How to be a Non-Communing Catholic

A certain daydream comes upon me whenever some ranking churchman makes a sally in the culture war that leaves me stranded behind enemy lines. I am lying in a hospice, days or hours from death. A priest comes to my bedside and offers to anoint, absolve and feed me the Blessed Sacrament. Without rancor, and even with a touch of humor, I inform him that I am no longer in communion with the Church, and suggest he save his sacraments for somebody who can use them. As I dismiss him with a wave, I watch his face, noting how his look of surprise gives way to one of admiration, since it’s rare that anyone in extremis will make such a principled stand.

I had occasion to re-visit this vignette yesterday, as I was collecting information on Archbishop Chaput for next week’s Patheos column. For better or worse, one definitve moment in Chaput’s career, both as bishop and as Church opinion-maker, came last April at the University of Notre Dame. During a Q & A session following his lecture, he begged his audience for help in convincing other U.S. bishops “to say that if you’re Catholic and you’re pro-choice, you can’t receive holy Communion.”

The idea that presenting myself for Communion should require me to complete a checklist of my political positions is a very new one. For all his reputation as a hard-liner, my own bishop, the Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted, hasn’t insisted on it. But even if NCR’s Michael Sean Winters is right that it represents a “lousy” interpretation of Canon 915, there is an unquestionable clarity in it.

Clarity is good. At fall rush at Arizona State University, I showed up in sweaty gym clothes, carrying my lacrosse equipment over my shoulder. (The team held practice on the bandfield right across the street from Fraternity Row. I figured I‘d double up, and in any case, lacrosse struck me as a frat-boy sport.) Nobody among the Dekes or Sigma Chis told me explicitly to get lost; rather, they urged me to seek out an environment “where you’ll fit in” or “where you’ll feel comfortable.” Not wanting to believe I was being blown off, I lingered at their tables, long after members of the rush committee started shouting over the top of my head to the preppies behind me.

Over the years, I’ve re-lived the experience in other contexts. Women have gone from warm to cold with no explanation. HR interviewers have fixed me with queasy smiles and filled up my allotted fifteen minutes quizzing me about the items on my resume least relevant to the job I was after. After my mortgage pipeline cracked and crumbled, the owner of the brokerage moved me from an office in the very center of the floor to one on the far end, which doubled as a storage room. (No, fans of Office Space, he didn’t ask me to kill roaches, but only because roaches are rare in Arizona. If a scorpion had turned up, doing him in would have been my responsibility.)

The point is, in every case, a swift and brutal break would have been preferable. If the denial of Communion represents such a break, then I’m way ahead of Church authorities, since I’ve often imposed it on myself. Sometimes I do it for odd reasons. Shortly after my parish changed hands, the new pastor slipped what I interpreted as a plug for SB 1070 into one of his homilies. Though worthy that week, I declined to receive. It was a politer form of protest than several I could think of. I made the same decision when visiting another parish, whose pastor converted his entire homily into a demand for tithes. Oh, so there’s a cover charge? I thought. Fine; cancel my order.

Since October, I’ve received Communion maybe three or four times. Abortion hasn’t been the issue. In fact, no single issue has been the issue. But as more calls for Catholic identity come from the pulpit and appear in the press, I sometimes wonder whether I’ve joined the Church I thought I was joining. Bluntly, I cannot be sure I identify strongly enough as Catholic to satisfy the people who judge such things. Is my piety Marian enough? Am I angry enough at the New York Times? Do I feel strongly enough that I belong to an unjustly persecuted minority? Doubtful that I could answer these questions correctly, I feel imperfectly in Communion, and I let that sense guide me during the Liturgy.

“Empowerment” is a corny word, let’s face it. But the act of refusing Communion, especially in those instances receiving would tend to deny some basic philosophical disconnect, at least gives me the right to claim some integrity. Whatever else I’m doing, I’m not sneaking around or crossing my fingers. It also kicks the last lever out from under me. If there were any danger that fear of being turned away from the table could drive me to disavow some hard-won opinion, embracing the most dangerous outcome squashes the fear.

