Question about Eucharist " enforcement "

Do lay people, ( not priests or religious or extraordinary ministers) who don’t give out the eucharist, but simply recieve, have the same obligation to watch for and either report or confront an abuse of the blessed sacrament. ( non-catholics receiving, receiving under known mortal sin or public opposition to Church Teachings, hiding the eucharist, etc,) I mean towards another person. Of course, one is responsible fully for one’s own approach to the blessed sacrament.

If some one pocketed the Eucharist this person won’t get to far from me…this is one of the things a lay person should be on guard for.However it is hard to see if one’s head is bowed in prayer.

the recipeient being in mortal sin, that may be harder to prove i think that might be something a lay person and the recipent to talk over with a priest.

Public denial, if one has publically denied the teaching would they be at the mass?
I feel we have some responsibilty in safe guarding our most precious treasure.

It is my belief that the lay faithful do have a very solemn obligation in this regard. The manner in which we discharge this obligation requires, among things, prudence.

  I think yes; but, not with the same level of authority.
  By that I mean that, as a lay person, I do not believe I have the authority to publicly admonish a non-Catholic, someone receiving unworthily (in mortal sin), or even someone in public opposition to Church Teaching, during the Mass, at the time of reception. That would lead to disruption of the Mass and even greater scandal, I would think. Lets look at the various categories you mention, in no particular order. I will try to keep this in the first person;

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*] ** Those who publicly defy the Church: **I do, however, have the right and the authority to admonish, even publicly, those who choose to publicly oppose the Church; but, should do so outside the Mass. This would include, letters to the editor, phone calls and emails to the person, and, better yet, personal conversations with those people. Those who make it a point to publicly dissent are in a different category because they chose to make their dissent public.
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] ** Non-Catholics:* These may be simply uninformed and therefore not culpable. In these cases, loving attempts to gently inform and timely invitations to begin the process to reception into the fullness of faith are best. At least, I think so.
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[LIST]
] Receiving under Mortal Sin: I must be careful how I judge this, lest I too be judged… Not everything is as obvious as it may seem. I would seek a private conversation with such a person. Determine if they are, in fact, in Mortal sin. One of the three factors that must be present for mortal sin may not be present! This could lead to a great teaching opportunity; but, I must be sure I *have been to confession and that there is no hypocrisy that this person can point to!
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]* Obvious attempts to steal, desecrate, or otherwise do harm to Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar:** Here I claim the right to make a “citizens arrest”! I have followed people whom I have seen pocket the Host, hide Him in the hand and go to the pew, attempt to leave the nave without having consumed the Host, etc. and insisted that they either consume Him or return Him. I will do so again if the situation occurs again. I say this because, in these cases, even if the person is innocently ignorant, there is imminent danger of desecration of the Blessed Sacrament, accidental or otherwise, which must be prevented.
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A good question.

I just got married in a nuptial Mass. I watched a handful of people who I knew were not Catholic come to receive.

While St. Paul warns all never to take the Eucharist unworthily, it’s important that other Catholics don’t become the “Eucharist cops” in this instance and make judgment on others, even non-Catholics. The priest was on guard and, being a special occasion, did notify non-Catholics of this point in a charitable way.

God will know who and who is not worthy. Some of the non-Catholics who did receive were essential in the wedding’s planning and have been some of the most deserving people to receive such a holy gift, differences in Christian doctrine notwithstanding. Again, it was not our place to call out such matters, however inappropriate, at the wedding.

If I saw someone profaning the Lord in the Eucharist at my wedding, however, I would have been out of my wedding pew *so *fast, space and time would have distorted.

Would believing that one was just getting a piece of bread be profaning the Lord?

Not quite. And that’s my point. To others not fully aware of its larger importance, receiving the Body reverently though not understanding that it is now the Body is less of an infraction than, say, taking the Host, dropping it on the floor and smashing it under your heel. The Body is spiritual food, but its accidents still make it communal food to others not fully versed in the nature of the Eucharist. Some people are a little denser than others, but their hearts and minds are in the right place when they see the glory of God presented to them and choose to receive it, even if they don’t fully comprehend it’s meaning. Why would I interfere in someone’s opportunity to meet the Lord as He intended for all, even if one isn’t fully prepared from a Catholic standpoint?

