Noticed many people receive the Eucharist during a Funeral Mass who clearly were unworthy to receive


#1

I noticed many family members (two who are non-catholics) and a number of other catholics who should not have received the Eucharist during a Funeral Mass last Saturday. How do I know this? I know family members and relatives who attend Mass maybe 2
/3 times a year. Another relative who is in an invalid marriage also received. A practicing homosexual also received. And with a packed church of at least 400 attendees, with many receiving Communion I can speculate that not a few of them were unworthy. Am I being judgemental? I hardly believe that most received the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving, since the Funeral Mass was early Saturday morning (Confessions are usually Saturday afternoons.)

The problem I believe is poor knowledge and non-catechized Catholics who do not understand the theology behind the Eucharist or its real meaning.

I feel that a simple announcement prior to Communion at Funerals (or other special occasions such as Easter or Christmas) should be made notifying the congregation that only practicing catholics in good standing should receive the Eucharist. Am i wrong here?


#2

[quote="blaskoman, post:1, topic:301914"]
I noticed many family members (two who are non-catholics) and a number of other catholics who should not have received the Eucharist during a Funeral Mass last Saturday. How do I know this? I know family members and relatives who attend Mass maybe 2
/3 times a year. Another relative who is in an invalid marriage also received. A practicing homosexual also received. And with a packed church of at least 400 attendees, with many receiving Communion I can speculate that not a few of them were unworthy. Am I being judgemental? I hardly believe that most received the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving, since the Funeral Mass was early Saturday morning (Confessions are usually Saturday afternoons.)

The problem I believe is poor knowledge and non-catechized Catholics who do not understand the theology behind the Eucharist or its real meaning.

I feel that a simple announcement prior to Communion at Funerals (or other special occasions such as Easter or Christmas) should be made notifying the congregation that only practicing catholics in good standing should receive the Eucharist. Am i wrong here?

[/quote]

I would be hesitant to make any judgements about people being unworthy to receive. Yes, they may be sinning outside the mass, but aren't we all? In all reality, none of us are really worthy to receive the One True God under the form of the Eucharist. We are all sinners and are in desperate need of God's mercy. It is not your place to deem others "unworthy". During the mass, don't you say "Lord, I*** am not worthy that you should enter under my roof***, but only say the words and my soul shall be healed" as well?

I firmly agree with you that there should be an announcement prior the start of the mass. My pastor has done this on many occasions and I thinks it is a wonderful idea. If someone questions you about whether or not they should receive, then give them an honest answer based on the knowledge that you have and not based on assumptions. But leave the rest up to God. He is just and merciful, and will judge all appropriately and correctly. Our job at mass is to focus solely on Christ. How are you able to do that if you are spending that time focusing on what percentage of a 400 person congregation is receiving unworthily?


#3

[quote="dje101, post:2, topic:301914"]
Our job at mass is to focus solely on Christ. How are you able to do that if you are spending that time focusing on what percentage of a 400 person congregation is receiving unworthily?

[/quote]

:thumbsup:


#4

[quote="blaskoman, post:1, topic:301914"]
I noticed many family members (two who are non-catholics) and a number of other catholics who should not have received the Eucharist during a Funeral Mass last Saturday. How do I know this? I know family members and relatives who attend Mass maybe 2
/3 times a year. Another relative who is in an invalid marriage also received. A practicing homosexual also received. And with a packed church of at least 400 attendees, with many receiving Communion I can speculate that not a few of them were unworthy. Am I being judgemental? I hardly believe that most received the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving, since the Funeral Mass was early Saturday morning (Confessions are usually Saturday afternoons.)

The problem I believe is poor knowledge and non-catechized Catholics who do not understand the theology behind the Eucharist or its real meaning.

I feel that a simple announcement prior to Communion at Funerals (or other special occasions such as Easter or Christmas) should be made notifying the congregation that only practicing catholics in good standing should receive the Eucharist. Am i wrong here?

[/quote]

You are making the assumption that people are going to think that this announcement applies to them. Many miminal and/or cultural Catholics will go to Mass and go up to receive communion because that is what you do at Mass.

