So there we have it!!
Today is some big topics and they all circle around the unity of the Mystical Body
THE EUCHARIST MAKES THE CHURCH!!
Paragraph 1396 says, “The unity of the Mystical Body: the Eucharist makes the Church, Those who receive the Eucharist are united more closely to Christ.”
When it comes to Holy Communion, it unites us in LOVE
It is meant to be a SIGN OF UNITY
St. Paul says in Paragraph 1396, “The cup of blessing we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?...Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”
St. Augustine’s quote is SO POWERFUL because what happens?
We come forward and the priest, deacon, or bishop holds that Body of Christ aloft and says those words, “The Body of Christ”
And we respond, “Amen”
YES IT IS TRUE!!
We are going to talk about intercommunion
Is it possible that those who are not Catholic, could they receive Holy Communion?
It seems, in so many ways, why not?
If they believe that Jesus is truly Jesus…
Remember how St. Justin Martyr had some conditions for receiving Holy Communion?
Among those conditions were that they are baptized, that they believe Jesus is Lord
Also among those conditions is a level of UNITY
The Early Church Fathers, such as St. Ignatius of Antioch, specified that it is NOT MERELY PROFESSING FAITH IN JESUS
It is also BEING UNITED WITH ONE’S BISHOP
IT IS NOT JUST JESUS AND ME!!
There is a certain sense of UNION if we are in FULL COMMUNION WITH THE CHURCH
We may receive Holy Communion
If we are not in full communion with the Church then we may not receive Holy Communion
THIS GOES FOR CATHOLICS AS WELL!!
Maybe we are in mortal sin or some irregularity in our lives
Even as Catholics, then we may not receive Holy Communion
At the heart of this, we may say, isn't this inhospitable?
Isn’t it just mean to say someone can’t receive Holy Communion?
Let’s listen to Fr. Mike’s story about a deacon who was raised by a Lutheran…
Do Lutherans believe that the Eucharist REALLY IS the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ?
So here’s the thing
When we come forward to receive Holy Communion, that minister holds THE BODY OF CHRIST and says, “The Body of Christ”
THE BODY BLOOD SOUL AND DIVINITY OF JESUS
When we say, “Amen” we are saying “YES, IT IS TRUE!!”
YES, I BELIEVE THAT!!
Essentially we are saying, “I STAKE MY LIFE ON THAT!!”
When the Chalice of Blood is handed to us, “The Blood of Christ,” and we say, “Amen”
YES, IT IS TRUE!!
I STAKE MY LIFE ON THIS!!
If you DO NOT BELIEVE THAT then the Church DOES NOT WANT YOU TO LIE just for the sake of WHAT LOOKS LIKE UNITY
It would only be unity on the surface
It would only be a cosmetic unity
The Body of Christ is divided in a painful and horrible way
At the Last Supper, when Jesus gave us the Eucharist in John’s Gospel He also prays
He begs his Father what WE WOULD BE ONE
Jesus says, “Father, may they be one as you and I are one.”
And what happened?
We are not one
We have Christians who are divided
We have a number of ecclesial communities
Thousands and thousands of Christians and denominations and we are all divided
Jesus’ prayer at the Last Supper was that we WOULD NOT BE DIVIDED
His prayer at the Last Supper was that WE WOULD BE ONE
Here’s the crazy thing…
For the most part, we don’t care 🙁
When it comes to division among Christians, we don’t really care 🙁
People think yeah, whatever
Variety is the spice of life 🙄
We have more options so no big deal, right?
UNTIL WE GET TO THE MASS
In the Mass we have friends who are there who are not Catholic
We have family members who are there who are not Catholic
We experience the pain of division
Rather than saying, “Let’s heal then and work towards unity again”
We say, “Oh no let’s just extend the offer of Holy Communion to ANYONE”
That would be a cosmetic unity
It would not get to the HEART OF OUR DIVISIONS
What we experience now with different denominations IS NOT GOD’S WILL
Pay attention to Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper
“MAY THEY BE ONE”
Yes, it is painful when we have friends and family members who are not Catholic who come to Mass with us
They have to either sit in the pew or come up for a blessing
When you can’t receive Holy Communion, it is painful
Those are the times we transform our pain into prayer
Those are the times we say, “Yes, I am experiencing a slight fraction of the pain that, in some mysterious way, God must experience looking at the division of the Church.”
WE ARE MEANT TO BE UNITED!!
WE ARE NOT UNITED!! 🙁
So, painfully, we are not able to offer Holy Communion to all those who are not Catholic or to non-practicing Catholics
There is something really powerful about this
Back to the story about the Deacon and the Lutheran mom…
It has a happy ending…
Where there was disunity, there became REAL UNITY
WHICH IS INCREDIBLE!!
St. John Chrysostom says in Paragraph 1397, “The Eucharist commits us to the poor…”
God feeds us and frees us
Therefore, we are called to go and FREE OTHERS AND FEED OTHERS
The Eastern Orthodox Churches are not in full communion with the Catholic Church
Because they have apostolic succession they have the priesthood and THEY HAVE THE EUCHARIST
So in the Orthodox Churches, their Eucharist is VALID
That TRULY is Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity because they have apostolic succession
Because they have TRUE Holy Orders, they TRULY have the Eucharist
Paragraph 1399 says, “A certain communion in sacris, and so in the Eucharist, ‘given suitable circumstances and the approval of Church authority, is not merely possible but is encouraged.’”
This is a CHALLENGING THING
This is a GOOD THING
Their receiving Holy Communion in the Catholic Church is not merely possible, BUT IT IS ENCOURAGED
The Church wants there to be UNITY
The Church wants everyone who longs for Jesus to receive Jesus
Paragraph 1401 says, “When, in the Ordinary’s judgment, a grave necessity arises, Catholic ministers may give the sacraments of Eucharist, Penance, and Anointing of the Sick to other Christians not in full communion with the Catholic Church, who ask for them of their own will…”
The Ordinary in this case is the bishop
So think of someone who has been discerning over the course of their lives whether to become Catholic
Or even on their deathbed, they hear about Jesus Christ and they hear about the gift of the Truth of the Catholic Church
Even outside of RCIA, under the ordinary’s judgment, they may receive the the Sacraments of Eucharist, Penance, and Anointing of the Sick when in danger of death when grave necessity arises
The Church does not want to withhold grace from anyone who is asking for it in a time of need
This isn’t a down note
It’s an up note
This is a POWERFUL TRUTH
This is a POWERFUL THING that we need to hold onto
THE EUCHARIST IS THE SACRAMENT OF SACRAMENTS!!
It is a sign of unity and it brings about a certain degree of unity
THE EUCHARIST IS NOT A REWARD FOR THE PERFECT, BUT IT IS MEDICINE FOR THE SICK!!
It is not medicine for the dead
We do not give medicine to the dead
In the same way, if we experience that division we want to HEAL THAT DIVISION BEFORE WE CAN RECEIVE HOLY COMMUNION AS ONE BODY
We need to become one body in order to receive Holy Communion as one body, if that makes sense
If today has been challenging or difficult for you, take a moment and pray for the UNITY OF ALL CHRISTIANS
Every Sunday Mass, there is always a moment where we pray for the UNITY OF ALL CHRISTIANS
One day, what divides us as Christians may be overcome by what unites us as Christians
One day, maybe even in our lifetime, every disciple of Jesus can be gathered around ONE ALTAR, ONE TABLE, with ONE SHEPHERD
Fr. Mike is praying FOR YOU!!
Please pray for Fr. Mike and for each other!!
I cannot WAIT to see you tomorrow!!