Monday, May 4, 2015

More on Eucharist

Here's a comment that was left on my blog yesterday.

I thought everyone, no matter what religion or whatever, could take communion?

Not in Catholic churches, as Arglefumph describes. Meanwhile, in my experience as a Methodist, the pastors make a point to say before Communion that anyone, whether they are or aren't members of the church or even the denomination, can participate. Protestants don't believe in the literal transformation of bread and wine into body and blood. We use just regular bread and grape juice (not wafers and wine), because the symbolism is what counts. So that is the (quite fundamental) difference.

As a non-Catholic, I don't understand how confession influences Communion. We don't practice confession. I'm not trying to be snarky, I really just don't know?

That's pretty much accurate. Catholics believe the bread and wine becomes the body and blood, soul and divinity, of Jesus Christ. Because they take the Eucharist so seriously, they don't allow non-Catholics to receive it. Non-Catholics are encouraged to come up and receive a special blessing from the priest during communion time, though, so it's not like they're being totally excluded.

As for confession and communion, the rule is "if you commit a mortal sin, you must go to confession before your next communion". The rule does not apply to non-mortal (or "venial") sins. The idea is that, if you commit a mortal sin, your first priority should be going to confession and getting forgiven. Go directly to confession. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not go to mass and receive communion first.

For whatever reason, most Catholic churches stopped offering the sacrament of confessions during mass. I remember going to the Cathedral in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Their confessionals were so out of use that they converted them into janitor booths. Sad.

It should be noted that the Catholic Church is currently having a big debate over its "people in mortal sin are excluded from communion" rule and how it should be applied. Expect to see it be brought up, during the big Catholic Synod in October.


Meg s said...

What exactly is mortal sin, and how is it different from other sins?

Justice said...

At the church I attend, the only requirement for taking Communion is that you be a true believer in Jesus, regardless of denomination. I think this is a Biblically-sound approach, although I can sympathize with the Catholic Church's concern with making sure no one is taking it "in an unworthy manner". However, I am doubtful of all these human-instituted laws, since only God can judge the worthiness of one taking Communion. A person could go to confession but still not be right in their heart with the Lord. Essentially what I'm getting at is that, ultimately, a person's relationship with God is between them and Him, and thus God will deal with people individually if they are not taking Communion in a worthy way. We should focus on examining our own hearts when we take the bread and the juice, and leave judgement of others up to the Judge.

Anonymous said...

What Catholics believe the Eucharist to be and what Protestants believe are very different. If it is only a symbol, it doesn't make sense to make such restrictions. But Catholics believe it to be the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, and that means it is the most precious thing in the world to us. That's why we take such precautions and make restrictions like that. :)

@Meg s, Mortal sin is a very grave sin that completely separates you from God. Basically breaking any of the ten commandments would be a grave sin, and you would have to know it's grave (because if a person doesn't know that it is wrong then they don't hold full responsibility) and you have to choose to do it anyway.

Justice said...


Okay, now I understand. Thanks for explaining it to me. :)