I hope that I am posting this in the correct forum. I am Protestant, but attend a Catholic Church because my wife is Catholic. It did not matter much when we were first married (10 years ago), but has caused some issues over the last year and a half as I have become more religious. I started reading a book about the Catholic Faith to try to get a better understanding of what it teaches. One of the things that it mentioned is that non-Catholics are not suppose to participate in the sacraments. I never realized this. This is upsetting to me because I want to participate in the Eucharist. I dont know what to do. What if I decide to participate anyway? Am I sinning against God, disrespecting the church, causing the Priest to sin? Any help would be appreciated.
Hi! Thanks for your question. It is a common one on the Catholic Answers Forums.
The receiving of the Blessed Sacrament by Catholics shows a most important unity. It shows a unity not just with God, but in the meaning behind the Real Presence, that the wafer is no longer bread but the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ.
It’s not that Catholics don’t want you or other non-Catholics to be denied. We are actually trying to ensure that you do not commit a blasphemous act by receiving without understanding the meaning–and to be in full belief (fullness) with the faith for which it represents. You should definitely not receive without becoming a Catholic.
the reason the Catholic Church only allows Catholics to receive the Eucharist is actually to protect non Catholics. We believe it’s really Jesus’ Body and Blood… and should only be received after confessing mortal sins. If a non Catholic receives Communion, they might not believe it’s really Jesus, and would not have gone to Confession, so this might be dangerous for them (as it says in St Paul’s letters to the Corinthians I believe). We must “discern the Body and Blood of the Lord”. There is preparation that we go through in order to receive the Eucharist, and we wouldn’t want someone to receive without this proper preparation (Catholic or non Catholic, but the Catholics have a responsibility to prepare themselves, and Protestants can’t without access to other Sacraments).
I know this might be difficult to hear…
If you have received the Eucharist prior to this point, - you did so in ignorance and not out of any disrespect. But now that you know the Church teaching, it would not only be disrespectful to ignore it, but more importantly it might be dangerous for your soul. I know this might sound strange too, but - Communion is very serious, its very powerful spiritually, we can only receive it after Confession and fasting.
We might want to clarify this a bit. There is a one hour period of time that we should not eat before receiving the Eucharist; not everybody calls it a “fast”, but that’s essentially what it is. It’s not like fasting in Lent where you skip a meal or eat less, it’s a prescribed period of time before communion where we don’t eat.
As well, we don’t have to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) before we receive the Eucharist unless we are in a state of Mortal sin. While it still is a good idea to participate in this Sacrament even if we are not in a state of Mortal sin, it is not required.
Thank you for the responses and the links. I am still having a tough time with this though. I do not want to disrespect the church and I am concerned that I may be commiting a blasphemous act. But based on what I believe now, I feel that I am disrespecting Jesus by not participating Eucharist.
I wish that you wouldn’t. You would be lying if you approach and take the Eucharist. It would be theft. When we Catholics approach the Eucharist we are to do so after carefully discerning the Body of Christ. As St. Paul says we bring judgment, or damnation in some translations ,upon our souls if we don’t. If you approach the Eucharist and say “Amen” you would be committing an outright blasphemy and lie. When we Catholics say “Amen” we are declaring our belief in the Eucharist and the Church who is bringing it to us. You will not be doing that. So it will be a lie.
I’m sure you are a very good and loving person but I find it hard to believe that you are completely in a state of grace and have no need for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
I do believe it would be a sin against God for you to receive since you have knowledge of the restrictions. When a Catholic receives communion while not in a state of grace we do not receive any grace from it and again as St. Paul says most likely receive damnation if we are not in ignorance of our transgressions and the truth of the Eucharist.
I have no doubt that God is calling you to the Eucharist. No doubt at all. However, he is calling you to do what is necessary for you to be able to receive the Eucharist, which is become a member of his church, the body of Christ. Seek to unite yourself with the Pillar and Foundation of Truth , which is the the church the Christ founded. Then you will find the sustenance that you desire. Then you will experience the full unity that your soul seems to be desiring.