Many of these individuals see themselves as "in good standing" and would have a problem with you questioning their receiving communion at a family member's funeral Mass. Unless you are prepared to individually call out people publicly as they approach Communion (something that will make any funeral memorable) you will have to leave it to God


#5

I’m not being judgmental, just making observations and reporting about what I perceive is blasphemous. To put it as simply as possible, I know for a hundred percent certainty that certain relatives haven’t attended mass in months, even years yet waltze up to receive the Eucharist oblivious to church teaching on the matter. As a practicing catholic, I cringe to witness that. It’s a shame that some Catholics do not know that’s it’s a mortal sin to miss Mass nor to receive Communion not in a state of grace


#6

Moreover, the funeral mass was for my father- may he rest in peace!


#7

I'm very sorry for your loss. :( Remembering the repose of your father's soul in my daily prayers. May God grant comfort to all who grieve for him.

[quote="blaskoman, post:1, topic:301914"]
I feel that a simple announcement prior to Communion at Funerals (or other special occasions such as Easter or Christmas) should be made notifying the congregation that only practicing catholics in good standing should receive the Eucharist. Am i wrong here?

[/quote]

My pastor makes such an announcement before Communion at every funeral or wedding Mass he celebrates. At that point, worthiness is on the communicant. I don't like the idea of Communion being received by those not properly disposed, but I don't concern myself with it as I am generally too busy trying to focus on Christ as well as making sure everything goes right—I attend the majority of Fr. B's funerals and weddings as his dedicated sacristan and liturgical valet so I have to constantly monitor the proceedings to ensure they go smoothly and quickly fix any problems that come up.

If your priest doesn't routinely make this announcement, perhaps you could suggest it to him.


#8

I totally agree that an announcement should be made beforehand. Perhaps some of these people didn’t even realize (the non-Catholics) that they weren’t supposed to receive. During a time of grief, people’s minds may not be thinking clearly in the first place.

Second, allow their worthiness to receive the Eucharist to be judged by God and not by you. :wink:


#9

You are probably right, but what can you do about it that won't make the situation worse? Sometimes when ther are things like that which we cannot control we should leave it in God's hands and pray for the people involved.
:signofcross::signofcross::signofcross:


#10

I think it's just possible that Catholics who are in mortal sin may decide that by receiving Holy Communion, they will be a comfort to other grieving family members (especially their parents and grandparents), and so they work hard to find a way to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation before they attend a funeral Mass.

Also, it's possible that Catholics in mortal sin may experience overwhelming grief emotions that make them want to be as united to their grieving family as possible, so they seek out a way to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that they will be able to receive Holy Communion along with the rest of their family at the funeral Mass.

You may not notice that they got up very early that morning, or went in late the night before, for a Confession appointment with the priest.

And their contrition may not be perfect, but that is allowed in Reconciliation.

It's possible that God will be merciful to these Christians, because their motives were good. Perhaps this will be the start of an internal struggle that will eventually result in their repenting from their sin and returning to full fellowship with Jesus and His Church.

As for non-Catholics who receive Holy Communion at funeral Mass--yes, I definitely agree that the priest should make an announcement. But I know for a fact that many non-Catholics are in a state of shock and grief at funerals, and they don't pay attention to the announcement, or indeed, they don't pay attention to anything except their emotions over the death of their loved one. I believe that God will be merciful to these Christians, because their motives were not evil, but good--during a time of sorrow, they were trying to seek out Jesus for comfort.

Also, there are non-Catholics who do hear the announcement, but receive Holy Communion anyway because they disagree with Catholic theology, which they believe is in error. God will judge these non-Catholics according to His perfect knowledge of their souls, and we don't have to judge them. Pray for them, that their act may actually be the beginning of a conversion to Catholicism. I personally know people who were not interested in Catholicism UNTIL they attended a Mass and received the Holy Communion, and their act bothered their conscience and they knew in their hearts that they had received Jesus unworthily, and eventually, they sought out information about the Catholic Church and ended up converting.

