Friday, May 4, 2012
PASTORAL CONCERN VERSES PRE-OCCUPATION ABOUT THOSE WHO PRESENT THEMSELVES FOR HOLY COMMUNION
O Lord, I am not worthy...
But do we actually believe this? Or should I ask, do the laity actually care about this today, or for that matter, do the clergy really believe this or care about it?
Fr. Z has a post telling us about a priest in Austria who went before the congregation at a First Holy Communion Mass and warned the congregation that only those who are in a state of grace should receive Holy Communion. He went so far as to say the following canonical truth (although we do not know if this is a direct quote)"Catholics who are divorced and remarried and Catholics who do not attend Mass every week were not worthy to receive the Eucharist."
When it came time for the children to receive Holy Communion, not one single adult came forward to receive, only the children!
Wow! Are Austrians so lacking in their faith that no one attends Mass on Sunday and that everyone is divorced and remarried? Maybe no one goes to sacramental confession anymore? Or perhaps they were angry at the priest for teaching the truth about who is eligible for Holy Communion and those who could have received joined in protesting the "unjust" laws of the Church which exclude people from the Eucharistic Banquet rather than welcoming them. I doubt that this priest allows the hymn, "All Are Welcome" in his native language!
What I read on Fr. Z's blog indicates that the pastor was chastised by his superiors for being so insensitive at a First Holy Communion Mass.
The Catholic Church does seem to be a Church of extremes. When I was a child our pastor in the late 1960's chastised our parishioners for not going to Holy Communion. He accused us of Jansenism. Of course as a stupid teenager who went to Mass every Sunday and believed at that time that I couldn't receive Holy Communion if I was in a state of mortal sin (and as a teenager, I usually was!) I along with most of our congregation didn't go to Holy Communion and none of us felt odd about kneeling while others went to Holy Communion. There were no snickers or pointing at us as unworthy sinners since we had just proclaimed that prior to Holy Communion.
At any rate, I did have to go home and look up what Jansenism is. I still wasn't convinced that I was one.
But today, everyone feels that they should have the right to go to Holy Communion no matter their state in life, no matter how many times they intentionally miss Mass, neglect their spouses and children, fornicate, adulterate
flaunt Church teachings, deny these teachings, and do all kinds of unmentionable sorts of things. Even non-Catholics feel they have a right to Holy Communion in a Catholic Church! If they are Mass, by God they are going to receive Holy Communion. If Jansenism is scrupulosity about receiving Holy Communion or extreme feelings of unworthiness, what heresy have I just described and why can't priests rail against it? Just wondering.
At funerals and weddings at St. Joseph, I will say somewhere during the Mass that only those practicing Roman Catholics who are properly prepared through sacramental confession should present themselves for Holy Communion. All others should make a "spiritual" communion and pray for the unity of the Church (usually the reason I say this is that the majority of people in the congregation are not Catholic and don't really know what to do when they see everyone else coming up for Holy Communion).
I seldom say what sins would exclude people from Holy Communion, presuming that most would know what "properly prepared to receive Holy Communion through sacramental Confession" would mean, but I know that is being presumptuous today.
Somehow I don't think that issues of receiving Holy Communion are problems in EF parishes or those who attend the EF Mass. The Law of Prayer is the Law of Belief and the reform of the reform of the Ordinary Form of the Mass and the Ordinary Form of catechesis since Vatican II is long overdue!