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Only the Real Presence Demands Worthy Reception

1 Corinthians 11:27-29: Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.

St. Paul tells us that the unworthy reception of Holy Communion is a sacrilege; indeed, it desecrates the real body and blood of Christ. It is the ultimate in hypocrisy and blasphemy. Such an assertion that the sacrament might bring damnation instead of salvation must be seriously considered. Catholics in mortal sin should not receive the sacrament until that time that they have repented and the sin is absolved. If Holy Communion were no more than bread and wine, this assertion from St. Paul would make NO sense. How can a piece of bread or a sip of wine damn you for all eternity? How could such an empty symbolic gesture desecrate Christ, himself? They could not, unless Catholics are right and the bread and wine are truly transformed into the body and blood of Christ.

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4 Responses

  1. Hi Fr Joe,
    It was in an apocraphal way that I mentioned the trade in the Eucharist. I was told by the Nuns that it happened, possibly true, or possibly exaggerated to ensure our compliance with the disclipine that they imposed on us during our instruction for First Holy Communion. But I am also aware that Mass stipends have been misused over the years and have been tightened up now so that a priest can only say one Mass each day and the stipend is normally only a small sum, possibly $5 to $20. But to purchase or own relics was never subject to prohibition by Canon Law, only to sell them, having said that I could buy two fairly notable pieces of the true cross and a dozen or more nick-nacks for a couple of thousand dollars on ebay, not that I would want to.

    If those two large splinters of wood really are the true cross upon which Jesus was crucified there may well be minute traces of his precious blood, and it might also be possible, should these be identified, to check to see if they are ‘Y’ chromosone deficient…that would be something!

    In the meantime I believe that we were more conscious of the need for ‘worthy reception’ a few decades ago than we are now, unless the habit for Mortal sin has lessened. Most Masses I attend now have the whole congregation go up to receive communion whereas 20 years ago it was probably between 10% to 30%. And I don’t think the change in fasting requirements has made that difference. Certainly I struggle to accept that I commit Mortal Sin these days. Perhaps I’m being deceived, and in sort of accepting the teaching of the Church, certainly around murder and adultery, devil worship and untruth without question, I don’t put not going to Mass or eating meat on Good Friday anywhere on the same level of ‘mortalness’.
    Even for the soul in a state of Mortal Sin, I thought that a genuine act of contrition, if not ‘perfect’, then as ‘perfect’ as possible with the firm resolve to go to confessions at the next opportunity was sufficient to allow the reception of Holy Communion….perhaps that’s another one of my misconceptions, anyway I did not go to communion last night lest I am in a state of Mortal Sin, and I will take advantage of the quarante hors next week to avail myself. Having said that I still struggle to accept that there are many of Gods flock capable of committing real mortal sin, to me that means a deliberate turning away from God, as Judas did, and not as St Peter did. There is a tremendous difference between those 2 denials and as Peter was chosen as the rock despite his denial caused by fear, it was hardly ‘deliberate’ whereas Jedas’ denial was motivated by greed and a sence of ‘better than’ I presume, and similar in that respect to Lucifers’ denial. Those, for me, are true examples of Mortal Sin.
    But please correct me if I’m wrong.
    Paul

    FATHER JOE:

    I would not trust anything on eBay. I seriously doubt you will find the true cross there. It bothers me that even churches are selling items which might be blessed.

    As for mortal sin, one can indeed make an act of contrition and in sorrow beseech God’s forgiveness. The beginning of Mass includes a penitential rite, particularly for lesser transgressions. God always hears such prayers. However, the Church reserves certain sins to herself. Even mortal sins forgiven through the rare operation of general absolution must later be confessed to a priest, anyway. When the opportunity arises, we should see the priest.

  2. I may have given a false impression that sale of body parts of saints, and one specific one of Jesus, and of Consecrated Bread was common place here in England, but I was referring to the England of the Middle Ages when superstition was rife, and even Henry Vlll, although self appointed head of the church still saw himself as Catholic, to begin with at least. And although he had 3 of his wives killed for treason, thus making him a widow and eligible for remarriage within the church, such was the nature of suspicion in those times, that he had the body of one of them cast into quick lime, thus denying her the resurrection at the last day because the “body was destroyed”, and therefore she had no hope of salvation even in death. It was in the superstition of that time that relics were, if fact sold, and even pieces of the Sacred Host, to ward off the plague if not possession by the Evil One. Ignorance of the innocent was often exploited by those motivated by greed and corruption, and I did not mean to imply that much of that still goes on today.

    Intinction is not very common within the Catholic Church here in England even though it is often used in the ‘non conformist’ protestant churches, and, of course the Eastern Orthodox have used a sort of mix of leavened bread and wine adminstered by a spoon for a very long time, but it would seem to me an excellent compromise here and I intend to suggest it to Fr Bede this week. I suspect that, even with intinction we would have the die-hards still trying to insist in reception in the hand!
    Please forgive me if I appear angry, or it may come across as flippant, I’m still dealing with the loss of a loved Dog, and even this peculiar Catholic suffers from the various stages of grief.
    With love, Paul

    FATHER JOE:

    The trafficking in unapproved and/or false relics was not sanctioned by the Church. We have the same problem today with the sale of blessed holy items by online auction houses. Even in the Middle Ages, the commerce in such things was condemned as simony. I am unaware of any transactions regarding the Blessed Sacrament. While I cannot speak to the indignities inflicted upon the Church by the England of Cromwell, there would have been legal sanctions in Catholic nations for any sale or attempted sale of Holy Communion. Are you confusing this matter with Mass stipends?