Finally, there is a group of Catholics who have received incorrect teaching that at funerals, the "rules" are suspended and everyone is invited to receive Holy Communion. Again, an announcement by the priest might correct their thinking, but as I said, they may not even hear the announcement if they are too devastated by their emotions.

Always remember that people don't always behave rationally during funerals. Grief makes people do things that they would normally never do in public; e.g., crying, hugging, talking too much, not talking enough, etc. A lot of people say that they feel like robots during the days after the death of a loved one--they go through all the motions without even being aware that they are doing things. I think that some people receive Holy Communion because everyone else is going up and they just follow the crowd. Their grief is causing them to suspend rational thought and just behave mechanically. This is how many people survive the death of their loved one--their brain gets set on "automatic pilot" and they just do things without thinking.

Please be merciful to those who are grieving. Pray for them. And perhaps several months from now, when they are beginning to recover from their grief, you can talk gently to them about Jesus and the Church.

I hope all these ideas are comforting to you.


#11

Eternal rest to the recently deceased.

At my parents' church when my grandmother died 5 years ago, many went for Communion including many who were raised Catholic but rarely or never go to Mass by their own admissions (like my father, sister, etc). The priest did not say before Mass, non Catholics & those who have not gone to Confession ahead of time for a mortal sin are not to receive Communion. Most of the attendees were Catholics, and the last thing I concerned myself at the time with was the state of someone's soul & if they practiced their faith.

My aunt went to a funeral Mass for a relative a few years ago. The priest did state non Catholics were not to receive, also he said only practicing Catholics in a state of grace can receive Communion. My aunt's brother (non practicing Catholic) told her he was offended at that statement later. She said her brother now refuses to go to Mass much less receive the sacraments after that occurrence.


#12

[quote="blaskoman, post:1, topic:301914"]
And with a packed church of at least 400 attendees, with many receiving Communion I can speculate that not a few of them were unworthy. Am I being judgemental? I hardly believe that most received the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving, since the Funeral Mass was early Saturday morning (Confessions are usually Saturday afternoons.)

The problem I believe is poor knowledge and non-catechized Catholics who do not understand the theology behind the Eucharist or its real meaning.

[/quote]

Yes, you are being judgemental. You have also revealed a certain tone in your writing that makes me think that you think you are more worthy than any other sinner. Don't assume to know the faith lives of other people, no matter what you see outwardly.


#13

[quote="blaskoman, post:5, topic:301914"]
I'm not being judgmental, just making observations and reporting about what I perceive is blasphemous. To put it as simply as possible, I know for a hundred percent certainty that certain relatives haven't attended mass in months, even years yet waltze up to receive the Eucharist oblivious to church teaching on the matter. As a practicing catholic, I cringe to witness that. It's a shame that some Catholics do not know that's it's a mortal sin to miss Mass nor to receive Communion not in a state of grace

[/quote]

During communion just keep your head down and your eyes shut. It is not your responsibility to determine who should receive.

You can do a few things though. When arrangements are being made for the next family funeral, ask the priest to offer confession during the wake or just before Mass. Also ask him to make an announcement.

Always encourage your family - cheerfully and charitably - to return to the sacraments.

Pray for your family every day and offer some reparation for their sins. It is by prayer and fasting that we win over the devil.


#14

Well, since we know that most Catholics of a certain age that go to Church regularly are using artificial birth control or are sterilized, a funeral Mass really isn't the big deal, is it?

The problem is that many Catholics simply don't believe, and are cultural Catholics at best.


#15

[quote="Mrs_Sally, post:13, topic:301914"]
During communion just keep your head down and your eyes shut. It is not your responsibility to determine who should receive.

You can do a few things though. When arrangements are being made for the next family funeral, ask the priest to offer confession during the wake or just before Mass. Also ask him to make an announcement.

Always encourage your family - cheerfully and charitably - to return to the sacraments.

Pray for your family every day and offer some reparation for their sins. It is by prayer and fasting that we win over the devil.

[/quote]

:amen:

Couldn't have said it better myself!

