Info on Catholics and Communion in Protestant Communities


#1

I am sure this has beat to death and I have seen a lot of info on CA on why Catholics do not have open communion. But I would like some links where I can read about why Catholics don’t take communion in Protestant Communities – preferably from CA, I like their style.

Thanking you all in advance,

-B.


#2

No Problem: Who Can Receive Communion?


#3

Thanks, I have read this one, and it’s focus is mostly about Communion withn the Church.

I am looking for good language about why when I visit my Mother-in-law and I go to her church with her that I don’t take communion. I sort of know but when ever I try to explain it, it comes out way wrong sounding.


#4

Communion is an act of union, hence the name.

To accept Communion within the Catholic Church is to publically state that one fully accepts all that the Church teaches.

To accept the Eucharist with any other belief set is to publically lie about what one believes.


#5

[quote=Brendan]Communion is an act of union, hence the name.

To accept Communion within the Catholic Church is to publically state that one fully accepts all that the Church teaches.

To accept the Eucharist with any other belief set is to publically lie about what one believes.
[/quote]

I agree and I am not looking to seem argumentable but …

If the Protestant communion is seen as a symbol, and there is no consecration, then it is merely a symbol (correct me please if I see this wrong). So why don’t I partake of their symbol? Because to do so would symbolize my union with an Ecclesial Community that I am in fact not in union with? That is the reason I think. But when I have tried to vocalize that to my MIL, it sounds very harsh and most non-ecumenical. When I am visiting her home my wife and I go to Mass as well as attend her Church service (Baptist/non-denominational). It is hard for me to explain that I attend her service because as Christians we all should praise God and pray together (ecumenical) yet I don’t take communion because we are in fact not in union with each other.

Does this make sense? Am I explaining my dilemma well?

It seems to me that when I try to explain this I am speaking out of both sides of my mouth. So I need to explain it better, so I need to understand it better. I am so needy today …


#6

Jmj

B, I think you have it pretty much figured out… I tried to “google” a nice sounding explanation, but came up a little short. The idea is though, that a Catholic should not take “communion” at a Protestant church because… they would be publicly saying that they are IN communion with that church. I get that. I have done this before (taken communion at a Protestant service), not knowing or not really caring about what it meant… as I imagine some Protestants do. “Why do we call it ‘communion?’” I heard someone ask at a Protestant bible study I used to participate in. The Pastor said: “I’ve never been asked that before!” At the time, I sort of thought it was a stupid question too (I’m only speculating that their Pastor did as well, based on his reaction and lack of real response.) But, that question is part of what led me to understand why I shouldn’t take communion at a Protestant service! It’s a great question!

I don’t know of a gentle way of saying that, “I cannot take ‘communion’ with you, because it would be a lie – I am not IN communion with you because of your heretical beliefs! :eek: ” I find myself in the same boat fairly often… I go to Protestant services with friends friends and family. Many of them are Baptists or “non-denominational” types, so they hardly ever have “communion” services (which I find very interesting… of all the things our Lord commanded us to do, why carry this command out so infrequently?) – but I run into it all the same.

At one Baptist service (the one I frequent the most), the Pastor always says “You don’t have to be a member of our church to take part; you just have to be a Christian.” (“Open communion” Baptists - obviously) So, when I don’t take part (and just pass the dinner plate of little pieces of bread and shot glasses of grape juice) it’s almost like I’m saying “I’m not a Christian” because of what their Pastor just said! :rolleyes:

In any case, I imagine I will try to be polite if I am ever asked. But, if someone has come up with a good response… I would like to echo b_justb’s request! What’s a nice way of telling a Protestant that taking part in their communion would be a lie for a Catholic? Besides busting out into song… “One bread… One Body… One Lord of all…” (I love that song! :thumbsup: )

“The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
For we, the many, are one bread and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread.” 1Cor 10:16-17 Douay-Rheims Bible

May the Lord be with you!

