Thursday, April 11, 2013

Eucharist as Perjury

This past Sunday, Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron put forward that Catholics who receive Communion while advocating gay marriage would "logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury".  Likewise, Detroit Canon Lawyer, Dr.Edward Peters, says that "Catholics who promote 'same-sex marriage' act contrary to Church law "and should not approach for holy Communion". Adding that, "they also risk having holy Communion withheld from them ... being rebuked and/or being sanctioned". Not unlike the admonishment that politicians who publicly support and work for abortion rights, this goes to the heart of what Catholics believe - have always believed.

Let's take a closer look

The Catholic Church has a special set of beliefs that encompass acts that are intrinsically evil. According to the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB):
"There are some things we must never do, as individuals or as a society, because they are always incompatible with love of God and neighbor. These intrinsically evil acts must always be rejected and never supported. A preeminent example is the intentional taking of human life through abortion."

Other intrinsic evils include euthanasia, human cloning, destructive research on human embryos, and homosexual marriage. These beliefs are a part of the Dogma of the Catholic Church. According to the CCC  the "Church's Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes, in a form obliging the Christian people to an irrevocable adherence of faith, truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes, in a definitive way, truths having a necessary connection with these". Unlike discipline - a practice that can be changed (think abstaining from meat on all Fridays of the year) - dogma is definitive and can never change.

So what are we to take away from all of this? Since these intrinsic evils are not subject to change, individuals who perpetrate or formally cooperate in them are making a statement to themselves, the Church and society as a whole. In essence they are saying, "we, with full knowledge of our willful disobedience, stand squarely against a dogma of the Church to which we proclaim to belong". While going through the motions of being in full unity with the Church, they publicly fly in the face of her most deeply held teachings.

What Eucharist Is

To understand the gravity of the situation one must examine exactly what Holy Eucharist (Communion) is, when referring to its fullest definition according to the Catholic faith. When Jesus said, "truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you", He wasn't speaking symbolically. This hard truth, the Eucharist as Christ's true Body, even caused some of His disciples to turn away from Him. Had he been speaking only symbolically, there would have been no reason for protest. His clear intent was the institution of the Eucharist, "the source and summit of the Christian life". Thus we know that "the other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ Himself".1324  When we allow ourselves to acknowledge the full impact of everything this means, it is no longer possible to treat the Eucharist lightly. Holy Eucharist (Communion) is our unity with Jesus Christ Himself and through Him, with each and every one of our Catholic brethren - for we become what we consume, the Body of Christ.

What Eucharist Says

Once we recognize the miraculous reality that is Eucharist, we must acknowledge what partaking of Him through this sacrament says about us. If we strive to know (accept) Him and His gift to us, we must also cooperate in the intent of this giving of Christ of Himself. The Catholic Church has always been very clear about the disposition of those who present themselves to receive Him in Holy Eucharist. They are to be free from serious moral impediments and must be in full communion with the teachings of Holy Mother Church - that is, that we are to present ourselves for reception only if we are loyal to and aware of that which the Church (through Jesus) holds as Truth. So when we go forward to receive Him - Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity - we are making a public statement that we know Who the Eucharist is and that we fully support His laws.

Eucharist as Perjury

The common name for the Eucharistic sacrament is Holy Communion - as in communion defined as 'solidarity or concord'.  This is a telling indication of what is expected of those who seek to participate in such an intimate way with Jesus and His Church. The act of receiving is a pledge to have a common faith, an intimate fellowship, with everything presented to the Body of Christ which is His Church. Along with the Communion of Saints, we are bound to each other through Him Who binds us. So the act of receiving is a public pronouncement of unity. If one stands up, publicly, to contradict a firmly held belief and yet publicly presents himself as in communion with the Church, that action is a lie - perjury of the highest degree in the court of God. St. Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 that we are to present ourselves worthily or we "eateth and drinketh damnation" to ourselves. It is no stretch, then, to surmise that receiving unworthily - especially in public, causing scandal - is akin to perjury. Because it is an oath not kept - a lie given in action.

As much as it might appear desirable to see the sanction of those who perpetrate this scandalous perjury, it would be far more beneficial to all concerned to have the desecration of the Eucharist come to an end. These actions may likely give aid to a persistent lack of belief in the True Presence and could lead others astray. What is needed is a renewal of faith - both in understanding and action. Unfortunately faith in the reality that is Eucharist is at an all time low. As members of the Body of Christ, this impacts us all, for as 1 Corinthians tells us, "if one member suffer any thing, all the members suffer with it; or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it". Let us join in communion with one another for the good of the whole. May God have mercy on us all - sinners that we are!