SPLIT: "I am not worthy to receive you" = open communion?

I hope this isn’t too unrelated, but the one thing I’ve not grasped is why if we are saying these words, and Jesus was healing and inviting in all sorts of people against Jewish laws, why don’t these words signify a communion that is open to all, even non-Catholics? With one word, Jesus could well have his body and blood freely open to all. So why is it not right for non-Catholics to receive communion, assuming their intent is not to desecrate the body and blood of Christ?


It is a poor translation of Matthew 8:8

Matthew 8:8-13

8 But the centurion answered him, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, Go,' and he goes, and to another, Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, `Do this,’ and he does it." 10 When Jesus heard him, he marvelled, and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; be it done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

Matthew 8:8 is here used, as it is an act of faith, which Jesus personally marvelled at and praised as being greater than anything he had encountered in all Israel.

Excellent. Another important reminder for us all that Biblical verses must be understood in context.

Quite often certain Biblical verses are thrown at Catholics by enthusiatic evangelical Christians and because they seem to know their Bible very well Catholics may not have the chance to really read the whole passage and study the verse in context to really discuss meaningfully with them.

In the light of Mt 8:8, do Christians really have the faith that the Eucharist is really what the Church says it is? If they don’t, then they should not even thinking about receiving it.

lel, several years ago I used to have a similar view to the one you’re expressing here so I know your heart is likely in the right place. However, once my understanding and appreciation of the Real Presence grew I realized that “open communion” is inappropriate. Christ does want to share Himself with all people, but we must not abuse the Holy Eucharist. If anyone who is not Catholic truly wants to receive the Lord then they would be willing to go through the process of becoming Catholic in order to do so.

Remember Paul states clearly concerning the Holy Eucharist:

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.” - 1 Corinthians 11:27-29

Now, if someone is not a Christian and does not believe that Christ is the Son of God then how can they possibly receive the Lord in a worthy manner? Likewise, if someone is a Christian, but does not believe in the Real Presence as we Catholics do, how can they possibly receive the Lord in a worthy manner? This is why it is necessary for those who receive Holy Communion to be Catholic (or in some extremely rare circumstances Orthodox, but that’s a different conversation altogether). And even this is not enough if that person is in a state of mortal sin for instance.

Also, even if a Catholic is in a state of grace they can still receive the Lord unworthily and sadly many Catholics do just that according to the latest Pew Report statistics which state that something around 45% of Catholics do not believe that the Holy Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ! And if one receives the Lord in a disrespectful or otherwise unworthy manner then they are guilty of a grave sin (and potentially a mortal sin if knowledge and consent are present), so to let those who currently cannot receive our Lord worthily do so would actually be doing spiritual harm to them as well as disrespecting the Lord.

May I add a couple of things?

At the Reformation Protestants disagreed with Church teaching on what the Eucharist is, we didn’t exclude them from it, they exclude themselves because they are not in communion, i.e. they do not accept that we receive the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ in the most blessed Sacrament of the altar.

Second, assenting to the Real Presence is part of Redemption. Jesus act of Redemption is like medicine that will save us, all of us, but in order to be saved, we have to receive that medicine. When we receive the Sacraments, we give our assent in faith to His saving work and it is through this assent in faith we are incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ.

The Body and Blood of Jesus is open to all. Its us that is the problem. If we do not belong to His Church and do not profess the proper faith to Him, then receiving Him would be a lie. The Eucharist is not a power pill that gives us a dose of Jesus and makes us instantly holy or we receive some sort of blessing. When we east His flesh and drink His blood, we commune with Him, He takes us and makes us one in His Body. Now, think of your own body, every cell works with each other for the common good of your body. If you are not in a harmonious relationship with the other cells, you’re a virus or cancerous cell. You are not working with the body but working against it. That is why it is important that we as potential members of this Body be working with the others through unity in faith in Christ.

Another reason we NEED that new English translation.

In Christ,

Until you openly accept the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, you are NOT a Catholic. Therefore, you should not be attempting to violate the teachings of the church by advocating that you (or others) violate those rules by receiving the Eucharist when you are not entitled to do so.

You are attempting to utilize one brief Bible passage, completely out of context, in order to justify your illicit belief.

You title yourself “RCIA Dropout”. I gather from this that you literally did not complete the RCIA process, yet you presume to dictate what Catholics should and should not allow?

I fail to see the connection between those words and open communion. When I utter those words before communion, it is in the deepest respect for the Eucharist, a mystery in which I fully believe: I truly believe that the host I am about to receive is the Body of Christ really and physically present.

We do allow open communion in one circumstance: for the Orthodox who share our belief in the Real Presence, and for whom apostolic succession guarantees that their own Eucharist is valid.

The problem with opening communion to other non-Catholics, is that many view the Eucharist as merely a symbol. My uttering of those words is in a sense of humility that I a so very much smaller than He whom I am going to receive. They are meaningless to someone who merely thinks he or she is consuming a piece of bread that is a symbol of the Last Supper.

