A current discussion is pending by the American Bishops as to whether the President of the United States should be censored from receiving the Eucharist because of his stand on Abortion. It also has become a noteworthy item reaching many newspaper columns and presents a question about the feelings of Roman Catholics as to the legitimizing of this impending action.
On Sunday June 27, 2021, two articles appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette giving views regarding this issue. One, titled “Lost Shepherds” by Keith C. Burris high-lights the ethnicity of bringing such pressure on the bishops’ decision to go through this censorship. The writer’s statements mention that no matter the ecclesial decision it may not cease the procedure of even one abortion. Perhaps, but we must hope that one word from Mr. or Mrs. public against abortion could very well save one more unborn baby. It becomes a dichotomy as to who is correct, or what outcome may be morally right or accepted by the principles in charge of a decision.
Keith went on to say that Joe Biden is not for abortion, he is for personal choice. However, when a choice is made on any subject the very elements of the individual matter must be considered. Do the players in this quest for who is right understand the deep-rooted reality as to who they are promoting to terminate? Perhaps if the president could see the film “A Silent Scream” maybe there would not need to be a censor on his actions!
The second article by Steven Paulikas, an Episcopal priest, gives us a familiar look into the words, “Take and eat, this is my body, which is given for you.” These words are used over and over by many denominational ministers and everyone is invited to partake in this memory of Jesus. Spoken at the Last Supper, there is a very theological event that takes place. We call it the “Collapse of Time”. When a Catholic priest consecrates and lifts the host the bread is Jesus himself lifting the element and at that time he becomes Christ on the cross and is nailed to it. Similarly, when the priest elevates the Chalice it is Christ who is raising it and Christ dies as he sheds his blood on the cross.
This becomes a much deeper presence of the Crucifixion and a three-fold event with the priest standing as Christ and Christ at that moment is the very presence of this action. This is what the Episcopal priest didn’t mention as the Transubstantiation places an answer to what just happened
For those who invite and share the symbols of communion with their congregations, either at a church or via television, are reminding all of the sacrifice Jesus made. However, the elements are symbolic and not the real presence of Christ. This why our belief and adherence to the living God through our Holy Communion must be protected at all costs.
“That in this sacrament are the true Body of Christ and his true Blood is something that cannot be apprehended by the senses, says St. Thomas Aquinas, but only by faith, which relies on divine authority. For this reason, in a commentary on Luke (This is my body which is given for you Lk. 22:19) St Cyril says Do not doubt whether this is true, but rather receive the words of the Savior in faith, for since he is the truth, he cannot lie.” CCC 1381.
When a new life is about to enter our world, it is connected in the eyes of the Church as a sharing in the Incarnation, Death/Resurrection of Christ who gave himself and we share not a memorial but a living Christ who always was and is God. So when these words “This is my Body” are uttered our Church uses the true meaning not just a memorializing of the term.
I am not taking a position as to what may occur with the bishops’ decision but stand for how what receiving the eucharist means and the consequences of take and eat will mean if reception of the real presence unworthily occurs. The choice one makes can be risky.
Ralph B. Hathaway, Worthiness of the Eucharist