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Friday, February 15, 2008

And Now You Know

Thank you for answering my question on the Eucharist. But if I can pester you just a little bit... Why is it so bad for another believing Christian to share in the body and blood? It's the WHY I don't understand. You do such a lovely job of explaining the church that I'd adore your take on it. But don't worry, I'll go celebrate mass with my own kind tomorrow and restrict my time in catholic churches to the Nicene creed and few prayers extra prayers for the unity of the 'one holy catholic and apostolic Church'.

The original question was if the reader, a non-Catholic, could take Communion at the Catholic Mass. I think it was Ash Wednesday, oh, so long ago last week. I found a really great Catholic answers site that had a very good explanation and I was going to save us all some time by posting the link. Now I can't find it.

I wonder if I should pray for the intercession of St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost items, since it was something I had and lost, or should I look to St. Isidore the patron saint of the internets?

Rather than pester either of them, I'll try to reiterate the answer, which was in dialogue form.

Why can't I go to Communion during your Mass?

You can't, because we're not sure you understand what's really going on here. It's not a symbolic lunch time with Christians, it's the actual Body and Blood of Christ. It's a really, really big deal called Transubstantiation, only the priest can do it, and unless you understand it and believe it, showing up for it is not advised.

On top of that, you have to be prepared. You can't show up with a mortal sin on your soul, for example. Neither can I.

Oh, please, I haven't been living under a rock. Not only do I understand Transubstantiation, I believe it, too.

That's nice. I can't think why you wouldn't want to go ahead and convert, in that case, especially if your denomination only believes in some version of a symbolic body and blood of Christ. (And surely you realize that only a priest can change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood, so whatever is going on at the altar over there in your denomination is not Transubstantiation.) That's where you really lose me, but that's off topic for the moment. I believe you, you believe it. But many, I would venture to say, the majority, of non-Catholics do not. So we ask you not to partake for your own good, since we can't have a belief checker in the Communion line for all the non-Catholics and it's grave sin to cavalierly dance up to the rail to be part of the 'party'.

That was the answer on the site I lost. I thought it was a good answer.

Well, almost a good answer. The truth is, one could argue that we don't have a sin checker for Catholics who may have mortal sins or their souls, either. I would only hope that any Catholic would know better than to try that, landing them in double mortal sin status. Nobody would be that big of a goofus.

And since we don't have a belief checker or a sin checker, people who don't know any better could be following along in line and receiving Communion. Since they don't know any better, it's not a sin. If they know better and are doing it anyhow, it's a big fat sin.

But now you do know, so it is. And speaking of "once you know it's a sin, it's a sin if you do it", I fell upon this site that will help everybody get through Lent without sinning, at least where fasting and abstinence are concerned. (I know there are myriad other sins with which you could busy yourself.) Meat, no meat, what's a fast, what's abstinence; it's all here, spelled out so clearly, with a big picture of Jesus to contemplate while you get it together.

Please pay extra special attention to number SIX, which explains that when you don't fast and abstain on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, you commit a mortal sin. And now that you know that, guess what? If you didn't know that last week for Ash Wednesday, you're off the hook. But as of now, you are on notice for Good Friday and from now on.

So, get it together.


Elisa said...

Just wanted to mention that pregnant and nursing mothers are exempt. I am 8 months pregnant and can't skip snacks, let alone meals, or I will come close to passing out, so your post worried me at first, Sister! I still do the abstinence, because I can get my nutritional needs met (and the baby's) through alternate forms of protein on Fridays in Lent, but to fast would jeopardize our health.

bill7tx said...

This is probably the Catholic Answers link that you lost:
The relevant information is way down near the end of the document.

If it's the wrong link, please don't blame poor St. Anthony!

Non-Catholics who don't care for the entry in Catholic Answers might want to consider the last paragraph of that entry: "Another reason that many non-Catholics may not ordinarily receive Communion is for their own protection, since many reject the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Scripture warns that it is very dangerous for one not believing in the Real Presence to receive Communion: 'For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died' (1 Cor. 11:29–30)."

