My faith is weak on the way communion is done in the contemporary Church


#1

I’m a convert this year and this is a particular area that continues to nag and harm me.

With the way communion is done in the contemporary Church, it seems almost masochistic based on my temporal reasoning.

(A) Weekly (or even daily) receiving of the Eucharist is encouraged. It is not normal to just abstain from receiving. It is the norm in any parish across the country for almost everybody to filter up the procession line

(B) It is a mortal sin to receive communion while in mortal sin. Based on statistics and wordly observation, a larger-than-ever demographic of Americans are enamored in various activities that the Church considers to be a grave matter.

© Confession is less accessible than in decades

Now, seeing as how human beings are social creatures, how this works is that you’ll have your Sunday Mass, and with the current method, the entire congregation dronefully filters up to receive. If you are not Catholic, you will be a black sheep. If you feel unworthy to receive, you will be a black sheep (this is worse-than-ever in close-knit parishes). People describe this decision as being a private matter in the world of ivory tower theology. On planet Earth, you’re making a visible statement whether you want to or not. It almost seems set up as though the system is intentionally provoking people to sin, like pushing people along a sacramental meat grinder of spiritual mutilation or letting you to dwell among the ostracized.

That is what my human reasoning tells me. As you can see, it isn’t a very optimistic outlook.

On the other hand, I believe the Church is divinely protected by the Holy Spirit. I believe it is the will of Jesus Christ that he be received in the sacrament often. So reason also tells me that somewhere in the above paragraph, I have to have erred somewhere. There has to be something to this entire seemingly insane and suicidal set of circumstances that is wise which I am not appreciating as well as I should. What is it? Can somebody offer me illumination? Is this God’s way of telling people to grow a spine? That’s currently the best explanation I have, which I suppose is a good one.


#2

My friend,
Welcome to the Faith!! I pray that all your remaining years on earth are spent faithfully serving our Lord and witnessing to the divine testament that is the Catholic Faith, from our Lord and God.

It too bothers me that many receive unworthily. I myself in the past have received unworthily; not intentionally, but due to a lack of teaching, knowledge and catechism (in the old days, before the internet!). I’m sure that some who receive ‘unworthily’ (mortal sin for example) may not have the full knowledge that what they are doing is wrong; if you don’t even know what questions to ask, or what knowledge is out there and available, it’s impossible to put two and two together. If you don’t know what ‘math’ is, how could you be expected even to know what ‘two’ means, let alone what two plus two means? Let’s also remember that not very deep down, NONE of us are worthy to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, but for His Sacrifice and Gift to us, and invitation to receive.

We live in a time where we have less of a ‘sense of sin’, and people buy into relativism: what’s right for me, is right for me; what’s right for you, is right for you. No. What’s right for GOD, is right for us, and nothing less, nothing more (there couldn’t even be more).

I don’t know about the confession remark; I know in the two dioceses I’m in/near, Reconciliation is offered every day in some parishes, twice a week (weekday evening and Saturday) in most others, Saturday only in a few, and by appointment only or before Sunday Mass in small parishes which share a priest with numerous other parishes. Granted, I realize the blessing I have living near the diocese offices of two dioceses, but in a different diocese where my mother lives, in her small town, it is offered regularly. How many partake, I do not know. I do know that here, at daily Mass I attend there is almost always a line, especially when First Friday/Saturday roll around, sometimes before and after Mass, and my parish has a good line at the two weekly confession times.

I try to focus first on my own soul, and my own sin. It does hurt me when others are disrespectful to the Eucharist, not by receiving unworthily (which I cannot tell who is and isn’t), but their callousness towards the Eucharist upon reception. In that case, I need to pray more, pray longer, for their enlightenment, and offer reparation to God in penance and prayer for them as well as for my own sin and shortcomings.

God bless you and again, welcome! Amen, amen, amen! Alleluia!


#3

Jesus said, take this all of you and eat, and Judas was there !

If I was trapped in a burning building, I would not want anyone to die, whilst trying to rescue me. I am not sure how any one of us could justify, or be worthy enough, that someone else should die, so that I might live, yet Jesus died for me.

