Archive for the ‘Catholic’ Category

REFLECTION: Living in pain and hope (an ecumenical open discussion on the Eucharist between Anglican/Protestant and Catholic brethrens)

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to attend my first “Meet Your Relatives” gathering.  Unlike many family gatherings, the facilitator began with “Our relatives aren’t necessarily our friends, but it can be both”.

Over 80 individuals from near and far took part in the open ecumenical table discussion between the Anglicans and Roman Catholics.  The topic that afternoon was “The Eucharist: Living in Hope and in Pain”.  It was the subject of the Eucharist that prompted me to eagerly drive so far.  However, I had no idea what the “Living in Hope and Pain” portion would entail.

The facilitator began, “To ignore our differences is like ignoring the elephant in the room.  Christophe (who, from now on, will be referred to as C to symbolize Catholic), could you please address the elephant in the room?”

C began… “We can’t do anything about our differences.  It is not in our hands to resolve the differences.  How do you live with these differences except in pain and hope.  We are growing together in pain and hope.  The goal is to grow in awareness that there is pain.”

A (symbolizing Anglican) responded, “Both sides can fall into the trap of drawing cartoons of each other.  It is impossible to use the ’10 second response’ to discuss the differences.  What do these differences tell me in order for me to understand.  Without discussion, it prevents us from learning.”

C:  “It is not ‘I’m okay, you’re okay.’  To do that would be brushing the differences under the rug.  To do that would condemn you not to have a relationship.  I would rather grow in pain and hope than to pacify the differences.”

A:  “We’re not okay or else there would be no need for dialogue.  When we read the Bible, we come across the word metanoia which means changing one’s perspective… Just as Pope Francis had mentioned, we need each other.”

C:  “When I appreciate the values upheld, something in me changes.  In that change, I meet Christ.  The whole point of these talks is spiritual ecumenism.  I get to meet Christ and I know it is Christ, based on the changes that occur in me when I meet you.”

A:  “We don’t share the Eucharist because we agree it is a symbol that is deeply imbedded.  The issue is in how we participate in the reality it signifies.  The Bible is a symbol of God’s Word, unlike any other book.  What we struggle with is what the reality it signifies.”

C:  “I regret the stupid remark I made in the last session regarding why we don’t use the Lima Eucharist. (footnote 1)  In 1983, the Roman Catholic Church didn’t think it was valid.”

“That desire for unity is what drives us.  The Eucharist is where communion is.  How do we find ourselves living communion?  It is beyond our expertise and what we can do with our own hands.  To receive a gift which is completely beyond our comprehension.  The gift is communion with Him when we share with bread broken and with wine poured out.”

A:  “1 Cor 10 describes what is the body of Christ.  We are brothers and sisters with one another.  The word communion is also used to describe a community of Churches that are in communion with one another.  The term is used a lot.”

C:  “The horizontal definition relating to our neighbour truly flows from the gift of Christ.  The more that I am aware that there is insufficient unity, the more I hunger for Christ because it is beyond what I can do.”

A:  There is a Catholic woman who visits her Anglican Mom in my parish.  She doesn’t receive communion because she is very aware that there is still work to be done between the two.  She is like a blister on my foot.

Perhaps the best way to resolve this difference is if both sides went on a Eucharist fast.”

I gasped when I heard this last sentence and my journey, living “ in pain and in hope”, began.

A week has gone by since the talk, and yet, I still find myself shaken.   The truth that words can bring about so much despair became a reality to me.   At the possibility of such a suggestion, my vital life line felt as if it was suddenly ripped off from me.  My heart palpitated and screamed, “Lord, how will I make it back Home to You without Your food for my journey?”

Today, as I reflect and I continue to ponder, I am perplexed and in awe over how strong my spirit had responded to the suggestion.  I must confess that throughout the week, my mind continued to search in vain for words to describe what I was experiencing.  Finally able to attend Mass and to receive Holy Communion yesterday, the comfort of receiving Jesus into my body and allowing Him to touch and heal every cell in my body and mind once again has brought peace.  With peace in my heart, I am now able to clearly see how the suggestion brought confusion and extreme despair.   I have no doubt there is reason for this experience, but I plead with our Father to spare me from another similar experience.

