Fr. Denis on closed communion

A good reflection by this Madonna House priest:

The whole thing hinges on what (or rather, Who) the Eucharist is, and what we believe happens to us when we receive it (er, Him). The Eucharist is, of course, Jesus substantially present in the appearance of bread and wine, the true Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Himself, who is both God and man.
The reception of communion is not, then, a ritual ceremony symbolizing our aspiration towards unity, nor is it an expression of the unity we already enjoy (whatever that may be), nor is it a ritual that heals the breaches of unity among us or between us and God. The reception of communion IS UNITY itself. It is the highest, fullest, deepest, richest, purest and most complete experience of the union of God and the human person, and in that, of the human person with all other persons partaking in that Communion, that we will have, can possibly have, this side of heaven.
The Eucharist, and our reception of it, is the consummation, the summit, the absolute peak experience of unity with Jesus (and hence, God) and with one another possible in this world. That is what it IS, simply and utterly.
Because of this, we cannot approach the Eucharist if our existing state of union with God or with neighbour is gravely deficient. You cannot attain the peak of the mountain if you are not on the mountain. You cannot be perfected in a unity that does not exist.

 

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16 Responses to Fr. Denis on closed communion

  1. EPMS says:

    One of the things one learns by participating in a study group or similar parish activity is that you can sit in the same pew with someone for a long time, saying the same prayers and singing the same hymns, without realising that on at least one question of the faith, if not several, you differ radically. Often these are questions where you thought only one point of view was remotely orthodox. So the unity even of practising Catholics is aspirational, at best. This is not an argument against closed communion, just a caution about the language of “highest, fullest, deepest” etc.

    • Foolishness says:

      We sure found this out when our parish started to move into the Catholic Church.

      • John Walter S. says:

        You guys found out that some members of the congregation don’t even believe in the Eucharistic doctrine, huh? Who is responsible for the education of the flock, ensuring the next generation is instructed in the faith? For decades, we had corrupted, liberal, worldly bishops. They’re the same people responsible for hiding and shuffling pedophiles around parishes, always talking about dialogue and pushing for some weird notion of ecumenism. They’re old now and on their way to meet the Maker, but the damage is done. Now, people have the impression that it’s alright to pass the Eucharist around like a biscuit, just like what happened in Manila during the Holy Father’s visit.

      • Foolishness says:

        We had excellent catechesis and continue to have excellent and Eucharistic doctrine was not one of our problems. Also people can be exposed to good catechesis but how much they hear and assent to is another matter. I would say, however, that after the process we went through to become Catholic, we’re a pretty well-catechized, believing, happy Catholic little bunch.

      • Stephen K says:

        I am not sure what you mean by this, Deborah. EPMS appears to be trying to make the point that “unity” is in any event at the individual level an elusive or ephemeral thing, given that everyone may have a slightly different take on the “truth”. He goes on to caution that Fr Lemieux’ effusive characterisations are dubious to the extent that this is the case. Yet you are saying that you “found this out” when your parish came into the Catholic Church. Were you having a go at the Catholics you encountered already there? How sure are you that you, let alone any of your fellow parishioners, fit this elusive ‘orthodox’ bill any more than others you have in mind?

        For the record, let me say that I readily accept the reception of communion as a sign of that – communion with all present. I also readily accept that it should be at least be accompanied by the desire to be at one with all those present, in love and virtue. I reject however any notion that it must be accompanied by a satisfaction that one holds each and every “correct” position because such satisfaction would be quite problematic, inm my view. As EPMS implies, communion is about aspirations not exam results. So, your comment strikes me somewhat negatively, I’m afraid. It come across to me as though you have either missed EPMS’ point, at best, or think the Catholics in the Catholic church your parish moved into are not worthy, not “in the unity” so to speak, at worst.

        Perhaps you might like to expand on your brief comment or qualify it?

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Stephen,

        You wrote: Yet you are saying that you “found this out” when your parish came into the Catholic Church. Were you having a go at the Catholics you encountered already there?

        And again, you wrote: It come across to me as though you have either missed EPMS’ point, at best, or think the Catholics in the Catholic church your parish moved into are not worthy, not “in the unity” so to speak, at worst.

        Both of these comments seem to reflect a complete misunderstanding of the circumstances of Deborah’s congregation, now known as the Sodality of Our Lady of the Annunciation. The initial members of the Sodality, formerly organized as the Parish of Our Lady of the Annunciation of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC). came into the Catholic Church as an intact congregation with their own clergy (a former bishop and two former presbyters of the ACCC, all of whom are now ordained to the order of presbyter in the Catholic Church) and their own church building in which they continue to worship. They never became part of a existing Catholic parish, and thus never encountered any “Catholics… already there” in that way, though at least a few former Anglicans previously received into the full communion of the Catholic Church probably have joined the Sodality of Our Lady of the Annunciation since the reception of its initial members. But in any case, the Sodality of Our Lady of the Assumption is a community of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, and has no formal affiliation with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa within which it happens to be situated.

