Deacon's Corner 10/22/2023
Why can’t non-Catholics receive the Eucharist? The simple reason is this. The Church teaches that to partake of communion in any Christian tradition is publicly to declare one is in full agreement with what that tradition teaches or holds. We say AMEN! after the words “The Body of Christ” just before receiving Communion because we truly believe the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. The word “Amen!” comes from the Greek language and literally means “So be it!” Note the exclamation point because it’s a word that is to be spoken boldly with meaning. Kind of like “GO IRISH!”(sorry, I got carried away), or “Go Blue!, Go Green!, Go Buckeyes! (I can’t believe I just typed that one.)
Therefore, for someone who is not Catholic to receive the Eucharist, they would be speaking falsely because they don’t believe in the Eucharist as we do – the Real Presence of Jesus.
Likewise, Catholics are not to receive communion at a non-Catholic service because we would be declaring we are in full agreement with what their tradition teaches or holds, especially if their beliefs go against our beliefs (like abortion and marriage, for example.) So, if a Catholic were to share in the communion of a non-Catholic tradition, their action could also be an intentional falsehood leading them into sin.
St. Paul warns about the consequences of receiving the Lord unworthily when he writes “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 27).” So, the Church’s “rules” have nothing to do with the spiritual state of non-Catholics. In fact, they exist for the protection of the integrity of non-Catholics who happen to be present at Mass to prevent them from making a public statement that they believe is not true.
The Eucharist is not a symbol. It is the real deal - Jesus’s true presence in our midst - the body and blood of Jesus that he offers us to enter into communion with him. Jesus explains how he gives us his very self to eat as our new Passover lamb when he says: “For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed (John 6:55).” Without faith in this true presence, we approach the Eucharist as if we were eating a regular piece of bread, dishonoring Jesus’s gift of himself in the sacrament. And we certainly do not want to do that.
- adapted from an article by Fr. Ray Ryland at SimplyCatholic.com