'Nuf said!

paddy the papist said...

As a Catholic I am compelled to say that this site comes across as really weird.

How can a nun refer to devotion to Our Lady the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ as "the Mary thing"?

Something that every Catholic should know at this stage is that transubstantiation does not take place at the Novus Ordo mass.

It is a mock mass and those who attend it commit a "big fat sin" which is just another frivolous term you use for mortal sin.

This site, just like so many more so called "Catholic" websites on the net,is a danger to souls who would wish to worship Jesus Christ in spirit and in truth.

Don't forget, we will all have to account for our every word and that of course includes me.

The true Catholic mass of all time is now celebrated back in the catacombs from whence it came.

Anonymous said...

Don't bother to click on the paddy the papist web site. He is just a nut.

Anonymous said...

There are several problems with the information on fasting and abstinence on that site, particularly numbers 1,2, and 4.

According to the Code of Canon Law:

1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

-It starts at 14, not 7.

According to apostolic constitution Paenitemini by Pope Paul VI:

III. 1. The law of abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, the products of milk or condiments made of animal fat.

2. The law of fasting allows only one full meal a day, but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and evening, observing—as far as quantity and quality are concerned—approved local custom.

- It's unclear to me whether "condiments made of animal fat" means gravy or broth, but I can't think of anything else.
- Paul VI's definition of fasting says nothing of whether the "two other meals add up to one larger one." That's a common misconception.

Of course, it's up to the individual to realize whether he or she is violating the spirit of fast and abstinence beyond just the rules. I would say that if you have to ask whether X violates a fast, it probably does. That's just to be safe, though.

All of this is borrowed from http://jimmyakin.typepad.com/defensor_fidei/2007/02/ash_wednesday.html

Sister Mary Martha said...

bill, that's not the one. I am quite sure it was that site, but it was in a cheery, friendly dialogue form. If anyone runs across it, please post it.

Anonymous said...

SMM, I think you would be surprised to find out how many Catholics in line for communion either don't know what Transubstantiation is, or don't believe it. I have discussed this with Catholic acquaintances on more than one occasion (I mean like on renewal weekends with real, practicing Catholics) and the reaction of said Catholics was something like "No way!"

bill7tx said...

OK, it must be this one:


This is a dialog titled, "Why Is Communion for Catholics Only?"

Gotta get St. Anthony off the hook!

Sister Mary Martha said...

Bill wins the prize! That's the one! I thought that was a better explanation than I could muster.

Now, if I only had a prize...we used to give out Holy Cards.

Anonymous said...

It's so refreshing to hear someone remind Catholics that we should not receive Holy Communion with a mortal sin on our souls. I wish priests would remind folks. And for Catholics who choose not to believe in Transubstantiation but choose to receive Holy Communion--that is amazingly dangerous sacrilege. Good luck with that.

bill7tx said...

I'm glad to help, Sister. If you're really in the mood to give a prize, there's only one that I'd ask for. Remember my late mother and father, Wilhelmina and Richard, and my late mother-in-law, Betty, in your prayers some time this weekend. I'll offer a Franciscan Crown tomorrow for your mother's recovery and health. Deal?

Sister Mary Martha said...


paddy the papist said...

If believing in the One,Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Gospel, and the teachings of the successors of Saint Peter makes me a nut well I am happy to be a nut.

There are questions on my "blogsite" which nobody so far has attempted to answer.

Presumably, some of the contributors to this "blog" also believe in the Catholic Church and the teachings of the legitimate successors of Saint Peter.

Do not forger that there have been at least 44 antipopes in the history of the Catholic Church.

It is a matter of Divine Faith as opposed to human faith.

If transubstantiation does take place during the "consecration" of the Novus Ordo mass go ahead and prove it.