        I could be wrong, but I believe the situation to which Deborah alluded in her previous comment was that of the former ACCC parish. The ACCC, as a province of the Traditional Anglican Communion, taught the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church to its members. During the period of discernment before their formal reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church, however, a significant number of members decided that they could not accept some points of Catholic theology and thus decided to leave the congregation. Their departure was very painful to Deborah and to the rest of the members who stayed the course and are now part of the sodality.

        Norm.

      • Foolishness says:

        Norm, your last paragraph is correct. I was alluding to the situation in our former ACCC parish. While we are part of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, our links with the local Ottawa Archdiocese are very strong. We are very well integrated into the wider Catholic community here with the sharing of gifts taking place that Pope Benedict XVI envisioned in Anglicanorum coetibus.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        John,

        You wrote: For decades, we had corrupted, liberal, worldly bishops. They’re the same people responsible for hiding and shuffling pedophiles around parishes, always talking about dialogue and pushing for some weird notion of ecumenism.

        The preponderance of the bishops who were “responsible for hiding and shuffling pedophiles around parishes” seem to have been mostly staunch theological conservatives. The dioceses that were run by the liberal bishops that you despise seem not to have had much problem with sexual abuse by their clergy.

        Norm.

      • Foolishness says:

        I think if you look at Los Angeles, your theory falls apart, Norm. There was shuffling and hiding in dioceses of both conservative and progressive bishops partly because the nature of the problem was not grasped and at the same time there was a widespread concern about letting the truth out and thus scandalizing the faithful. We have seen the disastrous fall out from the view that the abuse was a simple moral lapse that could be solved in the Confessional, or perhaps by a brief stint at a treatment facility. I tend to think that the conservative bishops such as Cardinal Law bore the brunt of the media ire over the abuse scandal while progressive bishops tended to be excused or have teflon coatings.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Deborah,

        You wrote: While we are part of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, our links with the local Ottawa Archdiocese are very strong. We are very well integrated into the wider Catholic community here with the sharing of gifts taking place that Pope Benedict XVI envisioned in Anglicanorum coetibus.

        Yes. To be clear, I was speaking to the canonical situation: you and the other founding members of the Sodality of Our Lady of the Annunciation did not become part the Archdiocese of Ottawa, or any parish or other entity thereof, at any time during the process of your reception into the Catholic Church and the Catholic ordination of your clergy. Rather, the relationship, though clearly encouraged the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus and the associated Complementary Norms, is entirely informal and extracanonical.

        Of course, this does not exclude the possibility that some of your clergy might have concurrent formal canonical appointments from Archbishop Prendergast to positions of ministry, or even to governing bodies, of the archdiocese for which they individually report to the archbishop rather than to the ordinary.

        Norm.

      • John Walter S. says:

        Rev, can you name me priests who became theologically and socially conservative after leaving the Catholic Church for one reason or another?

      • Rev22:17 says:

        John,

        You asked: Rev, can you name me priests who became theologically and socially conservative after leaving the Catholic Church for one reason or another?

        I don’t know any priests who have “[left] the Catholic Church for one reason or another” whether they “became theologically and socially conservative” after doing so or not. But when it comes to conservative and liberal theological and social viewpoints, I have not known very many people to go from one side to the other in either area.

        Norm.

      • Foolishness says:

        I can think of some laymen who left the Catholic Church because it was not socially conservative enough and who then became priests in the Anglican Catholic CHurch of Canada. They are the ones who received “delict of schism” letters” from Rome, saying they would never be ordained in the Catholic Church. I think that’s a shame because the Catholic Church in some dioceses was spiritual wasteland of progressivism.

    • John Walter S. says:

      Deborah, that’s a real shame! It’s like those good young men I knew from back in the 80’s who were drummed off from seminaries because they were “intolerant” of the gay culture that was running rampant in the U.S.

      In my diocese, we have priests who turned out to have had wives and boyfriends only after becoming “ex-priests” and it caused no small scandal in parishes. They tend to have “mellowed out” as well after leaving and becoming private persons.

      Mind you, I was asking if people became conservative after leaving the Church, and not if people left the Church because they were “too conservative”. …There are plenty of people who leave the Church because it was not “conservative enough” like those SSPX people. But I have yet to find anyone who left the Church and then became conservative subsequently. That is why I have come to the conclusion that those who leave the Church tend to become liberalized, since they’ve become more “open-minded.” and so there is cause for some concern when priests and bishops don’t even bother hiding heterodox teachings anymore. It’s too optimistic to give the benefit of the doubt that seemingly heterodox-leaning, socially liberal clergy are merely mimicking the pod people to avoid being removed from their profession.

  2. EPMS says:

    If Mrs Gyapong is not being ironic, I would point out that her parish, now composed almost exclusively of the survivors of RCIA or a similar catechetical process, is not typical. It is analogous to a group of immigrants who have become Canadian citizens by writing a test many Canadians born here would fail. Her original comment, in reference to her ACCC parish, was probably what most of us have encountered at (Catholic) study goups.

    • Foolishness says:

      We had a catechetical process—then Bishop Carl Reid led us through The Evangelium course designed in the UK that as these things go is not bad, a good refresher, a bit like a Catholic type of Alpha Course without the meals.

      Our mentor priest sat in during the sessions and was there to answer questions or explain if need be.

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