QUOTE TO NOTE: Longer Communion Lines, When All Are Welcome

Though the Eucharist should be an unmitigated source of unity for Catholics, too often the Communion line becomes a place for exclusion. People deemed “unworthy” do not receive or are even denied Communion, and these “unworthy” people have too often included LGBT Catholics and their families.

computer_key_Quotation_MarksBut after several years of dialogue, and sometimes sharp debate, is Pope Francis’ desire for a more welcoming and merciful church being realized at the Communion line? Perhaps, answered one parish priest writing for Commonweal

The priest, who uses the pseudonym “Fr. Nonomen,” wrote about an encounter he had in the produce section of his local market. A woman shared with him that she was moved greatly when she saw her former pastor, a Fr. Ed who left the priesthood to marry, receive Communion at the Easter Vigil this year. Fr. Nonomen quoted her:

“In that moment, I knew. . .I was suddenly filled with a joyful, peaceful assurance that the church I love would weather the storms and issues that seem sometimes to tear it apart. Seeing Father Ed with his wife showed me how God is always doing something new! As they received Communion, I saw that there is room for all in Christ. And that has helped heal my heart.'”

Fr. Nonomen reflected on the many other people who helped him see “that the depth and breadth of humanity was in the Communion line. . .drawn to one table, one altar, one Lord.” In them, he saw “a foretaste of what liturgists call ‘the heavenly banquet.'” When everyone who sought Communion received that night, there was not, as church leaders often warn of, “scandal.” There was healing. The priest concluded:

“The more intriguing question, perhaps, is not how but why this happened. I figure it to be a lesson in grace. At a time when elitism and intolerance have crept into so many facets of life, the Lord insists that the Kingdom of God will be otherwise and often surprises us with glimpses of it right here, right now. The people of the Kingdom are a richly diverse people, aware of their need and drawn to the God who welcomes all and lavishes grace on all, even that former priest, even that same-sex couple. . . “

Vatican II identifies eucharistic liturgy as the source from which and summit to which our Christian lives ebb and flow. There is no greater test for how inclusive the church is in reality than how many people feel comfortable to approach and be welcomed into the Communion line.

In Fr. Nonomen’s lesson of grace, I also see longer lines at Mass as a sign that the tireless efforts of LGBT Catholics and their allies are finally able to bear fruit in the new space Pope Francis has created.

Do you agree? Did you see longer, more inclusive Communion lines at Mass today? How have you witnessed the unity of God’s people being made real in liturgy? 

Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, May 7, 2017

0 replies
  1. Stephen Victor
    Stephen Victor says:

    Perhaps I should read the Commonweal article to get the particulars, but is there something irregular in the marriage? Was the woman divorced? Is it considered sinful (perhaps “objectively disordered”?) to leave the priesthood and marry? All I see in this post is that a heterosexual couple stood in line and received Communion; a wonderful thing, to be sure, but what is the significance of this for LGBT Catholics?

  2. Tom Bower
    Tom Bower says:

    I see no grace in the hierarchical Church, but a firm indication that it is becoming increasingly irrelevant. It started when Paul VI decided against all advice that reasonable techniques of birth control should be forbidden and in less than a decade the size of the typical Catholic family shrank from four plus children to two (talk about unintended consequences), in virtually the same time period Confession that was a frequent part of the Catholic life ritual with no discussion anywhere suddenly became a twice a year excuse for General Absolution and individual confession for a handful of penitents who from observation would be hard pressed to knowingly and willfully commit a serious violation of God’s laws, and the 1986 Cardinal Ratzinger letter declaring homosexuals to be beyond the Church’s if not God’s love as almost the spark that started real same sex civil right achievements. The Spirit is indeed alive, but Fr. Noname is wrong about its source; it is grace among the congregation and will not exist in the Church until he can be honest about who he is.

  3. Bishop Carlos A Florido, osf
    Bishop Carlos A Florido, osf says:

    We have always given communion to all. Our mission is to serve God’s people, not to exclude those who search for God’s love. Pax et bonum.

  4. David J Martin MD
    David J Martin MD says:

    The missive to eat the Body & drink the Blood of Jesus comes not from the hierarchal, exclusive, power- hungry institutional Church but from Jesus Christ Himself. If one desires the Eucharist sincerely THAT is the power of the Holy Spirit urging us on.
    The organillzed Church (the institution which does err as evidenced by hateful acts through the centuries) has not been authorized to cut any person to cut any person from the Love of Christ (“no power has been granted in heaven or earth which can cut us off from the love of Christ”) – which is exactly what denying Eucharistic feast to ANY person is effectively. Further, reception of Eucharist fervently cleanses us from venial sins BUT not mortal sins – why ? Sin is sin. Oh I forget the institutional Church teaches this – invoking the authority supposedly granted by Christ – per the institutions interpretation. Precisely – interpretation. Does anyone really believe that the Father allows us fallible humans to dispense mercy – forgiveness like a candy machine ? The Magisterium would like us to think so. For myself I choose to love, serve and trust in Christ sincerely – NOT the Church Magisterium. I will take my chances with the Mercy of Christ. Namaste – David


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