Sunday, March 14, 2010

Communion at Episcopalian service

"Can I receive communion at Episcopalian service?"

ROME, MAY 30, 2006 ( Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: My cousin will be ordained this summer as a priest in the Episcopal Church (High Church). At her first mass, may I receive communion from her? -- J.L., Silver Spring, Maryland

A: Pope John Paul II answered this question in his encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," No. 30:

"The Catholic Church's teaching on the relationship between priestly ministry and the Eucharist and her teaching on the Eucharistic Sacrifice have both been the subject in recent decades of a fruitful dialogue in the area of ecumenism. We must give thanks to the Blessed Trinity for the significant progress and convergence achieved in this regard, which lead us to hope one day for a full sharing of faith. Nonetheless, the observations of the Council concerning the Ecclesial Communities which arose in the West from the sixteenth century onwards and are separated from the Catholic Church remain fully pertinent: 'The Ecclesial Communities separated from us lack that fullness of unity with us which should flow from Baptism, and we believe that especially because of the lack of the sacrament of Orders they have not preserved the genuine and total reality of the Eucharistic mystery. Nevertheless, when they commemorate the Lord's death and resurrection in the Holy Supper, they profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and they await his coming in glory' (Vatican II, 'Unitatis Redintegratio,' No. 22).

"The Catholic faithful, therefore, while respecting the religious convictions of these separated brethren, must refrain from receiving the communion distributed in their celebrations, so as not to condone an ambiguity about the nature of the Eucharist and, consequently, to fail in their duty to bear clear witness to the truth. This would result in slowing the progress being made towards full visible unity. Similarly, it is unthinkable to substitute for Sunday Mass ecumenical celebrations of the word or services of common prayer with Christians from the aforementioned Ecclesial Communities, or even participation in their own liturgical services. Such celebrations and services, however praiseworthy in certain situations, prepare for the goal of full communion, including Eucharistic communion, but they cannot replace it.

"The fact that the power of consecrating the Eucharist has been entrusted only to bishops and priests does not represent any kind of belittlement of the rest of the People of God, for in the communion of the one body of Christ which is the Church this gift redounds to the benefit of all."

From this it is clear that while one may attend a relative's ordination as an Episcopal minister, a Catholic should refrain from receiving communion. If this ceremony were to take place on a Sunday, it would not substitute for Sunday Mass.

For a Catholic, participating at Mass and receiving Communion should be the zenith of life in the Church toward which all other activities are ordained and from which they receive their strength.

Receiving Communion expresses the Catholic's union of heart, mind and soul to Christ and his Church.

Our "Amen" before receiving Christ's Body affirms our belief in all that the Church teaches with respect to this sublime mystery. It also affirms our belief in Christ's incarnation, passion, death and resurrection which is the Eucharist's foundation. Christ's Church makes the Eucharist.

Because it is such a strong statement of faith, we could say that a Catholic is never more Catholic than when receiving the Lord. And this is why we can never partake of the Eucharist in another ecclesial community which does not have the fullness of the Eucharist and the priesthood.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Not a 'rite of socialization'

Pope: Eucharist Not a 'rite of socialization', Jesus is Truly Present
'Today there is a danger of forgetting that the Eucharist is truly the risen Christ in his resurrected body'.

VATICAN CITY, Dec. 19, 2009 ( - Today there is a "danger" of seeing the Eucharist as only a "rite of communion, of socialization" and forgetting that Jesus is truly present in it: a mystery that we must continue to love. This is the reminder that Benedict XVI gave Wednesday to nearly six thousand people present in the Paul VI hall for the Papal general audience.

The real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is one of the themes to which Rupert of Deutz, a Benedictine monk of the twelfth century. He was the saint outlined on Wednesday by Benedict XVI in his General Audience. Remembering the life of the Saint, the Pope also emphasized his loyalty to Papal authority. Rupert said life "teaches us that when disputes arise in the Church, reference to the Petrine ministry gives a guarantee of fidelity to doctrine and gifts serenity and inner freedom."

The future abbot of Deutz was born in Liege in 1075 and, according to a tradition of the time, as a child he was entrusted to the monastery of Saint Laurence in his city. "Rupert always loved the monastic life, he learned Latin, and was distinguished for his moral uprightness and strong attachment to the See of Peter” said the Pope. This was the period of the Investiture Controversy. The Pope noted of that period:

"The papacy wanted to stop Episcopal appointments and jurisdiction from depending on civil authorities, who were not moved by pastoral reasons". The first period of exile of Rupert should be considered in the context of conflict between the bishop Otberto who resisted the directives of the pope and Berengar, abbot of the monastery of Saint Laurence in Liege, loyal to the pope, who was also exiled".

Rupert "did not hesitate to follow his abbot into exile and only returned to Liege when the bishop returned to communion with Rome and then agreed to become a priest, given that before he did not want to be ordained by a bishop not in communion with the pope." But because the controversy against him did not cease, Rupert again left Liege to take refuge in Siegburg. In 1120 he became abbot of Deutz, where he remained until 1129. When he died, he left only for a pilgrimage to Rome in 1124”.

Rupert was "a theologian of great depth" and "active in major theological debates such as the Eucharistic controversy, which in 1077 had led to the condemnation of Berengar of Tours, who supported only a symbolic presence of Christ in the Eucharist." Although the doctrine of transubstantiation was not yet spelled out, Rupert advanced its development as in his De officiis divinis he "supported the" continuity between the Incarnate Word and that (which is) present in the Eucharist".

"Even today" - continued Benedict XVI – "there is a danger of reducing Eucharistic realism to only a rite of communion, socialization ...and of forgetting too easily that the Eucharist is truly the risen Christ in his resurrected body." He emphasized that the catechism teaches us the Eucharist is that ..."for which Jesus is present in a unique and incomparable way, in a true, real and substantial way".

Among the many topics covered by the monk in his many writings the Pope pointed to his "reconciling the goodness of God's omnipotence and the existence of evil, in other words, how do you explain the reality of evil." It was a theme that the theologians of the time tended to resolve with philosophical artifice and that "in God's will they distinguished between approval and allowance, for which God allows, but does not approve of evil. Rupert remains faithful to the biblical narrative, God is supremely good and can only desire good. The origin of evil is in man himself, and his wrong use of human freedom. "

The last aspect of the theology of Rupert which was highlighted by Benedict XVI Wednesday was the Marian aspect. The abbot of Deutz is the first to identify the woman in the Song of Songs with Mary. He presents her "privileges and virtues" and calls her "beloved among the beloved." He "sees in Mary the most holy part of the whole Church." And "Paul VI in proclaiming Mary as Mother of the Church quotes a proposition from his work, when he calls her Parte maxima, Parte Optima, the most exalted, best part of the Church."

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