Question about Eucharist from a Protestant perspective

I am not catholic, though my theology is very similar. When I go to mass with my family member who is catholic I am reminded that I am not welcome to commune. After much prayer and meditation I have arrived at a conclusion that scares me. I am seeking help in understanding where my conclusions are false. This is my logic.

Sacraments are symbols that convey what they symbolize. In the case of catholic sacraments, they all result in God giving grace to the participant.

Eucharist is the sacrament of Jesus’ death on the cross, which is how/when Jesus/God forgave our sins.

Because this is a sacrament, and it conveys what it symbolizes, it conveys forgiveness of all the participant’s sins. This is grace.

Further, Jesus’ death on the cross was the culmination of his love for humanity. It is the ultimate form of his love for us.

So, those who participate in Eucharist are given complete forgiveness for their sins, receive the ultimate form of grace, and are truly loved by Jesus. (How wildly powerful!)

This leaves those who are unwelcome to participate thinking where they stand. There are a myriad of reasons to not be welcome at Eucharist, being in a state of mortal sin, not being Catholic, not having forgiven someone who asked, and others that don’t come to mind at the moment.

Back to my logic.

Those who are unwelcome to participate in Eucharist do not receive what Eucharist conveys. These things are, forgiveness of their sins, God’s grace, Jesus’ love.

This conclusion screams one truth to me, Jesus didn’t die for you. Jesus doesn’t love you.

For obvious reasons, every mass I attend leaves me in despair, wondering why Jesus doesn’t love me. Surely, if he didn’t die for me then he doesn’t love me.

Needless to say, as I have been increasingly been attending mass I have been becoming more and more distant from God. I have tried reaching out to family and catholic clergy. No one has convinced me I’m wrong. I know that I must be wrong and I desperately need to know why.

Thank you for your time.

What you’re missing is this:

The Catholic Church is inviting you to receive Communion; and wants, very much, to admit you to Holy Communion.

The method by which that happens is to become Catholic and start receiving Christ in the Eucharist.

Christ, acting through His Body, which is the Church, is inviting you to receive Communion.

It’s your choice to accept that invitation, or to reject it.

Don’t feel that you’re being excluded because the exact opposite is true. You’re being invited.

And that pretty much sums it up. :thumbsup:

And remember, the Our Father says ‘thy will be done’ not ‘my will…’.

Pray, reflect and then please come home. You will be glad that you did.

While the Sacraments are the normal means by which God gives us his grace, God may do it in other ways. This article (ncregister.com/daily-news/encountering-the-grace-of-god-beyond-the-sacraments/) explains that God is not bound by the sacraments. He can save people without the sacraments, but those people are the exceptions, not the rule. I’m pretty sure there are only two categories of people who are saved without the Sacraments: They are either good people who did not know about the Sacraments, or truly repentant people who desired to receive the Sacraments, but did not have time to before death.

For those who are not in one of those categories: simply join the Catholic Church. All are welcome to join the Catholic Church and accept salvation. If you believe what the Catholic Church says about the Eucharist, as i assume you do, since it is troubling you so much, then why not join the Catholic Church? If you believe Christ offers salvation through the Sacraments administered by the Catholic Church, then why wouldn’t you join it? Joining the Catholic Church isn’t as quick and easy as joining a Protestant Church, though. We believe that it is important for people to learn about what it is they are committing to before they join, so, to become Catholic, you must first go through an RCIA program. This usually takes about a year. Don’t worry about dying and going to Hell during that year before being able to receive the sacraments. Remember the two categories of people who may be saved without sacraments. Stay in that second category, trust in God, and you’ll be okay. :thumbsup:

My question is being asked with all due respect, Father, as well as ignorance. Why should ANY Christian (or even non-Christian) be denied Holy Communion: was not this Sacrament established by Jesus Himself, or was it done so by the Church? If the latter, what is the justification for this particular rule of the Church?

Jesus DID die for every person that has ever lived or will live! All are welcome to his Catholic Church: Saint and sinner, rich and poor, slave and free, woman and man, Jew and gentile! One reason you must enter the Church before receiving the Eucharist is that by receiving the Eucharist you are stating your acceptance of all the Church’s teachings and that you are ready to engage in an intimate union with Christ and his Church. Please prayerfully consider entering the Church…see a priest in a local parish. God bless you on your journey.

If you want to participate in the Roman Catholic mass then the priest will direct you as to how you come into “full communion” with the Roman Church and then you will be able to partake of whatever it is they offer at their table.

As to whether Jesus died for you or not, I don’t know.

I assure you that I mean this with all respect: you’re still missing the point.

No one is denying you the Eucharist. The Church is not denying you, but inviting you.

The Church is inviting you, and indeed inviting everyone, to receive Communion.

The invitation is there. The method of accepting that invitation is to become Catholic----to be a member of the Church; to accept not only the Eucharist, but all the other graces of being a member of Christ’s Body.

