Communion in Protestant Church


#1

Hi all,

I need some advice. I am a Catholic convert (fairly recent, two years ago). My mother has become increasingly anti-Catholic starting during my discernment and continuing until today. I was raised in a Protestant Church, but my parents recently fell away from that denomination and started their own non-denominational church.

When I’m home (which isn’t all that often), going to church on Sundays has become a point of contention. I usually go to mass on Saturday, or in the very early morning or evening on Sunday so as not to interfere too much with family time, and also go with my parents as a sign of respect for them. In the former church, I was fortunate that communion was only offered one Sunday of the month and I missed it every time I visited after my confirmation. However, with this new church, communion is offered every week according to each person’s comfort level (i.e., if you’d rather not receive for whatever reason, you don’t have to). Since I’m essentially the pastor’s daughter, it causes a great deal of scandal for me not to at least go in the communion line, both within my family–my mother will send me extremely vitriolic emails/phone calls/messages for weeks afterward and arrange interventions to get me out of my “cult”–and within the church community.

I have no idea what the best way to handle this is. I essentially think of the communion in my parents’ church as nothing in any way sacramental and use it as an opportunity to pray for Christian unity. Obviously I’d rather not receive, but I know how much pain it causes my parents to know that I reject their beliefs and that it can, and has, led them into sin.


#2

If your parents, especially your mother, are so upset about you not receiving communion in their church, don’t go to their church when visiting them. The only real scandal would be for you to receive communion there for it would be a grave sin.

Your mother’s embarrassment is her problem, not yours. If no one is pressured to receive against his wishes in their church why should you be pressured into it? Merely for the sake of show? Because your father is the pastor? That’s your mother’s expectations speaking there–something you are not responsible for. It’s her failing in charity not yours, dear one.

You may want to curtail visits to your family, especially over weekends, unless and until they are willing to respect your faith as you respect theirs. As an adult you are not obligated to bow to their wishes no matter how it makes them feel. Some of your mother’s fears are legitimate, such as fearing you are in a cult. You know you aren’t, but she is convinced you are. When she is ready to listen you can answer any legitimate questions she may have. But sending you vitrolic emails is a sign of emotion not reason. It might be painful in the short term to avoid seeing your parents but you have to set boundaries with them. If they won’t do that, then you have to do it anyway by not seeing them until they will.


#3

Wow, seems like my situation (having to go to Mass Saturday or Sunday morning) but even worse than I am. My prayers go out to you, for family stability.

I would recommend NOT take communion ever at any other church. Even if you think it’s a piece of bread (which many protestants do anyways) that does not change the fact that it is not communion of our True Lord Jesus Christ. There’s no going about this. Do not take communion. The true heavenly bread should not be consumed in light of other “communion” ordinary bread, even if you know the difference.

Even if it’s a point of contention, you should try to explain to your mother how taking communion in that church is against your conscience, and that you are just trying to follow God and what you believe in.
I know it’s hard, and I recommend you reflect on the life that Saint Francis of Assisi had with his parents early in his life. Reflect on it and hopefully it can give you strength as you persevere through this obstacle.

And welcome home :slight_smile:


#4

I am praying for you as I have a similar problem and understand some of the pain you are experiencing through this. The advice from Della and others is correct. Do not receive when you go there. Doing so brings scandal to you and to the Church, even to both Churches. Communion means togetherness…not taking in your fathers church is taking a (very difficult) stance for what you believe is right and true. I understand that in the immediate short term this causes much pain, but it is the best thing you can do for your soul.

Peace in Christ


#5

Difficult situation, but even so receiving would essentially be lying about God in order to please your parents, among other things, and would be bad. Pastor’s daughter or not, reducing what Christ instituted at the last supper to a something meant to make anyone who isn’t paying close attention think that you believe other than you do is not a good idea.

It sounds like your parents, or at least your mother, are not respecting your religion, and that you may just need to be more firm. I would suggest either flat out refusing to attend their church, or directly telling them that out of respect for them you will attend, but only if they respect you in turn and stop badgering you about violating your beliefs.

