Taking communion at nondenominational service


#1

I work in a Christian workplace, but I am one of the few Catholics on staff. We are having a company-wide communion service during Holy Week, and the last time one of these happened, I was literally the only person (in a room of 900 people) who did NOT take communion.

I am really struggling on how to deal with this upcoming service. Skipping is not really an option (as EVERYONE attends) and I can’t very well explain my reasoning for not partaking in communion to each and every person.

Advice, words of wisdom, and prayer are all welcome.


#2

You did the right thing last time, standing firm in your beliefs like that is the best way to go. Those who care about you in your workplace will inquire as to why you did not receive, it can be an opportunity for explanation and possibily even evangelisation, don't feel pressured into doing something you know to be in conflict with your Catholic faith or to try and explain it to every single one of your 900 co-workers, as our New Holy Father(following Pope emeritus Benedict's example) reminds us actions speak louder than words in drawing people to the truth.

God bless, you are in my prayers.


#3

[quote="UnCatholicBride, post:1, topic:319417"]
I work in a Christian workplace, but I am one of the few Catholics on staff. We are having a company-wide communion service during Holy Week, and the last time one of these happened, I was literally the only person (in a room of 900 people) who did NOT take communion.

I am really struggling on how to deal with this upcoming service. Skipping is not really an option (as EVERYONE attends) and I can't very well explain my reasoning for not partaking in communion to each and every person.

Advice, words of wisdom, and prayer are all welcome.

[/quote]

Stand firm....don't worry about what everyone else thinks. They are following what they believe. You follow your faith. If people ask...then you can explain to them. But you don't have to explain to all 900 people...and probably most of them aren't wondering...you just feel like they are. It's an opportunity for a moment of grace and to stand up for the Body and Blood of our Lord.

I will pray for you tonight at our Chrism Mass.:thumbsup:


#4

Stand firm and do not degrade yourself by partaking of their meaningless imitation of our beloved gift, the Eucharist. You were definitely in the right, and I applaud you for it! If anyone asks, take the opportunity to explain that their gesture is a pale imitation of the true Eucharist.. maybe in nicer language.... Perhaps you'll get a few people who were unaware of the real presence interested in learning more :p


#5

I echo all the above. Being "different" is not a bad thing! ;)


#6

[quote="UnCatholicBride, post:1, topic:319417"]
I work in a Christian workplace, but I am one of the few Catholics on staff. We are having a company-wide communion service during Holy Week, and the last time one of these happened, I was literally the only person (in a room of 900 people) who did NOT take communion.

I am really struggling on how to deal with this upcoming service. Skipping is not really an option (as EVERYONE attends) and I can't very well explain my reasoning for not partaking in communion to each and every person.

Advice, words of wisdom, and prayer are all welcome.

[/quote]

Did anyone ask the last time? Sit in the back where you can't be as noticed when people go up. You basically can't receive as you know and with 900 people, I doubt if anyone notices especially if you sit in the back.


#7

Just say you're not hungry. After all, it's not really the body and blood of Christ up there, so it's really just a snack :)


#8

[quote="LaSainte, post:7, topic:319417"]
Just say you're not hungry. After all, it's not really the body and blood of Christ up there, so it's really just a snack :)

[/quote]

Oh my.....


#9

I of course meant at the non-denominational service. At the Holy Mass, it is of course the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ up there on the altar :slight_smile:


#10

How can you possibly know whether 899 people all took Communion, and how can 899 other people possibly know if you did? The Catholic Church is not the only church that has closed communion - the Orthodox and some Protestant sects do as well. If anybody asks, tell them that you're Catholic, and the Catholic Church doesn't allow Catholics and non-Catholics to take communion together.


#11

You did the right thing and Pope John Paul the Great's encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia will give you concise responses to any questions you might have or face.

Here's the relevant sections:

  1. In considering the Eucharist as the sacrament of ecclesial communion, there is one subject which, due to its importance, must not be overlooked: I am referring to the relationship of the Eucharist to ecumenical activity. We should all give thanks to the Blessed Trinity for the many members of the faithful throughout the world who in recent decades have felt an ardent desire for unity among all Christians. The Second Vatican Council, at the beginning of its Decree on Ecumenism, sees this as a special gift of God.89 It was an efficacious grace which inspired us, the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church and our brothers and sisters from other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, to set forth on the path of ecumenism.

Our longing for the goal of unity prompts us to turn to the Eucharist, which is the supreme sacrament of the unity of the People of God, in as much as it is the apt expression and the unsurpassable source of that unity.90 In the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice the Church prays that God, the Father of mercies, will grant his children the fullness of the Holy Spirit so that they may become one body and one spirit in Christ.91 In raising this prayer to the Father of lights, from whom comes every good endowment and every perfect gift (cf. *Jas *1:17), the Church believes that she will be heard, for she prays in union with Christ her Head and Spouse, who takes up this plea of his Bride and joins it to that of his own redemptive sacrifice.

