On not receiving communion at Mom's church--touchy subject!


#1

Looking for some advice here on keeping things smooth in the family this weekend. :wink: Here is the background: I am a convert… grew up in a fundamentalist type background. My mom and dad divorced when I was in college–he was a pastor in some crazy backwoods churches and got crazier as he got more religious. My mom divorced him after 24 years of marriage for emotional and physical abuse. It had gotten pretty bad by that time. She has since remarried and she and her husband go to an Episcopal church. She got very interested in liturgical worship and actually ended up going the Episcopal route about the same time I turned Catholic. She probably would be Catholic except for the annulment issue (not that she has looked into it at all nor does she want to), the Marian doctrines, and as she puts it “I just don’t like it that they say they are the ONE TRUE CHURCH!” Anywho… on to my problem. We talk alot about Catholic and Episcopal things… similarities in worship, differences in teachings, whatever. She knows that I cannot take communion in her church, and every time we have talked about it she acts quite snide about it, and even has asked me several times, “SO, if you go to my church, you can’t take communion?” She knows I can’t but she still asks. I still haven’t been to her church and I know she wants my family to go with her this Sunday and we’ll be at her house for Thanksgiving. She said “Well, I guess you can go to the Catholic church Saturday night and get the REAL host and then go with me on Sunday.” I guess I just want to find a way to nicely explain WHY I can’t take communion at her church. I hate this kind of ickiness in families. And she has been the one family member on either side of our families that has been supportive of me becoming Catholic. She drove 3 hours to come to my confirmation. I have gone through alot with my inlaws with this conversion and it has been great that my own mother has stood by me and supported me. So I want to keep things nice between us when it comes to the Church issue.

Long story. Any suggestions on how to word it nicely?


#2

I think it’s all about tone & sincerity.

Even if your mom asks you in a snide tone, you can still respond sincerely to her. You might even share what you did in your post; something along the lines of, “Yes, Mom, we will be looking forward to coming to your church on Sunday. I am just so thankful that you have been so supportive of me and my faith. I really appreciate it.” XO (Big warm hug, kiss on the cheek. )


#3

I agree that you should tell her how MUCH you appreciate her support… I would think it would be very difficult to make snide remarks to someone who just got done telling you how wonderful you are?! Also… this is a biggie… Don’t under any circumstances back down on your no communion at her church rule. Your obedience & faithfulness to your beliefs will go a long way toward making her respect your decision to be Catholic. Her driving 3 hours to be with you on your confirmation is awesome… obviously you do have her support… even if she doesn’t necessarily agree with you.


#4

I agree tone and sincerity are the key, with loving kindness.

The thing is it’s not just ‘communion’ for us Catholics…it’s the Eucharist, and it’s not a ‘real’ host, it’s the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus.

As you duly noted, she already knows this, and it seems the snide remarks stem from jealousy or envy because she knows it. She seems to know it could be for her if she accepted the one true Church and sought an annulment (would she really need one? Was the first marriage Catholic?)

It appears to me that she’s hurting inside. When she gets snippy next time, just smile, give her a little hug and say, “Mom, I love you, your support of my entering the Catholic Church meant so much to me, and your support now means even more.” It’s a gentle loving way to remind her you had her blessing back then and she has no reason to withdraw it now. Then you don’t get drawn into explaining anything over and over again or the ickiness.

Be Christ in her presence, reach out to her and let her feel His love through you.