OP, don't beat yourself up too much about whether this is judgmental or not. The truth is, we all judge, and we don't always judge rightly - it's very difficult to avoid pride in such matters. The fact that you know some of these people well enough to doubt their state of grace makes it doubly hard. But the fact is that they have free will, and they can choose "fire or water".

Remember that in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, St. Paul condemns those who "eat of the Body of Christ unworthily." But he makes no disciplinary rulings, because this is essentially a private matter (unlike the man in a scandalous relationship, whom he excommunicated) - instead, he reminds them that if they eat unworthily, they shall die.

Pray for them, as the wise poster above me said. People can and do change, sometimes in the most unexpected of ways.


#16

[quote="blaskoman, post:1, topic:301914"]

I feel that a simple announcement prior to Communion at Funerals (or other special occasions such as Easter or Christmas) should be made notifying the congregation that only practicing catholics in good standing should receive the Eucharist. Am i wrong here?

[/quote]

You are absolutely right. This is always done at our parish at funerals. There are far too many visitors, and it is much better to instruct people in the proper reception of Holy Communion, than to let everyone just traips up there when they have no business doing so.

~Liza


#17

[quote="blaskoman, post:5, topic:301914"]
I'm not being judgmental, just making observations and reporting about what I perceive is blasphemous. To put it as simply as possible, I know for a hundred percent certainty that certain relatives haven't attended mass in months, even years yet waltz up to receive the Eucharist oblivious to church teaching on the matter. As a practicing catholic, I cringe to witness that. It's a shame that some Catholics do not know that's it's a mortal sin to miss Mass nor to receive Communion not in a state of grace

[/quote]

Actually, you are being judgmental.

And I am kind of surprised. I couldn't have told you who went to Communion at my mother's or my father's funeral. :shrug: I just have no idea.

Wait, I do know that my father received a blessing, but came back to the Church just before he died. :thumbsup: So I know he didn't receive.

Don't worry about those that received that shouldn't have. Yes, the priest should have said something, but it is not your responsibility to police who is in line.


#18

I totally get where you're coming from. I have a cousin who lives with his girlfriend (whom I've known pretty much her whole life). Both are Baptized Catholic and have received all the sacraments (minus marriage of course) neither comes to Mass, except for once or twice a year and my cousin has even said in the past, what the h*ll do I need church for anyway... Whenever they do come to Mass, they receive the Eucharist. IT DRIVES ME BONKERS!

I am FAR from perfect and don't pretend to be. I try hard not to notice or pass judgement, I think that most people really honestly don't know the rules or think that they don't fall into the category of those who shouldn't receive.....


#19

It is so easy for us to put on our "Church Police" badges. We need to remember that God did not hand them out.

When I notice the "unworthy" receive the Blessed Sacrament, I pray/hope that God in His awesome love can use that moment to turn their hearts towards him.


#20

I am sorry for your loss.

I think you are right when you say that many people are simply oblivious. We cannot expect non-Catholics, or even Catholics who are fairly uncatechized and seldom go to Mass, to actually be aware of Church teaching on reception of the Eucharist if no one tells them.

I think it's a good idea when priests make a simple announcement before a funeral liturgy (and before marriage liturgies, too) about this. I've heard many priests do so in a very simple, charitable way that simply informs on the Catholic teaching on the Eucharist without making it seem like people are being ostracized. Priests are generally pretty good at that sort of thing.

If a priest doesn't do that, it's hard to to be too hard on people. Many are just doing it because they think they are supposed to and that it would be rude not to. They just don't know.

That's why it's generally best to leave the judgment up to God. We can certainly do our part to catechize people in charity. Coming up to them after the funeral Mass and laying into them about how they are unworthy to receive would probably not be the most prudent way to go about it. But perhaps there will be opportunities in the coming weeks and months to discuss those sorts of things. It's usually best to simply lay out the Church teaching and let them draw the personal connections rather than engaging in finger pointing.

God is the one who makes Himself vulnerable by being present in the Eucharist (just as he made Himself vulnerable by taking on human flesh). He can sort out these things better than we can.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.