Communion and Church TeachingGRACE MACKINNON
Dear Grace, If you do not agree with some of the Churchís teachings, but you receive Communion on Sundays, are you sinning?
of all, let us be clear that ‚??not agreeing with‚?Ě and ‚??not living according to‚?Ě
the Church‚??s teaching are two different matters. It is very possible that a person
might not agree with a teaching and yet decide to live in obedience to it, believing
that it comes from God. The Church knows well that sometimes we will struggle
with a certain teaching, often due to a lack of understanding, and this is okay
as long as we do not reject it. If, however, you are asking if it is alright to
receive Holy Communion and, at the same time, live a life that rejects some of
the teachings of the Church, the answer depends on what teachings youare referring
to. Certain ‚??teachings‚?Ě or doctrines of the Church must be believed and followed,
otherwise communion with the Church and with God would be broken.
are those teachings that must be believed and followed? Canon law states the following:
‚??All that is contained in the written Word of God or in Tradition, that is, in
the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church and also proposed as divinely
revealed either by the solemn Magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and
universal Magisterium, must be believed with divine and catholic faith‚?¶ therefore,
all are bound to avoid any doctrines whatever which are contrary to these truths‚?Ě
(canon 750). This means everything that has been revealed by God to the Church,
both written and oral. By ‚??Magisterium,‚?Ě we mean the teaching office of the Church.
It is made up of the pope and bishops. When they together teach in an area pertaining
to faith and morals, they are the Magisterium.
We know tha essentially
any baptized Catholic, unless prohibited by canon law, may be admitted to Holy
Communion (canon 912). In other words, one may receive Communion as long as one
is not acting contrary to any law of the Church. We must keep in mind of course
that when we speak here of the ‚??laws‚?Ě of the Church, we are speaking of the law
of God, and most of it is based on the Ten Commandments, which are to us like
sign posts on the road to life. God reveals them to us out of His great love and
infinite mercy. Who knows better what we need than He who made us?
we may tend to think that by the Ten Commandments God means to bind or limit us,
when in fact just the opposite is true. In actuality, they are meant to liberate
us, to set us free. The problem with embracing them comes when we do not want
to accept no for an answer to what we want. When as children, however, we wanted
to play with matches or a knife and our parents said no, we did not understand
then what we donow as adults about the danger in having such things. It is that
same way too between God and us.
So, when God tells us that those things
such as abortion, sex outside of marriage, marriage outside the Church, artificial
birth control, practicing homosexuality, ‚??living together,‚?Ě are wrong, then we
know they are not His divine will for us. If we disobey deliberately and willingly,
then we have fallen out of communion with Him. This is mortal sin and, therefore,
one may not receive the Holy Eucharist while the situation persists. Reconciliation,
however, can restore that communion. If only we realized the great mercy of God.
He waits lovingly and eagerly for each of us to reach out to Him and be with Him.
To be in the will of the Lord and live according to His ways brings a happiness
and peace that every human person was made for and longs for. Let us pray for
this communion with Him for each other, today and every day.
Grace MacKinnon. "Communion and Church Teaching." (August, 2003).
Reprinted with permission of Grace MacKinnon.
MacKinnon is a syndicated columnist and public speaker on Catholic doctrine. She
is the author of Dear
Grace: Answers to Questions About the Faith published by Our Sunday Visitor.
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