#5

[quote=Lone Catholic]Looking for some advice here on keeping things smooth in the family this weekend. :wink: Here is the background: I am a convert… grew up in a fundamentalist type background. My mom and dad divorced when I was in college–he was a pastor in some crazy backwoods churches and got crazier as he got more religious. My mom divorced him after 24 years of marriage for emotional and physical abuse. It had gotten pretty bad by that time. She has since remarried and she and her husband go to an Episcopal church. She got very interested in liturgical worship and actually ended up going the Episcopal route about the same time I turned Catholic. She probably would be Catholic except for the annulment issue (not that she has looked into it at all nor does she want to), the Marian doctrines, and as she puts it “I just don’t like it that they say they are the ONE TRUE CHURCH!” Anywho… on to my problem. We talk alot about Catholic and Episcopal things… similarities in worship, differences in teachings, whatever. She knows that I cannot take communion in her church, and every time we have talked about it she acts quite snide about it, and even has asked me several times, “SO, if you go to my church, you can’t take communion?” She knows I can’t but she still asks. I still haven’t been to her church and I know she wants my family to go with her this Sunday and we’ll be at her house for Thanksgiving. She said “Well, I guess you can go to the Catholic church Saturday night and get the REAL host and then go with me on Sunday.” I guess I just want to find a way to nicely explain WHY I can’t take communion at her church. I hate this kind of ickiness in families. And she has been the one family member on either side of our families that has been supportive of me becoming Catholic. She drove 3 hours to come to my confirmation. I have gone through alot with my inlaws with this conversion and it has been great that my own mother has stood by me and supported me. So I want to keep things nice between us when it comes to the Church issue.

Long story. Any suggestions on how to word it nicely?
[/quote]

Sounds like she understands all too well WHY you can’t take communion at her church, it’s just that she resents the reason (i.e. that the Catholic Church believes it is “the one true church” and it beleives its communion is the “real” presence of Jesus. I would say to her “I hope and pray and work towards that the Episcopalian and Catholic Churches are united one day. But that day hasn’t come yet. To pretend that they are already united and share the same communion would be like I and my girlfriend anticipating the marriage act because we hope to be married one day.”


#6

Good points everyone. Thanks. Part of what I’m looking for, and maybe I just need to do some good research, but is a straight, to the point answer to the question of why. If I’m taking their “communion”, knowing full well it is not the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, but taking it as just a symbol… Why is that wrong? I’m just asking. I know it is, and I won’t take it, no question about that. For the why she can’t take part in the Eucharist at my Church, I would say that the Eucharist is a sign of unity of believers, and our 2 churches are not in unity. And that we believe it is the actual body of Christ (which she knows), and it wouldn’t be right for someone who didn’t believe that to receive it. Is that a correct answer? But what is the correct answer as to why I can’t receive their communion as just a symbol?


#7

[quote=Lone Catholic]Good points everyone. Thanks. Part of what I’m looking for, and maybe I just need to do some good research, but is a straight, to the point answer to the question of why. If I’m taking their “communion”, knowing full well it is not the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, but taking it as just a symbol… Why is that wrong? I’m just asking. I know it is, and I won’t take it, no question about that. For the why she can’t take part in the Eucharist at my Church, I would say that the Eucharist is a sign of unity of believers, and our 2 churches are not in unity. And that we believe it is the actual body of Christ (which she knows), and it wouldn’t be right for someone who didn’t believe that to receive it. Is that a correct answer? But what is the correct answer as to why I can’t receive their communion as just a symbol?
[/quote]

Basically…by taking communion in the Episcapal church, you would be downplaying what you believe, and what Catholicism revolves around…we Know it is more than a symbol.

For Tact…I would say this. Mom, you can’t take communion in a Catholic Church because you don’t believe all of the teachings, and when a person takes communion he is saying “I Believe!” I can’t take communion in your Church because of the same reason…it would be a lie. We can’t lie.

Love ya Mom…say nice things about something in her Church…

Maybe one day…your mom might look into Catholicism. These two Churches are somewhat similar…save the fact that we won’t ordain openly gay men or women!


#8

[quote=Lone Catholic] If I’m taking their “communion”, knowing full well it is not the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, but taking it as just a symbol… Why is that wrong? I’m just asking. I
[/quote]

Because it is a denial of your faith in the Real Presence to accept a symbol of it that claims to be real. It’s saying that the Eucharist is no big deal. This is kind of hard to understand, you’re right, I think a priest could explain it better.
But it could cause scandal, giving other people the message that the differences between the true and the false don’t matter to you.
I have a similar problem when I visit my in-laws church, I just smile and politely pass.


#9

[quote=Viki59]Because it is a denial of your faith in the Real Presence to accept a symbol of it that claims to be real. It’s saying that the Eucharist is no big deal. This is kind of hard to understand, you’re right, I think a priest could explain it better.
But it could cause scandal, giving other people the message that the differences between the true and the false don’t matter to you.
I have a similar problem when I visit my in-laws church, I just smile and politely pass.

