Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Receiving Communion

The question was recently posed to me, "why don't Catholics allow other Christians to receive their communion?" The truth is that I was hardly satisfied with my response. So here we are.

The Eucharist is the "source and summit" (Lumen Gentium, 11; Catechism of the Catholic Church #1324) of Catholic faith and life. It is sort of like the cherry on top, except that it is more like a solid-gold-orb on top. With the cherry on top, the main event is the ice cream. But with the Eucharist, everything else is preparation, is "on the way to" the Eucharist. It is the main event, that which is most precious.

When I approach the altar to receive communion, it is a sign of my communion with the Catholic Church, of my adherence to the teachings and truths she proclaims, of my loyalty to the Pope and the Bishops, the successors of the apostles. Receiving the host, the Body of Christ, is the epitome of my union and communion with the body of Catholic Christians with respect to all of these implications.

In addition to the perspective of communion, one ought to be in a state of grace to receive the Eucharist. This implies the practice of confession, the sacrament by which we are restored to this state of grace, by which we are picked up from our falls, in which we accept the infinite mercy and love of God. In other words, confession restores us to communion with God, of which our reception of the Eucharist is symbolic.

The Eucharist is communion. It is communion physically, literally, figuratively, and spiritually. It is a sign of my communion with God and of my communion with the Catholic Church.

For further reading, you may consult numbers 1395, 1396, 1400, and 1415 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Monday, March 9, 2015

On the Lenten Journey

We are in the third week of Lent. It is entirely possible that you feel like me- worried that I have already lost some time and that Easter will be here before I know it  and that Lent will have passed me by and I will have accomplished nothing.

Know what I mean?

Don't worry. Lent is a journey. If you have felt this, I would say that it is a good sign; it is evidence that the Holy Spirit is present and inviting you to go deeper, just like he led Jesus into the desert (Matthew 4:1). Does that sound familiar? So keep your chin up. Lent is a journey and it's better to start your preparation for Easter now than on Holy Thursday. Pray. Listen. Follow the Holy Spirit's inspirations. Try to correspond to what he is telling you and communicating to you.

If he is asking you to give something up, start scaling back your intake of social media or of food, your time on Netflix or playing video games- whatever it is for you.

If he is asking you to give more, see how you can serve your neighbor, how you can reach out, how you can spend more time in prayer or in prayerful reading of sacred scripture or of some other spiritual book. See what will help you most.

Lent is a time to go to the desert. It is a time to encounter God, a time for renewal. We are made for God. When we take him seriously, he does not disappoint. As Fr. John Bartunek, LC wrote in his book The Better Part, "If we truly know him, we will delight in serving such a Lord, and we will go out of our way to be worthy of him."