Monday, September 17, 2007

SO A PRIEST AND A MINISTER WALK INTO A COFFEE HOUSE

Don’t forget tomorrow you cannot go to communion.”

The call came late at night from the aunt of an NPR correspondent who was spending a couple of days at a “Come and See” weekend for a story at the convent where her aunt is a nun.

“Why not?” she asked.

“Well, because you do not practice the faith, have not been to any of the sacraments in years, have no intention of doing so and are not married in the church.”

The NPR correspondent was miffed and hurt. “Why can’t we all just get along?” she asked.

The Eucharist is at the center of who we are as Catholics. We believe that is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the source and summit of our lives. It is the cause and symbol of our unity. It is at the very center of our covenantal relationship with God. I would be willing to bet that that same NPR correspondent would be aghast if another woman asked if she could sleep with her husband. “Can’t we all just get along? It’s just sex. It doesn’t mean that much to me. I am not looking to break your bond with him. I don’t know why you are so upset. You are just closed minded.”

That is a bit of strong language but I hold to it.

Often before communion at a mass where there will be a lot of non-Catholics present I will say something along the lines of:

Out of respect for those who are here today and out of respect for your beliefs, I can only offer communion today to those Catholics who are in a state of grace. If you are unable to receive today I ask you to please pray for the unification of the Christian Church, make a spiritual communion with us, and if you care to come forward anyway to please ask for a blessing.”

This almost always goes over well. When it does not, it goes over even better. Once a man came up to me after mass upset over what I said about communion. He was going to school to become a Protestant minister and felt bad that he had been excluded from communion. I invited him over for coffee to talk about it. We went through Sacred Scripture and discussed theology and he surprised me by saying, “I believe what the Catholic Church teaches.” I tried to make clarifications for him but he was adamant, he believed in the teachings of the Church on the nature of the Eucharist.

“You have a serious problem then,” I told him, “You have a serious obligation to look into becoming Catholic because you denomination does not believe this.”

Though we met several more times after that I do not know what his eventual decision was. However, I do know this: had we pretended that there was nothing that divided us, had we shared the source and symbol of our unity as if those bonds really existed, that conversation would have never taken place and we would have never delved into the faith as we did. We would not have shared our faith stories nor come to an understanding of what the Eucharist is. Who knows what effect those conversations will have in the future?

That is why Pope Benedict issued those points recently in which he pointed out those areas that still divide us. We should not cover over these concerns but expose them and handle them. That is where true unity happens – in fact, not fiction.

So fear not! Let the conversations begin!

5 comments:

Rob said...

The funny thing is, that NPR reporter would NEVER have dreamed of intruding on a Native American ritual or a Jewish ritual, and would have watched sedately from the sidelines. But all liberals and pagans everywhere apparently have the right to trample all over our faith.

Of course, their overt desire to include themselves in our sacred liturgy should tell us, and them, something, don't you think? They must know it is the real deal and they can't resist, but they also want it "for free" (without all that messy conversion, repentance, confession, practicing-a-Christian-life business)

Anonymous said...

wow,..
some liberals are trying desperately be devout and sincere Catholics; while quietly enduring the narrow-sighted hurtful comments of others, just like the right wing campaign literature left on the windshields of our cars in our Church parking lot every year,
and praying that God helps us
to see the value of everyones opinion.
wow...

Rob said...

Wow.

MJ said...

Love the picture for Adams Ale!!

Genna said...

I love you blog. This post and the one titled "You can bank on it" remind me of the Jehovah Witnesses that came to my house. I think other faiths should respect mine. :) Thanks for the post!