For a writer, that freedom is vital, and sometimes works to the Church’s benefit. Reading up on Chaput, I find myself most drawn to his gifts — his energy, his extroversion, and his genius for speaking Church-speak with real passion. That last one does not grow on trees, believe me. Chaput wrote for the Denver Catholic Register: “Same-sex unions, whatever legal form they take, cannot create new life. They cannot duplicate the love of a man and woman. But they do copy marriage and family, and in the process, they compete with and diminish the uniquely important status of both.” Coming from Chaput, this sounds less like the Natural Law of Thomas Aquinas than the Natural Law of James Cagney.

Note that these high ratings are unclouded by fear. Edmund Burke wrote: “The wise determine from the gravity of the case the irritable, from sensibility to oppression the high minded, from disdain and indignation at abusive power in unworthy hands.” Now, I’m sure many of Chaput’s critics qualify as high-minded or wise, but I know I don’t. What makes me irritable is the thought that some EM — believing that something I’d written had caused scandal — might yank the Blessed Sacrament out of my grasp while wagging an admonitory finger. By rationing my own consumption carefully, I can spare myself any such humiliation. I’ll be safely in my pew, tapping my foot and taking notes.

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  • jkm

    Painfully candid, as usual; thank you. I have had the “Is this the Church I am in communion with?” conversation in my head, too, but it has so far not kept me from seeking the solace and healing of the Eucharist (even if that means working through the questioning with a confessor first). Maybe that’s the difference between a revert and a convert: I came back, largely, because I could no longer see the sense of living out of the communion I had once known. This has caused no end of “when worlds collide” moments, when I am forced to reexamine what I thought were long-held, unshakable political and moral convictions. And it has also caused no end of “OMG, you’re drinking the koolaid” comments from those in my life who do not get it.

    I am learning, for example, through grace and witness, that it is possible to be prolife and not at the same time be “in communion with” the undercurrents of misogyny and violence with which a small portion of the anti-abortion movement is tainted, to wholeheartedly support marriage and family life without being “in communion with” rabid homophobes.

    I am not holding myself up as any sort of Realer Catholic than you, by any means; just wanting to issue an invitation to move out of the safety of the pew and consider whether there might be a way to lessen the tension in your own life between politics and communion that is, I am afraid, symptomatic of what’s threatening to split the Church into the pure and the rest of us. That’s the heresy of gnosticism, and I should know, because I used to be a card-carrying Gnostic.

    And on another note, I do have to take issue with one of your protests. (Just one, and not the one I suspect other commenters will go after you about.) Yes, there actually *is* a cover charge for being in communion in a parish: whether you call it tithing or practicing stewardship of financial resources, it is part of the shared responsibility each of us brings to the table. In charity (and also being in the stewardship ministry myself, so I see this all the time), you more than likely visited on the one Sunday a year when the pastor swallowed his terror about raising the M word and gave a pitch for an in-pew commitment from his parishioners. In a perfect world, nobody would have to preach a sermon specifically devoted to tithing, because the implications of stewardship would be a part of the breaking and sharing of the Word every week. But as you are so well aware and so eloquent at expressing, a perfect world it ain’t.

    Yikes! A comment almost longer than the post. Sorry.

  • Paul

    I would note that paying your way homilies should consider the financial situation of the congregation. The way you preach this to wealthy suburban parishes and your poorer parishes is very different, but some priests don’t realize this. There is less money in the collection plate, because there are many unemployed especially among the poor. A priest needs to be careful giving a speech about stewardship when 20% of the parish is significantly financially stressed through unemployment, underemployment and/or foreclosure.

  • Anna

    I’d say the Catechism is a better guide than any of the talking heads out there of whether you’re in communion or not. It’s also a guide to what are moral problems, rather than political issues. (e.g. “do not murder” isn’t an optional commandment, but there are a lot of ways of fighting various evils and maybe one person’s talents lie more in working with the elderly than in sidewalk counseling)
    But, not receiving Communion as a form of protest? Ouch. That’s like my husband not speaking to me as a form of protest against gay marriage or because a friend of mine got divorced. Damaging the relationship with me won’t do anything to rectify any other situation… Starving yourself because you don’t like the moral or political or personality positions of some cooks (so to speak)? Don’t avoid Christ due to some of his ministers.
    (I am hoping this comes across in the tone *I* hear it in, which is sadness for you at missing out on the gift, not in a shrieky “you’re a bad Catholic for thinking you’re a bad Catholic” tone…)

  • jkm

    Absolutely agree. And if stewardship were better understood by all, including the preachers, it wouldn’t come across as paying-your-way or cover-charge. Where it is understood, the poorest parishes have the highest rates of giving (of time and talent as well as money), because they recognize that they are supporting one another.

