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The USCCB and the Eucharist

You may have heard in the news that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB – www.usccb.org) voted last week at its annual June meeting to approve the writing of a document on the Eucharist. If you have been reading about in the secular news, you may have the impression that the sole purpose of the proposed document is whether or not President Biden (and other Catholic politicians who support abortion) should be denied Communion.

While the subject of politicians who support abortion receiving Communion is likely to part of the document, it is not its sole purpose. It is not about them. (For news stories on this from a Catholic perspective see https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/tags/8285/eucharistic-coherence).

This document is going be on Catholic teaching in general on the Eucharist. It is a much needed document. Just last year there was a study released that said 70% of Catholics do not believe it is truly Jesus that we receive in the Eucharist. I find this sad because it is Jesus’ own words that tell us that the bread and wine become his Body and Blood.

It is also Jesus himself that tells us that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood if we are to have life within us.

(These slides are taken from the third presentation in my series, Sacraments: Channels of God’s Grace.)

The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith (see Lumen Gentium, 11). Yet, it remains a mystery in that we do not understand how the bread and wine are transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Jesus. We don’t have to understand. It is a mystery to believed in faith.

Knowing it is Jesus that we receive in the Eucharist should naturally lead us ask who is worthy to receive Communion. When I say “worthy”, ultimately it is Jesus who makes us worthy. If we have committed mortal sin, we have broken our relationship with Jesus and are not worthy. What are we to do? We need to go to Jesus to confess our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If we confess with a contrite and repentant heart, God will forgive us and make us worthy.

This concept of “worthy reception” is not new. Paul writes to the Corinthians about it in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 as follows:

All of us, not just politicians, need to examine our conscience. If we are aware of mortal sins, then we need to confess them before we receive Communion. We must be repentant. This means we must desire to change. In the Act of Contrition we say we firmly resolve to sin no more. Unfortunately, we fail at times. We should not give up. We keep confessing and we keep asking God for the grace we need to stop sinning.

There are those, including but not limited to politicians, who think they can pick and choose what they believe. They think they can decide what is and what isn’t sin. If they don’t think it is a sin, they see no problem in receiving Communion. They see no need to change.

However, it is not for us to decide what it right and wrong. It is for God to determine right and wrong.

I hope what I have written helps you understand what the USCCB is working on in this document. I believe it is a much needed document and I look forward to reading it when it is finished. For now, I leave you with two links:

  1. My third presentation (covering the Eucharist) in my series, Sacraments: Channels of God’s Grace – this is a two hour presentation. Please do not discouraged by the length. It is two hours long because the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you watch it.
  2. My blog articles on the Eucharist

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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