When Receiving the Eucharist Becomes a Lie
Faithfully practicing Catholics often recoil at the contradictory nature of public figures’ actions and their claims of being Catholic. Especially when they continue their scandalous behavior and yet, present themselves for Holy Communion. How can, for example, the Speaker of the House claim to be faithfully Catholic, regularly receive the Eucharist, and yet vigorously fight for the right to abortion?
New York Andrew Cuomo presents an even more egregious example of scandal by a self-proclaimed Catholic politician. Last month he promoted, signed, and celebrated a new law allowing unrestricted abortion throughout all 40 weeks and up to birth. The repercussions have been many and loud as bishops are receiving thousands of requests, no demands, for Cuomo’s excommunication for this horrific law and its celebration.
Taking a Closer Look
At the heart of this moral battle lies a special set of beliefs held by the Catholic Church; they encompass acts that are intrinsically evil. According to the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB):
“There are some things we must never do, as individuals or as a society, because they are always incompatible with love of God and neighbor. These intrinsically evil acts must always be rejected and never supported. A preeminent example is the intentional taking of human life through abortion.”
What is the Eucharist?
To understand the gravity of the unworthy reception of the Eucharist, one must examine exactly what Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion) is. When referring to its fullest definition in the context of the Catholic faith, this faithful belief becomes clear. The words spoken by Jesus in scripture provide the full context.
“Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you…For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.” John 6:53-56
Jesus was not speaking symbolically and certainly made sure that everyone understood. When He first spoke of this, the Jews muttered among themselves,
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” John 6:60
The Hard Saying
In reading further there is even more clarification, “After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him” because this was a “hard saying”. Continued reading of John 6 reveals the full impact felt by His followers. The Eucharist as Christ’s true Body caused many of His disciples to turn away from Him. If His words had been merely symbolic, there would have been no reason for their protest. His clear intent was the institution of the Eucharist, “the source and summit of the Christian life“.
Yet those disciples who remained responded loyally and with faith.
Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God. John 6:68-69
The Twelve made the choice to believe in the reality of the Eucharist and the Church has upheld this belief in faith ever since. The uninterrupted teaching of the Catholic Church is that the Eucharist contains our Risen Lord – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
What Reception of the Eucharist Says
Acknowledging the full impact of what this all means, instills a much deeper understanding of the Eucharist. With this deeper understanding, it is no longer possible to treat the Eucharist lightly. The Holy Eucharist is our unity with Jesus. Through Him, we are in communion with each and every one of our fellow Catholics. We have become what we have consumed, the Body of Christ.
The teachings of the Catholic Church have always been very clear about the requirements of receiving the Eucharist. The faithful disposition of those who present themselves to receive Him in the Eucharist is prerequisite. Communicants are to be free from serious moral impediments and are required to be in full communion with the teachings of Holy Mother Church.
Therefore, as we go forward to receive Him – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity – we are making a public statement. We affirm, in reception of the sacrament, that we know Who is present in the Eucharist and that we fully subscribe to His laws.
“The Body of Christ”, as spoken by the priest, is confirmation of His Presence. Our required response is, “Amen”, meaning yes, I believe and affirm that this is truly the Flesh and Blood of the Son of God – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
Eucharist as Lie
Therefore, the act of receiving Holy Communion is a pledge of having a common faith, an intimate fellowship, with everything presented to the Body of Christ, which is His Church. Along with the Communion of Saints, we are bound to each other through Him Who binds us. Therefore, the act of receiving is a public pronouncement of unity.
If one stands up, publicly, to contradict a firmly held belief and then publicly presents himself as in communion with the Church, that action is a lie – perjury of the highest degree in the court of God. St. Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 that we are to present ourselves worthily or we “eateth and drinketh damnation” to ourselves. It is no stretch, then, to surmise that receiving unworthily – especially in public, causing scandal – is akin to perjury. Because it is an oath not kept – a lie given in action.
So what are we to take away from all of this? Since intrinsic evils are not subject to change, individuals who perpetrate or formally cooperate in them are making a statement to themselves, the Church, and to society as a whole. In essence, they are saying, “We, with full knowledge of our willful disobedience, stand squarely against a dogma of the Church to which we proclaim to belong”.
In this way they publicly fly in the face of the most deeply held Catholic teachings, while going through the motions of being in full unity with the Church. This type of behavior, on the part of a public figure, constitutes scandal and presents the danger of leading the poorly catechized astray.
Canon 916. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess.
Respect the Eucharist
In the face of this terrible scandal, we must pray that other prelates take a cue from Bishop Daly as he recently barred all pro-abortion Catholic Politicians from receiving communion. It would be an act of spiritual kindness to prevent the offending legislators from the continual amassing of deadly sin upon deadly sin.
In addition, faith in the reality that is Eucharist is at an all-time low. As members of the Body of Christ, this affects us all, for as 1 Corinthians tells us, “if one member suffer any thing, all the members suffer with it; or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it“. Let us join in communion with one another for the good of the whole. May God have mercy on us all – sinners that we are!
Wow! You are so full of hate. Good thing Christ is a lot more forgiving. Self-righteous people always assume their own sins are so negligible compared to the people they are condemning, but which human has the right to make that judgment? Even our Holy Father Pope Francis has said, “Who am I to judge?” I think you would have been one of those Catholics who condemned Galileo for saying the earth is not the center of the universe, a truth that was contrary to official church doctrine. Yes, abortion is an abomination. The best way to deal with pols who support it isn’t to excommunicate them (they probably don’t care anyway) but to reach their minds through their hearts. I found showing our state senator photos of my children and asking them which of my kids should have been aborted is a very effective way to communicate the truth of the sanctity of life. When he objected that not all kids are born healthy, I showed him a pic of my nephew, born profoundly disabled after his mother was advised to abort, who graduated from college, holds a great job and owns a house. Even a profound disability doesn’t make a person disposable, and that was the theme of my campaign against abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment: “Human beings are not disposable.” It’s been pretty effective. I don’t mind if you borrow it, I’m not possessive about it, but please keep it positive and leave your bitterness and hate behind when you use it.
