to be more theological about it, you can hardly accept the Body of Christ (the Eucharist) while at the same time rejecting it (blowing off the rules set by the Church, aka the Body of Christ).

Receiving the Eucharist while breaking the rules might bring you some grace (but there is certainly a risk of receiving judgment instead). Following the rules and abstaining if necessary will bring much more grace, and of course, receiving in accordance with the rules will bring the full measure of grace.

Why not go for the gold?

Rick

I ask again...

Would Jesus turn my wife, and others like her, away? Would He refuse them the bread and wine?

It's curious, in my view, why no one is answering this question.

Mommynator

Matteo, just show me where in scripture Jesus would exclude someone for not belonging to the right "club".

See, the same thing happened with Orthodoxy. This thing with TRADITION (blared in best Fiddler on the Roof style) is just wrong. The interpretation of the Peter thing is wrong.

I appreciate the roman catholic church, but it's this insistence on things made up by people as they went along that sticks in my throat. It's just not that way.

Jesus didn't ask people what they were when he spoke and ministered to them. He met them where they were, told them to repent if they needed to, but never told them what to join.

If you can't understand that, then you need to get out of your religious ghetto and re-read your PRIMARY DOCUMENTS about what God is about.

Leslie

>>Would Jesus turn Mrs. BH away if she sought communion with Him?

Christ would never turn away anyone who seeks him. But then he has an advantage over the rest of us in that he knows our hearts. And you know your wife's heart...but a priest who doesn't know her might not know if she's spiritually there.

In general, what does it do to those people who take communion when they aren't spiritually prepared? If it is as special a practice as we think it is, then we owe it to people to make sure they're ready.

So there is a bit of a conundrum for every church to know how to handle "new people"...for their own good. Some offer an open table and let the people decide for themselves, some churches wish to take more of a role in guiding people through that process.

The priests who have offered me communion have done so after spending entire days with me at conferences and round table discussions...when they see I share the faith, I have been welcomed.

The trick, I think, if someone is asked to wait, is for it to be done in a spirit of loving openness so that it is clear to all why they must wait and what must happen in the mean time to get through the period of waiting.

BroKen

Rick, I think you have the right idea. Of course, Jesus would not turn your wife away, nor do I think He would refuse her bread and wine. But....

you know this can be a sensitive issue for the church (and for you too it seems) so why push it right now. You had a good experience last week. I assume you and your wife did today, too. If you push this before talking to the priest, you may be setting yourself up for a fall, or perhaps a fight. I think your presence in church is more important than THIS fight.

If you talk to the priest and he is OK as some seem to be today, all is good (at least until there is a new priest in the parish.) But if the priest is not OK, then you have offended him and set the stage for bad feelings all around.

Imagine you have friends who are teetotalers and a bit stuffy (could be me!) They invite you for dinner. Would you bring a beer or bottle of wine? Why risk offending them?

If you want to attend that church, you should abide by their rules and customs. If you can't then you should look elsewhere. You are not going to change them.

Again, I'm with you; open communion all the way. But some of our brothers and sisters are not where we are. We still learn a lot from them. We need each other.

Rick

I risk offending no one but those here who I've been up front with...

This Catholic Church is not high church... the 8:30 AM Mass is most casual with folks showing up in shorts and polo shirts largely... this priest has now preached two sermons both of which are suggesting strongly that he leans more toward an open Eucharist and not a closed one... they're even playing some contemporary music, accompanied by an acoustic guitar.

And keep in mind BroKen, it is the Lord's table... it is not the Priest's, nor does it belong to that Priest's congregants...

I worry less today about offending the hyper-sensitive (and God knows aren't they an abundant bunch) and more about being faithful... my wife and I are attempting to be faithful by returning to a community of believers and we are being faithful by responding to an openness being expressed by a Priest...

And if this is offensive... the offended need to get a life...

chuck aka XtnYoda

If we allow scripture itself answer:

1Co 11:28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

Nowhere does scripture allow for anyone to control the Lord's table other than the individual participant and our God. Period.

Any other approach by "clergy" to control who participates is abuse.

Shifty1

Rick,

Jesus would welcome your wife, ESPECIALLY where the religious authorities would deny her. His whole ministry points to this.

Mateo...not to be harsh, but as an ex-Catholic Born Again Christian, one of the HUUUUGE problems I had with Catholicism is the "infallible magesterium" (the Pope...right?) One question I always ask, somewhat tongue in cheek is simply this:
If each Pope is considered infallable in matters relating to the Catholic Church and her doctrines, why have there been so many apologies for the positions on Church doctrine issued over the years by succeeding Popes? Church "rules" or tradition should NEVER exclude those who honestly seek a relationship with God.

Shifty1

Also....

Matteo (not picking on you..really)...
On the matter of transubstantiation (the whole Church having the "authority" (?!) to make Jesus "physically present" during communion idea) does Jesus instruct his disciples that whenever they "eat the bread and drink the cup" that he will majically be present? Or does he instruct them to REMEMBER him when they do? And if the Catholic Church has been granted the authority to cause this miracle (transubstantiation), how did the early Church (pre-Constantine) celebrate communion? The Catholic Church not being in existance yet, how could the Lord's Supper happen? If it takes the Catholic Church's authority to cause the spiritual element of the Lord's Supper to occur, how could Paul write instructions about it's conduct? And if the Bible was completed by John on Patmos, how then could the Catholic Church (or ANY church for that matter) claim latter revelation about the special nature of THAT church over all the others?

Matteo

Rick,

If you feel drawn back to the Catholic Church (and it does seem that you are seeing something special about the Catholic Eucharist for which there is no other substitute), then it is of course, up to you to answer to your own satisfaction those Protestant objections to the Church appearing in this thread and elsewhere. Assuming these are not already on your bookshelf, Patrick Madrid's "Surprised by Truth", Mark Shea's "By What Authority?", Steve Ray's "Crossing The Tiber", and Chesterton's "Orthodoxy" are quite helpful and inspiring.

Again, as for the "rules" question. If it were me, and I thought I knew better than the Church what the rules should be concerning Her own Sacraments, I'd call myself a Protestant. If I thought the Church was mistaken in thinking She has the God-given authority to set those rules, I'd be running away from Her, not toward Her. Feelings would not really enter into the question. Like you, I leave it to leftists/liberals to allow feelings to have the trump card. And I leave it to Mormons to follow a "burning in the bosom" to discern the truth.

Rick

Matteo,

I've been wanting for some time to read Chesterton's "Orthodoxy"... seems now would be a good time to move it up my list...

My spiritual state is such that I find problems with every church I go to... every one... and I've been to many... it's probably me (since I'm the common denominator) however, at this point in my life, I'm drawn back to my roots... yet, some problems remain.

I find it curious that in my return to Catholicism, I find a Priest who, by your definition at least, seems more Protestant than Catholic...

God's hand?

Who knows... but He?

Shifty1

Matteo...

Me thinks you are confusing Christ's bride (the Church) with the CATHOLIC Church, and in so doing, denigrating a whole lot of authentic Christians in the process. A less thick-skinned person might even take offense at your suggestion that if Rick thinks he knows "better than the Church what the rules should be concerning Her own Sacraments" he might as well just call himself a dirty PROTESTANT! Okay..so you didn't actually SAY dirty, but the implication is just dripping from that thought!

Again, to go back to your own point....the Catholic Church has through the years established rules, which it has codified into tradition. No problems there. All sects do that; some for the betterment of the members, some to their detriment. The problem arises when the Catholic Church (or any denomination) raises their TRADITIONS up so as to be on par with the Bible, insofar as authority goes. And it's true, the Catholic Church is free to establish rules surrounding it's own services. But the question of what Jesus would do remains. Nothing in the Bible would lead me to suggest that Jesus would uphold a religions traditions at the cost of excluding a single soul.

And can you give me a rational, believable explaination why the Catholic Church has found it neccessary to repeatedly apologize for the doctrinal "mistakes" of former supposedly "infallible" pontiffs?

Matteo

Shifty1,

I'm not here to get boggged down in Catholic/Protestant disputations. Rick is interested in Catholicism, so I'm talking about Catholicism. I said nothing about "dirty" Protestantism, but merely pointed out that to reject what the Catholic Church says about its own infallibility is to effectively choose Protestantism. It's a logical point, not a judgmental one. If one cannot in one way or another convince oneself that the claims of the Catholic Church hold water, then one *should* choose Protestantism. It would be the *right* thing to do. But one should not fool oneself that the claims are not there and don't matter.

Rick

Matteo,

My personal experience with Catholics is pretty extensive, having come from a Catholic family...

Given your definitions, it would seem that many who consider themselves to be pretty devout Catholics, are, in your view, more Protestant.

Nevertheless, what specific infallible teaching (I'm looking for a reference) have I disobeyed?

By disobeying this particular teaching, what should be my punishment or penalty?

In what ways does the Church punish or penalize the lay person who is disobedient in following Catholic teaching?

How often are disobedient lay people pursued by those in authority in the Church?

Do obedient lay people turn in the disobedient?

And finally, how does any of this represent Jesus Christ?

Mommynator

This is why I couldn't stay in the Greek Orthodox church.

Once you're baptized, as far as they're concerned, you could possibly live like a hellion and it was okay. Fess up, take communion and it was all good.

I think there is a place between the complete and utter individualism espoused by some and the complete and total immersion in manmade tradition and religious red tape the church has made of things.

One can pronounce as much as one wants on how saints pray for us (that's debatable), but most people in my experience turn the saints into holy bureaucrats - find the right one and you get what you want.

Don't think that's the way God works in our lives and it's dangerous to keep that up for most regular people. I see it all around me every day as the place I work is heavily roman catholic (lapsed or not). Plant St. Anthony upside down in your yard to sell your house. St. Christopher for your travels (even if you drive like a bat out of hell). St. This'n'That.

I have great respect for the actual persons, but am disgusted by what has been made out of them.

Christ died so we could have a direct relationship with God the Father, and Man in the form of the churches keeps adding on all these barnacles and mollusks when we should be swimming freely and swiftly in God's ocean.

Tim Chesterton

I've been cursed with the ability to see both sides of any argument. Makes it a bit difficult to be absolutely sure of anything! On the other hand, maybe that sort of healthy scepticism is a help sometimes.

So - on the one hand, I absolutely agree that Jesus would not turn Rick and his good wife away from communion. And I know that there are Catholics who believe that too - including, perhaps, the priest at the church he has begun to attend. If that's the case, I cheer for that priest - although his view is not in accord with the official teaching of his own church.

Which leads to my 'on the other hand'. It's unquestionably true that the teaching of the Catholic Church is that holy communion is to be offered to Catholics only. Matteo can correct me if I'm wrong here, but my understanding (as an Anglican with many Catholic friends) is that, to the RC Church, receiving communion is not only about fellowship with Christ but also fellowship with his true Body, the Church, understood as being embodied on earth by the Catholic Church in communion with the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. That's why official Catholic teaching frowns on offering communion to non-Catholics - to do so, in their view, is to get the cart before the horse.

I don't think Matteo is calling anyone a 'dirty Protestant'. He's simply stating a fact - that the belief that I get to decide for myself the terms of my participation in Christ and in his Church is one of the central beliefs of Protestantism - called historically 'the right of private judgement and private interpretation of scripture'. In contrast, Catholic Christianity has always taught that the 'Magisterium' (i.e. teachng aurhority) of the Catholic Church has been given the right and responsibility to interpret the Faith to the faithful. In short, to Catholics, I don't get to define for myself the terms of my participation in Christ and in his Church - the Church (which is older and wiser than me) gets to define it for me.

Personally I disagree with both of these extremes, which is probably why I'm a wishy-washy Anglican!!! But my personal agreement or disagreement with them is not the point here.

