Apr 15, 2016
Asked at 04:18 am on April 15th 2016
Hi Bobby, I think the problem here goes back to the Reformation’s two basic understandings of the Eucharist (I know there were all sorts of ‘in between’ views, particularly among Anglicans, many of who don’t see themselves as Protestants, but I’ll have to leave that to another discussion):
(1) On the Catholic side, which I would say is the only one supported first by the Gospel, St Paul, and the Letter to the Hebrews, along with an unbroken tradition in the Eastern and Western Churches – that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. (2) On the Protestant side, that the Eucharist is only a symbol of the presence of Christ and not the Real Presence.
For your Protestant friends, you’re doing no more than their own pastors claim to do. But you’re certainly not ‘recalling the Lord’s sacrifice’ from the Catholic viewpoint. One of the reasons Catholics aren’t allowed to receive the communion bread at Protestant services, as they’re sometimes invited to do, is that it would imply that Catholics and Protestants have more or less the same view of the Eucharist, which we definitely don’t have. When non-Catholic and non-Orthodox people who come up for Holy Communion at Mass in the cathedral where I’m an assistant priest, I explain that I can’t give them the Eucharist but give them a blessing instead. If, out of courtesy, you’re attending a Protestant service, you can go up and ask the pastor for a blessing, which normally, they will be very happy to give you.
Thank God there are many other ways that we can celebrate our common unity as Christians – in the revealed Word of God, in love for our neighbour, in suffering, in helping those most in need, and especially in our common adoption through baptism as children of God. Very best, Fr Brendan
Replied at 03:50 am on April 21st 2016