A couple of quotes:
“We can understand how, paradoxically, the impossibility of sacramental communion, experienced in a sense of remoteness from God, in the pain of yearning which fosters the growth of love, can lead to spiritual progress…”
“When Augustine sensed his death approaching, he ‘excommunicated’ himself and undertook public penance. In his last days he manifested his solidarity with the public sinners who seek for pardon and grace through the renunciation of communion … this is a profoundly arresting gesture.”
“The ancient Church had a highly expressive practice of this kind. Since apostolic times, no doubt, the fast from the Eucharist on Good Friday was a part of the Church’s spirituality of communion. …A fasting of this kind … could also be an act of solidarity with all those who yearn for the sacrament but cannot recieve it. It seems to me that the problem of the divorced and remarried, as well as that of intercommunion (e.g. in mixed marriages), would be far less acute against the background of voluntary spiritual fasting, which would visibly express the fact that we all need that ‘healing of love’ which the Lord performed in the ultimate loneliness of the Cross.”
Does this strike you as a more serious way to “accompany” sinners who are in “complicated situations” than simply telling them that they can receive Communion? This doesn’t give the impression that their sins are being overlooked or, worse, condoned. Also, it engages the powerful means of intercession which the Lord Himself praised.
Today vast swathes of the “Catholic” people probably have a vague notion of what the Eucharist and Communion are. For many people today Communion is, I fear, the moment when the lady puts the white thing in your hand just before you sing the song. Getting the white thing means that you’re okay just as you are; you are affirmed in your you-yourself-ness.
Hence, any suggestion to vast swaths, and to the priests who are not really guiding them, that it is perhaps better not to receive is met with disbelief and shock. What a challenge! “How dare you suggest that I’m not okay or that you don’t accept me just the way I am!” Getting the white thing before singing the song has taken on a dimension of belonging to a mutual self-affirmation club.
The controversy over Communion for the divorced and remarried has far reaching implications.
If those living in patently adulterous unions (or any other sinful state) can in fact receive Communion, then was Christ’s teaching about indissolubility … wrong? If it was wrong, if Christ could get that wrong, then is Christ really God?
If Christ isn’t God, then the Eucharist isn’t Christ. If the Eucharist isn’t Christ, then what is Communion? Are we idolators?
If the Eucharist isn’t what the Church has always said it is, then what is the Church? Who are we and what are we doing?
The moderation is queue is, of course, ON.