Friday, August 04, 2006

"Let all faithful Catholics come receive our Lord"

Mass and Adoration tonight: All are invited to join us for Holy Mass (7 pm) and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (from 7:25 to 8:25) in the Church tonight to honor the First Friday of the month. We'll have quiet prayer, music, and I'll give a reflection. Come for some of it or come for all of it. Please join us!!
Just before Holy Communion at every Mass that I celebrate, I say, "Let all faithful Catholics come receive our Lord". One SAA blogger wrote the following comments in response to hearing that invitation:

"When I heard the invitation to communion you offered, I was taken aback. Was I not a 'good and faithful' Catholic because I hadn't been to mass last Sunday? Did your invitation not include me, should I stay in my seat? If I did stay in my seat, would people wonder what I had done that made me not a 'good and faithful' Catholic? I had never heard such an invitation in my many years of attending Catholic masses at various parishes. Perhaps my reaction is the exact one you are looking for- that parishoners should approach communion in a contemplative state- questioning whether their actions were those of a good and faithful Catholic".

The first time I celebrated Mass at the different times here at St Andrew's, I made the following announcement before Holy Communion: "Just as a reminder about who may receive Holy Communion...reception of the Holy Eucharist is reserved for Catholics who are in a state of Grace. If you are able to receive, please come forward and receive either in the hands (with one hand on top of the other, making a throne for our King) or on the tongue. If you are not Catholic or not in a state of Grace, please still come forward and cross your arms over your chest, and you will receive a blessing".

Having given this explanation once at each of the Masses, I don't see the need to reiterate it. However, it is necessary for me to briefly remind those in the congregation at each Mass about the guidelines for reception of the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ. It is very serious business! Keep in mind the words of St. Paul: "whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord" (1 Cor 11:27) and that he/she "eats and drinks judgment on himself" (v.29).

None of us is truly worthy to receive Jesus in the Eucharist; but, Christ himself commands us to “take this all of you and eat it”. It is the Grace of Christ that makes us worthy. Grace fills us with God and His life, and thus makes us clean and pure. Our souls need to be clean in order to receive our Lord in the Eucharist. They need to be free of the filth that mortal sin brings. If we lose the state of grace through mortal sin, we cannot receive the Lord in Holy Communion; receiving Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin is itself a mortal sin.

The soul that is in a state of Grace has life; the soul that is in a state of mortal sin (“deadly sin” – 1 Jn 5:16) does not. As one commentator has put it, the soul in mortal sin is like a “chamber of death”; if Christ enters this soul, he enters death. It is like bringing about his death… this is what St. Paul means about having to “answer for the body and blood of the Lord”.

So, Anon, thank you for your great question and giving me the opportunity to expound on my invitation at each Mass. One of the reasons I give it is because there are probably non-Catholics at every Mass (I met a Lutheran woman who had been receiving the Eucharist for 2 years; she didn’t know she wasn’t supposed to be). Another reason is what you said which echoes St. Paul that “a person should examine himself” (v.28) before receiving the Body and Blood of Christ.

One of the biggest things that each of us will be judged on is how we respected the Eucharist while here on Earth. It is also one of the greatest things Christ will judge me on as a priest and “guardian of the Eucharist”: did I treat the celebration and distribution of His Sacred Body and Blood with great reverence and care?


At 1:54 PM, Anonymous Nick said...

Great explanation Father Greg.

Allow me to posit this and please tell me what you think:

The sacraments of receiving the Eucahrist and obtaining reconciliation are integral to our call to holiness. What separates us from other Christians with whom we share a common baptism is that we Catholics recognize God's divine wisdom in giving us profound gifts which allow us to contantly examine our conscience and remain in Jesus. Our protestant brethren, by virtue of their separation from the Catholic church, do not avail themselves of these gifts. Sadly, many Catholics do not as well and many who do only take communion and never go to confession. As a result, the progress of their sanctification may stagnate and they may not at all be on the journey to become like Christ.

None of this is written to imply that I personally am anywhere near where I need to be nor is it to imply that by virtue of doing both (confession and communion) one is necessarily on the path. That is why it is important to give an authentic examinition, receive absolution and then receive holy communion. By skirting around or skipping either or both of these sacraments, we risk putting our holiness in peril.

The Eucharist and reconciliation are magnificent gifts - tools really by which we can constantly correct ourselves and grow in holiness.

I await Father Greg's impramatur or perhpas his pastoral correction!

At 1:57 PM, Anonymous Nick said...

Arrrgh! By count I made at least 3 typos! First person to guess all 3 wins a prize.

Guess I better compose my post in Word and then copy it to the combox. Sorry.

At 10:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's an idea that I learned from a group at your own ordination. A local parish provides a list of all seminarians and asks that families "adopt" them through prayer. As these young men study and prepare for Christ's Priesthood, there, in the wings, are families praying for them everyday. Beautiful isn't it? As they pray for us, we pray for them. Every parish should adopt this idea .. it will promote vocations, it will make the Priestly preparation more "visible" to everyone in a parish and it provides the power of prayer on behalf of those discerning their vocations. Every day the prayer of the faithful should include a prayer for a specific seminarian, by name, so that our priests and seminarians come to know that we love them and must have them in our lives and in our parishes if we are to pursue our own holiness.

This idea could be expanded to include those pursuing the consecrated life and professed religious.

Come on Fr. Greg .. get this started across the diocese. You're the guy who can do it!

11:30 PM

At 12:19 PM, Blogger Fr Greg said...

Anon, thanks for your suggestion about spiritually adopting seminarians. The program that I've done in the past with families is to get twelve of them to support one seminarian each (the # twelve is significant b/c of the 12 Apostles). They pray for him, correspond with him, and get together socially if possible. It worked really well; both the families and the sems loved it!

So, anon, let's start that here on this site and see how it goes. If you email me (go to my profile for my address) with a list of twelve family names, I will provide you all with 12 names of seminarians and their contact info, along with some suggestions of what to do.

If this goes well, then maybe we can expand it to the parish level, then maybe to the diocesan level. Please keep in mind, however, that the Archdiocese gave each parish a poster last year that had all the seminarians on it, and they asked for all parishioners to pray for them.

This program would certainly be more direct, personal, and substantial. If we can find the support from families, then maybe it can become a diocesan program.

At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Father Greg. Your email and this blog have both answered my question and reminded me of the importance of attending Mass each week.

At 10:07 PM, Blogger Fr Greg said...

Thanks, Anon, always glad to help! That's why I'm here. Praise God.

Nick, nice job, bro. I might have written it a bit differently about non-Catholic Christians, regarding the sacraments. The Church says that Christ is present in these churches, but he is FULLY present in the Catholic Church.

When God gives, He gives in abundance. He has given us seven sacraments to experience the fullness of life with Him. As you point out, the sacrament of Baptism is the only sacrament that many other Christian denominations celebrate.

While Protestants do a very good job in celebrating the Word of God (we Catholics can learn much from them in this area), that is the extent of their celebrations, by and large. The Catholic Mass is the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Christ himself worshiped this way in Lk 24:13-35; He shows us the way to worship the Father fully while on Earth.

He wants all of us to be one in experiencing the fullness of his gifts, his love, and his life on Earth and in Heaven. "Father...I pray for them...that they may be one just as we are" (Jn 17).

At 12:28 PM, Blogger Searching For Holiness said...

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