Rick, if you were asking me for personal advice, my advice would be to be brutally honest, as is your habit here at BH. My advice would be, instead of asking our opinion, to go and talk with the man whose ministry has obviously been such a blessing to you so far - the priest at this local catholic church. Call him up and ask for an appointment, and tell him all about the spiritual journey you've been on. For me, its obvious that the Catholic Church has ben a real blessing to you so far. I'd ask this priest for guidance as to the next step on your Catholic spiritual journey. And I'd ask him where and when receiving communion fits in to that process.

Let me say again, personally I'm in full agreement with your view that Jesus would not refuse you and your wife communion. But that's because I'm an Anglican. If the Catholic way has been such a blessing to you so far, then I think it makes sense to have a conversation with the priest about what exactly that Catholic way is - and then to decide for yourself whether, in good conscience, you can be guided by it.

My two cents' worth.

Rick

I have written the Priest... with some trepidation frankly... and turned him on to this post...

We'll see how this goes.

Matteo

Rick, there's nothing I could say to answer your questions that Tim Chesterton has not just said in a far better way.

I'd only add that it is not really a question of the Church punishing you at all. The Church is not a police state. It's much more a question of fundamental obedience to Jesus Himself. You ask what Jesus would want. From a Catholic point of view, what Jesus would want is for you to follow the rules of His Church. To make a distinction between the rules of His Church and what He would *really* want (as if there were some difference) is to think as a Protestant. Perhaps the rules for reception of the sacraments do not seem to you to be what Jesus *really* wants. Others will say that an all-male priesthood is not what Jesus *really* wants. Others will say that a prohibition on contraception or abortion or homosexuality is not what Jesus *really* wants. Others will say that a non-socialist state is not what Jesus *really* wants. But if one thinks that the Catholic Church has got it wrong on what Jesus *really* wants, then one is effectively a Protestant, no matter how hard one tries to convince oneself otherwise. The credit for the Church having it right on what Jesus *really* wants owes to Jesus Himself and not to anyone else. Can the same God who made sure that mere fallen men would be able to write inspired Scripture have failed when it came to enabling the Church to "get it right"? Is God a splendid writer but a crappy administrator?

Again, I'm not trying to trash Protestantism, but just putting forth the core logic of Catholicism, which is something that needs to be embraced in order to truly embrace Catholicism. It's not really an issue that can be ducked, and it does actually make a tremendous difference to the life of prayer and devotion. When I became Catholic I didn't embrace the principle at first. But once I did, a whole new level of grace opened up for me.

Shifty1

Matteo
Your core logic consists of belief in things that fly in the face of what God has revealed in his Word. Like I said before, the Bible ends with Revelation. God's Word is complete. If you make the exception that the traditions and teachings of the Catholic Church are on par with Holy Scripture just because the Church SAYS they are, then why not believe in the authority of the Koran? or the Book of Mormon? They too are later additions to the finished Word, and each books adherents will swear to you of their veracity. According to you a true Catholic has to accept that the Catholic Church's additions are ok..but nobody elses?! And that's the core logic? If you can't blindly accept that....you are a Protestant? Am I understanding you correctly? It's a sort of "suspend logic and accept what we say" and you're a "true" Catholic, use your brain and realize there are HUGE inconsitancies in Catholic Tradition and God's Word...so sorry..you're not a "true" catholic, is that it?

Rick
The credit for the Church having it right on what Jesus *really* wants owes to Jesus Himself and not to anyone else. Can the same God who made sure that mere fallen men would be able to write inspired Scripture have failed when it came to enabling the Church to "get it right"? Is God a splendid writer but a crappy administrator?

But the Church has failed to "get it right" many times Matteo... and by your logic, this makes God a crappy administrator.

I don't buy it. I don't see how you could. Not by using logic. History is the best gauge of whether the Church has gotten it right... and clearly, she hasn't many times. If I were to think as you're apparently thinking, this damns God. I have a problem with that.

You ask what Jesus would want. From a Catholic point of view, what Jesus would want is for you to follow the rules of His Church. To make a distinction between the rules of His Church and what He would *really* want (as if there were some difference) is to think as a Protestant. Perhaps the rules for reception of the sacraments do not seem to you to be what Jesus *really* wants. Others will say that an all-male priesthood is not what Jesus *really* wants. Others will say that a prohibition on contraception or abortion or homosexuality is not what Jesus *really* wants. Others will say that a non-socialist state is not what Jesus *really* wants. But if one thinks that the Catholic Church has got it wrong on what Jesus *really* wants, then one is effectively a Protestant, no matter how hard one tries to convince oneself otherwise.

My interpretation of this is that being Catholic means that you check your independence and your means to think at the door. That instead, being Catholic means being a Stepford Christian. I have a problem with that. Any thinking person would. And Matteo, again, I know many Catholics who aren't as rigid as you appear to be on this. Yet in your book, their lack of rigidity makes them Protestant. I beg to differ. And I have a problem with that.

I think at this point that I'm willing to confess that I have a problem with your definition of what it means to be Catholic... and I think many Catholics would as well.

Matteo

Don't blame me, I'm just the messenger.

Again, I think you'll find the books I mentioned useful in this discernment.

Shifty1

Matteo,

You can't hide behind that line! You obviously BELIEVE all that you've posted. You aren't a hired PR man for the Catholic Church....what you post is what you believe. I tend to agree with Rick and the problems he has with your positions. I have another to add...
namely, where in scripture do you find Jesus vesting the sole authority in the Roman Catholic Church? Where in scripture do you find any mention of it being "okay" for any person to elevate ANYTHING to the level of authority, purity and truth that the Bible enjoys? If you are basing your argument on the passages where Jesus declares "You are the Rock, and on this rock I shall build my church" after Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ and that Peter was the "first bishop" of the Church at Rome....there's a problem. History, and Scripture redord that Peter was primarily a evangalist to the Jews, while Paul evangalized the gentiles. It was PAUL, not Peter, who founded the church in Rome, during his first imprisonment. Peter was never in Rome until AFTER Paul established a bastion of Christianity there. And then he was only there as a NON-CITIZEN prisoner. Paul, being a Roman citizen, had an entirely different experience in jail than Peter. Peter would have been locked in a dungeon, with limited visitors and no freedom. Paul, on the other hand, was under house arrest, evangalized freely, had scores of visitors and retained much of his freedom. Logic (not Church legend) and the scripture itself, tells us that of the two...Paul should more rightly be considered the first "bishop" of Rome. The Roman Catholic church only rose to prominence thanks to the fact that the Roman Emperor Costantine converted to Christianity and HE established Rome as the seat of Christianity. "Tracing" the line of Bishops of the Roman Church (Popes) back in an unbroken line to Peter doesn't bear scrutiny.
As for the books you recommend; I have no doubt they are excellent tomes. The only thing is you didn't quite include any diveristy in viewpoint did you? All Catholic authors, three of which converted to Catholicism. I would expect each of these authors to extol the pre-eminence of the Catholic Church above all others. But that reading list, being as one-sided as it is, isn't exactly "proof". I'm sure if I recommended four books by four devout Wahhabist Muslims, all four would make a strong case for their religion to be the "one true church"...but that doesn't make it so.

Matteo

Shifty1,

You're a Protestant. Message received.

I've already said that I'm not here to argue the Catholic/Protestant question.

In this thread I've talked Catholicism with Rick, who is interested in it.

If you think you have good reasons for Rick not to become (again) Catholic, please address them to him, not me.

Shifty1

What I'm doing is challenging the assertaions you've made on here concerning what Jesus would do vis' Rick and his wife taking part in Communion. I have addressed several pointed questions at you, challenging your statements regarding the infallabilty of the Church, Tradition being elevated to parity with scripture, the premise that the Catholic church is the "one true church" and that it is THE church ordained by Jesus himself and therefore its dictates must be unqestioningly followed, lest ye be truly Protestant masquerading as a Catholic. All of which YOU have stated as reasons why Rick and/or his wife should NOT partake in Communion in a Catholic church. None of which you have answered.

But hey, I get it, you don't want to "debate" Protestant vs Catholic on this thread. So I won't direct my challenges to you any more; instead I'll strive to provide a counter-point to these types of views....in case anyone following this might be interested in the differences between the two sects. It'll be like I'm pointing them to Jesus while you're pointing them to the Catholic Church.

Rick

In the interest of full disclosure... I have lots of respect for Matteo... he links to us here often... I've linked to his place as well and will again... and I was drawn to his blog by his byline:

Former commie and angry hedonist, now a conservative Catholic Republican. After Scientific Materialism, Deism, and Buddhism, I stumbled across the 2,000-year-old Big Kahuna, the Roman Catholic Church. A couple of years before I became Catholic, exposure to the real world had replaced my Berkeley-induced leftism with a sort of sneering "I'm above it all" irony. After becoming Catholic in 1996, I turned conservative, and also became a much nicer guy. Eternal Optimism had won out over Radical Bitterness. Politics, current events, religion, and aviation, that's what's on the blog.

That resonates... and so though I have lots of problems with what Matteo is saying on this post, I continue to respect him.

Here's the bottom line.

I'm not interested in being Catholic or Protestant. Seriously, I'm not. Sounds like this is problematic to Matteo and hell, it might be problematic to non-Catholics.

I'm interested in filling an empty spot in my soul that I believe only God can fill through Jesus Christ and by His Spirit. And that's it. Everything else, at this juncture in my life, is a bunch of fluff and hooey. I'm not interested in that which suggests praying a particular prayer gets people into heaven and I'm not interested in that which suggests belonging to a particular denomination does the same thing. That friends, is fluff and hooey. I'm not interested in the thinking that suggests the Catholic Church is the whore of Babylon and neither am I interested in thinking that Protestants need to become Catholics or they're doomed. That's more fluff and hooey.

I want to experience God as I've done before but haven't in some time. I want to feel secure in my faith. I want to have a faith that gives life meaning. I want that faith to be fed and nurtured and strengthened. I think that can happen in either a Catholic or a Protestant church. And I think those who disagree are focusing on fluff and hooey.

I'm enjoying the back and forth here but I do want it to stay on the healthy side... not just for me but those who are drawn to this post.

That's all I have... for now.

Lisa

Rick,

As a lifelong Catholic (full disclosure here), I am following this thread with interest and concern. I feel you are asking very important questions, and obviously dealing with conflicting viewpoints posted by others who have different experiences.

I encourage you to seriously consider the books that Matteo has suggested. They are informative and written with respect for those who seek to find out more about the Catholic faith. Just as some of the posts have expressed frustration with the Catholic Church being an impediment to a direct relationship with Christ, so will a misinformed opinion of Catholic teachings be an impediment to a clear understanding of the faith.

Then take it one step futher: read the sections on the Eucharist and the role of tradition in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Then go back to scripture and read the sections concerning the Eucharist with an open heart. (Congratulations: you will then be better informed than many Catholics who have neglected their faith and serve as poor examples to others.)

If I may add one aspect to consider: whether one DECIDES to abide by the "rules" is irrelevant. The point is that for faithful Catholics, abiding by the rules is something that is joyful, liberating and necessary, because being in communion with God is like being in love. And in fact, it is LOVE which makes us want to sacrifice for the other---in this case, God. By approaching the altar in humility and with reverence, a faithful Catholic participates in a union so initimate and profound that there is no other spiritual experience that says so much about God's love for his children. To physically receive the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist is worth preparing for as we have never done before in our lives.

Yet, sadly, there are many Catholics who have lost the sense of this mystical union and betray their lack of respect by treating it as another event in their day, or as just another symbolic communion. Unfortunately, there are some priests who have also lost the ability to convey the sacramental nature of communion, because they have become sloppy in their ministry.

I would hope that you keep seeking the truth, and listen to God's call in your heart. With prayer and grace, you will find His will for you, because He loves you. After all, He gave you Jesus.