I thank Jesus for willingly dying for me, I am sorry my sins caused his death, I pray for the wisdom, strength and perseverance to do his will, but just feel a failure. I struggle taking communion, but need the strength of our Lord to keep going.


#4

[quote=TK421;12005581
]

the error is in presuming you know a person’s state of grace when they go to communion. Doesn’t matter the state of society or the statistics you can come up with. Only God can judge who is in a state of grace. Therefore it is irrelevant to even concern yourself with who receives communion or why.
[/quote]


#5

Op,
you make too many assumptions of others and the why or why not they are going to receive. The better thing to focus on is your own worthiness and state of grace. What state of grace for others is none of your business and not for you to know or even make assumption about.


#6

I don’t think you’ve erred at all. Your conscience has been formed by your parents, priests, peers, nuns, society et al. You’re acting on it. I wouldn’t concern myself with others who probably have not been as schooled as you. They’ll be judged accordingly. If they have chosen the path of ignorance or denial, they’ll be judged on that too. Keep the faith.


#7

Sitting back and praying while others go up to receive isn’t so bad. We tend to think that everyone else must be looking at us and thinking cruel thoughts but honestly almost no one does. There could be any reason a person isn’t receiving, and we have all been there where we couldn’t. Try not to worry about such things so much, people are more understanding and less judgemental then they are given credit for.


#8

Yes, but your state of grace is almost a dead giveaway to most who walk past you to communion. It’s easy to say “none of your business” but is that your feeling really?


#9

I will quote what I wrote recently in another thread:

"I see people going to confession all the time, while I opt-out because I haven’t made it to confession since the last time around. I have to figure that those around me are either more saintly, more ignorant or more sinful than I am.

I mean, even missing mass without a legitimate excuse is a mortal sin. Sometimes I’ve missed mass because I was tired and slept in or took a nap. I meant to go, but I don’t consider that truly excusable, so I wait to go to confession before taking communion again. And then there are other sins along the way considered mortal. I believe even fantasizing about sleeping with a woman is considered a mortal sin and must be confessed.

I suspect that most don’t take this as seriously as I do. But as I understand it, it is the only way to go about it according to the Church."

I love your creative imagery. But, seriously- the heck with what others think. You are at mass for GOD, not others. You need to do as you see best, according to your education on Church teaching. If they judge you, that’s their problem! On the other hand, you can’t get carried away with judging others or even become envious of them receiving. You must do right by God, and forget what others do or don’t do.

In fact, if you are to pay attention to the atrocities that other Catholics do, including clergy, then you might as well not go back to church, because there is enough material there to keep you angry for several lifetimes. But if you do that, you’ll have too good of an excuse to keep you from questioning your own behavior and repenting for your own sins, which would keep you further away from God.

BTW, I have a friend who considers himself Catholic, but has not been through RCIA yet, so he never takes communion, although he goes to mass every Sunday.

My local parish: 1 day a week for 1 hour. And most everybody receives, as the OP says. I guess they confess at other parishes. :wink:

While I agree with the general advice above, I don’t think its an unfair conclusion that a lot of people are going up and getting Communion who shouldn’t be, and that Confession hours should be extended at many parishes.

I personally think priests are to blame too. A good friend of mine said she confessed to her priest about taking Communion while knowing she had missed mass the Sunday before for no good reason and was told that “that was okay… because you really wanted to receive our Lord.” And yet I refrain just because I want to respect our Lord’s wishes. Oh well! I don’t blame my friend so much as the priest who should know better. But with so many people simply not going to church, I wonder if priests are careful about scaring people away, lest they be out of a job soon.

One should not go around judging others, but at the same time it IS a little disheartening to see Catholics being less than serious than they should be about these matters.


#10

Your concerns are very real to anyone who knows their Sacraments and takes them seriously. As a child we went to confession in droves, every Saturday. After Vatican II, many began to rationalize that we don’t need to go anymore (or very much) because we can make appointments now, we say a group confession at mass, our private prayer is sufficient, etc. many priests have said that they feel like Maytag repairmen in the confessionals on Saturdays, since no one comes in.