It makes no sense to say that I am not worthy to eat a piece of bread. But it makes eminent sense if whom we are communing with is the living Christ made truly present.

Also note that prayers before communion vary throught the Catholic Church with different ritual Churches. To open Roman Catholic Communion is to open Communion for all Catholic Churches. To base it on the prayer of one particular Church would disregard the entire view of the Church. Let me share the Ukrainian Church’s prayer before Communion:

*I believe, O Lord, and confess that You are truly Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first. Accept me this day, O son of God, as a partaker of Your mystical Supper. I will not tell the mystery to Your enemies, nor will I give You a kiss as did Judas, but like the thief, I confess to You:
Remember me, O Lord, when You come into Your kingdom.
Remember me, O Master, when You come into Your kingdom,
Remember me, O Holy One, when You come into Your kingdom.
May the partaking of Your Holy Mysteries, O Lord, be unto me not for judgment or condemnation but for the healing of the soul and body.
God, be merciful to me a sinner.
God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me.
I have sinned without number, forgive me, O Lord. *

The highlight is mine. I think its pretty clear that we do not want the Mystery of the Eucharist be given to the “enemies” of Christ, which is those who either do not accept Him and His teachings, or those who distort them. Remember that St. Paul said that if one is to teach a Jesus other than the Jesus they teach, then that is a false teacher. So not anyone who calls out to Him, He will heed their call. This are for those who think of Jesus as any other than the one who He has revealed Himself to be.

Also note the first line that there is already a confession of belief. If you do not have that belief, why are you then worthy to receive Him?

I lean heavily toward Eucharistic Hospitality and am very pleased my own local church offers it and announces it before each and every service:

St. John’s is committed to Eucharistic hospitality. Admission to the Supper is by Christ’s invitation to all the baptized. In order to receive Holy Communion at St. John’s no other condition is required than that the guest is a communing member of his or her own church and that he or she believes that the true body and blood of Christ are really present in, with and under the bread and wine in Holy Communion. No guest is ever questioned or turned away–all who come to the altar desiring to be communed will be given the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Might make more sense in today’s English-speaking world but it’s still only a translation. However, it should change your understanding of the truth. But will it send enough to confession before they receive?

This was originally part of a thread. In that context it was clear that I was trying to ask a question but due to decisions beyond my control that context is lacking and without said context my OP sounds like I am being demanding and wish to counter Church teaching.

I know you didn’t say anything to counter Church teaching. You asked a legitimate question. And harleymartin, I believe, summarized it best by stating that the “I am not worthy” clause is an act of faith and a PERSONAL one at that. Is it saying that the sacrament is not needed? Not at all, it should enhance the value of worthy communion. Would “openness” to everyone there enhance it even more? Unless you know that Christ is actually there, I can’t see how it would enhance the value of worthy communion. There are other ways of expression that type of communion where one doesn’t believe in the Real Presence of communion. The Polish, for example, have a opłatek exchange at Christmas time. (This opłatek has exactly the same ingredients as the host used in the distribution of communion, but it’s unconsecrated.) This would be more of an “open communion.” Belief in the Real Presence (or that Christ is really there) is the real issue here. There are even some Catholics who don’t believe in the Real Presence, but one can’t use them as an example of “if they’re allowed to receive, everyone in the world should receive as well.”

I had this question too, and a priest cleared it up pretty nicely for me. Here was his answer:

There is a difference between being “worthy” to receive Jesus, and being “disposed” to receive Jesus.

NO ONE is WORTHY enough to receive Jesus. Not the Pope, not the saints, no one. So when we all say we aren’t worthy to receive Jesus, we’re reminding ourselves that we don’t deserve it and adopting a spirit of humility.

However, some aren’t even DISPOSED. These are non-Catholics, Catholics who are in the state of sin or aren’t practicing, or Catholics who did not observe the Communion fast. They have not been properly prepared to receive.

So the quote you gave, actually has nothing to do with open communion because the reason some people can’t receive isn’t because they aren’t worthy, but because they aren’t disposed.

I’d get into the whole topic of WHY non-Catholics shouldn’t receive, but the above posters I think have covered it pretty well.

Hope that helps!

Perhaps this quote from the catechesis that the Holy Father offered this morning might help:

On the subject of the third characteristic, “the breaking of bread”, the Holy Father noted that “communion in Christ’s sacrifice is the pinnacle of our union with God and, therefore, it also represents the completeness of the unity of Christ’s disciples, full communion”. In this context he noted also how "the impossibility of sharing the same Eucharist … also gives a penitential dimension to our prayers. This must be a reason for ever more generous commitment on everyone’s part so that, having removed the obstacles to full communion, the day may come when it will be possible to gather around the table of the Lord, together breaking the Eucharistic bread and drinking from the same chalice.

I hope this helps.

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