Tuesday, May 15, 2007

"Faithful" = state of Grace

Three anonymous bloggers recently commented on the statement I make before Holy Communion at every Mass, “let all faithful Catholics come receive our Lord”:

1) “Perhaps it would be helpful to those of us attending Mass if, prior to the distribution of the Eucharist, you did not say that all "faithful Catholics" may come to Communion. The bishops of the United States recently published a statement on our decision making process to feel worthy to receive Communion. The bishops spent several years preparing this statement. Could you have some of these pamphlets available in the back of the Church for parishioners? I know of friends who do not go to Communion when you are the celebrant at Mass because they say they don't know what a "faithful Catholic" is. I hope you will think about just how powerful the words "faithful Catholic" are to the people in the pews. It means different things to different people. I believe that the bishops' statement will help each of us (ordained and lay) examine our conscience in a way that will truly light our path to the celebration and participation in the Sacrament.”

2) “It does seem as though there are very many who question what being a "faithful" Catholic means. I've always thought being faithful means acknowledging Christ as my savior, acknowledging the true meaning of the Eucharist and following the rules as I know them. I am certain that I do not now ALL the teachings of the church, but I do follow those of which I am aware.”

3) “I thought that the requirement for receiving Communion is being in a state of grace which means being free of mortal sin. When I hear "faithful Catholic," that sounds like much more than being free of mortal sin. I don't go unless I'm with my children so I can avoid having to tell them that I'm not worthy for reasons I do not fully understand.”


Thanks, Anons, for your comments. My primary intention is to remind people about a) who may receive the Eucharist, and b) who we are receiving in the Eucharist. Yes, when I say "faithful Catholics", I am mainly referring to Catholics who are in a state of Grace. But, it would seem a bit too legalistic to say that at Communion each time. I'd rather it be more of a spiritual invitation than a statement of a rule. And, the latter part of my statement – “come receive our Lord” - is more of the focus than the former part.

I am open to appropriate suggestions, if bloggers have them, of how to remind people the guidelines for receiving Communion in a brief way before each Communion. I have included some of the bishops’ 1996 statement below. It says “participants should not be conscious of grave sin”. I agree with the bishops, of course, but I don’t think it would be best to mention “grave sin” before Holy Communion each time. While it might be more direct than “faithful Catholics”, it would generate a much more negative spirit at that moment and in general.

I have found that most people know what it means to be a faithful Catholic. It’s like being faithful to your spouse. You know when you are faithful and when you are not. I am not saying, “perfect Catholics”; it’s more like “practicing Catholics” but a bit deeper. Most Catholics know when they have stepped out of Grace and into mortal sin; they may not know all of the teachings of the Church and even the theological terms involved, but they know when they’ve done something seriously wrong. I am simply reminding them and others about respecting the Eucharist. I have heard many comments from people who have responded with this respect after hearing my reminder. I don't do it for myself; I do it for the souls of those at Mass and for Jesus our Lord.


“As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion. We are encouraged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently. In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (canon 916). A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged for all.”

35 Comments:

At 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't all priests say it?

 
At 12:45 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

I like it. Before I made the plunge and went to confession and came back to the church I had a growing yearning for the Eucharist it was a gentle reminder of "not yet" without being harsh or condesending. It also reminds me to do a quick inventory before I go to recieve and if I remember something last minute (which has happened) I just cross my arms over my chest and recive a blessing instead.

 
At 1:27 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

I've personally viewed that statement as an invitation and welcome reminder of the sacredness of the moment. Aren't the "rules" regarding receiving the Eucharist found in the Missal? If so, then they are available in every pew (although I'm sure many of us would not know this, and I may just be flat out wrong...it's been a while since I've looked!).

Peace,

Steve

 
At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my kids noted the FG says this but FM doesn't, and wanted to know why. Her premise was that, if Catholics were in church on Sunday, they must be faithful. After an explanation, and she concluded that receipt of the Eucharist was, then, a little like a reward for good behavior. I liked her take, but also told her that the Eucharist is a gift that makes us more than we would have been prior to receiving it.

 
At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think faithful Catholics is easy to understand. It seems to me that those words are prompting people to examine their consciences. That is a much more difficult thing to do and then decide to receive our Lord or not.......Since we are all sinners, we must question if any of our sins are mortal. Also, many people are in a state of mortal sin and receive the Eucharist without regard. So now they are called to ponder the words faithful Catholics.

We are pulled out of our comfort zones and most of us do not like that!

 
At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Marion (Mael Muire) said...

FG, one of your correspondents wrote, "I know of friends who do not go to Communion when you are the celebrant at Mass because they say they don't know what a 'faithful Catholic' is."

I wonder how someone who says he doesn't "know what a 'faithful Catholic' is," is able to know whether or not he is in a proper state to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion.

 
At 8:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Completely off-topic, but a note to you men (and women to speak to your men), offer to help woman in need, when you see it! I had a flat tire at school today and was stunned at the # of dads/men who blew right by me without offering to help. Many of those were men I knew well- several of whom I've helped in many instances. I was stunned that so many passed by- but was very thankful for the two women who actually helped me and eventually asked Robbie to help. Robbie- you're the best!!! The rest of you- think about trying to be the best!!!! What an insult to be left in the dust/asphalt!!!

