Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner? the List of Those "Not Worthy" to Be Called to Christ's Supper Keeps Getting Longer

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner? the List of Those "Not Worthy" to Be Called to Christ's Supper Keeps Getting Longer

Article excerpt

THE RECENT WEDDING OF A HIGH SCHOOL FRIEND included the expected accessories: elegant bridesmaids and groomsmen, well-dressed attendees, a beautifully appointed church. But on the now-standard wedding program, I was surprised to find that the greatest amount of ink--about 500 words--was devoted to who could and couldn't receive Communion.

These regulations far outweighed the verbiage devoted to identifying the processional music and the uber-cute 3-year-old twins who accompanied their grandmother down the aisle. Said my mother, among the theologians of common sense in my life, "Isn't that terrible?" It was the first thin I noticed as well, and it left me sad that at a special occasion like my friend's wedding, we Catholics are still unable to invite other Christians who share our eucharistic faith to join us at the Lord's table.

Unfortunately we have just seen some further additions to the list of who can't receive Communion, and on it will be no small number of Catholics. A document approved by the U.S. bishops at their November meeting discourages from Communion those who "knowingly and obstinately" reject "the defined doctrines of the church" or its "definitive teaching on moral issues." While 'Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper': On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist lists the expected grave sins that would prevent reception of Communion--acts of hatred, abuse of minors, murder--it also targets those who give only "selective assent" to the church's moral teachings or miss Mass on Sunday.

Given the controversy about Catholic politicians in recent years, this document probably isn't surprising. But I have always found lists of who is "worthy" to receive Communion a little sad. Apart from the legions of divorced-and-remarried Catholics, Mass-skippers, birth-control dissenters, and murderers whom this document would exclude from Communion, I think also of a former co-worker of mine.

At the time she was preparing a quinceanera for her oldest daughter, intent on giving her teenager what she herself had never had. She poured herself, and a considerable portion of her meager salary, into providing a beautiful celebration, knowing full well that her two other daughters would also be turning 15 in the next three years. …

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