How do I discourage my non-Catholic mother-in-law from receiving Communion?

My non-Catholic in-laws live out of state but frequently visit for the major holidays. I am Catholic, and my husband, children, and I attend Catholic Mass. While my husband and father-in-law respect that non-Catholics should not receive Communion, my mother-in-law insists on receiving Communion. (It’s not a matter of being ignorant – she knows it is inappropriate behavior, as it has been explained to her by her sister, her best friend, and me.) I feel it is disrespectful of me, as well as the Church, but don’t know what to do, as I obviously can’t control her actions. I also do not know how to explain this to my children.

Your mother-in-law is a grown woman who is responsible for her own actions. She is also your husband’s mother and your children’s grandmother, and, as such, is worthy of your respect. This means that you should not criticize her in front of or to your children. If your children ask why Grandma is receiving Communion when she shouldn’t be doing so, you could tell them privately:

Yes, you are correct that Grandma shouldn’t receive Communion at this time. Sometimes adults do things they know they shouldn’t. Because Grandma is our elder and must be treated respectfully, it is not our place to correct her. Let’s pray to Jesus that, when he visits her in Communion, he will convince her to do what is right.

Other than explaining this to your children should the matter come up, I recommend letting go of this and fighting the temptation to take this choice by your mother-in-law as a personal insult to you. Your mother-in-law has been informed of the Church’s teaching on this and refuses to respect it. Continuing to badger her over it may only harden her further.

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