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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

"Taking" Communion

OK, time for another rant. This is one of my holy pet peeves, and it's not one I'm willing to just push aside. This is a battle that NEEDS to be chosen!

I CONTINUE to read/hear the term "take communion" (in exactly those words and lower case letters) even from people who ought to know better. And I cringe a LOT more when I hear that demonic phrase emitted from the mouths of those who otherwise have reverence for the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

And right now, some of you are wondering what kind of problem I have with this phrase, and you're REALLY questioning the choice of terms used in the preceeding paragraph with regard to the residents of that hot and bereft place we like to use to refer to the domain of Satan.

I chose that word very deliberately. Demonic it is.

Since you have those questions, then please allow me to instruct you as to why the phrase "take communion" is both demonic and irreverent and completely ignorant.

First of all, let's look at the theology; we all agree that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is unmerited; meaning that there is NOTHING we can do to warrant the torturous death Jesus suffered for us preceeding to and upon the Cross.

If we can't merit it, we can't "take" it.

We didn't grab God out of Heaven and make Him a scapegoat. When we say that we "take" Holy Communion, we are saying just that.

Even further...

When you "take" a class, you pay for it, you sign up, and you aggressively go after it. You know what you need, or what you THINK you need, you put your heart and soul into it (if you're smart and frugal) and onstensibly, if you succeed in taking the class, you also complete it. Logically, then, you can't "take" a class that has already been completed and then participate in it half-assed and according to your whim and expect to get a grade.

Do you think Jesus was so illogical to think that you could take Him as you do a class at the local community college?

Language is important...and it betrays a lot, doesn't it?

We don't "take" Jesus in Holy Communion. On Sunday or at Daily Mass, we do not "take" Communion!

We CANNOT "take" Holy Communion!

When we "take" something, it tends to imply that it is either something that we've aspired to on our own or something we've conquered. For some random uses of this: In a romance novel, a man who overcomes a woman's virginity "takes" her. Or in battle, a General "takes" Dresden. Or the Muslims "take" Constantinople. (Which is why it's now called "Istanbul" and why the Hagia Sophia was plundered and made into a Mosque.)

So...when you are saying that you "take" Communion are you planning on conquering Christ?

Sadly, this term is used far too often, leading me to believe that it is the predominant term for teaching children and young people, even adults. And my friends, language is powerful. Words matter. They are used with subtlety, and in the end, if we do not pay attention, we are put into the position of conquering Christ...instead of the position of receiving the benefit of the conquest of Christ.

We do NOT "take" Communion!

I don't remember how old I was, but I remember using that term as a child, maybe as a teen. Or maybe my brother made that mistake. In any case, I never forgot the message. Mom immediately reacted; the first part of her reaction was outright SHOCK. "We do not "TAKE" Communion!" After that, her tone softened somewhat. Her tone always softened when speaking of Jesus. "We "RECEIVE" Him. He gives Himself to us. We can ONLY receive Him. We can't take what He hasn't offered."

I'm not entirely sure those were Mom's exact words. But that was her message, and even in my years of dissent, it's something I never forgot. Even as I went up for Communion on those few occasions when I attended Mass, even as I knew I was in mortal sin (another of Mom's lessons that wouldn't go away), I never had the attitude of "taking" Christ. Every time I went forward, I knew I was "receiving".

It's not the same thing. At all. And I think it's that attitude in part that disposed me to conversion, for the words alone kept a certain type of Pride at bay; the Pride that told me I was "entitled".

Each time I received our Lord in Holy Communion in those years, I wept. Because I knew, fundamentally, that I could not "take" what I was not offered.

Thanks, Mom.

Look at the words: I've already discussed "taking", and the aggressive tone of the language and intent behind it. "Taking" ALWAYS has an intent. Sure, we can take what is offered to us, but our actual action upon the "taking" means we have intent. It implies aggression of a sort, and at the least, assertion of a right to something.

Do you "take" an award, or do you "accept" it?

It's a similar juxtaposition.

So apply that to the Holy Sacrifice of the Cross....

Do we "take" Jesus...or do we RECEIVE His gift to us? Does He not offer Himself to us through the Blessed Sacrament?

We can't take what hasn't been offered. To do so is an attack.

At each Mass, we are called to an examination of conscience; are we free to ACCEPT the offering? Or by going forward, do we TAKE something to which we have no RIGHT?

We, as Catholics, have no RIGHT to the Sacraments per se...unless we are disposed to receive them. Yet some have been raised with a sense of pre-eminence, of entitlement, and in fact...too many have this attitude! The Sacraments are not a RIGHT...they are a PRIVILEGE! We MUST have the proper disposition in order to receive those Sacraments! We have to KNOW what we are receiving and we must ASK for that reception!

It's not automatic because we've slapped a label upon ourselves and called it good.

We have to discern whether we are able to receive the Sacraments.

Note the language: receive. That word is used repeatedly with reference to the Sacraments. We receive them.

That implies humility; reception only occurs if we are OPEN to something. Our Lord is the Bridegroom. We, ALL of the Catholic faithful, are the Bride. And what is the Bride? Receptive. She receives. The Bridegroom gives. But never by force. And the Bride never "takes".

When we go forward for Holy Communion, we approach Christ Himself and ask for union...and He GIVES that union. We cannot take it. If we are in a state of mortal sin, we receive nothing. There are no graces. There is only condemnation. But if we approach with the proper disposition of grace and humility, we receive in accordace to those gifts.

We don't take God...we receive Him. It is a free-will offering, and a free-will acceptance. End of story.

Please stop "taking" Christ in Holy Communion. Discern. Be receptive, both to Him and to abstaining.

No marriage ever works without some self control. How can we expect to receive Grace if we don't even have the proper love for our Lord in our hearts? How is that a marriage?


Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Amen!, Amen!, Amen! That was great, more people need to hear this message. (shall be added to blogroll)

Anonymous said...

Mea culpa Mea culpa

I have probably used the phrase.

Another thing I just learned and was not taught (that deserves a rant) is not to chew the received Eucharist!

adoro said...

Joe ~ thanks!

Anon ~ Well, I've heard from official and orthodox sources that you can indeed chew. In fact, the word used in scripture by the Lord indicated "gnaw" which we read as "eat." However, I was taught to let it dissolve and my Mom told me specifically NOT to I don't! :-)

Anonymous said...

Very good Adoro, very good! And BTW I like you new header picture--lovely!

Adoro te Devote said...

Thanks, Tara. :-)

Melody said...

I think your new header picture is beautiful, too!
I have always said that I say that I "receive" Communion, rather than "take" it, because that is how I was taught, and as you say, it more accurately reflects the reality. However, there is another sense of the term "take". One "takes" medicine, or nourishment, or good advice. Not in the sense of going after, or conquering; but in accepting something which is needed. "Receiving" is a better term, but I do think many people are using "take" in this sense of accepting that which is offered rather than grabbing or possessing.

Adoro te Devote said...

True, however I think that the use of that word lends to the culture of irreverence and the lack of understanding of the True Presence.

Certainly I will not say that everyone who uses the term "take" in this context doesn't believe tht Jesus is truly present; rather I am making a general statement on the importance of the language and how we NEED our language to be reflective of reality, and in fact, to draw us into an attitude of humility.

It tends to be the small things that draw people away from true holiness...not the big obvious things.

We need to be careful with language, and we need to be strong when we address it.

Elissa said...

Wow. I never thought about this but how right you are. Thank you for the instruction and correction.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Hence why Communion in the Hand is a no no!