It can be proven if you have faith.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Paddy, the gates of Hell haven't prevailed.

Sarah said...

when I was in college my roomie came to Mass. She was a non denom. christian and she didnt realize she shouldn't take communion the first time she went and I didnt think to tell her. She went on up, received His body and said "THANKS!"

I am betting the priest didnt need a belief checker for that one.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Sister and Bill for that great article. I love these catechism lessons. It's been a long time since Catholic grade school and this refresher course is a blessing.

bill7tx said...

Franciscan Crown said and offered for your Mom this morning. I hope you won't think I'm making this up, but I could smell the roses during part of the Crown (no lillies, though). It was very strong. That hardly ever happens unless I'm saying a rosary for my mother, so maybe it means something. Or maybe I just have a good imagination. My best wishes to you and to your mother.

Sister Mary Martha said...

Bill, I can absolutely tell you it worked. Today my mother got dressed for the first time, wants to do her exercise twice today and is eating like a pig. She was close to refusing food last week. When I gave her her lunch she said, "That looks GOOD!" and she ate every bite.

Some other problems are starting to be resolved also.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

For the first time since I have been old enough to be bound to fast, I did not fast on Ash Wednesday. That's because I am nursing a baby, and I need to be able to make food so HE doesn't have to fast. And I can't just skip a day and give him bottles because my body will make the milk anyway. I thought that was a just reason, but I was not formally dispensed -- is that necessary? Do I need to ask my priest (poor busy man that he is) for a formal dispensation? I always thought pregnancy and breastfeeding were considered just reasons, like illness is.

bill7tx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bill7tx said...

ginko100: Found this on EWTN (and I'm assuming you are in the U.S., if not you will need to see what your national conference of bishops requires):

"Those who are excused from fast or abstinence Besides those outside the age limits, those of unsound mind, the sick, the frail, pregnant or nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment, manual laborers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity and other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline."

bill7tx said...

That is good news! My mother lived with us the last six years of her life, and Mary always got us the help we needed, when we needed it. (For non-catholics reading this who might be confused/shocked by that statement: If you want something from Jesus, ask his Mother. If it's according to God's will, and Mary's will is always identical to God's will, you'll get it.)

Anonymous said...

f believing in the One,Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Gospel, and the teachings of the successors of Saint Peter makes me a nut well I am happy to be a nut.
Naw, it's the SSPX stuff that makes you a nut.

It's a touch hard for me to believe that God requires me to worship Him in a dead language that I haven't studied since high school.

bill7tx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
paddy the papist said...

If anonymous would read "become a papist" instead of trying to discourage people from reading it s/he would find that we papists believe absolutely the promises of Jesus Christ to the only Church He founded.

Considering the promise that the gates of hell would not prevail leads to inevitable conclusions for those who have faith.

We papists are not SSPX. We are Roman Catholics.

Anonymous said...

It has never been clear to me at what hour the day of fasting starts and at what hour it ends. It is midnight 'til 11:59 pm, or is it sunrise to sundown? If it is the former, then for all practical purposes the fast day runs from the last meal the day before until the first meal of the day after.

I suppose it isn't hard to tell that I'm one of those who gets really hungry during a fast day. If anybody knows the official answer to my question and will post it, thanks in advance.

Arkanabar Ilarsadin said...


I've always had a hard time understanding sedevacantists. You seem to claim, on the one hand (and as logic requires) that God protects the Church. And yet you also claim, on the other, that somehow Angelo Roncalli stole the Church from God, and He has somehow either declined or been unable to get it back.

Dea said...

Dear Sister, I just found your blog and am so grateful! What a wonderful resource!

This post was particularly interesting to me as one of my big concerns these days is first communion and confirmation. When I left the states our church was confirming children at the same time as their first communion, at a mere eight years of age. Can we really expect eight year olds to understand and believe in transubstantiation, much less freely commit themselves to the church for the rest of their lives? It just seems wrong to me. Would love your thoughts!