Saturday, June 26, 2021

We Have Work to Do

The USCCB meeting is ended and even the media has conceded that the decision to draft a document was not about barring politicians from Communion. It is to be about the meaning of the Eucharist and the importance of being properly disposed to receive it.


However, the reaction from vocal groups of Catholic critics shows that—for whatever their motivation might—we have a desperate need to re-educate the faithful on what the Eucharist is (only a minority believe it is The Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ) and why we cannot receive in a state of grave sin (cf. canon 916). Moreover, the rhetoric used to attack those bishops concerned with the attitude of pro-abortion politicians shows a general loss of understanding of what sin is in relation to God.


It was never the intention of Pope Francis to say that the impenitent should receive the Eucharist or that we do not need to make use of the Sacrament of Penance. That is an invention of those who disagree with Church teaching. Pope Francis stressed being sorry for our sins and turning back to God. We must understand his words on the Eucharist being for sinners, not a reward for the perfect in light of what St. John Henry Newman said:


Now all of us are sinners, all of us have need to come to God as the Publican did; every one, if he does but search his heart, and watch his conduct, and try to do his duty, will find himself to be full of sins which provoke God’s wrath. I do not mean to say that all men are equally sinners; some are wilful sinners, and of them there is no hope, till they repent; others sin, but they try to avoid sinning, pray to God to make them better, and come to Church to be made better; but all men are quite sinners enough to make it their duty to behave as the Publican. Every one ought to come into Church as the Publican did, to say in his heart, “Lord, I am not worthy to enter this sacred place; my only plea for coming is the merits of Jesus Christ my Saviour.” (St. John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 8, Sermon I)


All of us have sinned and all of us will sin again. The question is whether we approach God in a proud manner or humbly. We need to say, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13), not, “I’ve done nothing wrong; you change your Church!” The former admits to God that they have done wrong and would make it right if possible, trying to avoid that sin. The latter does treat the Eucharist as a reward. The person says they are good enough to receive it… because the sin the Church speaks out against is “not as important” as the sins of their enemies. This is a perversion of what we are called to be, and what Scripture and Sacred Tradition tells us we must strive to be.


Of course, this is not only the problem with one party. We all need to remember that the most dangerous sin for each person is the one which condemns him or her to hell. I see some Catholics arrogantly proud that they oppose abortion and other Catholics arrogantly proud that they oppose unjust immigration policies… yet both make excuses for the evils they or their faction supports. That is a clear sign that we have lost sight of The Lord’s command to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). If we immediately think of others when we hear this, we need to think again.


So, yes, the Church has work to do in reminding everybody that we must seek to live this way. But we also have work to do. Every one of us must strive to live this way with God’s grace and seeking forgiveness when we fail.

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