  1. Precisely because the Church's unity, which the Eucharist brings about through the Lord's sacrifice and by communion in his body and blood, absolutely requires full communion in the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments and ecclesiastical governance, it is not possible to celebrate together the same Eucharistic liturgy until those bonds are fully re-established. Any such concelebration would not be a valid means, and might well prove instead to be an obstacle, to the attainment of full communion, by weakening the sense of how far we remain from this goal and by introducing or exacerbating ambiguities with regard to one or another truth of the faith. The path towards full unity can only be undertaken in truth. In this area, the prohibitions of Church law leave no room for uncertainty,92 in fidelity to the moral norm laid down by the Second Vatican Council.93

I would like nonetheless to reaffirm what I said in my Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint after having acknowledged the impossibility of Eucharistic sharing: “And yet we do have a burning desire to join in celebrating the one Eucharist of the Lord, and this desire itself is already a common prayer of praise, a single supplication. Together we speak to the Father and increasingly we do so 'with one heart'”.94

  1. While it is never legitimate to concelebrate in the absence of full communion, the same is not true with respect to the administration of the Eucharist* under special circumstances, to individual persons *belonging to Churches or Ecclesial Communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church. In this case, in fact, the intention is to meet a grave spiritual need for the eternal salvation of an individual believer, not to bring about an *intercommunion *which remains impossible until the visible bonds of ecclesial communion are fully re-established.

This was the approach taken by the Second Vatican Council when it gave guidelines for responding to Eastern Christians separated in good faith from the Catholic Church, who spontaneously ask to receive the Eucharist from a Catholic minister and are properly disposed.95 This approach was then ratified by both Codes, which also consider – with necessary modifications – the case of other non-Eastern Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church.96

  1. In my Encyclical* Ut Unum Sint* I expressed my own appreciation of these norms, which make it possible to provide for the salvation of souls with proper discernment: “It is a source of joy to note that Catholic ministers are able, in certain particular cases, to administer the sacraments of the Eucharist, Penance and Anointing of the Sick to Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church but who greatly desire to receive these sacraments, freely request them and manifest the faith which the Catholic Church professes with regard to these sacraments. Conversely, in specific cases and in particular circumstances, Catholics too can request these same sacraments from ministers of Churches in which these sacraments are valid”.97

(Cont'd)


#12

These conditions, from which no dispensation can be given, must be carefully respected, even though they deal with specific individual cases, because the denial of one or more truths of the faith regarding these sacraments and, among these, the truth regarding the need of the ministerial priesthood for their validity, renders the person asking improperly disposed to legitimately receiving them. And the opposite is also true: Catholics may not receive communion in those communities which lack a valid sacrament of Orders.98

The faithful observance of the body of norms established in this area 99 is a manifestation and, at the same time, a guarantee of our love for Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, for our brothers and sisters of different Christian confessions – who have a right to our witness to the truth – and for the cause itself of the promotion of unity.

Emphasis mine...


#13

[quote="UnCatholicBride, post:1, topic:319417"]
I work in a Christian workplace, but I am one of the few Catholics on staff. We are having a company-wide communion service during Holy Week, and the last time one of these happened, I was literally the only person (in a room of 900 people) who did NOT take communion.

[/quote]

Well done. You should not even be there, in fact, unless this is something approved by the Catholic Church. A Catholic can only participate in non-Catholic Christian ecumenical services when the Catholic Church is involved, otherwise it can be a grave sin against faith.

I suggest you speak about this company-wide service to your Catholic confessor and ask his advice. Probably he'll suggest you simply don't go, but maybe he'll simply advice you refrain from receiving communion.

And, by the way: if the service is not celebrated by a Catholic (or Orthodox) priest, then that's not the Blessed Sacrament, but plain unconsecrated bread. To give it the cult of latria as we do in Holy Mass would then be an infraction of the First Commandment.


#14

[quote="UnCatholicBride, post:1, topic:319417"]
I work in a Christian workplace, but I am one of the few Catholics on staff. We are having a company-wide communion service during Holy Week, and the last time one of these happened, I was literally the only person (in a room of 900 people) who did NOT take communion.

[/quote]

It is what you are called to do. There is no other option, other than not attending.

[quote="UnCatholicBride, post:1, topic:319417"]
I am really struggling on how to deal with this upcoming service.

[/quote]

Same way you did last year. Stay in your seat.