Your personal way of communicating the truth of the sanctity of life is admirable. My personal method is soft as well. Check out the memes I create on my Facebook page (link below) to see examples.
At the heart of the above post, however, I merely state examples from Church teaching. By your mention of ‘our’ Holy Father, I take it that you are Catholic. Where is it, then, that you find me ‘full of hate’? When I quote the Bible, the USCCB, or the Catechism? They all clearly illustrate what is required for a person to present themselves for reception of Holy Communion. These are not fabrications of my making; they are dogma – the uninterrupted teaching of Holy Mother Church.
If a person publicly cheers at the horrendous act of killing full term babies (there is video available of just that), that person has brought God’s judgment on himself. I am certainly not sinless, I am also not judging their immortal souls. What I am doing is stating the facts, as presented by the Church.
Any good Catholic should love their neighbor enough to find fault with this type of public action and the effect it has by bad example. We should also do all we can to avoid the profanation of our Eucharistic Lord. All of the sources in the article point out just that.
Accuse a pro-lifer of hate for simply proclaiming church teaching, suggest that they are hypocrites & tell them that they would have been against Galileo. Then you proclaim how forgiving Jesus was, ignoring His own admonitions against sin, and top it off with quoting Pope Francis out of context and bragging about how christlike you are when you confront pro-aborts. So …how long have you been writing for the Huffington Post? If your comment was any more cliche, it’d have to be a parody. Stop pretending to be pro life, because if you were you wouldn’t be spewing such nonsense. Your tales of showing pics are obviously a ruse to promote a pro abortion agenda. Please leave this Catholic site, go back to HuffPo, and stay there. Btw, no, I won’t pray for you.
People have the capacity to reject both truth and love for truth. No one can make pro-abortionists accept the truth about abortion or care about it. Those who refuse to accept the truths taught by the Catholic Church should not be accorded the status of “Catholic”.
I thought this a concise clear writing on you know, what Jesus SAID. Maybe ought to be included in every homily.
Yes, it is really quite vital to consider what our Lord and Savior actually instructed us to faithfully act upon. Thank you for your comment.
Very well said. I agree with everything you said. This should be preached from every pulpit. The condemnation doesn’t come from you or me, but comes from the person’s actions which reflect their inner beliefs. A politician or anyone for that matter can’t have it both ways on issues.
Exactly, @Angel, Jesus spoke truth and the Church protects His truth. The decision of obeying or not is strictly up to each individual. God, or the Church, doesn’t leave people behind. They are the ones who walk away from Truth.
Extraordinary, precise, accurate, and beautiful articulation of the profound truth of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Not surprisingly Devon declared you “full of hate” and supported his contempt for truth by referencing Pope Francis’ admonition “who am I to judge”-Like a true liberal he arrogantly attacks you rather than speak in rebuttal with facts and authentic and rational thought. AND notice how Devon openly judges you as “full of hate” and “self-righteous” despite his own weak reliance of “who am I to judge'”. Don’t let folks like him deter you from your obvious gift of understanding and knowledge of Catholic truth. May God bless you Birgit.
Devon thanks for your beautiful pro-life witness. However, there is no mention of hate in Brigit’s analysis – it is love. First, love for Our Lord truly present in the Eucharist. Second, love for Scripture and church teaching that guides us in this matter. Finally, love for our neighbor so that they may not be condemned for receiving the Eucharist unworthily.
“Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” 1 John 3:18
Thank you for another excellent article Brigit! God bless.
In John 6:63, Jesus further explains what He meant by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Jesus says “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh profits nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (see also 1Corinthians 15:45). This doesn’t sound Eucharistic. It sounds more like Pentecost. Jesus says that the Spirit gives life. This is in line with what John says in 1John 3:24: “And hereby we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” Christ lives in us when we consume His Spirit. The sacraments associated with this are Baptism and Confirmation. In John 6:62, Jesus asks the disciples that complained: “What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before” How would it be possible for them to actually eat His flesh and drink His blood after He ascended? It would not be.
I’d like to ask you if you are Catholic because every Catholic must hold the True Presence as reality. This is not optional.
In any case, plucking a couple of lines out of the entire sixth chapter, to disprove the many lines confirming the Truth of His Presence is hardly sufficient. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” This causes murmuring against Him.
Then Jesus goes on to say, “For My flesh is [k]food indeed, and My blood is [l]drink indeed“, He cannot be misunderstood. He repeatedly insists on this Truth. Disciples leave due to this hard saying. Yes, Pentecost is the Holy Spirit coming down upon those in the Upper Room, but that doesn’t happen until after Jesus’ death and resurrection. That would be completely out of context for this particular conversation. It also wouldn’t be a hard saying. Talking about Pentecost wouldn’t cause so many to leave. After all, they had already witnessed all sorts of miracles.
As far as receiving Him after the resurrection goes, this because His sacrifice doesn’t occur over and over again. He died once for the many. Attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass transcends time. It is the same one sacrifice. Jesus is present – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity – each and every time because we are transported to the foot of the cross at every Mass.
The accidents of bread and wine are changed into the Substance of Jesus during the consecration. It is Him. If God can create the universe and everything in it from nothing, the Holy Spirit come down as flames of fire, Jesus perform miracles, and rise from the dead – why is it so difficult to believe in the reality of the Eucharist?