Shifty1

Rick,

I couldn't agree more. I was raised Catholic, baptized, took 1st Communion, was confirmed..the whole nine yards..heck I even went to a Catholic Grade School until a slight run-in with the head nun on the last day of 6th grade caused me to spend that entire summer scheming, pleading and finally begging to go to the public school, lest I have to face her again! Somewhere along the way, I started to question the Church and it's relevance to my life. I can honestly say that although I learned a lot about the Bible, the Catholic traditions and sacraments and religion in general, I never once heard the Gospel presented in any cohisive way. So I left the Church and was "un-religious" for a season or two.
It wasn't until I was past my 30th birthday that I actually heard the Gospel from the woman who eventually became my wife. She told me early in our relationship that if nothing else ever happened between us, she had to share the "Good News" with me. And then I went to the mega-church I mentioned in another post and REALLY heard and ACCEPTED the Gospel. I became a "born-again" beleiver in 1998, sitting in a comfortable, theater-style seat among 1500 strangers.
Contrary to Matteo's assertaion, I don't consider myself any particular denomination besides a follower of Christ. I dislike "religion" of all sorts. To me "religion" is man's attempts at pleasing God, and leads to all kinds of rules, prohibitions and division. I have a "relationship" with God through the atoning blood of His Son, and I seek to deepen and broaden that relationship daily. And I try and point others in that direction.
I know there are authentic Christians in all denominations and churches, heck my Mom still considers herself a good Catholic (although by some defintions posted here she's just a pretender since she doesn't accept EVERYTHING the Church teaches as true) and she is one of the most dedicated Christians I know. I also know that far too often, people substitute devotion to their particular religion, or church, or sect for devotion to Christ.
I agree that we should keep things sane, but I can't prominse not to keep poking holes in things when I feel the need.

Peggy

Rick,

I don't write this to get on your case about taking communion. God knows I would never want to say a single discouraging word to someone who was exploring a return to the church and I don't think anyone serious about their faith would intend to do that so I hope that you won't let anyone do that to you.

What I want to do is make a suggestion from someone who stands in between the position of the Roman church and your current position which seems to be more in line with low church protestantism. I am an Anglican of the high church Anglo-catholic variety which means that I truly believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Although I am a member in good standing in my church, I have sometimes felt in my heart that I could not receive worthily and at those times I decided not to. On the other hand, I very much disagree with the Roman church's position on many things which, I agree with you, do tend to get in between Christ and other baptised Christians. For one, I do not believe that God ignores the sacraments done in faith by other churches or that his Holy Spirit does not indwell in other denominations.

Now that I have introduced myself, let me tell you my story. I waited two years after returning to regular worship before taking communion. Our church has a process for new members that we are required to go through that is the length of a school year. I took that class but missed, due to my dithering, my one opportunity to be confirmed that year. But what I did receive from the class, my fellow parishioners and above all my priest was a profound respect for the Eucharist and for the practices of this particular Christian community. I was taught that Jesus always wants me to come to him in his Supper, but out of respect for him I should have my act together. This respect is an aspect of love and if this respect means denying myself even what is freely on offer, then that is the thing that love calls me to do.

So I didn't have my act together that year. But I promised myself that I would be ready the next year. This meant another year of waiting. Another year of watching my parish family taking communion while I only got blessed. It was another year of being "hungry" and as time went on that hunger only got more profound. Finally the day of my confirmation was fast approaching. We had some special event going on and my priest gave his class a special dispensation to take communion at that time given that we were faithful in coming to church and to class etc. But I examined my heart and decided that I wanted to wait and strangley found the decision to be easy! This is because I was led to the realization of how much I had gained from waiting. Looking back, it was an extraordinary two years and so I concluded why not wait til the end?

So I did and I never regretted it. I took my first communion from one of the most godly bishops you or I are ever likely to meet and with all the ceremony and pomp proper for the occaision. Afterwards, I was jokingly bragging that I had really done been confirmed.

So do I think you were wrong to reach outs spur of the moment in hunger and love for Jesus. Not at all. I think he put that feeling in your heart and surely for a good reason. I believe that such exceptions are perfectly acceptable (that is the Anglican in me I guess.) However, now I think it is time to listen to the wisdom of his church. Consider waiting. Consider doing it the right way through taking whatever classes your priest recommends. By respecting his authority. By respecting the beliefs of your new community. By going to confession (believe me I don't like it anymore than any other normal person would but its not supposed to be easy or pleasant) I can tell you from experience that doing all of this in no way "gets between you and Christ" It will actually enhance your relationship which can be made more exciting and rich through the practice of humility and discipline. Believe me when I say that you will not starve for him in the meantime and neither will your wife if coming to him is truly in her heart too. In fact everytime you enter into worship with your community you are still paricipating in the feast even if your own experience of it is a little less for a time.

I can't tell you how joyful I am to see you considering a return to the RCC. I have read your blog for a long time and have even commented at time or two, so I have always prayed for you whenever I have visited knowing how much you have struggled in your faith. Please please continue to be open to the leadings of the Lord and welcome back!

Skeeton

Rick,
I would strongly encourage you to read a pretty detailed response written to you by The Anchoress on her blog. She couldn't get it to post in comments here.

Mommynator

One more time.

Loving God and accepting the relationship He has with us through the sacrifice of Jesus and the help of the Holy Spirit is NOT limited to the roman catholic church, rituals, manmade rules and traditions or anything else that gets between the simplicity of the Gospel and a believer.

E

Rick - your "punishment" in disobeying the church will not come from the church. The church does not have rules to be a big meanyhead and prevent you from having fun, despite what many people seem to think. Do you prevent your child from touching a hot stove because you are a big meanyhead and don't want her to have any fun? Will your child suffer if she touches the hot stove in spite of what you've told her to do? The rules of the church exist to help you get to heaven. If you choose to make up your own rules along the way, you decrease your chances of getting there. Chances are you will still end up there. Chances are your child won't go to the emergency room when she touches the hot stove. But too bad that both of you have to suffer due to her choice to not abide by your rules, which you have in place for a reason.

datechguy

You have to walk before you run.

As you increase in your spiritual gifts you will find yourself wanting to receive properly after confession.

In addition they you can get an exception I believe it has to come from the Bishop.

You can ask for it, can't hurt.

Since you don't consider yourself Catholic I can't see how the rules can apply to you, yet the rules exist and mean something, I'm not going to advise you to break them.

As your spiritual gifts increase then your desire to receive properly with confession will come.

I'll leave it to the Holy Spirit, he is a better evangelist than I ever will be.

badsede

I think that many people are missing the point. The Catholic Church would not exclude you from receiving Communion, she would invite you with open arms. And when she says that certain people cannot receive Communion, she is not excluding them .. they are excluding themselves, she is merely recognizing that.

*You* are excluding yourself from Communion. You are saying, I want Communion, but I am not willing to go to Confession and reconcile with the Church, to do what it takes to receive it worthily as Paul instructs. You are saying, I want Communion, but I don't want to have to believe everything that it means, I am not willing to join in the unity of faith that it embodies as Paul describes it.

By doing these things, you exclude yourself from Communion. Sure, you can go up and receive the Body and Blood of Christ, and perhaps you might get some benefit out of it. But despite this, you yourself will be excluding yourself from actually Communing, from actually, really, and fully receiving that Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. The Church is not standing between you and Jesus, you are.

--That is the most important thing here. *You* are the one standing between yourself and Jesus. *You* are the one excluding yourself from Communion.--

Going up and taking the Blessed Sacrament - and lets be honest, that is what you are doing, you are taking something that is meant to be received - doesn't change that fact. The Church is merely trying to make sure that those who exclude themselves do not eat and drink their own destruction as Paul tells us they will.

If you don't want the whole of Catholicism, if you don't want to actually be Catholic, then you don't really want Communion. You want something else, and you only fool yourself if you think going through the line is getting you what you want. Because going to Communion means being Catholic.

And don't forget Jesus' parable of the banquet. When the rich and haughty would not come to his son's banquet, the Lord invited anyone and everyone to the feast. But one man came without a wedding garment, and the Lord had that man bound and cast out into the darkness for not being suitably attired.

God calls everyone to the feast. He even provides the wedding garment for us to wear. But you have decided to show up without your wedding garment. You might have received it once, but you either never put it on or you took it off long ago. If you truly want to come to the feast, you need to put your wedding garment back on - go to Confession - and really come to the feast. Don't just crash the party and gobble the food because you want it.

Hopefully the experience can help you see all that and you will be able to truly respond to the invitation and not just act like you are.


And finally, if none of this convinces you, then please at least consider basic human decency. To the Catholic faith, to go to Communion when you are not actually in Communion is to lie to us .. further, to make what is most Sacred to us a part of that lie. Regardless of what you say anywhere else, when you go to Communion, you are telling all Catholics in every time and place that you believe what the Catholic Church believes and that you are in a state of Grace (no unconfessed mortal sins). If either of these is not true, then you lie to us, you disrespect us, you mock us, you belittle our faith, you say that your personal feelings and desires are more important than our faith. And if nothing else, you must see how such an act of disrespect for His children would stand between you and Jesus.

Shifty1

E and others...

Please show me ANYWHERE where God contradicted His revealed word on the requirements to gain eternal life. His revealed word says..."for it is by grace that you are saved, NOT BY ACTS, that none may boast..." This would contradict your claim that the way to get to Heaven is to follow the rules of the Catholic Church ...a series of ACTS (following the rules).
Badsede...you my friend are deliberately misrepresenting Paul's admonition to check you own heart and make sure all is well between you and God before partaking of communion. He IS NOT saying you have go to confession, recieve ANOTHER MAN'S absolution for the sins JESUS ALREADY ABSOLVED, and reconcile with the Catholic Church before communion. Catholic TRADITION says all that..the Bible doesn't!
All who deny us low-protestant (whatever that is) .....in my case non-denominational-just-plain-ol-Christian...a place in eternity...see Mommynator's reply above!

badsede

Shifty,

you my friend are deliberately misrepresenting Paul's admonition to check you own heart and make sure all is well between you and God before partaking of communion.

I don't think I am misrepresenting Paul at all. He tells us:

"Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord."

If the Catholic Church believes that receiving Catholic Communion is to profess a unity of faith with the Catholic faith and a person, knowing this, goes to Catholic Communion without this unity of faith, that person is lying to the Community. I do not see how this cannot be seen as receiving the Lord in an unworthy manner.

recieve ANOTHER MAN'S absolution for the sins JESUS ALREADY ABSOLVED

This is a standard problem, you are not talking about Catholic belief. The forgiveness offered in Confession is the forgiveness of Christ. Do not forget that Jesus told His Apostles "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained" (John 20:23). Since Luke 5:21 tells us that only God forgives sin, then the forgiveness that the apostles could offer must have been God's. So, the forgiveness offered in Confession is God's forgiveness and its essential nature is instituted by Christ.

and reconcile with the Catholic Church before communion. Catholic TRADITION says all that..the Bible doesn't!

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (Mt 5:23)

We are one Body, so when we sin, we injure the whole Body. Therefore, before we bring our gift to the altar, the table of Communion, we need to reconcile with the Body.


And remember, none of what I said is a denial of your place in eternity. Your place in eternity is a matter between you and God. But the Catholic Church does get a say about your place in the Catholic Church as well as the things that pertain to that, such as receiving Catholic Communion.

Matteo

Okay, Shifty1, I'll bite:

Romans 2:5

By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness. Yes, affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil, Jew first and then Greek. But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek.

James 1:22

Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in a mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

James 2:13

For the judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?

So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Indeed someone might say, "You have faith and I have works." Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.

You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble.

Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless?

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?

You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works.

Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called "the friend of God."

See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

----

So that's what is said about works (or ACTs) in some of the Epistles.