  • Martha

    As a non-communing Catholic myself (being long-time lapsed), I have to say I disagree with you, Max. I don’t see it as being a matter of ticking off points on a political check-list, and if either yourself or the bishop (any bishop) makes a requirement of “A good Catholic is one who is a member of the X party”, then I respectfully submit, you’re both idiots. When the both of you come to your deathbeds, you’ll both have a lot more to worry about in regards to your eternal fate than did you always vote the party line.

    I’m not American, so I’ve little to no idea of American politics, but the impression I get is that the identification is “pro-choice = Democrat” and “Anti-abortion = Republican” (I can’t say “Pro-life” here, because of the enthusiasm for the death penalty). Frankly, that’s nonsense on stilts. When reading this kind of arguing in American blogs, I’ve often thought that, were I American, I’d be a Democrat (I’m Irish, and that seems to have been the party of choice for an awful lot of my countrymen who emigrated to your fine nation) – but I’d be one who would seriously ponder voting for a party candidate if that person were expounding how fervent their support of choice (let’s face it, that means plainly abortion and nothing else) was. Equally, I can imagine someone being a Republican who was not a supporter of a gun in every hand or of the death penalty.

    And over here in Ireland, it’s looking like we’re gearing up for a demand on the part of the government that the Church should break the seal of the confessional when it comes to anyone making a confession regarding child abuse.

    What should my political position on that one be, Max?

  • Martha

    May I suggest that the next time you present yourself for Holy Communion, you do so as an offering for Bishop Chaput? He’s been given the job in Philadelphia pretty much on the grounds that he’s the one who has to handle the unmerciful mess the diocese is in after the sex-abuse scandal there.

    That’s a job you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. He needs as much help as he can get, and the grace of the Eucharist would be just the thing needed.
    Besides, Max, as a good liberal, you should be sensitive to cultural differences! The bishop is a Native American – a member of the Potawatomi Prairie Band tribe – so you must be delicate in handling his view of things and open to where he might differ from your opinion! ;-)

  • Geoffrey

    Here’s a Republican who wants greater restriction on guns and opposes the death penalty. We do exist.

  • Sharon W

    My grandmother came from Ireland…my father born here. My maternal grandparents came from Italy. I’m exactly 1/2 & 1/2. Both sides were passionately Republican, as far as respect for the Constitution and the role of government. I was raised here in America with a formidable sense of personal responsibility and PERSONAL charity. Very distinct from taking from others to dispense “charitably” as you, the government, understand it (or benefit from it personally!). I’ve read Pope John Paul II’s encyclical “The Gospel of Life” 3 times asking the Holy Spirit to change my mind about the death penalty (I support it) if I am wrong. Sorry I distinguish between innocent & guilty life and do not understand those who don’t.

  • AB

    That makes two of us Geoffrey!

  • David F

    Hi Max,

    It’s nicely written, but I think you really should not punish yourself and deny Christ the pleasure of uniting with a worthy soul over a bad homily/flaky comment from the pulpit. The benefits of receiving HIm are too great to let the human side of the Church stand in the way. The Eucharist is not just daily bread but daily medicine for our spiritual ills. Christ died for you to receive Him, ignore the priest, humble yourself and find “empowerment” somewhere else. You harm yourself but not inviting Him. the Eucharist is the whole point, if it’s validly offered and I’m worthy to receive, I’ll sit through all manner of nonsense for it : it’s worth it. Please rethink your habit.