[quote="UnCatholicBride, post:1, topic:319417"]

Skipping is not really an option (as EVERYONE attends)

[/quote]

Everyone? Even non-Christians?

If there are over 900 people there, I am not sure why you are worried about whether or not you attend. If it is not a requirement of you job duties, then you need not attend.

[quote="UnCatholicBride, post:1, topic:319417"]
and I can't very well explain my reasoning for not partaking in communion to each and every person.

[/quote]

I'm not sure why you feel the need to do so. Explain to those who may ask you individually.

[quote="UnCatholicBride, post:1, topic:319417"]

Advice, words of wisdom, and prayer are all welcome.

[/quote]

Be a good witness for Christ. Which means you must refrain from participating in the non-Catholic communion but must also be gracious and kind about it.

Tough? Yes.

Called to do it? Yes.


#15

You shouldn’t have to. I can’t imagine someone being uncouth enough to comment about your refraining from an optional action (no one is OBLIGATED to receive any communion at any given time). If they do, the old Ann Landers, “Why on earth would you ask me about my personal choice not to take communion?” (in a nice voice of course) should shut them up.

Really, stop worrying about ‘what other people think’ and just do what you know is right. It might be that nobody will even comment, and again, if they do, a simple, “this is my personal choice”, not apologizing or explaining, should be sufficient. If they persist, say that your personal choice is what YOU chose, and that should be a sufficient explanation for a REASONABLE person to accept. :smiley:


#16

[quote="R_C, post:13, topic:319417"]
You should not even be there, in fact, unless this is something approved by the Catholic Church. A Catholic can only participate in non-Catholic Christian ecumenical services when the Catholic Church is involved, otherwise it can be a grave sin against faith.

[/quote]

Do you have the source for that? My understanding is that canon law does not prohibit us from attending non-Catholic services.


#17

[quote="agnes_therese, post:16, topic:319417"]
Do you have the source for that? My understanding is that canon law does not prohibit us from attending non-Catholic services.

[/quote]

It does not prohibit us on very specific circumstances, and under the provision that we do not receive Communion.

(1)

a Catholic has no business attending Protestant church services even occasionally. To participate in a heretical worship service and especially a communion service can be sinful for a Catholic because such an act is an affirmation of what we believe to be untrue. To attend an ecumenical service or a wedding or baptism is allowed, but Catholics are not allowed to attend such churches for the main reason of worship.

(2)

The common belief of average Catholics of the pre-Vatican-II era was that a Catholic could never attend a Protestant service. This understanding was flawed, but it was based upon the Church's much more restrictive position on Catholics attending non-Catholic services.

The 1917 Code of Canon Law stated that, ordinarily speaking, a Catholic should not attend non-Catholic services; however, the Code did provide for exceptions to the normative law ...] Basically, if a Catholic had a serious reason to attend a non-Catholic service (e.g., he was a convert whose non-Catholic relative had died), he could attend the service as a guest, not taking part in the service but merely observing it. For him to attend such a service without serious reason was considered grave matter because it was believed to jeopardize his Catholic faith

...] the Church places some strictures on Catholic attendance at non-Catholic services. Compare the prior canonical prescriptions with the canonical prescription of the 1983 Code:

One who is guilty of prohibited participation in [non-Catholic] religious rites is to be punished with a just penalty (canon 1365, 1983 Code).

(3)

it is not a sin for a Catholic to occasionally attend another Christian church for just cause (e.g., as a guest, for an ecumenical service), so long as the Catholic meets the Mass obligation at a Catholic church and does not receive Protestant communion


#18

[quote="ProdglArchitect, post:4, topic:319417"]
Stand firm and do not degrade yourself by partaking of their meaningless imitation of our beloved gift, the Eucharist. You were definitely in the right, and I applaud you for it! If anyone asks, take the opportunity to explain that their gesture is a pale imitation of the true Eucharist.. maybe in nicer language.... Perhaps you'll get a few people who were unaware of the real presence interested in learning more :p

[/quote]

Meaningless? That's a very harsh and uncalled-for term. I am well aware of Catholic teaching concerning the necessity of a validly ordained priest for transubstantiation to occur, but non-denominational Protestants don't believe in transubstantiation in the first place. Many of them believe that their Eucharist is simply a memorial of Christ's last supper, and it's not exactly possible for Catholics to deny that the ceremony which such non-denominational Protestants perform is indeed a memorial of Christ's last supper.


#19

I doubt that people will ask.
I went to a service of a denomination that is known to be pretty anti-Catholic.... I'm pretty sure I was the only one who didn't receive communion- no one said anything! It won't be as awkward as you think.
Praying for you! :)


#20

Any PTO time?


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.