Saturday, October 27, 2007

Baffled About Communion

Okay, I thought I understood the rule about Communion in the Roman Catholic Church. I thought it was "Only Roman Catholics, with two exceptions. One, Eastern Orthodox (although they're forbidden by their own bishops). Two, emergencies when the person is properly disposed." Seems reasonable enough, but it fails to address one particular group: Anglo-Catholics.

The reasoning for "No Protestants" is stated as being that Protestants don't consider the Eucharist to be the transubstantiated Body and Blood of Christ. However, many Anglo-Catholics share the Roman Catholic belief about the nature of the Eucharist (and, to be snotty, I suspect a higher percentage of Anglo-Catholics than Roman Catholics believe this).

The reasoning for the "Eastern Orthodox = okay" is that they have valid holy orders. However, due to Old Catholic and Eastern Orthodox lines of succession (both of which are considered to have valid orders by Rome), many Anglican and most (all?) Anglo-Catholic clergy have re-established their lines of succession.

Thus my bafflement. According to the Code of Canon Law Canon 912, "Any baptized person not prohibited by law can and must be admitted to holy communion. That's where I come in. I was baptized by an Episcopalian priest as an infant. Thus, I have a valid baptism. I'm not excommunicated or under any other form of discipline. I share the Roman Catholic belief in the nature of the Eucharist. If I affiliate myself with an Anglo-Catholic body which has restored its holy orders then it would seem that the only thing holding me back from receiving Communion would be the need to make a valid Confession (I've never done this, so I'm presumably in a state of mortal sin at present).

Does anyone see any obvious flaws in this?


Ronan said...

I don't think the folk at the last supper were Roman Catholic.

Anonymous said...

The flaw in your reasoning is that the presence of concelebrating Old Catholic or Orthodox bishops at an Anglican ordination doesn't necessarily impart valid orders upon the recipient. Theologically, it's an open question, so we deal with the facts on the ground, which is that we know valid Anglican orders were broken centuries ago (per Pope Leo XIII).

If and when that theological question is answered, we might see a change in intercommunion with TAC and its kin.

Good question!


HokiePundit said...


Thanks for your comment. My understanding is that Anglican orders were breached because the 1556 ordinal didn't impart them properly; this went on long enough that no valid priests were left by the time the deficiency in the ordinal was corrected. Thus, the problem was now reversed: whatever Anglican priests had could be properly transmitted, but what they had was invalid. If you brought someone with valid orders in and used a valid form, wouldn't it transmit them?

ignorant redneck said...

Ummm... in terms of takeing Holy Communion if the Catholic Church, would be the existance for formal schism. As far as I know, Orthodox are allowed to recieve the Sacraments from a Catholic Priest only in extremis--when there is no Orthodox priest and they are in manifest danger.

As Holy Communion is an istrument of unity, if there is no actual unity between your Bishop, and the Bishop of Rome, then you are not in Communion with rome.

However, as an Anglo-Catholic, I believe most priests would commune and annoint you, and hear your confession in extremis.

With the movement by TAC towards full union with the Holy See your position, of course, could possibly change.

That would be so cool! 23 sister Churches in the Catholic church instead of 22!

Michael said...

Many Anglo-Catholics go to confession as well. Also, the Latin rite does see the possibility of a group absolution (at least in theory - although it's only done in an emergency), so confession and absolution within the Mass theoretically counts (although many ACs don't see that as a true sacrament, but part of the "communion devotions").

Also, PNCC members are allowed to communicate in Roman Catholic parishes, on the same conditions as Eastern Orthodox. Many continuing churches have orders derived from the PNCC, which means that sacramentally, it could be argued that they have similar status.

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael said...

Agreed Redneck. For the moment, let's say "22 and counting", and pray for the day when its approaching 30 or 40.

Jack said...

I've never been refused communion by a priest. I've taken the host and wine at Coptic Mass, Orthodox Greek Mass, and once at a Roman Catholic service. And I'm Protestant, in a certain sense, in that I attend a Baptist church. Of course I've got a lot of friends who are priests too. Though I've never taken communion through one of my friends.