Jesus mentions the word "church" only two times in the Gospels. One is the declaration to Peter, "On this rock I will build my church."

The other is Matthew 18:15

"If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that 'every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

-----

Strange, it almost sounds like the church might have some sort of authority!

Now let's take a look at what Jesus has to say about how we will be judged at the end of time. Strangely enough, there is nothing about God saying, "Why should I let you into Heaven?", and us saying "Because I have faith in Christ!"


Matthew 25:31

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.'

Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?

When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?

When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'

And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'

Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'

Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?'

He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.'

And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

-----

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm detecting (and this coming from the Lord Himself), a message of "If you do not DO the right things and ACT in the right way, you're going to Hell!"

I believe that answers your challenge to "Please show me ANYWHERE where God contradicted His revealed word on the requirements to gain eternal life. His revealed word says..."for it is by grace that you are saved, NOT BY ACTS, that none may boast..."

I trust I've demonstrated that things are not remotely as simple and clear as you've been claiming. Now, how does a Catholic resolve the apparent contradiction between the passage you cited (Romans 3:28) and all of the above? Basically it is that we cannot do anything that would *require* God to let us into Heaven. However that simply does not mean that God cannot require certain things of us in order to receive the grace of getting to a Heaven that we simply do not in any way deserve. We cannot bind God, but that does not mean He cannot bind Himself by letting us in if certain conditions are met. The passages I quoted above are some of those conditions. Romans 4:2 describes the difference between works that would somehow obligate God, as if we deserved Heaven, and those that are pleasing to God, because God, by His grace, allows them to be:

"Indeed, if Abraham was justified on the basis of his works, he has reason to boast; but this was not so in the sight of God.
For what does the scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." [and remember from the James quote above, it was credited to him as righteousness due to a particular act] A worker's wage is credited not as a gift, but as something due. But when one does not work, yet believes in the one who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness."

------

A key phrase above is "A worker's wage is credited not as a gift, but as something due." In this case "worker" means someone who can obligate God in an absolute sense. In the case of all of the works referred to above, man is not binding God via justice and he is receiving a gift rather than a wage, because God is binding God as an act of grace. In no way whatsoever is the judgment scene in Matthew thereby nullified. Man cannot say to God, "Look, I am working, so you have to let me into Heaven! But God can say to Man, if you want to get into Heaven, this is the work I am requiring you to do."

An entirely fascinating lecture series on this whole topic is Scott Hahn's "Romanism in Romans". I highly recommend it.

Now I realize, that a Protestant can somehow attempt to explain all of this away by making distinctions between "salvation" and "justification", etc, but I find that this can all be understood quite cleanly without having to do such a thing.

As far as I'm concerned, Catholicism and Scripture mix just fine.

Otto Tobit

Rick,

You twice ask whether or not Jesus would turn you away "from the bread and the wine." The first question that you should ask yourself in this discourse is if you believe that the Eucharist IS bread and wine. At the Last Supper, Our Lord said "this is my Body...this is my Blood." In his epistle to the the Corinthians, St. Paul stated that those who received the bread and wine without discerning the Body and Blood would eat and drink judgment on themselves. Because Jesus was 100% God and 100% Man, when you receive the Eucharist, you really and truly receive the Eternal Word made Flesh. You receive God; after Consecration, there is no longer bread, there is no longer wine. If you do not believe this yet, you are not ready to receive the Eucharist. The only time that Jesus allowed people to walk away from Him was in John 6 when some disciples refused to believe that He would give them his Flesh to eat; He compared it to disbelief in his future Ascension into Heaven.

Otto Tobit

(cont'd)...After that, ask yourself if you've broken any of the Commandments since your last Confession (if you've missed Mass on a Sunday, for example, you have). If not, just go. There's nothing greater than knowing your sins are forgiven and then taking Our Lord in Communion. Yes, Jesus would turn you away from the Eucharist at first, but he'd give you the opportunity to reconcile yourself to Himself. Know that the He offers you this in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Just go man.

Matteo

Rick in his update said:

I am at a loss quite frankly as to how to respond. I'm certainly not feeling the love of Christ from his Bride The Church, at least as represented by the devout in the Catholic Church.

At this point, I can only conclude, reluctantly, that perhaps Catholics are correct, Catholicism may not be for me.

--------------

Rick, I am sorry that you are not feeling the love. I think what we are all trying to communicate to you in our perhaps inept ways, is that far from trying to withhold the love of God from you, is that, to put it crudely, there is something Just Frickin' Rockin! and Totally Wonderful!!!! about the Eucharist, and we very much want you to share in this. VERY much! But, in our experience, and according to the Church's self-understanding there is a God-ordained way to go about this. We would ABSOLUTELY love you to take these steps. But we know that if you don't, it is simply not possible for you to experience the Eucharist in all of its Ass-kickin' Splendor.

I really do think that is the message we're trying to give you, and perhaps we've done quite a poor job. It was never my core intention to say, "You're doing it wrong and you're bad!", but rather, "If you do it right, you will not BELIEVE how great it is going to be!!"

I ask your forgiveness for not making that more clear. Also, I don't really know much about your faith journey, but the impression I've gotten from your posts in the past is that you feel at home nowhere, and are resigned to always having religion pretty much suck for you despite your thirst for Christ. It seems to me that the Catholic Church is calling to you to come and slake this thirst literally, as I believe Christ intended. The Church absolutely, positively, would love to embrace you. But you'll need to be willing to embrace Her.

I encourage you to take a look at the books I mentioned a few days ago, and also perhaps Scott Hahn's "Romanism in Romans" lecture series in order to get a taste of the utter beauty and intellectual/scriptural coherence of what's on offer here. I think it's what you've been searching for. I really do. Could you perhaps reread what's been said by all of us with the assumption that what we are trying to do is offer a Catholic Love that would "blow your mind" were you to embrace it? We're not trying to tell you to stay out of our pool, we're trying to say, "Come on in, the water's warm! But you'll have to take the Plunge!"

Ed

Hi Rick--

I haven't read your blog before, or The Anchoress's comments yet. I should tell you I'm a former evangelical, now Catholic, so I certainly know where you're coming from, though you can guess which perspective I share now.

Certainly Jesus wouldn't turn anyone away. But I think it's a mistake to suggest that having requirements for communion is the same as turning someone away. My son was invited to join the Cub Scouts. But before he put on the uniform, he had to recite the Cub Scout oath (if memory serves - this was a few years ago). If he had said, "but I won't say the oath! Why am I being turned away?" - that would have been a little silly.

My question for you would be: should Christian fellowships have ANY requirements for communion? What if someone hasn't made a decision for Jesus Christ? Should they be invited to the table? After all, Jesus wouldn't turn them away, right?

I'm not in any way implying that not being Catholic is equivalent to not being a Christian. I'm merely noting that we probably both think there should be requirements for communion. We simply differ as to what those requirements should be. But for either of us to claim that we're being turned away because we haven't (yet) met those requirements isn't quite being fair.

When we partake of the Eucharist, we're not merely being in communion with the Lord, we're stating that we're in communion with each other. That's one of the reasons it's so important that non-Catholics, and even Catholics who aren't properly disposed, NOT receive the Eucharist. Because when we receive the Eucharist, we make a statement about our being in communion with the Church - and if we're not in communion with the Church (yet), we shouldn't act as if we are.

Rick, you asked a few questions as to what your punishment should be, or something like that. I think you're going down the wrong track there. It sounds like you did what you did in good conscience, and your priest, at least by omission, said some things that misled you. So I wouldn't worry about the past - I would just look more into why the Church teaches what it teaches about the Eucharist. The very fact that you desired to receive, and were in a Catholic Church in the first place, is a good sign.

I'm not the kind of Christian who sees the Devil under every rock, but I'm quite certain that he'd be delighted if you spent a lot of your focus on being offended at how unchristian the Catholic Church is, and how they're "putting obstacles" between you and Christ. He definitely would rather you focused on being offended, rather than questioning your assumptions or trying to understand where the Church is coming from.

You mentioned the issue of "devout Catholics" who are really more Protestant. Yes, I've noticed this too. There are a whole lot of Catholics who don't know their own faith - don't know what or why the Church teaches, and this is a great scandal. It's nothing to be proud of. Thankfully, this is changing, but from my perspective, we're still in the beginnings of a great renewal in the Church. Even though we're still in its beginnings, there are already more resources than ever before - any Catholic who wants to know exactly what the Church teaches and why - can find out in less than 10 minutes.

Shifty1, no one ever said anyone is a "dirty Protestant." I routinely hear Catholics hold up evangelicals as examples of lives transformed and faith lived out. Many evangelicals are much better witnesses of Christ than many Catholics are. But the Eucharist isn't a holiness competition (thankfully). In the Catholic Church, actions are statements, and it's important that those statements be truthful. So to TAKE communion, you must be IN communion.

Anyway, God bless you, and thanks for letting me weigh in.

Mary Kay

It's not so much a turning away as in rejection (you didn't say it out loud, but that's what it sounds like you're inmplying), but expecting you to act with integrity.

When a Catholic receives the Eucharist and says, Amen, that Amen is saying yes, assenting fully to Catholic teaching. Part of that teaching is the First Commandment: You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, your mind and your soul. well, I've jumbled passages with that, but it conveys the same thing. Right now, you love your interpretation, and not Petrine authority.

Also, Communion is a highly personal, intimate encounter with the Real Presence of Jesus. How could you, in disobedience, welcome He who was obedient to the point of death? Philippians 2:8

Chris

Rick,

To give full disclosure, I’m a convert to Catholicism, and I’ve been happy with it for the last 20 years. I’m wanted to step back and address the “not feeling the love of Christ from his Bride The Church” comment, as a convert. I’m going to try to be “brutally honest here”.

The Catholic Church is big, very big… and as such, suffers from problems of being big. There’s between 1 and 1.5 billion Catholic, depending on who you count as a “real” Catholic, roughly twice the population of the U.S. And we’ve got the same kinds of problems that bigness creates. And there are ALL kinds of people in the church. You want a nut job that’s one in a million? We’ve got a thousand of them. And internally, there’s major divisions, arguing, politics, bureaucracy, you name it. And to make it worse, these are literally religious issues that people feel very strongly about. If you join the Catholic Church, it’s likely you’ll be hurt by it at some point or another. (That’s probably true of any religious organization.) Some say that the fact that the Catholic Church hasn’t ripped itself apart is a miraculous sign that God is present and active.

But I still love the church. In as much junk that is going on, and in as much as I complain about one thing or another, I’m still glad I’m here. There might be “one-in-a-million” nut jobs, but there’s also 1000 one-in-a-million incredible people, amazing people, people who I hope to be like when I grow to be 80 but doubt I have the courage to get there. We’ve got a million who are willing to give up money, sex, and “obey” their superiors (and they tell me the obedience part is the toughest!) in order to follow God and help humanity. We’ve got 2000 years of history and brilliant intellectual thought on an insane number of topics; whatever floats your boat spiritually, we’ve got history, experts, and books on it. I can go on for a long time; I’m stopping myself. Our size may be a weakness, but it is also our strength.

Most people deal with the divisions the same way we do in the U.S., find people you like who share your views, and hang around them. There’s many ways to learn and grow. Given the size of the Church, they’re out there. And if I can humbly suggest it, be open to hearing other views (there’s always a large number of them); you don’t have to agree with them, but at least know where others are coming from.

I’m not going to attempt to give you advice about your situation (though I do have opinions, it's yours that counts); I’d rather share my experience. I’m a convert; I know what it’s like to watch everyone else receive the Eucharist and have to cross my arms for a blessing, when I really longed for it. It made me feel denied, left out, and a little hurt. How I dealt with it was to know that there would be a time where I would be receiving it. It wasn’t a “no”, but “wait, and do it right”. If you decide to go that route, that’s how I got dealt it.

