Invited to take communion at service

I always saw fliers inviting everyone to take Communion at Episcopalian service. One member invited me but I politely declined because to me it is not “true” communion.

I had trouble explaining this to the woman who invited me.

1 - is it wrong to take non-catholic communion?
2 - How do you explain this to someone when they invite you?

You just need to explain that Roman Catholics don’t partake in the Eucharist with those out of communion with Rome. Make it clear that you’re not saying that they’re bad people, or that you can’t worship with them, but that the Roman view is that communion should only properly be shared once we’re all united in one visible Church.

I try to avoid communion services at Protestant churches for this reason, but once in a while I’ve been at one and simply explained that I am Catholic and so cannot receive communion outside my own Church. Methodists (the only kind of Protestants I have much interaction with) are always quite understanding and respectful of that.

I was an Episcopalian before I converted. My father is a Priest! [He gave me his blessings when I told him I was converting, he even wrote our Monsinger a note telling him he had baptised me!]

It was always my belief that the Host and Wine were the body and blood of Christ. When you are given communion the priest says “The body of Christ, the cup of salvation.”

What I thought the reason might be for Episcopalians not being able to take Catholic Communion was, 1. We must be in good standing with Rome. 2. Episcopalians don’t have the true sacrament of confession, so the likelihood of not being in a state of grace is higher.

Anybody with more definitive information is welcome to chime in.:christmastree1:

Taking communion in a non-Catholic faith community is saying that you believe their communion is just as valid as the Catholic communion. Clearly, that’s false - the true understanding of the Eucharist is that it truly is the body and blood of Jesus, not a symbol, or a ‘whatever I want it to be.’

Also, it can create scandal - people may see a Catholic taking protestant communion, so therefore, the protestants feel they should receive Catholic communion, as they are ‘the same.’

As a Catholic, you have committed yourself to Christ in a profound and mysterious (or sacramental) way, and NOTHING should entice you to accept anything less than the true body and blood of Christ. It is like a married couple - you wouldn’t go out and engage in sexual relations with your neighbour or the girl down the street.


I am not Episcopalian and do not believe what you believe, therefore I must refrain. But thank you for the invitation.

What is the difference between taking a non-Catholic communion and attending a mass at non-Catholic Churches? are they both not allowed for Catholics? :confused:

We must understand that there is enormous variation in Protestant beliefs; and even within individual churches, such as the Anglican church. Some Protestants reject communion entirely, some believe in a symbolic communion, and some profess beliefs in the Real Presence very similar to the Catholic Church. From the Catholic point of view, a Protestant communion can never be valid because of the lack of clergy in apostolic succession.

In a larger sense, communion implies a sharing of Faith. A valid Holy Communion unites us with the risen Christ as well as with the saints in Heaven. The rather extreme heterodoxy of the modern Anglican churches is something that a Catholic cannot indicate acceptance of.

Well said. Regardless of the sincerity or even the correctness of belief in the real presence, if the one consecrating the elements does not possess the necessary faculties there is no valid sacrament. It is important that we acknowledge that Christ comes to all those who seek him in many ways. But without a valid consecration, the Eucharist is not one of those ways.

I guess I have a different take on this than others on this thread: To my mind, someone not receiving communion should not have to give a reason. (And I’m not just saying this because its an Episcopalian liturgy. I would say the same for someone not receiving communion at, say, a Catholic liturgy.)

But having said that, *if *you do decide to give an explanation (whether or not it’s because the other person is making you feel like you have to) then I agree with you and others that it’s best to have a carefully worded statement ready.

This can be a moment of awkwardness. I have been the recipient of puzzled looks and even a frown at Catholic Mass when I do not go up to receive our Lord. This evening, after receiving the Eucharist at our Lutheran church during a candlelight mass (6 pm) I will be later attending Nativity services at a local Orthodox church - where I suppose some may also look askance. It reminds me to be extra gracious to our guests since we were all visitors the first time!

This is one of the things about Catholicism that most upsets Episcopalians (other non-Catholics too, but especially Anglicans because we are “so close” and our liturgy and beliefs about the Eucharist are so similar–in some cases pretty much identical).

