Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Why Non- Catholics Can't Receive the Eucharist


An oft-repeated criticism of Catholicism is directed towards the practice of a "closed communion." Non-Catholic Christians sometimes take great offense to this and believe Catholics are being divisive. The reality is Catholics very much grieve the loss of communion with our separated brethren and long for the day when we all can gather together to partake of One Bread as One Body in Christ. Taking part in the Eucharist is one of the highest signs of Christian unity. But by the very definition of unity , all must be in agreement and be one in heart and mind. The fact that most Protestants do not believe that Christ is truly present soul, body and divinity is why they cannot partake of the Eucharist. When we say the "great Amen" at the end of the Eucharistic prayer of the Mass, we acknowledge our belief in His presence on the altar. It would be wrong to then go up to receive the Eucharist if we believed it is just a symbol. By receiving the Eucharist but not believing it is the Body and Blood of Christ is precisely what Paul rebuked the Corinthians for; not correctly discerning the body of Christ. This admonition doesn't just pertain to non-Catholics but also includes those baptized Catholics who receive the Eucharist but do not believe He is truly present.
By the Church refusing the Eucharist to those who are not one with us (in unity of belief) they are not being snobbish or exclusive. Instead, they are being compassionate and protecting people from the harm engendered by not discerning the Lord's body correctly. "For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died" (1 Cor. 11:29–30)
There are many other ways we can show unity as Christians but until we all are one mind and one spirit as the early church was, non-Catholics must not take of the Eucharist.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

But even if you believe it's the real presence and a real sacrifice, you're still not accepted if you're not Roman Catholic. That's a bummer.

I know that it's because it's also a family meal, a family meal of Roman Catholics, but, again, still a bummer.

June 22, 2006 12:11 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Please don't be discouraged! Your belief in the Real Presence and the re-presented sacrifice of the Mass will eventually lead you to conversion. Once I realized that Jn 6 was always taken by the early church to literally be the Body and Blood of Christ, I knew I would have to convert. The church is truly universal and all are invited to join. That being said, before we partake in the Precious Body and Blood, we as a body of believers recite the Apostles Creed. It is a heartful assent to all the doctrines of the Catholic faith, baptism for the forgiveness of sins, the communion of saints, etc. If one cannot assent to the articles of the Apostles Creed, then truly one would, by definition, not be in communion with the Church and the taking of the Eucharist would be wrong. The Eucharist is a great sign of unity for Catholics but communion can only be communion when there is a shared belief. I have yet to meet a non Catholic who believed in the real presence of Christ as well as all the other tenents of the Creed and remained non- Catholic.
Converting to Catholicism seems exclusive from the outside looking in, but believe me, it looks totally different from the inside now looking out. It's not just moving to another church or denomination. It truly is a process of conversion that continues and is assisted by the reception of the Sacraments God offers us.
If you loved someone with all your heart and desired to be as intimate with them as possible, you would commit your heart, life and soul to them in marriage in a formal sacramental way. Analogously, receiving Christ in the Eucharist is our way on earth of being as intimate with Christ as possible until we reach heaven. That requires a commitment on our part that entails conversion and committment to the Catholic faith.

June 22, 2006 3:22 PM  
Blogger Steve Cuss said...

Hello,

thanks for your helpful post. This week I went to a local Catholic Retreat Center for a spiritual retreat. I am an evangelical pastor and made that clear to the person who checked me in (who later administered the cup at Mass.) As I was walking in to the mass, this man said to me, "do not hesitate to receive the host from the priest" which I took to mean, "you are welcome at this Eucharist." I was surprised, and not expecting to be able to receive communion together. At the appointed time, I got in line and received the Host from the priest. I went to receive the cup (from the man who checked me in to my room) and he shook his head. Somehow I had misunderstood. Can you tell me why a non Catholic believer is welcome to receive the Host but not the Cup? It seems to me that it would be none or both.

thanks

Steve Cuss

August 13, 2007 6:00 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Hey Steve thanks for visiting my blog. You asked: "Can you tell me why a non Catholic believer is welcome to receive the Host but not the Cup? It seems to me that it would be none or both."
You are absolutely correct, it is none. I am so sorry! The man gave you terribly wrong advice. Christ's real presence, soul body and divinity are in the appearances of both the precious wine and the bread. When you receive the precious blood, you are receiving Christ's flesh too because He doesn't separate himself flesh from blood and vice a versa. You being a non-Catholic believer have much more insight than the poorly taught Catholic who encouraged you to receive the Lord in the Eucharist.
The Eucharist and Precious Blood are to be received by the Catholic faithful who are rightly disposed, with no unconfessed mortal sin on their souls. That being said, there are many Catholics who wrongly discern the body of Christ and take it in an unworthy fashion, actively in sin, not even believing it is the real body of Christ, not receiving sacramental confession as prescribed by the Church.
Steve, I heartily congratulate you in being willing to experience the awesome spirituality available to all ! The prayers, the saints as role models and intercessors, the contemplative spirituality, the ancient historic are free to all in any Christian denomination. However, the Eucharist and Precious Blood are reserved for Catholics who have "signed on the line" meaning committed their hearts minds and will to all the teachings of the Catholic Church. As my post says, it is not done to be exclusionary, spiteful or divisive.
It is done to protect the unity of the body, and if we truly aren't in agreement regarding the Eucharist, then our communion is truly not communion, literally "with complete union."
I see you are from Colorado. There is an excellent bishop there named Bishop Chaput. if you can get a hold of his office, they may be able to direct you to doctrinally solid, "orthodox" Catholic events.
I am sorry that you were mislead, and I urge you to follow up with the retreat center to share your concerns. Unfortunately, many Catholics think they can re-invent the wheel to their liking, which is sadly what lead to our devastating separation in the first place!
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God bless

August 13, 2007 7:30 PM  

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