The problem arises when someone wants to receive Christ whole and complete in the eucharist. But refuses to accept the authority of His Church, and all that He teaches through her. One must be fully united to Christ’s Mystical Body the Church, to receive Christ’s Eucharistic Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
Jesus IS calling you thru the Eucharist, however He is calling you to come home to the Catholic Church so you CAN participate in the fullness of the faith and receive His precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. RCIA classes are definitely appropos at this time for you. Please contact the priest or director of the RCIA program if one is so named in your Church bulletin and get started right away. Disrespecting Jesus is the last thing you want to do as you said. To refuse to attend the Rite of Christian Initiation at this point is definitely self will if you feel called by Jesus. Please pray about this and carefully consider why you are not willing to take the next correct step to be in full communion. Learning more about the truth of the Catholic faith cannot hurt you in any way, even if after attending you decide that you do not wish to become Catholic! Take a step of faith and sign up for the classes. You will be so glad you did!
Like you, I am a non-Catholic with a Catholic wife. I attend mass with my wife every Sunday and I do not receive communion. Why? Not because I believe some silliness about it being dangerous for a non-Catholic, but because as a non-Catholic, I have been asked not to (it’s on the last page of the missal). I can’t imagine why someone would go to a place of worship and purposely disrespect the rules. If you want to receive communion, go someplace where your participation would not be in violation of that church’s teaching. :shrug:
Please remember to answer the OP’s question rather than engaging in any side issues inadvertently raised in responses. If you wish to discuss a side issue with another member PM him or start another thread in the appropriate forum and invite all interested to join in that discussion. Thank you, everyone.
When you receive the Sacrament, you are not just receiving the Body & Blood of Christ. You are also proclaiming your unity with the whole assembly gathered there. If you were to receive in a Roman Catholic Church, you would be advertising that you agree with the RCC on all points. Are you really ready to make that affirmation? And if so, why not go the prescribed route and enter the Church yourself?
At the very least, courtesy demands that you respect club rules–even if you don’t agree with them. When you visit a friend’s house, you have to respect that friend’s customs. If the custom there is to remove your shoes when you come in, then you do that–even if that’s not your custom at home. To keep your shoes on would be rude. See what I’m getting at?
Just remember that there are other ways to receive our Lord in the Eucharist than ingesting the Host. If Jesus is unlimited, then there are no limits to the method He may come to us.
Remember to regularly attend Eucharistic Adoration. I’ve spent a few years in several-times weekly adoration - a that was prior to my becoming Catholic.
And what I did at Mass was to ask Our Lord to give me the same graces and blessings I would receive as if I were to ingest the Blessed Sacrament. Even though I wasn’t going up to receive Holy Communion like the Catholics, I could be changed by His Presence nonetheless.
One other thing I did before I became Catholic was to enjoy watching people going up to receive Communion. I like to sit in back of our church and watch, and I like to watch when Mass is televised, especially when it’s the Holy Father celebrating. I would bask in the spiritual light that they were receiving and thank Jesus for his Real Presence . . and I would forget that I wasn’t walking up there myself. I guess I could describe it as uniting myself with the spiritual moment.
What about someone who has received all the church’s sacraments believes in the Real Presence of Christ but has been attending a Prostestant Church? I have been receiving the Eucharist and felt it was all right because I believe it is the body and blood of Christ. My husband does not wish to come back at this time to the Catholic church but I am currently going to Mass as well.
Thank you for all of the thoughtful responses.
I did find some info on RCIA in the back of my bulletin and sent an email requesting additional information.
I have prayed about this and will continue to do so.
No you are actually gvig Him RESPECT and love by not participating in the Eucharist! You also show your love by atending in the Mass. While everyone is receiving communion, why don’t you pray to the Lord and say “I know I am unable to receive you my Lord, but spiritually I ask that you be in me, and through your will, one day I shall receive you fully Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.”
God knows what your heart seeks and one day you shall attain it. If you have problems of converting to the One True Faith, I suggest first by prayer. Then I suggest reading the life of the saints, especially my favorite St. Augustin of Hippo (trust me on this one).
If a Catholic leaves the church and does not attend Mass or fulfill all our other obligations they may not present themselves for communion until they go to confession. Were you married according to the teaching of the church? That may be another obstacle to navigate. Welcome back. Prayers for the rest of the journey.
You list your religion at “Protestant” and not Catholic! Therefore you should not be receiving the Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord in the Eucharist. You are not in full communion with the Church and that is necessary in order to receive this sacrament. Please buy a Catechism and learn what is permissible. Better yet, meet with a priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and confess this grave sin. He will help you get straightened out, if at all possible. You need major help.
Sherry, with all due respect, I think that you contradicted yourself (perhaps, without meaning to) in your second to the last sentence. Because the OP is Protestant, the Sacrament of Confession is not an option, as this is only reserved to Catholics. You are on-target with everything else, though.