I have a baptized Christian friend who is not Catholic but has accompanied me to mass for several weeks out of genuine interest in Catholicism. We have talked frequently about the Eucharist and what that Catholic Church teaches. This week she told me she wanted to receive communion. As I understand Church teaching, non-Catholics should not receive communion but I did not have a good explanation as to why the Church teaches this. If she did really want to receive communion, what would she have to do? RCIA maybe? Any help or direction would be greatly appreciated.
My wife, a Lutheran attended with me Catholic Masses for 20 years. This September we approached our Pastor with the request that she want to be Catholic, in order to receive communion. The associate pastor gave her three half our instruction, this week he will made confession and receive her first communion.
More modern parishes usually accomplish this through RCIA. By the law proper instruction approved by the pastor, and confession is necessary to receive communion.
It is great to hear that your friend has a yearning for Catholicism. However, as you suspected, the Church does not permit anyone who is not in communion with Her to receive Communion. Otherwise, it is taken unworthily.
RCIA is the usual pathway for converts to enter Catholicism. This is not a quick process, as it should not be. The RCIA that I went into met once per week from either August or September through early Spring. It involves several stages and included an RCIA sponsor for each student. You could probably be your friend’s sponsor, which would greatly assist your friend…in addition to strengthening your own faith.
In part, the reason why she cannot receive is because she’s not in communion with us. We are one body. By taking communion you are re-affirming that you believe everything The Church teaches. If you do not believe (as with protestants) then you should receive (unless you are a Catholic working towards believing as The Church teaches.) By receiving Communion she would be lying.
Secondly if she has mortal sin on her soul then she would be receiving unworthily; she’d have to go to Confession, but priests can only absolve Catholics, so she’d have to become Catholic first. She would be putting herself in jeopardy if she received while not Catholic.
Most protestants I’ve taken to Mass are happy with the “if you receive you are saying you believe everything we do.” teaching.