- Divine Life – A Blog by Eric Sammons - http://ericsammons.com/blog -
Posted By Eric Sammons On July 10, 2009 @ 1:46 pm In Sacraments,The Church | Comments Disabled
A brouhaha has erupted in Canada over the Prime Minister, who is an Evangelical Christian, receiving a consecrated host at a Catholic Mass, then appearing to walk away without consuming it (see the video here ). Later, the Prime Minister’s office stated that he did consume it after returning to his seat, but for a Catholic, the real scandal is the fact that the presiding bishop:
Regarding the second issue, I am reminded of an incident that occurred in my parish just a week ago. A young boy, who appeared to be mentally disabled, went up for communion. Our associate pastor first looked to the mom to confirm that he could receive communion, and when she nodded her assent, he gave the boy communion. However, the boy started to walk away without consuming the host. Our associate pastor stopped distributing communion and (gently) told the boy to consume the host immediately. He did not resume the distribution of communion until he was sure that the youngster did in fact consume the host. This is what a minister of the Blessed Sacrament is supposed to do: ensure that it is treated with the great respect that is should have.
Regarding the first issue (giving communion to a non-Catholic), this of course brings up the whole issue of “closed communion” vs. “open communion.” In the Catholic Church (as in the Orthodox Churches) we practice closed communion, meaning only a member of our church in good standing should receive communion. This causes no end of confusion and problems in America (and apparently Canada as well) as just about every other Christian group practices some form of open communion.
But what it reflects is radically different understandings of what communion is. In the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, communion – the Eucharist – is the central act of worship and the means by which we are united in one Body, the Church. As Henri de Lubac said, “The Eucharist makes the Church.” It is the central mystery of our faith. This is not merely a symbolic reenactment of the Last Supper, but a participation in the Paschal mysteries.
Partaking of the Eucharist intimately unites a person to Christ, as well as to everyone else who partakes worthily of the sacrament. In many ways, it is analogous to marital relations – it both represents an existing union as well as strengthens that union. So to partake of that union when one has not been initiated into the relationship – by the sacramental wedding ceremony for marital relations and reception into the Church for the Eucharist – is to betray at a very fundamental level that intimate union.
Of course, the Canadian Prime Minister most likely didn’t realize that he was doing something that would offend Catholic sensibilities. But that is why the presiding priest (or, as in this case, bishop) should be vigilant, especially in cases in which it is know that many non-Catholics are in attendance. A priest casually handing out communion to anyone and everyone is like a father who allows boys to come and go into his daughter’s room without supervision.
Article printed from Divine Life – A Blog by Eric Sammons: http://ericsammons.com/blog
URL to article: http://ericsammons.com/blog/2009/07/10/closed-communion/
URLs in this post:
 here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94msCdMBGMY
 subscribe to my RSS feed: http://ericsammons.com/blog/feed/
Copyright © 2010 Divine Life - A Blog by Eric Sammons. All rights reserved.