Skip to comments.An Admonition on the Worthy Reception of Holy Communion
Posted on 06/04/2013 3:12:47 PM PDT by NYer
In the afterglow of the Feast of Corpus Christi we do well to reflect a bit further on the gift of Holy Communion with our Lord and the need to receive Him worthily by his grace. I celebrated with a local Latin Mass Community last Thursday, the actual day of the Feast of Corpus Christi, and in the context of that liturgy the sequence Hymn Lauda Sion was sung. In the magnificent Hymn by Aquinas, are these words of reminder and warning that we receive Christ is a worthy manner, free from mortal sin:
Sumunt boni, sumunt mali:
sorte tamen inaequali,
vitae vel interitus.
Both the wicked and the good
Eat of this celestial food,
But with ends how opposite.
Mors est malis, vita bonis:
vide paris sumptionis
quam sit dispar exitus.
Here is life and there is death
The same yet issuing to each
In a difference infinite.
St. Thomas is clearly basing this teaching on what Scripture says, as we shall see in a moment. But these lines could not be clearer that unworthy reception of Holy Communion does not only not help, it harms.
Thus, Pastors have the duty first to instruct in a general sort of way that the faithful ought not approach the Sacrament of Holy Communion if they are aware of serious (mortal) sin, or are in grave disunity with the teachings of the Church. It is usually helpful to instruct them based on the scriptural admonition of St. Paul:
Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world. (1 Cor 11:27-32)
The context of St. Paul’s admonition makes it clear that he has in mind serious sins that include more than merely sexual matters, but also matters that extend to a grave lack of charity toward others, something which too few judge as very serious today.
And thus the Pastor ought to instruct in a general kind of way, taking care not to excite grave scrupulosity, but being clear of the need for regular confession, especially in the case of habitual serious sin.
More specifically the pastor may sometimes need to approach certain individuals and, after ascertaining the facts, warn serious sinners in a private and clear way to repent and to stay away from Communion until such time as they are ready to do so wholeheartedly. Cardinal Ratzinger cited this as a clear duty of pastors.
For my own part, and speaking in a very general sort of way, I have indeed undertaken this duty in more than a few cases to warn certain individuals in serious sin to repent. This was not, in every case, sinners who were only in sinful sexual liaisons, and almost never did it include politicians. It also included certain people who were exhibiting a very grave lack of charity or causing serious harm in their family or the parish.
It was my duty in all such cases not only to warn them that they should stay back from Communion, but also that they risked Hell. For when one is in so serious a state that they should refrain from Communion, this is not their only problem! The prospect of strict judgement and hell are also very serious and real likelihoods.
Hence, when the Church teaches on the manner of receiving communion worthily, it is good and important to broaden the discussion beyond certain politicians or certain subjects. Otherwise it appears that our agenda is more political than spiritual. Pastors (and Bishops too) thus should look to teach on this matter in broad as well as specific ways.
There are many sins that can and should exclude one from receiving Holy Communion unless and until repentance is manifest and Sacramental confession is received (or, in specific circumstances, a perfect act of contrition with the intent to receive the Confession is made):
We tend, in our culture and times to emphasize certain things to the exclusion of others. But there are many things from which we should repent and which, when repentance is lacking should require us to step back from the Sacrament of Communion, the Holy Sacrament of love, union and charity.
Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matt 5:23-24)
We all do well to, as St. Paul says, “examine ourselves,” and be frequent in confession if we are going to frequent the altar. Then Cardinal Ratzinger has said,
Presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion should be a conscious decision, based on a reasoned judgment regarding ones worthiness to do so, according to the Churchs objective criteria, asking such questions as: “Am I in full communion with the Catholic Church? Am I guilty of grave sin? Have I incurred a penalty (e.g. excommunication, interdict) that forbids me to receive Holy Communion? Have I prepared myself by fasting for at least an hour?” The practice of indiscriminately presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion, merely as a consequence of being present at Mass, is an abuse that must be corrected (Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion # 1).
And this admonition is for us all, not just for some, lest we fall condemned under the condemnation of the Prophets, such as these words from Isaiah and Amos:
The multitude of your sacrifices what are they to me? says the Lord. I have had more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals;….Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Is 11:11-20ff).
I hate, I spurn your feasts, says the LORD, I take no pleasure in your solemnities; Your cereal offerings I will not accept, nor consider your stall-fed peace offerings. Away with your noisy songs! I will not listen to the melodies of your harps. But if you would offer me burnt offerings, then let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream. (Amos 5:21-24)
Though it is right that we trust in God’s mercy, the door to that mercy is repentance and humility. God is clearly not pleased with presumption, vain worship or sinful Communion. A message for us all.
