Thursday, October 27, 2011

From Gene Veith at Cranach who quoted an advice column from the US Catholic (which you can read there by clicking here):

Should you pass on communion at a Lutheran church or participate fully?
You are at the wedding of a beloved family member or friend, which is taking place at a Lutheran church. You gladly accepted the invitation to celebrate this happy day with the bride and groom. But then there is a call to come to the table of the Lord’s Supper, to receive communion. This is the awkward moment you knew was coming. Can you, and should you, a practicing Catholic, accept the invitation?
According to the Code of Canon Law, receiving communion in a Protestant church is generally not permissible. According to canon 844, “Catholic ministers may licitly administer the sacraments to Catholic members of the Christian faithful only and, likewise, the latter may licitly receive the sacraments only from Catholic ministers.” The key term here is licit. If a Catholic receives communion from a Protestant minister, it is generally considered “illicit” or unlawful.
The reason for the Catholic Church’s general rule against sharing in the Eucharist with other churches is that a person can only be in full communion with one church. As a Catholic, the core of one’s union with Christ is union with the church. The center of this union lies in the reception of the sacrament of the Eucharist during Mass, which is both a confession and embodiment of unity with the Roman Catholic Church.
But canon 844 includes an exception to the rule “whenever necessity requires or general spiritual advantage suggests, and provided that the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided.”
The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism said that, as a general rule, common worship and eucharistic and other sacramental sharing should “signify the unity of the church.” But it acknowledges that such sharing can also be seen as advancing unity. In fact, according to the decree, “the gaining of a needed grace sometimes commends” it.
Still, within the confines of canon law, the exceptions to the rule are rather limited, and receiving communion from a Lutheran pastor during a wedding would normally be seen as “illicit” for Catholic wedding guests. At the same time, some Catholics would like to, and do, receive communion on these rare occasions.
These Catholics, after a careful examination of their conscience, find compelling reasons to “gain a needed grace” by receiving communion in a Protestant church. And it is also true that eucharistic sharing has occurred at the highest levels of the church. Even Jesus occasionally broke the religious law of his day, though he did so to fulfill the “spirit” of the law.
So it is possible that one could follow Jesus’ lead. In our example a compelling reason might be to demonstrate one’s deep love and commitment to nurturing the relationship of the newly married couple. Intercommunion could be a “yes” to God by witnessing to God’s presence in the marriage and committing to God’s work of salvation in their lives.
In the end, this may be fulfilling the “spirit” of canon law while going against the letter.

Veith's comment:

That last bit is casuistry of the highest order!  Breaking a canon law in order to fulfill it?  What’s surprising to me is that it’s taken for granted that a Lutheran pastor would be glad to commune a Roman Catholic visitor.   See too the first comment in the consequent thread that quotes the rest of the canon law cited here, that the communion can only be in a church with “valid” sacraments, which would be the Eastern Orthodox and some of the separated Catholic off-shoots.  Not Protestants, including  Lutherans and Anglicans, who are not thought to truly have the Eucharist.  This interpretation, though, makes liberal-Protestant-style ecumenism trump everything.

At any rate, is this argument for closed communion–actually, the rejection of altar fellowship–the same as what confessional Lutherans make, or is there a difference?  Note, for example, that the nature of the sacrament is not even brought up in this reasoning.

My Comment:

So what is the Roman Catholic receiving in this "communion" (from the perspective of Rome)?  Could it be that this is a back door admission that the Sacrament of the Altar is valid (if not licit) upon the Lutheran altar?  Or is the US Catholic merely suggesting that such communion would be a symbolic snack, a pious act but not Sacramental reception?  Hmmmm.... I can only imagine the comments....


Daniel Baker said...

I think that, if anything, this is another proof that the Dominion of the Antichrist continues to pave the way into the faux-ecumenical mindset that prevails in global "Christianity."

To hell with the cannons! Forget the norms of Scripture! "Love" trumps all!


What really caught my eye was the assertion about Christ's breaking the rules to uphold their "spirit." What ever happened to "one jot or title will by no means pass?" The fulfillment of the Law hardly broke the Law. He may have broke man-made ordinances of the pharisaical sort, but there's a big difference between the former and the latter. Is the Roman Church now admitting that its cannons are the latter sort of "Law?" *We* have been saying that all along!