There are those who will say that you shouldn’t attend at all regardless, and while I’m not entirely sure they are right, I’m not entirely sure they are wrong either - in any case and whether you continue to attend or not, you should make it absolutely clear to your parents that you cannot violate what you believe just so that they will look better to their congregation. Given what Jesus had to say about people who pray to be seen, I do not think He’d be overly fond of the idea of people forcing their daughter to pray (and pray falsely) in order that she be seen.

Further, you are not causing your parents to sin, your parents are causing themselves to sin because they do not yet respect your beliefs. Participating in their communion service wouldn’t address the root of the problem, and even if it made everything completely calm and peaceful around your house, that would be doing evil so that good may come of it, which is not to be done.

None of which makes the current situation easier to bear. But with any luck, some firmness on your part will lead your parents to respect you and your beliefs in time. If you give in now, they are likely to just take what you believe even less seriously.


#6

Just another thought, if you give into them on this now, they will think they have a foot in the door and will be able to force you out of the Church and back to theirs. You have to make it clear that you are not going to do what they want when it will violate the very core of your beliefs. If they can’t/won’t accept that, you’ll have to avoid them until they do. It’s the only thing that really works. Either they’ll stop badering you or they will disown you. Even if they disown you there’s still time while you’re all alive to reconcile with them on your terms, yours being the reasonable and right position on both theological and charitable grounds. For they do not have the right to run your life merely because they are your parents. They need to understand that now or they may never “get it.” Of course, you don’t want to tell them these things disrespectfully or uncharitably, but you need to be firm and unmoving on this issue because truth matters. As ministers of the Gospel they should understand that. Naturallly, you must pray for them and for the situation. Go to Mary. She will protect and guide you with a mother’s care.


#7

My understanding is that taking Protestant Communion is a mortal sin for a Catholic. So that is not an option. My advice if your parents are getting emotionally abusive about you not taking their Communion that you should not attend the services.

Yes, that will make them angry but you need to set up a boundary. There is no need for “scandal” if you simply don’t attend. You might need to stop seeing them on the weekends.

I have issues with my elderly mother the Baptist but I made it clear if I was going to drive her to her church I wasn’t attending. I will only attend with her on Christmas and Easter if I am available. I told her if she wanted to go those were the conditions.

If your parents really want to see you they will accept that you will not being attending their service.:dts: Good luck.


#8

I agree with the others. If it makes mom that angry then stop going to the non-Catholic Church.

-Tim-


#9

Would it be possible for you to approach the altar for a blessing and not take communion?

I will pray for you and your family.


#10

I’m not the OP, but I’ll answer all the same. There is no altar in non-denominational churches. Communion is either passed around or people go up to take a cracker out of a dish and take a very small glass of grape juice. The only purpose of going up with the others at her parents’ church would be to take communion. It’s not like Catholic reception of the Eucharist in which some people go up with arms crossed over their chests to receive a blessing (not endorsing this just making a comparison). The best thing for the OP to do is to not go at all since her mother expects her to receive even if she doesn’t want to and doesn’t have to–just to make a good show before her father, the pastor’s, congregation. A very bad reason for violating her Catholic beliefs and committing a grave sin, besides.


#11

Theology and people’s attitudes makes communion difficult between the Catholic and some of the Protestant denominations. I say some because many Protestant denominations welcome Catholics to come to the table as brothers and sisters in Christ and not because they share the same belief in the meaning of the communion.

In your case, your mother obviously has issues with the Catholic church. I don’t know if you have, but have you considered going out for coffee and talking out some of the hostility she has. Sometimes as children, we have to take the high ground which means you have to extend the olive branch.

Furthermore in order to create some peace, have you considered simply taking the grape juice instead? Christ calls us to celebrate his love and one of the ways you can do it (putting theology aside) is to compromise with the grape juice or whatever other juice you have. That way you are showing your family respect but at the same time, you are also being true to the Eucharist as well.

In addition, have you considered talking about your commonalities instead of differences? Since you were coming from a Christian background before joining the Catholic Church, there are quite a few things that already present in both denominations.

