Receiving Christ in the Eucharist


Debate is raging right now about whether Bishops should (or should not) be denying Holy Communion to Catholic public figures who openly promote abortion. It’s a complex issue and we found this homily on the Eucharist by Fr Mark Bernard to be timely and insightful.

We also posit that it is relevant to all of us, not just public figures!

With access to the Sacraments is limited, it is worth deepening our understanding of the Eucharist, as well as the tradition of fasting and spiritual communion.

Attitudes and Beliefs

Recent surveys suggest that as much as 70-80% of Catholics (depending on the demographic) do NOT believe that Christ is truly present (body, blood, soul and divinity) in the Eucharist. Like many of our protestant brothers and sisters, they believe that it is more akin to sacred bread – blessed, but not transubstantiated. The Mass is not so much a sacrifice as it is a memorial of Christ’s love and a gathering of followers for fellowship and shared faith.

This view is not consistent with what the Catholic faith has taught or believed.

The Eucharist is a precious gift – one which none of us really deserve. We are all sinners in need of a saviour. A proper disposition should include humble gratitude and deep reverence.

Yet, it seems to us, that many Catholics approach the reception of the Eucharist as an entitlement. And like all entitlements, when it is denied, it provokes anger and hostility. None of this is in the spirit of how our communities should be gathering together or approaching the Lord in Holy Communion.

Ideally, a bishop or priest should never be put in the position where he needs to publicly deny a person who has presented for Holy Communion during Mass. If ‘discipline’ is required, all attempts should be made to privately discuss the matter with the person. And that person, in obedience, should refrain from presenting him or herself for communion including in other parishes or dioceses.

We’d love to hear your thoughts – please join the discussion below in the comments.

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Francine Pirola

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