Earlier this week, I gave a talk entitled “Worship In The Early Church”. In case you weren’t able to make it, the event organizer recorded my presentation and put it up on Vimeo:
Every now and then I have readers email me directly. Here’s one I received earlier this week:
“Last week my Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion was saying, “THIS IS THE Body of Christ.” It struck me as wrong. Is this ad-libbing, embellishing, inappropriate, or no problem?”
In case anyone is interested, here was my reply…
This nice little video about the Eucharist has been doing the rounds recently:
I’m going to take a break from my “Quick Apology” series concerning Mary and Saintly Intercession. Today’s “Quick Apology” will be a very brief and concern the Eucharistic liturgy…
The Catholic Church teaches that, in the Eucharist, the sacrifice of Calvary is made present again. In response to this, some Protestants object in this way:
“How can you say the sacrifice of calvary is made present again? The Epistle to the Hebrews says that His sacrifice was once for all. He’s no longer bleeding…”
Obviously, there is a lot that could be said in response to this, but how might we respond briefly?
In reply to this objection, sometimes I challenge Evangelicals over the very language they use in talking about salvation. Don’t they often talk about “being washed in the blood”, upon accepting Christ as their personal Lord and saviour? However, given the objection they raised above, isn’t there a problem? Hasn’t Jesus stopped bleeding? Wasn’t His sacrifice 2,000 years ago?
When Evangelicals talk about “being washed in the blood”, they’re talking about the the grace of the cross being applied to their souls in time in a real, substantial way. Given this, is the idea of the Eucharist being a participation in Calvary really that alien?
A while back, Meg came and spoke at the Goretti Group. I’ll be sharing the video next week, but in the meantime here’s a talk she gave on the Eucharist:
Reception of the Holy Eucharist has recently been the subject of scrutiny in the media, prompted by some of the discussions taking place in the “Synod on the Family”. In my own life, Holy Communion was also the subject of a recent incident concerning a friend of mine.
You see, a friend recently went to a Catholic conference together with a Protestant. Being a Catholic event, there was, of course, the celebration of the Eucharist. When time for Mass came, the non-Catholic was upset that she couldn’t go up to receive the Eucharist. She couldn’t do this because, under ordinary circumstances, the Catholic Church does not allow non-Catholics to receive Holy Communion.
“…members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Communion” – United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Guidelines For communion”
In this post I would like to provide a summary of what I say when I’m asked why it is that the Catholic Church doesn’t allow anyone to receive Holy Communion (the Eastern Orthodox Churches have similar rules for similar reasons). As usual, this won’t be an exhaustive theological explanation, simply a rough outline of the kind of thing I personally say when I’m asked to explain this particular Catholic teaching.
There’s a lot of discussion online at the moment about the conditions under which people may or may not receive communion. I have another post in draft on this subject, but I wanted to do a quick post outlining some of the earliest Church testimony on this subject.
In the First Century, the Didache teaches the following:
“On the Lord’s day, gather yourselves together and break bread, give thanks, but first confess your sins so that your sacrifice may be pure. However, let no one who is at odds with his brother come together with you, until he has reconciled, so that your sacrifice may not be profaned.” – Didache (Chapter 14)
So here we see that unrepentant sin or in a state of disunity cannot receive communion. We find Justin Martyr in the Second Century saying something very similar:
“This food we call Eukaristia [the Eucharist], and no one is allowed to partake but he who believes that our doctrines are true, who has been washed with the washing for the remission of sins and rebirth, and who is living as Christ has enjoined” – St. Justin Martyr, First Apology (Chapter 66)
Here we find the three basic conditions to receiving communion: baptized, assent to Church doctrine and right living.
I’ve got a more substantial post in the works on the subject of interdenominational communion which I’ll publish next week…