UPDATE on 12/29/2014: A hearty welcome to The Anchoress' readers coming from her post titled On Taking Communion While Not Catholic: A Little Primer. I'm not the person I was back in 2009 when this post was originally written and the Anchoress has played no small role in that. You can read more about where this all led here (roughly 18 months later), the bottom line being that I've learned to treasure the Eucharist and now understand fully what it was that Ms. Scalia was attempting to gently tell me back in August of 2009. I am so grateful. Now back to the original post.
The Lord’s Supper is not simply an ordinary meal among human beings—it is a fellowship with Christ, in his presence and at his table. Once again, we must avoid the idea that any automatic or magical benefit comes from sharing in the Lord’s Supper, whether a person participates in faith or not. But when a person participates in faith, renewing and strengthening his or her own trust in Christ for salvation and believing that the Holy Spirit will bring spiritual blessing through such participation, then certainly additional blessing may be expected. We must be careful here, as with baptism, to avoid the mistake of overreacting to Roman Catholic teaching and maintaining that the Lord’s Supper is merely symbolic and not a means of grace. . . There is a spiritual union among believers and with the Lord that is strengthened and solidified at the Lord’s Supper, and it is not to be taken lightly (Grudem, Systematic Theology, 954-955).
I mentioned last week that I attended Mass. First time, other than special familial events, that I had gone in a long time.
Before going, I wondered about taking Communion. I had inferred long ago, after a number of conversations with family, that I could not receive the Eucharist given I had left the Catholic Church so many years ago. But I really wanted to last Sunday. 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.
And so I went thinking that I should but wondering whether it was right to do so.
Then I listened to the Priest tell the story of immigrants sailing on a voyage across the ocean to a new country, a new home.
They were destitute, and so the father ushered them into their modest stateroom, deep in the bowels of the ship, skipping the departure festivities top-side that were well under way.
Family and friends had given them cheese and bread for the trip, their only sustenance, and after three days of being couped up, the oldest son thought it might be good to explore the ship and set out, despite his father's warnings not to be away for too long.
Hours passed and the father began to fret when the boy had not returned so he set out to find him. After a long while, he found the boy eating in a dining hall. Not just eating, but gorging himself on every kind of meat, vegetables and fine desserts. The father was beside himself. He wondered aloud how he was going to pay for it all and scolded the boy, letting him know that he would have to work for weeks or longer to pay for what was eaten.
But the boy replied "Father, all of this comes with the price of the ticket".
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. I was a bit taken aback. He did not say baptized Catholics. Perhaps he meant to. Though I was baptized Catholic and though I might've partaken if he had said instead baptized Catholic, I know that he instead said Christian.
A joy came over me. And I willingly, and guiltlessly, went and communed.
Tomorrow, I'm hopng, Mrs. BH will be joining me as I go back to Mass. And, I believe, as a baptized Christian, she will be welcomed to the Eucharist.
Some will disagree I'm sure. And some may let their disagreements be known. Fine. But what would Jesus do?
UPDATE: The Anchoress has posted a response after being unable, for some reason, to comment here. It's long, it's comprehensive and it suggests that I, and Mrs. BH, have committed a grievous error, that we have disrespected The Church and that we may very well have wrought judgment upon ourselves.
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.