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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Out of Line

Oh sister! I know this isn't relevant to this post but I didn't know where else to ask. I go to a Catholic high school and we have a monthly school mass, which is a good thing except that the Eucharist is profained. At every mass our priest says only practicing Catholics in a state of grace may receive and every time we have non-Catholics and others receiving unworthily even putting the Eucharist in their pocket. I have a Jewish friend who did this and I explained that it's wrong but she said that her parents tell he she must receive and that she plans to do so at the next mass. What can I do? Is there any one i can pray to for understanding?

I can certainly understand you're feeling disconcerted. It's a very unfortunate set of circumstances. Poor Father.  He must be giving his little speech because he knows this is happening. I've never heard a priest at a Mass give a "here's who can receive" speech at Mass that I can recall.  Still, he can't run around being the Eucharist Police.  We don't show denomination ID's or go take off our shoes and go through soul x-ray equipment at the Communion rail.

Most of us don't even have a Communion rail anymore.

That's okay. Jesus didn't have one either.

So let's examine our dilemma.  Why are only practicing Catholics in a state of grace allowed to receive the Eucharist? Because we understand exactly what we are receiving: the actual Body and Blood of Christ.  Because of that, we are able to have the proper adoration and respect for what's really going on.

Supposedly.  Come on.  You know we've seen it all. People line up for Communion, in quiet prayer (or not), and then walk away, parents dragging little kids who are crying and whining, people fussing around with coats and kneelers, now we see people checking their text messages, we've always had people who jump up before the Mass is over so they can get their car out of the parking lot before the rush that makes them wait in line to get out of the church and out of the parking lot. And people who receive the Sacred Body of Christ and run right out and sin.

Let's put this in a little perspective.  You're not wrong to feel the way you do. But this is Jesus we're talking about. He is much less judgmental than the rest of us. I'll bet He doesn't actually mind being in someone's pocket so much. As it is, He rides all around in little tins as He is brought to hospitals and nursing homes and battle fields.  

Of course He would love our full attention, but He surely understands the state of any person's soul at any given moment. What He thinks of all of that is up to Him and not us.

Here are a couple of things you could do:
1. Be very glad so many non Catholics are coming to Mass.  That is truly remarkable. Something wonderful is at work. Be extra nice to them.  We want them to understand that the basis of our faith is compassion.

2. You might talk to Father, or write him a note, asking if he could perhaps give a short explanation as to why only practicing Catholics in the state of grace can receive.  That might help a little.

A note of caution! When I was quite young, I stopped going to Communion for quite a long time because the priest gave a whole sermon about how people who don't really understand the Eucharist shouldn't go. I believe he even read a passage from Paul. It was during Holy Week, I remember that much. 

I was spooked. I certainly didn't understand it. The Eucharist is the actual Body and Blood of Christ?  Good luck understanding that one.  It was a long time before some kind old nun explained to me that the opposite of faith is not lack of faith.  The opposite of faith is certainty.

Now I have faith, sometimes with full understanding and sometimes with almost none.

If I were you, I would definitely have another chat with that Jewish girl, in no small part because I am a nosy old buzzard who wants to know why her parents want her to go to Communion. Someone is very confused. Or very hopeful.

Oh! And...who to turn to for intercession? Going with St. Paul on this one.  For one thing, he's a convert himself and for another, he fully agrees with you about who should not be going to Communion.


ArchAngel's Advocate said...

What some parishes are doing is giving the non-receiver (Catholic or not) an alternative to receiving the Eucharist (and your correspondent might suggest this to her Pastor). Just before coming down from the Altar the celebrant makes an announcement along the lines "We welcome our non-Catholic brothers & sisters to join the Communion line to receive a blessing in lieu of receiving the Eucharist. We ask you to honor our practice of only Baptised Catholics receiving the Eucharist. To signify your desire for the blessing we ask you to cross your arms across your chest as you approach the minister." (the norms allows any minister, Extraordinary or Ordinary, to give a non-Benediction blessing, and most dioceses have examples of acceptable wordings). Also the invite can be expanded to include those Catholics who, for whatever reason, aren't receiving the Eucharist at that time. Most non-believers come forward rather than just sitting in their place because they feel they need to be doing something just like everyone else.