My prayers will be with you.

chuck aka XtnYoda

What better time for a believer to come to the Lord's Table, remembering that great sacrifice for sin, than when one needs to remember that very sacrifice... for sin.

Do we really think that one can actually be worthy this host? The statement in 1Cor 11:27 has been handled very roughly.

The "unworthy" aspect of their meeting was in their attitudes for the purpose of their meeting and eating. Must keep this verse in context.

Paul is not saying that anyone can, in and of themselves, become "worthy" of His table.

Damian G.

Full disclosure: I'm an Anglican, so I'm only speaking as an observer.

Roman Catholic - as well as Orthodox - policy with regard to Communion is that there is an inherent danger to receiving the Sacrament when in an unworthy state. The withholding of the Sacrament from someone is done out of protection and love, not malice and exclusion.

Before Vatican II, when Sacramental Confession was a widespread and common practice, most churchgoers did not receive Communion on a given Sunday, in part because they had not recently confessed.

Things are a bit odd on my end, since my dad is my regular priest, so I have to receive Confession infrequently from other priests. Such a stringent Communion policy would be rather difficult for me to uphold!

Just my two cents. Argue amongst yourselves.

Wolf Paul

The Catholic bishop where I live is on record as saying that anyone is welcome to partake of the Eucharist who can pray the Eucharistic Prayer without reservations.

However, Rick, I see a problem if you can say, I yearned for the meaning I believe is imparted while receiving, the unity, if only for a very special moment, with God I had been missing for too long a time.

How could you leave the Catholic Church without being convinced that the Church of Jesus Christ, with all that that means, existed (also) elsewhere, and associating with such a church, and viewing their ordinances, including the Lord's Table, as equally valid as a Catholic Eucharist?

And if that was not a problem originally, but you have now concluded that only in a Catholic Eucharist is imparted "the unity with God" that you are longing for, what is keeping you from returning?

The unkind words from some Catholics? That seems to be a poor reason.

Mind you, I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ extends far beyond the boundaries of any one denomination, including the one headquarterd in Rome and headed by the Pope, and that Christ meets his followers in the Eucharist or Lord's Table or Communion in many different settings and churches; but if I believed that I needed to partake of Communion in a Catholic Church in order to encounter Christ, nothing would hold me back from returning to the Catholic Church, with all that entails.

KiwiNomad

Rick, this all makes interesting reading. I find myself in a 'related' position to your own. After nearly 30 years 'away' I have been for various reasons attracted 'back' to some aspects of the church. But I have found no solution to the Communion conundrum. I have a friend who according to the 'rules' shouldn't be receiving Communion, but does, and feels strongly that he is part of the community and that it is right. For myself, I wish I could see it like that, but I think I had too big a dose of the 'rules'. But the upshot for me is that I have 'given up' on going to Mass again, as I see no 'solution'. All the best with wherever this all takes you.
Margaret

DaveW

"...one of the HUUUUGE problems I had with Catholicism is the "infallible magesterium" (the Pope...right?)..."

No, wrong. The Magisterium is the teaching authority of the church. That is, interpretation of Scripture by the ecumenical councils in communion with the Pope.

The Pope is only considered infallible when he speaks ex-cathedra in defining a matter of faith and morals. That has happened one time since it was defined by Vatican 1 in the 1870's (though some argue that Pope JPII went ex-cathedra on women in the priesthood in his 1994 Papal Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis [see the next to last paragraph]).

Rick, just go to RCIA and get in communion with the church. It isn't hard and you may enjoy it - I did.

PS

Rick

I would recommend Orthodoxy, as others have, because it helps put in a positive light the "rules" of the Church. Matteo, and Tim Chersterton's "reading" of him seems to be right on this point: if you are looking for a Church which espouses unfettered access to Jesus, then do not stick with the Catholic Church. The fetters in this case, however, are meant to be instructive.

You aren't about to be excommunicated for taking Communion when unprepared or anything like that. If it's an aid to your return to the Church, I can't presume to tell you that you shouldn't have done it. I think the blowback from who you are calling devout Catholics is because we Catholics have to deal, quite frequently, with less than devout Catholics who prefer their version of the Church or God or whatever to the Church's version. Sort of like saying, "Sure I will join your kickball game, but I will only play pitcher and I will only use a baseball." Obviously, that analogy sidesteps a lot of the emotional messieness on both sides of the issue (and that was the point of using the analogy). In any case, are following all the rubrics necessary for salvation? No one here knows for sure, though I would highly doubt it (and suggesting so seems patently undevout). That said, it helps to approach the magesterium not as a clutch of rules which mediate your interaction with the Lord, but as tools to help you reach the Lord more quickly, and more fully. Meekness and poverty of spirit can be incredible spiritual gifts, but are more or less anathema to a great many modern Americans.

I'm not even sure it's worth talking to the priest in question, for, as you say, he seems to already be in agreement with you, though talking to him about coming back to the Church might be a great idea. I suggest you just flip through the Catechism (which may be found here, online http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc.htm and read the bits on communion). More to the point, I think that some priests can be very misleading about the Church and faith and the like (and this goes for the "very devout" and otherwise). Many have pet causes for things they would like to change within the Church and will sometimes try to recruit you to their cause. Though this isn't necessarily a bad thing, I think that it would be better if you were to join the Catholic Church in all her glory rather than Father X's take on the Catholic Church. If you have time, check out some RCIA or the like courses/meetings.

I also would caution you against joining the Church because you like the Mass as it's celebrated by a specific priest or the like. Priests retire, are transfered, etc., all the time. This is a problem I had when I was a Protestant. You wind up expecting services to go and be given a certain way and then you move, or the priest retires and it's like the Church isn't even the same denomination (or it _can_ seem like that). This is one of the reasons, I'd expect, that so many Protestants jump from denomination to denomination.

badsede

Rick,

If you have made a grievous error, if your have disrespected Catholics, even if you have wrought judgement on yourselves, it seems that it was completely unintentional, that you acted with only the best of desires. And that is only if. But if you have, we Catholics are big on the whole forgiveness and redemption thing, its kind of central to us. :)

The Church is a hospital for sinners, and not a hotel for saints. So if the "devout," myself included, have failed to fully express the love of Christ to you, please bear that in mind. Please remember that, when you consider that, to Catholics, this is the very Body and Blood of Christ. No symbol, no spiritual presence, no theatrical re-enactment, but literally and physically the Body and Blood of Christ, the very same Body and Blood that was sacrificed for our eternal life. And so it is God .. we're a bit protective, a bit sensitive.

But I think Matteo makes a very good point. It is not that any Catholic would want to exclude you from Communion. Instead, we want you to actually have Communion. It is such a wonderful, awe-inspiring, transformational, spiritual kick to the head, healing, balming, joyful, incredible words fail no matter what thing .. and that is the point. We want you to actually have that. And if you go to Communion without the unity of faith, without the right disposition, you simply won't get that. Our Christian love just doesn't sit right with being silent and nodding when someone wants that, but doesn't get it .. especially when they don't even know it.

I am biased, so of course I think that Catholicism is right for you. I think it is right for everyone. But Catholicism is a fully integrated thing. To get the fullness of blessings, you have to embrace the fullness of everything else. Its a tough road, but the rewards are so much more. And that is what we want you to have. When you compromise on the tough parts, you compromise on the blessed parts .. and we as Catholics want you to have all the blessings that the faith have to offer, not just a sliver, not just a shadow, not just a pale reflection. We want that for you, even if you don't end up wanting it for yourself.

Bill

Rick, I responded on The Anchoress' blog, but will leave a note here.

I think you are being called home. You've started the motion with what (in my opinion) is a mis-step. Got a little ahead of yourself. Fine. Not like the rest of us have never made a mis-step (me especially), or sometimes a willful turning off the path (me even more especially). But that's what the sacrament of confession and reconciliation is for.

Don't let how other people respond to you (including my response on the other blog) become an impediment -- we aren't perfect either, and even when our intentions are good, sometimes we don't express them as well as we ought. Don't harden your heart.

Go talk to that priest (or practically any priest) and explain the situation to him. Ask him for help in continuing your interrupted journey.

The banquet has been paid for. But you still need to be sure you have that wedding garment of sanctifying grace on, and that it is clean.

When you get home, everyone will be very happy to welcome you. In the meantime, we are all praying you have a safe journey, because you do matter and because we do love you.

Bill

For those who said, "Jesus would not turn anyone away from Communion," here's a thought.

When the rich young man asked Jesus what he must do in order to obtain eternal life, he tried to justify himself by saying he followed the commandments. Jesus "looked on him with love" and then told him it was necessary to get rid of impediments. Jesus didn't turn him away. He said, "Here's what you need to do." But the young man was sad, and the young man himself turned away and went on living his life the way he wanted to live it.

As far as I can recall from scripture, Jesus never turned anyone away. Even when he rebuked people, he didn't turn them away. But he does say clearly what is required to enter the kingdom of heaven -- and the Eucharist IS the kingdom of heaven because it IS the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ Himself, and Jesus IS The Kingdom.

The Catholic Church is simply being true to Jesus -- the Church does not turn people away, or get between people and Jesus. However, in charity and in justice it tells people things they don't like to hear. Such as, "Give up whatever gets in the way of your entry into eternal life," and "Take up your cross and follow Him," and "Do whatever He tells you."

And this is a huge challenge to all of us, every day. By ourselves, it would be impossible to meet that challenge. But with God, all things are possible, and God provides us with the Church and the Sacraments to help us. Pray for the grace to hear and to do His will.

Mommynator

One. More. Time.

Where does the roman catholic church get the chutzpah to determine that it's the only way to God?

The BIBLE says there is only one way - through JESUS CHRIST, not through any human agency.

I guess we're all agreed then that the roman catholic church is an exclusive club that pretends to be what it never can be - the only agency of salvation in this world.

It's fine if you want to turn your mind off, ignore the origins of Christianity and depend on manmade stuff and tradition. If so, then follow all those petty rules.

But to encounter God one-on-one as we all will when we stand before Him, I'll take Jesus any day. No church or pope or bishop or anyone else will be with me on that Day.

All those scripture quotes that supposedly lead back to the roman catholic church can be practiced without its help - just the help of the community of Believers that transcends all tribes and flavors.

cathyf

I have a friend who tells a great story about when he was dating his now-wife. She has a daughter from a previous marriage. One night after a church meeting (or maybe that's Meeting meeting, since they are Quakers), the then 5-year-old daughter put her hands on her hips, with all of the high dudgeon that only a 5 year old human female can generate, and bellowed across the parking lot, "When are you going to marry my mom?!?!?"

That's probably how you should consider all of us Catholics telling you that you should join us properly before you join us at the Lord's table. Loud, high dudgeon, but only because we really love you!

Jennifer J in MN

The only thing you need to do to return to the Catholic Church is get to confession, unless you made a formal declaration (usually via letter to your Bishop) that you were leaving the faith. It sounds like the only one holding you from Holy Communion is yourself. Get to a priest.

Jeff

I hope Catholicism WILL be for you. But you have to decide that it is first...not just go and take communion.

It sounds to me as if you did this with an open heart and for that I am glad. But the heart needs to be open to the hard and the bitter as well as that suffused with a golden glow.

Years ago, when I was living in marriage with a women who appeared to have been married already and I joined the Catholic Church, I was told that I could take communion by a well-meaning priest. And I did, for many months.

But eventually, I came on my own to understand that I was not allowed to do so...the priest had given me a permission that was not his to give. So I stopped.

St. Thomas Aquinas said that the first fruit of Holy Communion was the Unity of the Church. It's a building up of the Church before it's a building up of me. Or of you.

That's why you have to be in full communion with the Church--as she understands herself--in order to take communion. It's a confession of faith, not just a personal nourishment.

