If you are a non-Catholic Christian, have you ever wondered why you are not permitted to come and receive Holy Communion at a Catholic Mass? Maybe you have attended a Wedding Mass or a Funeral Mass and was told by the Priest that only Catholics are permitted to come up for communion. You might of been thinking to yourself, “that seems very UN-Christian and not inclusive.” You might be saying to yourself, “most other Christian faith traditions allow everyone to share in the ‘Lord’s Supper’ no matter what church you belong to. Why do Catholic’s seem to act superior in regards to receiving the Holy Eucharist?”
Well, the classic place in the Bible to turn to in order to understand why not only a non-Catholic, but also a Catholic who has serious sin on their soul, cannot receive Holy Communion, is from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Paul describes two conditions where someone is not to receive. He starts off by saying, “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 (1Cor 11:27).” In that statement, he is saying that you would be guilty of “homicide or murder” if you partake of it unworthily. It is a very stern statement! Then Paul goes on to state, “Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died (1Cor 11:28-30).” Again, he is issuing a very stern warning to keep people from committing spiritual harm to themselves.
It is in this spirit that the Catholic Church doesn’t permit people to receive the Holy Eucharist. So, whether you are not Catholic or for the Catholic who “does not believe in the real presence of Christ” in the Eucharist or is conscience of himself being in the state of serious sin and hasn’t gone to confession, then they are not to receive. It is not intended to be mean, rude, divisive or exclusionary, but is meant to be a protective measure. It is to prevent some worse spiritual danger from taking place to the person.
Now, does the Catholic Church want to make it as difficult as possible to receive Holy Communion? No. The Church doesn’t want to prevent people from receiving, but to throw open the doors wide and make it as easy as possible. But, as St. Paul talks about, there are certain things required of the person who comes to receive.
Until next time, God bless.