Such as:

[LIST]
*]The Holy Trinity
*]The belief of having a relationship with God
*]Jesus’s virgin birth, death and resurrection
*]The charistmatic gifts which are present in both churches
*]the importance of prayer, discernment, reading the bible, helping the poor. sick etc.
*]The New Testament and the Torah part of the Old Testament is the same for both.
[/LIST]
I could go on, but I am wondering if you can somehow focus on your commonalities if that will help to create some peace inside your family.

I am working on a research paper on Catholic and Pentecostal dialogue therefore if you need some help, please send me a line.

I hope this helps,

SG


#12

This is not good advice. Catholics are not permitted to actively participate in Protestant services, and simply taking the grape juice is still participating in the service. If one must attend a Protestant service (which is still highly frowned upon due to the potential of scandal or loss of faith), then one must sit as an observer and not participate, under pain of grave sin.

As a convert from Evangelical Protestantism myself, I know the difficulty in handling these situations. No one in my family approved of my conversion to Catholicism, and they were very disappointed that I joined what they believed to be a man-made religion. However, I still manage to stay on very good terms with my family, and they know and respect that I cannot participate in their services.


#13

What a sad story! You need to set limits with your parents. If they cannot behave, you will not be able to visit their “church.” If you don’t set limits now, when will you? As you have probably realized, your parents are the ones running the “cult.” Pray for them daily.


#14

Canon 844 provides a general prohibition for Catholics regarding communion in other churches. However, canon 844 includes an exception to the rule “whenever necessity requires or general spiritual advantage suggests, and provided that the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided.”

The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism said that, as a general rule, common worship and eucharistic and other sacramental sharing should “signify the unity of the church.” But it acknowledges that such sharing can also be seen as advancing unity. In fact, according to the decree, “the gaining of a needed grace sometimes commends” it.

If you are praying for unity, then accepting communion at your mother’s church might be ok under the unity banner, provided you are aware of the theological difference, and thus avoid “the danger of error or indifferentism.” Christ offers us grace, and requires that we show grace to others. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Should we not extend that grace to others, even though they are yet sinners?


#15

The problem with the OP doing this is that her parents, especially her mother it seems, will think that it is a sign that her daughter is “giving in” and isn’t sincere about her Catholic faith. There is no effort on the parents’ part to be “ecumenical” here. Rather, they are trying to force their daughter, through intimidation and emotional blackmail, into doing what would violate her faith and her conscience.

And no, dear SecretGarden, she cannot take the grape juice or the cracker. I just wanted to add my voice to that proscription. She can join in prayer and sing songs, listen to a sermon, but, under the circumstances, she cannot take their communion in any way at all.


#16

This does not in any way apply to the Original Poster. The Catholic Church recognizes Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, PNCC, Assyrian Churches and a few others as real Churches. The OP’s mother’s communities is not a Church, it is a ‘faith group’ without Sacraments or valid priesthood. A Catholic can never recieve pseudo-communion at these communities.


#17

It is a mortal sin for a Catholic to receive communion in a non-Catholic church or faith group. Stop doing that and go to Confession.

You may want to try to arrange to talk with a priest about this outside of confession, for direction and advice on how to best handle the situation in light of church teachings, but my advice would be to tell your parents that you will not take be recieving communion in their church again because you are not “in communion” with it (funny how some seem to insist on it, but the last Protestant church I was a member of actually did not allow even other Christians to receive communion if they were not a member of a similar church or in agreement with our statement of faith).

I was in a similar, but less serious, situation with my own parents. My dad is a deacon and “teaching elder” of a church with a very anti-Catholic bias. He literally disowned me, wrote me out of the will, and refused to speak to me for a long time after my conversion, but evenutaly came around be cause of my mother and her desire to see her grandson. It hurt my very badly, and the recjection at that level still hurts, because we were very close and I looked up to him so much, wanted to be like him, and for a long time thought he could do no wrong.

When I visit at Christmas or Easter, I attend certain events at their church, but I do not receive communion - he was very upset at first, but I explained tht I would be lying if I did so and claimed to be in agreement with everything their church believed, in especially in what it taguht about communion. I also go to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days when I visit, including Christmas/Christmas Eve and still try to attend daily Mass there when it doesn’t interfere with events they have planned. I think that had made more of an impression than anything, because they know it’s not up for discussion, but it’s taken a while to get there.


#18

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