The Body is to be consumed as the Lord commanded. As long as consumption is reverently done by a non-Catholic, I will not judge them beyond giving them a caution later, as needed. A priest would have authority to make this judgment as well, as he is in persona Christi.

But destruction and mistreatment of the Body, that is, not consuming it or ignoring it by, say, stuffing it into a pocket, cannot stand and must be dealt with immediately.

Thank you :cool:

1 Corinthians 11:29
For he that eats and drinks unworthily, not discerning the body of the Lord eats and drinks damnation unto himself.

We owe it in charity to our non-Catholic brothers,( who believe the Eucharist is just some sort of special bread and wine in memory of Jesus, not His real and true Body and Blood), to warn them and help prevent them from possibly bringing damnation upon themselves by receiving Communion!

In response to the OP, the answer is a qualified yes.

IF one happens to see an “irregularity” or “abuse”, then it’s a good idea to let someone know about it.

However, if one is “on the lookout” for problems, I would suggest that such is not the proper frame of mind one should have when one approached the Sacrament.

I like Tomster’s use of the word, “prudence”. :thumbsup:

Excellent answer.
Re no.4, yes if I saw this happen I would do whatever it takes to prevent or avert the desecration of the Eucharist. Up to and including, (God grant me the courage!) a fight to the death in the extremely unlikely event that this should prove necessary if all other attempts at persuasion, threats or coercion had failed.

In the history of the Church there have been several people, both lay and clerical, who have given their lives in attempts to prevent the Blessed Sacrament being desecrated. The lay people didn’t ask their priest’s permission first. The Church calls them martyrs for the Faith.

My personal opinion is I feel we are not to police the Holy Communion. Besides this is a very solemn moment, most probably we do not know what others are doing if we are concentrating on the Communion and reveling at the physical presence of Christ. Any untoward act by any members of the congregation except for those on duty would merely distract the solemnity of the mass and creating scene.

What we certainly can do would report such incident to the priest or people in the liturgical committee if we know them or we can immediately tell those on duty - if they wear uniform or sash - they would have that appearance of authority and would be the proper people to do this job as people would be more inclined to listen to them.

There are many ways however to prevent such thing from happening in the first place. Short announcement or explanation by the commentator or the priest, though not always pleasant, do help greatly in helping people to understand the correct attitude and disposition towards the Holy Communion. I often commentate in wedding masses where many non-Catholics relative and friends would be present. The first thing I do before the mass starts would be to remind the congregation about the Holy Communion – that it is for practicing Catholics only and other features of the mass that they should know like whether to kneel or not. It does not take much time but it is worth saying.

That’s the very reason why it’s actually better for an ordinary member of the congregation to do this, rather than a communion minister having to interrupt his sacred duty to chase after someone walking away with the Body of Christ in his hand/pocket.

What we certainly can do would report such incident to the priest or people in the liturgical committee if we know them or we can immediately tell those on duty - if they wear uniform or sash - they would have that appearance of authority and would be the proper people to do this job as people would be more inclined to listen to them.

The appearance of authority is conveyed by manner and tone of voice. Someone abusing the sacrament is probably not a regular parishioner and would have no idea who the liturgy committee members are. Anyway the purpose of a liturgical committee is to contribute to discusision of how to make the parish’s liturgies effective and appropriate. Joing a liturgy committee does not make one a “super-Catholic” who has some special authority over others than ordinary Catholics do not have. We all have a duty to protect the Blessed sacrament if the occassion arises. No that does not mean constantly spying on others suspecting them of trying to abuse the Eucharist, but if you see it happen right in front of you, then for God’s sake (literally) do something, don’t just sit there hoping “someone in authority” will do something or that you’ll tell someone afterwards. Quite possibly you were the only person who saw what happened and who knows it was an abuse of the sacrament.

There are many ways however to prevent such thing from happening in the first place. Short announcement or explanation by the commentator or the priest, though not always pleasant, do help greatly in helping people to understand the correct attitude and disposition towards the Holy Communion. I often commentate in wedding masses where many non-Catholics relative and friends would be present. The first thing I do before the mass starts would be to remind the congregation about the Holy Communion – that it is for practicing Catholics only and other features of the mass that they should know like whether to kneel or not. It does not take much time but it is worth saying.

:thumbsup: Well done. I only wish this was done in my parish. Nobody at our parish church is ever reminded that Communion is just for Catholics (who have fasted and are in the state of grace and who wish to receive it and have not received at an earlier Mass that day).