  • Mary

    Please don’t excommunicate yourself, Max…the fact that Bishop Chaput was begging the audience to convince the other US bishops to make such a proclamation should give us a clue that the bishops don’t all agree that it would be a good idea to tell pro-choice Catholics not to receive the Eucharist…If the Pope thought it was a policy he wanted implemented, he would have used his fairly recent visit with our pro-choice Catholic Vice-President to deliver that message to the world–yet he didn’t…For the record, I am a lector and EU, a registered Republican (so I can vote in primaries) who is anti-death penalty, pro-immigration reform, a pro-life feminist, a fan of Stephen Colbert, Deacon Greg, you and the Anchoress. I also am pro-health care reform, an employee of the public school system, a union member and in favor of more gun-control. I have very few Catholic friends and relatives (maybe none) who think exactly like I do on every issue…it makes holiday dinners so much more interesting :)

  • another Mary

    Wow, Max, supper’s just outside the door, man. Doncha know those wild things are imaginary? You’re just kidding, right? An EM refusing communion? Frankly, I think hen’s teeth have a greater chance of evolving than the scenario you’re worked up about. Haven’t you heard—Tolerance is golden, golden, but my eyes still see—isn’t that how the refrain to that song goes? My husband has this hilarious interjection whenever we’re around a “churched” crowd and he’s making a critical comment about something. He drops his voice mid-sentence and says sternly, in a self-admonishing tone, “Judging”. Everyone gets it and responds with uproarious laughter since we’ve all heard endless homilies about not “judging.” Not a few with a political point to be made too. It’s considered the cardinal sin of the age. That’s why Archbishop Chaput makes news. He’s judging. Most of the bishops seem to just want to get along. Oops, there I go, (insert deep, stern voice) “Judging.”

  • Melody

    I absolutely hate the idea of the Eucharist being used as a hammer. I believe people need to make every effort to inform their consciences properly; but in the end I feel it is between one’s conscience and God. We have the quote from St. Paul about being guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord if we receive unworthily,
    isn’t that hammer enough, without being “read out of meeting”, so to speak?
    As an EMHC I am very grateful that this hasn’t been an issue around here. Not that I’d probably know if a pro-choice politician presented him or herself in line; I’m trying to concentrate on doing a proper and reverent job and not dropping a host rather than staring at people. One time the governor of our state (who was in good standing as a Catholic as far as I know) was in our church unannounced on a Sunday morning, I didn’t know him well enough to pick him out of a crowd. So it would be a very hit or miss proposition if someone were to be singled out for exclusion (which though gives me the horrors.)
    It makes me sad that you are keeping yourself away from Communion not because of something you’ve done, but because of the way you feel about some things. I’m not qualified to give other people spiritual advice; the only advice I will give is that I think you should talk this over with a priest knows you and whom you trust.

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  • Anonymous

    Max, I think that every word that you have written is sincere. And I absolutely wish that more people were truly aware of just what was happening during the reception of the Eucharist.

    Having said that, I absolutely disagree with your position. As I said, I do not doubt your sincerity, but I find the comparison to the reception of Viaticum on your deathbed to what Archbishop Chaput was referring to in regard to the attitude of many about Eucharist.

    When I read your words about this – which I have done more than once now and really pondered them, this is where I arrived. I think that self-examination can not be underestimated and that there is a severe lack of such a thing.

    However – as I read what you wrote, I also thought that it – whether you meant it this way or not – makes it all about you and your effort.

    Which is never is.

    I don’t think that that is exactly what you were saying, but that is how I keep reading it.

    It is Jesus who saves, heals, transforms us. To say no to Viacticum is to me a prideful stance and one that says you know better than He does. You can be the most hateful, vile creature on the earth (which you are far from!) but Jesus still reaches out to you every minute of every day. If one takes viaticum and is transformed in that moment of death, I wonder how heaven might sing.

  • cathyf

    You know the Anchoress has a term for this: Excommunicating yourself for the sins of others.

    You know, the Eucharist isn’t some sort of exclusive club — or a club to beat people over the head with. It’s not an argument to be won, either. The Eucharist is a person (the Third Person of the Trinity, in fact) with whom you have a relationship. A person rather noted for dining with folks who appalled his more fastidious disciples.

