Can you help me with this Eucharist dilemma?

My boyfriend is not catholic but considers himself ‘spiritual’ and often accompanies me to mass. He teaches in a catholic highschool and is familiar with the format of our service and knows when to respond, stand, kneel, etc. So I’m quite comfortable at mass with him and I think he is comfortable as well. However, the first time he came to mass, several months ago, i asked hiim if he would like to receive a blessing during communion (ie, cross his arms over his chest so the priest knows he is not a catholic and blesses him instead of giving the host out). He looked at me a little uncomfortable, but did it. Later that afternoon, he very gently pointed out that he has partaken in the Eucharist before and thinks it’s a good thing to do and found it a little strange that I told him to cross his chest and not take it. My first (dumbfounded) response was “but you’re not catholic…” But he said he didn’t think it mattered: what mattered was it was that the host had been blessed and receiving it was receiving a blessing. I began to “But…but…” to say what he had been doing was wrong and he should stop, but I kept my mouth shut on the matter, intending to ponder the dilemma, which is this:

I want to encourage my boyfriend to attend mass - I want him to understand this is a very important part of who I am - and I want him to be catholic too some day! That’s my biggest hope in the world. He’s right that receiving the host is receiving a blessing… but if I tell him (essentially) “you can’t have that blessing, it’s just for me and other catholics”, he would, quite rightly, point out that since God’s love is for everyone, and if Jesus died he died for everyone, then why should he (my boyfriend) be excluded when he actually believes it’s something good.

Am I wrong to think he shouldn’t take the host? If so, GREAT! Then I don’t have to worry about this anymore. I’d rather he be included in the mass than excluded, and that he enjoy what part of the mass he can without feeling like he’s doing something wrong. But… I can’t help but feel that, knowing the host is the body of christ (or believing that - I don’t think my boyfriend actually believes that it is - he just sees it as “the body of christ”)… should he be receiving it if he isn’t a catholic?

And, if that’s the case, how on earth do I explain this to him without making it a big deal?



I don’t see a dilemma here. You simply need to tell him the truth. Not every Catholic is allowed to receive the body of Christ. They must fast for an hour beforehand and they must be free of all mortal sin. If they are not, they must go to Confession first. He is welcome to receive Holy Communion if he believes as we do and becomes a Catholic. We are not refusing to give him some refreshments. We believe that this is truly the body and blood of Christ. St. Paul says that “anyone who eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be behaving unworthily towards the body and blood of the Lord.” (1 Cor 11: 27) We take this seriously. We are answerable to the Lord about this.

This is why the Catholic Church only gives the Eucharist to those who have prepared themselves for it. He needs to believe and be a Catholic to be prepared.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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