Questo articolo è disponibile anche in: Italian English Spanish

Question

Dear Father Bellon, it is a fact that in Italy more than a million couples live “more uxorio” (i.e. as ‘common law’ partners) and very few engaged couples respect chastity. So who could ever, today, take the Eucharist, which is the defining moment of the primary rite of Catholicism, where our Lord is truly present and living flesh?

Our beloved Pope has recently said that it is important to go to mass to listen to the scriptures but equally necessary to participate in Holy Communion. So why exclude from the Eucharist those who love one another in a stable relationship even without the bond of marriage, and admit those who, married, are up to all sorts of things? We agree that it is necessary to approach our Lord in the most honest way possible, but are we so sure that the foreclosure of “contact with the body of Christ” is more a will of men than of the Savior himself? If during the religious function, for the sake of argument, the host took shape in the real body of Christ, would these be denied to those who are only guilty of loving each other out of wedlock? 

Thanks, if you would like to give me an answer.

Berto


A priest answer

Dear Berto

1. Certainly the Lord offered himself on the cross and gave himself as food and drink of salvation for all, without exception. This does not mean that everyone can receive Holy Communion. You will remember well how the parable of the wedding banquet ends: “But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’

That fellow had been invited. But he first had to put on the wedding garment, which in those days was given by the one he invited. In our case, the wedding garment is called God’s grace and is received from the Lord himself who calls to conversion.

2. You ask me if “are we so sure that the foreclosure of” contact with the body of Christ “is more a will of men than of the Savior himself?”. However, the Lord was clear, because, speaking through the mouth of Paul, he said:
“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.”
A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying.” (1 Cor 11,27-30).

3.      For this reason John Paul II in Ecclesia de Eucaristia (n.36) repeats the words of St. John Chrysostom: “I too raise my voice, I beseech, beg and implore that no one draw near to this sacred table with a sullied and corrupt conscience. Such an act, in fact, can never be called ‘communion’, not even were we to touch the Lord’s body a thousand times over, but ‘condemnation’, ‘torment’ and ‘increase of punishment’”. For this reason he added : “I therefore desire to reaffirm that in the Church there remains in force, now and in the future, the rule by which the Council of Trent gave concrete expression to the Apostle Paul’s stern warning when it affirmed that, in order to receive the Eucharist in a worthy manner, ‘one must first confess one’s sins, when one is aware of mortal sin’.”

4.     You also ask me what the Lord would say if he took on a visible body through the host consecrated to those who love each other out of wedlock. No doubt he would repeat what he had said through Tobit: “Be on your guard, son, against every form of immorality” (Tb 4,12).
He would also admonish him as he did in his time through the mouth of Paul: “Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones,” (Eph 5,3) and “Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” (Eph 5,5)

5.     Outside of marriage it is lawful and sometimes it may even be a duty to love one another, but not with the acts that are proper to marriage. Because these acts mean that we give ourselves in totality.

6.     In fact, outside marriage there is not the totality of the gift. This gift presupposes that one has previously given oneself with an irreversible act with conjugal consent.

7.     If this irreversible delivery does not exist first, those acts are deprived of their authentic meaning. In fact, outside marriage, one does not give oneself utterly and irreversibly because one is aware of being free to go back. Furthermore, one does not give oneself totally also because through contraception (or else through impure acts against nature) one uses the genitalia for other purposes than those written in the very nature of these acts.

8.     It is easy to understand why the Magisterium of the Church – within which there is necessarily also Pope Francis – says that those gestures are not acts of authentic love.

9.     This does not mean that those who do all sorts of things can receive Holy Communion. Also in this case, if he is not repentant and does not change his life, Communion becomes a reason for his own condemnation. That the majority of people or young people do not live their emotional life according to God’s plan, which is sanctification, only means that the majority also on this point need conversion. Is it bad to be converted? Or is it not the very meaning of Jesus’ preaching which from the beginning He “began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’.” (mt 4,17) And He continues to say through the mouth of Peter: “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away,”(Act 3,19).

Even our beloved Pope says today the same things that Jesus said and that his first vicar, St. Peter, said. It is impossible that he can say anything different. Even if absurdly he or someone else wanted to do it, Jesus Christ would not allow him because in fact on this point he guaranteed all of us with the following words: “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.”

The Pope has never said that it is necessary to take Holy Communion. It is done if there are the conditions established by the Lord.

I thank you for the question, I keep you in my prayers to  the Lord, and I bless you.

Father Angelo