Dan Lower said...

At the risk of being judgmental, that sounds like an absolutely horrible situation.

Some people of course are going to keep taking communion when they shouldn't, and no rational argument will dissuade them, because "Jesus died for everyone"--which, universal atonement notwithstanding, becomes more of an excuse in the context of wanting to participate. I'm glad there are people like you, Sister, to give more nuanced advice than people like me would give.

Monica said...

really nice explanation!

Minkykat said...

Well, that's how I came to convert to the RC. I went to mass with the Father-in-law. He didn't walk so good, so there I am holding him up and there's the priest holding up the Lord which to me, at that time, looked like cookie, and pronouncing:
"Body of Christ!"

It seemed rude to say "no thanks!" so I held out my hand and said "Amen" as I had heard the people in front of me say.

4 communions later, the "cookie" now had a MUCH deeper meaning to me. The change that I was experiencing was much too overwhelming to be ignored.

And so, I did what I had never thought I would do; I converted.
Another person in my RCIA class had come in much the same way; communions that at first they did not understand but later came to feel with all their being that this IS Christ!

So you see, the grace of our Lord is boundless. Those non RC who commune with him on a regular basis may find themselves changed for all time.

JP said...

I feel for this student! I think your advice is good, Sister, although I am pretty sure Jesus does not want to be in someone's pocket, when He has no idea where he will end up!

ArchAngel, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are not permitted to give blessings. This is an action that can only be done by a priest during a Mass, according to the Congregation for Divine Worship. I add that just for clarification.

ArchAngel's Advocate said...

JP, the Congregation for Divine Worship was addressing specifically the Blessing of Benediction in EUCHARISTIAE SACRAMENTUM.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraphs 1668-1671 & 2626 makes it clear that there are different kinds of blessings and different appropriate ministers of such blessings, from parents blessing their children to religious superiors blessing their charges. EUCHARISTIAE SACRAMENTUM points out specifically that while specially trained minister may place the Eucharist in the Monstrance for Adoration, they may not Bless with the Sacrament. The current Roman Missal for the US states the Dismissal Blessing can be given only by the Chief Celebrant of the Mass. The Roman missal make no other prescriptions or proscriptions about blessings by anyone. (Of course there may be changes withe the implementation of the new Missal in November 2011). As I stated in my earlier post, approved wording for the blessings given by ministers other than a priest were (supposedly) approved by the appropriate Ordinary (Bishop).

Augustina said...

"I'll bet He doesn't mind being in someone's pocket so much, as it is He rides all around in little tins as He is brought to hospitals and nursing homes and battlefields."

I cannot believe anyone could say such a thing, especially a religious; but in these days, it isn't too hard to believe.

Sister, I'd love to hear you say that to the Holy Father. I guess then anyone who decides to put Our Lord in their pocket, in their prayer book, or just carry Him outside is just fine. Well, then those who are satanists, those who practice wicca, would just love you! It would and does make it so much easier to sneak the Eucharist out of the Church and then what?

This is where Communion in the hand gave way to so many abuses! Finding hosts in the church parking lots, in the hymnals, restrooms and used for evil practices!

And those "tins" you talk about are not some "soup can" they are consecrated phyx's which are to be treated as such.

Anonymous said...

When you only have Mass once a MONTH, the priest giving out Holy Communion probably doesn't recognize who is Catholic and who is not. He feels he is doing his duty by stating that only practicing Catholics in the state of grace may receive, and he's off the hook. Not so fast. He has SEVERAL options, and they CAN be done. It is working at my school.
1. Get to know all the students. Know who your Catholics are, know who your non-Catholics are.
2. Remind them that all are welcome to come forward; those not receiving just place their arms across their chest and receive a blessing.
3. Have the teachers keep an eye out for who is receiving.
4. Have Mass more often.

Regarding #4, I put this one on the bishops. Why do they allow a school to call itself Catholic and then have such blatant disregard for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? Are they THAT fearful that Sunday Mass attendance will drop, if students 'have' to go to Mass more than once a week?

