Thursday, October 29, 2009

Not Sure How I Feel About This

I attended a Catholic Mass today. This is the second I've even been to. I knew that the Catholic church was finicky about who receives communion and who doesn't, but for some reason it's never struck me until now.

Below is what was printed on the back of the service bulletin, and I'd like to know what you think about it.

Guidelines for Receieving Holy Communion

We welcome to this Holy Mass all who share our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but while all are welcome here, we cannot extend to all an invitation to receieve Holy Communion. This is not a lack of Christian hospitality; rather, it is the recognition by the Catholic Church that real divisions of faith and practice do sadly exist among Christians. Practicing Catholics who go to Confession whenever needed are invited to receive Holy Communion. Non-Catholic Christians and those Catholics who should not receive Holy Communion (including those married outside the church and those in need of the sacrament of Penance) are asked to pray for a spiritual communion with the Lord Jesus and for the unity of His Church. Those who are not recieving Holy Communion but who would like to recieve a blessing are invited to indicate this desire by crossing their arms across their chests in the Communion procession.

I'm an ordained minister, and yet I am not 'allowed' to receive the Lord's Supper. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Actually, you know what? I do know how I feel about this. I'm offended! But, I'm not in the mood to rant incoherently on my blog forcing you to suffer through reading it (all two of you). So I want to hear your perspective, Christian and atheist.


podrey said...

I think you have more readers than you know - i get more people coming to my site from your blog than almost anywhere else, even Google.

My first take on this is "wow, that was nice of them to print a note so you would know what was expected of you." The first time i went to mass, i didn't know what to do. I wasn't given a bulletin with a polite note on the back, and i felt very uncomfortable with the whole thing. I didn't want to go up there because it was unfamiliar to me, but I felt like i was being judged for *not* going up there.

They just believe something different than you. I think it's easier if you can view it that way as opposed to them making a judgment.

They think that the host is actually jesus' flesh and blood, not just a symbolic ritual. They waved the hanging incense thingie and rang some chimes and POOF! Jesus! Would you want to participate in a ritual you didn't believe in?

I understand somewhat the internal conflict, because it is Christian but it is also Other. But i don't think you should be offended. Yes, you are a Christian and a pastor, but you are not Catholic. And that's what matters to them, however ridiculous we may both find it.

Nora said...

In the Catholic religion, it's a pretty hefty sin to partake of the Eucharist whilst not believing in the literal truth of transubstantiation. Like, not one of the sins you get better from. So the Catholics are actually doing this to protect you from doing serious harm to your eternal soul. I know YOU don't believe that doing that will cause you any harm, but they do.

I mean, I'm sure it's a sin that they made up in the attempt to reclaim all those people who bailed with Martin Luther, but that's showbiz for you.

Vicki Hesse said...

When I read that I felt sad. Deeply sad that while they claimed "real divisions of faith and practice do sadly exist," they were also complicit in forming those divisions and setting a stumbling block to God's Kingdom.

In one commentary on Gospel according to Matthew stated,"...The greatest sin of this context is being a continuing stumbling block to others (18:6-7, 15), which must include unwillingness to accept them back (vv. 28-33; compare vv. 1-14)-a sin that results in damnation (vv. 34-35)."

So in responce to Nora, whose damnation are they really influencing?

I've experienced this stumbling block in many Churches and it's painful. I believe that God's bigger than all these "differences of faith and practice" and with Love, all things are possible. That's why I went for the blessing.

One mentor reminded me to never be afraid of dancing with the "devil" since God's light will shine through. Besides, I went for a blessing and immediatly reflected that blessing back to the Priest and back to our friend, whose loss we all feel.

In that suffering-with is where God is. Amen.

podrey said...

I'm very sorry for the loss of your friend - i didn't realize until i read Vicki's comment that this was a funeral mass.

One thing that strikes me is that you and Vicki seem to view the catholic church as the same kind of Christian church you have grown up with. You think that the are Christian, and you worship the same god, so it must be something you can identify with, and they will embrace you.

I don't think the catholic church is like that. I think they teach about Jesus and his forgiveness, but there isn't the overwhelming focus on it that you find in many protestant churches. And according to the bulletin, you can be a good Catholic but have gotten married to a non-Catholic outside the church, and you will always be an "outsider", never fit to receive the eucharist. Belief is only half of it - dictated behaviors make up the rest.

I think it would be interesting to talk frankly with a catholic priest about these issues, particularly why they don't embrace "god is love" quite so passionately, and how they view the protestant faiths.

Paul and Amber Zoller said...

I'm offended, too, but mostly because I think it's sad that we should all be celebrating our freedom in Christ as believers and not putting religious stipulations on things such as these.

My cousin got married to a Catholic girl so I went through something similar to this during their wedding. I didn't take the Communion since I was deemed "unworthy", but then, I didn't really want to take it either as right before the Communion, a song was sang to Mary. Sorry, but I'm a Christ-follower and would rather sing my praises to Him.

Oh well. Glad to see you have more than two readers. :)