  • Ann Featsent

    Three of us–and am pro life. And Max, I get what you are saying, but I just don’t agree with your reasoning. Take communion already!

  • Billiamo

    Three or four times since October? You’re starving your soul. Please reconsider.

    It never occurred to me that receiving the Eucharist amounted to an endorsement of the views expressed in the homily (or by this or that bishop). If that were the case, I might well take communion as infrequently as you.

    Go, friend. Please.

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  • Toty

    My friend, try reading Visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament, its a compilation of St. Alphonsus’ d Ligouri’s writings on a daily basis. There is still a lot to learn about Christ’s presence in the Eucharist than mere human pride’s interpretation of it.

  • Toty

    My friend, try reading Visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament, its a compilation of St. Alphonsus’ d Ligouri’s writings on a daily basis. There is still a lot to learn about Christ’s presence in the Eucharist than mere human pride’s interpretation of it.

  • Anonymous

    I really appreciate your words about the way that the Eucharist is used by some, as “a hammer” in your words.

    And the decision to deny communion (a phrase that makes me shudder) should always be between a bishop and the person. Any EMHC or even a priest who makes the decision on their own is wandering into very dangerous territory.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve continued to give this thought and to keep up with the comments. I think it is time for you to let go of whatever is keeping you from the Lord and go to Communion, Max. Please.

    I will say that some might find my own past problematic, but I do believe that it not only reception of Communion, but frequent reception of the Eucharist, that healed and changed my heart. And continues to do so!

    Would that have happened had I applied the standards that you mention?

    Jesus never said “get clean and come eat with me.” He pretty much ate with anyone (note today’s fine feast of Mary Magdalene) and that is how they got cleaned up. Just sayin’…

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  • JerseyDan

    Max, I totally get your point and I too struggle with receiving Communion in certain situations, from certain priests, among certain congregations.

    My grandmother was an “unimportant” working class Irish Catholic, a maid with an alcoholic husband, little money and four children. There was a huge disconnect between her and the rest of the congregation. “Ach, HEeey nevir went to bed hungree and tiured.” she would say after a tithing sermon. She was the most generous person one could ever meet, but often didn’t have the nickel for the pew rent and would be shuffled to the back of the church to stand in the corner. Nana would walk, no, march up the center aisle of the church and kneel at the altar rail. She wasn’t a nut, she was just very focused. One day as my uncle was telling me about Nana’s particular practice I turned to her and asked “why did you do that?” her answer was very simple and mater of fact. “I needed to be as close to Jesus as I could, otherwise I’d punch the buzzards.”

  • tmac

    Max,
    There are churches of the reform that celebrate Eucharist without making your assenting to a set of political positions a requirement for coming to their communion tables. Additionally, they will even invite you to receive Eucharist without your having to agree to become a card-carrying member of their denomination beforehand. At this juncture, you may want to consider investigating the broader church of Christ that exists outside of the gates of Rome.

    Peace…

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  • Andy

    Max
    I to have many of the same struggles. I read and listen to various “people of import” and wondered if I am Catholic enough. My wife then reminded that Jesus didn’t come for the “self-confirmed”, he came for those of us who struggle and are confused. Her comments made me remember talking to a friend who is schizophrenic. He was in the beginning of an episode, and was terrified that Jesus was going to reject him. He went on he drinks, smokes, is conflicted about homosexuality and a list of many conflicts. As we sat on his porch talking and enjoying a cold beverage I kept telling him that not to worry because Jesus if he were to walk to his house would sit with us, maybe have a cold beverage and welcome my friend with open arms. Jesus does not want us to be afraid of Him, He wants us to talk to Him as that important and loving friend. It is through Communion that we can share that conversation.

  • Richard Judkins

    Here, here! Well said! I considered this approach myself but have decided to simply leave all organized churches instead. Christ is present in far more places than simply the communion wafer. In every church, however broadly they may define the act, communion is first and foremost a political. Christ’s presence is never governed by legal definitions of the polis. It is only governed by demands of the Gospel, which is becoming every day more sparsely found within the church or the communion offered by the church.