There’s probably no way to avoid offense entirely if you try to explain the Catholic position. You shouldn’t have to in the first place. Episcopalians ought not to be pushing people to receive communion. We commonly do make a point of telling people they are welcome, particularly because our liturgy is so much like that of Catholicism, and many Protestant visitors acquainted with Catholic discipline naturally assume that they are not welcome to receive. That’s appropriate (most priests will say publicly something like “all baptized Christians are welcome to receive,” and/or it may be printed in the bulletin). But it shouldn’t go farther than that. In fact, if she is really pushy you should speak to the priest and say something like, “I appreciate that your parishioners are really welcoming and want to encourage visitors to receive Communion, but one of them made me uncomfortable by trying to pressure me to receive when the discipline of the Catholic Church doesn’t allow me to do so.”

Given that this person was pressuring you, the best response is simply to say “the discipline of the Catholic Church doesn’t allow me to do this.” If you try to explain about Anglican orders not being valid, you will just increase hostility.

I’m not saying that you should hide the Catholic position–if you have the opportunity to have a longer conversation, by all means explain it. But don’t get into this very complex issue unnecessarily.

I have been working on my fellow Episcopalians for years to try to explain that this is really about ecclesiology (we have a broader definition of “the Catholic Church” than members of the Roman Communion do) and not about nice Episcopalians vs. nasty Catholics. I have also pointed out that until about 50 years ago most Anglican churches didn’t allow people not confirmed by a bishop in the historic succession to receive communion. But it falls on deaf ears. This is an extremely emotional issue for Episcopalians, and the best thing to do is to portray yourself as an obedient Catholic who is just following the discipline of your Church, without trying to explain Catholic teaching (unless, as I said, there’s deeper acquaintance than just one visit).


If a Lutheran does not take communion in our own church, we do not usually ask the reason for the decision. If we don’t ask our own, it certainly is not hospitable to ask a visitor.

Agree. I have never been asked in any church I have worshipped at why or why am I not taking holy Communion. No one seems to pay attention. Lutherans do note the number of communicants at each Mass and if the parish is small enough, the pastor knows who may not be receiving communion regularly. In the pew, people are praying, singing, kneeling/ sitting/ standing quietly during the distribution; I can’t imagine getting questioning looks from other communicants.

As a Lutheran who has communed in Roman Catholic churches/ religious communities, I am touched by the invitation of the priest. Perhaps my interdenominational family is different than what other posters have experienced; we also have a close relationship with one of my daughter-in-laws Catholic priest.

For those in full communion with Lutherans, namely Anglicans and in some synods, Reformed and Methodists, the joy of sharing the Lord’s Supper can bring me to tears.

This is one of the saddest topics for me. My position is that anyone should be able to partake as long as they realize that they are showing forth Jesus by so doing. We show forth His death for man when we do so. Further, they idea of Christians all being together and not being able to commune together seems to go against the teaching of Paul that we need to recognize the body of Christ. That is not just the bread, but also the people gathered.

Those that Paul had to lecture were actually splitting up into different groups at the agape feasts and not discerning the body of Christ as the united body of believers. As I believe other protestants such as I have pointed out, all professing Christians could commune with me, but I can’t commune with them. It’s a extremely sad state when the Body of Christ has to be split.

I fully understand the different positions of the different churches and denominations… it just saddens me.

I believe your feelings are consistent with many Christians. The 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 may include eucharistic hospitality; this is certainly the ambition and goal of Lutherans who have been in the forefront of dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church.

Some Lutherans invite all to the Lord’s Table including infants and non-baptized [though the latter is expected to seek holy Baptism ASAP]. We believe that the Real Presence of Christ is there for all to worship and receive for salvation.

Receiving communion outside the Catholic Church is a sin for Catholics since the other churches do not really have the Eucharist and are not in communion with the CC. If a Catholic attends another Christian service they must still attend Mass at a Catholic parish.

Many times they will attend another church service because it is family or friends who have invited them.

:slight_smile: Thank you Miriam for the clarification.

This is not entirely accurate. Other Churches do confect a valid Eucharist, amongst them of course the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Assyrian Church of the East to name some obvious examples. Strictly speaking ecclestical communities such as many of the Protestant denominations are not Churches and are often called so out of courtesy or as a shorthand way of speaking.

Catholics may under LIMITED and CERTAIN conditions receive the Eucharist elsewhere, although this situation would only generally arise where no Catholic Church was available and another Church that could confect a valid Eucharist was geographically close. Although in that case it is likely as Catholic that would be refused (and rightly so) by the clergy of that Church.

I am disturbed to hear a member of our clergy is abusing the Eucharist by regularly inviting you to partake of it. This is most disrespectful.

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