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The Sacraments Instituted By Christ… Who Can Receive The Blessed Eucharist?

March 11, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 19

Since the Blessed Eucharist is so immensely rich in graces and blessings, who can receive it? In the Latin Rite, to which most Catholics in the West belong, any baptized Roman Apostolic Catholic, who has reached the age of reason (usually from seven years old onward) and can distinguish the Body of Christ from ordinary food, can receive the sacrament.
In the Eastern Churches, Holy Communion is given to infants after Baptism. It is beautiful to see the priest dropping a tiny drop of the Precious Blood on a baby’s lips — they always welcome it.
Leaving aside the heresies that afflict the Western world these days, we can ask this simple question: Is the reception of the Eucharist necessary for salvation? Here we find ourselves facing a very controversial, anti-liberal and anti-ecumenical teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ:
He Himself said: “Unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53). The Church, interpreting this command and putting it into a more definite shape, requires all adults to receive Holy Communion at least once a year in Paschal time.
But modernist Catholics who think differently, as well as all who willfully reject the Church and Church Law, and disobey Christ, “shall not have life in them.” A serious business indeed!
Pope St. Pius X entered Church history as the Pope of early Communion. He decreed: “It is the desire of Jesus Christ and the Church . . . .that all Christ’s faithful should approach the sacred banquet daily. . . . No one who is in the state of grace and approaches the Table of the Lord with a right and devout intention, can be excluded from it.”
Hence it is highly commendable to receive Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Eucharist as often as possible, even daily if one can do it.
Must one receive the Blessed Eucharist under both kinds, that is, under the appearances of both Bread and Wine? Not necessarily. There is one rule is for the priests, and another for the laity. The priest celebrating Mass must communicate under both Species. This is necessary in order to carry out fully the rite established by Christ. In the early ages of the Church, it was customary to administer the Blessed Eucharist under the Species of bread alone to the sick and to confessors imprisoned for the faith. But most people received it under both kinds.
However, from about the twelfth century onward, the Church started to give Holy Communion under the Species of bread alone, and not bread and wine, due to practical reasons, such as when it was difficult to procure wine in sufficient quantities for use all over the world. Also, it was difficult to preserve the Sacred Species for any length of time, and then you had the danger of spilling, and even the repugnance that many people understandably feel about communicating from the same chalice.
But even if there were not reasons of importance, the Holy Mother Church has so decided, and we, her loyal children, joyfully obey, since receiving under the appearances of Bread or the appearances of Wine is the same thing.
This last point has a particular importance because there are some Catholic people who falsely think that the consecrated Bread is the Body of Jesus — without the Blood — and the consecrated Wine is the Blood of Jesus — without the Body. This is a sore mistake. The whole Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, is present in every little crumb or drop of the consecrated Species.
The next question is: What is the importance, or significance, of the Blessed Eucharist? It is the highest expression of unity with Christ, as well as being a sign of the unity of the Church.
Since Holy Communion is the greatest sign and efficacious symbol of the unity of the Mystical Body, the Church, only someone in communion with the Catholic Church can rightly participate in it; otherwise the sign is falsified.
Sharing of Holy Communion between different churches must takes place after unity has been reached. To practice it before such unity is achieved is a dishonest denial of the separation between churches. It is a pretense that unity exists where it does not, and it is thus an obstacle to a search for genuine unity.
It is like relations before marriage: It is lawful only after the matrimonial union has been celebrated, not before.

The Virtue Of Religion

Now another highly controversial and “divisive” question: Can a Catholic receive communion in an Anglican or Protestant church? The answer is simple: No, he cannot, because it is gravely sinful and absolutely forbidden, and the Code of Canon Law forbids it: “Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible” (canon 1400).
Why so? The simple fact is that Catholics and Protestants have a totally different belief regarding the Eucharist.
Moreover, such a communion is not a real Communion, it is just bread and wine. Why so? Simply because it does not contain the true Body of Jesus Christ; and generally, these communities themselves make no such claim. They themselves do not believe in the Real Presence, so it is not Communion at all!
For a Catholic to receive their bread as though it was true Communion is a sin of indifferentism and scandal, if not idolatry for the Catholic, since we are called to adore Jesus in the Sacrament of His Love, and you do not want to adore their bread….
Some trendy Catholics say that this was true until the Vatican II, but now things have changed.
Not really. Vatican II, in its document Unitatis Redintegratio, clearly states the age-old truth that those communities “have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, principally because of the absence of the Sacrament of Orders.” In plain English, they have no true priests, there is no consecration, for a Catholic it is just make-believe.
Besides, it may imply that the particular Catholic left the Church for the Protestant sect, since he gives formal, public witness that he now adheres to a non-Catholic body.
Finally, it is a serious sin against the virtue of religion, because it is an unauthorized participation in a communion service not authorized by the Church of Christ, and as such is subject to a penalty.
Next article: Can we receive Communion in an Eastern Orthodox Church?

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(Raymond de Souza, KM, is a Knight of the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta; a delegate for International Missions for Human Life International [HLI]; and an EWTN program host. Website: www.RaymonddeSouza.com.)

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