I am so glad you felt moved in the way that you did. But I think and hope that moving forward in the way you were led will involve refraining--fasting, if you will--and seeking guidance.

We want you; we NEED you. We hope, we Catholics, that for our sake if not yours, you will find your way to us and join us fully. God bless you!

Kensington

What is so "exclusive" about the Catholic Church? If you're Catholic but haven't been practicing, go to confession and start practicing again. If you aren't Catholic, come join the Church and become Catholic! All are welcome!

So much for exclusion.

Matteo

Mommynator,

Your previous post is absolutely chock full of assumptions. Who among us Catholics has said that the Catholic Church is a merely human institution or that it is the only way to God?

But, all that aside, your posts contain an implicit assumption of the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura, in other words that Scripture is the sole rule of faith.

Mommynator, please show me where Scripture itself teaches that Scripture is to be the sole rule of faith? And, while you're at it, please show me where in Scripture is listed precisely which books constitute Scripture in the first place? It seems to me that you are relying on an extra-Biblical tradition to tell you this. If a valid extra-Biblical tradition exists which tells us precisely what constitutes the Bible in the first place, then there is no a priori logical reason to reject the existence of other valid extra-Biblical traditions. Not all traditions are the traditions of men, and the New Testament is absolutely clear on this.

Skeeton

Dear Mommynator (and other Protestants hammering away with Bible verses against Catholic beliefs that are allegedly in contradiction to scripture)...

I do not wish to trade barbs with you verse for verse. I would, however, like to remind you that the Bible is an inherently Catholic collection of writings. It did not fall from the sky leather-bound with a nice yellow ribbon so you could keep your place. Real people wrote it. And real people made decisions about what books would be included in the NT and what books would not be. The people who made those decisions were CATHOLICS.

To the best of my understanding, there were three main criteria (among others...) used to determine which books would be included in the New Testament canon and which would be excluded. #1 - The book had to be written by an apostle or a direct disciple of an apostle. #2 - The book had to enjoy wide circulation and acceptance among the early Christian communities. And very importantly, #3 - The book could not contradict existing, traditional, Christian practice.

In assembling the New Testament, the Church's intention was not to assemble a comprehensive list of everything that Jesus ever said or did. St. John the Evangelist tells us that is an impossible task anyway (Jn. 21:25). No, the Church assembled the texts into the New Testament, because they supported and built up the already-existing Christian faith.

The first time a list of the New Testament canon is known to have been written down was in AD 367, when St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, listed them in his Easter letter. In AD 382, following the Council of Rome, Pope Damasus I decreed that Athanasius' list was correct. Those two facts alone inevitably give rise to the following question for sola scriptura Bible Christians: if the list of the New Testament canon wasn't formally pronounced until the late 4th century, then how did all those early Christians who lived between the date of the Resurrection and AD 367 know how to live an authentically Christian life?

Answer that question, and you will have a new appreciation for the value and necessity of following big-T Tradition.

Christ be with you all!

SK

Sarah

Rick:

If, as you say, you and your wife are both baptized Catholics (who presumably once went through catechism and had 1st Communion) then you know that you are obliged to attend WEEKLY MASS ON SUNDAY unless you have a serious impediment (like a 103 fever). If you have been away for years, you have some sins to confess before you can express your solidarity through reception of Communion. Like: failure to attend Mass.

Go to a priest. Get a copy of the Catechism and read it prayerfully.

Finally: the love that you are being shown by Christ's faithful (Anchoress and the rest) is the same "tough love" Jesus showed on the cross. Would you rather we said, "do what you want" and end up in Hell?

Bill

Sarah said: "the love that you are being shown by Christ's faithful (Anchoress and the rest) is the same "tough love" Jesus showed on the cross. Would you rather we said, "do what you want" and end up in Hell?"

Excellent point. And I'm reminded that the name of this Weblog is "Brutally Honest." Is it not ok for others to be "brutally honest"?

Steve P in Sparta, Wis.

I have two comments. First is about the verb you use throughtout -- "taking". The emphasis is on *you* and what *you* are doing. But the initiative here is always God's -- he offers us communion with him, and our response is to "receive" it. We receive Communion, we don't take it.

Second, communion occurs in both the vertical direction -- with God -- and in the horizontal direction -- with his people on earth, the church. Furthermore, just like the Incarnation, the church is not some airy-fairy abstraction, but a visible flesh-and-blood reality -- namely, the Catholic Church. To receive communion in the Catholic Church without being "in communion" with the Catholic Church is not being brutally honest -- it's lying.

Would Jesus turn you and your wife away? No, of course -- he'd invite you into deeper communion with him, in the church he established.

Mommynator

"I do not wish to trade barbs with you verse for verse. I would, however, like to remind you that the Bible is an inherently Catholic collection of writings. It did not fall from the sky leather-bound with a nice yellow ribbon so you could keep your place. Real people wrote it. And real people made decisions about what books would be included in the NT and what books would not be. The people who made those decisions were CATHOLICS."


Catholic? The Bible? Uh, no freaking way.

If anything, being written in Hebrew, Aramaic and the koine Greek, it was more universal than that.

Methinks that if you need to bend history to suit your arguments, that only goes to prove more than you are hanging onto something that should be let go.

Be roman catholic if you want to, but just remember it is CHRIST who saves us, not ANY church.

I'd like all of you to step back and re-read your comments and ask yourselves this question:

Are you really encouraging anyone to become roman catholic with your attitudes? This man Rick and his wife have questions and doubts. What are you doing to alleviate them?

Keep it up. You're only proving my point.

Ed

Hi Mommynator--

You're right, it's definitely Christ who saves us, not any church. But Jesus did say he was building his Church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. When Paul fell down on the road to Damascus, he heard a voice saying "why are you persecuting me?" (not "why are you persecuting the Church?") Jesus identified with his Church. I think it's scriptural to connect Jesus with His church. Whether or not the Catholic Church is THE church is another issue. Jesus commissioned apostles, and told them to go into all the world and preach the gospel. He gave them authority. Exactly how that authority is passed down is another question, but saying "Jesus saves, not the Church" - well, I could say that to anyone I disagree with. If the local pastor down the street admonishes me not to live with my girlfriend before marriage, what's to stop me from saying "Hey, Jesus saves me, not your Church."

Are you really suggesting that the men who settled the canon of Scripture were not what we would term today Catholics? I don't know too many Protestants who would argue that (and I used to be one). They might say the Catholics got off-track, but few would deny that the Biblical canon was set by Catholics.

As to re-reading comments:
Gosh, I was about to say how pleased I am to see such great comments by my fellow Catholics. Most of the ones I've read seemed very charitable, and also spot-on in terms of accuracy, and rather insightful in how things are explained. You say "this man Rick and his wife have questions and doubts. What are you doing to alleviate them?" Gosh, I think the Catholic commenters are trying to answer those questions and doubts, and to do so in a welcoming, compassionate way. You may disagree with the answers, but I'm not seeing a lot of people who are being mean.

Edmund

Rick,

it is difficult to answer your question, because it is not really clear what you mean.

If you mean "would Jesus reject my sincere desire to be united with Him" the answer is of course, NO.

If your question is "would Jesus make an exception for me and bend the rules He Himself put in place so I can be above those rules and those people who follow them"--then one is not sure what Jesus would do. Until we can see Jesus face-to-face again, we are left to speculate what Jesus would say or do. But before He left the earth, He instituted a few things precisely so we can have some guidance. One of them is the Church, with its power of binding and losening. It seems that you need to find an answer to where His Church is first before you can answer your original question.

It seems that by desiring to participate in Catholic Communion you have identified the Catholic Church as the one instituted by Christ. Why, then, wouldn’t you want to FULLY participate in the Catholic life?

One difference between Jesus and all of us here attempting to help you with your question is that Jesus could read minds and hearts, and we can’t. Only you may know what’s in your heart.

Jesus is waiting for you in the Communion, to be sure. But He is also waiting for you in the confessional, where you could ask your question again. You can meet Him in both places, not only out of respect for what He instituted, but out of trust that He instituted them out of love for YOU.

Why would you want to meet Him in a half-hearted way, rather than fully? Why?

Take courage and trust Him. That’s right, a journey starts with the first step, which you took. But the journey doesn’t end there. It wouldn’t be much of a journey, would it?

In Christ,

Edmund

P.S. Catholicism is not for you? Nonsense. Catholicism is for everyone.

Leslie

Oy vey.

One thing to take from all this advice is to recognize it as a demonstration of the strange love that all us humans have for one another that compels us to want for a perfect stranger whatever wonderful thing we may have.

Peggy

Rick,

Having seen your update since the last time I posted I wanted to respond to that.

First, as an Anglican, I am a person who believes that any denomination which upholds the core teachings of Gospel, the essentials, and has a strong devotion to Christ as Lord, is a legitimate, if inescapably flawed, expression of the Church that Christ founded. Our differences are a scandal to Christ, but our agreement on the essentials makes us as one as we are likely to get in this fallen world. So I would be the last person to discourage you from continuing your reconciliation with the church you were raised in. There might be a purpose in confronting and resolving any lingering issues that you may have with that church regardless of what you may ultimately decide. Count me as one who recommends that you really give the RCC a good long study before you make a decision.

But if you do decide that it isn't for you, and if you can't find the next best thing, IMHO, an Anglican church in your area, then I would personally recommend a good traditional Lutheran or Methodist church in your area. These are most likely to try and strike a balance between a love of the liturgy, respect for the Eucharist and a respect for your reason as well as Christian tradition.

When I was looking at churches, a long time ago now, I studied the RCC and ultimately rejected it mainly for its claims of exclusivity but for other reasons as well. But my studies lead me to a real appreciation for liturgy and for the substantial good to be found in the Catholic view. When I came across the Anglican church, particularly its Anglo-Catholic version, I fell in love with it because it had all that I had come to admire as well as a generosity in its ecclesiology that rang true to me. To me the Lutherans and the Methodists may have less of what I see in the Anglican church but they have it all the same and would be worth checking out someday if you need to. I would hope and pray that you would give these alternatives a chance if it comes to that.

Thanks for sharing with us and don't let the harsh seeming but surely well intentioned comments on this thread get you down. You have a lot of support even if it doesn't always come across that way.

Gina

That desire you experience, the hunger, is in itself a blessing. Perhaps you are trying to still it when you should be listening to it. Waiting.

I believe you're sincere, but there is value in the traditions of the church that is not always apparent at face value. I say this as a non-Catholic myself, but one who's left behind the arrogant assurances I see in some of your commenters.

Edmund

Hi Rick,

Some more thoughts.

I think your deepest problem is this. You recognize the Real Presence of Christ in the (Catholic) Eucharist, and you are drawn to Him, and you can’t escape it. No one can escape Christ’s love, and this is what you are experiencing.

But you see the rest of the Catholic teachings as meaningless claptrap. Sacraments, in particular reconciliation (confession) are obstacles on the way to Christ rather than help. That’s how (some?) Protestant Christians view them. You want a direct connection to Christ Himself, your own personal hotline, without anyone standing between you and Him.

As a Catholic, with a long gap in “Church membership” and a period of fascination with Protestant Christianity (through Campus Crusade for Christ), maybe I can help you.

First of all, as much as we are saved by Faith, not by deeds (just this morning I read Rom 3-4, in front of the Blessed Sacrament I might add), our faith is expressed in what we do. The faith saves us, to be sure, not what we do, but what we do is an indicator that the faith is there. Like a little light that says “the power is on”. The light is not the power, but if there is no light, there is no power. That’s why Abraham was saved by faith. His FAITH was recognized in what he DID. Our gracious Lord knew how easy it would be for us to get lost, so He instituted signs to help us know we are on the right path. Like placement tests, He gave us sacraments to help us figure out where we are. Such as confession. Christ forgives sins, but a visible sign of this is when the priest, in Christ’s stead, gives you the absolution. And, since only the humble can be forgiven, you demonstrate your humility by entering the confessional.

