Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Why Do They Care?

I am not immensely intrigued by Protestants who want the Eucharist, because their desire makes sense to me. I want the Eucharist, too. It is interesting to note that most mainline denominations in the U.S. celebrated "the Lord's Supper" regularly until about a hundred years ago, when fear of seeming "too Catholic" caused their ministers to reduce the frequency of communion services dramatically, from weekly to monthly, or even yearly. A friend of mine, a conservative Presbyterian, recently shared his frustration with me at hearing from his minister on Holy Thursday how the Eucharist is spiritual food. He summarized his frustration thus: "Then why doesn't [that minister] feed us more often than once a year?!"

What does impress me is how many Protestants seem to take it personally that we (Catholics) will not share Communion with them. They seem to take it as a sort of snootiness or arrogance on our part, as if we feel we are better than them. Feelings haven't anything to do with any of it, though. Nor does the status of their communion celebrations, or their beliefs and feelings regarding communion. While few Protestants have beliefs about the Eucharist the same as ours, most that I know do believe that is Jesus is somehow manifest in the Eucharist. That's great. It's a start. It also has nothing to do with why we will not share Communion with them. What is forming our stance is a matter of fact: in very substantial ways Protestants are not in communion with us and to share the Holy Communion with them would be to falsify communion.

When a Protestant is submits in matters of faith and morals to the authority of Church, who teaches on behalf of Christ, then the Protestant will have moral unity with the Church, and may share in our sacramental communion. Sharing sacramental communion before there is moral unity is like sharing sexual relations before there is sacramental marriage: it puts the cart before the horse, falsifies the nature of the relationship, and thereby cheapens the sacrament.

And the thing is that this teaching isn't personal. It's not like the Church has it out for Protestants or think we are better than them (although, sadly, there are many arrogant asses like myself among us). In fact, Catholics living in sin (I don't just mean sexually) aren't to go to communion either. Nor are Catholics who have eaten too recently. Of course, when the pews empty at communion time, a number of Catholics are going to communion who probably should not be - either for committing some sin, dissenting from some teaching, or from casually eating Cheetos before going to Mass. This careless communion gives cause for scandal to our Protestant brethren. "If all those flaky Catholics can go to Catholic communion, then why can't I?" The question is pretty legitimate. It would be easier to explain our doctrine about reception of the Eucharist if we as a community lived it out better ourselves.
If, at communion time, a significant number of Catholics-in-the-pew refrained from communion, as used to be the case, guests in our community would probably not feel so left out in the cold. For now, a good second best is probably to encourage friends that come with us to Mass to go up to receive a blessing - arms folded across chest, head bowed, mouth closed. And of course, there is the old multiknife of solutions - prayer.

I think there really is a reason, though, that they want our Eucharist. As previously noted, they have been starved by their own denominations from the spiritual blessing of reenacting the Lord's Supper. But there's more. Because we have priests successively ordained from generation to generation back to the apostles and our Lord himself, we offer the sacrifice that He taught us, and in that we sacrifice have Him for Whom we were made, in what merely appears to be bread and wine. We haven't just got mere symbols, or memorials, or spiritual presences. We have Him. He's attracted such a magnetic relationship upon the world for two thousand years so that one must, after reflection, either love Him or hate Him. Our hearts were made for Him, and as He predicted, the more Holy Church lifts Him up, the more He draws all men to himself (Jn 12:32).

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