A Protestant at Catholic Communion


#1

I am a Protestant who finds myself attending Catholic Mass a few times per year. Most of the time I receive communion, which I know is against the rules of the Catholic Church. My question is this, is it a sin for me to break the rules of men so that I can follow the teachings Christ?

Area Man


#2

Since you are asking this, it is troubling your conscience, and it must be a sin for you.

When you improperly receive communion, you are not just breaking the rules of men. Jesus told his apolstles, “whoever listens to you, listens to me.” The apostles and their successor bishops are speaking for Christ when they make the church’s rules, and it is God’s rule that you are breaking.

Why not speak to a priest and find out what you need to do to be in full communion with the church?


#3

The following has been taken from the book “Pastoral Answers” by M. Francis Mannion and published by Our Sunday Visitor.

“The Catholic view of Communion is that in the Eucharist we don’t only receive Christ in a personal way. We are also expressing and deepening our commitment to the living Body of Christ, his Church on earth. To receive Communion in the Catholic Church is affirm publicly all that the Catholic Church belies, teaches and does. When we walk to the altar of the Lord in a Catholic Church, we are expressing belief in the Catholic doctrine of the real presence of Christ, in Catholic teaching about the authoritative role of the papacy and the episcopacy , in the Catholic moral tradition - in short, in the whole of Catholicism.”


#4

[quote=Area Man]I am a Protestant who finds myself attending Catholic Mass a few times per year. Most of the time I receive communion, which I know is against the rules of the Catholic Church. My question is this, is it a sin for me to break the rules of men so that I can follow the teachings Christ?

Area Man
[/quote]

The rules of men? Well, if the “man” you’re referring to is St Paul the Apostle, well yeah, you are breaking this “man’s” rule

1Cor 11:27-29
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.

PS
Many Protestants also has closed communion (Presbyterian, Lutheran, some baptist)


#5

The Pope gave communion to Tony Blair (not a Catholic) for pastoral reasons. I think we should not judge those who profess what the church believes regarding the real presence of the Eucharist, and we should instead worry about our own potentially unworthy communions. There is real grace bestowed upon a believer when he or she recieves the Eucharist, and I don’t think it is our place to refuse anyone a seat at Christ’s table.


#6

[quote=beng]1Cor 11:27-29
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.

PS
Many Protestants also has closed communion (Presbyterian, Lutheran, some baptist)
[/quote]

More from 1Cor 11
Vs. 1-10

1 Corinthians 11

1Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

*Propriety in Worship *

2I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.
3Now I want you to realize that** the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man**, and the head of Christ is God. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head–it is just as though her head were shaved. 6If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 7A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.

1 Corinthians 14

34As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.

Now I’m more confused. How does one know which parts of 1 Corinthians still apply and which parts we can ignore?

In the Presbyterian Church USA, Holy Communion is open to all Christians.


#7

[quote=Area Man]More from 1Cor 11
Vs. 1-10

1 Corinthians 11

1Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

*Propriety in Worship *

2I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.
3Now I want you to realize that** the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man**, and the head of Christ is God. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head–it is just as though her head were shaved. 6If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 7A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.

1 Corinthians 14

34As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.

Now I’m more confused. How does one know which parts of 1 Corinthians still apply and which parts we can ignore?
[/quote]

That is a discipline. The Church can change it.

In the Presbyterian Church USA, Holy Communion is open to all Christians.

Really? I thought they were the ones that have closed communion. Oh well.


#8

The reception of Holy Communion is governed by canon 844 of the Code of Canon Law. That canon has several subsections.

The first deals with Catholics, the second with Eastern Orthodox, and the third with Protestants (although the term “Protestants” is not used–and never is in official Catholic documents).

Although canon 844 does provide an extremely narrow exception for the reception of Communion by Protestants, I never have heard of a real case that falls under the exception. It is fair to say, then, that it is a near-certainty that your own case does not qualify.


#9

[quote=beng]Really? I thought they were the ones that have closed communion. Oh well.
[/quote]

I can speak only for the Presbyterian Church USA

From the Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church USA

Section W-2.4001

“a. The invitation to the Lord’s Supper is extended to all who have been baptized, remembering that access to the Table is not a right conferred upon the worthy, but a privilege given to the undeserving who come in faith, repentance, and love. In preparing to receive Christ in this Sacrament, the believer is to confess sin and brokenness, to seek reconciliation with God and neighbor, and to trust in Jesus Christ for cleansing and renewal. Even one who doubts or whose trust is wavering may come to the Table in order to be assured of God’s love and grace in Christ Jesus.”

I hope this helps everyone understand my frame of reference for my question. Coming from a tradition that is so welcoming to those outside our tradition, it is hard to understand why another denomination of Christians (Catholics or any other denomination with closed communion) would not want to invite their brothers and sisters in Christ to join them at the table of our Lord.