Our school has:
The priest/deacon KNOW THE STUDENTS
The teachers WATCH that the non-Catholics cross their arms and receive a blessing

It's not rocket science, just good old fashioned common sense mixed with a little effort. After all, we are talking about the Word Made Flesh. We are not distributing wafers and juice! This is how we got to the condition we are in, with 80% or more Catholics practicing contraception, 60% or more identifying with Pro-Choice politicians, 3 out of 5 Catholic marriages ending in divorce, 2 out of 5 teen pregnancies are products of at least one Catholic, etc.

Catholic School Teacher

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister,

I need a patron saint for a poor friend/co-worker who is consumed with guilt. She was involved in an auto accident where a pedestrian died. The accident was not her fault. I need a heavenly prayer partner to help on her behalf, and on behalf of the poor soul who lost his life.

Anonymous said...

Our church also allows people who aren't Catholic (or children who haven't received First Communion, or those who feel they don't/can't receive today) to come up with arms crossed and get a blessing from the priest or Eucharistic minister. Many appreciate being included in the service this way. What I've always wondered is: If I'm not Catholic and don't believe in or don't understand the sacrament and take the host anyway, what's the harm? I don't believe it's the body and blood of Christ, so to me, it's just a piece of bread. I'm not dishonoring the sacrament, because I don't properly understand it. Now, if I'm taking it because I want to be disrepectful, that's a different story. But if I'm just doing what everone else is doing so I feel like I fit in, is that wrong?

Unknown said...

All these abuses we witness to in the new mass (novus ordo)is reason to attend a tradtional Latin Mass in your area. They are growing in numbers, thanks be to God! I uses to leave many churches in tears after witnessing abuse after abuse. Sad thing also is many of the faithful do not even know an abuse when they see one. That of course is due to the liberal take-over and their brainwashing (all in the "spirit" of VatII) lies.
when I finally learned that we had a Latin Mass here, I couldn't wait to get there! And when I walked in, and Mass started I knew I was HOME! The Mass of all ages, the Mass of the Saints, The Mass that brought us so many vocations! There are Latin Masses with English missaletes in the churches for those who wish to use them or just use your own missal. There are Latin Masses in every state and they continue to grow! Oh, to be back home again!

mph said...

Would it really horrify Jesus that a non-Catholic was receiving Him? Who is to say that they don't understand the sacrament, or that even if they don't He'd object, especially after hearing what Minkykat has to say. As far as the school in question is concerned can someone monitor the communion line to make sure people aren't walking off with the Host instead of receiving.

Rita said...

I'm puzzled. This Mass is in a school, surely there are teachers who could police this a bit better. There is a very serious point here that any Hosts received must be consumed straight away, be they by believers or non-believers.

At one school where I worked, we were having an issue with some of the pupils who were allegedly getting involved with the occult. Whilst, I'm sure Our Lord will remove Himself from any host before it is handed over for occult use. We have to think about the souls of those who would deliberately profane the Blessed Sacrament, and do our best to remove the occasion to sin from them.

We've found it easy enough to ensure the Host is consumed before the pupils return to their seats.

A priest who spends a lot of time cleaning the sacred vessels after Communion also sends out the right message that something a bit special is happening here.

Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin said...

mph: I am sure that Jesus makes the best of everything that happens, be it good or bad; yet we are taught not to seek out bad situations, that grace may abound all the more.

Admittedly, we know where the Church is, and do not know where she isn't. And yet to receive the Body of Christ in the Eucharist is to proclaim with your own body your unity with the Body of Christ that is the Church, and with all she teaches. To receive without that unity is to lie, and to use your own body, the Church, and even our Lord to do so.

Augustina said...

Abuses Must be Called out and Corrected! If someone wanted to hand you some gold pieces, would you not take the most careful means of making sure none of it fell from your hands? Yes, we would.