Anywho, despite my upbringing I never much shared the view of Communion as being merely symbolic (though to tell you the truth, base don many of my conversations I don't think many Protestants really consider it as merely symbolic either). My view is that the Host becomes the Spiritual Body of Christ, that the elements of the Communion become not physical blood and flesh, but the Spiritual Blood and Flesh of Christ (yeah I know it's an oxymoron, but then again Christ's Resurrection Body displayed evidence of being physical at times, and hyper-physical at others, and maybe that's a better analogy, that the Host is the Hyper-Physical Blood and Flesh of Christ). But that's just me. But I also find it amusing, the idea of refusing communion to anyone who really wants to receive it, except maybe for people who are in obvious sin (murderers, rapists, etc.) and seem to want it merely as a show or because they think it will magically justify their sins without real renitence. I find it very difficult to imagine Jesus refusing himself to anyone (though he would make demands if the person were truly sincere, like, repent) and I find it equally incredulously amusing that Jesus would refuse to share a communal meal with anyone, be he Jew, Gentile, Greek, Buddhist, etc. If they sincerely wanted Christ, he'd give of himself, give to them, and share of himself. So the idea of the church refusing over doctrinal lines is silly and juvenile to me, though I think they have every right to ask repentance of the person taking Communion, as I suspect Jesus would as well. Though I suspect, as has been my experience, that the Codes regulating communion are more for the legal books than the actual practice. Like I said no priest has ever refused me, or even questioned me on the matter, except to inquire if I were in the right state of grace and preparation. You can test this for yourself by experimentation if you want, and maybe things are different farther north but I've never had one say to me, "sorry, you're out, Jack. Rules and all ya know"

To me though, and this is just me, if a church law gets between a man and God, it's a silly and useless law, but if it helps unify men and God it is a good law (and by law I really mean regulation). One day when I become a priest I certainly won't refuse communion to anyone who strikes me as sincerely wanting it. If my superiors don't like it then they can rap me on the head about it but I won't give a man, a man's soul is worth far more than every regulation ever codified. If it gets between a man and God then I'm like Saint Francis, to hell with it. I'll go my own way and let God sort it out.

I've also been to confession because I like confession and think it is good for the soul, as well as the mind and spirit for that matter. If you find a good confessor then stick with him, he'll do you a world of good. I highly recommend it. I can't speak to your state of mortal sin, but I can say confession is likely to make impressions on you that aren't always apparent at first, but which you come to appreciate a lot later on.

Anywho, Godspeed.

Anonymous said...


It is an open question since the bishops with unquestioned apostolic lineage are (AFAIK) concelebrants and not the primary Mass celebrant/ordaining bishop. Roman theology on concelebration is not well-elaborated since we haven't done a lot of it historically.

IMHO these men receiving orders ARE validly ordained with this slight-of-hand and a decent ordination prayer. However, my opinion isn't the governing one.


Anonymous said...

ig red:

The Catholic Church theologically has no problem offering Communion to the Orthodox, but since their discipline prevents intercommunion with us, we ask Orthodox believers to respect their own Church's canons.


I'm not sure what the purpose of your post was except to demonstrate that you don't understand-- must less believe-- the Catholic understanding of Eucharist. IMHO it is extremely rude (not to mention sacrilegious) for you to receive the Eucharist as you have. I'm sure that if this blog had Orthodox and Coptic readers they would say the same.

The priest asking you about your state of grace and preparation was asking legitimate questions. Next time, you might want to listen and decide to stay in your pew and profitably pray to our Lord.

Offering up a prayer for Christian unity would be quite appropriate at such a time. I do it all the time during Communion in other churches.


Jack said...

What you think is rude Mike is of course up to you. I don't control what other people think or believe nor do I want to.

I'm merely saying that I've never been refused Communion, in any church, Catholic, Coptic, Orthodox, or Protestant.

And that's exactly the way I think it oughtta be. It's not my personal belief that the Host is literally the physical flesh and blood of Christ either, to me he took that with him after the Resurrection, but I got no problem with Catholics thinking that nor do I think they are necessarily wrong in that belief (there could after all be some mechanism by which this occurs, that his flesh and blood exist in many different places simultaneously - to me this seems more likely an act of Spirit, being able to be in many physical locales at once, than physics, but that's just me, and God can do pretty much what he wants - I just don't think it likely he does it that way). Nor would I discourage that belief. Cause it's just dogma, and if dogma leads a man closer to God, good, if farther away, then better God than dogma anyday.

Nor do I think that any priest is perfect, I've got too many who are friends who are to think that true, nor have I ever seen a church I think perfect, Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, or so forth. As a matter of fact if churches in my opinion gave up their breathless and silly adherence to dogma and to the idea that they as a church have to be perfect, I personally suspect they would have a much better chance at really getting to the Truth, and God. A little humility goes a long way in the pursuit of Truth. But I know men are limited in their methods and ideas, me included of course, and that's just the way it is. So it doesn't bother me that churches like to think of themselves as perfect (they're only made up of men after all), when only God is, but it is kind of a juvenile waste of time that could be spent in far better pursuits if you ask me, which you didn't, but that's my opinion anyways.