Communion should be an opportunity for all followers of Christ to come together and celebrate that what which unites us, and not an opportunity to dwell on those areas where we disagree.


#10

[quote=Karl Keating]The reception of Holy Communion is governed by canon 844 of the Code of Canon Law. That canon has several subsections.

The first deals with Catholics, the second with Eastern Orthodox, and the third with Protestants (although the term “Protestants” is not used–and never is in official Catholic documents).

Although canon 844 does provide an extremely narrow exception for the reception of Communion by Protestants,** I never have heard of a real case that falls under the exception**. It is fair to say, then, that it is a near-certainty that your own case does not qualify.
[/quote]

Emphasis mine

What about Tony Blair? Do you think that the Pope did not give him communion?

Maybe this issue is not black and white. I think there is real danger in trying to be more orthodox than the Pope.


#11

I hope this helps everyone understand my frame of reference for my question. Coming from a tradition that is so welcoming to those outside our tradition, it is hard to understand why another denomination of Christians (Catholics or any other denomination with closed communion) would not want to invite their brothers and sisters in Christ to join them at the table of our Lord.

First, the catholic church is not a denomination! It is the original church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ. And what we have for communion in the catholic church is not the same as what you have in the Presbyterian Church. We have the actual body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.


#12

AreaMan, after reading your posted responses to our answers regarding who should, and should not, receive the Eucharist, I have come to the conclusion that your reception is an attempt to equate the Eucharist with the practices of ‘communion’ in other Christian churches. While it is true that there is a spirit of ecumenism in the Catholic Church today, this does not allow us to share the Holy Sacrifice with those that do not believe in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It is my hope that you will refrain from taking the Eucharist in the future until that time you are in full “communion” with the Church. Please refer to my prior post. Continuation of your actions is not only insulting and disrespectful to Catholics; it could place your soul in jeopardy.

Are you honestly curious about Catholic Communion? Perhaps your initial post was an attempt to rile-up the Catholics. Please let us in on the secret.

I honestly pray for you. I hope that one day you will receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist as a Catholic.

God Bless you.


#13

Because, as Catholics, we believe the Holy Eucharist is truly Jesus – body, blood, soul and divinity, receiving Him in Holy Communion is a very intimate act.

Just as we believe the marital act to be very intimate, and one that should only be consummated after careful thought, counsel, and a public proclamation of love and devotion in the Sacrament of Marriage before the congregation; Jesus should also only be received once the sacrament is understood (after study and instruction); and One’s First Communion is also received during a public proclamation of love and understanding of this sacrament before the congregation.


#14

If you do believe in the Real Presence, then you ought to seriously consider joining the Catholic Faith. The mere fact that you do come and unite your soul with ours on Sundays, does mean that you have some love for our Church, or you would not be there. I welcome you to join with us. There are millions of Catholics at this moment for many reasons who cannot receive Our Lord, but are waiting anxiously for the day they can come back to our table. It is no light matter, receiving Communion. We as cradle Catholics know the gravity of receiving Our Lord. It is the most precious possession we own. And we have lived our lives within the rules of our Church, and some are not easy. But they were all instituted in a fashion as to not doing any harm to Our Lord when he is present during the Mass.

That is why we want you to know all there is to know before receiving Him. And Jesus wants the same for you.


#15

[quote=iguana27]Emphasis mine

What about Tony Blair? Do you think that the Pope did not give him communion?

Maybe this issue is not black and white. I think there is real danger in trying to be more orthodox than the Pope.
[/quote]

The news story was never verified (at least to my knowledge). The Vatican and Blair’s camp have never officially replied…I don’t think. I do know that the word is that Tony Blair is in the process of converting to Catholicism.

The story stated that Vatican’s Secretariat of State granted a special dispensation for Mr Blair to receive communion.

and that

"The dispensation would be in accordance with guidelines laid down by the bishops of England and Wales, Ireland and Scotland in the teaching document on the Eucharist, One Bread One Body. The document stated that non-Catholics may receive communion if they fulfil four conditions: they must be properly disposed, believe in the Real Presence, greatly desire to receive the sacrament and be unable to receive the Eucharist in their own church.

The bishops said non-Catholics could request to receive holy communion “on a unique occasion for joy or for sorrow in the life of a family”.

At the launch of One Bread One Body in 1998, the late Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Basil Hume, revealed that he had written to Mr Blair asking him not to receive communion in Catholic churches in Britain. However he said Mr Blair was entitled to receive communion while on holiday in Italy earlier that year.