Through our own “table of 6” discussion, I began to learn how little is understood of how practising Catholics view the Holy Eucharist.  Sadly, but without a doubt, I am certain that many cradle Catholics who receive Communion also fail to grasp the truth about it.  When asked what she thought if Holy Communion was no longer distributed during Mass, one responded with a shrug and a look of indifference…

Like many at our table, I once thought it was alright for Catholics to receive Communion with our Anglican/Protestant relatives, but a chat with a Priest helped me understand differently.  Catholics do not partake in Communion outside of a Catholic Mass because in doing so, we agree that the bread and water/wine we partake in are not transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ.

Likewise, some of our Anglican/Protestant brethren shared their desire to receive Communion with us Catholics but felt offended when they were not welcomed to it.  It took a little more effort to explain that it was not in attempt to discriminate the other, but it was based on the faith that what is received is truly the body and blood of Jesus.  To offer Christ in the Eucharist to those who fail to recognize Him there is the “utmost disrespect and irreverence for these precious gifts.”  (footnote 2)

“In his first letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul says, “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the Body and Blood of the Lord… for anyone who eats and drinks WITHOUT discerning the body, eats and drinks JUDGEMENT ON HIMSELF.” (1 Corinthians 11:27, 29) Paul’s statement makes sense only if the bread and wine have become the real Body and Blood of Christ.”  (footnote 3)

This scripture passage was shared, but I wonder if the gravity of the message was received.  Hopefully, by understanding that we hold this passage to heart, our Anglican/Protestant relatives will understand that Holy Communion is not offered to them, and likewise to non-practising Catholics, to prevent them from bringing judgement upon themselves.

Another shared his story of his Lenten visit to Westminster Abby.  In their younger years, he and his friends were there to celebrate and party, not realizing Catholics were more solemn during this period.  Before celebrating Mass, he recounts that a religious Brother had asked them not to receive Holy Communion.  With extreme grief, he confessed that, in spite of the advice previously given, he insisted on receiving Communion and this same Brother had painfully given it to him.  Our conversations continued, but the pain revealed through the eyes of this man could not be overlooked.

“The teaching of Jesus in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel is very clear: “Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you do not have life within you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food and My blood is true drink. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me and I in him” (John 6:53-56).

John goes on to say that, even though many disciples would not accept this teaching and went away, Jesus did not attempt to bring them back by saying He was only speaking symbolically.”  (footnote 4)

This scripture was not shared, but instead another story was shared about some parishes in Victoria, B.C. where many witches and warlocks live.  Past discussions had revealed that “guards” were positioned at the back of the Catholic chapels to intercept those who intended to take off with unconsumed consecrated wafers.  These ones target for the consecrated hosts and so they wait for the Eucharistic Prayer and they line up with the others to receive Communion because they, too, realize the presence of Jesus there.  The others didn’t realize that during their satanic rituals, these consecrated hosts were later desecrated and at times where dumped with human waste.

Although the “round table” discussions were called to an end, the pain in the eyes of the other remained.  I knew I couldn’t leave the place without offering  him these words… “We all make mistakes.  Ask God for forgiveness, forgive yourself, let go and move on.”  He responded with a smile and then quickly mentioned that he had e-mailed Fr. Abbot but did not get a response.

It is apparent that the title of that afternoon’s discussion didn’t arise with little thought.  In fact I would readily say that it was chosen with God’s wisdom.   I would not doubt that the author of that title experienced immense pain and a few of us there shared the same.

May our Father help us work through our differences, but more than anything else, may our Father open the spiritual eyes of ALL Catholics so that they will recognize Jesus in the consecrated host.

Father God, without our ordained Priests, we can no longer receive Your body and blood in Holy Communion.  We ask for your protection and your grace over each and over those who are discerning your special call.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – March 31, 2014

 

Footnotes:

1)  The eucharistic liturgy of Lima — World Council of Churches –

http://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/unity-mission-evangelism-and-spirituality/spirituality-and-worship/the-eucharistic-liturgy-of-lima

2/3)  Is the Eucharist Really Christ’s Body and Blood? –

https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=1340 (Excellent article)

4)   Satanism and the Eucharist (Satan knows the Truth, Do you?) – http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/3117475/posts

Consecrated Hosts Stolen in Kannur, India – http://www.catholicdoors.com/missioninindia/eucharist.htm