[/quote]

I accompany my BF to his church (Seventh Day Adventist) They had one of their 13th Sabbath in which they have a communion service. The preacher invited ALL to partake. I politely declined. “It’s just a symbol .” I was told. “That’s where you are wrong” I said. …for me it isn’t"

                         ~ Kathy ~

#10

[quote=Katie1723] I politely declined. “It’s just a symbol .” I was told. “That’s where you are wrong” I said. …for me it isn’t"
[/quote]

Not disagree’ing with your comment – merely asking a question: Isn’t it just a symbol for non-Catholics since only ordained Catholic priests are able to convert bread into the body of Christ?

Meaning, if a Catholic were to receive communion from a non-Catholic preacher, it would still be a symbol because that preacher does not have the apostalic authority to convert bread into the body of Christ?


#11

I was going to suggest Stephanie’s approach, and what others have said, above all kindness and respect, she is your mother. If you get into a religious debate on a family holiday–well, we all know how that goes. Just thank her for being understanding and let her know how happy you are she has found a faith home and is happy in her new life. Tell her you are grateful she raised you to be honest, and for you communion in another church would be dishonesty.

this thread just reminded me of an encounter I had with a women in grad school, former Catholic turned Episcopalian, studying for their ministry. She made a point of forcing the issue trying to receive communion in the Catholic Mass. she asked me if I ever left the Catholic Church, would I continue to receive communion if the opportunity arose. I told her that the only circumstance that could ever drive me from the Church would be so dire as to be unimaginable, but if it happened, the last thing I would want would be to join her communion. It would be like having sex with your ex-husband after a bitter divorce, infidelity, abuse etc. She thanked me for that thoughtful reply. Just met another Episcopal priest who knows her, she has left the seminary and has returned to the Catholic Church. so you never know.

She had also pressed me to join her in communion in her church (I drove her around as she was handicapped). I replied that I had to much respect, as a historian, for the doctrinal differences that led to the separation of the two churches, and for those on both sides who died in defense of their differing beliefs, to pretend a communion and unity where none exists.


#12

According to a reliable priest source who incidentally used to be Episcopalian (amazing conversion story), the policy of not receiving communion except at a Catholic Church started in the early Church when heretical sects started popping up. A lot of people held the misconception that they could join other groups of so-called Christians and share in their Eucharistic meal.
The purpose was to prevent the faithful from being exposed to or confused by heretical doctrine taught by these groups.

For me, it is an issue of respect. I expect other denominations not to receive communion in the Catholic Church because receiving is a proclamation that you hold dear everything the Church teaches. Likewise, I cannot say that of any other Church. I also add to people who invite me to receive that I respectfully disagree with their teachings and regardless of the Catholic position would prefer not to disrespect them by pretending the churches enjoy unity.


#13

[quote=Lone Catholic]Good points everyone. Thanks. Part of what I’m looking for, and maybe I just need to do some good research, but is a straight, to the point answer to the question of why. If I’m taking their “communion”, knowing full well it is not the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, but taking it as just a symbol… Why is that wrong? I’m just asking. I know it is, and I won’t take it, no question about that. For the why she can’t take part in the Eucharist at my Church, I would say that the Eucharist is a sign of unity of believers, and our 2 churches are not in unity. And that we believe it is the actual body of Christ (which she knows), and it wouldn’t be right for someone who didn’t believe that to receive it. Is that a correct answer? But what is the correct answer as to why I can’t receive their communion as just a symbol?
[/quote]

Receiving communion in your mother’s Church would be wrong because it would witness to a unity that is not there. THEY believe it is the Real Presence: but it is not. Therefore you would be saying “Amen” to their belief that Christ is truly present.

Up until about 5 minutes ago, closed communion was the rule in the Episcopal Church, for the same reasons the Catholic Church restricts Communion today. I believe the practice of open communion is less than a decade old (don’t quote me).

I’m a convert to the Catholic Church. My daughter’s Godfather is an Anglican BISHOP, for pete’s sake! Yes, I attend his Masses (he’s retired and has a chapel in his home), and I participate in the worship, but I do not receive Communion, and he is perfectly understanding of that. We are sad for one another but respectful. He “gets it.”