He said: “It was OK in Tuscany because he couldn’t get to his own church. He had spiritual need. He believes what we believe. So he responded entirely to Catholic teaching.”

But Anglicans questioned whether the dispensation was just. The Revd Jonathan Boardman, chaplain of All Saints’ Anglican church in Rome said: “The granting of dispensations becomes highly charged to those of us to whom they are not granted.”


#16

[quote=Area Man]Communion should be an opportunity for all followers of Christ to come together and celebrate that what which unites us, and not an opportunity to dwell on those areas where we disagree.
[/quote]

since the Catholic Church believes that the Bread and Wine ACTUALLY BECOME the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and when the Priest holds up the “host” and hands each person the Body and Blood of our Lord and says “The Body of Christ” and “The Blood of Christ”, and the recipient says “AMEN”, then doesn’t the recepient say “YES IT IS SO!” (i.e. The Bread and Wine ARE INDEED OUR LORD in THE FLESH" - John 6:53-57) by saying AMEN.

SO, if a non-Catholic comes to communion in the Catholic Church and receive communion because they feel that ALL should be welcome despite their own personal belief, would this NOT be profaning the Body and Blood of our Lord IF they say “AMEN” yet they really DON’T believe what it REALLY IS (i.e. our Lord PRESENT … Body, Blood, Soul, and DIVINITY). Isn’t THIS what Paul is warning us about in 1 Cor when he says …** “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Cor 11:27–28). ** …Paul was very direct in this statement…how does one “profane” a “symbol”? Paul speaks of profaning the Body and Blood of OUR LORD, truly Present.

I believe that a person who is honestly seeking Truth would conform their views to the view of the Church instead of the other way around. For we’re told that Christ is leading His Body, the Church, and that His Church is ONE and UNITED. that they may be one, even as we are one. John 17:11 (RSV) … how can one person receive communion (the Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity of our Lord) and BELIEVE that it is Him, our Lord, and OTHERS receieve communion and say to themselves … AMEN, yet it’s only a SYMBOL. I don’t believe that one person should, for their own sake (1 Cor 11:30) receive the Body and Blood of our Lord in the Eucharist and say “AMEN” knowing that they REALLY believe it is ONLY a symbol of our Lord. It cannot be both a SYMBOL AND THE REAL PRESENCE. I believe as the Church has taught for 2000 years, and I, a convert to Catholicism at age 37 (7 years ago) trust that Christ cannot lie…and would not be deceiving His Church for 2000 years of this central belief. Blessings.


#17

This issue really isn’t that complex. The nature of the term protestant is to protest, hence the nature of a protestant is to protest the Catholic Church. In protesting the church, a protestant is also protesting the Eucharist, which is the heart of the church. From a logistical standpoint, it makes no sense for a protestant to recieve the Eucharist.
But Jesus wants everyone to be one. Well, this is all too true. The only problem is that we aren’t the ones that left the Eucharist. If a protestant should desire to recieve the Eucharist, then he/she should return to holy mother church, whom they are protesting.
What about people who don’t believe? It makes even more sense for a non-believer to recieve the Eucharist. Sometimes the case of a protestant is the same of a non-believer: neither profess that the Eucharist is Jesus’ Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. This makes it even more necessary to safeguard the Eucharist.
Many American churches promote people of different faith traditions to approach the Eucharist with arms crossed in order to recieve a blessing. I’m not sure whether or not that tradition goes beyond the United States, but it seems very appropriate.
As far as the pope giving communion to Tony Blaire goes, that is his perogitive as Bishop of Rome. It was not, however, an infallible statement, hence he could have erred in giving communion to Brittain’s Prime Minister.
Hope this helps. Forgive me if I repeated anything, as I have not yet read all of the responses.
God Bless!

Mik


#18

[quote=MaryLynne] I believe that a person who is honestly seeking Truth would conform their views to the view of the Church instead of the other way around.

[/quote]


#19

[quote=Area Man]I am a Protestant who finds myself attending Catholic Mass a few times per year. Most of the time I receive communion, which I know is against the rules of the Catholic Church. My question is this, is it a sin for me to break the rules of men so that I can follow the teachings Christ?

Area Man
[/quote]


#20

Dear Area Man,
Why do you want communion in a church with which you disagree and don’t accept it’s teachings? I don’t understand that. Why not go have communion at a church which has open communion? Why insist on having communion in the Catholic Church, which forbids it to non-Catholics?

It seems disrespectful to me, to tell you the truth. It would be like going into someone else’s house and putting your muddy feet on their couch. When they tell you that it’s not allowed in their house, you just keep doing it. After all, you do it at your house, why shouldn’t you also do it at their house? They shouldn’t be so uptite about their couch, after all. They really are so inhospitable!
Sincerely, WhiteDove


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