Thursday, August 21, 2008
Presenting Ourselves for Holy Communion
In my previous post, in which I discussed nearly missing an opportunity for Confession, a couple commenters brought up an important point. Although their point did not apply in my case (as I was not at the church to attend Mass that evening), it COULD apply to some people and so I thought this would be a good opportunity to discuss our approach of the Sacraments.
Just this afternoon, I spoke with a teen who had visited a parish offering a Spanish language Mass, and he noticed that only about half of the Spanish-speaking people who attended did not present themselves for Holy Communion, and he wondered why...for in his home parish EVERYONE goes to Communion.
It was an opportunity to discuss the need of us to receive the Lord only if we are in a state of grace so as to avoid profaning the Body and Blood of Christ. And he understood this, yet by his query, I realized that others likely wonder about the same thing...why are people not going forward at Communion?
It goes back again to the idea that we NEED to have a certain desperation for the Sacraments, something completely lacking in our culture for they are so abundantly offered. We also, in this country, have an attitude of entitlement; that we have a "right" to something, and through some very lacking catechesis, many have never been taught the reality of personal sin, of taking responsiblity for sin, and that they cannot present themsevles for Holy Communion if they have committed mortal sin.
The teachings have been so watered down for a few generations that Catholics today think nothing of deciding for themselves that their sins are not mortal because they don't see anything wrong with something "everyone" in society is doing. And so we have short Confession lines, and long Communion lines. Or, I guess it's entirely possible that we have many parishes filled to the brim with perfect Saints who have no need to confess what they haven't done.
Now, it's important to say that if you have not messed up insanely and committed mortal sin, you don't need to go to Confession every time you go to Mass. And, of course, if you ARE in a state of grave sin, you STILL have the obligation to ATTEND Mass on Sunday, however, you should refrain from going to Communion until you've received Sacramental Confession. The same applies for Daily Mass...if you are in a state of grave sin, you can and should still attend Mass, but remain in your pew and make a Spiritual Communion through prayer, and resolve to receive the Sacrament of Penance as soon as you are able.
Last night, if my intention was to attend Mass and I had not been in time for Confession, I would not have presented myself for Communion. In the past, my parish did not offer the Sacrament before Mass, but afterwards, and in fact, this was an important factor in my conversion! I could not receive Communion, and attending Mass without being able to receive what I realized was truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ was the very thing that goaded me to overcome my fear and go to Confession!
Thus if you discern that you might not be in a state of grace, DO attend Mass and let your abstinence from Holy Communion serve to pierce your soul, forcing you to realize the union you no longer have with our Lord. Gaze upon the Crucifix and comprehend how deeply and passionately He loves you...and allow that love to bring you to the throne of His Mercy in the Sacrament of Confession.