 
At 10:12 PM, Blogger Fr Greg said...

"Anon", I guess I was one of those men. I apologize that I couldn't help; I was already late for an appointment and it appeared to me that you were finishing up. I should have come over to at least make sure and to offer any help. I'm sorry that so many of us men - except Robbie - let you down.

 
At 5:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fr. Greg-
You weren't one of the ones I was referring to. I do believe if I were "stuck", I could knock on the rectory door and help would be offered from either you and/or Fr. Mike. I know you've a full plate and am appreciative for the number of ways/times you do "come over to at least make sure and to offer any help". There was a parking lot full of capable men there who could've stepped-up!

I was struggling with the stupid thing for a while (and it was pretty humorous- until it was clear that I couldn't do it), and several Dads I know WELL went by- one waved! Another man I know from several years of soccer (not a dad at St. A's) walked by saying, "hi." AND- another mom across the parking lot had a flat too, and no one helped her either! People should behave better. At least I learned a lesson today- thanks to Robbie (he and Bob really are the best), I now know how to change a tire and will not again be in the situation of relying upon someone else to help me in that!

 
At 12:50 PM, Blogger fran said...

In the spirit of "doing unto others...," I highly recommend a membership with AAA.

Over the years I have used this service for:
- flat tire repair (also in the school parking lot!)

- towing to the car dealership, after a malfunction of the fuel pump,

- and my personal favorite; assistance with retrieving keys locked in the car, on a bitter cold day, after having cut down a Christmas tree on a farm in Mt. Airy, Maryland!

Plus, you get discounts on hotel rates and retail store purchases. :)

 
At 2:18 PM, Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

Anon.... knowing 'how' to change a tire and being able to do it are two different things in my experience. I have found the bolts on the wheel are way too tight for me to undo! I have also found that help usually comes: it won't be the man in a suit, who will walk by as if I don't exist... it will be the scruffy or the young that usually come to my aid. And I am always most appreciative.

 
At 3:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do have roadside assistance through my insurance company, but didn't have the card I needed with me, and I'd been at school so long by that point, that the idea of waiting around yet another block of time seemed like it was worth a try to do it myself. Those little nuts were really tight- that was my undoing! My "grievance" was more of an observation than a true complaint (at least today, with clean hands and four operating wheels) that people do need to help each other out, and no man should allow a woman to crawl under a car! I am also the queen of locking my keys in the car (even the spare set with my main set!!). So, yes- AAA/roadside is a very good thing!

 
At 6:56 PM, Anonymous Marion (Mael Muire) said...

Anonymous Flat Tire wrote, "no man should ever allow a woman to crawl under a car."

Don't you wish? Let me adjust my hoop skirt and smooth the fringe on my parasol . . .

. . . Them days is long gone, sister.

Check out Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor changing a tire (http://lancemannion.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/lizwar.jpg) circa 1944. Of course, that was during The War. But the then King George VI allowed his eldest daughter, the then Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth to enlist in the Royal Army, where she was assigned as a driver and had to learn how to take care of all aspects of driving, including changing flat tires.

Now she's the Queen of Britain.

That's part of being a good, competent driver, my Dad taught me. Knowing how a car works, knowing how to take care of it, and knowing what to do in case of an emergency. (Which in my case, means a cell phone, the business card of a local towing company and a credit card, and a set of roadside flares. But I do know to carry these with me in the car at all times.)

Of course, a lady with a flat tire even today can smile at a male passer-by and call out, "I wonder if you'd mind giving me a hand with this?" Sometimes all they need is to be asked.

 
At 10:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I am also the queen of locking my keys in the car"

No, I am.

 
At 10:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to literally hook my keys to my purse otherwise who knows where they wondered of to?

keyless in Md

 
At 6:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marion-
I hear what you say, and hope to raise my daughers with a good measure of self-sufficiance. I am also raising my boys to be gentlemen. NOT that you implied this, but I'm far from incompetent and rarely rely upon anyone, and yes- ASKING did produce results. I just think we all could be more considerate of one another. (And I still think no one should allow a woman to crawl under a car).

REGARDING THE REAL Q&A TOPIC (I feel like I hijacked it)- I like to hear those exact words. The times when I didn't go up, sometimes in response to those words (usually b/c I failed to fast), it reminded me that I'm called to action in my faith, and sometimes I've failed to "act". I like the words- hope FG doesn't change any of them!!

 
At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kat,

How are you doing?

 
At 10:19 AM, Blogger fran said...

Yes! We are called to "act" when it comes to our faith.

I think we sometimes prefer to define our relationship(s) with God on our own terms...., "He should love me with all of my imperfections,"..... "He will understand that I did not have time to go to confession....," and so on.

The good news is, God DOES love us just as we are, and he DOES understand...

...AND he has expectations. He expects us to "act" - by making the necessary changes in our personal relationship with Him, so that when we receive Him in the Eucharist we may know His abounding love more fully.

Just as a mother/father loves her/his child unconditionally, there are also expectations of that child. They need reminders, both subtle and more pointed as to what those expectations are.