Jason


#7

But when it’s merely a symbolic representation of the Lord’s Supper with no implied alligences does that still make it wrong? You know, if it’s not saying “You are in union with us” but rather simply a symbolic act merely recalling our Lord’s last meal? If it were to still be prohibited, then I can’t see why a Catholic should be allowed to participate in any aspect of a protestant service. I realize, historically, that…


#8

Jmj

Brian_C, I don’t actually know if it is prohibited for a faithful Catholic to take part in a Protestant “communion.” But, why do Protestants call their “Lord’s Supper” service “communion?” Who or what are they in communion with? You use an example of a service where there are no implied allegiances or union… what kind of service would that be? Even the Baptist services I go to call it “communion” – should they drop the use of the word “communion” and just call it “The Lord’s Supper” to keep their integrity in check then? It’s all very interesting… to be sure!

For Catholics, the Eucharist (Communion) is the most important thing we can participate in! There is no equivalent in Protestantism, so I can see how it would be difficult for a Protestant to relate. I wonder, at the more frequent Baptist service I attend, what would be the “source and summit” part? Is it during the awesome light show when the church band rocks out for several songs up on the stage? The Bible study led by their Pastor (which are actually pretty good… usually 90% or more heresy free!) where we all flip back and forth in our Bibles? Or the part when somebody gets on stage, grabs a microphone, closes their eyes, and “wings” a 15 minute prayer (that are usually very nice for being completely off the cuff!) while the collection baskets go around? Sometimes when I attend a Protestant service they say things like, “It’s so awesome to be here to worship Jesus Christ, who is right here with us!” – I always look around for the tabernacle and wonder: “Where!?” :wink: There is definitely an order to it… not liturgical, but a loose order nonetheless. But, I would have to guess that the high point is at the end of the Pastor’s Bible study when he wraps it up by making his point… sort of like Jerry Springer’s “Final Thought” time at the end of his show. :wink:

If it’s prohibited, I think that it could possibly be because Protestants have lost the true meaning for “communion” and Catholics should be aware of how serious a thing that is. If it’s not, I would (personally) recommend that individual Catholics exercise caution about sending the wrong message… taking communion at a Protestant church could leave Protestants with the wrong impression… like their version of communion is the same or just as “good” as the Church’s.

The Catechism states: “Ecclesial communities derived from the Reformation and separated from the Catholic Church, ‘have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Holy Orders.’ It is for this reason that, for the Catholic Church, Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible.” CCC 1400 Now, that doesn’t say explicitly that Catholics should not participate in Protestant “communion” services… but immediately proceeding this, the Catechism talks about sharing in the Eucharist with the Eastern churches… and that it is “not merely possible but is encouraged.” So, the Church seems to state (rather clearly I think) that under certain circumstances - taking Communion with Orthodox Christians is acceptable… but it gives no such indication that doing so with Protestants is acceptable. I think the silence here may be deafening… but that’s purely speculation! I’m just an un-educated layman!

Protestants can do all kinds of great things in their services! I’ve been to some VERY enthusiastic churches, where the love of our Lord among the people is visually and audibly obvious! They can be a lot of fun! And I have learned a lot from some very knowledgeable Protestant ministers and theologians – no doubt. I’m not sure what you were suggesting about “why a Catholic should be allowed to participate in any aspect of a protestant service” – but, I can tell you this… I have enjoyed the company of and have learned from many Protestants! Our separated brothers and sisters do have some good things to share and teach an individual Catholic! However, it does seem a shame that they “insist upon one thing not commanded by Christ, and neglect most of the things insisted upon by Him.”

May the Lord be with you!

Jason


#9

Actually, when I read this and saw someone calling a protestant service communion, I was confused as well. I was Baptist and never heard it called anything but the Lord’s Supper. What I meant was, if say the magisterium frowned on partaking in a Lord’s Supper where no act of union with the protestant body were implied, then it seem that taking part in any protestant ritual would/should be prohibited. In my church, growing up, we only reenacted the Lord’s Supper perhaps 2-4 times a year. Typically sometime around Easter and Christmas. Then the other times would be randomly spaced through the year. It would be sort of a surprise when you walked into the sanctuary. You’d see the body and blood covered by a cloth on the alter.