The feeding and preservation of souls - not to mention Communion with the very King of Kings and Lord of Lords - is not a simple "religious rule" to be trifled with.

Once again, we see how relating the term "Catholic" with the Roman Church is the biggest misnomer in the history of mankind. Literally.

Anonymous said...

As the late great Dr. Martin Luther
said, "He is truly well prepared
to partake of the Sacrament who has
faith in these words, 'GIVEN AND SHED

There was only one Christian church
when Christ ascended 40 days after
Easter. There will be only one
Christian church when Christ returns
on the Last Day. So the Eucharist is
for all who believe that the body and blood of Christ is for the
forgiveness of their sins.

Terry Maher said...

Bloody right, Daniel!

What you are seeing is the state religion of the Roman Empire at its true nature. You can pretty much do as you please as long as you don't overtly buck the Empire.

In RC thought, there is no intercommunion, strictly speaking, unless there is communion to be inter. As Dr Veith points out from the rest of the canon that US Catholic carefully omits, valid communion does not exist in Protestant churches because they deny and do not have the Holy Orders Christ gave to the church whereby Communion exists, so the Communion one would take in a Lutheran church is not a valid Communion at all and to take it assents to their error. It is neither sacramentally valid nor canonically licit.

Nonetheless US Catholic can say what it says and Catholics can do as they will and on it goes. The article may step away from what the RCC actually says in this matter but bottom line it does not buck the Empire: "As a Catholic, the core of one’s union with Christ is union with the church."

Not to mention, as Dr Veith mentions, that a Lutheran pastor might have his own reasons for not communing a person, and that maybe that is to be respected, is not even considered.

Yes, there is a difference in why we reject what we call altar fellowship, and the difference is, our reason is not like the RCC's -- first, last, and always about the "church", ie itself.

But, as usual, exposure to RCC stuff shows such stuff for the reeking cesspool it is.

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

I'm with Daniel and Terry on this one, what a load of rubbish. "A person can only be in full communion with one church," should close the door on anyone and anything in regards to the eucharist, yet the ubiquitous exception is made. To say that Jesus Christ broke the law to obey the spirit of the law should disqualify anything the author says.

Pastor Peters, I would think you're correct on the latter statement, 'a pious act.' That is, supposedly the RC individual desires grace, but cannot recieve it where it is to be found, and so recieving communion in a Lutheran church-though meaningless shows their desire to fulfill the spirit of the canon.

Anonymous said...

Re: Liberal Catholic publications

Very dissident:

National Catholic Reporter
US Catholic

Enough said.

Jerry said...

How would this be different from being offered communion at an ELCA church or any church that your own church is not in fellowship with? Several weeks ago an elderly aunt died and we attended the funeral which was in her home ELCA church. Communion was offered to all and my wife and I simply stood aside and let those who wished to commune go by us and we sat back down. Did I feel Slighted or excluded? No. My brother was raised LCMS but became ELCA after his marriage in 1970 because there was no LCMS church nearby. They have since left the ELCA but joined an evangelical church. He feels excluded when he can't commune with us in our home church. I told him that when he comes back to the church he can commune with the church. Why can't he figure it out?

Anonymous said...

The fact is we celebrate the Lord's
Supper not the Lutheran or Roman
Catholic Supper. The fact is that
denominationalism was condemned by
the Apostle Paul in the opening
chapters of 1 Corinthians. If a
Christian believes that Christ died
on the cross to forgive their sins,
then he or she is worthy to partake
of the Lord's Supper.

Anonymous said...

1. The RC commentator is lumping “Lutherans” together with all “Protestants” as if we Lutherans are not different from all Protestants with regard to the “Real Presence” (Anglicans and Episcopalians possibly excepted, but that’s an entirely different argument we do not need to get into here). It is true that most Roman Catholics do not know about our belief in the “Real Presence”, but once they find out, many tend to dismiss it because it does not agree with their Aristotelian view of matter. On the other hand, it may be a deliberate attempt to mislead their own people, because if they knew about our doctrine, it might lead to some feelings of sympathy for Lutherans – something by all means to be avoided.

2. I sense from some of the comments that, although we feel that the Roman Catholics are wrong, we still don’t mind using their Canon to justify our practice of “Close(d) Communion.” The fallacy here is called “tu quoque”. We must justify our practice on its own merits; we should not point to those with whom we disagree on most fundamentals, as if they somehow got this one right.

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Pastor Peters said...