Then why should it be tolerated that when people receive Jesus in the Eucharist as though It is a cookie? No communion plate used, and the Host many a time falls onto the floor, and they continue administering Communion with no regard that crumbs from the host (Jesus) may still be lying on the floor. And in the hands when people receive Him that way.
It must return to the sacred and reverent again. The Holy Father knows what he is doing by his Motu Proprio to ALL the bishops that he wants to see the Latin Mass in ALL Churches, and that he wants the youth to become familiar with it.
Let's pray that this happens..Only through prayer and God's grace and judgement can this world turn itself around.

Anonymous said...

Thank you sister your advice is great as always, I hope we all take the time to really understand what you are saying such as in "What He thinks of all of that is up to Him and not us." I want to say that I of all people need not to judge others - artmaster that is God's Job. Thank you sister, and by the way thanks for the necklase for my neice.
God help us to love oneanother.

ztoamom said...

Sister, I love your blog. I am a non-Catholic and a non church-goer, but a believer through and through. You've heard that a lot. I went "faithfully" for most of my life. Got weary of the confusion. It is everywhere. I have a Catholic friend I work with in Project Rachel and she would LOVE it if I converted. Gently works on me all the time - in love, and I appreciate it. I see it for what it is - love for me. What you ought to know is this - you are helping her cause! You are real. That is the deepest compliment I ever give anyone. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

One time, when my mind was wandering during Mass, I thought to myself, "Do I really believe that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus?" I mean - that's a pretty profound believe. Do I really believe? Then, when I was waiting at the rail to receive, the elderly priest dropped the host and the server did not react fast enough with the patten. Jesus fell to the sanctuary floor! I physiologically reacted the same way I would have reacted had someone in front of me just dropped a baby. I involuntarily jumped, sucked in my breath, and my heart started beating rapidly like someone that has just had a scare. Then, I knew - I do believe! But, even if I did not believe, that wouldn't change the fact that Jesus exists in the Host. So, it DOES matter if someone who doesn't believe still goes and receives. That person is not receiving a cracker, it is still the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus whether we believe it or not. Look at how many people believed he was the Messiah when he walked this earth, and how many people thought he was just a good man or maybe a prophet. Did that change the fact that he was, and is, indeed, the Son of God? There can only be one objective Truth. Not all will believe it, but that does not change the Truth. So yes, there is harm in having Jesus carried in someone's pocket, or being received by those who do not believe in what it is we are professing by publically receiving the Eucharist. "Anonymous" said, "To me, it is just a piece of bread." No - it is Jesus, but you don't believe it is Jesus - just like the people in his own day didn't believe who he was. Your disbelief does not change His reality. Otherwise, I would stop believing in Satan - and since I don't believe in him, I can't go to hell, right? Wrong! Your belief cannot change what IS - and the Eucharist IS JESUS. If you do not believe, you should not receive. I don't say this to sound harsh or be judgemental. I will pray for you to receive a deeper and more perfect faith. You'll find that If you pray for faith (for yourself) God answers your prayer quite quickly! (Warning - do not pray for patience or humility unless you are REALLY READY to go through the growing process!)
To Augustina and Artmaster - I have assisted at some very devout and reverent Novus Ordo Masses - with communion at the rail, reverent male servers, and tasteful music. It can be done, and it is the exception and not the rule, but please do not throw out the baby with the bathwater! Some of us couldn't afford Catholic school and never had the opportunity to learn Latin. I do go to a Latin Mass every Friday and I am gradually teaching myself. I know there are some gross mistranlations between the two. But the Mass is the Mass, and God can work through any priest. We have to pray for those who are poorly formed and catechised, but let's not walk away from them and write them ALL off.

Catholic School Teacher

abishag said...

Sister, I love your answer. I believe in His real presence, and I am profoundly sad that there are people who don't understand why they are taking communion in the first place. I doubt any people in the original person's email are deliberately profaning the host, but you are right that a priest getting up and going all fire-and-brimstone on unbelievers might lead even some believers astray.

I'm much more concerned that there is only Monthly mass, when the standard is Daily. At the very least, Weekly would seem to be in order.

