darkness at noon
By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jun 23, 2006
Doing what he does best, Bishop Gumbleton brings darkness, cheerfully, to disputed questions. From this week's NCR:
During this past week, as some of you may know, the Catholic bishops of the United States gathered for our semi-annual meeting. One of the topics on the agenda was a report from the committee on that very divisive question that arose almost two years ago during the election about denying Holy Communion to people, determining that some people are not worthy to come forward and accept the Body and Blood of Jesus. Thankfully, the report came to a moderate conclusion, and there is going to be a very real attempt that we won't be trying to exclude people from coming forward to receive the Eucharist.
Objectively, no one is "worthy" to receive the Eucharist. When the Catholic says Domine, non sum dignus before coming forward for Communion, he is stating a fact, not making a simpering protestation of false modesty: "For me? Oh, you shouldn't have...!" But the Presiders Generation see themselves as hostesses, and the Eucharist as a treat they of their own generosity extend to their dinner party guests. The fact that doctrinal communion might be a pre-condition of sacramental Communion is as remote from their imagination as a hostess who jerks the plate of appetizers away from a guest because he's a Methodist. Contra Gumbleton, John Kerry and company were not to be denied Communion because they led unworthier lives than their fellow Catholics (blood test for blood test politicians would out-score their celebrant clergy by a significant margin). The reason they were to be denied was stated with irreducible succinctness by Robby George and Gerry Bradley: "Any Catholic who exercises political power to expose a disfavored class of human beings to unjust killing sets himself against the very faith he claims to share." Capisce? We're not discussing whether repentant adultresses can attain some arbitrary level of worthiness. It's about a stance toward the future; it's about a will to effect injustice tomorrow. Back to the Bishop:
But if we listen closely to the Scriptures today and try to get a deep understanding of what the Holy Eucharist really is, we will understand, I think. The scriptures today reflect the idea that the Eucharist is most of all the living presence of Jesus. To think of the Eucharist as a kind of prize that you earn, that you make yourself worthy to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus -- that's a very wrong approach, a wrong understanding of the Eucharist. It leads us to the idea that we put Jesus in the tabernacle and we worship him and that's the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus.
Beautiful. One prong of what he terms a "very wrong approach" (Eucharist as good conduct prize) no orthodox Catholic holds, while the other prong (Eucharist as object of worship) every orthodox Catholic does. Tantum ergo Sacramentum, Your recently retired Beatitude, veneremur cernui. Yea or nay? Are you in or out? Perhaps if you made greater efforts to join the Communion yourself you'd be better able to understand how the sacrament effects what it signifies.
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