My point in this was not the communing but what did Rome think they were getting? Do we have a valid but illicit Sacrament, an invalid and an illicit Sacrament, or nothing approaching a Sacrament? What would those Roman Catholics who communed be getting at a Lutheran altar (from the perspective of the writer of this advice column)?

Daniel Baker said...

To "Anonymous" at 11:55 AM: The fact is that "Churches" which interpret and confess a different institution of the Blessed Supper (whether envisioning some mere symbol or wildly imagining a perpetual sacrifice), rather than the one that Christ established, have no true Sacrament, but rather some other abomination.

To make this assertion is not a violation of Christ's command for unity among true Christians. Rather, it is remaining faithful to His call for separation from darkness - to come out of Babylon. Christ has always wanted His people separate from the heathen. Living among, yes, but separate and as a bright and shining light, not as a dingy and tarnished grayness. The Lord is not very fond of lukewarmness.

Daniel Baker said...

Pr. Peters,

Maybe the author is among the 45% of U.S. Catholics who don't recognize Christ's bodily presence in their Sacrament (cf.

Terry Maher said...

Since from an RC view (the official one) Lutheran Communion is neither valid nor licit, there is no sacrament at all. That we believe in the Real Presence doesn't matter, we don't have it and believing in it doesn't make it so. The writer of the article, typical of US Catholic, is not really about the actual teaching of the RCC, so it is silly to infer from heterodox view even by RC standards some sort of official RC position toward Lutheran Communion.

And a hearty second to Daniel's second comment. Communion where there is no agreement as to what Communion even is, is a travesty of both Communion and any supposed unity. Ut unum sint, that they may be one -- that ain't all, the rest is as I and the Father are one. He and the Father are not one in a multiplicity of understandings about the sacrament of his body and blood.

Pastor Peters said...

Terry, I surely understand this and that is why I was shocked at the US Catholic reply. But since many Roman Catholics read that, they were being instructed by an official or semi-official organ of their church body -- whether right or wrong. So my final choice, were they only getting a snack in the middle of the service????

Terry Maher said...

U.S. Catholic is not an official organ of the RCC. It is a publication of the Claretians, as the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary are better known. It was originally called The Voice of St Jude -- the patron saint of hopeless cases, and devotion to whom grew among the Claretians in Chicago during the Depression -- but changed its name to U.S. Catholic during guess what, Vatican II.

That's the thing about being Catholic that non-Catholics just do not get. U.S. Catholic is very influential among Catholics, along with the two other publications Anonymous mentioned. In that context it doesn't matter in the least whether they dissent from current RC teaching or not. Catholic is as Catholic does. Hell, most of what I heard from 1968 on in diocesan schools, a Benedictine university, various periodicals, and parishes all over hell was not exactly consistent with either what I heard before the Council or for that matter the Council itself.

U.S. Catholic, or rather the mindset it exhibits, is not suggesting any of these options and does not even see the matter in those terms. It means exactly what it says in the penultimate paragraph, and is not bothered in the least if this is not the "official" way nor is the "official" way going to substantially enforce conformity.

Catholic is as Catholic does, and "official" Catholic will in the end allow it all under one tent as long as one does not deny the tent, because it's all about the tent (the RCC), however variously conceived, for all shades of the spectrum. The RCC is a religion entirely about nothing but itself.

Our problems in LCMS are a walk in the park compared to life in the RCC. I wish those of us who yearn for "bishops" and "episcopal polity" etc as a solution to our problems had some idea of how little all that really impacts daily life as a Catholic for the vast majority.

Anonymous said...

But since many Roman Catholics read that, they were being instructed by an official or semi-official organ of their church body -- whether right or wrong.

Er, not quite. US Catholic is an independent publication not read by the majority of Catholics, fits in more with the Call To Action niche crowd. There is nothing "official" about it.

Check your sources more carefully. If you also read some of the comments those of the orthodox Catholics stand out clearly against the heterodoxy of US Catholic.

Melinda said...

I'm Catholic and I know not to read US Catholic, America, etc. There's a lot of dissenting viewpoints and false theology in those publications. Unfortunately there are a lot of Catholics that just don't know that just because it's called "Catholic Something" doesn't mean it's true to Church teaching. The worst offender is National Catholic Reporter. Not to be confused with National Catholic Register, which is a good paper. ("Reporter = Distorter", to keep them straight:) )