Imperfection doesn't bother me about churches, anymore than it bothers me about Saints. It does some people but that's them, and I got no interest in changing them. God is perfect in my opinion, and that's about it. Men and churches, not so much.

So I'm not changing my opinions on these matters based on the opinions of other men either, you included. If that offends you then that's just the way it is, but I got no real interest in offending you just to offend you. Believe whatever you want, and to me your opinion is as good as mine, because like mine it's just the opinion of a man and nothing more, and it doesn't offend me that yours is different than mine. If yours wasn't different than mine then chances are one of us would be the other fella. And that would be awfully hard to explain at tax time.

Nor does it offend me that you think me rude. But that doesn't change my opinion. Nor am I gonna apologize, nor do I think you need to apologize for being offended by my opinion. It's just an opinion.

As for Christian unity, I'm all for that. Pray for that a lot. I've been a big proponent of reversing both the Orthodox and Catholic and Catholic-Protestant schisms for a long time. Since I was a kid. So I guess we agree on that, unless we don't, which I don't really know since I don't really know you. But iffin we do, then I'm on your side on this one.

But in any case, good luck and Godspeed to you. And Christ be with you. As a matter of fact, Christ be with everyone, regardless of their opinions.
Gotta get back to work. Nice yakking with ya.

See ya later.

Anonymous said...

The key question is: Does the local Catholic bishop recognize your Anglo-Catholic orders?

My experience with Anglo-Catholics is that they often consider themselves more Catholic than Catholics, but unless the local bishop recognizes their holy orders, then there is no common cup. Unless they can trace unbroken apostolic succession to pre-Reformation days, there is no full communion with Rome.

Anonymous said...

The key question is: Does the local Catholic bishop recognize your Anglo-Catholic orders?

My experience with Anglo-Catholics is that they often consider themselves more Catholic than Catholics, but unless the local bishop recognizes their holy orders, then there is no common cup. Unless they can trace unbroken apostolic succession to pre-Reformation days, there is no full communion with Rome.

Anonymous said...

"The religion of the South is... do-it-yourself... which I as a Catholic find painful and touching and grimly comic."

Flannery O'Connor

It would perhaps be nice if Jesus and the Apostles taught that we can make up our religion as we go along and have sacramental unity even when some think the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ, some think it's a symbol, and some think it's a part of the Great Pumpkin.

It would perhaps be great if we could have sacraments without any kind of sacramental authority.

It would perhaps be great if our sacramental authority did not occasionally need to excommunicate someone to avoid scandal and confusion among the flock. (Excommunications are quite rare.)

It would perhaps be great if our bishops could have sacramental authority without also having to wield moral authority.

But if we did not have and use such authority, an ordained priest might have sex on a sacred altar with the religious education director, commit sacrileges with sacred hosts while committing sexual sins, and absolve his partner of sin without any true contrition, yet face no consequences from those entrusted with the teachings and sacraments of Jesus himself.

Sacraments without authority are an absurdity.

Anonymous said...

Here is my follow-up post on this topic:

Jack said...

Oh, I don't know TQ. If Jesus was willing to admit sinners, tax collectors, zealots, women, the occasional Roman, and what-not into his communal ranks then I reckon he just might even admit a Catholic or two from the Roman church to his table, regardless of whether they are right or wrong about any given dogmatic matter.

But that's just a guess on my part. You'll have to take the matter up with God just to be sure.
He's really the final authority about stuff like that.

As for the Great Pumpkin, well, to each his own.
I'm kind of an apple pie man myself.

By the way, since you brought up sex three or four times, I had heard something not long ago about some priestly sex scandals with kids... so, if ecclesiastical authority is really what keeps everything ship-shape and Bristol fashion in the church, you know keeps the poop decks clear of the riff-raff and all so the sinners can't get to the Godly goodies, did it just fail the one time to hit the regulating everybody right mark? Or were they just making that up as they went along too? I'm just kinda curious.

You know, if it's dogmatic authority that keeps out the riff-raff from the sacraments of the church, then is it dogmatic authority that regulates the Truth of God and how his representatives act within it as well? Like I said, just curious.

Well, see ya later.
I'm praying awhile, then hitting the hay.
It's past my bedtime.

Good yakking with ya.