So it is with God. We need that nudge, those gentle reminders (at least I do!) so that we can LIVE our faith more fully.

 
At 10:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if we don't have people to nudge us should we just nudge ourselves? I mean that seriously not sarcastically.

 
At 11:38 AM, Blogger fran said...

Sure, why not? I think of "self-nudging" as the subconscious speaking.

I equate that subconscious voice to the voice of God.

 
At 11:43 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

I think it's important to find someone to "nudge" you. I am pretty good a distancing myself from people when it comes to the more challenging issues. I can examine my own conscience and look at my actions, but often the conclusions I draw are, at best, screwy. I think when you ask someone to listen, and give them permission to give honest feeback, you begin to look at things in a way that could otherwise be quite clouded. You'd be suprised how many would be willing to listen to you, if they were but asked. If you really feel that you can't do that (which I can completely understand)- I think this is a friendly forum in which to ask for a little push.

 
At 12:04 PM, Blogger fran said...

I agree, Mindy.

I meant to add to my post, - If somebody finds that their "self-nudging" isn't enough, they can ask for assistance right here.
They will not only get that little "push," but a healthy dose of laughter as well!

 
At 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the only place I have to talk about this stuff, so nudge away. I'm trying to push myself to participate in the sacraments even though I . . . . well, lack real faith. Did you know how hopeful it can be for people in the dark to observe the faith of others who they know and respect? It may sound dumb - but it lets you at least have faith in the faith of others.

 
At 1:27 PM, Blogger fran said...

Anon,
Your observations are not dumb at all. Sounds, to me, like the beginning of something very beautiful.
Have you considered participating in any of the various prayer or Bible study groups at church? Perhaps they would be beneficial in your continued faith formation. Just a thought.....

 
At 1:47 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

Also, have you thought about attending Adoration? May 25th there will junior high students will be in attendance, and Fr. Greg usually does something really pretty that's a bit geared to the "younger" set. I promise you won't be disappointed, and if you want some company, I'd be happy to meet you there. The rectory has my email address.

I am right there with you about having faith in someone else's faith. Both of the priests at SAA have been huge examples in their commitment to their faith (and all of ours) and that, quite honestly, insired me to examine mine more.
There are also several women in our parish who continue to inspire my faith as well. Faith is meant to be shared, and many others have strengthed mine (some I haven't actually met!).

 
At 4:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Fran,

I have been going back and forth with the idea of joining a bible study. It doesn't start until September and its not in my parish but that's okay. I probably will have to prepare for the class as I don't know the bible well.

 
At 5:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mindy,

I am taking a break from Adoration because all the incense and flowers does a number on my allergies and the last thing I want to do is sit there coughing disturbing all the other adorers. Once June comes I am going back to adoration that I do at a church nearby. Thanks for the invite but St. Andrews is bit far for me.

 
At 5:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Just as a mother/father loves her/his child unconditionally, there are also expectations of that child. They need reminders, both subtle and more pointed as to what those expectations are."

"So it is with God. We need that nudge, those gentle reminders (at least I do!) so that we can LIVE our faith more fully."

In other words participate in our faith as an "adult". I got it. It is so easy to be pure "lazy" and not participate in the sacraments.

I still think confession is humiliating because its embarrassing telling someone else about your shortcomings.

 
At 5:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I think when you ask someone to listen, and give them permission to give honest feeback, you begin to look at things in a way that could otherwise be quite clouded."

I have done so and am waiting for the call back to set up an appt.

 
At 5:39 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

"I still think confession is humiliating because its embarrassing telling someone else about your shortcomings."

Funny thing about those shortcomings- many see them even if we think they don't. In terms of "secrets", I've been the keeper of plenty, and- to my absoulte amazement- it was good to let them go. Now, I'm certainly not looking for a billboard or anything, but telling someone the things that were problematic was helpful. In addition, confession isn't about judgement. I've never had a priest say, "Well that was really stupid, and aren't you foolish!" I honestly don't think any even had those thoughts- just me, and if that was the case, that I was the one with those thoughts about me, how could confession do anything but help? We are usually are greatest critics. Just a thought...

 
At 5:59 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

"I still think confession is humiliating because its embarrassing telling someone else about your shortcomings."

Anon,

I can understand where you are comming from, I really can. I don't think anyone really likes going to confession. It is hard to do, we have to sit down and admit all those things that are broken in ourselves. I don't know about anyone else but I would much rather tell FG the ways I Havent messed up then all the things I messed up on... but that wouldn't help me grow and wouldn't repair that brokenness between me and God.

While i don't LIKE going to confession, it brings me peace that nothing else can and it lifts a burdon.

 
At 7:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please pray for my sister in law's aunt who got both her legs amputated due to diabetes. She didn't listen to the doctor to follow a strict diet when things could have been managed and now its too late. Been praying for her since I have heard. Gives me a total outlook on life.

 
At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"but that wouldn't help me grow"

good point Kat.

 
At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there anyone out there who is a Lay Order Franciscan?

 
At 7:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Funny thing about those shortcomings- many see them even if we think they don't."

(red face) oh great.

 

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