Tuesday, October 09, 2007

"That they be one"

The following is a reflection on the Eucharist written by Msgr Thomas Wells (“From the Pastor’s Desk”, August 17, 1997):

My sister and our whole family are gearing up for a trip next weekend to Tulsa for her son’s wedding. While they met and will live in this area, the bride wants to return to her home for the celebration. My family, never reluctant to get together for a party, is happy to make the trip. While the family priest will be in the sanctuary, the couple has, in fact, received permission to have their vows witnessed in her Protestant church. In fact, the ceremony will take place in Eucharistic liturgy. This, of course, has raised the question about whether the Catholics should receive communion in the Protestant church. In fact, we have been told by the minister that we are more than welcome to receive. I discuss the question because it comes up so often today. Can Catholics receive, when invited, in other Christians Churches? Under normal circumstances, can a priest invite non-Catholic Christians to receive at a wedding or funeral mass? While in both cases the answer is no, a look at the Church’s reasoning is important.

First of all, it was the prayer of Jesus that, “they be one, as you Father, are in me and I am in you.” Unity is intended by God to be one of the distinctive marks of the Church. The summit, the source, and the principle sign of that unity is the Eucharist. Now, thank God, we have discovered in recent decades how much we have in common with other Christians, especially when compared with those who have no faith. We can, and should, pray and study together; we should engage in common works of Christian charity and we should build each other up in our attempts to love and serve the Lord. However, the rediscovery of how much we have in common does not erase the divisions that exist within the body of those who call themselves Christian. And we must not forget that our disunity is the result of sin – and sin always has painful consequences.

The fact that next Saturday I must be at an altar at a Eucharistic celebration that looks much like our own and not receive communion, will be awkward, likewise with my nephew who cannot receive with his new bride. However, interestingly enough, that pain is a good thing. If we all went to communion, there would be no such pain, true enough; but there would be the not honest facing of the reality that real and substantial divisions exist within the Christian community. The disunity is real and it should make us uncomfortable. Perhaps that small experience of the consequences of disunity will cause us to work for and pray for the real unity that is desired by the Lord. To pretend a unity that does not exist may feel good at the moment; but it allows us to avoid the painful truth that we are still far from the oneness in faith and action intended by the Lord.


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

This has nothing to do with the post here today, but I fielded question from my 11 yr old daughter yesterday about abortion. She asked what abortion is, and I wasn't quite sure what to say. I asked why she was asking and what she thought it was. She said some of her friends wre talking about doing the march this year and she thought it was about protecting babies. I told her she was correct. What is the appropriate age to give more info, and then- what info do I give?

At 4:41 PM, Blogger fran said...

Hi anon,
I am a volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center, and I think I can safely say that it is never to early to begin a discussion, with our children, regarding the sanctity of life.

Recently, I watched a teen and her boyfriend's world come crashing down, when a pregnancy test came back positive. I have assisted the mothers of young teen girls, who are at home, with one, sometimes two, children! I have listened to the stories of young women, whom I will never meet, who are much too young, and are considering abortion. I have administered pregnancy tests to young girls who have already had abortions. I have counselled young women who are considering abortion, have gone home and prayed, and then thanked God when follow-up phone calls were made and they tell me they are going to keep the baby. It is never to early to begin a discussion on the sanctity of life.

I would make the focus of a discussion with my daughter (I have a daughter about the same age as yours) precisley that - a loving, simple talk which emphasizes respect for life and the fact that ALL life is a gift from God - a gift which should never be returned. In other words, I would zero in on the preciousness of life, rather than specifically on abortion.

I suppose, however, that you will have to determine if you think your daughter can "handle" more detailed information. That would depend on how knowledgable she is on the topic of procreation itself. Again,I think simple is best. If you think she is too young to hear specifics, you can always tell her you will share that information with her when she is older. I would also encourage her to continue to come to you with any question(s) she might have on anything. And, I would pray,.....a lot, for all of our children.

At 6:22 PM, Blogger fran said...

Another thought on how to discuss abortion, simply, with a younger child.

You might want to talk about the Ten Commandments and how each one is essentially about respect - respect of God and his name; respect of mother and father respect of neighbors, their goods and their families; When a commandment is broken it is an act of disrepect. Abortion is a an act of disrepect against an unborn baby and it is an act of disrepect against God.


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