Of course there are parishes where people know their faith and sacraments, but you are probably correct in most of your assumption. Yes, we are not to judge, but yes, we are to use good judgment also in seeing how the solemnity of the mass has diminished in some areas. I attended a church where the sign of peace turned into a very vocal chat time and the Agnus Dei’s could not be heard above all the visiting and discussions about soccer practice.

What to do about it? Put all of your despair energy into learning to be a catechism teacher and teach your students well. I taught a group of 12year olds today who knew very little about confession. Hopefully they know more now.

Do not lose heart. Something afflicted our church and we are teaching and healing it now. Try not to be so outraged that you miss the important truths.


#11

Here is a very good explanation on EWTN:
ewtn.com/vexperts/showmessage.asp?Pgnu=2&Pg=Forum7&recnu=42&number=402120

[BIBLEDRB]1 Corinthians 11:23-30 [/BIBLEDRB]

1 Corinthians 11:23-30
**23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for[c] you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Partaking of the Supper Unworthily**

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.[d]


#12

Is it? Should we let others judge our state of grace? Faith isn’t about ‘feeling’, and if it is for some, then there is much to be learned (for all of us). While I am concerned for my loved ones especially, and want them to be in a state of Grace at all times, as long as I haven’t led them to sin, caused them to sin, and I have been an example of God’s Love to them (in whatever way I’m called to do), that’s all I can do; the rest is between them and God.

Also, perhaps we should feel the shame of being unable to partake in communion; would that cause us to repent, to confess, to sin no more? Perhaps the embarrassment (perceived or actual) will compel people not to sin and be ‘stuck’ in the pews praying for a spiritual communion (which is what you should be doing if you aren’t receiving the Body and Blood of Christ physically). Again, though, we should rethink our motives. Why are we more embarrassed by others’ opinions and what they think, than what God thinks and sees? All our sins are laid bare before our Lord; we can hide nothing from Him. If I’m doing the right thing, whether it’s staying in the pew because I’m unworthy due to sin, or I had a snack before Mass, we should always concern ourselves only with God’s Love for us, His thought for us.

I’m not saying I"m perfect; I do try not to care what others are thinking about me. But I confess this to you all: although I attempted to confess before Mass on an occasion, time ran out and I was still two spots back in line. I had gotten there earlier than normal even. But I instead sat in the back pew, because I was ashamed of myself that I could not receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I didn’t want to have others worried about crawling over me, so to speak. But I can also say that at this same parish, where there are maybe 2 or 3 people per pew, and others are empty (week days), I haven’t paid one whit of attention to who is receiving and who isn’t. I do pray that if I am noticed (and even judged to be abstaining because of mortal sin, from someone who would be unable to do so) that I am prayed for by that person, and perhaps, I’m even setting an example for others not to partake unworthily.

It was a good lesson for me, a good ‘penance’ so to speak. I hunger and thirst both physically and spiritually for our Lord and Savior.


#13

Well, whether it’s judging or not, there does seem to be a general feeling that bishops should come down hard on those who seem to be taking communion when they shouldn’t. So far it’s against pro-choice politicians but will it end there?

I hunger and thirst both physically and spiritually for our Lord and Savior.

As do we all, hopefully.


#14

OP-- I think logic allows us to reasonably assume that in some situations some people are most likely taking communion when they shouldn’t be. I’ve been to mass with hundreds of people where literally every single one takes communion…and I was one of about three people at confession week after week. So logically it’s probable (though not absolutely certain) that some of these people shouldn’t be taking communion.

But I don’t know who is who, nor do I really want to find them out personally. I grew up in a very traditional parochial school and they taught us properly about communion. It was serious and it was reverent. I take this with me into adulthood. I do not take communion unless I have prepared and gone to confession. Therefore I do not take communion every week. More like once or twice a month. I have no problem standing there. If people want to think something scandalous, I say have fun inventing something. I know the truth and I know God knows the truth. I’m probably more scrupulous than the average person, but hey it works for me. I just can’t be irreverent about it. I would feel terrible…for a long time.

Sometimes I go up and get a blessing, however. For people who feel awkward about standing there that’s an option, too.

As for priests policing it more, it’d be nice if they’d say something so people could be reminded and maybe feel less weird about not taking communion. But most priests that I’ve encountered don’t seem to feel comfortable speaking up.


