Non-Catholics in communion line


I know this has been posted before, but I cannot find the recent post I need.

I had been perusing the forum before re-joining, and I came across a topic regarding non-Catholics in the communion line. It seemed like a hot-button issue with some. Several people were adamant that if you are not receiving the Eucharist, you better STAY IN THE PEW. I felt embarrassed because I had been going up with my arms crossed for over a year. (I am waiting on a few things before I can get baptized). Apparently I was double-dipping, and getting two blessings! People were stating that everyone gets a blessing at the end of Mass, so there is no need to gum up the communion line by going up with your arms crossed. I didn’t realize some Catholics felt so strongly about it. Therefore, I stopped going up with my arms crossed.

This past weekend, I decided to ask my priest his opinion on the matter. I asked him if he gets annoyed when people come up with their arms crossed since it’s not liturgically correct. He smiled and said he doesn’t mind, and it is completely up to the person whether or not they want to come up. I then brought up the comments about getting 2 blessings. He laughed and said you aren’t getting a blessing during communion. They don’t give blessings during that time. He said what is happening, is the priest or deacon is telling you to basically accept the Lord into your heart, and that is called “spiritual communion.” Therefore, there is no redundancy of blessings.

I wish I would’ve asked him sooner. So if there are any other soon-to-be-converts who felt ashamed after reading how some people feel about us going up with our arms crossed, please know that it’s perfectly fine, and spiritual communion is real and was important to many saints, including St. John Paul II. I have attached an article regarding spiritual communion.


First of all, if you and your priest, who obviously knows you, are fine with this, then it’s perfectly okay and there is no reason for you to be embarrassed. You are also planning to be baptized and like I said you are in touch with the priest. This is a totally different situation from a non-Catholic who just shows up at a church, perhaps because he is attending someone’s event or accompanying a family member to Mass, and is wondering whether he is required to join the line or can he just skip the whole thing and stay in the pew. Many of the posts I have seen on this are stressing the fact that it is not REQUIRED that non-Catholics come forward - quite a few of them would really rather not, I know this because I married into a Protestant family and none of them were in a rush to join the line when they came to Mass - and also that it can be confusing or a little burdensome to the prist or EMHC, especially if they do not know the particular person and might not realize that they cannot receive physical Communion and, in the case of the EMHCs, cannot give a blessing.

Also, most of the Catholic bulletins, instructions and so forth on this specifically tell non-Catholics that they may approach with arms crossed “FOR A BLESSING”. And a blessing is what they get if they approach the clergy who can give one. It is NOT presented as “making a spiritual Communion”. Spiritual Communion is generally something made by Catholics, or those who are on the path to becoming Catholics, who are not able or permitted to receive the actual Eucharist physically but still want to join with the Lord. Spiritual Communion is NOT an option for somebody who doesn’t believe in the Real Presence or perhaps doesn’t even believe in Jesus.

Since you are planning to get baptized, you may be in a position to partake of Spiritual Communion, but it would be a big stretch to say that everybody who isn’t Catholic and joins the line is somehow partaking of Spiritual Communion. It depends on the individual person.



So, what does he say and what does he do when you come up with your arms crossed?

(And, no matter what he does, the common practice that people have observed is an actual blessing, not an attempt at ‘spiritual communion’ (which, by the way, can happen through prayer while in the pew :wink: )…)


I believe the thread you are referring to was this one:

Blessings at my wife’s church for non Catholics (or Catholics who don’t want to take for whatever reason) are normal. Apparently its not the same everywhere.


I sometimes see people doing this (going up with their arms crossed for a blessing) who are Catholics in good standing, but are abstaining from Communion on this occasion for reasons of conscience. I have never witnessed any adverse reaction on the part of other communicants.


I’m guessing it must be regional. Going up with crossed arms has been normal at every Catholic Church I have attended.


I’m glad you asked your priest. This is what everyone should do in this situation.

People on the internet can be very pushy when it comes to their opinions and personal convictions, but they have no say in your spirituality and your faith experience. Asking for opinions is fine, but in the end, let your priest instruct you on the matter. It is his responsibility.

(It’s only a matter of time before a chorus of people descend on this thread to tell you that your priest is wrong. Ignore them.)


I have found it best not to worry too much about what anonymous strangers think about how another parish operates whose door they will never darken.


To paraphrase Ambrose of Milan, “When in Rome do as the Romans”.

You should do what is customary where you are at, and if its customary for non Catholics to get in line for a blessing in Lower Slobbovia- that’s what people should do there and not feel embarrassed.

The thing to take from the conversation is that there is a disagreement on this so don’t be offended if you are somewhere else with different protocols.


Well, to be fair, if he’s doing what he says he’s doing, it’s certainly non-standard, and nothing that I’ve heard anyone suggesting that they experience. :wink:

This! :+1:


I hear you, but at the end of the day, she is under his pastoral care. He is responsible for her. It’s not as if this is a cut and dry liturgical issue.


I suspect this as well. I have probably seen people go up with crossed arms for the blessing twice in my entire life. By contrast, i have seen many people, including just this past weekend, simply stay seated in the pews if they either weren’t Catholic or did not think they were in a state of grace to receive.

As Gorgias said, people can make a spiritual communion in the pew so perhaps some of them do that.




But not in most churches I’ve attended. The first time I saw it, I wondered if the person was an Eastern Catholic or somebody from the Orthodox church who had received permission to receive communion, because it looked like somebody making a more ornate 'crossing gesture (and since we usually cross ourselves on the forehead before receiving, unobtrusively, it looked like somebody who was doing a ‘sign of the cross’ with the whole body!)


It’s not?

from the Zenit feed over at

(The part about it not being “legally binding” is an important one – the Church hasn’t formally spoken on this custom. However, if we take it at face value, it certainly seems that the Vatican is leaning in a particular direction…)


Come on Gorgias! If a decision has not yet been made it is not yet cut and dry.


Well… it’s not yet been formalized, I’ll grant you that. However, it is something that was never formally approved of to begin with!


I am a pre-V II Catholic from birth. I guess it is up to each parish but the parish I attend is very conservative and people and youngsters get blessings all the time. I see nothing wrong. I don’ Know what words are used but everyone I spoke to over the years has called it a blessing. The is no rule we can’ receive more than one blessing. The blessing at the end is called the final blessing.
Thanks for attending mass. God bless your journey home!


The rule is that we’re not supposed to add elements to the Mass that aren’t in there. :wink:


@mrsdizzyd THANK YOU SO MUCH for your words of encouragement. I really was not surprised by the first couple of responses I got. I will definitely listen to my priest over faceless online liturgy police. Your response made me smile.

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