Communion Is Not Cheap
ANSWERS from SAINT ANDREW’S
Published on June 18-19, 2011 in the Parish Bulletin of Saint Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
Question: I am Baptist and I will be attending my cousin’s Catholic Wedding Mass. Will I be allowed to receive Communion?
— Uncommon Communicant
Answer: I will respond to your question with a parallel question of my own: I am a Filipino citizen living as a legal resident in the United States. In the upcoming elections, will I be allowed to vote for the next president?
The answer to both questions is: No. In my case, mere residence in this country does not give me an automatic right to vote. This right is restricted to citizens, to the people who have a claim to this nation and to everything that is at stake for this nation. The green card that I had received from the government only allows me to live and work in the United States. In the eyes of the law, I am still an alien, one who is bound by his loyalty to another state and thus unable to pledge an authentic allegiance to the Stars and Stripes. I cannot claim any rights from this country or from any other that does not claim me as one of its own.
In the same way, mere attendance at a Mass does not guarantee anyone a privilege to receive Holy Communion. We Catholics believe that Communion is not a right received at Baptism; rather, it is a gift from above like no other, a gift that no one is worthy to receive, save for the healing word of Christ that invites us to partake in so great and so holy a moment (cf. CCC 1385-1386; Mt. 8:8). Communion then is not something we could claim for our own; rather, it is Someone who claims us for His own. It is this understanding of this Sacrament we call the Most Blessed that prevents us Catholics from practicing the “open communion” of other Christian denominations. We Catholics not only remember Christ’s sacrifice in the Eucharist; we are also re-membered by the Eucharist into His Body, the Church. For us, Holy Communion is the most profound action by which we show that we believe in the Catholic Church and belong only to this Catholic Church.
I have heard many an American citizen say that freedom is not free. It has been paid for by the sacrifice of countless soldiers. It would be wrong then for me to claim a right that, by my nationality, is not mine. Faithful Catholics believe that Communion is not cheap. It is the sacrifice of the only-begotten Son of God, the Real Presence of His Body and Blood. This is the wildest claim we make as Catholics, a claim that both your church and your creed reject. If then you don’t share in what we believe to be true, how can you expect us to share with you what you would insist to be false?