#15

There is a difference between the Bishop, who is representing Christ, and you and I. I’m not the one handing out the Body and Blood of Christ. I’m not in charge of the Church as the Bishop is, as the priest is, as the Pope is. And this thread isn’t about pro-abortion (I’m not fond of using the ‘popular’ label that makes it sound less than it is…murder of babies) politicians receiving Communion. It’s about the pewsitters being judged by their peers.


#16

How do you know? In fact, how does anyone know how many people receive Communion?

I sit in the front. Normally in the first pew. Now, I may notice that many people receive, simply because Communion takes a while. But unless I look back to see how many people are staying in their seat, I don’t know if everyone goes up. And I would have to look back numerous times because not everyone stands up at the same time.

And when I sit in the back, something I do on occasion, how do I know who is going up for Communion or who is going up for a blessing? And at our parish, people do go up for a blessing, regardless of whether or not it is Vatican approved.

Really, the only way to know that “literally every single one takes communion,” is to literally turn around and stare at everyone walking up.


#17

Well that was probably the most important part of my reply all the way around so it’s great you picked up on that. Anyhow, I have been in parishes where depending on where I sit I can see everyone…guess I had a good angle. Actually I wasn’t trying to look, I was looking at something else when I noticed.


#18

All the same, if I’m not properly disposed, I will more likely attend the Spanish Mass, where half don’t receive. At the English Masses, if you don’t stand in the communion line, you stand out like a sore thumb, figuratively speaking. So make all the comments on judging you want, but I can’t see how it can be avoided.


#19

If you want a frank answer, what you are really doing is suffering from a confirmation bias. What this means is that you have already come to the conclusion and then interpret all the data as leading to this and only this conclusion.

Yes, people receive the Eucharist more often, and Thank God for that, because we need Jesus more then ever!

It is your opinion that people are committing “more mortal sins”, but that might not be true. To commit a mortal sin, one must fulfill (as it were) all 3 requirements (grave matter, full knowledge, and full and free consent). First of all, you have to be strict when it comes to what actual constitutes grave matter (heck, in the early Church there were 3 sins counted as grave enough to enrol in the order of penitents: murder, adultery, and idolatry (usually apostasy)). The Catechism has a good enumeration (although not strictly speaking complete). Full knowledge is a hard one to understand sometimes because some sins are said to be self-evident (murder), while others are legal impositions that you would not know unless you were told (no meat on Ash Wednesday). Full and free consent is the hardest, and the one that is impossible for anyone except for the person themselves to judge.

Thirdly, you say confession is rarer which is true, but not everything needs to be confessed. Only mortal sins need to be confessed, and, believe it or not, not everyone commits mortal sins that often (when you confess only venial sins, we call it a devotional confession, a good and pious spiritual practice).

Yes, there is a bit of pressure to “join the line”, but people could be just getting a blessing (whether or not they should, or whether it’s allowed, ect etc is beyond the scope of this thread. Let’s not discuss it further other then to say it happens). But the last little while I’ve actually seen quite a few people stay behind in the pew (it’s easy to remember, because I had to climb over then to get out).

And the reality is, yes, some people are sinning. It happens. You should pray for them if you feel the need to (but don’t be all pharisaic about it. Humility goes a long way with Jesus). I don’t see why this would shake you faith in the Church. It’s full of sinners, including you and I. Heck, 1/6 of Jesus’ closest followers betrayed Him or outright denied Him, and all of them ran away when things got too hard.

There’s a story I heard about St. Augustine. He asked someone if the Church was perfect and spotless, to which the person replied “Of course it is”. St. Augustine replied to him “How can it be, when you are in it?”. The Church is made up of her members, and her members are in constant need of conversion to be more Christ-like, from the greatest sinner all the way to the holiest religious and even the Pope (who are probably the ones most likely to acknowledge their need for further conversion). There has always been sinners in the Church and there will always be sinners. That shouldn’t shock anyone.


#20

Activities that the Church considers grave matter???

Most families I know participate in such activities as playing sports, participating in school activities, watching TV, housework and family time. The stay at home moms I know also participate in activities like knitting and sewing. Some even paint. Or volunteer their time at school, scouts or as coaches. None of this is grave matter.


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