#10

Here is how I explained it to my non-Catholic mom. “We have different beliefs regarding Communion. When you have attended Mass with me, you did not recieve and I know that was out of resepct for the difference in beliefs. I do not receive in your church out of the same respect. During your communion service, I will pray that someday our beliefs will be the same.”


#11

[quote=kage_ar]Here is how I explained it to my non-Catholic mom. “We have different beliefs regarding Communion. When you have attended Mass with me, you did not recieve and I know that was out of resepct for the difference in beliefs. I do not receive in your church out of the same respect. During your communion service, I will pray that someday our beliefs will be the same.”
[/quote]

Kage_ar: I like this. I think this is good.

and to Jason: thanks - good posts!


#12

[quote=kage_ar]Here is how I explained it to my non-Catholic mom. “We have different beliefs regarding Communion. When you have attended Mass with me, you did not recieve and I know that was out of resepct for the difference in beliefs. I do not receive in your church out of the same respect. During your communion service, I will pray that someday our beliefs will be the same.”
[/quote]

Great answer! :clapping:


#13

Here’s what His Holiness John Paul the Great said about it in his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia:

  1. The safeguarding and promotion of ecclesial communion is a task of each member of the faithful, who finds in the Eucharist, as the sacrament of the Church’s unity, an area of special concern. More specifically, this task is the particular responsibility of the Church’s Pastors, each according to his rank and ecclesiastical office. For this reason the Church has drawn up norms aimed both at fostering the frequent and fruitful access of the faithful to the Eucharistic table and at determining the objective conditions under which communion may not be given. The care shown in promoting the faithful observance of these norms becomes a practical means of showing love for the Eucharist and for the Church.

43. In considering the Eucharist as the sacrament of ecclesial communion, there is one subject which, due to its importance, must not be overlooked: I am referring to the relationship of the Eucharist to ecumenical activity

[quote].45. While it is never legitimate to concelebrate in the absence of full communion

[/quote]

, the same is not true with respect to the administration of the Eucharist under special circumstances, to individual persons belonging to Churches or Ecclesial Communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church. In this case, in fact, the intention is to meet a grave spiritual need for the eternal salvation of an individual believer, **not to bring about an intercommunion which remains impossible until the visible bonds of ecclesial communion are fully re-established.**These conditions, from which no dispensation can be given, must be carefully respected, even though they deal with specific individual cases, because the denial of one or more truths of the faith regarding these sacraments and, among these, the truth regarding the need of the ministerial priesthood for their validity, renders the person asking improperly disposed to legitimately receiving them. And the opposite is also true: Catholics may not receive communion in those communities which lack a valid sacrament of Orders.98

The faithful observance of the body of norms established in this area 99 is a manifestation and, at the same time, a guarantee of our love for Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, for our brothers and sisters of different Christian confessions – who have a right to our witness to the truth – and for the cause itself of the promotion of unity.
The whole document


#14

So we don’t join in because we don’t accept they are just a symbol?


#15

Church Militant,

This is a great quote - THANKS.

Do you have the “why” behind JP2s, “it is never legitimate to concelebrate in the absence of full communion” ? Canon Law maybe? Or maybe further expination?

.45. While it is never legitimate to concelebrate in the absence of full communion, the same is not true with respect to the administration of the Eucharist under special circumstances, to individual persons belonging to Churches or Ecclesial Communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church. In this case, in fact, the intention is to meet a grave spiritual need for the eternal salvation of an individual believer, not to bring about an intercommunion which remains impossible until the visible bonds of ecclesial communion are fully re-established.


#16

Sorry, I guess I should’ve included the whole section for context.

