Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Confession and Communion

I would certainly never say it is a good thing that public Masses are cancelled (yes, I know it supposedly helps to reduce the spread of the virus, but that is not what I am talking about). It is a spiritual suffering for every Catholic, and that is not something that anyone with a heart would wish on others. Yet, I want us all to recognize the proper gravity of what is happening and thereby keep a proper balance in how we view things right now.

To begin with, let us all admit what the normal rules are for Catholics. You are (normally) required to attend Mass every Sunday, and on Holy Days of Obligation. Also, you are required to receive Holy Communion at least once a year (preferably during the Easter season). Now, I want everyone to think about those two rules, just for a few minutes. Meditate on what those rules mean for you at this time.

This means that technically it is more an issue right now that the laity are deprived of being present in the Mass than that they are being prevented from receiving the Eucharist. No, I'm not saying that the Eucharist is less important, but rather that it is important that the Church normally says "be in Mass every Sunday" but only requires the Eucharist to be received once a year! We cannot take that difference lightly; one is required (about) fifty-seven times a year compared to the other which is required once a year. It is not wrong to receive communion at every Mass (presuming you are receiving in a state of grace, and we know that many do not), but the Church is saying something in how it has written the rules and the balance that it presumes in them.

It is a relatively new phenomenon whereby people receive communion at virtually every Mass that they attend. That was not the case in generations past. This, of course, does not mean that it was wrong for Pope Pius X, in the last century, to have encouraged more frequent communion. Yet, we also must admit that an increase in people receiving communion and a decrease in people going to confession was not a good combination. Nobody intended on having fewer people go to confession, yet when it happened at the same time as more frequent reception of communion, the result was obvious: more people receiving communion who were in a state of mortal sin.

We cannot imagine that the Lord would ignore the increasingly common occurrence of Catholics knowingly receiving communion in a state of grave sin. This must stop; and though many priests try to encourage people to go to confession, and not to receive communion until they do, not all listen. There is no excuse for refusing to go to the sacrament of confession; it is necessary for our salvation, and to treat it as optional is in itself a grave sin. I know this might be unpleasant to hear, but it must be said; especially now in this odd situation that the Lord has allowed us to enter.

We all know (or at lease we should) that no one except the priest is required to receive communion at every Mass. In this time of so many people being deprived of communion, it is as if the Lord is saying He wants "less frequent communion" rather than more. Better to have less frequent communion, and yet have more people receive it in a state of grace, than to have more frequent and they receive it in sin.

Think about the situation we are in: today it is easier to receive Confession than the Eucharist! What an interesting twist on what has been happening for the last century. It would be foolish to ignore the spiritual consequences of what we are going through. If God has not chosen this for us, at the very least He has allowed it to happen (and anything He allows He does willingly). Confession, available; communion, hard to find. Coincidence? I doubt it. Go to confession.