  • Richard Judkins

    What I meant to say was that communion is first and foremost a political act. I did not mean to say it was apolitical. Please excuse the typo.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    I have some views that are not in congruence with the Catholic position, and I’ve expressed them here and there, and that even includes theological views. Still I do consider myself Catholic and worship receiving the Eucharest. I think you’re being overly hard on yourself. That said, I find it very hard to see how supporting abortion is not just Catholic position but Christian in a general sense. This shouldn’t be a Democrat/Republican thing, but the Democratic Party has abandoned any semblance of pro-life, and frankly the philosophic core of the party is atheist, in my humble opinion.

  • painted bread

    Max,
    Have you brought all this to God? And asked Him to lead you? You are leaving Him out in more ways than one. Trust God, even if you don’t trust the church.
    God Bless

  • David F

    Toty,

    I don’t expect you or I will ever fathom the Eucharist. My comment was a response to Max’s sense of empowerment, which I read as pride, (which is my own worst trait, so I recognize it. Unlike Max I actually walked out on a priest during a political homily years ago: not one of my better moments). As for receiving frequently ,I rely on De Sales, although his sentiment is repeated by many Saints and Popes.
    Max said he was worthy to receive but refused because a homily disturbed his sense of harmony with others. All I’m saying is that our unity in the Church need not be disturbed by every off beat homily, as long as we believe the Creed. JPII said the Eucharist defines the Church. It bothers me that Max, or anyone, would forgo the greatest of divine gifts for such a petty reason.

  • df

    Thomas More would likely offer a word about why God gave us our wits: To glorify Him, surely, but precisely by embracing Him through the tangle of our thoughts as we discern the good that leads to Him from the merely opportune that (more often than not) leads me back to me. Angels need not discern, such grappling falls to men, and the thicket of the human mind must be a place where God’s grace can dwell, otherwise the Word did not sanctify all He took to Himself. The saints lived in the perilous realm where the Godly raise their voices at odds with each other, exactly in that space where it is not so clear, at any given moment, what the truth of a matter impies to a conscience that knows something must be done. We need time and tools to think; to do the thinking is a holy calling. The truth is too important to elicit a yawn, but never so ponderous as to justify a sin. What to do? That is what the thicket asks of the light that seeks entrance to its homely sanctuary. Whatever the particular issue, though, the tools of the graceful mind that grapples in the thicket do not operate despite the Church, they are within her very organism, like flint to rock. The popes of the third century, mostly saintly men and martyrs as well, contended with Saint Cyprian, martyr, of North Africa, and he with them, on the very issue of communion, provoking more thunder than we have heard in our lifetimes. Oddly, in the Church, the thunder usually precedes the streak of lightning that illumines the night, and leads the way. Perhaps that is because the Church is where intense grace hits human frailty, and we humans tend to need to speak to each other in order to see better. We all must wittingly beg and use what light providence sees fit to give, so as to judge wisely the array that lies between the truly consequential and the merely incidental. And a vast array it is, dizzyingly vast. But, there’s a difference between a fumbled exhortation from the pulpit, a newspaper interview, and a judgment made from the bishop’s chair. The difference envelops the space between freedom to contend, and freedom to obey. It is a wider space than many Catholics would think, but not so wide as many Catholics would wish. But, the discernment about communion, must be made in communion, — Cyprian and the popes witness to that. This is why He comes to us in Eucharistic Communion, giving concrete form to His presence at the center of us all. Like lightning that seeks humble permission to strike, (let the Church say AMEN), communion is where the light we all need comes from, the light which, with time, disentangles the thickets of our minds and of our times. Be patient with Him, and with us, fellow grapplers with diverse charges to fulfill, and seek Him as often as you can.

  • kaycee

    Sir, please stop letting these things keep you from receiving the graces that Our Lord desires to give you in the Blesses Sacrament. If you are sure that you have committed a grave sin with full knowledge and full consent, then seek reconciliation before receiving Holy Communion. Otherwise, take the gift the Lord is trying to give to you. If Jesus came to your house, would you not let him in because some priest said something?

  • http://www.janettedolores.com Janette Dolores

    You’re an incredible writer, Max, but on this matter, I have to agree with David. I’m not sure what a bad homily has to do with the privilege of receiving communion. The priest is human and may have had a bad day, regretted some words spoken a moment after speaking them, or maybe has some soul-searching to do himself.