Our longing for the goal of unity prompts us to turn to the Eucharist, which is the supreme sacrament of the unity of the People of God, in as much as it is the apt expression and the unsurpassable source of that unity.90 In the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice the Church prays that God, the Father of mercies, will grant his children the fullness of the Holy Spirit so that they may become one body and one spirit in Christ.91 In raising this prayer to the Father of lights, from whom comes every good endowment and every perfect gift (cf. Jas 1:17), the Church believes that she will be heard, for she prays in union with Christ her Head and Spouse, who takes up this plea of his Bride and joins it to that of his own redemptive sacrifice.

  1. **Precisely because the Church’s unity, which the Eucharist brings about through the Lord’s sacrifice and by communion in his body and blood, absolutely requires full communion in the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments and ecclesiastical governance, it is not possible to celebrate together the same Eucharistic liturgy until those bonds are fully re-established. Any such concelebration would not be a valid means, **

and might well prove instead to be an obstacle, to the attainment of full communion, by weakening the sense of how far we remain from this goal and by introducing or exacerbating ambiguities with regard to one or another truth of the faith. **The path towards full unity can only be undertaken in truth. In this area, the prohibitions of Church law leave no room for uncertainty,92 in fidelity to the moral norm laid down by the Second Vatican Council.93 **

I would like nonetheless to reaffirm what I said in my Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint after having acknowledged the impossibility of Eucharistic sharing: “And yet we do have a burning desire to join in celebrating the one Eucharist of the Lord, and this desire itself is already a common prayer of praise, a single supplication. Together we speak to the Father and increasingly we do so ‘with one heart’”.94

We all need to be well read on this Encyclical. I found it very very informative. So I highly recommend it concerning the Eucharist, and Ut unum sint (That They May Be One) , which speaks to the issue of ecumenism.

The point of it all is that “communion” by it’s very name implies union of belief. The problem is that the truth of the Catholic faith is the Real Presence in the accidents of the Eucharist. Non-Catholics do not share a valid priesthood via apostolic succession, therefore regardless of what they profess, that is the unavoidable fact. Even those few who profess to agree with us concerning the Real Presence, yet maintain their position outside the church, (Which makes no sense at all to me…If it’s real and Catholicism has it then why remain where they are?) still are just that “outside the Catholic Church” and hence by their own decision remain so. That is what stops the communion cold, right there.

His Holiness is much more eloquent at expressing all this than I am, and with so many Catholics supposedly not understanding the Real Presence or professing belief in it, I heavily recommend a careful reading and study of both these documents. I intend to study “That They May Be One” myself in the next few days. I urge any of the rest of us to do likewise since this issue has come up.
Pax vobiscum,


#17

CM -

Good job and thanks muchly !

-B.


#18

I thought I understood that encyclical yet I still don’t understand how that would prevent a Catholic (I am playing devil’s advocate here) from participating in a protestant celebration if the protestant faith in question does not believe in either real presence or that the celebration requires or implies union with the faith and submission to its own belief.

I came from a similar protestant background (no-I have no desire to have this apply personally) and I never, ever heard the term “communion” applied to what we celebrated. In that church, it was only required you be baptized. No alligence to the particular tenents of our church was required. No “communion” was implied. It was a purely symbolic representation in their eyes. Which…uh…makes me wonder why they even required baptism. This is the situation I speak of.

Again, sorry-just throwing out hypotheticals. :smiley:


#19

The problem is one of misguiding people on both sides of the issue. If I attend a non-Catholic communion service and partake then I am, by my actions, giving them (and any Catholics that become aware of my acions) the impression that I share their view of what communion is…and there is no way that a Catholic that knows what the Eucharist is all about would (A) think that there is any purpose in such a sharing, since what he’d be sharing in was not a valid Eucharist, but an errant post reformation version thereof, (B) want those that he was at church with to get the impression that he does not believe in the Eucharistic Real Presence and © we are forbidden by the church to do this.

To me, participating in a non-Catholic service and communion would be like getting all dressed up and going out to a restaurant only to discover that all they served was pretend food.
Pax vobiscum,


#20

LOL, answer C is good enough for me! I understand, though, that no matter what they call it, it is a skewed version of the eucharist.


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