But I think the main point is that, after bringing it to the priest's attention, and then maybe the diocese or the Bishop, the concerned worshipper should then leave it up to God. I have gotten into more trouble sitting in the pews, worrying about the worthiness and righteousness of other people instead of worrying about my own worthiness and righteousness. Once you've reported the problems to the correct authorities, it's out of your hands.

Maggie said...

The main concern here is that people are not consuming the Host- yes, it is bad that non-Catholics are receiving, but it is WORSE that they are taking Jesus "home" in their pocket! Even if they don't have bad intentions, this kind of behavior is truly horrible. After all, that's how many occult practitioners obtain hosts for the Black Mass. Father really needs to take care of this!

bmccoy said...

Thanks for the good advice sister. About telling the bishop, he was the celebrant of mass last week at our school (the diocican office is right across the parking lot) same thing happened. I'll try your suggestions. P.S. we're trying to get a daily mass started in our school chapel for those who wish to attend during our schools 40 minute activity period.

Anonymous said...

Abishag - it would be WONDERFUL if daily Mass was still the standard. Sadly, you will rarely find it in any Catholic school. I know ours is the only school in a huge archdiocese where daily Mass is the standard. The new standard is weekly. Look up the stats, and you will be shocked. Less than 50% of Catholic schools across the nation have Mass more than once a week. (And of those, how many are watered down versions of 'Kumbaya' style Masses? Why is it called "liturgy" and "Eucharist" yet rarely is it called the Holy SACRIFICE of the Mass? The occultists have no problem using the word SACRIFICE, so that can't be the problem!)

Catholic School Teacher

Stella Orientis said...

Thank you for all the tricky questions you tackle, sister. It must be wearying to deal with so many corrections, especially when they themselves need correcting.

I just wanted to point out that Our Lord did in fact have a "communion rail" of sorts, in that the temple was veiled. The Holy of Holies was veiled, and could only be entered once a year by the High Priest (this corresponds to the tabernacle veil, which by rights may only be parted by priests - whose hands are consecrated). The sanctuary too was veiled, and the sanctuary veil corresponds to our altar rail - it separates our own sanctuary from the nave, as the place set aside for sacrifice.

Christianity didn't invent the altar rail, it's just a changed shape from the temple sanctuary - it was God who invented that separation.

Anonymous said...

For me and my family, we will always receive our King of Kings Kneeling and of course on the tongue. It is wonderful to have the Latin Mass returning in many Churches, although the Holy Father wants it in all the Churches. And it allows the formation for more young men to become priests.

Jeanne said...

At our parish, Father actually gave us a short lesson in the proper way to receive communion last year because so many people were being sloppy about it. Our Eucharistic Minister will also stop anyone walking away with the host in hand and gently guide them back to the altar and watch as they consume the host. I have seen this and am glad for it. Any non Catholic on the communion line is welcomed for a blessing or little prayer as they come up - the same as the priest, deacon or Eucharistic minister does when small children are carried up. I am very grateful that we had a priest explain the proper way to receive communion. I said to someone, "The last time I had any instruction on this was in 1978 - at my first communion!" They were shocked but it is true, and some of the instructions were different! We all need this.

Anonymous said...

Our parish in recent months has been offering opportunity for confession before each Sunday Mass. Perhaps if this school allowed a period of time for reconciliation before Mass begins, more Catholics would be receiving worthily. I realize this only addresses part of the problem, but it is a start. Our parish also invites non-Catholics, and those Catholics who are not properly disposed to approach the altar with arms crossed over their chest and receive a blessing (I believe only the priests give the blessing.. not the EM's)

Anonymous said...

If you can, write down the names of the non-Catholics who are receving Communion in your Church and give them to the Priest. Then perhaps he can talk to them privately, in addition to your telling them it is wrong for them to recieve and Eucharist, and to disobey the Priest.
If the Priest knows who they are, he will NOT give them Communion, and just give them a blessing.

Any Catholic in the State of Mortal sin who receives the Eucharist commits an additional Mortal sin of Sacrilege.

If you are over age 15, I recommend that you read the "Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition" which was first printed in the US in March 2000. It has a dark green cover.
See paragraphs #1355 & #1415.

Sounds like you have a good Priest.