On the other hand, that makes sense too.

That’s what I was thinking since I don’t favor immediate action. They (and the priest) would be the people who probably can institute changes and think of something to address the problem.

If I am sitting or standing next to the person, most probably I’ll do that. Hopefully I’ll manage to muster enough courage to do that though, that’s why the easier way for me would be to refer it to somebody else. :stuck_out_tongue:

A few years back I brought a cousin (he passed away shortly that year) to the mass. He was suffering from cancer and was baptized quite hastily earlier on and I was the sponsor. He was behind me in line for the Communion. He did not put the host immediately into his mouth after receiving it but clutched it in his hands for a while. I did not notice anything amiss but after the mass one of the EEM came over and told my cousin that he had to eat the host. Most probably he did not ‘look Catholic’ or perhaps he seemed to be hesitating after receiving the host and that possibly caught the EEM’s attention. My cousin was quite sensitive about being told about it. I asked him what happened. He said he ate the host but it was on the way back to the pew. So I told him that he had to consume it right away as it was the policy of the church here.

I don’t know, this is not as easy as it seems.

Another time it was during a midnight Christmas vigil many years back. I was very much younger then. I noticed a man, looking quite drunk but I knew him. He was quite a personality in town (he was not Catholic). He was standing at the back, the Cathedral was full. I did notice him and true enough he went up to receive the Holy Communion. Somehow I approached and told him to stop and I also told the EEM not to give him the host. It was a big crowd and in the milieu, it was not that noticeable, so no scene was created actually. I heard after the mass amid the noise as everybody was exchanging Christmas greetings with each other, he was making a ruckus and plainly bad mouthing me for stopping him. He also claimed he was a Catholic (which was obviously a lie). Anyway it was quite unpleasant experience for me and I’ve never really known whether I had done the right thing or not.

God bless.

In our parish, Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers are given strict instruction to ensure that communicants must consume the host immediately if they receive it by hands. Quite often did I see them caught up after a communicant if he/she did not put the host into his/her mouth on receiving the host. The communicant line would simply stop to wait for him to come back. It was quite orderly and no confusion seemed to arise. I can imagine though if the EEM wait long enough and the culprit communicant is already quite far away it would be quite a distance for him to cover.

However wedding mass is quite different in the sense that probably there will be more non-Catholics in attendance and with less or no EEM on duty. That would make the celebrant the sole communion dispenser. But since that mass is more private it is easier too to make instructive announcement.

We don’t do this in our parish either, nor do we have any statement in the front cover of the Missel or the bulletin. I think this would be pretty effective, that is reminding visitors what the “rules” are. :thumbsup:

I think everbody that’s been posting will agree that you did the proper thing.:thumbsup:

Thanks. God bless.

It seems to me that the Church should possibly dedicate
More teaching on the subject.
My Pastor put it best at the Feast of Corpus Christi, that EMHC are not Eucharist Lexicon dispensers. He said this to some cheering in the congregation. I feel some reaffirmation to the Eucharist and how HOLY it IS. Would help with some understanding.
It is sad as some are so reverent and others every week seem to treat Mass as a bother. My prayers go to them as I wish they understood better what it is they actually receive. But, one cab only pray for them and hope they are enveloped in the peace Christ can bring.

I don’t think anyone here said that it is easy. But it is our duty as people who know what’s right to point it out to the ignorant and to stymie the deliberately mischievous about such a sacred matter.

Another time it was during a midnight Christmas vigil many years back. I was very much younger then. I noticed a man, looking quite drunk but I knew him. He was quite a personality in town (he was not Catholic). He was standing at the back, the Cathedral was full. I did notice him and true enough he went up to receive the Holy Communion. Somehow I approached and told him to stop and I also told the EEM not to give him the host. It was a big crowd and in the milieu, it was not that noticeable, so no scene was created actually. I heard after the mass amid the noise as everybody was exchanging Christmas greetings with each other, he was making a ruckus and plainly bad mouthing me for stopping him. He also claimed he was a Catholic (which was obviously a lie). Anyway it was quite unpleasant experience for me and I’ve never really known whether I had done the right thing or not.

God bless.

If you were morally certain that he was not a Catholic or that he was drunk, you definitely did the right thing.

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