I’m writing in regard to the letter published in September 2018 from a reader in response to a “Dear Padre” column titled “The Catholic Position on Holy Communion.” She eloquently presented the position of many inside and outside the Church who don’t understand why holy Communion should be received only by believing Catholics. At first glance her [open] position seems very reasonable, an opinion I once held myself; however, I have come to believe that it is an opinion often held by those who don’t fully understand or don’t believe in what the Church teaches about holy Communion. From their viewpoint, the Church is being very exclusionary, an attitude that not only Christians but people everywhere should reject.
As an extraordinary lay minister of the Eucharist, I have gradually come to realize that holy Communion is at the very heart of Catholicism, and the reception of holy Communion is the intimate meeting of Christ crucified with the one he died for. Christ longs to truly meet us, one on one, in our hearts and minds. Reception by someone unprepared, unbelieving of his presence, or just going through the motions with no reverence for the intent behind it, hurts Christ by ignoring, denying or rejecting what Christ offers. And, it belittles what the reception of holy Communion means to a believer.
I would not want to offend another believer’s religion by appearing to agree with that religion’s beliefs if in fact I do not. I can tolerate alternate beliefs without embracing them. For me, I keep coming back to a simple phrase I once heard: “If you don’t believe, then don’t receive.” For me, reception of holy Communion means I am truly receiving Christ, Body, Soul, Blood, and Divinity in the Eucharist. Nonbelievers can come to Mass and show their respect for what they don’t believe in. But I would not agree with their reception of holy Communion. To do so would imply a level of belief that they do not subscribe to. That would be lying to themselves, to me, and worst of all, to Christ.
Anita E., CA