Consider 2Kgs 5, verses 10-11 in particular:

“The prophet sent him the message: “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will heal, and you will be clean.” But Naaman went away angry, saying, “I thought that he would surely come out and stand there to invoke the Lord his God, and would move his hand over the spot, and thus cure the leprosy.”

Aren’t you asking the same question as Naaman, really? Who was to stand between Naaman and his cure?

Humility is tested, and proved, in the act of following the rules. The rules established by Christ Himself. Do you REALLY want to be cured?

Go and find a good priest, one that UNDERSTANDS and FOLLOWS the teachings of his Church. You'll save yourself and others a good deal of confusion and grief.

In Christ,

Edmund

Rick

Matteo wrote:

Mommynator,
Your previous post is absolutely chock full of assumptions.

I find some serious irony in that.

I've been reading through all these comments... and those over at The Anchoress' post... and so many of them, to include The Anchoress, are filled with assumption... dare I say presumption... dare I say arrogance... as to my spiritual state, my worthiness to come to The Lord's Table... it's seriously disheartening, even cruel... and then couched in terms of it all being based in love... please...

I have been thinking long and hard about it all... and am fighting the strongest of urges to simply say screw it all...

Instead, I'll take PS's link to the Catechism, and I'll attempt to read through it all... and then make up my mind as to whether my return to the Catholic Church is the correct one...

I hope to find something other than what I'm finding in the comments here and in the comments at The Anchoress' place...

What I'm finding here and there I can't claim to find synonymous with what I've come to know and love about Christ and his teachings.

Instead, I'm finding... well.. what I would deem to be lots of insecurity... and lots of people in bondage to what I believe they misguidedly call freedom in Christ...

I can't help but seriously ponder the ramifications of what I'm reading. The idea that my wife and I have put ourselves in mortal danger by taking communion is one that lingers. If this is true... if the premise is to be believed... then I'd think every Catholic Church in the land would be posting signs to unsuspecting visitors stating that their eternity is at stake should they dare come to The Table.

Seems ludicrous doesn't it... but... why would I, given what I've read being posted by some, conclude anything different.

And then there are those who know me not, who know my wife not, and yet who can presume to know that I'm coming to God with unconfessed sin, that I'm oblivious of my need for a Savior, that I've not contemplated who it is I'd be without the grace and forgiveness I believe Christ has proferred me and Mrs. BH in the many years that we've come to know Him and love Him (though less than perfectly).

There was an Episcopal Bishop named John Spong who some time ago wrote a book titled "Why the Christian Church Must Change or Die". I disagree vehemently with the content as to the reasons for that title but after reading the comments I've read so far related to my journey back to Catholicism, the title seems most apt.

The judgment, falsely asserted to be steeped in love, is plainly wrong. Thankfully, my faith is deep enough that I can look past it... but what of others like me and Mrs. BH who perhaps don't have that deep a belief? In my view, too many are saying loudly and clearly, f*ck you... your faith sux... and you can't come here and do what we do until that faith is more mature... and then they sit back smugly and pat themselves on the back for being loving.

What utter bullshit. And how sad and pathetic.

Yes, Bishop Spong... though I continue to see you as a heretic, an apostate, someone who hates Truth and is passing along falsehood in its place... I can relate once again to the title of that book.

Mommynator

Well said, Rick. It's why I left the Greek Orthodox church, much as I loved the liturgy and history. It came between me and God, when Jesus had died and risen to remove all barriers.

I think it frightens people to have no one between them and God, so they need organizations and rituals and doctrines and barnacles and everything else.

This song by Tree63 probably expresses it best for me. Can't help but quote songs - sometimes they say what can't be said in prose.

Treasure

Taken up out of the world
Shaken up with just a word
Turned around so suddenly
I'm alive eternally
Something invisible
Has become so beautiful
I know I am born again
Laughing and stumbling

Draw me after You - let me run with You
Show me all Your
Kingdom come

My heart is where my treasure lies
My great reward is in Your eyes
My every breath belongs to You
You are my treasure

Take the world up out of me
Put the fruit back on the tree
I give everything to be
What only You want me to be
The treasure that You've become
Is shining brighter than the sun
Feels like I am born again
Stumbling
© 2001 Inpop

Gerry

The Church sure isn't for you. Sacrilege isn't welcome.

------------------------------------------

" All of the doctrine (liturgy, too) and none of the guilt."

If there is a better, more concise description of pseudo-religion, I haven't found it.

Matteo

Thanks for the psychoanalysis, Mommynator. Not only are we Catholics evil, but we're psychological wrecks, afraid of Jesus. I think that clears it up.

Rick, we've been addressing you in good faith, and love, the best way we know how. Many of us have explained this to the best of our ability. If this appears to you as "bullshit", and "f*ck you", well then, what can I say? In any case, if plain Catholic doctrine and self-understanding, mildly expressed, appears to you as "f*ck you" and "bullshit" then isn't it rather clear what the answer is for you?

If you feel jumped on by everybody, please remember, you are the one who publicly invited comment. I would have had nothing to say publicly about your post and would have kept my peace, figuring "the Lord is calling Rick, and that's beautiful. What Rick is doing ain't exactly right, but the Lord will guide him." Except for one thing.

You asked "Fine. But what would Jesus do?
Seriously?"

It was that last word, "Seriously," that led me to respond. I assumed that that meant you seriously wanted an answer, so I seriously gave one to the absolute best of my knowledge and ability. You name your blog Brutally Honest, after all, so I thought you deserved the cleanest, clearest, most honest answer I could give.

I meant no offense. If you are this deeply offended by the whole thing, I can offer you no apology. If your reaction to the Catholic point of view is filled with this much turmoil and revulsion, then the Church is not for you. The only request that I can make is that you strive to understand what you are rejecting. No presumption here, and no apologies for saying so, but you simply don't. That is a fact.

Be that as it may, you are a brother in Christ. Anyone who takes things this seriously regarding the Lord is my brother or sister (peace be with you, Mommynator). Let us all continue to pray for a more perfect communion.

Brutally Honest will, of course, continue to be stop number one in my daily blog reading. Thanks for the work and insight you put into the blog, Rick. You, too, Mommynator.

Your junior blog-brother,
Matteo

Ed

Gosh Rick, I have to say, I think you're choosing to read the Catholic commenters in the worst possible light. I don't remember reading anyone who said your faith isn't mature, or your faith sucks, or anything close.

When you throw out a question on a controversial (and emotional) issue on a blog, you're going to get comments from a whole lot of people who aren't going to put things perfectly. Even if they get everything "right," the written word can seem curt, cutting, even cruel - you don't get inflection, body language, an understanding expression. That's why if you want a pastoral response, you might want to talk to a pastor.

All I'm saying is, cut us a bit of a break. We're not pastors - and this is really hard stuff. And knowing a little bit about the Christian blogosphere, you got a better quality of commenters on this issue than you might have.

Also - we've got a bit of an emotional disadvantage. The Catholic Church teaches exclusive things about itself that are a scandal in our "I'm okay, you're okay" era. It's tough to defend the Church's teachings without giving offense. But do at least give us some credit for being willing to be "politically incorrect." Do you think we wouldn't RATHER just say "hey, come on! we're all Christians!" Do you think it's FUN to have to explain this to non-Catholics?

From your latest comment, it sounds like this is degenerating into judging each other's hearts and name-calling. I didn't read a lot of people judging YOUR heart - in fact I read a lot of Catholic commenters doing their best to explain Church teaching, while assuming the best about you - and even going out of their way to affirm you, encourage you, and make it clear that you're welcome.

At any rate, I wish you the best regardless of where you end up Church-wise. If my comments gave offense, I sure apologize for that. God bless you, Rick.

cathyf
If your reaction to the Catholic point of view is filled with this much turmoil and revulsion, then the Church is not for you.
Maybe.

I speak from experience (rather a lot of experience 8-) ) when I say that when God wants something from me that I don't want to do, He is a total pain in the ass. Turmoil is all part of being brutally honest, after all.

E

kiwinomad -

Communion is not done to be part of the community (and please note the capital and lower case distinction). Communion is between you and God, not a group activity.

cathyf

Actually, E, it is both. Or as the theologians say, Communion is both vertical and horizontal. St. Paul explained it in hoary detail...

Jason

"Would Jesus turn my wife, and others like her, away? Would He refuse them the bread and wine?"

The answers to your questions are “No”, and “Yes in many situations.”

The Catholic church is not turning you away. You are welcome to partake - after you have appropriately prepared yourself. That does not mean you should partake under your own conditions. That means being in communion with the Catholic church and agreeing with its teachings.

The prohibition on non-catholics from receiving the Eucharist is more for your own protection. We believe the Eucharist is more than mere bread and wine. It is the literal body and blood of Christ. We believe that receiving the Eucharist in a non-worthy manner is a grievous sin. We ask you to refrain because we don’t want you to eat and drink judgment on yourself.

I am a former evangelical and a convert to the Catholic church. Responses from a Catholic perspective have already been given. While they are correct, they probably aren’t convincing to one who does not see the Catholic church as the bride of Christ. So I’ll give you a reason from an evangelical position.

When I was an evangelical I would not take the Eucharist. When a Eucharistic minister offers the Eucharist, they present it and say “The Body of Christ” or “The Blood of Christ”. You then bow your head and reply “Amen.” This is a public proclamation that you agree the bread is literal body and the wine is the literal body of Jesus. You are also proclaiming that you are in communion with that Catholic Church. That is, you believe all its teachings are correct. I did not take the Eucharist as an evangelical because I would have had to lie before God to do so. This had nothing to do with respect for the Catholic church. I did not believe at the time that the Catholics had God or understood him correctly. I did know that to partake was to lie about what I believed about God.

Being that you do not agree with the teachings of the Catholic Church, you have lied. And not just any lie. The lie included God. It was a lie about God. That is a serious sin. That is why Jesus would refuse you the bread and wine when you are not prepared for it.

Leslie

Evangelicals see communion as a symbolic act of acknowledging their redemption through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

While Lutherans don't view the elements as Jesus, per se, they see communion as receiving the grace of Christ through the elements.

So, from the Catholic perspective, what is the purpose of the Eucharist? Why do Catholics eat Jesus?

Marcus

Rick,
The Anchoress has made a good argument, as has Matteo. If you reject the Catholic Church's teaching, why to you want to force your interpretation, instead of attending a church with which you agree about both the nature of Communion itself, and the requirements for receiving it?

To your question of whether Jesus would turn your wife away. I suspect he would not, but that he would invite her to Commune AFTER having made amends and received the sacramental grace via Confession. It is, according to the Catholic Church which you desire to participate in, necessary for ALL Catholics who receive Communion to be in a state of Grace and unaware of having committed any mortal sin which has not yet been confessed and forgiven by Christ, through His priests.

As others have asked, why do you seem insistent on imposing your interpretation on Catholicism, as opposed to taking the time to learn the "why" behind the Catholic Church's teaching on Communion and the norms for receiving it, not just for you or your wife, but for ALL who Catholic communicants?

If you believe in Transubstantiation and that is drawing you the the Catholic Church for Communion, how do you suppose Christ is made really present? By his priests and the power of the Holy Spirit. No other church makes this claim. If this is why you are drawn home to Catholicism, maybe taking the time to more fully understand it would be helfpful. (btw, an Shifty1 equated it to "physically present" which is incorrect. Transubstantiation means that after the Host has been consecrated, Christ is "really present". For an explanation on how this is possible and different from "physically present", see Tipler's "Physics of Christianity"

I wish you the best, and that you will pursue the truth and learn more about the whys.