    Whatever the case, please rethink your self-punishment for your dislike of the opinions of others. You can find empowerment in a host of other things, no? If I had your gift with words, I’d find empowerment in that alone.

    (Hope you take this as friendly words of concern, not as a reproach.)

  • Holly in Nebraska

    I spent a large part of last weekend trying to find a picture I had seen on Patheos of St. Joseph and the Child Jesus. (Finally found it. John Collier. Google it. And check out the sculptures, too.) In it, Jesus is holding a plumb line and bob: He is the measure of all things. We know that he gave this to the Church. When I hear people disagree with the Church, it’s like they take the plumb line out of his hand and say, “I will be the measure of all things.”

    Some of our faith must be blind faith. If we don’t want to accept that, we are saying that we can know and understand all things. But “who knows the mind of God, and who has been his counselor?” It’s hard to lay your intellectual pride at the foot of the cross and accept some things on blind faith. But “where else can we go?” The nice thing is that sometimes by doing so, God helps you to see.

    I wouldn’t suggest anyone receive communion against their own conscience. I’m with Melody. Better to see a priest or spiritual advisor.

  • Anonymous

    So many comments here… Max, I am wondering where you are at with this? Such a vulnerable topic. I fear I was too strong with my words but my sentiment remains. And know that I pray for you always, always.

  • snjcork

    This post has stayed with me for a couple of days now. Though a non-churchgoer myself, I have to agree with those who advise against using the Eucharist as a political hammer; it is far too precious a gift for that. But don’t take my word for it; instead, here’s a nice bit of wisdom from a fellow I quite admire, used to go by Ratzinger:

    “…[T]he aspect of Christ’s holiness that upset his contemporaries was the complete absence of this condemnatory note – fire did not fall on the unworthy, nor were the zealous allowed to pull up the weeds they saw growing luxuriantly on all sides. On the contrary, this holiness expressed itself precisely as mingling with the sinners whom Jesus drew into his vicinity…

    Is there not revealed in the unholy holiness of the Church, as opposed to man’s expectation of purity, God’s true holiness, which is love, love that does not keep its distance in a sort of aristocratic, untouchable purity but mixes with the dirt of the world, in order thus to overcome it?”

    There will always be priests with whom you disagree, and anyway one who properly floats your boat is just as likely to turn out to be a tad too charismatic for comfort. The politics are secondary. Communion is all about Christ’s gift to you. Turning it down because the priest fails your purity test really only hurts you. Please reconsider.

  • Bones

    When it comes to Archbishops talking about Catholic politicians, I usually do not pay attention. The Church has always chafed with the State. Count ourselves lucky that our “CINO” politicians aren’t having irritating clerics’ brains dashed out, and our bishops no longer deem it necessary to employ mercenary armies. Chaput has an obligation to mention this to Catholic politicians; I just wish he would also add that opposing immigration and supporting cleptocratic economic systems are also pretty damn bad too.

    For the Eucharist, I usually don’t partake. Why? I sin a lot and I don’t go to confession as often as I should. Sometimes I feel like the only twit in the church on Sundays who struggles with things as I watch 99% of the congregation shuffle toward the altar. But I understand that if I’ve got something serious to work out with Jesus, it’s better to get that settled, hit up the confessional, and be in full communion before I accept the Body and Blood.

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  • http://metaphysicalcatholic.blogspot.com/ Metaphysical Catholic

    Max, just so you know, EMs do not have the authority to refuse you the Sacrament based on some personal opinion of something you have written. They can inform the Pastor later and he’ll decide if he is obligated by Spiritual necessity to speak with you.

    I am a Catholic convert, converted right in the Archdiocese of Denver. I am a bit of a heretic, according to some. But my relationship is first and foremost with God: with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and I love the Mass very much. It’s life for us.

    God bless you abundantly, Max. Receive your Lord and pray for our leaders. (I have to admit, I’ve walked out of a Mass myself when the celebrant told us to sign the anti-civil unions petition on the way out. I like my new philosophy better.)


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