No one is denying you Communion. Only you can deny it to yourself.

The Catholic Eucharist never gave me any comfort or joy, for the same reasons you cited above. I felt more judged than loved by God when I would go up. Presuming that I somehow had to be free of mortal sin to be worthy to partake. Being unsure if I was even free of them, or contrite at all, or if my contrition was perfect or imperfect or something else. It caused more pain than anything. I totally get what you are saying.

Thank you, Father.

Just to be clear, you’re saying that the Sacrament of the Eucharist presupposes an acceptance of the Church’s teachings (even if one does not entirely agree with all of them, I suppose) and also a union with the Church as well as Jesus? Is this because the Church is believed to be the mediator of Jesus’ teachings beginning with the Apostles?

I don’t know if this helps, but the Eucharist is not only a means of communion, but also a sign of the communion that exists among people. During the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest prays “in union with Francis our Pope and N. our bishop.” If you think Francis is a nice guy but has no authority and you don’t even know who the local bishop is, how can you be in union with them? Receiving communion, in part, means you believe what was in that prayer. So if you receive communion when you don’t believe it, you’d be living a lie. The Church wouldn’t ask you to do that. (The reverse side is that I couldn’t walk into a Methodist church, for example, and claim to be in communion with them by receiving their sacrament. I’m not in communion with them and can’t act in a way that says I am.)

Anyone who does want to be in union with the Pope and the local bishop (and their beliefs, their practices, and their teachings) is invited to do so. The door is open and the welcome mat is out.

1 Corinthians 11:27-29- Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. (RSVCE)

It’s not that we’re trying to be exclusionary, per se. We want to keep the sacrament holy. And in the name “Communion”, we mean that in receiving, you also affirm that you believe everything the Church teaches. So Catholics aren’t to receive in Protestant churches, even ones who believe in the Real Presence, because doing so would be saying “Yeah, forget that whole Council of Trent deal. You guys have a valid priesthood.”

So to the OP: Part of your confusion comes from a misunderstanding of what the Eucharist is.

Already, your theology differs from the Catholic Church’s. It does not merely symbolize his death on the cross. The sacrifice of the Mass is the very same one as on Calvary, presented throughout all of time and space. (If you’re a Whovian, think of Clara entering the Doctor’s time stream. If you’re a “normal” person, just remember that God’s outside of time, and thus his sacrifice is not bound that a particular moment)

Furthermore, following the Last Supper and the Bread of Life discourse, we believe that the Eucharist IS Jesus- body, blood, soul, and divinity. It’s not just a physical symbol of the re-presentation of the sacrifice on Calvary. It is Jesus offering himself to us as the Bread of Life.

So, those who participate in Eucharist are given complete forgiveness for their sins, receive the ultimate form of grace, and are truly loved by Jesus. (How wildly powerful!)

Another issue. The Eucharist doesn’t actually remit sins. If it did, 1 Cor would be pointless, as you could never not be in a state of grace receiving it.

There are a myriad of reasons to not be welcome at Eucharist, being in a state of mortal sin, not being Catholic,

These are the big two, yes.

This conclusion screams one truth to me, Jesus didn’t die for you. Jesus doesn’t love you.

Sure he did, and sure he does. Let’s look back at 1 Cor.

“For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.”

I’ll compare it to a lamp. Yes, light is good. But you should never stare directly at the bulb. That hurts your eyes. Instead, if you want to stare directly at your lamp for whatever reason, you should put of sunglasses or put a shade on it. The point isn’t to try to diminish the light of the lamp. The point is to protect ourselves from the raw power of the light.

Similarly, yes, the graces we receive from the Eucharist are good. But as St. Paul points out, if you aren’t properly disposed to receive that grace, you’re only bringing judgment upon yourself.

this entire post is sarcasm

So… Should I not be receiving then? I can only name my bishop (and archbishop) if I’m at school, not back home. :stuck_out_tongue: (It helps that the archbishop shares a name with a famous movie director)

Some wonderful answers already.
Just to add to the other replies on this.
The sacrament was indeed instituted by Christ himself and in the beginning it was offered to all Christians because all Christians were members of the One Holy Catholic Church. There were no other “Christian” Churches. It was not offered to non-Christians because they had not been properly trained to understand what it was.

As Fr David said - the Church invites all to the table.
The reason we do not permit participation to those not in full communion with the Church is for their own protection. Razanir quoted St Paul’s teaching on this and it is a good one. If one receives without properly discerning - they eat and drink judgement on themselves. The Church seeks to protect the uninitiated from this fate.

Correct. This is also why Catholics are forbidden from taking communion at protestant churches. To do so is seen to be an acceptance of their beliefs.
And yes - the Church is the mediator, the holder and disseminator of Jesus’ teachings.

