Divorced Mother Taking Communion/Wine

Hi all.

I’ve been a Eucharistic minister at my parish for the past two years and right now I feel a little confused. I’m in my mid-forties and my mother (in her sixties) and step-father came to my church and will stop over my house later for brunch. She and my father divorced when I was thirteen. She regularly takes communion, which irks me, but I have never said anything to anyone about it. My mother-in-law, also a woman with divorce in her past, attends church weekly but abstains from receiving communion for that specific reason.

I was not scheduled to serve today but they were shorthanded and I was asked to sub. I agreed with a heavy heart because – what if I was assigned to give out the Body of Christ and my mother came to me? It was all I could think about during the lead-up to communion.

It turns out I was given the Blood of Christ, and, yes, my mother and step-father did come to me. I performed my duties as I would to any stranger in line, offering the cup to them as I would any other.

But I still feel a bit odd. Is this a sign, perhaps, to forgive her for what she did all those years ago, seeing how it is Mother’s Day and I was asked to substitute as a minister when I wasn’t scheduled? I normally don’t see her on a day-to-day basis but we have an okay relationship, though that divorce is still a sore spot in my heart.

Any thoughts? Would you have done anything different?

If your mother is married in the Church there is no reason to refrain from the Eucharist. Same for your mother-in-law, or in her case, if she is divorced but not remarried there is no reason for her to refrain from the Eucharist.

If the situation includes “re-marriage” without a decree of nullity, outside the Church, then you should gently point her to her priest and this document.

If they attend Mass with you in the future, remind them before Mass and ask that if they refuse to respect the Church’s teaching on the matter that they not approach you for the Eucharist if you are EHMC.

You have a responsibility to make your position known. You cannot police them and you cannot force them to do the right thing.

But at Mass, or on Mother’s Day, is not the time to have this discussion. Have it at a time when you can approach the subject calmly and without undue pressure surrounding Mass attendance.

As to you second question about this being a “sign” regarding forgiveness… God would not use abuse of the sacrament as a “sign.”

Do you need to forgive your mother for past transgressions and honor her as far as you are able? Yes.

Does her insistence on receiving the Holy Eucharist in a state of serious sin consistute a sign? No, I don’t think so.

No, I would not have done anything differently. It is not your responsibility to correct your mother, although you can pray that she would come to an understanding about her standing for the Eucharist…IF there ever comes a time when you can discuss the divorce and remarriage without either of you getting emotional, you might ask her if she got a decree of nullity. But in the end, it’s not your problem. Pray.

Yes, you should forgive her. Yes, your parents’ divorce can still hurt even many years later.

Divorce does not prevent people from receiving Communion–it’s re-marriage makes the matter complicated. If you mother and step-father are not married in the Church, then perhaps they should not receive Communion; HOWEVER, sometimes couples who have entered into complicated situations like that decide later to live “as brother and sister” instead of living as “man and wife” in terms of sexuality. That’s a very awkward discussion to have with your own mother, (Mother’s day or any day!) It’s a matter for your mom and step-father to discuss with a good priest in Confession. If they have been to Confession, it’s possible that they have worked out these matters privately and that they are not sharing with you details about their sex life or lack-of-sex life.

I think you did fine. Say a special prayer for you Mother on Mother’s Day and assume the best. But re-marriage following divorce is a serious matter. It might be helpful for you to speak to a priest about your concerns and if you can manage to do it with great diplomacy, to gently suggest that your mother speak to a priest, if she hasn’t already. The matter deserves prayer and I would suggest that you ask God to help you discern in prayer what (if anything) you should say to your mother about your concern.

hold it right there
unless you are a priest who hears their confession you have no knowledge whatever of the condition of the soul who approaches for communion, whatever you think you know about their private life. No EMHC has the authority or competence to make such a judgment. You assume in Christian charity, with your relatives as with any stranger, that they have made themselves right with the Lord through sacramental confession.

This precise circumstance, a lay communion minister being put in this position, is exactly why I am against the practice of using them at all, because it routinely puts them in the position of communicating individuals who may be giving scandal by approaching.

Or judge her. That divorce was painful for you, but not really your business. No one knows what happens between a husband and wife but they, themselves. Certainly not a child. I hope you’ll ask her to forgive you for holding on to a childish grudge for all these decades. And yes, God can use anything to get a message to us, to get our attention. During the time you were serving, you were most open to receiving the Holy Spirit.

So, go see your mom, tell her what a donkey you’ve been and how much you love her and that you are sorry.