Gretchen

You ask if Jesus would deny you and your wife communion? What did Jesus do? On the night that instituted the very first Eucharistic Mass, Jesus himself did allow Judas Iscariot to receive the Body and Blood. He did not turn him away, knowing full well that he would betray him and then later self-destruct. The issue here isn't whether Jesus would turn away someone, rather, you need to look at the consequences of accepting, unworthily, the Body and Blood.

The Church instructs on this vital issue for the protection of the individual. Many times, the priest does not know if a person is receiving in a state of grace, and must leave that to the Lord's judgment.

You've got two things to think about--you and your wife are going to have to reconcile conflicting beliefs. The first, that you have the right to receive because a priest does not deny; and the second, that the same church (and its teaching on the matter) has no authority over you.

Let me ask you a question. Does Jesus Christ have authority over you? For Jesus Christ to give everything and to die on the cross for us, and for you to say that you need to do NOTHING to prepare to receive Him in the Eucharist is hubris. I'm talking here about preparing in the manner the Church teaches.

How important is it that you receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ? Is it important enough to do what Christ's Bride requires?

At some point, those conflicting beliefs will have to be reconciled.

Leslie

One thing I don't understand is the persistent idea that Rick rejects the church's teachings. It seems to me this post began with a description of what sounds like an open minded priest.

The Priest then said that this is how the Lord's Supper should be viewed by all baptized Christians. That baptism is the price paid for all to come and partake.

And then a mile-long discussion proceeds on RICK's rejection of the church's teachings after he followed the priest's instructions.

Why isn't the discussion about the priest?
Why aren't the Catholics questioning whether or not the church is actually carrying out its doctrine's faithfully?

This seems to be a traditional pattern of the Catholic church that has those who are smote leaving to find solace in the protestant congregations. My church is full of bitter Catholics who tell a similar story of "I was just trying to do my best and then everything turned on me."

No church is above corruption. Not even the super huge Catholic church.

So I guess it concerns me when I see the instinct of its members to leap to conclude Rick has mis-stepped when from what I read in this thread about doctrine, it appears to be the priest who is confused.

How does one pen a letter of complaint to the Magisterium??

Ed

Good point, Leslie, when you say "why isn't the discussion about the priest?" I think at this point no one would argue that Rick did anything horrible. He didn't know. My one word of caution about the priest is that we weren't there - and it's possible the priest was misunderstood. Since he's not here to defend himself, it's probably best just to focus on what the Church teaches.

The main point of contention NOW isn't what Rick did, but whether or not the Church is right to have requirements for communion. Oh, and the other thing that's become an issue: are Catholic commenters "unloving" by defending the Church's teaching? Rick says yes. I disagree. Some posts have been wiser than others, it's true, but that's the blogosphere for you. And in fairness, some of the Protestant comments have been downright nasty.

If Rick, after reading the responses to his post, had just said "whoops, My bad" - no one would even be talking about it anymore.

You're right, Protestant congregations are full of people who were "hurt" by the Catholic church. And they're also full of people who were "hurt" by other Protestant churches. The Catholic Church is like Protestant churches in that it is filled with humans who sin. There are other ways in which it's different, but that's another topic.

No church is above corruption in that it has members and leaders who sin. But Catholics believe that the Church's doctrine has NOT become corrupted. You don't have to believe that, but do understand - it's no more unreasonable than your (I presume) belief that the Bible hasn't become corrupted, despite its being written by humans.

If you're asking about penning a letter of complaint to the Magisterium about Rick's priest, it would start with talking to the priest's Bishop. But it would be better to talk to the Priest in person first - it might have been a misunderstanding, and it would be kind to make sure before going higher up.

Leslie

Thanks, Ed.

I think I ask about whether or not the church was carrying out its doctrines correctly...I wasn't questioning the doctrines themselves.

Ed

Got it, Leslie. I just reread your comment in light of your most recent one, and I think I understand what you're asking.

The Catholics commenters on this thread haven't gone into lamenting misinformation by priests, it's true - but elsewhere it's a frequent topic of discussion.

Fortunately there are tons of great priests, but also some who came through the seminaries of the 70s (to indulge in a stereotype) and adopted beliefs that were problematic, to say the least.

I think we're in the beginning stages of an awesome renewal in the Church. As annoying as it can be, part of that renewal is normal lay Catholics rising up and holding their priests accountable (in a loving way, hopefully) to back up the Church's historic teachings.

Ed

Leslie, I'm looking for a better explanation of "why Catholics eat Jesus" than I can give right now, especially in light of the traditional Lutheran teaching on consubstantiation.

My first instinct is to say, Catholics eat Jesus because we believe he told us to do so, and the apostles and their disciples appear to have taken his words this way as well. It's hard to read St. Justin without seeing a primitive but very clear understanding of transubstantiation as early as the mid-2nd century, and it appears to be a re-stating of beliefs that had been in place for a long time.

It's a weird belief, to be sure, though when you think about it, telling your disciples to eat your body and blood is just as weird if you mean it symbolically. And its weirdness, I believe, is actually a recommendation for its truth. Who would come up with something like this? We've seen a gradual attempt to make Christianity LESS weird through the break-offs from the Catholic Church over 2000 years. I joined the Catholic Church because I recognized authenticity there. I'd rather stick with the first beliefs Christians had, regardless of whether or not they feel weird.

Leslie

Thanks again, Ed. I share your belief about coming renewal in the Catholic church. I am Lutheran, but have spent many years working in the Catholic school system and being a piano player too, I have often been a member of the worship teams of many-a Mass.

I appreciate the Catholic church and truly, if I were to move away from my small rural community that has one Lutheran church in it, I would head for the nearest Catholic church and start the process. In fact, on some level, when I hear people slag the Catholic church, I find myself taking it a little personally...

So I wasn't trying to be trite with the "eat Jesus" business, but as the comments progressed I started to see something I hadn't thought of. Here it is:

Lutherans partake in communion as an act of repentance. We come in a spirit of unworthiness and are given a token of Christ's body & blood as an agent of grace to remind us we've been redeemed.

Transubstantiation aside...

The Anchoress's analogy of intercourse, and then other connections to meeting Jesus or inviting him in, has the potential to change the level on which a person perceives themselves when they approach the altar. There is a danger of thinking, I've done my duty, I'm clean and confessed and now it is *I* who is inviting Jesus in.

Please know I'm not condemning the process itself, merely observing the human tendency to taint everything it touches with pride. And I think, when it comes to this it becomes easy to judge others who are at different places on the road. The travelers on the Road to Emmaus didn't even recognize Jesus and they spent the whole day with them. They even ate with him, Jesus gave thanks and broke the bread to offer it to them and not until then did they recognize him. Were they condemned when they invited him to the table?

So I guess it is with that idea in mind that I wanted to ask the comment thread, what is the point of the Eucharist, anyway? And who among us is clean enough to approach the throne unless our Holy God overlooks our sinful humanity?

Most importantly, please know I don't tout the Lutheran way as the good way either. I firmly believe the tornado in Minneapolis was a divinely sent one and I wish God hadn't merely tipped over the steeple.I could talk for hours about hellfire and brimstone when it comes to the corruption in some sects of the Lutheran church. Our local church is an independent.

Anyway, interesting discussion. It might be easier to move it to another thread as it's getting to be a job to make our way back here!

Edmund

Hi Rick,

The best thing you can do now:

Spend an hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament, in quiet prayer and meditation. You’ll get as close to getting a direct answer to your question as you can, before you see Jesus face to face. And you will cause no controversy by doing so, and have no guilt. The Church places no conditions on who can participate in adoration of the Eucharist, other than proper respect. Then do it again in a week. Spend an hour weekly communing with Christ in adoration.

Many churches have perpetual adoration, with the Blessed Sacrament exposed for that purpose. If you can’t find one, go to any Catholic church and pray in front of the Tabernacle.

The next best thing is: read authoritative Church documents, such as the Catechism, if you haven’t started it already.

Please don’t listen to those who say Catholic Church is not for you. What utter rubbish that is.

May God bless you in jour spiritual journey.

Edmund

Ed

Hi Leslie--

Great thoughts. As Catholics and Lutherans (respectively), we definitely share a lot.

You're right about the potential for pride. I will say that the liturgy itself works against this a little - right before we go up to receive, the congregation speaks the words "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed." So even after confession, we should always recognize our unworthiness. But like you say, humans are prideful, and pride can creep into anything and everything.

I think the Eucharist imparts grace to us. One of the distinctly (at least I think it's distinctly) Catholic beliefs is that God does actually touch us through physical things, not just spiritual things. Just as the woman who was healed when she touched Jesus' robe, just as Jesus used clay to restore the blind man's sight - Jesus uses physical things in his relationship with us. And we worship Jesus through the physical as well - we kneel, we genuflect, we bow, we make the sign of the cross. It's one of the things I love best about being Catholic.

So the Eucharist can change us. But of course whether we let Jesus do this through the Eucharist is up to us. One of the things my priest always says is that we receive the body of Christ so we ourselves can "become the body of Christ." This idea goes back a long way.

Anyway, good thoughts.

Leslie

>>>"Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed." So even after confession, we should always recognize our unworthiness.

I'm glad you bring this part of the liturgy up, Ed. I don't wish to string out the discussion for you, but I find this interesting too. In the rural Canadian community where I live, the Catholic church in a nearby town was without a priest for 15 years. Priests serving elsewhere blessed the elements and sent them out with the nun who functioned as the church's priest as far as she was able. She administered this host and preached the sermons. The congregants had confession a couple of times a year, whenever a priest had time to come out and do it. The rest of the time, the extent of the people's pre-host confession hung on these very words.

This is a very common arrangement in most of the outlying areas in the entire country of Canada (I'm guessing everywhere except the large cities...Montreal, Toronto, etc). In fact, even in the next largest neighboring city (pop. 40,000) personal confession is offered only on special occasions. Usually Mass is administered without it and confession is reserved for special occasions only -- namely Good Friday or Ash Wednesday. Once or twice PER YEAR.

As one priest put it to me, "The world is too big, the cultures are too diverse. Consider the differences between Venezuela and Canada. Our job as local priests is to take the universal principles of the Catholic church and apply them in ways that work at the local level." And in most of the province of Alberta, that meant liturgical confession had to suffice before communion.

I don't offer this as a notch in my argument belt, rather I hope it functions as food for thought for commenters who feel pretty rigid about the process of receiving the Eucharist.

Meaning, there are entire countries of Catholics (priests and bishops even) for whom Rick's "mis-step" would fly so low under the radar that it would strike oil.

Ed

Wow - interesting, Leslie. I've heard of that type of situation being true in the case of soldiers out in the field, but didn't realize it was quite so widespread in cases of rural communities.

Catholics have something called the "Act of Contrition" - is a beautiful prayer to God saying "I'm sorry." This isn't supposed to function in place of confession, but how a Catholic should receive or not receive in places where regular confession isn't a possibility, I'd be more comfortable deferring to a priest or canon lawyer who knows what the Church teaches on that. I'm pretty sure that public "absolutions" are not really supposed to be given except in cases of extreme emergency.

It's possible that a public or private act of contrition was being recommended in place of confession for non-mortal sins (which is a whole other issue).

There's one important thing which I think sometimes gets overlooked: we don't have a "right" to the Eucharist. Sometimes I think people begin to feel entitled, and that's a mistake that can lead down a lot of wrong roads. I've had situations in the past where I wasn't able to get to confession, and I needed to. So I didn't receive. (and yikes, I went without the Eucharist all throughout my RCIA).

That being said, I don't know where the Bishop who directed those dioceses was coming from - I trust it was all okay - it would be interesting to how other outlying areas deal with the lack of priests.

Mary Kay

Rick, why did you ask the question if you were going to trash the answer?

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