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Fr. Matt
Site Owner
Posts: 382

Would you please explain the facts on Communion for Catholics?  When in our lives and who should take communion and when in our lives should we NOT take Communion?  I feel I don't understand everything and hoping I am not the only one?

July 24, 2014 at 2:16 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Fr. Matt
Site Owner
Posts: 382

          Thank you for your very good question, and let me assure you that you most certainly are not the only one who does not understand everything about the rules regarding reception of communion.

          Let’s begin by acknowledging that this can be a complicated issue, and even bishops can sometimes disagree about the particulars. In the short span of this little article, I’m simply going to reduce the whole complicated picture down to 1 definition and 2 (sometimes conflicting) principles. First, just what is Communion?

          When we are baptized, we are reborn into the Communion of Saints. This Communion means that we are in some very real (yet also mystical) way one with one another. We share a common union. That Common Union that we share (what unites us) is Jesus Christ Himself. He is the communion (common union) of God and man. We are members of His One Mystical Body. This communion is most powerfully effected and symbolized in the Eucharist – the Body and Blood of Jesus that we share at Mass. That’s why we often call the Eucharist ‘Holy Communion’.

          Ok, there’s a definition of sorts … now for the 2 principles – the chicken, and the egg. First, the chicken: Receiving the Eucharist is the effect of being in Communion with Jesus and His Church. That is to say, when I am truly united to Jesus by the way that I live, by what I proclaim in word and deed, by what I truly believe, and by my desire to surrender everything else to the Will of God; then I will be impelled to receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

          Second, the egg: Being in Communion with Jesus and His Church is the effect of receiving the Eucharist. That is to say, when I receive Jesus in Holy Communion, I receive all the graces necessary to be truly united to Jesus by the way that I live, by what I proclaim in word and deed, by what I truly believe, and by my desire to surrender everything else to the Will of God.

          So, there’s the basic framework from which we can build up a proper response to your good question. The trouble is that I’ve run out of space to give that response this week. So … stay tuned next week for the exciting conclusion of: To Kill a Mockingchicken.

          In the meantime, thanks for another great question; and, as always, if you have further questions or insights or another way of looking at this question, please log on to www.stanthonyniagara.org in the “Ask Father” section of the forums to share your thoughts. Until next week, may God bless you and your loved ones!

 

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Fr. Matt

July 24, 2014 at 2:20 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Fr. Matt
Site Owner
Posts: 382

Part II:

          If you recall, last week I had proposed a chicken-and-egg conundrum. Here it is in brief: When we are in communion with Jesus (and His Church – because they are One and the same realities), then we should receive the Eucharist. When we are not in this communion (by the way that we live, by what we proclaim in word and deed, and by our willingness to change our lives to conform to His), then we should not receive the Eucharist – or else, we would be lying. In that sense, to receive Communion when we are not in communion would be to eat and drink our own condemnation (as St. Paul says) – it would be both sacrilegious and blasphemous.

          However, we must also remember that it is precisely the reception of Jesus in the Eucharist that enables us to live and be in communion with Him. The graces that Jesus gives us in the Blessed Sacrament are wholly sufficient to make us Holy (if we are willing to let Him do so). Without the aid of this supersubstantial spiritual food, we (as Jesus says) have no life within us.

          So, how can we translate these 2 principles into practical ethics? When I commit a mortal sin, I sever my relationship with God. Jesus came and comes to us for this very reason – to reconcile us to God so that God’s grace may flow through us freely again to give us life with all His blessings. That’s why He gave us the Sacrament of Confession/Penance/Reconciliation (pick your favorite title). When I make a good confession, God restores me to a state of grace – to Communion with Him. That’s when I should receive Holy Communion.

          However, if I am not open to the grace God gives me through the Sacraments (such as Confession); if I am not open to amending my life – changing my thoughts, my words, my behaviors, my living situation in such a way as to be in a state of grace – then why would I even consider receiving Holy Communion?  I would be receiving what I don’t want to accept.

          God has opened the door to us from both sides. He has opened the door to the confessional when we are outside of communion – in effect, opening the door to our hearts so that we may be capable of receiving Him. And, He has opened the door to His heart – pouring out upon us the Sacrament of Communion to strengthen us and give us eternal life. He has provided both the chicken and the egg; it is up to us merely to be willing to jump in at either end.

          Thanks for another great question; and, as always, if you have further questions or insights or another way of looking at this question, please log on to www.stanthonyniagara.org in the “Ask Father” section of the forums to share your thoughts. Until next week, may God bless you and your loved ones!

 

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Fr. Matt

August 5, 2014 at 3:31 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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