Peace
James

I might also add that the Catholic Church does not exclude non-Catholics from receiving the Holy Eucharist as a ‘punishment’ for them not being Catholic, nor do they do it to make them feel like they are not welcome at Mass, because all people are welcome to attend Mass. It is really for their own soul’s protection. As St. Paul said: 1 Corinthians 11:[27] Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. [28] But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. [29] For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. The Catholic Church teaches that the Holy Eucharist is not just symbolic, but it is the Real Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. So, unless you truly believe that the Catholic Eucharist is the true flesh and blood of Jesus, then partaking of it is a very grave sin. Even Catholics who partake of it without having true faith that it is really Jesus’ Body and Blood, are also committing a grave sin.

One other thing that the OP said was that the Eucharist, in effect, ‘forgives sin’. This is only partially true. The Eucharist wipes away all venial (minor) sins, but it doesn’t wipe away mortal sins. This is the purpose of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). That’s why Catholics go to Confession if they have committed any mortal sin, before going to Communion.

As previous posters said, you should never think that God is rejecting you in any way, but He is actually inviting you to partake of the Mystery of the True Eucharist of Jesus Christ by becoming Catholic. Instead of pulling away from God, maybe you should be thinking about accepting His loving invitation, instead. Just a thought. :wink:

I’m sorry you have felt this way. For myself - the opposite is true. Though I am the lowliest and most inconsistent of servants, I actually feel welcomed and rejuvenated by the Eucharist. It is the highlight of my week.

I believe this might be because of a difference in outlook - and I am not directing these comments at you personally but rather that the outlook presented in your post that many seem to be trapped by.
The difference in outlook that I refer to is one of focus. The one who focuses on the rules, on the sin, on the unworthiness, on the judgement of God and other such negative things will indeed teeter on despair - which of course satan loves. He loves to get people in this legalistic state of mind and focused on all the negatives.

But this is not what the faith or the Eucharist are about…these are not what we should be focusing on.

Focus instead on the simplest of facts…
God sent His son because he Loves and and wishes to have mercy on us.
Jesus taught us that it is not “Law” that is important but our hearts. Do We Love?.
Jesus teaches us that all of the Law and all of the Prophets are built on two laws of Love.
Jesus died for us out of Love.
Jesus gave us a single “new commandment” - that we Love one another.
All that the Church teaches is founded in and built upon that command to Love.

Love and Mercy - these are the most foundational. Do your best to Love God and Love neighbor and you never need worry about being in Mortal sin.

Peace
James

Communion does forgive venial sins. It does not forgive mortal sins. But beyond that, as Catholics, we believe that the bread and wine truly becomes Jesus’s Body and Blood. Why? Because Jesus Himself said so at the Last Supper (all of the synoptic gospels, along with Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians, have Jesus saying “Take and eat. This is my Body, which will be given up for you; Take and drink. This is the chalice of my Blood - the Blood of the new and everlasting covenant, which will be shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.” The details are slightly different in each account (for instance, Paul has Jesus sharing the cup first), but the basics are the same. In additon, Jesus commands us to repeat this sacrifice forever - until He comes again in glory. But, truly, we are not re-sacrificing; there is only one true and final sacrifice - that of Jesus Christ sacrificing Himself for our sins. No, instead, the entire Eucharistic Prayer, which ends with the reception of Communion by the faithful, is almost like a time warp. Jesus Himself is speaking through the priest (seriously - it’s not the priest who’s talking during the Eucharistic Prayer - it’s Jesus Himself). We are not just doing a re-enactment - we are actually there at the Last Supper; at the Passion, Crucifixion, and Death; and at the Resurrection - not as bystanders, but as actual participants and witnesses. Jesus’s Death and Resurrection transcended all time and all space; as such, we are at the table with Him and with His apostles.

But only those who are in communion with the Church can receive. Why? First of all, because most who are not in communion with the Church actually believe what the Church teaches - that the bread and wine truly become Jesus (btw, the Church has no problem admitting Orthodox Christians to Communion, though they are encouraged to go to Mass in their own churches, if possible). The question is - do you believe what the Church teaches, and if so, why haven’t you joined Her? Of course, Catholics who take Communion while being in a state of mortal sin bring down judgment on themselves - and those who are angry with someone else or know that someone is angry with them should attempt to reconcile before receiving Communion.

As for your feeling further and further away from God, take heart. Jesus loves us all. The Father loves us all. And the Holy Spirit loves us all. What you are feeling is a burning desire to be closer to Jesus. And the realization that Jesus wants to dwell in you through reception of His sacrifice is making you burn inside. Never worry - Jesus isn’t rejecting you. As Fr. said, He is inviting you, because He loves you.

Dear meltzerboy, Jesus is our passover lamb. Read the account of the restrictions given to the Hebrews in Exodus 12:43-49. No foreigner was to partake of the passover then, unless he was of the household and circumcized. Hope this helps.

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