    Pope Benedict XVI has said that Intinction is still the normative way for the distribution of the Precious Blood along with the host.

  3. I agree that reception in the hand was the common form in the early church, in fact it was how Jesus would have given himself in Sacramental Bread at the Last Supper, and the bread that they would have used would have been similar to the bread still made in the middle East and often eaten by me when I worked out there in Iran and Saudi Arabia, so there would have been few crumbs to worry about, It was a dull grey, flat, unlevened, quite tough sort of pancake which was ‘ripped’ into pieces by hand.

    The progression to the pure white wheat (and presumably for those ‘suffering’ from the modern disease of wheat intolerance, a soya substitute) wafer would have happened when exactly?

    I imagine sales of consecrated bread would have been rife in the middle ages as was the case with bits of the true cross and various body parts of not only the saints but of Jesus Himself.

    And even today, we have pretenders wanting to steal away the Host for nefarious purposes and although not common, the resurgence of witchcraft and black magic in this country has to be considered.

    Our Bishop recommended communion in one form only, during some pandemic outbreak of galloping swine flu or something equally contageous, and the holy water fonts by the entrance were drained, all so as to prevent the Church being sued I imagine for contaminating the faithful through contact with body fluids. Our Parish Priest has continued to adminster Holy Communion only in the form of bread ever since and that was about 2 years ago.

    Some of the Extrordinary Ministers are getting a bit uppity because they have lost their place on the pedestal as it were, and although I feel for their ‘downgrading’ which is how they see it, and one of my friends is quite peeved by it, I feel that what the Priest is doing tends to remind the whole congregation that what is happening during Communion is more that just a parade up to collect the wafer. I’m sure that if our PP could get his own way he would insist on adminstering communion in the one form only, and to the recipients, kneeling, and on the tongue. Many would feel that this is a retrograde step. And then we hear of progressives using the meal as it would have been with a freshly baked farmhouse loaf and after the ‘ceremony’ simply Hoovering up the crumbs.
    Not my cup of tea really, but how far would you go to modernise the communion service?
    Paul

    FATHER JOE:

    I must make a number of corrections:

    The larger host you describe is also sometimes used in the United States, but there can be no additives to the flour and water.

    There would have been no sale of “consecrated” bread. Once consecrated, the host is Jesus. The sacrament is a free gift of God. The unconsecrated bread was traditionally baked by the good sisters in the convents.

    As for relics, there are none of Jesus’ “body parts” as he was resurrected. Reliquaries are sold, but it is the crime and sin of simony to traffic in the blessed items, themselves. Such is not approved by the Church. However, the possession and veneration of relics is okay and may intensify faith.

    The return of the old superstitious religions under the guise of New Age is very real and dangerous to souls. We must also deal with an increasingly intolerant and belligerent atheism. The host should be protected from desecration by such enthusiasts.

    Many churches stopped giving the chalice during the swine flu epidemic. I even know a priest who died from consequences of this epidemic. It is no little matter and another reason why I am a supporter of intinction.

  4. Hi Fr Joe,
    It’s me again, but this particular subject has always troubled me. When I was at boarding school from the age of 11 till 19 I guess, certainly from 1960 to 1968, we virtually HAD to go to confessions every week, and often up to three times, and we were ‘observed’ as to our communion habits (the school was run by The Irish Christian Brothers!!!), but perhaps it was necessary to be able to receive communion as soon as possible after having received absolution at that age, and I’m not making light of the awful prospect of waking up dead without having been to confessions since the last Mortal Sin, However, I’m still alive having survived three heart attacks and several recurrent bouts of depression. It also afflicted my father to such an extent that he committed suicide long before he even got to my age.
    Anyway that’s going off the point a bit. What concerned me was seeing, on YouTube, I believe, the wife of some High flyer, perhaps politician, and she received the Eucharist in her hands, walked back to her pew and reached across to the one in front of her where the “accomplice” was seated, and placed the Sacred Host into his top pocket. If that is just one example when there was even a film crew there, how much of it might be going on especially as the reception of Holy Communion in the hand seems to have lessened the real and serious nature of what we are doing.
    When we HAD to kneel to receive communion in the one form, by the Priest, on the tongue, there was a terrible majesty about the reality, now, it seems, that it’s our Auntie Madge holding a clay cup with the ‘consecrated’ wine in it, there is a certain lessening of it’s awfulness….or is it just me?
    Paul

    FATHER JOE: Abuses do happen, even in the old days, although reception in the mouth was less problematical than in the hand. The person you describe, did a terrible wrong. I ask extraordinary ministers and ushers to keep their eyes open to such things. It might be a concerted effort for desecration; but more likely, non-Catholics are not aware of the protocal and elderly communicants with mental lapses get confused. Reception in the hand was described in the early Church. It is not a new manner of reception but the restoration of an old form. Jesus is Jesus no matter whose hands minister the sacrament.

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