I guess I should have mentioned that my mother remarried without getting her previous marriage annulled. I understand that the problem is the remarriage. Perhaps my mother and stepfather are living chastely – that’s definitely a topic I’m not going to broach :eek:

If I had been given more time or if I was scheduled to be a Eucharistic minister on a rare Sunday when my mother and stepmother were attending, and if it wasn’t Mother’s Day, I would have made them aware not to come to me for communion. But then I would have had to deal with their hurt feelings, real or not, and all that baggage we sometimes get from our parents.

But because it happened all so suddenly under such adverse circumstances … that’s why I’m wondering whether or not I did the right thing.

Yes, I know I cannot judge her nor do I know the state of her soul. That’s why, I guess, I ultimately gave her the Blood.

There seems to be some differences of opinions whether this is a “sign” or not. I understand that God would not use the sacrament in such a way but, as has also been pointed out, I don’t know for sure if my mother is abusing the sacrament.

Thank you all for your thoughts and opinions. Much food for thought for me.

I’m scheduled to serve again in two weeks. I’ll talk to my priest before then to find out what he (and presumably, the Church) thinks on this subject.

From what I understand, in most Diocese’s the policy is that an EMHC is never to judge whether or not a person should receive and should always give Communion except under the explicit and specific orders of a priest not to.

So you did the right thing.

While I would not have done anything different at this point in time I think that you are wrong when you say it is not her responsibility of correcting her mother. As Catholic we have an obligation to correct the sinner, we also have to remember to do it out of love and with love. Your suggestion to check things out is an very good example of doing things out of love and with love. Considering that the poster is an EMHC she also has an obligation to bring up her concern to the pastor and to ask for specific instructions, even if I were to guess that the pastor would say "just offer the Precious Blood’.

If they did not remarry, they did not lose their right to the sacrament for that reason.
If they are still living with someone who they remarried, I suggest asking the parish priest what their policy is. If they priest takes responsibility for deciding, it is out of your hands. He is in charge of the parish. I would think though that as their relative it would be proper to gently speak with them at another time if you think it may serve its purpose, but only if it would serve a purpose.
If not sure why you simply didn’t serve as a server while you were troubled by the chance of giving them communion.

*You’re going to rat out your mother? * Wow, you are still really mad, aren’t you? You never thought of telling her to chose another minister in future should it happen again?

Well, lets get the facts straight. See if I’m correct…

The first marriage was in the Church.

She got divorced, but not annulled.

She re-married, but not in the church?

I believe that without the annulment or death of the previous spouse in the eyes of the Church she is still married to her first husband and NOT married to her 2nd husband.

If she is having marital relations with the 2nd husband then technically she is committing adultery, which of course is a sin…

However. We have to assume as Eucharistic Ministers that a person coming to receive is a Catholic in good standing. As bad of a person that you think someone might be, that person may have very well been to confession the day before. You just never know, so you assume the person knows the rules and pray for them to understand.

Sorry, but what planet do you live on?
You think that its only between a husband and wife when one of them chooses to tear apart the family?
Divorce hurts children, and those who choose divorce needs to realise that. Many children grow up with the feeling that they were the ones that were abandoned, and not just the abandoned parent.
You need to realize that indeed there are many people in the world who do owe their former spouses and children a huge apology and they should ask for forgiveness.

The mother in this case might be more innocent in the whole mess than the child realised at the time, but its also likely he had some clue as to what was going on, and knows alot about it.

From what I understand, in most Diocese's the policy is that an EMHC is never to judge whether or not a person should receive and should always give Communion except under the explicit and specific orders of a priest not to.

AHapka, now that I see it in writing, I recall we were instructed similarly during our 90 minute “training” to be Eucharistic Ministers two years ago. Actually not giving her communion was never really on the table. I’m just trying to figure out why I feel a bit off, like I was enabling a bad habit or something.


Apologies with messing up the Quote thingies …

Apologies FOR messing up the Quote thingies! Man, still too early …

Do you remember when you were confirmed? What were you told about your mission for the Church? What obligations do you have as a Catholic in terms of spiritual works of mercy?

Yes it does and they are certainly seriously affected by it. We know this from personal experience as well as from a lot of studies done in the last few decades.

But the divorce, itself, is none of their business. The divorce is not about them, it’s about the people getting the divorce. It’s not the business of the children that Dad or Mom had a string of lovers and gave the spouse a STD. Or any other things that happened between the parents that brought them to divorce.

To involve the children in the whys and wherefores of a divorce, would be a serious parenting sin. That being said, the children do not have the right or ability to judge the parent, any more than any of us have the right or ability to judge anyone else.

I live, BTW, on a special planet where my parents divorced when I was 13.

Lay people are not Eucharistic Ministers. You cannot confect the Eucharist.

Lay people, who, in extraordinary circumstances are called upon to help with Holy Communion, are called Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

Sorry, I just saw the phrase being used a lot here and as far as I could tell it wasn’t corrected.

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