Maybe that example would help your mother accept this more gracefully.


#14

[quote=Sir Knight]Not disagree’ing with your comment – merely asking a question: Isn’t it just a symbol for non-Catholics since only ordained Catholic priests are able to convert bread into the body of Christ?

Meaning, if a Catholic were to receive communion from a non-Catholic preacher, it would still be a symbol because that preacher does not have the apostalic authority to convert bread into the body of Christ?
[/quote]

Episcopalians claim the Real Presence; they believe their Episcopal consecrations and therefore their Orders are valid. So for them it is NOT a symbol.


#15

I remember hearing a while back that all Christian denominations had the policy of only giving their communion to their believers. For instance, you HAD to be Baptist to receive communion at a Baptist church. Unfortunately I don’t remember the details, but I’m sure you could find out more about this through an internet search or talking to your priest. Good luck!


#16

[quote=Sir Knight] …Meaning, if a Catholic were to receive communion from a non-Catholic preacher, it would still be a symbol because that preacher does not have the apostalic authority to convert bread into the body of Christ?
[/quote]

Symbol or not…there is only ONE place I receive communion…St. Margaret’s. Not to mention that my priest told me that often times “they” ( of the other church) see partaking as acceptance of their doctrine. And I don’t acceptine their doctrine

           ~ Kathy ~

#17

[quote=Katie1723]Symbol or not…there is only ONE place I receive communion…St. Margaret’s. Not to mention that my priest told me that often times “they” ( of the other church) see partaking as acceptance of their doctrine. And I don’t acceptine their doctrine
[/quote]

Completely agree. Just wanted to know if non-Catholic church were capable of having the real presence.


#18

I think you should say,

“Mom, when you keep saying that kind of thing you REALLY hurt my feelings and I wish you wouldn’t. Please give my religious choice the same respect I give yours.”

Should that not work, simply tell her that you will no longer discuss any aspect of religion with her and then don’t. Go silent, change the subject, discover an urgent need to use the bathroom, whatever.

If she knows she’s really hurting your feelings she should stop. If not just don’t take it, in a very nice and respectful way of course.


#19

Just thought I’d give a little update from my weekend… My mom and her husband watched my kids for me Saturday night so I could go to Mass, then my family went with her to her church on Sunday morning. It was a nice service with BEAUTIFUL music. I was amazed at how similar our services are (even though I know our histories, etc.) There were a couple of things that really struck me there. The main thing was that they kneel at the front of the church to receive communion. I thought that was interesting that they still show so much respect for the Eucharist. I know the Episcopalean church still teaches (officially) in the Real Presence. (I believe this is right). I know they referred to it as the Body and Blood. But I think most Episcopleans do not believe in the Real Presence–I know my mom doesn’t. We had some discussion about his over the weekend. But I find it interesting that the church itself teaches it, but allows anyone to take communion, whether or not they believe in it.

The other thing that was a bright spot for me was that my husband (who has not converted yet b/c of lots of questions he still has) participated in the service (more than he does at Mass, as in standing/kneeling, etc. with the congregation). Right before it was time to go up for communion (I just assumed he would take communion since he is a Christian and they have open communion) he whispered “Do they believe in the Real Presence?” I said I think so but not sure. He then said he wasn’t going to receive, it didn’t seem right. Afterwards, he told me the whole thing didn’t feel right, more like a substitute than the real thing. It’s a small thing but very encouraging to me.

Anyway, thanks everyone for your ideas. I think it helped to be prepared! My mom did keep hounding me and talking about WHY I had to go to my own Church, and WHY I couldn’t take their communion, and how sad it is that she and I can’t receive communion together. I just said that yes, it is sad that we are are not in unity together. I tried to keep the discussions simple. I always choke in the heat of the moment and forget what to say! But anyway, no major blowouts, just the little comments, but at least she is thinking about things.


#20

Thanks for the update. Sounds like it went rather well. Good for you in not biting the bait. Choking isn’t so bad, really, you kept the discussions simple, you agreed that it was sad not to be united on the Eucharist and then you were silent for the other barbs, that’s good!

How encouraging your husband’s gut instincts were! That is wonderful!! I will keep him in my prayers.


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.