Here’s a video I put together for the Feast of Corpus Christi. The Music is by Fiocco and the text is: Homo quidam fecit coenam magnam, et misit servum suum hora coenae dicere invitatis ut venirent: Quia parata sunt omnia. (A certain Man made a great banquet, and sent his servants at the hour of the feast to say to the invited that they should come: for everything is prepared). For it happens that a common sin today is the widespread neglect of the Lord’s feast of the Lord’s Body and Blood for us. Remain devoted to Jesus and say, “Though all forsake you Jesus, I will never forsake you.”
This prayer of St. Padre Pio after Communion is a stirring tribute both to our Lord and to this great saint who bore the stigmata, the wounds of Christ from His Passion.
It has been said that St. Pios entire priestly life was dedicated to the task of winning souls for God. When you consider that, the first line of this prayer seems to be the ultimate example of humility. Would that any of us might abandon Jesus that easily!
Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You.
Stay with me Lord, because I am weak, and I need Your strength, so that I may not fall so often.
Stay with me Lord, for You are my life, and without You, I am without fervor.
Stay with me Lord, for You are my light, and without you, I am in darkness.
Stay with me Lord, to show me Your will.
Stay with me Lord, so that I hear Your voice and follow You.
Stay with me Lord, for I desire to love you very much, and always be in Your Company.
Stay with me Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You.
Stay with me Lord, for as poor as my soul is, I want it to be a place of consolation for You, a nest of Love.
Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late, and the day is coming to a close, and life passes, death, judgment, eternity approach. It is necessary to renew my strength, so that I will not stop along the way and for that, I need You. It is getting late and death approaches. I fear the darkness, the temptations, the dryness, the cross, the sorrows. O how I need You, my Jesus, in this night of exile.
Stay with me tonight, Jesus, in life with all its dangers, I need You.
Let me recognize You as Your disciples did at the breaking of bread, so that the Eucharistic Communion be the light which disperses the darkness, the force which sustains me, the unique joy of my heart.
Stay with me Lord, because at the hour of my death, I want to remain united to you, if not by Communion, at least by grace and love.
Stay with me Jesus, I do not ask for divine consolation because I do not merit it, but the gift of Your presence, oh yes, I ask this of You.
Stay with me Lord, for it is You alone I look for, Your Love, Your Grace, Your Will, Your Heart, Your Spirit, because I love You and ask no other reward but to love You more and more.
With a firm love, I will love You with all my heart while on earth and continue to love You perfectly during all eternity. Amen.
**For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.**
This is directly from St. Paul. Why don’t people, both Catholic and otherwise believe it?
The prayer takes its name from its first two words in Latin. Anima Christi means "the soul of Christ."
The Anima Christi is a prayer from around the 14th century. It is still widely used after receiving the body and blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ in Holy Communion.
Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from Christ's side, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints
and with Thy angels
Forever and ever
WOW - how I wish Msgr. Pope wore the mitre instead Donald “I hate the Latin Mass” Cardinal Wuerl.
The Anime Christi has become my after Communion prayer. It is such a beautiful petition.
Can someone help me understand what this means? Where does our dutiful charity begin and righteous anger end (or vice versa)?
Justifiable indignation. It is permissible and even laudable when accompanied by a reasonable desire to inflict justifiable punishment. Christ himself was filled with righteous anger against the vendors who had desecrated the house of God. Such anger is allowable only if it tends to punish those who deserve punishment, according to the measure of their guilt, and with the sincere intention to redress what harm may have been done or to correct the wrongdoer. Otherwise the anger is sinfully excessive. The necessary provision is always that there is no tinge of hatred and no desire for revenge.
The necessary provision is always that there is no tinge of hatred and no desire for revenge.
Wow that seems like a tough one to avoid. Do you or anyone know if hose provisions are not met, that is, say a desire for revenge is present, does that become a mortal or venial sin?
Correction: “...those provisions...”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in the glossary, defines anger as:
“An emotion which is not in itself wrong, but which, when it is not controlled by reason or hardens into resentment and hate, becomes one of the seven capital sins. Christ taught that anger is an offense against the fifth commandment.”
Paragraph 2262 is referenced, which states:
“In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord recalls the commandment, ‘You shall not kill,’ (Mt 5:21) and adds to it the proscription of anger, hatred, and vengeance. Going further, Christ asks his disciples to turn the other cheek, to love their enemies. He did not defend himself and told Peter to leave his sword in its sheath.”
Based on this, it sounds like the desire for revenge might be a mortal sin.