Image: “Communion of the Apostles” by Fra Angelico (1440) via Wikipedia.
This is a time of year when we see a lot of people in the communion line at Mass who, Sunday after Sunday, normally aren’t there. Some folks call them “Chreaster” Catholics—for one reason or another, they just show up for Christmas and Easter—but there may be others from out of town, visiting.
But there may also be those who aren’t Catholic at all but feel, somehow, entitled to “take and eat.”
To those souls, Elizabeth Scalia writes:
If you do not believe this is the Body, Blood Soul and Divinity of Christ, then why would you (regardless of the goodness of your heart) go into a church, say, “no, I don’t believe this is the Body and Blood of Christ but you’re going to let me and my wife have it anyway!” I’m thinking there is not great or edifying love, there. And that attitude, more than anything, should get in the way of your receiving communion. I’m not sure how receiving communion with a heart full of love for Christ and defensive disdain for the rest of it equals adequate spiritual comportment for the reception of His Majesty’s own Body and Blood into your own body, your own blood.
People like to say Communion is “a meal” and “a banquet” and it is those things, but it is much, much more. Communion is a face-to-face, one-on-one with Christ. It is actually intercourse with Him, too, in the sense that he comes into us and we become ONE FLESH. He is the bridegroom and we, his church, the bride. This is nothing to engage in lightly.
I have long thought that “no one should stand between a man and Christ” and once even wrote a short story about it.
But we ourselves have a responsibility to stand between ourselves and the reception of Christ in the Holy Sacrament, if we are not rightly disposed toward receiving him. That means not only that we be free of the stain of grave sin, but that we also bring ourselves to him in humility, and part of that humility is to consider all of scripture — including Paul’s admonishments — and not simply take what we want and leave the rest.
It seems to me that in a mature and respectful faith, if you want what the Catholics have, you go about partaking it the Catholic way. To do less is profoundly disrespectful and, dare I say it, immature. It would be like me coming into your house, sticking my head into your fridge and grabbing the thing you’d prepared for a family event, scarfing it down and saying, “what, it’s for everyone, right? Why should I wait? Why shouldn’t I have it now, when I want it?”
…What you believe of the Eucharist you are receiving should compel your behavior beyond anything your human reasoning (no matter how gifted-and-faulty) can devise. If you believe the Eucharist is Holy, that it is the true Presence of the All in All, then you must go all in, or you insult His Majesty and lessen yourself.
If you do not believe it, then what are you doing?
Good question. There’s much, much more, and it’s worth delving into. Read it all.